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A short film in two parts by Brad Friedman...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2009 5:10am PT  

So we went out to Griffith Park out here in L.A. on Sunday to check out the kick-off day for the new "Tea Party Express II" national tour. Thought we might meet some interesting people and file a quick video report. Met a lot of interesting people, and so ended up making a short film of sorts. Enjoy. Spread the word. Go tell the story ("both sides")...


Part 1...


Part 2...

UPDATE 10/29/09: Boy, it's tough to compete with the Tea Baggers in the satire department, even when they're not actually trying to be satirical. As God is my witness, coming to you with a straight face this Thanksgiving --- Tea Party: The Documentary Film!...

UPDATE 11/9/09: As of today, we've had more than 11,000 views of Rise of the Tea Bags at YouTube. By Tea Bagger math, that's more than 3 million views! And yet, the media refuses to report it!!! Also, here's my interview on Air America Radio's Ring of Fire discussing the video...

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Progressive group pledges withholding contributions to Dems until healthcare initiative with 'robust public option' signed into law...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/24/2009 11:30am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Coinciding with an internal Senate Democratic Caucus debate over health care reform that Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) described as only “slightly less raucous than the town hall meetings,” the non-affiliated progressive activist group Democrats.com has launched a petition campaign aimed at curtailing donations to official Democratic fundraising organizations [emphasis in original] until "the Democratic Congress passes --- and President Obama signs --- healthcare reform with a robust public option."

That "robust public option" is defined in the petition as being "based on Medicare rates, not negotiated rates," available "nation-wide, with no state opt-outs," "administered by Medicare, not a for-profit insurance company." and "available immediately."

The idea that the public option would be managed by a private insurance company has recently emerged in reports of Congressional negotiations aimed at merging various versions of the legislation passed by separate committees in the House and Senate, as noted by RAW STORY's John Byrne today.

The progressive activists campaign calls for signatories to respond to requests for donations from the three major Democratic campaign/fundraising organizations --- the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) --- with a http://www.democrats.com...rike-for-public-option\">link to the petition, instead of funds, until such legislation has been passed and signed by the President.

"Until then," the petition states, "I will only support individual Democrats who support single-payer Medicare for All (the 88 sponsors of HR 676)."

"We elected solid Democratic majorities in Congress and a Democratic President to fulfill Democratic promises of progressive change," the statement continues, "We did not elect Republican Senator Olympia Snowe to break those promises."

The complete short petition follows in full below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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The repentant former right wing fundamentalist leader applauds the White House for holding Fox 'News' accountable, charges they 'seem to be trawling for assassins'...
By Frank Schaeffer on 10/22/2009 2:28pm PT  

[Ed Note: My audio interview with Frank Schaeffer on Green960's "Live from the Left Coast" in San Francisco, following the publishing of this article, can now be heard here... - Brad]

Guest Blogged by Frank Schaeffer

President Obama is getting criticism for going after Fox News. I fault the White House too: for not going far enough. The real issue is not Fox's right wing "bias." The real issue is that Fox News seems to be trawling for assassins. Here's the letter White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs should write. Or maybe it should come from the head of the United States Secret Service...

Dear Rupert Murdoch, since you are responsible for what is on Fox News I have a question for you: Do you ever wonder how you'll be remembered by Americans and the world (not to mention your children) if someone takes a shot at President Obama, and when asked why they did it, quotes the misinformation spouted by Fox News as their "reason?"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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The Baucus Bill 'milestone' obscures the only real solution to the ills of our current health care system...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/16/2009 10:34am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

As recounted in a front-page article in The New York Times, on the strength of a single "yes" from a member of the Party of No, President Barack Obama described the 14 to 9 Senate Finance Committee vote in favor of the Baucus health care bill as "a critical milestone," adding, "We are now closer than ever to passing health care reform."

With all due respect, Mr. President, it is nothing of the sort. To the contrary, the Senate Finance Committee has produced nothing less than a legislative obscenity.

After nearly a year of back room deals and unending propaganda, which has included extensive corporate media coverage of insurance industry sponsored, wing-nut assaults on town halls, fabricated issues about "death panels," the exclusion of single-payer advocates from the White House and the Senate Finance Committee, and a deafening corporate media silence about the widespread public support* for a single-payer (Medicare for All) system, the time has come to pierce through the confusion by asking and answering a few simple questions...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Obama still promising change, but keeping equality on the back-burner...or is he?...
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2009 9:39pm PT  

Given that Obama ran on ending "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and repealing the "Defense of Marriage Act," those who believe in equal justice under the law --- as per the Constitution --- are justifiably none too happy about the fact that he hasn't gotten around to doing either yet.

