Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama Takes A Stand!!!

In President Obama's Radio Address today he told the American people that he campaigned for change and that the staus quo is no more.
I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. In other words, I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak.
So what is President Obama's message?
My message to them is this:

So am I.
He's ready for a fight and he won't back down.

The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don’t. I work for the American people. I didn’t come here to do the same thing we’ve been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November. That is the change this budget starts to make, and that is the change I’ll be fighting for in the weeks ahead – change that will grow our economy, expand our middle-class, and keep the American Dream alive for all those men and women who have believed in this journey from the day it began.
Yeah Obama!


How True!

Obama's Words are More than Dreams

Will Bunch's perspective of optimism:
Obama's plan isn't about dollars, it's about dreams
Except for that election thing last November (oh yeah, and that primary thing earlier last year) I guess President Barack Obama just can't win. For the first month of his presidency, his critics said that by telling the truth about the devastated U.S. economy, he was spreading way too much gloom, that he was scaring consumers away from spending and businesses away from investing. Then on Tuesday, Obama delivered an address to a joint session of Congress, and it wasn't just audacious -- the man did write a book called "The Audacity of Hope," remember? -- but downright bodacious. He told America that we can cure cancer, harness energy from the wind and from the sun, and send more of our children to college than any other nation. And so those same cynics who just said the new president was too doomy and gloomy now asked: Oh yeah, and how to plan to pay for all of that hope? Which is why the poor guy just can't win.

Specifically, the Wall Street Journal: "
How's he going to pay for it?" Newt Gingrich said he actually liked Obama's rhetoric but in the next breath calls it a "higher-tax, weaker-economy, fewer-jobs" blueprint. Matt Drudge seems to have ceased being...well, whatever Matt Drudge is exactly, to become a mathmatician, informing us all that Obama wants to spend $11,833 for every man, woman and child in America, that he wants to raise taxes by $1 trillion. None of them seemed to be listening to what the speech was really about on Tuesday, because it wasn't really about dollars at all. It was about dreams.

Just take one of the most talked-about passages of the speech, where the president said that we "will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American, including me, by seeking a cure for cancer in our time." Some ridiculed the line as out-of-place, over-the-top.
The Politico quipped, sort of, that Obama "laid out an agenda Tuesday that would do just about everything but cure cancer.Actually, he promised to try that too." Right-wing bloggers were much more harsh.

It's true -- Barack Obama cannot cure cancer. By as president, he has the power to do something else that's almost as amazing: To help America to dream big again. Curing cancer is incredibly important, but the real goal is to convince America that we are still the kind of can-do nation that can virtually wipe out a disease, just as we were the nation that put the first man on the moon, invented the computer and then went out and created rock 'n' roll just for fun. My generation, Barack Obama's generation, was born into a nation that thought it could do anything, only to watch that fade in a matter of a few short decades -- finally crushed, seemingly, by a sledgehammer of addition to foreign oil, Wall Street hucksters, and evan cynical torturers.

Remember President John K. Kennedy? On May 25, 1961,
he told America: "First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." Our new president was just three months old when JFK uttered those words, a prediction that came true thanks to a massive effort, supported by government yet creating thousands of jobs in private industries (as well as some vital down-to-earth high technology). And it gave the nation something else: A lofty goal...and a common purpose. Did you hear echoes of Kennedy when Obama said on Tuesday: "By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world."

Because I did. I heard a dream.

Over the last three decades, we've all been grappling with the meaning of the American Dream, the meaning of hope. I learned this over the last year as I researched my new book, "
Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future." A key to the Reagan myth was that the 40th president -- who told Americans reeling from stagflation and a hostage crisis overseas -- told the nation frequently that "America's best days lie ahead." His audience was receptive -- but under his Randian, government-is-the-problem philosophy it was a quick and slippery slope from Reagan's so-called sunny optimism to rampant consumerism, to magical thinking that there is plenty of oil and no need for energy research. America's best days were really rooted in the common purpose of something like the moon mission, something that was lost under Reaganism, especially as practiced by wayward disciple George W. Bush.

