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Friday, January 22, 2010

Largest US health insurer's profits rise 30 percent

rawstory.com — As if to mock the Democrats' loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat and the subsequent and rapid unraveling of a healthcare bill that seemed determined to curb the excesses of the US health insurance industry, the largest US health insurer announced Thursday morning that its fourth quarter profits had climbed a whopping 30 percent. LinkHere

Fox News Poll: Obama Would Beat GOP, ‘Tea Party’ Rivals by Landslide Margins in 2012

Buried inside the new Fox News poll are some trial heats for the 2012 presidential election that look awfully good for President Barack Obama. Three candidates are tested against Obama: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. Obama smashes them all. He leads Romney by a 47-35 margin, Palin by a 55-31 margin, and Gingrich by 53-29 margin. Each margin includes a healthy lead among independent voters.
The most interesting question:
The more interesting question might be on a three-way race between Obama, one of the unpopular Republicans (i.e., any Republican) and an independent. LinkHere

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Obermann Refutes Brown Smears

Family Values, Pimping your daughters!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


It took more than half a decade, countless American and Iraqi deaths in a war based on lies, a sinking economy and the drowning of an American city to finally kill Bush-Cheney-Rove's dream of a conservative realignment.
Democrats, controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, have managed to kill their own dream of dominance in 12 months.
How did it happen?
Theories abound, but two diametrically opposed narratives have taken hold:
The first, promulgated by conservatives, is that the new administration has moved too far to the left and alienated a large swath of independent and moderate voters.
The second, pushed by progressive activists and bloggers, is that the administration hasn't been true enough to fundamental Democratic principles, has embraced some of Bush's worst excesses on civil liberties, and has ditched popular ideas (like the public option) in favor of watered down centrist policies, thus looking weak and ineffectual.
The conservative argument is unpersuasive. After years of a systematic effort by the right to use Overton-style tactics to radicalize our national discourse, the center has moved so far right that the left is barely recognizable. With a military surge in Afghanistan, a denuded health insurance bill limping through Congress, Bush-era detainee policies reinforced, a deflated climate summit, and a windfall year for bankers, among other things, it's almost ludicrous to claim that the new administration is run by a gang of lefties.

