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Archive for December 29th, 2010

Golden Years

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 29th, 2010 5:50 am by HL

Golden Years
I guess there’s not as much graft to go with the continued failure.

I guess that makes just him and Fred Barnes.

Longing for the early years of the Bush administration, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been consumed by anti-U.S. conspiracy theories, convinced American officials are now working against him, according to a diplomatic cable from the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan…wistfully longing for the early days of the Bush administration, which he referred to as a “golden age.”

I guess there haven’t been any recent pipeline kickbacks and big bags o’ cash.



Home Prices Plunge With No Bounce in Sight

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 29th, 2010 5:49 am by HL

Home Prices Plunge With No Bounce in Sight
October wasn’t a good month for sales of single-family homes in the U.S.—in fact, it was pretty dismal—and you know it’s bad when number-crunching economist types say there’s nothing good to say about not only the current moment but the foreseeable future as well.  —KA The Washington Post: The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, long considered a reliable gauge of the housing market’s health, reported Tuesday that prices of single-family homes dropped 1.3 percent in all 20 regions it tracks. The housing market’s collapse crippled the economy, and a recovery in home prices is considered critical to getting the market back on track. But many economists predict that home prices will continue to fall into the new year and possibly beyond. Read more

October wasn’t a good month for sales of single-family homes in the U.S.—in fact, it was pretty dismal—and you know it’s bad when number-crunching economist types say there’s nothing good to say about not only the current moment but the foreseeable future as well.? —KA

The Washington Post:

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, long considered a reliable gauge of the housing market’s health, reported Tuesday that prices of single-family homes dropped 1.3 percent in all 20 regions it tracks.

The housing market’s collapse crippled the economy, and a recovery in home prices is considered critical to getting the market back on track. But many economists predict that home prices will continue to fall into the new year and possibly beyond.

Read more

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Big Fails: FDIC Names 2010 Worst Year For Banks Since 1992

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 29th, 2010 5:48 am by HL

Big Fails: FDIC Names 2010 Worst Year For Banks Since 1992
More banks failed in the United States this year than in any year since 1992, during the savings-and-loan crisis, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance…

Allan Abramson: A New Year’s Resolution: Fixing the Mortgage Mess, and More
Proposition: There is a way to stabilize the housing market, end foreclosures, provide several trillions in stimulus funding, and NOT add to the federal debt….

Terry Tamminen: He’ll Be Back
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legacy as arguably the greenest chief executive in our country’s history will rival Mr. Universe titles and box office championships.

Iowa, New Hampshire Threaten Nation With Early Start To 2012 Primary Season
Because we recently crossed the line that separates humanity from the next presidential election by a full seven hundred days and nights, now is the…

Alaska Election Results: Lisa Murkowski Poised To Be Sworn In As Judge Rejects Joe Miller Lawsuit
JUNEAU, Alaska — A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by Republican Joe Miller and lifted a stay on certification of Alaska’s U.S. Senate…


Equality Matters Looks At Civil Rights Achievements From Integration Of The Military To Marriage Equality

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 29th, 2010 5:47 am by HL

Equality Matters Looks At Civil Rights Achievements From Integration Of The Military To Marriage Equality

In light of legislation repealing the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, Equality Matters reviews achievements in civil rights laws that were accomplished during the 19 years between racial integration of the military and the Supreme Court decision striking down laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Amid these groundbreaking legal changes, Martin Luther King warned that that there were still challenges to overcome in the fight for equal rights.

Ban On Gays Serving Openly In The Military Comes To An End

The New York Times reported:

The military’s longstanding ban on service by gays and lesbians came to a historic and symbolic end on Wednesday, as President Obama signed legislation repealing ”don’t ask, don’t tell,” the contentious 17-year old Clinton-era law that sought to allow gays to serve under the terms of an uneasy compromise that required them to keep their sexuality a secret. [The New York Times, 12/23/10]

Timeline: Civil Rights Achievements From Racial Integration Of The Military To Marriage Equality

July 26, 1948: President Truman Racially Integrates The Armed Forces By Executive Order. Executive Order 9981 required the military to be racially integrated and to provide equal treatment for servicemen of all races:

WHEREAS it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense:

NOW THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale. [Executive Order 9981, 7/26/48, via TrumanLibrary.org]

May 17, 1954: Supreme Court’s Brown V. Board Of Education Decision Rules That Segregation Of The Nation’s Public Schools Violates The U.S. Constitution. In its decision, the court wrote:

We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. [Brown v. Board of Education, 5/17/54, via FindLaw.com]

September 9, 1957: President Eisenhower Signs The Civil Rights Act Of 1957. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was the first civil rights legislation to pass Congress since the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War. It established the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and strengthened voting rights laws:

PART IV — TO PROVIDE MEANS OF FURTHER SECURING AND PROTECTING THE RIGHT TO VOTE

SEC. 131. Section 2004 of the Revised Statutes (42 U.S.C. 1971), is amended as follows:

[…]

(c) Add, immediately following the present text, four new subsections to read as follows:

“(b) No person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, coerce or attempt to intimidate, threaten or coerce any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate or member of the House of Representatives, delegates or Commissioners from the Territories or possessions, at any general, special, or primary election held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any such candidate.

