Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Last Call

Google has no problem with Chinese censorship on the internet and suppression of information.  Well, that is until the Chinese decided it could hack Google's China operations and go after Google Mail accounts of dissidents at will.  Now Google's finally pissed off enough to threaten to leave.
Google Inc. will stop censoring its search results in China and may pull out of the country after discovering that computers hackers had tricked human rights activists into opening their e-mail accounts to outsiders.

The change-of-heart announced Tuesday heralds a major shift for Google, which has repeatedly said it will obey Chinese laws that require some politically and socially sensitive issues to be blocked from search results that are available in other countries.

Google disclosed in a blog post that it had detected a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China." Further investigation revealed that "a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists," Google said in the post written by Chief Legal Officer David Drummond.

Google did not specifically accuse the Chinese government. But the company added that it is "no longer willing to continue censoring our results" on its Chinese search engine, as the government requires. Google says the decision could force it to shut down its Chinese site and its offices in the country.
About time you guys came around.  The G-Men have been taking a lot of heat from the tech press for their "censorship as the price to pay for entry into the Chinese search engine market" strategy, and lo and behold, the Chinese are more than willing to screw Google over in return.

"Don't be evil" is nice and all for a corporate motto guys, but terribly naive.

Writing On Said Wall

Something of an educated guess follows.

First, we have this from Bob Cesca that the Supreme Court decision on campaign finance reform is coming down tomorrow.
The decision will decide whether corporations can, once again, contribute money (as its form of "speech") to political campaigns. If the Court decides in favor of Citizens United and against the FEC, rules under McCain-Feingold will, in effect, be ruled unconstitutional, allowing corporations even greater influence over politics and policy in America.

As if corporations weren't insanely powerful enough already. The further and unfettered corporate screwing of America could begin immediately, and there's very little that can be done to put the egg back into the shell.
Nearly at the same time, we have the U.S. Chamber of Commerce playing hardball with its advocacy.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue warned the U.S. faces a double-dip recession because of the taxes and regulations under consideration by the Democratic Congress and President Barack Obama.

“Congress, the administration and states must recognize that our weak economy simply could not sustain all the new taxes, regulations and mandates now under consideration. It’s a sure-fire recipe for a double-dip recession, or worse,” Donohue said in a speech providing the Chamber's outlook for 2010.
Standard pro-business Chamber boilerplate here, other than this tidbit:
He also promised the Chamber would be more involved in the 2010 midterm election than it has been in any other before, and will hold accountable lawmakers who vote against the group's priorities.
Now if I was a betting man, I would think that the Chamber believes its going to have the opportunity to play a much larger role in donating to specific candidates here very shortly.

Nobody Could Have Predicted, Etc

That Ben Nelson wants even more of a special deal from Obama.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said he's not yet "100 percent certain" he can vote for health reform legislation.

Nelson, who gave Democrats a crucial 60th vote to end debate on its healthcare bill and pass it, said he's hopeful he can support whatever final legislation comes before the Senate, but can't be sure.

“I hope so, but I’m not 100 percent certain of it," Nelson told The Chadron Record in an interview last Friday.
Nope, he's not sure he says, as he holds out his hand towards Obama, maybe if you gave me something to settle my mind since my Medicare deal isn't so special anymore.  Nelson's extortion becoming public knowledge has pissed off his constituents, and now it's looking like he's right back to extortion again.

Masters Of The Victim Mentality

President Obama is planning to go to the House GOP's annual retreat in February and address lawmakers.  Everything you need to know is in Republican Whip Eric Cantor's response:
While Cantor described that just-announced meeting as "welcome news," he ultimately questioned "whether the President plans to meet WITH Republicans, or speak TO them."

“In 2009, on the rare occasion when we were invited to the White House, the president paid Republican proposals lip service while the cameras were on, only to completely rebuff those ideas afterward," Cantor said in a statement, hours after the White House announced the meeting.
Sure, and he had every reason to meet with you when you automatically vote no on everything the Democrats put forth.  Cantor just can't understand why Obama doesn't want to pursue the Republican agenda.  This is bi-partisanship, because there are two parties involved, see?  The Republicans have an agenda, and they expect the Democrats to support it in a bi-partisan manner.

Elections have consequences, and the Republicans won overwhelmingly in 2008, remember?  Why are those Democrats so mean to the people that voters overwhelmingly supported?

The Real Repeal Deal

HuffPo's Sam Stein has the goods on the plan to roll back Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Congressional negotiators and White House officials are moving forward with plans to add the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell to the upcoming defense authorization bill, Democratic sources tell the Huffington Post.

In Congress, members are being whipped to ensure that the votes will be there for passage, should the legislation be placed in the bill. At this juncture, aides say, the prospects look good. Meanwhile, a source close to the White House says the president has instructed the Defense Department that he believes the repeal of DADT should be placed in the authorization bill.

