Some news agencies (eg Reuters) are reporting that he has died – but there is no confirmation yet.
Update: He’s dead.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with staff while ordering pizza at Anna’s Pizza and Italian Kitchen in Hampton, Va., Oct. 19, 2011. The President and Mrs. Obama had lunch with four veterans during the stop, a part of the President’s three-day American Jobs Act bus tour. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Steve Benen: …..Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace apparently faced some criticism from the right over this, and he apologized, telling Fox News viewers, “I messed up. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any disrespect.” ….It’s a shame Wallace felt the need to apologize for this, because he accidentally asked a good question, even if he regrets it now.
Societal norms apparently dictate that unhinged candidates who have no business running for president be shielded from such unpleasantness, but Michele Bachmann is arguably the most ridiculous person in Washington. She proudly embraces bizarre conspiracy theories; she routinely says crazy things on national television; she pretends to grasp public policies she doesn’t understand; and her worldview is comparable to someone who’s suffered a serious head trauma. Even as the Republican Party leaps off a right-wing cliff, Bachmann stands out for unique brand of madness.
Given this, of course response hosts should ask whether she’s a serious person. Bachmann doesn’t deserve deference; she deserves ridicule. I thought “are you a flake” was actually a rather polite way of asking a legitimate question about an unqualified candidate.
LA Times: Rep. Michele Bachmann has been propelled into the 2012 presidential contest in part by her insistent calls to reduce federal spending….
But she and her family have benefited personally from government aid, an examination of her record and finances shows. A counseling clinic run by her husband has received nearly $30,000 from the state of Minnesota in the last five years, money that in part came from the federal government. A family farm in Wisconsin, in which the congresswoman is a partner, received nearly $260,000 in federal farm subsidies.
And she has sought to keep federal money flowing to her constituents. After publicly criticizing the Obama administration’s stimulus program, Bachmann requested stimulus funds to support projects in her district….
….despite her broadsides against “socialized medicine,” Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, applied for public funds for his counseling clinic, Bachmann & Associates. Since 2006, he has received nearly $30,000, according to Minnesota state records…
Michele Bachmann lists the Lake Elmo, Minn.-based clinic – which aims to provide “quality Christian counseling in a sensitive, loving environment,” according to its website – as one of her assets on her financial disclosure forms.
Another of Bachmann’s assets – a family farm owned by her late father-in-law, Paul Bachmann – received nearly $260,000 in federal money between 1995 and 2008, largely from corn and dairy subsidies …. Paul Bachmann died in May 2009, but the congresswoman retains a partnership in the farm.
Bachmann said in December that the subsidies went to her in-laws and she never received “one penny” from the farm, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. However, in financial disclosure forms, she reported receiving between $32,503 and $105,000 in income from the farm, at minimum, between 2006 and 2009.
AP: ..…Examining 24 of her statements, Politifact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking service found just one to be fully true and 17 to be false (seven of them “pants on fire” false)….. A look at some of her recent statements and how they compare with the facts:
BACHMANN: “The farm is my father-in-law’s farm. It’s not my husband and my farm. It’s my father-in-law’s farm. And my husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from the farm.” — On “Fox News Sunday.”
THE FACTS: In personal financial disclosure reports required annually from members of Congress, Bachmann reported that she holds an interest in a family farm in Independence, Wis., with her share worth between $100,000 and $250,000…..
BACHMANN: “Overnight we are hearing that potentially 10 to 30,000 people could have been killed in the strike.” — Criticizing Obama in May for the “foolish” U.S. intervention in Libya, and citing what she said were reports of a civilian death toll from a NATO strike as high as 30,000.
THE FACTS: The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, said in late April that U.S. officials have seen reports that 10,000 to 30,000 people may have died in Moammar Gadhafi’s crackdown on protesters and the fighting between rebels and pro-government forces, but it is hard to know if that is true. He was speaking about all casualties of the conflict; no one has attributed such a death toll to NATO bombing alone, much less to a single strike.
