Thursday, December 31, 2009

Headlines - Thursday


In his detached way, Spock was letting us know that our besieged starship was not speeding into a safer new future, and that we still have to be scared.

Heck of a job, Barry.

There are scarier things in life, Maureen (like how long newspapers will stay in business so you can write this stuff.)

h/t Donna: don't forget to check out the blue moon tonight!
Amid Dark Times, Meet the Most Inspiring People of 2009
Newsman Wes Nisker said if you don't like the news, make your own. These people did:
Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned from Republicans in the Third Quarter of 2009
Like, for instance:
The president is a Kenyan racist who hates white people and white culture.
The first Hispanic American to become a Supreme Court Justice is a "reverse-racist."
It's okay to call the president a liar as he's saying something true while addressing a joint session of Congress.
Making health care more accessible and affordable is a Nazi policy.
Death panels led by Barney Frank will convene in the middle of the night to decide if Grandma lives or dies.
Government-run healthcare programs are evil...and don't you dare put the government in charge of my Medicare!
The attacks of 9/11 didn't happen on Bush and Cheney's watch.
Norm Coleman's senate seat was stolen by Al Franken and John McCain's presidency was stolen by ACORN.
Whoever shouts the loudest and angriest at a town hall meeting is a better American than people who don't.
The biggest environmental threat to the planet is global cooling.
These and many other valuable life lessons were doled out freely by conservatives last summer and, having taken them to heart, I feel like I've earned an honorary Ph. Duh.
As Olbermann said last night: "With the economic crisis, two wars and healthcare reform all looming, I knew we would not want for topics. But never even in my wildest dreams did I think we would hear the cacophony of the crazy which conservatives unleashed in 2009." And it all came to a head in the third quarter---the Summer of the Loon.
A suicide bomber managed to sneak onto a NATO military base in Khost Province today and managed to detonate in the base's gym, killing at least eight Americans, all of them identified as civilians by the US military.
According to NATO, a US soldier was slain today on a base in the Baghdis Province. An Afghan soldier was said to have shot him, along with two Italians who were only lightly wounded in the incident.
White House responds to Cheney's criticism of president Obama.
George W. Bush Let Terrorists Behind Christmas Bombing Out Of Gitmo
Brian Ross of ABC News reports that two of the four men behind the plot to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day were actually prisoners of the United States and that, under the leadership of President George W. Bush, were released into a Saudi art rehabilitation program.
According to Defense Department records, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi (now known as Muhamad al-Awfi) and Said Ali Shari were released from detention at Guantanamo Bay in 2007 despite allegations of material support for military operations in Afghanistan. Naturally, they were never tried on those charges and al-Awfi reportedly was refused access to his own passport to refute allegations made against him. Shari was reportedly killed in an airstrike on Christmas Eve, and is suspected in the murder of 6 Christian missionaries in Yemen.
Both the families of al-Awfi and Shari attribute their radicalization to their years in detention at Guantanamo Bay.
Hard to believe Bush would turn someone loose when they could still be tortured. Or that they might want revenge.
"Newt Gingrich, despite not having held any position in government for over a decade, was the most frequent guest on "Meet the Press" in 2009 of any political figure in the United States. Literally...  Keep in mind, "Meet the Press" didn't have the actual Speaker of the House on at all this year." Steven Benen Link  
That's because David Gregory and whore NBC News only dance with their partners.
Bait & switch: Until early 2009, Silk brand soy milk was made using organic soybeans. But earlier this year, Dean Foods (owner of the Silk brand) quietly switched to conventional soybeans, which are often grown with pesticides. But they kept the same UPC barcodes on their products, and they kept the product label virtually the same, only replacing the word "organic" with "natural" in a way that was barely noticeable. They also kept the price the same, charging consumers "organic" prices for a product that was now suddenly made with conventionally-grown soybeans.
Cool: here's a photo of an Inuit hunter petting a young bowhead whale that has surfaced in a breathing hole he cut for it. At another time of year he would be hunting her.
American Patriots vs. America
Minute manThey call it "ObamaCare" and it's the worst thing ever. Ask nearly any Republican or conservative and they'll tell you it's Communism, Socialism, and/or Fascism. It will destroy our economy, kill seniors, and introduce Marxism into our government. Of course, we can look at other countries that have created a healthcare system and see none of this is true. But the right has always worked from the assumption that Americans are pathetic foul-ups who can't do anything other than war right. This is something that's always bothered me about them; the people who constantly talk about American Exceptionalism seem to believe the term means "exceptionally stupid and incompetent." What nearly ever other industrialized nation has accomplished, we'll never be able to do. It's ironic and hypocritical of the same people who throw around the term "anti-Americanism" to argue that we're a nation of hopeless jerks who can barely tie our own shoes. Worse, this belief in the unique incompetence of Americans is a cornerstone of their political ideology -- the founders, who they otherwise revere, put together a useless government that couldn't organize a one horse funeral. They seem to love America as a concept, but as an actual reality, well... not so much. The government the founders created is the enemy for these so-called "patriots." Modern American conservatism is more anarchic than democratic.
Tavern On The Green Closing
Central Park's Tavern On The Green, the nation's highest grossing and arguably most famous restaurant, will close tomorrow after 75 years in business.
The former sheepfold at the edge of Central Park, now ringed by twinkling lights and fake topiary animals, is preparing for New Year's Eve, when it will serve its last meal. Just three years ago, it was plating more than 700,000 meals annually, bringing in more than $38 million. But that astronomical sum wasn't enough to keep the landmark restaurant out of bankruptcy court. Its $8 million debt is to be covered at an auction of Baccarat and Waterford chandeliers, Tiffany stained glass, a mural depicting Central Park and other over-the-top decor that has bewitched visitors for decades.

