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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Wanker feels relavent

Lieberman on his willingness to derail health care reform: ‘I feel relevant.’

After he announced his willingness to filibuster health care reform that includes a public option, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) defended his position by arguing that if the public option paid lower reimbursement rates than private insurers, medical providers would shift costs to Americans with private coverage. He also called the proposed plan “a new entitlement program.” As ThinkProgress and others have pointed out, Lieberman either doesn’t understand the details of the public option proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) or he is misrepresenting them. But in a conference call with Connecticut reporters yesterday, Lieberman claimed that it is the more than 60 percent of state residents that back a government-run insurance option that are confused:

What about the more than 60 percent of state residents that back a government-run insurance option, according to a Quinnipiac University poll last month?

Some of those respondents are confused about what such a plan entails, Lieberman said. And he added, “you can’t make a decision like this based on polling,” he said. Ultimately, he he said he has to do “what I think is right and hope in the end the people of Connecticut will respect me for that.”

Describing how his openness to derailing reform affected his role in the health care debate, Lieberman told the reporters, “I feel relevant.”

Wilbur Ross Sees ‘Huge’ Commercial Real Estate Crash

Source: Bloomberg
By John Gittelsohn and Thomas R. Keene

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire investor Wilbur L. Ross Jr., said today the U.S. is in the beginning of a “huge crash in commercial real estate.”

“All of the components of real estate value are going in the wrong direction simultaneously,” said Ross, one of nine money managers participating in a government program to remove toxic assets from bank balance sheets. “Occupancy rates are going down. Rent rates are going down and the capitalization rate -- the return that investors are demanding to buy a property -- are going up.”

U.S. commercial property sales are forecast to fall to the lowest in almost two decades as the industry endures its worst slump since the savings and loan crisis of the early 1990s, according to property research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc. The Moody’s/REAL Commercial Property Price Indices already have fallen almost 41 percent since October 2007, Moody’s Investors Service said Oct. 19.

Billionaire George Soros, speaking today at a lecture organized by the Central European University in Budapest, said a “bloodletting” may be coming for leveraged buyouts and commercial real estate.

Swiss banks lose European clients

Source: WSJ
While the spotlight has been on the aggressive drive by the US Government to flush tax dodgers out of Switzerland, bankers here are instead grappling with the loss of a much richer clientele: Europeans.

Americans have made up no more than 5% of Switzerland's $1.8 trillion (€1.2 trillion) offshore-banking business. But European clients are steadily coming clean, spooked by threats of a crackdown by their own governments.

Nonresident, or offshore, clients make up about a third of Switzerland's private-banking business, with just more than half of those coming from other European countries. According to KPMG, as much as 80% of the Europeans' money in Switzerland is undeclared. In all, KPMG reckons that tax evasion could represent up to 25% of Switzerland's total private-banking market.

This weekend, Swiss banking giant UBS will hand over the names of 500 suspected American tax dodgers to the Internal Revenue Service, the first of 4,450 names it will turn over as part of an August agreement between the US and Swiss governments. That accord marked a historic breach of Switzerland's cherished bank secrecy, and prodded many Swiss banks to refuse to take American clients for fear of falling foul of US laws.

Abdullah Will Quit Afghan Election, Officials Say

Abdullah plans runoff boycott to delay Afghan vote

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai's challenger plans to call for a boycott of next weekend's runoff election in an attempt to force the vote's postponement until spring, his campaign manager said – a move that would dim U.S. hopes for a stable Afghan government for months.

Karzai rejected Abdullah Abdullah's conditions for next Saturday's vote, including removing top election officials whom the challenger accused of involvement in cheating in the first-round balloting in August.

Abdullah has called a press conference for 10 a.m. Sunday to announce his final decision after Afghans and Westerners close to the challenger said he would withdraw. His campaign manager Satar Murad said the candidate might still change his mind, but that "as of now" he planned to call for a boycott.

A clouded electoral picture would further complicate the Obama administration's efforts to decide whether to send tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan to battle the Taliban and its al-Qaida allies.

The White House has been waiting for a new government in Kabul to announce a decision, but the war has intensified in the meantime. October was the deadliest month of the war for U.S. forces with at least 57 American deaths.

Western officials hoped that Abdullah would make a gracious exit for the good of the country rather than denounce Karzai for fraud, a move that could sharpen tensions at a time the United States and its allies are seeking unity against the Taliban.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton downplayed the prospect of an Abdullah withdrawal, saying it would not undermine the legitimacy of the election.

Health Care Bill Draws "Unprecedented" Traffic To House Website

The health care bill unveiled Thursday has brought an "unprecedented" amount of traffic to the House server, Jeff Ventura, a spokesman for the chief administrative officer of the House, told the Huffington Post.

"We think that it was eight times normal volume and it was certainly higher than the demand that we had when the first stimulus bill went up," he said. "It was probably the highest volume of traffic we've ever seen."

Ventura said that the congressional Web team re-engineered the site after the stimulus bill crashed it so that it would be prepared for days like Thursday. He conceded that demand for the stimulus bill may have ultimately been larger and that the site crashing diminished the numbers. But with the site still functioning, the Web folks have been blown away at the interest in the health care bill. "For us, it's fascinating to watch the levels of traffic. We're like, wow, this is just stunning," he said.

On a conference call with bloggers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she'd been told the bill had been downloaded more than eight million times. Ventura, however, said that the number couldn't be considered an accurate count of people going to the site. Better metrics, he said, will be available Friday.

He predicts the numbers will be the highest ever. "Our network engineers think it's unprecedented," he said.

Lawrence O'Donnell Slams Liz Cheney For Criticizing Obama's Trip To Honor Fallen Soldiers

On "Countdown" Friday night, host Lawrence O'Donnell called out Liz Cheney for criticizing President Obama's visit to Dover Air Force Base to honor the returning war dead. Cheney, speaking on Fox News Radio's "John Gibson Show" Thursday, suggested that Obama had made the visit simply for the publicity. Regarding her appearance on the radio show, O'Donnell noted, "she wasn't going to let the facts get in her way."

