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Archive for December 11th, 2010

Late Late Night FDL: Ringing Of The Bells

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 11th, 2010 5:47 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Ringing Of The Bells
Ringing of the Bells from Muppet Studios.

Ringing of the Bells from Muppet Studios.

What’s on your mind?


Obama’s Base

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 11th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Obama’s Base

By Mike Luckovich

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Hold Your Nose and Vote ‘Aye’
Approve the lousy deal. It pains me to write those words, because the agreement President Obama negotiated with Republicans on tax cuts is really quite awful. By Eugene Robinson

Approve the lousy deal. It pains me to write those words, because the agreement President Obama negotiated with Republicans on tax cuts is really quite awful.


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Bill Quigley: Jury for Tacoma Trident Peace Activists Still Out

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 11th, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Bill Quigley: Jury for Tacoma Trident Peace Activists Still Out
The federal criminal trial of five veteran peace activists facing several charges was recessed until Monday after their jury announced late Friday they were unable…

Adam Hanft: Afghanistan and Iraq Dishonor American Dead by Boycotting Nobel Ceremony; So Does Saudi Arabia
Today in Oslo there was an empty chair for the imprisoned Liu Xiaobo, and equally empty seats in the audience for the 18 gutless countries…

HuffPost TV: Howard Fineman On The Clinton Crew’s Return To The White House (VIDEO)
HuffPost’s Howard Fineman appeared on MSNBC’s “Hardball” Friday evening to discuss former president Bill Clinton’s surprise appearance at President Barack Obama’s press conference Friday, and…


Perkins Falsely?Suggests?DADT Repeal Lacks Public, Military?Support

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 11th, 2010 5:44 am by HL

Perkins Falsely?Suggests?DADT Repeal Lacks Public, Military?Support

In a Washington Times op-ed, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins falsely suggested that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” lacks support from military officials and the public. In fact, numerous military officials and an overwhelming majority of Americans support repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Perkins Says Mullen Is “The One Prominent Military Supporter” Of Repealing DADT

Perkins: “The One Prominent Military Supporter Of President Obama’s Proposal” To Repeal DADT is Adm. Mullen. In his September 9 column, Perkins stated, “The one prominent military supporter of President Obama’s proposal is his chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Michael Mullen.” From Perkins’ column:

The one prominent military supporter of President Obama’s proposal is his chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Michael Mullen.

But Adm. Mullen’s views are clearly outside of the military mainstream, as his testimony reveals. Adm. Mullen said that “should repeal occur, some soldiers and Marines may want separate shower facilities, some may ask for different berthing, some may even quit the service. We’ll deal with that.” [Perkins’ Washington Times op-ed, 12/9/10]

In Fact, Numerous Military Officials Besides Mullen Support Repealing DADT

More Than 100 Retired Generals and Admirals Have Called For DADT’s Repeal. The Palm Center, a University of California research institute, has posted on its website a list of more than 100 retired generals and admirals who “support the recent comments of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General John Shalikashvili, who has concluded that repealing the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy would not harm and would indeed help our armed forces.” [palmcenter.org, accessed 12/10/10]

Gates: “I Fully Support” Decision To Repeal DADT. In his February 2 testimony, Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated:

GATES: Chairman, last week during the State of the Union Address, the president announced he will work with Congress this year to repeal the law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He subsequently directed the Department of Defense to begin the preparations necessary for a repeal of the current law and policy. I fully support the president’s decision. [Senate testimony, 2/2/10]

Former Defense Secretary and Former Vice President Dick Cheney has called for repeal. During a February 14 interview on ABC’s This Week, when asked whether it is “time to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military,” former Defense Secretary and Vice President Dick Cheney replied:

CHENEY: Well, I think the society has moved on. I think it’s partly a generational question. I say I’m reluctant to second-guess the military in this regard because they’re the ones who have got to make the judgment about how these policies affect the military capability of our, of our units. And that first requirement that you have to look at all the time is whether they’re still capable of achieving their mission and does the policy change i.e. putting gays in the force, affect their ability to perform their mission. When the chiefs come forward and say we think we can do it, then it strikes me that it’s time to reconsider the policy. And I think Admiral Mullen’s said that. [thinkprogress.org, 2/14/10]

Gen. Powell Stated His Support For Allowing Gays and Lesbians To Serve, Cited Change In “Attitudes And Circumstances.” A February 4 Washington Post article reported:

Retired Army Gen. Colin L. Powell, whose opposition to allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military helped lead to adoption of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation 17 years ago, said Wednesday that he now thinks the restrictive law should be repealed.