Make no mistake, Obama believes in
honest accounting and he seems sincere about sharply reducing the deficit once our economic crisis has passed. But inherently he knows that it in a weird kind of way it may not matter a great deal in the long run if the deficit is $500 billion or $10 trillion, that America is worthless without our capacity to dream, to set impossibly lofty goals and then achieve them. And why wouldn't he know that, since he knows that the dreams of another man, Dr. Martin Luther King, were so important in getting him to the position he is in now. Times change, issues change. We've been to the moon and we've marched slowly toward racial equality. But to be America, we will still all need to learn to dream, all over again.

Rethink Afghanistan

Many progressive supporters of President Obama are criticizing his troop surge proposal for Afghanistan. Those voices from the left include Brave New Films, MoveOn, SEIU and netroots bloggers.

According to Brave New Films:
President Obama has committed 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. This decision raises serious questions about troops, costs, overall mission, and exit strategy. Historically, it has been Congress' duty to ask questions in the form of oversight hearings that challenge policymakers, examine military spending, and educate the public. After witnessing the absence of oversight regarding the Iraq war, we must insist Congress hold hearings on Afghanistan.
Below is a movie trailer from Brave New Films that urges Americans and Congress to rethink Afghanistan.

Accountability Now
is a new political action committee that has been formed to challenge congressional Democrats who are "more responsive to corporate America than to their constituents," according to its new executive director, Jeff Hauser.

They will first focus on Congress, "which obviously has a role to play in authorizing and funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," Hauser said.

Watch the Full Video: Afghanistan + More Troops = Catastrophe

Sign the Petition: Urge Congress to Hold Oversight Hearings

Take the Online Poll: What Should Congress Ask in Their Hearings?

IL 5th Congressional Race

A good article about Tom Geoghegan from Open Left
Afflict the comfortable -- send Tom to Congress! By Kathy G.

If you were to ask me why I'm supporting Tom Geoghegan in the IL-05 special election for Congress, the answer would be simple. I'm supporting Tom because he is the truest progressive in the race.

What, you may ask, is a progressive? A progressive is someone who "comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable" -- someone who, above all, will fight for the rights and the dignity of ordinary people, even -- especially -- when that means taking on the most powerful institutions and entrenched interests in our society. Given that so many injustices derive from economic inequality, the cause of economic justice will always be at the center of a progressive vision. But economic justice is by no means the only vitally important progressive value. A true progressive is someone who signs on to the entire progressive agenda -- not just the bits and pieces of it that happen to be popular at any given moment, or happen to coincide with his or her own self-interest. And finally, a progressive is someone who is committed not merely to advocating incremental change, but to advancing big, bold, and sometimes quite controversial new ideas.

By those measures, Geoghegan is far and away the most progressive candidate in the race. He has bloody well spent a lifetime "comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable." He's filed lawsuits against employers who illegally discriminated against workers or prevented them from joining unions. He's won back pensions, health care, and lost wages for thousands of people. He's gone to court to enforce child labor laws, and to crack down on predatory payday lenders.
There's More HERE

All Troops Out of Iraq by End of 2011

President Obama spoke to an audience of U.S. Marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on Friday. He acknowledged the length of the Iraq war and the need to remove U.S.troops.

Next month will mark the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq. By any measure, this has already been a long war.[...] Today, I have come to speak to you about how the war in Iraq will end.

With renewed hope he announced a new strategy to end the war in Iraq.

The first part of this strategy is therefore the responsible removal of our combat brigades from Iraq.

As a candidate for President, I made clear my support for a timeline of 16 months to carry out this drawdown, while pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we’ve made and protect our troops. Those consultations are now complete, and I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months.

Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.

The second part of the strategy means that troops will remain to support the transition.

After we remove our combat brigades, our mission will change from combat to supporting the Iraqi government and its Security Forces as they take the absolute lead in securing their country. As I have long said, we will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq. Initially, this force will likely be made up of 35-50,000 U.S. troops.

ALL troops will be removed from Iraq by the end of 2011.

Through this period of transition, we will carry out further redeployments. And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. We will complete this transition to Iraqi responsibility, and we will bring our troops home with the honor that they have earned.

Diplomacy is an element which is necessary to stabilize the region.

That leads me to the third part of our strategy –comprehensive American engagement across the region.