As O'Donnell reminded viewers, President Bush and Vice President Cheney never went to Dover Air Force Base to honor fallen soldiers returning home while they were in office. O'Donnell then addressed Liz Cheney directly:

"Liz, don't let your dad do this to you. Don't let him parade you on to the stage to defend the indefensible. Let him suffer the full weight of the shame that we know he must feel when he watches Barack Obama do what he never had the decency to do."

Hey Liz, I suppose Ronald Reagan, whom your father served under, also made a "publicity stunt" when Reagan had pictures takes of the Marines stationed in Beirut?


Limbaugh falsely claims Bush viewed war dead
"Mr. Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, visited the families of hundreds of fallen soldiers but did not attend any military funerals or go to Dover to receive the coffins,"

CBS News reported on Friday.

Dissecting President Barack Obama's recent visit to Dover, where he saluted America's war dead on camera, right-wing radio personality Rush Limbaugh echoed the words of Elizabeth Cheney, falsely implying that President George W. Bush had done the same, but without the cameras.

"I don't know why he went to Dover," Cheney said during a Fox News radio interview on Thursday. "I think that it is clearly important for a commander in chief, whenever he can in whatever way possible, to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers, our fallen military folks. But I think, you know, what President Bush used to do is to do it without the cameras. And, um, I don't understand, sort-of showing up with the White House press pool, with photographers, and asking family members if you can take pictures. That's really hard for me to get my head around."

"President Bush used to do it!" said Limbaugh, as though to imply that the former president would visit Dover to honor the war dead, much as President Obama did earlier this week. "Boy, we didn't know it! She just told us something we didn't know. Bush used to do it, but there were no cameras. He did it privately with the families."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ethics Swamp: Almost HALF Of Lawmakers On Defense Spending Panel Are Under Investigation

7 on defense panel scrutinized
Separate probes focus on ties to lobbying firm founded by Hill aide

Nearly half the members of a powerful House subcommittee in control of Pentagon spending are under scrutiny by ethics investigators in Congress, who have trained their lens on the relationships between seven panel members and an influential lobbying firm founded by a former Capitol Hill aide.
The investigations by two separate ethics offices include an examination of the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on defense, John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), as well as others who helped steer federal funds to clients of the PMA Group. The lawmakers received campaign contributions from the firm and its clients. A document obtained by The Washington Post shows that the subcommittee members under scrutiny also include Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) , C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).

The document also indicates that the House ethics committee's staff recently interviewed the staff of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) about his allegation that a PMA lobbyist threatened him in 2007 when he resisted steering federal funds to a PMA client. The lobbyist told a Nunes staffer that if the lawmaker didn't help, the defense contractor would move out of Nunes's district and take dozens of jobs with him.

Law Enforcement Appear To Contradict Dobbs' Version Of Gunfire Incident

New Jersey state police seem to be contradicting CNN Host Lou Dobbs' account of a gunfire incident near his Sussex County, New Jersey, house.

Cheney's FBI Interview Released::No Idea Who Leaked Plame Identity

WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney told the FBI he had no idea who leaked to the news media that Valerie Plame, wife of a Bush administration critic, worked for the CIA.

An FBI summary of Cheney's interview from 2004 reflects that the vice president had deep concern about Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador in Africa who said the administration had twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was convicted of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI in the probe of who leaked Plame's identity to the news media. President George W. Bush commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence but rejected Cheney's vehement appeals to pardon Libby.

The 28-page FBI interview summary was released Friday to a watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

In the interview whose participants included federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Cheney told agents that he did not recall having a conversation about either Plame or her husband with Bush.

The vice president said he probably discussed Wilson with Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, but told the FBI he would not have talked to Rove about Wilson's wife.

Cheney's denials that he talked about Plame are among the few things in the lengthy interview with the FBI that Cheney appeared certain about. He repeatedly said he could not recall key events. Among them, he said he did not recall discussing Wilson's wife with Libby before her CIA employment was publicly revealed by conservative columnist Robert Novak in mid-July 2003.

Evidence at Libby's criminal trial showed that Cheney had told Libby about Wilson's wife in mid-June 2003.

Lieberman In '94: The Filibuster "Ails Washington" And Should Be Eliminated

Senator Joseph Lieberman's (I-Conn) threat to filibuster health care legislation that includes a public option for insurance coverage has sent minor shock-waves throughout Washington.

Among Republicans, the Connecticut Independent inspired a round of cheers for another streak of political independence. Among progressives the question being asked is: How could one senator, through threat of filibuster, hold a historic reform process hostage?

It's a question Lieberman himself once asked. And it's a procedural ploy he once lamented.

Fifteen years ago, as a freshman Democrat, Lieberman actually worked to have the filibuster killed. He deemed the parliamentary maneuver "a dinosaur" that had become "a symbol of a lot that ails Washington today." And, in tandem with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), he introduced legislation that -- if it had been enacted -- would have made his current opposition to health care absolutely toothless.
"I've told Sen. [Harry] Reid that if the bill stays as it is now I will vote against cloture," the senator said this past week. "I can't see a way in which I could vote for cloture on any bill that contained a creation of a government-operated-run insurance company."

Neither Lieberman nor Harkin's office returned a request for comment. Though, in a bit of irony, the two, have once again been brought together on the question of the appropriate use of a filibuster. Only this time, they're in opposition. On Thursday, Harkin was asked what he thought of Lieberman's threat to torpedo health care reform with a public plan (something Harkin adamantly supports).

"[Lieberman] still wants to be a part of the Democratic Party although he is a registered independent," the HELP Committee chair responded. "He wants to caucus with us and, of course, he enjoys his chairmanship of the [Homeland Security] committee because of the indulgence of the Democratic Caucus. So, I'm sure all of those things will cross his mind before the final vote," he said in a conference call with local reporters.

