Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reich Wing Coup?

You’re not going to believe this.  I ran across this Newsmax article that shocked me to my core.  I will not link to that vile propaganda mill, but if you want to read it yourself, follow the hat-tip to find a link there.  In fairness, I have to say that the author said he wasn’t personally “advocating” this position, but presenting it for consideration.  Now, if you believe that, please contact me about purchasing a bridge and an alpine ski resort in Kansas.  Here’s the meat of the article.

republicanreich ...So, view the following through military eyes:

  • Officers swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Unlike enlisted personnel, they do not swear to “obey the orders of the president of the United States.”
  • Top military officers can see the Constitution they are sworn to defend being trampled as American institutions and enterprises are nationalized.
  • They can see that Americans are increasingly alarmed that this nation, under President Barack Obama, may not even be recognizable as America by the 2012 election, in which he will surely seek continuation in office.
  • They can see that the economy — ravaged by deficits, taxes, unemployment, and impending inflation — is financially reliant on foreign lender governments.
  • They can see this president waging undeclared war on the intelligence community, without whose rigorous and independent functions the armed services are rendered blind in an ever-more hostile world overseas and at home.
  • They can see the dismantling of defenses against missiles targeted at this nation by avowed enemies, even as America’s troop strength is allowed to sag.
  • They can see the horror of major warfare erupting simultaneously in two, and possibly three, far-flung theaters before America can react in time.
  • They can see the nation’s safety and their own military establishments and honor placed in jeopardy as never before.
    So, if you are one of those observant military professionals, what do you do?
    Wait until this president bungles into losing the war in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s arsenal of nuclear bombs falls into the hands of militant Islam?
    Wait until Israel is forced to launch air strikes on Iran’s nuclear-bomb plants, and the Middle East explodes, destabilizing or subjugating the Free World?...

Hat-Tip: TPM

What we have here is a call for this author, hiding behind the claim not to officially “advocate” it, is a call for the military to overthrow the government of the United States.  This is what is going on behind the civility of GOP Senators.  These are the depths to which the party of Lincoln has fallen.  How do you spell T-R-E-A-S-O-N?

DINOs Strike in Finance

By now you have all heard the dismal results of the votes on the public option in the Senate Finance Committee.

DINO2 For weeks now it's seemed more and more evident that instead of significant, meaningful healthcare reform, we are--if we're lucky--going to wind up with something akin to health insurance reform. These reforms will be pretty unassailable (who could oppose making it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against pre-existing conditions, for instance?) but a far cry from what just a couple months ago seemed not just possible but probable--reform that included a robust, affordable public option accessible to all Americans.

Why has the healthcare reform battle disintegrated so rapidly? Certainly the seemingly endless barrage of right wing lies and downright insanity over the summer didn't help. Neither did the White House's lackadaisical approach to countering it. But at the end of the day, real reform--the public option, considered today by the Finance Committee--should have had the votes it needed to pass. Instead it failed by fifteen votes to eight, with five Democrats voting against it.

Four out of five major committees have delivered in one form or another what 65 percent of the American public wants: a government-run public health insurance option. President Obama supports a public option, the majority of medical profession does, and without it there is no way healthcare costs can be brought down in any significant way.

And yet our Democrat-controlled Congress can't get its act together. Today, five Democratic senators rejected the most progressive version of the public option to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee...

Inserted from <The Nation>

While it was not pretty, it was not unexpected.  In fact, I was surprised that only three Bush Dog DINOS rejected the the Schumer version.  Shortly the bill will pass out of the Finance Committee and onto the Senate floor, where I expect a lot of bark, but no bite.  The real battle will be waged in the Conference Committee.

Robert Creamer thinks we’ll win that one.

public-option In a surprising vote Tuesday, ten Democrats voted to add a public option to the most conservative of the five health insurance reform bills working their way through Congress. That's just two votes short of passage.

This robust support for the public option -- in what most observers consider the most conservative committee in the Senate -- signals a sea change in Congressional opinion toward the public option. The odds are now very high that some form of public health insurance option will be included on the final bill when it emerges from a House-Senate Conference Committee later this fall and is ultimately passed by Congress.

The three bills that have passed House Committees, and the Senate Health Committee bill, all contain a public option. And increasingly it appears that the strongest form of public option will come out of the House... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

Yesterday I promised to provide you with the names of the DINO scum who sold out the American people for corporate cash.  Here is the Hall of Shame:

Max Baucus, MT (202) 224-2651

Kent Conrad, ND (202) 224-2043

Blanche Lincoln,AR (202) 224-4843

Ben Nelson, NE (202) 224-6551

Thomas Carper, DE (202) 224-2441

I’ll leave what to do with the telephone numbers I looked-up to your judgment.  I called them all.

Whatever comes out, whatever passes, and whatever Obama signs into law, our job has just begun.  Even if we get the best features of all five bills in the final package, it’s still a only a beginning.

In the words of Michael Moore:

moore_michael Now we know why they've stopped calling this health care reform, and started calling it insurance reform. The current bills advancing in Congress look more like rearranging the deck chairs on the insurance Titanic than actually ending our long health care nightmare.

Some laudable elements are in various versions of the bills, especially expanding Medicaid, cutting the private insurance-padding waste of Medicare Advantage, and limiting the ability of the insurance giants to ban and dump people who have been or who ever will be sick.

But, overall, the leading bills and the President's proposal are, like the dog that didn't bark, more notable for what is missing.

Here are 13 problems with the current health care bills (partial list):

1. No cost controls on insurance companies. The coming sharp increases in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, etc. will quickly outpace any projected protections from caps on out-of-pocket costs.

2. Insurance companies will continue to be able to use marketing techniques to cherry-pick healthier, less costly enrollees.

3. No restrictions on insurance denials of care that insurers don't want to pay for. In case you missed it, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee uncovered data on the California Department of Managed Care website recently that found six of the biggest California insurers rejected, on annual average, more than one-fifth of all claims every year since 2002.

4. No challenge to insurance company monopolies, especially in the top 94 metropolitan areas, where one or two companies dominate, severely limiting choice and competition.

5. A massive government bailout for the insurance industry through the combination of the individual mandate requiring everyone not covered to buy insurance, public subsidies which go for buying insurance, no regulation on what insurers can charge, and no restrictions on their ability to decide what claims to pay.

6. No controls on drug prices. The White House deal with Big Pharma, which won bipartisan approval in the Senate Finance Committee, opposes the use of government leverage to negotiate real cost controls on inflated drug prices.

