Saturday, April 21, 2012

Techdirt Daily Email for Saturday, 21 April 2012

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Techdirt Daily Email for Saturday, 21 April 2012

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Too Much Copyright: This Generation's Prohibition (Copyright)

by Mike Masnick from the dept on Friday, April 20th, 2012 @ 7:39PM

The folks over at ReasonTV have put together a great episode about the state of copyright law today. Hosted by Zach Weissmueller, the video includes three guests. Professor Tom Bell, who is well known for his useful depiction of the insanity of copyright extension via the Mickey Mouse curve, Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh, and the MPAA's Ben Sheffner.

There's a nice animation of the Mickey Mouse curve which is even more powerful than the standard image version: Sheffner trots out the usual lines about property rights and how we're going to see less content going forward, which Bell rightly scoffs. The video then uses our Sky Is Rising report to highlight how silly Sheffner's claims are. Sheffner also has the unenviable task (because it's a despicable position to take) of claiming that site blocking is a perfectly reasonable solution. Go censorship!

It's also nice to see ReasonTV highlight the ridiculousness of copyright laws today by refusing to use any material covered by copyright to demonstrate certain points. So, rather than show Mickey Mouse, they show three revolving balls, and ask you to imagine how they might come together to form a mouse-like shape. Is this an exaggeration of the restrictions in place today? Sure. They have a perfectly valid fair use claim to showing Mickey Mouse -- but they're being safe in an era where people are getting sued for the same sorts of things all the time. And, in an era where the MPAA argues, with a straight face, that blocking entire sites is a reasonable remedy, you can understand why they'd rather be safe than sorry.

The whole thing is worth watching, but the key point really comes at the end from Ben Huh, and it's a point that we've been raising for years:

This disconnect between the public's view of copyright and fair use and what should and should not be prosecuted vs. the copyright maximist's view of the law is our generation's prohibition. The law no longer reflects what the society believes to be true. And I think that if they continue to go down that route, they're going to see even bigger backlash.

This is such a key point, and one we've raised over and over again. The disrespect for copyright law today is not because people are uneducated or immoral. It's because copyright law just doesn't make any sense at all. It's so disconnected from reality and societal norms, that people can't respect it. The fact that the industry's response to this is to push to make the laws even more ridiculous and push them further away from people's natural tendencies, is only going to serve the opposite purpose of the maximalists' intentions. They are driving an entire generation into thinking that the whole of copyright law is entirely pointless.



The Difference Between Nuanced Discussion And The Evil Underbelly Of The Internet Is Apparently A Fine Line Indeed (Culture)

by Mike Masnick from the may-depend-on-where-you-stand dept on Friday, April 20th, 2012 @ 6:34PM

We recently posted what I thought was an interesting essay by musician Erin McKeown on her reaction to seeing someone copy a song of hers, and have that other song become a "hit." We thought it was an interesting and nuanced exploration of some of the challenges of being a musician and thinking about copyright -- from both an emotional and logical perspective -- and thought it would make for an interesting discussion. And, in fact, it did make for an interesting discussion. With well over 100 comments, representing a variety of different viewpoints, there was a pretty deep dive into the myriad responses the piece brought out. Like pretty much any online discussion, some of the comments were more polite than others. But, when viewed on the whole, it struck me that the conversation was much more polit e than most online discussions around copyright. In fact, what was interesting was that because the discussion was quite nuanced, most of our usual haters didn't take part. So we didn't have, for example, anyone calling me a slimy lying sociopath or a disgusting human being.

Some of the comments were pointed in their disagreement with Erin, but almost immediately others came in to defend her, and the overall discussion was quite interesting in my mind. And, yet, a bevy of the standard Techdirt critics took to Twitter to claim that Erin's article was proof positive that Techdirt was pure evil, hated artists and was the disgusting underbelly of the internet (a very close paraphrase of actual statements). I'm not going to link to any of these, because I don't mean to call out those people specifically. Similarly, there was a thread on a music site that was entitled "why does Techdirt hate musicians?" I suddenly had people tweeting at me, personally, about how I was somehow destroying music and why did I not want artists to get paid.

I honestly can't figure out why this was the response. First of all, we've regularly been attacked because (we're told) we never, ever post an article where we show sympathy for artists' difficult plight these days. So here was an article, from a musician, explaining her plight -- and we get attacked for that?!? Furthermore, I'm long since past the time when I could read all the comments on the site, but I do read a pretty large number of them, and the amount of hate and vitriol that has come from Techdirt haters (see above, for two very recent examples) is way, way, way, way beyond anything seen in that particular thread.

In fact, the further you read into the comments the more you realize it's a detailed and nuanced discussion on many important issues. People don't agree, but no one's calling each other a slimy lying sociopath or a disgusting human being. Yet, because a few commenters (not even the majority, as far as I can tell) disagree with Erin, all of Techdirt hates musicians? There were a few tweets and statements elsewhere saying that Techdirt hates it when artists make money. Of course, that's ridiculous. We regularly celebrate artists earning money -- sometimes lots of money. What we get nervous amount is when artists start making use of laws in ways that may actually do them more harm than good in the long term, by attacking their fans as if they were criminals, or when they seek to abuse laws that take away fundamental rights of others.

But, really, what was most amazing to me was how quick some of these people were to jump on the entire Techdirt community, because a few comments disagreed with one musician's opinion. They ignored everyone who came to her defense. They ignored the fact that we posted the story in the first place. They ignored all the people on other stories who attack Techdirt supporters in often extremely personal ways (I've been threatened with physical harm as well as seen multiple comments I won't repeat about my family). But most people -- myself included -- see those kinds of comments as part of the price you pay for having an open discussion. Some people are going to disagree and some will use different levels of speech, some more polite than others. To tar and feather everyone on the site because someone on it disagrees with your personal views is to suggest that every community online is a problem.

Is it that difficult to distinguish a nuanced conversations where not everyone agrees with each other... from the "dark underbelly" of the internet?



Mobile Phones Might Not Interfere With Planes, But They Sure Can Interfere With Pilots (Stupidity)

by Mike Masnick from the okay,-perhaps-pilots-should-be-barred-from-texting dept on Friday, April 20th, 2012 @ 5:33PM

You know how we're not supposed to have our mobile phones on in the air? Right. There may not be very good reasons for that any more from a technology point of view (there used to be concerns about the impact on cell towers, but that can be solved today with picocells on the planes themselves). But, that still doesn't mean that pilots should be texting while they fly. Is it better or worse than texting while driving? In an age where autopilots do most of the work on landing, perhaps it wouldn't seem like a huge deal, but a Jetstar pilot landing a 220-seat Airbus A320 in Singapore had to abort the landing after realizing he forgot to lower the landing gear, because he was too busy responding to text messages. For whatever reason, the pilots shut off the autopilot, but then got distracted with text messages.

Somewhere between 2500 feet and 2000 feet, the captain's mobile phone started beeping with incoming text messages, and the captain twice did not respond to the co-pilot's requests.

The co-pilot looked over and saw the captain "preoccupied with his mobile phone", investigators said. The captain told investigators he was trying to unlock the phone to turn it off, after having forgotten to do so before take-off.

At 1000 feet, the co-pilot scanned the instruments and felt "something was not quite right" but could not spot what it was.

There followed a series of errors, with the pilot and the co-pilot not communicating with each other -- the pilot trying to drop the wheels as the co-pilot prepared to abort the landing -- and then both pilots becoming confused about their actual altitude. Oh, and then there was the fact that the flaps were set incorrectly.

I'm not necessarily one to bemoan the way people get obsessed with text messaging these days, but I generally think that if you're flying a commercial airplane, and taking it in for landing... it shouldn't be that hard to know that it's a good idea to not worry about your phone for five minutes.



