MasterCard Pulls Plug On WikiLeaks Donations

December 7, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

MasterCard “is taking action to ensure that WikiLeaks can no longer accept MasterCard-branded products.”

Yet as Glenn Greenwald writes:

WikiLeaks has never been charged with a crime, let alone indicted for one or convicted of one. A consensus of legal experts agree that prosecuting the organization or Julian Assange for any of its leaks would be difficult in the extreme…

Just look at what the U.S. Government and its friends are willing to do and capable of doing to someone who challenges or defies them — all without any charges being filed or a shred of legal authority.

Moreover, the cNet report continues:

[T]he incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee wants WikiLeaks listed as a ‘terrorist” organization, which would prohibit U.S. banks from processing payments and make it a felony for anyone else to provide “material support or resources” to the group.

Back in March, MSM have abandoned “whistleblower” as a descriptor of the organization. Michael Calderone notes that “Associated Press, for one, used ‘whistle-blower’ as recently as Thursday in describing WikiLeaks but has since opted against it.”

Visions of George Orwell and Joseph McCarthy are dancing through my head.

We should be screaming bloody murder. Instead, most are silent or uninformed.

Addendumthis tidbit is worth appending to every story about WikiLeaks:

WikiLeaks has won a number of awards, including the 2008 Economist magazine New Media Award. In June 2009, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange won Amnesty International’s UK Media Award (in the category “New Media”) for the 2008 publication of “Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances”, a report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights about police killings in Kenya.In May 2010, the New York Daily News listed WikiLeaks first in a ranking of “websites that could totally change the news”.


The Moderate Voice

Smithsonian pulls image of ant-covered Jesus

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The National Gallery failed utterly on all levels in accepting this video
American Thinker Blog

Arkansas pulls upset, makes case for spot in BCS bowl game - Washington Observer Reporter

November 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

ABC News
Arkansas pulls upset, makes case for spot in BCS bowl game
Washington Observer Reporter
AP AP LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Ryan Mallett threw for 320 yards and three touchdowns as No. 12 Arkansas made its case for the school's first BCS bowl game with a 31-23 win over No. 6 LSU on Saturday. Mallett finished 13 of 23 passing and had touchdown
LSU defense foundersThe Daily Advertiser
Ryan Mallett's 3 TDs lead Razorbacks to upset of LSUESPN (blog)
Recap: Arkansas vs. L-S-UKansas City Star
Shreveport Times -NOLA.com -Monroe News Star
all 579 news articles »

Sports - Google News

Hamas Pulls Out The Rug From Under The Goldstone Report

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

On the first day of the war, Israel targeted police stations and 250 martyrs who were part of Hamas and the various factions fell.” He added that, “about 200 to 300 were killed from the Qassam Brigades, as well as 150 security personnel.”
Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad

In the above quote, Hamad’s admission that Hamas lost between 600 and 700 fighters during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead mirrors what Israel claimed all along: that 709 Hamas combatants were killed.

As CAMERA notes, the Hamas admission directly undercuts the Goldstone Report’s contention that Israel targeted civilians as well:

Hamad’s admission gives greater credence to the assertion of British Colonel Richard Kemp that the Israelis acted with greater restraint than other military forces engaged in similar circumstances. The Israeli forces encountered an environment in which opposing forces were intermingled with civilian populations; distinguishing combatants from non-combatants was difficult. This difficulty was compounded by the intentional blending of civilians and combatants by Hamas. During the war, the New York Times reported that the Hamas leadership issued instructions for its fighters to shed their uniforms in order to blend in to the civilian population.

So why has Hamas changed its claim of members killed from 48 to close to 700?

Based on a report by a report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, CAMERA notes that first Hamas milked the claim of Israel’s ‘disproportionate force’ for all it was worth:

However, once Hamas got all the mileage it could out of that tactic, it had to deal with the flip side of the issue, that Hamas’s own constituency, the Gazan population, felt they had been abandoned by the Hamas government which had made no effort to shelter them. Since 2007, Hamas has been the government in Gaza, and it is, at least in principle, obligated to look after the well-being of the population it rules over. The flip side of the claimed low Hamas casualties and high civilian casualties is the lingering image of Hamas fighters retreating to prepared hideouts after firing off rockets, leaving the civilian population to absorb the punishing Israeli military response.