7. No single standard of care. Our multi-tiered system remains with access to care still determined by ability to pay.

8. Tax on comprehensive insurance plans. That will encourage employers to reduce benefits, shift more costs to employees, promote proliferation of bare-bones, high-deductible plans, and lead to more self-rationing of care and medical bankruptcies.

9. Not universal. Some people will remain uncovered, including those exempted, and undocumented workers, denying them treatment, exposing everyone to communicable diseases and inflating health care costs.

10. No definition of covered benefits.

11. No protection for our public safety net. Public hospitals and clinics will continue to be under-funded and a dumping ground for those the private system doesn't want. Public monies going to hospitals serving low-income communities will be shifted to subsidies for private insurance.

12. Long delay in implementation. Many reforms don't go into effect until 2013.

13. Nothing changes in basic structure of the system; health care remains a privilege, not a right.

We may be slow learners, but the rest of the industrial world has figured it out: Universal, single-payer or national health care systems. That's the reason why all those other countries cover everyone, have better patient outcomes, cause no one to declare bankruptcy or lose their homes because of medical bills, and spend less than half per capita on health care than we do… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

As usual, Moore has pulled no punches and backed up his conclusion with superb analysis.  He also backed up my conclusion.  This is only the beginning of a very long struggle.  So put on your hip waders.  We have a huge swamp to drain.

Open Thread – 9/29/2009

I expect to be especially scarce today, so please don’t feel ignored.  We’re having an extra-long session in the therapy group where I help watching and discussing a series of films on domestic violence.   Since it is factor in the upbringing of so many men who subsequently become criminals, it is important for those who have suffered in this way to understand and come to terms with their past, in order to become good neighbors and productive members of the community.  In any case, I’ll be gone most of the day, so I’ll fall behind in replying to comments and visiting blogs.

Today’s Jig Zone puzzle took me 4:41.  To do it, Click Here.  How did you do?

Here’s a bit of humor.

Enjoy the day!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

BARF Public Option Vote Today

That’s right.  Today the Senate Finance committee is scheduled to debate and vote on adding the Public Option to BARF.  The rabid right is running new ads that are particularly dysfunctional.  Here’s an example, cleverly edited by a pro reform activist.
Hat-Tip: Huffington Post
Whatever happened to do no HAARM?
And is the Nevada Leg-Hound, a title earned for his habit of humping the GOP leg instead of leading, is Harry Reid fighting for the American People?
Reid The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, has secured a special deal protecting his state against the costs of expanding Medicaid under one of the major health care bills moving through Congress.
Mr. Reid, a Democrat, complained about the impact on Nevada when the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, unveiled his bill on Sept. 16.
Now Mr. Baucus has modified the bill to spare Nevada and three other states, and Mr. Reid, who faces a potentially difficult race for re-election next year, is taking credit for getting a “major increase” in federal money for his state.
The Senate bill, like a companion measure in the House, would expand Medicaid to cover childless adults, parents and other people with incomes less than 133 percent of the poverty level, or $29,327 for a family of four. The federal government would pay most of the new costs — anywhere from 77 percent to 95 percent, with a higher share in poorer states, in the first five years.
Under Mr. Baucus’s [sic] original proposal, the federal government would have paid 87 percent of the new costs in Nevada. Under the modified version, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the new costs for the first five years. Severe financial problems have prompted Nevada and other states to cut spending and furlough workers, and some states have even considered releasing prison inmates to save money… [emphasis added]
inserted from <NY Times>
No, he didn’t lead.  Instead of humping a GOP leg, he humped Max Baucus’ leg and got preferential treatment for Nevada.  I don’t think Baucus would have done this unless Reid sold us out to get the special deal.
Some of the best thinking I’ve heard on this came from Countdown, even in the absence of Keith Olbermann.  For one thing, Blue Dog DINOs are getting pressure from the left to either support the Public Option or face primary challenges to their reelection, a move I support.

I particularly like Dean’s idea.  If we can’t get the public option, we’re left with a massive welfare package for the insurance industry with no way to contain costs.  In it’s present form, BARF will bankrupt the nation, because these greedy corporate leeches will take advantage of the mandate and raise rates.  It’s better to strip the mandates from the bill and the funding for everything except expanding Medicaid to cover the people up to 133% of the poverty level.  Otherwise, keep only the regulations on big insurance, such as forbidding them to discriminate people with preexisting conditions, to drop the coverage of clients who become ill, and to refuse to pay valid claims.
Republican Senators who vote against the public option should not be threatened with violence.  That’s their way, not ours.  We’re better than that.  However they should be marked for replacement.  I’ll find out who they are and let you know.

A Little Less Delay, Please

Here is a subject that engenders complete disgust.

Former GOP congressman Tom DeLay is back tonight for week two of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. Truth be told, we’re still not quite over the shock of DeLay’s debut—all that exaggerated booty shaking, it still haunts us. But it was awesome TV—so awesome, we almost forgot that DeLay is still awaiting trial on charges he broke campaign-finance laws in Texas... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Gaggle>

Now, if the thought of it is not sufficient to bile to your throat, this will.


Randal!!  Stop that!!!  You’re supposed to be looking at how clumsy Tom Delay is!  Stop looking at the girl!!  Now!!  Randal, pay attention!  Please!!

Anyway, I hope he is as incompetent in court as he is on the dance floor.

Open Thread – 9/29/2009

I expect to be around most of the day and will keep catching up on blog visits.

Today’s Jig Zone puzzle took me 4:59 to complete.  To try it, Click Here.  How did you do?

And here’s some humor for the day.

It’s an open thread.  Sound off, and have a fine day!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Iran – What to do – Three views

Iran followed up its admission that they have a previously undisclosed nuclear facility with a move sure to be considered bellicose.

shahab-3 Iran has successfully test-fired some of the longest range missiles in its arsenal, state media says.

The Revolutionary Guards tested the Shahab-3 and Sajjil rockets, which are believed to have ranges of up to 2,000km (1,240 miles), reports said.

The missiles' range could potentially reach Israel and US bases in the Gulf, analysts say.

The tests come amid heightened tension with the big international powers over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Last week, Iran disclosed it was building a second uranium enrichment plant, despite UN demands that it cease its enrichment activities.

Iran is due to hold crucial talks with the five UN Security Council members plus Germany on Thursday on a wide range of security issues, including its nuclear programme… [emphasis original]

Inserted from <BBC>

While this missile is not a direct threat to the US, it certainly is to our troops in the region and to our allies.  So, we must ask, what do we do now, and present possibilities.  Here are three views on the best way forward.

