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Archive for December 6th, 2011

Late, Late Night FDL: Two of Us

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 6th, 2011 5:46 am by HL

Late, Late Night FDL: Two of Us
The Beatles – Two Of Us

The Beatles – Two Of Us

What’s on your mind tonite…?

The Escape Pods are being assembled
A couple weeks ago, I sarcastically stated that the world’s credit agencies were starting to threaten multiple national credit downgrades as if they had a plan to leave the planet altogether. We may be past sarcasm.

Image via ASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

A couple weeks ago, I sarcastically stated that the world’s credit agencies were starting to threaten multiple national credit downgrades as if they had a plan to leave the planet altogether.

We may be past sarcasm:

The ratings agency placed the ratings of 15 euro zone countries, including top-rated nations Germany and France, on credit watch negative — a move that signals a possible downgrade in no later than three months.

The U.S., Japan, England were all part of the last round of threats.

Meanwhile, they may have found a place to go.

Astronomers have confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet in the “habitable zone” around a star not unlike our own.

The planet, Kepler 22-b, lies about 600 light-years away and is about 2.4 times the size of Earth, and has a temperature of about 22C.

#OccupyThat!


The Age of Thirst in the American West

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 6th, 2011 5:45 am by HL

The Age of Thirst in the American West
By William deBuys, TomDispatch Consider it a taste of the future: the fire, smoke, drought, dust, and heat that have made life unpleasant, if not dangerous, from Louisiana to Los Angeles.

By William deBuys, TomDispatch

Consider it a taste of the future: the fire, smoke, drought, dust, and heat that have made life unpleasant, if not dangerous, from Louisiana to Los Angeles.


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Building the Ideal GOP Candidate, 2012 Edition
This person would have populist appeal, would have bought and be willing to sell the notion that Obama is a socialist and would probably not have a clue, according to The New York Times’ clued-in columnist Paul Krugman. Yes, we’re talking about the prototype for the GOP presidential hopeful of tomorrow—as in 2012. But do any of the prospects fit the mold? Read on.  —KA Paul Krugman in The New York Times: Think about what it takes to be a viable Republican candidate today. You have to denounce Big Government and high taxes without alienating the older voters who were the key to G.O.P. victories last year — and who, even as they declare their hatred of government, will balk at any hint of cuts to Social Security and Medicare (death panels!). And you also have to denounce President Obama, who enacted a Republican-designed health reform and killed Osama bin Laden, as a radical socialist who is undermining American security. So what kind of politician can meet these basic G.O.P. requirements? There are only two ways to make the cut: to be totally cynical or to be totally clueless. Read more

This person would have populist appeal, would have bought and be willing to sell the notion that Obama is a socialist and would probably not have a clue, according to The New York Times’ clued-in columnist Paul Krugman. Yes, we’re talking about the prototype for the GOP presidential hopeful of tomorrow—as in 2012. But do any of the prospects fit the mold? Read on.? —KA

Paul Krugman in The New York Times:

Think about what it takes to be a viable Republican candidate today. You have to denounce Big Government and high taxes without alienating the older voters who were the key to G.O.P. victories last year — and who, even as they declare their hatred of government, will balk at any hint of cuts to Social Security and Medicare (death panels!).

And you also have to denounce President Obama, who enacted a Republican-designed health reform and killed Osama bin Laden, as a radical socialist who is undermining American security.

So what kind of politician can meet these basic G.O.P. requirements? There are only two ways to make the cut: to be totally cynical or to be totally clueless.

Read more

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Arizona Sheriff Apologizes For Botched Cases

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 6th, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Arizona Sheriff Apologizes For Botched Cases
PHOENIX — Sheriff Joe Arpaio apologized Monday to victims for his office’s botched investigations of a large number of sex-crimes cases as the tough-talking lawman…

Nigel Hamilton: Pearl Harbor — and Our Moral Identity as a Nation
With Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney heading up a desultory field of Republican patriots, all pretending they have a lock on American national pride, I’d like to say a few things as a professional American historian and biographer.

