Monday, August 31, 2009

Bush daughter lands on Today show; food for thought

Andrew Sullivan, commenting on Greenwald’s post, works the late empire theme as well, but his concerns go beyond pique over ratings ploys by television networks. Nepotism, he writes, is a symptom of a greater national disease.

Late empires are known for several things: a self-obsessed, self-serving governing class, small over-reaching wars that bankrupt the Treasury, debt that balloons until retreat from global power becomes not a choice but a necessity, and a polity unable to address reasonably any of these questions — or how the increasing corruption of the media enables them all.

Obama is, in some ways, a test-case.

He was elected on a clear platform of reform and change; and yet the only real achievement Washington has allowed him so far is a massive stimulus package to prevent a Second Great Depression (and even on that emergency measure, no Republicans would support him). On that he succeeded. But that wasn’t reform; it was a crash landing after one of the worst administrations in America’s history.

Real reform — tackling health care costs and access, finding a way to head off massive changes in the world’s climate, ending torture as the lynchpin of the war on terror, getting out of Iraq, preventing an Israeli-led Third World War in the Middle East, and reforming entitlements and defense spending to prevent 21st century America from becoming 17th Century Spain: these are being resisted by those who have power and do not want to relinquish it — except to their own families and cronies.

Nepotism is part of the problem; media corruption is also part; the total uselessness of the Democratic party and the nihilism of the Republicans doesn’t help. But something is rotten in America at this moment in time; and those of us who supported Obama to try and change this decay and decline should use this fall to get off our butts and fight for change.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ted Kennedy: A Model for Obama »

bt Ruth Conniff

For decades, when his Democratic colleagues were running to the right and ducking for ideological cover, he was the only visible, national figure who still proudly carried the liberal more

The Washington Post's Cheney-ite defense of torture

If anyone ever tells you that they don't understand what is meant by "stenography journalism" -- or ever insists that America is plagued by a Liberal Media -- you can show them this article from today's Washington Post and, by itself, it should clear up everything.

By Glenn Greenwald

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Brain Dead" Blue Dogs just out for insurance money
By Stephen C. Webster
On a recent conference call, Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) had strong words for his centrist Democratic colleagues in the House: “They’re, for the most part, I hate to say, brain dead” and looking to obstruct health insurance reform in order to pick up large campaign contributions.
Law, Not Torture, Protects National Security
By Joe Conason —
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his supporters love America so much they would transform it into Stalinist Russia.
Ted Kennedy’s Humanity
By E.J. Dionne —
Ted Kennedy’s suffering and failures fed a humane humility that led him to reach out to others who fell, to empathize with those burdened by pain, to understand human folly, and to appreciate the quest for redemption.

Remembering the Real Deal By Robert Scheer —
The light has gone out, and with it that infectious warm laugh and intensely progressive commitment of the best of the Kennedys. Not, at this point, to take anything away from the memory of his siblings—Bobby, whom I also got to know, was pretty terrific in his last years—but Sen. Ted Kennedy was the real deal.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The summer of disinformation seems to have accomplished its goal: to preserve for the private insurance industry an effective monopoly over how much most Americans pay for health care, and on what terms they can buy it.

Feingold: No healthcare reform before Christmas, if ever

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., has got to be frustrated by the process surrounding the healthcare reform proposals in Congress. While people like Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, get all the attention, liberals like him are left out of the public discussion. (In the House, the liberals are more influential than in the Senate, where the crucial votes are more likely to come from the center.)

The senator showed some of that frustration recently, telling constituents recently, "Nobody is going to bring a bill before Christmas, and maybe not even then, if this ever happens. The divisions are so deep. [I've] never seen anything like that."

According to the Lakeland Times, Feingold later added, "We're headed in the direction of doing absolutely nothing, and I think that's unfortunate."

(Hat-tip to Political Wire.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fox's "death book" lie
by Jed Lewison
The deathers at Fox "News" have been caught with their pants down, once again.
This time -- led by Chris Wallace of Fox "News" Sunday -- Fox is alleging that President Obama is trying to prematurely end the lives of millions of veterans by forcing them to read a "death book" that urges them to "pull the plug" and commit "assisted suicide."
All the President’s Zombies
Reaganomics has failed to deliver what it promised, yet people still believe that government intervention is bad, and leaving the private sector to its own devices is good.
by Paul Krugman
New Rule: No Shame In Being The Sorry Party
by Bill Maher
If Mitt Romney, Karl Rove and Sarah Palin all think America has never done anything wrong, we must be doing something wrong.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Don't take your guns to town (halls)
By David Sirota
Bringing a weapon to a rally isn't about exercising your own rights -- it's about threatening other people's rights.
The Guns of August
The simmering undertone of violence in our politics seems to be getting darker.
by Frank Rich

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bipartisanship is still for suckers
By Joe Conason
Republicans want Obama to fail. He needs to stop seeking consensus, because it makes him look weak.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health Reform Charade
by Harold Meyerson
Why bother to negotiate with a GOP retreating to a white southern bastion?


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"On what planet do you spend most of your time?"

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is known as one of the more outspoken and combative members of Congress. So it should probably come as no surprise that during a heated town hall meeting in Dartmouth, Massachusetts on Tuesday, Frank dismissed a critic of the Obama Administration with some of the most memorable lines made during the entire healthcare debate.

At the meeting, numerous protesters carried signs depicting President Obama with a Hitler-style mustache. When one such female protester asked Frank a question, he responded with equal parts exasperation and anger.

"When you ask me that question, I'm going to revert to my ethnic heritage and ask you a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time?" Frank asked. "You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis ... Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."

