Please join me at our new location.
I’ll leave this site up, because it is where we have been, but I’ll be turning off comments in a couple days.
Politics Plus is a progressive perspective. All points of view are welcome, but personal attacks against me or anyone who comments here are forbidden. Trading insults never changes anyone's mind. After over a year offline, it's great to be back! This is mostly a political blog, but on occation you will see posts about my personal life and the volunteer work I do in and out of prison as an ex-convict helping other former felons become productive, pro-social members of our communities. Enjoy!
I’ve read several rants blaming Democrats for letting Bunning get away with this, but that’s not fair. The Republican and Democratic leadership had agrees to pass this measure by unanimous consent, and most of the Senators left for the weekend. The Democratic leadership had no idea that Bunning planned this, and when he dropped the bomb, there were no longer sixty Senator’s left to override his filibuster. The net effect is that the GOP derailed several important programs in addition to cutting off unemployment benefits for thousands of workers, displaced by the GOP’s No Millionaire Left Behind program. They can now lie and say they did not know either, blaming it all on Bunning, who is not seeking reelection.
In the midst of the worst economy in decades, Republican U.S. Senator Jim Bunning last night again took to the floor of the United States Senate to block passage of legislation that would extend unemployment benefits to out-of-work Americans -- and his party is doing nothing to stop him.
It's worth watching his mean-spirited obstructionism -- and Harry Reid's and Dick Durbin's attempts to cajole him into supporting the legislation -- to get a sense of just how committed some Republicans are to doing the wrong thing for America:
Bunning is the poster-child of the most callous, heartless political party in modern American history, and they are proud of it. If they get their way, this coming Sunday, unemployment benefits will expire for countless out-of-work Americans because a handful of extremist ideologues decided to tie the U.S. Senate up in knots… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Daily Kos>
Only a true GOP Sweetheart could be so heartless and so devious.
When I’m wrong, I say so. Now I’m a staunch Democrat, but that would not excuse blindness. When my party is wrong, it’s my duty as a patriot to say so. My party could not be more wrong on this one.
In the wake of congressional Democrats' reauthorization and extension of the USA Patriot Act, few elected Democrats have been as vocal about the post-9/11 security measures as they were during the Bush administration.
Leave it to stalwart House progressive Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to raise a rallying cry against what he called America's love of its fears.
“This legislation extends three problematic provisions of the PATRIOT Act and, at the same time, leaves some of the most egregious provisions in place, absent any meaningful reform and debate," he declared in a media advisory.
The specific provisions he cited are the Patriot Act's powers to conduct roving wiretaps, conduct surveillance of people not thought to have any association with terrorism and tap into your personal records, such as library accounts.
The extensions were approved by Congress and sent to President Obama on Thursday, several days before the Patriot Act's most nefarious portions were set to expire. President Obama had yet to sign the bill at time of this writing.
The Associated Press called the votes a "political victory for Republicans."
Some Senate Democrats did attempt to propose some modifications to the legislation that would have allowed for greater oversight, but they were ignored. Democratic leadership bowed to the wishes of Republicans and conducted a voice vote on Wednesday, upon which the one-year extension was passed. The House voted 315-97 in favor on Thursday.
"Thrown away were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government's authority to spy on Americans and seize their records," AP added.
"While I strongly support using the most robust tools possible to go after terrorists, Congress must revise and narrow -- not extend -- Bush era policies," said Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA), according to Reuters.
"Despite years of documentation evidencing abuse of these provisions during the Bush Administration, the Department of Justice has failed to hold Bush Administration officials accountable for illegal domestic spying by barring any lawsuits to be brought against those officials," he said. "Months into this Administration, The New York Times reported that the National Security Agency had 'intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits,' and that the practice was 'significant and systematic.' Passage of this legislation today continues to make Congress complicit in these violations of our basic constitutional rights."
The title of his press release pleaded for congress to "repeal" the Patriot Act and "restore Constitutional rights to Americans."
"As Members of Congress sworn to protect the rights and civil liberties afforded to us by the Constitution, we have a responsibility to exercise our oversight powers fully, and significantly reform the PATRIOT Act, ensuring that the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans are fully protected," he said. "More than eight years after the passage of the PATRIOT Act, we have failed to do so. As National Journal correspondent Shane Harris recently put it, we have witnessed the rise of an 'American Surveillance State.' We have come to love our fears more than we love our freedoms."
The USA Patriot Act was passed by Congress in the weeks proceeding the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Many Democrats criticized its passage as too hasty, with some even claiming they did not have a chance to read the hefty legislation before the vote. At the time, the Republican majority did not question it, falling in line to support the legislation seemingly regardless of what the Bush administration put in it... [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Raw Story>
I think that Democrats feared giving national security ammunition to the GOP. I think their rationale is that Obama id far less likely to abuse the power than a GOP President. I think they are right. However, if America should ever be cursed with another Republican President, this power will be turned against us with a vengeance. Given the current makeup of the Extreme Court, the Patriot Act’s unconstitutional provisions would be ignored. For the Democrats not to repeal those provisions was an act of cowardice.