WATCH: Occupy Groups Protest Foreclosures Nationwide
Bobby Hull is scheduled to be evicted from his Minneapolis house in February, but he won’t leave without a fuss. He’s invited 100 people from…

Mexican Drug War: U.S. Accused Of Laundering Drug Cartel Money
In the beginning there was Fast and Furious, a botched operation carried by the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives…


The Right-Wing Media’s War On Obama’s Christmas

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 6th, 2011 5:43 am by HL

The Right-Wing Media’s War On Obama’s Christmas

Right-wing media are once again attacking President Obama over his vacations, this time for planning a “staggering” 17-day holiday trip to Hawaii. But vacations of that length are not unprecedented; President Reagan took a 25-day vacation in August 1983, and President George W. Bush took 27-day and 25-day vacations in August 2001 and August 2002, respectively.

U.K. Daily Mail Calls Obama’s 17-Day Holiday Vacation “Staggering”

Daily Mail: “It Must Be Nice Being President… Obama To Jet Off To Hawaii For SEVENTEEN DAY Christmas Vacation.” From a December 3 U.K. Daily Mail article titled, “It must be nice being President… Obama to jet off to Hawaii for SEVENTEEN DAY Christmas vacation”:

While most Americans are lucky to get a few weeks of holiday every year, it seems the country’s leader gets a little more freedom in the matter.

President Barack Obama has announced his Christmas vacation to Hawaii – for a staggering 17-day trip.

Obama, who visited the island just two weeks ago for an economic summit, will head to Honolulu on Saturday December 17 until Monday January 2. [Daily Mail, 12/3/11]

Right-Wing Media Run With “17-Day” Attack

Perino: “I Thought It Was A Joke” Or A “Typo” That Obama’s Vacation Is 17 Days. On the December 5 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Fox News host Dana Perino said:

PERINO: What I love is they announce this on a Friday night. So, in the morning, we got the jobs numbers and they were like, whew, 9 percent to 8.6 percent — our work is done here. We are going for a little vacation. I thought it was a joke. I thought it was maybe, like, even a typo that 17 days — because if you think back to Martha’s Vineyard vacation, it’s not like they were going someplace just for a few days where you are going to be with the 99 percent. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/5/11, via Media Matters]

Fox’s Hayes: “The Average American Is Going To Look Up And Say, ‘Well, Why Is My President Taking 17 Days Off When We’ve Got Unemployment Still At Nearly 9 Percent?’ “ During the December 4 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Sunday, Fox News contributor Steve Hayes said that Obama’s vacation is not a “problem on substance” but that “[t]he message it sends, I think, has to be worrying to the White House.” From Fox & Friends Sunday:

HAYES: The message it sends, I think, has to be worrying to the White House. This is a president who said he would keep Congress in Washington because there was so much work to be done, and yet he then announces that he’s going away for 17 days. It’s the kind of thing that the average American is going to look up and say “well, why is my president taking 17 days off when we’ve got unemployment still at nearly 9 percent?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Sunday, 12/4/11]

Powers: “Obama To Congress: We May Need To Stay In DC And Work Through The Holidays – If You Need Me, I’ll Be In Hawaii.” In a December 3 post to Michelle Malkin’s website, Doug Powers wrote:

Stressing the importance of extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, President Obama said he expects all involved parties to work through the holidays if necessary.

[…]

Obama’s schedule indicates he’s completely serious about that, as long as “we” is defined as “everybody except me”:

[…]

But why not? After all, he hasn’t visited Hawaii for… uh… two weeks.

