AlterNet.org: Alex Seitz-Wald http://towww.alternet.org/authors/alex-seitz-wald en 8 Juicy Allegations From the New Bachmann “Tell-All” Book http://towww.alternet.org/books/8-juicy-allegations-new-bachmann-tell-all-book <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">“She fired a staffer with seven children, the eighth on the way, on Christmas Eve” </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/bachmann_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>A new book co-written by a former senior staffer on Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign alleges that the conservative congresswoman is a fake Christian diva who fires pregnant staffers on Christmas Eve and takes advantage of her devoted supporters, when not being taken advantage of by the political consultants she hired.</p><p>Published on Amazon for Kindle late last night, “<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Bachmannistan-Behind-The-Lines-ebook/dp/B00ESMN8GY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1377561835&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=bachmannistan">Bachmannnistan: Behind the Lines, a Report From the Inside</a>“ bills itself as “the explosive first tell all book about the secretive world of Michele Bachmann … immoral, illegal and unethical.”</p><p>It paints Peter Waldron, who was Bachmann’s field coordinator and evangelical outreach lead (and who also happens to have co-written the book), as the nearly lone island of virtue in a sea of money-grubbing advisers and sinister politicians willing to break the law to get what they want. At the center is Bachmann, whom Bachmannistan portrays as alternatively clueless or cruel, but above all: “Hard as nails, vicious, self-centered, phony, in it for herself.”</p><p>The book’s other author, John Gilmore, says: “This book is to the grassroots what ‘This Town’ is to the political and consulting class. That sounds self-serving but I’m not really trying to be.” (The book is written in third person, which leads to some awkward moments of Waldron praising himself — at one point he compares himself to Edward Snowden — by writing things like, “There was that series of dirty tricks he was ordered to undertake, and which he executed to brilliant effect with no fingerprints.”)</p><p>Before we go any further, we should again reiterate that these are allegations made by the author. The campaign is without a doubt facing ethics investigations, launched in part by complaints that Waldron himself filed with various authorities, but the details and dialogue are from Waldron’s perspective only, and he obviously has an interest in presenting himself in a certain way.</p><p>There’s the fact that he was <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/08/bachmann-staffer-arrested-for-terrorism-in-uganda-in-2006/243711/">arrested in Uganda</a> on terrorism charges, an incident “Bachmannnistan” dismisses as “a mistake” (the congresswoman does has “exceedingly poor judgement,” Waldron write about her personnel decisions, though not about his own hiring, of course). “For those readers who before this book had never heard of him, Peter Waldron would be tagged as some kook who tried to overthrow the Ugandan government in 2006 with two AK-47’s and rapid fire Bible speak. A cubicle-bound Dilbert life he has not led. But the tag on him as some ersatz revolutionary in simply incorrect,” the book explains.</p><p>We read the whole book today so you don’t have to, and here are some of the juiciest allegations:</p><ul><li>“She fired a staffer with seven children, the eighth on the way, on Christmas Eve.”</li><li>During Bachmann’s 2006 campaign, Andy Parrish, her former chief of staff who is now testifying against her (the guy he replaced learned he was fired via Politico), allegedly grew concerned with “her reliance on World Net Daily, which he thought just a little too tin foil hat, even for him.”</li><li>“There was an intercessory prayer group formed during the presidential campaign for the sole purpose of praying for Michele Bachmann and, at times, her partial, specific intentions.” The wife of Bachmann’s pastor was in charge and it included a number of “well-known and powerful pastors,” including the daughter of televangelist Kenneth Copeland.</li><li>Tension between Bachmann’s secular and evangelical worlds led many to question Bachamnn’s faith and prompted a “faith intervention.”</li><li>Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, devised a test to determine whether she should run for president:</li></ul><blockquote><p dir="ltr">“He instructed her to get off of their bed and go to the full-length mirror in the bedroom. ‘If you can look at yourself and say it, then you are ready to run and you should,’ he explained. She listened, nodding internally and then got off the bed. Traversing the bedroom, she stood in front of the mirror.<br />Said Michele Bachmann, looking at herself: ‘I am President of the United States of America.’”</p></blockquote><ul><li>Many Iowa workers allegedly never got paid after the campaign folded, but they were all asked to sign nondisclosure agreements by the lawyers Bachmann retained at Patton Boggs, a powerful D.C. law firm. The NDAs “came well after the work was performed, were never an original term or condition of employment and the signing of them the only fast and ready way to be paid, without interest of course.”</li><li>Even as workers were asked to cut their pay in half in October 2011, one of the out-of-state consultants — many of whom were reportedly hired on the recommendation of Republican operator Charlie Black — cut himself two $40,000 checks.</li><li>Bachmann knew about the <a href="http://www.startribune.com/politics/213609621.html">theft of a home-schooling mailing list</a> from a volunteer, “Bachmannistan” alleges, but didn’t say anything even after the volunteer was kicked off the board of directors of her home schooling organization. Finally, at the campaign party on the night of the Iowa Caucus, Bachmann told the volunteer, that, “yeah,” Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson stole the list (he is also under investigation in Iowa).</li></ul><p>As we said, these are allegations. James Pollack, who was the finance chairman for Bachmann’s presidential campaign dismissed the book as “fiction” in a statement:</p><blockquote><p>“This former staffer with an ax to grind has been peddling these same reckless falsehoods, half-truths, and innuendos for well over a year in his attempt to maliciously smear Congresswoman Bachmann’s name. Doing this to someone of her immense character is despicable. Whether his motivation is an attempt to selfishly get 15 minutes of fame, or reap an economic benefit on this e-book, it is unconscionable. Congresswoman Bachmann always complied with all laws and regulations during her Presidential Campaign. To the extent this e-book claims otherwise, it lacks credibility, and is thus a reprehensible piece of fiction.”</p></blockquote><p>We’ll probably learn more as the investigation before the House Ethics Committee works its way through the process, and perhaps from the reported FBI investigation in campaign finance irregularities. In any case, it’s all a bit of a footnote now that Bachmann has said she’s retiring.</p> Sat, 31 Aug 2013 12:39:00 -0700 Alex Seitz-Wald, Alex Halperin, Salon 890268 at http://towww.alternet.org Books Books The Right Wing Bachmannnistan: Behind the Lines a Report From the Inside book michelle bachmann conservative Education "Reformers" Defend School Chief Caught Giving "A" to Charter School Initially Graded "C" http://towww.alternet.org/education/education-reformers-defend-school-chief-caught-giving-charter-school-initially-graded-c <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Education reformers rush to defend Florida schools chief, Tony Bennett, after he resigned in a pay-to-play scandal.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/school_grade.