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See Pets for pols and pundits, series 1 here.

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Doing her part for the spies.

Doing her part for the spies.

Jane Harman used to be a card-carrying member of the oligarchy, one to whom the laws that we little people follow don’t apply. When she got a phone call asking her to lobby the Justice Department to reduce charges of espionage against two men from AIPAC, she was happy to oblige.

An NSA wiretap caught Harman saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference.” She ended the call with, “this conversation doesn’t exist.”

Before she was bagged for this corruption, Harman had long been a supporter of illegal spying on U.S. citizens. Just before the 2004 election, she helped persuade the NYT not to print a story exposing the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

And on Dec. 21, 2005, when criticism about the wiretaps was coming from all directions, Harman defended the program and excoriated the NYT for having finally printed the story. She said, “I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.”

Harman seems to have had a change of heart.

She now wants to shut down the federal agency, the National Applications Office (NAO), that will oversee the use of satellites for spying on U.S. residents suspected of terrorism and other crimes. She has introduced two bills that would close the NAO.

In a press release Harman said: “[I]magine, for a moment, what it would be like if one of these satellites were directed on your neighborhood or home, a school or place of worship – and without an adequate legal framework or operating procedures in place for regulating their use. I daresay the reaction might be that Big Brother has finally arrived and the black helicopters can’t be far behind.”

Oh, thank you, Jane! It is always a pleasure seeing a public servant selflessly and tirelessly working for the citizens.

One of the little people, making her voice heard.

One of the little people, making her voice heard.

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Norman Rockwell scene at the Palins

Norman Rockwell scene at the Palin's

So, we know that Sarah Palin was letting Levi boink her daughter Bristol regularly in the family home. And we heard recently from Bristol that she was glad she didn’t get married, because it would never have worked out with Levi.

But now Sarah Palin is trotting out her daughter as a spokesperson for abstinence only. Which leads Matt Taibbi to ask, “Am I missing something? What does it take to get discredited as a right-wing ‘family values’ merchant these days?”

A lot, apparently.

The same party that brought us

  • promoting marriage through sex with prostitutes and diapers
  • voting for anti-gay legislation while using the wide stance in stalls
  • presenting the second wife, at the hospital with cancer, with divorce plans and marrying the third wife six months later

has used $100 million of taxpayer money per year since 2006 for the Healthy Marriage Initiative, much of which money goes to religious groups. And President Bait-and-Switch has agreed to continue spending money on it. Hell, what does separation of church and state matter when you’ve already chucked habeas corpus?

David Vitter: Champion for same-sex marriage.

David Vitter: Champion for same-sex marriage.

The impetus for this initiative came from conservatives who were “alarmed” by rising rates of out-of-wedlock births and lack of a father presence among poor and minority families. It was part of a wider effort by the Bush administration that included abstinence-only education.

Opponents have seen the marriage program as efforts to impose virtue rather than truly help people out of poverty, as its proponents claim. If they mean by “virtue” some kind of 50s throwback where femininity meant that women knew their place, I think they are correct. The initiative’s main feature on the Web, TwoOfUs.org, seems to define virtue in that way. As AlterNet points out, although the site seems aimed at women, “the discussion boards are, weirdly, dominated by men voicing disdain for marriage and women.”

A reader’s article, called “Why Men Won’t Marry,” is linked from the main page, and includes these gems:

Totally rewrite the divorce laws – that means no more untenable support payments . . . it would also mean that men will get full access to their children, and that any woman who has full custody and denies said access will be punished severely. Under this regime, the laws should also be rewritten so that women can’t commit legalized theft using divorce as a tool. …

Women have demanded equality, time to give it to them. Don’t like it, ladies? Tough noogies! Equality means taking the good with the bad – you can’t cherry-pick or gerrymander things to suit yourself anymore.

Rewrite DV (domestic violence) legislation so that men are not automatically assumed to be guilty and incarcerated if a woman files a DV complaint. Amend the laws so women are punished if they file a false complaint. . . . Women who live with truly abusive partners have a responsibility to themselves (and others) to leave. . . . If such women can’t or won’t leave, despite all possible help being offered to them, then they have effectively consented to the abuse and should be left alone.

End official state support for feminism, which has done more to destroy the institution of marriage than anything else. To paraphrase the words of Stalin, ‘we don’t allow hate movements like the KKK to exist, why should we allow feminism to exist?

Require public and private schools and colleges and universities to end their policy of teaching pro-feminist courses if they want federal or state funding . . .

The bottom line is that men have stopped marrying because they no longer feel safe about tying the knot. The extreme legal, financial and personal risks to which marriage exposes them has quite effectively deterred them from playing the game at all.

Ending laws like VAWA [Violence Against Women Act] and IMBRA [International Marriage Broker Regulation Act] would also be a good start. It’s not the state’s business where American men find their brides. If women at home don’t like the competition, then maybe it’s time for them to clean up their act and make themselves more attractive than foreign women.

