What’s Up: August 31, 2012

* Obama has millions of fake Twitter followers – President Obama’s Twitter account has 18.8 million followers — but more than half of them really don’t exist, according to reports. A new Web tool has determined that 70% of Obama’s crowd includes “fake followers,” The New York Times reports in a story about how Twitter followers can be purchased. “The practice has become so widespread that StatusPeople, a social media management company in London, released a Web tool last month called the Fake Follower Check that it says can ascertain how many fake followers you and your friends have,” the Times reports. “Fake accounts tend to follow a lot of people but have few followers,” said Rob Waller, a founder of StatusPeople. “We then combine that with a few other metrics to confirm the account is fake.” Notes the Times: If accurate, the number of fake followers out there is surprising. According to the StatusPeople tool, 71 percent of Lady Gaga’s nearly 29 million followers are “fake” or “inactive.” So are 70 percent of President Obama’s nearly 19 million followers.

– Why is this news? The man has been fake since arriving on the political scene in Illinois.

* Deportation statistics said to be inflated – The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is charging that the Obama administration has “falsified” deportation records to artificially boost numbers — a move critics of the Homeland Security Department have long suspected. Rep. Lamar Smith, the Texan who runs the committee, said the Obama administration has for the past several years been mixing some Border Patrol apprehensions with the deportation statistics from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency chiefly responsible for interior enforcement and for deporting aliens. His investigation found that when the Border Patrol numbers are subtracted, deportations actually have gone down every year since Mr. Obama first took office in 2009, dropping from about 395,000 that year to about 330,000 in 2011. And 2012 is shaping up to have even fewer deportations once the Border Patrol figures are subtracted, the committee said. It is dishonest to count illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol along the border as ICE removals,” Mr. Smith said. “These ‘removals’ from the Border Patrol program do not subject the illegal immigrant to any penalties or bars for returning to the U.S. This means a single illegal immigrant can show up at the border and be removed numerous times in a single year — and counted each time as a removal.

– What part of the US Government has credibility?

* Gawker Publishes Bain Documents – Gossip website Gawker has published what it says are previously confidential financial documents concerning 21 investment funds and other entities – including some located offshore – that Mitt Romney has invested in. The documents – many of them financial statements or investor letters – provide a window into the underlying holdings of some of these high-end investment vehicles, which previously were opaque to the public. In his official financial disclosures, Mr. Romney has listed his ownership of stakes in funds managed by Bain Capital and other firms, but has said that the managers of these funds declined to provide information about their underlying holdings because they were confidential. The accompanying article also suggests that the documents show some of the funds were engaged in arrangements in recent years that were aimed at avoiding a U.S. withholding tax on corporate dividends being paid to the funds. The transactions, often involving swaps, would effectively change the character of the payments from a dividend to some other type of income that wasn’t subject to the withholding. Many offshore hedge funds engaged in similar deals for years, known collectively as “total return equity swap dividend withholding tax avoidance transactions,” according to tax experts. After a probe, Congress finally brought an end to the practice in a 2010 law that greatly expanded the reach of withholding on dividends and dividend substitutes.

* Motor City Mayor Gives Obama Mixed Reviews – Detroit Mayor Dave Bing gave Barack Obama mixed reviews as president in his first term when asked about it during taping of “Michigan Matters.” “I don’t give grades, but it’s been mixed,” said Bing, 68, a Democrat who runs a city with an 80 percent African American population on the weekly CBS 62 show. He added Obama came in amid high expectations but some issues now dogging him and his effort to win re-election against Michigan native son and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney aren’t all of his doing. “He inherited a mess, just as I did,” Bing said of Obama. “The areas he has been good at are in healthcare, autos and education,” Bing said. When pressed on how Obama has treated his city, Bing said: “Certain departments have been helpful like HUD and Transportation and Labor.” Of Vice President Joe Biden who was in Detroit on Wednesday and talked to Bing during his campaign visit, he said, “Joe was a few years ahead of me (at Syracuse University where they both attended college). I didn’t know him then. But over several years we have connected and built a good relationship.” Bing, who played basketball at Syracuse and with the Detroit Pistons, is an NBA All-Star and was voted one of the 50 greatest players of all time. Obama made mention of Bing’s career during a 2009 campaign visit to suburban Warren where the mayor was among those sitting in the audience. “My game’s a little like Dave Bing’s, except I don’t have the jump shot or the speed or the ball handling skills or the endurance. I also don’t have the Afro — don’t think I forgot that Dave. I remember!” Obama said at the time. Since taking keys to the White House, Obama has visited Michigan 11 times.