The case by progressives that Democrats are undermining themselves with faux-bipartisanship and tepid policies gets much closer to the heart of the problem. I've written a number of posts arguing that it's all a matter of values and ethics. In essence: when you fail to govern based on a morally sound, well-articulated, solidly-grounded set of ideals, you look weak. All the legislative wins in the world won't change that. People gravitate to people who exude moral authority. The vast majority of voters lack the detailed policy knowledge that would enable them to make an accurate assessment of policy differences, but they do have a visceral sense of when a candidate or an elected official believes in something and fights for it. It's why campaigns are laden with moral arguments; politicians ask to be elected because they'll "do the right thing." The right thing in the current administration's case was to be the anti-Bush, nothing more, nothing less. The ethical antidote to a radical administration. It was both politically smart and morally right. And it worked wonders for Democrats as the entire subtext of the 2008 campaign.
The question of whether President Obama is too far left or not left enough will be at the center of the message wars in the lead-up to the midterms. And because these two themes have been analyzed and fleshed out in countless articles and blog posts, it's tempting to see the events of the past year exclusively through the prism of one or the other.
But I'd like to suggest an additional explanation for the demise of Democratic fortunes, namely, that Democratic leaders made two crucial miscalculations in early 2009. A quick glance at the news a year ago today offers clues. On January 19th, 2009, CBS published the "Obama-Lincoln parallel." The Washington Post wrote about a "bear market for Republicans leaving the Hill or the administration." The same day, techPresident discussed "How the Obama Transition is Using Tech to Innovate." Elsewhere that day, LGBT bloggers were complaining that gay Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer was left out of HBO's live broadcast of the inaugural concert.
In that small selection of stories, key themes emerge: a) Obama is the next Lincoln; b) The Obama online revolution continues; c) Republicans are finished; d) a handful of progressives aren't buying it.
Looking back, it's not that difficult to see how the seeds of today's Republican resurgence were planted in those early days:
1. Democratic leaders and strategists, high on victory and awed by the Obama campaign's online prowess, underestimated the dormant power of the old rightwing message machine.
With a sense of invincibility and of history, and believing that the GOP had been mortally wounded, they engaged and legitimized Rush Limbaugh from the White House podium in the belief that it would further marginalize Republicans. It was a mammoth mistake, since it was Rush, Hannity, Drudge, Fox, rightwing blogs, town hall protesters and old-fashioned chain emails that permanently defined the health care debate. Obama's vaunted online army was outgunned and outmaneuvered, while a much-ridiculed Tea Party came out of nowhere to transform the political landscape.
2. Democratic leaders and strategists, privately disdainful of the netroots, underestimated the influence of progressive bloggers.
Nothing should have been a bigger red flag to the new administration than the growing complaints by established progressive bloggers that Democrats were veering off track on the stimulus, the health care bill, civil liberties, gay rights, and more. But scoffing at the netroots is second nature in many quarters of the political establishment, even though they laid the groundwork for Obama's victory. The single biggest reason Obama's hope bubble burst is because of the unintended convergence of left and right opinion-making. The cauldron of opinion that churns incessantly on blogs, Twitter, social networks, and in the elite media generates the storylines that filter across the national and local press, providing the fodder for public opinion. Stalwarts of the left, dedicated to principles not personalities, hammered the administration; couple that with the partisan criticisms from conservatives and libertarians, and the net effect was to alter conventional wisdom and undercut Obama's image and message.
I wrote about these problems while they were occurring, as did many other progressive bloggers, some of whom have been ostracized and attacked, even by their peers.
Here's an extended excerpt of something I wrote back in March:
I don't buy into this 'brilliant' strategy of elevating Rush Limbaugh in the hopes that it will tarnish Republicans. Focus relentlessly on the disastrous Bush presidency to tarnish Republicans, yes. Overturn every single illegal and unconstitutional Bush-era policy and show the country and the world that we're reclaiming the moral high ground, yes. Implement bold strategies and use soaring rhetoric to inspire Americans, yes. Hew fiercely to Democratic principles, reassert the greatness of our American identity, demonstrate the true meaning of liberalism, of progressivism, providing opportunity, seeking justice and fairness, helping those in need, yes. Spend our resources healing the sick, feeding the hungry, lifting the poor, cleaning the planet, rather than on war and more war, yes.
But expand Rush Limbaugh's profile and platform? No.
It's bad for the country and it's bad politics. Limbaugh and his cohorts (Coulter, Hannity, Beck, Savage, and so on), are largely responsible for our toxic political environment. Given major media platforms to launch crude and brutal political and cultural attacks, to demonize liberals, and to use rage as a means of lining their own pockets, these 'entertainers' have poisoned our national discourse.
There's precious little benefit in making Limbaugh more of a central player, in engaging him directly from the White House podium, in raising his stature, in stamping, sealing and approving the years he's spent bashing his political opponents. There was a moment, a brief moment, after Barack Obama was elected president, a moment long gone, where the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity could have become marginalized, bit players rather than media movers and shakers, the detritus of a sorry era. But instead, they have been granted more power -- out of some contrived political calculus. This, at a time when we don't need political calculus, we need single-minded determination to get us out of this economic calamity and to restore sanity to our government.
I know it's hard for Democrats to appreciate how quickly political fortunes turn -- the glow of victory, the high of electoral success gives a sense of inevitability and invincibility, of permanence. But there's nothing permanent about power. The tide will turn again, and the engine that will drive it is the fury stirred by the likes of Limbaugh. Feeding that machine, expanding and enhancing it is a mistake. A serious one.
It's a truism that victory makes every decision seem genius, defeat, the reverse. Democrats, now in power, have a sense of triumph that makes every decision feel smart, every chess move a checkmate. Thus the "Rush strategy" foisted on those of us who have spent the past decade trying to point out how noxious and pernicious Limbaugh and his ilk have been (and continue to be), and how detrimental the anger they've stoked.
Empowering Limbaugh in the hopes of a bank-shot against Republicans will yield the opposite result: Limbaugh will become more powerful, Republicans will relish his increased influence and allow him to do their dirty work.
It's easy to feel like the old era is gone, the old demons slain, that we WON, that nobody's afraid of the once-vaunted Republican attack machine. But Barack Obama won that battle against Hillary Clinton not just because of his abundant positive traits but because people like Rush Limbaugh gave him a 15-year head start against her.
The seeds of Democratic defeat are planted not by Republican elected officials, who, like McCain, will carry the Bush albatross for years to come, but by those who can freely fan the flames of outrage, who can fight dirty, who can bend and break the rules with impunity, who can tear down their opponents' integrity and character, and whose apparent reward (as in the case of Ann Coulter) is to be given yet a larger platform.
No thanks.
That summed up how I felt at the time. I got a lot of heat when I wrote it, but I stand by every word.
Progressive bloggers have been jumping up and down, yelling at their Democratic leaders that the path of compromise and pragmatism only goes so far. The limit is when you start compromising away your core values.
I sincerely hope that's the lesson learned today.
Says it all