Is there a more hypocritical figure in American politics than Joe Lieberman? The Connecticut senator declared Tuesday that he would support a filibuster of any health care reform bill that has a public option -- even the version with the "trigger" compromise accepted by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe -- because it might cost money.

"I think that a lot of people may think that the public option is free," said Lieberman, one of the Senate's big spenders, in a suddenly frugal mood. "It's not. It's going to cost the taxpayers and people that have health insurance now, and if it doesn't, it's going to add terribly to our national debt."

This from a senator who, as much as anyone, helped run up the national debt since 9/11 by pushing to raise the military budget to its highest level since World War II. It is a budget inflated by enormous expenditures on high-tech weaponry irrelevant to combating terror, such as the $2-billion-a-piece submarines -- produced in his home state of Connecticut -- that he claimed were needed to combat al-Qaida, a landlocked enemy holed up in caves. Lieberman is worried about the impact of a very limited public option on the debt the same week as he and others in Congress passed a $680-billion defense bill larded with pork of the sort the Connecticut senator has always supported.

Lieberman, whose state is also home to insurance companies that are opposed to any consumer-friendly medical coverage alternative, boldly stated that his opposition to even the most limited version of a public option should not be surprising: "I think my colleagues know for a long time that I've been opposed to a government-created, government-run insurance company." Perhaps during his filibuster to prevent a vote on the public option Lieberman can square that position with his longtime support of the massive government-run insurance programs Medicare and Social Security.

Maybe he can also take some time then to justify his strong support for the government bailout of troubled banking and insurance companies that has tripled the federal deficit this year to $1.4 trillion. Is AIG not now a "government-run insurance company," and doesn't the $185 billion of taxpayer money thrown at that sorry enterprise add up to more than twice the yearly cost of the health reform package? And that's without considering the trillions of taxpayer dollars put into play to shore up Citigroup, Bank of America, GM, Chrysler and those other suddenly socialized sectors of American corporate life.

Lieberman plans to campaign for Republicans in 2010.

After joining with Republicans this week in a promise to filibuster health reform if a public option is included, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) tells ABC News that he plans on campaigning for some GOP candidates in the 2010 elections:

I probably will support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the elections in 2010. I’m going to call them as I see them.

There’s a hard core of partisan, passionate, hardcore Republicans. There’s a hard core of partisan Democrats on the other side. And in between is the larger group, which is people who really want to see the right thing done, or want something good done for this country and them — and that means, sometimes, the better choice is somebody who’s not a Democrat.

Lieberman also said it remains an “open question” whether he will seek the Democratic nomination when he runs for re-election in 2012. Last month, Lieberman also joked that he may run as a Republican. In September 2008, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter — who was then still a member of the GOP — ironically said that Lieberman was “practically” voting as a Republican already and should just switch parties.

But is it News!!!!!

Fox News Poll: Most Blame Bush for Economy
Here’s a somewhat surprising result from the new Fox News poll. Asked which president is “more responsible for the current state of the economy,” only 18 percent say President Obama. Fifty-eight percent say former President George W. Bush. Nine percent blame both of them. Republicans are the only subgroup of voters who blame Obama, and only by a six-point margin of 35 percent to 29 percent.

What’s striking about this is that the numbers have only marginally gotten worse for President Obama in the three months since Fox News last asked this question. In July, it was 16 percent who blamed Obama and 61 percent who blamed Bush. That is, needless to say, not what Fox News viewers hear when they tune into the network. But it’s essential to understanding why the president remains popular and why Republicans are failing to really capitalize on economic gloom.

Jon Stewart Takes On War Between Obama White House & Fox News

Obama administration for saying they are speaking "truth to power" by fighting with Fox. Stewart pointed out that they are in fact the power: "It's your job to f*ck up power, it's Fox's job to f*ck up truth."
Jon Stewart devoted half his show last night to the Fox News/Obama "war" sparked either by White House Communication Director Anita Dunn or the cable network's constant attacks on the president, depending on how you see it. The former accused Fox of acting on behalf of the Republican party, the latter accused the president of being Stalin. Apples and oranges.

Fox News Senior Vice President Michael Clemente struck back at the White House after Dunn's remark saying, "It's astounding the White House cannot distinguish between news and opinion programming. It seems self-serving on their part." (Full disclosure I worked for Clemente at ABC News.) Fox went on to define their news hours as 9a-4p & 6-8p, parameters which exclude Cavuto, O'Reilly, Fox & Friends crew, Glenn Beck, Greta Van Susteren, and Sean Hannity from the news category and leave a bunch of people you've never heard of.

Stewart not only skewered Fox for this defense and editorializing during their designated news hours, but also took on the Obama administration for saying they are speaking "truth to power" by fighting with Fox. Stewart pointed out that they are in fact the power: "It's your job to f*ck up power, it's Fox's job to f*ck up truth."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

South Carolina state attorney caught with stripper in graveyard

A deputy assistant attorney general who said he was on his lunch break when an officer found him with a stripper and sex toys in his sport utility vehicle has been fired, his boss said Wednesday.

Roland Corning, 66, a former state legislator, was in a secluded part of a downtown cemetery when an officer spotted him Monday, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

As the officer approached, Corning sped off, then pulled over a few blocks away. He and the 18-year-old woman with him, an employee of the Platinum Plus Gentleman's Club, gave conflicting stories about what they were doing in the cemetery, Officer Michael Wines wrote in his report, though he did not elaborate.

Corning gave Wines a badge showing he worked for the state Attorney General's Office. Wines, whose wife also works there, called her to make sure Corning was telling the truth.

He then searched the SUV, where he found a Viagra pill and several sex toys, items Corning said he always kept with him, "just in case," according to the report.

Cheney's 'cheap and easy lines' criticized by Sen. Levin

Source: Det News
Washington -- Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan today criticized former Vice President Dick Cheney for "cheap and easy lines" in his recent sharp criticism of President Barack Obama over Afghanistan.

Levin, D-Detroit, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, didn't mention the former Republican vice president by name. But it was clear whom he was zeroing in on because he quoted zingers Cheney delivered last week in charging Obama is taking too long to decide on strategy and U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan.

