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Archive for January 8th, 2011

Gates Makes $78 Billion in Military Cuts

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 8th, 2011 5:51 am by HL

Gates Makes $78 Billion in Military Cuts
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced cuts of $78 billion to the U.S. military and defense department, including reducing the size of the Army and Marine Corps. Gates also said the Army, Navy and Air Force had found $100 billion of savings that they would retain. “This country’s dire fiscal situation, and the threat it poses to America’s influence and credibility around the world, will only get worse unless the U.S. government gets its finances in order,” Gates said. “As the biggest part of the discretionary federal budget, the Pentagon cannot presume to exempt itself from the scrutiny and pressure faced by the rest of our government.”



Late Late Night FDL: How High The Moon

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 8th, 2011 5:50 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: How High The Moon
Dudley Moore and The Electric MayhemHow High The Moon, from episode 407 of The Muppet Show.

Dudley Moore and The Electric MayhemHow High The Moon, from episode 407 of The Muppet Show.

What’s on your mind?


Riots Rock Algeria Over Prices, Jobs

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 8th, 2011 5:49 am by HL

Riots Rock Algeria Over Prices, Jobs
Protests erupted in the Algerian capital of Algiers and several other cities this week as people took to the streets over a doubling of food prices and a stubborn 25 percent unemployment rate. The protests are getting some attention: The government announced that prices for sugar and some other commodities would be rolled back. —JCL The Guardian: Fresh rioting broke out in Algiers today as police were deployed around mosques and football matches were suspended after protests over food prices and unemployment. Riot police armed with teargas and batons maintained a strong presence around the Algerian capital’s main mosques. In the popular Belcourt district, rioting resumed after Friday prayers. Young protesters pelted police with stones and blocked access to the area. The official APS news agency said protesters ransacked government buildings, bank branches and post offices in several eastern cities overnight, including Constantine, Jijel, Setif and Bouira. In Ras el Oued this morning, buildings belonging to the state-run gas utility Sonelgaz, the council and the tax authority were seriously damaged along with several schools, APS reported. Read more

Protests erupted in the Algerian capital of Algiers and several other cities this week as people took to the streets over a doubling of food prices and a stubborn 25 percent unemployment rate.

The protests are getting some attention: The government announced that prices for sugar and some other commodities would be rolled back. —JCL

The Guardian:

Fresh rioting broke out in Algiers today as police were deployed around mosques and football matches were suspended after protests over food prices and unemployment.

Riot police armed with teargas and batons maintained a strong presence around the Algerian capital’s main mosques. In the popular Belcourt district, rioting resumed after Friday prayers. Young protesters pelted police with stones and blocked access to the area.

The official APS news agency said protesters ransacked government buildings, bank branches and post offices in several eastern cities overnight, including Constantine, Jijel, Setif and Bouira. In Ras el Oued this morning, buildings belonging to the state-run gas utility Sonelgaz, the council and the tax authority were seriously damaged along with several schools, APS reported.

Read more

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GOP Congressmen Apologize For Missing Oath

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 8th, 2011 5:48 am by HL

GOP Congressmen Apologize For Missing Oath
Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) have sent out a letter to their GOP colleagues apologizing for the procedural snafu they created by…

Gallup Poll May Exaggerate Support For Full Repeal Of Health Care Law
As the new Republican majority in the House begins debate on a proposal to scuttle President Obama’s landmark health reform act, Gallup released a new…

Art Coviello: Government’s Earlier Failure to Act Clouds the Facts
Recent disparaging comments about private sector engagement in U.S. national cyber defense misrepresent collaboration and hard-won progress with the U.S. government and public sector.

GOP Congressmen Face Criticism From Watchdog Groups For Skipping Oath For Fundraiser
WASHINGTON — Democrats and congressional watchdog groups accused Republicans on Friday of illegally holding a campaign fundraiser in the Capitol complex during this week’s swearing-in…

Eric Schoenberg: Zombie Economics and Just Deserts: Why the Right Is Winning the Economic Debate
Democrats have completely failed to link higher taxes on the wealthy to populist anger at those who prospered while driving the economy into a ditch. They need to challenge the claim that unfettered markets create just deserts.


Fox Suddenly Silent On Reported GOP Plans To Use “Cowardly” “Demon Pass” Rule

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 8th, 2011 5:47 am by HL

Fox Suddenly Silent On Reported GOP Plans To Use “Cowardly” “Demon Pass” Rule

Fox News’ extensive coverage of the new Republican House majority has so far ignored the fact that the GOP is reportedly embracing the use of the self-executing rule — commonly referred to as “deem and pass” — to mandate federal budget limits. By comparison, Fox figures repeatedly attacked Democrats for considering using the rule during the health care debate, dubbing it “demon pass” and questioning its constitutionality.