Micheal Steele is laughing so hard right now, in a white way.
Conservative radio shock jock Rush Limbaugh was rushed to a Honolulu hospital yesterday with chest pains.
After paramedics arrived and treated him at the Kahala Hotel and Resort, Limbaugh was transferred to Queen's Medical Center where he reportedly arrived in "serious condition." KHON2 reports:

Sources say the 58 year old [Limbaugh] was suffering chest pains before an ambulance arrived at the hotel.

Honolulu's Emergency Services Department confirmed a male fitting Limbaugh's description was taken from the hotel in serious condition.

As an avid golfer Limbaugh travels to Hawaii just about every year and earlier this week was seen in Kona on the Big Island and at the Waialae Country Club on Oahu.

While unfortunate, Limbaugh's hospital visit is rife with irony. The ailing radio show host was sent to the same medical center that a United Press International reporter misidentified in an article published in 2008 as the facility in which President Obama was born. Though the error was corrected to accurately indicate that Obama was born in the Kapi'olani Medical Center, the mistake fueled "birther" conspiracy theories that Limbaugh then dedicated significant airtime to promoting. Since then, Limbaugh has gone as far to state that Hawaii "morphed into Kenya one day in 1961 [the year Obama was born] and reverted back to Hawaii the next day."

Meanwhile, some of Limbaugh's right-wing colleagues have spent the past week slamming Obama for vacationing in Hawaii over the holidays, which "to many Americans seems like a foreign place." Last month, Limbaugh was voted the nation's "most influential conservative voice."


Just sayin' .....



Republican attorneys general in 13 states say congressional leaders must remove Nebraska's political deal from the federal health care reform bill or face legal action, according to a letter provided to The Associated Press Wednesday. Republican attorneys general in 13 states say congressional leaders must remove Nebraska's political deal from the federal health care reform bill or face legal action, according to a letter provided to The Associated Press Wednesday.



Some of the same Republican lawmakers currently criticizing the President for softness on terrorism voted back in July 2007 against legislation that, among other reforms, provided $250 million for airport screening and explosive detection equipment.

The Improving America's Security Act of 2007 was a relatively non-controversial measure that effectively implemented several un-acted-upon recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. Eighty-five Senators voted in favor of the bill's passage. Seven missed the vote (several of whom were on the campaign trail, including Barack Obama, John McCain and Chris Dodd).

Eight Republican Senators, however, voted against passage, including Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okl.) Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), James Inhofe (R-Okl.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ari.).


British priest who promoted shoplifting over starvation attacked.


A very interesting read on fighting the increasingly common superbugs. Too many doctors hand out antibiotics and pills like candy and that is a big part of the problem. The pharmaceutical industry may not like it and the doctors who receive too many give-aways from the industry may not be pleased but for those who are serious about health should start figuring out how to address this. If it helps save money for expensive drugs along the way, all the better.


 More than 25,000 Additional White House Visitor Records Posted Online.


James Dao got his hands on a Pentagon report titled, "A Different Kind of War." It's a history of the early years in Afghanistan -- and it paints an ugly picture of failed leadership. We're still enmeshed in that conflict because our political leaders, starting with Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, didn't pay any attention to the needs of the military people in that country:

It's good timing for the release of the report. Republicans -- and Joe Lieberman -- are huffing and puffing about national security today. But, that same crowd screwed up the war in Afghanistan -- against Al Qaeda and its allies -- and we're still paying the price. It's important to remember how inept our leaders were. With this record, how Dick Cheney or any Republican -- or Joe Lieberman -- has any credibility on national security is beyond me.