No worries though — Autopen is warming up in the bullpen and should be ready to go soon. [MichelleMalkin.com, 12/3/11]

[Fox Nation, 12/3/11]

Hoft: “The Obama Family Announced They Will Be In Hawaii For 17 Days This Christmas. … Leadership.” In a December 3 Gateway Pundit post titled, “Obama: Congress Shouldn’t Go Home Until Payroll Tax Cut Is Extended… (I’ll Be In Hawaii),” Jim Hoft wrote that “[t]he Obama family announced they will be in Hawaii for 17 days this Christmas.” Hoft then wrote under a photo of Obama swimming, “Leadership.” From Hoft’s post:

[Gateway Pundit, 12/3/11]

Drudge: “Obama Off To Hawaii For 17-Day Vacay.” On December 3, The Drudge Report linked to the Daily Mail article under the headline, “Obama off to Hawaii for 17-Day Vacay”:

[The Drudge Report, 12/3/11]

Big Government: “Barack Obama Will Take A 17 Day Vacation In Hawaii Over The Holidays. Can’t Let A Payroll Tax Extension Get In The Way Of A Few Rounds On The Links.” From a December 3 Big Government post:

Friday, President Obama reacted to the Senate’s failure to pass his gimmicky Payroll Tax Cut Extension:

“We need to get this done. And I expect that it’s going to get done before Congress leaves. Otherwise, Congress may not be leaving and we can all spend Christmas here together.”

Apparently, Congress will be adjourning to Hawaii, because the White House announced tonight that Barack Obama will take a 17 day vacation in Hawaii over the holidays. Can’t let a payroll tax extension get in the way of a few rounds on the links. Nice work if you can get it. [Big Government, 12/3/11, emphasis in original]

But Previous Presidents Have Taken Longer Vacations

Reagan Took 25-Day Vacation In August 1983 With Unemployment At 9.5 Percent. An August 22, 1983, Washington Post article reported that former President Ronald Reagan took a 25-day vacation to his “mountaintop ranch northwest of Santa Barbara.” The Post further reported that “his top advisers … decided to put an end to what one of them calls ‘unnecessary news stories.’ ” At the time, the unemployment rate stood at 9.5 percent. From the Post:

As President Reagan relaxes on his mountaintop ranch northwest of Santa Barbara, tucked away from the workaday cares of Washington, his top advisers have decided to put an end to what one of them calls “unnecessary news stories.”

The negative news coverage that the president abhors was a topic of discussion at a White House breakfast the day before Reagan left on his present 25-day trip, the 17th stopover at his ranch since his election. [The Washington Post, 8/22/83, via Media Matters]

LA Times: Bush Took A 25-Day Vacation In August 2002. From an August 1, 2002, Los Angeles Times article:

Like much of official Washington, President Bush is about to leave for his summer vacation. The White House is emphasizing that it will not be all fun and no work.

Administration officials clearly are sensitive to any criticism that Bush’s 25-day break at his ranch near Crawford, Texas, is too long, given the economy and the threat of terrorism.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Wednesday: “You know, Washington is just a silly town sometimes where people don’t let a good man have a vacation without having to make more of it than it is.” [The Los Angeles Times, 8/1/02]

LA Times: Bush Took A 27-Day Vacation In August 2001. The LA Times article further stated:

Just as he did last year during a 27-day summer stay at the ranch, Bush is planning several days of travel beyond Crawford. On these trips, he will give policy speeches and headline political events. His plans include a three-day West Coast swing in late August.

Obama May Delay Start Of Vacation Depending On Congressional Action — As He Did In 2010

AP: Obama’s Vacation “May Be Delayed By Unfinished Business With Congress.” From a December 2 Associated Press article:

The [payroll] tax cut, due to expire on Dec. 31, “hasn’t stimulated the economy at all,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, one of several Republicans who emerged from a closed-door meeting and spoke unfavorably about the proposed extension at the heart of President Barack Obama’s jobs program.

[…]

If Congress fails to deliver the legislation to his desk before its scheduled adjournment for the year, “we can all spend Christmas here together,” said the president.

Obama is scheduled to leave on Dec. 17 for a Christmas vacation in Hawaii with his family and friends, spokesman Josh Earnest said. Those plans may be delayed by unfinished business with Congress, as it has been in the past. [AP, 12/2/11]

Obama Delayed Beginning Of Christmas Vacation In 2010 To Await Senate Action. From a December 17, 2010, USA Today article:

First lady Michelle Obama and her two daughters are scheduled to leave Saturday for an end-of-the-year vacation in Hawaii.

