Monday, July 25, 2011

Last Call

President Obama decided to take his case to the American people tonight addressing the nation in prime time.  First however, a much-needed dose of perspective from BooMan:

I'd like every liberal who has carped about the president's approach to the debt ceiling negotiations to pause now and consider the fact that the Republicans have now revealed their bottom line. They made an offer. Their offer is nothing. We get nothing. Not one thing that we want. Nada. And that has always been their position. This was their position from the very beginning. Absolutely nothing, not bad polls, not the advice of bankers or the Chamber of Commerce or conservative economists, or the disapproval of their biggest donors, nor even ridiculous concessions, nor even offering everything they ostensibly want could change their bottom line. The president gets nothing and we get nothing.

Now, this thing is still not over, and the president is going to speak to the nation at 9pm tonight. I expect he will be extremely pissed off. I also expect the Republicans not to give a shit. They think he's bluffing. I think he's not bluffing. But my point for the purposes of this thread is the following. Since there was never any way to win any concessions, wasn't the game here to make sure people see you as having been reasonable? And the other side as the economic terrorists that they are

Hey, BooMan understands exactly what's going on.  President Obama again called for a deal and again looked like the adult in the room:

In his seventh prime time televised address, Obama sought to increase pressure for congressional leaders to reach a deal that would allow the government to continue borrowing money pay its debts after August 2.

The president singled out House Republicans for intransigence and said the political showdown is "no way to run the greatest country on Earth."

"The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn't vote for a dysfunctional government," Obama said. "So I'm asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message."

Compare that to John Boehner's response:

The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen.
You see, there is no stalemate in Congress. The House has passed a bill to raise the debt limit with bipartisan support. And this week, while the Senate is struggling to pass a bill filled with phony accounting and Washington gimmicks, we will pass another bill – one that was developed with the support of the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate.
Obviously, I expect that bill can and will pass the Senate, and be sent to the President for his signature. If the President signs it, the ‘crisis’ atmosphere he has created will simply disappear. The debt limit will be raised. Spending will be cut by more than one trillion dollars, and a serious, bipartisan committee of the Congress will begin the hard but necessary work of dealing with the tough challenges our nation faces.

There's no crisis as long as President Obama gives us everything we demanded, see?  The economy doesn't have to get thrown into a depression if Obama just does exactly what the GOP wants.  Anything less, well, sorry America.  You're screwed.

Full transcripts here.

Beyond All Conception Of The Law

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed into law the lesser of the many abortion laws the GOP are trying to pass, this one bans all abortions after 20 weeks and does not make an exception for rape or incest.

Ohio joins 39 other states with limits on late-term abortions. The bill requires physicians who perform abortions to submit reports to the Ohio Department of Health within 15 days after the woman is discharged and allows for an abortion in cases of medical emergencies.

The bill does not permit abortions in cases of rape or incest and was supported by anti-abortion groups.

"Life is a gift from God and one way that we express our ongoing gratitude for it is by respecting it," Kasich said in a statement. "This bill does that in a very fundamental way, and I'm proud to have signed it into law."

Meanwhile, Kasich cares so much about kids he cut education funding, children's health programs, Head Start, and Medicaid for kids in Ohio.  Once you're out of the womb, you're on your own.  Meanwhile the much worse "heartbeat bill" which would ban virtually all abortions in Ohio is awaiting Gov. Kasich's signature.

But you voted the GOP in across state after state, America.

The Badger Awakens, Part 11

Scott Walker continues his crusade to destroy Democrats in Wisconsin by disenfranchising thousands.  Not only has the state passed a Voter ID law requiring driver's licenses or state issued IDs in order to vote, Walker has now directed the DMV to close 10 of its offices...all in urban, Democratic districts and extend hours in Republican ones.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration is working on finalizing a plan to close as many as 10 offices where people can obtain driver's licenses in order to expand hours elsewhere and come into compliance with new requirements that voters show photo IDs at the polls.