“Attitudes and circumstances have changed,” Powell said. “It’s been a whole generation” since the legislation was adopted, and there is increased “acceptance of gays and lesbians in society,” he said. “Society is always reflected in the military. It’s where we get our soldiers from.” [The Washington Post, 2/4/10]

Gen. Shalikashvili called for repeal of DADT and open service by gays and lesbians. In a January 2007 New York Times op-ed, General John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when DADT was implemented, wrote:

I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces.

[…]

By taking a measured, prudent approach to change, political and military leaders can focus on solving the nation’s most pressing problems while remaining genuinely open to the eventual and inevitable lifting of the ban. [The New York Times, 1/2/07]

Gen. Jones: “[Y]oung Men And Women Who Wish To Serve Their Country Should Not Have To Lie In Order To Do That.” In a February 14 interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Gen. James Jones, currently the National Security Adviser, stated:

JONES: I think that what Secretary Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff articulated in testimony is the right thing to do. I think the president has signaled his intent. This is a policy that has to evolve with the social norms of what’s acceptable and what’s not. [Transcript of CNN’s February 14 State of the Union transcript, accessed 12/10/10]

Asked whether it’s “time to lift” DADT, Jones replied:

JONES: I think times have changed. I think I was very much taken by Admiral Mullen’s view that young men and women who wish to serve their country should not have to lie in order to do that. [Transcript of CNN’s February 14 State of the Union transcript, accessed 12/10/10]

Pentagon Report: “70-76% Of Service Members Said Repeal Would Have A Positive, A Mixed, Or No Effect On Aspects Of Task Cohesion.” According to the Pentagon’s recently released report on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, when asked about the effect of repeal on task cohesion, personal readiness, and unit readiness, majorities of the service members surveyed said they expected a “positive, mixed, or no effect.” From the report [emphasis added]:

The Service member survey asked a number of questions on Service members’ views about the effect of repeal on unit cohesion, including task and social cohesion. Task cohesion is a unit’s ability to work together effectively, whereas social cohesion is a unit’s ability to get along and trust one another. Overall, 70-76% of Service members said repeal would have a positive, a mixed, or no effect on aspects of task cohesion. Similarly, 67-78% of Service members said repeal would have a positive, mixed, or no effect on aspects of social cohesion. [Pentagon report on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Page 64, 11/30/10]

Perkins Suggests Majority Of Americans Do Not Support DADT Repeal

Perkins: “Vast Majority” Of Americans “Stand With The Marines” Who Oppose DADT Repeal. From Perkins’ op-ed:

But possible policy consequences of overturning DADT aside, Democrats should remember that 63 House members were fired from Congress because they obeyed Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid instead of the American people. The 23 Democratic senators up for re-election in 2012 might want to consider how they will address veterans groups and religious organizations regarding their vote.

On Nov. 2, the American people rejected this rush mentality to passing legislation. Liberals are demanding that DADT be overturned now, but the Marines say no. We stand with the Marines, and so do the vast majority of the American people. Yesterday’s cloture vote means the message might be getting through. [Perkins’ Washington Times op-ed, 12/10/10]

Many Recent Polls Find Public Overwhelmingly Supports Gay Men And Lesbians Serving Openly In The Military

Gallup: 67% “Support Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'” A Gallup poll conducted December 3-6 found that “67% of Americans say they would vote for a law that would allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military.” Twenty-eight percent opposed repealing the law. The poll findings added, “More than 60% of Americans since 2005 have said they favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the U.S. military, including majorities of the most conservative segments of the population.” [Gallup.com, 12/9/10]

CBS News: 69% Favor “Allow[ing] Gay Men And Lesbians To Serve Openly In The Military.” A CBS News poll conducted November 29 through December 2 found that 69 percent favor “Allow[ing] Gay Men And Lesbians To Serve Openly In The Military,” while 23 percent oppose it. [CBS News poll, 12/3/10]

CNN/Opinion Research: 72% Favor Permitting Openly Gay And Lesbian Soldiers To Serve. A CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted by November 11-14 found that 72 percent of respondents favored “permitting people who are openly gay or lesbian to serve in the military.” [CNN/Opinion Research poll, accessed 12/10/10]

Pew Research Center: 58% “Favor Allowing Homosexuals To Serve Openly In The Armed Forces.” A Pew Research Center poll conducted November 4-7 found that “most Americans (58%) favor allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces.” The poll findings noted, “Fewer than half that number (27%) oppose allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.” [Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 11/29/10]

Quinnipiac: 58% Support Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. A November Quinnipiac poll asked, “Federal law currently prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Do you think this law should be repealed or not?” Fifty-eight percent of respondents said “yes” while 34 percent said “no.” [Quinnipiac poll, 11/18/10]


Westboro Baptist Church To Picket Elizabeth Edwards Funeral

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 11th, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Westboro Baptist Church To Picket Elizabeth Edwards Funeral
A Kansas-based church known for its high-profile protests of service members’ funerals is planning to show up at the memorial service for the late Elizabeth Edwards, the group said Thursday.