The future of Iraq is inseparable from the future of the broader Middle East, so we must work with our friends and partners to establish a new framework that advances Iraq’s security and the region’s. It is time for Iraq to be a full partner in a regional dialogue, and for Iraq’s neighbors to establish productive and normalized relations with Iraq. And going forward, the United States will pursue principled and sustained engagement with all of the nations in the region, and that will include Iran and Syria.

This reflects a fundamental truth: we can no longer deal with regional challenges in isolation – we need a smarter, more sustainable and comprehensive approach.

Obama's approach is to have a date certain to end the war, a timeline for complete withdrawal and finally diplomacy and engagement with all nations of the region to sustain the peace. At least he has a plan!

Friday, February 27, 2009

It's Not Terrorism, It's Rage!

Hatred and rage turn deadly.

A rampage left two people dead and three others critically wounded in the Florida Panhandle.

Residents in this Miramar Beach community are taking extra precautions after their neighbor allegedly went on a shooting rampage.

Investigators say the suspect, 60-year-old Dannie Baker, left his townhouse, armed with a rifle, walked across the complex to the victims' unit, and opened fire.

Neighbors say Baker wasn't happy with all the activity at the house and think that was the motive for his shooting spree.
Neighbor Crystal Lynn says "he did come up to me one time and asked me if I was ready for the revolution to begin and if I had any immigrant in my house to get them out."

The victims were foreign nationals who appear to have been working in the U.S. legally.

Investigators say, at the time of the shooting, there were at least 14 other people in the one unit with the victims...all of Hispanic descent.
An update identifies the victims:

Photos are courtesy of La Tercera

A reporter out of Chile confirmed that the two killed, were 23-year-old Nicolas Corp and 22-year-old Racine Balbontin.

Francisco Cofre is in serious condition; Sebastian Arizaga is in stable condition and David Bilbao is in good condition at Sacred Heart Hospital.

It was confirmed the students were on a work-study program out of Chile.

Rescinding the 'Conscience' Rule on Abortions

Taking another step into the abortion debate, the Obama administration will move to rescind a controversial rule that allows healthcare workers to deny abortion counseling or other family planning services if doing so would violate their moral beliefs, according to administration officials.

The rollback of the so-called conscience rule comes just two months after the Bush administration announced it late last year in one of its final policy initiatives. [...]

President Obama -- a longtime supporter of abortion rights -- has been expected to reverse a number of Bush-era policies restricting access to family planning services.

But the new president has also been sensitive to the explosiveness of the reproductive rights issue.

Last month without official ceremony, Obama overturned a controversial
ban on U.S. funding for international aid groups that provide abortion services.

New Denny's Special Breakfast!

In honor of the mother of the octuplets, Denny's is offering a newbreakfast meal: "You get fourteen eggs, no sausage, and the guy next to you has to pay the bill!"

First Lady Michelle Obama's Official Portrait


Americans Won't Take NO for an Answer

Tell Republicans

Americans United for Change

Joe "The Plumber" Needs Anger Management

Via Think Progress

On Wednesday, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher said that if he were in Congress, he would “probably be in jail” because he’d be charged with “slapping some member.” He added, “And that’s not [bull] either.” ThinkProgress caught up with Joe at CPAC yesterday and asked him which members he would most like to slap. “Pretty much anybody that’s stood there and said anything bad about our troops, pretty much anybody who sat there and talked treasonous talk about America,” Joe said. He then implied that some members of Congress should be shot

Back in the day, really, when people would talk about ourmilitary in a poor way, somebody would shoot ‘em. And there’d be nothing said about that, because they knew it was wrong. You don’t talk about our troops. You support our troops. Especially when our congressmen and senators sit there and say bad things in an ongoing conflict.

Watch it:

Of course, politicians aren’t the only ones Joe thinks should be banned from speaking about war. Last month, he said that journalists shouldn’t “be anywhere allowed war.” “I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting,” he said.

Jindal's Katrina Tale: UPDATE

TPM has the story about Bobby Jindal's GOP response to President Obama's speech to Congress. Jindal had his first chance to impress a national audience. To do so, he told the following story:
During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office I'd never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: 'Well, I'm the Sheriff and if you don't like it you can come and arrest me!'

I asked him: 'Sheriff, what's got you so mad?' He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters. The boats were all lined up ready to go - when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn't go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration.

