Thursday, December 31, 2009

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

NOAM CHOMSKY: "Gaza: One Year Later"
On December 27, 2008, Israel began one of the bloodiest attacks on Gaza Since 1948. The three week assault killed some 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. One year later, little to no rebuilding has taken place and the siege in Gaza continues.
Speaking in Watertown, Massachusetts on December 6, 2009, linguist and social critic Noam Chomsky delivered a talk entitled “Gaza: One Year Later.”

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Craving melodrama
The calls for Obama to act with more hysteria and panic every time Al Qaeda sneezes are just plain stupid
by Glenn Greenwald
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Playing politics with national security
Questions about the Flight 253 attack, and what to do about Yemen, may be obscured by petty bickering over blame
by Joan Walsh

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

PoliticsAP: GOP Lawmakers Flip Flop On Costly Health Plans
"As far as I am concerned, any Republican who voted for the Medicare drug benefit has no right to criticize anything the Democrats have done in terms of adding to the national debt," said Bruce Bartlett, an official in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He made his comments in a Forbes article titled "Republican Deficit Hypocrisy."
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Demonizing Dean Won’t Absolve This Health Care Sham By Robert Scheer —
Howard Dean was roundly condemned for casting aspersions on what even many of its more ardent supporters admit is an obviously flawed bill.

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Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, December 21, 2009

Leadership, Obama Style, and the Looming Losses in 2010
by Drew Westen
Obama doesn't need a chief of staff. He needs someone to shake him until he feels something strongly enough to not just to talk about it but to act. He's increasingly appearing to the public like Dukakis without the administrative skill.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009


"It's unfair"
Howard Dean on why he doesn't support the Senate bill, which he calls "hocus pocus" reform
by Joe Conason
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Highway to Health - Last Tea Party Protest of the Year
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


Gaming Healthcare
The Editors : Health Care Policy
Dropping the public option and Medicare expansion means breaking the promise of health reform: better care at lower cost.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Fwd: NiLP FYI: Obama Silent on Gutierrez Immigration Bill

-----Original Message-----
From: National Institute for Latino Policy <info@latinopolicy.org>
To: askcarlos@aol.com
Sent: Thu, Dec 17, 2009 3:35 am
Subject: NiLP FYI: Obama Silent on Gutierrez Immigration Bill

 

 

Obama Silent on Gutierrez's Landmark Immigration Legislation
By Anis ShivaniWriter
Huffington Post (December 16, 2009)


Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) has just introduced a landmark immigration
reform bill, which ought to be the basis of any legislation in the
current Congress: click here to download summary
 
This is the most important piece of domestic legislation advanced in
many, many years. Interestingly, neither the New York Times nor the
Washington Post feature front page coverage; the news stories all note
that this is just the opening salvo, and the bill as it is is dead on
arrival because Republicans won't support it.
 
The silence from the White House is deafening--no public show of
support from President Obama, who continues to maintain highly
favorable ratings among Latinos (despite his having ignored, so far,
all the promises he made to the Hispanic community during the election
campaign).
 
The Democratic party, the establishment news media, and Obama himself
are holding fire for the bill they do want to support, the draconian
Schumer legislation which has already been drawn up (in conjunction
with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, he of the military tribunals
and impeachment), but which awaits an opportune moment early next year
to be sprung upon the public. No doubt, as soon as Schumer releases his
bill, Obama will declare that that's the kind of legislation he can get
behind.
 
The Senate immigration legislation will bear the same resemblance to
the House bill offered by Gutierrez and his cosponsors as their
pathetic legislation (do a lot of harm, destroy even the nicer parts of
the system) bears to the House health care legislation.
 
The silence tells us a lot about Obama (as we have learned again and
again over the course of this year): his heart is where the
corporate-funded Democratic Leadership Council once was (he is their
true standard-bearer today), his true soulmate is really Joe Lieberman.
Obama, deep down, loves Lieberman; that's who he really is, once you
strip down the empty rhetoric and futile gestures. He cares not a bit
for the working poor, immigrants, even entrepreneurs and innovators,
those who make this country tick. He was brought in to preserve the
privilege, segregation, and division among classes and races; that's
what he has done with health care, and that's what he plans to do with
the chaotic, utterly counterproductive immigration bill Schumer is
holding back. Latinos, immigrants, take note!
 
