Cliff Schecter

The NRA Goes to Congress... Gun-nuttery Ensues

If the National Rifle Association (NRA) were not so dangerous to the physical health and general welfare of the people of the United States, they'd probably qualify as some of the most unintentionally hilarious people on the planet. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. 

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5 Issues That Divide Gun Owners and NRA Leadership

Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, is a con man. He has spent decades enriching himself, his fellow NRA executives and the organization’s board members by doing what he does best: shamelessly mainstreaming conspiracy theories that lead an increasingly paranoid subset of Americans (the percent of households owing guns has declined dramatically over the past generation) to arm themselves to the teeth, while ensuring any laws that might prevent the horrifying tragedy that occurred in Aurora, Colorado Friday morning are unable to make it through Congress.

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How America Lost Its Collective Mind in the Drug War

Towards the beginning of the cult classic Dazed & Confused, a high school senior named Slater, inquires of baby-faced freshman Mitch, "are you cool?" What Slater was really asking--in this ode to 1970s youth and the counterculture--was do you smoke pot?

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Are Republicans Committing Treason?

Once upon a time, in a land that now seems to have been populated by tooth fairies and unicorns, there was a political party that had a set of core beliefs to which they actually adhered.

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Bush Flunks Reading First Program

They should have tried the program out on the Dunce in Chief first. If it could teach him to read, it could teach anyone:

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McCain Is Heckled During MLK Speech

What a surprise. Who knew that would happen?

And why would such hostility be foisted upon such a swell gent? Could it be his vote against making MLK Day a holiday in 1983? His dalliance with the Confederate Flag on the presidential trail in 2000? His friends in low places, such as racial progressives Trent Lott and Terry Nelson of those wonderful Harold Ford ads in 2006? His wish to send more Americans to Iraq who joined the National Guard to get an education and defend their country from REAL threats, not die to undermine our security (at no fault of their own, but due to leaders like McCain)? His willing ignorance on issues such as health care and mortgage foreclosures?

Really, what does that crowd in Memphis have to dislike about McCain.? I don’t get it.

Via Think Progress:

Today, John McCain spoke to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Memphis to commemorate the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. As ThinkProgress has noted, as a congressman in 1983, McCain voted against legislation creating MLK Day.

Most Republicans (including then-Rep. Dick Cheney) supported the bill, later signed by President Reagan. McCain complained it "cost too much money, that other presidents were not recognized." He eventually came around to supporting the holiday in a 1990 Arizona referendum that failed.

In his speech today, McCain tried to explain his misguided vote by stating, “We can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing”:

Six Years Since An American Gulag Was Created 90 miles Off Our Shore

Yesterday, we got to "celebrate" the ill-advised surge in Iraq, or as they called it back in the Vietnam days, escalation.

While a couple of pipe-heads like new NY Times golden boy Bill Kristol and his BFFs McCain and Lieberman prattle on about how this was a success--because now only fewer American troops are getting killed for there to be no political solution as opposed to say, NONE--the truth is that this war has been a disaster for U.S. foreign policy any way you slice it.

Which brings me to Guantanomo. Today marks the 6th Anniversary of when our democracy was officially put in shackles under cover of the night. Six years since an American gulag was created 90 miles off our shore. No, not hyperbole, or the plot to the next sci-fi thriller, but our present reality.

How ironic, don't you think, that our justification all those years for trying to take out Castro was that we were attempting to bring freedom to Cuba. Instead, we brought a "black site.":

Giuliani Abandons 9/11 Heroes

Sadly, you already know much of the real story about The Real Rudy. That he chose to put his anti-terrorist command center in the only spot in New York City that had been hit by terrorists before, against the advice of every professional and his own people, because The World Trade Center was more convenient for him.

Furthermore, you're aware that his inaction in updating the radios used by firefighters who perished that day borders on the criminal. He knew the radios didn't work at least 8 years before that day, and when he finally chose to replace them, did so in grand Bushian style with a no-bid contract for radios that didn't work.