The first is the type of response we’re most used to seeing after eight ugly years of the Bush/GOP regime.

kyl Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) suggested on Meet the Press this morning that the way to deal with Iran and its nuclear program is to push for regime change.

What we're trying to do here eventually is to get a regime change with a group of people in there that are more representative of the Iranian people -- who we really can talk with in a way that might end up with a good result. I think it's very difficult to do that with the current leadership, and especially the elected President.

Kyl also implied that the time for talking with Iran is over…


Inserted from <TPM>

Of course, Kyl’s approach is war first, think later, the standard for the GOP.  I’m not saying regime change is always a bad idea.  It was a good thing for the US to remove the Bush/GOP regime from power, but if we refuse to talk with Iran, we move out of step with the rest of the world.  In a confrontation, Iran has the capability to block the Strait of Hormuz, cutting the world off from Persian Gulf oil.  Iran also has the ability to launch conventional missiles at US bases, troops and allies in the region.  Finally, our military is so depleted from long deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to years of Bush/GOP neglect for our troops’ needs and well being, that all we have left for the vital boots on the ground component of such a conflict are troops of Brownie Scouts.  In a confrontation, the US will not get support from the Iranian people that the GOP thinks we will.  Since the GOP under Eisenhower overthrew their democratically elected government and installed a dictator, the Shah, since the GOP under Reagan armed and financed Iran’s arch enemy, Saddam Hussein, even providing him the means to acquire chemical weapons to use against Iran, and since the GOP under GW funded terrorist groups within Iran, the Iranian people do not trust the US.  But the GOP does not really care what happens, as long as the get to blame Obama for the mess they created.

The second view comes from an editorial by Raymond J. Learsy, and is more reasonable than the first.

iran_oil On June 21st a Huffington Post submission ("Boycott Iran's Oil Immediatley") [sic] called for the immediate boycott of Iran's oil. It was a seemingly draconian suggestion that was met with widespread skepticism. After all, what would happen to oil markets without Iranian oil?

Well, on today CNN's State of the Union program, Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind), being interviewed by John King on the timely subject of Iran's nuclear pronouncements (or lack thereof), made a rather startling revelation. According to Senator Bayh, the Russians had informed their American interlocutors that the greatest fear of the current Iranian regime was that they would be denied access to world markets for their oil. Clearly the financial bounty generated by oil sales are key to maintaining their hold on government power and the funding of their nuclear and missile programs, not to speak of buying the loyalty of their goon militias giving them the wherewithal to terrorize their citizenry.

Certainly now is the time to establish the kind of international cooperation needed to boycott Iranian oil. With recent revelations about Iran's nuclear deception, the growing and shared concerns of the major European states and a far more amenable Russia and China, the moment for an international boycott has come.

The boycott would simply be a refusal to buy Iran's oil, either directly or indirectly (i.e. not lifting oil from Iranian ports nor from offshore storage facilities, nor turning a blind eye to third party exchanges). It would be analogous to boycotting Coca Cola (apologies Coca Cola) because of a nasty dispute with its management. No one buys Coke any longer. Soon their warehouse is full. Then their factories shut down. Then after a while one would hope the workers organize to oust the management so that business can carry on as before… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

While clearly an improvement over the idiocy promoted by Kyl, this plan has its own problems.  Even if we can get China and Russia to go along, Iran is likely to lower the price of their oil sufficiently that multinational corporations, including our own, will find ways to purchase that oil on the sly.  Corporate greed is patriotic about profit alone.  In addition, the removal of Iranian oil from the market will prompt China to seek oil elsewhere, driving up the price of oil at a time when we’re recovering from a recession.  This would be bad for the economy.  Still, the idea does have merit.

The third view is my own.

Tom122007 When I learned of Iran’s missile test, I asked why.  What possible reason could Ahmadinejad have for making a move that was sure to magnify the animus against him, especially from the US?  After considering it, I think I understand.  Ahmadinejad us up to his ears in a major controversy at home over an election as crooked as ours in 2000.  He is facing strong opposition and public discontent.  His hope is that US threats will fan the fear of the US that Iranians justly have, and that the Iranian people will unite behind him against the foreign aggressors, thus  solving his domestic woes.  It is in our best interest not to make any moves that the Iranian people perceive as a threat.  That includes Learsy’s option.  An oil boycott will not immediately hurt Iran’s ruling elite, but will be devastating to Iran’s people.  Ahmadinejad can then blame the US for their suffering, and in this way, solve his domestic woes.  Once his opposition at home is shattered, he can always back down and thereby avert the crisis.

The option that does not threaten the Iranian people is to negotiate.  It leaves Ahmadinejad’s domestic problems in place, thereby defeating his missile-test strategy.  Now I’m not suggesting that we cave in.  There’s no reason to do so, when we can take a hard line where our interests are concerned.  We have time. The worst case I have heard for Iran actually developing a nuke is one year, while most estimates range closer to five  years.  In addition Ahmadinejad has agreed to allow IAEA inspectors into the newly revealed facility, so it’s best to see where that leads.  Now it’s true that negotiations may fail, and if they do, the other options are still available, but isn’t it most rational to at least try the option that is least harmful to Ahmadinejad’s opposition, least harmful to the Iranian people, and least harmful to the world economy?

Bill Maher: New Rules 9/25/2009

Bill is always irreverent, and I don’t always agree with him, but I always laugh.

Warning: If you are offended by strong language or if children are present, you may not want to watch this right now.

Open Thread – 9/28/2009

I expect to be around most of the day and catch up on answering comments and visiting blogs.  I had a busy weekend fixing a database error on the 7th Step blog and getting the website back online.  In addition I thoroughly enjoyed watching football, and actually got to see the Broncos play.  If anyone had told me they would be 3-0 at this point, I would have questioned their sanity.  But here it is.


Next, they play several quality opponents in a row, so I’d better enjoy this before it blows up in my face.

Today’s Jig Zone puzzle took me 7:11.  To do it, Click Here.  How did you do?

Have a great week and feel free to sound off.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Democrats' Fundraising Woes

Largely due to the very limited assault Democrats have made against Corporate abuse of power and wealth, Democratic fundraising committees are having difficulty raising campaign funds.

corruption Democratic political committees have seen a decline in their fundraising fortunes this year, a result of complacency among their rank-and-file donors and a de facto boycott by many of their wealthiest givers, who have been put off by the party's harsh rhetoric about big business.

The trend is a marked reversal from recent history, in which Democrats have erased the GOP's long-standing fundraising advantage. In the first six months of 2009, Democratic campaign committees' receipts have dropped compared with the same period two years earlier.