However, disagreements could emerge when it comes to crafting the actual legislative language, over which Defense Secretary Robert Gates will wield his influence. And at this juncture, few of the offices working on the issue said they were willing to take passage as a fait accompli.

"People have said publicly and privately that this is a good place for repeal to be placed," said one Democratic aide on the Hill. "It would be reasonable to expect that repeal might be in this year's defense authorization... But we aren't assuming anything yet."
Still, it's the most direct and effective method to overturn DADT.  It will force Republicans to try to block the entire defense appropriations bill, and that's not something they are going to be prepared to do, especially in light of all the foreign policy and Warren Terrah criticisms they have leveled at the White House in the last few weeks.

A number of lawmakers on the Democratic side are behind the effort.  And considering the last time the Senate Republicans came out against an equality measure in a military bill they looked like complete jagoffs, I don't think they're going to make too much of an issue of it.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Nate Silver tweets:
Q: Would Scott Brown be better off by *pretending* to be undecided about health care & then Pulling a Grassley?
A: No. One, he's already come out as "The Forty-First Vote Against Obamacare."  Two, that's the basis of his national campaign.  If he was even remotely perceived as waffling on the destruction of Obamacare, he would be crucified by the Wingers and Teabaggers in a matter of hours.

The Perpetual Lie Machine

Yeah, I'm being terribly, terribly hard on the Village this week, but you know what?  As Double G says,  "They've earned it". As he points out, there's a larger pattern here and it's been there since the Bush era.
Consider the record of the American media over the last two weeks alone.  Justin Elliott of TPM documents how an absolute falsehood about the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing -- that Abdulmutallab purchased a "one-way ticket" to the U.S., when it was actually a round-trip ticket -- has been repeated far and wide by U.S. media outlets as fact.  Two weeks ago, Elliott similarly documented how an equally false claim from ABC News -- that two of the Al Qaeda leaders behind that airliner attack had been released from Guantanamo -- became entrenched as fact in media reports (at most, it was one, not two).  This week, Dan Froomkin chronicles how completely discredited claims about Guantanamo recidivism rates continue to be uncritically "reported" by The New York Times and then inserted into our debates as fact.

As I documented two weeks ago, government claims about which "top Al Qeada fighters" were killed by our airstrikes turn out to be untrue far more often than not, yet are always mindlessly featured by our media, ensuring little questioning of those actions; and now, at least two of the three Top Terrorists claimed to have been killed by our recent airstrikes in Yemen -- and possibly all three -- are quite likely alive.  As Greg Sargent writes, one of the most provocative and inflammatory claims of the trashy Halperin/Heilmann gossip book -- that Bill Clinton told Ted Kennedy that Obama would have been "getting us coffee" just a couple years earlier -- is not only completely unsourced (like virtually every one of their sleazy claims), but also "paraphrased."

Aside from falsity -- and the fact that they become irreversibly lodged in our political culture as fact -- what do all of these deceitful reports have in common?  They're all the by-product of granting anonymity to people and then repeating what they claim as fact, with the falsehood-disseminators protected by "journalists" from any and all accountability for their falsehoods.  It's exactly the same process that caused our leading media outlets to tell Americans about Iraq's massive WMD program and Al Qaeda connections; Jessica Lynch's heroic firefight with inhumane Iraqi devils and her "rescue" by our Marines; Pat Tillman's death at the hands of Al Qaeda monsters; and government tests that "confirmed" the presence of bentonite in the anthrax used to attack the U.S., which meant it was likely that Saddam was behind the attacks.

Unjustified anonymity -- especially when mindlessly repeating what shielded government sources claim in secret -- is the single greatest enabler of false and deceitful "reporting."  Despite (or, really, because of) its unparalelled record of producing lies, it will never stop, because agreeing to it is how "journalists" end up being selected as favored message-carrying servants for the powerful.  This falsehood-producing method isn't ancillary to American journalism but central to it; the book which is occupying the attention of America's political and media class is based exclusively on unattributed, shielded sources, and that seems to bother none of them.
And that's really it. The media rolls out a lie, the lie spreads because there's no real accountability in the Village, and all sides use the lies when it benefits them.  It's been pretty egregious since Christmas Day, but it never really went away.  And the same Village Idiots are still in charge of our news media.  The people in power stroke the Village, and the Village helps them by spreading whatever lies needs to be spread that day.

Whoever tells the best lies, wins.

We don't need just better politicians, we need a better media as well.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Remember FOX refusing to air Obama's press conferences earlier this year because he was "overexposed" and "a celebrity instead of a President"?

