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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Al Franken fallout has GOP fuming

Source: Politico
Republican senators feel burned by Al Franken — and not by his old jokes.

The Republicans are steamed at Franken because partisans on the left are using a measure he sponsored to paint them as rapist sympathizers — and because Franken isn’t doing much to stop them.

“Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape —and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don’t think it’s a very constructive thing,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in an interview.
In a chamber where relationship-building is seen as critical, some GOP senators question whether Franken’s handling of the amendment could damage his ability to work across the aisle. Soon after Tennessee GOP Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander co-wrote an op-ed in a local newspaper defending their votes against the Franken measure, the Minnesota Democrat confronted each senator separately to dispute their column — and grew particularly angry in a tense exchange with Corker.
At issue is an amendment to the Pentagon spending bill that would bar “future and existing” federal contracts to defense contractors and subcontractors “at any tier” who mandate employees go through a company’s arbitration process for workplace discrimination claims — including claims of sexual assault. The measure passed 68-30, with 10 Republicans voting yes and 30 voting no.
“I don’t know what his motivation was for taking us on, but I would hope that we won’t see a lot of Daily Kos-inspired amendments in the future coming from him,” said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, No. 4 in the Senate Republican leadership. “I think hopefully he’ll settle down and do kind of the serious work of legislating that’s important to Minnesota.”

BREAKING: Sanders Puts Official Senate Hold on Bernanke Nomination

Source: Open Left
by: David Sirota
Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 18:50

Per Chris's whip count on the Bernanke nomination, this is pretty huge news from my old boss:

WASHINGTON, December 2 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today placed a hold on the nomination of Ben Bernanke for a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

"The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interests of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few," Sanders said. "What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy."

Ya know, with Republicans and corporate Democrats happily using the Senate power of obstruction so much to stop progressive priorities, it's about time progressive Senators start using that same power of obstruction for progressive ends.

Andrew Sullivan: I'm Breaking From The Right

I cannot support a movement that exploded spending and borrowing and blames its successor for the debt.
Reacting to prominent conservative blogger Charles Johnson's announcement that he would not follow the right wing off a cliff, Andrew Sullivan is offering his own reasons for parting with the movement.

Johnson, who blogs at Little Green Footballs, wrote on Monday that fanatic politicians, racism, sexism, anti-Islamism, hate speech, conspiracy theories and other troubling trends on the right wing have led him to make a formal break.

"The American right wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff," he concluded. "I won't be going over the cliff with them."

Andrew Sullivan, though not as consistent a conservative as Johnson, felt compelled to emphasize his own separation from the right wing. Among other things, he writes:

I cannot support a movement that holds that purely religious doctrine should govern civil political decisions and that uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power.

I cannot support a movement that is deeply homophobic, cynically deploys fear of homosexuals to win votes, and gives off such a racist vibe that its share of the minority vote remains pitiful.

I cannot support a movement which has no real respect for the institutions of government and is prepared to use any tactic and any means to fight political warfare rather than conduct a political conversation.

MSNBC reports about Sarah Palin's bus tour hoax and mentions "Palingates"!

MSNBC mentions "Palingates"!

Citizen-bloggers can make it into the mainstream media - here is more proof for it. This is good news for EVERY blogger!

MSNBC: Can you now please start to report about Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy with Trig ("babygate")?

It's about time that the mainstream media finally does its job and reports this huge scandal!

America without a strong middle class? Unthinkable, but the once-solid foundation is shaking.

Can you imagine an America without a strong middle class? If you can, would it still be America as we know it?
Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can't make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street.

Families have survived the ups and downs of economic booms and busts for a long time, but the fall-behind during the busts has gotten worse while the surge-ahead during the booms has stalled out. In the boom of the 1960s, for example, median family income jumped by 33% (adjusted for inflation). But the boom of the 2000s resulted in an almost-imperceptible 1.6% increase for the typical family. While Wall Street executives and others who owned lots of stock celebrated how good the recovery was for them, middle class families were left empty-handed.

The crisis facing the middle class started more than a generation ago. Even as productivity rose, the wages of the average fully-employed male have been flat since the 1970s.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Documents reveal new information about destruction of torture tapes (& Bush WH Role

Source: The Hill
Documents reveal new information about destruction of torture tapes
By Alex Abdo, legal fellow, ACLU National Security Project - 12/01/09 04:47 PM ET

Records obtained late last month by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal new information about the CIA's destruction of videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of prisoners at CIA black sites, including the precise date the tapes were destroyed and evidence that the White House was involved in early discussions about the proposed destruction.


