Sunday, December 27, 2009

Last Call

While the Iranian protests have never really left us this year, the crackdown this weekend in Tehran has been the worst in months, and as Spencer Ackerman notes as the Iranian protesters are likening the Ayatollah to the unfaithful Muslim ruler Yazid:
I don’t know how long it’ll take, but a theocracy that the faithful equate with the man whose iniquity ultimately prompted the creation of Shiism is doomed.
In a Shi'ite nation, absolutely.  It's like comparing a Western leader to Judas Iscariot.

Pound Of Flesh

The Wingers DEMAND!!!1! heads for this weekend's failed terror attack in Detroit, and they've decided the first head needs to be Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday that the thwarting of the attempt to blow up an Amsterdam-Detroit airline flight Christmas Day demonstrated that "the system worked."

Asked by CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union" how that could be possible when the young Nigerian who has been charged with trying to set off the bomb was able to smuggle explosive liquid onto the jet, Napolitano responded: "We're asking the same questions."

Napolitano added that there was "no suggestion that [the suspect] was improperly screened."
And you know what?  I can actually see the argument here for once.  This guy should have been on the no-fly list.  He never should have been allowed on that flight out of Amsterdam.  He got on board there with this device.  That's a mistake.

It became a full-fledged error in judgment when Napolitano said "the system worked."  It didn't work.  Nobody believes that, left or right.

Real Manly Ye-Men

You're kidding me, right Joe?
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, (I-Conn) a renowned hawk and one of the foremost champions of the invasion of Iraq, warned on Sunday that the United States faced "danger" unless it pre-emptively acts to curb the rise of terrorism in Yemen.

"Somebody in our government said to me in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, Iraq was yesterday's war. Afghanistan is today's war. If we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war," Lieberman said, during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday". "That's the danger we face."
So in your official capacity as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, your suggestion for protecting Americans on airliners is to...what, invade Yemen?  Really?

Honestly?  Is the position of Replacement Cheney actually needing to be filled?

[UPDATE 5:47 PM] And speaking of Lieberdouche, Aimai at NMMNB has a must-read on why Obama has to go over the heads of the Centrists, and ask the House to eat a bowl of crap, and has to sign the Senate health care reform bill into law before this weekend's attack becomes the excuse Joe needs to kill this bill.
Previously, even a day ago, I was opposed to the ping ponging of the bill. I hoped that a conference report might, with the good wind at its back, materially improve the bill and still squeak through the Senate's sixty vote bottleneck. Now I'm sure that Lieberman is going to step up and screw us if he can, when he can. Just imagine his puffed up self hectoring us about how irresponsible it is to spend money on health care when there are terrorists attacking us in our valued cities, like Detroit?

I recommend that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi take what they can get--push the Senate version of the bill through as is and then fix every bit of it they can as it relates to the budget through Reconciliation. Do it fast and without warning. And make the terrorist attack your excuse, if you want. Say "the country has been through enough and we need to get on with things. We believe this bill is very good and we can fix the parts that need fixing through reconciliation in a timely manner." And then just do it. Lieberman will be left with his mouth hanging open and the majority of the bill will be irrevocable. But promise the progressives that they will absolutely be able to get the rest of their initiatives through the reconciliation process and hew to that promise. It will be the best of all possible worlds.
Agreed.  Fast track this thing.  Sign it ASAP, or Lieberman will kill it.  Period.

Bobo Goes All Rational On Us

David Brooks today admitted to ABC's Jake Tapper that he would prefer a single payer health insurance plan to the current Senate bill.
Conservative columnist David Brooks expressed support Sunday for a system of health care otherwise demonized in the press by the right wing. "I wouldn't mind a single-payer. Frankly I prefer a single-payer to what we have now," Brooks told ABC's Jake Tapper.

Brooks' support for single-payer comes late in the health care reform debate.

He was asked about single-payer on July 29th but deflected the question, writing, "I'm not that thrilled with the insurance companies." He also wrote, "There is no way something that big and complex and dynamic can be run out of Washington."