The vast majority of those declines were accounted for by the absence of large donors who, strategists say, have shut their checkbooks in part because Democrats have heightened their attacks on the conduct of major financial firms and set their sights on rewriting the laws that regulate their behavior.

As the battle over President Obama's effort to overhaul the health-care system reached a fever pitch this summer, the three national Republican committees combined to bring in $1.7 million more than their Democratic counterparts in August. The pair of Democratic committees tasked with raising money for House and Senate candidates -- and doing so at a time when the party holds its strongest position on Capitol Hill in a generation -- have watched their receipts plummet by a combined 20 percent with little more than a year to go before the November 2010 midterm elections.

Large-scale defeats in the midterms could be a crippling blow to the ambitious agenda mapped out by Obama's top advisers, particularly if they happen in the Senate, where Democrats caucus with a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority. The party will have to work furiously to defend at least six Senate seats and as many as 40 in the House, including many snatched from Republicans.

"If they take them back, this is the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do," Vice President Biden said Monday at a fundraiser for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), whose district was held by a Republican for more than two decades before her 2006 victory…  [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Washington Post>

So here’s the problem.  The only reason Democrats got as much corporate funding as they did is that the Bush/GOP regime was so totally incompetent and corrupt that they were going down.  Corporations, like rats deserting a sinking ship, invested in Democratic campaigns in an attempt (largely successful, damn it) to buy access.  But the super rich would prefer doing business with the GOP, because they can count on Republicans to favor them at the expense of the American people.  At the same time, the Democrats’ progressive base has become less generous, because many are turned off by Democratic foot-dragging on core progressive issues.

Do what are Democratic politicians to do?  Should they cave-in to the GOP in the hope of restoring that financing, or should they pursue the progressive agenda that attracted so much grass roots giving?

In my opinion, the only times Democrats can out-raise Republicans from the wealthy corporate set are when Democratic victories are virtually assured in advance.  Otherwise they will always the GOP for their willingness to sell out America in favor of corporate greed.  On the other hand, it was the progressive wing of the Democratic party that opened our hearts and wallets to Democrats in both 2006 and 2008 and hit the streets in support of Democratic candidates.  Without these people Democrats could not have won the majorities they now hold.  Democrats would be wise to dance with the folks that brought them and write off corporate money that they won’t get anyway.  Democrats should pursue the progressive agenda that matters to the people who put them into office.  If they fail to do so, they are fools.

GOP Senators Cut and Run from Torture Probe

Is their any excuse the GOP will not use to avoid responsibility for the international crimes for which they share responsibility?  Here’s a beauty.

US torture Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said Friday that they will no longer participate in an investigation into the Bush administration's interrogation policies, arguing that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s decision to reexamine allegations of detainee abuse by the CIA would hobble any inquiry.

The intelligence committee launched a review in March of CIA interrogations of high-value detainees such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who describes himself as the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Senate staffers are poring over hundreds of thousands of classified documents to probe the history and effectiveness of the CIA program, as well as congressional oversight of agency practices.

Last month, Holder appointed a career prosecutor to review allegations of detainee abuse by CIA operatives, but he stressed that neither the review nor any full investigation, should it follow, means that criminal charges are inevitable.

"Had Mr. Holder honored the pledge made by the President to look forward, not backwards, we would still be active participants in the Committee's review," the ranking Republican on the intelligence panel, Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, said in a statement. "What current or former CIA employee would be willing to gamble his freedom by answering the Committee's questions? Indeed, forcing these terror fighters to make this choice is neither fair nor just."… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Washington Post>

Note how they refer to alleged war criminals as terror fighters.  But truthfully this is a positive development.  Without the constant flow of GOP objections, interruptions, whining,  obstruction, lies, and delays, Democrats can complete the investigation far more efficiently.  Let the investigation continue!

Freidman: The New Sputnik

In their normal sophisms, the GOP tells us that it is pointless for the US to combat global climate change, because countries like China will just keep polluting anyway.  Although it sounds right, this GOP rational is, as usual, flawed.

sputnik Most people would assume that 20 years from now when historians look back at 2008-09, they will conclude that the most important thing to happen in this period was the Great Recession. I’d hold off on that. If we can continue stumbling out of this economic crisis, I believe future historians may well conclude that the most important thing to happen in the last 18 months was that Red China decided to become Green China.

Yes, China’s leaders have decided to go green — out of necessity because too many of their people can’t breathe, can’t swim, can’t fish, can’t farm and can’t drink thanks to pollution from its coal- and oil-based manufacturing growth engine. And, therefore, unless China powers its development with cleaner energy systems, and more knowledge-intensive businesses without smokestacks, China will die of its own development.

What do we know about necessity? It is the mother of invention. And when China decides it has to go green out of necessity, watch out. You will not just be buying your toys from China. You will buy your next electric car, solar panels, batteries and energy-efficiency software from China.

I believe this Chinese decision to go green is the 21st-century equivalent of the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik — the world’s first Earth-orbiting satellite. That launch stunned us, convinced President Eisenhower that the U.S. was falling behind in missile technology and spurred America to make massive investments in science, education, infrastructure and networking — one eventual byproduct of which was the Internet.

Well, folks. Sputnik just went up again: China’s going clean-tech. The view of China in the U.S. Congress — that China is going to try to leapfrog us by out-polluting us — is out of date. It’s going to try to out-green us. Right now, China is focused on low-cost manufacturing of solar, wind and batteries and building the world’s biggest market for these products. It still badly lags U.S. innovation. But research will follow the market. America’s premier solar equipment maker, Applied Materials, is about to open the world’s largest privately funded solar research facility — in Xian, China.

“If they invest in 21st-century technologies and we invest in 20th-century technologies, they’ll win,” says David Sandalow, the assistant secretary of energy for policy. “If we both invest in 21st-century technologies, challenging each other, we all win.”

Unfortunately, we’re still not racing. It’s like Sputnik went up and we think it’s just a shooting star. Instead of a strategic response, too many of our politicians are still trapped in their own dumb-as-we-wanna-be bubble, where we’re always No. 1, and where the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, having sold its soul to the old coal and oil industries, uses its influence to prevent Congress from passing legislation to really spur renewables

Inserted from <NY Times>

In today’s open thread, I noted how sorry the employment market is.  A lot of this results from Daddy Bush, Clinton (to a lesser extent) and Crawford’s favorite idiot screwed US workers by using taxpayer dollars to finance giant corporations’ relocation of their manufacturing divisions overseas.  You can’t unring a bell.  Those jobs are gone and we can’t get them back.  The GOP decided that making money is more important than making products, especially when their corporate masters don’t have to share the profit with all those greasy workers.  We are now paying the consequences for their greed and incompetence.  The best way to restore our manufacturing base, so we can profit from value, not just paper, is to take the lead in emerging technologies, such as green energy.  If we fail to do so, our great-grandchildren will live in a third world economy.