Jon Stewart Gets Fed Up: Dems Set The Bar So Low They're Tripping Over It

The US is not yet the stupidest country on earth, but without question, it will be soon. The national symbol will soon be a drooling hillbilly with a teabag stuffed into his face.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: Tragic Story of Mike Connell, Bush/Rove/GOP IT Guru, Breaks in Maxim

The story for which The BRAD BLOG was awarded a 2010 Project Censored award for "Excellence in Investigative Journalism" is "censored" no more. From the February 2010 issue of Maxim hitting mag racks this week...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!...

Kerry: ‘The only thing Republicans say yes to are Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, tea partiers, and Fox News.’

Campaigning for Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley on Friday, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) took a shot the “party of no.” Kerry argued that while Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration focused on governing for the past year, “the Republicans did nothing but say no.” After ticking off a list of items the Republicans have opposed, Kerry concluded:
They made a calculated political decision that they would say no to governance, create anger, and then let the anger fall on those who are struggling to make the choices and these tough decisions. And now, they have the gall to want to receive a bonus for doing it.
Well my friends, the only things the Republicans say yes to are Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, tea partiers, and Fox News. LinkHere

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why are we letting Wall Street off so easy?

Moral Bankruptcy
By Joseph E. Stiglitz
January 17, 2010 "Mother Jones"
-- IT IS SAID THAT A NEAR-DEATH experience forces one to reevaluate priorities and values. The global economy has just escaped a near-death experience. The crisis exposed the flaws in the prevailing economic model, but it also exposed flaws in our society. Much has been written about the foolishness of the risks that the financial sector undertook, the devastation that its institutions have brought to the economy, and the fiscal deficits that have resulted. Too little has been written about the underlying moral deficit that has been exposed—a deficit that is larger, and harder to correct.
One of the lessons of this crisis is that there is a need for collective action, that there is a role for government. But there are others. We allowed markets to blindly shape our economy, but in doing so, they also shaped our society. We should take this opportunity to ask: Are we sure that the way that they have been molding us is what we want?
We have created a society in which materialism overwhelms moral commitment, in which the rapid growth that we have achieved is not sustainable environmentally or socially, in which we do not act together to address our common needs. Market fundamentalism has eroded any sense of community and has led to rampant exploitation of unwary and unprotected individuals. There has been an erosion of trust—and not just in our financial institutions. It is not too late to close these fissures.
How the market has altered the way we think is best illustrated by attitudes toward pay. There used to be a social contract about the reasonable division of the gains that arise from acting together within the economy. Within corporations, the pay of the leader might be 10 or 20 times that of the average worker. But something happened 30 years ago, as the era of Thatcher/Reagan was ushered in. There ceased to be any sense of fairness; it was simply how much the executive could appropriate for himself. It became perfectly respectable to call it incentive pay, even when there was little relationship between pay and performance. In the finance sector, when performance is high, pay is high; but when performance is low, pay is still high. The bankers knew—or should have known—that while high leverage might generate high returns in good years, it also exposed the banks to large downside risks. But they also knew that under their contracts, this would not affect their bonuses.

