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Archive for January 15th, 2010

Chairman Mike Turns the Tables

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 15th, 2010 5:48 am by HL

Chairman Mike Turns the Tables
Republican Party grandees were all set to use Michael Steele in the most cynical way. Now it’s becoming clear that Steele has been using the users all along. By Eugene Robinson

Republican Party grandees were all set to use Michael Steele in the most cynical way. Now it’s becoming clear that Steele has been using the users all along.


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Charles D. Ellison: Some Geopolitical Context in Haiti

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 15th, 2010 5:47 am by HL

Charles D. Ellison: Some Geopolitical Context in Haiti
Big question of the day is whether or not it’s appropriate – at the moment – to discuss the political and economic context of Haiti’s…

Sara Whitman: California Prop 8 Trial: No One Is Perfect
Do we have to have perfect unions? If divorce rates go up, is it really because there is marriage equality? “In order to form a more perfect union,” the preamble of our constitution, isn’t about being perfect. It’s about a goal.

Martha St Jean: President Obama’s Response to Haiti’s Earthquake
This morning President Barack Obama promised the people of Haiti that they would not be “forsaken” or “forgotten.” He is not only America’s commander in chief, he is a true world leader.


Jamison Foser: The right-wing media react to Haiti

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 15th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Jamison Foser: The right-wing media react to Haiti

Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Haiti continues to bring grim news. Estimated death counts range from the tens of thousands to more than 100,000. Haiti’s capital and largest city, Port-au-Prince, sustained massive damage: its hospitals — all of them — destroyed or rendered unusable, the presidential palace and a United Nations mission flattened. Damage to Haiti’s airport, seaport, roads, power supplies, and other utilities has exacerbated the suffering and hindered relief efforts.

Public and media reaction to the tragedy has been swift and in many cases admirable. Record-setting donations have poured into the Red Cross — $4 million via text message alone. Some 30,000 people contributed another $2.6 million to Clinton Foundation relief efforts in just 24 hours. Much of this support can be attributed to the quick and powerful distribution — by both old media and new — of news, information, and photos relating to the earthquake. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have been a valuable source of information, as have news organizations that scrambled to cover the tragedy. (The Business Insider has a good round-up of those efforts, with links to several useful resources.)

But much of the conservative media elite has reacted quite differently.

Fox News Channel’s highest-rated shows, for example, all but ignored the disaster, according to a new Media Matters study:

On January 13, Fox News’ three top-rated programs for 2009 — The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, and Glenn Beck — devoted a combined total of less than 7 minutes of coverage to the earthquake in Haiti, instead choosing to air such things as Beck’s hour-long interview with Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly’s discussion of Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, and Sean Hannity’s advocacy for Massachusetts candidate Scott Brown’s Senate campaign.

Fox News never hesitates to boast that its prime-time lineup draws more viewers than its competitors. But that success comes with a responsibility — a responsibility to bring people important information in times of crisis. Fox fell far short of meeting that responsibility, instead inflicting upon viewers Sarah Palin’s fumbling, bumbling attempt to answer a question about which of America’s founders she most admires and continuing its attempts to elect Republicans to the Senate.

Not that O’Reilly, Hannity, and Beck were alone in dropping the ball. Christian Coalition founder and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson, host of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s The 700 Club, had a rather unusual response to the devastation in Haiti:

ROBERTSON: [S]omething happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.” True story. And so, the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.”

And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. … They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God.

Got that? Haiti was hit by a crushing earthquake because it made a deal with the devil to escape the French.

Robertson’s reaction may seem bizarre, but it really isn’t — not for him, anyway. This is a man who “totally concur[red]” that the September 11 terrorist attacks could be attributed in part to “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians.” A man who linked Hurricane Katrina to the legality of abortion. A man who suggested that then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke was the result of God’s “enmity” against those who “divide” his land. A man who said Disney World’s annual Gay Days event would bring “earthquakes, tornados and possibly a meteor.”

At least he acknowledged that the meteor was only a possibility. Apparently Robertson’s ability to divine the will of The Divine is limited to terrestrial events. Hey, he’s only human.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh did his best to convince us that he isn’t.

First, Limbaugh said President Obama would use the Haitian tragedy to enhance his standing with the “light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.” Then he seemed to dissuade people from contributing to relief efforts, complaining: “[W]e’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.”

As with Robertson, this really isn’t anything new for Limbaugh. He has long been contemptuous of U.S. efforts to help Haiti — particularly when there is a Democrat in the White House.