Open Thread – 9/27/2009

I expect to be around all day, but I’ll be away from the computer for religious purposes for the First Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  That’s right, it’s NFL day.  My gelded Broncos (impossibly 2-0) are playing the Raiders.  Could there be another miracle?

There’s some bad news on the economic front.  The labor department just released its July numbers.  There are 14.5 million workers officially unemployed in the US.  The real number is much worse, because the official statistics do not count millions more officially deemed “discouraged”, because their unemployment has expired.  For all these workers there are only 2.4 million full time jobs available.  This is the worst jobs:workers ratio ever recorded.  This is the legacy of the only successful Bush/GOP undertaking: No Millionaire Left Behind.  Let us hope that improves as the numbers are two months out of date, and because in a recovery, employment is the last thing to recover.

I completed today’s Jig Zone puzzle in 6:21.  To do it, Click Here.  How did you do?

Have a great weekend and feel free tro sound off here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Michelle Bachmann and Glen Beck: Are You Proud?

Ever since my return I have expressed concern that the hateful speech coming from the GOP to stoke fear in the American people would result in violence.  Some of you have been warning against this outcome longer than I.  Sadly, our concerns have been realized.


And this is the fruit of their efforts.

Bill-Sparkman BIG CREEK, Ky. — One of the witnesses who found a part-time census worker's body hanging in a Kentucky cemetery says the man was naked and his hands and feet were bound with duct tape.

Jerry Weaver of Fairfield, Ohio, told The Associated Press on Friday that he was among a group of relatives who discovered the body of Bill Sparkman on Sept. 12.

Sparkman was a substitute teacher who worked part-time for the census. Law enforcement officials have released very few details on his death, only saying he died from asphyxiation.

Weaver says the man also was gagged and had duct tape over his eyes and neck. He says something that looked like an identification tag was taped to the side of his neck.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BIG CREEK, Ky. (AP) — Authorities said a U.S. Census worker died by asphyxiation but were releasing few other details about the mysterious case nearly two weeks after Bill Sparkman's body — with the word "fed" scrawled on the chest — was found hanging from a tree near a family cemetery secluded by Appalachian forest.

The word appeared to have been written with a felt-tip pen, Clay County Coroner Jim Trosper said Friday. He did not elaborate… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <AP/Google>

Michelle Bachmann and Glen Beck, you have done it.  You have stirred peoples fears until some poor ignorant fool acted on your foul lies and deranged Census Bureau conspiracy theories, and now a man is dead for nothing more than doing his job.  The two of you helped kill him.  Is this what you wanted?  Are you proud?

I offer my deepest condolences to the Sparkman family. I ask Republicans everywhere and Democrats with a  Republican Representative or Senator to contact these elected officials and ask, no beg them to stop this madness and stop looking the other way, or in come cases, fuelling the fire.

On Obama and Iran

Just when we thought that there might be a chance of progress with Iran, we received news that had GOP fear mongers foaming at the mouth in delight.

Map picture

President Obama and his allies raced Friday to use their revelation of a secret Iranian nuclear enrichment plant as long-sought leverage against Tehran, demanding that the country allow highly intrusive international inspections and propelling the confrontation with Tehran to a new and volatile pitch.

In a day of high drama at an economic summit meeting, American, British and French officials declassified some of their most closely held intelligence and scrambled to describe a multiyear Iranian effort, tracked by spies on the ground and satellites above, to build a secret uranium enrichment plant deep inside a mountain.

The new plant, which Iran strongly denied was intended to be kept secret or used for making weapons, is months away from completion and does nothing to shorten intelligence estimates of how long it would take Iran to produce a bomb. American intelligence officials say it will take at least a year, perhaps five, for Iran to develop the full ability to make a nuclear weapon.

But the finding so cemented a sense of what Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain called “the serial deception of many years” that it led to a rare Russian rebuke of Iran, and a milder warning from China, two countries crucial to Mr. Obama’s efforts to back up diplomacy with far tougher sanctions.

Mr. Obama’s aides and a raft of intelligence officials argued that the small, hidden plant was unsuitable for producing reactor fuel that might be used in a peaceful nuclear program. Moreover, its location, deep inside an Iranian Revolutionary Guards base about 20 miles from the religious center of Qum, strongly suggested it was designed for covert use in weapons, they said.

Late Friday afternoon, preparing to return to Washington, Mr. Obama issued a stark warning about the nuclear negotiations that are to begin next week, the first direct talks between the two countries in 30 years.

“Iran is on notice that when we meet with them on Oct. 1 they are going to have to come clean and they will have to make a choice,” he said. The alternative to giving up their program, he warned, is to “continue down a path that is going to lead to confrontation.”

It seemed unlikely that by “confrontation” Mr. Obama meant military action. While the president said that option was still on the table, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said on CNN on Friday that “the reality is that there is no military option that does anything more than buy time — the estimates are three years or so.”

Mr. Obama said he had withheld making the intelligence public for months because it “is very important in these kind of high-stakes situations to make sure the intelligence is right”— a clear allusion to former President George W. Bush’s release of intelligence on Iraq seven years ago this month that proved baseless. Mr. Obama’s hand was forced, however, after Iran, apparently learning that the site had been discovered by Western intelligence, delivered a vague, terse letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday disclosing that it was building a second plant, one that it had never mentioned during years of inspections… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

I’ve already heard rumblings about Obama’s weakness and naiveté from the rabid right.  But they just don’t get it.  Obama knew about this since he took office, and instead of being blindsided, as the GOP would have you believe, he has planned a wise strategy to deal with it.

Obama-Pittsburgh Obama knew all along that Iran had a secret uranium factory. He may be more of a master strategist than his foes--and even his friends--have realized.

The key to understanding today's announcement on Iran is this: President Obama knew about the secret Iranian facility nine months ago. Before he began his strategy of engagement, he knew Iran was lying about its program. When he extended his hand in friendship, he knew Iran had built a secret factory to enrich uranium. Before he offered direct talks, he knew Iran was hiding a nuclear weapons breakout capability.

Each move was denounced as "weak" and "naïve" by the right. That talk looks foolish today. These were the moves of chess master, carefully positioning pieces on the board, laying a trap, and springing it at the opportune moment.