We're still dealing with the after effects of Bush's complete failure in Afghanistan. We're talking about Yemen now because Bush didn't do the job back then.


Revolutionary 'light emitting wallpaper' could start to replace light bulbs in 2012 - I will assume there'll be a switch so you can turn it off...
For all of those screaming for Janet Napolitano's head
Ask yourself this:

Does the CIA work for her?

Do the people who screen passengers in Lagos or Amsterdam work for her?

Do the people at the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the ones who issue visas, work for her?

The short answer to all of those questions is "no".

So what would you want to fire her for? Shooting off her mouth on ABC's "This Week" last Sunday?

And if so, then wtf is wrong with this country? You didn't see any cabinet officials fired for torturing people or illegally wiretapping Americans or any of the other stupid crap that was done by the last administration. The only guy Bush ever fired were Rumsfeld and Gonzo, who were fired for the sin of screwing up badly enough to cost the GOP control of the Congress three years ago. Even then, Torturer Dick tried to protect Rumsfeld. And Gonzo got some "wingnut welfare" no-show teaching job at the Texas Tech School of Heavy Equipment Repair.

So, if you're a Republican official, commission of war crimes and gross incompetence: Good.

If you're a Democratic official, saying something stupid on television: zOMG!!!!1! Release the Hounds of Hell!!!1!1!!
Harvesting tea baggers
Now hear this: commence operation pants-wetting!
A Chinese admiral has proposed that China negotiate deals for overseas naval bases.

The neocons will be shitting copiously into their britches over this one. We shall see how quickly they can shift gears from crapping their jeans over the Attack of the Underwear Bomber.
Maybe this is why we were trying to blow up the moon earlier this year ...
Russian scientists will soon meet in secret to work on a plan for saving Earth from a possible catastrophic collision with a giant asteroid in 26 years, the head of Russia's space agency said Wednesday.
More of this please
Rep. Eric Massa of New York was on The Ed Show last night, and he showed exactly the amount of respect to the fatassed chickenhawk Cheney that the draft-dodging, hiding-in-an-undisclosed-location coward. That is to say, none.

Unlike Cheney, Massa served this nation and a heroes blood courses through his veins. He doesn't just denounce forcefully. He challenges.



Should you move your money to your community bank?

The big banks on Wall Street, propped up by taxpayer money and government guarantees, have had a record year, making record profits while returning to the highly leveraged activities that brought our economy to the brink of disaster. In a slap in the face to taxpayers, they have also cut back on the money they are lending, even though the need to get credit flowing again was one of the main points used in selling the public the bank bailout. But since April, the Big Four banks -- JP Morgan/Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo -- all of which took billions in taxpayer money, have cut lending to businesses by $100 billion.

Meanwhile, America's Main Street community banks -- the vast majority of which avoided the banquet of greed and corruption that created the toxic economic swamp we are still fighting to get ourselves out of -- are struggling. Many of them have closed down (or been taken over by the FDIC) over the last 12 months. The government policy of protecting the Too Big and Politically Connected to Fail is badly hurting the small banks, which are having a much harder time competing in the financial marketplace. As a result, a system which was already dangerously concentrated at the top has only become more so.



Sometimes Obama looks like a glutton for punishment. Sez here in the LA Times an immigration overhaul will be next on the White House menu.

With the healthcare battle still unfinished, the Obama administration has been laying plans to take up an issue that could prove even more divisive -- a major overhaul of the nation's immigration system.

Senior White House aides privately have assured Latino activists that the president will back legislation next year to provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.

In a recent conference call with proponents, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, political director Patrick Gaspard and others delivered the message that the White House was committed to seeing a substantial immigration bill pass and wanted to make sure allies were prepared for the fight. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Headlines - Wednesday

Taking time out from his Hawaii vacation to comment on last Friday's lap bombing on a Detroit bound airliner, President Barack Obama vowed an "accelerated offensive" against militants in Yemen.
The Dumbest Quotes of the 2000s.

"I felt safer outside the wire than I did taking a shower."  -- Capt. Margaret White, on the sexual abuse and harassment female soldiers face in a war zone, Link  

 A shot of Chinaco to Al Franken for giving women more protection than the pro-rape GOP allowed them: 



Traditional marriage defender, Karl Rove, suffers second painful divorce, types inane self-promotional talking points on Twitter

This was taken in the early 70s, but by the late 80s Karl Rove was a straight man who got married to a woman!

