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Very disturbing piece. New York City suffers a devastating blizzard that puts the city under a deep snow. Real problem was how slow the city was able to dig itself out. At the same time, the streets where wealthy people lived were very well-plowed. Is this a harbinger (i.e., "disaster capitalism") of the future or a one-time chance occurence?

Extremely useful review of the history of G.W. Bush "jawboning" OPEC to lower gas prices. The jawboning was an absolute, unmitigated failure. Bush achieved nothing whatsoever via his personal relationships with Saudi princes.

Update on 9-11 First Responders bill (Successfully passed BTW): Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) considered the bill an "entitlement program" that lacked accountability or transparency.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is convinced, convinced, I tell you!!1!1!, that excessive government spending is responsible for our current economic difficulties and that the US could easily eliminate $300 billion in painless cuts of irrelevant and unnecessary programs, programs that are, naturally, predictably, unspecified. And where's all this pain and sacrifice that Wall Street's prepared to undertake as their share? Congress just did, after all, extend the Bush tax cuts for at least a few years, with no guarantee that this giveaway to the rich will end anytime soon.

Right-wing Congrressional Republicans intend to read out the Constitution on January 6th. At the very absolute best, this is a meaningless PR ploy as the text of the Constitution has been widely and easily available for well over two centuries. At worst, it's an attempt to don the mantle of "Constitutional Conservatives," a ploy that many of the press corps will find compelling, even though conservatives have shown little respect for the Constitution in the last few decades.

Well, anyone who was looking forward to Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, running for President can pretty much forget about it. Not so sure I agree with WaPo columnist Jennifer Rubin that

The notion that this is all part of a "Southern strategy" (which Greg Sargent tells us is being discussed in the left-leaning blogosphere) is tinfoil-hat sort of stuff...

I think Republicans discuss blacks in unflattering terms quietly and mostly behind closed doors, but in public, they use terms like the "brothers" and "welfare cheats" and other dog-whistle type phrases. Further discussions on Barbour.
The Fox News people think it's awful that the President's Press Secretary credited Jon Stewart with raising awareness over the Republican attempts to kill off the 9-11 First Responders health bill, but they conspicuously ignore that they and most of the rest of the media have remained steadfastly mute on the subject. As I said, it's simply not a "Both sides are to blame" topic, meaning no one wants to just blame the guilty party as that would make them appear biased.

Good news and bad news on legislation. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" that forbids gay  people from serving in the military was successfully repealed,* but the DREAM Act that allows the children of undocumented immigrants who have been in the US for six years to undertake a path to US citizenship "failed" by a vote of 55 to 41 (The Senate had to muster 60 votes to defeat the Republican filibuster). And yes, there are Democratic Senators who are determined to change the filibuster rules so that a 60-40 supermajority is not required on routine legislation.
*Update: The White House appears to have been caught off guard by DADT repeal and doesn't seem to have a plan to cease and desist from discharging otherwise-acceptable members.

Looks like the US Government may be holding Private Bradley Manning under brutally repressive conditions in order to induce him to testify against Julian Assange. The theories the Justice Department is considering using in court against Assange would endanger investigative reporters everywhere.

Jon Stewart is outraged, justifiably IMO! He just can't believe that Republicans are willing to block 9/11 First Responders from getting the aid they deserve. And no, there are still no other news programs giving this story any coverage. And yes, the behavior of Democrats is really pathetic!

Democrats capituate on tax cut deal. Not sure I agree with blogger that Speaker Pelosi could have done more than she did, but agree that Democrats looked weak by folding. Of course, Congress usually can't stand up to a president who really wants a bill passed. What Digby said:

it's clear that Democrats were either complicit in the goal or too strategically clueless to address it before the clock had almost run out.

Newt Gingrish thinks incoming Republican Congress will create jobs. Hard to see how that might happen. Gingrich is probably just trying to pre-empt the criticism he knows is (justifiably) coming.

Bradley Manning, who caused the release of the Wikileaks Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic data dumps, is being held in inhumane conditions. His motivations seem as pure as can be, he thought that the information he released was something everyone should know about.

Excellent piece on that great old institution of the beat reporter. Far too much of reporting today is simply quoting. It involves very little digging deeper into what's really going on.

Will Obama's fundraising be hurt by progressives' anger at him? Hard to say. A sufficiently scary opponent could make up for a lot of disappointment.
Y'know, it's truly sad that the traditional media did not see fit to cover the fact that Republicans refused to vote to cover the damaged health of 9/11 first responders and clean-up people. Fortunately, we had Jon Stewart's Daily Show fill in that gap. Yeesh! And people wonder why we progressives depend on a "mere" comedy show to bring us the news!

Seriously, if you have the slightest doubt as to whether Obama's tax cut deal with Republicans is just the most awful  idea you ever heard, just look at the losers and wash-ups who support it.

Republican/Tea Party ideas on economics run headlong into reality. A Tea Partier finds out that government just doesn't work the way it does in Tea Party theories. Republicans  re-think their stern, principled opposition to earmarks. And the Republican incoming Governor of Wisconsin just rejected nearly $1 billion in federal stimulus funds for building a high-speed rail line.

Villager Dana Milbank cites a history of the health care fight that consumed many, many months of the Obama Administration's time. Problem is, his history has little relationship to reality. It's been rewritten as the "story of how those DF hippies got in the way, until the centrists saved the day."

Huh! How very interesting. Obama's capitulations to the right wing haven't made him any more popular than he already was with the centrists and independents.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone describes the BS "problem" with Social Security and a fellow who poses

as a wonky, Democrat-leaning "centrist" pundit and then makes a career out of drubbing "unrealistic" liberals and progressives with cartoonish Jane Fonda and Hugo Chavez caricatures. This career path is so well-worn in our business, it's like a Great Silk Road of pseudoleft punditry.

Does a tax cut add to the deficit? Using basic mathematics, one would think so, but Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) disagrees.

Is America on the road to imperial decline? I review a very depressing piece that makes a very good case for that. 
The timeline for withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan gets fuzzier still, with General Petraeus suggesting that not even 2014 may be do-able.
Paul Krugman makes an excellent case for allowing all of the Bush tax cuts to expire on schedule. It's far worse to give in to Republican blackmail than to take the real, but relatively minor pain of a tax hike. Obama's messaging has, unfortunately, been all over the place. There's no coherent or consistent argument there at all. D'oh! Too late. They've reached a deal, a very bad deal, a deal that seems more rooted in religious / superstitious faith than anything else.

The United National Anti-War Committee announces itself as supporting Wikileaks. Information on storing information for dissemination.

The anti-woman agenda of the anti-abortionists becomes clearer.

Did right-wingers on the Cat Food Commission win? Not entirely, but they didn't leave empty-handed, either.

Extremely good overview of the war in Afghanistan. Sorry, but "I hope the focus from our leaders this time is on winning, not on timetables," is not a very compelling argument as there's no indication we'll ever "win" in any sort of satisfactory manner. Good news is that Democratic anti-war votes in the House were 32 last year and tripled to 102 this year. The defeat of the Blue Dog Democrats means that the anti-war caucus will grow even more. Establishment Republicans are behind the war, but Tea Party Republicans are "suspicious of foreign entanglements." As the war becomes more and more identified with Obama, Tea Partiers ask "Do we need to be there?"

President Obama drew all the wrong lessons from the midterm election. The Federal pay freeze is just kabuki theater as pay is an extremely small part of the problem, i.e., it appeals only to "low-information voters." The real problem is the Bush tax cut for taxpeyers who make over $250,000 a year. Republicans seem to think thay can roll the President. Sure would be nice to think they were wrong.

Very sad to see Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) surrndering to the rest of the Cat Food Commission with some really crummy arguments. First off, the budget is not "in crisis," people just like to pretend that it is. Second, maintaining a presence in the debate is not necessarily done by adopting the other sides' framing and conclusions.

Excellent speech by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen on need to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Excellent review of what Wikileaks uncovered. Of course, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is the skunk at the party who wants to shut down any internet service that hosts their site. First Amendment? Freedom of the press? Bah, that stuff's for losers!
The president and his team can start by realizing that "preemptive concessions" are a mistake -- and that a one-sided commitment to bipartisanship is a recipe for failure.

Cat Food Commission fail!!! The Commission appears to be unable to even get a majority, let alone the supermajority that their charter insists they should get, for their proposal. Hang it up, dissolve the Commission, send everyone home.
Update: The Commission's conclusions will simply not get the 14 votes needed. Ain't gonna happen.

November                         back to top

Apparently, David Broder spent the last two years in a coma because he appears to really believe that President Obama  ran Washington in a unilateral and arbitrary manner and that he refuses to listen to Republican ideas. That would make a lot more sense if Republicans had serious ideas.
BTW, Kathleen Parker revives a moldy, encrusted, worthless idea from Broder, but it's now called No Labels as opposed to Unity08.

I review G.W. Bushs' book "Decision Points." One of the points that I make is that there really was no "decision" to invade Iraq as there were never any alternatives considered.

So how's Sarah Palin's TV show doing? Wel-l-l... seems there was a lot of curiousity factor involved in the first one, as ratings for the second one dropped off a cliff, losing 44% of its viewers. The show "Walking Dead" drew 4.8 million viewers as compared to Palin's 5 million the first episode and 3 million for the next. Of course, actually, IMDB rates the show about zombies as being pretty darned good.
Speaking of Palin, very worthwhile commentary on Palin's journalism degree from someone who attended the same J school (A year earlier) that she did. Basically, she did the absolute, rock-bottom bare minimum to get by with a minimal grade.

Norm Ornstein, a congressional expert at the American Enterprise Institute is baffled as to why Senate Republicans want to block START. Also, seven Republican-appointed federal judges co-signed a letter last week, urged Senate Republicans to please allow votes on pending nominees. This is quite serious as judges don't usually make public appeals.
Democrats don't need to take the cheap and easy way to majority status. The Blue Dog shortcut, the habit of getting conservative candidates to simply put a "D" after their names without actually changing their political philosophy to match, is a loser of a strategy that does the Democratic Party more harm than good. The "big tent" is only so useful before it bites a party in the rear and makes coherent messaging impossible.  
Good to see some media outlets waking up and paying attention. NPR notes that "Nazi" rhetoric at Fox News begins at the top with Fox News President Roger Ailes. The New Yorker notes that Glenn Beck did a series of programs over several days that not only contained numerous lies, but made anti-semitic charges against George Soros to boot. Very pleasant to see more regular media folks take notice of these things.

This panel finds the recount of the 2000 election to be just absolutely, hysterically funny. Reminds me of the CNN anchorperson who had a nice smile and used it frequently, but... used it while recounting China's Tiananmen Square massacre. Sorry to be such a buzzkill, guys, but some subjects are simply not humorous and should be discussed, instead, with a grim and sour demeanor.

The old, partisan assumptions [that Republican tough guys support the militay and Democratic peaceniks don't] just don't apply anymore.  The military wants the START Treay ratified, Republicans, more concerned with replacing Obama as President in 2012, just don't care.  

Have to say, I have a very difficult time taking right-wing/Republican concerns on the issue of Ahmed Ghailani's recent trial the slightst bit seriously. He was declared guilty on one charge and will be imprisoned for the rest of his natural-born days. If he hadn't been found guilty? Um, presumably, that would mean he wasn't guilty. It's just "What is the problem here?!?!"

So what's the essential precondition for an end to the war in Afghanistan, for an end to Taliban hostility to the pro-American Karzai regime? Actually, the best course of diplomatic action is to stick with the original plan of withdrawing in July 2011. The plan to "break the momentum" of the Taliban and to "bleed them" has failed. No change in plans is necessary. All that has to happen is that President Obama has to re-affirm that the original plan of withdrawing in less than a year is still in place.

Actually, there might be a reason to keep the Cat Food Commission alive, after all.  Depends on whether  Representative Jan Schakowsky's (D-IL) proposals are taken seriously or not. 
Big concerns about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) going overboard in their use of a machine that scans people in such a way as to make them appear naked to scan operators.