Yesterday I did manage to get caught up replying to comments. I spent the rest of the day working on website design for my nonprofit. Today, I’ll just have to see what the day brings.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
It took me 4:06. To do it, click here. How did you do?
Here's an idea. Democrats should agree to not to use reconciliation in return for Republicans agreeing not to use the filibuster. Since both are political tactics occasioned by arcane Senate rules, it's a fair trade.? Fat chance, huh?
Gov. David A. Paterson ended his campaign for election on Friday amid crumbling support from his party and an uproar over his administration’s intervention in a domestic violence case involving a close aide. While I cannot comment on his guilt or innocence, I consider his resignation a plus.
The average income reported by the 400 highest-earning U.S. households grew to almost $345 million in 2007, up 31 percent from a year earlier, Internal Revenue Service statistics show. That shows that in 2007, the GOP’s only successful program, No Millionaire Left Behind, was working just as they intended.
The boys from Red State Update weigh in on the health care summit.
What’s up for your weekend?
I tried to find one exchange that personified the health care summit. Here’s my choice.
Feb 25, 2010 13:07 EST
When President Barack Obama and a Republican lawmaker sparred Thursday over what might happen to health insurance premiums in an overhauled system, both cited a nonpartisan analysis that looked at that very question. The president gave a fairer summary of what the analysis found.
Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander declared in his statement to the White House health policy conference that "for millions of Americans, premiums will go up" under the Obama plan. That much could be true — but for millions of others, premiums are expected to go down and those who face higher costs would be getting better coverage than they have now.
The debate on that point is key if Americans are to accept the insurance changes Obama wants. Democrats know that pitching their plan as a means to extend coverage to the uninsured is not enough: They must convince middle-income Americans who already have insurance that they, too, will end up with a better deal under the overhaul. So the squabble was about more than a bureaucratic report.
Obama sharply challenged Alexander on his claim and insisted he had the facts on his side when quoting from the report by the Congressional Budget Office. For the most part, he did.
Alexander: "Mr. President, if you're going to contradict me, I ought to have a chance .... The Congressional Budget Office report says that premiums will rise in the individual market as a result of the Senate bill."
Obama: "No, no, no, no. Let me — and this is an example of where we've got to get our facts straight."
Alexander: "That's my point."
Obama: "Well, exactly, so let me — let me respond to what you just said, Lamar, because it's not factually accurate. ... Here's what the Congressional Budget Office says: The costs for families for the same type of coverage that they're currently receiving would go down 14 percent to 20 percent. What the Congressional Budget Office says is that because now they've got a better deal, because policies are cheaper, they may choose to buy better coverage than they have right now, and that might be 10 percent to 13 percent more expensive than the bad insurance that they had previously."
Both are right, but Obama offered important context that Alexander left out.
The analysis estimated that average premiums for people buying insurance individually would be 10 to 13 percent higher in 2016 under the Senate legislation, as Alexander said. But the policies would cover more, and about half the people would be getting substantial government subsidies to defray the extra costs.
As the president said, if the policies offered today were offered in 2016, they would be considerably cheaper under the plan, even without subsidies. One big reason: Many more healthy young people would be signing up for the coverage because insurance would become mandatory. They are cheap to insure and would moderate costs for others.
Moreover, the analysis estimated that almost 60 percent of the people covered under individual policies would qualify for subsidies, bringing their own costs down by more than half from what they pay now…
Inserted from <TPM>
Here’s the video:
In short, while the Republicans were not as ill prepared as they were during their conference, they had nothing to bring to the table, except for their tired old talking points and lies. The Democrats were not that impressive either, but Obama stood out.
The GOP has made it abundantly clear that there is no negotiating with them. Without the public option, the bill is far less than it should be. Nevertheless, the good qualities it does have are too significant to allow it to slip away. After a VERY brief pause (ten minutes would be ideal), lets move on to reconciliation. AQs soon as it’s passes, and signed, it will be tome to start pushing for health care reform: single-payer.
Yesterday I did not catch up, because I watched the summit and want to the prison as a volunteer. The guys I work to help there are an inspiration to me, because they stay positive and focused on turning their lives around, despite a horrid environment. The group is strictly voluntary, and it has grown to 140 prisoners. I got hove very late and have only had about an hour’s sleep, so today, I’ll only be offering one article. In addition, the HSP for the volunteers that work with me was hacked and our website was destroyed along with thousands of others. They also lost the ‘guaranteed’ backup. I fired then and finally regained control of the URL yesterday. I’ve found a new HSP and have to design a new website. The next few days will be busy.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
It took me 3:41. To do it, click here. How did you do?
In today’s open thread I said that I hoped to catch up on comments before leaving for my volunteer day with prisoners. I was not consider that I would be watching the health care summit on TV, which is exactly what I’m doing. Worst case scenario is that I’ll be back up to date before the weekend is over.