I told him, 'Sheriff, that's ridiculous.' And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: 'Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!' Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and start rescuing people.
Nice story but there is evidence to suggest that it is not true. According to Kos, "He was lying about this being his personal experience."

It would seem logical to ask Sheriff Harry Lee to confirm whether this is true. But Lee died in 2007.
UPDATE: But now:
A Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone"days later." [...]
There's a larger point here, though. The central anecdote of the GOP's prime-time response to President Obama's speech, intended to illustrate the threat of excessive government regulation, turns out to have been made up. [...]
This doesn't seem to bear on the key question. As we said, the key elements of Jindal's story were that he was in Lee's office during the crisis itself, and that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. Neither of those things was true, it now seems.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Clean Coal Air Freshener

In reality, there's no such thing as clean coal.

Now with a new and improved label! New Reality ad directed by the Academy-award winning Coen Brothers.

A Sparrow...

What is that? (Τι είναι αυτό;) 2007

The Devil and Bobby Jindal

Gov Bobby Jindal has become a GOP rising star. Jindal along with Gov Sara Palin and former Gov Mitt Romney are emerging as the top contenders for the Republican nomination for President in 2012.

He's the rock star of the Republican Party right now," says Jeff Crouere, the former executive director of the Louisiana GOP and host of daily political talk show Ringside Politics.

But as the country gets acquainted with the Bayou's boy wonder, the stranger details of Jindal's religious or personal background remain largely unknown, even among the Republican grassroots.

How many Americans know that Jindal boasted of participating in an exorcism that purged the spirit of Satan from a college girlfriend?

The blogs are in a-twitter about story of Bobby and the Devil.

In an essay Jindal wrote in 1994 for the New Oxford Review, a serious right-wing Catholic journal, Jindal narrated a bizarre story of a personal encounter with a demon, in which he participated in an exorcism with a group of college friends. And not only did they cast out the supernatural spirit that had possessed his friend, Jindal wrote that he believes that their ritual may well have cured her cancer.

Reading the article leaves no doubt that Jindal -- who graduated from Brown University in 1991, was a Rhodes Scholar, and had been accepted at Yale Law School and Harvard Medical School when he wrote the essay -- was completely serious about the encounter. He even said the experience "reaffirmed" his faith.

In the essay (purchase required), Jindal describes an emotional friendship with a classmate, "Susan," recently diagnosed with skin cancer and reeling after the suicide of a close friend. Susan's behavior becomes stranger, and she is surrounded by "sulfuric" smells. Finally, one night at a prayer meeting, she collapses in a seizure -- and the exorcism begins:

It appeared as if we were observing a tremendous battle between the Susan we knew and loved and some strange evil force. But the momentum had shifted and we now sensed that victory was at hand.

While Alice and Louise held Susan, her sister continued holding the Bible to her face. Almost taunting the evil spirit that had almost beaten us minutes before, the students dared Susan to read biblical passages. She choked on certain passages and could not finish the sentence "Jesus is Lord." Over and over, she repeated "Jesus is L..L..LL," often ending in profanities. In between her futile attempts, Susan pleaded with us to continue trying and often smiled between the grimaces that accompanied her readings of Scripture. Just as suddenly as she went into the trance, Susan suddenly reappeared and claimed "Jesus is Lord."

With an almost comical smile, Susan then looked up as if awakening from a deep sleep and asked, "Has something happened?" She did not remember any of the past few hours and was startled to find her friends breaking out in cheers and laughter, overwhelmed by sudden joy and relief.

According to Max Blumenthal at The Daily Beast:

During the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, the campaign of Jindal’s Democratic opponent, incumbent Gov. Kathleen Blanco, attempted to inject his religious views into the race by running an ad promoting a website called, which featured his essay about participating in an exorcism. However, Jindal immediately fired back, denouncing the commercial as an assault on his faith and on the deeply religious culture of Louisiana.

TMP notes that "the state Dems did make an issue in 2007 out of Jindal's extreme Catholicism and his view of Protestant tenets as heretical, but the effort provoked a backlash among voters who thought the assault was religious bigotry. So Dems didn't make an issue out of Jindal's experiment."

The question is will Palin or Romney resurrect the "devil tale" if Jindal decides to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trying to Find Transparency

As President Obama gave his address to the joint session of Congress on Tuesday, he commented on the transparency of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work. I understand that skepticism. Here in Washington, we’ve all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right.

