Pro-Birther Movie Steals Media Matters Content (VIDEO)

Once you get to know the “birthers,” you become aware that a singular trait that they all share is a chronic and indefatigable laziness. After all, what they are entirely about is alleging a vast, kooky-ass conspiracy involving Barack Obama and his family and 40 years worth of government officials, and then sitting back and whining about how the media won’t make any effort to go out and substantiate their bonkersauce claims. So when I heard that the birthers at WorldNetDaily were making a movie, my first thought was, “Wow. Where did they summon up the energy to actually leave their paranoiac sweat-lodges and go out into the world, pointing cameras at things?” It just seemed a little too “pro-active” for them.

So naturally I’m not surprised to learn that they took huge shortcuts in the making of their documentary, A Question Of Eligibility. Nor am I stunned to learn that the short-cuts taken were patently absurd ones.

Via Dave Weigel, at the Washington Independent:

For starters, less than half of the film deals with the conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth. Most of the footage is taken from cable news coverage of the president’s election and first months in office. At the height of its sloppiness, the producers use, in its entirety, a video that Media Matters put together to mock Fox News coverage of the president’s first 100 days. You can spot the rip-off because the blue bars and white text that Media Matters mark the 100 days with are still on the screen. Where the liberal group meant to mock the hyperbolic rhetoric of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the network’s line-up, WND treats this like pages from the Gospels.

Weigel also points out that the film hangs more or less on interviews with Jerome Corsi, Alan Keyes, and Janet Porter — a clear indication that this is the political documentary equivalent of Harry Potter slashfic.

Birther Commander Cuckoo Bananas Supreme Orly Taitz “only appears in ambient audio clips.” Granted, that does sound a little horrifying.


Birthers: The Movie [The Washington Independent]
Fox News: 100 days of “opposition” to Obama [Media Matters]

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Vacation, all I ever wanted

I have a piece up now on all big news breaking while the president is in Martha’s Vineyard.

As the White House press corps flew to Martha’s Vineyard on Sunday, press secretary Bill Burton assured reporters that the president wouldn’t be the only one on vacation.

“He wants you to relax and have a good time,” Burton said. “Take some walks on the beaches. Nobody is looking to make any news.”

So much for that.

In the 48 hours that President Barack Obama has been on vacation, the CIA released a report that reignited the torture debate, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed a special investigator to examine the treatment of terrorism detainees, and the OMB projected a doubling of the national debt over the next 10 years.

Indeed, there’s been so much news that, when Obama announced Tuesday morning that he’s nominating Ben Bernanke for a second term at the Fed, he had to start by saying he was sorry.

"I apologize for interrupting the relaxing I told all of you to do,” he told reporters summoned to the announcement at the Oak Bluffs Elementary School.

So what about those walks on the beach?

“Sometimes news happens — I believe that’s the reason for the first three letters of that word,” Burton told POLITICO via e-mail Tuesday.

Rest is here.

GOP trying to scare seniors to death about reform

Michael Steele peddles Fox’s “death book” lie in an attempt to scare seniors to death about health care reform:

Look, you’re taking this whole system, Gretchen, and you’re turning it on its head, and in the process of doing that you’re turning senior citizens on their heads with respect to the kind of coverage and kind of care they’re getting. And so I think it’s time, and this was a placemarker for this fall’s debate.

   As we do this, let’s keep in mind that this going to have a real impact on the, some of the most vulnerable people in our community, and we’ve got to be smart about that.

   If you want an example of bad public policy, just look at the situation with our veterans, when you have a manual out there telling our veterans, you know, stuff like “are you really of value to your community?”, you know, encouraging them to commit suicide, I mean this is crazy coming from the government, and this is exactly what concerns people and puts them in fear of what the government control of health care will look like.

There is no truth to Steele’s claim. None. Absolutely zilch.

And this lie isn’t coming from a fringe propaganda outlet on cable news (yes, that means you, Fox). This despicable, reprehensible lie is coming from the chairman of the Republican Party. Yet somehow, for some reason, some people still think the GOP can be appeased, that there is some way to negotiate with them.

Well, Earth to the clueless: the GOP is not interested in bipartisanship. It’s time to stop dealing with them until they get their act together.

For now, we’re going to have to get health care reform done on our own.