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Tony Bennett, Florida’s education chief, <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/01/3535902/amid-grading-controversy-florida.html">abruptly resigned</a> yesterday after <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/ap-exclusive-gop-donors-school-grade-changed-182455021.html">an AP investigation</a> revealed that in his old job running Indiana’s schools, he frantically overhauled the state’s evaluation system to avoid giving a poor grade to a charter school run by a prominent Republican donor. In addition to his charter school advocacy, Bennett was also known for his staunch support of <a href="http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/tag/tony-bennett/">standardized testing</a>.</p><p>Emails obtained by AP showed that Bennett and his staff scrambled to make sure the donor’s school received an “A” grade, despite initially earning a “C” thanks to poor test scores. “They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work,” Bennett wrote in September to his chief of staff, who is now Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s chief lobbyist.</p><p>Despite the controversy (Bennett calls the charges “malicious and unfounded,” saying he decided to resign within days of the AP’s report only so he could avoid becoming a “distraction”), Bennett has plenty of defenders in the school reform movement. Here’s Michelle Rhee, the former D.C. schools chancellor who has become a patron saint of school reform and one of its most vocal advocates with her StudentsFirst advocacy group:</p><blockquote><p>Bennett’s leadership in IN showed his commitment to kids. With better grad rates &amp; fewer failing schools, IN kids benefited from his tenure.</p><p>— Michelle Rhee (@MichelleRhee) <a href="https://twitter.com/MichelleRhee/statuses/363026588423565312">August 1, 2013</a></p></blockquote><p>Bennett’s boss, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, maintained a few days of radio silence after the controversy broke before finally saying Wednesday that Bennett is “<a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/gov-rick-scott-says-tony-bennett-is-doing-a-great-job/2134110">doing a great job</a>.” The education commissioner resigned a little over 24 hours later. Already, observers are saying the controversy <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/01/3535902/amid-grading-controversy-florida.html">will imperil</a> Scott’s education reform agenda.</p><p>As Indiana schools superintendent, Bennett became a national star in the school reform movement. Most notably, he earned the attention of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a major reform advocate who has become a bit of a benefactor for Bennett. For instance, Bennett was one of the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/education/27bush.html">first members</a> of Bush’s Chiefs for Change coalition of pro-reform school superintendents, and is <a href="http://chiefsforchange.org/members/tony-bennett/">still listed</a> on the website as a member.</p><p>And after Bennett resigned yesterday, Bush issued <a href="http://excelined.org/news/bennetts-lasting-achievements-for-public-education-hailed-by-former-gov-jeb-bush-foundation-for-excellence-in-education/">a press release</a> defending him, titled “Bennett’s Lasting Achievements for Public Education Hailed by Former Gov. Jeb Bush.” “Tony started every day with the focus of creating a system that would equip kids to achieve their God-given potential,” Bush said, via the website of his Foundation for Excellence in Education, an education reform group. “Leadership is doing what is right, knowing the results will follow. The data is clear; thanks to Tony’s leadership children are better prepared for success.”</p><p>Another <a href="http://excelined.org/2013/08/tony-florida-and-indiana/">blog post</a> from the Foundation for Excellence in Education reads like an obituary for Bennett, reminiscing about his love of flossing and concluding with the line: “May we all strive to do justice to his legacy.”</p><p>It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first pay-to-play controversy involving a pro-reform schools chief tied to Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. Last year, a Polk-award-winning <a href="http://www.pressherald.com/news/virtual-schools-in-maine_2012-09-02.html?pagenum=full">investigation from the Portland Press Herald</a> found that “large portions of Maine’s digital education agenda are being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies that stand to capitalize on the changes.”</p> Wed, 07 Aug 2013 15:39:00 -0700 Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon 879780 at http://towww.alternet.org Education Education News & Politics school reform charter schools school grades tony bennett florida scandal cheating michelle rhee jeb bush Why We Can’t Ignore the Sandy Hook Truthers http://towww.alternet.org/why-we-cant-ignore-sandy-hook-truthers <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists aren&#039;t going to go away if we pretend they don&#039;t exist.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/how_many_truthers-620x412.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>We’ve been writing a lot about <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/01/18/your_comprehensive_answer_to_every_sandy_hook_conspiracy_theory/">the conspiracy theories</a> surrounding the Sandy Hook school shooting — some say too much. “Why you’re giving these Sandy Hook truther media whores the time of day. Ignore them and they go away [sic],” one reader emailed.</p><p>Unfortunately, that’s probably not the case. The genie is already out of the bottle and this myth will likely only heat up as the debate over gun control does. “It’s by far the hottest topic of the moment,” David Mikkelson, the co-founder of the myth-debunking website Snopes.com <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/sandy-hook-conspiracy-theories-edge-toward-the-mai">told BuzzFeed</a>. As the site’s Ben Smith and CJ Lotz wrote today, “Some of the factors that can bring theories in from the fringe appear to be driving its unexpected surge this month: A connection to America’s intensely polarized political culture in general, and a message that appeals to a longstanding fear among gun owners, in particular.”</p><p>“This has gone super viral. It even surprised me how crazy insane the interest in this stuff is,” Paul Joseph Watson, a guest host for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio show, said today.</p><p>And thanks to the Internet, the media can no longer suffocate a smoldering conspiracy theory by ignoring it. ”The biggest problem for theorists was always getting their message out,” Robert Goldberg, a University of Utah historian who studies conspiracy theories, told Salon. “The Internet has completely changed that. Often, they don’t even bother trying to get their theories in the mainstream media anymore.” So even if the the few media outlets that have covered the theories give them a bit more exposure, it’s unlikely conspiracists would have a problem reaching their audience on their own anyway.</p><p>Indeed, they’ve already been tremendously successful. The numbers alone are staggering.</p><p>The most popular video on YouTube, “<a href="http://gawker.com/5976204/behind-the-sandy-hook-truther-conspiracy-video-that-five-million-people-have-watched-in-one-week">The Sandy Hook Shooting – Fully Exposed</a>,” produced by ThinkOutsideTheTV, already has nearly 11 million views. There are at least 40 other Sandy Hook conspiracy theory videos on YouTube with over 100,000 views. Alex Jones’ conspiracy websites, which <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/01/16/newtown_truthers_where_conspiracy_theories_come_from/singleton/">get 11 million visitors a month</a>, are publishing new stories about the Newtown massacre every day.