In 1994, when Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was expelled by a military coup, Limbaugh opposed and ridiculed U.S. intervention, and claimed the only reason for restoring Aristide was to please the Congressional Black Caucus:

LIMBAUGH: As you know, we’re invading Haiti simply because the Congressional Black Caucus wants it. Now the Congressional Black Caucus has got to be given a safe escort once the battle is over because they’re going to go in there and plant their flag as in Iwo Jima. The Congressional Black Caucus will then capture Haiti and conquer it from the rest of the world. [9/1/94, via Nexis]

LIMBAUGH: The democratically elected government of Haiti is Jean-Bertrand Aristide. This guy — I think he blinks once every five minutes. You know, he’s — he’s — he’s not — he’s like a cup and saucer short of a full place setting according to all the psychological profiles. But the guy’s a Marxist, ladies and — I mean, he’s a Marxist. He’s a — he’s a Communist. He has written books, one of them entitled, I think, something like “Capitalism: The Mortal Sin,” and so this is the democratic regime that we are implementing down there, or reinstalling because of the Congressional Black Caucus. [11/24/94, via Nexis]

If you’re more interested in compassion than conspiracy theories, The New York Times has a list of relief efforts that can use your help.

In 1994, Limbaugh ridiculed Haiti, suggesting our only interest in the nation is “the fact that baseballs are made in Haiti” — which he deemed “irrelevant” because of the baseball strike going on at the time. This week, he again ridiculed Haiti, saying the nation produces “zilch, zero, nada.”

If Limbaugh and Robertson are any indication of the way the conservative media think about Haiti, maybe it’s for the best that Fox’s top-rated shows are ignoring the tragedy. I don’t even want to think about the bizarre claims Glenn Beck would come up with. Probably something about the Obama administration faking the earthquake so they could funnel billions of dollars in funds to ACORN, just like Hitler would do.


Conservative Group Backs Off Effort To Undermine Robo-Call Laws

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 15th, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Conservative Group Backs Off Effort To Undermine Robo-Call Laws
A shadowy conservative group is backing off its effort to undermine state laws restricting robo-calls.

Time For Some Answers: Wall St. CEOs To Go Before Financial Crisis Panel
What did top banking executives know about the events that led to the near-collapse of the financial system in 2008, and when did they know it? Those are two of the questions that we may start getting answers to this morning, when CEOs of four Wall Street firms go before the commission probing the causes of the crisis.


Waterboard Dick Cheney in 2011?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 15th, 2010 5:41 am by HL

Waterboard Dick Cheney in 2011?
To see a clip of Jesse Ventura on Larry King Live, May 11, 2009, click here.


Brown Edges Past Coakley in New Poll

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 15th, 2010 5:40 am by HL

Brown Edges Past Coakley in New Poll
A new Suffolk University/7News poll in Massachusetts shows Scott Brown (R) ahead of Martha Coakley (D), 50% to 46% with only 1 percent of voters remaining undecided.

The internals have Brown winning 17 percent of Democrats, and 51 percent of voters saying they oppose the “national near-universal health-care package.”

Said pollster DAvid Paleologos: “It’s a Brown-out. It’s a massive change in the political landscape.”


Haiti Didn’t Become a Poor Nation All on Its Own — The U.S’s Hidden Role in the Disaster

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 15th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Haiti Didn’t Become a Poor Nation All on Its Own — The U.S’s Hidden Role in the Disaster
Haiti’s many years of underdevelopment and U.S.-sponsored political turmoil made the Haitian government ill-prepared to respond to such a disaster.

Haiti's many years of underdevelopment and U.S.-sponsored political turmoil made the Haitian government ill-prepared to respond to such a disaster.

Sewage as a Measure of Society’s Drug Use
Testing municipal wastewater for drugs may be the next big thing in public health research. The methodology will likely confirm the universality of drug use.

Testing municipal wastewater for drugs may be the next big thing in public health research. The methodology will likely confirm the universality of drug use.

Do Obama and Geithner Have the Same Flaw: Accommodation Instead of Moral Action?
Tim Geithner has a long history of caving to moral pressures and smoothing over colossal failures. But his personality is much like Obama. Maybe that’s how he keeps his job.

Tim Geithner has a long history of caving to moral pressures and smoothing over colossal failures. But his personality is much like Obama. Maybe that's how he keeps his job.

Ice Cream Has Meat in It? 7 "Vegetarian" Foods That Actually Contain Meat Products
Sadly, being a vegetarian isn’t just about skipping pepperoni on that pizza. You want believe which foods contain ingredients deriving from meat.

Sadly, being a vegetarian isn't just about skipping pepperoni on that pizza. You want believe which foods contain ingredients deriving from meat.

Why Do People Want to Have Sex with the 9-Foot Tall Natives in ‘Avatar’?
So many people have been seduced by ‘Avatar’ that lusting for blue aliens could become a part of mainstream culture.

So many people have been seduced by 'Avatar' that lusting for blue aliens could become a part of mainstream culture.