That is why I have asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort – because nobody messes with Joe. I have told each member of my Cabinet as well as mayors and governors across the country that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend. I have appointed a proven
and aggressive Inspector General to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud. And we have created a new website called
so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.
According to The Hill, the website that President Obama spoke of is getting an enormous amount of hits since it was launched.

The website President Obama said will allow Americans to monitor the spending of the $787 billion recovery plan is generating intense traffic, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Peter Orszag, Obama's director of the Office of Management and Budget, said received 3,000 hits a second upon its launch last week."

The president has repeatedly touted the site as a means through which Americans can ensure that their tax dollars are not being wasted as the largest spending measure in the country's history is doled out.

In his response to the President, Gov. Bobby Jindal spoke of transparency.

We need to bring transparency to Washington, D.C., so we can rid our capital of corruption and ensure that we never see the passage of another trillion-dollar spending bill that Congress hasn't even read and the American people haven't even seen.

Will somebody please show the Gov. where he can get this information.


Rachel Maddow goes Ga-Ga over Ba-Ba Bobby Jindal

If You Missed It!

Highlights from President Obama's 2009 Address to a Joint Session of Congress

Watch the full length video of President Obama's address.

Read the transcript of President Obama's address.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Obama Code

George Lakoff is a Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. The following is a quote from an article he recently published.

"The Obama Code is based on seven deep, insightful, and subtle intellectual moves. What President Obama has been attempting in his speeches is a return to the original frames of the Framers, reconstituting what it means to be an American, to be patriotic, to be a citizen and to share in both the sacrifices and the glories of our country. In seeking "bipartisan" support, he is looking beyond political affiliations to those who share those values on particular issues. In his economic plan, he is attempting to realign our economy with the moral missions of government: protection and empowerment for all."

Read More »

Problems of Today

AlterNet on the environment!!

Why I'll Get Arrested To Stop the Burning of Coal
On March 2 leading environmentalists and our country's top scientist, James Hansen, will put the heat on DC -- join them. Read more»

American Citizens in Appalachia Are Living in a State of Terror
Like sitting ducks waiting to be buried in an avalanche of mountain waste, we are trapped in a war zone within our own country. Read more »

Energy-saving systems for the attic, basement, and in between have effectively gone on sale, courtesy of the United States Congress. Read more »

The Stimulus: A Down Payment on a Green Future
The 'green' money in the stimulus package is a down payment on a clean, green economy that will serve both the people and the planet. Read more »

Obama Must Stop Dirty Coal -- But What Will He Replace it With?
It is incumbent on progressives to propose a realistic alternative to new coal plants -- here's our best options. Read more »

Is Economic Recovery Even Possible on a Planet Headed for Environmental Collapse?
As the global economy melts down, so is the planet, with droughts threatening food production and industry across the world. Read more »

So Climate Change Is Real, Now What?
With the human role in climate change largely settled, there's now a need to shift from discovery to mitigation, solutions and policy. Read more »

Is It Possible to Be a Conscientious Meat Eater?
The "new meat movement" is against industrial meat production, but not against eating meat. Their thinking is problematic. Read more »

Support a Truth & Reconciliation Commission

Incredible New Poll: 90% Want Bush Crimes Investigation
Sign a petition to show Obama that an investigation of possible crimes committed by the Bush administration is the will of the nation.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont proposed the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate abuses during the Bush-Cheney Administration --

Please sign an online petition, urging Congress to consider establishing a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the Bush-Cheney Administration's abuses. SIGN HERE

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Beautiful Message

Dustin Lance Black won the Oscar for best Original Screenplay for "Milk". In his acceptance speech he sends a much needed message of hope and acceptance to all gay and lesbian kids.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Same Spin The Same Lies

Jon Perr has an interesting perspective about Republicans continuing the lie about the effect of Obama letting the Bush tax cuts expire.

In his first budget, President Obama apparently plans to keep his campaign promise to let the Bush tax cuts expire for Americans making over $250,000 a year. And just as during the election, Republican leaders are falsely claiming that Obama's proposal constitutes a tax hike on small business owners. This time, it is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoing John McCain and Joe the Plumber in spreading the lie.

