Bertha Oliva reports that coup leaders are reviving despotism of the 80s in bid to crush participatory democracy.
This July 4th, Rebel and Agitate for Change
Jim Hightower writes for AlterNet: "Agitators created America, and it's their feisty spirit and outright rebelliousness that we celebrate on our national holiday. I don't merely refer to the Founders, either. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, Ben Franklin and the rest certainly were derring-do agitators when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, creating the framework for a democratic republic."
Obama: America Was Not Built by ‘Naysayers.'
Amanda Terkel writes for Think Progress: "President Obama devotes his address this week to remembering the “indomitable spirit of the first American citizens” who built this country and the lessons we can apply to the current challenges:" Watch President Obama's address at this link.
Rolling Stone Expose Declares Goldman Sachs Behind Every Market Crash since 1920s
Daniel Tencer, Raw Story (carried on AlterNet), writes: "Goldman Sachs has played a crucial role in creating every market bubble since the 1920s -- and has profited from not only the bubbles, but from the crash that followed as well, says a new expose in Rolling Stone magazine. An article in the July 9-23 issue of the magazine, written by Matt Taibbi, lists five asset bubbles that the 140-year-old investment bank helped create -- and one that Taibbi asserts the firm is currently working to make happen."
Did Scandal Sink the U.S.S. Palin?
Max Blumenthal writes for the Daily Beast: "The suddenness of Sarah Palin's resignation Friday raises the question about whether Palin is leaving to avert a major scandal. One logical place to start looking is the affair that has Alaska political circles buzzing: an alleged scandal centered around a building contractor, Spenard Building Supplies, with close ties to Palin and her husband, Todd."
Obama Feels You Pain on Healthcare
Mike Madden writes for Salon: "The White House made a big deal out of the fact that anyone who wanted to could log on to Facebook Wednesday afternoon and watch President Obama's "virtual town hall" on healthcare reform, live from Annandale, Va. But when Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine -- whose gig on the side involves being one of Obama's top political surrogates as chairman of the Democratic Party -- showed up to speak, and the video stream went live, things went a little haywire."
Urban Study Group Explains Why a "Public Option" Is Needed
John Amato writes on Crooks & Liars: "Blue America's Campaign For Health Care Choice has been awesome and I want to thank so many of you for donating and taking part in our latest campaign to expose Blanche Lincoln's non-support of the public option. You can still participate. The liberal blogosphere is rising up against the Democratic Senators who up to this point are blocking any kind of health-care reform in America. Adam writes in Open Left: Progressives Got Our Mojo -- Holding Senate Dems Accountable."
Obama Health Czar Directed Firms in Trouble
Fred Schulte, Investigative Reporting Workshop, American University, reports: "Nancy-Ann DeParle, President Barack Obama’s health policy czar, served as a director of corporations that faced scores of federal investigations, whistleblower lawsuits and other regulatory actions, according to government records reviewed by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University."
Recommended Audio: GRIT TV - IS Immigration Reform Dead?
Immigration reform is hardly the front page issue it was one year ago, even though thousands of immigrants end up in detention centers every year. More than 90 immigrants have died in detention in the last few years and the cost of maintaining these facilities is about $1.7 billion. The facts on the ground haven't changed, so where does the movement stand? And is there a real possibility for reform under Obama?
Roberto Lovato, Associate Editor at New America Media, Mallika Dutt, Executive Director of Breakthrough, Ravi Ragbir who spent two years in immigration detention and is a member of Families for Freedom, and Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America's Voice on the state of immigration reform.
Michael Pollan: We Are Headed Toward a Breakdown in Our Food System
David Beer writes for The Tyee (published on AlterNet): "Michael Pollan's famous motto for a smart, healthy diet is "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Add to that: "And when you happen to be on your publisher's expense account, splurge." The night we met up to chat at a place of his choosing, he tucked into a roasted slab of B.C. wild Chinook salmon, a tangle of salad greens and several glasses of good Okanagan Pinot Gris in the swank environs of the Blue Water Café in Vancouver's Yaletown neighbourhood."
A President Breaks Hearts in Appalachia
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. comments for The Washington Post: "Mountaintop removal coal mining is the worst environmental tragedy in American history. When will the Obama administration finally stop this Appalachian apocalypse?"
Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot
Joe Conason writes for Salon: "It wasn't surprising when, after seven months of legal wrangling, the Minnesota Supreme Court declared that Al Franken had won the 2008 Senate race against incumbent Norm Coleman. Still less surprising (although vastly more entertaining) was the simultaneous breakdown of nearly all of Franken's adversaries on the right, whose regurgitated insults, whining complaints and exploding noggins revealed nothing about him or his victory -- and everything about them."