When President Obama might join them remains a mystery.

[…]

It all depends when Congress finishes its work, including two Senate items that Obama is pushing hard: Ratification of an arms cut treaty with Russia, and repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward gays.

Obama will be on the phone in the next few days discussing these and other issues with key senators. [USA Today, 12/17/10]

Right-Wing Media Routinely Attack Obama’s Vacations

MacCallum On Obama’s August Vacation: “Do You Think He Doesn’t Care Enough To Change The Plans?” During the August 24 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum stated:

MacCALLUM: I’m one of those who believes every president deserves a vacation, you know. This is an extremely difficult, high-pressure job. His family needs to get out of the White House, and they need to spend some time together. But you’ve got this really difficult week that’s been happening. Libya, the earthquake, and now this Hurricane Irene that’s bearing down on the East Coast. How bad are the optics of bike riding with your daughter and, you know, just sort of chit-chatting and eating ice cream at this hour?

MacCallum later asked Fox News contributor Doug Schoen, “Do you think he doesn’t care enough to change the plans?” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 8/24/11, via Media Matters]

Judy Miller: “I Don’t Begrudge [Obama] A Vacation … But, Martha’s Vineyard?” During the August 20 edition of Fox News’ Fox News Watch, Fox News contributor Judy Miller criticized the president for his summer vacation, spent on Martha’s Vineyard with his family. From the broadcast:

MILLER: Look, I don’t begrudge the president a vacation. I want him to take a vacation. I think everybody needs a little time off now and then. Even a cigarette I would give him, but Martha’s Vineyard when the country is suffering the way it is? I don’t’ know, I’d rather — I’d rather see somebody down on a ranch in Texas. [Fox News, Fox News Watch, 8/20/11, via Media Matters]

Fox’s Steve Hayes: “The Images And Optics” Of Obama’s Vacation Are “Bad For Him Politically.” During the August 19 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, Fox News contributor Steve Hayes said: “I don’t begrudge the president of the United States an opportunity to take a vacation. He deserves one. But the images and the optics on this one are bad for him politically.” [Fox News, Special Report, 8/19/11, via Media Matters]


Sheriff Joe Accused Of Botching Over 400 Sex-Crime Investigations

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 6th, 2011 5:42 am by HL

Sheriff Joe Accused Of Botching Over 400 Sex-Crime Investigations
Critics of notorious Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio say he inadequately investigated over 400 sex-crime investigations, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Pardon Applicants Benefit From Friends in High Places
Dale Critz Jr. had millions riding on his bid for a presidential pardon. Scion of a prominent family in Savannah, Ga., Critz was poised to inherit the luxury car dealerships his grandfather had built in one of America’s most historic cities.


The Pepper Spraying Cop — What a Card

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 6th, 2011 5:40 am by HL

The Pepper Spraying Cop — What a Card


Gingrich Holds Double-Digit Lead in Iowa

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 6th, 2011 5:39 am by HL

Gingrich Holds Double-Digit Lead in Iowa
A new ABC News-Washington Post poll in Iowa shows Newt Gingrich running way ahead of the GOP presidential field with 33%, followed by Mitt Romney at 18%, Ron Paul at 18%, Rick Perry at 11%, Michele Bachmann at 8%, Rick Santorum at 7% and Jon Huntsman at 2%.

“But Iowa Republicans are far from decided. More than six in 10 potential caucus-goers say they could change their minds, and even among the likeliest attendees, fewer than half say they have definitely chosen a candidate.”

Meanwhile, a new New York Times/CBS News poll in Iowa shows 31% say Gingrich has the best shot of beating President Obama while 29% say the same about Romney. Few say any one of the remaining candidates has the best chance at winning.

