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War Protesters Storm Facebook Before the State of the Union Address

By Samuel Axon at Mashable

An organization called Rethink Afghanistan has executed a widespread war protest on the White House’s Facebook page.

It began with a drive for 20,000 signatures at Rethink Afghanistan’s website, but folks who added their signatures were also given instructions for participating in the Facebook (Facebook) protest.

Hundreds of people have posted the following message or something very close to it to the White House page:

“President Obama, I am one of more than 20,000 signers of this petition from Rethink Afghanistan: ‘In your State of the Union address on January 27, 2010, I want you to provide a concrete exit strategy for our troops in Afghanistan that begins no later than July 2011 and which completes a withdrawal of combat troops no later than July 1, 2012.’ Petition:

The posts link back to the petition page outside Facebook, soliciting more signatures and thus training more people to participate in the protest. We’re not sure how many people have posted on the White House’s wall in the protest, but as the message says, more than 20,000 have signed the petition.

Rethink Afghanistan has set up a Ustream embed on its own Facebook page, where it will air the anti-war documentary Cost of War with an introduction by Robert Greenwald at 7:15 p.m. EST tonight. After the one-hour documentary, Greenwald will answer questions leading up to the president’s State of the Union, which will also stream on the Facebook page.

Regardless of your political stance, this is an interesting (but not surprising) use of social media. Do you think social media protests could have an impact on policy?

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Shepard Fairey says honesty is essential to his art despite his ’slip’ over a disputed Obama poster

By Mike Boehm at Los Angeles Times

FaireyClendenin The rock ‘n’ roll references were flying Wednesday evening as Shepard Fairey and Robbie Conal, leading, L.A.-based exponents of political street art — including posters they sometimes paste up illegally — sat side by side in a Culver City television studio talking about the inspirations and aims of what they do.

In a session that will be available on the Web as part of the “Brave New Conversations” series of chats involving cultural figures who push for social change, Fairey said punk rock changed his life while he was growing up in South Carolina and helped set him on a path toward art-as-agitation; Conal hailed the Clash as “role models” and worked Donny Hathaway’s “Everything is Everything” into one of the many quips and plays on words that suggested he could have grown up to carry on in the tradition of Lenny Bruce as easily as that of Francisco Goya.

When someone in the audience brought up Fairey’s ongoing legal battle with the Associated Press over his appropriation of an AP photo as a template for his landmark “Hope” poster supporting Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Conal jumped in with a long anecdote about a nervous moment he had with the AP in 1996 on account of his unauthorized use of a photograph of Ronald Reagan in the background of “Little White Lies,” an artwork Pearl Jam commissioned him to do when the band was putting in its two cents against the re-election of Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.).


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Brave New Films: Harold Ford Is Ann Coulter’s Favorite Democrat

By Nick Graham at Huffington Post

Former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford’s anticipated run for the New York Senate seat currently held by Kirsten Gillibrand has some progressive groups up in arms. One of them, Brave New Films, is attempting to drum up opposition to a Ford candidacy through a video accusing Ford of being “Ann Coulter’s favorite Democrat.”

On their website, Brave New Films writes,

Well, for starters, he’s a staunch opponent of abortion rights. He also disapproves of marriage equality for gay couples, opposes public safety laws to keep guns off the streets, and blames immigrants for America’s problems. Doesn’t sound like much of a New Yorker, does he?


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Liberal Groups Gunning for Ford

By Kate Phillips at New York Times

Former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. has yet to make official a primary bid against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in New York. But by raising his hand and expressing interest, he has unleashed a torrent of opposition among liberal Democrats, bloggers and activists who are mining his every quote. Never mind that the New York media have yet to move into full-blown, old-style tabloid gear, either.

So far, the latest is a Web video put out by Brave New Films and Robert Greenwald, which clips together interviews and TV appearances Mr. Ford gave (mainly on Fox News) during his years as a member of the House from Memphis and when he ran in his home state of Tennessee for the United States Senate in 2006. The video calls him “Ann Coulter’s favorite Democrat” and runs through his previously stated positions on gun rights, abortion, former President Bush’s policies on military tribunals and warrantless wiretapping.

In addition to the new video, lots of other tidbits of news have been pouring (or spewing) forth about a potential Ford candidacy in his newly found environs of Manhattan (or perhaps Sag Harbor).

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who, as we all know, loves to stay in the thick of things and be wooed for his endorsement, has invited Mr. Ford to travel with him to Haiti. Our colleague Michael Barbaro writes of the invitation — which might have been extended to Ms. Gillibrand as well — at our sib-blog, City Room.

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NARAL, Planned Parenthood hit Ford in video

By Jimmy Vielkind at Times Union

Three left-leaning groups have produced the above video portraying ex-Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who is exploring the possibility that he will run a primary against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, as an anti-choice, pro-Republican individual. At one point, he is shown standing in front of a Confederate flag.

