Friday, May 8, 2009

Last Call

Go see the new Star Trek movie.

Trust me.

(What, I can't do political blogging all the time.)

A Place Of Our Own

Over at Hullabaloo, Digby pens a must-read article explaining the GOP state sovereignty movement.
Trying to keep up with GOP hypocrisy is difficult even in the best of times, but these days it's so pervasive it will give you a migraine just trying to sort out the most egregious from the merely laughable. The examples are flowing now that their eight year reign is over. I think one of the most interesting is their retreat to states' rights after the greatest expanse of not just Federal, but executive, power in history. It's quite a leap in just a few months, but they seem to be making the seamless transition that only a truly incoherent movement can make --- no shame or even awareness of their hypocrisy plagues them.

The New York Times touches on this rebuilding of the states' rights and secession movement today, indicating that it's having some problems since most people don't know what in the hell these weirdos are going on about. But it's an old old strain in American politics that asserts itself when the Conservative Southern Party shrinks to its essence.(Conservative isn't really the right word, of course, but it's the oxymoronic label most people now attach to this political rump. These people are radicals, always have been.)
The thing to remember is that this is the same party that demanded just months ago that we give unquestioning loyalty to Bush because he was President of OUR United States of America, but now that Barack Obama is in charge, the Government is the incarnation of everything evil. The rampant spending Bush demanded has now become "wasteful porkulus". The powers Bush told us we needed to let him have are now proof of the "Fascist Obama State". The best part is the same Republicans who didn't bat an eyelash when Bush did these things are now in screaming apoplexy about Obama.

The deranged, irrational hatred these people have for Democrats is stunning. They hate Barack Obama so much that they are willing to risk splitting the union because they don't like him.

Bush on the other hand? The Great Uniter.

Flight Cancelled

I said last week that the White House dipstick in charge of the low-flyover of an Air Force One copy (complete with escort jets) over New York City that panicked a healthy chunk of downtown Manhattan needed to have his ass fired.

Today, the nimrod in question, Louis Caldera, resigned.
President Obama has accepted the resignation of Louis Caldera, the director of the White House Military Office responsible for the controversial low-altitude flyover of New York by a 747 plane used as Air Force One, the White House said Friday.

The photo shoot, which President Obama said he was "furious" with, happened on April 27. The image of a low-flying plane accompanied by an F-16 fighter jet sent some New Yorkers into the streets and into a panic -- reminding them of the tragic 9/11 attacks on the city. Building evacuations also took place across the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Bye, Louis.

Rachel Maddow Versus Supervillain Fearing Republicans


No really.

That's their new slogan this week.

Republicans are complete pussies.

Good Old Fashioned Blackmail

The GOP is playing hardball on killing all Congressional torture investigations:
At a hearing today with Attorney General Eric Holder, Republican members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee suggested that any potential criminal investigation into the CIA's harsh interrogation methods might not easily be contained.

Both Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Richard Shelby of Alabama pressed Holder on the CIA's "rendition" program that moved terrorism suspects from one country to another.

Didn't that happen during the Clinton administration?
Yes, Holder said.

"How many did you approve?" they asked.
Holder said he'd check the record.

The clear suggestion was, if any criminal investigation is opened, Republicans would push to get it expanded beyond events during the Bush administration. Alexander, for example, asked several times whether members of Congress, who were told about the interrogation methods, should also be investigated.

The warning is loud and clear. "If you pull the trigger on this, we will make sure Democrats suffer for this as much or more than the Republicans. You don't want this. Trust me."

This is what passes for rule of law if you're a Republican senator: threatening scorched earth tactics if you dare to lift the rotting log and shine a flashlight under there.

California Roll

With a special election on the docket for California, a raft of budget propositions face long odds at the voting booth. Lawmakers warn if the measures do not pass, the state could find itself $23 billion in the hole for 2009.
California could run out of money as soon as July, the Legislature's chief budget analyst warned Thursday, as a new poll showed voters poised to reject five budget-related measures on the May 19 ballot.