* The Republican’s Curse:

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* Jarrett Towers, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett’s real-estate investment jumped in value between 2010 and 2011, documents show. Senior White House adviser and long-time Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett’s role in a number of controversial Chicago housing developments has garnered her investments worth millions of dollars while highlighting the administration’s extensive business ties to presidential donors. Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, Jarrett was president and chief executive officer of the Habitat Company, a real estate development firm founded by major Democratic donor Daniel Levin. Before that, she served three years as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development under Mayor Richard Daley. Jarrett currently owns an 11-percent equity interest in Kingsbury Plaza, a 46-story luxury apartment complex developed by Habitat between 2005 and 2007 at a cost of more than $100 million. She valued the investment at between $1 million and $5 million on her 2011 financial disclosure form, up from $250,001 in 2010. A Jarrett spokesman told the Washington Times that the investment was “a direct result of her 13 years working for Habitat.” Cook County records show the Kingsbury property is worth around $27.2 million, but thanks to a series of legal appeals beginning in 2003, the land and building are assessed at a much lower value for tax purposes. Since 2008, the property has been designated a “special commercial structure” and is taxed at a value of just $6.8 million, or 25 percent of the actual value.

– It is advantageous to be politically connected in Chicago. Who cares if the lower income blacks are killing each other at a record pace? Just as long as the politically connected blacks get their financial benefits and prosperity are free.

* German minister rejects more time for Greece – BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s economy minister has rejected calls for Greece to get more time to implement economic reforms, saying in an interview Sunday that Athens needs to respect the bailout deal reached with its international creditors. Philipp Roesler’s comments to ZDF public television come after a visit by Greece’s prime minister to Berlin on Friday, during which Antonis Samaras told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that his country needs ‘‘time to breathe’’ before it can make all the budget cuts and reforms demanded as part of its €240 billion ($300 billion) bailout packages. ‘‘What the Greeks have asked for, half a year or two years, that’s not doable,’’ said Roesler, who is also the vice chancellor in Angela Merkel’s coalition government. He added that ‘‘time is always money’’ and all parties had agreed that additional funds for Greece weren’t up for debate. Roesler, the leader of Germany’s pro-business Free Democratic Party, has long taken a hard line on Greece. Last month, he caused an outcry in Greece by suggesting the idea of the country leaving the 17-nation Eurozone had ‘‘lost its horror.’’

* UVA Declines Obama Campaign Request – A University of Virginia spokeswoman says President Barack Obama will not be at the university when he comes to Charlottesville on Wednesday. In a statement released Friday, it was confirmed that the university declined the president’s request to speak at UVA. UVA says the Obama campaign requested the use of one of two outdoor venues – the Amphitheater or the Harrison-Small Library plaza. The university declined the request for a number of reasons including class cancellations, which UVA estimates could be more than 186 classes on the second day of school. The other main reason is they would have to take on the full cost of security, and because of university policy and their federal and state tax exempt status, they would have to offer the same opportunity to the other candidate so as not to show favor for either candidate. Virginia’s top Democrat is playing down the snub. While stopping in Albemarle County, Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran told NBC29, “We’re proud that he’s coming. We’re very excited that he’s coming to Charlottesville, regardless of where in Charlottesville. Charlottesville is known for the University of Virginia, so I don’t think that’s going to be missed on anyone.”

* SUSPECT IN MARYLAND SCHOOL SHOOTING IN CUSTODY – PERRY HALL, Md. (AP) — Police say a suspect is in custody after the shooting of a student on the first day of classes at a high school near Baltimore. Baltimore County police say the Perry Hall High School student was flown to a hospital after being shot Monday morning. Police say a suspect was taken into custody after the shooting but did not provide additional details. WJZ-TV showed video of a shirtless male with his hands behind his back being put into a police cruiser. The school was evacuated and students were taken to nearby Perry Hall Shopping Center. Parents can meet them there.

* 17 Afghans beheaded in insurgent attack on party – KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Insurgents beheaded 17 civilians in a Taliban-controlled area of southern Afghanistan, apparently because they attended a dance party that flouted the extreme brand of Islam embraced by the militants, officials said Monday. The killings, in a district where U.S. Marines have battled the Taliban for years, were a reminder of how much power the insurgent group still wields in the south — particularly as international forces draw down and hand areas over to Afghan forces. The victims were part of a large group that had gathered late Sunday in Helmand province’s Musa Qala district for a celebration involving music and dancing, said district government chief Neyamatullah Khan. He said the Taliban slaughtered them to show their disapproval of the event.

* Scientists Successfully ‘Hack’ Brain To Obtain Private Data – BERKELEY, Calif. (CBS Seattle) – It sounds like something out of the movie “Johnny Mnemonic,” but scientists have successfully been able to “hack” a brain with a device that’s easily available on the open market. Researchers from the University of California and University of Oxford in Geneva figured out a way to pluck sensitive information from a person’s head, such as PIN numbers and bank information. The scientists took an off-the-shelf Emotiv brain-computer interface, a device that costs around $299, which allows users to interact with their computers by thought. The scientists then sat their subjects in front of a computer screen and showed them images of banks, people, and PIN numbers. They then tracked the readings coming off of the brain, specifically the P300 signal. The P300 signal is typically given off when a person recognizes something meaningful, such as someone or something they interact with on a regular basis.

