Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, November 07, 2009


House health care bill gets votes needed for passage. 220 members of Congress -- including one Republican, Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana -- voted in favor of health care reform, advancing the legislation by the slimmist of margins. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the bill, along with 176 Republicans.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) cast vote #218, solidifying passage. Speaker Pelosi was "near sobbing," HuffPost's Ryan Grim reports LinkHere

"Dean of the House" delivers final health care speech. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, who has introduced a national health care bill at the beginning of every session of Congress since he came into office, received a standing ovation as he began the final Democratic health care speech of the night.

This one goes out to Rep. Boehner. Gram Parsons, and the great one's version of Merle's "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down".

Michele Bachmann wears a lei, critics go to town. Outspoken Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann (somewhat inexplicably) was sporting a Hawaiian lei when she spoke out against health care reform tonight. She said she was doing so because people in Hawaii told her to vote against the bill.

A Democrat blasted out an email: "I feel it is my duty to point out that Hawaii has a health care mandate where EVERY employer has to provide health care benefits to ALL employees who work over 20 hours a week."


"I Object": Tom Price Tries To Shut Down Democratic Congresswomen

On Saturday morning, a group of House Republicans -- led by Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia) -- attempted to stop the Democratic Women's Caucus from making their arguments about how the health bill would benefit women by screaming over them.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) only had time to say "Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to--," before Price shouted "I object." The presiding chair, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) made gestures to maintain control, declaring that "the request is not yet before the House" and that Price was "out of order," to little effect. Capps attempted to go on, but Price continued shouting "I object! I object! I object!"

Friking Wanker, These dickheads are supposed to be representing the citizens of their states, unfrikingbelievable!!!!!!!

The same shouting tactics were used on Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), who asked angrily, "Do I not have the right to be able to continue my sentence without objections that are trying to censor my remarks here on the floor that I have a right to make as a member of this House?"

Watch the compilation reel that Think Progress put together below.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Jon Stewart Does Glenn Beck: Devotes Segment To Crazy Conspiracy Theories And Almost Crying

Helicopter Shortage: State Department Fumbles Effort to Oust Blackwater from Iraq

Mark Hosenball
Your tax dollars at work: as part of their effort to stop doing business in Iraq with companies affiliated with the controversial paramilitary contractor formerly known as Blackwater, the State Department earlier this year hired a rival contractor to fly civilian U.S. personnel around the war-torn country by helicopter. But officials subsequently learned that helicopters the replacement contractor, Dyncorp International, was planning to use for this service didn’t meet government safety standards. So as a result, the Department was forced to extend for several months its air-transport contract with an affiliate of ... the contractor formerly known as Blackwater.

The State Department’s machinations are the latest chapter in the government’s turbulent relationship with companies affiliated with Blackwater, a North Carolina-based paramilitary training, protection, and transport outfit whose name became one of the most toxic words in American politics after a series of incidents in which security officers employed by the firm allegedly killed or injured Iraqi civilians. The incidents, which included eight Iraqis dying on September 16, 2007 after Blackwater employees allegedly fired automatic rifles and threw grenades into a crowd in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, led to congressional hearings, multiple U.S. investigations of Blackwater personnel, and a declaration by the Iraqi government last March that it was withdrawing the license of Blackwater and its affiliates to do business in Iraq.

Blackwater, which renamed itself Xe Services, has denied corporate wrongdoing and recently won a victory in court: a federal Judge in Alexandria, Va., dismissed on legal grounds a series of wrongful death and injury cases filed by Iraqis against Xe Services, its affiliates, and its owner, Erik Prince. (The judge did invite the plaintiffs to amend their claims.) Despite being declared persona non grata in Iraq, Xe and its affiliates retain major contracts with U.S. government agencies—including the State Department, and reportedly, the CIA—in other parts of the world such as Afghanistan, say U.S. and private security-industry officials. State Department and industry officials also note that the incidents and investigations were related to the company’s ground-based bodyguard operations in Iraq. The company’s air-transport operations have not been implicated in scandal.

Rick Perry: Let Texas Guide Health Care Reform. His State Leads Nation With Over 25% Uninsured

Texas's Rick Perry and Mars's Newt Gingrich have an op-ed in The Washington Post this morning presenting the Lone Star State as an example of all the whiz-bang health-care innovation being generated at the state level. "Texas," they write, "has adopted approaches to controlling health-care costs while improving choice, advancing quality of care and expanding coverage." Sounds awesome! The evidence is a tort reform bill that the state passed in 2003. And how's that working out?

Well, Texas currently leads the nation in the rate of uninsured, with more than 25 percent of the state's residents lacking health-care coverage. If you limit the analysis to residents under age 65, which takes seniors covered by the national Medicare program out of the data, 28 percent of Texans are uninsured.

Olbermann: Murdoch "Worst Person" For Using Fox News As Vendetta Machine

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Baucus Only Dem To Vote Against Climate Bill

Senate Climate Bill Passes Panel, Baucus Only Dem Against It
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats sidestepped a Republican boycott Thursday, pushing a climate bill out of committee in an early step on a long and contentious road to passage.

Other committees still must weigh-in on the measure, but the partisan antics early on threatened to cast a pall over the bill – one of President Barack Obama's top priorities – as it makes its way to the Senate floor and as nations prepare to meet in Copenhagen, Denmark next month to hammer out a new international treaty to slow climate change.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, had delayed the crucial vote for days because of a Republican protest over whether the cost of the legislation had been fully examined. But the California Democrat moved quickly to pass the bill Thursday, which for the first time would set mandatory limits on heat-trapping gases, without any of the seven GOP senators on the panel present. The measure cleared the panel on a 11-1 vote.

