Sara Robinson comments for The Campaign for America's Future: "In tracking the mileage on this trip to perdition, many of us relied on the work of historian Robert Paxton, who is probably the world's pre-eminent scholar on the subject of how countries turn fascist. In a 1998 paper published in The Journal of Modern History, Paxton argued that the best way to recognize emerging fascist movements isn't by their rhetoric, their politics, or their aesthetics. Rather, he said, mature democracies turn fascist by a recognizable process, a set of five stages that may be the most important family resemblance that links all the whole motley collection of 20th Century fascisms together ... It's odd that I haven't been asked for quite a while; but if you asked me today, I'd tell you that if we're not there right now, we've certainly taken that last turn into the parking lot and are now looking for a space."
Inside Story on Town Hall Riots: Right-Wing Shock Troops Do Corporate America's Dirty Work
Adele Stan reports for AlterNet: "The recent spate of town hall dustups may look like an overnight sensation, but they've been years, even decades, in the making. Since the days in the late 1970s, when the New Right began its takeover of the Republican Party, it has cultivated a militia of white people armed with a grudge against those who brought forth the social changes of the '60s. These malcontents have been promised their day of retribution, a day for which they are more than ready. Few seem to understand that they are merely dupes for a corporate agenda that will only worsen the conditions in which they live."
But Seriously, Folks: Obama Death Panels?
Joan Walsh writes for Salon.com: "I've been writing about "town hells" and anti-health care reform hysterics, as well as the crazy Birthers, for a few weeks. Every few days, I think: Maybe we're giving these fringe folks the oxygen they need; maybe we should ignore them. But it all got even loonier today, and it can't be ignored."
What are the Birthers Really After?
Joe Conason comments for Truthdig: "On Aug. 4, President Barack Obama celebrated the anniversary of his birth, an event that occurred 48 years ago in the state of Hawaii. This is an indisputable fact, as sane critics on the right, such as the editors of the National Review and the veteran pundit Patrick Buchanan, acknowledge. And yet there is a significant minority, especially within the Republican Party, that fervently insists otherwise."
Senators Block Obama Nominees, Protest Guantanamo
Lolita C. Baldor reports for The Associated Press: "Kansas' two U.S. senators are blocking 10 of President Barack Obama's nominees for senior administration posts at the Pentagon and Justice Department in protest over a proposal to house Guantanamo detainees at the Fort Leavenworth prison. The list of blocked nominees includes a fellow Republican member of Congress - Obama's pick for Army secretary, Rep. John McHugh of New York."
US Still Paying Blackwater Millions
Jeremy Scahill reports for The Nation: "Just days before two former Blackwater employees alleged in sworn statements filed in federal court that the company's owner, Erik Prince, 'views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,' the Obama administration extended a contract with Blackwater for more than $20 million for 'security services' in Iraq, according to federal contract data obtained by The Nation. The State Department contract is scheduled to run through September 3. In May, the State Department announced it was not renewing Blackwater's Iraq contract, and the Iraqi government has refused to issue the company an operating license."
Recommended Audio: GRIT TV - Will Blackwater Founder Face Charges?
Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army writes in the Nation that Blackwater founder Erik Prince “may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company,” according to the sworn testimony of a former Blackwater employee and an ex-US marine. Scahill discusses the story and its implications for Prince and Blackwater itself. You can read Scahill’s blog, Rebel Reports, here.
You're Wrong, Eric Cantor: The Stimulus Is Working
Isaiah J. Poole writes for the Campaign for America's Future: "It's surprising that it took a full 69 minutes from the moment the Bureau of Labor Statistics July jobs report was released for the condemnatory news release from House Republican Whip Eric Cantor to reach my inbox. No doubt it was written hours of even days before, the message being so predictable - and wrong."
Bundled Mortgages Pose Problems for Housing Program
Karen Weise reports for ProPublica: "Seventy-year-old Barbara Harris can’t help crying when she walks around her neighborhood. She says she hates seeing possessions piled up on front lawns — the remnants of foreclosure. Three times, the Harrises received foreclosure notices and thought they’d be next. For two years, the Harrises have been trying to get Wells Fargo to modify their mortgage to something they can afford. But they face one big catch: Though Wells Fargo services their mortgage and is participating in the federal modification program, it doesn’t actually own their loan. And the investors that do own the loan, Wells Fargo told the Harrises, won’t allow the modification."
Honduras Is Only Part of the Story: The Conservative Counter-Attack in Latin America
Miguel Tinker Salas writes for Counter Punch: "I would submit that events in Honduras are not isolated, but rather part of a conservative counterattack taking shape in Latin America. For some time, the right has been rebuilding in Latin America; hosting conferences, sharing experiences, refining their message, working with the media, and building ties with allies in the United States. This is not the lunatic right fringe, but rather the mainstream right with powerful allies in the middle class that used to consider themselves center, but have been frightened by recent left electoral victories and the rise of social movements. With Obama in the White House and Clinton in the State Department they have now decided to act. Bush/Cheney and company did not give them any coverage and had become of little use to them. A "liberal" in the White House, gives conservative forces the kind of coverage they had hoped for. It is no coincidence that Venezuelan opposition commentators applauded the naming of Clinton to the State Department claiming that they now had an ally in the administration. The old cold-warrior axiom that the best antidote against the left is a liberal government in Washington gains new meaning under Obama with Clinton at the State Department."