"There are some in Washington who are willing to toss cheap and easy lines about presidential 'dithering,' or alleging the president is 'afraid' to reach a decision, in an effort to push him to immediately, indeed automatically, endorse recommendations from a general who is highly capable, but whose focus is understandably more narrow than that of (Defense) Secretary (Robert) Gates or President Obama," Levin said in a speech to the Rand Corporation on Capitol Hill.

"This pressure on the president goes beyond mistaken. It creates a political environment that is not just poisonous; it is dangerous -- it creates growing pressure for decisions before the president has considered all the options, when what the nation needs and the troops deserve is careful, thoughtful deliberation. The wrong decisions could endanger far more lives than taking the time needed to deliberate and reach the right decisions," Levin said. LinkHere

GOP continues courting others to challenge Grayson

Gidney N Cloyd 4
A scene from the GOP rush party
Sign here.
Source: orlando sentinel

WASHINGTON - National Republicans met with two potential challengers to U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson on Wednesday as the GOP establishment continued to search for a candidate who can topple the outspoken freshman Democrat from Orlando.

State Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, R-Orlando, and businessman Bruce O'Donoghue sat down with GOP lawmakers and strategists from the National Republican Congressional Committee in meetings that participants described as productive -- although no verdict was reached.

"It's great to see that these folks are very serious about the direction that this country is going," said O'Donoghue, who wouldn't commit to run. "This race is going to draw national attention, and they wanted to prep me on what that meant."

The Capitol Hill meetings reflect a growing unease among national Republicans with the early field assembled to challenge Grayson, a GOP target since the wealthy attorney unseated former U.S. Rep. Ric Keller, R-Orlando, in a bruising election last year. LinkHere

President Signs Law Giving Defense Dept Authority To Exempt Photos From Freedom Of Information Act

Source: ACLU

President Signs Law Giving Defense Department Authority To Exempt Photos From Freedom Of Information Act (10/29/2009)

ACLU Renews Call For Secretary Gates Not To Block Release Of Torture Photos

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – President Obama today signed into law a Homeland Security appropriations bill that grants the Department of Defense (DOD) the authority to continue suppressing photos of prisoner abuse. The amendment, which would allow the DOD to exempt photos from the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), is aimed at photos ordered released by a federal appeals court as part of an American Civil Liberties Union FOIA lawsuit for photos and other records related to detainee abuse in U.S. custody overseas, although it would apply to other photos in government custody as well. Earlier this month, the ACLU sent a letter to Secretary Robert Gates urging him not to exercise the authority to suppress the photos in their case, stating that the photos "are of critical relevance to an ongoing national debate about accountability."

"We are disappointed that the president has signed a law giving the Defense Department the authority to hide evidence of its own misconduct, and we hope the defense secretary will not take advantage of that authority by suppressing photos related to the abuse of prisoners," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "Secretary Gates should be guided by the importance of transparency to the democratic process, the extraordinary importance of these photos to the ongoing debate about the treatment of prisoners and the likelihood that the suppression of these photos would ultimately be far more damaging to national security than their disclosure. The last administration's decision to endorse torture undermined the United States' moral authority and compromised its security. A failure to fully confront the abuses of the last administration will only compound these harms."

Another provision contained in the new law allows the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay to the U.S. for prosecution.

"This law allows the administration to transfer prisoners to the U.S. for criminal trials in the federal courts, and the administration should now do exactly that," said Jaffer. "The military commissions at Guantánamo are not just unlawful but unnecessary. The federal courts are fully capable of prosecuting terrorism suspects while protecting both national security interests and fundamental due process. It's time to shut down Guantánamo, transfer the military commissions trials to federal courts that uphold the rule of law, and transfer prisoners whom the administration does not intend to charge to countries where they won't be in danger of being tortured. Indefinite detention without charge or trial undermines the most basic values of justice and fairness."

Lou Dobbs: Gunshots Fired At Me, My Wife, My House

Has anyone seen Dick Cheney around New Jersey lately? It's got to be pheasant season there.

Lou Dobbs said on his radio show that gunshots have been fired at him, his wife, and their home in the past few weeks — and he blames his critics (via NewsBusters).

Reid Calls On Americans: "Contact Your Representatives Back Here In Washington And Push Hard"

Harry Reid, in a new Web video posted Thursday, makes the case for a public health insurance option and appeals to voters across the country to contact Washington to "push hard" for its inclusion in the final bill.

"Anyone that cares about it, make sure you contact your representatives back here in Washington and push hard. We want a health care bill that has a public option that keeps the insurance industries honest and creates a level playing field," he says.

Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, finds himself in the unusual position of working with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, rather than taking shots from it. On Thursday, MoveOn.org sent out a message to its members that would've seemed unthinkable just weeks ago: High praise for Harry Reid.

While you are at it please send an email like this to Senator Boxer TODAY!:

A staffer at Senator Boxer's office told me that if enough people send this email today she will make a public statement about these Senators that are trying to stop HCR.

Send to: https://boxer.senate.gov/contact/email/policy.cfm

Dear Senator Boxer,

As a member of the Senate Ethics committee, could you please make a public statement regarding the $2Million paid to Senator Bayh's wife and her seat on the board of Wellpoint explaining why this is acceptable and not a breach of the Standing Senate Rules on Conflict of Interest? Please tell the American people why these payments are ok. Please tell the American people about Senator Lieberman's wife being paid by lobbyists to stop HCR. Please show us you can respond to a specific plea.


Iowa Republicans balk at Palin’s pricey fees: She should be honored we ask her to come and speak.

missmolly says:
Anybody who ponies up the money for Sarah to come and speak no doubt deserves what they get in return — a canned collection of tired soundbites, winks, and “you betcha”s from a woman who is far more interested in making money than she is in promoting a conservative agenda, serving her country, or motivating anyone.

