Thursday, November 18, 2010

Last Call

NPR Nazis? According to Roger Ailes of Fox News, that is what they are. For your enjoyment, I have included the soon to be infamous quote below:

"They are, of course, Nazis," Ailes told the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz. "They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don't want any other point of view. They don't even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive."

CBS News is quick to point out that only a tenth of NPR's budget comes from taxpayer money, and gets no direct federal funding for operations.

"When NPR executives made the decision to unfairly terminate Juan Williams and to then disparage him afterwards, the bias of their organization was exposed," House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colo.) said in a statement. Firing someone for what amounted to a brain fart and poor judgment brings them out in numbers, but refusing to allow women to be paid the same as men is just silly talk, right guys?

I guess wanting one point of view is only okay if you agree with them. It's the Republican way.

The 26-ers Head For The Cliff

Because the House needed a 2/3rds majority vote to extend federal unemployment benefits under the rules, the Republicans were able to block unemployment benefits for millions of Americans today.

Federal jobless payments, which last up to 73 weeks, kick in after the state-funded 26 weeks of coverage expire. These federal benefits are divided into tiers, and the jobless must apply each time they move into a new tier.

Congress has extended the deadline to file those applications four times in the past year. The last jobless benefits extension -- which lasted six months and cost $34 billion -- faced a lot of opposition on deficit conscious Capitol Hill before it finally passed in mid-July.

The $12.5 billion bill that was on the floor Thursday needed two-thirds approval, or 275 votes, a tough hurdle. The vote was 258 to 154.

Still, the bill was the opening salvo in what's likely to be a highly charged debate on extending the safety net for the nation's millions of unemployed. While the next step is unclear, it's possible the extension will resurface in a larger bill, such as one that would extend the Bush tax cuts.

But it's also likely lawmakers won't meet the Nov. 30 deadline, meaning hundreds of thousands of people will start losing benefits. In the past, Congress has made the extension retroactive, so the jobless ultimately received all their checks.

Both House and Senate Democrats have said they would have liked to extend the deadline by a year, but the House settled on three months in hopes that it would pass more easily.

It didn't pass because Republicans blocked it.  They blocked it because they have no problem seeing millions of Americans lose their unemployment benefits right before Christmas, because they believe we will blame Obama. And's worked so far!

The article doesn't say that, of course.  It says "The house failed to pass the extension".  The vote's roll call makes perfectly clear what actually happened, however.  21 Republicans did vote yes, but 11 Blue Dogs voted no.  The vote would have failed even with the Blue Dogs, however.

They are Reps. Berry, Boyd, Bright, Cooper, Lincoln Davis, Hill, Minnick, Nye, Peterson, Shuler, and Taylor.

And eight of these 11 lost re-election.  And of the other three, one is Heath Shuler, who wants to be minority leader after voting against unemployment extensions.  He can go straight to hell.

So when 2 million people lose their checks going into December and January, you know exactly who to blame.  Again, the vote was lost regardless of what the Dems did.

Whether or not the Republicans will actually get the blame is anyone's guess.

Putting The Cart Before The Moose

Palin states that she believes she can defeat Obama, and begins to lay the groundwork for 2012.

Could she defeat him? Anything is possible. Should she? No. HELL no. I was as objective as possible when Palin hit the scene years ago. Not since Geraldine Ferraro have women had a shot at such political power in the US. I wasn't swayed when people first began with the pretty jokes. You can be pretty and smart, and appearance is an easy target when there isn't anything else of substance to pick on. Maybe that's why the pretty jokes didn't last long.

In my opinion, Sarah Palin is a power hungry nut who wouldn't know what to do with this position if she had it. She showed little regard for the Constitution and has given every indication she would attempt to force her religion into our lives and laws. Much in the fashion of King George Dubya, she seems to think that if elected that means we must want her to redesign our country, rather than lead it. And really... do you want someone so ignorant speaking to heads of state? She can't even take criticism on her Facebook and Twitter accounts. A mere question that might not agree gets removed. What is she really going to do if she has to act before her buffers instruct her? How is someone so thin skinned going to hold up to global pressure?

Exhibit A:

They're in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.
Sarah Palin getting the US vice president's constitutional role wrong after being asked by a third grader what the vice president does, interview with NBC affiliate KUSA in Colorado, October 21, 2008.

Exhibit B:

I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.
Sarah Palin on not answering the questions in the vice presidential debate, St. Louis, Missouri, October 2, 2008.

