Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Here's what really happened: When Franklin Roosevelt took office, unemployment was already about 25%. And the tariff referred to here was actually the Smoot-Hawley bill, co-authored by Republicans Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah and Rep. Willis Hawley of Oregon, and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover.
The rest of the story can be found here.
From the War Room at Salon:
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. As such, he's one of those people who's just fine with the shift to the right that his party has taken, even though it did mean the defection of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter. And in an interview with CNN's Rick Sanchez today, DeMint did his best to put a happy face on Specter's move, which led to this exchange:
SANCHEZ: You know, [Specter] seems to be saying that Republicans are making it very difficult for other Republicans to win because -- and he said this on several times. You tell me what you think of it. You're shrinking the electorate to an extreme to a point where a regular Republican can't win. What do you make of that argument?
DEMINT: Oh, that's quite the opposite. We're seeing across the country right now that the biggest tent of all is the tent of freedom. And what we need to do as Republicans is convince Americans that freedom can work in all areas of their life for every American, whether it's education or health care or creating jobs.
SANCHEZ: What the hell does that mean? I mean, the biggest tent is freedom? Freedom? I mean, you gotta do better than that.
From Alter Net:
Specter's switch to the Democratic Party "underscores the blunt reality" that the GOP is not a welcome place for moderates.
Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of the few remaining moderate Republicans in the Senate, said Tuesday that Arlen Specter's abandonment of the GOP is "devastating," both "personally and I think for the party."
"I've always been deeply concerned about the views of the Republican Party nationally in terms of their exclusionary policies and views towards moderate Republicans," said Snowe, who has been approached, she said, by Democrats in the past about switching parties.
So far, she said, she's staying put. "I believe in the traditional tenets of the Republican Party: strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, individual opportunity. I haven't abandoned those principles that have been the essence of the Republican Party. I think the Republican Party has abandoned those principles.
She added that being a Republican is simply part of who she is. "It's my ethnic heritage, Spartan side, that continues to fight," she said.
(Hat-tip to Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post)
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I'm sure the Rethuglicans will say that Specter jumped ship. Can't blame him, the ship was sinking.
The Democrats will now have 60 votes in the Senate, so when Franken finally gets to Washington his vote will be a bonus.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is rather upset about this. I'm sure we'll hear more out of the Rethuglican leadership...if there is any. In the mean time, here's what Steele had to say.
From the War Room at Salon:
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has never been afraid to express his opinions when being interviewed, even when those sentiments -- and how they're phrased -- might come back to bite him later. On Tuesday, Steele proved that despite some of the criticism he's taken, he hasn't changed. In an interview with CNN, the party chair went after Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter for his decision to switch parties, saving some of his harshest criticism for the way Specter handled the move. (Video, via ThinkProgress, is at the bottom of this post.)
"I know the Senatorial committee made it very clear that they were going to support Arlen Specter and endorse him. [National Republican Senatorial Committee chair] Sen. Cornyn went out on the line for this man. And for the senator to effectively flip the bird back to Sen. Cornyn and the Republican Senate leadership, the team that stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004 to save his hide, to me is not only disrespectful. It's just downright rude. I'm sure his mama didn't raise him this way," Steele said. CNN's Gloria Borger then asked Steele whether Specter had given him any advance notice about his decision, and the RNC chair responded:
No, not at all, which is another form of disrespect that I don't countenance. I mean, you know, at least give me a call or give the party leadership a call and let us know, 'This is what I'm thinking, this is where I'm going,' so that, you know, it can be repaired.
Now, you know, I'm not one to be caught flat-footed about these things. You know, you get on your toes, and you respond as quickly as you can. But, again, I think it shows a lack of respect for a party that he has pushed to the edge in terms of his votes and in terms of the arguments he's made in support of this administration. And I think that right now, he is where he belongs, and if the Democrats don't beat him in the primary, we'll take care of him from the general.
Steele later expanded on this theme -- that Specter would face a tough Democratic primary -- portraying what is, quite frankly, a very unlikely prospect as a certainty. "Now, let me get this straight: Arlen Specter, the former Republican, decides today, 'Oh, magically, now I'm a Democrat.' And every Democrat in the state is going to go, 'Oh, my gosh, thank you, hallelujah, our savior has come?'" Steele said.
"I don't think so... I seriously doubt that he's going to have a scot-free ride to the nomination on the Democratic side, no matter what kind of deal the trial lawyers and the Democratic Party have made... I love it. And we're going to have a strong Republican candidate on our side, and I love that even more. And if Senator Specter survives into the fall, get ready to go to the mat, baby, because we're coming after you and we're taking you out."
