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Monday, September 29, 2008

Clarion Responds, As New Details Emerge About "Radical Islam" DVD

We had a story on the air this morning about the mass distribution of an inflamatory DVD on radical Islam, which critics say is intended to help John McCain's presidential bid. The video documentary was blasted out by the Clarion Fund, an obscure New York-based charity.

Clarion wouldn't return our phone calls before the story aired. But today it hired a PR firm, which quickly issued this statement in response to our story:

The Clarion Fund has one goal: educate the public about the threat of Islamic terrorism. Obsession is the film opponents of free speech don't want you to see. Terrorist attacks don't distinguish between political parties- they kill everyone. America needs to know the truth about the threat without censorship.

Clarion's new voice is Hank Sheinkopf, a long-time Democratic consultant in New York, who worked on President Clinton's re-election campaign. The choice of a Democratic flak is a smart move, since critics have said Clarion is covertly trying to help elect Republican McCain. That kind of active political work would violate its 501(c)(3) charity exemption.

As we reported, one of the promoters of the DVD is Joe Wierzbicki, who is active in two anti-Obama political action committees.

One group, Move America Forward, recently produced an ad we already showcased. The other, Our Country Deserves Better PAC, just put up a Web video contending that Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin has more executive experience than Barack Obama. "All Barack Obama has ever run," it says, "has been his mouth." The video, which runs over 3 minutes, goes into a blooper reel of Obama's gaffes, tongue-tied moments and controversial comments.

More after the jump...

Earlier this week, we pointed out the Clarion Fund's ties to Aish HaTorah, a staunchly pro-Israel organization that promotes Jewish pride and helps send young Jewish Americans to Israel. The St. Petersburg Times found even more connections, including the name of an Aish employee on Clarion's bulk mailing permit. (Aish's PR consultant, however, told us today that he represents Aish only and didn't even have the phone number for Clarion.)

Meanwhile, the Inter Press Service reported that another organization, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, was also responsible for the DVD distribution. In March, the Endowment hosted a showing of "Obsession" on Capitol Hill.

Leading the Endowment is Sarah Stern, a former lobbyist for the Zionist Organization of America. She takes a hard line in defense of Israel, arguing against Israeli concessions such as land withdrawals and prisoner releases. In a recent open letter to the "next president," she warned that if tough diplomatic measures against Iran fail by the time he is inaugurated, "Mr. President, you may inherit the difficult task of easing the way for a preemptive strike."

-- Will Evans

Original here

Soldier's Mother "Ecstatic" about Obama's Bracelet

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The mother of a Wisconsin soldier who died in Iraq says she was "ecstatic" during Friday's debate when Senator Barack Obama mentioned the bracelet she gave him in honor of her son.

Tracy Jopek of Merrill told The Associated Press on Sunday she was honored that he remembered Sgt. Ryan David Jopek, who was killed in 2006 by a roadside bomb.

She criticized Internet reports that suggested Obama exploited her son for political purposes.

She acknowledges e-mailing the campaign in February asking that Obama not mention her son in speeches or debates.

But she says Obama's mention on Friday was appropriate because he was responding after Senator John McCain said a soldier's mother gave him a bracelet.

Jopek says Obama's comment rightfully suggested there's more than one viewpoint on the war.

Original here

Palin Claimed Dinosaurs And People Coexisted


The LA Times reports:

Soon after Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the foothill town of Wasilla, Alaska, she startled a local music teacher by insisting in casual conversation that men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth created 6,000 years ago -- about 65 million years after scientists say most dinosaurs became extinct -- the teacher said.


After conducting a college band and watching Palin deliver a commencement address to a small group of home-schooled students in June 1997, Wasilla resident Philip Munger said, he asked the young mayor about her religious beliefs.

Palin told him that "dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time," Munger said. When he asked her about prehistoric fossils and tracks dating back millions of years, Palin said "she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks," recalled Munger, who teaches music at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and has regularly criticized Palin in recent years on his liberal political blog, called Progressive Alaska.

The idea of a "young Earth" -- that God created the Earth about 6,000 years ago, and dinosaurs and humans coexisted early on -- is a popular strain of creationism.

Though in her race for governor she called for faith-based "intelligent design" to be taught along with evolution in Alaska's schools, Gov. Palin has not sought to require it, state educators say.

In a widely-circulated interview, Matt Damon said of Palin, "I need to know if she really think that dinosaurs were here 4000 years ago. I want to know that, I really do. Because she's gonna have the nuclear codes."

