Saturday, January 31, 2009

GOP Myths Regarding Stimulus Bill

Republicans Throw Fit Over Family Planning Provisions in Stimulus Bill
Why Family Planning, Why Now?

VIA NFPRHA National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association

Much hay has been made about contraception this week, some good, most of it bad. If you have not heard by now, there was a provision in the House version of the economic stimulus package that would have expanded eligibility for Medicaid-funded family planning services, which was stripped out after House Republicans threw a fit about spending hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives. They claimed that their outrage was over the connection -- or lack thereof -- between funding for contraceptives and stimulating the economy, but the truth is far less complicated. Minority Leader Boehner and his friends simply do not like contraception, and they really, REALLY do not want you to be able to access it.

Before we delve too deeply into the misguided hatred of all things contraceptive, let's take a moment to clear up some of the myths they have perpetuated this week about the provision they lobbied so hard to destroy.

What Does the Expanded Eligibility for Medicaid-Funded Family Planning Services Mean, Anyway?
Right now, Medicaid -- the government's way of paying for health care for low-income women and men -- provides funding for pregnancy-related care for women whose incomes are up to a certain percentage of the federal poverty level (roughly $ 17,600 for a family of three). The provision that was stripped out of the House bill would have allowed states to provide family planning services to anyone who, based on their income, would be eligible for pregnancy-related care under Medicaid. In other words, if you would qualify for pregnancy-related care under Medicaid, you would also qualify to access family planning services, including contraceptives, if you do not wish to become pregnant.

Why Is Family Planning Important?
Family planning services -- counseling, contraception, sex education and preventive health services -- are a critical element of basic health care that helps women and men make socially responsible decisions and build strong families. Contraception is basic health care for women throughout much of their lives -- an average woman who wants two children will spend five years pregnant or trying to get pregnant and roughly 30 years trying to
prevent pregnancy. Publicly supported family planning services help to prevent at least 1.4 million unintended pregnancies every year, thus reducing the need for abortion.

Why Is Medicaid Coverage of Family Planning a Good Thing?
Bottom line: Medicaid coverage of family planning is good health care policy that saves the government money. That's right, SAVES money. According to the Guttmacher Institute, every $1 spent on publicly funded family planning saves more than $4 in state and federal dollars. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) evaluation of the House stimulus bill found that the Medicaid family planning expansion provision would have saved the federal government $200 million over 5 years and an astonishing $700 million over 10 years. These numbers do not even include the substantial savings state governments also realize, all while providing essential health care to millions who would otherwise have no access to care.

Why Is Legislation Necessary?
Right now, 27 states have obtained a waiver from the federal government to expand eligibility for family planning services; 20 of those states have obtained a waiver that allows them to do the kind of income-based expansion that the stimulus provision would have allowed. The problem with waivers, however, is that obtaining one requires states to navigate a burdensome bureaucratic process which lasts an average of 15 months, and that is just from the point of submitting their paperwork. It can often take years for a state to collect the information needed and put together the waiver application, all at a significant investment of staff time and resources.

Why Now?
As the economic crisis worsens, employers are being forced to lay off staff and slash benefits for remaining employees, leaving more and more Americans reliant on the health care safety net for basic health care services, including family planning and reproductive health care. Federal investments in family planning pay huge dividends, both in improved health and in cost savings, at a time when America is in desperate need of both. Furthermore, many states with family planning waivers have found that the additional resources made available to providers has allowed them to hire new staff and expand clinic hours -- creating jobs and serving additional patients in need at the same time.

So Why All the Controversy?
That really is the question of the hour, especially when this provision has already passed in the House, back in 2007 as part of the CHAMP Act. Why would Mr. Boehner and his like-minded colleagues be so opposed to including this important provision in the stimulus package? The vehement opposition to a provision that would enable states to provide quality, essential health care to millions of women, all the while creating jobs AND saving the government precious tax dollars is beyond the limits of reason -- until you realize that reason has nothing to do with it.

This attack on contraception is just the latest in a long line of attacks on family planning. Let there be no doubt that the War on Contraception is alive and well in America, and there are no signs of it easing up any time soon. So what should our next step be? Should we continue to try and placate a small yet vocal minority who refuses to understand that family planning saves money, reduces unintended pregnancies and is critical health care for women? Or should we chart a new and bolder course, one that places the needs of women above the rhetoric and the attempts at compromise.

I say yes, the time has come for Congress and the Administration to do what they know to be right. We must increase federal funding for family planning, starting with passing legislation expanding eligibility for Medicaid-funded family planning services, and we must do it today.