On the summit, the most notable feature is that all the Republicans have an expression like they just ate a bad clam. Obama has been quite congenial, but has called the Republicans on several of their lies. The Republican response to that has been for the speaker to evade and for the next speaker to repeat the lie. Obama has also demonstrated the ability to express knowledge in depth on the issues with no teleprompters in the room. The Republicans have offered nothing new: start over, don’t use reconciliation, health savings accounts (not a bad idea for the rich), tort reform.
One area of substantive differences has been over exchanges –vs- voluntary associations and unregulated sales against state lines. The Democratic position is that it’s up to the federal government to set minimum standards on what an insurance company must offer. The Republican position is that what should be covered should be left up to insurance companies and business owners.
Which of you trust your employer and an insurance company to determine what coverage you should have with no input from you or your elected representatives?
What are your observations on the summit?
If you have not seen this, watch it. If you have, watch it again. I wish every Senator and Representative would watch this. I have nothing else to say, because my words would only lessen the impact of his.
First, Rachel Maddow and Barbara Boxer discuss the despicable GOP tactic of lying that reconciliation is ‘the nuclear option’.
Next Rachel Maddow explains why Health Insurance companies just don’t care who they hurt or kill.
She raises an excellent point. The sole purpose for their existence is to make as much money as they can. What she does not say here is that it is the same reason corporations should not have the same political rights as people, since corporate interest and public interest are diametrically opposed.
Finally, Anthony Weiner ripped into the Republicans like gangbusters!
Peter DeFazio is a Representative from Oregon, and was the one granting Weiner time. Did you see the grin on his face when Weiner was done? What a grin! I’d have to munch down half the birds in the Western Hemisphere to have a grin like that! Bravo Weiner!!
The sicker he gets, the more the Republicans love him.
Fresh off a news cycle that saw him define executive power as bestowing the president the right to massacre whole villages, notorious torture lawyer John Yoo has published a new piece in the Wall Street Journal, boldly titled “My Gift to the Obama Presidency.” [Murdoch delinked]
“Barack Obama may not realize it,” he writes, “but I may have just helped save his presidency.”
How? By winning a drawn-out fight to protect his powers as commander in chief to wage war and keep Americans safe.
Stunning megalomania aside, it is an eerie thing for John Yoo to declare victory of any kind. Reading his op-ed is a little like listening to Emperor Palpatine crow that Luke Skywalker’s journey to the Dark Side is nearly complete. (”Welcome, young Skywalker. I have been expecting you … “)
Yoo begins by describing Obama’s sad devotion to the rule of law as a newly-inaugurated wet-behind-the-ears president.
“In office only one day,” he writes, “Mr. Obama ordered the shuttering of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, followed later by the announcement that he would bring terrorists to an Illinois prison.”
What follows is a brisk re-cap of what he sees as Obama’s most grievous moments as Commander-in-Chief:
He terminated the Central Intelligence Agency’s ability to use “enhanced interrogations techniques” to question al Qaeda operatives. He stayed the military trial, approved by Congress, of al Qaeda leaders. He ultimately decided to transfer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the planner of the 9/11 attacks, to a civilian court in New York City, and automatically treated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, as a criminal suspect (not an illegal enemy combatant). Nothing better could have symbolized the new president’s determination to take us back to a Sept. 10, 2001, approach to terrorism.
It’s a veritable runaway train of right-wing talking points and, frankly, it merits no rebuttal...
Inserted from <Alternet>
Only a true GOP sweetheart could be party to gathering bogus intelligence, violating the Geneva Convention, committing war crimes, and making the US an international pariah, while calling it a GIFT!!
Yesterday I fell behind due to volunteer work and running errands. Today is my volunteer day in the prison. If time permits, I’ll try to do some catch-up before I leave. Tomorrow’s posts may be late because I will return home late and exhausted tonight.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
It took me 3:45. To do it, click here. How did you do?
Are democrats growing gonads? Yesterday the Jobs Bill passed the Senate, and the House stripped the Health Insurance cartel of exemption from antitrust laws.
I had heard rumblings that Olympia snow had gotten her panties in a bunch over not being invited to the health care summit. Obama Invited her, and she DECLINED. He also invited Oregon’s Ron Wyden, who will attend. Wyden has championed choice for health care consumers.
Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty wants to repeal the federal law that requires ER treatment regardless of ability to pay.
It seems that McConJob’s primary opponent has gender identity issues:
Have a great day!
The gridlock in Congress is not the fault of either President Obama or the Democratic party. For the most part, albeit with some glaring exceptions, they are doing their work. However, Republicans in the Senate, with help from a few DINOs and one accursed independent, have brought government to a standstill.
The list is the latest sign that Democrats in the lower chamber are frustrated with their Senate counterparts.
An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says the list is put together during each Congress, but that this year’s number is likely the largest ever. However, he said Pelosi blames GOP senators, not Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) or Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
“The Speaker believes that the filibuster has its place, but clearly Senate Republicans are taking what was once a rare procedural move and abusing it to the detriment of progress for America’s working families,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.