That, also, is debatable. Last month, a Quinnipiac poll showed Specter getting 31 percent of the vote in a general election match-up against a generic Democratic challenger, who polled just ahead of the incumbent at 33 percent, with 35 percent undecided. Considering that most Democrats indicated they'd vote for their party's candidate, and that Specter is more popular with Democrats and independents than with the GOP, it's likely he'll see his numbers way up against Republican challenger Pat Toomey.
According to Steele it was just fine for the Rethuglicans to have enough votes to control both Houses of Congress during the Reign of St Ronnie, the Clinton years, and most of the Chimp's administration, but it's a bad thing when the Democrats have the same control.
Same old bullshit from the right-wing-nuts. It's ok for them but not for anyone else.
For policy wonks near and far, the celebrity of the hour isn't Susan Boyle, the Scottish church marm who belted out "I Dreamed a Dream" with the voice of an airy angel, or ex-Somali pirate hostage Richard Phillips, or Carrie Prejean, the Miss USA contestant from California who's against gay marriage because the Bible tells her so.
No, it's Ferdinand Pecora.
Who he, you may ask, and guess that maybe he once played infield for the Dodgers or sang Faust at the Metropolitan Opera. But back in the '30s, during the depths of the Great Depression, Ferdinand Pecora emerged as an unlikely hero, leading a sensational Senate investigation of what caused the '29 market crash.
.....Ferdinand Pecora took the job as chief counsel to the Senate Banking Committee in 1933. He was a street-smart immigrant from Sicily, the son of a cobbler, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney with a memory for facts, figures, dates and names that proved the undoing of a Wall Street banking world gone berserk with greed.
Under threat of subpoena and under oath, one tycoon after another -- including J.P. Morgan, Jr., of the House of Morgan and Charles "Sunshine Charley" Mitchell, chairman of First National City Bank (now Citigroup) -- was hauled before the committee and grilled relentlessly by Pecora.
They found themselves confessing to a litany of financial sins, including discount stock offerings to VIP "preferred" customers (among them, banker cronies, Charles Lindbergh and General "Black Jack" Pershing, as well as Washington insiders, including former President Coolidge and a Supreme Court justice), repackaging bad loans and selling them as bonds to the unsuspecting, and non-payment of income tax.
The Pecora hearings resulted in 12,000 pages of transcripts that are still a primary source for historians of the Great Crash, and important New Deal legislation that for the first time regulated the high-handed, free-wheeling banking industry and protected the public from its excesses -- including the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (which established the Securities and Exchange Commission -- Pecora was one of its first commissioners) and the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933, which erected a firewall between commercial and investment banking -- a wall torn down during the Clinton administration, leading to much of our trouble today.
Ferdinand Pecora, seen here about to be sworn in as a New York Supreme Court justice in 1935, grilled tycoons such as J.P. Morgan Jr. in Senate hearings in 1933
Maybe it's time for another Ferdinand Pecora to step forward and take on the bankers and the Wall Street wealthy.
Go here for the rest. It's a good read.
From Keith Olbermann on Countdown last night:
Rachel Maddow had San Francisco Mayer Gavin Newsom on last night, who by the way, is running against Arnold for Governor of California.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The Family Guy Answers the Musical Question:
What all-American agricultural product comes with jobs that are green, recession-proof and induce growth at a 3-to-1 ratio in both the snack food and porn industries?
From Alter Net, The Huffington Post, and Media Matters:
When the recent hostage standoff with Somali pirates and Captain Richard Phillips was resolved, most Americans were obviously pleased with the results. A small handful weren't, and it appears at least some of the crew of the Maersk Alabama noticed.
Shane Murphy, second-in-command aboard the ship seized by Somali pirates this month, is happy to be home. But he's not happy to be sharing turf with land-lubber Rush Limbaugh, who politicized the pirate affair by referring to the pirates as "black teenagers."
"It feels great to be home," said Murphy in an interview with WCBV in Boston. "It feels like everyone around here has my back, with the exception of Rush Limbaugh, who is trying to make this into a race issue...that's disgusting."
Limbaugh made the remark to suggest why President obama might have appeared preoccupied at church on the day of the operation to rescue the ship's captain, who was taken hostage by the pirates until Navy SEAL snipers shot them in a daring rescue effort.
Here's the comments from Limbaugh that the First Mate is talking about.
Limbaugh went on to say....