* Obama should pray that China overtakes US – Fellow Financial Times columnist Niall Ferguson has received some fierce criticism for a piece he wrote in Newsweek, under the provocative headline: “Hit the road, Barack”. Among various complaints, critics cried foul over a graph showing that the International Monetary Fund predicts that, on current trends, China will overtake the US to have the world’s largest economy in 2017. They have a point. Nobody disputes this claim (in a chart headed “A nation losing ground”). But this event would be no indictment of US economic policy under President Obama, or his predecessors. China has four times the population of the US; parity would mean that Americans were still on average four times richer. Indeed, US business and the US economy desperately need China to keep growing. Mr Obama need not be embarrassed when China’s economy overtakes that of the US; but he should lose a lot of sleep over any suggestion that China might fail to do so. On that basis, China should be causing sleepless nights in the White House. The latest flash estimates for China’s purchasing manager data, designed so that 50 should be the dividing line between expansion and recession, are now at a nine-month low of 47.8.

* Jeb Bush to Obama: Stop blaming my brother – Jeb Bush says it’s time for President Obama to stop blaming his brother for the nation’s problems. “I mean, look, the guy (Obama) was dealt a difficult hand, no question about it,” Bush said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “But he’s had three years. His policies have failed.” Obama rarely mentions Bush by name on the campaign trail. But the president does say that Republican Mitt Romney is seeking to revive the economic policies that led to the financial meltdown of 2008, George W. Bush’s last year in office. On NBC, Jeb Bush said perhaps Obama should “offer some fresh new solutions to the problems that we face,” but he added: “That’s not going to happen between now and Election Day.”

* The Demonization of President Obama Must End – Every once in a while, you have to feel sorry for Mitt Romney. One of his surrogates during his unsuccessful 2008 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination was Dr. John Willke, the controversial doctor who inspired Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s now infamous belief that a raped woman is unlikely to become pregnant. Moreover, the good doctor is inconveniently sticking to his guns. A woman being raped, he told the New York Times last week, “is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.” According to the Times, Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, dismisses Willke’s theories as “just nuts.” Another 2008 Romney supporter was Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff charged by the U.S. Justice Department with discrimination and racial profiling who is also one of the foremost proponents of the equally wacky proposition that President Obama was not born in Hawaii, is therefore not a naturally born U.S. citizen, and consequently is ineligible to serve as president. Arpaio believes the president’s birth certificate to be a forgery, and it appears that nothing under the sun can convince him otherwise. There are lots more birthers out there, including most prominently Donald Trump, all driven by an irrational animus toward the president. Understandably, Governor Romney does not want to needlessly antagonize them. They, too, may well be nuts, but a vote is a vote irrespective of the citizen’s IQ or emotional equilibrium. By Menachem Rosensaft, Professor of law and son of Holocaust Survivors.

* The Case Obama Needs Progressives to Make Against Republican Convention Attacks – At this week’s Republican National Convention, speakers will likely repeat an argument for firing President Obama that Paul Ryan first made on the day he was named Mitt Romney’s running mate: “In his first 2 years, with his party in complete control of Washington, he passed nearly every item on his agenda. But that didn’t make things better.” Mitt Romney also made this argument, saying Obama’s plan has “been executed over the last three and a half years. It hasn’t worked.” For those who follow politics closely, this argument is easily debunked. Republicans blocked the seating of Senator Al Franken for the first half-year of Obama’s presidency and took Ted Kennedy’s seat half a year later. They used the Senate filibuster to deny Americans the opportunity to see Obama’s proposals enacted on jobs, pay equity for women, the Dream Act, climate change, and according to the Associated Press, an “astonishing” number of other issues. By Adam Green, Co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

* Mitt’s Big Secret, by DAVE LINDORFF – A lot of theories have been put forward to try and explain why Romney has allowed his campaign to become bedeviled by charges of tax dodging, but what if what he is hiding is felonious tax fraud? Okay, so he’s taken the legal option of delaying filing his 2011 taxes, which every taxpayer is entitled to do without penalty and without having to give any explanation until October 15 this year (I agree it’s a little weird when a super-rich guy who pays accountants by the dozen does this, but hey). The nagging question though is why he hasn’t just responded to the demand that he release two years of tax returns like John McCain did in 2008 by simply releasing his 2009 tax filing, along with the 2010 return he already released? The answer may well be that 2009 was the year that the Treasury Department decided to offer an amnesty from prosecution for tax fraud to any of the tens of thousands of millionaires who were known or suspected to have illegally hidden income abroad in the Cayman Islands or in Swiss banks — a felony, but one that people thought they’d never be caught at. That year alone, some nearly 30,000 people, many of them no doubt prominent in society, politics and business, and customers of the finest accounting firms, reportedly voluntarily came forward to the IRS to admit that they had hidden some of the estimated $100 billion in income that crooked rich Americans have for years been secreting away in banks overseas. Under the terms of the program, they were able to just report their fraud, pay the taxes, penalties and interest on the money and then walk away Scott free, with no charges and with their returns kept confidential by the agency.