But some House Democrats and their aides have shown no reticence in blaming Senate Democrats, who enjoyed a supermajority until Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) was sworn in earlier this month.
In January, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) suggested the Senate was out of touch with Americans, and did not differentiate between the two parties.
“[Senators] tend to see themselves as a House of Lords and they don’t seem to understand that those of us that go out there every two years stay in touch with the American people,” Clyburn said in an interview with Fox News Radio. “We tend to respond to them a little better.”
Earlier this month in an MSNBC interview, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) said, “There’s a host of things that we’ve passed already, and there needs to be action in the Senate, and people are tired of it,” adding that he was “glad the president cited the House” for making more progress than the Senate in his State of the Union address.
The list of stalled bills includes both major and minor legislation: healthcare reform; climate change; food safety; financial aid for the U.S. Postal Service; a job security act for wounded veterans; a Civil War battlefield preservation act; vision care for children; the naming of a federal courthouse in Iowa after former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa); a National Historic Park named for President Jimmy Carter; a bill to improve absentee ballot voting; a bill to improve cybersecurity; and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Hammill said Pelosi’s office also compiled a second list in December of 90 pieces of legislation that have passed the House, more than 60 of them with at least 50 Republican votes.
“There’s a perception that the House is really partisan these days, but the actual numbers show otherwise,” Hammill said… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <The Hill>
For a complete list of all 290 bills, Click Here.
Rachel Maddow and Sen. Tom Udall illustrated the problem and one solution.
Udall’s solution cannot be implemented until next January. That’s not soon enough. I used to favor it until I understood the nuclear option and explained it on February 16. If they have the courage 51 Senate Democrats or 50 plus Joe Biden, can nuke the filibastards, end the filibuster, and with it end the GOP’s absurd 41 vote majority in the Senate. The graphic is original. Feel free to steal it.
The nonpartisan CBO has finally weighed in.
For months, conservatives have been claiming that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, i.e. the stimulus) is a “boondoggle” that “failed” and did not create “one new job.” But last week, the New York Times’ David Leonhardt noted that economic research firms estimate that ARRA created or saved 1.6 to 1.8 million jobs. And today, the non-partisan Congressional Research Office placed the estimate even higher, saying that ARRA is responsible for up to 2.1 million jobs in the 4th quarter of last year:
CBO estimates that in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2009, ARRA added between 1.0 million and 2.1 million to the number of workers employed in the United States, and it increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by between 1.4 million and 3.0 million…CBO also estimates that real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) was 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent higher in the fourth quarter than would have been the case in the absence of ARRA.
CBO calculated that without the stimulus package, the unemployment rate would be up to 1.1 percent higher. It also said that unemployment is higher than analysts predicted after passage of the ARRA due to “greater-than-projected weakness in the underlying economy rather than lower-than-expected effects of ARRA.” [emphasis original]
Inserted from <Think Progress>
Now we can prove it it from multiple sources. The GOP has been lying all along. The stimulus is helping. Unemployment is higher than predicted not because the stimulus failed, but because the depth and breadth of the havoc GOP policies had on our economy was worse than most realized. Former readers will remember that I said, before Obama had even won the Democratic nomination, that it would take a generation, not a single presidency to undo the damage that is the legacy of Bush and the GOP.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson joins Keith to expose the extent of the lies Dead Eye used in his bogus attempts to justify his torture program.
Now I ask you this. Were it not for evil government run health care, Cheney would be dead. If a proven war criminal deserves such benefits, don’t the rest of us?
Yesterday I had quite a bit of paperwork to do and some errands to run, but I still stayed up to date on replying to comments and returning visits. I’ll fall behind again today, because it’s my volunteer day at the former prisoners’ therapy group.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
It too me 3:47. To do it, click here. How did you do?
Goldilocks Boehner just can't make up his mind. First the HCR bill was too long. Now it’s too short.
While Main Street languishes, Wall Street is doing fine. Bankster’s bonuses rose 17% last year.
According to Gibbs, the White House has not jumped onto the public option bandwagon, because it lacks the votes to pass in the Senate. I say put it to a vote. Let’s see if the DINO’s have the guts to say no on the record in the face of strong support in their states.
Happy hump day!!
I suspect that everyone will be posting an analysis of Obama’s proposed fixes to the Senate bill. I like most of them, but rather than duplicating many efforts, I’d like to look at what the upcoming summit means.
“This new Democrats-only backroom deal doubles down on the same failed approach that will drive up premiums, destroy jobs, raise taxes, and slash Medicare benefits,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). “This week’s summit clearly has all the makings of a Democratic infomercial for continuing on a partisan course.”
What’s interesting about this official response is that it appears to fall directly into a trap that the White House has been quite candid about in their off-the-record comments. The White House is using this summit on Thursday to “shine a light” on the lack of any serious counterproposals from the Republicans. They will also be able to demonstrate that independent experts disagree with Republican assertions that the proposed legislation will drive up premiums, increase the budget deficit, create death panels, raise taxes (except on the wealthiest Americans), or slash Medicare benefits.