Media does slavish lapdog act by conducting rehabilitation tour for G.W. Bush.

Retired newsperson Ted Koppel accuses Keith Olbermann of not being objective enough, Olbermann responds, questioning value of objectivity and impartiality vs being true to oneself and honest with viewers.

Y'know "small, limited government" is a really awesome idea, in theory anyway. When the rubber hits the road and you actually have to govern, er, not so much. And Tea Party Republicans really don't like the idea of being on the Appropriations Committee. They'd rather stand on the sidelines, jeering at the people making spending decisions. 
Blog extensively reprints exchange from Meet The Press, showing how very, very little the guests know about economics. Harold Ford is head of the DLC, so he hardly counts as a Democrat to begin with and is far more a corporatist than he is any variety of liberal. And sorry, but Newt Gingrich has long expired on his sell-by date.

Excellent summary of how the President has conducted himself over the last two years.

One of the problems with America in general and one of the reasons the Cat Food Commission just sort of, er, forgot to include anything that would inconvenience the financial sector is that finance is now a much larger sector than is manufacturing. As an economist points out:

When I first came to Washington I worked at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that gets 20-25 percent of its funding from labor unions. Media outlets, including the New York Times, routinely felt the need to notify readers of this source of funding...

One of the co-chairs of the Cat Food Commission makes $335,000 a year working for Morgan Stanley (A financial services firm) and the Commission's outline neglects to recommend any financial industry taxes. But an NY Times columnist considers it terrribly unfair to mention any of that.

The Cat Food Commission speaks and the sound of that is not good! Considering the old phrase "Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater," America needs to throw out the bathwater, the baby and the whole ding-blasted tub! The Commission should be disbanded and everyoe should be sent home! 
G.W. Bush claims to have been "blindsided" by many events that occurred during his presidency. The three main items that Bush complains specifically about, though, were all areas managed by VP Dick Cheney. The incident involving the Deputy Attorney General James Comey and warrantless wiretapping was an especially egregious example of Bush being "out of the loop."

Former President Bush claims waterboarding saved livesSlight problem with that claim:

[Foreign Office minister] Kim Howells said he was not convinced that plots to attack Heathrow and Canary Wharf were foiled because of information obtained by waterboarding
Tom Porteous, the UK Director of Human Rights Watch said...“I’m not saying that [Bush’s] claim that torture evidence prevented terror attacks has no credibility whatsoever, but no evidence has been presented.”

Hee, hee, hee!! Gotta love it when a politician from the opposition proves to be an unprincipled scoundrel! Senator-elect Paul Ryan (R-KY) just broke hearts in the tea party wing of the GOP when he said that no, the earmarks issue isn't important after all (Earmarks are a meaningless non-issue because we could eliminate all of them tomorrow and it wouldn't add or subtract a single penny from the budget).  
Okay, there are personal taxes and there are business taxes because there's personal income and there is business income. When a small business makes money, the owner(s) consider it all as busines income and he/she/they then deduct persoanl salaries out of what's left after business expense are paid. That's why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was being so slippery in his interview when he was talking about the Bush [personal] income tax cut. McConnell kept suggesting that small businesses would suffer when incomes over $250,000 got taxed at the Clinton Administration rate. But what the interview was about were the Bush tax cuts, which have nothing to do with business excise taxes.

I seriously have to call bs on this "letter from Democratic House members." The letter keeps saying over and over that Speaker Pelosi has been "demonized" by the opposition party, but there's no indication that anyone else would be less demonized. The truly bizarre suggestion is that Democrats may feel forced to run against their own Speaker. Erm, all of the Democrats who did that this year lost their re-election campaigns! 

Are Republicans really going to do a better job running states than Democrats did? I somehow doubt that.

TV commentator Keith Olbermann gets suspended without pay for making contributions to political figures. In a serious violation of transparency and trust, he interviewed Representative Raśl Grijalva (D-AZ) without disclosing to viewers that he had also made a political contribution to that same person. Remember, above all, that Olbermann is a corporate employee and is answerable to corporate rules. It's perfectly legitimate for MSNBC to punish their employee for violating those rules. That being said, you can protest their decison here.
Update: Olbermann will return to his show Tuesday night.

Jewish Boat to Gaza intercepted and boarded back on September 26th. Home page to site has Captain's version of events.

Interesting idea on the Tea Party's motivations. It's all about sex and potency and control and women. 
G.W. Bush, out promoting his version of the many disasters that constituted his presidency, is very upset with Kanye West for charging him with being racist. I kind of agree with Bush on this. Bush didn't do much about Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans, but I think Bush's main priority in doing that was in break up that big Democratic voting bloc that constituted that city. He hated black voters, not black people.

Whoo-wee! Do these two have a, uh, slight difference of opinion in how they see the results of the 2010 mid-term?

Is there any sort of silver lining to the black cloud that is the 2010 mid-term election? Actually, there is. If the electorate endorsed right-wing policies, then the conservative, "fiscally responsible" Blue Dog Democrats would have cleaned up. Blue Dogs got hammered!

Did ordinary Americans making less than $50K a year turn rightward and vote for Republicans? Actually, they didn't. As one goes up the income ladder, the percentage of people voting for Republicans goes up right along with it.

So you thought Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnells' comment about Obama's defeat being "the single most important thing we want to achieve" was just hyperbole or was some sort of misunderstanding? 'Fraid not. That's McConnells' one and only, overriding goal. If Americans are suffering because Republicans are interested solely in regaining power? Oh well, too bad, so sad. 

October                         back to top

Woman tries to goof on Kentucky Senate candidate Ryan Paul, gets stomped on, attacker is identified as Rand Paul campaign worker, attacker who stomped on her head asks for her to apologize to him. Woman responds in calm, gracious and respectable manner.

Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, acted as a soldier for Afghanistan and tossed a grenade on a battlefield that killed an American soldier. He pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. his lawyer explains that the US had to get creative with the laws of war to charge him with that.

Whu-u-uh?!?! Andrew Breitbart, the propagandist and producer of misleading films, is going to be an election analyst for ABC News?
Update: Breitbart has had his role reduced to that of being just an online analyst, but he's complaining about the "suits" stiffing him, People for the American Way are saying ABC News is putting its' reputatuin at risk and Shirley Sherrod's attorney is comparing him to a Klansman.

Latest right-wing talking point on Iraq and WMDs. No, there was no active WMD-building program.

If the Cat Food Commission is going to issue separate reports, why again does it even exist in the first place?!?!!?

Very sad to see the Obama Administration simply give up on trying to get the economy back into shape.

More on the handcuffing of the journalist, Alaska Dispatch's Tony Hopfinger - it's been revealed that GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller had hired active duty soldiers as his security detail!  This is extremely serious both from a legal standpoint (Active duty military personnel aren't even supposed to be performing clerical duties for candidates) and from the standpoint of how paranoid Joe Miller is.

So the oil in the Gulf of Mexico is all cleaned up, right? Oops! Guess not!

Does Juan Williams have a point when he says he fears Muslims who openly proclaim their identity? No. Those who "wear their identity on their sleeve" are far less dangerous than those who try to fit in as Westerners. Great set of photos commenting on "Just how do Muslims dress?"
Summaries of Juan Williams' case.

Eight False Things The Public “Knows” Prior To Election Day

Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called Anita Hill to suggest burying the hatchet, letting bygones be bygones and recommended that Hill

"...consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day."

Wow! Yeah, whatta way to bury the hatchet, eh? "Admit you're guilty and we can then be friends!" Hill, to her credit, refuses to apologize as she told the truth. Not overly surprising, Virginia cancels a talk show appearance.

The "arrest" and handcuffing and detention of a reporter by the Alaskan Senate candidate's security detail is not something to be seen as an incidental detail. It's something to be taken very, very seriously by all journalists. Right-wing press haters have gone well beyond "working the ref" and are now into physically pushng around reporters who don't do as they're told.
&^$@!!! *Sigh!* President Obama sure does seem to be awfully helpless and unable to act at just the very times when he doesn't want to act. When he does want to act, he's full of energy, but on DADT? Nah, he's helpless against those awful Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats.

The story reported on the Chamber of Commerce and foreign cash going into their accounts and back out onto TV ads, reported by Think Progress, is "convoluted and far-fetched," so Time Magazines' Mark Halperin thinks y'all shouldn't give the issue a second thought ("Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. Keep the line moving.") Funny, but the press corps followed every lead, no matter how convoluted and far-fetched, if it meant being able to condemn Bill Clinton back during the late 90s.
Update: DailyKos finds that there's a link between foreign corporations advertising in the US via the CoC and the outsourcing of US jobs.

Never did like the political strategy of triangulation in the first place. Now it's even worse as members are taking positions opposing the Speaker of the House. This strikes me as a very bad, anti-party-unity move.

Gallup takes a poll that concludes that Americans are generally centrist when it comes to how active they want the government to be. Problem: Their terms are completely undefined and quite vague. No one actually knows what "limited government" really means.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi puts herself onto the correct side of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell issue (Secretary of Defense Robert Gates doesn't agree with that) and her and the House on the right side of the stimulus program.

Glenn Beck's friends anonymously confided to the NY Times that they were afraid that some of Beck's fans might do "something stupid" in response to Beck's unhinged rants and wacko conspiracy theories being put out to gullible loners. That train has long since left the station. Beck's fans have been doing stupid and violent things for quite some time now and there's every indication that it's going to get worse.

Interesting piece advocating that progressives boycott the election process until we get better candidates. Erm, slight problem with that. As this video explains, conservatives and right-wingers and Tea Partiers are highly unlikely to join any such boycott, meaning that electoral victory is going to go to the right wing, who will of course claim that they have a mandate.

Very, very interesting! Ohio Tea Party candidate for Representative of the Ninth District, millionaire Rich Iott, likes to go by the name "Reinhard Pferdmann" and dress up, not just as a Nazi officer, but as a member of the 5th SS Wiking Panzer Division. As someone who was married to a Civil War re-enactor testifies, people who do re-enactments tend to really identify with the side they choose to represent.

I don't begrudge him his little father-son hobby, but honestly, I know enough about how these groups roll to understand how they morph into tea parties, patriot groups, and other modern-day dangers. Don't be fooled. This is a very, very BFD.

Oh, puleeze!!!! Greta Van Susteren of Fox News brings on, get this, Karl Rove to explain why the Obama Administration has demonstrated such an unsatisfactory performance on the job-creation front. Includes chart that shows that even before the crash of late 2007, Bush has the poorest job-creation record since Herbert Hoover.

Really, is there anything good to say about puppy-mill owners? World O' Crap blogger S.Z. is usually a light, cheerful read, but she gets a bit ticked off at "Joe" the "Plumber" and his ignorant opinions on the subject.

Former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum tells us that Bush's economic policies were a wonderful success, especially for African Americans and single women! Of course, the actual record shows that no such thing ever occurred.

We really would have preferred to have been wrong about this, but the Battle of Marjah in Afghanistan that began with such promise back in February of this year, is nowhere near finished. Oh, and US refusal to take responsiblity for helicopter attack in Pakistan is endangering supply line.
So the administration decides to help banks instead of citizens. How's that workin' out for ya?

Unfortunately, there's nothing surprising about this story, the story that the oil from the BP oil well blowout has settled into the sands and the plantlife of the shores of the Gulf. Oh, and speaking of unsurprising events, the wealthy health care interests that were supposedly bought off with the goodies in the Affordable Care Act have turned out to be disloyal, they haven't stayed bought!!!! Yep, sure enough is surprising that people who get bought off with cash go running over to the side of the people who offer them still more cash [/snark].

Local paper reproduces a Dana Milbank column wherein Milbank seems befuddled that Republicans on the "Cat Food Commission" may not agree to any tax increases, meaning any proposed solutions may have to consist entirely of spending cuts (Not that Republicans are willing to identify any spending cuts they'd like to see, either).