Boxer said the Republican demand for more analysis was "duplicative and waste of taxpayer dollars."

"Advancing the bill is a necessary step on the road to garnering the 60 votes we need," said Boxer, who introduced the bill along with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. in late September. "We are pleased that despite the Republican boycott, we have had the will to move this bill forward."

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the committee, implored the panel to not proceed with what he called a "nuclear option" minutes before the vote. He left shortly after making his statement.

Tea Partiers Hit Capitol Hill

Michele Bachmann Tells Supporters To "Scare" Congress At Protest

UPDATE:Thousands arrived to rail against health care reform on Capitol Hill Thursday.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) shook hands among the protesters.

"This is too great," he said.

Outside, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) led crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance -- which he said drives the liberals crazy.

Pelosi: Single-Payer Amendment Breaks Obama's Health Care Promise..
Biden: People Have Been Stripped Of Their Dignity..
Nine Arrested Protesting Lieberman's Healthcare Stance..
WATCH: Pledge Of Allegiance Bungled At Tea Party Protests..
AMA, AARP Both Support House Health Care Bill..
Pentagon Pursues Investigation Into Bush Propaganda Program..
Lobbyblog Grassley Took $150K From Health Insurance Industry In Third Quarter..
Reid Picks Pelosi's Pocket To Pay For Business Tax Break..
Steele On Republicans Who Back Obama: "We'll Come After You"..
Your request is being processed...

Michele Bachmann Tells Supporters To "Scare" Congress At Protest

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) shook hands among the protesters.

"This is too great," he said.

Outside, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) led crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance -- which he said drives the liberals crazy.

Akin apparently botched the actual pledge.

At noon, NBC News reported police estimated that there were 3,000 to 3,500 protesters

WATCH: Pledge Of Allegiance Bungled At Tea Party Protests

Pentagon Pursues Investigation Into Bush Propaganda Program

The Raw Story:

The Pentagon's Office of Inspector General is conducting a new investigation into a covert Bush administration Defense Department program that used retired military analysts to produce positive wartime news coverage.

Last May, the Inspector General's office rescinded and repudiated a prior internal investigation's report on the retired military analyst program, which had been issued by the Bush administration, because it "did not meet accepted quality standards for an Inspector General work product." Yet in recent interviews with Raw Story, Pentagon officials who took part in the program were still defending it by referencing this invalidated report.

Steele On Republicans Who Back Obama: "We'll Come After You"

Sound Familiar

"We're planning a twelve second town hall to explain every last detail of the GOP health care plan," said DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan in response

12-Hour Town Hall Held By House GOP Thursday
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) are holding a joint health care town hall at 1:00 PM Eastern Time on Thursday to air their objections of reform.

The event, called "Pelosi Plan Exposed," will run for 12 hours and will "expose the 12 truths of Nancy Pelosi's health care bill."

Topics include Health Care & Small Business, Health Care & Taxes, Health Care & Seniors, Health Care & The Economy, and Health Care & The Culture Of Life.

"We're planning a twelve second town hall to explain every last detail of the GOP health care plan," said DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan in response.

Pence's invitation: LinkHere

Alan Grayson Reads Names Of Dead In Republican Districts

They used to call President Harry Truman 'Give 'em Hell Harry'. But President Truman said, "I don't give them hell; I just tell the truth and they think it's hell." I'm telling the Republicans this: Lives are at stake. If you can't stand the heat on health care, then get out of the kitchen.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) took to the floor Wednesday night to read the names of those who had died from lack of health insurance in Republican districts.
Grayson also read stories from his website Namesofthedead.com, which collects health care tragedies from around the country.

"Is it really asking too much of us that we keep people alive?" he asked. Later he added,
"We can save these people, or we can let them die."

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) called for the clerk to take down Grayson's words -- leading to an adjournment. But when the House reconvened, Grayson continued naming Republican representatives and the dead in their districts.

How the Republicans Failed to Cut Off My Health Care Speech
Rep. Alan Grayson, 11.05.2009
Congressman Alan Grayson represents Florida's eighth district.

I intend to vote for the health care bill because that bill saves lives. And I also intend to speak out, as loudly as I can, on behalf of those Americans who cannot speak out, those who have died because they had no health insurance. LinkHere

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Set afire, teen now struggles for survival

Edited on Tue Nov-03-09 01:22 AM by JI7
Source: CNN

He's hooked up to the marvels of modern medicine that are trying to give the 15-year-old burn victim a chance to be a kid once again.

Brewer is heavily sedated, and the ventilator does not allow him to speak. His open wounds are covered by bandages, which are changed daily. It's a four-hour process.

He has not been able to speak with police since his desperate fight for life began October 12, when police say five teenage friends, including a 13-year-old, doused Brewer with rubbing alcohol and set him on fire.

"There's no evolutionary mechanism to survive a 65 percent burn," Namias said. LinkHere

Bush didn't include the cost of his wars in his budgets.

Oh, and you can always remind them that Bush didn't include the cost of his wars in his budgets.
Source: The Hill

Blue Dog says Dem losses would strengthen centrists' position
By Michael O'Brien - 11/03/09 08:40 AM ET

Centrist Blue Dog Democrats might see their position strengthened if Democrats suffer broader losses Tuesday, one Blue Dog member suggested.

Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) argued that an election night rebuke for Democratic candidates across the nation could lead some in the party to rethink their plans on healthcare reform and other issues.

"It looks as though the anger that has been boiling up the last couple of months is going to lead to a pretty high turnout from Republicans and from people who are concerned about increased spending," Altmire said Monday evening during an appearance on Fox Business Network.

"And I do think that if the results show Republicans have a pretty good night, that probably is going to lead some Democrats to think that, going into next year, we need to take a second look at the way that we've done a lot of bills we've addressed up to this point," the Pennsylvania congressman added.

"When your captain's crazy, it's time to find a new ship."

Bachmann aide quits

Source: Minnesota Independent

An aide to Rep. Michele Bachmann quit her communications position, Politico reported on Wednesday. Michelle Marston had been responsible for helping Bachmann get a copious amount of air time on cable news shows.

“I’m just not talking about it, and frankly I don’t think there’s a story here,” Marston told Politico in an email. “Now, the thousands of people calling our office to tell us coming to Capitol Hill tomorrow – that’s a story.”

Bachmann is hosting a “House Call” and urging Tea Party activists to storm the Capitol on Thursday to oppose health care reform.

Politico spoke with an anonymous conservative Republican House member who said, “When your captain’s crazy, it’s time to find a new ship.”

Bachmann’s office has seen a fair amount of turnover since she arrived in Congress in 2006, losing more than a dozen in her first two years.

Jon Stewart Revels In Inane Election Coverage

Italy Convicts 23 Americans In CIA Terrorist Kidnapping

MILAN — An Italian judge on Wednesday convicted 23 Americans in absentia of the 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric from a Milan street, in a landmark case involving the CIA's extraordinary rendition program in the war on terrorism.

Citing diplomatic immunity, Judge Oscar Magi told the Milan courtroom Wednesday that he was acquitting three other Americans.

Former Milan CIA station chief, Robert Seldon Lady, received eight years in prison. The other 22 convicted American defendants each received a five-year sentence.

The Americans, all but one identified by prosecutors as CIA agents, were tried in absentia as subsequent Italian governments refused or ignored prosecutors' extradition request.

In Washington, CIA spokesman George Little declined to comment on the convictions. He said, "The CIA has not commented on any of the allegations surrounding Abu Omar," the kidnapped man.

Lawyers for the 23 convicted Americans said they would appeal the convictions. The Americans remain fugitives from Italian justice and prosecutor Armando Spataro said he was considering asking the government to issue an international arrest warrant on the strength of the conviction. The government of Silvio Berlusconi, a close ally of President George W. Bush, has previously refused.

Magi said he was acquitting five Italian defendants because an Italian high court ruled key evidence inadmissible as classified. Two of the Italian defendants were convicted as accomplices to kidnapping and received three-year sentences.

The verdict "sends a strong signal of the crimes committed by the CIA in Europe," said Joanne Mariner of Human Rights Watch. The crimes were "unacceptable and unjustified," said Mariner, who was in the courtroom for the verdict at the end of the nearly 3-year-long trial.

Well, he did say Glen Beck was his mentor didn't he ..what did he expect to happen?

The Lesson of Doug Hoffman: Palin And Limbaugh Don't Win Elections
Dud, Baby, Dud: The Lesson of Doug Hoffman
"I believe America is turning the page to a new dawn." ~ Doug Hoffman, Concession Speech

Doug Hoffman lost his election last night. He was supported by a plurality of talk radio entertainers, and a majority of former half-term governors of Alaska, but it wasn't enough. An obscure quirk of constitutional law says you also need votes from voters. This is the same cruel hurdle that tripped up three of his other biggest supporters, Gary Bauer, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani, all of whom ran for President of the United States, but failed the "getting votes" test, because everyone hates their guts.

With their help, and a million dollars from the Club for Growth, Doug Hoffman lost a part of New York State that had voted Republican since the best way to get from Albany to Buffalo was by canal.

Not bad for a first try.

Doug Hoffman didn't just have money to burn and the staunch support of Facebooking frost bunnies, Fox News and the Ghosts of Vanity Campaigns Past. He also had coots on the ground; an army of volunteers from the tea bag movement, the 9/12 Project and the fanatic anti-choice fringe. The problem was, they could shout at the polling places as loud as they wanted, and they did, but they didn't live there, so they weren't allowed to vote.

There's probably a lesson to that. Something about politics being local.

And beyond that, about the people who do live there resenting being told what to do.

Rush Limbaugh predicted that Hoffman would win. In fact, Hoffman's victory was such a foregone conclusion yesterday that Rush had already moved on to mocking Democrats spinning their loss.


If Hoffman wins -- and polls suggest that he will -- the race there will be dismissed as an outlier...

Folks, I want you to print these words out. I want you to get the transcript off my website. I want you to print these out, I want you to distribute them, I want you to carry them with you, and we'll just see how close I am to being right. (When Hoffman wins) the State-Run Media will say, "New York-23, the race is more about the demise of the Republican Party and anger on the right than Obama or his policies."

Print it out. Distribute it. And carry it with you, just to see how close he was to being right: Not within a zillion light years.