Original here

Palin Contradicts McCain On Pakistan, Seems To Back Obama’s Position

Posted by Scott Conroy

(CBS)
From CBS News' Scott Conroy:

(PHILADELPHIA) Sarah Palin told a customer at a Philadelphia restaurant on Saturday that the United States should “absolutely” launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan in the event that it becomes necessary to “stop the terrorists from coming any further in,” a comment similar to the one John McCain condemned Barack Obama for making during last night’s presidential debate.
During Friday’s debate, Obama criticized the Bush administration for sending billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan without ridding the border region of terrorists.

“If the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out,” Obama added.

McCain fired back hard, arguing that newly elected Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has had his “hands full” and suggesting that Obama’s tough talk was naïve.

“You don’t say that out loud,” McCain said. “If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government.”

Palin’s apparent disagreement with McCain’s position on Pakistan came as the Alaska governor was picking up a couple of cheesesteaks at Tony Luke’s in South Philadelphia. She was approached by a man wearing a Temple University t-shirt, who later identified himself as Michael Rovito.

“How about the Pakistan situation?” Rovito asked. “What’s your thoughts about that.”

“In Pakistan?” Palin responded.

“What’s going on over there, like Waziristian?”

“It’s working with Zardari to make sure that we’re all working together to stop the guys from coming in over the border,” Palin said. “And we’ll go from there.”

“Waziristan is blowing up,” Rovito replied.

“Yeah, it is,” Palin said. “And the economy there is blowing up, too.”

“So we do cross-border, like from Afghanistan to Pakistan, you think?” Rovito asked.

“If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,” Palin said.

In her first national television interview after becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee, Palin was pressed by ABC’s Charlie Gibson on whether the U.S. should launch cross-border attacks into Pakistan. She said that the United States “must do whatever it takes” to thwart Islamic extremists and said, “America has to exercise all options in order to stop the terrorists who are hell bent on destroying America and our allies.”

But Palin did not, at that time, explicitly express her support for cross-border attacks, as she did at the Philadelphia restaurant on Saturday.

Original here

Muslim Children Gassed at Dayton Mosque After "Obsession" DVD Hits Ohio


On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West -- the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail -- were distributed by mail in Ohio, a "chemical irritant" was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers. This, apparently, is what the scare tactic political campaigning of John McCain's supporters has led to -- Americans perpetrating a terrorist attack against innocent children on American soil.

I read the story as reported by the Dayton Daily News, but this was after I had received an email written by a friend of some of the victims of these American terrorists. The matter of fact news report in the Dayton paper didn't come close to conveying the horrific impact of this unthinkable act like the email I had just read, so I asked the email's author for permission to share what they had written. The author was with one of the families from the mosque -- a mother and two of the small children who were in the room that was gassed -- the day after the attack occurred.

"She told me that the gas was sprayed into the room where the babies and children were being kept while their mothers prayed together their Ramadan prayers. Panicked mothers ran for their babies, crying for their children so they could flee from the gas that was burning their eyes and throats and lungs. She grabbed her youngest in her arms and grabbed the hand of her other daughter, moving with the others to exit the building and the irritating substance there.

"The paramedic said the young one was in shock, and gave her oxygen to help her breathe. The child couldn't stop sobbing.

"This didn't happen in some far away place -- but right here in Dayton, and to my friends. Many of the Iraqi refugees were praying together at the Mosque Friday evening. People that I know and love.

"I am hurt and angry. I tell her this is NOT America. She tells me this is not Heaven or Hell -- there are good and bad people everywhere.

"She tells me that her daughters slept with her last night, the little one in her arms and sobbing throughout the night. She tells me she is afraid, and will never return to the mosque, and I wonder what kind of country is this where people have to fear attending their place of worship?

"The children come into the room, and tell me they want to leave America and return to Syria, where they had fled to from Iraq. They say they like me, ... , and other American friends -- but they are too afraid and want to leave. Should a 6 and 7 year old even have to contemplate the safety of their living situation?

"Did the anti-Muslim video circulating in the area have something to do with this incident, or is that just a bizarre coincidence? Who attacks women and children?

"What am I supposed to say to them? My words can't keep them safe from what is nothing less than terrorism, American style. Isn't losing loved ones, their homes, jobs, possessions and homeland enough? Is there no place where they can be safe?

"She didn't want me to leave her tonight, but it was after midnight, and I needed to get home and write this to my friends. Tell me -- tell me -- what am I supposed to say to them?"