One would have expected Janet Napolitano to say a few kind words about
the House legislation; is it the kind of humane, non-punitive reform
she had in mind when she promised recently that Congress would get it
done next year?
 
What exactly is so terrible about the Gutierrez bill that has
corporate-Democrats cowering in their shells? It is humane, it is
flexible, it is rational, it is practical, it is optimistic, and it
calls on our great traditions of welcome and openness--features which
will be markedly absent from the legislation Obama is prepared to
support. It is the kind of legislation Ted Kennedy would have been
proud to support. Unfortunately, ours is not the era of the New New
Deal; it is the era of the Bad to Worse Deal; any "comprehensive"
legislation emanating from the Obama administration makes things worse
than they already are, by sneaking in corporate-favored provisions.
 
Let's take a look at a few of the proposals in the Gutierrez bill.
 
It suspends Operation Streamline (an euphemism coined by Bush's Gestapo
chief, Michael Chertoff, to describe a program that files criminal
charges against all border-crossers).
 
It improves detention conditions, by preserving family unity, avoiding
unnecessary separations, and ensuring humane treatment of detainees.
 
It strengthens protection during enforcement activities, by making such
activities subject to court review, allowing legal access and other
services to detained immigrants, and repealing the 287(g) program,
making the federal government the only enforcer of federal immigration
law.
 
It prohibits the creation of a national ID card in the proposed
employment verification system.
 
It makes a number of proposals to reduce the massive backlog in family
and employment visa issuance (itself the primary source of "illegal"
immigration in the country), leaning toward making more visas available
to skilled workers who ought to be welcome in the U.S.
 
It makes a number of provisions to strengthen family unity, by allowing
judges greater discretion in removal proceedings, for instance when a
U.S. citizen child is involved.
 
Its provision for legalization is outstanding, and the only general
outline which can work (complicated Schumer-like provisions will not
solve the problem of "illegality"). It establishes a broad criterion of
contribution to U.S. society through education, employment, military
service, or community/volunteer service, rather than some rigorous
employment-only criterion. And it waives bars relating to undocumented
status (such as fraudulent use of Social Security cards), again the
only commonsensical principle that can work.
 
On the whole, it seeks to return the system to a position of
flexibility, whereby employment and family needs start matching
immigration visas again, so that the root cause of illegal presence is
removed.
 
The most important legislation of the last half century was arguably
the immigration act of 1965, which opened the doors to new kinds of
immigrants--this, more than anything else that has happened since then,
changed the face of America. Had it not been for that lucky crack of
the doors, had America not been renewed by immigrants in such large
numbers in the intervening years, we would today be a powerless,
geriatric, hopeless society, in worse demographic shape than Western
Europe and Japan. But in the last decade, the pendulum has swung in the
opposite direction, and the door has been all but closed. The most
pernicious phenomenon of the Bush years--the one with the most
irreversible consequences--is this reversal of the immigrant flow, this
suspicion of the other that has found permanent place in the national
imagination.
 
Obama has never tried to change the discourse with regard to
immigration or any of the aspects of our true relationship with the
world; the fundamental fear equation remains unchanged. In his West
Point speech, Obama morphed completely into Bush, shedding all pretense
of a nice guy image; he's in it to win it--win the wars of terror,
suspicion, and resentment, which have no real source other than our own
frustration at being unable to handle competitiveness from the rest of
the world. Thus he committed us to a path of long-term
self-destruction.
 
Today, the U.S. government is dedicating enormous resources to
uprooting and deporting college graduates who came here as
children--three or five or seven years old--and lack legal status;
there is no way for them to fix their status, regardless of their
potential to make contributions to American society. This is where we
are today, at the end of Year One of Obama, as all our attention is
diverted to a health care bill designed to further enrich providers and
insurers. That's the kind of tyranny Obama hasn't said a word
about--nor is he likely to.
 