Haiti on the edge

The Great Tea Party Rip-Off

Published: January 16, 2010
Even given the low bar set by America’s bogus conversations about race, the short-lived Harry Reid fracas was a most peculiar nonevent. For all the hyperventilation in cable news land, this supposed racial brawl didn’t seem to generate any controversy whatsoever in what is known as the real world.
Eugene Robinson, the liberal black columnist at The Washington Post, wrote that he was “neither shocked nor outraged” at Reid’s less-than-articulate observation that Barack Obama benefited politically from being “light-skinned” and for lacking a “Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.” Besides, Robinson said, Reid’s point was “surely true.” The black conservative Ward Connerly agreed, writing in The Wall Street Journal that he was “having a difficult time determining what it was that Mr. Reid said that was so offensive.”
President Obama immediately granted Reid absolution. A black columnist at The Daily News in New York, Stanley Crouch, even stood up for the archaic usage of “Negro.” George Will defended Reid from charges of racism as vociferously as Democrats did. Al Sharpton may have accepted Reid’s apology, but for once there’s no evidence that he ever cared enough to ask for one. So who, actually, was the aggrieved party here? What — or who — was really behind this manufactured race war with no victims?
It would be easy to dismiss the entire event as a credulous news media’s collaboration with a publisher’s hype for a new tell-all-gossip 2008 campaign book, “Game Change,” which breathlessly broke the Reid “bombshell.” But this is a more interesting tale than that. The true prime mover in this story was not a book publicist but Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican Party and by far the loudest and most prominent Beltway figure demanding that Reid resign as Senate majority leader as punishment for his “racism.”
Steele is widely regarded as a clown by observers of all political persuasions, but he is clownish like a fox. His actions in this incident offer some hilarious and instructive insights into what’s going on in the Republican hierarchy right now as it tries to cope not just with our first African-American president but with a restive base embracing right-wing tea-party populism that loathes the establishment in both parties. And though Steele is black, and perhaps the most enthusiastic player of the race card in American politics today, race was a red herring in his Reid vendetta. It threw most everyone off the scent of his real motivation, which had nothing to do with black versus white but everything to do with green, as in money.
A profligate spender, Steele had inaugurated his arrival as party chairman by devoting nearly $20,000 to redecorate his office because he found it “way too male” for his sensitive tastes. In the weeks just before “Game Change” emerged, Steele was in more hot water. Over the holidays, G.O.P. elders were shocked to learn that their front man had a side career as a motivational public speaker at up to $20,000 a gig. The party treasury, which contained $22.8 million upon Steele’s arrival at the end of January 2009, was down to $8.7 million by late November, with 2010 campaign expenditures rapidly arriving. “He needs to raise money for the party, not his wallet,” one Republican leader griped to Politico.
Then, just after New Year, Steele published an unexpected book of his own, “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda.” He hadn’t told his employers that the book was in the works, and, to add further insult, he attacks unnamed party leaders in its pages for forsaking conservative principles. Since it hit the stores, Steele has pursued a book tour for fun and personal profit, all the while daring his G.O.P. critics to bring it on. “If you don’t want me in the job, fire me,” he taunted them. “But until then, shut up. Get with the program, or get out of the way.”
Fire him? Steele knows better than anyone that his party can’t afford what Clarence Thomas might call a “high-tech lynching” of the only visible black guy it has in even a second-tier office. Steele has said that white Republicans are “scared” of him. They are. He loves to play head games with their racial paranoia and insecurities, whether he’s publicly professing “slum love” for the Indian-American Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, or starting a blog on the R.N.C. site titled “What Up?,” or announcing that he would use “fried chicken and potato salad” to recruit minority voters. As long as the G.O.P. remains largely a whites-only country club, Steele has job security. But he had real reason to fear some new restraints on the cash box; last year the party was driven to write a rule requiring him to get approval for expenditures over $100,000.
On Jan. 9 The Washington Post ran a front-page article headlined “Frustrations With Steele Leaving G.O.P. in a Bind,” reporting, among other embarrassments, that the party had spent $90 million during Steele’s brief reign while raising just $84 million. Enter “Game Change,” right in the nick of time for Steele to pull off his own cunning game change. On Jan. 10 he stormed “Fox News Sunday” and “Meet the Press” to demand Reid’s head. There has been hardly a mention of Steele’s sins since. He can laugh all the way to the bank. LinkHere
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