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Alan Simpson: AARP “Is a Cruel Organization,” but “their Article on Sex over 80, I Thought Was Amazing”

6:38 am in Uncategorized by Michael Whitney

Ladies and Gentleman, Alan “310 Million Tits” Simpson, whose plan to gut our country’s safety net is being embraced by President Obama, thinks the AARP is a “cruel organization” full of “marketers,” not “patriots.” That said, Simpson, aged 79, really likes the AARP’s magazine, especially “their article on sex over 80. Hell, I thought that was amazing.”

In a late January interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, Simpson rambled about the AARP while trying to defend his Catfood Commission. Watch it:

Note: Firedoglake is not responsible for any long term damage associated with any mental anguish from imagining Alan Simpson perusing through the AARP’s magazine on articles about sex over 80.

David Dayen Talks about Mission Creep of Arming Libya Rebels on MSNBC

12:10 pm in Uncategorized by Michael Whitney

Firedoglake’s prolific poster over at our News Desk, David Dayen, just had a spectacular spot on MSNBC. Dayen spoke with MSNBC’s Tamryn Hall about the increasing mission creep of the United States and its UN allies that has expanded beyond preventing civilian casualties to arming and possibly training the unknown Libyan rebels taking on Gaddafi.

Watch Dayen on MSNBC:

David concluded, “I just don’t think we know enough about this opposition – which is substanively different than the opposition which was in peaceful protests throughout the Arab world – that we can make that assessment that we can provide armaments, and possibly trainers to deal with this situation.”

Tamryn says she hopes to have David back on soon as the situation in Libya progresses – I couldn’t agree more! That’s some of the smartest talk yet about Libya we’ve seen.

Incredible Video of 100,000 People in Madison on Saturday

8:19 am in Uncategorized by Michael Whitney

This short video shows you the magnitude of the 100,000 person protest in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday in the middle of a significant snowfall. The video speaks for itself. Check it out:

Michael Whitney Discusses HBGary & Chamber of Commerce on GritTV

12:26 pm in Uncategorized by Michael Whitney

On Tuesday I went to GritTV’s New York City studios to discuss the HBGary and AnonLeaks developments with respect to the role of the US Chamber of Commerce in spying on American citizens for political activities. Lee Fang, the reporter from ThinkProgress who, along with Marcy Wheeler, first reported on HBGary’s work with the Chamber joined us for the discussion.

Watch it:

More GRITtv

Live Videos from Wisconsin Rallies

2:08 pm in Uncategorized by Michael Whitney

Here are some live videos from the rallies in Madison, Wisconsin to support public sector workers in the face of Scott Walker’s unionbusting.

SEIU has live video:

Online video chat by Ustream

The UpTake also has video of the main rally and the Tea Party “counter-protestors” – all couple hundred of them.

Watch live streaming video from theuptake at

DCCC’s $3.3 Million Investment in Rape-Redefining Democrats

9:17 am in Uncategorized by Michael Whitney

DCCC HR3 Petition Screencap

Screenshot of the hypocritcal DCCC petition against GOP and HR3

HR3 – “The No Taxpayer Money for Abortion Act” – is a vile piece of legislation by its title alone. That the bill contained, until yesterday, a provision to redefine rape as “forcible” rape was even more insidious.

Sady Doyle, who’s led the anti-HR3 campaign at her phenomenal blog Tiger Beatdown, explained what HR3 meant:

The bill seeks to codify the Hyde Amendment, which already restricts public funding for abortion so severely as to make it basically useless for the vast majority of low-income people, and to pass this into law. However, UNLIKE the Hyde Amendment, it doesn’t observe the long-standing truce between anti-choice extremists and rape survivors: Instead of holding forth, as even the rightfully-loathed Hyde Amendment and Stupak-Pitts Amendment have, that funding shall be made available for pregnant rape and incest survivors, it would only provide funding for survivors who have been “forcibly raped.”

It is absolutely unacceptable for the government to minimize rape and attack rape survivors this way. It’s disgusting. It’s unconscionable. It’s not just about abortion; it is passing rape apologism and rape culture into law. We’re all familiar with the attitude that rape only “really” counts if someone jumps out of the bushes with a weapon and physically tortures, beats, or maims you in addition to raping you; that’s a big part of what this clause is about. This sets a terrifying precedent that takes us back to the days when the law wouldn’t define your rape as a rape unless you’d demonstrated “utmost resistance,” meaning that you’d risked your life to get into a physical fight with someone who already wanted to rape you, and wouldn’t have a problem with hurting you really, really severely to get that done. We cannot let this stand. It’s not something on which there can be any compromise, ever, at any time.

In a Republican-controlled House, it’s not shocking to see this kind of medieval treatment of women become a priority over, you know, job creation. But let’s focus on the Democrats involved in this travesty. Of HR3′s 173 co-sponsors in the House, 10 identify themselves as Democrats. They were elected with a “D” next to their names, and even though most did not vote for Pelosi, they’re still in the party.