</p><div data-toggle-group="story-13175832"><p>Mentions of “Sandy Hook hoax” have <a href="http://analytics.topsy.com/?q=sandy%20hook%20hoax">exploded on Twitter</a> in the past week. This graph shows the spike in <a href="http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=sandy%20hook%20hoax&amp;geo=US&amp;date=today%201-m&amp;cmpt=q">Google searches</a> for “Sandy Hook hoax,” which mostly come from conservative states like Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Kentucky:</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="162" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="162" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/screen_shot_2013-01-18_at_5.31.03_pm.png" /></div><p>Then there’s the increasing flirtation with the hoax theory among presumably credible people. On top of Florida Atlantic University professor <a href="http://upressonline.com/2013/01/fau-opens-investigation-on-james-tracy-leaving-him-unsure-of-job-status/">James Tracy</a>, and<a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/01/14/is_it_okay_for_reporters_to_question_the_official_narrative_of_sandy_hook/"> popular Ohio TV anchor Ben Swann</a>, there’s Denard Span, a centerfielder for the Washington Nationals. He tweeted this week, “I was watching some controversial stuff on YouTube about the sandy hooks thing today! <a href="http://deadspin.com/5976532/those-goddamn-sandy-hook-truthers-got-their-hooks-in-denard-span">It really makes u think and wonder</a>.” (He later apologized and walked back his comments.)</p><p>One reason for the explosive growth of the movement is that it <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/01/16/newtown_truthers_where_conspiracy_theories_come_from/singleton/">builds on existing conspiracy theories</a>, especially classic “<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_helicopter">black helicopters</a>” anti-government paranoia and theories surrounding 9/11. Not only do Sandy Hook truthers share an epistemological foundation with existing theorists, but the believers are often the very same people. On online message boards dedicated to swapping conspiracy theories, many of the commentators who argue that Sandy Hook was a “false flag” operation actually see it as merely the latest in a long line of other government operations aimed at disarming Americans, such as the shooting in Aurora, Colo., and the Oklahoma City bombing.</p><p>Meanwhile, 9/11 truthers were quick to jump on the Sandy Hook bandwagon. One popular YouTube video purportedly offering “<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHv_RhVgfUQ&amp;bpctr=1358533074">absolute proof</a>” that the shooting was a hoax (338,000 views and counting) was produced by <a href="http://www.operationterror.com/">Operation Terror</a>, a group that produced a series of 9/11 truther videos. Let’s Roll, an Internet forum created for discussing 9/11 theories, is rife with <a href="http://letsrollforums.com/sandy-hook-actors-t28929.html?t=28929">Sandy Hook threads</a>.</p><p>Even birthers have gotten in on the mix. Orly Taitz, the dentist/attorney/real estate agent who helped push questions about Barack Obama’s birth certificate into the mainstream, has written <a href="http://www.orlytaitzesq.com/?s=sandy+hook">a series of blog posts</a> about how police are “lying” about Sandy Hook. Gary Wilmott, a paralegal from Los Angeles who has run a number of birther websites, has also<a href="http://giveusliberty1776.blogspot.com/2013/01/we-reportyou-decidesandy-hook-staged.html">“confirmed” that Sandy Hook was a “scam.”</a></p><p>And a number of readers have written in with their own stories. “My sister is a pretty smart person. She’s in med school, went to [a good Northeast liberal arts college], is reliably liberal … and yesterday she texts me asking if i had heard about these conspiracies and whether they’re true,” one said. A woman from Orange County, Calif., told us how a fellow mother on her children’s swim team told her that Peter and Nancy Lanza worked for the CIA and trained Adam to be a suicide gunman because President Obama wanted them to. “This was a typical suburban mom … I was thunderstruck,” she said. Another wrote in about his stepfather, who “believe[s] that Sandy Hook was some sort of operation.” “My step-dad is usually fairly logical, once shown proof he is able to change his mind, hence trying to weed out all these ‘alternative’ theories,” he added.</p><p>Of course, it’s impossible to get any kind of real handle on how many people out there actually believe this stuff, but studies show that belief in conspiracy theories is far more common than most people probably assume. For instance, we reported yesterday on a new survey showing that <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/01/17/poll_64_of_republicans_are_birthers/">over 60 percent of Americans</a> believe one conspiracy theory or another.</p><p>The true believers will probably never come around — confirmation bias will make them deaf to any conflicting evidence — but experts say the way to fight conspiracy theories is to prevent them from spreading. The only way we can do that is by first acknowledging that we have a problem.</p></div><p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Times; font-size: 16px; font-style: italic; line-height: 20px;">Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at <a href="mailto:aseitz-wald@salon.com">aseitz-wald@salon.com</a>, and follow him on Twitter </span><a href="http://www.twitter.com/aseitzwald" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; color: rgb(255, 0, 0); text-decoration: initial; font-family: Times; font-style: italic; line-height: 20px;">@aseitzwald</a><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Times; font-size: 16px; font-style: italic; line-height: 20px;">.</span></p> </div></div></div> Fri, 18 Jan 2013 17:25:00 -0800 Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon 779749 at http://towww.alternet.org Belief The Right Wing sandy hook gun-nuts conspiracy theories Obama's Offer on Fiscal Talks Is "Insanity" http://towww.alternet.org/economy/obamas-offer-fiscal-talks-insanity <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Prominent progressives fear the president has crippled Social Security in a &quot;grand bargain&quot; with House Republicans.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_61922620.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>President Obama and House Republicans appear to be closing in on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, but liberals are not happy with it.</p><p>Late last night, the White House offered a plan with two major concessions to Republicans. First, it would hike taxes on the wealthy, but only on income above $400,000, instead of the current $250,000 threshold. Second, and far more controversially, Obama offered to change the formula used to calculate Social Security benefits in a way that would cut outlays to seniors slightly while saving the program $225 billion over a decade.</p><p>The reaction from liberals, who have been <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/11/13/progressives_get_ready_to_push_obama/">demanding all along that social safety net programs be off the table</a>, was swift and fierce. “This is a cut affecting every single beneficiary — widows, orphans, people with disabilities and many others.  It is a cut which hurts the most those who are most vulnerable: the oldest of the old, those disabled at the youngest ages, and the poorest of the poor. Perhaps fittingly, this will be done during the holiday season, when the American people are distracted,” Nancy Altman, the founding co-director of the advocacy group Social Security Works, said in a statement.</p><p>“They will cut Social Security not openly but by stealth — through a cruel cut known colloquially as the chained CPI,” she added.</p><p>The CPI, or cost of living index, is used to make sure benefits keep pace with inflation, but there are lots of different ways to calculate it. The current measure, called the CPI-W, is generally accepted to overestimate inflation, but the liberals say the proposed alternative, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/11/29/liberals_double_down_no_entitlement_cuts/">the chained CPI, is too stingy</a>. The chained CPI assumes seniors will adjust their buying habits in response to price shifts (e.g., if the price of oranges goes up, they’ll buy more apples), so they should be able to afford to take a haircut on benefit checks. But liberals say that seniors often barely make ends meet with current benefit levels, so cutting them more would be devastating.