Recommended Audio: Truthdig Podcast Featuring Thom Hartmann
The Truthdig panel talks to radio host and author Thom Hartmann about his new book, “Threshold,” the need for serious financial regulation and his trip to Darfur.
The Me-First, Screw-Everybody-Else Crowd
David Sirota writes for Truthdig: "I know I should be mortified by the lobbyist-organized mobs of angry Brooks Brothers mannequins who are now making headlines by shutting down congressional town hall meetings. I know I should be despondent during this, the Khaki Pants Offensive in the Great American Health Care and Tax War. And yet, I’m euphorically repeating one word over and over again with a big grin on my face."
You Do Not Have Health Insurance
James Kwak writes for The Baseline Scenario: "Right now, it appears that the biggest barrier to health care reform is people who think that it will hurt them. According to a New York Times poll, '69 percent of respondents in the poll said they were concerned that the quality of their own care would decline if the government created a program that covers everyone.' Since most Americans currently have health insurance, they see reform as a poverty program - something that helps poor people and hurts them. If that's what you think, then this post is for you. You do not have health insurance. Let me repeat that. You do not have health insurance. (Unless you are over 65, in which case you do have health insurance. I'll come back to that later.)"
Health Insurance Executives Undermine Insurance Lobbyist’s Pledge to Reform Insurance Market.
Igor Volsky writes for Think Progress: "Yesterday (August 5th), during an interview with Bloomberg Radio, Karen Ignagni — the President and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) — reiterated insurers’ commitment to reforming the health insurance marketplace:
That’s what people want. They want to be in. They don’t want to be rejected because of preexisting conditions, and they want to make sure they have continuity of care. We’ve committed to that. That’s what our industry is doing. We are one of the first to step up and offer real change that affected our industry. And we’re still committed to that."Recommended Audio: GRIT TV - Summer Swiftboaters: The Healthcare Battle Heats Up
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and political consultant Karen Finney discuss healthcare reform and Washington politics. As members of congress head home for the summer, are the astroturf tactics of the opposition working? And what can single payer advocates do to fight for healthcare reform in August? Finney says that this may be the single best opportunity for real reform and that what happens over the next month will be decisive.
MoJo Interview: The Cove's Louie Psihoyos and Ric O'Barry
Kiera Butler writes for Mother Jones: "There's something fishy about the coastal town of Taiji, Japan: Statues and murals of dolphins line the streets, yet every year, the town's fishermen kill thousands of dolphins and sell their meat. That’s a whole lot of dead dolphins—you'd think some enterprising activist journalist would have blown Taiji's cover long ago. They tried, but no one could penetrate the heavily guarded cove where the killing takes place. Until now. When photographer Louie Psihoyos heard about Taiji, he teamed up with marine mammal activist (and former Flipper TV dolphin trainer) Ric O'Barry. Together, the two launched a high-tech espionage mission to infiltrate the cove and expose the slaughter. We spoke with O'Barry and Psihoyos about making The Cove, assembling an Ocean's Eleven-style team, and why a little paranoia can be a good thing."
Coal Lobby's 'Purest Form of Gressroots' Delivered by GOP Voter Fraud Company
Think Progress reports: "The coal industry lobbying outfit the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is pressing forward with an aggressive astroturfing campaign going after U.S. senators — despite the recent revelation that it was responsible for forged “grassroots” letters to lawmakers, attacking the American Clean Energy and Security Act:"
The Clock is Ticking on DADT
Paul DeMigilo writes for The Bilerico Project: "The time to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is long overdue. Service members are being fired -- almost two per day -- because they are gay or lesbian. So far, 13,000 have been kicked out under DADT. The experience of Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach is a painful reminder of how this law harms qualified patriots and denies LGBT Americans the freedom to serve. A highly decorated, F-15E combat aviator, Fehrenbach has earned nine Air Medals, including one for Heroism, throughout his 18-year career. He was hand-picked to protect the airspace over Washington, D.C. after the Sept. 11 attacks."
FOX News Directs Viewers to Town Halls Hosted By Democrats
Nate Carlile reports for Think Progress: "Earlier today, Fox News publicized the time and location of “gladiatorial” town halls hosted by Democrats — but not Republicans. With “heated” and increasingly confrontational town halls now dominating news coverage, Washington correspondent James Rosen announced he had “obtained a large Excel spreadsheet showing the schedule of town halls for Democratic members of Congress.” Rosen reported the time and location of several town halls, including those for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). To explain why Fox wasn’t reporting on town halls hosted by Republicans, Rosen assured viewers that if he 'had the spreadsheet for the Republican members,' he would 'share' that as well:" View video here.
FCC Wants Real Answers from ISPs on Broadband Investment
Nate Anderson writes for Ars Technica: "Yes, we know—when the FCC puts out a press release (PDF) titled "Columbia Institute for Tele-Information to Conduct Independent Review of Telecom Capital Expenditures to Assist FCC," the eyeballs begin to glaze and the limbs feel suddenly heavy. But this one's worth rousing the brain for, because the FCC announcement means that the agency is taking a close look at just how much investment ISPs make in their broadband lines."
Why Murdoch, the Old Media Reactionary, Is Wrong to Charge for Content
Roy Greenslade writes for the Guardian UK: "I have never received so many calls from so many places across the world to talk about the momentous decision by Rupert Murdoch to charge people for access to his newspaper websites. As so often with statements by the world's most famous media mogul, the announcement is being treated as the word of god. Where Rupert goes, said several TV and radio presenters, others are sure to follow."