The new index also lists the earliest known record of White House participation in discussions about destroying the tapes – an e-mail dated February 22, 2003 revealing that CIA officials met with Bush administration officials to discuss how the agency should respond to a letter from Representative Jane Harman (D-CA) advising the agency not to destroy the tapes. While it was known previously that the White House participated in discussions about the disposition of the tapes, this is the earliest record to date of any such discussions and provides a damning timeline that sheds even more light on the extent of the Bush administration's micromanagement of the CIA's torture program.

Serious questions remain about the extent to which the Bush White House and other government agencies were complicit in the CIA’s destruction of the tapes, and releasing these and other documents in full is essential to fully understanding the responsibility of high-level officials for torture.

France, Germany reject US appeals to boost Afghan force

Source: AFP
(AFP) – 3 hours ago

PARIS — France and Germany refused US requests to immediately promise extra combat troops for Afghanistan, frustrating President Barack Obama's hopes that more allies would bolster his troop surge.

Britain has already offered an extra 500 troops and Italy has said it will send an unspecified number, while Poland is considering deploying several hundred more soldiers.

US officials say Obama is about to announce a surge of 30,000 troops and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week predicted other nations would provide another 10,000.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's special envoy to the region said late Tuesday France will not deploy extra combat troops to Afghanistan but may send more military trainers for Afghan forces.

Desertions undermine Afghan army
An exclusive Al Jazeera investigation has found that the number of existing security forces in Afghanistan has been greatly exaggerated with widespread desertions by members of the army and police.

Senior officials in the Obama administration say US troops will start to return home from July of 2011.

That is when Afghan forces are supposed to be ready to take over.

But an investigation by Al Jazeera's James Bays shows that may not be feasible

Blackwater founder cutting ties with company(Erik Prince)

Source: San Francisco Chronicle/AP

The man who built Blackwater USA into one of the world's most respected and reviled defense contractors will no longer be involved in the company's operations.

A spokeswoman for the company, now called Xe (zee), said Wednesday that Erik Prince will relinquish involvement in its day-to-day operations and give up some of his ownership rights. Prince had appointed a new president and chief operating officer in a management shake-up earlier this year.

Spokeswoman Stacy DeLuke says Prince felt he was "constantly being thrown under the bus" after serving the country for years. Prince's company did years of work for the government but has been dogged by a series of federal investigations into its work.

Vanity Fair magazine was first to report Prince's feelings about his treatment.

Australian Senate defeats carbon trading bill

Source: The Guardian

Defeat of carbon trading bill delivers blow to government that had hoped to set an example at international climate change talks in Copenhagen

Toni O'Loughlin in Sydney guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 2 December 2009 09.35 GMT

Australia has dumped its plan to cut the nation's carbon emissions for the second time this year after climate sceptics seized control of the conservative opposition.

The Senate, where the government of the prime minister, Kevin Rudd, does not hold a majority, rejected 41-33 his administration's proposal for Australia to become one of the first countries to install a so-called cap-and-trade system to slash the amount of heat-trapping pollution that industries pump into the air.

...But parliamentarians from the Australian Greens party welcomed the demise of the Labor government's carbon emissions trading scheme, calling it "a dirty deal, an exercise in double think, and a deceipt on the Australian people". LinkHere

Tom Friedman: 'After 9/11, I Overreacted'

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Thomas Friedman Sums Up the Iraq War: "Suck. On. This."


Lou Dobbs: 'Who The Hell Does This President Think He Is?'

Why, he was voted in a landslide your President, and Leader of the free world WANKER, and by the way, who the hell do you think you are, to ask that question?
President Obama is going to cause these people to go into full frontal meltdown by his second term. I'm talking straight jackets, people.
CNN host Lou Dobbs lashed out at President Obama on Tuesday for working on an international climate change treaty, suggesting it was a step toward monarchy and demanding, "Who the hell does this president think he is?"

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a long-time climate change denier, said the president was planning to commit the U.S. to emissions standards set by House legislation that is stalled in the Senate.

"Senator, this begs the question, if I may put it forward right now: Who the hell does this president think he is?" Dobbs said angrily.