Brooks said he can't support the health reform passed by both houses of Congress. "I oppose it," he said. "It's a close call for me." He has consistently charged that health care cost controls are not enough to support the Democrats' bill.
You know what?

In the end, from Jane Hamsher to David Brooks to Michele Bachmann, the country is going to eventually come to the conclusion at some point that single payer is the only real solution to both reducing costs and providing care.

Bobo's finally figured it out.  This bill is only a start, frankly.  It's better than the status quo, but again that's only an indication of how truly awful the status quo is.  The profit motive in health care has to go.

A Different Response

Steve Benen argues that Obama's decidedly non-Bushian response to this weekend's blown airline attack is yet another indication of the President's cool and collected competence.
In the Bush/Cheney era, we know officials read from a far different script. Incidents like these became opportunities to exploit. Top officials -- Bush, Cheney, Rice, Ashcroft, Ridge -- would fan out and start hitting the talking points. There'd be talk about invading Yemen. Maybe the Bush gang would get a bump in the polls, maybe Dems and administration critics would hold their fire for a few days. If they didn't, the White House could take comfort in knowing that critics would be accused of "aiding and abetting" terrorists by attacking the Commander in Chief in the wake of a crisis.

Obama and his team obviously prefer a far more mature, strategic approach. It's about projecting a sense of calm and control. It's about choosing not to elevate some lunatic thug who set himself on fire.

Indeed, notice the pattern throughout the year. The Obama administration has taken out Saleh al-Somali, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, and Baitullah Mehsud, while taking suspected terrorists Najibullah Zazi, Talib Islam, and Hosam Maher Husein Smadi into custody before they could launch potential attacks.

In each case, there were no high-profile press conferences, no public chest-thumping, no desire to politicize the counter-terrorism successes. Indeed, most of the country probably never heard a word about any of these developments.

It's about competent and effective leadership, and it's what the country was sorely lacking up until 11 months ago.
He has a valid point:  Bush would have called a press conference yesterday.  Cheney would have made his remarks from his bunker.  Skeletor would have been on the Sunday shows along with Mukasey and Condi.  We would be hearing how only luck saved us, and that Bush would be expecting Democrats to sign off on a raft of strict new airport security procedures.  The Village would be told to measure the support for hitting Yemen.  Cheney especially would be arguing for another invasion, calling it an act of war and that Yemen would soon be getting the Iraq treatment.

Cheney will still be arguing for that.  Except now the world can safely ignore him, especially since 7 years of "making us safer" still wasn't able to stop this guy.  What credibility would he have in a just, sane America?

Why, none, as it should be.  The adults are in charge now.

[UPDATE 11:37 AMWhat Betty Cracker said.  And also, Rep. Pete Hoekstra can basically go screw himself.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) told Fox News' Chris Wallace Sunday that it is "fair" to hold the Obama administration responsible for the a failure to detect an attempted terror attack. Friday, Hoekstra told the Detroit Free Press that the Obama administration needed to "connect the dots."

"You were quoted in the Detroit Free Press this morning as saying that, you know, the key is to connect the dots and maybe the Obama administration will now realize that. Is it really fair to hold the Obama administration responsible here?" asked Wallace.

"Yeah, I think it really is," replied Hoekstra. "Connecting the dots here is not really on this particular case. It's connecting the dots that we've seen over the last 11 months, over the last eight years."
The same people who said "It's not fair to hold Bush responsible for every single thing" wrong with America after seven years since the last shoe bomber attacked an airline are of course the ones who say it's perfectly reasonable to hold Obama accountable after 11 months.

Deal With It, Obama

Politico drops a warning piece to the President that Senate centrist Dems have done everything they are going to do on Obama's domestic agenda, and that they want him to drop the rest, starting with cap and trade.
Bruised by the health care debate and worried about what 2010 will bring, moderate Senate Democrats are urging the White House to give up now on any effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill next year.

“I am communicating that in every way I know how,” says Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of at least half a dozen Democrats who've told the White House or their own leaders that it's time to jettison the centerpiece of their party's plan to curb global warming.