Yet, these were not even the worst aspects of Giuliani's 9/11 record. He completed this triumvirate of tragically inept behavior by ignoring the health of the very heroes who toiled day and night at Ground Zero after the attack. Nothing I could tell you here could prepare you for what you're about to watch--once healthy human beings now suffering from a range of illnesses that are a direct result of a toxic brew they inhaled in downtown Manhattan, while Rudy was telling them everything was safe and sound from his perch at Yankee Stadium and they were spending sleepless nights trying to save lives (often not wearing respirators because The Giuliani Adminstration ignored that federal requirement).

Blackwater and Child Porn

This post, written by Cliff Schecter, originally appeared on Cliff Schecter's Brave New Films Blog

Oh well, they are Republican after all. Which means a financial scandal just couldn't be enough. There had to be some illicit sex. And like clockwork...:
Harry "Doc" Kinard, 54, was arrested Nov. 2 on a charge of sexual exploitation of children after authorities said child pornography was discovered on a computer at the animal shelter. Kinard spent a week in the detention center before posting bond.
According to Capt. Ronald King of the Sheriff's Department, Kinard faces five to 20 years in prison if he's convicted of the felony charge.
Kinard could not be reached for comment. His phone number is not listed, and County Manager Luther Smart said he had been advised by the Sheriff's Department not to release it.
The animal shelter computer was seized by sheriff's deputies in October and sent to the GBI's forensics laboratory for examination. The GBI found that the computer contained child pornography, King said, and an arrest warrant was issued for Kinard.
On the same day that Kinard was arrested, his home computer was taken and sent to the GBI. The GBI has yet to return the computer or the results of the forensics examination, King said.

Hostage Situation in Clinton Campaign Office

This post, written by Cliff Schecter, originally appeared on Brave New Films

UPDATE: 4 PM EST The two people taken hostage have reportedly now been released and the situation has evolved into a standoff between police and the man inside the campaign office who allegedly claims to have a bomb.

Hillary Clinton has released this statement on her website: "There is an ongoing situation in our Rochester, NH office. We are in close contact with state and local authorities and are acting at their direction. We will release additional details as appropriate."

UPDATE: 6:30 PM EST The suspect in this incident, Leeland Eisenberg, was finally arrested. After the hostage situation, Clinton, who was in Washington, said "I am very grateful that this difficult day has ended so well."


I'm not going to speculate until we hear more. My prayers are with those inside.
ROCHESTER, N.H. -- An armed man has taken people hostage at the Hillary Clinton campaign office in Rochester, police said.
It was not clear how many hostages there were or what weapons the man has. Police have set up a command post near the office on 28 North Main St.
Witness Lettie Tzizik said that she spoke to a woman shortly after she was released from the office by the hostage-taker.
"A young woman with a 6-month or 8-month-old infant came rushing into the store just in tears, and she said, 'You need to call 911. A man has just walked into the Clinton office, opened his coat and showed us a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape."
UPDATE via CNN:Two people are being held hostage by an armed man at Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign office in Rochester, New Hampshire, police said Friday.

Emergency crews arrive at the office building in Rochester, New Hampshire, Friday.

The man walked into the office at about 1 p.m., Maj. Michael Hambrook of the New Hampshire State Police told CNN affiliate WMUR-TV.

Hambrook and Clinton campaign officials said two people were believed to be inside.

Shortly before 2 p.m., police officers had taken positions across the street from the office, some kneeling behind police cruisers with guns drawn.

Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is in the Washington area.

She was scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. at a Democratic National Committee event, but canceled the talk because of the situation, DNC Chairman Howard Dean said.

"Unfortunately as some of you know, there is a hostage situation in New Hampshire involving a Clinton campaign staff person," Dean told those who had gathered for the event.

"The details are sketchy at this time, but understandably Senator Clinton is now dealing with this very difficult problem and she is not going to be able to join us today. And we will keep them in our prayers and hope for a resolution to this situation in New Hampshire."