DailyDirt: Bacon A La Mode (Innovation)

by Michael Ho from the urls-we-dig-up dept on Friday, April 20th, 2012 @ 5:00PM

Bacon is an almost universally-loved food item -- it's salty and fatty and meaty all at the same time. So it's not too surprising that people will try to add bacon to almost any dish. Everything is better with bacon... and here are some examples that test that assertion.

The makers of Baconnaise and Bacon Baby Formula have created a bacon-themed coffin for sale. For about $3,000 plus shipping, you too, could be preserved in a casket that looks like bacon. [url]
Bacon-scented hand sanitizer is a great way to pickup stray dogs. Or to get your hand bitten... [url]
Burger King has introduced a bacon sundae to its menu. It's not available at every location yet -- only a few hip places around Nashville, Tennessee. [url]
Jack in the Box has a bacon milkshake that packs 773 calories into 16 ounces of bacon-flavored refreshment. No actual bacon was harmed to create this milkshake, just bacon-flavored syrup. [url]
To discover more food-related links, check out what's floating around in StumbleUpon. [url]  

By the way, StumbleUpon can also recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.



Meltwater Response To Associated Press Lawsuit: AP Is Misusing Copyright Law (Copyright)

by Mike Masnick from the indeed,-they-are dept on Friday, April 20th, 2012 @ 3:57PM

We were somewhat surprised by the Associated Press' decision to sue news search engine Meltwater, because we couldn't see how the AP -- even with its absurdist interpretation of copyright law -- had any case. Meltwater works with companies to help them track news about themselves. While it's similar to a clipping service, it doesn't actually "clip" the news. Instead, just like Google News or other news search engines, it provides a headline, a snippet and a link to the full story. In other words, if the AP's argument gains traction, the AP may have effectively outlawed search engines. That's ridiculous. Among the AP's silly claims in the lawsuit (and there are many), is one that says because users can cut and paste AP stories from their original websites and "save" them in a Meltwater archive, Melt water is guilty of violating copyright law. Under that argument, so is any email program or word processing program.

Either way, Meltwater has hit back with a response (embedded below) that pushes back on all of these points, explains pretty clearly how it doesn't actually infringe... and also claims that the AP's arguments amount to "copyright misuse":

Plaintiff's claims are barred in whole or in part by the doctrine of copyright misuse. Through this Complaint and through other means, Plaintiff seeks to misuse its limited copyright monopoly to extend its control over the Internet search market more generally, thereby improperly expanding the protections afforded by U.S. copyright law. Among other things, AP has misused its copyright monopoly by demanding that third parties take licenses for search results, which do not require a license under U.S. copyright law, and AP has also formed a consortium (called NewsRight) with the purpose of further misusing its copyright monopoly to extract licensing fees that exceed what the law allows.

Meltwater also brings up multiple other defenses, including a bunch of defenses highlighting how the AP failed to bring its lawsuit in a timely manner. They also point out that since the AP posts these articles freely on the web, there's an implied license that you can link to it and point people to the content.

There is, of course, also the AP's attempt to bring back the bogus "hot news" doctrine, which some companies like the AP have been trying to revive after it was considered a completely dead concept. So far, the courts aren't buying these hot news claims, and hopefully they get rejected here as well. Meltwater attacks the hot news claims head on with two interesting arguments. First, it claims that Section 230 protects it from any hot news claim. That's an interesting argument, though I'm not sure it really applies here. Separately, however, they argue (correctly, in my view) that hot news doesn't exist any more, effectively, because it's really a form of a copyright claim, and all state copyright claims (hot news is a state law issue) are preempted by federal copyright law. It would be nice to have a cour

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[I-S] Oops! Dem Governor Bashes Romney for Polygamist Roots - Forgets About Obama's Polygamist DAD



Oops! Dem Governor Bashes Romney for Polygamist Roots – Forgets About Obama's Polygamist DAD

Posted by Gateway Guest Blogger on Friday, April 20, 2012, 6:18 AM



By: Rachel Pulaski

The Luo Tribe has a long history of polygamy…
In this Obama Family photo are: (bottom row, from left) half-sister Auma, her mother Kezia Obama, Obama's step-grandmother Sarah Hussein Onyango Obama and unknown; (top row, from left) unknown, Barack Obama, half-brother Abongo (Roy) Obama, and three unknowns.

On Thursday Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer decided to go after Romney's family history regarding polygamy stating Hispanics would not approve of such a history. So it is only fair to point out that President Obama's family has a history of polygamy and bigamy as well. Yet the majority of Hispanics voted for President Obama in 2008.

The Washington Post reported:

"The line of polygamists in Obama's family can be traced back generations in western Kenya, where it was an accepted practice within the Luo (pronounced LOO-oh) tribe." His great-grandfather, Obama Opiyo, had five wives, including two who were sisters. His grandfather, Hussein Onyango, had at least four wives, one of whom, Akumu, gave birth to the president's father, Barack Obama" before fleeing her abusive husband. Obama Sr. was already married when he left Kenya to study at the University of Hawaii, where he married again. His American wife-to-be, Stanley Ann Dunham, was not yet 18 and unaware of his marital situation when she became pregnant with his namesake son in 1961.

It is also well known that Democrat Senator from New Mexico, Tom Udall, and his cousin, Senator Mark Udall (D) from Colorado, come from a long line of polygamists. But that was never an issue because they are Democrats.
Mens Journal reported:

In the Udall family, politics stretches back generations. Mark's and Tom's great-grandfather, David King Udall, was a pioneer Arizonan and a Mormon polygamist who was sent to federal prison (on testimony of an ancestor of Mitt Romney's, family lore has it). He was pardoned by President Grover Cleveland, then tossed back in jail. This time, it was Barry Goldwater's grandfather who got him off the hook.

It's only ever an issue if the politician is Republican.


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The Hallmark of the Age of "Modernism"

<> Occasionally, we send you a free sample of TIA Daily to remind you of what you're missing. To receive this kind of commentary every day, go to—RWT


TIA Daily • February 14, 2012


The Hallmark of the Age of "Modernism"

Happy Valentine's Day, unless of course you live in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, or Belgorod, Russia, in which case not so much. But that's one of the reasons why you probably don't live in any of these places.

I have some longer articles I'm working on about the economic recovery and following up on the fate of the Arab Spring, but for this edition, I wanted to bring your attention to a revealing juxtaposition of news stories.

Scholar and blogger Walter Russell Meade brought my attention to a report in London's Daily Mail which indicates that Osama bin Laden had already given up the cause of jihad before we made him give it up for good. He supposedly told his children, "Do not follow me down the road to jihad. Go and get a good education in the West."

The source of this claim, from what I can tell, is the brother of bin Laden's fifth wife, which puts it into the category of "maybe it's true." But Meade argues that the fact that a member of Bin Laden's family would make such a claim is revealing because "it looks increasingly as if America not only killed bin Laden: we are destroying his dream." I think there is a lot of evidence that this is true, that "jihadism" has been discredited. That does not mean, of course, that the radical Islamists have gone away, just that they are now pursuing power through other, less destructive means: the Turkish model of "Islamic Democracy."

But that's not what is most interesting about this story. In the comments section of Meade's post, one of his readers notes the irony. If Bin Laden's children were to follow this advice of seeking out a Western education, "when they get to the United States, they will come under the tutelage of professors who will teach them—or imply—that the West is evil. It won't be long before they conclude that Jihad is the right and sanctioned thing to do."

When I first read that, I though it might be a bit exaggerated—until I came across this story. It seems that the son of Oliver Stone, the famously anti-capitalist, anti-American, conspiracy-theory-mongering filmmaker, has formally converted to Islam in Iran. In case you wondered whether he might have adopted a moderate or liberal version of Islam (since there are some Iranian clerics who teach relatively moderate versions of the faith) he has also gone on record making excuses for Iran's theocratic regime.

