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Archive for December 17th, 2009

The Democrats Blinked

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 17th, 2009 5:47 am by HL

The Democrats Blinked
By bowing to Sen. Lieberman and his obstructive pals in both parties on health care reform, Obama has confirmed what Republicans always say about Democrats: They simply aren’t strong enough to govern.

By Joe Conason

By bowing to Sen. Lieberman and his obstructive pals in both parties on health care reform, Obama has confirmed what Republicans always say about Democrats: They simply aren’t strong enough to govern.


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Hitchens Pipes Up for ‘Foxhole Atheists’
“God Is Not Great” author Christopher Hitchens got a feel for the evangelical climate at the Air Force Academy in May and came away with some troubling questions. In a column headlined “In Defense of Foxhole Atheists,” he asks: “Is there a clique within the United States military that is seeking to use the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as an opportunity to mount a new crusade and to Christianize the ‘heathen’?” Seems like that concern didn’t end with the George W. Bush administration.  —KA Vanity Fair: The comparison to the Special Forces would seem to suggest that the objects of this hunting and hounding are Afghans rather than Americans. But it’s difficult to be certain, and indeed I am invited to Colorado Springs partly because chaplains there have been known to employ taxpayer dollars to turn the hounds of heaven loose on their own students and fellow citizens. As the Bagram tape goes on, however, it becomes obvious that Afghans are the targets in this case. Stacks of Bibles are on display, in the Dari and Pashto tongues that are the main languages in Afghanistan. A certain Sergeant James Watt, a candidate for a military chaplaincy, is shown giving thanks for the work of his back-home church, which subscribed the dough. “I also want to praise God because my church collected some money to get Bibles for Afghanistan. They came and sent the money out,” he beamingly tells his Bible-study class. In another segment, those present show quite clearly that they understand they are in danger of violating General Order Number One of the U.S. Central Command, which explicitly prohibits “proselytizing of any religion, faith, or practice.” A gathering of chaplains, all of them fed from the public trough, is addressed by Captain Emmit Furner, a military cleric who seems half in love with his own light-footed moral dexterity. “Do we know what it means to proselytize?” he asks his audience. A voice from the audience is heard to say, “It is General Order Number One.” To this Sergeant Watt replies: “You can’t proselytize but you can give gifts. … I bought a carpet and then I gave the guy a Bible after I conducted my business.” So where’s the harm in a man who is paid by the United States government to be a Christian chaplain strolling condescendingly through the souk and handing out religious propaganda as if it were a handful of small change or backsheesh? Probably not much more damaging to the war effort, or insulting to Afghan sensibilities, than the activities of the anonymous torturers who have been found operating elsewhere on the Bagram base. But it is taking the axe to the root of the United States Constitution, never mind General Order Number One. (Neither of these seems to be in force locally: no action against the uniformed missionaries has been taken.) Read more

Cadet Chapel

“God Is Not Great” author Christopher Hitchens got a feel for the evangelical climate at the Air Force Academy in May and came away with some troubling questions. In a column headlined “In Defense of Foxhole Atheists,” he asks: “Is there a clique within the United States military that is seeking to use the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as an opportunity to mount a new crusade and to Christianize the ‘heathen’?” Seems like that concern didn’t end with the George W. Bush administration.? —KA

Vanity Fair:

The comparison to the Special Forces would seem to suggest that the objects of this hunting and hounding are Afghans rather than Americans. But it’s difficult to be certain, and indeed I am invited to Colorado Springs partly because chaplains there have been known to employ taxpayer dollars to turn the hounds of heaven loose on their own students and fellow citizens. As the Bagram tape goes on, however, it becomes obvious that Afghans are the targets in this case. Stacks of Bibles are on display, in the Dari and Pashto tongues that are the main languages in Afghanistan. A certain Sergeant James Watt, a candidate for a military chaplaincy, is shown giving thanks for the work of his back-home church, which subscribed the dough. “I also want to praise God because my church collected some money to get Bibles for Afghanistan. They came and sent the money out,” he beamingly tells his Bible-study class. In another segment, those present show quite clearly that they understand they are in danger of violating General Order Number One of the U.S. Central Command, which explicitly prohibits “proselytizing of any religion, faith, or practice.” A gathering of chaplains, all of them fed from the public trough, is addressed by Captain Emmit Furner, a military cleric who seems half in love with his own light-footed moral dexterity. “Do we know what it means to proselytize?” he asks his audience. A voice from the audience is heard to say, “It is General Order Number One.” To this Sergeant Watt replies: “You can’t proselytize but you can give gifts. … I bought a carpet and then I gave the guy a Bible after I conducted my business.” So where’s the harm in a man who is paid by the United States government to be a Christian chaplain strolling condescendingly through the souk and handing out religious propaganda as if it were a handful of small change or backsheesh? Probably not much more damaging to the war effort, or insulting to Afghan sensibilities, than the activities of the anonymous torturers who have been found operating elsewhere on the Bagram base. But it is taking the axe to the root of the United States Constitution, never mind General Order Number One. (Neither of these seems to be in force locally: no action against the uniformed missionaries has been taken.)