GOP Reportedly To Use “Deem And Pass” To Mandate Spending Limits

TPM: “GOP Plans To Implement The ‘Demon Pass’ They Once Decried.” Talking Points Memo reported that the self-executing rule, also known as “deem and pass,” “is scheduled to make its return to the Capitol Hill on January 5.” According to TPM’s Brian Beutler:

Because Democrats didn’t pass a budget, and because spending authority expires in early March, there’s a strong chance that the government will run out of money before the House and Senate agree to new spending levels. When that happens, under the new House rules, spending will continue — but at levels no higher than those chosen by the House Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan.

As soon as those rules are adopted on Wednesday, Ryan’s spending levels will be considered — or “deemed” — adopted by the full House as if they’d passed a budget with a floor vote. The legislative language in the rules package holds that Ryan’s spending limits, “shall be considered as contained in a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2011 and the submission thereof into the Congressional Record shall be considered as the completion of congressional action on a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2011.” [Talking Points Memo, 1/4/11 (emphasis in original)]

Fox Relentlessly Attacked Democrats For Considering Use of Rule During Health Care Debate

TPM: House Democrats “Toy[ed] With Using A Similar Process” And Faced Huge Right-Wing Backlash. Talking Points Memo also reported:

Back in March 2010, House Democrats were toying with using a similar process to pass health care reform. They were considering the Senate health care package, which they hated, and a package of amendments to that bill, which they liked. To square those views, they wanted to set up a procedural vote, which, if agreed to, would “deem” both bills passed at once. “Deem” and “pass.”

This quickly became known as “Demon Pass,” or the “Slaughter Solution,” named after House Rules Chair Louise Slaughter. Republicans rebelled, and conservatives went off the deep end. Radio talk show host Mark Levin called it “100 times worse than Watergate.”

Democrats eventually bowed to that pressure and decide not to use the process — known technically as “deeming,” or a “self-executing.” [Talking Points Memo, 1/4/11]

Beck: “How Is This Even Constitutional?” Discussing the self-executing rule on the March 16 edition of his show, Glenn Beck asked: “How is this even constitutional?” Beck similarly wrote in his newsletter that Democrats are “slaughtering the Constitution” and that “the Constitution is being thwarted” if the health care reform legislation passes using the self-executing rule. [Fox News’ Glenn Beck3/16/11]

Hannity: Democrats’ “Latest Solution, Don’t Vote At All.” During the March 11 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity stated: “The desperation among Democrats to pass this health care bill has reached new heights. Now they lacked the votes in the House to jam this bill through. So their latest solution, don’t vote at all. Now that’s what House rules chairwoman Louise Slaughter is proposing. Now she wants to create a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed and once and for all by passing a minor bill that makes corrections to the Senate bill.” [Fox News’ Hannity, 3/11/10 (accessed via Nexis)]

Van Susteren Called Self-Executing Rule “Cowardly.” On the March 17 edition of Fox News’ On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren asked Fox News contributor Dana Perino, “[T]his is a way so that the — in a sense, that the House can go back to the districts and say, Look, I didn’t vote for it because it’s just been deemed passed, right?” and later claimed, “[I]f I were a Democratic member of Congress … the last thing I would want to do is say I sort of cowardly did this deemer — this ‘deem scheme’ thing.” [Fox News’ On the Record, 3/17/10, via Nexis]

Cavuto Compared Dems Who Vote On Self-Executing Rule To  A “Nefarious Car Salesman.” During an interview with former Republican Sen. Trent Lott, Neil Cavuto compared Democrats who vote for the self-executing rule as “a nefarious car salesman who says, well, yes, you bought this and you paid for this, when, in fact, you didn`t buy this and you didn’t think you paid for this, right?” [Fox News’ Your World, 3/15/10, via Nexis]

Hannity Criticized Pelosi For Supporting Deem And Pass. On March 18, Hannity criticized then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her support of “deem and pass,” calling it “unconstitutional” and suggesting that House Democrats are “bribing people.” From Hannity:

HANNITY: Only 35 percent of those polled support this bill. But there was another interesting aspect of this poll, and that is, 53 percent think Nancy Pelosi is breaking the rules to pass Obama care.

[…] 

I think they’re bribing people on the one hand, they’re buying off votes. And on the other hand, I think this is unconstitutional. Constitution, Article 1, section 7 clearly explains you’ve got to have an up-or-down, yea or nay vote, don’t you?

[…] 

So then you had to use this procedure, the Slaughter rule, deem and pass, whatever, both the same — today because they didn’t have the votes to pass this in the House of Representatives, OK. [Hannity, 3/18/10, via Nexis]

Beck Equated “Slaughter Rule” With “Secrecy,” “Arm-Twisting,” “Bribes,” And Lies.” On the March 18 edition of his Fox News show, Beck called for “the political game surrounding the health care bill” to be “addressed”:

BECK: The health care bill is merely a battle. And it is a huge battle. I think it may be Normandy, but it’s part of a bigger war.