Gaza is a small territory, its residents would certainly have been aware that the Israeli attack was precipitated by the escalating volume of rocket fire directed at Israel from Hamas controlled territory. In order to defuse resentment at having abandoned its own constituency during the Israeli military response, Hamas has to show that its fighters did not simply run and hide, but had stood their ground and taken many of the casualties.

Read CAMERA’s complete report.

Knowing that the media would give lots of coverage to their original claim and practically ignore the corrected numbers, Hamas ran no real risk of undermining their anti-Israel propaganda, though they may be underestimating the resentment of Gazans for how Hamas abandoned them during the war.

The fact that Hamas has read the media correctly is attested to by the fact that not only has the media not given equal time to the new numbers, but those same ‘humanitarian’ groups who gave so much weight to the original numbers have thus far neither acknowledged the new numbers nor recognized their implications.

Technorati Tag: and and and .


Daled Amos

BREAKING: Murkowski by name pulls ahead

November 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(CNN) - As the counting of write-in votes continues in Alaska, the country’s sole remaining uncalled Senate election, the latest numbers show incumbent Republican and write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski leading Tea Party-backed Republican challenger Joe Miller in the Senate race.

Until Monday night, there were more write-in votes than votes for Miller. But for the first time, the votes actually counted for Murkowski top Miller’s numbers.

New results posted by the Division of Elections give 84,563 write in votes to Murkowski, along with 7,601 challenged votes being counted for her.

That total of 92,164 votes that are pending challenges is ahead of Miller’s 90,458 votes.

More write-in votes, which are going for Murkowski at an 89 percent rate, remain to be counted. Election officials hope to complete the count later this week.

-CNN Political Coverage Manager Steve Brusk contributed to this report


CNN Political Ticker

Amazon pulls pedophilia manual after protest

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Retreat.


Amazon has apparently conducted an about-face over its sales of a book that allegedly promotes pedophilia after a national outcry over its policy. ABC News reports now that the book, while still listed at Amazon, no longer can be purchased through the website after its controversial position was widely criticized by its customers. ABC earlier [...]

Read this post »

Hot Air » Top Picks

Amazon Pulls E-Book Promoting Pedophilia After Protests

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Controversy erupted yesterday when it was discovered that Amazon.com was selling an e-book that purported to offer advice to pedophiles:

Amazon.com Inc. is selling a self-published guide that offers advice to pedophiles, and that has generated outrage on the Internet and threats to boycott the retailer.

The availability of “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct” calls into question whether Amazon has any procedures — or even an obligation — to vet books before they are sold in its online stores. Amazon did not respond to multiple e-mail and phone messages.

The title is an electronic book available for Amazon’s Kindle e-reader and the company’s software for reading Kindle books on mobile phones and computers. Amazon allows authors to submit their own works and shares revenue with them.

Amazon issues guidelines banning certain materials, including those deemed offensive. However, the company doesn’t elaborate on what constitutes offensive content, saying simply that it is “probably what you would expect.” Amazon also doesn’t promise to remove or protect any one category of books.

After initially saying that it would not remove the book from it’s catalog due to concerns about ‘freedom of expression,’ the company decided to pull the book yesterday after a firestorm had erupted on the internet:

Amazon.com appears to have pulled “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure” a day after the Kindle e-book’s listing on the shopping website ignited anger from hundreds of customers.

The controversial book was available for purchase Wednesday through the Seattle-based online retailer, but a click on any link to the book’s listing on Amazon directs to a page that says “We’re sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site.”

Amazon officials were not available to comment about the book  Thursday morning.

The book, described on Amazon by its author, Phillip R. Greaves, is an “attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles … by establishing certain rules for these adults to follow.”

The listing said the book was published for the Kindle, Amazon’s popular e-reader device, on Oct. 28.

Greaves’ book garnered more than 3,000 comments while it was available for sale, and  commenters gave the book an average rating of one star.

For those who aren’t avid users of Amazon’s site, one star is the lowest rating one can give to any product.