Beloved Bush Administration political hack Karl Rove just got divorced from his lady wife! Who even knew, right? Anyway, the Roves were officially divorced in Texas (!) last week, and it's suddenly all over the Internets, and Dana Perino is "family spokeswoman," and Karl is celebrating by continuing to post banal GOP talking points and self-promotional announcements about his upcoming book on the Twitter. Everything about America is 100% awesome. Make your "now he can gay-marry Jeff Gannon in DC" jokes in the comments and the Circle of Life will be complete. TPM/Politico


Rush Limbaugh Reminds Karl Rove That He's Still One Marriage and One Divorce Behind Him in the
Family Values Sweepstakes


A Less Than Honest Policy - Bob Herbert

There is a middle-class tax time bomb ticking in the Senate's version of President Obama's effort to reform health care.

The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it's a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.

Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do.

The tax would kick in on plans exceeding $23,000 annually for family coverage and $8,500 for individuals, starting in 2013. In the first year it would affect relatively few people in the middle class. But because of the steadily rising costs of health care in the U.S., more and more plans would reach the taxation threshold each year.

Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

Keep reading:


Kevin Jonas, Daniella Deleasa, people cover

"After we did it, I was kind of like, that's it?" Mr. Jonas told reporters at a New York press conference.




Take It Seriously, Mr. President

I understand why the president needs a vacation. But this White House is proving itself incredibly tone deaf politically if they think downplaying the president's response to the near-bombing is good optics against the backdrop of him playing golf in Hawaii.

Sure, the GOP is being hypocritical in bashing him over this, when they themselves have held up the confirmation of the TSA nominee, and when they themselves while in power did little to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations. But in truth, none of that really matters now, because this happened on Obama's watch. His Homeland Security secretary has already had to backtrack on the subject, because it's an empty claim that everything went well after the suspect almost blew up the plane.

There is no excuse for why the suspect wasn't immediately added to the no-fly list after his father turned him in. Yet Obama's State Department and DHS dropped the ball and failed to take the full measures necessary to stop this guy from boarding a plane in the first place. This one is on them.

When Bush was in office, we routinely blasted him for his screw-ups. Fairness dictates the same now Mr. President, and if you or your grossly overrated team can't see how bad it looks that your golf game is more important than getting a handle on this, then the Democrats will suffer.

If the public starts believing that Obama is just a little too cool on national security, the game is over.


Fixer: Well, do you remember a week ago, when I warned Diane Sawyer about making a fool of herself in front of a head of state by citing some documentation of his nation's 'wrongdoing' during an interview with him?

... You see, Diane, waving around a piece of paper purporting to be 'evidence' doesn't mean shit. Were we (the U.S. and U.K.) still in control of the moral high ground, it might mean something ...

Yeah, well:

WASHINGTON, Dec 28 (IPS) - U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by the Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a "neutron initiator" for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence Agency official ... [my ems]

And you wonder why Mr. Ahmedinejad had such a smug look on his face during the interview?  


How much are you getting?

Reuters: GMAC Financial Services is close to getting about $3.5 billion in added aid from the U.S. government, on top of the $12.5 billion already received since December 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Incredible. AIG is preparing to pay its departing general counsel several million dollars in severance after she resigned over federal pay curbs.


Why, when there is a threat of an attack, is the President not told?
What's wrong with this picture:

The president was told during a private briefing on Tuesday morning while vacationing here in Hawaii that the government had a variety of information in its possession before the thwarted bombing that would have been a clear warning sign had it been shared among agencies, a senior official said.

Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda there were talking about "a Nigerian" being prepared for a terrorist attack. While the information did not include a name, officials said it would have been evident had it been compared with information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Christmas Day.

The government also had more information about where Mr. Abdulmutallab had been and what some of his plans were.

Would someone please explain to me why, when intelligence agencies have evidence that there is someone being prepared for a terrorist attack, that the President is not told until FOUR DAYS AFTER THE ATTEMPT? Hell, even George W. Bush was notified in August 2001 that something was being prepped to go down. That he chose to ignore it doesn't mean he wasn't told. But if Barack Obama is telling the truth, then there is something very strange going on within our intelligence agencies. These agencies are charged with gathering information to anticipate and stop people like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from getting on a plane armed with explosives. That they didn't manage to put the pieces together, even after there were plenty of pieces back in 2001 that they didn't put together, is disturbing enough. But that they had the pieces and didn't think the President needed to be informed is even worse. Perhaps they got so used to George W. Bush, who genuinely didn't give a shit. Or perhaps there are elements in the intelligence community who know that an attack on this country would justify the Republican meme of "Barack Obama is a wuss" -- and ensure a return to Republican governance in 2010. And what's worse is I don't know which is a scarier prospect. But something is very, very rotten in the bowels of Washington. And Americans are going to be the collateral damage.
Schadenfreude anticipation

Now it can be told: Noted Abstinence Educator, Bristol Palin, is suing Playgirl Centerfold Levi Johnston for sole custody of baby Tripp (the likable Palin). The Palins want the proceedings to be in a closed court, Levi does not:

I do not feel protected against Sarah Palin in a closed proceeding," Johnston said in an affidavit accompanying Butler's filings. "I hope that if it is open she will stay out of it. … I think a public case might go a long way in reducing Sarah Palin's instinct to attack and allow the real parties in this litigation, Bristol and I, to work things out a lot more peacefully than we could if there is any more meddling from Sarah Palin.