McConnell's myth-making came during an appearance Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." There, he fired the first salvo against President Obama's plan to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who need it least. Claiming that "a vast majority of American small businesses pay taxes as individual taxpayers," McConnell thundered:

"I don't think raising taxes is a great idea, and when our good friends on the other side of the aisle say raising the taxes on the wealthy, what they are really talking about is small business." Of course, they're not talking about small business. As CNN concluded in October, "fewer than 2% of small business owners would pay more under Obama's plan.

As it turns out, McConnell is merely parroting the same fraud now that John McCain tried to perpetrate then. Last fall, then Republican presidential candidate McCain attacked Obama, wrongly asserting, "The small businesses that we're talking about would receive an increase in their taxes right now." As it turned out, McCain's human shield and faux small business owner Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher will receive a tax cut, and not an increase, under the just passed Obama stimulus package.

But in case there was any doubt the Republicans' deception on the point, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center quickly put it to rest. As the Obama campaign correctly claimed, 98% would see their taxes decline or remain the same:

Even using the broad definition of small business that McCain likes, very few owners would see their own taxes rise.

That's because the lion's share of taxable income comes from a small number of wealthy businesses. Out of 34.7 million filers with business income on Schedules C, E or F, 479,000 filers fall into the top two brackets, according to an analysis of projected 2009 filings by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

The other 34.3 million - or 98.6% - would be unaffected by Obama's proposed rate hike.

Of course, the complete falsehood of a statement is no barrier to Republicans uttering it. Now as in 2001, Republicans wrongly claimed that the estate tax led to the loss of family farms. When President Bush blasted opponents who say "the death tax doesn't cause people to sell their farms" with a mocking "don't know who they're talking to in Iowa," neither Hawkeye State farmers nor researchers could name one. As the New York Times concluded eight years ago, "Almost no working farmers do, according to data from an Internal Revenue Service analysis of 1999 returns that has not yet been published.

But just because it's a lie, doesn't mean Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party won't keep saying it.

Something to Learn from the Animals

When No Means Stupid!

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has said he'll reject some of unemployment insurance from the federal stimulus package. Not to be outdone, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) said he'll not only reject unemployment insurance, but will also "not take $42 million in funding for green buildings."

Yes, because there's nothing worse than paying construction crews to make buildings more energy efficient.

There's apparently a race among some far-right Republican governors -- all of whom are already eyeing the 2012 presidential race -- to see who can be slightly crazier than the other. Jindal is clearly a contender, and Sarah Palin and Mississippi's Haley Barbour are obviously in the mix, but Sanford seems especially driven to get out in front of the pack.

It's leading him to make unusually ridiculous decisions affecting the people in his state, while making truly odd policy prescriptions.
Sanford, asked about the stimulus, said he would probably reject some of the funds. "I think it's a bad idea," he said of the package. "Period. Exclamation point."

"Good medicine to the wrong patient ultimately makes the patient sicker," Sanford continued. "What we're dealing with here is a fundamental misdiagnosis of the problem."
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) told the WaPo, "I think people will ... understand that it's political posturing and you're playing with people's lives, and that's a very, very dangerous game."

That's true, but for Sanford, it's a dangerous game he can win by losing -- he "wins" by currying favor with unhinged Republican activists, while "losing" as his state's economy deteriorates and his constituents suffer.

As for Sanford's notion of a "fundamental misdiagnosis," what does the South Carolinian believe is the wisest course of action? "When times go south you cut spending," Sanford recently explained. "That's what families do, that's what businesses do, and I don't think the government should be exempt from that process."

It is Neo-Hooverism in its most obvious form.

Sanford added, by the way, that supporters of the economic recovery package are "the real fringe" in American politics. Got that? The "fringe" includes the popular president, a majority of the Senate, a majority of the House, a majority of the governors, labor unions, the Chamber of Commerce, and 60% of the American people.

Perhaps it's best to assume that whatever Mark Sanford says, the opposite is true.

When No Means Yes

On the GOP side of the stimulus isssue, senators, governors and congressman slammed President Obama’s recovery and reinvestment plan. But some are now singing a different tune since Obama has signed the bill into law.