This is about the outcome that I expected would happen when I first heard about this story yesterday. While its initial statement that it “believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable,” the fact remains that Amazon is a business that thrives on attracting mainstream users, including parents. Once this story that a book about pedophilia was available for sale on the site (and it’s still unclear how it got there) became an internet firestorm, simple corporate public relations mandated that the publication be sacrificed for the sake of the public image of Amazon.com.

As is usually the case with these types of situations, though, most of the comments about the case reveal widespread misconceptions about the First Amendment and freedom of expression. Amazon’s decision not to sell the book would not be censorship. Amazon is a private company and therefore isn’t bound by the First Amendment in any respect. For that reason it’s unfortunate that the first public statement they issued made reference to “censorship” struck me as not only wrong, but also completely missing the point of the objections that people were raising to the publication. Clearly, Amazon doesn’t sell every publication or movie available. If it did, you’d be able to buy hardcore pornography there. The fact that you can’t is a result of a business decision that Amazon has obviously made. It isn’t censorship, and Amazon was wrong to try to cast the calls for them to take a second look at this product in such a way.

At the same time, though, it’s not entirely clear that the publication itself, although it’s subject matter is offensive, is illegal in any respect:

The fact that a book advocates criminal behavior — however vile — does not mean it falls outside the First Amendment. Consider, for instance, Brandenburg v. Ohio, standing for the general proposition that “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

However, the First Amendment status of a book that explains how to get away with criminal behavior is more complex. A full discussion of that is beyond the scope of this post. Eugene Volokh’s exceptional article Crime-Facilitating Speech discusses it at length. It appears from some reports that the book includes at least some advice about getting away with pedophile conduct; I haven’t bought the book and am not going to, though.

Which leads us to the second lesson that can be drawn from this story.

As Ken over at Popehat (who I quote and link above) points out, before this story went viral yesterday morning, this e-book had sold one copy since it had been listed for sale. By the time Amazon had deleted the page from its site, it had made it onto the Top 100 list for the day. Granted, many of these sales were probably to media outlets and the like, but it’s still the case that thanks to the Outrage-of -day viral mentality, hundreds or maybe even thousands of copies were sold at $ 4.00 copy. Obviously, the author had a very good day yesterday.  As Ken says:

In other words, assuming for the moment that the book actually contains non-obvious suggestions on how to get away with molesting children, the OUTRAGE mob has just lifted the author from complete obscurity, given him a chunk of money, and ensured that his previously obscure child molestation suggestions are now known, widespread, and widely available.

Oh, well done.

So, what lessons can we learn from this ? Well, nobody understands the First Amendment, Amazon has a fairly bad crisis response team, and catapulting a creep to internet fame usually just ends up being to his benefit.

All in a day’s work, I suppose.




Outside the Beltway

Rubio Pulls Away from Tea Party

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The St. Petersburg Times notes Sen.-elect Marco Rubio (R), a longtime GOP insider, is already distancing himself from the Tea Party after his victory last week.

“Rubio has already made it clear that he will not be a rogue senator. One day after the election, he declared his support for the GOP establishment when he said he looked forward to serving under Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. He did not mention Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, viewed as the more ideologically pure conservative and alternative power center, who championed Rubio’s campaign early on.”

Ben Smith: “Among Marco Rubio’s most impressive political accomplishments this year was to harness the grassroots conservative fervor without being consumed by it, like other conservative candidates, and without having it turn against him, like other Republican Establishment types.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

CT Fox Affiliate Pulls ‘Unsubstantiated’ American Action Network Ad About Health Reform

October 26, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Greg Sargent points out that FOX CT, a local Fox affiliate in Connecticut, has pulled an ad bankrolled by undisclosed donors to the American Action Network. “The group has sunk at least $ 445,000 into attacking Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who is running for reelection in a tough district against Republican Sam Caligiuri,” and this latest ad accuses him of supporting a health care law that jails individuals who don’t purchase coverage and provides “free health care for illegal immigrants”:

A government health care mess, thanks to Nancy Pelosi and Chris Murphy. Five-hundred billion in Medicare cuts, free health care for illegal immigrants, thousands of new IRS agents, jail time for anyone without coverage, and now a 47% increase in Connecticut health care premiums.