Rush couldn't be right, (and he can never be wrong) because he's debating a straw man from the future. His point is that X would say Y. And that's always his point: If the thing he imagines happening happens, liberals will react in a way he imagines, and it'll be just like them, too. Except they never do, because it doesn't, so they can't, not that they would have. But I wouldn't put it past them, since they do it every time.

But not today. Imaginary liberals won't be saying New York-23 doesn't matter. Rush will.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

"Sarah From Alaska" Book: McCain Turned Lights Out On Palin In "Civil War" (VIDEO)

In "Sarah From Alaska," two campaign reporters share the behind-the-scenes story of Sarah Palin's rise to national stardom and surprising resignation.

On the "Early Show" on CBS, authors Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe said Tuesday there was a "remarkable internal war" at the end of the campaign between Palin and McCain's teams when the VP candidate was told she could not deliver a concession speech. "Governor Palin tried to create some confusion" so that she would be able to speak, but she ultimately failed. "It really turned into an all-out civil war," Walshe said. On election night, Palin went back out onstage to take pictures with her family and McCain's staff was so terrified that she would give a speech after all that they turned out the lights on her.

According to a copy of the book obtained by Huffington Post, when senior McCain aide Carla Eudy heard the news, she immediately called campaign manager Steve Schmidt, who barked, "Take the set down. Unplug it."

The McCain staff didn't believe Palin's claim that she just wanted to take pictures with her family on stage - to one aide, it sounded like a "dubious cover story."

Even as the stage crew dimmed the lights, Palin and family stood there and waved at the dwindling crowd.

When she found out what was happening, an incensed Carla Eudy called [Palin advisor Jason] Recher to express her displeasure. "You never had control of her," she said, according to Recher. "Get control of her! Get her ass off stage!"

I hope he will be regretting it, even more today.

WASHINGTON — The House Republican leader says he regrets that he and other members of his party spent time and money supporting the GOP nominee in a special House election in upstate New York.

The candidate picked by GOP officials in New York's 23rd Congressional District, Dierdre Scozzafava, abruptly dropped out of the race Saturday. She then backed the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, over Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

Support for Hoffman from prominent Republican conservatives helped to drive Scozzafava out of the race.

On Monday, House Republican leader John Boehner told reporters that he regretted supporting Scozzafava, saying she is clearly out there for herself and has an agenda different from that of most Republicans.

Cut off the A******* funds!!!!!!!

Catholic pastors directed to distribute anti-health reform materials at mass
By John Tomasic 11/2/09 2:02 PM
This past weekend the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops instructed pastors at parishes across the country to distribute material urging Catholics to oppose the health reform bills making their way through Congress for allowing public funding of abortions. Priests were to insert the Bishops Conference pdf leaflets and letters into parish news bulletins, distribute them at church doors or place them in pews. They were also directed to read a statement at mass to reinforce the message.

The Conference of bishops reportedly sent the orders out last Thursday, the same day Speaker Nancy Pelosi presented the mammoth 2,000-page House reform bill to lawmakers and the public.

The material explains that the Catholic Church supports reform that will “protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception until natural death.”

The insert contains phone numbers and web addresses at which constituents can contact their Representatives.

CNSNews reports that the Catholic Church has a “major stake” in the legislation:

A little over 100 million Americans are treated through Catholic hospitals and health centers. There are 624 Catholic hospitals in America. Also, 11 of the nation’s 40 largest health care systems are Catholic, such as Ascension Health, Catholic Health Initatives and Trinity Health.

The Party Of No, stiffs its citizens again

As GOP Holds Up Unemployment Extension, Nearly 200,000 Lose Their Benefits
In the world outside the Senate, time is money; inside it, time is everything. Senate Republicans are taking full advantage of that reality, using every parliamentary device at their disposal to slow down an extension of unemployment insurance benefits -- even after Democrats added billions for big business to sweeten the pot.

The saga is both a case study in the difficulty of passing even popular legislation in the Senate and the lengths to which the GOP is going to slow down the process.

The extension overwhelmingly passed the House 331-83 in late September. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made a motion to pass it by unanimous consent in early October; it was blocked by GOP objections.

After negotiations, Reid filed for cloture on Oct. 21 to break a GOP filibuster. On October 27, the Senate voted 87-13 on a motion to proceed to consider the bill, breaking the filibuster.

But under Senate rules, the GOP is still allowed 30 hours of "debate." There actually isn't much debate, but the clock is ticking while senators take to the floor to make speeches about whatever they like.

16 Soldiers Committed Suicide In October; Deaths Fuel Army's Worry

Suicide Toll Fuels Worry That Army Is Strained
Sixteen American soldiers killed themselves in October in the U.S. and on duty overseas, an unusually high monthly toll that is fueling concerns about the mental health of the nation's military personnel after more than eight years of continuous warfare.

The Army's top generals worry that surging tens of thousands more troops into Afghanistan could increase the strain felt by many military personnel after years of repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The October suicide figures mean that at least 134 active-duty soldiers have taken their own lives so far this year, putting the Army on pace to break last year's record of 140 active-duty suicides. The number of Army suicides has risen 37% since 2006, and last year, the suicide rate surpassed that of the U.S. population for the first time.

The health of ground combat forces is emerging as an element of the Obama administration's review of its Afghanistan strategy. Conditions there have deteriorated in recent months amid lingering political instability and a worsening Taliban-led insurgency.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander in Kabul, wants more than 40,000 new troops, in addition to the 68,000 that will be in Afghanistan by year-end, and has warned that the U.S. faces possible "mission failure" unless it adopts a new strategy and quickly deploys significant reinforcements. LinkHere

Monday, November 02, 2009

New movie calls for the prosecution of George W. Bush

The author of a book calling for the prosecution of former President George W. Bush for murder has produced a documentary based on the book that will debut in February 2010.