"The Somali pirates, the merchant marine organizers who took a U.S. merchant captain hostage for five days were inexperienced youth. The Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, said today -- or yesterday -- adding the hijackers between 17 and 19 years old. Now, just imagine the hue and cry had a Republican president ordered added the shooting of black teenagers on the high seas."
Murphy went on to tell the anal cyst this...
"You gotta get with us or against us here, Rush," Murphy said. "The president did the right thing ... It's a war.... It's about good versus evil. And what you said is evil. It's hate speech. I won't tolerate it."
(Hat-tip to Steve Benen at Washington Monthly and Arthur Delaney at The Huffington Post )
There were many things they tried to strip from the stimulis bill before it was passed. One of the important parts, one that we find out is very important, that they did suceed in stripping from the bill was for flu pandemic preparedness.
From Alter Net:
Republican politicking continues to put the whole nation at risk.
Remember way back in the day, President Obama delivered his Not Really The State Of The Union address, and the GOP trotted out Future Of The Republican Party Supra-Genius Bobbly Jindal to provide a rebuttal? Well, we all had some laughs, didn't we? Mainly because Jindal was all: "They want to spend stimulus money on volcano monitoring? Why everyone knows that the Hill Witch keeps tabs on our volcanoes by floating chicken bones in her own intestinal ichor!" And then Alaska's Mount Redoubt erupted, suggesting there might be something to this "let's monitor volcanoes with government-funded science" idea.
Well, as it turns out, volcano monitoring wasn't the only worthwhile public safety program that was deemed extravagant in the stimulus package, funding for pandemic preparation was axed as well. And playing a critical role was Susan Collins -- for whom the necessity of obtaining her vote is in inverse proportion to the intelligence she shows in policy making:
Famously, Maine Senator Collins, the supposedly moderate Republican who demanded cuts in health care spending in exchange for her support of a watered-down version of the stimulus, fumed about the pandemic funding: "Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill No, we should not."
Even now, Collins continues to use her official website to highlight the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate's version of the stimulus measure.
Naturally, it's tough to keep an economy stimulated if productivity gets diminished by a pandemic. And, hey, it turns out that the lack of a stable and well-funded public health infrastructure may not be so good for economic recovery as a whole:
On Monday, the question began to be answered, as Associated Press reported -- under the headline: "World Markets Struck By Swine Flu Fears" -- that: "World stock markets fell Monday as investors worried that a deadly outbreak of swine flu in Mexico could go global and derail any global economic recovery."
Before U.S. markets opened, the Wall Street Journal reported: "U.S. stock futures fell sharply Monday as the outbreak of deadly swine flu stoked fears that a possible recovery in the global economy could be derailed."
All of this is playing out at a time when HHS nominee sits on the sidelines, her nomination held up at the behest of pro-life organizations who want to paint her as the "Abortion Queen." The hold up is pointless - merely delaying the inevitable for "another week." Maybe the swine flu would be good enough to wait!
From McClatchy Washington Bureau:
WASHINGTON — The CIA inspector general in 2004 found that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to recently declassified Justice Department memos.
That undercuts assertions by former vice president Dick Cheney and other former Bush administration officials that the use of harsh interrogation tactics including waterboarding, which is widely considered torture, was justified because it headed off terrorist attacks.
"It is difficult to quantify with confidence and precision the effectiveness of the program," Steven G. Bradbury, then the Justice Department's principal deputy assistant attorney general, wrote in a May 30, 2005, memo to CIA General Counsel John Rizzo, one of four released last week by the Obama administration.
"As the IG Report notes, it is difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks. And because the CIA has used enhanced techniques sparingly, 'there is limited data on which to assess their individual effectiveness'," Bradbury wrote, quoting the IG report.
Nevertheless, Bradbury concluded in his May 2005 memos that the program had been effective; that conclusion relied largely on memos written after the still secrert report by Inspector General John Helgerson.
Helgerson also concluded that waterboarding was riskier than officials claimed and reported that the CIA's Office of Medical Services thought that the risk to the health of some prisoners outweighed any potential intelligence benefit, according to the memos.
Helgerson also concluded that waterboarding was riskier than officials claimed and reported that the CIA's Office of Medical Services thought that the risk to the health of some prisoners outweighed any potential intelligence benefit, according to the memos.
The IG's report is among several indications that the Bush administration's use of abusive interrogation methods was less productive than some former administration officials have claimed.
Even some of those in the military who developed the techniques warned that the information they produced was "less reliable" than that gained by traditional psychological measures, and that using them would produce an "intolerable public and political backlash when discovered," according to a Senate Armed Services Committee report released on Tuesday.