BACHMANN: “It’s ironic and sad that the president released all of the oil from the strategic oil reserve. … There’s only a limited amount of oil that we have in the strategic oil reserve. It’s there for emergencies.” — On CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
THE FACTS: Obama did not empty all the oil from the strategic reserve, as Bachmann said. He approved the release of 30 million barrels, about 4 percent of the 727 million barrels stored in salt caverns along the Texas and Louisiana coasts….
BACHMANN: “One. That’s the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office.” — Comment to a conservative conference in Iowa in March.
THE FACTS: The Obama administration issued more than 200 new drilling permits before the Gulf oil spill alone. Over the past year, since new safety standards were imposed, the administration has issued more than 60 shallow-water drilling permits. Since the deep water moratorium was lifted in October, nine new wells have been approved.
MSNBC: Senior al-Qaida operative Ilyas Kashmiri, regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous militants, has been killed by a U.S. drone strike, Pakistani intelligence officials and a militant group confirmed Saturday.
A fax from Kashmiri’s Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami militant group said Saturday that Kashmiri was “martyred” in the strike at 11:15 p.m. Friday in South Waziristan. It vowed revenge against America.
The Pakistani official also said Saturday that Kashmiri was among nine militants killed in the strike … Kashmiri is one of five most-wanted militant leaders in Pakistan and his apparent death is another blow to al-Qaida just over a month after Osama bin Laden was killed.
BBC: ….According to a recent Associated Press report, his name figured among the top five al-Qaeda and Taliban militants US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned during her meetings with the Pakistani leadership a week ago.
He was one of the most active al-Qaeda leaders, and was believed to have had a role in some high-profile attacks against Pakistani and US interests in Pakistan. It is believed that the capabilities of his 313 Brigade will suffer a setback now that he is gone.
What is more, the Pakistani government has admitted to agreeing to set up joint intelligence teams with the Americans to hunt down wanted militant leaders, and many would be led to believe the Pakistani intelligence operatives had a role in leading the Americans to Kashmiri, unless the Pakistanis or the Americans claim otherwise.
President Barack Obama talks with participants from the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, an iconic campaign in civil rights and labor rights history, during a meeting in the Map Room of the White House, April 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Professor Michael Honey: On Feb. 1, 1968, two sanitation workers in Memphis, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, rode out a driving rainstorm by climbing inside one of the Sanitation Division’s old “wiener barrel” trucks. The walls inside the packer were caked with putrefying garbage of all sorts—yard waste, dead chickens, moldy food.
Cole and Walker’s soiled, worn-out clothes smelled of garbage. The city did not provide them with gloves, uniforms or a place to shower. They did hard, heavy work, lifting garbage tubs and carrying them on their shoulders or heads or pushcarts to dump their contents into outmoded trucks.
As crew chief, Willie Crain drove the loaded garbage packer along Colonial Street, he heard the hydraulic ram go into action, apparently set off by an electrical malfunction. He pulled the truck over to the curb immediately but the ram was already jamming Cole and Walker back into the compactor.
The men were crushed like so much garbage.
They were black like nearly everyone else working in sanitation — except the white bosses. Memphis assigned hauling garbage to blacks only and relied on cheap wages and the dictatorial rule of white supervisors to win its awards as one of the nation’s cleanest cities.
These avoidable deaths rubbed raw long-existing frustrations. The sanitation workers had no rights and could do nothing about it.
But on Feb. 12, Lincoln’s birthday, they did something about it. Nearly 1,300 black men in the Memphis Department of Public Works, giving no notice to anyone, went on strike. For nearly two months, these men marched every day. They endured beatings, arrests and tremendous economic hardship in the dead of winter. With the help of Martin Luther King Jr., they eventually won….
AFP: The Huffington Post rebuffed a union boycott call over its practice of using unpaid bloggers, saying most of them are “thrilled to contribute” despite not being paid.