Officials Set Fire To Giant CA Home ‘Bomb Factory’
Authorities on Thursday finally set fire to a “bomb factory” outside San Diego that contained at least nine pounds of homemade explosives. Authorities have been preparing to torch the house for days, constructing a 16-foot firewall around it, evacuating surrounding…


State Dept: No One Touched ‘Dancing Boy’ At DynCorp Party
Of the Wikileaks cache of diplomatic cables, one of the most potentially salacious is about the entertainment at a party thrown by DynCorp, a U.S. contractor training Afghan police, in April 2009. A 17-year-old boy was hired to dance.


Sarah Palin: Slouching Back to Methlehem

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 11th, 2010 5:40 am by HL

Sarah Palin: Slouching Back to Methlehem


Why Do AlterNet Readers Love Lists?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 11th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Why Do AlterNet Readers Love Lists?
AlterNet’s traffic is booming, and list stories are leading the way — can you keep our engines burning and help us with a year-end contribution?

AlterNet's traffic is booming, and list stories are leading the way — can you keep our engines burning and help us with a year-end contribution?

Phone Companies’ $100 Billion Rip-off — Where Is That Hidden $6 a Month Going in Our Phone Bills?
The phone companies are soaking all of us for a good chunk of money every month, and they’re allowed to conceal it in the fine print of your monthly bill.

The phone companies are soaking all of us for a good chunk of money every month, and they're allowed to conceal it in the fine print of your monthly bill.

5 Awards For the World’s Most Heinous Climate Villains
As the world heats up and extreme weather increases there are a bunch of high-profile people who just don’t get it, are handsomely rewarded not to get it, or both.

As the world heats up and extreme weather increases there are a bunch of high-profile people who just don't get it, are handsomely rewarded not to get it, or both.


Why the Tax Deal Confirms the Republican Worldview

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 11th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

Why the Tax Deal Confirms the Republican Worldview
Apart from its extraordinary cost and regressive tilt, the tax deal negotiated between the President and the Republicans has another fatal flaw. It confirms the Republican worldview. Americans want to know what happened to the economy and how to fix…

Just Do It
The fabulous Baker boy is right, the president’s tax deal should be supported. Readers of my columns — all ten of you — know that I hold no brief for the Obama Administration. Unfortunately, the blossoming left opposition to the…


DeMint Wants Tax Deal To Reduce The Deficit And Permanently Extend The Bush Tax Cuts

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 11th, 2010 5:37 am by HL

DeMint Wants Tax Deal To Reduce The Deficit And Permanently Extend The Bush Tax Cuts
While most Republicans on Capitol Hill have signaled support for the tax cut deal that their leadership brokered this week with President Obama, a small minority are opposed. Tea Party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said he is against the deal because it includes a provision to extend unemployment benefits for 13 months. “We can’t […]

While most Republicans on Capitol Hill have signaled support for the tax cut deal that their leadership brokered this week with President Obama, a small minority are opposed. Tea Party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said he is against the deal because it includes a provision to extend unemployment benefits for 13 months. “We can’t just keep paying people to stay at home,” he said.

Last night on Fox News, DeMint expounded on his concerns about the deal. “This is a perfect example of how we got 14 trillion in debt as a nation,” he said. But then his reasoning quickly turned contradictory. “Republicans have something we know is good for the country, such as extending these tax rates.” Later in the interview, DeMint solidified his inconsistency. He said the measure should not increase the deficit; but, in his very next breath, he added that the deal should make the tax cuts permanent:

DEMINT: Rather than support something that is a bad deal, I think I would put my bets on a republican house fixing this thing the second week in January, when we are back in session. But I’d like to get the deal done now. But it should, in my mind not increase the deficit. And we should at least have a vote on making these rates permanent. If we do that, I think it will really help the economy the way it is structured now, I think it could actually hurt the economy by expanding the deficit. So, you know, I’ve heard countless times since I’ve been in Congress, this is the best deal we can make but frankly, with $14 trillion in debt, this is not what we need to do. We need to fight a little bit harder before we let this thing go.

Watch it:

DeMint did not say that there should be spending cuts to offset the federal revenues lost from the tax cuts, which for the wealthy alone, account for more than $800 billion over the next 10 years. Cutting taxes will increase the deficit; they are mutually constitutive. Yet, DeMint thinks the tax deal should decrease the deficit and make the Bush-era tax cuts permanent.