Joseph A. Palermo: “We’re Going to Kill Your Children”: The CIA Inspector General’s Report

First let me state the obvious: the May 7, 2004 “Special Review” on interrogations from the Central Intelligence Agency’s Inspector General is a heavily redacted document. Pages and pages of the report, titled “Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities (September 2001-October 2003),” are either completely blackened out or mostly so. As a historian with a lot of experience with these kinds of documents, I can tell you that whenever the narrative gets juicy, that’s when all the black ink spills over everything (you should see Robert F. Kennedy’s FBI file!). Whenever I read these types of censored government records, like those I recently encountered at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, I always get the feeling that I live in the old Soviet Union instead of in a representative “democracy.” Having said that, there is much in this wretched government text that should make any human being with a soul (Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck need not apply) to feel quite uneasy, even sick at heart. It’s another piece of evidence chronicling one of the most despicable episodes in American history, brought to you by the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney administration.

Given the fact that the power drill later became the low-cost torture device of choice among those fighting in Iraq when the sectarian bloodbath was in full swing it’s stunning that Americans working for the CIA used power drills back in 2001 for “interrogations.” “[T]he debriefer used a power drill to frighten Al-Nashiri. With [redacted] consent, the debriefer entered the detainee’s cell and revved the drill while the detainee stood naked and hooded.” (p. 42)

And given that attacks aimed at the family members of “high-value” Iraqis who were involved in the insurgency became commonplace in the mid-2000s, the CIA interrogators’ threats against the family members of prisoners held in U.S. custody also stands out: “During another incident [redacted] the same Headquarters debriefer, according to a [redacted] who was present, threatened Al-Nashiri by saying that if he did not talk, ‘We could get your mother in here,’ and ‘We can bring your family in here.’ . . . interrogation technique involve[d] sexually abusing female relatives in front of the detainee.” (p. 42). And, according to the report, CIA interrogators told Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, the guy they waterboarded 183 times, that “if anything else happens in the United States, ‘We’re going to kill your children.'” (p. 43). This “we’re going to kill your children” line I found particularly interesting since whenever I’ve found myself in debates with torture apologists I’ve always asked them how far they would go and used the harming of children and family members as a kind of Socratic question. They almost always drew a line there — not the CIA.

Add to this macabre mix the use of mock executions and it becomes painfully clear that the U.S. had totally lost its bearings in the aftermath of 9-11 under the “steady-hand” leadership of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Finally, Attorney General John Ashcroft has some explaining to do to Congress. Ashcroft testified to Congress that waterboarding was performed only a few times. The report states: “The Attorney General was informed the waterboard had been used 119 times on a single individual.” (p. 45)

Yes, the CIA tortured thousands of people in Vietnam under the Phoenix Program; yes, the CIA trained torturers who went off to practice their dismal craft all over the world; yes, the CIA has engineered coups that brought torturing regimes to power and provided “liaison services” to security services such as SAVAK in Iran, DINA in Chile, and ORDEN in El Salvador that were known to be notorious torture outfits; and yes, the CIA continues even under the Obama administration to use “rendition” of prisoners to U.S. client regimes that are well known to torture people. But this report shows that when Cheney and other Bush administration officials talked about “working the dark side” — Wow! — they really meant it. Someone has got to go to jail for this.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s appointment of John Durham to investigate this sordid episode should be only the first step in a wholesale reevaluation of American national security priorities in the post-9-11 world.

Lee Camp: WATCH: The Untold Story Behind the Troy Davis Supreme Court Decision

Netanyahu In London Vows To Seeks Compromise With U.S. On Israeli Settlements

LONDON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he will seek a compromise with the United States that would allow Israel to proceed with some settlement construction while restarting peace talks with the Palestinians.

In Europe on a four-day tour, the Israeli leader met Tuesday with his British counterpart, Gordon Brown, as his country faces a firm international front against its settlement policy in the West Bank.

The key meeting of Netanyahu’s trip comes Wednesday, when he meets U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell for talks aimed at hammering out a compromise on an issue that has turned into an unusually public disagreement between Israel and its most important ally.

Netanyahu is trying to balance the U.S. demands against those of his right-leaning ruling coalition. The Palestinians have said they will not resume talks until the Israelis agree to a settlement freeze.

“What we’re seeking to achieve with the United States in the talks we’ve conducted, and will conduct tomorrow and will conduct after tomorrow is to find a bridging formula that will enable us to at once launch a process but enable those residents to continue living normal lives,” Netanyahu said, referring to the some 300,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

“Normal lives” is the phrase Israeli representatives has been using to refer to construction that allows for the growth of settler families. The settlers live among 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, land the Palestinians want for a future state.

Both Israel and the U.S. signaled ahead of Netanyahu’s visit that they have made progress toward a compromise, and Nir Hefetz, a spokesman for Netanyahu, said Israel hopes to restart peace talks within two months.