The nearby campaign office for Sen. Barack Obama, also a Democratic candidate for president, was shut down as a precaution, WMUR said. The offices of former senator and Democratic candidate John Edwards were also closed.

Wal-Mart Is Directly Responsible for Deadly Toys

This post, written by Cliff Schecter, originally appeared on Cliff Schecter's Brave New Films Blog

With their Chinese toy selection, Wal-Mart might save you a few cents while killing your kids. Heartwarming.
Retailers such as Wal-Mart put so much pressure on suppliers to produce cheap goods that health, environmental and labor protections get brushed aside. Wal-Mart is the nation's top importer of Chinese-made products. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reports the giant retailer's reliance on cheap goods made in China has cost this country nearly 200,000 jobs since 2001.
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The U.S. trade deficit with China reached a whopping $233 billion last year, and imports for Wal-Mart alone accounted for $27 billion-11 percent of the growth in the U.S. trade deficit with China since 2001.

Would You Want The Carlyle Group To Take Over Your Nursing Home?

This post, written by Cliff Schecter, originally appeared on Cliff Schecter's Brave New Films Blog

You know the Carlyle Group, an international investment club for yacht owners that exists so scoundrels from across the globe can break bread while discussing ways to further enrich themselves at the expense of 99.75% of the world's people.

Prominent Carlylers have included members of the Bush and bin Laden families. That's about all you need to know.

So shockingly, members of the SEIU are not all that happy about The Carlyle Group's involving itself in the operation of nursing homes, and are forwarding the crazy notion that patient care should rank at least somewhere in the priority range of how many Mercedes your average Carlyler can pack into their 18-car garage.

Let's just say that the Carlyle Group's moving beyond their usual interests, providing a pension plan for despots and producing the weaponry of war, is surely a sign of the apocalypse.

Eight States Sue Bush Over His Hatred of Children

This post, written by Cliff Schecter, originally appeared on Cliff Schecter's Brave New Films Blog

A number of states are not giving up easily on the SCHIP issue. As they shouldn't.

Those suing the Bush Administration over this are: New Jersey, Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Washington.

Welcome to the party Gov. Schwarzenegger!

Here is what Governor Corzine of New Jersey has to say:
SCHIP is an unqualified bipartisan success in New Jersey and in states across the nation, and the Bush Administration's determination to pursue a course of action that will harm our children's health is incomprehensible.

Giuliani Uses 9/11 to Justify Taking Phone Calls From His Wife During Speeches

This post, written by Cliff Schecter, originally appeared on Cliff Schecter's Blog

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Yes, the ridiculousness never ends with this clown:
Giuliani also addressed a cell phone call he took from his wife, Judith, last week during his speech to the National Rifle Association...
"And quite honestly, since Sept. 11, most of the time when we get on a plane, we talk to each other and just reaffirm the fact that we love each other," he said.
I hear Rudy also divorced his last wife, decided to shave his comb-over and stop wearing women's undergarments also because of 9/11.

It is amazing how it really did change everything for him.

Blackwater Victims Speak Out

This post, written by Cliff Schecter, originally appeated on Cliff Schecter's Blog

We earlier reported that the Iraqi Interior Ministry--unlike those paragons of virtue at Blackwater--is claiming that the Blackwater employees now tentatively scheduled to be banned from Iraq started the firefight.

Well, the victims provide their own harrowing tale of being fired upon by jacked up mercs:
As we turned back they opened fire on all cars from behind. The bullets are in my back. Withing two minutes the helicopters arrived. They started firing randomly at citizens. No one fired at Blackwater. They were not attacked by gunman. They were not targeted.
So yeah, I'm glad to know that Blackwater roamed freely in post-Katrina New Orleans and might set up a base in California (watch the video and go sign the Courage Campaign's petition to stop the latter!).