From a Progressive Point of View

Obama Is a Two-Faced Liar. Aw-RIGHT!
Via Greg Palast

Republicans are right. President Barack Obama treated them like dirt, didn't give a damn what they thought about his stimulus package, loaded it with a bunch of programs that will last for years and will never leave the budget, is giving away money disguised as "tax refunds," and is sneaking in huge changes in policy, from schools to health care, using the pretext of an economic emergency.

Way to go, Mr. O! Mr. Down-and-DirtyChicago pol. Street-fightin' man. Covering over his break-your-face power play with a "we're all post-partisan friends" BS.

And it's about time.

Frankly, I was worried about this guy. Obama's appointing Clinton-droids to the Cabinet, bloated incompetents like Larry Summers as "Economics Czar," made me fear for my country, that we'd gotten another Democrat who wished he were a Republican.

Then came Obama's money bomb. The House bill included $125 billion for schools (TRIPLING federal spending on education), expanding insurance coverage to the unemployed, making the most progressive change in the tax code in four decades by creating a $500 credit against social security payroll deductions, and so on.

It's as if Obama dug up Ronald Reagan's carcass and put a stake through The Gipper's anti-government heart. Aw-RIGHT!

About the only concession Obama threwto the right-wing trogs was to remove the subsidy for condoms, leaving hooker-happy GOP Senators, like David Vitter, to pay for their own protection. S'OK with me.

And here's the proof that Bam is The Man: Not one single Republican congressman voted for the bill. And that means that Obama didn't compromise, the way Clinton and Carter would have, to win the love of these condom-less jerks.

And we didn't need'm. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!

Now I understand Obama's weird moves: dinner with those creepy conservative columnists, earnest meetings at the White House with the Republican leaders, a dramatic begging foray into Senate offices. Just as the Republicans say, it was all a fraud. Obama was pure Chicago, Boss Daley in a slim skin, putting his arms around his enemies, pretending to listen and care and compromise, then slowly, quietly, slipping in the knife. All while the media praises Obama's "post-partisanship." Heh heh heh.

Love it. Now we know why Obama picked that vindictive little viper Rahm Emanuel as staff chief: everyone visiting the Oval office will be greeted by the Windy City hit man who would hack up your grandma if you mess with the Godfather-in-Chief.

I don't know about you, but THIS is the change I've been waiting for.

Will it last? We'll see if Obama caves in to more tax cuts to investment bankers. We'll see if he stops the sub-prime scum-bags from foreclosing on frightened families. We'll see if he stands up to the whining, gormless generals who don't know how to get our troops out of Iraq. (In SHIPS, you doofuses!)

Look, don't get your hopes up. But it may turn out the new president's ... a Democrat!

10 Most Loathsome People of 2008

Via AlterNet
Limbaugh, Palin, Cheney and more. They're the worst people in America, and unfortunately they dominated last year's headlines.

The Buffalo Beast has released its 50 Most Loathsome People in America list for 2008. AlterNet rounded up 15 people from their list that they thought most deserved the insulting honor. Go check out the Beast's full list.

Here are my top 10.

10. Michele Bachmann

Charges: Exemplifies the simmering, all-American fascism lurking behind the forced smiles of uptight church ladies throughout "real America." Echoing Sarah Palin's alarming hints about "helping" the media do its job, Bachmann's casual call for a "penetrating" press investigation into "anti-Americanism" in congress was so fucking dumb it made Chris Matthews seem smart. Once it occurred to the Oral Roberts University graduate that calling for witchhunts against Democrats might be a tad extreme for election season, she decided to just pretend she didn't say it, and then she blamed Chris Matthews. Then she just blamed words. Then she denied it again. Then she won. Way to go, Minnesota's 6th.

Exhibit A: BACHMANN: Actually, that's not what I said at all. COLMES: Well, I'm just -- I'm reading your exact quote. BACHMANN: Actually that's not I said. It's an urban legend that was created. That isn't what I said at all. COLMES: We have -- it's on tape.

Sentence: Assigned to conduct her own "expose" on anti-American views, in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

9. Bernie Madoff

Charges: Normally, the idea of a bunch of billionaires getting robbed blind for believing in a free lunch would amuse the hell out of us, but Bernie Madoff stole a lot of money from charity endowments, and is responsible for two suicides so far. Here’s a tip, Bernie: If you’re running the biggest scam since the Catholic church, handling billions of dollars, and all it takes to get busted is that some of your marks ask for their money back, you really should take some of that money and set up an escape plan. Still, he gets some credit for making Mort Zuckerman look like a jackass. The real villains here are Christopher Cox and the SEC, who investigated Madoff eight times, the last time specifically on suspicion of running a Ponzi scheme, each time “finding” no wrongdoing, which begs the all-too-familiar question of the last eight years: Satanically corrupt or grossly incompetent? Either way, Madoff was finally brought to justice… by his kids.