Read more

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Rep. Maurice Hinchey: Bring Back the Glass-Steagall Act to Break Up the MegaBanks that Caused the Crisis

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 17th, 2009 5:46 am by HL

Rep. Maurice Hinchey: Bring Back the Glass-Steagall Act to Break Up the MegaBanks that Caused the Crisis
The financial system in this country has been rigged and my new bill to re-establish Glass-Steagall will help undo the circumstances that led to this most recent collapse while helping to prevent future ones.

Anis Shivani: Obama Silent on Gutierrez’s Landmark Immigration Legislation
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) has just introduced a landmark immigration reform bill, which ought to be the basis of any legislation in the current Congress:…

Bob Ostertag: Governor Schwarzenegger Should Wash his Mouth Out with Soap
Governor Schwarzenegger called my students’ protest against the recent 32% tuition increase at the University of California a “type of terrorism.” Really. I’m not kidding. Shame on him.


Quick Fact: Morris revives Al Gore “invented the Internet” and Love Story smears

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 17th, 2009 5:45 am by HL

Quick Fact: Morris revives Al Gore “invented the Internet” and Love Story smears

On Fox & Friends, Dick Morris again falsely suggested that Al Gore said he “invented the Internet” and that “he’s the guy after whom [Erich Segal’s 1970 romance novel] Love Story was written.” Contrary to Morris’ suggestion, Gore never said he “invented the Internet” or claimed that Love Story was written about him.

Morris suggests Gore said he “invented the Internet” and that Love Story is based on him

From the December 16 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): All right, an inconvenient truth emerging for former Vice President Al Gore when he tried to deliver a glacial warning about the Arctic at the Copenhagen climate conference. Listen.

GORE : There’s a 75 percent chance that the entire north polar icecap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within the next five to seven years.

DOOCY: Really?

MARTHA MacCALLUM (co-host): Well, the climatologist who Gore cited challenged his claim. He told the London Times, quote, “It is unclear to me how he arrived at this figure. I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.” End quote. So that’s a little problematic for the former vice president. Dick Morris, what do you think about that?

MORRIS: Well, you know, Gore is the guy that invented the Internet and he’s the guy after whom Love Story was written. You know, we’ve got some whoppers there.

MacCALLUM: Seventy-five percent of Love Story. That’s all.

FACT: Gore never said he “invented the Internet”

Gore said he “took the initiative in creating the Internet” while in Congress. During the March 9, 1999, interview on CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer that gave rise to the myth, Gore said, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Wolf Blitzer set the record straight on the July 6, 2008, edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, stating that Gore “never said, ‘I invented the Internet.’ “

Gingrich also said Gore “most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet.’ ” In a September 22, 2000, article, the Los Angeles Times reported: “Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and a Republican who is no friend of the Gore campaign, said earlier this month, ‘Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet.’ “

FACT: Gore never claimed Love Story is based on him

Gore attributed the claim to a newspaper article he had read, and was misquoted. According to a December 14, 1997, New York Times article, Segal “knocked down” a report in Time magazine that asserted that Gore, while on the campaign trail, “spent two hours swapping opinions about movies and telling stories about old chums like Erich Segal, who, Gore said, used Al and Tipper as models for the uptight preppy and his free-spirited girlfriend in ‘Love Story.’ ” From the article:

The Time magazine article about the Vice President included this passage: ”Around midnight, after a three-city tour of Texas last month, the Vice President came wandering back to the press compartment of Air Force Two. Sliding behind a table with the two reporters covering him that day, he picked slices of fruit from their plates and spent two hours swapping opinions about movies and telling stories about old chums like Erich Segal, who, Gore said, used Al and Tipper as models for the uptight preppy and his free-spirited girlfriend in ‘Love Story.’ ”

[…]

In their phone conversation a few days ago, Mr. Gore reminded Mr. Segal that while Mr. Segal was on his book tour for ”Love Story,” a reporter for The Nashville Tennessean who knew that Mr. Gore and the author were friends had asked if there was not a little bit of Al Gore in Oliver Barrett. Mr. Segal said yes, there was, but the reporter ”just exaggerated,” Mr. Segal said. ”He made it to be the local-hero angle.”

Mr. Segal said the Vice President told him that all he had said on the plane was that the article had made the connection — and got it wrong.

”Al said, ‘I didn’t say that’ about being the model,” Mr. Segal said.

”Al attributed it to the newspaper, he talked about the newspaper,” Mr. Segal said at another point in the interview. ”They conveniently omitted that part. Time thought it was more piquant to leave that out. He was talking on the plane off the record, a drink with the boys after a tiring day. I don’t think he will be reminiscing much anymore.”