ThinkProgress pointed out that several Republican lawmakers who voted against President Obama’s economic recovery package are now touting its benefits to their constituents. The New York Times picked up on the phenomena, writing that “the temptation to take credit for at least a few of those billions” has proved “irresistible” to the anti-stimulus lawmakers.

So who are these flip-flopping lawmakers?

ThinkProgress has found at least 22 lawmakers who voted against the bill, but have spoken positively about what the money will do for their constituents.

Below is a list of senators and congressmen who criticized and voted against the plan but now will gladly accept the money.

House Of Representatives

Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK)
Congressman Heath Shuler (D-NC)
Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR)

Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ)
Congressman John Mica (R-FL)
Congressman Don Young (R-AK)
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)
Congressman Adam Putnam (R-FL)
Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL)
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL)
Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL)
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)


Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Senator Kit Bond (R-MO)
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT)

Find out more details here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The North Dakota House Passes a Bill Giving Rights to Fertilized Eggs.

...They're Not Talking About Chickens

Via Feministe

For those who have not already read elsewhere, North Dakota's legislative House today passed a bill that would grant personhood, and the rights that go with it, to fertilized eggs.

A measure approved by the North Dakota House gives a fertilized human egg the legal rights of a human being, a step that would essentially ban abortion in the state.

The bill is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that extended abortion rights nationwide, supporters of the legislation said.

Representatives voted 51-41 to approve the measure Tuesday. It now moves to the North Dakota Senate for its review.

The bill declares that "any organism with the genome of homo sapiens" is a person protected by rights granted by the North Dakota Constitution and state laws.
The bill's sponsor, Dan Ruby, is clearly talking out both sides of his mouth. Because while in the article linked above he takes pains to note that the bill does not explicitly and directly outlaw abortion, he notes in this article that outlawing abortion and directly challenging Roe is precisely the point of the bill's chosen language.

For arguments about why granting full rights to fertilized eggs is not only a really bad idea on the basis of pro-choice and feminist beliefs, but also really stupid in a general sense too, see this post by Jill.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Justice Revisited

The criminal justice system is in disrepair. Sen Jim Webb, D-VA, wants to establish "a commission with a broad mandate to examine issues like drug treatment, effective parole policy, racial injustice, education for inmates, reentry programs -- the myriad of issues intertwined in wasteful, ineffective criminal justice policies."

Reform is needed and any overhaul of a broken system must encompass the inequities of the juvenile justice system.

Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! recently raised the issue of juvenile justice in her show about judicial corruption in Pennsylvania.

Amy Goodman: An unprecedented case of judicial corruption is unfolding in Pennsylvania. Several hundred families have filed a class-action lawsuit against two former judges who have pleaded guilty to taking bribes in return for placing youths in privately owned jails. Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are said to have received $2.6 million for ensuring that juvenile suspects were jailed in prisons operated by the companies Pennsylvania Child Care and a sister company, Western Pennsylvania Child Care. Some of the young people were jailed over the objections of their probation officers. An estimated 5,000 juveniles have been sentenced by Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2002.

In addition to the jailing of the youths, the judges also admitted to helping "facilitate" the construction of private jails. The U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Martin Carlson, unveiled the charges last month.

Martin Carlson: These payments were made to the judges, it is alleged, in return for discretionary acts by the judges favoring these businesses, acts relating to the construction, expansion, operation of these juvenile facilities and acts relating to the placement of juveniles in these facilities
Amy Goodman: On Thursday, Judges Ciavarella and Conahan entered guilty pleas on charges of wire fraud and income tax fraud. They're currently free on a $1 million bail bond pending sentencing. Their plea agreements call for jail sentences of more than seven years. No charges have been filed against the private prisons that paid the bribes.
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has appointed an outside judge to review all the cases tried by Ciavarella and Conahan. But the case has prompted calls for broader reforms of the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania and nationwide.

We're joined now by two of the thousands of youths jailed by the corrupt judges. On the line with us from Scranton, Pennsylvania, eighteen-year-old Jamie Quinn is with us. She spent more than eleven months in a privately run juvenile prison camp after being sentenced by Judge Mark Ciavarella as a first-time offender. Also on the line in the nearby town of Wilkes-Barre is twenty-two-year-old Kurt Kruger. Another first-time offender, he spent more than four months in a privately run prison--juvenile prison camp after also being sentenced by Judge Ciavarella.