“(c) Whenever any person has engaged or there are reasonable grounds to believe that any person is about to engage in any act or practice which would deprive any other person of any right or privilege secured by subsection (a) or (b), the Attorney General may institute for the United States, Or in the nation of the United States, a civil action or other proper proceeding for preventive relief, including an application for a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order, or other order. In any proceeding hereunder the United States shall be liable for costs the same as a private person.

“(d) The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction of proceedings instituted pursuant to this section and shall exercise the same without regard to whether the party aggrieved shall have exhausted any administrative or other remedies that may be provided by law.

“(e) (14) Any person cited for an alleged contempt under this act shall be allowed to make his full defense by counsel learned in the law; and the court before which he is cited or tried, or some judge thereof, shall immediately, upon his request, assign to him such counsel, not exceeding two, as he may desire, who shall have free access to him at all reasonable hours. He shall be allowed, in his defense to make any proof that he can produce by lawful witnesses, and shall have the like process of the court to compel his witnesses to appear at his trial or hearing as is usually granted to compel witnesses to appear on behalf of the prosecution. If such person shall be found by the court to be financially unable to provide for such counsel, it shall be the duty of the court to provide such counsel. [Civil Rights Act of 1957, 9/9/57, via University of Maryland Law School]

May 6, 1960: President Eisenhower Signs The Civil Rights Act Of 1960. The law empowered federal courts to appoint referees to ensure that voting rights were not denied on the basis of race and other factors:

In any proceeding instituted pursuant to subsection (c) in the event the court finds that any person has been deprived on account of race or color of any right or privilege secured by subsection (a), the court shall upon request of the Attorney General and after each party has been given notice and the opportunity to be heard make a finding whether such deprivation was or is pursuant to a pattern or practice.

[…]

The court may appoint one or more persons who are qualified voters in the judicial district, to be known as voting referees, who shall subscribe to the oath of office required by Revised Statutes, Section 1757; (5 U.S.C. 16) to serve for such period as the court shall determine, to receive such applications and to take evidence and report to the court findings as to whether or not at any election or elections (1) any such applicant is qualified under State law to vote, and (2) he has since the finding by the court heretofore specified been (a) deprived of or denied under color of law the opportunity to register to vote or otherwise to qualify to vote, or (b) found not qualified to vote by any person acting under color of law. [Civil Rights Act of 1960, via Cornell University Law School, as amended by subsequent laws]

January 23, 1964: The States Ratify The 24th Amendment To The Constitution. The 24th Amendment to the Constitution states:

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. [Amendment 24 to the U.S. Constitution, ratified 1/23/64, via USConstitution.net]

July 2, 1964: President Johnson Signs The Civil Rights Act Of 1964.

  • Title II Of The Law Created Outlawed Discrimination In Places of Public Accommodation On The Basis of Race And Other Factors:

SEC. 201. (a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin. [Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II, via the U.S. House of Representatives]

  • Title VII Of The Law Outlawed Discrimination In Employment Practices On The Basis Of Race And Other Factors:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer –

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. [Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, via the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]

August 6, 1965: President Johnson Signs The Voting Rights Act Of 1965. This law prohibited states from imposing prerequisites or requirements to voting:

SEC. 2. No voting qualifications or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color. [Voting Rights Act of 1965, via the U.S. House of Representatives]

March 24, 1966: The Supreme Court Rules That Poll Taxes For State Elections Violate The Constitution. From the Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections decision:

In a recent searching reexamination of the Equal Protection Clause, we held, as already noted, that “the opportunity for equal participation by all voters in the election of state legislators” is required. We decline to qualify that principle by sustaining this poll tax. Our conclusion, like that, in Reynolds v. Sims, is founded not on what we think governmental policy should be, but on what the Equal Protection Clause requires. [Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, via Cornell University Law School]

June 12, 1967: The Supreme Court Declares That Laws Banning Interracial Marriage Violate The U.S. Constitution. From the Loving v. Virginia decision:

This case presents a constitutional question never addressed by this Court: whether a statutory scheme adopted by the State of Virginia to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. For reasons which seem to us to reflect the central meaning of those constitutional commands, we conclude that these statutes cannot stand consistently with the Fourteenth Amendment. [Supreme Court of the United States, Loving v. Virginia, via Cornell University Law School]