Utah senator Oral Snatch admits GOP 'standard practice' was to run up deficit:

Karl Rove, who should be in jail, attacks Obama response to failed terrorist plot, despite Bush's delayed response in 2001, and Hoekstra is trying to raise money off it. And anyone who had 'yesterday' in the "Cheney Blames Obama for the Roasted Chestnuts Terrorist Attempt Office Pool"? Step forward and collect your prize


As Congress prepares to pass the final health care reform legislation early next year, health care lobbyists are mobilizing legislatures in approximately 14 states to ratify constitutional amendments that would repeal all or parts of the new measure. "The states where the amendment has been introduced are also places where the health care industry has spent heavily on political contributions," the New York Times notes:

Over the last six years, health care interests have spent $394 million on contributions in states around the country; about $73 million of that went to those 14 states. Of that, health insurance companies spent $18.2 million.

Overall, at least 21 states have indicated a desire to opt out of federal health care reform or block fundamental features of the reform bill, including mandatory health coverage. While Arizona, is the only state legislature to place an opt-out measure on the 2010 ballot, a significant number of gubernatorial and state legislature candidates across the country have also said that they are strongly "leaning towards" opting out of reform.

Lawmakers in Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Kansas, Texas, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Arizona, Alabama, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, Louisiana, Alaska, Minnesota, North Dakota, Georgia Illinois and Florida have introduced ballot measures to protect their states from reform legislation or promised to spearhead such efforts if reform is enacted.

While it's unlikely that conservatives and their health care industry allies could repeal health care reform, (they are more likely to water-down certain elements of reform), a successful challenge would devastate the populations suffering from the most pronounced health care crisis. A back-of-the envelope analysis conducted by ThinkProgress suggests that on average, the repealing states have experienced very substantial premium increases, high rates of uninsurance and annual percent growth in health care expenditures and higher insurance market concentration:

- 42% (9 of 21): have an uninsurance rate higher than the national average of 15.4%.

- 62% (13 of 21):
have an average annual percent growth in health care expenditures that his higher than the national average of 6.7%.

- 62% (13 of 21): experienced premium increases of more than 75% between 2000 and 2007.

- 90% (19 of 21): are dominated by two insurers that control more than 50% of the health insurance market.

The effort to repeal health care reform "began at the conservative Goldwater Institute in Arizona" and was latter "picked up by the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC], a business-friendly conservative group that coordinates activity among statehouses." As the New York Times points out, "five of the 24 members of its 'free enterprise board' are executives of drug companies and its health care 'task force' is overseen in part by a four-member panel composed of government-relations officials for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association of insurers, the medical company Johnson & Johnson and the drug makers Bayer and Hoffmann-La Roche."

Earlier this month, Lee Fang reported that Joan Gardner, executive director of state services with the BCBS Association's Office of Policy and Representation and a member of ALEC's 'task force' "played a pivotal role in crafting this anti-health reform states' rights initiative."


Several former Guantanamo Bay detainees appear to be behind the Yemen-based plane-bombing plot, which just makes you wonder why the Bush administration was so unpatriotic as to let those detainees out of prison in the first place. Washington Post

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Headlines - Monday

The Reincarnation of the Dark Ages
You'll love this 'must read' by Loren Adams.

The king taxed the peasants to poverty while the royals were exempt from paying any. Reason? Unjust tax codes were a design of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. That was the "targeted tax-cut" which invariably became law. "He who hath the gold maketh the rules."

The Dark Ages was the birthplace of "Trickle-Down Economics." The caste system was embraced, the church was simply a ruling arm of the monarch, and slavery was legitimatized by the religious righteous.

Republicans constantly decry labor's "class warfare," but this is the real war being waged across America. The cultural war is basically a derivative of class warfare – where the ruling class has employed white evangelicals to do their bidding: divide and conquer.