And the war is the fundamental transformation, or restoration of our country. That is the game that they’re playing. And while everybody is going to focus on the political game surrounding the health care bill, the Slaughter Rule, the secrecy, the arm-twisting, the bribes, the lies — these things should be addressed. [Glenn Beck, 3/18/10, via Nexis]

Hannity Challenged Constitutionality of “Slaughter Rule,” Advertises This On His Website. On the March 17 edition of his show, Hannity questioned the “constitutionality” of the “Slaughter rule”:

HANNITY: [I]f this Slaughter rule is used, they have prepared — I’ve put it up on my Web site. They have prepared a court challenge as to the constitutionality of it. There’s also been talk about the constitutionality of mandates. [Hannity, 3/17/10, via Nexis]

Beck: “Let’s Forget About That Whole Constitution Thing. … Let’s Just Instead Deem That It Has Been Passed In The House.” On the March 19 edition of his show, Beck claimed:

BECK: The [health care reform] process that the president doesn’t seem to care about has been so abused the average person in America has absolutely no idea what is even happening. What has happened to our country? Is there no honor anymore?

[…]

Yes, let’s just — let’s forget about that whole Constitution thing where it has to pass both the House and the Senate, you know, no. Let’s just instead deem that it has been passed in the House. [Glenn Beck, 3/19/10, via Nexis]

Yet Fox Goes Silent On Reported GOP Plans To Use Rule

Primetime Fox News Shows Fail To Cover GOP Use Of Self-Executing Rule. A Nexis search of January programs showed no mention of the self-executing rule on any Fox News shows. Media Matters searched Fox News transcripts from the networks’ primetime shows from January 1 to January 7 using the search term (deem! w/5 pass! OR self-execut! OR slaughter OR without w/5 vot!).


Judiciary Chair Passes Over Far-Right King For Immigration Subcommittee

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 8th, 2011 5:46 am by HL

Judiciary Chair Passes Over Far-Right King For Immigration Subcommittee
The new chair of the House Judiciary Committee has passed over Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the super-conservative hard-line immigration foe, for chairman of the immigration subcommittee.

Despite Donations To Girl Scouts, PMA Lobbyist Gets 27 Months
Former super-lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti was sentenced today to 27 months in prison, a spokesman for the Justice Department told TPM.


Boehner & House GOP: Backassward to the Future Again

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 8th, 2011 5:43 am by HL

Boehner & House GOP: Backassward to the Future Again


How AT&T, Verizon and the Telecom Giants Have Captured the Regulator Supposed to Control Them

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 8th, 2011 5:42 am by HL

How AT&T, Verizon and the Telecom Giants Have Captured the Regulator Supposed to Control Them
Our telecom industry’s overseer doesn’t seem to have any control to stop the greed. That’s because it’s a puppet of the industry giants.

Nation Magazine Holds Annual Bash, Gives $100,000 Puffin Awards to Outstanding U.S. Progressive Activists
At a gathering that features most of the East Coast progressive elite, attendees have a blast and take care of some serious political business.

Sex R Us: The Rise of Enlightened Sexism
Susan J. Douglas’s new book illuminates the proliferation of apparently strong feminist icons who, in reality, are holding back the feminist movement.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday: Is the Drug War the Next Big Civil Rights Issue?
How do we begin to address the connections between astronomical rates of incarceration, disintegration of black families, and the war on drugs?

9 Essential Questions About Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks
Why is Manning kept in solitary confinement? And what role did Assange play in Manning’s leaks? We answer these questions and more.


Rising Calls For An American Imposed Peace Plan

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 8th, 2011 5:41 am by HL

Rising Calls For An American Imposed Peace Plan
Howard Sachar is the historian the rest of us of who write about Israel are cautious about referring to in our work, for fear of giving away just how much of his research and analysis we borrowed. His A History…

Arab Nazareth, Israeli Democracy–Bundist Dreams
A little over three weeks ago (around the time this blogger went quiet, in this season of reflection), Sidra and I took a little road trip to the Israeli Arab town of Nazareth, where we spent the weekend in a…


The Terrorist-Supporting Neocons
Thanks to a New York Times op-ed today by Georgetown law professor David Cole, debate has been renewed over last summer’s SCOTUS decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project and the question of what constitutes “support” for terrorists and can…