Back when Clinton was in office, the DLC had a really bad habit of running against "radical" fellow Democrats instead of supporting the Democratic brand as a whole. The problem now metastasizes as Democratic candidates now run against the Speaker of the House as opposed to "radical," fringe figures. Just can't see any more effective way to eat away at the party and destroy party discipline and cohesion from within.

The Andrew Breitbart/James O'Keefe attempted "seduction" of a CNN reporter.  Reformed right-winger tells how a successful taping of the encounter would have played out. Depressing because it's entirely true.
Update: Breitbart tosses O'Keefe under the proverbial bus

President's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel departs to run for Mayor of Chicago. No big loss, nor is it clear that his replacement will be any better.

Rolling Stone does a lengthy piece on the Tea Party.

It's pretty hard to believe, but President Obama appears to really believe that the rhetorical strategy of "Quityerbitchin' and vote for me in the midterm, you DFHs!" is an effective motivator. This strategy ignores, of course, that the Cat Food Commission exists with the blessings of the President, that civil liberties are being massively abused and that, yeah, well, okay, maybe torture is no longer occurring, but with no one ever having paid any legal penalties for having done that, with no one ever having had their day in a court of law, we're left pretty much simply taking his word for it and with the situation being very, very easily reversible.
Update: Very, very interesting take on the issue by the proprietress of FDL.

Oh, good grief, people!!! Just dissolve the damned Cat Food Commission already!!!

Jewish Boat to Gaza sets sail from Cyprus!
Satellite phone on board for contact to the passengers: 00 8821668610337
Media Contact in London for interviewing the Boat's organizers: Yosh, 0044 7816 448307
JNews contact in Israel: Miri Weingarten 00972 549270796 
This is truly sad! Long after Dinesh D'Souza published a truly horrendous botch of an article, now Forbes' Magazine gets around to fact-checking it!

Bwah-hah-hah!!! Stephen Colbert testifies (in character) to Congress. Villager Chuck Todd's reaction (paraphrased and emphases in original):

Lawdy, lawdy lawdy!! Bring me the smellin' salts Miss Mellie, I almost like to daaaah! Ah have nevah been so appalled in mah laaaahf! Why, po Aunt Pittypat fainted dead awaaay!

Blogger Susie Madrak has it out with President Obama representative David Axelrod about the administration's disrespect for the left. And yeah, I've gotta kinda agree with this:

"We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day."

September                         back to top

*Sigh!* I guess Democrats just don't want to win this next election. They're just so absolutely frightened about Republicans running mean TV ads against them, they don't dare discriminate against taxpayers who make over $200,000 a year.
Update: Speaker Pelosi decides that the House isn't going to be so cowardly. Brava!!! Good for her!!

So sad to see that this guy is so deeply into wishful thinking! Poor guy thinks that a Republican defense of "traditional marriage" doesn't necesarily mean oppositon to  marriage equality for GLBT people.

So, in a sequel to Newt Gingrich's Contract on with America, Republicans assemble their "GOP Pledge to America" which, based on a quick reading of the first section, is very heavy on "We're gonna do grand and glorious things" and very, very light on actual, practical answers to real and serious questions. Lots and lots of highly questionable, what the British call "dodgy" assertions. 
Koch Industries would count as a "small business" under the plan and a $1.3 trillion deficit would quickly become a $4+ trillion deficit. And make no mistake, they very much want to take away your health care.
Update: Paul Krugman stomps all over the idea that the Pledge amounts to anything serious or significant.
Should Democrats pick a fight with Republicans over restoring taxes to the top 2% of earners while keeping tax cuts for the middle-class ? YES!!! Polls indicate such a move would be wildly popular!

*Sigh*! President Obama's team of political "geniuses" is just now noticing that they might get a drubbing in November's mid-term election. Their mandate was for serious, sweeping change, but their whole strategy has been one of gingerly nibbling at the margins.

So what exactly is the distinction between Tea Party candidates and hard-line, right wing Republicans? Well, none, actually. Their "thinking" on the economy is completely devoid of any proposed solutions to economic problems, except of course, for the solutions that G.W. Bush already tried and that failed miserably.

The right wing Media Research Center wants to raise $2 million to force the media to "Tell the Truth!" Okay, cool. What "truths" do they want the media to start telling? That's where we run into problems. Their "truths" are things like a charge that the Obama Administration is expanding the deficit. They use the Affordable Care Act as an example. Actually, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office shows that the ACA lowers the deficit.

Woo hoo!!! Elizabeth Warren appointed to, well ... not precisely the position we were expecting, but she's apparently quite happy with it and aside from the fact that she was sorely needed, this appointment is a popular one (With mid-terms only two months away) and the fact that bloggers pushed heavily for her were all significant reasons she got the gig.

My letter got published in our local paper a few days ago and provked three comments. I've responded to those comments here.

Dinesh D'Souza gets his attack on President Obama printed in Forbes Magazine. Forbes has said it "stands by the story" and that "no facts are in contention." As MMFA shows in exhaustive detail, many of the "facts" are indeed very much "in contention," in fact, there are "facts" here that should never have slipped by even the laziest and most derelict of even the greenest and most junior editors. Makes ya wonder, what do these editors do all day?!?!

Progressives get accused of allowing their desires to rule their perceptions in the case of Afghanistan being a disastrous failure. Yes, that's a human failing, but the evidence in this case doesn't even come close to proving compelling.

The statement on this page, signed by more than 300 economists and major civic leaders, reflects a grave concern that the “austerity economics” being advocated by many politicians in Washington will derail our already weak economic recovery.

Oh good grief! Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine's new and dramatic and exciting idea is...a new logo. *Sigh* This is the guy who replaced Howard Dean to such anticipation?!?!? 

This is of great concern. The new Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan, has to recuse herself from slightly over half of the cases the Court will hear next year as she directed so many cases in her last job as Solicitor General. Of course, if you were a progressive or a right-winger (i.e., outside the consensus of "Serious People") and you pointed out that Kagan would essentially be a part-time Justice because she would need to recuse herself so often, well, you were just a dirty effing hippy who needed to STFU!

It's really too bad that Blue Dog Democrats provide so little real return to the Democratic Party after the Democrats put them into office.

Very heartening to see that the anti-mosque demonstrators made up only a small group of 1,500 to 2,000 people. As a commenter points out: "In contrast, 49,000 went to the Yankees game on the same day."
And bravo for Reza Aslan, who calls it like he sees it!
Kind of frustrating and depressing to read the Inky today. Tim Kaine of the DNC says that Democrats are ready for a fight and President Obama holds firm on tax cuts for the rich, but the Inky reprints an NY Times piece on its front page about how torture appears to be an acceptable thing for Americans to do. The Obama Administration wants enthusiasm at the same time they tromp all over American values. FDL has more on how Obama's hypocrisy hurts America.

Once again, CNN's hire Erick Ericson shows that the people at CNN were complete idiots to hire him. Erickson doesn't appear to understand the difference between wanting to establish a house of worship and between burning someone else's holy book.

Interesting idea that G.W. Bush should devote his post-presidency to clean energy. Has a sort of "Nixon goes to China" appeal as Bush worked for dirty energy all his life and invaded Iraq to get its oil. Not that I can see that he's ever undergone or will ever undergo the "Road to Damascus" sort of conversion that such an approach would require. 

Obama gave a good speech to the Milwaukee Laborfest. Where has that guy been all this time?!?!?! It may be that Obama fell in with a bad crowd of neoliberals, people who really, honestly believe that the Reagan-Thatcher model of government is a worthy and permanent  successor to FDR's & LBJ's liberal model of government. Problem is, of course, that the neoliberal model ran out of steam about 2002.

Actually, Alan Simpson did opponents of te "Cat Food Commission" a huge favor by clarifying just exactly what it is that the Commission actually stands for.

General David Petraeus says something eminentl sensible (i.e., burning the Koran is a really, REALLY stupid, counterproductive idea that makes Osama bin Laden happy) and natcherly, right-wingers hate him for saying it!  
The right-wing media monitoring website Newsbusters really needs to decide whether Labor Day is or isn't political. For my money, it's deeply political, making the charge of "politicizing Labor Day" truly silly and repugnant.

President Obama rolls out a pretty underwhelming idea for fiscal stimulation, a payroll tax cut. Not useless, it promises a multiplier of 1.3 (It'll produce $1.30 for every $1 spent), but Food Stamps produces a 1.7 multiplier and Unemployment Compensation produces a 1.6 multiplier. Worth a cheer, but as Krugman points out: "...since the Republicans will oppose him regardless..." it really wouldn't have hurt to have been bold about it.

August                         back to top

As to the November 2010 midterm elections, the arguments that President Obama's hands are tied and there's just not much he can do is just plain wrong. He clearly just doesn't want to follow the advice of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
Obama's "Cat Food Commission" (They clearly want to see all of our senior citizens reduced to living on cat food) is really not helping matters. Running against Bush's plans to hack apart Social Security was a good tack to take back in 2005. But Democrats are now the problem. They have zero credibility to dump on Republicans over Social Security cuts. Not that Republicans have much to recommend them either. Their leadership is trying desperately to separate itself from Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) insane plan for the US economy, but there's less and less daylight betwee them and him.

Complete coverage of "The Beckoning," Glenn Beck's insult to Dr. Martin Luther King. Interesting assertion: "9-11 was a 'wake-up call' from God." Funny, but I remembe a president who said "Go shopping" and who successfully fooled a large percentage of American voters into believing that Saddam Hussein had something to do with it.  Beck sure attracted his share of true believers, though.
Update: Beck is also profiting mightily from the rally. 
Major FAIL!! WaPo tosses some apples into the oranges pile in order to inflate Sarah Palin's pretensions of prescience. They were keeping track of how many of Palin's picks won Republican primaries. Seeing as the results were 50-50, i.e., no better than random guesses, the WaPo throws in races where the  Republican nominee has already been decided on.  Big problem: Not looking good for Palin's choice in Alaska.

WaPo does piece offering various cures for economic slowdown, but can only provide details for one of the specfied problems, the lack of sufficient economic stimulus.

I made comments concerning military life. The blogger asked me for for more detail. I obliged.

The accusation against Wikileaks was that, along with thousands of documents detailing how the war in Afghanistan wa going, they also inadvertently published the names of covert sources of information in Afghanistan. Did Wikileaks seek Pentagon help in combing through the documents they had so that those names could be removed? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, they did. The Pentagon flatly refused to lend Wikileaks any assistance.

Last US combat brigade leaves Iraq. 56,000 troops remain as trainers. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) suggests that President G.W. Bush "deserves some credit for victory." Um, no, G.W. Bush not only started the war on false pretenses in the first place, but the agreement that ended the active fighting was Obama's and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's. They forced Bush & McCain to accept their terms.
But hey, it's all good! Halliburton is taken care of!

*Sigh!* Once upon a time, Howard Dean was a stand-up guy. He's now put that behind him.

Disappointing news, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is saying Elizabeth Warren isn't as qualified as she first appeared to be. It's not as though anyone has discovered anything new about her, it's that the big money boyz have obviously made their views felt. Well, looks like Obama had (past tense) the opportunity to mend bridges with progressives.

As she did during Octobe 2008, Sarah Palin advances a rather peculiar definition of the free speech rights given by the First Amendment. Apparently, if you debunk her argument, thereby making her look like a fool, you're damaging her free speech rights. She defends Laura Schlessinger with this theory.

Laura Schlessinger, Ph.D., announces she'll end her show around Christmas of this year. Schlessinger returns to CNN, still not convinced she said anything wrong aside from her repeated use of a racial slur.

Heh! Is the White House just angry because the lefties keep getting it right while the White House keeps missing the target?

So, our President thinks that the threat to Social Security comes from the Republican Party? Erm, not so much, actually. It's actually the Democratic Party and their Cat Food Commmission that's the main threat right now. As a matter of fact, the DCCC Chair refuses to pledge that Social Security won't take major hits during the "lame duck" period between the November 2010 vote and the seating of a new Congress.
Good news! President comes out in favor of the "Ground Zero Mosque"! He frames it in terms of freedom of religion and local zoning.
*Sigh*! CNN contributor Erick Erickson makes utterly wacky statement opposing Obama's speech. Great hire, CNN!!!