</p><p>Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, noted that 102 House Democrats have already said that Social Security changes should be kept off the table in these negotiations. “Everyone has a grandparent, a friend or a neighbor who relies on the Social Security benefits they earned to pay for medical care, food and housing. A move towards chained CPI would be a long-term benefit cut for every single person who receives a Social Security check,” he said in a statement.</p><p>The chained CPI would cut about $6,000 worth of benefits in the first 15 years of retirement for the average 65-year-old, and $16,000 over 25 years. “This change would be devastating to beneficiaries, especially widowed women, more than a third of whom rely on the program for 90 percent of their income and use every single dollar of the Social Security checks they’ve earned,” Ellison added.</p><p>Rep. Barbara Lee, a former Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus co-chair, responded to the news on Twitter: “Reducing COLA is a Social Security benefit cut. Any deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits is <a href="https://twitter.com/RepBarbaraLee/status/281068966124867585">unacceptable</a>.”</p><p>Outside progressive groups, meanwhile, have been threatening to mobilize against the White House if entitlement cuts are included in a deal. “It would be a massive betrayal if the White House went back on its promise to both protect Social Security benefits and end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans,” Becky Bond, political director of CREDO, said in a statement</p><p>CREDO, the grass-roots organizing group funded by its cellphone business, has been increasingly active, mobilizing in 10 key House races during the election and leading a march against the NRA yesterday. “When it comes to the fight necessary to make his campaign promises a political reality, the president has said it’s up to us to ‘make him do it.’ We’re putting the president on notice that we will fight to stop any deal — including the one on the table right now — that goes back on his promise to oppose cuts to Social Security benefits and to end the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year,” Bond added.</p><p>Previously, progressive groups have told Salon that they would consider mounting primary campaigns against members who supported cuts to entitlement programs. In the past weeks, the groups, along with labor unions, have been <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/campaign-ads/271573-unions-target-mccaskill-warner-in-new-round-of-cliff-ads-">running ads</a> and sending emails to pressure members to leave social safety net programs alone.</p><p>MoveOn.org executive director Justin Ruben noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters in November that Democrats were “<a href="http://news.yahoo.com/senate-democrats-wont-mess-social-security-reid-174641106.html">not going to mess with Social Security</a>.” MoveOn’s millions of members, he said, “see any fiscal agreement that cuts such benefits as a betrayal that sells out working- and middle-class families — whether the cuts come via a chained CPI, increased Medicare eligibility age, or in some other form.”</p><p>The group sent an action alert to supporters this morning asking them to call Reid and tell him, “We need you to stop any deal that cuts Social Security benefits.”</p><p>Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said the chained CPI plan is “unacceptable.”  A labor source called it “insanity.”</p><p>As Matt Yglesias pointed out this morning, the chained CPI is also unpopular, with <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/12/18/chained_cpi_slowing_growth_of_social_security_benefits_is_unpopular.html">60 percent opposed</a> to “changing Social Security to increase at a slower rate” and only 34 percent in favor.</p><p> </p> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 14:11:00 -0800 Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon 763296 at http://towww.alternet.org Economy Economy News & Politics obama social security fiscal Child-Support Dodging Republican Denigrates War Veteran Opponent's Military Service--She Responds http://towww.alternet.org/story/156205/child-support_dodging_republican_denigrates_war_veteran_opponent%27s_military_service--she_responds <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Tammy Duckworth speaks with Alex Seitz-Wald about her Republican opponent&#039;s attack on her military service</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1341753774_screenshot20120708at9.22.39am.png" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat challenging Republican Rep. Joe Walsh in Illinois’s 8th Congressional District, is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois National Guard who lost both her legs when insurgents shot down her helicopter in Iraq. This week, Walsh, who has never served in the military, attacked Duckworth’s military service, sparking a media <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/07/05/rep_joe_walsh_still_offensive/singleton/">firestorm</a>. Duckworth spoke with Salon about Walsh, what keeps her going after losing so much and her superstitions.</p> <p> <strong>What was your first reaction when you heard Walsh’s <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/07/03/americas_most_offensive_congressman/">comments</a>?</strong></p> <p> Unfortunately, I was not surprised at all. This is typical of the type of things that he says. We didn’t responds the first two times. And this time, we didn’t respond at first either, but then I just felt like we had to because I think he’s undermining a lot of veterans out there. There are 23 million veterans in this country, and they should not be criticized for talking about their military service.</p> <p> <strong>I know some veterans have <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/07/03/510948/joe-walsh-veterans-facebook/">flooded</a> Walsh’s Facebook account with condemnations. Have you heard from other veterans?</strong></p> <p> Definitely, a lot of folks have reached out to us. A lot of veterans, including some who say, “I’m a Republican, but I’m supporting you because this is just not acceptable.” And you know, we even had a lot folks come and sign up on our Facebook page, as well. So it’s been great.</p> <p> <strong>Who is he appealing to here with these comments? Do you get the sense that voters are fed up with this kind of rhetoric?</strong></p> <p> I think he’s just very irresponsible in his words and in his actions as a congressman. I don’t know, maybe he really believes this stuff that he’s saying. He’s certainly said this enough times, trying to undermine military service.  … I think voters are definitely fed up with it. You know, they just want people in Washington to work together and solve the problems of this country and of this district. And I think Congressman Walsh, if anything, has been consistent in that he said he was going to Washington to be a poster child for the Tea Party and that the folks in the district were going to get squat from him, his words directly. And he’s lived up to that. So they’re sick and tired of it.</p> <p> I think he was just trying to distract the people and the constituents form the bad votes that he cast. … He was the only member of the entire bipartisan Illinois delegation to vote against the highway bill that would bring much-needed jobs as well as help repair our roads in this district. He even voted to let student loan rates double. So he had a pretty bad week in terms of the votes that he chose to cast. And instead of trying to explain them to the constituents, he chose to attack someone’s military service on Fourth of July weekend, which is … It just speaks to his irresponsible nature.</p> <p> And it’s the kind of the kind of very inflammatory rhetoric that does help the discourse in Washington. It’s what’s wrong with Washington. Unfortunately, Congressman Walsh has been in Washington for two years and has been pretty consistent with this.