"And Palin thinks Levi is whoring himself out?"
The conservative Iowa Family Policy Center is trying to raise $100,000 to bring former Alaska governor Sarah Palin to speak at its banquet next month. But according to GOP leaders in the state, the move would “represent a striking departure from customary practice in the first-in-the-nation state” because most White House hopefuls have “paid their own way to boost their party and presidential ambitions.” Other conservative groups in the state say they would never pay Palin to come speak: LinkHere

Boehner Won’t Pledge To Offer GOP Health Care Plan, Refuses To Post It Online If He Does

What a friking Wanker
Republicans have been insisting for months that Democrats are shoving a secret bill down the throats of the American public. The health reform legislation “should be posted online for 72 hours so members and the American people get a chance to see what’s in these bills,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) told Fox News. “But it seems to me that Democrat leaders want to rush these bills through Congress before anybody has a chance to read them.”

In fact, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) “has repeatedly pledged to Republicans that the health bill and any manager’s amendment would be posted online for at least 72 hours before the House votes,” and he promised again this week.

At a press conference this morning, a reporter turned the tables on Boehner and asked whether he’d post the GOP plan for 72 hours. Boehner declined to make such a pledge:

QUESTION: Will the Republicans put their alternative online for 72 hours as well?

BOEHNER: Uh, we’ll uh, we’ll have our ideas ready. Don’t worry.

Why won’t Bohner post the GOP plan? Because he doesn’t have one. Later in the press conference, this minor detail was revealed when a reporter pressed Boehner for a GOP alternative plan:

QUESTION: Is it your plan to have one Republican alternative that you all would get behind and endorse?

BOHNER: We have a number of ideas that we would like to proffer in this process, and we’re not quite sure how the majority intends to proceed. And so until we understand how they intend to proceed, it’s pretty difficult for us to have a solid plan

Earlier this month, Fox’s Greta van Susteren asked Boehner why House Republicans didn’t push for transparency when they were in power. “It was a different time,” Boehner said in response.

It’s clear why Republicans have been insisting on having as much time as possible to read the bill. As Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) explained, health insurance lobbyists need to be given “at least 72 hours” so they can try to kill the legislation.

Obama Strengthens Intelligence Oversight, Weakened Under Bush

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama Thursday restored an independent intelligence advisory agency's authority to tell the attorney general if it thinks that a U.S. intelligence agency may have broken the law, a move intended to improve oversight of those agencies.

That power was stripped away by former President George W. Bush more than a year ago. Bush's executive order limited the Intelligence Oversight Board to exposing potential violations of law to only the national intelligence director, the president and the agency involved.

Obama amended that Bush-era decision Thursday with his own executive order, ruling that the attorney general would also have to be notified of any possible intelligence-related violations.

Obama's amendment applies to the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, a larger intelligence advisory panel which has been coordinating with the White House on the adequacy of U.S. intelligence for more than 50 years. The IOB is a subcommittee of that larger panel.

In 1976, in the wake of widespread abuses by U.S. intelligence agencies, the five-member IOB was created and given full investigative powers and the authority to report potentially illegal activities to the attorney general.

Suzanne Spaulding, a former assistant CIA general counsel and national security expert now in private practice, applauded Obama's move.

History In The Making???????????

House Releases Its Official Health Care Bill... Read It... Includes Public Option Plan Favored By Conservative Dems...
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) officially unveiled the House health care reform bill that is headed to the House floor. The ceremony, held on the West steps of the Capitol, marks the greatest progress toward the Democratic Party's top domestic priority goal in more than half a century.

The bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act -- H.R. 3962 -- includes a public health insurance option that would be required to negotiate with providers -- the top choice of centrist and conservative Democrats.

Coming in at just under $900 billion over ten years, the plan would cover 36 million uninsured Americans.

House Democrats have posted the bill online. A summary can be read here and the full version is here.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus had pushed hard for a "robust" public option that would have reimbursed providers using Medicare rates. Blue Dog Democrats beat back that effort, costing taxpayers $85 billion over ten years -- money that will go to hospitals, doctors and drug makers, increasing the cost of health care.

The bill also prevents insurers from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions, caps the financial responsibility that insured individuals will face when medical emergencies strike, bans insurers for dropping folks because they get sick, and proposes a host of other insurance industry reforms.

Single Father Turned Away From Homeless Shelters

Attila Streyar and his toddler daughter Layla are homeless reports Barbara Grijalva of Tucson's KOLD News, and because he is a single father, Streyar had been turned away from several shelters. "I'm a single dad and I have this baby and we've fallen upon hard times," he said through tears. "I needed some help, just to get shelter. There was no place in this town that I could find that takes care of men with children by themselves."

Streyar found some assistance at the Primavera Foundation, which offers temporary housing, food and relief to struggling families. It operates the only local shelters that will accept single fathers, workers told KOLD. Primavera placed Streyar and his daughter in a motel it uses for temporary family housing.

Obama Visits Dover Air Force Base To Honor Fallen Soldiers

BEN FELLER, Associated Press

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Standing in the pre-dawn darkness, President Barack Obama saw the real cost of the war in Afghanistan: The Americans who return in flag-covered cases while much of the nation sleeps in peace.

In a midnight dash to this Delaware base, where U.S. forces killed overseas come home, Obama honored the return of 18 fallen Americans Thursday. All were killed in Afghanistan this week, a brutal stretch that turned October into the most deadly month for U.S. troops since the war began.

The dramatic image of a president on the tarmac was a portrait not witnessed in years. Former President George W. Bush spent lots of time with grieving military families but never went to Dover to meet the remains coming off the cargo plane. Obama did so with the weight of knowing he may soon send more troops off to war.

For all the talk of his potential troop increase - maybe 40,000, maybe some other large figure - Obama got a grim reminder of the number that counts: one.

Obama's Dover Salute Is an Iconic Image of His Presidency
We woke up this morning with images on cable news and the Internet of President Obama solemnly saluting as the casket of a fallen soldier was carried in honor from a C-17 in Dover back home into the United States. The president, through his visit, brought a national spotlight onto the grimmest reality of the war in Afghanistan.