Gingrich Up Big in South Carolina
A new Winthrop University poll in South Carolina finds Newt Gingrich leading the GOP field with 38%, followed by Mitt Romney at 22%, Rick Perry at 9%, Herman Cain at 7%, Michele Bachmann at 5%, Ron Paul at 4%, Rick Santorum at 3% and Jon Huntsman at 1%.


Who’s Winning the War on Abortion, Birth Control, and Sex?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 6th, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Who’s Winning the War on Abortion, Birth Control, and Sex?
In the last year, the anti-abortion movement has become more open about its antiwoman, anti-sex goals–and the pro-choice movement has found some unlikely allies.

How the Occupy Movement Helped Americans Move Beyond Denial and Depression to Action
The spirit of liberation psychology–a tradition from Latin American protest movements–has been embraced by U.S. Occupy participants.

13 Reasons Why Newt Gingrich Won’t Win the Nomination
Here, in 13 episodes, is much of the baggage you’re likely to see aired soon in anti-Gingrich attack ads.

Updated Version of Noam Chomsky’s "9/11" Book Takes On Bin Laden’s Death, Imperial Mentality
Chomsky argues that the US government has done exactly what Osama bin Laden wanted it to do.

Dispatches From Obama’s Other Wars — on Immigrants and Drugs
Going into the electoral season, the immigration and drug policy crises have worsened.


Who Is Pro-Israel? Who Is Anti-Israel?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 6th, 2011 5:37 am by HL

Who Is Pro-Israel? Who Is Anti-Israel?
As someone who blogs about Israel and Palestine almost daily, I elicit many reactions — from left-wing supporters and hostile right-wing detractors. Naturally the two groups don’t agree on much of anything but sometimes supporters and detractors make the same…


The Great Rope a Dope trick
Barack Obama learned a political trick from Muhammad Ali called Rope a Dope. For you youngsters, this refers to the epic Rumble in the Jungle Heavyweight fight against George Foreman in 1974. Here is the Wikipedia explanation. The rope-a-dope is…



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As Obama Mishandled the Economy, His Chroniclers Misread the Politics
The least bad assessment of Obama’s failure to reform our political economy that has come thus far from the Washington Beltway worldview (or Beltanschauung, as I immortalized it here in an essay that launched a thousand links) comes from Washington…


Durban Dispatch: December 6, 2011

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 6th, 2011 5:36 am by HL

Durban Dispatch: December 6, 2011
Read all ThinkProgress coverage of COP17 in Durban, South Africa. “The Nepalese government has exhausted funds to drain the Tsho Rolpa [Nepal’s biggest glacial lake] which poses an immediate threat to at least 10,000 people,” said Samjwal Bajracharya, the lead author of a new report on the Status of Glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan […]

Read all ThinkProgress coverage of COP17 in Durban, South Africa.

“The Nepalese government has exhausted funds to drain the Tsho Rolpa [Nepal’s biggest glacial lake] which poses an immediate threat to at least 10,000 people,” said Samjwal Bajracharya, the lead author of a new report on the Status of Glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, also known as the Third Pole. [IRIN]

Thai Airways International will lose about $100 million in revenues in Q4 due to the flood crisis, airline president Piyasvasti Amranand said Tuesday. [MCOT]

Efforts to establish water as an agenda item in its own right in climate change negotiations are gaining momentum in Durban, South Africa. [IPS]

“I really think the U.S. population needs to understand that this is not just their historical responsibility, but this is their future that they’re compromising,” UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said of American inaction on climate pollution. [Climate Progress]

“There is a tremendous effort to shift the blame so the rich countries do as little as they can,” Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said on Monday. [IBN]

The civil society movement is now targeting the United States as the primary blocker to the success of the climate talks. [Mother Nature Network]

Practical progress” is being made on the Long-Term Cooperative Agreement track that is built around the Cancun Accords, the Climate Institute’s Erwin Jackson reports. [Climate Institute]