Sean Wilentz: “Gore never made the claim.” In a November 30, 2002, The American Prospect article about political “pseudo-scandals,” Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz wrote that Gore “never made the claim.” From the article:

Schmoozing one night about the movies with two Time reporters, Gore had mentioned an interview, reported in the Nashville Tennessean, in which Segal claimed that Gore and Tipper were the models for his story. There was such an interview, but the Nashville reporter misquoted Segal, who actually said that Al, and not Tipper, had served as one of his models. Gore had no way of knowing that Segal had been misquoted. And so Segal, when contacted by Time, did not “contradict” Gore but instead corrected the Tennessean‘s mistake. Segal later observed that “Al attributed [the story] to a newspaper. Time thought it was more piquant to leave that out.” Yet supposedly objective reporters and commentators, as well as Republican officials, continued to cite the Love Story pseudo-scandal as yet another example of Gore “bragging” and “inflating his past.”

Morris has advanced these smears in the past

Morris repeated smear during 2008 presidential campaign. During the March 24, 2008, edition of Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes, after asserting, “[Hillary Clinton is] always saying this stuff that isn’t true … and she gets nailed,” Morris stated: “It’s like Al Gore, ‘I invented the Internet,’ Love Story was about me.'”


‘Creepy’ AZ GOP Chief Charged With Stalking

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 17th, 2009 5:44 am by HL

‘Creepy’ AZ GOP Chief Charged With Stalking
The executive director of the Arizona GOP used a Republican voter database to stalk a female grad student, the woman has alleged in a criminal complaint.

Chamber of Commerce Campaign: Fight Health-Care Reform — And Win A Trip To Hooters!
Internet users can win a Hooters gift card — if they sign up to get emails from the Chamber of Commerce’s campaign against health-care reform.


Russ Feingold: Obama got the health care bill he wanted

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 17th, 2009 5:40 am by HL

Russ Feingold: Obama got the health care bill he wanted
Excerpt: According to Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), among the most vocal supporters of the public option, the ultimate responsibility for a Senate health care bill without a public option or Medicare expansion lies with the Obama administration. Many progressives have painted the Obama administration as powerless to stand up to the will of Congress, blaming Sen. Joe […]


Everything You Think About Tiger Woods is Wrong, So Shut the F*** Up!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 17th, 2009 5:38 am by HL

Everything You Think About Tiger Woods is Wrong, So Shut the F*** Up!
The hundreds of media theories that have grown up around the Woods scandal have nothing to do with him and everything to do with us.

The hundreds of media theories that have grown up around the Woods scandal have nothing to do with him and everything to do with us.

Politicians Are Portraying ‘Gitmo North’ as a Terrific Local Jobs Program — Don’t Count On It
Politicians’ claim that moving detainees to Illinois will create 3,000 jobs is a distraction from an ugly reality; Gitmo is not being closed, it is being moved onto U.S. soil.

Politicians' claim that moving detainees to Illinois will create 3,000 jobs is a distraction from an ugly reality; Gitmo is not being closed, it is being moved onto U.S. soil.

Check Out Who’s Still Advertising on Glenn Beck’s Show
There are some surprises here.

There are some surprises here.

In the Shadow of Goldman Sachs, Wall Street Is Far from Recovery
Profits and bonuses are back on the Street, but the prosperity hasn’t filtered down past the service economy.

Profits and bonuses are back on the Street, but the prosperity hasn't filtered down past the service economy.

Hightower: Congress Ethics Rules Undermined by Weasels
The Democratic majority in the House pushed through a widely ballyhooed set of reforms. Pelosi promised "the most honest, ethical and open Congress in history. How’d that work out?

The Democratic majority in the House pushed through a widely ballyhooed set of reforms. Pelosi promised "the most honest, ethical and open Congress in history. How'd that work out?


Service Announcement

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 17th, 2009 5:37 am by HL

Service Announcement
Al noted yesterday the problem with new reader blogs — the issue should be resolved by tomorrow morning around 11 a.m. EST. Existing reader bloggers should still be able to post. I’d also like to introduce you to a status…



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Republican Gomorrah or Kingdom of God?
Max opens our conversation with a question: “can a shattered Republican Party reunite in time for 2012, or will its fixation on ideological purity and the histrionics of its leaders prevent it from returning to national power?” His starting…


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GOP’s Fabricated Chanukah “Miracle”
Despite the poor economy and other pressing national issues, the pitiful state of the Republican Party seems to overshadow its actual contributions to serious policy issues. Today’s example is a former White House Jewish liaison for President George W. Bush,…


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Sen. Sanders: ‘As of this point, I’m not voting for the bill.’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 17th, 2009 5:36 am by HL