Following Passage Of Civil Rights Act of 1964, Martin Luther King Said Much Work Remained To Be Done

King: “We Still Have A Long, Long Way To Go Before The Dream Of Freedom Is A Reality For The Negro In The United States.” In his Nobel Peace Prize lecture, delivered months after the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. said:

Let me not leave you with a false impression. The problem is far from solved. We still have a long, long way to go before the dream of freedom is a reality for the Negro in the United States. To put it figuratively in biblical language, we have left the dusty soils of Egypt and crossed a Red Sea whose waters had for years been hardened by a long and piercing winter of massive resistance. But before we reach the majestic shores of the Promised Land, there is a frustrating and bewildering wilderness ahead. We must still face prodigious hilltops of opposition and gigantic mountains of resistance. But with patient and firm determination we will press on until every valley of despair is exalted to new peaks of hope, until every mountain of pride and irrationality is made low by the leveling process of humility and compassion; until the rough places of injustice are transformed into a smooth plane of equality of opportunity; and until the crooked places of prejudice are transformed by the straightening process of bright-eyed wisdom.

What the main sections of the civil rights movement in the United States are saying is that the demand for dignity, equality, jobs, and citizenship will not be abandoned or diluted or postponed. If that means resistance and conflict we shall not flinch. We shall not be cowed. We are no longer afraid. [12/11/1964, via NobelPrize.org]

King: Civil Rights Movement Remained “Beleaguered And Committed To Unrelenting Struggle.” From King’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:

I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize. [12/10/1964, via NobelPrize.org]


Suit Says U.S. Marshals Mishandled Forfeiture Of Madoff Assets

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 29th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Suit Says U.S. Marshals Mishandled Forfeiture Of Madoff Assets
A government whistleblower charges that the 73-year-old man the U.S. Marshals Service put in charge of auctioning off the property forfeited by white-collar criminals, including Bernie Madoff, undervalued what could be millions of dollars in assets.

NASA Forced To Pour Nearly $500M Into Nixed Rocket Program
One small clause for Congress, one giant bill for taxpayer-kind.


Bush Audiobook Chapters Now Include “Bush It” For Windows Users
If you plug your brand-new “Decision Points” audiobook into your Windows computer, you’ll get some pretty unexpected track titles. Why? Because in 2007, various artists made a protest album called “George W. Bush,” and the online database that Windows Media uses to fill in the track titles thinks your audiobook is their album.


Guess what? Jesus ain’t gonna save us

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 29th, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Guess what? Jesus ain’t gonna save us
Richard M. Nixon is the only president in U.S. history to lose a war retroactively! America lost its war with Vietnam back in 1973 — on President Nixon’s watch. But who would have thought that, approximately 35 years later, Nixon again would be losing us yet another war — the war with China. Back in 1973, America […]


Still Waiting on Palin Emails

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 29th, 2010 5:42 am by HL

Still Waiting on Palin Emails
Alaska officials have once again delayed the release of emails from Sarah Palin’s two years as governor, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

State officials have identified 26,553 printed pages of e-mails responsive to the requests, but only about 7,400 of those pages have been reviewed by state lawyers for advice on non-releasable content. Once the review is complete, they will have to be reviewed again by someone in the governor’s office.

Americans Don’t Mind Their Senators
Public Policy Polling is out with a treasure trove of public approval-disapproval ratings of senators in the second half of 2010, and finds that the average approval rating for a senator is 43% approving to 40% disapproving.

“That suggests the old adage that voters hate Congress but love their Congressman holds true…to an extent…maybe hate Congress but don’t mind their Congressman is a better way of putting it. At any rate 37 Senators had positive approval numbers in our most recent polls while 22 had negative ones.”

The senators with the highest net approval ratings are Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) at +30 points, Scott Brown (R-MA) at +24 and Judd Gregg (R-NH) at +23. Meanwhile, of the senators polled who are up for re-election in 2012, two are in a shaky position: Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) net approval is -21, and Max Baucus’s (D-MT) is -15.

The least popular senator by far was former Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL), who had a net approval rating of -39.


Vision: Modern Utopians — Revisiting the Amazing Communes and Alternative Societies of the ’60s and ’70s

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 29th, 2010 5:41 am by HL

Vision: Modern Utopians — Revisiting the Amazing Communes and Alternative Societies of the ’60s and ’70s
An excerpt from Fairfield’s new book on the living alternatives that helped define the greatest cultural explosion in American history.