– This is what the liberals contend is the reason why Romney is not releasing his past tax returns. We know how Romney made his money. How did a community organizer make up to $10-12 Million in his estate? Has anyone asked Obama how he amassed his fortune?

* Delusions and Disappointments, Meet Barack Obama, by ROB URIE – Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential pick, Paul Ryan, as with himself, is an uninformed opportunist who was born into wealth and privilege and whose proposed policies aim to perpetuate that privilege at the expense of the rest of the population with whom he nominally shares a national identity. Barack Obama is a cynical opportunist who serves the interests of wealth and privilege and whose policies more effectively promote those interests than Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could ever hope to. Those circling the wagons to get Mr. Obama re-elected should spend a bit of time getting to know their guy. At the highest level Mr. Obama codified, through both continuation of, and failure to prosecute, the worst of the Bush / Cheney administration’s war crimes, domestic crimes, civil intrusions and economic policies. When Mr. Obama entered office he had the opportunity to repudiate these crimes and restore the illusion that America has ever been a civilized nation. America’s global torture prisons have been moved out of sight but not out of fact. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq remain illegal wars of aggression undertaken to boost the fortunes of multi-national oil companies and the slaughter-for-profit military industry. The war in Afghanistan has been expanded under Mr. Obama and the war in Iraq was only ended against his wishes by Bush era treaties. And U.S. foreign policy remains the preeminent force of repression and unjust order. Mr. Obama’s recently disclosed ‘kill lists’ suggest an unhinged monarch, fully divorced from legal accountability and history, carrying out vendettas against unproven enemies with fevered impunity (if he doesn’t have to show evidence, he doesn’t have to have evidence). With Americans now openly subject to murder at the whim of whoever occupies the Oval Office, the long, inglorious history of domestic power politics carried out through strategic assassination finds a home on our shores. (One need only recall the Bush / Cheney hilarity at putting Ted Kennedy and other prominent Democrats on lists of suspected terrorists used by airlines to imagine where this abuse of power can lead).

– Not all of us have the understanding of what happened that this guy claims to have happened. Does the Counter Punch have a fact checker on their staff?

* Ten Reasons I’m Not with Barack by RUSSELL MOKHIBER, – Just got an e-mail from Barack Obama.

“Russell – I have one question for you,” Barack writes.

“If you’re with me in this election, will you say it right now?”

I’m not with you, Barack. And I’ll say it right now – I’m not with you, Barack.

Here are ten reasons.

Number ten: Single payer. As a young politician, you said you were for single payer national health insurance. Then when you became President, you were against it and worked to keep the insurance companies in the game. Result – 123 dead a day from lack of health insurance.

Number nine: Kill list. You said you were against detention without trial, but you are okay with killing without trial? And according to the New York Times, you personally pick the candidates for execution. Result: Shredded Constitution.

Number eight: Minimum wage. During the 2008 campaign, you promised to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour. When you became President, you didn’t lift a finger to do anything about it. Result: Unchecked poverty.

Number seven: Corporate crime. It’s been four years since the financial crisis crippled the American economy. And still, not a single prosecution of a high ranking Wall Street executive or major financial firm. Fraud played a major part in the meltdown. Yet, your Justice Department, led by corporate lawyers, hasn’t gotten the job done. Result: No justice.

Number six: Israel/Palestine. Instead of standing up to Romney and Netanyahu, you buckled. Or as Tom Friedman put it, you shut down the peace process. Result: No peace.

Number five: Energy. Instead of pursuing a 25 year plan to get us off fossil fuels, you accepted the fossil fuel industry’s mantra of – we need it all – oil, coal, nuclear, alternatives. Result: Ongoing addiction.

Number four: Taxes. Instead of getting behind a Wall Street speculation tax and reversing our regressive tax structure, you surrendered to the top one percent. Result: Increasing poverty.

Number three: Money in politics. Instead of campaigning against the moneyed interests, you swim with them, in the cesspool of American politics. Result: Democracy in decline.

Number two: Military industrial complex. You push Republicans in the Congress to increase military spending. As a percentage of GDP, military spending under your administration has been higher than it was during any year of the George W. Bush administration. Result: Obama Bush.

Number one: Capitulation. You never had it. You folded from the get go. Or as your former Harvard Law Professor Roberto Unger put it – You “evoked a politics of hand holding – but no one changes the world without a struggle.” Result: Wasteland.

Last month, Unger said that you “must be defeated in the coming election.” I agree. Anything less sends the wrong message.

– The conclusions reached may not be through logical sequential thinking but when the liberals are giving ten reasons not to vote for Obama something is wrong in Paradise. Perhaps we need to understand why they reach the conclusions they do to understand why they do what they do?