There’s a basic clash that is being set up on the White House’s terms. On the one side, the White House is presenting this as a situation where health care reform is going to pass. That aspect is removed as part of the debate. All that remains to decide is what precisely will be in the legislation. On the other side, the Republicans simply want to defeat any health care reform, no matter what is in the bill. But that position violates the entire premise and spirit of the summit, including its aspirational bipartisanship. It also means that the Republicans do not concede that some reform is urgently needed. That’s why the Blue Anthem rate hikes of 39% are being put forward by the White House. How can hikes that large not require a response?
The Republicans had already convinced their supporters that the battle to kill health care reform was won. This puts them in a bind. How can they concede that something needs to pass? How can they accept the very premise of the summit that they feel politically compelled to attend? Yet, if they do attend the summit and they behave in the way they’ve been behaving, they’ll be sharply corrected by representatives of the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
It appears that the Republicans are headed full-steam into a political trainwreck. If they engage seriously during the summit, embracing the premise that reform needs to pass, they’ll enrage their base beyond description. But if they petulantly refuse to accept the premise and keep repeating their mantra that the American people have already rejected reform, they’ll come off exactly the way the White House wants them to come off. And then the Democrats will have renewed momentum for passing a bill under reconciliation rules…
Inserted from <Alternet>
To point out just how absurd their position is, here’s some great video from the Daily Show. (Big thanks to RJ, who sent me this in an email.)
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|The Apparent Trap|
The President’s plan has one huge fault. It lacks a public option, despite wide-spread public support for it:
…A batch of state polls by the non-partisan Research 2000 shows that in multiple states represented by key Dem Senators who will have to decide whether to support reconciliation, the public option polls far better than the Senate bill does, often by lopsided margins.
Here’s a rundown, sent over by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which commissioned the polls:
* In Nevada, only 34% support the Senate bill, while 56% support the public option.
* In Illinois, only 37% support the Senate bill, while 68% support the public option.
* In Washington State, only 38% support the Senate bill, while 65% support the public option.
* In Missouri, only 33% support the Senate bill, while 57% support the public option.
* In Virginia, only 36% support the Senate bill, while 61% support the public option.
* In Iowa, only 35% support the Senate bill, while 62% support the public option.
*In Minnesota, only 35% support the Senate bill, while 62% support the public option.
* In Colorado, only 32% support the Senate bill, while 58% support the public option.
When the White House unveiled its new proposal to take to the summit, it did not include a public option, as expected. Obviously, including one would have made it easier for Republicans to argue that Dems aren’t making a good-faith effort to compromise, since the public option is the centerpiece of the dreaded “government takeover” that Republicans have warned against.
But if the summit yields no compromises, and Dems decide to forge ahead on their own and pass reform via reconciliation, including the public option at that point might make some political sense, if the above polls are to be believed.
Inserted from <The Plumline>
At the very least we need to include a Medicare expansion, as Keith Olbermann and Howard Dean discussed.
Bold Progressives are undertaking a campaign to press for the public option. Please join me in signing it. To do so, click here.
Here are the results of the Republican vs DINO poll.
And here are your comments.
From Oso on February 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm.
I'm with Lisa G. We need an Other. I'd vote for a rotted dead dog over a blue dog. I'd campaign for a rotted dead dog over a blue dog.
From Kevin Kelley on February 19, 2010 at 11:29 am.
My selection was "I'm a Republican - The Dino"... with my logic being that the DINO would be closer to what the Republican party used to be and give an excellent balance, while hopefully lacking the crazy social conservative religious garbage that has polluted the GOP.
If congress was filled with Blue Dogs and Democrats, I think America would do just fine...
From Lisa G. on February 16, 2010 at 8:33 am.
We need another category (like there aren't enough choices already) for Other. You always include the Other, but not on this one and I don't think I've used it yet. This time I need it.
From TomCat in reply to Lisa G. on February 20, 2010 at 6:28 am.
Then put it in a comment. :-)
From TWM on February 16, 2010 at 7:25 am.
As an independent I don't find any answer acceptable regarding my stance on the question ergo I will forgo voting in this poll and watch with shallow eyed disgust at whatever the outcome of the elec...errr poll is.
From Diane on February 15, 2010 at 2:30 pm.
Wow, I'm the first one to vote, so right now it reads 100% Independent Party (of course that will change quickly, I'm sure).
Diane - Laughlin
I posed this question to make a point about strategic political thinking. I am a Democrat, and I voted DINO. Why would I, one who rants regularly and vehemently against DINOs vote that way?
In the polling booth we have at most three choices. We can vote for a Democrat, vote for a Republican, or vote for a third party candidate. I did not include third party candidate in the poll, because the electoral deck is so stacked that they can’t win. Therefore, third party candidates only split the voters on their side of the political spectrum. As such, any vote for a third party candidate becomes an effective vote for the opposite side of the spectrum. Voters for third party candidates are actually voting against their self-interest. I learned that lesson the hard way.