Exhibit A: "In today's regulatory environment, it's virtually impossible to violate rules ... but it's impossible for a violation to go undetected, certainly not for a considerable period of time."

Sentence: Sold into slavery.

8. Michelle Malkin

Charges: It's a remarkable achievement in unconscious projection that the author of a book called Unhinged could lose her fucking marbles over a patterned scarf in a donut ad, but that's what Michelle Malkin did when she sounded the nutbar clarion call and sicced her half-cocked league of masturbators on Rachel Ray and Dunkin Donuts for the flatly absurd notion that they were sending a message of solidarity with Palestinians. Right, Michelle -- you just can't sell donuts without joining the intifada these days. What did the nauseously spunky Ray do to incur the wrath of the Malkinoids? She wore a black and white scarf. A paisley scarf. A scarf that was clearly not a kaffiyeh, which, by the way, is just a hat that Arabs wear, not some universal symbol of jihad. In terms of completely false outrage, the only thing that rivaled this travesty of reason this year was the "lipstick on a pig" metaphor panic. But what puts this embarrassing sham over the top is that Dunkin Donuts actually apologized and pulled the ad, rather than try to explain to the fact-phobic horde that they were just blind, raging idiots with the collective brain-power of a lobotomized howler monkey.

Exhibit A: "If your neighbor's got an "Obama '08" bumper sticker or lawn sign, you might want to double-check your door locks at night."

Sentence: Deported to China for wearing red T-shirt.

7. Joe Lieberman
Charges: A fickle, flabbery fiend reviled by both parties, Lieberman somehow finds himself more powerful than ever, failing forward by virtue of the Democrats' unfalteringly chumpish lack of discipline. After promising that he was "not going to go to…the Republican convention, and spend my time attacking Barack Obama," Lieberman went to the Republican convention and attacked Barack Obama. But that was just the beginning of his descent into a self-dug hole of betrayal that should have proved inescapable. Lieberman thought it was "a good question" to ask if Obama was a Marxist. He campaigned not just with McCain, but with Palin and down-ticket Republicans, another thing he said he wouldn't do. But the most loathsome trait Lieberman exhibits is that most loathsome of all: Smearing dissent as treasonous. The kind of suppressive asshole who would accuse you of helping terrorists by beating him at checkers should not be Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and is not someone worth rewarding for his own dissent.

Exhibit A: "In matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril." "Sen. Obama doesn't come to this debate with a lot of credibility.”

Sentence: Lieberman awakes to find himself in the body of an impoverished Iraqi living in a small apartment with 12 family members and no electricity. Shocked by this inexplicable turn of events, he stumbles outside and cries to God, looking up just in time for the white phosphorous to hit him in the face.

6. Rush Limbaugh

Charges: The father of modern stupidity, Limbaugh spins reflexively, never struggling with issues, because he knows his conclusion must favor Republicans, and his only task is finding a way to get there. In other words, he may or may not actually believe what he's saying, but it's beside the point. His job is not to say what he thinks, but to instruct his listeners on what they should think. If the facts don't agree, he can always change them, as his "ditto heads" are already armed against the contrary evidence with the all-purpose "liberal bias" attack. "Rush is right," as the slogan goes, and all those nerdy reporters in the "drive by media" are lying, because they secretly love terrorists. It's this creepily worshipful, breathtakingly infantile abdication of intellect to a blatantly dishonest hypocrite that makes Limbaugh's audience so goddamn sad. These pathetic, insecure, failures of men look to Rush as the champion of their impotent rage, helping them to externalize responsibility for their own deficiencies, pinning the blame on those darn liberals and their racial and gender equality.

Exhibit A: You have to marvel at the sheer ignominy of someone who coins the term "Obama recession" two days after the election.

Sentence: Tiny speaker implanted in his inner ear which blares Randi Rhodes 24-7.

5. Dick Cheney

Charges: Still alive. The amount of medical resources devoted to keeping this black hole of decency operational could have cured cancer by now, but if they had, Cheney would make sure to keep it a secret. Since Watergate, Cheney's been fighting to rehab Nixon's image, and he has succeeded in a way, by showing us all just how much worse a presidency can be.

Exhibit A: "It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you."

Sentence: Eaten alive by baboons.