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 29th, 2010 5:40 am by HL

Presented By:

Christmas Eve Prediction: Obama Easily Re-Elected
It came to me as if in a dream. A year from now, President Obama’s re-election will be assured. The GOP primary battle will be amusing, but — like the GOP primaries in 1996 — it will be clear that…


Another Score: Joe Biden & Ad Melkert Deliver on Iraq
Remember Iraq? Well, for the moment, it is not blowing up or engaged in a raging civil war — and thus is not at the height of the news. Which is sad. Iraq, for the time being, is stabilizing –…



Supported By Tea Party Polluters, Upton Flips On Threat Of Global Warming

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 29th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Supported By Tea Party Polluters, Upton Flips On Threat Of Global Warming
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, incoming energy chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) joined Americans For Prosperity (AFP) president Tim Phillips, a global warming denier, to support the lawsuits by global warming polluters against climate rules. One of the companies leading the charge against the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas endangerment finding is Koch Industries, […]

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, incoming energy chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) joined Americans For Prosperity (AFP) president Tim Phillips, a global warming denier, to support the lawsuits by global warming polluters against climate rules. One of the companies leading the charge against the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas endangerment finding is Koch Industries, the private pollution giant whose billionaire owners have been directing the Tea Party movement through its AFP front group.

Upton once considered a “moderate on environmental issues,” but has worked hard to refashion himself as a hard-right defender of pollution in recent months. Some Tea Party groups tried to block Upton from taking the gavel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, attacking his past support for energy-efficient light bulbs. Upton previously claimed that “climate change is a serious problem” and that “the world will be better off” if we reduced carbon emissions. However, in the course of the past two years — as he received $20,000 from Koch Industries — Upton has shifted to oppose not only cap-and-trade legislation but any form of limits on climate pollution whatsoever, instead supporting investigations against climate scientists and lawsuits against the EPA and its supposed “unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs”:

April 2009: Climate change is a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions.

June 2009: We have a unique opportunity and a responsibility to reduce emissions and preserve our economy – the American public is desperate for solutions, but a national energy tax is not the answer.

December 2009: I think we can lower our emissions. I think the world will be better off if we did that, and we can do it without cap and trade.

January 2010: No matter what we did between now and 2050, it, there was no real science to verify that it would reduce the temperature rise that some predicted. And that’s why we do need hearings.

December 2010: Moreover, the principal argument for a two-year delay is that it will allow Congress time to create its own plan for regulating carbon. This presumes that carbon is a problem in need of regulation. We are not convinced.

“We think the American consumer would prefer not to be skinned by Obama’s EPA,” Upton and Phillips wrote in the Wall Street Journal, invoking the grisly image of the president murdering his fellow citizens. The world would be better off if Upton went back to believing instead in serious solutions to serious problems.

Sen. Shelby’s Pork Lust Forces NASA To Spend $500 Million On Canceled Rocket Program
Thanks to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), taxpayers are footing a $500 million bill for a NASA rocket that the agency has no plans or desire to continue developing. The Orlando Sentinel reports that pork legislation inserted into a spending bill by Shelby earlier this year is requiring NASA to spend millions on the canceled Ares […]

Thanks to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), taxpayers are footing a $500 million bill for a NASA rocket that the agency has no plans or desire to continue developing. The Orlando Sentinel reports that pork legislation inserted into a spending bill by Shelby earlier this year is requiring NASA to spend millions on the canceled Ares I rocket program through March, even while the agency can’t find funds to begin a much-needed modernization of the famed Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida:

At the root of the problem is a 70-word sentence inserted into the 2010 budget — by lawmakers seeking to protect Ares I jobs in their home states — that bars NASA from shutting down the program until Congress passed a new budget a year later. […]

But Congress never passed a 2011 budget and instead voted this month to extend the 2010 budget until March — so NASA still must abide by the 2010 language.[…]

The language that keeps Constellation going was inserted into the 2010 budget last year by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican who sought to protect the program and Ares jobs at Marshall Space Flight Center in his home state.

His office confirmed that the language was still in effect but did not respond to e-mails seeking details.

Nearly all of the money for the program will go to two defense contractors building the Ares rocket, Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Lockheed Martin, with ATK receiving the bulk. Defense contractors have been a consistent source of financial support for Shelby’s campaigns, contributing to him at higher rates than to other politicians in his state. In particular, Shelby’s 2010 reelection campaign was the top recipient of funds from ATK’s PAC, receiving the maximum $10,000. And the company’s employees appear to have given more to Shelby than to any other politician in the 2010 election cycle.

Shelby certainly has a flair for the dramatic when it comes to extracting pork money for defense contractors in his state. In a “nearly unprecedented” move in February, Shelby placed a blanket hold on every single presidential nominees being considered by the Senate — more than 70 in total, including “top Intelligence officers at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security as well as the number three civilian at the Pentagon” — in order to pressure to Obama administration to do the bidding of Northrop Grumman on a $40 billion contract for which they were being considered.