</p> <p> <strong>You ran in 2006 and lost by <a href="http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006//pages/results/states/IL/index.html">fewer than 5,000 votes</a>. What do you think is different this year, aside from a new congressional district (from the 6th to the 8th)?</strong></p> <p> Well, with redistricting, over half this district, what is now the new 8th, was part of the old 6th, so most of the people here know me very well, and most of those folks have voted for me [in the past].</p> <p> What’s different now is me. I have significantly more government experience. In those six years since 2006, I’ve started many many programs that have been successful on behalf of veterans. Whether it was was working with then then-Lieutenant Governor Quinn [as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs] to tackle president Obama’s tax credits for Illinois businesses that hire veterans, [or starting] the first-in-the-nation 24-hour mental health crisis hotline for veterans. We [also] started an award-winning home loan program for veterans.</p> <p> And then at the federal VA, when I was privileged to serve under General Shinseki [the Secretary of Veterans Affairs] there, I was put in charge of the homelessness program, and I was able to cut the number of homeless veterans in half at my time there.</p> <p> <strong>What would a Mitt Romney presidency mean for veterans?</strong></p> <p> I don’t know. I would hope that he would support our nation’s veterans. I think, as you said earlier, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican, a Democrat or a Tea Partier like Joe Walsh, you should support our vets, and I hope that Mr. Romney would do that. I am worried, though, that as part of the Republican presidential primary debate, he, in line with almost every other Republican candidate, called for an invasion of Iran. I don’t think that that’s anything that our military men and women should take as a first action. We need to have a national discussion about the true cost of war. And if it’s in the best interest of the nation, then fine, but we need to have a national discuss about it first. So I’m a little worried when candidates for presidents so easily pass out talk about invading Iran.</p> <p> <strong>Looking at your <a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/d/l_tammy_duckworth/index.html">biography</a>, it occurred to me that you share some similarities with Barack Obama, growing up in Indonesia and Hawaii to parents of mixed ancestry, though you were born in Thailand to an American father. How has that experience informed you?</strong></p> <p> My dad worked for the United Nations development program and refugee programs after his service in Vietnam. And then he worked for some large multinational corporations, so I think I have a global perspective on the shining light that America can be in the world. Where I was growing up, America was the example for the rest of the world, and we should continue to be that. I’ve not talked to the president too much about that background. We were separated by eight years in Hawaii and also some time in Indonesia, but I think that there’s a common perspective there in terms of caution in protecting America’s military might only as a last resort and an understanding that we need to be more competitive in Asia.</p> <p> <strong>After graduating from Officer Candidate School, you chose to be a helicopter pilot because it was one of the few combat jobs open to women. An insurgent shot down your helicopter in Iraq and you lost both your legs, as well as the use of your right arm. I can’t imagine how difficult that is. What keeps you going?</strong></p> <p> If I tell you, will you not beat me up for talking about my military service? [Laughs.] It literally goes back to that day in that field in Iraq. You know, we all have defining moments in our lives. But for me, it is that day. It is that day when my buddies refused to leave me behind. I should be dead. I was triaged for dead. They assumed that I was dead. They came back and carried my body out and gave me a shot. Everyday, whether it was in the hospital learning to walk again, or every day since, has been about trying to live up to that. Because the real heroes were those men who carried me out, my buddies.</p> <p> And I don’t ever want to have a day, whether it’s at the VA or on the campaign trail or hopefully when I’m in Congress, that there will ever be shame about how hard I’m going to work. I wasn’t going to sit and feel sorry for myself and cry on my couch and not learn to walk again, because these men saved me and risked their lives to save me. So I have that to look to every single day. This is my second chance at life, and I’m going to do everything I can to live up to the sacrifices those guys made for me. I have to be worthy of that.</p> <p> <strong>And finally, every office is unique and says something about its occupant — how would you decorate your congressional office, if you win?</strong></p> <p> You know, I’m actually pretty superstitious. I don’t even like it when sometimes people like to introduce you as, “the next congressperson from” — I don’t even like that. I’m very superstitious. Having gone through a tough loss in 2006, I hope you understand why I won’t even speculate. Until then, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, I’m blowing out candles, I’m wishing on wishing stars, and I’m going to work my butt off, and then maybe you can give me a call if I win and we can talk about it.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> Sun, 08 Jul 2012 03:00:01 -0700 Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon 671560 at http://towww.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Election 2016 congress war election veteran hero duckworth walsh Mitt Romney's Long Assault on Firefighters http://towww.alternet.org/story/155832/mitt_romney%27s_long_assault_on_firefighters <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Mitt Romney has a long history of attacking firefighters and their unions, going back to his days in Massachusetts.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1339443960_shutterstock80081197.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> Mitt Romney came <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/obama-campaign-dings-romney-wisconsin-statement-cut-firefighter/story?id=16540970">under fire</a> this weekend from Democrats after <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/mitt-romney-we-dont-need-more-cops-firefighters-or-teachers/2012/06/08/gJQAvOgDOV_blog.html">he suggested</a> that we shouldn’t hire more firefighters. Then top Romney surrogate John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/john-sununu-defends-romneys-call-fewer-teachers-gaffe/story?id=16541093">doubled down on</a> Romney’s firefighter comments today, telling MSNBC they were not a “gaffe.” This is hardly the first time the presumed GOP nominee has tangled with firefighters.</p> <div data-toggle-group="story-12936144"> <p> In fact, he has a long, bitter history with them. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney often ended up sparring with firefighters and their unions. He proposed stripping collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers in a city that needed a state bailout, and cut funding to a fire station to be built on the site where six firemen died. He also proposed tripling the state police’ budget to deal with homeland security concerns in the years after 9/11, but didn’t offer a dime for firefighters, angering many at the time.</p> <p> In 2004, when the city of Springfield was facing bankruptcy, Romney proposed a $52 million bailout package that included suspending collective bargaining and civil service benefits for the city’s unions, including public safety officers. “He hates us,” Robert McCarthy, the president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, told the Associated Press at the time. “Unions are what made this state what it is,” he said, but Romney “won’t even talk to us.” Romney spokesperson Nicole St. Peter defended the suspension of union benefits, telling the AP that the “control board” the governor appointed to oversee the city’s finances “needs maximum flexibility to restore Springfield’s financial footing.” The Democratic-controlled state legislature eventually overrode Romney and preserved the bargaining rights, though the control board remained controversial in the city.