Obama doesn't need to grandstand by inviting hot-shot bankers to the
White House to lecture them and ask them to lend. Banks will lend money
only if it makes sense for them; yet Obama has failed to address the
underlying causes of the credit squeeze. Instead of talking to his
beloved bankers, perhaps he should have shown yesterday that he stood
with the working person by giving Representative Gutierrez his promise
of support. But his already failed presidency doesn't allow any such
act of imagination.
 
Instead of seeing human beings as so many units of labor Obama's
favorite corporations can shamelessly exploit, Gutierrez's bill begins
to return us to the rule of law operating in an environment of human
dignity; and that is not something Obama can get behind. Now, weaken it
with the Schumer bill--restrict the requirements for legalization, so
that only a handful qualify; weaken family unification by narrowly
redefining family and giving priority to certain skilled workers; bring
in a temporary worker program, to drive wages down for everyone and
open new loopholes for exploitation; and continue to invest DHS with
draconian powers, deprive applicants of the right of appeal, and
integrate paranoid discourse into every aspect of the law--and that's
something Obama will say we have to get done next year, even in the
midst of the recession--because his corporate masters hired him to do
just that.


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Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Democrats Blinked By Joe Conason — By bowing to Sen. Lieberman, Obama has confirmed what they say about Democrats: They simply aren’t strong enough to govern.
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Democrats Lash Out At Obama Over Health Care Disappointments

Congressional Democrats are starting to voice their anger at President Obama over the way health care legislation has been compromised, blaming him for not fighting harder."The president keeps listening to Rahm Emanuel," said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). "No public option, no extending Medicare to 55, no nothing, an excise tax, God!" he exclaimed about the Senate health care bill to Roll Call. "The insurance lobby is taking over."

Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.), told Politico of Senate delays, "It's ridiculous, and the Obama administration is sitting on the sidelines. That's nonsense."*While many House Democrats have expressed anger with the Senate for the watered-down bill, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) argued that it was really Obama who let centrists take control. "Snowe? Stupak? Lieberman? Who left these people in charge?" he said. "It's time for the president to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the president to stand up for the values our party shares. We must stop letting the tail wag the dog of this debate."

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) similarly suggested that blaming Lieberman was ignoring the real culprit -- Obama.

"This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don't think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth," said Feingold. "I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect."

As Politico's Craig Gordon noted about the president's health care maneuvering, "Time and again, [Obama] rebuffed Democrats' requests to speak up more forcefully about what he wanted -- a strategy that allowed Obama to preserve maximum flexibility to declare victory at the end of the process, no matter what the final bill looked like."

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), pointed to polling that suggests Democrats will face trouble with their base if they don't deliver a strong bill. "Thirty percent of Democrats will not come out and vote if there is no public option in the health care bill," she said. "What does that tell you?"

*This article originally reported that Rep. Obey said "The White House has been useless." That was Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar.
*

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Health-care bill wouldn't bring real reform

By Howard Dean
Thursday, December 17, 2009; A33

If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers' monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.

Real health-care reform is supposed to eliminate discrimination based on preexisting conditions. But the legislation allows insurance companies to charge older Americans up to three times as much as younger Americans, pricing them out of coverage. The bill was supposed to give Americans choices about what kind of system they wanted to enroll in. Instead, it fines Americans if they do not sign up with an insurance company, which may take up to 30 percent of your premium dollars and spend it on CEO salaries -- in the range of $20 million a year -- and on return on equity for the company's shareholders. Few Americans will see any benefit until 2014, by which time premiums are likely to have doubled. In short, the winners in this bill are insurance companies; the American taxpayer is about to be fleeced with a bailout in a situation that dwarfs even what happened at AIG.

From the very beginning of this debate, progressives have argued that a public option or a Medicare buy-in would restore competition and hold the private health insurance industry accountable. Progressives understood that a public plan would give Americans real choices about what kind of system they wanted to be in and how they wanted to spend their money. Yet Washington has decided, once again, that the American people cannot be trusted to choose for themselves. Your money goes to insurers, whether or not you want it to.