President Bush told a September 2006 news conference that one plot, to attack a Los Angeles office tower, was "derailed" in early 2002 — before the harsh CIA interrogation measures were approved, contrary to those who claim that waterboarding revealed it.
Last December, FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine that he didn't believe that intelligence gleaned from abusive interrogation techniques had disrupted any attacks on America.
The New York Times first reported the existence of Helgerson's report in November 2005, quoting unnamed officials as saying it had warned that use of the techniques might constitute torture. But details of its contents and its other conclusions have remained secret. A version of the report that the CIA turned over to the ACLU in May 2008 in response to a lawsuit consisted primarily of heavy black lines and notations of sections that had been redacted.
A CIA spokesman said Friday that he knew of no plans to release a more complete version.
Among the other details in the IG's report revealed in the Justice Department memos:
- Contrary to Bush administration's insistence that waterboarding carried few risks and that medical concerns were a priority, the CIA didn't initially seek the help of medical professionals in setting up or carrying out the procedure.
"OMS (the CIA's Office of Medical Services) was neither consulted nor involved in the initial analysis of the risk and benefits of (enhanced interrogation techniques)," Bradbury wrote in his May 10, 2005, memo, quoting from the IG's report.
- The Bush administration erred by depending on a military training program, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, (SERE) to assess the risks that a suspected terrorist might face when being waterboarded.
"Individuals undergoing SERE training are obviously in a very different situation from detainees undergoing interrogation; SERE trainees know it is part of a training program," Bradbury wrote, borrowing from the IG report's conclusion.
- Waterboarding terrorist suspects also differed substantially from its limited use in the SERE program.
On July 15, 2007, The New York Times published an article with the headline “The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age.” The most prominently featured of the “new titans” was Sanford Weill, the former chairman of Citigroup, who insisted that he and his peers in the financial sector had earned their immense wealth through their contributions to society.
Soon after that article was printed, the financial edifice Mr. Weill took credit for helping to build collapsed, inflicting immense collateral damage in the process.
....we should be disturbed....that pay at investment banks, after dipping last year, is soaring again — right back up to 2007 levels.
.....there’s no longer any reason to believe that the wizards of Wall Street actually contribute anything positive to society, let alone enough to justify those humongous paychecks. Remember that the gilded Wall Street of 2007 was a fairly new phenomenon. From the 1930s until around 1980 banking was a staid, rather boring business that paid no better, on average, than other industries, yet kept the economy’s wheels turning.
.....why did some bankers suddenly begin making vast fortunes? It was, we were told, a reward for their creativity — for financial innovation. At this point, however, it’s hard to think of any major recent financial innovations that actually aided society, as opposed to being new, improved ways to blow bubbles, evade regulations and implement de facto Ponzi schemes.
Consider a recent speech by Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, in which he tried to defend financial innovation. His examples of “good” financial innovations were (1) credit cards — not exactly a new idea; (2) overdraft protection; and (3) subprime mortgages. (I am not making this up.) These were the things for which bankers got paid the big bucks?
Still, you might argue that we have a free-market economy, and it’s up to the private sector to decide how much its employees are worth. But this brings me to my second point: Wall Street is no longer, in any real sense, part of the private sector. It’s a ward of the state, every bit as dependent on government aid as recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a k a “welfare.”
So what’s going on here? Why are paychecks heading for the stratosphere again? Claims that firms have to pay these salaries to retain their best people aren’t plausible: with employment in the financial sector plunging, where are those people going to go?
No, the real reason financial firms are paying big again is simply because they can. They’re making money again (although not as much as they claim), and why not? After all, they can borrow cheaply, thanks to all those federal guarantees, and lend at much higher rates.
So, what I see happening here is that as long as the banks are allowed to continue to borrow from the Federal Reserve at a very low rate, lower than either you or I would be able to, and then loan out that same money at much higher (or inflated) rates, they will continue grossly overpay their executives for doing absolutely nothing. Because that's the way the business is now set up. Reward the wealthy for stealing from the taxpayers, the working class, and the poor.
The rest of Paul's column can be found here.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Frank Rich has a column in the the New York Times where he goes into depth about this.
Bybee’s memo was aimed at one particular detainee, Abu Zubaydah, who had been captured some four months earlier, in late March 2002. Zubaydah is portrayed in the memo (as he was publicly by Bush after his capture) as one of the top men in Al Qaeda. But by August this had been proven false. As Ron Suskind reported in his book “The One Percent Doctrine,” Zubaydah was identified soon after his capture as a logistics guy, who, in the words of the F.B.I.’s top-ranking Qaeda analyst at the time, Dan Coleman, served as the terrorist group’s flight booker and “greeter,” like “Joe Louis in the lobby of Caesar’s Palace.” Zubaydah “knew very little about real operations, or strategy.” He showed clinical symptoms of schizophrenia.