4. George W. Bush

Charges: It's hard -- believe us, we know -- to keep coming up with new things to say about this brutally stupid narcissist, who may have ruined this country irrevocably and certainly has ruined a couple of others, mugging amiably all the way. If anything good comes from Bush's reign of error, let it be the death of the notion that vitally important, life or death decisions that affect the entire world should be made with one's "gut." We used to think that incompetence was just a good cover story for this administration, an excuse that masked their deliberate criminality, but it turns out that Bush and his inner circle are both treasonous, corrupt warmongers and inept fools. One good thing about him, though, is that he has no real interest in politics, and probably won't give a flying shoe what happens to the world when his term is up. As he once put it, ""History, we don't know. We'll all be dead." Here's to George W. Bush being history.

Exhibit A: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

Sentence: Detained in formaldehyde-laced FEMA trailer without charges or counsel, sodomized by Lynndie England, declared guilty by military tribunal, set adrift naked on a small ice floe in the Arctic.

3. Sean Hannity

Charges: This relentlessly repugnant McCarthyite tool really outdid himself this year, in an all-out quest to otherize Obama in any way he could. This paranoid pustule is able to find a liberal conspiracy lurking behind any mundane occurrence, even attributing Obama's selection as Time's Person of the Year, an event as predictable as sunrise, to a pay-to-play scheme. Hopelessly outmatched shill Alan Colmes is finally leaving his role as Hannity's doormat; he will not be replaced.

Exhibit A: "I never questioned anyone's patriotism."

Sentence: Wrongfully convicted of murdering Vince Foster, based on evidence falsified by Jerome Corsi.

2. John McCain

Charges: McCain vowed to run a clean, respectful campaign, and then accused Obama of pushing sex ed for kindergartners, calling Palin a pig, hanging with terrorists, being a welfare-loving Marxist, being an arugula-loving elitist and pretty much everything but conspiring with the Borg -- but he didn't really mean it, and he didn't use Reverend Wright, so we're all supposed to think he's swell. McCain lied so blatantly and constantly that even cable news bootlicks were compelled to fact-check him, to which he and his surrogates responded by insisting on the same lies. When pressed on the Nixonian onslaught of falsehood, McCain whined that he wouldn't have had to be such a mendacious prick if Obama had only refrained from raising so much more money than him. McCain pretended to give a shit about America, and then he picked a vapid ambition-hound to succeed him. His response to the economic crisis might as well have been to punch himself in the face. In every way he could this year, McCain burned up all the credibility he had stored up from decades of shameless worship by the press, utilizing every tactic he ever decried, exuding a heady aroma of bullshit and Alzheimer's, and displaying an unrequited obsession with Joe the Plumber, and he still wound up a failed Faust even the Devil didn't want.

Exhibit A: "In the 21st century nations don't invade other nations."

Sentence: Every time anybody says the word "surge," McCain is shot in the leg.

1. Sarah Palin

Charges: If you want to know why the rest of the world is scared of Americans, consider the fact that after two terms of disastrous rule by a small-minded ignoramus, 46% of us apparently thought the problem was that he wasn't quite stupid enough. Palin's unending emissions of baffling, evasive incoherence should have disqualified her for any position that involved a desk, let alone placing her one erratic heartbeat from the presidency. The press strained mightily to feign respect for her, praising a debate performance that involved no debate, calling her a "great speaker" when her only speech was primarily a litany of insults to city-dwellers, echoing bogus sexism charges when a male Palin would have been boiled alive for the Couric interview alone, and lionizing her as she used her baby as a Pro-life stage prop before crowds who cooed when they should have been hurling polonium-tipped javelins. In the end, Palin had the beneficial effect of splitting her party between her admirers and people who can read.

Exhibit A: Waving her embryo-loving credentials, in the form of her Down syndrome baby. Saying "But ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy."

Sentence: Hand-to-hand combat with Vladimir Putin and a pack of wolves.

Friday, January 30, 2009

GOP Schools Obama on Partisanship

This is an excerpt from an interesting article comparing the GOP’s position against Bill Clinton in 1993 and today’s GOP position regarding the Obama administration.
Via Consortium News
It is possible that President Barack Obama genuinely believes in reaching out to Republicans or perhaps he is just going through the motions because he knows the American people favor bipartisanship. But he can no longer harbor any real hope that his overtures to the GOP will bring significant votes for his policies.

Obama continued to pursue his goal of a post-partisan Washington. His first post-Inaugural trip to Capitol Hill on Jan. 27 involved meetings with House and Senate Republicans, not Democrats.