Update: Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. Obama turns out to be just another calculating, poll-driven politician who's now walking his earlier position back to a nice, safe position.

President's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expreses frustration with "the professional left." No idea what he means by that as he doesn't really distinguish lefties from liberals. Does the left/the progressives/the liberals criticize the president? Yup, they sure do! We ain't no echo chamber for the Democratic Party. Why the left holds President Obama accountable. 
Laura Schlessinger, Ph.D. (in physiology, she's not a doctor who's qualified to perform therapy), makes complete nincompoop of herself by failing to recognize racism in others. The passive-aggressive attack on a black woman goes completely over Schlessinger's head.

It'd be nice if the President were opposed to making cuts in Social Security, problem is, his suport for the "Cat Food Commission" makes his priorities highly suspect. Members of Obama's former election team have called the commission, accurately, “a Social Security death panel.”
Extremely well-argued piece concerning Bibi Aisha (The young Afghan woman on the cover of Time Magazine missing her nose) and the suggestion that what happened to her will occur more frequently if the US pulls out and our troops go home. Major problem is that the suggestion:

But withdrawing without a plan for safeguarding the women who chose to believe the American promises of empowerment, however deceitfully those promises may have been made, is to live in denial of a tragedy in which we are roundly imputed.

Whoa!!! This author is talking about seriously moving the goalposts into the area of the wildly unrealistic and utterly unattainable! "Safeguarding the women" is absolutely impossible without continuing to militarily occupy the country. Also, as Aisha lost her nose while residing in an area that was under US occupation, it's far from clear that continued occupation will help anyone.

How sad! Camden, NJ has to shutter its libraries! Considering the pride with which America has maintained free libraries since well before our founding as a nation, this is a crushing blow.

Cool! Elena Kagan gets approved as next Supreme Court Justice. 

Judge Walker ruled that California's decision to ban gays and lesbians from marrying each other was unconstitutional. Positive reactions to the California Prop 8 decision. Negative reactions. Unfortunately, our President has chosen a very mushy way to describe his view on the issue:

“The president does oppose same-sex marriage but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples.”

Huh? What does that even mean? C'mon Mr President, pick a side and stick with it! This is no time to be all vague and cagey about where you stand on this.

Good news! The project to build an Islamic center two blocks away from the 9-11 Ground Zero site overcomes a major hurdle! Not only did the Landmarks Preservation Commission deny the current building landmark status, but NYC's Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave an impassioned speech supporting the new center.

Update on the boat being prepared to go  to Gaza. Organizers are trying to raise $360,000 and need a crew of 40 to 60 Americans to run it.

Two pieces on the baleful effects of Reaganomics, showing that incomes for the bottom 90% of households have remained essentially flat since 1973, incomes for the top 1% have gone from 26 times the median income to 300 times that. Since World War II, all of the Democratic presidents plus Dwight Eisenhower & Richard Nixon (Well, during his first term, not during his and Ford's second) left office with a reduced national debt. Reagan, the elder George Bush and the youngr George Bush all left office with a bigger national debt, often in the double digits bigger. Oh, and the auto industry is now an unqualified success. Will conservatives ever admit that? Ha, ha, ha! Don't be silly.

One of the allies in Afghanistan, Holland pulled out on August 2nd to the tune of "We gotta get out of this place" by The Animals.

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Yeesh, what a stupid complaint! The National Review Online doesn't permit comments. The only way to register feedback is to send an email or to send out a twitter. So what is the NRO complaining about? NY Times' columnist Paul Krugman's comments policy! 
Update: Blogger takes exception to having his haircut being compared to that of old teen idol David Cassidy. The blogger at Sadly, No! answers:

But you, dude, you picked that haircut. Voluntarily. You marched straight into some suburban Hair Cuttery of your own free will and accordand said “Make me look like this” while pointing to the cover of an ancient issue of Tiger Beat. (emphases in original)

No, the blogger didn't have anything to say on the comments hypocrisy.

Deficits aren't an urgent problem, they can be eliminated as we saw with the Clinton presidency.  What happens with the opposite problem? What happens when government doesn't spend enough? The results are not pretty, they aren't pretty at all.  What about the specific targets that the cat food commission wants to set? The commission wants to limit government expenditures to 21% of GDP. That's a completely insane idea
rasm-frasm $%#@&!!! Supplemental war bill of
$59 billion passes 308 to 114. Democrats needed Republicans to pass it as there weren't enough D's to pass it on their own.  Total authorized expenditures for the Iraq & Afghanistan wars now exceeds $1 trillion.

A writer for The American Spectator puts out an embarrassingly stupid claim that Shirley Sherrod spoke of a man who was lynched and that she was incorrect to do so. Lynching, acording to the writer, involves a rope and a mob.  Bobby Hall was beaten to death (i.e., no rope) by three assailants (i.e., no mob). Numerous historians agree that neither a rope nor a mob is necessary for a lynching to occur. Blogger concludes that writer is trying to twist story around into attack on Sherrod. Writer defends himself against colleague writing in same blog.

Wikileaks releases archive of 91,370 formerly secret after-action reports from Afghanistan, giving Americans and the rest of the world a detailed, close-up look into the conduct of the war in Afghanistan.

The Guardian references changes to the Rules of Engagement under Gen McChrystal leading to some changes in how civilian casualties were treated though the only actual change them mention is a “new “information requirement” to record each ‘credible allegation of Isaf [the occupying forces] … causing non-combatant injury/death’.”

The case of the-then USDA employee Shirley Sherrod and her character-assassination-by- edited-video by right-wing blogger/filmmaker Andrew Breitbart was a very quick summing-up/preview of scandals both past and yet-to-be. Very importantly, many bloggers, both on the right and the left, could tell right away "Doesn't it sound like Sherrod was building to a 'but' before the clip cut out?" Having watched the clip myself before I had heard anything about it, I agree that it was pretty obvious that the clip was  incomplete. For both the NAACP and the Obama Administration to go flying off the handle and to denounce her and fire her before all the facts were known, and especially as they both knew that Breitbart was behind the video is just flat-out shameful. The NAACP distinguished itself by quickly investigating and reversing itself, the Obama Administration dragged its feet for a bit before doing the right thing.

James K. Galbraith on the cat food commission. Great stuff! Well worth reading the whole thing!

Stick a fork in it, it's done. Abigail Thernstrom is hardly a liberal on voting issues, but even she agrees that the New Black Panther Party and their antics during the 2008 election aren't worth all of the durm and strang that Fox News has applied to the complete non-story (Fox has featured the non-story 95 times as of July 16th). Fox News person Megyn Kelly defends paying so much attention to the non-story on the grounds of "fidelity to the law," but this concern of hers was something that suddenly appeared on January 20th, 2009. It was nowhere in evidence concerning Bush's warrantless surveillance or on the Bush/Cheney torture policies. So naturally, the WaPo Ombudsman is now convinced that his paper needs to start covering the story! 
The FinReg bill that just passed is a good thing, but is very, very heavily dependent on the specific regulations that get passed to flesh it out and make it all work. The success of the bill will also depend very heavily on whether Elizabeth Warren gets to run the just-created agency or whether the job goes to some Wall St. crony. 

Karl Rove speaks about the October 2002 AUMF vote that more or less served as the declaration of war for the Iraq War:

All these Democrats had said, like Mr. Bush did, that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD.

True. Problem is, the Senators and Congressmen were depending on the CIA's National Intelligence Estimate of 2002, which did not include George Tenet's briefing of September 18th, which stated that there were no WMDs in Iraq.  Bush & Co. knew full well that the reasons given for the war were false long before the war began.

Is the BP well finally sealed? Signs are looking good that it is, but more testing needs to be done.

The complete and utter and absolutely shameless hypocrisy of the Cat Food Commission and other deficit scolds is highlighted by the shenanigans over the Estate Tax. Senators want to keep the heirs of millionaires and billionaires from having to inherit less than they believe they deserve. Natcherly, that means less tax money to put up against the "awful" deficit.

Right-wing complaints about the Obama Administration's responses to the BP oil spill being incompetent mostly draw a "Yeah, yeah, yeah, show me some evidence why don'cha?" but the evidence that the administration is colluding with BP to keep data under lock and key is very, very disturbing. There's already evidence that BP, with administration approval, has kept reporters from beaches. Update: Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) has requested data from BP about the leak and is still waiting for it.

Sarah Palin's popularity as a political figure remains vastly overstated. She sells well on magazine covers and sells books well, but her online presence via Facebook, Twitter, etc., remains much more theoretical than real. What absolutely amazes, though, is how much attention she gets from certain quarters. She did a Facebook message responding to allegations of the Tea Party being racist. CNN reprinted her message wholesale without bothering to, y'know, report on the allegations, as in presenting evidence, putting her statements in context, stuff like that. 

"Bush & Cheney should have been indicted for torture." Okay, cool, in complete agreement of course.
This was on Fox News!!! This was Fox News' legal analyst and former New Jersey district judge Andrew Napolitano being interviewed by Ralph Nader.
Update: Someone pointd out that Napolitano said that Obama should be "in the dock" alongside Bush. I've got no problems with that, as long as Bush is in the dock.

Hope! Hope! Hope! The catfood commission just might be dead!!!! Please God, let that be true!

Uh. Mah. Gawd! Mitt Romney delivers a painfully stupid lecture on the new START Treay. Seriously, he talks about ICBMs lauched from airplanes!

Whoa! David Broder makes some sense here! I'd give him about a C+ for this, better than what he usually gets.

Who knew Glenn Beck and Lindsay Lohan would have something in common?

By giving liberal Keynesian economists a solid target to shoot at, David Brooks does them a favor.

So ya think it's nice that hybrid cars are so quiet? Wel, it seems advocates for the blind aren't so thrilled as blind people use audible cues to tell them when it's safe to step off the curb. Hybrids are twice as likely to hit pedestrians as regular cars are.

Seems the folks who protested against Israel and in favor of the Gaza Flotilla were in large part in agreemen with America at large.  Americans in general agree that Israel was wrong to attack the flotilla.

Speaker Pelosi passes a sort-of budget resolution in the House that fails to specify just where budget cuts will be made. That job will be delegated to the catfood commission! This stands to be a remarkably self-defeating policy that will hurt Democrats vastly more than Republicans. Further details.

Interesting new look for Wonder Woman.. Fox News denounces it as unpatriotic.

Former President G.W. Bush now ranked in the bottom five presidents of all time.

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Excellent piece on torture by Philadelphia's own Will Bunch. What a horribly shameful history since 2004, when Bush & Cheney admitted to America they were doing it! The true shame of the matter has been that the press corps has made torture sound like something that rational, civilized people can discuss and disagree upon, as though there were something that was non- controversial, or something that was not absolutely shameful about it.

Whoah dude!!! Can we say "conflict of interest?!?!?!" The judge who ruled against the six-month moratorium on drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico has MAJOR financial conflicts of interests that REQUIRED him to recuse himself!  Exxon oil rigs were losing a half a million dollars a day during the moratorium and the judge was heavily invested in Exxon.

Y'know, progressives during the past decade have been responsible for many very significant innovations in politics and have racked up significant political victories. So why does the WaPo feel the need to assign three political reporters to cover the conservative political movement and none for progressives?!?!?

Repubicans just couldn't care less about anyone who makes less than a quarter of a million a year. Anyone who's not rich is an untermenschen.

Very sad story of a good journalist taken down because of an anonymously leaked email that the journalist had every reason to believe would remain confidential. What really bothers me about the case is that the charge made against the journalist was that he "was no longer objective enough to cover his beat." Since when is private, emotional objectivity a requirement for journalism?!?!? If one writes in a fair manner without obviously twisting the story to fit ones' political views, isn't that all that matters? Why does one have to be an emotional virgin or eunuch to boot?