That’s why it’s completely unacceptable for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – the party apparatus whose sole purpose is to help elect Democrats to the House – to grandstand against HR3′s redefinition of rape with petitions blaming “the GOP for their bill.” The DCCC is currently running at least two petitions against the “Republicans’” bill, asking people to “denounce Republican Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans for supporting this extremist anti-woman bill.”

What about the House Democrats – supported by the DCCC – who are supporting this extremist anti-woman bill?

A look at the DCCC’s contributions to and on behalf of the 10 Democratic co-sponsors of HR3 show the committee spent a whopping $3,379,322.85 to keep these members in office – in 2010 alone. The list includes: Dan Boren [OK-2], Jerry Costello [IL-12], Mark Critz [PA-12], Joe Donnelly [IN-2], Daniel Lipinski [IL-3], Collin Peterson [MN-7], Nick Rahall [WV-3], Mike Ross [AR-4], and Heath Shuler [NC-11]. And God knows how many Blue Dogs that lost in 2010 and who were supported by the DCCC would have co-sponsored this bill.

Here’s a look at who the DCCC’s favorite rape-redefining Democrats are, and what the price tag is to keep people around the party who want to redefine rape. The numbers below are 2010 election cycle expenditures and donations in the members’ districts by the DCCC, as compiled by the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group. Major, major props to Sady Doyle for pointing out this hypocrisy.

Rep District DCCC IEs DCCC Contributions Totals
$3,371,959.85 $7,363.00 $3,379,322.85
Mark Critz PA-12 $2,099,861.86 $7,341.00 $2,107,202.86
Joe Donnelly IN-02 $770,760.74 $0.00 $770,760.74
Mike McIntyre NC-07 $270,224.62 $22.00 $270,246.62
Heath Shuler NC-11 $231,112.63 $0.00 $231,112.63
Collin Peterson MN-07 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Dan Boren OK-02 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Daniel Lipinski IL-03 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Jerry Costello IL-12 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Mike Ross AR-04 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Nick Rahall WV-03 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00

The DCCC should not say a word about Republicans and HR3 until it denounces its own members who support the same.

Video: President Obama Comments on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the Tucson Shooting

3:48 pm in Uncategorized by Michael Whitney

Transcript from

THE PRESIDENT:  As many of you are aware, earlier today a number of people were shot in Tucson, Arizona, including several who were meeting at a supermarket with their congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords.  We are still assembling all the facts, but we know that Representative Giffords was one of the victims.  She is currently at a hospital in the area, and she is battling for her life.

We also know that at least five people lost their lives in this tragedy.  Among them were a federal judge, John Roll, who has served America’s legal system for almost 40 years; and a young girl who was barely nine years old.

I’ve spoken to Arizona governor Jan Brewer and offered the full resources of the federal government.  A suspect is currently in custody, but we don’t yet know what provoked this unspeakable act.  A comprehensive investigation is currently underway, and at my direction, Director Bob Mueller is en route to Arizona to help coordinate these efforts.  I’ve also spoken to the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House.

Gabby Giffords was a friend of mine.  She is not only an extraordinary public servant, but she is also somebody who is warm and caring.  She is well liked by her colleagues and well liked by her constituents.  Her husband, Mark Kelly, is a Navy captain and one of America’s valiant astronauts.

It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does — listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors.  That is the essence of what our democracy is all about.  That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved.  It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country.

What Americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other.  So at this time I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers.  Those who have been injured, we are rooting for them.  And I know Gabby is as tough as they come, and I am hopeful that she’s going to pull through.

Obviously our hearts go out to the family members of those who have been slain.  We are going to get to the bottom of this, and we’re going to get through this.  But in the meantime, I think all of us need to make sure that we’re offering our thoughts and prayers to those concerned.

Thank you.

New Edition of Huckleberry Finn to Censor “N” Word, Replace with “Slave”

6:54 am in Uncategorized by Michael Whitney

I wish this was some kind of a joke. The publishers of the next edition of Mark Twain’s classic Huckleberry Finn plan to replace the “n” word with “slave.”

What is a word worth? According to Publishers Weekly, NewSouth Books’ upcoming edition of Mark Twain’s seminal novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will remove all instances of the “n” word—I’ll give you a hint, it’s not nonesuch—present in the text and replace it with slave. The new book will also remove usage of the word Injun. The effort is spearheaded by Twain expert Alan Gribben, who says his PC-ified version is not an attempt to neuter the classic but rather to update it. “Race matters in these books,” Gribben told PW. “It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

Jonathan Turley shows how this “edit” could complicate the book:

Replacing this word with “slave” can change the meaning and certainly the intent of Twain. Consider the following line:

“Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free nigger slave there from Ohio – a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see…

The difference may be subtle but Twain clearly could have used slave. The word existed at the time. Twain chose the n-word to convey something beyond captive status. It was a word used widely. It is still used in literary works to say something about the people who use it.

In my book, changing loaded, powerful words in a literary classic to better “express it in the 21st century” is no better than George Lucas “updating” the original Star Wars films to some bastardized, unrecognizable iteration of itself. You ruin the original intent of the book and force new readers to run from the reality in which the book was written and the historical context that followed.