Why are Dems still negotiating on healthcare?
So far, it seems that concessions to Republicans and conservative Democrats haven't been much help
by Alex Koppelman

For some time now, Democrats in the Obama administration and Congress have been negotiating healthcare reform with the more conservative members of their party, as well as the handful of Senate Republicans most likely to cross party lines. So far, it hasn't gotten them much more than a few deadlines.

People like Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., are unlikely to give up on negotiations, or the dream of a bipartisan bill, anytime soon. But with Baucus' negotiating partner, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, happily admitting that he's unlikely to vote for reform, no matter how many concessions to him are included in the legislation, there's a question that has to come up: Are negotiations worth it? Or, with Democrats firmly in control of both houses of Congress, can they write further concessions off as a lose-lose proposition?

At first glance, negotiations on this issue make sense. Everyone always wants to look bipartisan, and anyway, it helps in a situation like this to give some of the more vulnerable Democratic members of Congress political cover with Republican votes for the bill. Plus, every Republican senator successfully wooed means one fewer Democratic senator whose every whims need to be catered to in the event of a filibuster.

But at this point, continued negotiation with the goal of getting a bill through the Senate means a risk of losing the vote in the House. Liberal House Democrats are already threatening to vote against reform legislation if it doesn't include a public option -- for now, the administration seems confident they can eventually be won over, but further concessions to conservatives will lengthen those odds.

Then there's the question of what has actually been gained by the moves towards bipartisanship that have been made thus far. It's not like the administration got any kudos from Republicans, or even hesitant Democrats like Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., when its appeared to back away from the public option.

In fact, with many pundits now treating the public option as DOA, Republicans have begun targeting the co-op plan that Conrad's promoted as a compromise solution. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., told reporters, "That is the step towards government-run health care in the country .... It is a Trojan horse.
And therefore no, I don't believe Republicans will be inclined to support a bill."

Kyl was, apparently, just following the party line. In a release titled "Reports of Public Option's Demise Greatly Exaggerated," the Republican National Committee itself said the co-op idea "is still government-run healthcare."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fighting the Radical Right
by Stewart Acuff: The August congressional recess has been a bizarre season of rightwing brown shirt tactics of real thuggery led by Dick Armey, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weekly Address: Real Conversations About Health Insurance Reform

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Real Death Panels **By Joe Conason
The ugly fact is that every year we fail to reform the existing system, that failure condemns tens of thousands of people to die—either because they have no insurance or because their insurance companies deny coverage or benefits when they become ill.

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by Sam Stein

Republican Death Trip by Paul Krugman
President Obama had campaigned to move beyond divisive politics, but instead he is facing an opposition that eagerly seizes on every wild rumor manufactured by the right-wing media complex.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul Dies

Les Paul, the virtuoso guitarist and inventor whose solid-body electric guitar and recording studio innovations changed the course of 20th-century popular music, died Thursday in White Plains. He was 94.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, Gibson Guitar announced.

Mr. Paul was a remarkable musician as well as a tireless tinkerer. He played guitar with leading prewar jazz and pop musicians from Louis Armstrong to Bing Crosby. In the 1930s he began experimenting with guitar amplification, and by 1941 he had built what was probably the first solid-body electric guitar, although there are other claimants. With his electric guitar and the vocals of his wife, Mary Ford, he used overdubbing, multitrack recording and new electronic effects to create a string of hits in the 1950s.

Mr. Paul’s style encompassed the twang of country music, the harmonic richness of jazz and, later, the bite of rock ’n’ roll. For all his technological impact, though, he remained a down-home performer whose main goal, he often said, was to make people happy.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Republicans Propagating Falsehoods in Attacks on Health-Care Reform
By Steven Pearlstein
As a columnist who regularly dishes out sharp criticism, I try not to question the motives of people with whom I don't agree. Today, I'm going to step over that line.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Right Wing Attacks Clinton's Successful Trip To Free American Journalists In North Korea
But what many conservatives don’t understand is that, as nonproliferation expert and Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione noted yesterday, Clinton was “the right man at the right moment.”

More GOP crazy: "Town Hells!"
by Joan Walsh
Republicans brag about efforts to mobilize mobs to stop Obama. What are Democrats doing to counter them?
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"Blue Dogs" or Corporate Shills?
by Thomas Frank
So this is the Blue Dogs’ day, with games of fetch down on K Street that had me reminiscing about the times when Tom DeLay and his pack did their own tricks for industry’s table scraps.
Time To Fight
by John Nichols:
There's no need to promote compromises in the healthcare reform debate.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


U.S. Journalists Freed
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il issued a "special pardon" for two American journalists and ordered their release at former U.S. President Bill Clinton's request, North Korean media reported Wednesday.
If A Republican Votes Against Sotomayor, Does it Make a Sound?
by Julie Hirschfeld Davis
Republicans are so against the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court that even John McCain, an alleged maverick with plenty of Latino constituents, says he will vote against her. Thing is, there just aren’t enough Republicans in the Senate for party unity to make a difference.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Time, Again, for Bill Clinton By Joe Conason
Perhaps the time has come, if it isn’t already too late, for President Obama to ask for help from President Clinton.

The Marvel That Is Medicare By Marie Cocco
Medicare is where political posturing runs headlong into historical truth: It is, along with Social Security, the most successful government program that the United States has ever created.

Let’s End the Score-Settling By E.J. Dionne
The problem with “teachable moments” is that the term sets up one group of people as teachers while another group is consigned to the role of pupils. In a democracy, that’s troublesome.

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