The documentary draws on interviews with Vincent Bugliosi, whose best-selling The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder has sparked controversy and renewed discussion of recourse from Bush's critics.

The film's producers posted a nine-minute clip on YouTube late last week.

Bugliosi is a career prosecutor turned author, known for his prosecution of the Manson murders. The trailer highlights his success at trial, having secured numerous murder convictions.

"I would not be doing what I'm doing unless I'm very confident that under the law he's guilty of murder and should be prosecuted," Bugliosi says in the documentary trailer. "Unless this nation is about to be attacked, you don't go to war without telling the people whose sons and daughters are going to die in a foreign land why you're doing to do it."

His voice raised, Bugliosi shouts, "The American government believed that the guy responsible for 3,000 murders is at Tora Bora. Do you know how many soldiers George Bush sent them?

"Not one," he continues. "How do you justify not sending one single soldier after the person responsible for 3,000 murders. Not one soldier, but send 150,000 against someone who was as involved in 9/11 as you and I."

Strangely enough, the trailer includes praise from Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard University law professor who's previously said torture could be justified.

Sebelius: Public Should Ignore Beck On H1N1 Vaccine And ‘Talk To Somebody With A Little Scientific Background’

In recent weeks, pundits with little knowledge of public health have been warning the public to stay away from the H1N1 flu vaccine. Fox News host Glenn Beck recently said that the vaccine may be “deadly,” adding, “You don’t know if this is gonna cause neurological damage like it did in the 1970s.” Hate radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed that H1N1 warnings are “a bunch of typical government panic and hype” and even HBO’s Bill Maher stated that you’d be an “idiot” to get the vaccine.

Last night in an interview that aired on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius responded to these skeptics, saying the public should listen to “doctors and scientists,” not pundits:

SEBELIUS: Well, I tend to like to get my health advice from doctors and scientists. And that’s what we would urge people to do. I think it’s advisable to ask questions, to figure out — as a parent or a pregnant woman, or somebody with an underlying health condition, what the facts are, but probably not get your facts from — with all due deference — TV commentators. Maybe talk to somebody with a little scientific background and a medical degree about what actually is your risk and your opportunity to be safe and secure. LinkHere

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Appeals Court Rules Canadian Tortured After Rendition Cannot Sue United States

Source: Air America

Appeals Court Rules Canadian Tortured After Rendition Cannot Sue United States

By Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A Canadian engineer cannot sue the United States after being mistaken for a terrorist when he was changing planes in New York a year after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The judges of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 7-4 to uphold a decision by a lower court judge dismissing a lawsuit brought by Maher Arar, a Syrian-born man who was detained as he tried to switch planes in 2002.

Arar sued the U.S. government and top Justice Department officials, saying the United States purposely sent him to Syria to be tortured days after he was picked up at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a false tip from Canada that he had ties to Islamic extremists. The lawsuit said Arar was allowed to see a lawyer only once despite his repeated efforts to receive representation.

Syria has denied he was tortured. The Canadian government agreed to pay him almost $10 million after acknowledging it had passed bad information to U.S. authorities.

US Supreme Court refuses to hear Guantanamo case


US Supreme Court refuses to hear Guantanamo case AFP/File – A view of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The US Supreme Court refused Monday to consider the …
2 hrs 51 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Supreme Court refused Monday to consider the case of a Yemeni detainee held at Guantanamo Bay despite a lower court order for his release.

Without giving an explanation, the Supreme Court said it would not take up the case of Yasin Muhammed Basardh, who was ruled innocent of terrorism charges by a US court some six months ago but remains incarcerated at Guantanamo.

Basardh's lawyers sought to attach his case to that of a group of seven Chinese ethnic Uighur prisoners at Guantanamo, who are asking the court to order their release into the United States.

White House Giving Karzai Six Months To Shape Up

Published: November 1, 2009
WASHINGTON — With the White House’s reluctant embrace on Sunday of Hamid Karzai as the winner of Afghanistan’s suddenly moot presidential runoff, President Obama now faces a new complication: enabling a badly tarnished partner to regain enough legitimacy to help the United States find the way out of an eight-year-old war.

It will not be easy. As the evidence mounted in late summer that Mr. Karzai’s forces had sought to win re-election through widespread fraud to defeat his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, administration officials made no secret of their disgust. How do you consider sending tens of thousands of additional American troops, they asked in meetings in the White House, to prop up an Afghan government regarded as illegitimate by many of its own people?

The answer was supposed to be a runoff election. Now, administration officials argue that Mr. Karzai will have to regain that legitimacy by changing the way he governs, at a moment when he is politically weaker than at any time since 2001.

“We’re going to know in the next three to six months whether he’s doing anything differently — whether he can seriously address the corruption, whether he can raise an army that ultimately can take over from us and that doesn’t lose troops as fast as we train them,” one of Mr. Obama’s senior aides said. He insisted on anonymity because of the confidentiality surrounding the Obama administration’s own debate on a new strategy, and the request by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the American military commander in Afghanistan, for upward of 44,000 more troops. LinkHere

Grayson Called "Wingnut" By New York Times

On paper, Representative Alan Grayson, a freshman Democrat from Florida, seems a bit stiff: degrees from Harvard and Harvard Law; a résumé that includes clerking for the United States Court of Appeals under Judges Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Robert Bork; an advocate for the aging.

