Friday, July 31, 2009

Headlines - Friday

Canada's own William Shatner, their ambassabor to the lower 48, does it again: his interpretation of Mooselini's Twits, er, Tweets:
The chicken hawks of the health care debate

Now that Iraqmire has been out of the headlines, nobody talks about Chicken Hawks any more (aka Armchair Warriors, Keyboard Warriors, the Chairborne Division, and some other less printable names). You remember the type: always bellowing that "We" should invade this country; "We" need to send more troops into that country.

And of course "We" always means somebody else, since these Chicken Hawks never set foot on a military base and wouldn't know a uniform if it bit 'em on the ass.

And now the health care debate has put the spotlight on a new breed of Chicken Hawk. This subspecies (the operative word here is "sub") receives a huge salary and a shitload of perks — all courtesy of YOUR tax dollars. These perks include free medical care for themselves and their families. Again, that medical care is being paid for by YOU.

But, when members of this subspecies are asked about providing similar health coverage for other American citizens, they start screaming about "Welfare!" and "Socialized Medicine!" Quick — what's wrong with this picture?

Every legislator who rants and fumes about "Socialized Medicine!" — while simultaneously receiving socialized medicine for his/her own family — is a Chicken Hawk; plus a few other names that wouldn't be suitable for a family blog.


Yessir, when you've got a good thing going and you've squeezed it dry, all you gotta do to make the money flow again is "help" the people you just took to teh cleaners. Plus you get to pretend you're a goddam hero. It's a nice perk.

This week, the Obama administration summoned mortgage company executives to Washington to demand they move faster to lower payments for homeowners sliding toward foreclosure. Treasury officials called on the companies to hire and train more people quickly to field applications for relief.

But industry insiders and legal experts say the limited capacity of mortgage companies is not the primary factor impeding the government's $75 billion program to prevent foreclosures. Instead, it is that many mortgage companies are reluctant to give strapped homeowners a break because the companies collect lucrative fees on delinquent loans.

Even when borrowers stop paying, mortgage companies that service the loans collect fees out of the proceeds when homes are ultimately sold in foreclosure. So the longer borrowers remain delinquent, the greater the opportunities for these mortgage companies to extract revenue — fees for insurance, appraisals, title searches and legal services.

We suspected all along that the reluctance of the banking industry to re-finance delinquent homeowners had something to do with $$$. We knew it when they fought tooth and nail to keep the Congress or the Obama Admin from passing laws or setting up banking regulations that would allow bankruptcy judges to reset mortgage deals in court. Now, thanks to the NYT's Peter Goodman, we know a little more about how the latest scam works.

What, did you think they were going to set it up to help you? They set it up so that yet another layer of fees can be gouged from what little they've left in your account. The Blue Dogs have, of course, helped the banksters to head off any attempt to keep them from raking off your money for the privilege of fixing the mess they made from raking off your money. It's a two-fer.

No conscience, no morals, no ethics. It's The World According to Ebeneezer Scrooge: we exist only as long as we perform the function of victim for the rapists. When we can't do that any more, when we're completely tapped out and the rich have appriopriated all our money, all the nation's resources, and all the planet's useful (read: profit-making) materials, there will no longer be any reason for our existence and we'd best die to decrease the surplus population.

You thought Dickens wrote a cautionary tale, didn't you? Turns out he wrote the Modern Banker's Ethics Handbook.


Blue dogs succeed in making reform cost more

Honest to goodness, I don't know how any self-respecting member of Congress remains a member of the Blue Dog caucus.  I know they can't all be stupid but damn, if they don't look like it when they collectively hold up health care reform to work out deals that end up making the whole thing cost more: 

Ross said that together the changes would cut costs in the $1.5 trillion bill by about $100 billion, though the new break for small businesses and the decision to allow negotiated rates in the public plan would also add significant costs, so it wasn't clear that there was any net cost savings from the deal.