(h/t Crooks & Liars)

Fred Thompson Defends Terrorists

This post, written by Cliff Schecter, originally appeared on Cliff Schecter's Blog

Sure, everyone deserves a lawyer in our system (except for those who Lobbyist Thompson and his friends would now throw into Guantanamo, of course).

But does everyone have to choose to defend those who blew up Pan Am Flight 103 and accept their blood money? Well, no.

But Fred Thompson did:
Add another interesting entry to the list of Fred Thompson's legal/lobbying clientele: Libyan terrorists.
The New York Times reports that billing records from the early 1990's show that Thompson gave advice to a colleague who was working on behalf of two Libyan intelligence officials implicated in the infamous Pan Am Flight 103 bombing in 1988, which killed 270 people.

Staging Nukes for Iran?

This post, written by Cliff Schecter, originally appeared on Cliff Schecter's Blog

This is the title of a blog post by Larry Johnson, formerly of the CIA, on what may have occurred the other day when a live nuke happened to find it's way onto a B-52.

No conspiracy theorist is Larry. He is a friend who I have spoken to at length about international affairs, and he has forgotten more than the entire Bush Administration has ever known on the subject.

Let me quote from his piece at length:
So I called a old friend and retired B-52 pilot and asked him. What he told me offers one compelling case of circumstantial evidence. My buddy, let's call him Jack D. Ripper, reminded me that the only times you put weapons on a plane is when they are on alert or if you are tasked to move the weapons to a specific site.
Then he told me something I had not heard before.
Barksdale Air Force Base is being used as a jumping off point for Middle East operations. Gee, why would we want cruise missile nukes at Barksdale Air Force Base. Can't imagine we would need to use them in Iraq. Why would we want to preposition nuclear weapons at a base conducting Middle East operations?

The Next Joe Lieberman

This post first appeared on Cliff

Progressives have an opportunity on Tuesday to prove hundreds of strategists wrong. Kentucky is holding its primary elections and the Governor's race pits Progressive former Lt. Gov and AG Steve Beshear against millionaire businessman Bruce Lunsford, a man who has strongly supported George W. Bush, Mitch McConnell, Ernie Fletcher, and Anne Northup. Lunsford has outspent Beshear nearly 3-1, but Beshear passed Lunsford in the polls this week and has a chance to topthe 40 percent mark needed to avoid a run-off and win the primary outright.

The importance of the race however, goes further than pure ideology. Yes, Bruce Lunsford said he will allow public schools to teach creationism . And he campaigned actively against Democrat Ben Chandler when Ernie Fletcher won the Kentucky Governors race in 2003, the first time a Republican won the office in 30 years.

This race involves a candidate in Bruce Lunsford, who not only belongs in the Republican primary, but he belongs in the Ken Lay wing of the Republican Party. Lunsford made his millions founding the healthcare company formerly known as Vencor. While he was the CEO, the federal government brought a fraud claim of $1.3 billion against it, alleging that Vencor overbilled Medicare.

The company eventually agreed to pay a $104.5 million settlement, and ended up in bankruptcy. However, Lunsford's attacks on Kentucky's working families may not have ended there. Lunsford split his Vencor company before it headed to bankruptcy and created a second company, Ventas. It may not be to anyone?s surprise that the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell, current Secretary of Labor to George W. Bush, Elaine Chao, was named to the Board of Directors.

In 1997, Lunsford and his partners were sued for "insider trading, fraudulent omissions and stock prices punctured by bad news in the health care industry." (Lexington Herald Leader, 6/1/2001) The lawsuit was tossed by a Louisville judge but in 2001, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reinstated the case after holding that the plaintiffs arguments "permit a strong inference that defendants engaged in securities fraud." (Courier-Journal, 6/7/2001)

Lunsford never learned to steer clear of his crowd of Republican friends, and ran for governor with a coterie of advisors that looked like a Jack Abramoff foursome returning from a Scottish golfing trip. One of his top advisors in 2003, Larry Townsend, followed Lunsford's lead in supporting George W. Bush, and even took it a step further by co-chairing "Democrats for Bush" with Zell Miller.