A New Chapter: Announcing the FDL Writers Foundation

8:54 am in Uncategorized by Michael Whitney

FDL Writers Foundation DonateFiredoglake had a banner year in 2010: our award-winning coverage successfully lobbied for the first ever audit of the Federal Reserve, and helped push through much-needed student loan reform. Our reporters provided go-to coverage from the gulf on the BP oil disaster, sat in the courtroom and delivered moment-by-moment analysis of California’s Prop 8 trial and detailed the looming foreclosure fraud crisis before other media outlets even touched it.

None of it would have happened without your support. You’ve helped to make FDL the go-to place for fiercely independent reporting, progressive analysis and advocacy. Your support has sustained the work of writers like Marcy Wheeler, David Dayen, Jon Walker, and other fresh, talented young voices who are changing the way journalism operates in the 21st century.

As 2011 approaches, we’re delighted to announce a new chapter for FDL: the launch of the FDL Writers Foundation, a brand new 501(c)3 non-profit devoted to supporting the groundbreaking work of talented and innovative authors whose clarity of thought and inspiration we desperately need right now.

Can you please make a tax-deductible contribution of $25 or more to support the FDL Writers Foundation?

If you contribute $100 or more, we’ll say “thank you” with a gift: your choice of a book by FDL Book Salon authors Matt Taibbi, Arianna Huffington, Ryan Grim, Bill McKibben, or Yves Smith. Know that your donation will go toward developing and promoting the work of other talented authors just like them. You can choose from any of these books:

Third World America
by Arianna Huffington

by Matt Taibbi

This Is Your Country On Drugs
by Ryan Grim

by Bill McKibben

by Yves Smith


For over four years now, the FDL Book Salon has been a weekly hallmark of FDL, offering online chats that expose the works of authors like Naomi Klein, Matt Taibbi, John Dean, Paul Krugman, Arianna Huffington, Simon Johnson and others to a broad audience.

This year we spun off the Book Salon as the the FDL Writers Foundation. This non-profit organization is designed to help FDL’s popular Book Salon support the work of important authors by connecting them with readers who will carry their ideas into communities across the country, encouraging book sales and helping to give them equal footing with authors whose works enjoy massive corporate PR budgets.

Additionally, the Writers Foundation is encouraging the development of new talent by offering fellowships to promising new writers whose work is devoted to in-depth coverage in areas like food and drug policy, election reform, financial regulation, health care and job creation. The ones who are always there covering critical but not necessarily headline-grabbing issues that affect all our lives, day in and day out.

As 2010 ends, this is the perfect time to help the young thinkers and journalists whose energy and imagination will help us overcome the challenges that face us and lead us to a better future with a tax-deductible contribution.

Please support FDL with a tax-deductible contribution to the FireDogLake Writers Foundation – even $25 will go a long way.

Don’t forget – if you contribute $100 or more, you can choose from books by friends of the FDL Writers Foundation, Matt Taibbi, Arianna Huffington, Ryan Grim, Bill McKibben or Yves Smith as our gift to you.

This is truly an exciting new chapter for FDL, and we hope you’ll join us in supporting this endeavor. Thank you for all of your support.

Rape Victim Arrested by TSA for Refusing Groping

1:20 pm in Uncategorized by Michael Whitney

A 56-year-old rape survivor with a pacemaker refused a groping by TSA agents at Austin Bergstrom airport, and was subsequently arrested, pushed to the floor, dragged, and banned from flying from the airport.

KVUE in Austin has the horrifying story:

Claire Hirschkind, 56, who says she is a rape victim and who has a pacemaker-type device implanted in her chest, says her constitutional rights were violated.  She says she never broke any laws.  But the Transportation Security Administration disagrees.

Hirschkind was hoping to spend Christmas with friends in California, but she never made it past the security checkpoint.

“I can’t go through because I have the equivalent of a pacemaker in me,” she said.

Hirschkind said because of the device in her body, she was led to a female TSA employee and three Austin police officers.  She says she was told she was going to be patted down.

“I turned to the police officer and said, ‘I have given no due cause to give up my constitutional rights.  You can wand me,’” and they said, ‘No, you have to do this,’” she said.

Hirschkind agreed to the pat down, but on one condition.

“I told them, ‘No, I’m not going to have my breasts felt,’ and she said, ’Yes, you are,’” said Hirschkind.

When Hirschkind refused, she says that ”the police actually pushed me to the floor, (and) handcuffed me.  I was crying by then.  They drug me 25 yards across the floor in front of the whole security.”

While the TSA’s pornoscanners weren’t involved in this incident, it shows the newfound prevalence of TSA’s aggressive new groping strategy for anyone who doesn’t clear the first round of security checks.

Hirschkind isn’t alone: while sitting in an airport restaurant at LAX on Monday, I spoke with one middle-aged passenger – a conservative woman – spoke about how she also set off a metal detector and had to be groped. She described the experience as “humiliating,” and compared to it how she was sexually assaulted as a foster child. She cried immediately after the groping, saying it was “violating.”

Know your rights this travel season - download our “Know Your Rights” flier, and visit our TSA coverage page for more on pornoscanners and groping.