During the Dark Ages, wealth was exclusively inherited, not earned. The legal system was purchased like a commodity resulting in juryless trials, military tribunals, pronouncements by a king acknowledged as sovereign and commissioned by God to rule as if the voice of Providence Himself, executive orders usurping representation, taxation without representation, etc. Anyone disputing the monarch's sovereignty was designated a traitor and summarily executed, tortured or banished to dungeon. These were the markings of the Dark Ages. Are they not similar to contemporary Republicanism so glaringly demonstrated during the Bush years?

h/t Biggi:
Forward this to your friends and representatives. Representatives are here.
Congressional Reform Act of 2009

1. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two Six year Senate terms
B. Six Two year House terms
C. One Six year Senate term and three Two Year House terms

2.  No Tenure / No Pension: 

A congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3.  Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security:

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund moves to the Social Security system immediately.  All future funds flow into the Social Security system, Congress participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan just as all Americans.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide in all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present congressmen are void effective 1/1/10..  

The American people did not make this contract with congressmen, congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned that citizen legislators serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.
Mr. President: The Republicans want to destroy you:
Glenn Greenwald: The Joys of Airstrikes and Anonymity

Each time the U.S. bombs a new location in the Muslim world, the same pattern emerges.  First, officials from the U.S. or allied governments run to their favorite media outlet to claim -- anonymously -- that some big, bad, notorious, "top" Al Qaeda leader "may have been" or "likely was" killed in the strike, and this constitutes a "stinging" or "devastating" blow against the Terrorist group.  These compliant media outlets then sensationalistically trumpet that claim as the dominant theme of their "reporting" on the attack, drowning out every other issue. 

As a result, and by design, there is never any debate or discussion over the propriety or wisdom of these strikes.  After all, what sane, rational, serious person would possibly question a bombing raid or missile strike that "likely" killed a murderous, top Al Qaeda fighter and struck a "devastating blow" to that group's operating abilities?   Having the story shaped this way also ensures that there is virtually no attention paid to the resulting civilian casualties (i.e., the slaughter of innocent people); most Americans, especially journalists, have been trained to ignore such deaths as nothing more than justifiable "collateral damage," especially when a murderous, top Al Qaeda fighter was killed by the bombs (besides, as Alan Dershowitz once explained, "civilians" in close enough proximity to a Top Terrorist themselves may very well bear some degree of culpability).  The adolescent We-Got-the-Bad-Guy! headline also ensures there is no attention paid to the radicalizing effect of these civilian deaths and our attacks for that country and in the region.

More here.



Mary "Time Warp" Matalin thinks 9/11 happened during Bill Clinton's second term. From CNN:

MATALIN: I was there, we inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation's history. And President Bush dealt with it and within a year of his presidency within a comparable time, unemployment was at 5 percent.

It's an outright lie and not just because they didn't "inherit" 9/11—unemployment was actually 5.7% December 2001, as compared with 4.2% when Bush took office, and it rose to 6.3% by 2003. Neither Time Warps's husband (James Carville), nor worthless host John King bothered to call her on it. I guess they don't make enough money for that.


What their jets can't reach, our drones will...

Houthi fighters in Yemen say Saudi warplanes have carried out several attacks on residential areas in the country's beleaguered north.

In a statement released on Sunday, the fighters said that Saudi jets launched over 30 airstrikes on villages in the northern parts of the country.

Saudi forces have also fired some 660 rockets and artillery rounds at civilian areas along the border, websites close to the fighters reported.

The warplanes reportedly fired more than 700 missiles overnight on the northern villages along the border with the kingdom on Saturday.


Our new American unicameral legislature

Well, boys and girls, we have now reached the point where the US is no longer governed by 2 equal legislative chambers. Four Blue Dog Senators have decreed that it doesn't matter what the House does, if they try to change the healthcare "reform" bill by so much as the addition of a comma, they'll kill it. In other words, the House of Representatives is now, as Jane Hamsher puts it, "irrelevant".

The only congressional body that was mildly responsive to populist pressure is now irrelevant. Evidently you can forget about any efforts to influence your member of Congress, because corporatist Senators who write all our laws say the House no longer exists:

Democratic centrists have informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) they will accept few changes in the final healthcare bill negotiated between the House and Senate.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) have made clear there is little room to deviate from the bill the Senate passed on Christmas Eve.

They have also threatened to vote against the bill if it includes a government-run health insurance program, a proposal that liberal Democrats in Congress acknowledge has little chance of winning inclusion in the final bill.

Reconciliation? Pfui. We don't need no steenkin' reconciliation. The House can just STFU. Who do they think they are, anyway? Elected representatives of the people or something? The Senate is the only deciding deliberative body left and the 4 of us run it. Like it or lump it.