That leaves the Republican or the DINO. Now, it the Republicans were to put up a progressive candidate here who would not hesitate to work and vote with progressive Democrats and there was a DINO in opposition, I would vote for the Republican. However, since progressive Republicans are as common as flying pigs, I don’t see that happening anywhere in the foreseeable future. As much as I would hate voting for a DINO, I see it as critical that the Republicans not get control of either body in Congress, where they can control committees and sub-committees. That makes the DINO the strategic choice.
The new poll will be a quick one.
At least it’s good to know that someone in government cares about our nation’s best interests.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced the "Stop Outsourcing Security Act" on Tuesday. If passed, the act would force the United States to phase out its controversial use of private security contractors in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The legislation would restore the responsibility of the American military to train troops and police, guard convoys, repair weapons, administer military prisons, and perform military intelligence," the lawmakers' offices said.
"The bill also would require that all diplomatic security be undertaken by US government personnel," they added.
While the bill is likely to meet stiff opposition from the Pentagon and the defense industry, it's certain to be well received among progressives and peace activists, who have watched with alarm as the use of private contractors in war zones has skyrocketed in recent years.
Last month, a report (PDF) from the Congressional Research Service found that one-fifth of the US armed forces in Iraq consists of private contractors, while in Afghanistan that number reached one-third by September of 2009.
The report found that there were some 22,000 "armed private security contractors" in the two war zones, and that the number in Afghanistan is likely to keep growing.
While "[m]any analysts and government officials believe that DOD would be unable to execute its mission without PSCs," the report stated that the "use of armed contractors has raised a number of issues for Congress, including concerns over transparency and accountability."
"It is inexcusable that as much as one-third of our military’s armed force in Afghanistan may be contractors," Schakowsky wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, following the report's release. "These men and women are not part of the US military or government. They do not wear the uniform of the United States, though their behavior has, on numerous occasions, severely damaged the credibility and security of our military and harmed our relationship with other governments."
This is not the first time that Schakowsky has attempted to end the growing tradition of private contractors fighting public wars. In 2007, she introduced a bill, with the same name as the new one, which would have phased out the use of contractors over a number of years. The bill never made it out of committee...
Inserted from <Raw Story>
Our fine military personnel are the best suited to do these jobs. They perform far better. They are accountable. They cost far less than mercenary thugs accountable only to corporate criminals. While this bill will never see the light of day, I thank Senator Sanders and Representative Schakowsky for introducing it.
Yesterday I not only stayed up to date on replying to comments and returning visits, but also made a few extra visits as well. Today looks good for staying that way.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
It took me 3:52. To do it, click here. How did you do?
What a quote! “I love gridlock,” Coburn said. “I think we’re better off when we’re gridlocked because we’re not passing things.”
Only one Democrat voted against cloture to debate Harry Reid's puny jobs bill. If you guessed Ben Nelson, you're right.
I hear ChickenHawk Cheney was hospitalized for heart trouble. There must be another explanation, as Cheney lacks the necessary preexisting condition.
Did Marcy Kaptor (D-OH) tear into ‘too bought’ Timmy or what?
What’s up in your world?
Most of us are thoroughly fed up with the ChickenHawk and the Lizard.
Today on Face the Nation, former Secretary of Sate Colin Powell dismissed former Vice President Cheney’s claim that President Obama has made the nation less safe. Saying, “I don’t know where the claim comes [from],” Powell ticked off Obama’s national security accomplishments, gave a full-throated defense of using civilian courts to process terrorists, and said Cheney’s attacks “are not borne out by the facts”:
SCHIEFFER: Let’s talk a little bit about national security. The former vice president, you just saw him there, he has almost on a weekly basis, it says something about the president is putting the nation’s security at risk. … Has Barack Obama made this country less safe?
POWELL: Well, let me lay out a few positions and facts. … I don’t know where the claim comes that we are less safe. … In eight years the military commissions have put three people on trial. Two of them served relatively short sentences and are free. One guy is in jail. Meanwhile the federal courts, our Article 3 regular legal court system has put dozens of terrorists in jail. They’re fully capable of doing it. So the suggestion that somehow a military commission is the way to go isn’t borne out by the history of the military commission. [...]
SCHIEFFER: Your bottom line answer is no?
POWELL: The bottom line answer is the nation is still at risk. Terrorists are out there. They’re trying to get through. But to suggest that somehow we have become much less safer because of the actions of the administration, I don’t think that’s borne out by the facts.
For weeks, Republicans have been hammering Obama over his handling of the Christmas Day terror attempt, especially the decision to try Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in civilian court rather than a military commission. Many whined that Abdulmutallab had not been properly interrogated because he was read his Miranda rights. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even tried to score political points by insulting counterterrorism field agents. Of course, they ignored that President Bush treated shoe bomber Richard Reid in almost exactly the same way in 2001. And Obama’s rejection of torture has actually aided Abdulmutallab’s cooperation, not hurt it.