If the propositions do not pass, the state could find itself as much as $23 billion short of the money it needs to pay its bills over the next year, according to a new forecast by Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor. The poll, from the Public Policy Institute of California, found that even as voter interest in the ballot measures rises, all are trailing except the sixth one -- Proposition 1F, which would bar pay hikes for lawmakers in deficit years.

The other measures would provide the state with as much as $6 billion in the coming year through borrowing against the California State Lottery and temporarily reducing some social services.

One proposition, 1A, which barely one in three likely voters supports, the poll shows, would extend recently enacted tax hikes until 2013, plumping state coffers by another $16 billion.

All of the proposals were placed on the ballot by the governor and lawmakers as part of a February budget agreement. That plan was intended to keep the state solvent well into next year, but it was quickly knocked out of balance by the deteriorating economy.

Adding to the fiscal woes, the Obama administration is threatening to pull $6.8 billion in stimulus funds from California in a dispute over an earlier state budget cut.
It just keeps getting worse for California too. Several other states are in a similar situation, and it's only going to continue to go downhill.


Jobbity job numbers are out, 539k jobs lost. Better than 600k for sure, but it's still more than half a million jobs lost every month for the last seven months, folks. Wall Street was betting on under 500k, so we'll see what that means. U-1 number up to 8.9% as expected.

If there's a smidge of real good news here, it's that the U-6 number rose only two tenths of a percent to 15.8%, and that's actually a decent sign if the rise of the U-6 rate is slowing.

The bad news? The jobs picture continues on its paradigm shift to temp jobs. Companies are hiring, but they are much more likely to only be hiring temp workers these days with little to no benefits, no health care, and no 401k. For purposes of spending and stabilizing the housing market, they might as well be unemployed.

Temp workers don't buy houses, folks. More and more people are being converted from permanent to temporary workers after a long layoff drains their savings. They have to rent. They don't purchase big ticket items that require manufacturing. They don't gain equity to use down the road. In short, we're going to be in real economic trouble for years.

Welcome to the new normal.

A Nancy Drew Mystery

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vehemently denied knowing anything about waterboarding. Only it turns out she's been caught red-handed in a massive lie.
ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah in September 2002, according to a report prepared by the Director of National Intelligence’s office and obtained by ABC News.

The report, submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee and other Capitol Hill officials Wednesday, appears to contradict Pelosi’s statement last month that she was never told about the use of waterboarding or other special interrogation tactics. Instead, she has said, she was told only that the Bush administration had legal opinions that would have supported the use of such techniques.

The report details a Sept. 4, 2002 meeting between intelligence officials and Pelosi, then-House intelligence committee chairman Porter Goss, and two aides. At the time, Pelosi was the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee.

The meeting is described as a “Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of particular EITs that had been employed.”

EITs stand for “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a classification of special interrogation tactics that includes waterboarding.

Pelosi, D-Calif., sharply disputed suggestions last month that she had been told about waterboarding having taken place.

“In that or any other briefing . . . we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used," Pelosi said at a news conference in April. "What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel . . . opinions that they could be used, but not that they would."

Brendan Daly, a Pelosi spokesman, said Pelosi’s recollection of the meeting is different than the way it is described in the report from the DNI’s office.

“The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used,” Daly said.

Daly pointed out that the report backs up Pelosi’s contention that she was briefed only once on “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Her name does not appear elsewhere in the report.

"As this document shows, the speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002," Daly said.

And while this is important, this is also a clear effort by the Right to frame the argument solely on Pelosi's role in being informed on torture when the real argument is several members of Congress in both parties knew about the fact we tortured people and did nothing. They continue to do nothing about it.

More than ever we need an independent investigation to get to the bottom of all this. There was both Democratic and Republican complicity in these acts. Those who knew and did nothing must be held accountable in some way.

We are either a nation of laws, or we are lawless.


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