He did give a rousing speech to the Human Rights Campaign over the weekend, however, re-promising to do all of the above, even if he failed to give a timetable for either of them.

Both DADT and DOMA are federal law, so he can't just change them unitarily over night....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2009 11:33am PT  

Eric Kleefeld has rounded up highlights so far today of the wingers going "nuts" over Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize today, versus reasonable criticism about the award. Have a feeling folks here may want to ring in with their own thoughts on this today...

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

Oslo, October 9, 2009

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New study finds 45,000 Americans die each year for lack of health care...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/18/2009 7:31pm PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

In "ObamaCare: Right Diagnosis, Wrong Prescription" I noted that it was virtually impossible to mount an honest defense of the current U.S. health care system. Doing so would amount to suggesting that the obscene wealth of a few health care insurance company CEOs and their Wall Street investors has a greater social value than the lives of 18,000 of our fellow citizens whom the current system annually sentences to death simply because they are too poor to purchase insurance coverage.

Today, as I mulled over the legislative obscenity that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and a former vice president of WellPoint spent months preparing --- an insurance carrier wish-list that contains no public option, no means for controlling costs or abuse; a measure that does not merely protect but expands the already obscene wealth of the few by mandating that every citizen purchase insurance, with massive subsidies flowing into carrier coffers --- I learned that I was wrong...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Republicans amass an army to retain corporate control of the public airwaves...
By Sue Wilson on 9/15/2009 2:53pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Sue Wilson

I was strolling through my local county fair this summer, a small fair, a friendly fair, where cows, sheep, and pigs outnumber food vendors.

The Republican booth caught my eye, but not because of the red, white, and blue decorations. What caught my eye was the sign they'd posted, the sign that summed up the one key issue of importance to local Republicans.

What would it be, in this raucous political summer of 2009? Anger over bailouts, fear over death panels? No. The number one issue for Amador County Republicans: "Save Talk Radio."

I hadn't realized that the industry that just signed a $400 million contract with Rush Limbaugh needed saving, but they thought so; they even had a petition to save it...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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$900 billion insurance carrier gift leaves 36 million uninsured...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/14/2009 1:07pm PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

Last week, in his address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama correctly noted:

Our collective failure to meet this challenge --- year after year, decade after decade --- has led us to a breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy...

We are the only advanced democracy on Earth...that allows such hardships for millions of its people….In just a two year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage...

But the problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem of the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today…More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won’t pay the full cost of care. It happens every day.

That was the easy part. Anyone who has paid attention understands that the core problem lies in the profit motives of the private insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Thus, the President's diagnosis of the U.S. health care system was accurate, but did he prescribe "change we can believe in?"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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[Updated/Corrected. See end of article for details.]
By Brad Friedman on 9/12/2009 5:42pm PT  

This Fox "News" sponsored protest
happened today in the nation's capitol...

This grassroots protest in the nation's capital
on September 24, 2005 never happened...

At least according to the New York Times...
[See Update/Correction posted at end of story.]

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Alluding to the assassination of JFK, long-time high-level CIA analyst says Panetta and the President 'afraid of these guys because these guys have a whole lot to lose if justice takes its course'...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2009 3:00pm PT  

During my interview last night with 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern on the Mike Malloy Show (which I've been guest hosting all this week), the man who used to personally deliver the CIA's Presidential Daily Briefings to George Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan, among other Presidents, offered an extraordinarily chilling thought --- particularly coming from someone with his background.

In a conversation at the end of the hour (audio and transcript below), as I was trying to pin him down for an opinion on whether or not he felt it was appropriate for CIA Director Leon Panetta to have reportedly attempted to block a lawful investigation into torture and other war crimes committed by the CIA, McGovern alluded to a book about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and noted he felt it likely that both Panetta and President Obama may have reason to fear certain elements of the CIA.

"Let me just leave you with this thought," he said, "and that is that I think Panetta, and to a degree President Obama, are afraid --- I never thought I'd hear myself saying this --- I think they're afraid of the CIA."...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Press cites now-former green jobs advisor's past support of new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal as grounds for resignation...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/8/2009 10:25am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Separate articles appeared in Monday's New York Times and in the Washington Post. Both suggest that the resignation submitted by Van Jones, a special adviser for green jobs at the White House Council for Environmental Quality, were the result of inadequate White House "vetting." Neither newspaper examined the question as to whether the true problem was the inability to withstand a smear campaign led by extreme right-wing whack jobs like Glenn Beck; an inability reflected by the Times' description of a "terse" acceptance of the resignation, with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs taking pains to stress that President Barack Obama "did not endorse" Jones' views.