By the time Bybee wrote his memo, Zubaydah had been questioned by the F.B.I. and C.I.A. for months and had given what limited information he had. His most valuable contribution was to finger Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the 9/11 mastermind.
..........Maj. Paul Burney, a United States Army psychiatrist assigned to interrogations in Guantánamo Bay that summer of 2002, told Army investigators of another White House imperative: “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful.” As higher-ups got more “frustrated” at the inability to prove this connection, the major said, “there was more and more pressure to resort to measures” that might produce that intelligence.
In other words, the ticking time bomb was not another potential Qaeda attack on America but the Bush administration’s ticking timetable for selling a war in Iraq; it wanted to pressure Congress to pass a war resolution before the 2002 midterm elections. Bybee’s memo was written the week after the then-secret (and subsequently leaked) “Downing Street memo,” in which the head of British intelligence informed Tony Blair that the Bush White House was so determined to go to war in Iraq that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” A month after Bybee’s memo, on Sept. 8, 2002, Cheney would make his infamous appearance on “Meet the Press,” hyping both Saddam’s W.M.D.s and the “number of contacts over the years” between Al Qaeda and Iraq. If only 9/11 could somehow be pinned on Iraq, the case for war would be a slamdunk.
The whole reason that torture was approved by both the White House and the DoJ was to make a connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, which they never found. Bush and Cheney wanted to have an excuse to invade Iraq and they thought they could use a link between Saddam and al-Qaeda as the perfect reason for a push for war with Iraq.
You can find the rest of Frank's column here.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Thanks Jacob for the heads-up on that one.
And now, The GOP In Exile.
If conservatives don't want to be seen as bitter people who cling to their guns and religion and anti-immigrant sentiments, they should stop being bitter and clinging to their guns, religion and anti-immigrant sentiments.
Go read the whole column.
(Hat-tip to Pudentilla at Skippy The Bush Kangaroo)
All credit for this post goes to driftglass and Seth over at Mindswell.
...He Stuck In His Thumb
And pulled out some dumb
And said, "What a good boy am I!"
Some nice guerrilla action here from Seth over at Mindswell showing the the Republican Base -- that dirt-stupid army of swine who have been voting their entire lives to give the hog butchers ever-sharper knives -- in the wild.
Amazing how people who have never been more than 50 miles away from their double-wides in Sisterfuck, Arkansas -- who clearly have built their entire "intellectual" lives around stayed within earshot of a radio blasting Rush Limbaugh every day for 20 years -- are nonetheless utterly convinced they are privy to the secret charter and workings of ACORN, secret government military plots, secret government give-your-rights-away-to-illegal-immigrant schemes, a secret form of math wherein a tax CUT causes your taxes to go UP, a secret history wherein the entire Cheney Administration never existed, the secret innermost, thoughts of President Obama and the secret rituals of all Liberal organizations
And it would all be terribly funny if these same batshit-crazy meatsticks hadn't spent the last 25 years setting fire to our country and dancing around the flames, singing Toby Fucking Keith and calling the rest of us "traitor".
Like I said, all the praise and glory, a a whole fucking shit-load of thanks from me, goes to driftglass and Seth over at Mindswell.
That statement oughta piss off some of the American Taliban.
And special thanks to Larue for leaving the link in a comment left at Bustednuckles place.
You really are bad if Keith Olbermann put you ahead of O'Rielly and Bachmann.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Quote of the Day"The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.
The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called 'universal jurisdiction.' Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution." —President Ronald Reagan, 1984
And don't tell me it was a different time -- before the evildoers. In 1984 there were more than 37,000 Soviet nuclear missiles aimed at the United States and our allies. This was a year afterthe Marine Corp barracks in Beirut was bombed by two suicide bombers, killing 241 American soldiers, 58 French soldiers and 6 civilians. An additional 75 people were injured.
The rest of Reagan's speech can be found here.
Thanks Bob, I forgot to tell you I was borrowing this.
I came across this today from the War Room at Salon.
RNC members to Dems: Change your name to "Democrat Socialist"
A fair portion of the Republican Party seems to think that the way out of the ditch is to close its eyes and pretend super-hard that the year is 1954. Hence, it seems, their attempts to explain patiently, again and again, that there is a socialist in the Oval Office. This is, of course, not exactly a novel strategy. Not only does it predate Barack Obama’s election (it may be hard to remember how Joe the Plumber got famous, but this was it), it actually predates his birth, too.