Exhibit C:

"I think on a national level your Department of Law there in the White House would look at some of the things that we've been charged with and automatically throw them out."
Sarah Palin, referring to a department that does not exist while attempting to explain why as president she wouldn't be subjected to the same ethics investigations that compelled her to resign as governor of Alaska, ABC News interview, July 7, 2009

And my last one, my very favorite...

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."
Sarah Palin, in a message posted on Facebook about Obama's health care plan, Aug. 7, 2009

If you can't stop giggling, think about this woman running the country. That should do the trick.

In Which Zandar Admits Scott Brown Is An Okay Dude Sometimes

I've always said on this blog that if there's a good idea that the Republicans want to see implemented, I'm not going to poo-poo the idea just because Republicans proposed it.  And that brings us to GOP Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who along with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, have come up with a wonderful plan to fix health care reform.

If the states can come up with better plans, let them.  Ezra Klein explains:

This morning, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) introduced the “Empowering States to Innovate Act.” The legislation would allow states to develop their own health-care reform proposals that would preempt the federal government’s effort. If a state can think of a plan that covers as many people, with as comprehensive insurance, at as low a cost, without adding to the deficit, the state can get the money the federal government would’ve given it for health-care reform but be freed from the individual mandate, the exchanges, the insurance requirements, the subsidy scheme and pretty much everything else in the bill.

Wyden, with the help of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was able to build a version of this exemption into the original health-care reform bill, but for various reasons, was forced to accept a starting date of 2017 -- three years after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act goes into effect. The Wyden/Brown legislation would allow states to propose their alternatives now and start implementing them in 2014, rather than wasting time and money setting up a federal structure that they don’t plan to use.

In general, giving the states a freer hand is an approach associated with conservatives. On Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) sent a letter to the Republican Governors Association advocating exactly that. “The most effective path to sustainable health care reform runs through the states, not Washington,” he wrote. If it’s really the case that the states can do health reform better, Wyden and Brown are giving them a chance to prove it.

Do this.  This is brilliant, and something that I'd expect all 41 GOP Senators (and Mark Kirk when Illinois gets off their asses) to vote for.  If your state can come up with a better plan than Obamacare, then prove it.  We'll give you the money to do it.

And it gets even better.

One state that wants to prove it is Sanders’s Vermont. “As a single-payer advocate,” he says, “I believe that at the end of the day, if a state goes forward and passes an effective single-payer program, it will demonstrate that you can provide quality health care to every man, woman and child in a more cost effective way. So I wanted to make sure that states have that option.” Vermont’s governor-elect, Peter Shumlin, is on the same page. “Vermont needs a single-payer system,” he said during the campaign.

Single-payer, of course, is even more objectionable to conservatives than the existing health-care law. But that’s the beauty of this option: It allows the liberal states to go their way, the conservative states to go their way, and then lets the country judge the results. If Vermont’s single-payer system provides universal care at a low, low cost, then maybe that nudges California -- which is facing massive budget deficits -- off the fence. After all, if the state spends less than the government sends it, it gets to keep the remainder. It’s a nice incentive for cost control. And if it works, how long will more conservative states wait before they decide to take part in the savings, too?

But conservatives don’t believe that will happen. They think a consumer-directed system will offer higher-quality health care at a lower price, and with more choice. If Tennessee takes that route and outperforms Vermont, it’ll be their system that spreads across the land.

The funny thing about the health-care reform debate is that for all the arguing, everyone says they’re in favor of it. The GOP’s "Pledge to America," for instance, promises that the Republicans will repeal Obama’s health-care law “and put in place real reform.” Shumlin, too, promises Vermonters that he’ll produce “real reform.” The problem is that no one seems able to agree on what real reform is. The beauty of Wyden and Brown’s approach is that the country doesn’t have to choose.

Even better, individual states can decide, or they can stick with the current schedule of reforms.  Let red states and blue states battle it out with their own plans and see which one works.  Then all the states can use those plans in their own backyard, and we can put this to rest.

This is exactly what Republicans have been asking for:  a chance to prove they can do health care reform better than Obama and the Democrats.

So man up and do it.  Let Tennessee try its plan now.  Let Vermont try its plan.  Let California try its plan.  Let Oregon and Massachusetts try theirs.  Let's see what works in the real world.  Give states the choice.  I am all, all for this.

Pass this.  Pass this now.  This is a brilliant idea.  I love it.  Wyden-Brown for the win.

And naturally, I bet Republicans go bugnuts and hate it...even though it's exactly what they say they want.  What they really want is Obama the villain, and this bill would actually make Republicans have to govern.  They don't want that.  They want to win.  There's a difference.

Having said this, this legislation would force the GOP to go on record as being a bunch of douchebags who don't want to give the states the right to try better programs, but that they just hate Obama and want to destroy him.