* TAMPA—Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has a message for Ron Paul supporters who say they feel “disrespected” by the Republican Party’s delegate allocation process: You lost, move on. “I don’t think they’ve been disrespected,” Huckabee told a gaggle of reporters as we walked through the convention center here near the Tampa Bay Times Forum. “Elections are about—you get numbers. I lost four years ago, and I didn’t feel disrespected as much as I felt defeated. You have to accept that the voters make a choice and the voters made a choice.” Paul supporters, who embarked on an aggressive effort to secure delegates in several states during the Republican primaries, argue that Mitt Romney’s campaign strong-armed the party into limiting Paul delegates at the convention.

* Ann Romney: ‘This Man Will Lift Up America!’ – “Tonight I want to talk to you from my heart about our hearts. “I want to talk not about what divides us, but what holds us together as an American family. I want to talk to you tonight about that one great thing that unites us, that one thing that brings us our greatest joy when times are good, and the deepest solace in our dark hours. “Tonight I want to talk to you about love. “Mitt’s dad never graduated from college. Instead, he became a carpenter. “He worked hard, and he became the head of a car company, and then the governor of Michigan. “When Mitt and I met and fell in love, we were determined not to let anything stand in the way of our life together. “I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a ‘storybook marriage.’ Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer. “A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage. “At every turn in his life, this man I met at a high school dance, has helped lift up others. He did it with the Olympics, when many wanted to give up. “This is the man America needs. “This is the man who will wake up every day with the determination to solve the problems that others say can’t be solved, to fix what others say is beyond repair. This is the man who will work harder than anyone so that we can work a little less hard.

* SEAL book raises questions about bin Laden’s death – A firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him. Bin Laden apparently was shot in the head when he looked out of his bedroom door into the top-floor hallway of his compound as SEALs rushed up a narrow stairwell in his direction, according to former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen in “No Easy Day.” The book is to be published next week by Penguin Group (USA)’s Dutton imprint. Mr. Bissonnette says he was directly behind a point man going up the stairs in the pitch-black hallway. Near the top, he said, he heard two shots, but the book doesn’t make it clear who fired them. He wrote that the point man had seen a man peeking out of a door on the right side of the hallway. The author writes that the man ducked back into his bedroom and the SEALs followed, only to find the man crumpled on the floor in a pool of blood with a hole visible on the right side of his head and two women wailing over his body. Once they wiped the blood off his face, they were certain it was bin Laden. Mr. Bissonnette says the point man pulled the two women out of the way and shoved them into a corner. He and the other SEALs trained their guns’ laser sights on bin Laden’s still-twitching body, shooting him several times until he lay motionless. The SEALs later found two weapons stored by the doorway, untouched, the author said. Administration officials briefing reporters in the days after the May 2011 raid in Pakistan said the SEALs shot bin Laden only after he ducked back into the bedroom because they assumed he might be reaching for a weapon.

– It appears that the Seal Team does not think the current administration has the country’s best interests at the foremost of thoughts. This book should be a good read.

* Mia Love, GOP’s African American Mormon Candidate, Rocks RNC – Mia Love had only two minutes to speak yesterday. Her time slot was during the 7p hour when most delegates are still milling around the hall and not paying much attention. But she managed to do what many of the later bigger name speakers failed to do: energize the hall and bring the delegates to their feet. That’s why there’s a lot of talk about Mia Love today. She is the African American (and Mormon) Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah. And she has a good shot of becoming the first black woman Republican elected to Congress if she can beat Utah Democrat Rep. Jim Matheson. Her speech last night focused on the American Dream attained by her parents, who emigrated from Haiti with “ten dollars in their pocket.”

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President Obama’s version of America is a divided one — pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender, and social status. His policies have failed! We are not better off than we were 4 years ago, and no rhetoric, bumper sticker, or campaign ad can change that. Mr. President I am here to tell you we are not buying what you are selling in 2012. The American Dream is our story. It is a story of human struggle, standing up and striving for more. It’s been told for over 200 years with small steps and giant leaps; from a woman on a bus to a man with a dream; and the bravery of the greatest generation, to the entrepreneurs of today. This is our story. This is the America we know because we built it.

* Sick: Wikipedia entry calls Mia Love ‘dirty, worthless whore’ and ‘House Nigger’ – Tuesday night after rising GOP star Mia Love brought down the house with her inspiring convention speech, the stomach-turning Left labeled the black conservative a “token” and an “Aunt Tom.” Meanwhile, revoltingly racist, woman-hating Wikipedia vandals were hard at work updating her entry with disgusting slurs like “House Nigger” and “dirty, worthless whore.” The page called her a “total sell-out to the Right Wing Hate machine and the greedy bigots who control the GOP.”

– There are always people that will take others down to make them feel better. It is sad that Wikipedia allows this to happen. It is a lack of personal integrity.