Watch it:

“Following a review of the spot titled ‘Mess’ and the documentation provided by the American Action Network, WTIC-TV, the FOX affiliate in Hartford, Connecticut, believes the commercial’s claims are unsubstantiated and has removed it from air,” FOX CT spokeswoman Andrea Savastra told the CapitolWatch blog. “It is the station’s responsibility to review commercials (candidates ‘uses’ being the exception) to protect the public from false or misleading statements,” she added.

Indeed, the Affordable Care Act specifically states that the Secretary “shall not file notice of lien with respect to any property of a taxpayer by reason of any failure to pay the penalty imposed by [the minimum coverage requirement], or levy on any such property with respect to such failure.’’ On March 25, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testified before a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee that “the IRS won’t be auditing individuals to certify that they have obtained health insurance.” Rather, insurance companies “will issue forms certifying that individuals have coverage that meets the federal mandate.” “So there’s not going to be any discussions about health coverage with an IRS employee,” Shulman said.

Section 1411 of the Affordable Care Act states that individuals have to be legal immigrants or citizens in order to receive subsidies under the law.

Wonk Room

Brown Pulls Away in California

October 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A new Los Angeles Times/USC poll in California shows Jerry Brown (D) widening his lead over Meg Whitman (R) in the race for governor, 52% to 39%.

“Most of the nation has seen pronounced enthusiasm by Republican voters as the midterm elections approach. In California, however, Democrats have gained strength and GOP motivation has ebbed slightly in the last month, the poll showed. The current standings represent a reassertion of a more typical profile for the state after an election year convulsed by a foundering economy, widespread discontent about the future and record-breaking spending by Whitman, who has dropped more than $ 141 million of her own money into her campaign.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

O’Malley Pulls Further Away in Maryland

October 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A new Baltimore Sun poll in Maryland shows Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) with his largest lead yet over Bob Ehrlich (R) in the governor’s race, 52% to 38%.
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

NYT Pulls Back Curtain On Corporate Donations To Chamber

October 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The Chamber of Commerce, as a non-profit “business league” in the eyes of the IRS, is legally allowed to withhold the names of its donors from public filings. So it does.

The names of Chamber donors, and the amount they donate, are so secret that when the New York Times set out to find out who they were, it didn’t find much. But what it did find provided a window into the kind of legislation companies are willing to spend millions to defeat.

Dow Chemical gave the Chamber $ 1.7 million in the past year to support, in part, the Chamber’s lobbying against legislation that would impose stricter requirements for protecting chemical plants from attack.

Prudential Financial gave $ 2 million last year, a donation that coincided with the Chamber’s lobbying against certain provisions of the financial reform bill.

The Times also notes that several companies, including Goldman Sachs and Chevron Texaco, give large amounts to the Chamber’s charitable foundation. The Chamber has been accused of, and has denied, using the foundation to illegally run lobbying campaigns.

And, the Times reports, the Chamber received almost half of its $ 140 million in contributions in 2008 from 45 donors — out of a claimed membership of 300,000 companies.

The Chamber explained to the Times why its donors prefer not to be revealed:

“The major supporters of us in health care last year were confronted with protests at their corporate headquarters, protests and harassment at the C.E.O.’s homes,” said R. Bruce Josten, the chief lobbyist at the chamber, whose office looks out on the White House. “You are wondering why companies want some protection. It is pretty clear.”

The story comes on the heels of some other brief glimpses into how the Chamber works: The Times reported recently that News Corp. gave the Chamber $ 1 million, and ThinkProgress had a pair of stories attempting to trace the route of foreign money into the Chamber coffers.

The Chamber is mounting an epic $ 75 million ad campaign during the midterm elections, the large majority of which is aimed at helping elect Republican candidates.







TPMMuckraker

Network pulls ad asking Latinos not to vote

October 19, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(CNN) - The Spanish language television network Univision is pulling television and radio ads from the group Latinos for Reform, which urge people not to vote.