As Steve Benen notes, once the Village high school cool kids get a hold of a cool new reason to go Obama Derangement Syndrome, they go for it.
I get the sense these folks are hard to please. As Mark Knoller noted, Obama has given more speeches, comments, statements, and interviews at this point in his term than any other president in modern history. It's what started the "overexposed" nonsense in the first place.

But yesterday, press secretary Robert Gibbs was nevertheless asked, "Is he avoiding us?"
Your Liberal White House Press Corps strikes again.  No matter what the Democrat does, it's wrong.

The Case For Equality

A good friend of mine tipped me off to this Newsweek article where the lawyer pleading the case to overturn California's Prop 8, former Bush v. Gore point man Ted Olson, lays out a compelling and powerful case for gay marriage from a conservative point of view.
The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that marriage is one of the most fundamental rights that we have as Americans under our Constitution. It is an expression of our desire to create a social partnership, to live and share life's joys and burdens with the person we love, and to form a lasting bond and a social identity. The Supreme Court has said that marriage is a part of the Constitution's protections of liberty, privacy, freedom of association, and spiritual identification. In short, the right to marry helps us to define ourselves and our place in a community. Without it, there can be no true equality under the law.

It is true that marriage in this nation traditionally has been regarded as a relationship exclusively between a man and a woman, and many of our nation's multiple religions define marriage in precisely those terms. But while the Supreme Court has always previously considered marriage in that context, the underlying rights and liberties that marriage embodies are not in any way confined to heterosexuals.

Just Sayin'

Me, Saturday:
As a matter of fact like John Cole and TS over at Instaputz, I think Harry there should not only resign from the Dem leadership, he should also announce his retirement just as soon as the Nevada Democratic Party figures out who needs to run for his seat.

The fact is the Wingers would be doing the Dems a huge favor if they helped pressure him into going.  I've been saying the Dems need a new leader in the Senate for months now, and frankly, he's going to lose his re-election bid anyhow.
CNN's John Feehery, today:
If Reid steps down from his leadership position, his replacement will likely be Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, an ambitious and politically more talented senator. If Reid decides to resign his seat, who knows who would take his place on the ballot? Probably not anybody who is less well-liked than the current occupant.

I don't think either result serves the interests of the Republican Party.
Oh, and Feehery...you're thinking of Dick Durbin, not Chuck Schumer.

Just sayin'.

The Already Failed Obama Presidency Rolls On

CNN lets us know that the Republican effort to brand Obama a failure has been a rousing success.
Americans are giving Barack Obama a split decision on his first year in office, according to a new national poll.

Forty-eight percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say Obama's presidency has been a failure so far, with 47 percent saying Obama has been a success. The poll's January 12 release comes just 8 days before Obama marks one year in the White House.

The survey indicates that Obama's approval rating as president stands at 51 percent, down 3 points from last month, with 48 percent disapproving, up 4 points from December.

"On the plus side for Obama, he remains personally popular and he gets decent ratings on foreign policy and national security issues. That may explain why his overall approval rating is a little higher than the number who say Obama's first year has been a success," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Unfortunately for Obama, domestic issues - led by the economy - are far more important to the public than foreign policy issues, and a majority disapprove of how he is handling every single economic and domestic issue tested."
The Magical Black Guy has yet to fix all of George W. Bush problems in one year.  This is enough for half of America to brand him a complete failure.

Clearly the solution is to give the country back to the Republicans, because the problem is the government is dooing too much and not doing enough at the same time, so we must stop government programs and cut spending to increase jobs, except where the spending is good like Iraq and tax breaks for the wealthy.

Frankly, I think we deserve what the Republicans will do to this country if we put them back in charge in 2010 and 2012.  When they get tossed out again at the end of the decade for nearly destroying the country again, it'll be so nice for whoever the Democrat is in 2022 to see the poll come out saying their failure to fix our 20% unemployment rate in the first year has half of America believing they are failures.

New Kids On The Crock

Kevin and the Rumpies are not so nice to the Daily Drudgeinton Post Caller.  But James Wolcott of Vanity Fair breaks out the plasma chainsaw made of tiny genetically altered cyborg piranhas and goes all Anton Ego on the poor f'ckers.
If the day one of Tucker Carlson's mavericky money pit The Daily Caller is any indication, the talent pool on the journalistic right has become a foot bath, or perhaps a finger bowl. It's as if P. J. O'Rourke sired a litter of smart alecks who are now all grown up and ready to take their place in the cafeteria line of the Cato Institute of Performing Arts.