* France opens enquiry into claims of Arafat poisoning – French prosecutors have opened a murder enquiry into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s 2004 death near Paris following claims he may have died of polonium poisoning, sources told AFP Tuesday. The probe comes after Arafat’s family launched legal action in France last month following reports the veteran Palestinian leader may have died from radioactive polonium. Arafat’s widow Suha and his daughter Zawra lodged a murder complaint on July 31 in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. Arafat died at age 75 at a military hospital near Paris in 2004. “A judicial murder enquiry has been opened, as expected following the complaint from Mrs. Arafat,” a source close to the matter told AFP. Confirming the enquiry, Pierre-Olivier Sur, a lawyer for Arafat’s widow and daughter, said they were “happy” at the decision but would not comment further “so as to leave the judges to lead all investigations necessary to find the truth.”

* Condoleezza Rice: America’s voice ‘muted’ in world affairs – Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the voice of the United States in world affairs “has been muted” under President Obama, creating a chaotic and dangerous security environment. Miss Rice, who speaks Wednesday night to the Republican National Convention, sought to tout Mitt Romney’s foreign policy credentials. She told “CBS This Morning” that Mr. Romney “would understand American exceptionalism and would not be afraid to lead from the front.” The election is about “the future of American leadership” in the world, she said, and U.S. policy on Syria has been ineffective. Asked what she thinks Mr. Obama has done wrong, the former Bush administration official said Washington has been losing influence around the world because Mr. Obama repeatedly has demanded that Syrian President Bashar Assad step aside and nothing has happened.

* Ryan Readies His Message for Voters – Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan will take the stage on Wednesday evening at the Republican National Convention, bringing his message about the need to drastically shrink the size of the federal government and overhaul the social safety net to a prime-time audience. The House Budget Committee chairman, who has delivered a much needed shot of energy to the campaign since being named as Mitt Romney’s running mate earlier this month, is likely to spell out his vision of the role of government, drawing sharp contrast with that of the Obama administration. Mr. Ryan is a superstar among conservative activists of the Republican Party, but many Democrats were cheered by Mr. Romney’s decision to add him to the ticket as they think they can make political gains on the back of Mr. Ryan’s plan to radically reduce domestic spending programs. His plan would give people under the age of 55 the option of receiving federal subsidies to purchase health insurance in the private marketplace when they become seniors rather than rely on the Medicare program. It would also give block grants to states to provide health-care coverage for poor people, shaking up the federal Medicaid program.

* Armstrong Not Backing Down, Saying He is Still the Champ – Lance Armstrong introduced himself as a seven-time Tour de France champion at a cancer conference in Montreal on Wednesday. “My name is Lance Armstrong. I am a cancer survivor,” he said to open his speech to the World Cancer Congress. “I’m a father of five. And yes, I won the Tour de France seven times.” Armstrong announced last week he would no longer challenge the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s drug charges against him. USADA threw out his competitive victories dating to 1998, which would include all seven Tour wins. Armstrong, who has maintained his innocence, focused on his experience as a cancer survivor and the work of his charitable foundation. He added he refuses to be distracted from the fight against cancer.

* South Texas mayor killed in apparent donkey attack – The mayor of the South Texas town of Hollywood Park has died after apparently being attacked by a 500-pound donkey on his ranch, according to The Associated Press. The body of Mayor William “Bill” Bohlke, 65, was found Monday night during a search by Atascosa County Sheriff’s deputies and relatives, according to the sheriff’s office. Chief Deputy David Soward told the AP on Wednesday that Bohlke apparently was attacked on Monday morning by an aggressive male donkey on his ranch. A written statement from the family, published on the Hollywood Park town website, said Bohlke suffered “a fatal injury while taking care of his prized cow herd near Pleasanton.”

– There is no end to what Texas Politicos will do to get there name noticed.

* California moves closer to banning ‘gay cure’ therapy for teens – California has moved one step closer to becoming the first state in the nation to ban “gay cure” therapy for teens. The Democratic-controlled state Assembly on Tuesday voted 52-22 to approve a bill that would prohibit licensed therapists from providing so-called “sexual orientation change efforts” to children under 18. The bill now goes to the Senate, which approved an earlier version in May, for concurrence on amendments. The Senate must act no later than midnight Friday for the bill to be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Brown, a Democrat, has not indicated whether he will sign the measure. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, says treatments that attempt to change a gay kid into a straight kid are harmful and amount to “psychological abuse of children.” “These non-scientific efforts have led in some cases to patients later committing suicide, as well as severe mental and physical anguish,” Lieu said in a press release hailing the vote. Ricardo Lara, an openly gay Democratic assemblyman from Los Angeles County, said the bill would protect “the next generation of Californians.” “And some of those are sissy boys,” Lara said, Reuters reported. “And some of those sissy boys grow up to be Assembly members. And some of those sissy boys need help. And we are here to stand with those sissy boys.”