Earlier this month, the Iranian press reported that Sean [Stone] attended a conference on "Hollywoodism and Cinema" in Tehran, which featured an address by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and focused on "Hollywood's behind-the-scenes policies and its destructive effects on family foundation," according to the Islamic Republic News Agency....

Last fall, Sean...traveled to Iran to work on a film about the mystic poet Rumi and to help "introduce Persian culture and civilization to the West," according to the Tehran Times. After his visit, he told The Wrap that Iran had a right to nuclear weapons and defended Ahmadinejad. "Iran is ruled by law," he explained. "People don't like Ahmadinejad, but that doesn't warrant a war or an uprising."

The same report also notes that the elder Stone has made a documentary with sympathetic interviews of Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez and that he has previously requested permission to make a documentary on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Now let me point out that Oliver Stone has long been at the crazy fringe of the left, and he and his family are outliers. Sean Stone does not represent the broad trend of American youth, and college kids are not departing in any significant numbers on pilgrimages to Tehran to take Islamic instruction from the Supreme Leader.

But then again, the Bin Laden family is not exactly typical, either, so take these two extreme cases as representing in exaggerated form the odd ideological circle that has been a despicable hallmark of the age of "modernism" and its philosophical sabotage of the Age of Reason.

During the late 20th century, people suffering under Communism longed for the freedom of the West, while young Westerners who enjoyed those freedoms idolized Che Guevara and other Communist goons. Modern man has enjoyed ever greater heights of technological advancement, while lapsing into ever more maudlin celebrations of the greater enlightenment of the noble savage. (Remember this as you watch the computer-generated special effects of Avatar on your high-definition, 3-D, flat-screen television.) So we shouldn't be too surprised if the children of a jihadist leader decide to give up the cause and go to the West—while some children raised with wealth, education, and all of the benefits of the West go off to adopt the philosophy and serve the interests of our most regressive enemies.

This is the hallmark of a society whose intellectuals have failed to keep up with our moral and material achievements. The cultural self-doubt that produces a Sean Stone is, thankfully, not yet strong enough or widespread enough to destroy us. But it will extend and deepen the dangers we have to pass through to keep civilization alive and thriving.—RWT

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[I-S] Peter Thiel’s Rise to Wealth and Libertarian Futurism : The New Yorker



Peter Thiel pulled an iPhone out of his jeans pocket and held it up. "I don't consider this to be a technological breakthrough," he said. "Compare this with the Apollo space program." Thiel, an entrepreneur who runs both a hedge fund and a venture-capital firm, was waiting for a table at Café Venetia, which is on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto, California. The street is the launchpad of Silicon Valley. All the café's tables were occupied by healthy, downwardly dressed people using Apple devices while discussing idea creation and angel investments. Ten years ago, Thiel met his friend Elon Musk for coffee at the same spot, and decided that PayPal, the online-payments company they had helped found, should go public. Soon after the initial public offering, in 2002, PayPal was sold to eBay for one and a half billion dollars, and Thiel's take was fifty-five million.

Most of Thiel's fortune was made within shouting distance of Café Venetia. PayPal's first office was five blocks down the street, above a bike shop. Just across the street was 156 University Avenue, the original headquarters of Facebook. In the summer of 2004, Thiel gave a Harvard dropout named Mark Zuckerberg a half-million-dollar loan, the first outside investment in Facebook, which Thiel later converted into a seven-per-cent ownership stake and a seat on the board; his share today is worth at least one and a half billion dollars. Facebook's successor at 156 University Avenue is Palantir Technologies, whose software helps government agencies track down terrorists, fraudsters, and other criminals, by detecting subtle patterns in torrents of information. Thiel co-founded Palantir in 2004 and invested thirty million dollars in it. Palantir is now valued at two and a half billion dollars, and Thiel is the chairman of the board. He might be the most successful technology investor in the world.

The information age has made Thiel rich, but it has also been a disappointment to him. It hasn't created enough jobs, and it hasn't produced revolutionary improvements in manufacturing and productivity. The creation of virtual worlds turns out to be no substitute for advances in the physical world. "The Internet—I think it's a net plus, but not a big one," he said. "Apple is an innovative company, but I think it's mostly a design innovator." Twitter has a lot of users, but it doesn't employ that many Americans: "Five hundred people will have job security for the next decade, but how much value does it create for the entire economy? It may not be enough to dramatically improve living standards in the U.S. over the next decade or two decades." Facebook was, he said, "on balance positive," because of the social disruptions it had created—it was radical enough to have been "outlawed in China." That's the most he will say for the celebrated era of social media.

Thiel rarely updates his Facebook page. He "never adapted to the BlackBerry/iPhone/e-mail thing," and began texting only a year ago. He hasn't quite mastered the voice-recognition system in his sports car. Though he owns a seven-million-dollar mansion in San Francisco's Marina District, and bought a twenty-seven-million-dollar oceanfront property in Maui in July, he sees the staggering rise in Silicon Valley's real-estate values as a sign not of progress but of "how people have found it very hard to keep up." There was almost never a free table at Café Venetia, he noted, or anywhere else on University Avenue, throwing the sanity of local housing prices into further question. Silicon Valley exuberance had become yet another sign of blinkered élite thinking.


from the issue
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Thiel—who grew up middle class, earned degrees from Stanford and Stanford Law School, worked at a white-shoe New York law firm and a premier Wall Street investment bank, employs two assistants and a chef, and is currently reading obscure essays by the philosopher Leo Strauss—holds élites in contempt. "This is always a problem with élites, they're always skewed in an optimistic direction," he said. "It may be true to an even greater extent at present. If you were born in 1950, and you were in the top-tenth percentile economically, everything got better for twenty years automatically. Then, after the late sixties, you went to a good grad school, and you got a good job on Wall Street in the late seventies, and then you hit the boom. Your story has been one of incredible, unrelenting progress for sixty-one years. Most people who are sixty-one years old in the U.S.? Not their story at all."

When Thiel questions the Internet's significance, it's not out of an indifference to technology. He's enraptured with it. Indeed, his main lament is that America—the country that invented the modern assembly line, the skyscraper, the airplane, and the personal computer—has lost its belief in the future. Thiel thinks that Americans who are beguiled by mere gadgetry have forgotten how expansive technological change can be. He looks back to the fifties and sixties, the heyday of popularized science and technology in this country, as a time when visions of a radically different future were commonplace. A key book for Thiel is "The American Challenge," by the French writer J. J. Servan-Schreiber, which was published in 1967 and became a global best-seller. Servan-Schreiber argued that the dynamic forces of technology and education in the U.S. were leaving the rest of the world behind, and foresaw, by 2000, a post-industrial utopia in America. Time and space would no longer be barriers to communication, income inequality would shrink, and computers would set people free: "There will be only four work days a week of seven hours per day. The year will be comprised of 39 work weeks and 13 weeks of vacation. . . . All this within a single generation."

In the era of "The Jetsons" and "Star Trek," many Americans believed that travel to outer space would soon become routine. Extreme ideas caught the public imagination: building underwater cities, reforesting deserts, advancing human life with robots, reëngineering San Francisco Bay into two giant freshwater lakes divided by dams topped with dozens of highway lanes. For science-minded kids, the fictional worlds of Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke seemed more real than reality, and destined to replace it.