We now know that Obama was not acting on impulse, or philosophy or general principles, but on deep strategy. He knew better than his critics that Ahmadinejad could not be trusted. He just had a better plan for how to deal with him.

Obama is now well positioned to unite world leaders in a long-term strategy to back Iran away from nuclear weapons. While some nations mistrusted the previous administration--fearing a repeat of the Iraq War--they have more confidence in Obama. They don't believe he will use military force, except as a last resort.

Meanwhile, Obama's missile defense decision--a move that puts more military assets in position more quickly against the Iranian missiles--not only increases the pressure on Iran but allows Russia to move closer to the U.S. position without appearing to be buckling to America.

Obama's open hand also undercut Ahmadinejad at home. Previously, he was able to use the nuclear program as a nationalist rallying cry, posing as the warrior president defending the nation against Western attack. He kept the reform movement down and IAEA inspectors out. Obama's strategy of engagement has foiled Ahmadinejad, allowing the forces of reform to surge in Iran. Without the threat of a US attack, Iranian opposition leaders have more freedom of movement and are less vulnerable to the government claims that they are tools of US imperialism.

Internationally, Obama is restoring American credibility... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

Imagine, if you will, what our response might have been id GW Warmonger were still pResident.  Cheney would be drooling  blood and demanding a nuclear strike.  Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, Beck and the other GOP leaders would be blaming it on Bill Clinton.  We would have moved to immediate confrontation and launched a preemptive war.  Bush and the GOP were doing their best to manufacture an excuse for war with Iran.  Even the relatively mild John McConJob became infamous for singing “Bomb Bomb Iran”, not realizing that his microphone was live.

In contrast, consider Obama’s careful response.  He has already organized the international support needed to bring real economic pressure to bear against Iran while providing for the defense of Iran’s neighbors.  My biggest worry is the need to restrain Israel.  Qom is one of the holiest cities for the Shia sect and Iran’s center for Shia learning.  An attack anywhere near that location would spark a jihad from Shiites the world over.  And an Israeli attack would be deemed as having US sanction.  I trust that Obama’s reasoned approach will, in time, resolve the situation without Violence.

Rachel Maddow on ACORN

Yesterday I wrote an article in which I asked why we’re going after ACORN, but not defunding such serial lawbreakers as Blackwater (Xe) and KBR.  I guess great minds fall in the same ditch, because Rachel Maddow did a superb piece last night that said the same thing.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Didn’t she do a better job than I did?

Open Thread – 9/26/2009

I should be around most of the day, but I have a bit of volunteer work to do on the 7th Step blog.  I set it up in on their web site with Wordpress.  When I went offline, nobody else knew how to run it, so it lay dormant for over a year.  When I returned, it could not be accesses due to a database error.  I know nothing at all about how to fix that, but I guess I’ll have to learn.  I hope you all have a great weekend.

I completed today’s Jig Zone puzzle in 4:56.  To do it, Click Here.  How did you do?

Feel free to speak your mind.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Editorial: Should Palin Be Dixiechicked?

I trust you all remember the Dixie Chicks.  In 2003, while performing in London, according to Common Dreams, lead singer Natalie Maines sais that the group was “ashamed that the President of the United States was from Texas”.  The reaction from the rabid right was extreme, as described in the same article:

dixie-chicks That comment ripped through the country music world, prompting outraged fans to hold CD burnings, some even taking their kids out to the parking lot to publicly stomp on the group's product and likeness -- creating eerie images of exuberant violence-as-family-outing, that should be a shameful reminiscence for the South. Led by right wing press and political figures, otherwise peaceable Americans heaped scorn, verbal abuse and, ultimately, vandalism and even death threats on the three young women, who have topped the charts as the top selling girl group in music history. Country radio stations and even whole networks -- including, not surprisingly, the rabidly right wing Clear Channel conglomerate -- yanked the group's songs from playlists. Backlash songs promoting the war in the most muscular terms hit the airwaves, and the man who originally recorded the group's hit "traveling soldier" re-released the song to capitalize on the Dixie Chicks ban-wagon.

And if the images of people burning and breaking perfectly good CDs that they already paid for (thus -- and work with me here, country fans -- the Chicks already profited from,) wasn't bizarre enough, the world was treated to a bile-spitting display of American intolerance unlike anything those of us who didn't live through the McCarthy era have ever seen. The Chicks joined Hollywood celebrities like Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon as objects of hatred and ridicule by Americans who accused them of selling out the troops -- willfully ignoring the ad nauseum statements of support for the fighting men and women of the U.S. armed forces that were issued by the antiwar celebrities. But the snide ridicule directed at the Hollywood set (who had the odd event canceled or who became the butt of endless late-night TV jokes,) was nothing compared to bitter, violent reaction to the Chicks.

And then there was the hour-long, televised rebuke of the women Thursday night, in which ABC News correspondent Diane Sawyer repeatedly pressed, in tisking, school-marm fashion, for just one more apology to Bush. Maines heroically resisted the attempts to reduce her to a wicked child, who surely must realize that it isn't nice to criticize her betters, but the interview ought to go down in history with the House Committee on Un-American Affairs hearings for its daring presumption of guilt. What many of the rest of us still don't get, is just what Maines is guilty of: Feeling ashamed? Being from Texas? Or speaking her mind?...

Do you remember those days?  The Dixie Chicks had criticized the President abroad, during a time of war, an act tantamount to treason, said the right.

Glen Beck was busy organizing grass roots pro-war rallies that included vilification of the Dixie Chicks.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Even three years later, Bill O’Lielly of Faux Noise said that the Chicks have not recovered to this day.  The Chick did have a few supporters.   Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) likened Dixie Chick boycotters to Nazi book burners and "communist dictators" who "strip out all the works of art that they don't agree with.".

I wish I could have found more direct quotes from that period, but I remember that all the GOP talking heads were putting down the Dixie Chicks and calling them traitors.  It was so extreme that, to this day, the vilification of a public figure is called being Dixie Chicked.

Shifting to the present, a group of Hong Kong businessmen exercised poor financial judgment in hiring Snake Oil Sarah Palin to speak to them.  Guess what?

Palin Hong Kong Sarah Palin took her closely watched political act overseas for the first time since resigning as governor of Alaska, telling a Hong Kong audience that President Barack Obama had weakened American influence in Asia.