Sen. Sanders: ‘As of this point, I’m not voting for the bill.’
Moments ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced that he is prepared to vote against the Senate health care bill in light of the recent decision to strip the public option and the Medicare buy-in provision from the legislation. Appearing on Fox Business’ Cavuto, Sanders said he’s “struggling with this,” but is inclined to vote against: […]

Moments ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced that he is prepared to vote against the Senate health care bill in light of the recent decision to strip the public option and the Medicare buy-in provision from the legislation. Appearing on Fox Business’ Cavuto, Sanders said he’s “struggling with this,” but is inclined to vote against:

I’m struggling with this. As of this point, I’m not voting for the bill. … I’m going to do my best to make this bill a better bill, a bill that I can vote for, but I’ve indicated both to the White House and the Democratic leadership that my vote is not secure at this point. And here is the reason. When the public option was withdrawn, because of Lieberman’s action, what I worry about is how do you control escalating health care costs?

Watch it:

Sanders is the only member of the Democratic caucus to publicly oppose the Senate legislation, and it’s unclear if he would still vote for cloture but oppose the final bill. Still, Sanders’ objections raise new doubts about whether Reid has the votes to file cloture on the bill tomorrow and pass it before Christmas.

Republicans Obstruct Health Care Debate By Demanding 2.5 Hour Reading Of Sanders’ Single-Payer Amendment
At approximately noon today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took to the Senate floor to introduce his single-payer amendment. The amendment is 767 pages long. In an attempt to delay and disrupt the Senate debate, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) demanded that the Senate clerks read the entire bill. Sanders demanded at least twice that the reading […]

At approximately noon today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took to the Senate floor to introduce his single-payer amendment. The amendment is 767 pages long. In an attempt to delay and disrupt the Senate debate, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) demanded that the Senate clerks read the entire bill.

Sanders demanded at least twice that the reading of his bill be dispensed with so that the Senate could proceed to a vote. But Coburn objected both times:

SANDERS: I would ask that the amendment be considered as read. …

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Is there objection?

COBURN: There is objection.

SANDERS: …and may I ask me friend from Oklahoma why he is objecting?

COBURN: Regular order, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT: Regular order is the reading of the amendment.

Watch a compilation of the events:

The Wonk Room estimated that, at the pace it was proceeding, the reading of the bill would take 14.5 hours. On his twitter feed, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) explained the Republican strategy:

Jim DeMint

The move by Republicans pushed back scheduled votes on other time-sensitive bills, including funding for the military. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, “This is a strategy by the Republican leadership which not only endangers the passage of health care reform, it endangers the enactment of the Department of Defense appropriations bill.”

After two and a half hours of obstruction, Sanders relented and withdrew his amendment. Noting the serious crises that confront the nation, Sanders delivered an impassioned address, stating, “The best the Republicans can do is try to bring the United States government to a halt by forcing a reading of a 700 page amendment! That is an outrage! … It is wrong to bring the United States government to a halt.”


House passes temporary measures to end 2009

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 17th, 2009 5:35 am by HL

House passes temporary measures to end 2009
The House pushed through a last-minute flurry of legislation Wednesday, including a $636 billion Pentagon funding bill, a short-term rise in the nation’s debt limit, and an extension of unemployment and health benefits for millions of jobless Americans.

House narrowly approves Democratic jobs plan
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies in the House Wednesday muscled through a year-end plan to create jobs, mixing about $50 billion for public works projects with another almost $50 billion for cash-strapped state and local governments.

Senate plan is called too empowering to health insurers
The Senate health-care bill could enable insurers to avoid some of the strongest consumer protections and benefit requirements adopted by state governments, Democratic lawmakers from Maine and California say.

At Copenhagen, both rich and developing nations offer concessions
COPENHAGEN — As President Obama prepared to visit the historic climate conference here, there were signs Wednesday of a break in the impasse between rich and developing nations.


Ben Bernanke: Person of the Year 2009

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 17th, 2009 5:31 am by HL

Ben Bernanke: Person of the Year 2009
Michael Grunwald, Time

The Case for Optimism on the Economy
Alan Blinder, Wall Street Journal
The U.S. economy is digging itself out of a deep hole. You have probably heard a lot of doom and gloom lately, including talk of a jobless recovery, an L-shaped recovery (which means no recovery at all), or even a W"”the feared double-dip recession. The Scrooges have a point: There are serious dangers to the nascent recovery. But you've heard all that many times. Let me offer instead, in deliberately one-sided fashion, the case for optimism. It is, after all, the holiday season.The case begins with the “slingshot effect” I wrote about on this page last summer…

Last Sales Pitch: Obama’s False Urgency

Obama Has No Deaf-ense for a Tin Ear
Michael Goodwin, New York Post
Of all the surprises of President Obama's first year, the biggest is his continuing tin ear for the mood of the country. He often appears clueless about what Americans want.