Obama Created More Jobs In One Year Than Bush Created In Eight

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 8th, 2011 5:40 am by HL

Obama Created More Jobs In One Year Than Bush Created In Eight
This morning, the Labor Department released its employment data for December, showing that the U.S. economy ended the year by adding 113,000 private sector jobs, knocking the unemployment rate down sharply from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent — its lowest rate since July 2009. The “surprising drop — which was far better than the modest […]

This morning, the Labor Department released its employment data for December, showing that the U.S. economy ended the year by adding 113,000 private sector jobs, knocking the unemployment rate down sharply from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent — its lowest rate since July 2009. The “surprising drop — which was far better than the modest step-down economists had forecast — was the steepest one-month fall since 1998.” October and November’s jobs numbers were also revised upward by almost 80,000 each. Still, 14.5 million Americans remain unemployed, and jobs will have to be created much faster in coming months for the country to pull itself out of the economic doldrums.

Responding the jobs report, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) noted that President Obama and the Democratic Congress have created “more jobs in 2010 than President Bush did over eight years.”

Indeed, from February 2001, Bush’s first full month in office, through January 2009, his last, the economy added just 1 million jobs. By contrast, in 2010 alone, the economy added at least 1.1 million jobs. This chart, produced by Pelosi’s office, demonstrates the difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration on jobs:

As the Wall Street Journal noted in the last month of Bush’s term, the former president had the “worst track record for job creation since the government began keeping records.” And job creation under Bush was anemic long before the recession began. Bush’s supply-side economics “fostered the weakest jobs and income growth in more than six decades,” along with “sluggish business investment and weak gross domestic product growth,” the Center for American Progress’ Joshua Picker explained. “On every major measurement” of income and employment, “the country lost ground during Bush’s two terms,” the National Journal’s Ron Brownstein observed, parsing Census data.

Kentucky Law Would Force Women To See Ultrasound Images Before Abortion Procedures
The Kentucky state Senate passed a law yesterday mandating that women seeking an abortion must wait 24 hours before the procedure is performed, and also must be shown an ultrasound of the fetus. The measure, which passed 32-5, requires that women receive an ultrasound and see the results, and if she chooses to avert her […]

The Kentucky state Senate passed a law yesterday mandating that women seeking an abortion must wait 24 hours before the procedure is performed, and also must be shown an ultrasound of the fetus. The measure, which passed 32-5, requires that women receive an ultrasound and see the results, and if she chooses to avert her eyes, the “doctor still would have to describe to her the image.” Cases of rape or incest are not exempted from this requirement, and doctors face fines as high as $250,000 for disobeying the law.

Forced ultrasounds are becoming an increasingly popular tool for the anti-choice movement; 20 states have laws encouraging or requiring ultrasounds be performed before an abortion. Kentucky would be the first state to mandate the ultrasound information be impressed upon the woman if this measure is enacted. The bill must be passed by the state House and then signed by Gov. Steve Beshear (D).

Women’s rights groups have long maintained that ultrasound requirements interfere with the doctor-patient relationship by forcing providers to give unnecessary information to patients. “The laws don’t work. … [A]nd they don’t respect women’s ability to make informed choices,” Vicki A. Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, has said. Oklahoma had a similar requirement for six days before a court struck it down, and providers in the area reported that it inflicted serious emotional pain on patients but did not result in any abortion procedures being canceled:

During the six days the law was in effect, all of the patients at the Reproductive Services abortion clinic in Tulsa averted their eyes from the ultrasound screen, said Linda S. Meek, the clinic’s director. But they could not avoid hearing descriptions of fetal length and heart activity, she said. Many left in tears, but none changed course.

“It’s very intrusive, and very cruel,” Ms. Meek said.

Women in other states, interviewed this summer by the New York Times, echoed the view that ultrasound information inflicted needless emotional pain:

Laura, who asked that her last name not be used, had come to the New Woman All Women Health Care clinic in Birmingham with her mind set on having an abortion. And she felt that seeing the image of her bean-size fetus would only unleash her already hormonal emotions, without changing her mind.

“It just would have added to the pain of what is already a difficult decision,” she said later. […]

Laura, who has a 17-year-old son, said she took offense at the state’s implicit suggestion that she had not fully considered her choice.

“You don’t just walk into one of these places like you’re getting your nails done,” she said. “I think we’re armed with enough information to make adult decisions without being emotionally tortured.”

The bill is clearly required to limit, as much as possible, the right of women in Kentucky to receive abortions. Aside from purposely inflicting emotional pain on patients, the 24-hour waiting period would be “harmful for poor or working women in rural areas who have to travel to get an abortion,” since the state’s two abortion clinics are in Lexington and Louisville. Anti-choicers in the state Senate actually attached an amendment to this bill that would ban all abortions in the state outright, so they could “take care of this in one fell swoop.” The amendment failed for one rather ironic reason: it was ruled out of order because it was not filed 24 hours before consideration by the full Senate.