This return would've otherwise gone without much notice just like the thousands before it. The images of America's troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in caskets have been few and far between in the eight years since the wars began. That fact has too often created distance between the American people and the military families who carry their grief.

President Obama didn't have to go to Dover. George W. Bush never went we're told. Obama could've stayed back at the White House and kept some distance from the war--almost suggesting it is the responsibility of the former president. But instead he chose to put himself firmly in front as the Commander in Chief. He chose to create an image that will likely endure through his presidency and as part of his legacy. What a dramatic contrast to images from the last presidency of George W. Bush flying over Katrina or "Mission Accomplished" day.

Jon Stewart Takes On Media, Lieberman Over Public Option

After much debate and speculation, after every cable news network declared it dead one point or another, Senator Harry Reid announced that a public option would be included in the Senate health care reform bill, allowing millions of Americans to purchase government-run insurance.

Despite the fact that support for a public option is at an all time high with nearly half of the country in favor of it, cable news reporters and politicians on both sides of the aisle continue to say that the Senate has caved to the "left wing" by including the public option. Joe Lieberman is so disgusted by the idea that he said he will join the Republicans if they filibuster the bill, denying the Dems the 60-vote super majority needed to quash a filibuster.

Jon Stewart took on both the media and Senator Lieberman last night saying, "You know what's worse than being sick and not having health insurance? Having to sit through the Lieberman filibuster that kept it from you."

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Study: Lack Of Insurance Has Led To 17,000 Child Deaths
Lack of adequate health care may have contributed to the deaths of some 17,000 US children over the past two decades, according to a study released by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

The research, to be published Friday in the Journal of Public Health, was compiled from more than 23 million hospital records from 37 states between 1988 and 2005.

Punishing the Health Insurance Cartel for Extortion and Fraud

Bob Cesca
The health insurance cartel tipped its hand this week, and, for that, they deserve to have it chopped off.

If there was any lingering doubt about the ethical bankruptcy of the cartel, we now have incontrovertible evidence in the form of a new report commissioned by the health insurance lobby. Among other things, the report threatens that if health care reform passes (presumably unchanged from the Finance Committee version of bill), the cartel will raise premiums by 111 percent.

What the cartel didn't mention, however, was the obvious: if health care reform doesn't pass, they'll raise premiums anyway -- and if history is any indication, premiums will rise by roughly the same amount. In fact, if nothing is done to regulate the cartel, the average family's annual payout to health insurance premiums will skyrocket from $13,000 to $24,000 by 2019.

They didn't mention that at all.

Good people.

They're not even shy about it anymore -- their naked extortion and fraud. It's that scene torn from an action-adventure movie in which the villain convinces a hostage to acquiesce to a demand, only to shoot the hostage anyway.

What makes the whole thing especially despicable is the fact that the independent research firm that was commissioned to perform the study revealed yesterday that AHIP (America's Health Insurance Plans -- the cartel's lobbyist wing) didn't provide them with all of the details of the Finance Committee bill. Consequently, PricewaterhouseCoopers only evaluated the impact of parts of the bill.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FOX Exposed, Political Attack on ACORN

Tell your Congressperson: If you vote to extend the "Defund ACORN Act," you're just assisting FOX in their anti-American witch hunt.

FOX News is on a witch hunt, aimed at destroying the Obama administration and the progressive movement.

They've already succeeded in pushing Van Jones out of the White House and badgered Congress into passing an unconstitutional bill to defund ACORN. Glenn Beck actually keeps an enemies list on a blackboard that's a regular part of his show.

ACORN is just the beginning. FOX has an enemies list, and they're going to keep destroying progressive champions until we stop them. LinkHere

Bank robber lugged oxygen tank

The FBI is looking for an elderly bank robber with an oxygen tank in California. XETV's Elex Michaelson reports. LinkHere

The Stranger
That's funny, the real robbers are in New York City, on Wall Street, smiling at their fingernails.

Obama wins first financial reform victory in months

Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The Obama administration scored its first financial regulation reform victory in months on Thursday when a U.S. congressional committee approved new rules for over-the-counter derivatives.

In a 43-26 decision, the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee voted in favor of slapping new rules on the largely unpoliced $450-trillion OTC derivatives market, widely blamed for amplifying last year's financial crisis.

The committee's bill strives to balance a desire to curb speculative market excess with preserving the market's useful role in helping corporations hedge against operational risks.

That effort, which meant watering down parts of an earlier administration proposal, got mixed reviews.

Lieberman: Take Public Option Off The Table, Come Back To It In Four Years

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told Fox News today that Congress should strip the public option from the health care reform bill, and come back to the idea in three or four years.

"Take it off the table," he said. "Come back in three or four years, if other reforms aren't working. That's my position and I'm sticking to it."

Lieberman contended that the public option is "just not necessary to reform health insurance."

The senator, who votes with the Democratic caucus, says he won't vote for any bill with a public option in it. He said yesterday that he may help Republicans filibuster the bill.

"I hope we can all work together to get health care reform done, because we need it," he said today. "I'm doing this because I think it's right, and I hope people will respect me for it."

He also stuck by his fuzzy math on the public option, claiming it's an "entitlement program" that will be paid for with higher premiums to private insurers. LinkHere
Since March 2005, Hadassah Lieberman has worked for Hill & Knowlton, a lobbying firm based in New York City, as a senior counselor in its health and pharmaceuticals practice. She has held senior positions at the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, CT, the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO), Pfizer, National Research Council, Hoffmann-La Roche, and Lehman Brothers.
Lieberman's 15-Year Record of Killing Health Care Reform
In the 2006 primary race, Joe Lieberman promised Connecticut Democrats:

"I can do more for you and your families to... get universal health insurance."
In the 2006 general election, Joe Lieberman told reporters the same thing:

Lieberman devoted a conference call with reporters to an issue that his main rival in the U.S. Senate race, Democratic nominee Ned Lamont, has highlighted in recent days.
"I have long supported the goal of universal health care," Lieberman told reporters. "Ned Lamont can talk about it. I've been doing something about it all the time I've been here.