The legal system . . . is buttered with the continued abuse of men.

Women, remember, keep that chastity belt on until you are married. Because if you get yourself pregnant, it is your fault and your financial responsibility. Of course, that holds if you are married as well. And if you do not display a properly submissive femininity, be aware that men will look abroad for their mates, and you will be an old maid, taking classes in feminist theory at your local college.

And there you have it. Another instance of New Ideas from the right!

You gotta give them credit: whatever shit they come up with, at least it’s consistent.

GOP consistency

GOP consistency

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If any of you received emails from Harry Reid during the primaries, you will recall that he referred to himself as “Give ’em hell Harry.” Well, he is really giving those Republicans hell. They have all been making a lot of noise about closing Gitmo, and about how very dangerous it would be to house those superhuman detainees in our maximum security prisons. And the detainees would be in peak physical and mental condition after years of torture and isolation.

So how does Harry respond?

REID: I’m saying that the United States Senate, Democrats and Republicans, do not want terrorists to be released in the United States. That’s very clear.

QUESTION: No one’s talking about releasing them. We’re talking about putting them in prison somewhere in the United States.

REID: Can’t put them in prison unless you release them.

QUESTION: Sir, are you going to clarify that a little bit? …

REID: I can’t make it any more clear than the statement I have given to you. We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.

Brilliant, Harry. We knew we could count on you for both courage and clarity.

Glenn Greenwald has a great blog on the closing Gitmo debate, aka the Dumbest Moment in Congressional History, called, “Terrorists in prison: Is there anything the Right doesn’t fear?” And his tweet on Harry is perfect:

Reid’s last book was titled (absurdly) “Fighting the Good Fight.” Maybe his next one can be: “Hiding Under my Bed.”

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The health care hysteria is advancing apace. Just one week after the insurance industry promised to help Obama reduce health care costs, it is gearing up a deceitful, fear-mongering campaign to put an end to any change that helps consumers. Their particular target is a key plank in Obama’s plan, the government-sponsored health insurance option.

The usual suspects are adding supportive noise to this ugly campaign. Frank Luntz has created a number of talking points to help Republicans who are incapable of original thought. These include:

  • One size does not fit all.
  • Pay the costs you pay today for the quality of care you currently receive, OR, Pay less for your care, but potentially have to wait weeks for tests and months for treatments you need.
  • This could lead to the government setting standards of care.
  • This could lead to the government rationing care, making people stand in line and denying treatment like they do in other countries with national healthcare.
  • It’s a government takeover and Washington bureaucrats will be in charge of your health.
  • luntzknight

    Blue Cross has come up with a series of illustrative ads that outright lie about the changes proposed to the system. You can see the story boards for the ads here. My favorite one is the doctor’s receptionist taking a call for an appointment from someone with the public health insurance plan:

    bluecrossstoryboard

    This corporate fiction has been debunked again and again. Media Matters offers a point-by-point analysis of Blue Cross’s lies and hypocrisy. Here are just a few of the facts:

    1. Blue Cross’s ads imply that the public health plan won’t cover pre-existing conditions.
    Fact: It is Blue Cross that has a long history of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    2. Blue Cross ads imply that public health plan users won’t be able to keep their own doctors.
    Fact: Obama has stated this about the public plan: “First, the rising cost of health care must be brought down; second, Americans must have the freedom to keep whatever doctor and health care plan they have, or to choose a new doctor or health care plan if they want it; and third, all Americans must have quality, affordable health care.”

    As Media Matters points out, if Blue Cross thinks the public health plan will be such a disaster, then why are they afraid to compete with it?

    Blue Cross and the Republicans and Frank Luntz hope to put themselves forward as knights in shining armor, saving the public from losing the most excellent insurance arrangements they could wish for. They are a strange new breed of knight, fighting to disallow any options at all outside those the bloated insurance industry monopolizes, and to keep millions and millions without insurance.

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    GQ magazine has discovered that Donald Rumsfeld had a bizarre habit of writing biblical passages on the cover pages of intelligence documents. He did this, apparently, to curry favor with George W. Bush. Or perhaps to manipulate him, as Olbermann and Richard Wolffe suggest.

    For example, over an image of U.S. troops in the Iraqi desert on a cover document, Rumsfeld wrote a passage from Isaiah: “Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung; their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, their chariot wheels are like a whirlwind.”

    This practice made intelligence officials uneasy. The article notes:

    At least one Muslim analyst in the (Pentagon) building had been greatly offended. . . . Others privately worried that if these covers were leaked during a war conducted in an Islamic nation, the fallout — as one Pentagon staffer would later say — “would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”

    What the report failed to note was that Rumsfeld picked up the habit of using interesting quotes from President Bush. Except that Bush preferred to get his quotes from a different source:

    topsecretiraq

    topsecretcolin

    topsecretepa

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    Bush's practice makes Cat in the hat uneasy.

    Bush's practice makes Cat in the hat uneasy.

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