* IN ABC WEBCAST, YAHOO NEWS CHIEF SAYS ROMNEYS ‘HAPPY TO HAVE A PARTY WHEN BLACK PEOPLE DROWN’

* Yahoo editor fired over anti-Romney joke – David Chalian, the Yahoo News Washington Bureau chief, has been fired after getting caught claiming that “they” — Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans — “are happy to have a party with black people drowning.” The implication: that Republicans’ decision to continue with their convention despite the hurricane hitting New Orleans means they don’t care about black people. Chalian’s words were first caught by the conservative media criticism site Newsbusters. Yahoo! has released a statement apologizing for the comment and announcing that Chalian had been terminated. “David Chalian’s statement was inappropriate and does not represent the views of Yahoo!. He has been terminated effective immediately. We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended.”

* SEAL tells 60 Minutes book is for honor, not politics – A retired Navy SEAL who was present at the killing of Osama bin Laden tells Scott Pelley in a 60 Minutes interview that his book about the raid is not a political statement, rather it is timed to commemorate the 9/11 attack and give credit to the hundreds of people whose work made the mission a success. The former SEAL Team 6 member, who uses the pseudonym Mark Owen, will appear in his first interview on 60 Minutes, Sunday Sept. 9 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT. He calls himself Mark Owen. That’s not his real name. We’ve disguised him and will keep his name confidential for his own safety. Owen was on the helicopter that crashed in bin Laden’s compound. He was the second man in the room when bin Laden was shot, he took the photographs of the body that were never released. But Owen told us the story is not about him — it’s the story of hundreds of Americans who spent years gathering intelligence, planning and training of the SEALs, Owen says, “We just took care of the last 40 minutes.” We built what we believe is the most accurate model of bin Laden’s compound ever constructed. Owen told us, before the mission, a full size replica of the compound was built in the United States for training and there was a dress rehearsal for the top brass including the chairman of the joint chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Admiral Eric Olsen, head of Special Operations Command. Owen’s book was to be released on the anniversary of 9/11, but the release has been moved up to next week. There’s been criticism that the book is timed to influence the election. Mark Owen: My worry from the beginning is, you know, it’s a political season. This book is not political whatsoever. It doesn’t bad mouth either party, and we specifically chose September 11th to keep it out of the politics. You know, if these– crazies on either side of the aisle want to make it political, shame on them. This is a book about September 11th, and it needs to rest on September 11th. Not be brought into the political arena, because this– this has nothing to do with politics.

* FEDERAL COURT REJECTS TEXAS VOTER ID LAW – A federal court has ruled against a Texas law that would require voters to present photo IDs to election officials before being allowed to cast ballots in November. A three-judge panel in Washington ruled Thursday that the law imposes “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor” and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty. The decision involves an increasingly contentious political issue: a push, largely by Republican-controlled legislatures and governor’s offices, to impose strict identification requirements on voters. The ruling comes in the same week that South Carolina’s strict photo ID law is on trial in front of another three-judge panel in the same federal courthouse. A court ruling in the South Carolina case is expected in time for the November election.

* Armed bystander stops stabbing outside school – SAN ANTONIO – A woman is in critical condition after she was stabbed outside her child’s school Tuesday morning. The attack happened around 10:00 a.m. Tuesday outside the Bonham Academy on St. Mary’s Street. Teresa Barron, 38, had just dropped off her child at the school when the child’s father showed up, and the two got into an argument. The child’s father, 38-year-old Roberto Barron allegedly then stabbed the woman several times in the upper body and neck area. Police say a bystander who happened to be a concealed handgun license holder pulled his weapon and ordered Barron to drop the knife. Barron surrendered and was taken into custody by the bystander and a school district officer. The woman was taken to San Antonio Military Medical Center. Barron was arrested for aggravated assault, and is in jail on a $150,000 bond.

* Obama Honored Fallen SEALs By Sending Their Parents a Form Letter Signed By Electric Pen – On August 6, 2011, 30 US service members were killed when a CH-47 Chinook helicopter they were being transported in crashed in Wardak province, Afghanistan. It was the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decade-long war in Afghanistan. 17 members of the elite Navy SEALs were killed in the crash. Yesterday, Karen and Billy Vaughn, parents of Aaron Carson Vaughn, spoke at the Defending the Defenders forum sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots outside the RNC Convention in Tampa. Karen brought a copy of the form letter they were sent following their son’s death. It’s a form letter. It was signed by an electric pen. That’s not all. Karen Vaughn reached out to the parents of the other SEALs killed in that crash. Their letters were all the same. Form letters – signed by an electric pen.

– It seems that no matter what Obama does there are people that want to make sure it is known that he is not respecting them as humans that have sacrificed for our beloved country.