Of course, it was all a lie, and a particularly bad one.

No More Matthew Shepards

Historic Hate Crimes Bill Becomes Law 11 Years After Gay Student's Murder
President Obama signed major civil rights legislation on Wednesday, making it a federal hate crime to assault people based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity. The new measure expands the the scope of a 1968 law that applies to people attacked because of their race, religion or national origin. The U.S. Justice Department will have expanded authority to prosecute such crimes when local authorities don't.

The provision, called the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act is attached to a defense authorization bill. It is named after Matthew Shepard, a gay college student tortured and killed in 1998, and James Byrd Jr., a black man who was chained to a pickup truck and dragged to his death the same year.

The measure expands current hate crimes law to include violence based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. To assure its passage after years of frustrated efforts, Democratic supporters attached the measure to the must-pass defense policy bill over the steep objections of many Republicans.

The measure was a priority of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., that had been on the congressional agenda for a decade. During the signing ceremony, Obama acknowledged Shepard's mom, Judy, and remembered that he had told her this day would come. He also gave a nod to Kennedy's family. Going forward, Obama promised, people will be protected from violence based on "what they look like, who they love, how they pray or why they are."

Read or watch President Obama's remarks before signing the legislation: LinkHere

HRC National Dinner: Judy & Dennis Shepard Tribute Video

Daily Show Investigates Bush's Motivational Speaking Career

Michele Bachmann Was Gretchen Carlson's Nanny

Tonight Keith Olbermann awarded conservative columnist George Will the medal for "World's Best Person" for his revelation that controversial Minnesota Congresswoman (R) Michele Bachmann was once the nanny of Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs also made the list.

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Valerie Jarrett: 'Of Course' Fox News Is Biased
msnbc and cnn have never defended their affiliates right to make newscasters lie
During an interview with CNN's Campbell Brown, senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett continued the Obama administration's pushback against Fox News for, they say, not living up to their "fair and balanced" slogan.

Responding to a direct question from Brown about if she thought Fox News was biased, Jarrett said, "Of course they're biased." Jarrett would not say the same of MSNBC when Brown asked her about that cable network, instead expanding on her original answer:

Lieberman sides against constituents

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The Elephants in the room.

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Karzai brother on CIA payroll

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Notorious military contractors meet under new name

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HuffPost Reporter Sam Stein: Lot Of People 'Kicking Themselves' For Being Nice To Lieberman

HuffPost reporter Sam Stein was a guest on The Ed Show tonight to discuss the latest news about health care reform, including Senator Joe Lieberman's announcement that he would join a GOP filibuster to torpedo a reform bill that includes a public option.

Host Ed Schultz asked Stein what Lieberman wants out of all this. Stein replied,

Relevancy? I mean that would be the first start. You know this was sort of bound to happen; you could sense it coming up. Once Harry Reid went with the opt-out provision we knew that there were 57 senators roughly who would support it, and we were waiting to see who the other three were. Lieberman was the first out of the gate and I think what he's done is essentially put himself in a position where he can make demands. It's what you do when you're someone who sits on the fence. You're gonna move the legislation in a direction that he wants.
Schultz noted that since Lieberman has been on the record for awhile now against any kind of government run plan, why is he just not a Republican. Stein said there is an argument to be made that when Lieberman was welcomed back into the party it was understood that he would be a more reliable vote than he has been, but that has not been the case: "I think a lot of people are sort of kicking themselves when they look back at the rationale for letting him retain his committee chairmanship. It doesn't really make much sense now."

Taliban storm United Nations hostel in Kabul

Taliban strikes at UN in capital

FIVE UN staffers have been killed as the Taliban sends a bloody warning to Afghans.
Taliban storm United Nations hostel
At least three staffers killed
Tensions rising ahead of Afghan elections

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Secretary Of The Army: Military Ready To Lift Ban On Openly Gay Service

Source: Huffington Post

In an interview with the Army Times published Sunday, Secretary of the Army John McHugh indicated that the army would be ready to lift the ban on gays serving openly if both Congress and President Obama decided to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." The ending of the policy has come to seem more likely in recent weeks, with Obama reaffirming his campaign pledge to do so in a speech at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy group. "We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve the country," Obama said, though he did not offer a timetable regarding when such action might be taken.

McHugh speculated that gays might be allowed to serve in some units but not others, while also stressing that no such plans had been discussed. More importantly, he told the Army Times there was no reason to believe major disruption would ensue in the army if the ban was lifted.

"Anytime you have a broad-based policy change, there are challenges to that," he said. "The Army has a big history of taking on similar issues, predictions of doom and gloom that did not play out." LinkHere

How the Fed Bungled AIG's Rescue, Enriched Bankers and Screwed Taxpayers

Source: Business Insider

It is by now well known that the banks on the other side of credit default swaps sold by AIG got paid out at par when the government bailed out the insurance giant.

But what isn't as well known is that by deciding to pay AIG's counter-party in full, the Federal Reserve was reversing months of work AIG executives had done to convince the banks to take a haircut on their positions.

In the months leading up to the bailout of AIG, the chief financial officer for AIG's financial products unit worked day and night and through the weekends to work out a deal with the banks that had purchased $61 billion of credit default swaps from AIG. AIG was trying to get the banks to accept as little as 40 cents on the dollar to retire the swaps.

But when the New York Fed stepped in on September 16, 2008,with an $85 billion credit line for the company, those negotiations ground to a halt. Beginning early in November, a team lead by Tim Geithner at the New York Fed took over negotiations with the banks. Geithner’s team offered the banks 100 cents on the dollar. LinkHere

Kristol: GOP's Future "Center Of Gravity" Lies With Beck, Limbaugh

So, insanity, hatred, religious mania, extremism and racism are the center of Republican gravity? I have to admit, this isn't really news to me.
In his Washington Post column Tuesday, Bill Kristol predicted that the "center of gravity" in the GOP going into 2012 will not be its leaders in Congress but rather "media personalities like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh" (as well as Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich).

