President Barack Obama will formally nominate a former senior Bush administration official Friday to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the White House said.
Jim Comey, a deputy attorney general under George W. Bush, would replace Robert Mueller, who is stepping down from the agency he has led since the week before the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The White House hailed Comey as “one of our nation’s most skilled and respected national security and law enforcement professionals.”
“In more than two decades as a prosecutor and national security professional, Jim has demonstrated unwavering toughness, integrity and principle in defending both our security and our values,” it said.
Comey, 52, played a key role in counterterrorism debates during the Bush years, refusing in 2004 to vouch for the legal aspects of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance.
Among the AFP set, reforming public schools usually means converting them into non-union, privately-run charter schools. Nationally, AFP is a vocal proponent of charters and “school choice.” And at the Michigan citizens training, one of the featured speakers, Norm Hughes, a member of the North Oakland Tea Party Patriots, offered this take on charters:
Kids aren’t going to charter schools if they’re “A” students. They go to charter schools because they’re failing students and, by and large, the charter schools have a higher percentage of poor families, ethnically challenged families…
Ethnically challenged? Hughes did not explain what he meant, but you won’t find that take on charters anywhere in the AFP literature. (Listen here to the audio of Hughes’ comment, grabbed by Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group.)
Whatever Holmes’ view of charters, AFP’s agenda in Michigan is cause for concern for Michigan’s public schools and teachers unions. AFP played a central role in ramming through so-called right-to-work legislation for public- and private-sector workers in Michigan in December. Right-to-work legislation is central to AFP’s agenda, and its passage in Michigan, a cradle of organized labor, was a major victory for movement conservatives.
The Swiss parliament on Wednesday voted to phase out the country’s nuclear plants, about six months after the Fukushima accident in Japan.
Switzerland’s upper chamber on Wednesday voted for government proposals to halt nuclear stations by 2034, in line with the lower house which had approved the proposal on June 8.
Germany has allowed the sale of 200 Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia after decades of blocking heavy weapons sales to the kingdom, the Der Spiegel said Saturday.
The federal security council approved the sale last week, the weekly news magazine said without citing sources.
The kingdom was in talks with the Spanish subsidiary of General Dynamics about buying their version of the Leopard tank, but the major portion of the order will land with the Germans, the magazine said.
Since the 1980’s, Germany has blocked the sale of Leopard 2 tanks to Saudi Arabia, afraid the equipment would be used against Israel.
Original Spiegel report (German)
Advertisement for the tank emphasizes its effectiveness in use against demonstrators:
The past couple of days, on April 29th and 20th (2011), at events in New Hampshire, Representative Michele Bachmann (R - formerly of Mars) spoke in public and, well, you know what to expect… but she out did herself.
On Saturday at an event titled “We the People” Bachmann went Godwin in her speech, raising the spectre of The Holocaust:
2012 presidential maybe-hopeful Mitt Romney made a “gaffe” today about “hanging” President Obama. Not one to be outdone, fellow maybe-hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann took the stage Saturday and immediately responded with a speech analogizing the current tax debate to the Holocaust.
Bachmann was […] urging Republicans to fight against tax hikes because, as she put it, their children would ask if they did anything to stop the hikes should they go through. This she equated to a childhood memory of feeling shame for her parents for not doing more to stop the Holocaust:
“I tell you this story because I think in our day and time, there is no analogy to that horrific action,” she said, referring to the Holocaust. “But only to say, we are seeing eclipsed in front of our eyes a similar death and a similar taking away. It is this disenfranchisement that I think we have to answer to.”
[… and then Mediaite’s Frances Martel’s trying to excuse what Bachmann said.]
Sorry Michelle (and Frances Martel), saying (assuming the Mediaite quote is accurate):
“… a similar death and a similar taking away”
with “similar” comparing what happened in The Holocaust to raising taxes is just wrong.
Indeed, it’s reprehensible.
If that wasn’t enough (and it ought to be enough to make you disgusted at Michelle Bachmann), on the previous day at an Americans For Prosperity (aka., Koch Bros. Inc.) gathering in New Hampshire Bachmann was one of the speakers.
It was recorded and put on Youtube… the first several minutes are the usual Bachmann/Koch tirade against government that we’ve all heard so many times before. Then, at around 8:40 she delves into… Polio and the Salk vaccine as some sort of evidence for how Obamacare ought to be repealed:
She goes on to credit American ingenuity and a “private charity”, the March of Dimes (with “other organizations”) for bringing “about the immunizations by Jonas Salk.” And she leaves the story at that.