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* Obama bounced into announcing visit to storm-ravaged Louisiana after Romney shows him up with surprise visit – President Barack Obama was today forced to announce he will fly to storm-hit Louisiana on Monday – hours after Mitt Romney beat him to the punch by deciding to head there this afternoon. After it emerged that Obama was still taking time to fit in a campaign stop in Cleveland, Ohio before checking out how clean-up operations are proceeding in the Bayou state, the Obama campaign abruptly cancelled that event. ‘In light of the President’s travel to Louisiana to meet with local officials and view ongoing response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Isaac, President Obama will no longer travel to Cleveland, Ohio on Monday, September 3,’ the campaign said in a terse statement. Romney had changed his schedule to head to an affected town outside New Orleans while Obama, who has yet to visit the Tropical Storm Isaac zone, headed off to Texas to campaign. Seven years ago, President George W. Bush was lambasted for inaction and incompetence in dealing with Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and much of the Mississippi and Louisiana gulf coast. Romney’s last-minute trip to New Orleans came as his wife Ann told CNN that swing women voters in particular had told her that ‘it’s time for the grown-up to come, the man that’s going to take this very seriously and the future of our children very, very seriously’.

* ISRAELI PAPER DETAILS ALLEGED TENSE CONFRONTATION BETWEEN NETANYAHU AND U.S. AMBASSADOR OVER OBAMA’S IRAN POLICY: ‘LIGHTNING AND SPARKS FLEW’ – Two new signs point to the deepening rift between the Obama administration and the Israeli government over how to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts: a reported confrontation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. ambassador to Israel and a statement by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey that he doesn’t want to be “complicit” in an Israeli strike on Iran. The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot headlined its Friday paper “The Confrontation” with a photo of Netanyahu on one side and President Obama alongside U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, on the other. Veteran diplomatic correspondent Shimon Schiffer reports that during a private meeting last week, Netanyahu very undiplomatically attacked Obama and his advisers over what he views as their ineffective Iran policy. The incident took place when Republican congressman and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers visited Netanyahu’s office for an Iran briefing, accompanied by the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Schiffer reports (translated via hard copy by The Blaze in Israel): Netanyahu, according to a source who participated in the meeting, was particularly surly and stressed. At the start of the meeting, he opened with a sharp attack on the Obama administration which according to him has not done enough on the Iranian issue. “Instead of effectively pressuring Iran, Obama and his people are pressuring us not to attack the nuclear facilities,” he said, and then moved on to a harsh criticism of the administration’s pronouncements indicating there is still room for diplomacy. “The time has run out,” he said resolutely.

* Dems Giving Away Tickets to Obama’s Speech – Dunwoody Democrats have a chance to see President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in person at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. The DeKalb Democratic Party sent out this message Thursday night. DO YOU WANT TO GO TO CHARLOTTE AND BE THERE IN PERSON FOR THE PRESIDENTS”S ACCEPTANCE SPEECH? In Atlanta: Manuel’s Tavern, 602 N Highland Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 In Macon: Bibb County Democratic Party, 835 Forsyth St. Suite A, Macon GA 31201 Here’s the rules: Everyone who is at Manuel’s Tavern or the Bibb County Democratic Party by noon is eligible for two tickets. Arrive early if you want, but it won’t give you a better chance to win. Just be there by 12 noon! If less than 50 people arrive, everyone will get a pair! If more than 50 folks arrive, we will do a random drawing to determine our winners. There is no cost involved. We’re not selling the tickets, we’re giving them away. Since we’re not selling tickets, you can’t sell them either! If you sell your tickets to someone else, they will be deactivated. For planning purposes, we expect that President Obama will speak at 8pm on Thursday. To insure that you are in your seat for the speech, you should arrive at the stadium that afternoon. There will be strict security at the event. Your trip to Charlotte to see the President’s historic speech begins tomorrow.

* Clinton staying as far away from Charlotte as physically possible – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as a sitting administration official, does not have any role at the Democratic National Convention next week in Charlotte. But she seems to gone out of her way to avoid the festivities, as she is traveling this week and next to the Cook Islands, Indonesia, China, Timor-Leste, Brunei, and Russia. “The Cook Islands this year are the hosts of one of the most important institutions of the Pacific called the Pacific Island Forum,” a senior State Department official said Thursday. “It’s a group that meets yearly with a number of working groups. It’s been in existence almost half a century; it’s very significant.”

* Newsflash: Obama can’t take a joke. But we already knew that. – For four long years we’ve waited, hoped and prayed that some young comic would break free of the politically correct demands of The State and mock Obama the way all presidents and all people in power should be mocked. But for four long years (with a few exceptions) all we’ve seen instead are cowardly toadies of The State: Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, David Letterman, Chris Rock, the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” Since Obama won the presidency, comedy has pretty much gone straight to hell as our Entertainment Overlords morphed into pathetic lapdogs to The State; begging for scraps of attention and affection from Obama, and in the process becoming stale, lazy, dull, predictable, painfully unfunny, and like a needy poodle — more than a little annoying. Who would’ve ever thought that one of the men who would display enough backbone and “edge” to finally take it to Obama with wicked mockery on about 30 million live television screens would be 82 year-old Clint Eastwood?

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Filed under Left - Off Base, Politics from Just Right of Center - I want Balance!, Right - too Religous for me

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