The three Jones sins were his having uttered an expletive in referring to Republicans, his having "signed a petition in 2004 questioning whether the Bush administration had allowed the terrorist attacks of September 2001 to provide a pretext for war in the Middle East," and his support for Mumia Abu-Jamal ("Mumia")...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 9/6/2009 1:15pm PT  

I will have more to say --- much more, I suspect --- tomorrow night (Monday) on the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show, where I'll be guest hosting again all this week from 6p-9p PT (9-Midnight ET).

For now then, just the basic report that the Fox "News" Thought Police, now under the ironic leadership of Glenn Beck, have won a victory in securing their first pound of flesh --- dare I say, first pound of black flesh? --- by forcing the resignation of a great public servant and a hero to many, as well as one of the very few actual progressives in the Obama Administration, his green jobs adviser Van Jones:

The announcement that Jones was stepping down came minutes after midnight Sunday morning. "On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me," Jones said. "They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide."

He continued: "I have been inundated with calls --- from across the political spectrum --- urging me to 'stay and fight.' But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future."
...
Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck launched the drive against Jones and all but declared war on him after a group Jones founded in 2005, ColorofChange.org, led an advertising boycott against Beck's show to protest his claim that Obama is a racist.

As mentioned, much more on this tomorrow night. Suffice to say, today I'm just trying to contain my anger...at a lot of folks here. More tomorrow night. Please tune in.

Recommended related reads elsewhere...

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By Brad Friedman on 9/4/2009 4:49pm PT  

What it is, ain't exactly clear...

  • Late last month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans for a narrow investigation into torture carried out by the previous Administration. It's not enough, by a long shot, but it's a start. And it wasn't blocked by the White House, despite CIA Director Leon Panetta's best, and most shameful efforts to head it off.
  • Yesterday, the State Dept. announced they were cutting off aid to Honduras and revoking visas for some involved in the recent ouster of President Zelaya. That, despite the bought-and-paid for lobbying to the contrary by Sec. of State Hillary Clinton's close friend Lanny Davis --- as expertly detailed by Ernie Canning here earlier this week --- and strong-arming from the wingnuts who are happy to ignore all pretensions of caring about "democracy" whenever a perceived "leftist" can be removed from power by any means possible.
  • Today, the White House publicly spoke out against Israel's announced plans to build new settlements, despite predictable heat sure to come from U.S. Republicanists and Israeli hardliners.
  • [Added] Also today, the White House agreed to make visitor logs available to the public, leading Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to drop their lawsuit against the Obama Administration. [Had meant to include this one in the list originally, but had forgotten it until reminded in comments by the salty-tongued 'The ZapKitty'.]

So what gives? Did the Obama Administration huddle over the August recess, realize their well-meaning, but ultimately futile effort at "bi-partisanship" was a non-starter, and decide to start doing the right thing, no matter how much the bullies out there are sure to throw shit fits about it all?

Granted, these are all fairly baby steps. But it's a curious flurry, and I'm wondering if something hopeful could be afoot. It'd be welcome news if so. If not, as we spend so much time around here critical of so much that he's done wrong, it's only fair to offer occasional kudos --- even baby step kudos --- when he manages to do something right.

So am I reading to much into these small, albeit seemingly positive late developments? Or is it possible someone at the White House has begun to see some light?

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Review of 'Daybreak - Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union' by David Swanson
[FLASH! 'Daybreak' #1 at Amazon! Displaces Beck! See update...]
By Peter Weiss on 9/1/2009 6:05am PT  

Guest Blogged by Peter Weiss, Vice President, Center for Constitutional Rights

David Swanson, a tireless analyst and organizer, has taken a leaf from Emile Zola's playbook and written an American "J'accuse". And what an indictment it is. In over 300 pages crammed full of facts, figures, incriminating and self-incriminating quotes, Swanson's Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union makes the following case: Bush-Cheney and their cohorts are guilty of a power grab which has inflicted near mortal wounds on the Constitution; Obama has not done nearly enough to repair the damage; Congress has collapsed, and even the Supreme Court could use some fixing up.

The saving grace of this mauling is that, unlike most other critics who are satisfied to accuse and condemn, Swanson devotes a good part of his book to suggestions for how to set things right...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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