But in recent weeks, Mr. Grayson has catapulted himself to national renown for outlandish rhetoric and a pugilistic political style that makes him seem less staid lawmaker than a character on the lam from one of his Orlando district's theme parks.

Vitter Confronted By Rape Victim Over Franken Amendment Vote

Last month, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) opposed a congressional measure to prohibit the government from working with contractors who deny victims of rape or assault the right to bring their cases to court.

And now, the issue isn't going way. Vitter, who was one of only 30 Republicans who actually voted against the amendment, was pilloried in local newspapers, and has also seen the issue become an early focal point of his re-election contest.

At a town hall meeting this past weekend, meanwhile, the Senator was confronted by a constituent who, after recounting her tale of being raped, demanded to know why he opposed Sen. Al Franken's (D-Minn) amendment.

The exchange was contentious, heart wrenching, and potentially damaging.

Goldman Sachs Seizing Homes Subprime Mortgages Bought

Goldman takes on new role: taking away people's homes

SAN JOSE, Calif. — When California wildfires ruined their jewelry business, Tony Becker and his wife fell months behind on their mortgage payments and experienced firsthand the perils of subprime mortgages.

The couple wound up in a desperate, six-year fight to keep their modest, 1,500-square-foot San Jose home, a struggle that pushed them into bankruptcy.

The lender with whom they sparred, however, wasn't the one that had written their loans. It was an obscure subsidiary of Wall Street colossus Goldman Sachs Group.

Goldman spent years buying hundreds of thousands of subprime mortgages, many of them from some of the more unsavory lenders in the business, and packaging them into high-yield bonds. Now that the bottom has fallen out of that market, Goldman finds itself in a different role: as the big banker that takes homes away from folks such as the Beckers.

The couple alleges that Goldman declined for three years to confirm their suspicions that it had bought their mortgages from a subprime lender, even after they wrote to Goldman's then-Chief Executive Henry Paulson — later U.S. Treasury secretary — in 2003.

Unable to identify a lender, the couple could neither capitalize on a mortgage hardship provision that would allow them to defer some payments, nor on a state law enabling them to offset their debt against separate, investment-related claims against Goldman.

How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash

By Greg Gordon McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — In 2006 and 2007, Goldman Sachs Group peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages, but never told the buyers it was secretly betting that a sharp drop in U.S. housing prices would send the value of those securities plummeting.

Goldman's sales and its clandestine wagers, completed at the brink of the housing market meltdown, enabled the nation's premier investment bank to pass most of its potential losses to others before a flood of mortgage defaults staggered the U.S. and global economies.

Only later did investors discover that what Goldman had promoted as triple-A rated investments were closer to junk.

Now, pension funds, insurance companies, labor unions and foreign financial institutions that bought those dicey mortgage securities are facing large losses, and a five-month McClatchy investigation has found that Goldman's failure to disclose that it made secret, exotic bets on an imminent housing crash may have violated securities laws.

"The Securities and Exchange Commission should be very interested in any financial company that secretly decides a financial product is a loser and then goes out and actively markets that product or very similar products to unsuspecting customers without disclosing its true opinion," said Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University economics professor who's proposed a massive overhaul of the nation's banks. "This is fraud and should be prosecuted."

John Coffee, a Columbia University law professor who served on an advisory committee to the New York Stock Exchange, said that investment banks have wide latitude to manage their assets, and so the legality of Goldman's maneuvers depends on what its executives knew at the time.

"It would look much more damaging," Coffee said, "if it appeared that the firm was dumping these investments because it saw them as toxic waste and virtually worthless."

Sunday, November 01, 2009

McChrystal's Explanation For Pat Tillman Cover-up Is "Preposterous"

Little attention has been paid to Gen. Stanley McChrystal's back-story and his rise to the height of military command of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Before becoming the voice of gravity and a champion of higher troop levels in the eight-year long war, McChrystal's resume was sullied by a controversy in that same theater: the misclassified death of Pat Tillman.

McChrystal was the head of Special Operations command in Afghanistan during Army Ranger (and former football star) Pat Tillman's death. McChrystal was the one who approved paperwork awarding Tillman a Silver Star despite knowing (or at least suspecting) that he had died in fratricide and not, as originally determined, enemy fire.

This was once a big embarrassment for the army and, to a lesser extent, McChrystal himself (though he has copped to making an innocent mistake). But when the general was elevated to top spot in Afghanistan this past spring, relatively few publications revisited the affair.

That may change. On Sunday, journalist Jon Krakauer joined the Meet the Press panel to discuss his new book on Tillman's death called Where Men Win Glory. Krakauer offered a harsh assessment of McChrystal's conduct during that period and even stressed that the General's explanations upon reflection were "preposterous" and "unbelievable." LinkHere

Teen got life sentence for killing pimp who raped her at 13

Supreme Court to rule on constitutionality of life prison terms for crimes committed by children

The case of a teenage girl who got life in prison for killing the man who raped her at age 13 and pimped her out for three years is drawing renewed attention to an upcoming Supreme Court decision on life terms for underaged felons.

