Friday, December 25, 2009

Last Call

Yep, this guy's a Republican alright.
Rep. Parker Griffith announced his switch to the Republican Party on Tuesday, telling the press he can "no longer align [him]self with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy, and drives us further and further into debt."

The Alabama Democratic Party issued a statement Wednesday accusing Griffith's political consultancy, Main Street Strategies, of downloading "sensitive voter identification data that was the property of the Alabama Democratic Party."

"This final act was obviously intended to aid Mr. Griffith in his new role as a Republican candidate. Upon hearing of Mr. Griffith’s switch, security measures were taken to prevent further transfers of data," the statement read.

Even though the "sensitive" voter data helped elect Griffith in 2008, "in the wee hours before he became a Republican, Parker Griffith’s political operatives, with full knowledge of what was occurring, went online and downloaded our confidential records,” Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham said.
Because nothing says "I'm a Republican" like a final quasi-legal "screw you" on the way out the door.

Christmas Presense

So apparently, there are conflicting reports tonight about a Nigerian Muslim who may or may not be actually affiliated with AQ who tried to detonate "an explosive substance" aboard an airliner that had just landed in Detroit by way of Amsterdam.
The suspect is 23-year-old Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, a federal official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid affecting an ongoing investigation. ABC News and NBC News reported that he attends University College of London, where he studied engineering.

While not on the TSA's "no-fly" list, Abdulmutallab's name appears to be included in the government's records of terrorist suspects, according to a preliminary review, authorities said.

Abdulmutallab has told federal investigators that he had ties to al-Qaeda and traveled to Yemen to collect the incendiary device and instructions on how to use it, according to a federal counterterrorism official briefed on the case. But authorities have yet to verify the claim, and they expect to conduct several more interviews before they determine whether he is credible, the official said.
Apparently all this guy did was burn himself rather badly in the process and singe a couple of nearby passengers.  It is a reminder that there are pretty sick people out there who really do want to hurt Americans.

Then again, there are plenty of Americans actually managing to kill other Americans too today.  Perspective, as always.

A Kroogmas Carol

Here's some holiday reading while you're waiting to make room in the downstairs oven for that casserole for later today.  Santa Krugman has a story for you:
Indulge me while I tell you a story — a near-future version of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” It begins with sad news: young Timothy Cratchit, a k a Tiny Tim, is sick. And his treatment will cost far more than his parents can pay out of pocket.

Fortunately, our story is set in 2014, and the Cratchits have health insurance. Not from their employer: Ebenezer Scrooge doesn’t do employee benefits. And just a few years earlier they wouldn’t have been able to buy insurance on their own because Tiny Tim has a pre-existing condition, and, anyway, the premiums would have been out of their reach.

But reform legislation enacted in 2010 banned insurance discrimination on the basis of medical history and also created a system of subsidies to help families pay for coverage. Even so, insurance doesn’t come cheap — but the Cratchits do have it, and they’re grateful. God bless us, everyone.

O.K., that was fiction, but there will be millions of real stories like that in the years to come. Imperfect as it is, the legislation that passed the Senate on Thursday and will probably, in a slightly modified version, soon become law will make America a much better country.
And there's the reality, folks.  Have a merry Christmas.  Something got done for a change in this country.  The lesson for progressives?
If progressives want more, they’ll have to make changing those Senate rules a priority. They’ll also have to work long term on electing a more progressive Congress. But, meanwhile, the bill the Senate has just passed, with a few tweaks — I’d especially like to move the start date up from 2014, if that’s at all possible — is more or less what the Democratic leadership can get.

And for all its flaws and limitations, it’s a great achievement. It will provide real, concrete help to tens of millions of Americans and greater security to everyone. And it establishes the principle — even if it falls somewhat short in practice — that all Americans are entitled to essential health care.
It's not the 30 Rock Christmas tree...but it's not Charlie Brown's beat up little shrub, either.  The lesson of course is to elect people who will be inclined to improve this bill.
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