The Newspaper Guild, a union of US media workers with 26,000 members, urged contributors to The Huffington Post earlier this week to stop providing free content to the news and opinion website.
“Just as we would ask writers to stand fast and not cross a physical picket line, we ask that they honor this electronic picket line,” the guild said in a statement. “We feel it is unethical to expect trained and qualified professionals to contribute quality content for nothing”…
The guild urged founder, Arianna Huffington, who sold The Huffington Post to Web company AOL this month for $315 million, “to demonstrate her commitment to the working class she so ardently champions” by paying bloggers.
Mario Ruiz, a Huffington Post spokesman: “…..we make a distinction between our newsroom staffers and our group bloggers – most of whom are not professional writers but come from all walks of life. The vast majority of our bloggers are thrilled to contribute and we’re thrilled to have them.”
ABC: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has offered to keep certain collective bargaining rights in place for state workers in a proposed compromise aimed at ending a nearly three-week standoff with absent Senate Democrats, according to e-mails released Tuesday by his office.
The e-mails, some dated as recently as Sunday, show a softened stance in Walker’s talks with the 14 Democrats who fled to Illinois to block a vote on his original proposal that would strip nearly all collective bargaining rights for public workers and force concessions amounting to an average 8 percent pay cut.
Under the compromise floated by Walker and detailed in the e-mails, workers would be able to continue bargaining over their salaries with no limit, a change from his original plan that banned negotiated salary increases beyond inflation. He also proposed compromises allowing collective bargaining to stay in place on mandatory overtime, performance bonuses, hazardous duty pay and classroom size for teachers……
Arianna Huffington with her good buddy Darrell Issa in Las Vegas
The Wrap: Arianna Huffington scoffed at a group of unpaid Huffington Post contributors that announced on Wednesday they would stop contributing content to the site, weeks after its $315 million sale to AOL was announced.
Huffington, speaking alongside AOL chief Tim Armstrong at PaidContent’s 2011 Conference in New York, dismissed the notion that all bloggers should be paid, given the wide platform HuffPo gives them.
She argued that blogging on the Huffington Post is equivalent to going on Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart or the “Today” show to promote their ideas.
And, she said, there are plenty of people willing to take their place if they do. “The idea of going on strike when no one really notices,” Huffington said. “Go ahead, go on strike.”
The controversy arose after writers for the websites ArtScene and Visual Art Source , which had been contributing content to the Huffington Post for free since 2010, refuse to contribute additional material to the site unless they got paid. They are asking for a pay schedule and requesting that promotional material no longer be published alongside editorial content.
Ezra Klein: “….if the transcript of the conversation is unexceptional, the fact of it is lethal. The state’s Democratic senators can’t get Walker on the phone, but someone can call the governor’s front desk, identify themselves as David Koch, and then speak with both the governor and his chief of staff? That’s where you see the access and power that major corporations and wealthy contributors will have in a Walker administration, and why so many in Wisconsin are reluctant to see the only major interest group representing workers taken out of the game.
The critique many conservatives have made of public-sector unions is that they both negotiate with and fund politicians. It’s a conflict of interest. Well, so too do corporations, and wealthy individuals. That’s why Murphy – posing as Koch – was able to get through to Walker so quickly. And it shows what Walker is really interested in here: He is not opposed, in principle, to powerful interest groups having the ear of the politicians they depend on, and who depend on them. He just wants those interest groups to be the conservative interest groups that fund him, and that he depends on.
“The governor takes many calls everyday,” Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie, said in a statement. “Throughout this call the governor maintained his appreciation for and commitment to civil discourse. He continued to say that the budget repair bill is about the budget. The phone call shows that the governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having.”
USA Today: The public strongly opposes laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions as a way to ease state financial troubles, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.
The poll found that 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to one being considered in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.
Ohio and several other states that have new Republican governors and legislative majorities are considering laws that would reduce the power of government employee unions to bargain over benefits and work rules.