Already, Obama had devoted about one-third of the stimulus package to tax cuts aimed at winning over some Republican votes. He weathered Democratic complaints that the tax cuts prevented additional spending on the nation's infrastructure, a strategy that many economists say would generate more jobs and provide longer-term value to the nation.

Despite his concessions, Obama ended up getting whip-sawed by Republicans who complained that the tax cuts weren't big enough and, ironically, some joined in castigating him for shorting the infrastructure spending. In the end, his personal appeals and his deletions of some items opposed by Republicans still failed to secure a single Republican
vote for the House bill.

So, in a replay of 1993, the Republicans made clear with their unanimous vote against the stimulus bill that they - like Rush Limbaugh - are determined to see the new President fail.

Now, the question is whether Obama will give up his quixotic bid to woo Republicans - and instead support a stimulus package that will do the most to help the country - or whether he will continue making more concessions to the Republicans in hopes that they will undergo a sudden transformation.


Meet Your New Blue Dog Overlords

Via Firedoglake

If eight more Blue Dogs had crossed over and voted against the stimulus, it would have failed.

Of the 27 Democrats who voted with the Republicans to oppose Obama's stimulus bill,
21 were Blue Dogs:

If eight more of the 52-member Blue Dogs had voted against the resolution, it would have been defeated, ending any hope that Democratic leaders had of passing – or even finishing debate on – the stimulus bill this week.


discussions about whether supporting the bank bailout bill was the progressive position or not, it was noted that there was a distinction between the members of the conservative New Democrat Coalition and the Blue Dogs and how they voted. An interesting analysis was made:

[O]ne ideological difference between Blue Dogs and New Dems is that Blue Dogs more often appear to have a political interest in being seen as distinct from Democrats rather than being a distinct type of Democrat, as is the claim of New Dems.

New Dems and progressives have a political interest (at least at this stage of the game) in allowing themselves to be closely associated with the Obama administration, and in being seen not to be obstructing it. Blue Dogs, however, are a different story. They will, in large part, benefit politically by distancing themselves and being seen as only skeptical, cautious and hesitant participants in [Obama's] plans.

Via FiveThirtyEight:

Progressive Democrats Vote for Bailout; Blue Dogs Don't

The Congressional Progressive Caucus voted in favor of continuing the bailout by a 49-15 margin; by contrast, the more conservative Blue Dog Democratic Caucus voted 27-17 to block the bailout. And nearly every Republican voted against the bailout.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Who Are The 11 Democrats Who Voted Against Obama’s Economic Plan And Why Did They Do It?

Yesterday, Republicans rebuffed President Obama’s efforts at bipartisanship by refusing to deliver a single vote in favor of his economic recovery bill. Many Republicans appear to be clinging to the strategy of Rush Limbaugh, who has openly declared his hope that Obama fails.

While Republicans stood united against Obama, 11 Democrats broke with the President. Although there were some concerns about the stimulus plan expressed by progressives — such as Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who felt like the spending provisions did not go far enough — they still voted for the bill because the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. The 11 Democrats who voted no were almost exclusively from conservative districts:

Allan Boyd (D-FL)
Bobby Bright (D-AL)
Jim Cooper (D-TN)
Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)
Parker Griffith (D-AL)
Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)
Frank Kratovil (D-MD)
Walt Minnick (D-ID)
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Heath Shuler (D-NC)
Gene Taylor (D-MS)

Six of 11 (in red) are members of Blue Dogs Coalition, which expressed concerns about the fiscal impact of the bill. But the Blog Dogs had extracted a pledge from Obama to balance the government’s checkbook, enabling most of them to support the economic stimulus plan. As for the others, here were some of the motivating factors.

Reps. Bright and Griffith — both freshmen congressmen from Alabama — voted along with many of their home-state colleagues against the bill. Rep. Artur Davis was the only Alabamian to vote for it. Both congressmen had been targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee before the vote.

Rep. Kanjorski had been a skeptic of the stimulus plan, claiming it was put together too quickly and wouldn’t help the economy in the short term.
Freshman Rep. Kratovil barely squeaked out a win in a conservative Maryland district. Just days before the stimulus vote, Kratovil’s opponent in the last election
announced he was planning to run again.

And finally, freshman Rep. Minnick told the LA Times today that he comes from “a very conservative district” in Idaho and said many people in his district listened to talk radio. “They listen to everybody, of course, and I’m influenced by them,” Minnick said.

Update: Today's Progress Report lays out the Republicans' alternative stimulus proposals: "The Return To Bushonomics

Old Habits Die Hard!!!