Glenn Beck is trying to "reclaim" the Civil Rights Movement for conservatives. Problem: Conservatives and right-wingers can't "reclaim" a movement they were never a part of. They can "hijack" it, but to say they're "reclaiming" it is ridiculous.

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) "is the same politician who has said that if you didn’t come to Washington to solve tough problems, you should go home." Funny that he's now saying that

I’m not going to it in the middle of an oil spill when the political environment doesn’t favor what I want.

In other words, he's not in Washington to do anything that's tough, no, no, no, he's there to do what he wants.

Ooh!!! BP aware of cracks in well before explosion. Double-plus-ungood!!!

Very haunting and bitter photo comparisons between Jews and Palestinians.

Dispute with local right-wingers over Thomas Sowell & Franklin D. Roosevelt. Unfortunately, Sowell's piece is VERY popular, despite the fact that it's wrong.

The Catfood Commission is coming to town! Let's protest it!

Oops!  Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized today, to BP (!) for the US Government making BP pay into a $20 billion escrow account, which will then be used to pay claims. Right-wing bloggers defended Barton's apology, but the Republican leadership tossed Barton under the bus. Barton apologized. Did his apology mean anything? Ha, ha, no.

President Obama gives a "profoundly underwhelming" speech in response to the BP oil spill disaster. 

Support for the Affordable Care Act hits 45% in favor, 42% against.

The Maher Arar case is now over. The Supreme Court has refused to review it, thereby allowing all precedents set to stand. The US is now free to abduct foreign citizens on a whim (or shoddy evidence, same difference), send them off to be tortured, perhaps murdered and will do nothing to apologize to, or to compensate, the victim.

Is Glenn Beck's novel, The Overton Window, informed by his on-air conspiracy theories? Yes. Is the book of any literary value? Er, well, um, no.

What Digby says:

Any deficit scold who doesn't put reducing health care costs at the very top of the agenda is just a demagogic crank doing the dirty work for the aristocratic overlords.

The Barney Frank commission is getting quite serious. They're recommending almost $1 trillion in cuts to the Pentagon budget. Problem is, the deficit scolds appear to think that cuts in Defense are out of the question.

Visual commentaries on Afghanistan's apparent abundance in mineral wealth.

The boarding and killing of several persons on the MV Marmara by Israel will be investigated by... Israel!

We now have a Representative asking that Islamic Sharia law not be referenced by our courts. Which is kind of amusing as Sharia law is very compatible with what right-wingers in America would like to see applied here in the US.

Hah! That didn't take long! Blanche Lincoln beat Bill Halter for the Democratic nomination for Senator for Arkansas on the 8th. Here it is the 12th and already, the Chamber of Commerce has made it clear that they aren't going to spend any more money on Lincoln. Why should they? They've got a real Republican running against her! Why settle for a pseudo- Republican when the real thing is available?

The "catfood commission" wants to take away your Social Security benefits. There are many better ways to bring the economy back to health.
Update: Very good news! President Obama is requesting $50 billion in more stimulus funding.

Success!!!! The Army Experience Center is closing down! It was found to be a bad idea, but peace groups certainly played a part in making it unattractive.

Excellent piece from the WaPo on how business is not politics and how business success doesn't automatically translate into political success.

I thought every stupid thing to say about President Obama's use of the word "ass" had been said, but...

Mr. Obama should be ashamed of himself.... Mr. Obama occupies a sacred and noble position entrusted by the American people.

Whu-u-u-uh?!?!? The Presidency is "sacred"? Since when? Republicans have been saying awful things about Obama since well before he occupied the office and they've refused to pass his legislation. Obviously, the word "sacred" has a very highly selective meaning here.

Biggest disappointment of Super Tuesday primaries is the survival of Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) as the Democratic nominee to keep her seat. The NY Times certainly helped with a well-timed, pig-ignorant hit piece on her more progressive opponent, Bill Halter. Will she get any support from the big-money boyz who supported her in the primary? Nah, they'll switch all their money over to a real Republican. Will the unions support her? Please, not after some unnamed (Rahm Emanuel, probably) "senior White House official" just danced all over their graves. Good news? Actually, there is some. Lincoln's amendment on derivatives is highly likely to survive.

Sarah Palin offers some advice to President Obama on how to deal with oil company executives. She suggests that Obama should have had more face time with the BP CEO Tony Hayward. Of course, it's far from clear how this would have affected anything as certainly, Palin is correct to say "you must verify what the oil companies claim" [emphasis in original], but I think Obama is even more correct to say that "when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he's gonna say all the right things to me." It's kinda like G.W. Bush saying that when he spoke with the Russian President Vladimir Putin "I looked the man in the eye. ...I was able to get a sense of his soul." Well, that "sense" didn't prove to be of any value when it came to South Ossetia, did it? 
Something I've long suspected. Independent voters just aren't that meaningful. A very large proportion are "leaners" who prefer one party over the other. Truly independent voters who make up their minds after studying the issues make up only around 10% of voters and usually don't vote in primaries, so appealing to independents is pretty much a complete waste of time.

Helen Thomas has retired from newspapers (She's 89).

Thomas told a rabbi at a White House event last week that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to Germany and Poland.

"I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians," Thomas said in a statement on her Web site. "They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon."

Glenn Beck reacts to charges that he has been quoting approvingly from the works of a Jew-hating Nazi sympathizer who refers to "The savage Mohammedan call of the muezzin" (Call to prayer) also felt that African-Americans were being exploited and fooled into opposing white capitalists. Oh, and races intermixing was a communist plot. Beck is astonished, astonished I tell you, that people think he agrees with this hateful author that he's been quoting approvingly and whose book he has been promoting.

The MV Rachel Corrie has been seized and the passengers detained. Unlike with the MV Marmara, there are no reports of casualties. Earlier Israel seemed okay with the idea of allowing the Rachel Corrie to proceed after an international team had inspected their cargo, but now

Israel refused this offer of a check on cargo by the UN and instead shadowed the boat for hours, jamming all communications until moving in to seize the ship.

It's perfectly fine to hold the President up to some standards, but the sky-high "standards" that Obama is being hld to are approaching the absolutely ridiculous. Desperate to find something [comma] anything to criticize Obama for, a reporter

Matthew Dowd complained on ABC recently that he expected Obama not to "politicize things." In this case, "things" is in reference to "elections."

The really sad part is that, in order to make the Sestak "scandal" stick (Obama got Bill Clinton to offer Sestak an unpaid advisory position if he would drop out of the primary against Sen. Specter), TV commenters are reduced to flat-out lying about the law.
Glenn Beck is convinced that progressives "co-opted" the Civil Rights Movement. Um, no. Progressives invented the Civil Rights Movement. It arose directly out of progressive values. Conservatives? Read the enclosed piece from Former Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson, a Mormon and a right-winger. If his language seems familiar, it's because that's how Beck and his buddies speak today.

Simple answers to simple questions. VP Biden says:

"[The Israelis have] said, 'Here you go. You're in the Mediterranean. This ship -- if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we'll get the stuff into Gaza.' So what's the big deal here?"

The big deal is that:

A U.N. official said last week that the formal economy in Gaza has “collapsed,” and 60 percent of households there were short on food. The Guardian notes that according to UN statistics, “around 70% of Gazans live on less than $1 a day, 75% rely on food aid and 60% have no daily access to water.”

In other words, supplies are not being delivered!!! There are plenty of supplies waiting outside the borders of Gaza, but Israel is preventing their delivery.
Update: Response to a letter in the Inky.

Blogger goes on TV and disputes traditional media framing of the assault on the Freedom Flotilla ship as being "Hey, they were all terrorists anyway, what's the big deal?"
Right wing blames Obama for the Freedom Flotilla's existence.

Statistical breakdown of detainees at Gitmo. "Many" were legitimately imprisoned. 55% were "low level fighters" i.e., goat-herders.

Governor of Lousiana Bobby Jindal (R) has mightily impressed members of the traditional media press corps

Constantly jumping in and out of National Guard helicopters and drawing up plans for additional “burrito levees” and “boudin bags”...

Yep, that's our Bobby, being all energetic and active. But then they say he's shown that he's "mastered the details of the issue." Has he? Wel-l-l-l, as a US Representative, Jindal strongly supported "open[ing] 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and natural gas drilling," so I'm not sure I'd give him any props for his highly convenient, new-found environmentalism.

May                         back to top

The deficit scolds are making their malign influence felt.

As of this morning (May 30th), the cost of our war in Afghanistan hit the $1 Trillion mark.

Speaker Pelosi blames Bush Administration officials who were "burrowed" into Federal agencies, after McCani lost the 2008 election, for the BP oil disaster. This was a serious concern back during November of that year.

Uuurgh!!! The Sestak job-offer "scandal" appears to be off and running. BTW, Digby makes the prediction that Liz Cheney will run for office.

Another right wing talking point on BP and Obama is that Obama got more campaign cash from BP than anyone else. True, but that cash amounted to 0.0002% of Obama's campaign cash (Less than $100,000 out of nearly $400 million).

Naw-w-w-w, really? Sex & The City 2 is culturally tone-deaf and offensive to Muslimes?!?! Never woulda think it!

A commenter in the Inky declares that:

Unlike the situation with Katrina, the [BP] oil spill occurred in Federal waters, and the Federal Gov't was not directed by law to defer to local responders.
Fortunately, it appears that the "scandal" of the White House having offered Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) a job in order to keep him from challenging Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) is fast losing steam. That would be a very good thing as there's nothing the press corps likes better than a scandal involvinga Democrat!

Very interesting juxtaposition of a scare-mongering headline from the camp of the deficit scolds with a cartoon showing us the very real and serious reason why the headlne is BS.

Problem with saying the government should have acted quickly to take over the emergency response to the BP spill, there's not a whole lot of evidence that the Minerals Management Service was ready and  equipped to do much better. Granted:

The department's acting inspector general, Mary L. Kendall, emphasized that all of the misconduct occurred before the Obama administration took office in January 2009. The Interior Department's efforts to clean up the MMS have been ongoing, and the agency's ethics code was overhauled soon after the transition between administrations.

But with the news "that MMS was still issuing new permits despite the supposed moratorium," I dunno about that.

Sarah Palin is convincd that Susan B. Anthony was an antiabortionist. Was she? Not at all clear as Anthony never specifically addressed the issue.

Anthony spent no time on the politics of abortion. It was of no interest to her, despite living in a society (and a family) where women aborted unwanted pregnancies.

The List's mission statement proclaims, "Although [Anthony] is known for helping women win the right to vote, it is often untold in history that she and most early feminists were strongly pro-life." There's a good reason it's "untold:" historians and good journalists rely on evidence. Of which there is none. [emphasis added]

Update: Jessica Valenti tells us that Sarah Palin's "feminism" is completely fake.

Very large portion of oil spilled by BP into Gulf of Mexico could very likely remain several hundred feet below the surface for decades. Live feed of oil gusher finally set up. BP refused to test the well before disaster.

Extremely sad that the NY Times would go with a plainly partisan, obviously incomplete hit piece of a story. The concepts of "Due Diligence" and the priority of avoiding "Dereliction of Duty" don't appear to be working concepts anymore.

Problem with Rand Paul's (Republican Senatorial candidate from Ketucky) evident feeling that for businesses to observe the law, specifically the 1964 Civil Rights Act is just a terribly unfair burden. Rachel Maddow asked: "Do you think a private business has the right to put up a 'Blacks Not Serverd Sign?'" to which Paul hemmed and hawwed and filibustered and danced around the question. Paul is very clearly uncomfortable denouncing those who oppose the Act. The essential problem appears to be that Paul doesn't approve of violence but thinks private businesses should be able to control who, for instance, sits at their lunch counters, but doesn't seem to realize that it was the refusal of African-Americans to be excluded from such basic dignities and the refusal of whites to allow them their dignity that led to the violence. Major problem is that Paul confuses speech with the action of denying services, i.e., being able to sit at a lunch counter. Paul now supports the Civil Rights Act, but still not clear that he has addressed or even understands the above question.