Dubya's wife will be remembered as the First
Lady for eight years of what Time calls 'The
Decade from Hell'.


Raise Hell - by digby

Today's NY Times Book Review
features a new book about Molly Ivins, called A Rebel Life which sounds like a very good read and welcome tonic for our times. I miss her wit and wisdom.

One of the highlights of my blogging life was
being quoted by Ivins in her column and I very much regret that I never got a chance to meet her. At Netroot Nations in Austin a couple of years ago we dedicated a panel to her and I quoted the last paragraph of the last column she published. It was during the fiery debate about the Iraq surge and related directly to that but I think the spirit of her words apply equally today:

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on January 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"

Banging pots and pans may be what we have to work with but it can make an ungodly noise if enough join in. And from what we are seeing with civil liberties and the Afghanistan surge especially, it's going to be necessary.

David Atkins pens an impassioned cris de coeur over at Daily Kos along these lines today that's worth reading if you're feeling low. There's plenty of fight left in us and god knows there's plenty to fight for.


Check this out, from Yasha Levine at AlterNet, who recently discussed what effect the nice folks at AIG have recently had on two small communities in Kentucky:

"Middlesboro and Clinton are two tiny, impoverished towns in southern Kentucky with a combined population of 12,000. In 2008, Middlesboro's per capita income was $13,189 a year, only a few hundred dollars more than the average worker earned in third-world Mexico. That is if they were lucky to even get a job. Real unemployment hovers somewhere around 30%, and the state is so broke that half the people eligible for unemployment benefits can't receive them. Life may be tough and most people live in poverty, but that doesn't mean they can't be made a little poorer. That's the lesson locals learned after bailed-out insurance villain AIG took over their water utility and instantly raised rates to squeeze an extra $1 mllion in profits out of its new customers, forcing some to consider choosing between running water and food."

This is in America in the 21st century, not some Old West town taken over by a gang of outlaws, right? Well, apparently, it's something quite like that. We've heard about people not being able to afford heat and having to choose between their health care and food or between prescriptions and food for their kids. Now it's running water. You can bet that the insipid, despicable suits at AIG also sit around conference tables on Wall Street laughing as they fantasize about a future of selling us our air too.

Our tax dollars went to bail these vermin out and keep their lawn sprinklers running and their swimming pools filled all summer. If we can send so many troops to Afghanistan, why can't we send a few Special Forces squads to the offices of AIG? That's a military action I can get behind! Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the citizens their might want to question what kind of U.S. $enate representation they have gotten from the likes of Jim Bunning and Minority Leader "Miss Mitch" McConnell.

Read the whole Alternet piece here.


Oh Jeebus

I hope he's wrong about this:

Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said he thinks there's a "reasonably high chance" the economy will contract in the second half of next year.

On the "This Week" Roundtable, Krugman said he agreed with the assessment of fellow Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz that there is a significant chance the economy will shrink in 2010.

"I would go with Joseph Stiglitz," Krugman added, "I'm really worried about the second half."

Atrios agrees.

Tim Geithner, on the other hand, is confident that everything's coming up roses. Take your pick.


Nelson's War On Women: Helps GOP Kill Dawn Johnsen Nomination - by Turkana

Fresh off successfully making the Democratic Party responsible for reversing the Overton Window on reproductive choice, ostensible Democrat Ben Nelson has helped kill President Obama's nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

It was to appease Nelson that Democrats inserted this inexcusable language into the health care bill's Manager's Amendment (pdf):

7 SEC. 1303. SPECIAL RULES. 8 (a) STATE OPT-OUT OF ABORTION COVERAGE.— 9 (1) IN GENERAL.—A State may elect to pro 10 hibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans of 11 fered through an Exchange in such State if such 12 State enacts a law to provide for such prohibition.

Now, Nelson has joined with Republicans to scuttle Johnson's nomination. The Republicans opposed her for their usual and no longer astonishingly dishonest reasons. As explained by the Washington Post: 

Johnsen's nomination, in particular, has been controversial from the moment in January when Obama announced her as his choice. She was outspoken in her criticism of the Justice Department during President George W. Bush's administration as "tainted" by political considerations.

Republicans questioned during a hearing on her appointment whether Johnsen had the "requisite seriousness" to head the Office of Legal Counsel.

After all, how could anyone take seriously someone who was critical of the Bush Administration's exemplary Justice Department?

Keep reading:


PZ Meyers: I'm sorry for you, Indiana.

Sorry, Nancy, but Obama's got to sign the bill now
I second Zandar's endorsement of Aimai's plea to get the health care reform bill signed immediately, before Traitor Joe kills it.
And speaking of Lieberdouche, Aimai at NMMNB has a must-read on why Obama has to go over the heads of the Centrists, and ask the House to eat a bowl of crap, and has to sign the Senate health care reform bill into law before this weekend's attack becomes the excuse Joe needs to kill this bill.