Later in the interview, Powell said that he has “no problem” with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being tried in federal court, though he would prefer the trial to be held some place other than New York City. Powell also reaffirmed his commitment to closing the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, saying it “has cost us a lot over the years in terms of our standing in the world and the way in which despots have hidden behind what we have done at Guantanamo to justify their own positions.”... [emphasis original]
Inserted from <Think Progress>
Here’s the bottom line. Ever since the US withdrawal from Vietnam, National Security has been the GOP’s exclusive domain. They have used it ever since to portray Democrats as week, attack our patriotism, and strike fear into the hearts of uninformed voters. It boggles me that they have kept up this deception for so long, especially considering that the most significant contribution the GOP has made to national security in recent years is allowing 9/11 to happen on their watch through their incompetence. Suddenly that is changing. Under the Democrats, more terrorists are being killed. High lever terrorist leaders are being captured. Interrogations without torture are discovering better actionable intelligence than anything ChickenHawk and his sidekick, Texas Torquemada, ever got through their war crimes. The GOP is so desperate that they are telling even more absurd lies in a pathetic attempt ho hang onto national security preeminence. It isn’t working.
I still cannot think of Colin Powell without visualizing him standing before the United Nations, parroting Bush/GOP lies to justify their war for oil and conquest that led to the waste of US lives and treasure and the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocents. Nevertheless, it pleases me to see him trying to rehabilitate himself and thank him for his honesty.
Inserted from <Crooks and Liars>In October 2009, here's how Sen. Jay Rockefeller described the Medicare Advantage plans:"It's a wasteful, inefficient program and always has been," Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) said at a recent hearing. At its core, Rockefeller added, Medicare Advantage is "stuffing money into the pockets of private insurers, and it doesn't provide any better benefits to anybody."Yes, the for-profit add-on plans the Republicans pushed through under Bush heavily subsidize services. (So much for "pay as you go," huh?)A study released yesterday by a major consulting firm found that premiums for Medicare Advantage plans offering medical and prescription-drug coverage jumped 14.2 percent on average in 2010, after an increase of 5.2 percent the previous year. Some 8.5 million elderly and disabled Americans are in the plans, which provide more comprehensive coverage than traditional Medicare, often at lower cost.Lee Durrwachter, a retired chemical engineer from Grand Marais, Mich., said his premiums more than doubled this year - even though he switched plans to try to save money. "It doesn't bode well," he said. "It's unaffordable."The Medicare findings are bad news for President Obama and his health-care overhaul that is bogged down in Congress. That is because the higher Medicare Advantage premiums for 2010 followed a cut in government payments to the private plans last year. And the Democratic bills pending in Congress call for even more cuts, which are expected to force many seniors to drop out of what has been a rapidly growing alternative to traditional Medicare.Republicans have seized on the Medicare Advantage cuts in their campaign to derail the health-care bills, and seniors are listening. Polls show seniors are more skeptical of the legislation than the public as a whole, even though Democrats would also reinforce original Medicare by improving preventive benefits and narrowing the prescription-coverage gap.… [emphasis original]
Believe it or not I actually caught up on replying to comments and returning visits yesterday. It took most of the day. Today, I should stay caught up. I have a few errands to run, and I have to arrange for a new web host provider for the nonprofit I help run. If you’re considering Liberty Names of America (aka LNOA) as a host provider, don’t.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
My time was 3:20. I have an unfair advantage on this one. To do it, click here. How did you do?
A senior administration official told CNN that Obama will propose legislation that would empower him to block excessive rate hikes by insurance companies.
World War III ended with the score USA 5, Canada 3. Here’s video of all the goals.
Obama has once again called for bipartisanship in the Thursday’s HCR conference.
I expect one of three things to happen.
Door Number 1:
Obama could cave in to GOP demands. While this would cause consternation on the GOP, because they would have to immediately about face and pretend that they now and have always opposed whatever those demands are. Such a move would doom Obama’s presidency by alienating the mainstream, let alone his base.
Door Number 2:
Obama will present what is essentially BARF (Baucus Against a Real Fix). The GOP would oppose it, as do the majority of Americans. It would probably fail to pass and doom Obama’s presidency for the same reasons.
Door Number 3:
The last and best possibility is that Obama will introduce a compromise between the House and Senate bills. Of course the GOP would refuse to compromise, and Obama can then claim justification to proceed with reconciliation. Hopefully, the public option will be put back in during that process. This alone can save Obama’s presidency.
Take your pick.
I did not cover the horrid OPR report, absolving GOP war criminals Yoo and Bybee, because I had already covered its contents when it was leaked last month.
Daphne Eviatar has prepared an excellent article on why the OCR report should not be the end of this matter.
The New York Times this morning writes that the Justice Department's ethics report on the work of the lawyers who approved Bush administration's torture of detainees "brings to a close a pivotal chapter in the debate over the legal limits of the Bush administration's fight against terrorism and whether its treatment of Qaeda prisoners amounted to torture."
The Washington Post says the report represents "the end of a 5-year internal battle" at the Justice Department.