So what does a person have to carry with him/her in Arizona in order to be presumed a legal US citizen? A driver's license will work, but only if it's from Arizona. If it's from another state, you're outta luck and presumed to be an illegal.

Latest on BP oil well blow-out. Absolute effin' calamity!!!

Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit and Sarah Palin have both had it with the "lamestream media" and it's "lies" and "distortions," etc. Problem: Neither one is remotely qualified to make prononcements on what constitutes good journalism.

The rumor that Elena Kagan is gay is firmly debunked by a close friend of hers who knew her back in college and the friend says Kagan's sexual interests were definitely hetero. The media presents a picture of people who have been wildly irresponsible, people who ran with the rumor that Kagan was gay, knowing full well that there was no evidence to back it up and that the White House had explicitly denied it. These people seem so desperate to gin up a scandal, to create a buzz, it'd be quite sad. Problem is, they're doing it on an important subject. A Supreme Court Justice of Kagan's age and health can expect to be on the Court from 30 to 40 years. Good round-up on dispute between blogger/lawyer Glenn Greenwald and Professor of Law and friend of Kagan Lawrence Lessig. BTW, of the 111 Supeme Court Justices, at least 38 did not have any prior judicial exprience. So the idea that judicial experience is a necessity is nonsense.

Elena Kagan nominated for Supreme Court Justice to replace Justice Stevens. Considerably less than thrilled by the choice. She's a

...blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration's lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority.

Very happy to see that the whole ridiculous "Obama Administration's reaction to the BP oil spill is just like Bush Administration's reaction to Hurricane Katrina" is dying a long-overdue and well-deserved death. There are plenty of real and serious criticisms for us to make about the current president without making up a bunch of stupid crap.

June 26th, America Speaks will feature national meetings designed to engage in pushback against the deficit scolds.

Round-up of news on the BP oil spill. Firedoglake has a page dedicated to the problem.

Daily Beast had a good piece on the White House Correspondents Dinner (President Obama did an apparently awesomely kewl comedy sketch), but wow! Politico did 84 separate stories on it?!?!?!

Doesn't strike me as a controversial statement:

...if we emerge from the spill of the Deepwater Horizon with anything less than a permanent moratorium on expanded offshore oil drilling, and climate change energy policies moving forward without this drilling built in, than Obama will have permanently discredited himself with the environment, and, further, as a guardian of the public interest.

Fellow activist from Philly Against War writes on catastrophe in Gulf.

The people in charge of the Federal Reserve have proven to be completely and utterly incapable of doing their jobs. The Fed needs to be audited, NOW!!!!!

Hmm, seems to be a real energetic effort underway to whitewash the Bush legacy.

Uh, no. You can't revoke the citizenship of the children of undocumented immigrants when they're born in the US. They're referred to as "anchor babies" and their citizenship is entirely legal.

It's good to keep in mind, with the massive and continuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, that the darling of the right wing, Sarah Palin, made one of her most memorable sayings during the 2008 campaign and it was "Drill, baby, drill!"

Major League Baseball Players Association decides that as they have many Hispanic players who don't want to be looking over their shoulders in Arizona, that they just don't need to play baseball there.

White House puts itself on the wrong side of the "Audit the Fed" Amendment. 

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Glenn Beck is now trying to claim G.W. Bush is a progressive. (!!!) That would certainly be news to Bush, of course. Beck claims as to his sudden anti-deficit views (That abruptly appeared on January 20th 2009):

Beck previously responded to people who asked, “where were you when George Bush was spending?” by saying, “It doesn’t matter. I’m here now.”

Actually, it matters a great deal because it demonstrates that Becks opposition to deficits is hypocritical and opportunistic.

Rick Santorum attempts to whitewash Franklin Graham's comments denouncing the entire religion of Islam as "wicked and evil" (Santorum claims, falsely, that Graham was referring only to "jihadists").

Former First Lady Laura Bush will issue her memoirs on May 4th, G.W. Bush's first draft is done and he's now in the process of editing it. His book is due in November. He promises that his memoirs will be candid and honest. We'll see.

A comparison of President Obama and his 2008 rival Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and how their respective careers have fared. Very sad to see how McCain  contributed to the country's tea party radicalization by picking Sarah Palin as his VP candidate.

A blog puzzles over David Gregory's refusal to have Meet The Press formally fact-checked via an officially-approved forum, suggesting that either he's got "Not invented here" syndrome or that he doesn't want the idea to spread. Here's another possiblity:

Liz [Cheney] is also all over NBC, where she happens to be social friends with Meet the Press host David Gregory (whose wife worked with Liz ’s husband at the law firm Latham & Watkins), family friends with Justice Department reporter Pete Williams (Dick Cheney’s press aide when he was secretary of Defense), and neighborhood friends with Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski, daughter of Carter-administration national-security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

It just might be that Washington is a highly inbred, incestuous place and thus deserving of the title "The Village."
Update: Meet The Facts is a non-partisan fact-checking organization designed to fill this obvious need.

Truly terrible to hear about high-ranking SEC employees surfing the web for porn during 2007-8, just when the economy was collapsing, but were they working in an emasculated agency that had no power to do anything in any event?

Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) asks how come we aren't focusing in on waste in the defense budget?

Further evidence that the tea partiers are just Republicans who are trying to distance themselves from the last President.

Good dialogue on undocumented immigrants. Coverage of Jack Cafferty's hostile anti-immigrant views. Good piece on how to best handle immgrants.

My response to a Thomas Friedman piece. Later updated when Friedman commited more stupidities.

The Campaign for America’s Future is conducting a “Virtual Summit on Fiscal and Economic Responsibility for People Who Did Not Wreck the Economy.” The idea is to counter billionaire deficit scold Pete Peterson and his enablers and their “Fiscal Summit” on April 28. Some posts will be put up at the UFPJ-DVN blog.
Update: My piece posted there.

The idea that the military might be overly dependent on contractors is one of those "Naw-w-w, real-l-ly?!?!" sorts of observations.

The case for making current Solicitor General Elena Kagan a Supreme Court Justice is an extremely weak one. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Wood, on the other hand, is eminently qualified to replace the off-going SCJ Stevens.

Granted, nobody puts "Fox News" and "ethical" in the same sentencen anyway, but Karl Rove's connections to a $50 millon slush fund meant to support Republican candidates ('Cause the RNC Chairman Michael Steele is doing such a lousy job) raises ethical and conflict of interest questions serious enough that even Fox might have to take serious action.
Kewl news! The Vatican has decided the Beatles aren't so bad after all! But, in an extremely insulting suggestion,  after the Roman Catholic clergy proved utterly incapable of restraining pedophile priests from continuing to abuse children under their care, a senior official says "Hey, we should be trusted to restrain pedophile priests." No. Known pedophiles should be removed from positions where they can abuse children, for the rest of their lives! They should never again have unrestrained, unsupervised access to children ever again!

Oh, and all that stuff you heard about the teabaggers being new and fresh and innovative? Nah. They're all just a bunch of G.W. Bush deadenders. Fortunately, their popularity seems to have peaked.
Why do older, conservative men think that everybody else thinks Sarah Palin is attractive?!?!?

Kind of annoying that the NY Times ran a piece doing video interviews of 17 Tea Party supporters (All white and all of them appear to be at least middle-aged). Why wasn't this kind of lovingly detailed investigation done of anti-Iraq War protesters before the war started?

Senate Minorty Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seems convinced that the financial regulations bill is a "bailout." As it's nothing of the sort, that brings up the age-old question: "Evil or stupid?" Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) is infuriated over McConnell's charges.

Very disappointingly, it's now been confirmed that, after leavng her hanging in the breeze for 14 months, President Obama has simply given up on trying to get Dawn Johnsen confirmed as head of the Office of Legal Counsel. This is one of those classic "lose-lose" approaches where giving up in the face of opposition gains the President nothing with those opponents and his followers are demoralized.

Main problem with trying to avoid a fight over a Supreme Court nomination is that 1. Republicans are going to fight over it anyway and 2. Leaving progressives unenthusiastic over a not-very-good choice is not good politics.

Humor for your Saturday from a right-wing blog:

Palin's view of nuclear weapons was shaped by her stint as the commander in chief of the Alaskan National Guard...

Erm, her "duties" as "C-in-C" of the ANG were minimal to the point where she wasn't even briefed on their activities.

Two people I just can't work up any sympathy for: Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) who is not going to run for another term after accomplishing the highly unusual feat of pissing off both the left and the right. And CNN Host Kyra Phillips, who hosted an "ex-gay activist." I have sympathy with her announced goal, to explore all sides of the issue. Main problem with doing that is that she failed to note that Richard Cohen was expelled

...from the American Counseling Association in 2002 for "numerous violations of its rules, including those dealing with client welfare, dual relationships with clients and counselors, and advertising"

I understand her heartache at being attacked, but her own irresponsibility as a journalist made those attacks entirely reasonable and responsible.

It's now official, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring.

A horrifying 2007 video made from a helicopter showing the slaughter of a group of people. One fellow peeked out from behind a corner of a building and sure enough appeared to be carrying an RPG*, but that was the extent of the provocation. Wikileaks is the site that featured the video. U.S. counterintelligence has plotted against Wikileaks, "China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe have denounced or blocked access to the website.''

*I was corrected on this through a commentary on Facebook that, actually, the item that appeared to be a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) was  a camera with a long telephoto lens. Many other pieces appeared after that exchange where other people confirmed that the helicopter crew reacted inappropriately.

A January 2010 piece that the blogger just linked to: a look at the independent voter. Do they exist as an electoral bloc? No. Not only are independents in five separate categories (Lean right or left, ticket-splitters, the disiilusioned but still active, straddlers and the disengaged), but the great majority are in the "leaning" category. Meaning, electorally, they're an irrelevant group. Best to forget about appealing to independents, just make good policy and succeed with it. And yes, the teabaggers are overwhelmingly white and conservative and virtually none of them voted for Obama.

I dearly hope CNN is thoroughly embarrassed by RedState blogger Erick Erickson, their new hire. If they aren't they should be.

A look at the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope and pedophile priests along with the bishops who protect them. Pope Benedict XVI has only accepted two resignations for the mess since 2002. Even worse, his comments to bishops are full of the passive tense: "Serious mistakes were made...errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred." This indicates that Benedict simply isn't serious about rectifying the problem.

Very good news on the warrantless wiretapping front: U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled not only that warrantless wiretapping was illegal, but that the State Secrets doctrine was also open to challenge.

Bwah-hah-hah!!! Absolute, unmitigated FAIL!!! A group of right-wingers decided to examine black unemployment and whether racism had anything to do with it. Guess what color ALL SIX participants were? The blogger admits:

...there’s no law or rule that only black people can talk about issues affecting black people, or the same for white, latino, asian people, etc.

But yeesh, people! I mean, really.

Court rules that FISA was unacceptably violated. Despite support of both Bush and Obama Administrations for violation of law, ruling may stick

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The teabaggers are really getting out of control as their rhetoric and actions grow increasingly violent. Bill O'Reilly is correct to say that ya can't judge a whole movement by it's crazier members, but in 2007, he  cherry-picked a few blog comments out of hundreds of thousands to paint the entire Netroots Nation (Then called Yearly Kos) as crazies.
Gee, are the people arrested for training for war against the United States terrorists?

The legal fight over terrorist suspects is not looking good. The White House appears determined to trade off legitimacy for expediency. It's doubtful that their negotiating partner Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) can deliver on hs end of the bargain, even if he wants to.

Very sad to see the Pope involved in enabling a pedophile scandal. There wasn't the slightest question back when the scandal of a priest in the Boston MA Archdiocese broke in 2002 "that there was a pattern of sexual abuse and cover-up." For my own part (I'm a Protestant), there was never any question, when I learned that the accused priest was moved around from parish to parish in order to keep the public from finding out how serious the problem was, that the problem went all the way to the top. The only mystery in learning about the Pope being guilty of having taken part in the cover-up is "What took so long?"
I agree that a

...completely paternalistic and autocratic culture of Il Papa led to an insular, exclusionary system that failed to police itself...