I Recall When New Jersey Was Sane

And Tea Party nutjobs weren't trying to recall Senators for the crime of being Democrats.  Luckily, New Jersey's highest court just told the teabaggers to go dunk themselves in the Hudson.

"The court finds that ... the federal Constitution does not allow states the power to recall U.S. Senators," Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in a majority 4-2 opinion.

The Committee to Recall Robert Menendez, a group linked to the conservative Tea Party movement, wanted to recall the Democratic Senator because of his support for policies including healthcare and immigration reform and cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The committee sought permission from New Jersey's secretary of state to hold a popular vote on the recall effort. Their recall bid was earlier upheld by an appeals court but has now been reversed by the state's highest court.

The court's decision has been awaited by conservative activists seeking recall initiatives against elected members of the U.S. Congress in other states including Louisiana, North Dakota, and Colorado.

And the insanity of this is that Republicans want the option to immediately force a recall vote of any Senator they don't like, which is to say anyone to the left of Jim DeMint.  First it was take the vote of Senators away from the people by repealing the 17th Amendment, now they want to hold do-overs any time a Democrat wins, because that has to be suspect, and voting for legislation is a high enough crime to warrant removal from office based on the Tea-ranny of the Majority principle.

Luckily it seems this lunacy is being stopped cold.  Disagreeing with the Tea Party is not a friggin federal offense.


Trying To Assange Your Guilt

The Swedish rape allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are back.

A Swedish prosecutor on Thursday requested that Julian Assange, the founder of whistle blowing website WikiLeaks, be detained over rape allegations, a charge he strongly denies.

The prosecutor's office began an investigation into allegations of rape against Assange, an Australian citizen, in September.

The prosecutor's office said in a statement it had now decided to seek to detain Assange on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. A court hearing on the request was due at 1300 GMT.

"The reason for my request is that we need to interrogate him. So far, we have not been able to meet him to carry out the interrogations," said Marianne Ny, leading the case for the Prosecution Authority.

If the request is granted, authorities could issue an international arrest warrant for Assange, said Prosecution Authority spokeswoman Karin Rosander.

Remember, these allegations were made and then withdrawn due to lack of merit back in August.  Now they are being made again.  As I said then, any allegations of rape must be checked out.  But given the public calls for Assange's incarceration for WikiLeaks itself and even calls for his outright assassination from the wingnut right, and given the history of our own intelligence agencies in this country, the fact that these allegations may be false must be at least a possibility.

However if the Swedes have enough evidence to prosecute, Assange must turn himself in.  Period.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

And that reminds me:  to those of you who decided to vote for the Republicans to punish the Dems for not be progressive enough, particularly women who thought the Democrats weren't good enough on women's issues, LGBT voters who thought the Dems were failures on gay rights issues, and national security voters who think the Dems aren't serious on foreign relations: please keep the consequences of your votes in mind with Republicans killing the Paycheck Fairness Act with 41 no votes, planning to kill DADT's repeal in the Senate, and planning to delay the New START nuke treaty with Russia until next year, when they can kill it more easily.

And that's just this week. Keep that in mind heading into 2012.

Republicans don't give a pile of rat crap about any of that.  They just want to destroy Obama and stop him from signing anything into law over the next two years.

Anything.  And if the country burns, so be it.

Elections have consequences, they keep telling me.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Do Force A Showdown

Looks like the fight to repeal DADT is on in the Senate.

As recently as last week, there was quite a bit of talk about Senate Democrats caving on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal. Leaders knew they have to pass the military spending bill (the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA), and if Republicans were prepared to kill the measure over DADT, Dems looked like they'd blink first.

This week, there's been a shift in the other direction. President Obama has reportedly been working the phones, urging "dozens of Senators from both sides of the aisle" to approve the spending bill just as it is, leaving the repeal language intact.

By late yesterday, the Senate leadership announced it's not caving, setting the stage for a December showdown.

The problem is who on the Republican side will do the right thing when the base will see working with the Democrats as treason that must be ripped out?  Reid will offer amendments to both sides in order to get his two votes, but that will eat up two weeks of Senate business, leaving not a whole lot of time to get votes on anything else.

I just don't see how this works out.  I fully expect another last minute 180 by the GOP and this measure fails to advance by that same 58-42 vote, and then the real problems begin.  I hope I'm wrong.  How will the GOP be punished if they scuttle the bill?

More than enough LGBT voters went to the Republican side to reward them for the Log Cabin Republicans' efforts to attack DADT in the courts.  If things play out like I forsee it, these same folks will blame the 58 yes votes and not the 42 no ones...and vote increasingly Republican in 2012.