The Israelis have dropped hints that they would like to see a meeting between Netanyahu and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, at the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York next month. Asked about that possibility at a briefing for reporters in London, Netanyahu said only that “time will tell.”

Brown said he made clear in talks with Netanyahu that settlement activity was a barrier to Mideast peace, but also said he was “more optimistic than before.”

“I am increasingly confident, however, that there is a genuine will to make progress, that a freeze in such activity would result in meaningful steps toward normalization from Arab states,” Brown said. President Barack Obama has been pushing Arab countries to encourage peace talks by warming relations with Israel, an effort that has been inconclusive so far.

In his briefing for reporters, Netanyahu repeatedly said the Palestinians had yet to truly come to terms with Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, and that they would need to do so before a peace deal would be possible. The Israeli leader said he would make that point at the other two key meetings he has this week with Mitchell and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He also criticized the Palestinians for demanding a settlement freeze before resuming talks.

The Israelis have been playing down the prospect of a breakthrough at Wednesday’s meeting with Mitchell. Hefetz, the Netanyahu spokesman, said only that there was likely to be “certain progress,” and that was echoed Monday in Washington by State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, who said the sides were “getting closer” to a deal.

Israeli-Palestinian talks have been on hold since Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, left office in March.

Mike Lux: Defeating the Coalition to Kill Health Care Reform

For those of us continuing to fight for the president’s proposals on health care — including covering everyone at a price they can afford, strong regulations on insurers, tough cost containment measures, and a public option to keep insurers honest — it can get discouraging sometimes. I continue to be concerned by the number of progressive friends I have who have become convinced that we cannot win this fight, and are on the verge of giving up. I believe that we are very much in this fight, that there is a clear path to victory, and that it would be a tragedy for those of you who have been fighting for this moment for so long to give up now.

It is easy to get discouraged. The array of forces in outright opposition — insurance companies, somewhere between 98% and 100% of Republicans in Congress, the massive right-wing attack machines — is huge and very loud. Traditional media is so relentlessly negative and cynical that it frequently seems as if they have just joined the coalition mentioned in the previous sentence — I guess they prefer covering a train wreck to seeing something substantive done. And the conventional wisdom/establishment-oriented Democrats who are all too ready to give up the fight for really comprehensive reform and just take the easier path of not really taking on the powerful insurance industry are perhaps the most discouraging of all — they have probably done more to undermine enthusiasm for the president’s goals than anyone.

But for those of us fighting this battle in the trenches every day, it is clear that there is a path to victory. It’s far from a lock, it will require work and backbone by progressives, but the path is in front of us. And my sense is that more and more people are seeing it as a real possibility — David Sirota had a column today on it, Chris Bowers has been writing about it, Digby and many others as well. And progressive groups and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are doing meetings every day, continuing to work the strategy.

So how do we win this fight?

  • Hold the progressives in the House to only vote for a public option. So far, so good. They’ve signed multiple letters, taken multiple pledges, sent a very clear message about their determination. They need to stay strong.
  • Get the Democrats in the Senate to accept that this will have to be a Democrats-only bill. This seems to be moving in the right direction. Schumer sent exactly the right message over the weekend, and it’s clear things are beginning to head that way.

  • Split the bill into two parts in the Senate, with the public option and the financing going through the reconciliation process. Democrats are sending signals that they are moving in that direction as well.

  • Get enough Senators on board for the public option. The whip count DFA and we at OpenLeft have been running shows us at 45. We need five more, and there are several Democrats I think are prime possibilities to come along if this is the path we go down.

  • Above all, don’t panic. There will be some rough days ahead. Certain Senators will keep saying we can’t get this done, and pundits will continue to shed the worst possible light on each day’s events. But we just need to hang tough, hold strong, and keep working.

We are within range of a truly historic victory. Right now is exactly the wrong time for conventional wisdom Dems, or progressive activists, to throw in the towel.

When I was in the Clinton White House, our biggest victory was the 1993 budget fight. At a dozen points along the way, the media pronounced us dead, and some staffers in the White House had pretty much given up as well. But we kept fighting, and we ended up with the most progressive budget bill in the 43 years between 1965 and today. We raised taxes on the wealthy, cut them on the poor, and gave much-needed money to job training, education, environment, low-income folks, and other important domestic priorities. And we did it without a single Republican vote in the House or Senate.

We are now on the verge of a much greater achievement, but only if we don’t lose our will and lose our nerve. If we keep fighting until the fight is done, we can make history.