NARAL, Planned Parenthood and Make the Road New York co-produced this montage, which shows Ford during television interviews and in campaign commercials. A representative of NARAL said it was underwritten because Ford is attempting to “re-write history.”

“Harold Ford claims others are falsifying his record in public life. It’s clear in this video that Harold Ford is self-proclaimed pro-life and does not reflect the values of New York voters,” said M. Tracey Brooks, the head of Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York.

Davidson Goldin, a spokesman for Ford, called the video “distorting” and stressed that if he ran and were elected, Ford would serve as an “independent Democrat.” He likened Ford’s positions on some issues to those of Bill Clinton and Chuck Schumer, and sent a video of Barack Obama speaking in favor of Ford.

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Attack Ads Fuel A Still Unclear Senate Fight

By Josh Robin at NY1

Watch the video at NY1

In their possible fight for US Senate, it’s increasingly a duel of Internet clips between Kirsten Gillibrand and Harold Ford — a battle that has Democrats wondering whether the dispute will only help Republicans. NY1’s Josh Robin filed the following report.

They were composed together at a Haiti vigil in Midtown Wednesday evening. But otherwise, it’s grown increasingly contentious between Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Harold Ford Junior, the former Tennessee Congressman who, so far, is only eyeing her seat.

Mostly, the rumbling is done by surrogates and allies for Gillibrand, a Los Angeles film company that has made similar attacks on Senator John McCain.

A two-minute video was partially funded by abortion rights groups and not Gillibrand’s help, a spokesman says. It takes swipes at Ford’s votes in congress, including a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and restrictions on late-term abortions.

Now a New York resident, Ford says he’s in favor of same-sex marriage and is playing up his support for abortion.

His spokesman dismissed the film as fictional, and out of “a high school film class.”

Ford is linking to his own clips, featuring praise by President Barack Obama, when he ran for the US Senate in Tennessee four years ago.

Those clips are meant to blunt Obama’s support in the race against Gillibrand who’s trying to make sure she coasts through the Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, Governor David Paterson is backing Gillibrand while knocking Obama’s attempts to clear the field for her, just as the White House tried doing in the governor’s race.

“The White House is on solid ground when they’re trying to protect the interest of the Democratic party. I feel that Senator Gillibrand will defeat any Republican that they put up against her. As a matter of fact, they can’t even find a Republican,” Paterson said.

Other party activists are agreeing with the governor.

Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic party committeeman, is neutral in the race and has warm words for both candidates, but not those fearing competition.

“You know, we heard that type of talk in 2008 in the Obama-Clinton primary. Yet as a result, thousands of more Democrats were registered, hundreds of thousands of more Democrats were registered. Democratic enthusiasm was created and activated. And I think that’s what we have to focus on,” Zimmerman said.

So far, Ford has yet to split the Democratic establishment. At a convention Thursday of African-American leaders sponsored by Reverend Jesse Jackson, his candidacy barely caused a ripple.

“I think anyone is presumptuous to just think because you show, you get our vote. That’s not the way it works in America and it’s certainly not the way it works in New York,” said Suzan Johnson Cook of the Wall Street Ministry.

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Reinvention in the YouTube Age: Brutal for Harold Ford

By Michael McAuliff at NY Daily News

Kirsten Gillibrand has taken her lumps in shifting to the left, but that’s nothing to the pounding Harold Ford is facing, thanks to YouTube and his own penchant for seeking the limelight.

Take the mashup (below — “Anne Coulter’s Favorite Democrat!”) that hit the Internet yesterday from Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films, which mocked John McCain to great effect in 2008.

In fact, there is so much video evidence out there of Ford’s less-than-New York Democratic positions, the liberal-leaning Media Matters has dubbed the Tennessean’s do-si-do to the left a “Reverse Romney,” and have started a “fact check” on him.

Here’s another put out by NARAL New York.

That’s some tough stuff to deal with — easy ad material for the opposition, and they don’t even have to make anything up.

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Sanders a growing force on the far, far left

By Sasha Issenberg at Boston Globe

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont at a December news conference on the renomination of Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont at a December news conference on the renomination of Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – The Senate may pride itself on a reputation as the world’s most exclusive deliberative body, but it is turning into just about the only place in America where a self-described socialist can wield raw power.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has spent his career trying to remake American capitalism in a more Scandinavian image. His favored targets of late have been top finance regulators he considers far too deferential to Wall Street. Last year, Sanders spent five months trying to block a new Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman before securing promises from Gary Gensler to aggressively fight market excesses.

Now Sanders is aiming at the top of the regulatory pyramid, putting a hold on the renomination of Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, whom he blames for the country’s financial collapse as a “key architect of the Bush economy.’’

Sanders, however, seems to be hoping that this particular adventure ends not with a peaceful detente but a spectacular confrontation.

“I’m going to do my best to defeat him,’’ said Sanders.

Congress’s only self-described socialist, the 68-year old Sanders gives the appearance of having stepped in from a tornado and speaks as though still trying to be heard over the noise.