Access Scandal Echoes Beyond The Washington Post
Michael Calderone and Andy Barr report for The Politico: "For embarrassed Washington Post executives - reeling from what the paper's own ombudsman called a public relations "disaster" over a flier promoting a "salon" for lobbyists to mingle with prominent newsmakers - there must be a sense of 'Why us?' The fact is The Post's clumsy effort to make money on its brand name and market its access to the powerful was a belated effort to follow in the steps of at least two other prominent news organizations: the Wall Street Journal and the Economist magazine."
Good News, for a Change
Greg Marx reports for the Columbia Journalism Review: "With the near-daily drip of bleak news about the journalism world (today’s edition: Gannett reportedly plans to cut at least 1,000 jobs), we could all use some reason for optimism. And, fortunately, some has arrived: A consortium of non-profit news publishers including the Center for Public Integrity, NPR, MinnPost and many others has announced plans to launch an Investigative News Network that will foster “editorial, administrative and financial collaboration” between member publications."
Online Consumers Require Real Privacy Safeguards, Not the Digital Fox [AAAA, ANA, BBB, DMA & IAB] in Charge of the Data Hen House
Jeff Chester reports for Digital Destiny: "The self-regulatory proposals released today [2 July 2009] by five marketing industry trade and lobby groups are way too little and far too late. This move by the online ad industry is an attempt, of course, to quell the growing bi-partisan calls in Congress to enact meaningful digital privacy and consumer protection laws. It’s also designed to assuage a reawakened Federal Trade Commission–whose new chair, Jon Leibowitz, recently appointed one the country’s most distinguished consumer advocates and legal scholars to direct its Bureau of Consumer Protection (David Vladeck). The principles are inadequate, even beyond their self-regulatory approach that condones, in effect, the 'corporate fox guarding the digital data henhouse.'"
Meet the Genachowskis: an in-depth look at the new FCC
Matthew Lasar reports for Ars Technica: "Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski gave his first pep talk to the whole Commission staff on Tuesday. He promised to 'green the agency, and improve overall operations of the FCC—running efficiently, communicating effectively, and opening the agency to participation from everyone affected by the FCC's actions.'"
Is Broadband a Civil Right?
Steve Rosenbaum writes for The Huffington Post: "There are some moments when you can feel the conversation change -- and the world tilt from right to left. Today was one of those days. It began early at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City. The PdF as it's known, is now in it's 6th year -- and attracts the top talent in politics, consulting, and technology."
Fox Nation's Hypocritical Double Standard For Patriotism
Ellen writes for News Hounds: "Those self-glorifying "patriots" at Fox Nation, the site that brags about celebrating "open debate" and "civil discourse," are attacking Gyneth Paltrow for having the nerve to favorably compare Spain to the United States in certain respects (nowhere in the article does Paltrow say she likes Spain better than the U.S.). The "tolerant" Fox site has blown up Paltrow's photo with the denigrating and distorting headline, "Paltrow Puts Down America Again." The hypocritical irony is that next to the Paltrow put down, is a column from Ted Nugent, the same guy who suggested then-presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should "suck my machine gun, in which he suggests it's time for armed insurrection against the federal government."
Is Fox Nation in Bed with News Busters?
Priscilla at New Hounds writes: "Well, if so it’s a lawfully wedded heterosexual marriage! Newsbusters is a website that is the love child of Fox Fave Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center which is dedicated to exposing liberal bias in news. What they really do is take anything that is said by any media, famous as well as obscure, and whine about how librul it is. Never mind the fact that media doesn’t claim to be “fair and balanced” like Fox which, as we know, is nothing of the sort. Media Matters has shown that “bias free” Fox Nation pimps more than a few articles on its website from Newsbusters. So rather than “fair and balanced” we have cross pollination of conservative propaganda (dare I say incest?). Today we have a classic example of conservative inter species blog sex with the requisite propaganda which, in this case, is about 'Stuart Smalley.'"
Right-Wing Smear Campaign Against Kevin Jennings
Daily Censored reports:
The right wing has a new target: Kevin Jennings, whom President Obama appointed Assistant Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools (OSDFS). Jennings has had a distinguished career as a teacher, author, and founder of Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), an organization that works to make schools safe for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
It is primarily Jennings’ work with GLSEN that has so outraged the far right. The Family Research Council (FRC) launched the “Stop Kevin Jennings” campaign this week, warning that he is a “radical homosexual activist” who has “worked tirelessly to bring the homosexual agenda into our nation’s classrooms.” “His history demonstrates disregard for our obligations to safeguard the health and well being of the student population,” writes FRC President Tony Perkins.