It seems hard to imagine that the best use of Republican National Committee members' time is, as Greg Sargent reports, pressuring their chairman, Michael Steele, to adopt the following resolution:RESOLVED, that we the members of the Republican National Committee call on the Democratic Party to be truthful and honest with the American people by acknowledging that they have evolved from a party of tax and spend to a party of tax and nationalize and, therefore, should agree to rename themselves the Democrat Socialist Party.
Sargent spoke with RNC vice chair James Bopp, who told him that Steele has said "on several occasions that he agrees with the substance.”
But, in addition to seeming a little bit like absurdist theater, Cold War-style red-baiting just doesn’t seem all that effective. Pew pollster Andrew Kohut notes that he has detected the slightest uptick in respondents identifying Obama as a socialist -- from 13 of 742 in February up to 20 now. That’s a jump from 1.8 percent to 2.7 percent.
Perhaps more significant, however, is that rather than damaging Obama by tagging him with red paint, it's possible that the GOP is just making “socialism” more popular by identifying it with a well-liked president. A Rasmussen poll from earlier this month shows that capitalism only beats socialism 53 percent to 20, and among adults under 30, the split narrows to 37 to 33.
UPDATE TO POST: For anyone interested, here is a link that may help to understand Fascism, Mussolini's Doctrine of Fascism.
Fuck you Hannity! I'm sure I can find...oh, let's see....several hundred people that I personally know who would be more than willing to waterboard you and everybody else at Fuks Nuz!
“It's their right. They did win the election,” said Ryan, R-Wis. “That’s what I tell all my constituents who are worried about this. They won the election. They did run on these ideas. They did run on nationalizing health care. So, you're right about that. They have the votes with reconciliation. They nailed down the process so that they can make sure they have the votes and that they can get this thing through really fast. It is their right. It is what they can do.”
He's right, they do. The Republicans used budget reconciliation repeatedly during the Bush years, the Reign of St. Ronnie, and while Uncle Bill was in the White House.
While Republicans seem to be experiencing a particular form of political amnesia from the Bush years, they ought to be reminded that budget reconciliation has been used by several other presidents, including Clinton and Reagan. In fact, Republicans -- with Bond and Gregg among the leaders of the charge -- were instrumental in pushing through key provisions of their signature legislative agenda, the Contract with America, using budget reconciliation.
Here's a few examples.
Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981
Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1982
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1983
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993
Balanced Budget Act of 1995 (vetoed)
Personal Responsibility and Budget Reconciliation Act of 1996
Balanced Budget Act of 1997
Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999 (vetoed)
Marriage Tax Relief Act of 2000 (vetoed)
Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001
Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005
But Republican senators are prepared to go "nuclear" -- essentially shutting down the Senate through the use of parliamentary maneuvers -- if President Obama attempts to use budget reconciliation to pass key parts of his legislative agenda, such as health care reform and cap-and-trade. Reconciliation allows some legislation to be protected from filibusters and passed by a simple majority. On NPR this morning, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) repeated a now familiar attack on budget reconciliation:
BOND: "In this post-partisan time of Barack Obama, we're seeing a little Chicago politics. They steamroller those who disagree with them, then, I guess in Chicago, they coat them in cement and drop them in the river." [NPR, 3/24/09]
Despite their howls against Obama, Republicans employed the same procedure to pass major Bush agenda items....
-- The 2001 Bush Tax Cuts [HR 1836, 3/26/01]
-- The 2003 Bush Tax Cuts [HR 2, 3/23/03]
-- Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 [HR 4297, 5/11/06]
-- The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 [H. Con Res. 95, 12/21/05]
.......Gregg defended using the reconciliation procedure to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for domestic drilling in 2005, arguing, "The president asked for it, and we’re trying to do what the president asked for." Evidently, Gregg has lost the same sense of patriotic duty.
Well, the shoe is on the other foot now....and it doesn't seem to be fitting to good for the Rethuglicans.
Special thanks to the fine folks at Think Progress.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
There was an article in Alter Net this morning on how Rachel is doing in the time slot she's in with viewership.
From Alter Net:
McClatchy profiles the success of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and concludes that “her intent is for those watching to actually learn something” from her show.