His voice may finally be breaking through. Over 16 years in the House, his lonely crusades – which amount to a lifelong campaign to remake American capitalism and social policy – were usually received as little more than glitches in an otherwise well-functioning two-party system. Since his 2006 election to the Senate, however, Sanders has found that a junior senator’s single vote is enough to keep him in the middle of things.

He has emerged as a one-man tea party within the Democratic ranks, an ideological purebred feeding on outsider anger while staying close enough to party leaders to win rewards for his loyalty.


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On 30th Anniversary of Soviet Invasion, Congressman Massa Calls for End to Afghan War

Listen to this segment | the entire program

Thirty years ago today the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and sparked what was to be a 10 year-bloody occupation, claiming the lives of 10,000 Soviet soldiers, and more than a million Afghans. Often referred to as the USSR’s “Vietnam,” it served as a a sober lesson to many Russians, and, today also being the 3000th day of the US war in Afghanistan, the Soviet occupation offers a warning to the this country. In fact the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan, Andrey Avetisyan articulated a warning in an interview to the German Press this week, saying that Afghanistan was not like World War II. Now, one of President Barack Obama’s most vocal critics on the topic of the Afghanistan War, Congressman Eric Massa is calling for an up or down vote on the escalation of the war in the House of Representatives. Congressman Massa, a Democrat from New York is a 24 year retired military officer and former special assistant to the then Supreme Commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark. A month and a half ago he publicly spoke out on the floor of the House and formally called for an end to the US war in Afghanistan. PLAY TRACK.

GUEST: Congressman Eric Massa (D-NY)

Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the start of the Soviet war of Afghanistan, Brave New Films has put together a video looking back at that occupation and the lessons pertaining to the United States. Watch the video here:

Read Congressman Massa’s letter about Afghanistan here:

Rep Eric Massa in early November calling for an immediate end to the US occupation of Afghanistan on the floor of the House of Representatives.

first hear the voice of a Russian man who was a journalist during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. We also hear the voice of Matthew Hoh, the highest ranking state department official who publicly resigned over the Afghanistan war. We also hear Mikhail Gorbachev and others.

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God save the Queen and end the war in Afghanistan

By Laurie Essig at True/Slant

I just watched the Queen deliver a bit of a talk for Christmas.  I got that warm, fuzzy, happy holidays feeling inside.  Although I don’t believe in Santa anymore, I really do believe in the Queen.  I want to grow up to be an old woman who dresses just like her and does that stiff wave of the hand to my adoring subjects.  Of course, I won’t have any adoring subjects, but neither will the Queen if she keeps up her support of the war in Afghanistan.  In her Christmas message the Queen tries to support “young people” and the issues that are important to them while simultaneously giving a pro-war bit about Afghanistan.

Who does the Queen think is being sent to fight this useless war in Afghanistan?  Old gals like her?  Or me?  Nope, it’s young people and when the war in Afghanistan manages to collapse the American Empire, just like it did the Soviet one, I would hate to think that Great Britain would also finally collapse under the weight of its long dead Empire.  After all, that would lead (if I can push the Sex Pistols reference a bit farther), to Anarchy in the UK.  And then would the Queen be allowed to appear in a lovely aqua-marine frock with some costume-jewelry looking broach and address the young people of the Commonwealth?  God save the Queen.

But even if the British Empire survives, it is pretty clear that the American Empire, like the Soviets before them, will collapse under the weight of the endless war in Afghanistan.  A recent video from Rethink Afghanistan makes that clear.

The US is making the exact same assumptions about fighting the war in Afghanistan that the Soviets made: that more troops would lead to victory, that they could win without the support of the people (a minority of Afghans now believe the US occupation is a good thing), and that spending that much economic and political capital on foreign wars would not lead to an eventual collapse at home.  It’s pretty scary when every assumption of the Soviet government mirrors the assumptions made by Dubbya and now Obama.  It’s also pretty scary when the likes of Mikhael Gorbachev are trying to warn Obama of the dangers of sending more and more troops to back up an unpopular government with an even less popular war and no one in the White House seems to care.

According to Representative Eric Massa, Christmas Eve marks a sobering collection of milestones in Afghanistan.

As we begin our deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, this Christmas Eve will also mark the 3,000th day of the war in Afghanistan and the 30th anniversary of the initial Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Thus far, this war has already cost the American taxpayer a minimum of $300,000,000,000 according to the Congressional Research Service (and that’s just the funding that’s “on budget”).

That’s a lot of 3s.  Now we need 3 Wise human beings to make the US understand that Afghanistan is not “winnable.”  The US can’t even wage a war on drugs there successfully, let alone a war for what?  Democracy?  Christianity?  Who can even say what the goal is.  Because there is no victory in Afghanistan.  Only defeat.

And as difficult as the collapse of the American Empire will be, as it sinks under the weight of costs of this war, losing the Queen will be like losing our belief in Santa.  We’ll just never be able to get that warm and fuzzy feeling of seeing her wave and wish us a Merry Christmas again.

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