Australian Climate Change Minister Greg Combet believes the UN climate change talks are making good progress even though a comprehensive agreement will not be reached in Durban. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Australia and New Zealand said on Monday they could link their carbon trading schemes as soon as 2015, immediately after Australia’s government moved from a fixed carbon tax to the world’s second-largest market scheme to cut pollution. [Reuters]

Key Parties – including the US, Australia, and the EU – have indicated that the “middle ground” Green Climate Fund report on that Fund Transitional Committee Co-Chair Trevor Manuel of South Africa introduced on Wednesday could be agreed to, as long as it is a part of a more balanced package. [ICTSD]

Money raised by curbing ships’ carbon emissions would be used to finance the Green Climate Fund, according to a draft text being negotiated at the UN climate talks in Durban. [Financial Times]

The British In India At The Yale Center For British Art
During my trip to New Haven last week, I was fortunate enough to spend a morning at “Adapting The Eye: An Archive of the British In India, 1770-1830,” a terrific exhibit at the Yale Center for British Art, curated by Holly Shafer, a PhD candidate in the University’s Art History Department, who someone should definitely […]

During my trip to New Haven last week, I was fortunate enough to spend a morning at “Adapting The Eye: An Archive of the British In India, 1770-1830,” a terrific exhibit at the Yale Center for British Art, curated by Holly Shafer, a PhD candidate in the University’s Art History Department, who someone should definitely hire on the basis of this show. It’s a fascinating look at the relationship between art and politics. And “Adapting The Eye” isn’t just about the way the British saw India — it’s about the way they saw themselves in India and what that meant for their colonial project.

In the absence of photography, painting played a critical role in documenting everything from gift-giving rituals to assessing military positioning. Surveyor Robert Mabon made jewel-like portraits of the presents that were part of diplomatic exchanges like the one to the right here and of techniques for saddling horses complete with painstakingly detailed notes. Warren Hastings, the British governor of Bengal, commissioned William Hodges to paint the fortresses controlled by Raja Chait Singh so he could assess the strength of the forces behind a rebellion — the results included both military useful information and an impressionistic sense of Indian landscapes. And art even became part of British and Indian diplomatic traditions. To both meet the requirements of their budgeteers and to avoid the perception that they were being corrupted by establishing the lavish, jeweled gifts that were traditionally exchanged in the Mughal court, British diplomats created a new tradition of exchanging portraits, creating a new Indian market for British painters.

And even when they weren’t creating art for the purpose of cultural exchange in Indian, British artists constantly wrote themselves into the images of India — and some of those portraits may have been more revealing than they were intended to be. In Thomas Danielle’s painting of Sir Charles Ware signing a treaty in 1770 with the Maratha Empire, British officers are seated on the floor of a palace in the style of their hosts, displaying attitudes that range from ease, to extreme dignity, to wondrous excitement at the circumstances. Painter James Wales wrote that Charles Warre Malet told him of his 40-day journey to see the Taj Mahal that “at first sight how well his journey was justified.” It makes sense that the British would want to see their efforts, even a more than a month-long site-seeing schlep, as worth the work, no matter how strenuous. Bathazar Solvyns, a Belgian who wrote a dubious anthropological survey of India, revealed as much about himself and his gaze as he did about his subjects when he wrote of dancing girls he observed that “their movements are confined, being either extremely rapid or solemnly slow, and their attitudes or gestures, which are sometimes graceful, are almost always indecent, there therefore disgusting; their general object is to excite desire, and where they succeed, there are not to be found much to envy.” In Arthur William Devis’ “Portrait of a Gentleman,” lawyer William Hickey both smokes a hookah and handles a letter of business — has he corrupted himself by going native? Or are the temptations of India no match for England’s energy in commerce?

And in Samuel Howitt’s 1807 “The Tiger at Bay,” British men load, aim, and fire at a tiger, while Indian men control the elephants that let the British get close to their quarry, an interesting if unintentional foreshadowing of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, made possible in part by tensions in the military forces made up of Indian soldiers and commanded by British officers. There was only so much that British self-portraits in India, especially those sponsored by British government and commercial organizations, could capture — and only so much that they could see into the future.