A feature piece at Alternet.org tells the story of Sara Kruzan, of Riverside, California, who met a "father figure" at age 11. By age 13, he had raped her; for the next three years, she worked 12-hour days as a prostitute for her abuser.

When Kruzan killed her tormentor at age 16, the judge declared her actions "well thought-out" and gave her life in prison without parole.

Kruzan is one of 2,574 Americans "sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison for crimes they committed as children," according to a Human Rights Watch report.

Limbaugh lumps Fox News into ‘conservative media,’ Chris Wallace doesn’t object.

For weeks now, Fox News has been vigorously objecting to the Obama administration’s contention that the network often acts as “the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.” But on Fox News Sunday today, host Chris Wallace did not object when Rush Limbaugh included Fox News as an example of the “conservative media” that has been spawned in the wake of his success on the radio:

LIMBAUGH: Look at 1988, there was nobody doing what I’m doing. Nobody. You had CNN was the only cable network and you had the three networks and the newspapers. And now, look, now look what’s out — all this conservative media. Conservative talk radio, television, Fox News, the conservative blogosphere. I mean, in one way, I could, if I wanted to have my ego be as big as Obama’s is, I could say, look what I created.

Instead of pushing back on Limbaugh’s description of Fox as ideologically conservative, Wallace moved on to the next question, saying, “let’s talk about you.” LinkHere

Friking Wanker, Hurricane Katrina, He is friking kidding isn't he?

This summer, the Obama administration announced that it would spend more than $2 billion to buy enough H1N1 flu vaccines to inoculate every American and said that companies could have up to 80 million ready by October. But only a fraction of those vaccines have been produced so far. “[W]e probably did overpromise, and we overpromised on the basis of what was represented to us” by the manufacturers, senior White House adviser David Axelrod said this week.

Some conservatives are now calling the mishap “Obama’s Katrina.” Today in an interview with Axelrod on CBS’ Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer advanced that view:

SCHIEFFER: What do you do to correct this kind of thing? You’re told one thing, you’d have so much and you didn’t. These are the kinds of things we heard after Katrina during a previous administration.

NPR’s Juan Williams noted the huge distinction between the two situations on Fox News Sunday this morning:

WILLIAMS: I must say that there’s a huge difference between Hurricane Katrina in government failure and what we’re seeing here in terms of delivery of the vaccine. This is a matter of private manufacturers not living up to promises in terms of the delivery system. …But I don’t think most Americans are blaming the Obama administration for this as they blamed, as they said that President Bush’s administration failed to properly understand or pay attention to what FEMA was not doing with regard to helping Americans with Katrina.
This summer, the Obama administration announced that it would spend more than $2 billion to buy enough H1N1 flu vaccines to inoculate every American and said that companies could have up to 80 million ready by October. But only a fraction of those vaccines have been produced so far. “[W]e probably did overpromise, and we overpromised on the basis of what was represented to us” by the manufacturers, senior White House adviser David Axelrod said this week.

Some conservatives are now calling the mishap “Obama’s Katrina.” Today in an interview with Axelrod on CBS’ Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer advanced that view:

SCHIEFFER: What do you do to correct this kind of thing? You’re told one thing, you’d have so much and you didn’t. These are the kinds of things we heard after Katrina during a previous administration.

NPR’s Juan Williams noted the huge distinction between the two situations on Fox News Sunday this morning:

WILLIAMS: I must say that there’s a huge difference between Hurricane Katrina in government failure and what we’re seeing here in terms of delivery of the vaccine. This is a matter of private manufacturers not living up to promises in terms of the delivery system. …But I don’t think most Americans are blaming the Obama administration for this as they blamed, as they said that President Bush’s administration failed to properly understand or pay attention to what FEMA was not doing with regard to helping Americans with Katrina. LinkHere

Frank Rich On Scozzafava Fallout: The GOP Stalinists Invade Upstate New York

Published: October 31, 2009
BARACK OBAMA’S most devilish political move since the 2008 campaign was to appoint a Republican congressman from upstate New York as secretary of the Army. This week’s election to fill that vacant seat has set off nothing less than a riotous and bloody national G.O.P. civil war. No matter what the results in that race on Tuesday, the Republicans are the sure losers. This could be a gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats through 2010, and perhaps beyond.

The governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia were once billed as the marquee events of Election Day 2009 — a referendum on the Obama presidency and a possible Republican “comeback.” But preposterous as it sounds, the real action migrated to New York’s 23rd, a rural Congressional district abutting Canada. That this pastoral setting could become a G.O.P. killing field, attracting an all-star cast of combatants led by Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, William Kristol and Newt Gingrich, is a premise out of a Depression-era screwball comedy. But such farces have become the norm for the conservative movement — whether the participants are dressing up in full “tea party” drag or not.

The battle for upstate New York confirms just how swiftly the right has devolved into a wacky, paranoid cult that is as eager to eat its own as it is to destroy Obama. The movement’s undisputed leaders, Palin and Beck, neither of whom has what Palin once called the “actual responsibilities” of public office, would gladly see the Republican Party die on the cross of right-wing ideological purity. Over the short term, at least, their wish could come true.

The New York fracas was ignited by the routine decision of 11 local Republican county chairmen to anoint an assemblywoman, Dede Scozzafava, as their party’s nominee for the vacant seat. The 23rd is in safe Republican territory that hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress in decades. And Scozzafava is a mainstream conservative by New York standards; one statistical measure found her voting record slightly to the right of her fellow Republicans in the Assembly. But she has occasionally strayed from orthodoxy on social issues (abortion, same-sex marriage) and endorsed the Obama stimulus package. To the right’s Jacobins, that’s cause to send her to the guillotine.