</p> <p> It’s worth noting that stripping the union rights of firefighters was farther than Wisconsin Governor Walker was willing to go — he exempted public safety workers from his reforms. But when Walker’s fellow Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio went after police and firefighters’ union rights, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/11/issue-2-sb-5-ohio-repeal">he was rebuffed by voters</a> in a referendum last year.</p> <p> In Massachusetts, Romney also cut state funding for a new fire station to be built in Worcester on the site of a notorious building fire that killed six local firefighters in 1999. The state had earmarked $2 million for the project, but Romney cut it, saying the local governments, and not the state, should pay for such projects. Eventually, the governor agreed to $1 million of funds, but only after a local uproar.</p> <p> Frank Raffa, president of local firefighters union “said local firefighters were insulted by the governor’s action,” the Worcester Telegram &amp; Gazette reported in September of 2004. Worcester Mayor Timothy Murray said Romney showed “a lack of understanding” about how the community was affected by the deaths of the firefighters at Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building several years earlier. “This is the final resting site of our heroes,” said state Rep. Vincent Pedone, a Democrat from Worcester. “This site cannot be a drive-through McDonalds.”</p> <p> Before that, Romney proposed increasing the size of the state police’s homeland security budget from $850,000 to $2.7 million. But it gave nothing to firefighters, port security or other agencies involved in efforts to respond to disasters. Lexington Fire Lt. Ken Donnelly, then the secretary-treasurer of the state firefighters’ union, told the AP in January of 2004 that it was “outrageous” that fire services were being “ignored.” He noted that firefighters were critical in responding to terror attacks and the post-9/11 anthrax scares.</p> <p> Harold Schaitberger, the president of the International Association of Firefighters, which represents about 300,000 firefighters, told Salon that Romney’s comment Friday was not unexpected. “It doesn’t surprise us at all. It’s very consistent with our experience with him and his view about our responsibility to keep our communities safe. His actions as governor, as candidate for president, have made it clear that he’s willing to jeopardize the safety of our communities,” he said.</p> <p> Schaitberger said Romney, as governor, also line item vetoed budget items to provide fire-fighting gear, including protective clothing, radios and infrared devices to search for victims in smoke. In March, Schaitberger’s group produced <a href="http://www.firefighternation.com/article/news-2/iaff-romney-opposes-safer-and-fire-act-grant-programs">an ad attacking Romney</a> for opposing a federal program created by President Obama to provide local communities with funds to hire back firefighters laid off during the recession.</p> <p> McCarthy, the state union president who fought Romney in the Springfield row, drew a historical comparison to another former Massachusetts governor. “This is the first time since Calvin Coolidge that a relationship this bad has existed between the governor and the unions,” he told the AP in 2004. Coolidge <a href="http://www.salon.com/2011/02/23/parramore_union_shlaes/">used state troops to crush unions</a> in 1919 when the police were on strike. A anti-union Republican with national ambitions, Coolidge later became president. Indeed, McCarthy’s comparison may prove prescient.</p> </div> <p>  </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> Mon, 11 Jun 2012 21:00:01 -0700 Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon 671165 at http://towww.alternet.org Election 2016 News & Politics Labor Election 2016 labor romney firefighters election2012 Fox Claims Minor Cold Snap Disproves Global Warming; People Who Actually Know Things Disagree (Video) http://towww.alternet.org/story/145119/fox_claims_minor_cold_snap_disproves_global_warming%3B_people_who_actually_know_things_disagree_%28video%29 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Temperatures in most places are actually above average. Surprise, surprise.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>In recent days, conservatives have seized on the <a href="http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20100112/ARTICLE/1121044/2416/NEWS?Title=Cold-damage-widespread-Florida-citrus-growers-say">cold snap</a> gripping the southeast region of the country to cast doubt on global warming. “Hey Al Gore: <a href="http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mark-finkelstein/2010/01/10/hey-al-forecast-frostfree-florida-22-degrees">we want our global warming</a>, and we want it now,” said Newsbusters’ Mark Finkelstein. In his newsletter today, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wondered about “Al Gore’s explanation for this miserable, persistent chill,” and the National Review’s Mona Charen claimed that the “cold snap has spurred the <a href="http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NjQ5ZDFkYzgyN2IxZmQzNTI0ZmVmM2Q3YmI2NmJhZWE=">‘warmists’ to spin control</a>.”</p> <p>For the past week, Fox News host Neil Cavuto has been giving a daily “Fox News global warming alert,” which consists of him telling viewers how cold it is. “It is still cold,” Cavuto said yesterday, adding that it’s “not your recent garden variety global warming.” “It’s freezing across the entire globe,” Cavuto shouted on Saturday. Former Nixon speechwriter and actor Ben Stein responded, “Maybe somebody in the government will wake up and say, ‘Hey, it’s colder. It’s not hotter.’ Maybe all this talk about global warming needs to be rethought.” Watch a compilation:</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> Tue, 12 Jan 2010 13:46:01 -0800 Alex Seitz-Wald, ThinkProgress 660404 at http://towww.alternet.org PEEK PEEK Environment Old_Blog Type Content global warming fox news climate change fox global warming fox climate change Ridge Defends Napolitano From Right-Wing Attacks: The Criticisms Are 'Misplaced' http://towww.alternet.org/story/145003/ridge_defends_napolitano_from_right-wing_attacks%3A_the_criticisms_are_%27misplaced%27 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Tom Ridge, who served under President Bush, defended Napolitano, explaining that blame for the incident does not rest solely on her shoulders.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Since the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack, conservatives have been attacking the Obama administration for failing to “<a href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/12/26/obama-focus-yemen/">connect the dots</a>,” with many calling specifically for the resignation of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. They have criticized her for initially telling CNN that “the system worked,” even though they dishonestly <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/12/28/napolitano-reverses-course-says-air-security-did-not-work/">took her quote out of context</a> to do so.</p> <p>Appearing on Fox News Tuesday, RNC chairman Michael Steele said, “I agree with the Republican leadership that’s <a href="http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/steele-calls-for-napolitano-to-resign.php">called for [Napolitano's] resignation</a>.” Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted, “<a href="http://twitter.com/danburton/statuses/7169058087">Secretary Janet Napolitano should resign</a>, saying ‘the system worked,’ undermines the confidence of Americans.” And yesterday, a group of prominent conservative activists <a href="http://spectator.org/blog/2010/01/06/conservative-leaders-call-on-j">sent Napolitano a letter</a> demanding her resignation.