While the President’s priorities in the deal would help about 150 million more Americans than the GOP’s priorities would (and at less cost per person), the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation said that the tax deal would cost the government $801.3 billion over 10 years. While the 13 month unemployment benefit extension would cost $56 billion, the JCT said the two year extension of the tax cuts would cost more than $400 billion.

This feels more than a bit surreal,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, about the tax deal’s cost. “On the heels of the work of the White House Fiscal Commission last week on how to get control of the national debt, the White House and Members of Congress choose to engage in a negotiation that involves adding increasingly larger amounts to the debt? It’s utterly exasperating.”

Kasich: ?I Don?t Favor The Right To Strike Of Any Public Employee?
After securing electoral victory this November, Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich quickly cast off many campaign-friendly principles to suit his preferred governing style. But his penchant for power consolidation took a remarkable turn yesterday when he unveiled his “personal philosophy” of contempt for worker’s rights at a press conference. Incensed over police and firefighter unions’ ability […]

After securing electoral victory this November, Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich quickly cast off many campaign-friendly principles to suit his preferred governing style. But his penchant for power consolidation took a remarkable turn yesterday when he unveiled his “personal philosophy” of contempt for worker’s rights at a press conference. Incensed over police and firefighter unions’ ability to call in a neutral arbiter to resolve any labor disputes, Kasich told the Youngstown Vindicator’s Marc Kovak that he’d love to eliminate that policy, known as binding arbitration, and fire any police or firefighter who wants to strike:

KASICH: You think these local governments want to be stuck with binding arbitration? I’m serious…Our local governments don’t want that, it drives up the cost. So we’re looking for ways to mitigate any of the reductions in dollars that people get, you know, how do we make it easier for them to be able to cope with it?

QUESTION: On that last point, wasn’t binding arbitration adopted as a way to eliminate the possibility of public safety forces striking?

KASICH: Right, if they want to strike, they should be fired. You should not allow, look, you should have a change in the law…there are ways to say that you are not going to strike, and we’re going to continue negotiations without a binding arbitrator…Binding arbitration is not acceptable.[…]

QUESTION: Just to make sure I’m clear, you do not think police and fire emergency services should have the right to strike?

KASICH: I don’t favor the right to strike of any public employee, ok? That’s my personal philosophy. How practical that is to implement, uh you know, but my personal philosophy is I don’t like public employees striking. I mean, they’ve got good jobs, high pay, good benefits, a great retirement, what are they striking for?

Watch it:

Kasich’s “personal philosophy” displays a remarkable dismissal of both freedom and fact. Workers strike as a last resort to eliminate inequalities in bargaining power and address problems including unsafe working conditions, unfair wages, and benefits. Ohio safety forces, however, are prohibited from doing so. Because “unstable” labor relations between safety workers and the city spurred “constant strikes,” Ohio passed a collective bargaining law in 1983 that prohibited public safety workers from striking. But, to ensure workers still had an option, Ohio replaced the right to strike with a binding arbitration policy. So, not only would Kasich like to fire any police officer or firefighter for a right they are not given, he wants to eliminate the only remaining tool they have as a viable alternative.

In defending his dictatorial philosophy, Kasich flags the “cost” such contractually-obligated rights level on local governments. A peculiar defense given that Kasich is hell-bent on dismantling Ohio’s economy before he even takes office. In pledging to kill Ohio’s high-speed rail project, he single-handedly drove away $400 million in federal funds from the state. His plan to scrap an education funding formula for Ohio’s school may also very well cost Ohio another narrowly-won $400 million in “Race to the Top” federal funds. If that’s not enough, Kasich’s plan to eliminate both Ohio’s income tax — nearly half the state’s revenue — would cost about $8.3 billion next year alone. Add another $288.5 million for his apparent plans to eliminate Ohio’s estate tax and Kasich is looking to more than double Ohio’s $8 billion deficit.

But still, according to Kasich’s personal philosophy, it’s the unions that are the problem. (HT: Plunderbund)


Federal Eye: New bill to end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ introduced in Senate

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 11th, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Federal Eye: New bill to end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ introduced in Senate
Trying to revive one of the year’s most tumultuous legislative endeavors, senators on Friday introduced a new bill — with significant support — that would end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Senators introduce new bill to end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
Trying to salvage one of the year’s most tumultuous legislative endeavors, senators on Friday introduced a new bill, with bipartisan support, that would end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military.


Senate leaders pack tax bill with narrow credits and perks
As President Obama, his deficit commission and a bevy of lawmakers urge a concerted push to streamline the federal tax system, Senate leaders have rolled out a sprawling $858 billion tax bill stuffed with dozens of narrow credits and special-interest perks – the very breaks that much of Washingto…