Well, as the founder and dean of the Michelle Bachmann School of History she certainly knows how to package the past into conveniently re-interpreted talking points.
Let’s look at the parts she conveniently leaves out:
The March of Dimes… gee, where did that come from? I wonder if Michele Bachmann knows that the March of Dimes was founded by none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt while he was sitting President of the United States. (One wonders if Bachmann has ever looked at whose image is on the US dime.)
Gee, imagine that, a sitting President of the United States getting involved in public health.
And yes, while Salk was working on his vaccine he did get money from a private foundation (Mellon), after discovering his research institution (the then private U. of Pitt.) had hired Salk to do research without equipping him with a proper laboratory!
And yes, it is important to remember that the March of Dimes raised (from small private donations) considerable sums of money (for the time) for treatment of victims and eventually for initial purchase of Salk’s vaccine, but there’s much more to the story which Bachmann skipped.
First, a bit of background. Salk (and other researches working on polio at the time) built (as scientists do) on the previous research of others, including government involvement in polio for many years. From the NIH history website we learn that the NIH predecessors were involved in demonstrating that non-paralytics could carry the infection and that other research on poliomyelitis was conducted.
When time came for Salk to test his vaccine a massive experiment was conducted (monitored, btw, at the U. of Michigan, a public institution). As summarized in William O’Neill’s “American high: the years of confidence, 1945-1960” this massive experiment of Salk’s vaccine relied on 220,000 volunteers (thanks to the March of Dimes) as well tens of thousands of public health officers and school personnel.
And the story doesn’t end there. As a child I remember receiving (at a public school) the little sugar cube laced with vaccine. I also seem to remember getting a shot. I also remember there was concern.
For those too young to remember, there were some big problems around early polio vaccines. Problems that would lead to a recognition that increased government oversight and spending were required.
For example, on the roll out of the vaccine, O’Neill (reference previous link, pg 138) recognizes:
“If Washington had given the polio foundation $100 million it could have vaccinated all elementary school children in the country. […] But the [AMA] objected, insisting that the Salk vaccine be distributed privately like any other new drug. President Eisenhower requested only $30 million from Congress, and this went to state governments as payment for vaccinating the needy. Further, manufacture of the vaccine was not closely supervised, and defective batches were sent out by one firm, resulting in 260 cases of polio and 11 deaths […]
It’s interesting to see how little the public health debate has changed. I wonder how Bachmann and the Tea Partiers would have felt about Eisenhower giving $30 million to the “needy” for health care?
Nevertheless, the March of Dimes did raise enough money to finally get many vaccinated, though one really wonders if it couldn’t have been done much more quickly if indeed the private interests weren’t working against public health.
Another issue regarding polio vaccines was the famous issue of the Sabine vaccine. As the Wikipedia article summarizes:
Between 1955-1960, the [Sabine] oral vaccine was tested on at least 100 million people in the USSR, […] The first industrial production and mass use of Oral Poliovirus Vaccine (OPV) from Sabin strains was organized by Soviet scientist Mikhail Chumakov. This provided the critical impetus for allowing large scale clinical trial of OPV in the United States in April 1960 on 180,000 Cincinnati school children. The mass immunization techniques that Sabin pioneered with his associates effectively eradicated polio in Cincinnati. Against considerable opposition from The March of Dimes Foundation, which supported the relatively effective killed vaccine, Sabin prevailed on the Public Health Service to license his three strains of vaccine. While the PHS stalled, the USSR sent millions of doses of the oral vaccine to places with polio epidemics, such as Japan, and reaped the humanitarian benefit. Indeed it was not clear to many that the vaccine was an American one, financed by US dollars, but not available to ordinary Americans. [emp. added]
Whatever issues Sabine and Salk had with each other, it’s pretty clear that public health agencies around the world, and in the US, benefited from Sabine’s (government sponsored) work.
As the NIH history site summarizes the role of polio vaccination in the development of US public health policy:
The political obstacles to Clinical Center growth were overcome at the close of Eisenhower’s first term, largely as a result of the Salk polio vaccine controversy and reemergent congressional pressure for biomedical research spending. NIH had limited its involvement to long-term, live virus studies until January 1953, when the private National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis announced a killed-virus cure and requested federal oversight for vaccination trials. Assistant Director Shannon and leading NIH virologists attempted to bring order to the precipitate rush to mass inoculation in 1954, but when faulty vaccine licensed by the NIH Laboratory of Biologics Control caused 209 new polio cases in April 1955, the administration convened a special, NIH-led committee to ensure the vaccine’s safety and to complete the program.