The creation of an economy-wide market for greenhouse gas emissions is as the heart of the climate bill that cleared the House earlier this year. But with the health care fight still raging and the economy still hurting, moderate Democrats have little appetite for another sweeping initiative — especially another one likely to pass with little or no Republican support.

“We need to deal with the phenomena of global warming, but I think it’s very difficult in the kind of economic circumstances we have right now,” said Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, who called passage of any economy-wide cap and trade “unlikely.”?

At a meeting about health care last month, moderates pushed to table climate legislation in favor of a jobs bill that would be an easier sell during the 2010 elections, according to Senate Democratic aides.

“I’d just as soon see that set aside until we work through the economy,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). “What we don’t want to do is have anything get in the way of working to resolve the problems with the economy.”

“Climate change in an election year has very poor prospects,” added Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). “I’ve told that to the leadership.”
All the usual suspects have lined up against it: Landrieu, Nelson, Bayh, even Kent Conrad.  Considering Obama has indicated his next piece of legislation will be a jobs bill in 2010 and there's still another several months of additional wrangling on health care reform ahead, it looks like Obama's going to take his win and put off any climate change legislation until, well, let's be honest here, never.

Regulating carbon through the EPA seems like the only way to get things done.  Congress wants to put that all on Obama's head, because they know what the President's EPA can regulate today will be stripped and de-regulated when the next Republican gets into the White House.

Besides, who does Obama think he is, President?  Didn't you know that every Senator outranks him according to the Village?

[UPDATE 11:25 AMBooMan wisely points out that since cap and trade can't get 60 votes but could most likely get 50 plus Biden, that climate change legislation needs to become the rallying point for removing the filibuster.  Ezra has a great interview with Sen. Tom Harkin on doing just that.

Well We're Living Here In Allen's Town

The Eric Holder DoJ is trying to determine just how much of Washington was disgraced banker Sir Allen Stanford's town, because he certainly had friends in high places inside the beltway.  Just how good those friends were, well...the Miami Herald investigates.
Just hours after federal agents charged banker Allen Stanford with fleecing investors of $7 billion, the disgraced financier received a message from one of Congress' most powerful members, Pete Sessions.
"I love you and believe in you,'' said the e-mail sent on Feb. 17. "If you want my ear/voice -- e-mail,'' it said, signed "Pete.''

The message from the chair of the Republican National Congressional Committee represents one of the many ties between members of Congress and the indicted banker that have caught the attention of federal agents.

The Justice Department is investigating millions of dollars Stanford and his staff contributed to lawmakers over the past decade to determine if the banker received special favors from politicians while building his spectacular offshore bank in Antigua.

Agents are examining campaign dollars, as well as lavish Caribbean trips funded by Stanford for politicians and their spouses, feting them with lobster dinners and caviar.

The money Stanford gave Sessions and other lawmakers was stolen from his clients while he carried out what prosecutors now say was one of the nation's largest Ponzi schemes.

Sessions, 54, a longtime House member from Dallas who met with Stanford during two trips to the Caribbean, did not respond to interview requests.
And it wasn't just Republicans like Pete Sessions, either.
In late 2001, Stanford confronted another threat: A bill allowing state and federal regulators to share details about fraud cases -- which would have brought Stanford's brokerages under closer scrutiny -- landed in the Senate Banking Committee.

Though the Senate was now controlled by Democrats, Stanford was prepared: He had given $500,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2002 -- his largest-ever contribution.

``I told him that the Democrats were going to take over, and he needed to make friends with them,'' recalled his lobbyist Ben Barnes, once Texas' lieutenant governor.

Stanford also doled out $100,000 to a national lobbying group to fight the measure.

The bill, which sparked sweeping opposition from brokerages and insurers, never made it to a vote.
A hundred thousand here, a half a million well spent when you're illegally taking in billions.  Only now after being busted for one of the largest fraud schemes in planetary history is the Holder DoJ forced to look at Stanford's corrupt connections.

The best part?  The system in place that assured Stanford could buy influence will continue to remain.

And we're living here in Allen's town.
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