But hey, that would be asking the guy to involve himself in messy issues of "managment" and "supervision," y'know, bothersome stuff like that.

Teabagger fail:

When I told people to come locked, loaded and ready, I didn't mean locked, loaded and ready.

President Obama, fresh off his health care victory, decides to get some recess appointments in (At this stage in his presidency, G.W. Bush had five nominees waiting, Obama has 77), Republicans, of course, are upset with this.

The site WikiLeaks is under attack from  the US and other governments that would like to see it shut down.

The need for independent leaks and whistle-blowing exposures is particularly acute now because, at exactly the same time that investigative journalism has collapsed, public and private efforts to manipulate public opinion have proliferated.  

Major FAIL!!! Fox News has on long-time-ago Saturday Night Live comedian Victoria Jackson and Uh. Mah. Gawd. Some people actually believe Glenn Beck when he says the President is a communist!!!

The Republican National Committee Chairman, Michael Steele, refuses to sign onto a DNC statement that pledges to "set an example of...civility."
Very predictably, as soon as progressives began expressing alarm over right-wing violence, Representative Eric Cantor allegedly got his house shot up. Yes, a bullet entered his window, but it's not likely that it was deliberately aimed at his window as the bullet entered at a very sharp downward angle, meaning some idiot shot it into the air and it just happened to come down where it did. Nice try at false equivalence, though.
Update: There's even less to the story than meets the eye:

It wasn't even his office that was hit. It was a two story townhouse-looking office building in which his office is on the second floor and the window that was hit was on the first floor [snip]

And it wasn't a building that was labeled as Cantor's office. No one would have ever known that he even had an office in that building! It's not listed in any directory, it's not on his website, it's not even in his Congressional district!

Further update: Very, very sad when your fallback defense is that you were speaking with a reckless disregard for the truth.

Glenn Beck demonstrates a complete and utter lack of education and self-awareness by complaining that John Lewis (A giant of the Civil Rights Movement) was, by locking arms with other Democrats, daring to compare himself to members of the Civil Rights Movement.

O-o-oh! So that's why stocks went up after the health care vote and Wall St. was so happy. Not, of course, because the health care bill is, y'know, good for business or anything.

Looking at the reaction to the passage of the health care bill, the media gets an "F" for their coverage and the right wing is going into meltdown over it. The view from FDL is decidely mixed. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) seems determined to achieve a lose-lose solution. And who in the frak gives a hang about what John McCain thinks?!?!

What precisely is the connection between public policy and public opinion? It's nowhere near as clear as some would like to pretend.

House of Representatives begins debate on final vote on health care bill (The Senate just has to do some tidying up via "reconciliation" and it'll all be ready for signature). NOW is "incensed" over women's right to abortion being tossed under the bus in order to get bill passed, NARAL and Planned Parenthood silent.
Update: Health care bill passes 219 to 212. No Republicans voted for it, 34 Democrats voted against it. 
Yeesh! Are these guys predictable or what? After citing the CBO favorably dozens of times, now all of the sudden, the CBO lies! Obviously, it's now saying something that goes against Republican talking points.

Glenn Beck's denunciations of "social justice" in the churches continues.

Well, it's confirmed that President Obama was making back-room deals to see to it that the public option never happened and lefties are lousy negotiators. There's a good case to be made that the health care bill is something to cheer about anyway. The CBO score came back and it's looking very good for the bill's proponents. $940 billion in direct cost with $130 billion in savings over the first decade.

What IS it about all these Republicans talking about sex with animals?!?! What's up with that?!?!

Yes, Republicans have managed to block most everything in the Senate, they have the right to try and do that as the opposition party, but 1) that shouldn't be seen as a Democratic Party failure and 2) the fact that the Senate is so hopelessly gridlocked is an institutional problem that very clearly needs fixing.

Wow! How does one go even lower than the bottom of the well? CNN goes into the mud and the weeds at the bottom by hiring Erik Erickson of RedState, a fellow who has made "violent, incendiary, sexist, and racially charged commentary."
Update: CNN makes it obvious that they can't defend their hiring decision by engaging in straw-man attacks.

Excellent piece on international law and the "torture memos" of John Yoo, et al.

The legal advisers said there were only four times during the past thirty years in which they were intentionally cut out of the decision-making process on issues involving the interpretation or application of international law, and they described each as a “train wreck.”

Well, Karl Rove was correct to say that having a "cowboy president... [acting in] extra-constitutional way to violate a fundamental principle in the Constitution" was a bad thing, but amazingly enough, wasn't talking about Bush
Hmm, are my expectations of traditional media reporters so low that I think it's appropriate to cheer when a reporter actually performs an act of journalism? Oh well, I give Howard Kurtz a "attaboy" when he does so.

Looking like the chances for the health care bill passing soon are looking mighty good. Newsbusters does a "Media Reality Check" and examines some of the biggest "spin" from liberals. Slight problem: they cite some not very unbelievable "spin" from liberals and completely pass on citing some really amazing spin from conservatives. FDL is keeping a "whip count" as to who's voting which way in the House.

I do a round-up on the news, concentrating on religion. One of the elements in the round-up was the plan put out by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) to fix America's economy. Whatta mess! Well, it would be really good for the top 0.1% of the population, but would pretty much leave everyone else much worse off.

Quite a bit of very important evidence concerning the torture program seems to have, er, um, disappeared, yeah, that's right, it just vanished and no-o-obody knows why it all just sorta went away.

Karl Rove claims Bush never authorized torture. He's right, I suppose, in a very highly technical and constricted and very qualified  way. Of course, der Fuhrer never authorized the Holocaust and Josef Stalin never authorized torture, either. Stalin also used the term "enhanced interrogation."

Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has a petition up for the US to stop funding more troops for Afghanistan.

Looks like the Democratic anti-abortion Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) is losing steam over his provision to either make the health care bill come out against women or to be a poison pill for it. He's now got a primary challenger who's gunning for his seat in Congress.  
Even the stenographic Dana Milbank of "The Village" thinks Karl Rove's new autobiography is completely full of #%$. Best sentence: "Rove offers an occasional nod to reality..."
Chris Matthews' talk show looks at Rove's book and the buildup to the Iraq War. Curiously, they leave out how the media simply never reported on the true state of Iraq's WMD. It should have been reported well before the war began that there were none.

Too pro-Rahm Emanuel for my tastes but otherwise very good piece by Michael Moore on how he'd assist the President if he could.

If Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's deal to try Khalid Sheil Mohammed before a military tribunal goes through, Attorney General Eric Holder might as well resign. If Obama is going to permt naked, blatant political consideratios to trump justice, the law and his own promises, he's pretty much, deservedly, lost all trust among serious people. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI)  stands up for the rule of law. As to many other Democrats? *Crickets.*

Liz Cheney's attack on the idea of defending criminal suspects was apparently convincing to Wolf Blitzer's CNN show, which ran chyrons and graphics suggesting that lawyers who believe in the rule of law are nothing more than terrorist enablers.
Update: Some very welcome pushback, from conservatives, but hey, we'll take it where we can get it.
ACORN is pushing back against the NY Times publishing a piece about James O'Keefe wearing a pimp outfit to ACORN offices. The NY Times' Public Editor agrees the story is false, but for some odd, unexplained reason, won't run a correction.

Is Rahm Emanuel the Rasputin of the Obama Administration? Nah, but a lot of the problems that Administraton is having can be traced directly to giving Emanuel's "centrism" far too much credit.
Update: We get a few more details on the bargain between Emanuel and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), but it's far from clear that Graham can put anything on the table other than his own vote. Of course, the Obama Administration has already compromised any principles so heavily, they can't speak with any conviction.

The sheer and utter bankruptcy of our political discourse, particularly this suffocating "He said, she said" model of dicussing political issues is truly a frightening thing to behold.

The Obama Administration supports Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) against a primary challenger. Democratic leaders from the White House to the DNC and DCCC and DSCC, should stay out of primaries. All primaries, all the time.

What happens when the US leaves Iraq? Iran is ready to fill any vacuum.

The Brooklyn branch of ACORN is cleared of any charges stemming from BigGovernment .com's sting operation starring James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles. Andrew Breitbart, the owner of said website and promoter of said operation, throws O'Keefe under the proverbial bus as Breitbart scrambles away from charges of fraudulently pretending that O'Keefe and Giles were dressed in their "pimp 'n' ho" outfits when they went to the ACORN offices to "seek  tax advice."
Oh, and Breitbart has promised to "take down the institutional left" when the clock hits zero!!1!#!! 

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A group of heavy-hitter economists agree, pass the health care bill already! It's long past time and Republicans proved during the Blair House meeting that they simply don't want to do anything.

Climate change deniers take note! Satellite photos show a very disturbing picture of icebergs roughly the size of Luxembourg colliding with each other and one breaking off. A bit more significant than snowstorms in February, eh?

How much is Republican obstructionism in the Senate hurting America? The price is actually very large. Over a year into Obama's Presidency and there are still important foreign affairs vacancies that are yet to be filled. Foreign governmens have no one they can talk to about important issues they wish to discuss with the US. As the House doesn't have the filibuster rule that the Senate does, they can simply pass bills by straight majority rule, the way every other legislative body on the face of the planet does. Well, the House has now passed 290 bills that the Senate has yet to act on. Again, Republican obstructionism is hurting America!!!

Glenn Beck is correct in saying that the country is 40% conservative, 36% moderate and 20% liberal. The problem comes when he lumps in the moderates with the conservatives. Actually, most moderates consider themselves and are considered by conservatives, to be more liberal than conservative.

Seems that in the ACORN sting operation, the claim that James O'Keefe was dressed as a blaxploitation looking pimp and his partner Hannah Giles was dressed as a ho was BS. The pair used some very clever and cynical racial messaging in what they did.

So the usual "Friday Night News Dump" (Which I thought was a Bush Administration specialty that I thought would get dumped when Obama came into office &%##@%)
shows us that not only do John Yoo and Judge Jay Bybee get cleared of having failed in their professional responsibility, but the Justice Department, FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service all concluded that the 2001 anthrax attacks were conducted by a fellow that we seriously doubt did it.
Update: An examination of Yoo's extreme Presidential supremacy philosophy.

The scientists at RealClimate are annoyed, and rightly so. The media has utterly botched their reporting on the false charge that Climate Science has been putting out deliberately inaccurate data. The phrase "Dereliction of Duty" comes to mind.

Seems that Obama's and Reid's strategy on getting the health care bill through the Senate was a lose-lose proposition. By making the bill more right-wing, it failed to gain any support from Republicans, but it did succeed in  demoralizing the Democrats. 
Rachel Maddow has been doing a marvelous job deriding Republican hypocrisy on the stimulus bill, but Democrats need to do more! Democrats need to defend the stimulus unapologetically.

New buzzword: "constitutional conservatism." Not that the idea in practice differs significantly from plain-vanilla conservatism, but hey, it sounds real neat!

"Fair & Balanced" runs amok. Current VP Joe Biden and former VP Dick Cheney appear on Sunday talk shows. Fox News looks around for a fair and accurate, objective and balanced person to comment. Who do they pick? Why, Dick's daughter Liz Cheney, of course!
Update: USA Today provides a rather odd definition of "bickering" when describing the debating VPs.

Good, informative rant on elections and how the filibuster's been abused since Democrats took the House & Senate and especially since a Democrat took the Presidency.

The real news out of Iran on the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution was what didn't happen. Citizens of the Green Movement wanted to perform a mass protest, but were outmanuevered by the regime.

Very real victory for functioning government as 27 appointees to positions in the administration are cleared for an up-or-down vote by the Senate. Obama needed to make it clear that he had lost patience with Republican obstructionism. It's a good start, but there are 150 to go. It's an absolute disgrace and an outrage that over a year after Obama took office, he still doesn't have all of his offices fully staffed and that he still has nominees  who have been sitting around and twiddling their thumbs this whole time, waiting and waiting and WAITING for the Senate to do is thing and confirm them.