For March: "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" (#2 in the hour) is up 22% in the demo and up 30% in Total Viewers year-over-year. "The Rachel Maddow Show," in its seventh month, again topped CNN's "Larry King Live" in the demo, but was edged out by King in Total Viewers. "Maddow" is up 98% in Total Viewers and up 70% in the demo compared to the time slot's prior program, "Verdict with Dan Abrams."
"The Rachel Maddow Show" again out-rated CNN's "Larry King Live" among A25-54 in March (340,000 vs. 293,000), and finished within 50,000 total viewers (1,133,000 vs. 1,177,000). "The Rachel Maddow Show" was up 98 percent in total viewers compared to March 2008 (1,133,000 vs. 573,000) and up 70 percent in A25-54 (340,000 vs. 200,000).
Maddow said she does not like TV news shows that pit two talking heads against one another, a format she calls “boxing masquerading as news.” “I'm not going to tell anybody to shut up unless they say something about my mom,” she added. Maddow also explained that her show won’t be making too many adjustments in the wake of President Bush’s departure from office:
"So wherever there are bad ideas, I will find ways to make fun of them," Maddow says. "Sometimes, that's going to be bad Democratic ideas. It's going to be bad Republican ideas. It's just going to be bad ideas.
"So I don't worry about not having George Bush to beat up on anymore."
Here's some fresh crap from them during the last 24 hours.
From Alter Net:
The Latest Republican Bigotry Roundup
Note to Republicans: Being the anti-minority party is the surest route to becoming the permanent minority party. Your hatred, contempt, and fear of anyone who is not a straight white Christian man makes you very unappealing to anyone who isn't. Or who likes and respects anyone who isn't. Or who has a shred of human decency and compassion. Locking up the bigot vote won't do you much good if you lose everyone else.
For the ladies, we have:
- "Men's rights lawyer" Roy Den Hollander vows to continue his lawsuit against Columbia University for "aiding and advancing the modern-day religion of Feminism," even after a judge recommended that it be dismissed.
- Rush Limbaugh says that torture is just a great big hyped-up myth, just like domestic violence, which is really nothing more than shouting. Hey, I guess that means all those women's crisis centers have to do is hand out earplugs, and the problem will be solved!
For the minorities:
- Wingnut former Congressman Virgil Goode is going to speak to campus hate groups Youth for Western Civilization and Young Americans for Freedom about "Free Speech, Hate Speech, and the Multiculturalism" (yes, "the Multiculturalism") and "The Creeping Influence of Islam in America."
- Larry Kudlow is enraged - enraged! - by Obama's "Boyz N The Hood handshake" with Hugo Chavez. Oh well, at least he didn't accuse the President Of The United States of throwing gang signs. Yet.
I thought I wouldn't have anything for the gays tonight, but the Florida GOP came through for me at the last minute by deciding to paint Miss California as an innocent victim of Gay Persecution because pageant judge Perez Hilton said mean things about her after she came out against gay marriage.
It. Never. Stops. America is slowly but steadily moving towards tolerance, yet the GOP is still racing in the opposite direction. The Republicans sane enough to sound a warning are marginalized, while the crazies are lionized. They tell themselves that it's only us crazy liberals who are disgusted by their hatemongering (and pissing off liberals is, like, the most awesome thing you can do), and that delusion is their downfall.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Here's part of the article from Salon, the rest can be found here.
Bush officials said they only tortured terrorists after they wouldn't talk. New evidence shows they planned torture soon after 9/11 -- and used it to find links between al-Qaida and Saddam.
Download the entire Senate Armed Services Committee report here. Read about how the Bush administration may have pressured interrogators to use torture to extract information linking al-Qaida to Saddam Hussein here. Read about Donald Rumsfeld's role in promoting harsh interrogation techniques here.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has just released an exhaustive review of torture under the Bush administration that, among other revelations, torpedoes the notion that the administration only chose torture as a last resort. Bush officials have long argued that they turned to coercive interrogations in 2002 only after captured al-Qaida suspects wouldn't talk, but the report shows the administration set the wheels in motion soon after 9/11. The Bush White House began planning for torture in December 2001, set up a program to develop the interrogation techniques by the next month, and the military and the CIA began training interrogators in coercive practices in early 2002, before they had any high-value al-Qaida suspects or any trouble eliciting information from detainees.
As the report puts it, "The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees." The report undercuts the Obama administration's case for leniency against the CIA, since the agency was pursuing abusive techniques even before Department of Justice lawyers had issued their supposed legal justification for the techniques in August 2002. The report also shows that the administration appears to have attempted to use the abusive techniques to shore up its case for war in Iraq. Interrogators employed the techniques, which are notorious for producing bad intelligence, to get detainees to make statements linking Iraq and al-Qaida.