Previously, even a day ago, I was opposed to the ping ponging of the bill. I hoped that a conference report might, with the good wind at its back, materially improve the bill and still squeak through the Senate's sixty vote bottleneck. Now I'm sure that Lieberman is going to step up and screw us if he can, when he can. Just imagine his puffed up self hectoring us about how irresponsible it is to spend money on health care when there are terrorists attacking us in our valued cities, like Detroit?

I recommend that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi take what they can get--push the Senate version of the bill through as is and then fix every bit of it they can as it relates to the budget through Reconciliation. Do it fast and without warning. And make the terrorist attack your excuse, if you want. Say "the country has been through enough and we need to get on with things. We believe this bill is very good and we can fix the parts that need fixing through reconciliation in a timely manner." And then just do it. Lieberman will be left with his mouth hanging open and the majority of the bill will be irrevocable. But promise the progressives that they will absolutely be able to get the rest of their initiatives through the reconciliation process and hew to that promise. It will be the best of all possible worlds.

Agreed.  Fast track this thing.  Sign it ASAP, or Lieberman will kill it.  Period.
Wow. Swimming bacteria can turn gears.

Nate Silver puts the numbers in perspective for the Pantswetting Brigades:

Over the past decade, there have been, by my count, six attempted terrorist incidents on board a commercial airliner than landed in or departed from the United States: the four planes that were hijacked on 9/11, the shoe bomber incident in December 2001, and the NWA flight 253 incident on Christmas…

Over the past decade, according to BTS [the Bureau of Transportation Statistics], there have been 99,320,309 commercial airline departures that either originated or landed within the United States. Dividing by six, we get one terrorist incident per 16,553,385 departures.

These departures flew a collective 69,415,786,000 miles. That means there has been one terrorist incident per 11,569,297,667 mles flown. This distance is equivalent to 1,459,664 trips around the diameter of the Earth, 24,218 round trips to the Moon, or two round trips to Neptune…

There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.


The Zero Decade

Paul Krugman explains why the decade ending should be called the "Zero Decade", to symbolize the fact that people, other than the rich, lost economic ground over the decade. He steps through a number of examples as to why just about everyone lost ground and then administers a damning indictment:


Please let us not be talking about 'preemptive action' in Yemen

If you had told us on Thursday that Yemen was a dangerous Al Qaeda stronghold we would have been like, "Who or what is a 'Yemen'?" Now we've got Lieberman painting cross-hairs on the place. Here we go again!

You of course know about, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed Northwest Airlines pantsbomber, who claims to have connections to Al Qaeda in Yemen. Plus, there was the Fort Hood Shooter's connection to radical Yemeni cleric Anwar Aulaqi. Both these incidents have focused attention on the impoverished middle-eastern country in a disturbingly familiar way.

I will say that it's refreshing to have adults in charge.



There must be something in the DNA of politicians and bureaucrats that make them unable to confront a reality. For the statements coming out of the Obama Administration following the attempted underwear bombing of NWA 253 are eerily reminiscent of the "heckuvajob" crap ladled out by the loyal Bushies.

"The system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days," Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary said, in an interview on "This Week" on ABC. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, used nearly the same language on "Face the Nation" on CBS, saying that "in many ways, this system has worked."
What "system" worked? The Underwear Bomber got on the flight with his semi-explosive underwear. There was no high-order detonation, due either to the failure of the plan or due to the bomber being jumped by other passengers. By the "the system worked" logic, we might as well lend every passenger a handgun when they board their flights.

"The system worked?" Heckuvajob, Janet.
And speaking of 'the system':
Leaked: Homeland Security's post underwear bomb airplane rules

You saw our unofficial advice guide to flying after the crotchbomb. Here are the new Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration's official security rules. Read on to get all the hairy details:

funny pictures of cats with captions
Presumed Nigerian terrorist joins ill-timed bathroom break hall of fame
So, the Nigerian man detained Sunday for locking himself in Northwest Flight 253's bathroom for an hour, two days after some other Nigerian tried to blow up the same flight? Definitely not a terrorist. Just a remarkably inopportune bathroom break.
Photo of JFK on naked orgy boat fulfills america's steamiest wish, 50 years running

Finally, hard evidence proving Bill Clinton was not the pimpest of presidents. TMZ has a tattered photo depicting a mid-1950s John Kennedy lazing on a yacht with gorgeous naked ladies. Fascinating, perplexing, historic—but, is it real?