</p> <p>But a former head of the Department of Homeland Security said much of this criticism is “misplaced.” Tom Ridge, who served under President Bush, defended Napolitano, explaining that blame for the incident does not rest solely on her shoulders:</p> <blockquote> <p>RIDGE: [Neither the] Secretary of Homeland Security, nor can the department, act on anything until they get the information. … And the Department of Homeland Security could not have revoked the visa. The Department of Homeland Security could not have put this name on the National Counterterrorism Center. … <strong>So while there is obviously some criticism pointed in the department’s direction and at the Secretary, I think by and large it is misplaced.</strong></p></blockquote> <p>Watch it:</p> <object width="400" height="300"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/xHkjq763Bzs&amp;color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en_US&amp;feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/xHkjq763Bzs&amp;color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en_US&amp;feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="400" height="300"></embed></object> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> Thu, 07 Jan 2010 11:10:01 -0800 Alex Seitz-Wald, ThinkProgress 660318 at http://towww.alternet.org PEEK PEEK Old_Blog Type Content terrorism airport security Glenn Beck Defends Founding Fathers' Decision to Count African-Americans as Three-Fifths of a Person http://towww.alternet.org/story/144599/glenn_beck_defends_founding_fathers%27_decision_to_count_african-americans_as_three-fifths_of_a_person <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Just when you thought he couldn&#039;t reach a new low...</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>On his radio show today, an African-American caller questioned Glenn Beck’s deification of the Founding Fathers by bringing up the fact that the Constitution “didn’t even recognize my people as even human.” The caller was referring to the <a href="http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/documents/documents_p2.cfm?doc=306">three-fifths clause</a> — a provision which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for purposes of congressional representation and taxation. Beck hit back with a full-throated defense of the three-fifths law, saying it was actually an abolitionist provision:</p> <blockquote> <p>CALLER: I notice you reference the founding fathers a lot, and to me it’s kind of offensive because most of those guys were slave owners, the Constitution that they wrote up — they didn’t even recognize my people as even human. [...]</p> <p>BECK: That is a common misconception. … Do you know who wanted slaves to be counted as a full person? … Slave owners. … The reason why they wanted that is because of the balance of power. The South could control the numbers in Congress. Their representation would go through the roof. … <strong>That’s why, in the Constitution, African-Americans were deemed three-fifths people, because the Founders wanted to end slavery and they knew if the South could count slaves as full individuals you would never get the control to be able to abolish it.</strong></p></blockquote> <p>Listen here:</p> <center><object width="320" height="60"><param value="http://www.youtube.com/v/QU-97Z8f8dI&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" name="movie" /><param value="true" name="allowFullScreen" /><param value="always" name="allowscriptaccess" /><embed width="320" height="60" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/QU-97Z8f8dI&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;"></embed></object></center> <p>This is <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/10/16/beck-thomas-paine/">another example</a> of Beck distorting history to fit his contemporary agenda. Beck paints a picture of infallible Founders fighting evil Southerners who want to keep their slaves. The problem with this is, of course, is that <a href="http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_founding_fathers.html">many of the Founders</a> were from the South and <a href="http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=293">about half</a> of the Constitution’s framers — <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1125367">including</a> George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — owned slaves.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> Wed, 16 Dec 2009 03:15:01 -0800 Alex Seitz-Wald, ThinkProgress 659936 at http://towww.alternet.org PEEK Civil Liberties PEEK Media Old_Blog Type Content racism slavery glenn beck beck Erik Prince Quitting Blackwater to Teach High School History and Economics http://towww.alternet.org/story/144324/erik_prince_quitting_blackwater_to_teach_high_school_history_and_economics <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;I may even coach wrestling. Hey, Indiana Jones taught school, too.&quot;</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> Xe (formerly Blackwater) founder and CEO Erik Prince <a href="http://www.dailymail.com/ap/ApTopStories/200912020342" linkindex="17">is cutting ties with the company</a>. A spokeswoman for the company said today that Prince will relinquish involvement in its day-to-day operations and give up some of his ownership rights. The company has been shelling out <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2010/01/blackwater-201001?currentPage=2" linkindex="18">$2 million a month in legal fees</a> to cope with a slew of federal investigations and civil lawsuits stemming from, among other incidents, the “<a href="http://www.slate.com/id/2177954/" linkindex="19">unprovoked and unjustified</a>” killing of 17 Iraqi civilians. Prince told Vanity Fair that after years of serving his country, “someone <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2010/01/blackwater-201001?currentPage=1" linkindex="20">threw me under the bus</a>”:</p> <blockquote> <p>Prince has become a scapegoat for some of the Bush administration’s misadventures in Iraq. … Congressmen and lawyers, human-rights groups and pundits, have described Prince as a war profiteer, one who has assembled a rogue fighting force capable of toppling governments. … “<strong>I put myself and my company at the C.I.A.’s disposal for some very risky missions. … But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus. … I’m an easy target</strong>.”</p></blockquote> <p>Prince said he is instead “going to <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2010/01/blackwater-201001?currentPage=1" linkindex="21">teach high school</a>.” “History and economics,” he said. “I may even coach wrestling. Hey, Indiana Jones taught school, too.”</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> Wed, 02 Dec 2009 13:26:01 -0800 Alex Seitz-Wald, ThinkProgress 659682 at http://towww.alternet.org PEEK World PEEK Old_Blog Type Content blackwater erik prince xe Oklahoma Lawmaker Considering Bill To Opt Out Of Hate Crimes Act http://towww.alternet.org/story/144059/oklahoma_lawmaker_considering_bill_to_opt_out_of_hate_crimes_act <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Just when you think GOPers can&#039;t get more disgusting, there&#039;s Steve Russell.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>A common right-wing objection to federal health care legislation is that it's unconstitutional. So-called "<a linkindex="146" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/08/26/oreilly-commerce-clause/">tenthers</a>" <a linkindex="147" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/09/04/posey-tenther/">argue</a> that the <a linkindex="148" href="http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=rally_round_the_true_constitution">10th Amendment</a> of the U.S. Constitution <a linkindex="149" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/08/27/tenther-highway/">never</a> explicitly gives the federal government the right to regulate health care, leaving that power exclusively in the hands of the states. To that end, officials in <a linkindex="150" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/09/11/pawlenty-tenther/">various</a> <a linkindex="151" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/09/04/georgia-senators-tenthers/">states</a> <a linkindex="152" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/07/30/fl-health-care-nullification/">have</a> raised the possibility of passing legislation to exempt their residents from federal health care reform if it passes.