One Democratic lawmaker said Friday it appeared the decisions were based on politics, with the department targeting offices for closure in Democratic areas and expanding hours for those in Republican districts.

A high-ranking DOT official rejected that claim, saying the changes were based on economics, not politics.

Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, called on the state Department of Transportation to reconsider its plants to close the Fort Atkinson DMV center. The department plans to expand by four hours a week the hours of a center about 30 minutes away in Watertown.

Jorgensen said he was concerned doing that would discourage people from Fort Atkinson from participating in elections.

"What the heck is going on here?" Jorgensen said. "Is politics at play here?"

Transportation Department executive assistant Reggie Newson denied that politics was behind the office closure plan, saying the decisions were being made based on what made the most economic sense.

"This has nothing to do with politics," he said. "We're trying to make sure that we can provide service in each county statewide efficiently."

Right.  More IDs are needed, so in order to meet the demand the state closes DMV offices in primaritly Democratic districts and makes up for it by extending hours in Republican ones.  Even better, Wisconsin's law says these offices only have to be open 20 hours a week, meaning if you want a Voter ID in Wisconsin, you'll have to take time off from work to drive further away.

You don't get much more scumbag than that, folks.  This is how Republicans play ball:  take your right to vote away from you and use the power they get from the people to make it harder, more difficult, more time-consuming and more expensive to have the right to vote at all, just to keep the numbers down and in their favor.

It will never end until they control everything.

Denial Really Is A River In Egypt, Part 9

With Egypt still having major problems and tourist still avoiding the country, things are coming to another head in Cairo as the Arab Spring becomes the Bloody Summer.

Egyptian tourism officials say the country had lost more than $2.6 billion by the end of June because of the upheaval surrounding former President Hosni Mubarak's resignation and ongoing protests against the interim military government.

The Tourism Ministry says a lack of security and reports of violence topped the reasons that tourists canceled trips to Egypt this year or chose other countries in which to spend their holidays.

Hotel and tour operators say it isn't just Americans and Europeans who are forgoing trips to Egypt. The capital, Cairo, known as "sin city" to Persian Gulf Arabs, isn't swarming with oil-rich visitors for the first time since 1997, when an attack by Islamist militants on a busload of tourists who were visiting the ancient southern city of Luxor left 58 foreigners dead and caused a sharp decline in tourism.

"This summer season, which is considered a high season for Arab tourism, is totally destroyed," said Ghada Abdel Khalek, the marketing director at the Marriott Cairo Hotel, a favorite among well-heeled tourists.

Tourists "have other options, countries that are politically stable and they view as safer than Egypt," he said. "Our branches in Turkey, London and Paris are fully booked."

I don't see anything improving in Egypt anytime soon, either.  We'll see.

Food For Thought

Wired recently ran an article about seven creepy experiments that would answer so much... if only science ethics would allow the risks and procedures.  The article carefully explains why each experiment is ethically improper, but would answer some history-changing questions.

I thought the most interesting was mapping a developing embryo with a visible alteration and watching the cells develop and separate.  It would make leaps of progress into understanding how a single cell becomes a fully developed human being.  The article doesn't mention that it would take a second run to provide complete results, but they explain the (totally obvious!) flaws with performing such an experiment.

Some are silly, some are worthy of a Robin Cook novel, but this was interesting and creative.

A Cool Twist To A Sad Business

It's rare that something as sad as a widow visiting her husband's grave can be cool, but stick with me:

"I go and talk with him," said Faye Garneau, who admits she isn't so sure she likes that her own name is already inscribed there, too.
That wasn't all: Several months later, the monument maker added a high-tech innovation — a small, square image known as a quick response or QR code, affixed alongside the big letters spelling out Garneau.
The monument maker — a friend — was working on the code before Garneau died of cancer at age 78.
When you scan the code, you are taken to a website that tells about Edouard Garneau.  There is some statistical information as well as accomplishments and hobbies.  For a mere $65 this code can be added to existing gravestones.  But that's not all.  The codes are being used for advertising, links to downloads or on a tourist trail it can pull up information relevant to the location.