4,328 soldiers killed in Iraq; 759 in Afghanistan.
And millions of Afghans and Iraqis that aren't even counted.
Looking for the health care silver lining:
Yesterday the House passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act by a vote of 283-142 to fundamentally change the way we protect the safety of our food supply. Each year, 76 million Americans are sickened from consuming contaminated food and 5,000 of these people die. In just the last few years, there has been a string of food-borne illness outbreaks in foods consumed by millions of Americans each day – from spinach to peppers to peanuts, pistachios and cookie dough. This recent series of outbreaks of food-borne illnesses has demonstrated that they are not random, unpreventable occurrences, but are due to widespread problems with our current food safety system.
I'm trying to figure out how anyone could vote against food safety, but 20 Dems and 122 Republicans did.
Cash for Clunkers is broke
No, silly, not GOP campaign contributions, this is the other Cash for Clunkers program, the one in the stimulus package that gives citizens a rebate for trading in a gas guzzling, pollution-spewing pile o' junk for a sleek new model. It was so popular that it ran through the nearly $1B program's funding in a week. It was supposed to last through November. 
Tristero: We are waaaaay beyond Orwell, people.
Some evidence of a spine
The Progressives in the House of Representatives have given notice that they are not going to let the pseudo-Republicans Blue Dogs drive the process of writing a health care bill:
In a letter to be delivered to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House health care leaders, Congressional progressives will reject a compromise Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) forged with Blue Dog Democrats to advance legislation. "We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the [Energy and Commerce] Committee as fundamentally unacceptable," it reads.
It's about frakking time. What the Blue Dogs want (an appropriate color for them, since they serve the interests of Blue Cross and the rest of the health insurance industry) is a bill that has as its central purpose, the enrichment of the health insurance companies. I'm cheered to see that the Progressives may (emphasis on may) be stopping their doormat routine.
Meanwhile, this guy:
... 'won't sell out the party'

He has no problem whatsoever selling out the country, as long as the GOP wins. And this is the man who's driving the "bipartisan" compromise? Hah:

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, has assured his GOP colleagues that he will not sell them out and strike a private deal with Democrats on healthcare reform, according to Republican senators.

Grassley (Iowa), who is known for having a close relationship with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and has been negotiating behind closed doors with Democrats for weeks, made the promise to the entire Senate Republican Conference at a meeting late on Wednesday, according to several senators who attended.

Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), the senior Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, who has also participated in the negotiations, made a similar commitment. But Grassley's words had the most impact, easing the anxieties of conservatives who feared the unpredictable Iowa senator would give Democrats the crucial bipartisan support needed to pass a $1 trillion healthcare package of Democratic priorities.

Oh, thank God for that. We can all rest easy now!

Speak it, brother Sam!

Remember, docility and deference is what they want, a little stiffening of the backbone is what we need.


Demonstrating moral values, wingnut Florida legislators propose state constitutional amendment to ban federal health care:


Obama restores credibility to the Presidential Medal of Freedom and announces the coolest 16-person list ever.

Billie Jean King, Sidney Poitier, Chita Rivera, Muhammad Yunus, Harvey Milk, Desmond Tutu, and this guy:

Joe Medicine Crow joined the army, becoming a scout in the 103rd Infantry Division (United States). Whenever he went into battle, he wore his war paint beneath his uniform and a sacred eagle feather beneath his helmet. Without realizing it, Medicine Crow completed all four task required to become a war chief. He touched a living enemy soldier (1) and disarmed an enemy (2) when he turned a corner and found himself face to face with a young German soldier:
"The collision knocked the German's weapon to the ground. Mr. Crow lowered his own weapon and the two fought hand-to-hand. In the end Mr. Crow got the best of the German, grabbing him by the neck and choking him. He was going to kill the German soldier on the spot when the man screamed out "momma." Mr. Crow then let him go."

He also led a successful war party (3) and stole an enemy horse (4), making a midnight raid to steal the horses from a battalion of German officers (as he rode off, he sang a traditional Crow honor song.) He is the last member of the Crow tribe to become a war chief. Of his story, noted documentarian Ken Burns said, "The story of Joseph Medicine Crow is something I've wanted to tell for 20 years." Mr. Crow was interviewed and appeared in the 2007 Ken Burns PBS series The War, describing his World War II service.

He stole horses from the SS.  Top that, George Tenet.

The President announced today the 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilan honor.  The President praised the recipients for breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens: "These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds.  Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs.  Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change.  Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way."

The awards will be presented on August 12.

Read details about all the recipients here.


Ladies and gentlemen, Doughy Pantload, Jonah Goldberg: Unmockable. Just read it. Holy shit. Holy shit.


Bacon... flavored... lip balm. Lip balm that tastes like bacon. Also available from


Adulterous moron castigates moderates as 'wishy-washy' on values

Sen. David 'diapers' Vitter, with a straight face: "I'm on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values." Ahem.

Vitter is an unusual standard-bearer for the "conservative values" wing of the Republican party. As Steve Benen writes, "[E]very time Vitter mentions the word 'values,' it elicits the same response: 'Aren't you that 'family-values' guy who got caught with prostitutes?'"
Maybe I missed something: did he say core values or whore values? Though I guess its the same thing if you're a Republican.
The Washington Post just now learns that Karl Rove played a more integral role than previously known in the firing of U.S. Attorneys that lead up to the U.S. Attorneys scandal.


Pay for Play.  Disgraced cradle-robbing adulterer Paul Stanley will receive $7,000 per year from Tennessee taxpayers as pension for his, ahem, service in the state senate.


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