Sarah Palin gets described as using her "mastery" of the soundbite "to devastating -- and some would say irresponsible -- effect" but as the blog post points out:

[Palin] was part of a GOP ticket that lost in an electoral landslide. She walked away from her job as governor, and is now viewed by most Americans as being wholly unqualified to lead the nation.

Yeah, that's certainly a "devastating" strategy allright.
Update: Okay, now we know for certain that Palin has no political future. David Broder is convinced she has a politcal future. Broder's defenders might want to keep in mind that Broder also backed Unity08 and thought GeeDubya was going to make a comeback in the polls.

A reaction to a Rick Santorum piece in the Inky.

Exploring the rift in the tea partiers between the neocons and the Ron Paulists.

To write a piece about the tea party activists and Sarah Palin would be a good thing. Unfortunately, the New Yorker delivers a real mess that sets out many, many narrative threads, but fails to pull them together into a coherent whole. In the sort-of good news department, it seems Palin the neocon is driving out the libertarian followers of Ron Paul because the tea party movement is just a warmed-over rehash of Bush-Cheney Republicanism.

Encouraging news from the Obama Administration, they've apparently decided that Rahm Emanuel's Clintonian centrism just doesn't work. Unfortunately, the administration doesn't appear to be in a hurry on health care and the President has inexplicably called for Republican participation.
Comparing Netroots Nation to the teabagger convention: 600 teabaggers to 1400 netroots folks (Yes, it's relevant that the tea party folks charged nearly $600 a head, charges for Netroots partcipants were much lower), but there were 200 journalists at the recent convention. There were certainly journalists at Netroots Nation, but it doesn't appear to be nearly as many. Palin? Oy, what a disgrace!

I wish I could say this was at all surprising, but companies have long been skirting campaign finance laws to contribute to candidates for office.

Paul Krugman notes that hysteria over the deficit strongly resembles the hysteria over Iraq in late '02 -early '03.

I do a round-up on the news, covering a number of topics.

The thing to remember about the distinction between hard-core conservative Republican Senators like James Inhofe (R-OK, global warming denier) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT, anti-abortionist) and moderate Republican Senators like Olympia Snowe (R-ME, helped to delay health care reform) and Susan Collins (R-ME) is that the distinction is far more theoretical than it is substantive. Collins has completely and utterly disgraced herself on the Abdulmutallab (Underwear bomber) case, first saying he was given his Miranda rights and thereby refused to talk, then the Obama Administration showed he was indeed talking, then Collins got all confused and has now "doubled down."

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is undergoing serious challenge. Hard to say how it will all shake out.

Do not ever give a single one of your hard-earned dollars to the DNC! They just threw $500,000 in voter contributions down the slimiest rat-hole possible by spending it on ads praising Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) for undermining health care. Give your money directly to candidates.

Right-wingers think Grover Norquist has the right idea, that we should just force the government to get by with less money by doing things more efficiently and by not doing some things at all. Unfortunately, when Norquist's "TAxpayer Bill Of Rights" (TABOR) meets reality, TABOR loses, big-time.

First, the NY Times' "house conservative" Ross Douthat wrote an op-ed suggesting that abstinence-only sex education wasn't all that bad (A study indicated the programs are worthless) and  that school sex-education programs were generally all pretty worthless anyway. A DKos blogger replied that, no, there's nothing wrong with teaching sex properly and that "Real, fact-based, comprehensive education does" have a positive effect. One of Digby's bloggers laments "that an enormous amount of effort is spent in simply correcting their grossly misleading assertions and stating the obvious" and then emphasizes that, properly taught, sex education is actually very valuable to young people.

January                         back to top

Ooh! Smackdown!!! Republicans invited President Obama to their gathering in Baltimore whereupon Obama casually blew apart and dismissed their talking points of the last year on health care. Fox News cut away when it became clear that the President was wiping the floor with the Republicans.

A conservative activist in the employ of BigGovernment .com's Andrew Breitbart attempted to gain access to Senator Mary Landreiu's (D-LA) telephone system (Note: The Senator is a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, making her office a "target-rich environment" for surveillance) and stands accused of a felony that could get him up to ten years in prison. The accused James O'Keefe and his associate Hannah Giles (Who has no apparent connection to this partcular case) were the purported "pimp and prostitute" in the videotaped "sting operation" against ACORN. Very, very interesting to see how, all of the sudden, Andrew Breitbart and Fox News are very, very concerned about, y'know, due process and waiting for all of the facts to become clear, etc., etc. , concerns that they didn't show earlier with O'Keefe's sting operation.
Update: Excellent summary of the case and the national security implications thereof. Oh, and FireDogLake's Emptywheel tears O'Keefe's explanation into little, itty-bitty pieces.

Thoughts on partisanship and how meaningful that is when determining someone's credibility.

Woo-hoo! The undemocratic Conrad/Gregg "deficit" cutting commission vote fails to break filibuster. No automatic entitlements-cutter.

Ooh! Bad, bad, BAD decision!!! What a horrible choice! President Obama signs on to repeat the error of 1937 and to seal his fate as a one-term failure.
Update: It's really, really hard to overstate just how incredibly bad this idea is. WaPo overstates deficit problem and neglects to mention important facts.

Supreme Court legalizes it for corporations to use their general treasuries to support candidates for political office directly. Is that a well-intentioned move? Of course not. Is it a disaster? Ehh, not so clear that it is. Corporations were doing that anyway, but they were doing it indirectly, through PACS and 527s.

It's at least marginally better to have the ad expressly say that it was paid for by Dow Chemical rather than by "Americans for Happy Kittens and Grandmothers."

Quite frankly, it was the creation of 527s in 2004 that really opened the floodgates for corporate contributions.
Update: Okay, this is a very good point and appropriate cause for concern. The Supreme Court didn't separate foreign from US corporations, so everyone from Venezuela to Russia could buy unlimited ads pushing their favorite candidates.

Looks like Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's second term is increasingly in doubt. Good! the Obama Administration should show him the door.

Disaster capitalism strikes again! Mercenaries are making a big-time appearance in Haiti.

Wow, what an unbelievable, amazing, unexpected development [/snark] !!! Seems that the full-body scanners destined to be in all airports don't work.

Air America is gone! Too bad, it was a good station, even though I'm not much of a radio listener. Why are right-wing media doing so well in comparison? Well, right-wing media is much more clearly defined than left-wing media, most media is rather more corporatist, more concerned with getting viewers than with pushing a particular viewpoint. Second, right-wing sugar daddies supply the right-wing media with operating funds even when their papers and TV shows aren't popular.

Democrats lost the special election in Massachusetts to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy. With the local Democratic candidate's loss, the Senate Democrats are now down to "merely" 59. Is that an entirely bad thing? Ehh, not necessarily. As to the idea that the House can simply pass the Senate health care bill unchanged, Speaker Pelosi says "No." She simply can't round up the votes necessary to pass it without making serious changes to it. These changes, BTW, would make the bill more progressive, i.e., add the public option back in, etc.

Ooh! Very bad news. The Supreme Court has agreed 5-4 to allow corporations to use their general treasury funds to make direct political speech without meaningful restrictions.  This is in direct response to an anti-Hillary Clinton movie that was produced and distributed on DVD very shortly before the 2008 Democratic Primary.

This is a serious question: Who exactly is in charge of Haiti's security? Or, given the usual maritime rule as to who has the right of way, boats usually follow "The law of superior tonnage" (The lighter boat gves way to the heavier one), with 10,000 troops in-country, the US appears to be the leader in charge of Haitian security. Problem: Brazil has had a serious presence in Haiti since 2004. The US really should work out a Status of Forces agreement  to decide how Brazilian and the US troops interact, ASAP.

Who or what is really threatening marriage in the US? The Internet! The 'net is making it too gol-durn easy to hook up, thereby making cheating on one's spouse wa-a-ay too easy.

Massive earthquake, magnitude 7.0, hits Haiti, up to 50,000 dead, buildings made with cheap materials crumpled and food running low. Very pleased to say that US is responding well, sending troops and supplies with dispatch. The First United Methodist Church of Germantown has a long-standing relationship with the Haitian group Fonkoze and yes, they're accepting donations. The blogger Digby has a list of organizations to donate to. BTW, Noam Chomsky fills us in on the details behind that country's history.
Right-wingers are doing their best to try and make the disaster in Haiti a political issue to attack President Obama with. Right-wing radio and Fox News are ignoring Haiti as far as possible as there's no obvious partisan angle to the story. Of course, the false equivalences are coming thick and fast.
Hey, here's a great dea! Let's get Rush Limbaugh booted off of Armed Forces Radio!

Bwah-hah-hah!!! Sarah Palin slated to become Fox News contributor. Yup, Fox News will continue to be a propaganda outlet.

This is pretty cool! The WaPo/CNN media critic Howard Kurtz gets lots and lots of criticism in these parts because he's usually pretty oblivious to important questions. Now, he's concerned about interviewers doing more fact-checking of their guests!!!! To which I can only respond "Yee-hah! Let's have more of that, please!"
Update: Nah, Kurtz hasn't really changed, he just had a good day here.

Right-wing, uh, "comedy." "Tasteless" is a severe understatement. It's also not at all clear why "Climategate" is considered a "live" issue. I thought that issue died back in late November of last year.

Did a story that was a bit of a change of pace for me. Bicycles and hauling trash. Yes, there are environmentally friendly ways to get things done. Not everything has to get hauled with fossil-fuel powered  vehicles.

Tehran Times covers Gaza Freedom March.
Distressing, but I think accurate summary of Obama's first year in office. It fits in with a statement by Rahm Emanuel that NAFTA was some sort of brilliant coup by President Clinton. Um, no it wasn't. Helping out the top 1% of income earners does NOT translate into political popularity!
Does the Fed even have the ability to have detected the housing bubble? Very troubling piece suggesting that it doesn't.

Good piece that sums up the G.W. Bush Administration record in dealing with terrorism. Summary: The Bushies have nothing to brag about. As to the review following the underpants bomber, here's (PDF) the summary of the security review, and here's (PDF) the president's directive on corrective actions.
rasm-frasm grumble gripe The Marriage Equality bill loses in the NJ Senate 20-14.

Well, this is heartening news! Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) may have pissed off liberals over the last few months, but he didn't gain any affection from people off to the right wing side of the political spectrum, either.

WaPo continues downhill slide into ignominy and irrelevance. They produced a single-source story that a great many progressive organizations strongly disagreed with, completely blew off presenting any criticism and then claimed to have "edited" the piece. 
House Democratic Progressives very unhappy that Democratic leadership apparently seeks to avoid  House-Senate conference negotiations for the next phase of the health care bill. Here's a list detailing exactly how the House & Senate bills differ. Also, the "We'll fix it later" idea takes a hit from the planned retirements of  Democratic Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Chris Dodd (D-CT).

Good piece on the "Obama Disconnect," suggesting that the President wants to build a media machine, but like Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, Obama wants it to be nothing more than a vehicle for his re-election.

D'oh! One of the  more amusingly crazy members of Congress, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), was against the Census, charging it with all sorts of perfidious evil deeds. She's now changed her mind on that. Seems her district would be the first to go if Minnesota is re-districted as a result of the census deciding the state has too few citizens to support all of its Congresspeople.

Da-a-a-yummm!!! Chris Matthews actually makes some good points! He clobbers a guest frm the website Politico for being stenographers to former VP Dick Cheney. Guest falls quiet and looks away.

The Gaza Freedom March had 1400 delegates who wished to travel from Cairo, Egypt to Gaza to show solidarity. Egypt gave permission for only 100 to go in. The GFM. Ultimately, 85 decided to go in. Israei security personnel kill a GFM activist, a French woman. Photos.

One thing to keep in mind on the heath care bill, the public option is not just a "nice-to-have" feature. It's foundational. It's  a vital, "must-have" feature.

USA Today reveals very serious problems with the ideology and real-world practice of centrism, "a pox on both your houses," of "balance" and of distaste for "ideology."