This is the stuff I just love to see.  We have a way finally to record ourselves, define our time and who we are, in a way that is so scattered and backed up that it would be difficult to lose that information.  This is a wonder of the modern world, on par with the Royal Library of Alexandria, with our past archived and our future recorded live.  It's also great to see technology in the hands of everyday people, in such a simple and profound way.  

Unlocking The Future

CNN/SI is reporting that the NFL players and owners have reached a deal to end the lockout.

The NFL Players Association and the league have reached an agreement on a new labor deal, reported Monday.

The deal is not set in stone: the 32 player representatives and all NFL players must approve the new deal. But reports "at this point it appears a formality."

Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) reported the representatives will have a conference call at 11 a.m. ET.

Negotiators reached the agreement in the very early hours of Monday morning, the report said. If accepted, the deal would end the lockout that started in March.

And before anyone starts taking sides here, let's keep in mind this labor dispute is basically over divvying up $9 billion in yearly revenue the league takes in between the millionaire players and the billionaire owners.  Either way, I'm not impressed in the least by this deal given the state of our economy right now.

It's almost as depressing as Congress.

No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 45

Still no deal at this point.  Heck, right now the parties are going in two separate directions.  Taegan Goddard:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "were preparing separate backup plans to raise the nation's debt ceiling on Sunday, after the leaders were unable to end an increasingly grim standoff over the federal budget," the New York Times reports.

"The contours of Mr. Boehner's backup plan were far from clear, but it seemed likely to take the form of a two-step process, with a short-term increase in the debt limit along with about $1 trillion in cuts, an amount the Republicans said was sufficient to clear the way for a debt limit increase through year's end."

Reid is calling this plan a non-starter and is offering instead a larger plan.

"In an effort to reach a bipartisan compromise, we are putting together a $2.7 trillion deficit reduction package that meets Republicans' two major criteria: it will include enough spending cuts to meet or exceed the amount of a debt ceiling raise through the end of 2012, and it will not include revenues. We hope Speaker Boehner will abandon his 'my way or the highway' approach, and join us in forging a bipartisan compromise along these lines."

Remains to be seen what the details are on that little plan.  We'll see.  Meanwhile, the right's projection machine is in full swing as over at Newt's place, President Obama's Friday press conference was apparently proof that he's "arrogant", "mad", "angry", "crazy", "off the rails", "delusional", the "architect of the New Depression", having a "nervous breakdown", and "needs to be controlled and neutralized".

Glad to see Obama Derangement Syndrome is the constant that never changes.

Hacked Off In The UK, Part 7

News that the level of police corruption and cover-up in the phone hacking scandal may be much larger than previously thought is London's big story today.

Police faced new allegations Sunday that officers leaked details about terror attack victims and a murdered schoolgirl to journalists at Rupert Murdoch's felled News of the World tabloid.

The claims deepen the scandal surrounding phone-hacking at the paper, which has shaken Murdoch's global media empire, claimed the jobs of two of Britain's top police officers and dragged in Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Observer newspaper said survivors of the July 7, 2005 London bombings had asked lawyers to probe their belief that the capital's Metropolitan Police had sold or passed on a confidential contact list of victims.

Beverli Rhodes, chair of the Survivors Foundation Coalition, said journalists from the paper approached survivors with false stories about how they got their details.

"Scotland Yard had the full list of survivor contact details. I am pretty sure that is how the News of the World got my home address," she told the Observer.

Four suicide bombers blew themselves up on three underground trains and a bus in the worst terror attacks on British soil, killing 52 people.

More and more allegations keep surfacing that Rupert Murdoch's boys had police all over Britain on the payroll to not only feed his news organization critical and confidential data, but to cover up the nonsense too...and this went on for years, folks.

This story's getting huge and there will have to be a reckoning and soon for the Murdochs.


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