Even though President Obama and his team are in control of the executive branch and Democrats are in the majority in Congress, the cable networks are still turning more often to Republicans and allowing them to set the agenda on major issues.

Last Sunday, conservatives began an all-out assault on President Obama's recovery plan.

Despite Obama's efforts at
good faith outreach, congressional conservatives have continued to attack the stimulus plan with a series of false and disingenuous arguments, and the media have been aiding their efforts.

But in a
new analysis, The Progress Report found that the five cable news networks -- CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and CNBC -- have hosted more Republican lawmakers to discuss the plan than Democrats by a 2 to 1 ratio this week.

In total, from 6 AM on Monday to 4 PM on Wednesday, the networks hosted Republican lawmakers 51 times and Democratic lawmakers only 24 times.

Moreover, the cable networks, the Sunday shows and the network newscasts promoted a
controversial CBO non-report 81 times before the actual CBO analysis of the stimulus plan was released.

Via The Progress Report

The Return To Bushonomics

Yesterday, in a 244-to-188 vote, the House approved an $819 billion economic recovery plan written by House Democrats and supported by President Obama. Despite Obama's aggressive outreach efforts, the entire Republican caucus, along with 11 Democrats, voted against the plan.

Afraid of crossing Obama's high approval ratings, conservatives are claiming that they are enthusiastic to work with him. "We've made it clear that we will continue to work with the president to develop a plan that will work," said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who led his caucus in opposition to Obama's plan. "We just don't think it's going to work."

Instead, Boehner and his colleagues pushed for a return to Bushonomics. "


Hot Veggies!!!

'Veggie Love'—PETA's Banned Super Bowl Ad

Click here to download this video

PETA's new ad—featuring a bevy of beauties who are powerless to resist the temptation of veggie love—was deemed too hot for Super Bowl XLIII. Watch as these lovely ladies get up close and personal with asparagus, bok choy, and more! Read More

The State of the GOP

Via First Read

Given last night's House Republican vote, as well as tomorrow's RNC chair contest and even the recent GOP fealty to Rush Limbaugh, it's worth pointing out that the Republican Party is about as unpopular now as the president who just left office.

In addition to December's NBC/WSJ poll, which showed that only 27% of the country viewed the GOP favorably (versus 49% who said that about the Dem Party), a
new Gallup analysis of the 350,000 interviews it conducted in 2008 finds the Democratic Party leading in every state in the nation except in Alabama, Kansas, Nebraska, Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah. (That’s right, even in some states McCain carried like Texas and Georgia, voters identify more with the Dem Party than the GOP.)

Gallup summed up it up this way: “The political landscape of the United States has clearly shifted in the Democratic direction… As recently as 2002, a majority of states were Republican in orientation. By 2005, movement in the Democratic direction was becoming apparent, and this continued in 2006. That dramatic turnaround is clearly an outgrowth of Americans' dissatisfaction with the way the Republicans (in particular, President George W. Bush) governed the country.”

The Big, Fat "O":

Via First Read

Despite Obama traveling to Capitol Hill to meet with them in private, despite including one of their former members (Ray LaHood) in his cabinet, and despite inviting their leaders over for cocktails last night at the White House, not a single House Republican voted for the stimulus package, which cleared the House yesterday by a 244-188 vote.

Predicting that GOP outcome before the vote, the Washington Post notes, House Republican Leader John Boehner put his finger and thumb together to signal the big, fat "O" -- zero.


Republicans are taking a risk by looking so defiant, especially if this package ends up working. The last thing Republicans need is another "O" -- obstructionist” -- being tagged to them.

Another Example of GOP looking out for themselves..Not Citizens!!!

Republicans Block Bill to Delay Digital TV Transition, Leaving Millions Unprepared for Switch
Via AlterNet

Consumer groups had lobbied for the delay, worried that 20 million mostly poor, elderly and rural households are not ready.

Defying President Obama (as well as Democrats in Congress and pretty much anyone with an intelligent, informed position on the issue), House Republicans defeated a bill that would have postponed the transition to digital TV until June.

Preparations for the switch to digital -- now scheduled to take place on February 17th -- have been beset with problems, including such poor publicity by the FCC that millions don't even realize the transition is set to happen.

To make matters worse, earlier this month the Commerce Department ran out of funding for coupons subsidizing digital converter boxes, prompting then-President-elect Obama to publicly back the delay.

The end result of this general incompetence? According to the AP, less than a month before the mandated switch:

The Nielsen Co. estimates more than 6.5 million U.S. households that rely on analog television sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals still are not prepared for the transition.
As consumer rights and media reform groups point out, the poor, rural and elderly will be disproportionately affected.