Thiel says that the decline of the future began with the oil shock of 1973 ("the last year of the fifties"), and that ever since then we have been mired in a "tech slowdown." Today, the sci-fi novels of the sixties feel like artifacts from a distant age. "One way you can describe the collapse of the idea of the future is the collapse of science fiction," Thiel said. "Now it's either about technology that doesn't work or about technology that's used in bad ways. The anthology of the top twenty-five sci-fi stories in 1970 was, like, 'Me and my friend the robot went for a walk on the moon,' and in 2008 it was, like, 'The galaxy is run by a fundamentalist Islamic confederacy, and there are people who are hunting planets and killing them for fun.' "

Thiel's venture-capital firm, Founders Fund, has an online manifesto about the future that begins with a complaint: "We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters." He believes that this failure of imagination explains many of the country's problems—from the collapse in manufacturing to wage stagnation to the swelling of the financial sector. As he puts it, "You have dizzying change where there's no progress."

Thiel's own story of progress began near the end of the golden age, in 1967, in Frankfurt, Germany. When Peter was one, his father, Klaus, moved the family to Cleveland. Klaus's employment in various large engineering firms kept uprooting the family—South Africa and Namibia were other locations—and Peter attended seven elementary schools. The final one was near Foster City, a planned community, along the southern edge of San Francisco Bay, where the Thiels settled when he was in fifth grade. His parents banned TV until Peter was in junior high school. He grew up with the untrammelled self-confidence and competitiveness of a brilliant loner. He became a math prodigy and a nationally ranked chess player; his chess kit was decorated with a sticker carrying the motto "Born to Win." (On the rare occasions when he lost in college, he swept the pieces off the board; he would say, "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.") As a teen-ager, his favorite book was "The Lord of the Rings," which he read again and again. Later came Solzhenitsyn and Rand. He acquired the libertarian faith in high school and took it close to the limit. (He now allows for government spending on science.)

Though Thiel is forty-four, it isn't hard to imagine him in his late teens. He walks bent slightly forward at the waist, as if he found it awkward to have a body. He has reddish-brown hair with a trace of product on top, a long fleshy nose, clear blue eyes, and fantastically white teeth. He wears T-shirts and sneakers and prefers to hang out in coffee shops. He thought that the actor who played him, for thirty-four seconds, in "The Social Network" made him look too old, and too much like an investment banker. Although he's acquired various luxuries that one associates with a twenty-first-century mogul, he lacks the firm taste that would allow him to spend money naturally. His most striking feature is his voice: something metallic seems to be caught in his throat, deepening and flattening the timbre into an authoritative drone. During intense moments of cerebration, he can get stuck on a thought and fall silent, or else stutter for a full forty seconds: "I would say it's—it's—um—you know, it is—yes, I sort of agree—I sort of—I sort of agree with all this. I don't—um—I don't—um—there is a sense in which it's an unambitious perspective on politics." Thiel expresses no ill will toward anyone, never stoops to gossip, and seldom cracks a joke or acknowledges that one has been made. In an amiably impersonal way, he is both transparent and opaque. He opens himself to all questions and answers them at length, but his line of reasoning is so uninflected that it becomes a barrier against intimacy.

Thiel's closest friends date back to the early days of PayPal, in the late nineties, or even further, to his years at Stanford, in the late eighties. They are, for the most part, like him and one another: male, conservative, and super-smart in the fields of math and logical reasoning. These friendships were forged through abstract argument. David Sacks, who left PayPal in 2002 and now runs Yammer, a social-network site for businesses, met Thiel at Stanford, where they were members of the same eating club. The topics of conversation included evolutionary theory, libertarian philosophy, and the anthropic principle, which holds that observations about the universe depend on the existence of a consciousness that can observe. "He would demolish your arguments in five minutes," Sacks said. "It was like playing chess. He was libertarian, but he would ask questions like 'Should there even be a market for nuclear weapons?' He would drill down and find the weakness in your argument. He does like to win."

In the summer of 1998, Max Levchin, a twenty-three-year-old Ukrainian-born computer programmer, had just arrived in the Bay Area when he heard Thiel give a talk at Stanford on currency trading. The next day, they met for smoothies in Palo Alto and came up with the idea that became PayPal: a system of electronic payment designed to make e-commerce easy, consistent, and secure. "I'm addicted to hanging out with smart people," Levchin said. "And I found myself craving more time with Peter." While developing the first prototype for PayPal, Levchin and Thiel tried to stump each other with increasingly difficult math puzzles. (How many digits does the number 125100 have? Two hundred and ten.) "It was a bit like a weird courting process, nerds trying to impress each other," Levchin said.

In 2005, Eliezer Yudkowsky, an artificial-intelligence researcher, met Thiel at a dinner given by the Foresight Institute, a nanotechnology think tank in Palo Alto. They argued about whether someone could have an anti-knack for playing the stock market—whether "reverse stupidity" could be a form of intelligence. Yudkowsky said, "I remember all my conversations with Peter as very pleasant, far-ranging experiences that I would be more tempted to analogize to a real-world I.Q. test than to anything else."

Few people in Silicon Valley can match Thiel's combination of business prowess and philosophical breadth. He pushed hard to build PayPal, against formidable obstacles, because he wanted to create an online currency that could circumvent government control. (Though the company succeeded as a business, it never achieved that libertarian goal—Thiel attributes the failure mainly to heightened concerns, after 9/11, that terrorists might exploit electronic currency systems.) At Stanford, he was heavily influenced by the French philosopher René Girard, whose theory of mimetic desire—of people learning to want the same thing—attempts to explain the origins of social conflict and violence. Thiel once said, "Thinking about how disturbingly herdlike people become in so many different contexts—mimetic theory forces you to think about that, which is knowledge that's generally suppressed and hidden. As an investor-entrepreneur, I've always tried to be contrarian, to go against the crowd, to identify opportunities in places where people are not looking."

Thiel's friends value his openness to intellectual weirdness. Elon Musk, who went on from PayPal to found SpaceX, a company that makes low-cost rockets for space exploration, and Tesla, the electric-car manufacturer, said, "He's unconstrained by convention. There are very few people in the world who actually use unconstrained critical thinking. Almost everyone either thinks by analogy or follows the crowd. Peter is much more willing to look at things from a first-principle standpoint." Musk added, "I'm somewhat libertarian, but Peter's extremely libertarian."

Yet Thiel is hardly an unconstrained person. He seems uneasy with the world of grownup feelings, as if he were still a precocious youth. Someone who has known him for more than a decade said, "He's very cerebral, and I'm not sure how much value he places on the more intimate human emotions. I've never seen him express them. It's certainly not the most developed aspect of his personality." The friend added, "There are some irreconcilable elements that remain unreconciled in him"—a reference to Thiel's being both Christian and gay, two facts that get no mention in his public utterances and are barely acknowledged in his private conversations. Though he is known for his competitiveness, he has an equally pronounced aversion to conflict. As chief executive of PayPal, which counted its users with a "world domination index," Thiel avoided the personal friction that comes with managing people by delegating those responsibilities. Similarly, he hired from a small pool of like-minded friends, because "figuring out how well people work together would have been really difficult."

One of those friends was Reid Hoffman. As students at Stanford, Thiel and Hoffman had argued about the relative importance of individuals and society in the creation of property. Thiel liked to quote Margaret Thatcher: "There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women." Hoffman, who was far to the left of Thiel, countered that property was a social construct. In 1997, Hoffman put his beliefs about the primacy of social interactions into practice by starting SocialNet, an online dating service that Thiel calls "the first of the social-networking companies." The model failed—users adopted fictional identities, which wasn't the way most people wanted to connect on the Web—and Hoffman joined the board of PayPal, becoming the company's vice-president of external relations.