Now Kentucky faces a scenario where Mitch McConnell's friend Bruce Lunsford is trying to masquerade as a Democrat and put a stop to the Ditch Mitch efforts in 2008. The contrast could not be clearer. In 1996, Steve Beshear opposed mitch McConnell in a race for the United States Senate. Bruce Lunsford has been one of Mitch McConnell?s top supporters.

If Bruce Lunsford succeeds, he will help McConnell stay in power and continue pushing George W. Bush's efforts to escalate the war in Iraq. It?s time for all Democrats in Kentucky to make sure that McConnell and Bush are not allowed to hijack the Democratic Party in Kentucky. Keep their friend Bruce Lunsford out of the Statehouse. Support a true Progressive in Steve Beshear on Tuesday.

Right Wing Abortion Terrorist Taunts Victims From Jail

This post appeared first appeared on


Imagine this a little differently

Extremist Taunts His Victims From Prison
By JAY REEVES, Associated Press Writer
Monday, May 14, 2007
(05-14) 11:12 PDT Birmingham, Ala. (AP) --
Victims of Eric Rudolph Osama Bin Laden, the anti-abortion America extremist who pulled off a series of bombings across the South world, say he is taunting them from deep within the nation's most secure federal prison, and authorities say there is little they can do to stop him.
But Rudolph's Osama's long essays have been posted on the Internet by a supporter who maintains a Army of God Web Taliban site. The Army of God Taliban is the same loose-knit group that Rudolph bin Laden claimed to represent in letters sent after the blasts.
In one piece, Rudolph bin Laden seeks to justify violence against abortion clinics Americans by arguing that Jesus Allah would condone "militant action in defense of the innocent."
Any of the prisoners in Gitmo get to send mail to their fans?

Terrorism is Terrorism, no matter which God you offer it up to.


Dems and Privacy Politics

Do you want Karl Rove rummaging through your personal files? The NSA perusing printed copies of debates with friends abroad over who is most likely to emerge victorious in this summer's World Cup in Germany? As the enormous scope of the National Security Agency's wiretapping scandal and the ongoing saga of Karl Rove's double supersecret background conversation with reporter Matt Cooper keep the pundits merrily pontificating about the future of this republic, the Democratic Party, often accused of not forging a coherent message stating its core principles, has been presented with a historic opportunity.

Rove and the indicted Scooter Libby's blunder, which was worthy of "Animal House" hero Bluto Blutarsky, George Bush's burgeoning Republican police state and growing corporate abuse of private records provides Democrats with an opportunity to define themselves. They should support a thematic concept that, ironically, has been a central philosophy Democrats have embraced for years to protect the rights of women: a Constitutional right to privacy. Only now, Democrats should not only support this idea in the abstract but push for it to be codified as an amendment to the Constitution.

Why privacy? Because Rove's loose lips aside, a combination of the big government conservatism and corporate cronyism displayed by Washington Republicans has rightfully made the public, including those on the right and left of the spectrum, wary of a group of ideologues and grafters who seek to stick their collective noses into every aspect of their lives. This, in turn, has given Democrats the chance to not only define themselves but also tap into the growing populist indignation of moderates, independents, libertarians and even many traditional conservatives for the current GOP matrix.

Election results over the past year, and both elite and public reaction to GOP policy and rhetoric, provide ample evidence that privacy is a burgeoning concern across ideological lines. The special election that almost saw the election of Iraqi Freedom veteran Paul Hackett in a cherry-red Republican part of Ohio was nothing short of staggering. Hackett's compelling biography and deficient opponent were certainly a large part of his winning 48.3 percent of the vote in a district President Bush won with a 63 percent average in 2000 and 2004, and former Rep. Rob Portman won in 2004 by 44 percent. Yet, equally as important was Hackett's message, summed up neatly in one of his campaign advertisements:

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