In the ads, which were set to begin airing on Univision on Thursday, a Spanish speaking narrator cites the Obama administration’s lack of action on immigration reform and tells viewers “This November we need to send a message to all politicians. If they didn’t keep their promise on immigration reform, then they can’t count on our vote.”

“Don’t vote this November,” the narrator says as a bell tolls. “This is the only way to send them a clear message, you can no longer take us for granted. Don’t vote.”

Robert Deposada, chairman of the activist group Latinos for Reform and a conservative political analyst for Univision, told CNN that a sales representative called him Wednesday and said that the “concept of the message was not in line with their views.”

“Univision will not be running any spots from Latinos for Reform related to voting.” Univision spokeswoman Monica Talan confirmed in an email to CNN.

“It is also important to clarify that while Mr. Robert de Posada has on occasion provided political commentary on Univision, representing one of various points of views, he is not in any way affiliated with Univision. Univision prides itself on promoting civic engagement and our extensive national campaigns encourage Hispanics to vote.”

Deposada said he believes Univision execs “didn’t want to set Harry Reid off,” and that he has now cancelled his appearances on the network.

According to Deposada, a radio version of the ad ran about five times on Tuesday but the television version never aired.

The ad, which was also posted online, features the iconic ‘Change’ poster of Barack Obama from the 2008 presidential election and pictures of members of the Democratic leadership including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Barbara Boxer (California), Rep. Maxine Waters (California) and Rep. Charles Rangel (New York).

Deposada said he is now reassessing the group’s strategy, but insists he has not given up in pushing the message of the ad he produced, which is that President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress did not keep their promises to the Hispanic community.

He calls it a campaign to “highlight the empty promises,” especially on illegal immigration.

About 6.5 million Hispanic voters will likely cast their ballots this year, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials nearly 1 million more than in the last midterm elections in 2006.

-CNN’s Evan Glass and Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.


CNN Political Ticker

Dems in Serious Trouble: Van Tran (R) Pulls Even with Loretta Sanchez (D) in CA-47 US House Race

October 18, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Anyone wondering why pretty much all reasonable political pundits are stating that there will be a change of guards in the US House of Representatives after the 2010 midterm elections?

Van Tran for US House CA-47 …

From Town Hall.com comes the following startlingpoll in the CA-47 House race between Republican Van Tran and Democrat incumbent Loretta Sanchez. A district that Obama carried by 22% in the 2008 Presidential election is now a toss up in 2010 and the Democrats saviour and now statesman Bill Clinton was called in to salvage the seat. This race is just one of many examples across the United States as to just how much trouble Democrats are in this election cycle.

Van Tran is tied with Loretta Sanchez on the ballot test. Fully 39% of likely voters say they are supporting Van Tran, while 39% are backing Sanchez and 5% siding with Ceci Iglesias (17% undecided).  Moreover, Tran’s definite support level is higher than that of Congresswoman Sanchez (30% definitely voting for Tran – 28% definitely voting for Sanchez).

- While there are certainly solid ethnic coalitions in this race – Asian and Vietnamese voters siding with Tran, Latinos favoring Sanchez – Tran enjoys a commanding 34-point lead with White voters in the district (60% Tran – 26% Sanchez).

Van Tran also polls strongly with Independent voters (42% Tran – 28% Sanchez) and older voters (50% Tran – 30% Sanchez) – two groups that are likely going to determine the victor here.

- Van Tran has a commanding 22-point lead over Sanchez (52% - 30%) among voters who say they are “extremely interested” in the upcoming elections (rate their interest a “10”on a one-to-ten scale).  Among a broader high interest segment of the electorate – the “8-10s” – Tran is up eight points (44% - 38%).

WOW!!!

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Scared Monkeys

Sink Pulls Ahead in Florida

October 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Alex Sink (D) has pulled ahead of Rick Scott (R) in the Florida gubernatorial race, 46% to 41%.

“The big story in this race is the independents. In most states across the country Republicans are dominating with them but the intense unpopularity of Scott is making this contest an exception to that rule. 61% of independents have an unfavorable opinion of him to only 20% who see him in a positive light and as a result Sink holds a 53-26 lead with that group, accounting for her entire overall lead.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

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