In 2002, after PayPal was sold to eBay, Thiel turned to investing. He set up a hedge fund called Clarium Capital Management, starting with ten million dollars, most of it his own money. In the summer of 2004, Hoffman, who had recently founded LinkedIn, and Sean Parker, the Silicon Valley enfant terrible, introduced Thiel to Mark Zuckerberg, who was looking for a major investor in Facebook, then a site for college students. Thiel concluded that Facebook would succeed where similar companies had failed. His investment was a kind of philosophical concession to his friend Hoffman. Thiel explained, "Even though I still ideologically believed that it's unhealthy if society is totalitarian or dominates everything, if I had been libertarian in the most narrow, Ayn Rand-type way, I would have never invested in Facebook."

Clarium became one of the meteors of the hedge-fund world. Thiel and his colleagues placed bets that reflected his contrarian nature: they bought Japanese government bonds when others were selling, concluded that oil supplies were running out and went long on energy, and saw a bubble growing in the U.S. housing market. By the summer of 2008, Clarium had assets of more than seven billion dollars, a seven-hundred-fold increase in six years. Thiel acquired a reputation as an investing genius. That year, he was interviewed by Reason, the libertarian magazine. "My optimistic take is that even though politics is moving very anti-libertarian, that itself is a symptom of the fact that the world's becoming more libertarian," he said. "Maybe it's just a symptom of how good things are." In September, 2008, Clarium moved most of its operations to Manhattan.

The financial markets collapsed later that month. The fund began to lose money, and contrarianism became Thiel's enemy. Expecting coördinated international intervention to calm the global economy, he went long on the stock market for the rest of the year—and stocks plummeted. Then, in 2009, he shorted stocks, and they rose. Investors began redeeming their money. Some of them grumbled that Thiel had brilliant ideas but couldn't time trades or manage risk. One of Clarium's largest investors concluded that the fund was a kind of Thiel cult, staffed by young intellectuals who were in awe of their boss and imitated his politics, his chess playing, his aversion to TV and sports. Clarium continued to bleed. In mid-2010, Thiel closed the New York office and moved Clarium back to San Francisco. This year, Clarium's assets are valued at just three hundred and fifty million dollars; two-thirds of it is Thiel's money, representing the entirety of his liquid net wealth. "Clarium is now a de-facto family office for Peter," a colleague said. "He's an exceptionally competitive person. He was on the cusp of entering the pantheon of world-class, John Paulson-esque hedge-fund managers in the summer of 2008, and he just missed it."

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S] Can you imagine...someone claims Obama cheated



LEAKED STRATFOR EMAILS: Democrats Manipulated The 2008 Election Results

Michael Kelley|Apr. 20, 2012, 10:49 AM|16,947|63




A successful challenge of Obama's wins in Pennsylvania and Ohio would not have overturned his victory but would have tarnished the subsequent celebratory atmosphere.

See Also


Did Mitt Romney Commit Voter Fraud In Massachusetts in 2010?


STRATFOR On Assange: 'Bankrupt The A-------, Ruin His Life, Give Him 7-12 For Conspiracy'


LEAKED STRATFOR EMAILS: Analysts Didn't Believe Bin Laden Was Buried At Sea

John McCain's 2008 campaign staff allegedly had evidence that Democrats stuffed ballot boxes in Pennsylvania and Ohio on election night, but McCain chose not to pursue voter fraud, according to internal Stratfor emails published by WikiLeaks.

In an email sent on November 7, 2008, and titled " Insight - The Dems & Dirty Tricks ** Internal Use Only - Pls Do Not Forward **," Stratfor vice president of intelligence Fred Burton wrote:

1) The black Dems were caught stuffing the ballot boxes in Philly and Ohio as reported the night of the election and Sen. McCain chose not to fight. The matter is not dead inside the party. It now becomes a matter of sequence now as to how and when to "out".

In an email sent two days earlier and titled "Insight - McCain #5 ** internal use only - Pls do not forward **," Burton wrote:

After discussions with his inner circle, which explains the delay in his speech, McCain decided not to pursue the voter fraud in PA and Ohio, despite his staff's desire to make it an issue. He said no. Staff felt they could get a federal injunction to stop the process. McCain felt the crowds assembled in support of Obama and such would be detrimental to our country and it would do our nation no good for this to drag out like last go around, coupled with the possibility of domestic violence.

The Nov. 7 email also contains allegations that Democrats made a "six-figure donation" to Rev. Jesse Jackson to silence him on the topic of Israel after an October 2008 interview in which he said Obama's presidency would remove the clout of "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades."

Burton, who appears to be friendly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote:

2) It appears the Dems "made a donation" to Rev. Jesse (no, they would never do that!) to keep his yap shut after his diatribe about the Jews and Israel. A little bird told me it was a "nice six-figure donation". This also becomes a matter of how and when to out.

The email also refers to an accusation that Obama's campaign took money from Russia, recalling memories of Bill Clinton's 1996 presidential campaign when the Justice Department uncovered evidence that China sought to make direct contributions to the Democratic National Committee.

Burton wrote:

3) The hunt is on for the sleezy Russian money into O-mans coffers. A smoking gun has already been found. Will get more on this when the time is right. My source was too giddy to continue. Can you say Clinton and ChiCom funny money? This also becomes a matter of how and when to out.

If true the allegations prompt questions of how the fallout has affected the politics of Obama's current administration and how it will effect this year's presidential election.

Interestingly, Mitt Romney is also facing allegations of voter fraud in Massachusetts as he cast a ballot for Republican Scott Brown in January 2010 in the special election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy but didn't own property in the state at the time.

Romney registered to vote listing his son's unfinished basement as his residence, but the Romneys' former realtor told GOP consultant Fred Karger that they moved to California. Anyone found guilty of committing voter fraud faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Burton is a former Deputy Chief of the Department of State's counterterrorism division for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). The DSS assists the Department of Defense in following leads and doing forensic analysis of hard drives seized by the U.S. government in ongoing criminal investigations.

Stratfor provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

WikiLeaks has published 973 out of what it says is a cache of 5 million internal Stratfor emails (dated between July 2004 and December 2011) obtained by the hacker collective Anonymous around Christmas

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Bow wow


Romney: Boxers or Briefs; Obama: Boxers or Beagles.


Obama's favorite movie: Dog Day Afternoon


Obama seven course State Dinner with the Indonesian Delegation….a 6 pack and a puppy.


I don't see this story having legs anymore, kinda like the dog Obama ate.


It looks as if this Axelrod marketing ploy will dog Obama for a while.


When Obama says:"Ay, Chihuahua!", that's what's for dinner.


Yes, Obama loves dogs, particularly when served in a light cream sauce.


What does Obama call a dog in a kennel?   A box lunch!


Mr. President, his name is Frisky – not crispy!


Folks continue to "hound" him about this issue….. I'm confident it will dog him to his grave.


Obama was riding the Gravy Train until Axelrod's marketing stunt backfired.


Any mention on whether the MSM may end up chasing their own tail on this story?


Romney took his dog on vacation. Obama took his with fries.



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Justice for Jasmine

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Treka McMillian
Date: Saturday, April 21, 2012
Subject: Justice for Jasmine
To: Bruce Major <>

Sign the petition

Dear MoveOn member,

On December 23, 2011, my goddaughter, Jasmine Thar, a 16-year-old African American, was shot and killed while in my mother's front yard in Chadbourn, North Carolina.

When the shot rang out, Jasmine was preparing for a routine shopping trip and doing what most teens do—texting. Two others, my niece and myself, were also injured in the shooting.

The 23-year-old Caucasian male who fired the fatal shot from the house across the street was taken in for questioning, but he has not been charged with a crime of any kind.

Because he claims it was an accident, the police let him go—despite the fact that he admits he fired the shot and police found a Confederate flag and Nazi literature in his home.

The message being sent is that you can shoot and kill someone like Jasmine and get away with it by simply claiming it was an accident. That can't be the world we live in.