With speculation raging over whether the former Republican vice presidential candidate is planning to challenge Mr. Obama in the 2012 presidential race or simply trying to convert her fame and popularity into income, Ms. Palin gave a 90-minute speech Wednesday that touched in part on foreign-policy issues, which were seen as her weak spot in the 2008 campaign.

Ms. Palin's address at a conference sponsored by investment firm CLSA Asia Pacific Markets was officially closed to the media. The Wall Street Journal reviewed an audio recording of the speech. CLSA officials declined to say how much Ms. Palin was paid for the appearance.

Speaking on China policy, the former governor criticized the Obama administration for cutting back on some defense spending, suggesting that it sends a worrisome signal to allies depending on U.S. strength to counterbalance China's growing influence… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <WSJ>

How about that!  Sarah Palin criticized the President abroad, during a time of war, just like the Dixie Chicks.  And this charge comes not from some leftist blog.  It’s from Rupert Murdoch’s own Wall Street Journal, a most conservative source.  Where is the Republican outrage?  Where are the accusations of treason?  Where are te screaming crowds publically burning moose heads in protest?  Why has Alaska not disowned her?  Why isn’t Glen Beck rabidly organizing protests against her?

I guess that from the GOP perspective, it’s only treason when someone criticizes one of their own, not when someone criticizes a Democrat.  What hypocrites they are!

So, I ask you, how should we on the left respond to this?  Should we Dixie Chick Sarah Palin and accuse her of treason?  I say we should not.  To criticize the President abroad is not treason.  Every American has the right to speak his or her mind, including Sarah Palin.  What the right did to the Dixie Chicks was evil, and the most evil thing we on the left can do about this is to copy their foul tactics.  But I will take this opportunity to post a small tribute to the Dixie Chicks for their courage in speaking out when most Americans were cowering in fear.


I’m not ready to make nice either.  I’m mad as hell too.  But as much as  I abhor the GOP tactics of hate, fear and intolerance, I refuse to take part in them.  How about you?

Where is the Defund Blackwater Act?

Since Democrats have failed to stand up to Republican efforts to defund ACORN, there is something I want to know.

blackwater_crime Democrats joined Republicans in voting to "Defund ACORN," yet have done nothing to stop Blackwater's ongoing taxpayer-funded crusade in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Republican Congressional leaders are continuing their witch-hunt against ACORN, the grassroots community group dedicated to helping poor and working class people. This campaign now unfortunately has gained bipartisan legislative support in the form of the Defund ACORN Act of 2009 which has now passed the House and Senate. As Ryan Grim at Huffington Post has pointed out, the legislation "could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex:"

The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to "any organization" that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.

According to the Project on Oversight and Government Reform, this legislation could potentially eliminate a virtual Who's Who of war contractors, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and KBR to other corporations such as AT&T, FedEx and Dell.


Perhaps one of the most jarring comparisons here is the fact that ACORN is now being attacked while the Obama administration continues to contract with Blackwater, the favorite mercenary company of the Bush administration, which is headed by Erik Prince, who was a major donor to Republican causes and campaigns, including those of some of the Defund ACORN bill's sponsors, among them Indiana Republican Mike Pence, one of the key figures in hunting down Van Jones. Prince, of course, was recently described by a former employee as a man who "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and whose companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."…

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

There is my answer.  If ACORN is to be defunded, it follows that all contractors who have violated the terms of this act should be defunded right along with them, especially Blackwater (now Xe) and KBR.

Pelosi Stands Against a Trigger

Maine’s Senator Olympia Snowe has proposed that the Public Option be included in health care reform, but its implementation would not be triggered until and unless other reforms passed failed to solve the problems.  This is an idea I oppose, and thankfully, I am not alone.

trigger House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday shot down a healthcare compromise that has been viewed as the best chance for getting a bipartisan bill through the Senate.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected the idea of a “trigger” for a public option. That means that the government-run healthcare plan would be a fallback option, enacted only if other reforms didn’t make healthcare more accessible.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who is being courted by the Obama administration as their best hope for getting a Republican to sign on to President Barack Obama’s healthcare initiative, supports a trigger. But Pelosi does not.

“I don't even want to talk about a trigger,” Pelosi said at her weekly press conference. She said the “attitude” of her fellow Democrats is that “a trigger is an excuse for not doing anything.”

By dismissing a trigger, she also risks further alienating Blue Dog Democrats, who are angry at Pelosi's handling of the bill, particularly her push to include a public option supported by the liberal wing of the caucus. Blue Dogs at times have threatened to block the bill… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Hill>

When presented with a clearly worded question that explains the Public Option without bias, Americans’ choice is clear, as this Times/CBS poll showed yesterday.

"Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan -- something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get -- that would compete with private health insurance plans?"

Favor 65%

Oppose 26%

… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

If market forces could bring down insurance company premiums, and thus, make their huge profits less obscene, it would have already happened.  Market forces will not work, because the health insurance industry is an oligopoly, not a free market.  So why add a trigger to a gun with no bullets?

Israel Blocks Human Rights Groups

Even in time of war, allowances must be made to care for the personal needs of people on opposing sides.  Sadly that does not always allowed.

Physicians for Human Rights While the Israeli army's crossings into Gaza have gone into near-lockdown mode since Hamas wrested control of the coastal strip more than two years ago, Israeli human rights organizations have regularly stepped in to intervene, with some success.

That is, until last week. On Sunday, a group of the most active human rights groups here were informed that the government-run body that controls access to and from Gaza will no longer deal with them.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) sent an official letter on Sept. 13 to three human rights groups informing them that they would no longer be able to act on behalf of Palestinians with urgent requests to leave Gaza – generally for medical care, to visit a sick family member, or to attend a funeral. They must instead refer such requests to the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee, in accordance with the Interim Agreement – the basis of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation established in 1995 under the Oslo peace process.

The letter notes that the "longstanding" policy of carrying out such appeals in conjunction with Palestinian authorities has been approved by Israel's High Court of Justice. But the organizations say it is part of the military's increasing resistance to working with human rights groups in the wake of the Gaza war.

The organizations include Gisha: the Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, and HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual. They say they have increasingly had their appeals ignored since the war in January. This latest step, the groups complain, takes away one of the few avenues of recourse available to desperate Palestinians.

"Gaza residents have no direct access to the [Israeli] military officials who decide their fates, and up until now they had a chance to have an advocate bring their case before the military and get some sense of due process," says Sari Bashi, the director of Gisha, based in Tel Aviv.

Ms. Bashi, a lawyer, says Gisha and other groups only pick up cases where Palestinians who applied for permits – which they are told to do through the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee – either had their applications rejected or were never given an answer.