And joining us in a studio in Philadelphia is Bob Schwartz. He is a co-founder and executive director of the Juvenile Law Center, which helped expose the corrupt judges and is now involved in the class-action suit brought on behalf of the jailed youths' families.

We asked PA Child Care, the main private jail company linked to the bribes, to come on the broadcast. We were directed to an attorney who didn't respond to our request.

Bob Schwartz, let's start with you. When did all this begin to be revealed? How did it all happen?
Find out here.

Bristol's Awakening

The Media Consortium has an overview of comments regarding Bristol Palin's interview with Fox News.

“I think abstinence is, I don’t know how to put it — like, the main — everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all,” new mother Bristol Palin told Greta Van Susteren in an interview on Fox News (video below). Bristol’s unwed, teenage pregnancy made headlines last year just as her mother, Gov. Sarah Palin, kicked off her vice presidential bid.

Samhita of writes, “I feel bad for her. [Bristol's] story was used by her family and the GOP to make an example of what is considered “responsible” behavior for a teen mom. Holding all that, she istelling the truth that abstinence is not realistic for young people, even if it should be what everyone strives for. Comprehensive sex-ed wouldn’t be this unrealistic.”

In Salon, Rebecca Traister dryly notes that all this honesty was too much for Fox News. As soon as Bristol said what everyone already knew, Sarah Palin hustled on stage to contradict her.

Jodi Jacobsen at RH Reality says it’s time for federal government to acknowledge what Bristol learned the hard way and axe federal funding for abstinence-only education.

Here’s wishing Bristol a happy National Condom Week.. Too bad the stimulus package won’t included expanded opportunities to cover birth control under Medicaid.

At Mother Jones, Taylor Wiles notes that Obama cut $335 million for STD prevention, and that Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) nixed $150 million to fund the Violence Against Women Act.

The bottom line is that when abstinence is the only choice for teens then unwed pregnancies do result. As Bristol now knows, abstinence is unrealistic.

It is OK to talk to kids about abstinence but it is also necessary that teens have access to condoms or birth control, if they become sexually active. The glue that holds all these elements together is sex ed, sex ed and more sex ed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Little Known Fact

How to Peel Hard-boiled Eggs Without Peeling

The Cost of Obstruction

GOP Pouring Money into a Dead-End Hole

Republican senators are joining forces to maintain the status quo in the Senate. By underwriting the fight to keep the seat of Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Wisconsin, vacant they can in effect
maintain their power to obstruct Congress.

It is now clear that Senate Republicans have a strategy for maintaining their ability to stall -- or, at the least, dramatically alter -- Obama administration initiatives.

Individual GOP senators are paying big bucks to keep the Senate's 100th seat -- representing Minnesota -- vacant for as long as possible. Consider it an investment in the short-term future..

What's at stake?

The partisan divide in the Senate is currently 58 Democrats (56 party members and two independents who caucus with the Democrats, Connecticut's Joe Lieberman and Vermont's Bernie Sanders) versus 41 Republicans.

That 41 figure is perilously close to the number that Republicans need to threaten filibusters. It takes 60 seats to invoke cloture and force action on legislation and appointments in the tradition-bound Senate.

If Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Al Franken, who state officials determined weeks ago won the Senate seat by 225 votes, is seated it would be harder to block Senate deliberations. And with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter -- a moderate, labor-friendly Republican who faces a tough reelection fight in a Democratic state next year showing a willingness to deal -- GOP Senate leaders well understand the vulnerability of their position. Republican senators are pouring money into the dead-end recount fight of former Senator Norm Coleman.

Who's behind the money?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has given the maximum allowed amount of money to keep the Coleman recount fight going -- $10,000 -- as has House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo slipped Coleman another $10,000, as have Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson and Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander.

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe is in for $5,000, as is Iowan Charles Grassley.

Maine Senator Susan Collins, the champion of faux bipartisanship who used his "swing" position to extract massive amounts of job-creation money from the stimulus package, added $2,000 to the Coleman kitty.

Eric Schultz, a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee aide, tells Politico that, "It's clear that national Republicans see the vacancy in Minnesota as one of the few arrows in their quiver to obstruct Democrats in the Senate from getting real change passed."