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: http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/014652.php
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: http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/014654.php


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: http://eb-misfit.blogspot.com/2009/12/zero-decade.html


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?



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