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

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