"I don't know, because you can't do that," Inhofe responded. "And I think it's certainly disingenuous to mislead countries into thinking that a president is -- you know, this is not a kingdom, He's not able to do that."

"Not yet!" Dobbs cut in. LinkHere

Obama Adviser Calls Out Cheney: You Walked Away From Afghanistan

Vice President Dick Cheney said he "basically" didn't think he or his old boss held any responsibility for the current state of affairs in Afghanistan. On MSNBC today, National Security Council Chief of Staff Denis McDonough pointed out that not only does Cheney bear some responsibility for ignoring Afghanistan for the past eight years -- he also "walked away" from the country when he was Secretary of Defense in the 1990s. LinkHere

Obama's Afghanistan speech

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Jon Stewart Takes On White House Party Crashers

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dem Senator: There Would Be No Afghan Dilemma If Bush Had Caught Bin Laden

Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) insisted on Sunday that, had it not been for the Bush administration's failure to catch Osama bin Laden in 2001, there likely would be no debate about sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Addressing a new Senate Foreign Relations Committee report claiming bin Laden was nearly captured by U.S. forces at Tora Bora, Levin argued that had the capture taken place, "there would be a good chance we would not have forces or need to have forces [in Afghanistan]."

"This has been kind of well known for some time," Levin added. "We took our eye off the ball instead of moving in on him at Tora Bora, the previous administration decided to move its forces to Iraq. It was a mistake then. I think this report of the Foreign Relations committee just sort of reinforces that."

Released on Sunday, the SFRC report [pdf] provides a harsh indictment of the Bush administration's actions in the early stages of the search for bin Laden.

"Removing the Al Qaeda leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat," reads the executive summary. "But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics world-wide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism, leaving the American people more vulnerable to terrorism, laying the foundation for today's protracted Afghan insurgency and inflaming the internal strife now endangering Pakistan. Al Qaeda shifted its locus across the border into Pakistan, where it has trained extremists linked to numerous plots, including the July 2005 transit bombings in London and two recent aborted attacks involving people living in the United States. The terrorist group's resurgence in Pakistan has coincided with the rising violence orchestrated in Afghanistan by the Taliban, whose leaders also escaped only to re-emerge to direct today's increasingly lethal Afghan insurgency."
Afghanistan Surtax Proposal Sparks Internal GOP Fight
Two former advisers to George W. Bush had a spirited debate on Sunday morning over the possibility of a surtax to pay for a troop escalation in Afghanistan.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Dan Senor, a neoconservative war hawk who served as Bush's spokesman in Iraq, called proposals for taxing the rich to pay for the war a backdoor effort to derail any surge in forces. He was opposed by another Bush hand, former communications honcho Matthew Dowd -- a GOP traditionalist -- who said it was unfair to have an increase in troops without a shared social sacrifice.

The whole exchange is worthwhile, but the below portion was particularly illuminating:
GOP Obama Ally: Let's Put Health Care On Hold To Deal With Afghanistan
Pity Georgie, and Dick didn't deal with Afganistan for the 8 years they were in office
One of President Barack Obama's closest Republican allies in the Senate urged him to put health care reform on the backburner and focus on Afghanistan.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), a trusted GOP voice on foreign policy matters, told CNN's "State of the Union" that in light of a forthcoming increase in troops to Afghanistan, Democrats should turn their attention to matters of war and money.

"[W]e're not going to do that debating health care and the Senate for three weeks through all sorts of strategies and so forth," said the Indiana Republican. "The war is terribly important. Jobs and our economy are terribly important. So this may be an audacious suggestion, but I would suggest we put aside the health care debate until next year, the same way we put cap and trade and climate change and talk now about the essentials, the war and money."

The remark seemed to fit in well with an overarching Republican strategy of delaying health care reform talks. And Lugar received immediate pushback from his co-panelist, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

"Absolutely not," said the Rhode Island Democrat. "I think we're in the midst of probably the most significant debate and conclusion with legislation that we've ever had. And the health care debate is essential to our economic future. There are businesses and individuals each year pay more and more for health care, it's become unaffordable. We have to go ahead and conclude this debate. To stop now would be stopping on the edge, I think, of significant reform, which is so important for the country. And frankly, I think, it's ironic. Under the Bush administration, there was no serious debate about Afghanistan. That was relegated to the sidelines. There was no attempt to pay for it. And suddenly, now, that becomes a critical need that we put aside health care. I don't think so. I think we have to push forward."
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