Secretary Hobby took responsibility for the faulty vaccine and resigned. Her successor, Marion P. Folsom, disavowed the policy of retrenchment and resolved to step up the search for disease cures. Director Sebrell, uncomfortable with new and more expansive national responsibilities, retired in August 1955. NIH leadership passed to Dr. Shannon, who vigorously exploited opportunities for expanded research, administration, and funding. Working closely with Senator Lister H. Hill, who chaired both the Appropriations Health Subcommittee and the full Labor and Public Welfare Committee, Shannon persuaded Congress to double the NIH budget in the spring of 1956. A new era of expansion was thereby inaugurated.
In other words, the lessons learned from the roll out of the Salk vaccine was that the government had too lax of oversight over the quality control of the Salk vaccine, and that looking back at the research of polio vaccines it becomes clear that the research was hamstrung by what we today would call stovepipe politics and artificially limiting potential research paths.
Michele Bachmann is a master at historical revisionism, sitting at the feet of David Barton no doubt. But if the Holocaust reference to tax policies wasn’t enough to convince you that Bachmann isn’t just stupid but also perverse, then consider how backwards this nation’s public health would become were she, the Kochs and their allies, and Tea Partiers ever to get their way.
Michelle Bachmann isn’t just foolish, she’s dangerously delusional.
Note: It’s not fair to the planet Mars to list Bachmann as coming from there. Her malicious stupidity is so dense that it has gravitationally collapsed upon itself, so from now on I list her as (R - Event Horizon of Stupidity. ) Kragar suggests that “Singularity of Stupid” might be a better phrase to describe Bachmann’s origins, rather than “Event Horizon of Stupidity”.
Bachmann and the others are headed off to New Hampshire at month end to highlight the AFP, or Americans for Prosperity (of Charles and David Koch) Foundation, summit.
AFP is part of the Koch brothers brawling consortium of propaganda spin dizzies, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union’s information ministries. AFP is just another in a long line of innocuous sounding groups that have ties to every insidious lie machine on the right that you’ve ever heard about. They have affiliations to the tea party’s Freedom Watch, Beck’s 9/12 project, tobacco denialism, climate denialism, oil and gas denialism, Union busters, anti-health care groups, and sprawling media consortia such as Salem Communications Townhall.com and Hot Air. The “prosperity” in the name is probably a shout out to the religious right’s “Prosperity Gospel” where the pastors have the prosperity and the flocks are minus their fleece.
The Minnesota Republican and tea party darling will be the “fifth and final participant” at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s summit, according to a statement released by the fiscally conservative organization. The event is scheduled for April 29 at the Executive Court in Manchester.
Other participants include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and businessman Herman Cain of Georgia.
Something to remember the next time the MSM reports that the IDF bombed “smuggling tunnels” in response to a Palestinian missile atack:
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – An Islamic Jihad militant was killed Thursday when a tunnel he was digging to attack Israeli troops collapsed in the northern Gaza Strip, the group said.
“An Al-Quds Brigade member was martyred when a resistance tunnel collapsed,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement, referring to its military wing.
It said the collapse was accidental and occurred near Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.
Militants use “resistance tunnels” to try and infiltrate into Israel or attack Israeli soldiers, like the one used to capture Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit
One of the nice people I’ve met at AFP’s summit is Suzanne Curran, a Virginia activist and teacher who introduced me to a joke book I hadn’t heard of before: Ho! Ho! O! The Unofficial Teapartiers Barack Obama Joke Book. (There is not, to my knowledge, an official one.) A sample joke:
Why did George Soros cross the road? He decided to MoveOn.org.
Lots of stuff like that. The joke Curran decided to read to me was much longer and more involved. In it, Barack Obama dies (after having served one term and led an unsuccessful career in public speaking) and gets to the gates of Heaven. When he gets there, a succession of founding fathers start kicking his ass, some of them saying witty things while they do it. “You wanted to end Americans’ political liberty,” says Patrick Henry, “so they gave you political death!” And so on, at the hands of 71 other founders. Obama ends up like Keith David after a run-in with Rowdy Roddy Piper, then he goes to the pearly gates. To his surprise, he is found wanting and sent to hell.
Click the link for the sad, pathetic punchline. Come back and watch the Family Guy scene for the chuckle you missed. It also features evil muslims and has 72 virgins.