To be clear, I'm not giving up on health-care reform. The legislation does have some good points, such as expanding Medicaid and permanently increasing the federal government's contribution to it. It invests critical dollars in public health, wellness and prevention programs; extends the life of the Medicare trust fund; and allows young Americans to stay on their parents' health-care plans until they turn 27. Small businesses struggling with rising health-care costs will receive a tax credit, and primary-care physicians will see increases in their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Improvements can still be made in the Senate, and I hope that Senate Democrats will work on this bill as it moves to conference. If lawmakers are interested in ensuring that government affordability credits are spent on health-care benefits rather than insurers' salaries, they need to require state-based exchanges, which act as prudent purchasers and select only the most efficient insurers. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) offered this amendment during the Finance Committee markup, and Democrats should include it in the final legislation. A stripped-down version of the current bill that included these provisions would be worth passing.

In Washington, when major bills near final passage, an inside-the-Beltway mentality takes hold. Any bill becomes a victory. Clear thinking is thrown out the window for political calculus. In the heat of battle, decisions are being made that set an irreversible course for how future health reform is done. The result is legislation that has been crafted to get votes, not to reform health care.

I have worked for health-care reform all my political life. In my home state of Vermont, we have accomplished universal health care for children younger than 18 and real insurance reform -- which not only bans discrimination against preexisting conditions but also prevents insurers from charging outrageous sums for policies as a way of keeping out high-risk people. I know health reform when I see it, and there isn't much left in the Senate bill. I reluctantly conclude that, as it stands, this bill would do more harm than good to the future of America.

The writer is a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and was governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2002.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Howard Dean: “Kill The Senate Bill”

In a blow to the bill grinding through the Senate, Howard Dean bluntly called for the bill to be killed in a pre-recorded interview set to air later this afternoon, denouncing it as “the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate,” the reporter who conducted the interview tells me.

Dean said the removal of the Medicare buy-in made the bill not worth supporting, and urged Dem leaders to start over with the process of reconciliation in the interview, which is set to air at 5:50 PM today on Vermont Public Radio, political reporter Bob Kinzel confirms to me.

The gauntlet from Dean — whose voice on health care is well respsected among liberals — will energize those on the left who are mobilizing against the bill, and make it tougher for liberals to embrace the emerging proposal. In an excerpt Kinzel gave me, Dean says:

“This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill.”

Kinzel added that Dean essentially said that if Democratic leaders cave into Joe Lieberman right now they’ll be left with a bill that’s not worth supporting.

Dean had previously endorsed the Medicare buy-in compromise without a public option, saying that the key question should be whether the bill contains enough “real reform” to be worthy of progressives’ support. Dean has apparently concluded that the “real reform” has been removed at Lieberman’s behest — which won’t make it easier for liberals to swallow the emerging compromise.
*


Time to kill the Senate bill?
Is reform without public option worth it? Markos, Ezra Klein, Paul Krugman, Howard Dean and others weigh in
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009


ACORN Videos were propaganda
A report hammers the organization's leadership but points out duplicity in the famous tapes.
by Joe Conason
Major victory for ACORN and the Constitution
A federal judge strikes down Congress' unconstitutional de-funding of the unpopular group.
by Glenn Greenwald
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fair and Balanced (and Phony) Science By Joe Conason
Evading the challenges of climate change—and the human responsibility to save the planet—is simple enough even for the laziest citizen.

Making Gun Safety (Politically) Safe By E.J. Dionne
When it comes to passing sensible gun laws, Congress typically offers Profiles in Cowardice.
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The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Grand Old Purity
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Saturday, December 05, 2009


The Crushing Legacy of Bush and Cheney By Joe Conason —
Now it’s “Obama’s war,” but we should not ignore the events that led us to this moment and the inexplicable decisions of the Bush administration.


Obama’s Goldilocks Strategy By E.J. Dionne —
Obama’s surge in Afghanistan is a political loser, but in the short term he’ll get what he wants.


R.I.P. the great Liam Clancy

Friday, December 04, 2009

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