Obviously, many Republicans and conservatives -- and lots of moderates and independents -- will be grateful to Mitch McConnell if he can stop ObamaCare, and to Jon Kyl if he can induce the president to embrace a stronger foreign policy. But it's unlikely that the minority party in Congress will be the source of bold new conservative leadership over the next three years. Even if Republicans pick up the House in 2010, the party's big ideas and themes for the 2012 presidential race will probably not emanate from Capitol Hill.

The center of gravity, I suspect, will instead lie with individuals such as Palin and Huckabee and Gingrich, media personalities like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and activists at town halls and tea parties. Some will lament this -- but over the past year, as those voices have dominated, conservatism has done pretty well in the body politic, and Republicans have narrowed the gap with Democrats in test ballots.

Meanwhile, Beck and Palin had turned on Gingrich for supporting a moderate Republican in a New York House race. LinkHere

Lieberman: Sure, I'd Filibuster A Health Care Reform Bill With A Public Option

Lieberman Willing To Sink Health Care Reform... But He Would Really Hate To Do It
The Scumbags back!!!!
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told reporters today that he would in fact filibuster any health care bill he doesn't agree with--and right now, he doesn't agree with the public option proposal making its way through the Senate.

"I told Senator Reid that I'm strongly inclined--i haven't totally decided, but I'm strongly inclined--to vote to proceed to the health care debate, even though I don't support the bill that he's bringing together because it's important that we start the debate on health care reform because I want to vote for health care reform this year. But I also told him that if the bill remains what it is now, I will not be able to support a cloture motion before final passage. Therefore I will try to stop the passage of the bill."

There are two procedural issues at play here. Most people think of a filibuster as a minority blocking passage of a bill that's already been debated ad nauseum on the Senate floor. That's the most standard filibuster. But on major legislation, it's become more common for the minority--in this case the Republicans--to object to the majority getting a chance to debate legislation in the first place. If any one of them objects to the so-called motion to proceed, it will take 60 votes just to start the amendment and debate process. That's a less-discussed filibuster, but it's quite plausible that this health care bill will have to contend with it.

Lieberman is saying that he's pretty much OK with letting senators offer amendments--try to change the legislation, move it in any direction they deem necessary. But when that process is all over, and Harry Reid wants to hold an up or down vote on the final product, Lieberman's saying he'll join that filibuster, if he's not happy with the finished product. Point blank.

Even Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) doesn't go that far. "I'm not going to make up my mind until I actually see the bill," he told reporters. LinkHere

Insurance Stocks Plunged As Reid Announced Public Option, Spiked After Lieberman Vowed To Filibuster It

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that he would be including a version of the public option (with a state opt-out provision) in the Senate’s final health care bill. Although all of the details of the public plan are yet to be determined, progressives cheered the move. As Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) admitted, without all the pressure that progressives in and out of Congress put on legislators, it is unlikely there would have been a public option included in Reid’s final bill.

Yet this afternoon, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) broke with the Democratic caucus that he is a member of and vowed to join a Republican-led filibuster if the public option is not removed from the bill. In response, insurance company stocks — which plummeted Monday as Reid made his announcement — shot up after Lieberman made his announcement around 1:30 pm:

Lieberman’s opposition to the public option puts him completely out of step with Connecticut voters. As this polling from 538.com’s Nate Silver shows, voters in every single one of Connecticut’s congressional districts favor the inclusion of a public option in health care legislation by wide margins. The stated reason for Lieberman’s opposition to the public option — that it would increase the debt and create another entitlement — is misplaced. As ThinkProgress has noted before, the public option would be self-sustaining and would cut the deficit.

Insurance giant Aetna, represented by the blue line above, fared the best among all of the health insurance companies. Aetna is based in Hartford, CT. It is also the tenth largest single private contributor to Lieberman’s re-election committee. LinkHere

Top 15 Lieberman Betrayals: Joe's Worst Double-Crosses Ever
On Tuesday, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) announced that he might join a filibuster against health care reform. It's not the first time he's betrayed Democrats. Below, a slideshow of the senator's worst turns

Monday, October 26, 2009

Podesta: Bush Administration Spent Only One Hour On Afghanistan Report It Handed Off To Obama »

For weeks, former Bush administration officials have been attacking President Obama for “dithering” on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, with Vice President Cheney saying that “signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries.” But these Bush officials are also facing criticisms for largely neglecting Afghanistan in order to invade Iraq. In response, they have been citing an Afghanistan strategy report they handed off to the Obama administration that clearly laid out recommendations for moving forward. From Cheney’s recent remarks to the Center for Security Policy:

In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt.

Today on ABC’s This Week, Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta revealed that the Bush administration spent just one hour on that report:

PODESTA: [T]hey did present him with a report at the very end of the Bush administration, but I have it from reliable sources that the principals in the Bush administration spent one hour on that report before they handed it off to Obama.

Rachel Maddow, Boing Boing Editor On McCain And Net Neutrality

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Netanyahu Today: First Hell Freezes, Then the Settlements

In an interview in Sunday's Washington Post, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may go further than any of his predecessors in rejecting a settlement freeze -- this after President Obama went further than any of his predecessors in demanding one.

In the fifteen years since Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasir Arafat signed the Oslo agreement, Israel has never, in principle, ruled out a settlement freeze. On occasion, it has, in fact, implemented a freeze while on several others, Israeli prime ministers said "yes" but with conditions.

There has been one constant. Israeli prime ministers tended to go along with the US and Palestinian view that freezing settlements was not a final status issue (i.e, one that would only be resolved in the context of comprehensive negotiations) but a precondition for negotiations like the PLO's cessation of violence, which has been in effect for years.

Israeli prime ministers understood that Palestinians viewed the expansion of settlements as something unacceptable during negotiations. As one Palestinian put it, "You can't discuss how you will divide the pizza while one guy is gobbling it up."

This all changed today with the interview in Sunday's Washington Post. LinkHere
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