Sure enough, bloggers trashed her as a radical leftist and ditched her for a third-party candidate they deem a “true” conservative, an accountant and businessman named Doug Hoffman. When Gingrich dared endorse Scozzafava anyway — as did other party potentates like John Boehner and Michael Steele — he too was slimed. Mocking Newt’s presumed 2012 presidential ambitions, Michelle Malkin imagined him appointing Al Sharpton as secretary of education and Al Gore as “global warming czar.” She’s quite the wit.

The wrecking crew of Kristol, Fred Thompson, Dick Armey, Michele Bachmann, The Wall Street Journal editorial page and the government-bashing Club for Growth all joined the Hoffman putsch. Then came the big enchilada: a Hoffman endorsement from Palin on her Facebook page. Such is Palin’s clout that Steve Forbes, Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor (and presidential aspirant), promptly fell over one another in their Pavlovian rush to second her motion. They were joined by far-flung Republican congressmen from Kansas, Georgia, Oklahoma and California, not to mention a gaggle of state legislators from Colorado. On Fox News, Beck took up the charge, insinuating that Hoffman’s Republican opponent might be a fan of Karl Marx. Some $3 million has now been dumped into this race by outside groups.

Who exactly is the third-party maverick arousing such ardor? Hoffman doesn’t even live in the district. When he appeared before the editorial board of The Watertown Daily Times 10 days ago, he “showed no grasp” of local issues, as the subsequent editorial put it. Hoffman complained that he should have received the questions in advance — blissfully unaware that they had been asked by the paper in an editorial on the morning of his visit.

Last week it turned out that Hoffman’s prime attribute to the radical right — as a take-no-prisoners fiscal conservative — was bogus. In fact he’s on the finance committee of a hospital that happily helped itself to a $479,000 federal earmark. Then again, without the federal government largess that the tea party crowd so deplores, New York’s 23rd would be a Siberia of joblessness. The biggest local employer is the pork-dependent military base, Fort Drum.

Commercial lending giant CIT files bankruptcy

Government to likely lose $2.3 billion it spent to prop company up last year
updated 4:36 p.m. ET Nov. 1, 2009
NEW YORK - Lender CIT Group has filed for bankruptcy protection, in an effort to restructure its debt while trying to keep loans flowing to the thousands of mid-sized and small businesses.

CIT made the filing in New York bankruptcy court Sunday, after a debt-exchange offer to bondholders failed. CIT said in a statement that its bondholders have overwhelmingly approved a prepackaged reorganization plan which will reduce total debt by $10 billion while allowing the company to continue to do business.

"The decision to proceed with our plan of reorganization will allow CIT to continue to provide funding to our small business and middle market customers, two sectors that remain vitally important to the U.S. economy," said Jeffrey M. Peek, chairman and CEO. Peek has said he plans to step down at the end of the year. LinkHere

In NY-23 Bombshell, Republican Scozzafava Endorses Democrat Owens

the "slap" heard around the country.

Scozzafava to Palin: "How you like me now, beeatch?!?"

In a huge development in the NY-23 special election, moderate Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava -- who dropped out of the race yesterday, in the face of bad fundraising and polling numbers that had shown she'd lost GOP support to Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman -- has now endorsed Democrat Bill Owens.

Scozzafava's campaign had been undermined by national right-wing activists who denounced her liberal social views -- she is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage -- and now she's doing what she can to prevent their own candidate Hoffman from winning:
Scozzafava released the following statement at 2 :06 p.m.:

I want to thank you for your support and friendship. Over the past 24 hours, I have had encouraging words sent to my family and me. Many of you have asked me whom you should support on Tuesday.

Since announcing the suspension of my campaign, I have thought long and hard about what is best for the people of this District, and how to answer your questions. This is not a decision that I have made lightly.

You know me, and throughout my career, I have been always been an independent voice for the people I represent. I have stood for our honest principles, and a truthful discussion of the issues, even when it cost me personally and politically. Since beginning my campaign, I have told you that this election is not about me; it's about the people of this District.

It is in this spirit that I am writing to let you know I am supporting Bill Owens for Congress and urge you to do the same.

It's not in the cards for me to be your representative, but I strongly believe Bill is the only candidate who can build upon John McHugh's lasting legacy in the U.S. Congress. John and I worked together on the expansion of Fort Drum and I know how important that base is to the economy of this region. I am confident that Bill will be able to provide the leadership and continuity of support to Drum Country just as John did during his tenure in Congress.

In Bill Owens, I see a sense of duty and integrity that will guide him beyond political partisanship. He will be an independent voice devoted to doing what is right for New York. Bill understands this district and its people, and when he represents us in Congress he will put our interests first.

Please join me in voting for Bill Owens on Tuesday. To address the tough challenges ahead, we must rise above partisanship and politics and work together. There's too much at stake in this election to do otherwise. LinkHere

Doug Hoffman’s Cunning Plan to Reduce the Deficit: Cutting Earmarks, Taxes

By: Blue Texan Sunday November 1, 2009 11:30 am
The teabaggers' candidate in upstate New York, who's a flat-earther taxer, thinks magic will bring the Bush/Cheney deficit under control.

Anybody who wants to put some money where their comments are can contribute to Owens at this site:

free hit counter