When acting as a representative of Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the 501(c)3 non-profit organization that I work for, I cannot engage in political activities. The distribution of Obsession, however, although a political campaign scheme, clearly crosses over into the mission of MRFF. So, I'm going to make two statements here -- one in my capacity as MRFF's Research Director, and another as an individual whose disgust at the vile campaign tactics of John McCain's supporters completely boiled over when I opened up the email about children being gassed.

My statement as MRFF's Research Director:

The presidential campaign edition of the Obsession DVD, currently being distributed by the Clarion Fund, carries the endorsement of the chair of the counter-terrorism department of the U.S. Naval War College, using the name and authority of an official U.S. military institution not only to validate an attack the religion of Islam, but to influence a political campaign. For these reasons, this endorsement has been included in MRFF's second lawsuit against the Department of Defense, which was filed on September 25 in the Federal District Court in Kansas.

My opinion as an individual and thoroughly appalled human being:

John McCain has a moral obligation to publicly censure the Clarion Fund, the organization that produced Obsession and is distributing the DVDs; to denounce the inflammatory, anti-Muslim message of Obsession; and to do everything in his power to stop any further campaign activities by his supporters that have the potential to incite violence.

Original here

Tina Fey As Sarah Palin: Katie Couric SNL Skit (VIDEO)

Tina Fey returned to Saturday Night Live to reprise her widely hailed impersonation of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

The sketch mocks Palin's recent interview with CBS News' Katie Couric (played on SNL by Amy Poehler), touching on Palin's trip to New York and her comments about Russia and the financial bailout.


WATCH

(See 5 other new SNL skits here)

FEY AS PALIN: "Like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this. We're saying, 'Hey, why bail out Fanny and Freddie and not me?' But ultimately what the bailout does is, help those that are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy to help...uh...it's gotta be all about job creation, too. Also, too, shoring up our economy and putting Fannie and Freddy back on the right track and so healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reigning in spending...'cause Barack Obama, y'know...has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans, also, having a dollar value meal at restaurants. That's gonna help. But one in five jobs being created today under the umbrella of job creation. That, you know...Also..."


Some more highlights:

POEHLER AS COURIC: "On foreign policy, I want to give you one more chance to explain your claim that you have foreign policy experience based on Alaska's proximity to Russia. What did you mean by that?"


FEY AS PALIN: "Well, Alaska and Russia are only separated by a narrow maritime border. (using her hands to illustrate) You got Alaska here, this right here is water, and this is Russia. So, we keep an eye on them."

POEHLER AS COURIC: "And how do you do that exactly?"

FEY AS PALIN: "Every morning, when Alaskans wake up, one of the first things they do, is look outside to see if there are any Russians hanging around. And if there are, you gotta go up to them and ask, 'What are you doing here?' and if they can't give you a good reason, it's our responsibility to say, you know, 'Shoo! Get back over there!'

POEHLER AS COURIC: "Senator McCain attempted to shut down his political campaign this week in order to deal with the economic crisis. What's your opinion of this potential 700 billion dollar bailout?"

FEY AS PALIN: "Like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this. We're saying, 'Hey, why bail out Fanny and Freddie and not me?' But ultimately what the bailout does is, help those that are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy to help...uh...it's gotta be all about job creation, too. Also, too, shoring up our economy and putting Fannie and Freddy back on the right track and so healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reigning in spending...'cause Barack Obama, y'know...has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans, also, having a dollar value meal at restaurants. That's gonna help. But one in five jobs being created today under the umbrella of job creation. That, you know...Also..."

POEHLER AS COURIC: "What lessons have you learned from Iraq and how specifically, would you spread democracy abroad?"

FEY AS PALIN: "Specifically, we would make every effort possible to spread democracy abroad to those who want it."

POEHLER AS COURIC: "Yes, but specifically what would you do?"

FEY AS PALIN: "We're gonna promote freedom. Usher in democratic values and ideals. And fight terror-loving terrorists."

POEHLER AS COURIC: "But again, and not to belabor the point. One specific thing."

(several seconds of FEY and POEHLER staring at each other)

FEY AS PALIN: "Katie, I'd like to use one of my lifelines."

POEHLER AS COURIC: "I'm sorry?"

FEY AS PALIN: "I want to phone a friend."

POEHLER AS COURIC: "You don't have any lifelines."

FEY AS PALIN: "Well in that case I'm gonna just have to get back to you!"

Original here