</p> <p>Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell (R) is <a linkindex="153" href="http://www.oudaily.com/news/2009/nov/17/okla-senator-propose-bill-counter-hate-crimes-law/">proposing to use the same argument and tactic</a> to try to exempt his state from the recently-passed <a linkindex="154" href="http://www.hrc.org/laws_and_elections/5660.htm">Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act</a> — which extends hate crimes protections to gays and lesbians — because he claims it <a linkindex="155" href="http://www.oudaily.com/news/2009/nov/17/okla-senator-propose-bill-counter-hate-crimes-law/">infringes on freedom of speech</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Russell said because the government has decided to intervene on issues of morality, he is worried that religious leaders who speak out against any lifestyle could be imprisoned for their speech.</p> <p>"The law is very vague to begin with," Russell said. "Sexual orientation is a very vague word that could be extended to extremes like necrophilia." [...]</p> <p><strong>Russell said Oklahoma can opt out of the law on the basis of the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution</strong>.</p> <p>"<strong>The bill gives the federal government power that was not given to them in the Constitution</strong>," Russell said. "I am aware of the supremacy of the federal government over state governments, but the federal requirements are vague enough for us to make actions. We just have to be very careful on how we proceed."</p></blockquote> <p>Hate crime protections have been on the books <a linkindex="156" href="http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/11/17/puerto.rico.hate.crime/">since 1969</a>, but Russell seems to object to only those which protect gays and lesbians. Moreover, Russell and the other tenthers have <a linkindex="157" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/09/25/ensign-constitution/">flimsly</a> <a linkindex="158" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/08/26/oreilly-commerce-clause/">legal basis</a> for their claims. The Constitution gives Congress broad power to "provide for the common defense and general welfare," but as Ian Millhiser <a linkindex="159" href="http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=rally_round_the_true_constitution">noted</a>, tenthers "insist that these words don't actually mean what they say." The right-wing fringe believes landmark federal programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the federal highway system, and rules regulating airplane safety are <a linkindex="160" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/08/27/tenther-highway/">unconstitutional</a>.</p> <p><a linkindex="161" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/10/30/robertson-noose-hatecrimes/">Other</a> right wingers have echoed Russell's concern about the new hate crimes bill: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said on the House floor that the measure would lead to Nazism and the legalization of <a linkindex="162" href="http://thinkprogress.org/2009/10/07/gohmert-hate-crime/">pedophilia and necrophilia</a>. But as Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said, "Nothing in this legislation diminishes an American's freedom of religion, freedom of speech or press or the freedom to assemble," because the law "<a linkindex="163" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/22/hate-crimes-bill-approved_n_330702.html">targets acts, not speech</a>." These acts need to be targeted. In 2007 — the most recent year for which data is available — <a linkindex="164" href="http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2007/incidents.htm">16.6 percent of all hate crimes reported</a> reported to the FBI "resulted from sexual-orientation bias."</p> <!-- post updates would go here in theory --> <div class="post_update"><span>Update</span> If Oklahoma wants to refuse federal funds to fight hate crimes, it has the right to do so. However, Russell is <a linkindex="165" href="http://www.oudaily.com/news/2009/nov/17/okla-senator-propose-bill-counter-hate-crimes-law/">trying to have it both ways</a> -- accept the federal funds and refuse to apply them for their intended purpose: <blockquote>When asked about whether the state of Oklahoma should reject the $5 million in federal funds that the federal government would give to law enforcement agencies to help prosecute hate crimes, <strong>Russell said he thought about finding a way to pass his law while taking the money, but said it would be a compromise in the values of his bill.</strong> "I understand the state could use all the money it can get, but we can't compromise our values for some quick cash," Russell said.</blockquote></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> Thu, 19 Nov 2009 00:12:01 -0800 Alex Seitz-Wald, ThinkProgress 659427 at http://towww.alternet.org PEEK Civil Liberties PEEK Old_Blog Type Content hate crimes matthew shepard steve russell O'Reilly Warns of a Coming 'Tax Revolt': 'Pelosi Will be Bobbing Up and Down in the Boston Harbor' http://towww.alternet.org/story/143998/o%27reilly_warns_of_a_coming_%27tax_revolt%27%3A_%27pelosi_will_be_bobbing_up_and_down_in_the_boston_harbor%27 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">This statement appeared to be too much, even for Glenn Beck, who replied, &quot;Uh, I don&#039;t think that&#039;s necessary.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><center><img width="432" height="134" class="/" title="BoldFresh" alt="BoldFresh" src="http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/BoldFresh.jpg" /></center> <p>Glenn Beck had Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on his radio show today to promote their upcoming "<a href="http://boldfreshtour.com/">Bold &amp; Fresh Tour</a>," which will take the two right-wing personalities around the country to preach "the truth -- straight up, whether you like it or not." When Beck brought up Dennis Miller's appearance on the O’Reilly Factor last week -- in which Miller warned of a coming <span style="text-decoration: underline;">"</span><a href="http://www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/27337403/miller-time-11-10.htm">insurrection</a>" -- O'Reilly predicted a "tax revolt" that will "get nasty" and end up with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "bobbing up and down in the Boston Harbor."</p> <blockquote> <p>BECK: Last week, I head you say that -- you were on with Dennis Miller. … You two were talking about an insurrection coming.</p> <p>O’REILLY: Tax revolt.</p> <p>BECK: He used the word insurrection. And not in a comedic way.</p> <p>O’REILLY: Yeah, tax revolt. I think people, when they figure out how badly they're going to get hurt in the next few years, there's going to be a tea party on taxes and <strong>its gonna get nasty. Nancy Pelosi's going to be bobbing up and down in the Boston Harbor.</strong></p></blockquote> <p> </p> <center><object width="320" height="60"><param value="http://www.youtube.com/v/bkBSaeQeR7c&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" name="movie" /><param value="true" name="allowFullScreen" /><param value="always" name="allowscriptaccess" /><embed width="320" height="60" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/bkBSaeQeR7c&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;"></embed></object></center> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> Mon, 16 Nov 2009 12:40:01 -0800 Alex Seitz-Wald, ThinkProgress 659370 at http://towww.alternet.org PEEK Media PEEK Old_Blog Type Content bill o'reilly glenn beck nancy pelosi