But what's a few million households without access to television -- including emergency transmissions -- when Republicans can stick it to Obama? As Reuters reports, House Republicans inexplicably decided to blame the President for the bill's failure.

Joe Barton, the most senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with jurisdiction over the issue, blamed the Administration of President Barack Obama for throttling a bipartisan effort to fix the problems.

"Had that work not been interrupted by the transition team's intervention, it seems likely that a bipartisan bill could have been through the House and the Senate already," he said in a letter to Pelosi on Wednesday.
Great job putting the people first, guys.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Toeing the Party Line

A nearly $820 billion stimulus package passed the House of Representatives Wednesday
without a single Republican vote.

Not A Single Republican Voted For Stimulus

Measure Passes 244-188

Yes we can! No you won't!

The GOP Stimulus Response - here we go again!

Bailed-Out Execs Plotting Against EFCA [Employee Free Choice Act]

Bailout Recipients Hosted Call To Defeat Key Labor Bill

Via Sam Stein, Huffington Post

Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

Bernie Marcus, the charismatic co-founder of Home Depot, led the call along
with Rick Berman, an aggressive EFCA opponent and founder of the Center for
Union Facts. Over the course of an hour, the two framed the legislation as an
existential threat to American capitalism, or worse.

…"If a retailer has not gotten involved in this, if he has not spent
money on this election, if he has not sent money to [former Sen.] Norm Coleman
and all these other guys, they should be shot. They should be thrown out their
goddamn jobs," Marcus declared.


"Bank of America is now not only getting bailout money. They are lending their name to participate in a campaign to stop workers from having a majority sign up [provision]," said Stephen Lerner, Director of the Private Equity Project at SEIU. "The biggest corporations who have created the problem are, at the very time, asking us to bail them out and then using that money to stop workers from improving their lives."

UPDATE: Via Lawrence Lessig, Huffington Post

Not only are some of the most non-trusted companies in America blatantly
trying to buy off Congress, but they're using our bailout money to do it.

If there was ever a time to join Change Congress's political "donor
strike" in support of fundamental campaign finance reform, this is it.

Click here to
join the fight for reform.

Together, thousands of us have pledged not to donate a penny more to
politicians unless they support "citizen-funded elections" for Congress -- a
combination of public financing plus Obama-style small-dollar donations. We have
removed $431,000 from the campaign coffers of those who oppose reform, and it's
growing by the hour.

Instead of politicians spending their time begging those who got us
into this economic crisis for big-dollar checks, politicians will have to spend
their time being responsive to regular people.

That's the way democracy should work. And now, at this moment of outrageous
news, all of us can do our part.
Please join the fight for
reform today by clicking here
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Thanks for changing Congress,
Lawrence Lessig & Joe Trippi (co-founders, Change Congress)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why We Need More Progressive Voices on TV

Paul Krugman on ABC's This Week.

Via Open Left:
As you watch, ask yourself, "What would this segment be like if Krugman wasn't there?"

Aside from Krugman, what other progressive voices are "ready for prime time" and should be on Sunday roundtables? (I nominate David Sirota, Cenk Uyger, Christy Harvey, and Ari Melber, to name a few)

Misleading Myth About Obama's Stimulus

Right-Wingers Trot Out New Misleading Myth About Obama's Stimulus

Via Think Progress

As usual, in addition to throwing out insults, conservatives are distorting and simplifying the facts.

In recent days, conservatives have been stepping up their opposition to any stimulus proposal that favors smart spending over tax cuts for businesses. To push their arguments -- which most economists have discredited -- they have tried to call out wasteful spending in the bill. Last week, for example, House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., went on a tirade about funding to revitalize the National Mall.

This week, the focus is on contraceptives. House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, has claimed that the package would spend "hundreds of millions on contraceptives." Yesterday on ABC's "This Week," host George Stephanopoulos asked House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., about the provision. Pelosi replied:
Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce
cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now, and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those -- one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

Update Today on MSNBC:
Sen. James Clyburn (D-SC) responded to Boehner, saying that the family planning provision is part of the House's comprehensive effort to address health care in order to cut overall costs:

We just passed the State Children Health Insurance program that will expand health care for children by $4 million, taking us to a total of 11 million children. We are, in this legislation, looking at other aspects of Medicaid. We are looking at electronically storing health records, so that in five years all of that can be a part of the ordinary course of defense with health care. That saves millions of dollars in money. So I think that Mr. Boehner is looking for one little sound bite rather than looking at the total package here and seeing what it will do for the American people.