In fact, the Office of Professional Responsibility report is just the beginning of a bigger and more important battle. Legal ethics investigators concluded that former Office of Legal Counsel lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee committed "professional misconduct" in advising the Bush administration that it was not against the law to torture, humiliate and abuse detainees despite longstanding domestic and international prohibitions against doing so. The battle now will be over whether the U.S. government will meet its obligations to thoroughly investigate what happened and hold the perpetrators accountable.
The final OPR report chastises the two OLC lawyers for reaching bizarre legal conclusions that were wholly unsupported by the law. For example, one of their memos claimed that torture was legal so long as an interrogator's goal was to obtain information rather than to inflict severe pain or suffering - even if he knew he would inflict severe pain or suffering in the process. As one OLC lawyer commented on the memo at the time: "The way it reads now makes you wonder whether this is just an anti-sadism statute."
Meanwhile, the memo's now-infamous definition of "severe pain" as necessarily "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death" not only relied on an irrelevant medical benefits statute for its definition, which the OPR report calls "illogical," but actually misquoted the language of that statute so as "to add further support to their 'aggressive' interpretation of the torture statute," the OPR report concludes. Ultimately, the definition could lead an interrogator to believe, the OPR found, "that pain could be inflicted as long as no injury resulted." It's the "leave no marks" theory of torture.
The list of twisted and inexplicable legal conclusions is long and impressive. In another instance, the lawyers relied on extremely narrow interpretations of the international Convention Against Torture proposed by the Reagan administration that the U.S. had never adopted. And they completely ignored far more relevant sources of law on torture, such as federal court cases interpreting the Torture Victims Protection Act, which found torture had occurred in situations far less severe than the brutal interrogation techniques being contemplated in these memos. In one case, for example, a federal court held that imprisonment for five days under bad conditions while being threatened with bodily harm, interrogated and held at gunpoint amounted to torture.
David Margolis, the Deputy Associate Attorney General ultimately overrode the recommendations of the ethics office to refer the lawyers to state bar associations for disciplinary proceedings, because he decided that the OLC's standards for referral were unclear. But the report of the investigators who actually read and analyzed the memos that authorized such brutal conduct as "waterboarding" (controlled drowning), slamming prisoners' heads repeatedly against a wall ("walling"), weeks of sleep deprivation, stress positions, and confinement in a cramped box with insects provides an astonishing look at how the lawyers tasked with providing objective legal advice to the White House on its most sensitive policies completely contorted ordinary logic and legal reasoning to reach the conclusions desired.
Justice Department lawyer Patrick Philbin at one point asked John Yoo why he included a wholly unsubstantiated section in one of the memos that concluded that the president of the United States, as commander in chief, can completely ignore any law he wanted - such as the prohibition against torture. Yoo said it was in the memo because "they want it in there" -- "they" presumably being whoever had requested the opinion. The memo never explained how the prohibition against torture could be construed in any reasonable way so as to conflict with the president's authority as commander in chief.
Whether John Yoo and Jay Bybee face professional sanctions (that's now up to their respective state bars) is far less important than whether we get to the bottom of what really happened at the Bush White House: who ordered these lawyers to come up with legal reasoning to justify torture? The OPR report suggests that David Addington, Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, played a significant role. Who was he getting his orders from?
The OPR report is just another piece of the slowly-emerging puzzle of how the country plunged into what Dick Cheney has aptly called "the Dark Side," abandoning its most basic belief in human dignity and the rule of law to zealously combat terrorism in a way that's ultimately backfired; we're now less safe, and mired in a vicious and protracted war.
In concluding that Yoo and Bybee exercised "poor judgment" rather than "professional misconduct", Margolis emphasizes that "his decision should not be viewed as an endorsement of the legal work that underlies these memoranda," which he notes were "seriously flawed" and represent "an unfortunate chapter in the history of the Office of Legal Counsel." In Yoo's case, his conclusions represented a "loyalty to his own ideology and convictions" which "clouded his view of his obligations to his client" and led him to author opinions reflecting "extreme" views of executive power.
Yoo was among the very small group of lawyers entrusted to write these opinions for the White House because he was already known to hold these extreme opinions. That he ignored or contorted opposing views should not have come as a surprise to his employers; that's what he'd been doing all along as an academic.
It's clear from the report, too, that that's what Yoo was expected to do. As John Bellinger, the Bush administration's legal advisor to the State Department told OPR: "Yoo was 'under pretty significant pressure to come up with an answer that would justify [the program]' and that, over time, there was significant pressure on the Department to conclude that the program was legal and could be continued, even after changes in the law in 2005 and 2006."
Some of those memos were also being demanded under very tight time frames to justify particular interrogations.
So who asked Yoo and Bybee to write these memos, and what exactly were the instructions given? Were they pressured to reach a particular conclusion and provide a "golden shield" for illegal conduct that the White House had already chosen to undertake? The report points out that the OPR investigators were not able to access most of John Yoo's e-mail messages from the time period: "most of Yoo's e-mail records had been deleted and were not recoverable." Why did Yoo delete those messages, and what did they say?... [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Huffington Post>
I have little to add. This must not end here.