That's why we created a petition on to District Attorney Jon David, Attorney General Roy Cooper, and Assistant District Attorney Chris Gentry. The petition says:

We demand justice for Jasmine Thar, who was shot and killed. Three months after the shooting we still have no answers. We urge you to sign this petition to demand a lawful, thorough, and unprejudiced investigation from the SBI and sound judicial decisions from Columbus County District Attorney Jon David and ADA Chris Gentry.

Will you sign the petition? Click here to add your name, and then pass it along to your friends:

Thank you.

–Treka McMillian

The text above was written by Treka McMillian, not by MoveOn staff, and MoveOn is not responsible for the content. This email was sent through MoveOn's secure system, and your information has been kept private. To read more about Jasmine's story, click here.

Want to support our work? MoveOn Civic Action is entirely funded by our 7 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.

This email was sent to Bruce Major on April 21, 2012. To change your email address or update your contact info, click here. To remove yourself from this list, click here.

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Nearly two dozen implicated in Secret Service scandal, three more resign

Nearly two dozen implicated in Secret Service scandal

In case you're keeping score at home:

A total of 23 Secret Service and military personnel have now been
implicated in this month's prostitution scandal in Colombia.

Six men have left the Secret Service over allegations of bringing
prostitutes to their hotel, five others remain under investigation,
and one has been cleared of "serious wrongdoing" but faces discipline.

The military is conducting a separate investigation of its 11 personnel.

It all adds up to one big embarrassment for the Secret Service, a
legendary agency that prides itself on professionalism, discretion,
and, above all, staying in the background.

"Since these allegations were first reported, the Secret Service has
actively pursued this investigation, and has acted to ensure that
appropriate action is affected," said Assistant Director Paul S.

He added: "We demand that all of our employees adhere to the highest
professional and ethical standards and are committed to a full review
of this matter."

The embarrassment isn't over, however, and probably won't be for some time.

Officials still have to deal the drip-drip-drip of details from the probe.

There figure to be more stories like the one about the escort who
protested that one of her clients refused to pay his full bill; or the
Secret Service agent who made catty comments on his Facebook page
about "checking out" 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

And don't forget all those late night talk show jokes.

A Secret Service uniformed officer guards the presidential helicopter
CAPTIONBy Win McNamee, Getty ImagesMembers of Congress may still hold
public hearings on what happened in Colombia, and continue to receive
briefings from Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has written Sullivan, asking to look into
whether still other government employees are involved, perhaps members
of the White House advance staff.

Sullivan's job appears safe. Lawmakers from both parties have
complimented his handling of the investigation to date. The Secret
Service director briefed President Obama on Friday.

As for the military probe, the U.S. Southern Command's Col. Scott
Malcolm, said it involves six members of the Army, two Marines, two
Navy and one Air Force.

"As they are not yet charged with anything specifically, they are not
under any formal restrictive conditions," Malcolm said. "However, they
are required to remain at the home station until the investigating
officer is done with them.''

Security aides and members of Congress said it appears that Obama's
safety was not compromised because of this incident. The alleged party
with prostitutes occurred two days before the president arrived in
Cartagena for last weekend's Summit of the Americas.

Still, the Secret Service faces the prospect of an upset president.

Some Republicans, including Palin, are starting to say that the Secret
Service flap may reflect upon Obama's management style.

In his only public comments on the scandal, Obama said in Colombia on
Sunday that he would indeed be angry if the allegations are proved

"When we travel to another country," Obama said, "I expect us to
observe the highest standards."

Here is last night's full statement from from Assistant Director Paul
S. Morrissey,
U.S. Secret Service Office of Government and Public Affairs:

"The Secret Service's comprehensive investigation into allegations of
misconduct by its employees in Cartagena, Colombia continues.

In addition to the previously announced personnel actions, three
additional employees have chosen to resign.

As a result of the ongoing investigation in Cartagena, a twelfth
employee has been implicated. He has been placed on administrative
leave and his security clearance has been temporarily suspended
pending the outcome of the investigation.

One of the employees involved has been cleared of serious misconduct,
but will face appropriate administrative action.

At this point, five employees continue to be on administrative leave
and their security clearances remain suspended pending the outcome of
this investigation.

The Secret Service continues to conduct a full, thorough and fair
investigation, utilizing all investigative techniques available to our
agency. This includes polygraph examinations, interviews with the
employees involved, and witness interviews, to include interviews
being conducted by our Office of Professional Responsibility in
Cartagena, Colombia.

Since these allegations were first reported, the Secret Service has
actively pursued this investigation, and has acted to ensure that
appropriate action is affected. We demand that all of our employees
adhere to the highest professional and ethical standards and are
committed to a full review of this matter."


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‘I Am Sorry,’ Zimmerman Says as Bail Set at $150,000

'I Am Sorry,' Zimmerman Says as Bail Set at $150,000

Pool photo by Gary W. Green
George Zimmerman arrived for his bail hearing on Friday in Sanford,
Fla. He spoke publicly for the first time about his case, apologizing
to the parents of Trayvon Martin, the teenager he shot and killed.


SANFORD, Fla. — Speaking publicly about the case for the first time,
George Zimmerman, the man accused of second-degree murder in the
shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, briefly took the
witness stand at his bail hearing on Friday and apologized to the
teenager's parents.

Mr. Zimmerman, accused of murder, answered questions from his lawyer
Mark O'Mara during a bond hearing Friday.

"I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son," Mr. Zimmerman,
28, said in a soft voice from the stand, dressed in a dark suit, with
his hands locked in cuffs, and shackles at his feet and waist. "I did
not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I
am. And I did not know if he was armed or not."

Mr. Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, sitting in the
second row of the courtroom here, showed little emotion during Mr.
Zimmerman's remarks. They did not comment after the hearing ended,
hurrying to a waiting car.

One of their lawyers, Benjamin Crump, said later that Mr. Martin's
family was "completely devastated" by the Seminole County Circuit
Court judge's decision to allow Mr. Zimmerman to be released from jail
on $150,000 bail, which was considerably less severe than the
prosecutors' request for no bail or $1 million.

Describing Mr. Zimmerman's apology from the stand as "self-serving,"
Mr. Crump said he considered it a ploy to help win his release from
jail and curry favor with the court and the public through the news

"They have to accept the court's decision," he said about Mr. Martin's
parents. "But they are praying that his freedom is only temporary
because the pain Zimmerman caused them is going to last forever. They
are never getting Trayvon back."

Mr. Martin, a high school student, was shot and killed on Feb. 26
while walking through the gated community where he was staying and
where Mr. Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer. The case
incited a national uproar, including protests across the country,
after the police did not arrest Mr. Zimmerman, raising questions about
Florida's expansive self-defense law and racial profiling.

A special prosecutor, Angela B. Corey, was assigned to the case by
Gov. Rick Scott amid criticism of the way it was being handled by
local authorities, and she brought second-degree murder charges
against Mr. Zimmerman last week.

Mark M. O'Mara, Mr. Zimmerman's lawyer, said he had asked that Mr.
Zimmerman be allowed to apologize privately to the parents, but the
request was rebuffed. He said Mr. Zimmerman wanted to answer the three
questions that he had heard Mr. Martin's mother raise during a
television interview.

"He answered very specifically the three questions posed by the
mother: Why haven't you apologized? Did you know he was a teenager?
And did you know he was unarmed?" Mr. O'Mara said.

At the end of the hearing, which ran more than two hours, the judge,
Kenneth R. Lester Jr., set bail and imposed multiple restrictions on
Mr. Zimmerman's release, including no contact with Mr. Martin's family
or with witnesses to the shooting. Judge Lester also banned access to
alcohol or firearms, and ordered that his movements be monitored by an
electronic bracelet. He set a curfew that would require Mr. Zimmerman
to remain at home from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. and ordered him to check in
with the authorities every three days.