What Good are Fancy Derivatives?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 15th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

What Good are Fancy Derivatives?
The Nobel-winning economist Robert Solow, in a respectful review of John Cassidy’s fine book How Markets Fail, asks: How much do all those exotic securities [credit-default swaps and the like], and the institutions that create them, buy them, and sell…



Credit default swapRobert SolowSecurityHow Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic CalamitiesBusiness

Republicans: Party Before Country
It becomes more clear every day that the Republican opposition – in Congress and the media – is not interested in solving any of America’s problems. Their only goal is to bring down the Democrats. Some might respond that this…


United StatesRepublicanDemocraticGeorge W. BushUnited States Congress

Israelis Punish Turks for Gaza Criticism by Making Ambassador Sit In Kiddie Chair
Entry Revised Tuesday AM The original post dealt with a column by Gideon Levy about Israel’s seeming lapse into sheer nuttiness. (It’s still below). This latest shows that Levy’s theory is no exaggeration. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel, Danny…



IsraelGideon LevyMiddle EastUnited StatesWarfare and Conflict


Atomic scientists push back Doomsday Clock because of Obama’s ?pragmatic? foreign policy.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 15th, 2010 5:37 am by HL

Atomic scientists push back Doomsday Clock because of Obama’s ?pragmatic? foreign policy.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced today that it would push their Doomsday Clock back one minute — to six minutes to midnight — in recognition of President Obama’s efforts to combat nuclear proliferation and climate change. Scientists concerned the world was spiraling toward nuclear disaster first introduced the clock in 1947 […]

doomsday2The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced today that it would push their Doomsday Clock back one minute — to six minutes to midnight — in recognition of President Obama’s efforts to combat nuclear proliferation and climate change. Scientists concerned the world was spiraling toward nuclear disaster first introduced the clock in 1947 and it has only been adjusted 18 times since. The group of scientists — which includes 19 Nobel laureates — hailed Obama’s “pragmatic” foreign policy:

A key to the new era of cooperation is a change in the U.S. government’s orientation toward international affairs brought about in part by the election of Obama. With a more pragmatic, problem-solving approach, not only has Obama initiated new arms reduction talks with Russia, he has started negotiations with Iran to close its nuclear enrichment program, and directed the U.S. government to lead a global effort to secure loose fissile material in four years.

In awarding Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, the committee cited Obama’s “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy” and combat nuclear proliferation. As the Wonk Room’s Max Bergmann notes, in the next six months, Obama will “encounter test after test of his commitment to the nuclear agenda — starting with the effort to focus the the Nuclear Posture Review on terrorism.”

Palin says her favorite founding father is ?all of them.?
Yesterday Fox News’ Glenn Beck interviewed newly minted Fox “analyst” Sarah Palin for his entire show. During the interview, Beck asked Palin who her favorite Founding Father is. “You know, well, all of them because they came collectively together with…so much diversity in terms of belief but collectively they came together to form this union.” […]

Yesterday Fox News’ Glenn Beck interviewed newly minted Fox “analyst” Sarah Palin for his entire show. During the interview, Beck asked Palin who her favorite Founding Father is. “You know, well, all of them because they came collectively together with…so much diversity in terms of belief but collectively they came together to form this union.” “Bullcrap,” Beck retorted. “Who’s your favorite?” Palin then finally settled on George Washington because he “returned power to the people” and then “went back to Mount Vernon” to farm.” Beck agreed:

PALIN: They were led by, of course, George Washington. So he’s got to rise to the top. Washington was the consummate statesman. He served, he turned power to the people. He didn’t want to be a king. He returned power to the people. Then he went back to Mount Vernon. He went back to his farm. He was almost reluctant to serve as president too and that’s who you need to find to serve in government, in a bureaucracy — those who you know will serve for the right reasons because they’re reluctant to get out there and seek a limelight and seek power. They’re doing it for the people, that was George Washington.

BECK: He is my favorite for that reason as well.

Watch it:

Palin’s response to Beck recalls one of her most infamous moments of the 2008 campaign. She became the subject of scorn and ridicule when she responded to Katie Couric’s question about which newspapers she reads by answering, “Um, all of them.”


Democrats say Virginia Cabinet appointee must resign from boards

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 15th, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Democrats say Virginia Cabinet appointee must resign from boards
RICHMOND — Democrats in the Virginia Senate have the votes to block the appointment of Gov.-elect Robert F. McDonnell’s choice for secretary of commerce and trade if the appointee does not remove himself from several corporate boards, the chairwoman of a key committee said Thursday.

Polls show race for ‘Kennedy seat’ about even
BOSTON — The seeds of the drama that could see the Senate seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy slip to Republican control began to sprout during what is traditionally the quietest week on the political calendar.

In reversal, federal regulators now propose to limit oil and gas commodities
With the price of gas at the pump at its highest point in well over a year, federal regulators moved Thursday to prevent excessive speculation by financial traders from driving the cost of oil even higher. The effort to adopt new limits on the trading of oil and other energy commodities is a sharp…

Quake may provide chance for fresh start in U.S.-Haiti relations
For nearly two decades, Democrats and Republicans have tussled over U.S. policy in Haiti, resulting in an inconsistent and troubled relationship despite the delivery of about $3 billion in aid.


Anger over Wall Street’s big bonuses resurfaces, despite Obama policies
After a yearlong effort by the Obama administration to reform how Wall Street pays its executives, some of the nation’s biggest banks beginning Friday will pay out bonuses nearly as large as those in the best years before the crisis.