Bush and Cheney needed proof that al-Qaeda was operating in Iraq so they could prove that their actions there were justified. That was proof they never got, because there was never any proof that al-Qaeda was ever there.
At first, President Obama said that he was not interested in digging into the past, that we should move on. He has since changed his mind, which he is allowed to do, and has said that the Department of Justice, and/or Congress, should move forward with an investigation of the memo to find out if there is cause for charges to be filed.
This morning Mark Karlin at Buzz Flash has an editorial posted on why Bush, Cheney, Gonzales should be prosecuted for not only the illegal torture that was commited, but also for war crimes and murder.
[We] fully supports trying Bush, Cheney, and their band of fellow sadists for war crimes, but while they are in the courtroom, let's not forget Murder One. Apparently, many in the mainstream press and blogosphere already have.
The focus right now is on legal memos justifying the horrifying and numbing repetition of torture against "high profile" targets. We have a short memory in America -- and most of what was in these memos -- except for the diabolical excess of the waterboarding and the medieval torture by insects -- was, as President Obama has said, pretty much already known.
Also known, but not discussed at this time, is that less upper echelon Al-Qaeda figures were murdered as a result of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld torture jihad (euphemestically called in the mainstream corporate press "harsh" or "enhanced interrogation").
....remember those photos of bludgeoned prisoners in body bags that came out of Abu Ghraib? (And we still have only seen a small portion of the visual evidence.) Those people were murdered as a result of the green light on torture. Even the Pentagon has declared some of the Guantanamo dead were victims of homicide. Then there are many "renditioned" individuals who disappeared into torture prisons around the world and have never reappeared.
In 2008, Lawrence Wilkerson.....testified before Congress that a minimum of 25 people died in U.S. detention as a result of homicide...
.....other estimates put the figure much, much higher -- and that doesn't include the prisoners who were sent to "black holes" and never reappeared. It doesn't include the hundreds of Taliban prisoners who were transported to a remote spot in Afghanistan (shortly after the U.S. invasion) and machine gunned to death in container tracks by Afghan soldiers with a green light from Rumsfeld.
The number of people murdered during torture ("harsh interrogation") will likely never be known, but as a governor in Texas, George W. Bush executed the highest number of people for far fewer murders each. Some of them just killed one person, unlike Bush, Cheney and their crew of arm chair executioners.
If there is an Anne Frank who symbolizes the horrific death that befell those who fell into the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld torture machine, it is the innocent Afghan whose story of being murdered while mistakenly incarcerated and tortured was compellingly detailed in the 2008 Academy Award winning Alex Gibney documentary "Taxi To the Dark Side."
Some background on "Taxi to the Dark Side" reveals, once again, that we should be concentrating both on War Crimes and Murder One when it comes to pursuing charges against Bush Administration officials:
In December 2002, Dilawar, a young rural Afghan cabdriver, was accused of helping to plan a rocket attack on a U.S. base, clamped into prison at Bagram, and subjected to physical torture so relentless that he died after two days of it. But Dilawar was innocent--and he'd been denounced by the real culprit, who thereby took the heat off himself and won points with U.S. forces by giving them "a bad guy." Dilawar was the first fatal victim of Vice President Dick Cheney's devotion to "working the dark side"--torturing, humiliating, and otherwise abusing prisoners in the "Global War on Terror." His story, developed in horrific detail with testimony from the soldiers who tortured him, and also from two New York Times investigative reporters, becomes a prism for slanting light onto the "dark side" policy and the mindset behind it. The program at Bagram was deemed such a success that it served as the model for Abu Ghraib the following year in Iraq, and both prisons became pipelines to the detainee facility at Guantánamo, Cuba.
Even for progessives, the news cycle has been shortened to a nano-second; and right now the focus is on the legalese used in the just-released memos to justify torture. And the Bush defenders are countering with an allegation that the torture of two or three suspects produced important information (which thus far has not been proven by any facts).
But in some ways, the focus on two or three Al Qaeda leaders has taken attention away from an organized system of torture that resulted in untold deaths, also known as murder.
For these murders, George W. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld -- who have always had a mean streak of sadism running through their blood, as they micro-managed torture and personally reviewed torture tapes -- should be charged and tried for War Crimes -- and Murder One.
Out of such trials, perhaps the truth will be revealed about the number of detainees who died under "harsh interrogation," as did the innocent taxi driver from rural Afghanistan who was pulverized to death in a matter of just two days at Bagram.
If we do not bring justice to their deaths, who will?