If It's Thursday...

Jobless claims remained essentially flat at 439k.  Continuing claims down 48k to 4.3 million, the lowest in two years.  That's not good, that means people are falling off the 99-er cliff.

It's going to be the 26-er cliff if Congress doesn't act.

Irish Eyes Are Crying, Part 7

As I predicted the bailout of the Irish economy is on, now it's time to work out how much.

Ireland's central bank chief said on Thursday he expected the country to receive tens of billions of euros in loans from European partners and the IMF to help shore up its shattered banks and stabilize the economy.

Central bank governor Patrick Honohan was speaking shortly before the start of talks with a joint mission of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund on a possible rescue package.
"The intention is and the expectation is, on their part and personally on my part, that negotiations or discussions will be effective and a loan will be made available and drawn down as necessary," he told state broadcaster RTE.

"We're talking about a very substantial loan for sure — tens of billions, yes," Honohan said, acknowledging that there had been substantial outflows of funds from the Irish banking sector since April.

Word is that we could see some 100 million euros thrown at the problem or more.  Meanwhile, Greece continues to collapse under its own failure as sharp contractions in 2011 and 2012 mean that Greek citizens will have to tighten their belts even more as the country faces rapidly increasing unemployment.  Austria has already said it will not make its bailout payment to Greece unless it meets economic targets, and that means bad news for already beleaguered Greeks.

StupidiNews Focus: The Ghailani Trial Was A Success

Wingers are furious that 1988 African embassy bomber Ahmed Ghailani was tried as a civilian and was only convicted of one count out of 280 plus, including murder charges for every embassy bombing victim.  But the reality is that the Obama Administration just proved that civilian trials do work, and the 20 to life sentence Ghailani will get is a far tougher conviction that what we've gotten in military tribunals.

Meanwhile, the right is indulging in fantasy.  John Hindraker:
Having failed to convict Ghailani on more than a single count, the administration can only hope for a substantial sentence. Absent that, they presumably will continue to hold him indefinitely, much as they are holding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, thus demonstrating the essentially sham nature of the proceeding that has just concluded. The Obama administration is truly a ship of fools. Some are already speculating that this disaster will be the occasion for Eric Holder to step down as Attorney General. I have no idea whether he is on the way out or not, but if so, Republicans in the Senate should question his replacement closely about Holder's politicizing of the Department of Justice, and should extract whatever commitment they can from his successor not to pursue the same course.

Holder resigning over a successful 20 years to life conviction of a terrorist?  No doubt Hinderaker's mad because Ghailiani isn't being fed to the Sarlacc.  Hugh Hewitt is equally upset.

224 innocents were killed by this terrorist, including 12 Americans.  They will never receive justice because of the absurd legal theories of a small group of justices and the refusal of Barack Obama and Eric Holder to demand of their left-wing colleagues inthe Congress a continued insistence on military tribunals.

So when will an Adminstration official emerge to declare "they system worked" as Janet Napolitano did after the underway bomber got into American airspace?

20 to life, and I'm guessing he gets the life end of this, isn't justice.  Apparently he has to get a million billion life sentences and be forced to watch Ishtar on eternal loop.  But it's American Spectator's John Tabin who makes the strangest argument:

He's still going to prison for at least 20 years and maybe for life (sentencing comes in January), but the verdict -- which seems to suggest that Ghailani is guilty of conspiracy to blow up the buildings but somehow not guilty of killing the victims -- is an embarrassment for the Obama justice department, and opponents of trying Guantanamo detainees in civilian court are rightly seizing upon it. 

Yes, so very upset that we couldn't just arbitrarily declare him guilty and dispense with the trial altogether.  What a sham actually trying a man in court is!

I don't get conservatives.  They were going to attack this verdict no matter what happened, and now that Holder and Obama have proven a civilian trial works and can get far nastier penalties than military tribunals, they have to tell us "how the families of the victims must feel" and use them as props in order to justify their own lack of merit.

But then again to conservatives, the Ghailani trial was never about Ghailani, or his victims, or their families, or justice, but about convicting the President in the court of wingnut opinion.

[UPDATE]  The Double G weighs in with this insight:

Most news accounts are emphasizing that trying Ghailani in a civilian court was intended by the Obama DOJ to be a "showcase" for how effective trials can be in punishing Terrorists.  That's a commendable goal, and Holder's decision to try Ghailani in a real court should be defended by anyone who believes in the rule of law and the Constitution.  But given these realities, this was more "show trial" than "showcase" since the Government would simply have imprisoned him, likely forever, even if he had been acquitted on all counts.

Can't say he's wrong, either.


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