Mr. Zimmerman will not be released from jail for several days, Mr.
O'Mara said, because it will take time to arrange financing for the
bond and find a secure location for Mr. Zimmerman, who has received
death threats.

Testifying by telephone during the proceeding because of concern for
their safety, Mr. Zimmerman's family members, including his wife,
Shellie Zimmerman, assured the judge that they would closely monitor
his whereabouts and notify the authorities if they lost contact with
him for any reason before his pending trial.

As part of his effort to win Mr. Zimmerman's release on bond, Mr.
O'Mara challenged the prosecution's case, going through the state's
probable cause affidavit line by line, turning the bail hearing into
what appeared to be a foretaste of the trial.

He aggressively questioned a state investigator, Dale Gilbreath, about
the accusation that Mr. Zimmerman had racially profiled Mr. Martin,
and he demanded to know what evidence the state had for the statement
that "Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued."

"Do you know who started the fight?" Mr. O'Mara asked Mr. Gilbreath.

"Do I know?" Mr. Gilbreath said. "No."

Mr. O'Mara then asked Mr. Gilbreath if the state had any evidence to
contradict Mr. Zimmerman's statement to the police that he had been
making his way back to his car when he was punched by Mr. Martin. Mr.
Zimmerman told investigators he shot Mr. Martin in self-defense after
Mr. Martin banged his head on concrete, covered his nose and mouth and
reached for his gun.

Mr. Gilbreath responded, "No."

While on the stand, Mr. Zimmerman was sharply questioned by Bernardo
de la Rionda, an assistant state attorney.

"Do you agree that you changed your story?" Mr. de la Rionda asked,
referring to the five separate statements that Mr. Zimmerman gave the
police about the shooting.

"Absolutely not, " Mr. Zimmerman replied in a firm voice.

Serge F. Kovaleski reported from Sanford, and Jennifer Preston from New York.


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Re: The Extremism of Mitt Romney: So long, flip-flopper. Hello, right-wing extremist.

On Sat, Apr 21, 2012 at 9:52 AM, Tommy News <> wrote:
In Strategy Shift, Obama Team Attacks Romney From the Left

Doug Mills/The New York Times
After months of depicting Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper, the Obama
campaign is determined to remind voters of Mr. Romney's conservative
stances on issues.


WASHINGTON — So long, flip-flopper. Hello, right-wing extremist.

John Heller/Associated Press
After Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania endorsed Mr. Romney, an ad by
Democrats tagged both as "Too Extreme for Women."

Mitt Romney may be inclined to start moving to the political center
now that he's practically got the Republican nomination won and done,
but the Obama campaign would much rather keep him right where he's
been for the past few months: in the conservative territory he staked
out while battling for Republican primary voters.

After months of depicting Mr. Romney as the ultimate squishy,
double-talking, no-core soul, Team Obama is shifting gears. Senior
administration officials, along with Democratic and campaign
officials, all say their strategy now will be to tell the world that
Mr. Romney has a core after all — and it's deep red.

Mr. Romney's overheard remarks at a fund-raiser in Florida on Sunday
night that, if elected, he planned to slash government programs
(though he has not spelled that out for the voters) gave Obama backers
the perfect opening, and they jumped on it. "Mitt Romney Tells Rich
Voters His Secret Plan to Cut Housing Assistance," said a headline
from ThinkProgress, a blog put out by the left-leaning Center for
American Progress. Democratic officials followed that up with a call
to reporters on Thursday charging that Mr. Romney's proposal would
"cut critical funds for homeless veterans."

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama's advisers saw another chance, and they were all
over that, too. Hours after Mr. Romney accepted the endorsement of
Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, the Democratic National Committee
was out with an ad "Mitt Romney and Tom Corbett: Too Extreme for
Women." The traditional spooky music accompanies video of Mr. Corbett
defending his advocacy of a proposal that could make women undergo
ultrasounds before receiving abortions, and saying women could "close
their eyes" if they didn't want to see what was on the screen.

"Did Mitt Romney close his eyes to accept this endorsement?" the
D.N.C. said in an e-mail it helpfully sent to reporters trumpeting the
advertisement. "Probably not, since Mitt Romney's positions mirror
those of the extreme elements of his party," the e-mail continued,
going on to list a host of conservative Romney positions that
Democrats hope will alienate women.

For Mr. Obama, the decision to start going after Mr. Romney from the
left is as much a logical evolution as is any attempt by Mr. Romney to
move to the center, in particular Mr. Romney's effort now to try to
woo Hispanic and female voters who may have been alienated by some of
the talk coming out of the Republican primary.

As the general election heats up, a central battlefield promises to be
the fights for suburban women in crucial swing states like Florida,
Ohio and Colorado, and both camps are now trying to prove their bona
fides with that population. When added to recent data that shows an
increase in Hispanic voters in key states, the Obama campaign sees an
opening to paint Mr. Romney as out of touch among both women and

As far as the Romney campaign is concerned, officials say that efforts
to paint their candidate as an extremist will not fly. "They are
grasping at straws," said Andrea Saul, Mr. Romney's spokeswoman. "The
Obama campaign first said President Obama was going to run on his
record and the election would be a referendum on his handling of the
economy. When it was clear that wouldn't work, his team said they were
going to adopt a 'Kill Mitt' strategy. Then came the plan to run
against President Bush again, and then, against Congress. Next they
tried to claim Governor Romney had no core."

Ms. Saul said that while "each new day brings a different made-up
attack from the Obama campaign, what doesn't change is the fact that
President Obama has failed and so is going to try to tear down Mitt
Romney instead of talking about his record."

Still, voters should ready themselves for reminders from the Obama
campaign that Mr. Romney proposed eliminating Title X, the only
federal program devoted to family planning, that he suggested letting
the foreclosure process "run its course and hit the bottom," and that
he staked out a position on immigration that was to the right of Rick
Santorum and Newt Gingrich. The campaign will make certain it is well
known that Mr. Romney just agreed to be the commencement speaker at
the conservative Liberty University; in fact, within minutes of
Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr.'s announcement on Thursday, Democratic
operatives were e-mailing the news around.

"Mitt Romney has spent the last two years taking the most extreme
positions of his party, whether it's on economic policy or social
policy," said Stephanie Cutter, the deputy campaign manager of Mr.
Obama's re-election team. "He can try to flip-flop to the center, but
who is going to believe him?"

David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser, said in a telephone
interview, "Whether it's tax policy, whether it's his approach to
abortion, gay rights, immigration, he's the most conservative nominee
that they've had going back to Goldwater." He added that "one of the
key issues in the campaign is to make sure people know that."

But what about David Axelrod's Twitter feed, which has, nonstop for
the past few months, seemed fixated on a depiction of Mr. Romney as
the ultimate feather in the wind? ("Yesterday, Mitt predicted victory.
Today, he says 3d would be fine. He can't even stick to the same
position on THAT!" Mr. Axelrod, an Obama adviser, said on Twitter on
the morning of the Iowa caucuses in January.)

Obama strategists insist they're not flip-flopping on the flip-flopper
label, which they believe can serve them well at any given moment. But
there appears to be a clear realization that for general election
purposes, they may do better with an emphasis on Mr. Romney's
conservative stances.

The reason goes back to the very thing that has, all along, made Mr.
Romney the candidate whom the Obama campaign has always viewed as the
most formidable out of the Republican herd. Mr. Romney, a former
governor of Massachusetts, the architect of a health care plan which
is remarkably similar to Mr. Obama's signature domestic policy item,
is still viewed among many  independents as something of a moderate,
and as such, he is more dangerous to Mr. Obama in a general election
than the rest of the Republican field.

