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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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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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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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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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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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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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‘Rethink Afghanistan’: Obama’s Vietnam?

By Joe Meyers at Connecticut News


Progressive journalist Robert Greenwald has produced strong documentaries about everything from big box stores (“Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price”) to the excesses of Fox News (“Outfoxed”).

Through his Brave New Productions company, Greenwald has created a new template for up-to-the-minute, ever-evolving non-fiction filmmaking that combines traditional edited material on DVD with links to brand new interviews on his website and Facebook.

Greenwald’s latest project, “Rethink Afghanistan,” is a sobering and timely look at the chaos in that country just as President Obama has committed tens of thousands of troops for what he says will be a strictly limited military action.

The documentary deals both with the continuing breakdown of order in Afghanistan and the fact that Obama may be setting the stage for his own political demise in a quagmire strikingly similar to the one in Vietnam that ended Lyndon Johnson’s presidency.

The U.S. populace is so caught up in its own economic chaos that it is has given Obama a pass on Afghanistan for the time being, the film asserts. When the huge financial and physical cost of the war begins to be felt, the public could turn on the president as quickly as it did on Johnson.

Progressives are so thrilled by Obama’s sophistication and intelligence that they seem to be looking the other way when it comes to Afghanistan. There is pretty strong evidence that things have gotten worse in the country with American involvement — suicide bombings were unknown before we arrived and they are now escalating.

Greenwald shows how U.S. policy in Afghanistan may be as misguided as our terrible venture in Iraq. Support for Muslim extremism is increasing around the world as a result of our military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the latter country we seem to be lumping the Taliban (above) and al Qaeda together (even though they have little use for each other).

Apparently, our Iraq fatigue and euphoria over the end of the Bush II era have set the stage for another military/political disaster.

In “Rethink Afghanistan” Greenwald (below right with journalist Anand Gopal) has assembled an impressive array of intelligence experts, journalists and people in Afghanistan who point out that U.S. military occupation is destined to make things worse in an intensely nationalistic culture (one politician asks what we would do if a foreign army was stationed in the U.S. to “restore order”).

(Much of “Rethink Afghanistan” is available online at


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Lawmaker, Activists Decry US Troop Increase in Afghanistan

By Dan Robinson at Voice of America

Members of the U.S. Congress received a classified briefing on Wednesday on the war in Afghanistan from two Obama administration officials – Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  At the same time on Capitol Hill, a Democratic lawmaker and anti-war activists spoke out against President Barack Obama’s U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan.

Secretaries Gates and Clinton briefed lawmakers behind closed doors in the House of Representatives on President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy and the expected costs of adding 30,000 U.S. troops to the international force already there.

As the troop surge picks up momentum, members of Congress are concerned about how expensive the buildup will be between now and July 2011 – the date the president set to begin a drawdown of U.S. forces, the speed of which will depend on conditions in Afghanistan.

Gates and Clinton were to have briefed a joint hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations, but that event was postponed.

In brief remarks to reporters, Secretary Clinton said President Obama is committed to ensuring that additional funds for the troop buildup – which the Pentagon estimates will cost between $30 and $35 billion – will be reflected in the 2011 fiscal year budget, which is request expected on Capitol Hill in February.

At the same time, one Democrat who has emerged in recent months as one of the most outspoken war critics in Congress used a news conference to argue that the troop buildup is a costly mistake.

Florida Representative Alan Grayson
VOA Photo – D. Robinson

Alan Grayson

Calling the president’s Afghanistan effort “an 18th century strategy being employed against a 14th century enemy,” Florida Representative Alan Grayson said the ability of the United States to bring peace to Afghanistan is limited.

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Henry Rollins speaks at Brave New Films Studio

By Robyn Chelsea-Seifert at Examiner

Grammy winning spoken word artist, musician, and activist, Henry Rollins has traveled extensively throughout the world. His most recent stops include Saudi Arabia, China, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. He is an outspoken supporter of Amnesty International and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), as well as having multiple tours under his belt with the USO for several years where he has entertained American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He is known to tirelessly correspond with both active members of military and veterans and blogs about the social, political and economical status for Vanity Fair online. At the invitation of award-winning filmmaker Robert Greenwald (Iraq For Sale, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price), Henry will take part in an intimate discussion about the economy and surge followed by an open forum for questions at Brave New Films Studios on December 21 at 6:30PM. Admission is free.

Robert Greenwald’s most recent documentary, Rethink Afghanistan takes a closer look at the war our Nation has been fighting since 2001. The high impact documentary, released online in segments, features experts from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. discussing the United States’ flawed strategy in Afghanistan.

The 30,000 U.S. troop surge to Afghanistan will begin this week amid growing concerns of collusion between the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda with militants in Pakistan. With the almost 70,000 troops already in place, are we ignoring a valuable Russian history lesson?

“They don’t have the troop sizes nor could they ever conceivably have the troop sizes to actually control the country side,” Anand Gopal, Afghan correspondent for the Wall Street Journal admits in the film.

“It would require hundreds of thousands of troops in every village which is not a tenable situation whatsoever.”

Robert Pape, author of “Dying to Win,” concurs admitting, “You need a ratio of something like one combat soldier for every people in the country and what that equates to in Afghanistan is well over a quarter million western combat forces.”

Greenwald has created a viral campaign asking for 100,000 signatures to a petition voting no on a spending bill that would send more troops to Afghanistan. The additional troops cost taxpayers in excess of $100 billion dollars a year. The campaign has taken off with little over 80,000 signatures and caught the attention of Rep. Alan Grayson who read the petition aloud on the Congressional floor Tuesday, December 15.

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