There's S. E. Cupp, author of an upcoming crap about liberalism's war on religion, a tired subject for a tired people, arriving five years after John Gibson milked that particular cow with The War on Christmas. Day one of Cupp's diary, in which she introduces herself to the tea baggers drifting into the tent, seems similarly dated in its attitudes and antagonisms. "Valuing the sanctity of life, the traditional family, the 2nd Amendment, personal responsibility, low taxes and a limited government puts me at odds with the esteemed cultural taste arbiters of our great nation-like Alec Baldwin and Rosie O’Donnell," she snorts. Rosie O'Donnell left The View in 2007 and everybody loves Alec Baldwin now--get with the program. She even makes a crack about France that sounds like Jonah Goldberg in his cheese-eating surrender-monkeys heyday, when the invasion of Iraq seemed like such a fun idea.
The carnage is exquisite, like a Faberge egg made of gilded snark and wearing a little tiny smoking jacket.

Free Pass Era

The bottom line of the Village is that Republicans get a free pass on things, and Democrats simply don't.  The Republicans are counting on it as a matter of fact as Tristero points out over at Hullabaloo.
But as the pattern Haberman reports makes clear, Republican operatives - whose cynicism knows no bounds - are betting that Americans have already begun to forget exactly what happened after the GOP stole the presidency in 2000 and wreaked such havoc on us.. That is why it is incumbent upon responsible journalists like Haberman not to let scoundrels like Carlson explain away Giuliani's cold, calculated lie as merely a different way to view the world.

Surely, Carlson's spin is as self-evidently absurd to Haberman as it is to us. But, as long experience with rightwing GOP nonsense has demonstrated, merely holding it up for ridicule is not enough to stop it. As long as they think they can get away with it, they will.
And the Village lets them get away with it even when they get caught.  You can hold it up for ridicule (Lord knows I do that all the time) but you have to point out that it is a lie, it is incorrect, and that the people who tell the lies need to take a hit for it.  They don't.  Not if they are Republicans.

Rudy will be invited on Teevee to explain his "outlook" as a terror expert again and again no matter what he says...even when he says "We were never attacked under Bush."  The real problem is next time when he says it, nobody will correct him still.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Mark McGwire is a liar, according to the Village.  He said he didn't use steroids and admitted he did.

Republicans however are just "not quite correct" when they tell obvious falsehoods to millions of Americans.

It's a good thing ol Mark there didn't invade Iraq.

Not Buying What The Village Is Selling

With the Village pushing the Obama As Wimp theory since Crotch Bomber blew it, it's interesting to note the President's approval numbers on handling national security and terrorism have gone up since December as Greg Sargent notes.
Okay, some new polling from CNN just landed in the old in-box, and it appears to suggest that the public isn’t buying claims that Obama’s handling of the Christmas Day plot was too detached, cool, or weak:
As you know, a man has been charged with attempting to use an explosive device on Christmas Day to blow up a plane that was flying to Detroit. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama has responded to that incident?
Approve 57%
Disapprove 39%
No opinion 4%
The real way of telling whether Obama’s handling of that particular plot has hurt him is to poll on overall confidence in him, and here’s what CNN finds along those lines:
How much confidence do you have in the Obama administration to protect U.S. citizens from future acts of terrorism — a great deal, a moderate amount, not much or none at all?
A great deal 24%
A moderate amount 41%
Not much 19%
None at all 16%
These numbers are generally good for Obama, but not completely. Only one fourth has a “great deal” of confidence in Obama to protect them. That said, a big majority — 65% — has a great deal or a moderate amount of confidence.

And only 35% adopt the Cheney clan’s view that we should be curled up in the corner with our teeth chattering uncontrollably over lack of confidence in the Obama administration’s ability to protect us. That’s pretty remarkable, given that the Cheneys have been all over the airwaves making this case for months and months.
In other words, both Liz and the Dick have failed. The American people are in fact smarter than that.  In fact it's only Republicans who feel Obama has failed, independent voters and Democrats overwhelmingly approve of the way Obama's handled things so far.

So who out there in GOP pundit-land wants to explain to the Dick there and his daughter that every time they open their mouths, they remind Americans of how much of a failure the Republicans were at protecting this country?

StupidiNews Focus

With states strapped for cash, more of them are turning to legalizing medical marijuana as a new revenue source.  New Jersey's legislature overwhelmingly approved the measure last night, and outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine is expected to sign the measure this week.

But west coast states are considering going significantly further along the legalization road in order to raise revenue, specifically California and Washington State.  The Golden State in particular needs cash flow with its wrecked budget.
The state assembly will make history on Tuesday, when it holds a committee hearing on whether to legalize marijuana and tax it.

It is the first time in U.S. history that any state legislative body has ever considered repealing marijuana prohibition.

California's laws have been in place since 1913.

The bill by Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
The fact that legalizing marijuana for recreational use is even being considered seriously shows you how dire the fiscal situation is right now, and the issue will also be on the state's initiative ballot in November.  This is a state facing a Governor doing the following:

(More after the jump...)


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