That viewpoint made Mr. Romney vulnerable during the Republican
primaries and at least partly explains his fierce embrace of
conservation positions to offset Republican doubts. But it may make
him tougher to beat in November. Mr. Romney himself seemed to
acknowledge his need to move to the center during his overheard
remarks on Sunday, when he told supporters that "we have to get
Hispanic voters to vote for our party," and warned that big Latino
support for Mr. Obama "spells doom for us." While he did not
explicitly endorse a Republican proposal to chart a path to legality
for the offspring of illegal residents, he didn't dismiss the idea


Together, we can change the world, one mind at a time.
Have a great day,

Together, we can change the world, one mind at a time.
Have a great day,

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Another Nobel screw up.

The obscene chutzpah of Gunter Grass

Salim Mansur_op
By ,QMI Agency
First posted: Friday, April 20, 2012 08:00 PM ED

Gunter Grass German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass poses for a photo at his house in the northern German town of Behlendorf on April 5, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/MARCUS BRANDT)

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There are people who thrive upon the noxious fumes of their infamy. In 2006, Gunter Grass published his memoir, Peeling the Onion, and informed the world he served in the Waffen SS of Hitler's army in the late months of the Second World War.

This confession came seven years after Grass was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature.

How does a Nobel laureate, celebrated as one of post-war Germany's greatest writers and its conscience, release fumes more noxious than his 2006 memoir, which embarrassed a whole lot of people celebrating him?

He does by writing an op-ed in the form of free verse — an English rendition by Heather Horn is available in the Atlantic magazine's online edition — in which he mulls over the world's hypocrisy, like some ancient Teutonic knight in a horrid imitation of a poor Wagnerian opera, to announce, "That the nuclear power of Israel endangers/The already fragile world peace."

It takes chutzpah — only the Yiddish word has the precision here to describe Grass's conduct, and the English words "gall" or "impudence" are mere approximations — for a former Waffen SS soldier to scold Israel.

The op-ed masquerading as poem is obscene. But the greater obscenity is Grass himself — given Germany's past as the Third Reich and his own role — posing as a moralist to draw equivalence between Israel and Iran.

Grass fools none except those in Europe, and the West, who mask their anti-Semitism in the name of Third World solidarity and support for Palestinian rights, while blaming Israel solely for the problems and troubles of the Middle East.

The Ayatollah Khomeini's thuggish regime in Iran, led by Khamenei and Ahmedinejad, might be a pathetic and poor copy of Hitler's Third Reich, but it is a copy nevertheless. It is driven by similar urgings of anti-Semitism, discriminations against minorities and those ideologically viewed as misfits, and a pathological resentment against free people and democracy.

As a Muslim, I know intimately through experience the homicidal instinct of Islamists, and their perversity in assigning blames to others for their actions. It is the same perversity that allows Islamists to blame rape on victims and to punish them for adultery.

The Iranian leadership has not hidden its ideologically driven and religiously sanctioned enmity against Israel. And Israel cannot afford behaving as an ostrich to threats from Tehran.

For Israel, the threat from a potentially nuclear armed Iran is existential. Any pre-emptive measure Israel takes, however, would not be against Iranian people and their country. It would be instead to decapitate a thuggish regime's effort to threaten Jews with a second Holocaust.

Grass is upset Israel has taken full measure of the Iranian threat to Jewish existence, and is prepared to take counter-measures to thwart that intention before it matures.

In scolding Israel, Grass remains fixated with his Jewish obsession, while learning from Islamists how to blame the victims, Jews, who for the longest time were made scapegoats by Christians in European history.

Grass has found his soulmates in Iran, and only in such twisted minds as that of Grass and his Islamist allies for Israel to be proactive in its own defence means endangering world peace.

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**JP** Khuda Hamain Hadayaat dy



Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2011 23:20:09 +0000


Salam All,
Accusations against your own father or brother won't make you a honest & decent man in a million year Mr Baig.


I wasn't going to reply anymore on this but the recent emails forced me to do so. After my earlier reply to someone called, Prof. Dr. Mirza Barjees Baig, I didn't mean to insult, humiliate or call anyone a liar.


Now I am really annoyed, am I alone to pick up this man's lies or someone else has noticed the contradiction too?


In the very 1st mail he writes, that "when he left Pakistan he gave cheques to his father", in the very next email he announces that "he never lived in Pakistan" so, which one is the true statement Baig sahib????


Here are my reasons to say what I said in my initial reply:


What I find the most disturbing is that, this is an international forum, not a place to do your domestic laundry in a public place. Do you really think this is a place to discuses your family problems or the behaviour of your parents or siblings?


Apart from that, we have guide lines about our duties towards our parents.


"maa baap ko barhapay main uff tuk na kahoo" is one of them, I can understand if someone like Mirza Baig forgets this, but have we all on this forum forgotten that? I guess not, at least I haven't.

If this man has any credible grievances (which I don't believe he has) he could have quietly & easily asked an elder of the family or a family friend to help him out.



Fayyaz Rahman





This transmition is intended for the person or entity to which it is addressed. Any review, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender & delet it from your system.


Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2011 00:41:03 -0700

My dear Shaikh sahib 
Thanks a lot for your kind words and consoling me with your well-written email.
I really appreciate you for bringing comfort when a person named Fayyaz tried to insult me.
I still do not know his intetions. I believe, he was mainly concerned with my language skills. But he did not introduce himself at all - what a brave person. But he can see all about me from the internet. I am positive the gentleman comletely lacks aticates and looks like, he has never participated any decent forrum in life. His email indicates that he has never exchanged ideas and argument at any decent gathering. 
His derogatory remarks reveal the level of the decency he has. It appears to me that gentleman has no self-respect, that is why he did not show any respect to me.
An email from Dr. Azhar Khan shahib and the other from you have brought comfort when the gentleman really did try his best to hurt my feelings. MAT ALLAH BLESS BOTH OF YOU AND REWARD YOU FOR THAT.

With best wishes and warm regards.

Prof. Dr. Mirza Barjees Baig

Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Society

College of Food and Agricultural Sciences

King Saud University

P.O. Box 2460, Riyadh 11451

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Tel Off:  00 966 1 4676980

Fax Off: 00 966 1 4678415

Cell :   00  966 563-819557 



"O Allah, I seek beneficial knowledge, wide sustenance and cure from all ailments from You".

--- On Mon, 6/6/11, Asan Deen <> wrote:

From: Asan Deen <>
Cc: "Impex House" <>, "" <>
Received: Monday, June 6, 2011, 1:13 AM

AsSalam o alaikum wra
Dear brother Azhar Khan,
 I do agree with you. My opinion is that the case of brother Dr. Mirza Barjees Baig might be genuine, because there are huge hue and cries in our beloved Land, and everywhere, as per someone capacity, you will find fraud/theft, and such cases of fraud particularly in property/land of someone is common in our society and there are hundred and thousands of cases in the courts.
I humbly request our group members, if somebody can help brother Dr. Mirza Barjees Baig, should do as per his capacity, if cannot,,, no need to paste unwanted comments like brother Fayyaz.... Sayyanay kahtay hein,,, jab bhee bolo soch ker bolo and achchi baat bolo,,,, nahen to khamosh raho.
Kind Regards

On Fri, Jun 3, 2011 at 2:07 PM, Azhar Khan <> wrote:

Dear Colleagues,

Before making a comment on somebody's credibility, Fayyaz should have looked him up on the internet. This is NOT a satire but an advice from a brother.  Let's have a big heart, and should never criticize or pass a spontaneous judgment. We are Muslims and if we cannot help him we should pray to Almighty Allah to give Mr. Baig peace of mind and justice. Anyone can have a tough time.

Best regards and love,

Prof. Dr. Azhar M. Khan PhD(USA), PE, PMP

Connecticut USA