Update: Media Matters points out
public support for family-planning programs is extremely high.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The World Is Watching

Legal Jeopardy For American Torturers Here and Abroad?

Are We Civilized Enough to Hold Our Leaders Accountable for War Crimes?

A Q & A Session With An Expert on the Issue, Philippe Sands

Remarkably, the confirmation of President Obama's Attorney General nominee, Eric Holder,
is being held up by Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, who apparently is unhappy that Holder might actually investigate and prosecute Bush Administration officials who engaged in torture. Aside from this repugnant new Republican embrace of torture (which might be a winning issue for the lunatic fringe of the party and a nice way to further marginalize the GOP), any effort to protect Bush officials from legal responsibility for war crimes, in the long run, will not work.

It is difficult to believe that Eric Holder would agree not to enforce the law, like his recent Republican predecessors. Indeed, if he were to do so, President Obama should withdraw his nomination. But as MSNBC "Countdown" anchor
Keith Olbermann stated earlier this week, even if the Obama Administration for whatever reason does not investigate and prosecute these crimes, this still does not mean that the Bush Administration officials who were involved in torture are going to get a pass.

With few exceptions, the discussion about what the Obama Administration will do regarding the torture of detainees during the Bush years has been framed as a domestic matter, and the fate of those involved in torturing has been largely viewed as a question of whether the Department of Justice will take action. In fact, not only is the world watching what the Obama Administration does regarding Bush's torturers, but other countries are very likely to take action if the United States fails to do so.

Read More:
Bush's Torturers Have Serious Jeopardy

Obama's Other Family-Planning Move

Via Steve Benen, Washington Monthly

Indeed, this does more than just send a message; by restoring UNFPA funding, Obama is poised to save some lives.

President Obama's decision to repeal the global gag rule ("Mexico City Policy") will make a huge difference in the lives of countless families around the world. With a stroke of a pen, Obama has taken a key step towards advancing international family planning and women's health by reversing rules on U.S. abortion aid.

But let's also note the other important move Obama made on family planning yesterday.

In a related move, Obama also said he would restore funding to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). Both he and Clinton had pledged to reverse a Bush administration determination that assistance to the organization violated U.S. law known as the Kemp-Kasten amendment.

Obama, in his statement, said he looked forward to working with
Congress to fulfill that promise: "By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries."

Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund,
said: "The president's actions send a strong message about his leadership and his desire to support causes that will promote peace and dignity, equality for women and girls and economic development in the poorest regions of the world."

Indeed, it does more than just send a message; by restoring UNFPA funding, Obama is poised to save some lives.

This never should have been controversial. In Bush's first term, the former president intended to maintain UNFPA funding at Clinton-era levels. Then- Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "We recognize that UNFPA does invaluable work through its programs in maternal and child health care, voluntary family planning, screening for reproductive tract cancers, breast-feeding promotion and HIV/AIDS prevention." The administration sought the money, and Congress overwhelmingly approved it.

And then, some right-wing activists with the Bush administration's ear, starting complaining bitterly. Since its inception in 1969, the Fund has won widespread recognition for its work in improving the lives of women in developing countries, but for far-right leaders, most notably in the religious right, UNFPA is a pro-abortion enterprise that supports China's one-child policy.

Bush put a hold on the money he'd already requested and received, so he could investigate UNFPA's work in China. When international investigators and a U.S. team found "no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization" in China, Bush suppressed the findings and blocked the funding anyway. It's a callous, twisted position he maintained for the rest of his terms in office.

Because of Bush's actions on UNFPA, fewer women in developing countries received pre-natal care, fewer doctors were trained to deal with pregnancy complications, fewer HIV prevention programs could operate, and less medical equipment was made available to expectant mothers.

Obama is going to make this right.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sarah Silverman's Farewell to Bush

Sarah Silverman bids farewell to Bush

Definition of Delusional

Today in an interview with NBC, disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) compared himself to human rights heros Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi. He “thought about Mandela, Dr. King and Gandhi and tried to put some perspective to all this.”

Last week, Blagojevich compared his arrest to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Another Example of Bad Management

Guantanamo Case Files in Disarray
Via Washington Post

President Obama's plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials -- barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees -- discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.

Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is "scattered throughout the executive branch," a senior administration official said. The executive order Obama signed Thursday orders the prison closed within one year, and a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.

Several former Bush administration officials agreed that the files are incomplete and that no single government entity was charged with pulling together all the facts and the range of options for each prisoner. They said that the CIA and other intelligence agencies were reluctant to share information, and that the Bush administration's focus on detention and interrogation made preparation of viable prosecutions a far lower priority.