ThinkProgress investigated FRC’s claims and spoke to people who have worked with Jennings. A look at some of the “facts” about him:
FRC CLAIM: “Jennings’ and GLSEN’s concept of ’safe schools’ means special protections for privileged groups (especially homosexuals), rather than safety for all.”
FACT: As the gay son of a Southern baptist preacher, Jennings had a “childhood of prejudice, taunts, and harassment.” As an education leader, he has used those experiences to promote tolerance and anti-bullying measures in schools nationwide. ThinkProgress spoke with Molly Spearman, executive director of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. Spearman first heard Jennings speak at the 2007 convention of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Spearman said that she was so impressed with Jennings, she decided to invite him to speak at her organization’s October 2007 summit on bullying:
I was a little nervous, being in South Carolina, a very conservative state. But once again, he handled it extremely professionally. He did a magnificent job, and it was a huge success. We had a waiting list of people who wanted to come. … We had several hundred people there. … He was very very well-received — absolutely rave views. And that was in conservative South Carolina. So he handled what could have been a very sensitive topic in a very professional way that was accepted by everyone.
Spearman added that while Jennings did present statistics on the harassment of LGBT students, he more broadly focused on the bullying of all students, pointing out that it was a problem that wasn’t specifically confined to one group.
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FRC CLAIM: “Jennings is viciously hostile to religion.”
FACT: As proof of this claim, FRC points to a passage from Jennings’ memoir:
God…had done nothing but cause me pain and anguish through His inaction and malevolence throughout my childhood. … What had he done for me, other than make me feel shame and guilt? Squat. Screw you, buddy — I don’t need you around anymore, I decided.
As the blog Good As You noted, Jennings was relaying “his frustrations as a gay teen, when his inability to ‘overcome’ his gay desires convinced him that he was detached from God.” FRC also doesn’t bother to include what Jennings writes a few sentences later: that he later returned to religion. “Decades passed before I opened a Bible again.” Jennings later went on to serve as an active member on the board of the Union Theological Seminary (UTS) in New York, the nation’s most prestigious Protestant seminary. ThinkProgress spoke with Rev. Serene Jones, President of UTS, who disputed any claims that Jennings was anti-religion:
In my role as the president [of UTS], and as pastor, I have met few people as deeply Christian and as deeply committed to the work of justice in the world than Kevin Jennings. He’s a man of enormous faith, and not just in terms of prayer and church attendance — both of which he does devoutly — but in terms of his care for the poor, the suffering, the children, the vulnerable in our society. [...]
He’s an active member of the board at Union Theological Seminary and Kevin Jennings tithes, not only in terms of his use of money, but his use of his time and his values and I just wonder how many of the people who are attacking him have taken their own faith serious enough to make the kind of financial, moral, vocational commitment that Kevin Jennings has made with his life.
FRC also points to a speech Jennings gave in 2000, where he allegedly said, “We have to quit being afraid of the religious right. … I’m trying not to say, ‘F*ck ‘em!’ which is what I want to say, because I don’t care what they think! Drop dead!” There appears to be no full transcript available of this 2000 speech; it seems to first appear in a 2002 article on the right-wing website Concerned Women for America. The same day that article was published (4/10/02), Jennings told NPR that he had “no recollection of [that] quote whatsoever.”
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FRC Claim: Jennings is “unfit for the post to which he’s been assigned.”
FACT: Jennings, in fact, will be the first head of OSDFS in years to have a background as an educator. His predecessor, Deborah Price, received her BS degree in home economics, worked on the National Prayer Breakfast, on the Senate Republican Policy Committee, and then doing student aid in the Department of Education. Her predecessor, Eric Andell, was a judge from Texas and was eventually fired. He “pleaded guilty in federal court to one misdemeanor count of conflict of interest that included using federal money to pay for personal expenses.” Jennings has received many mainstream education awards, including the Distinguished Service Award of NASSP. ThinkProgress spoke to NASSP Executive Director Gerald Tirozzi, who wrote a recommendation letter on Jennings’ behalf. He said that he has “always been impressed with Kevin and his forthrightness. He’s a very courageous young man.” Tirozzi stressed that Jennings’ work on school bullying made him an ideal fit for this particular position.
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As Good As You has noted, FRC and other right-wing sites are trying to take other parts of Jennings’ memoir — such as the fact that Jennings admitted to using drugs while in high school and that he wanted to make sure that a high school student had practiced safe sex — as evidence that he doesn’t have the “ethical standards needed for public service.”
So what is FRC’s real problem with Jennings? Tellingly, FRC Vice President for Policy Peter Sprigg — the author of the anti-Jennings talking points — once said, “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.”