"The new procedure means that Palestinians no longer have a right to have an advocate that they chose to help them, and everyone has a right to an advocate," Bashi says. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Christian Science Monitor>

Whether or not people can receive medical care, visit sick family members, or attend funerals has nothing whatsoever to do with the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  To deprive people of these humanitarian needs is cruel.  However, I think the real reason is that allowing human rights groups advocate for people, whose requests Israel’s Palestinian Affairs Committee had rejected, put Israel in the position of granting reasonable requests or having the knowledge of their refusal to do so publically known.  The Netanyahu government wants to maintain cruelty in secret.  I find this hateful, and think The US should stand against this change.

Open Thread – 9/25/2009

In the best laid plans of mice and men, I didn’t go to prison yesterday.  It’s 70 miles away and my ride there had something come up.  I felt bad, because the guys behind bars look forward to support from the outside, especially from people who have been where they are and are now maintaining freedom.  So it was a sad day for me.

I feel armed and dangerous, because I can now grip my weapon of choice in my right hand.  It’s an optical mouse, and I hope it lasts longer than the last one.  I may be just a little scarce today, because I spent several hours researching the editorial that is today’s top story here.  Six year old info is hard to find.

Today’s Jig Zone Puzzle is a tough one.  It took me 7:11, and that’s not even lucky!  To try it, Click Here, and  tell us how you did.

What do you want to talk about?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Can BARF Become Beautiful?

Yesterday was the first day that the entire Senate Finance Committee got to start making changes to BARF (the Baucus Anti-Reforming Fixes Act).  The following is the tail end of an article that summarizes some of what they said.

BARF debate ...Enter, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del). He began carping about the 'unfairness' to the pharma industry that had 'negotiated' an $80B deal--although not, Senators Kerry and Schumer pointed out, with Congress, but rather (supposedly) with people in the White House. He suggested that, since drug costs were only 10% of health care expenses, whereas hospital costs were 35%, that hospitals should be contributing 3.5X the amount the drug companies did "in order to be fair." His position was carefully filleted by Senators Kerry and Schumer, who noted that many hospitals are non-profits, some are losing money, and others have very thin profit margins.

While Carper carped, the grumpy old men on the Republican side began to remember their talking points. Only 12% of medicare patients, Grassley harrumphed, were in the donut hole. [neglecting to say is that that is more than 5 million people(!), and how many are not in it because they cannot afford it, and are thus just not taking those medications?]. Probably the most ridiculous argument was that if the pharma companies did not make their $86B over 10 years fleecing poor seniors, they would raise the prices of the drugs for children, as if children were on such drugs as Lipitor®, Rituxan® or Forteo®, or even that most drugs for children are still patent-protected and thus not subject to generic competition.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) denounced the original bill for not providing choice, and pointed out that most versions of the public option are only for those who do not have or lose their insurance. He challenged the committee to open the health care plan available to all Members of Congress and all federal employees, and that thus already operates in every state (because they have federal employees) to the public. This would fulfill, he said, the President's argument that "if it is good enough for Members of Congress, it should be good enough for the American people".

Overall, it was a good opening day. One could measure how good it was by the sour faces and wounded-appearing body language of the Republicans. After their opening statements--spouting the same poppycock that they too were for reform, that malpractice reform would reduce costs substantially (a position refuted by the Congressional Budget Office, in 2004, under a Republican Congress), and that opening competition to insurance across state lines would reduce costs--they were unable to mount any cogent responses to the Democrats' modifications or amendments. As noted in an earlier article, if the Democrats pass a good universal health care bill, Republicans will become politically irrelevant for 2+ generations. ("Permanent Irrelevance: Outcome for Republicans if Dems Pass Universal Health Care Reform", September 9, 2009). Their body language, their harrumphing, and their lack of anything cogent to offer is a harbinger of that status.

Although much of the comments were directed to costs, in fact many of the proposals lowered costs because they improved health outcomes. That is the key to success, and ought to be the focus of the President's messages on health care.

There is a long way to go before the Baucus bill is transformed into real reform that benefits real people. Day 1 was a good start. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

I picked this part of the article, because it contrasts a Bush Dog DINOcrat with an authentic Democrat, my own Senator.  The rest of the article contains several examples of the good Democratic Senators are trying to accomplish.  I strongly recommend that you click the link and read the rest of it.  It will open in a new window, so you you can do so without being pulled away from here.

Tom Delay, still under indictment, is strutting his stuff with all the grace of a constipated elephant on Dancing with the Stars.  It almost seems that his presence there serves to remind Republicans of their third favorite tactic: DELAY.  Lying and fear mongering are one and two.   They want to hold up the committee for three days.  You won’t believe the reason.  Watch.


Hello?  You want three days to give your owners, the providers, three days co consider more tactics to deprive the American people of reform.  Not this week!!

So can BARF become beautiful?  It hasn’t yet, but if Democrats replace all the Republican/DINO garbage it still contains with the best things from the Kennedy bill and the House bill, there may be hope for it yet.

Franken Defends the Fourth

Another area in which I am disappointed in the Obama administration is their desire to hold onto some of the executive power  that the Bush regime shredded our Constitution to acquire.  A prime example of this is the provisions of the misnamed PATRIOT Act that are nearing sunset.

Patriot-Act Just in case he wasn’t familiar with it, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) decided to read the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution to David Kris, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, who was testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee today to urge reauthorization of expiring provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

Franken, who opened by acknowledging that unlike most of his colleagues in the Senate, he’s not a lawyer, but according to his research “most Americans aren’t lawyers” either, said he’d also done research on the Patriot Act and in particular, the “roving wiretap” provision that allows the FBI to get a warrant to wiretap a an unnamed target and his or her various and changing cell phones, computers and other communication devices.

Noting that he received a copy of the Constitution when he was sworn in as a senator, he proceeded to read it to Kris, emphasizing this part:  “no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

“That’s pretty explicit language,” noted Franken, asking Kris how the “roving wiretap” provision of the Patriot Act can meet that requirement if it doesn’t require the government to name its target.

Kris looked flustered and mumbled that “this is surreal,” apparently referring to having to respond to Franken’s question... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Washington Independent>

How dare Franken have the nerve to quote the Constitution to a power hungry bureaucrat?!!?  Seriously, abusing our Constitutional rights is wrong, no matter who does it.  Do I trust Obama not to abuse this power?  I do.  Do I trust his successor?  Hell No!!  Obama promised to restore to the American people the rights abused under Bush and the GOP.  I guess we need to hold his feet to the fire on this one.