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October 30, 2009

Be afraid, be very afraid

Rove's Misread of Tuesday's Elections.

To [Karl] Rove "us" is the Republican party and "them" is the Democratic party. This isn't just Rove's problem - most in both party establishments view the political world this way - with just as many seeing "us" as Democrats and "them" as Republicans. But this view masks what is truly happening - and makes the establishments of both parties blind to what is coming in 2010.

Voters are increasingly seeing themselves as "us" and both parties in Washington as "them". They are not going to discriminate between the two parties in 2010. The results next Tuesday will likely demonstrate the voter's frustration with those in power, regardless of party. Far from signaling a backlash against Democratic rule and hope for the Republican Party, the results on Tuesday will signal that in 2010 incumbents in both parties, of all ideological stripes should be frightened. 

Take off your partisan glasses on Tuesday night and this is what you will see.

John Boehner Whines About Having To Read Health Care Bill (VIDEO)

John Boehner Whines About Having To Read Health Care Bill:

Here's a video of House Minority Leader John Boehner reacting negatively to the House Health Care Reform bill on the grounds that reading legislation is hard. And just who the hell obligated Boehner and his colleagues to read laws, anyway? Some group of "voters" in a "congressional district" or something? It's crazy. ...

The funny thing is, regarding this bill he couldn't possibly peruse, he's got all sorts of definitive assumptions about it. "We've got better ideas," he says, "and we'll be talking about them over the next week." [Like he's been saying for months.] Sure! It's not like anyone told John Boehner about the summer-long health care debate that we'd be having. He's only now getting up to speed.

[Yes] as Igor Volsky pointed out yesterday, a whole slew of measures that the GOP requested have been provided in the bill. These include ... deficit neutrality, long-term cost reduction, across-state-lines competition, medical malpractice reform, protections for small business, and much more.

October 22, 2009

Re: GOP and Fox linking Obama to Nixon

Think Progress » Buchanan on GOP and Fox linking Obama to Nixon: ‘It is the most idiotic comparison I’ve ever seen.’ .
“I also have to laugh,” liberal talk radio host Bill Press said during the segment. “When two Republicans want to hurt a Democrat, what do they do? They compare him to another Republican. It’s crazy.”

October 18, 2009

Goldman Can Spare You a Dime - NYTimes.com

Perhaps we need a "windfall profits" tax for bankers.
Op-Ed Columnist - Goldman Can Spare You a Dime - NYTimes.com.
The announcement of Goldman’s spectacular third-quarter earnings ($3.19 billion) was paired with the news that the company was donating $200 million to its own foundation, which promotes education.

Rebranding America

Op-Ed Guest Columnist - Rebranding America - NYTimes.com.
... remind the world that America is not just a country but an idea, a great idea about opportunity for all and responsibility to your fellow man.

October 16, 2009

Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 - Wikisource

Today, I learned how Citibank is preparing for the new Credit Card act, which restricts sudden hikes in interest charges, etc.: almost doubling interest rates now!

I got a letter from Citibank, with whom I've had a card for over 20 years and charged untold sums but pay off completely every month except for a few glitches now and then, usually due to travel.  (One thing I've detested has been that they statement date might be March 5, 2009 but I won't receive it for over a week and the due date is on a Monday three weeks from the statement date, leaving only perhaps 5-7 business days from when I actually get it to when it must be in their hands, meaning it must be mailed very quickly to ensure it arrives with at least one business day before it is due in case something goes wrong (like that Monday turns out to be a Post Office holiday day!).

In order to prepare for the new act which requires them to give 21 days from the mailing date (not statement date) and not secretly raise people's rates if they are late, etc. they have announced an increase of interest from 17% APR to 30% -- for purchases as well as cash advances.  Holy moly.  Because they can't hike rates on late payers, they give a credit of 10% of interest (3%) if you pay on time.  So instead of charging extra for being late, they give a credit if on time.  They've definitely got some legal eagles working on that scheme!

They sure are ready for Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure.

Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 - Wikisource.
SEC. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE. This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall become effective 9 months after the date of enactment of this Act, except as otherwise specifically provided in this Act.
 Approved May 22, 2009.

Summers: 'Time has come' for deep change for banks - MarketWatch

Summers: 'Time has come' for deep change for banks - MarketWatch.
"Financial institutions that have benefited from government support can, should and must use this moment to think about what they can do for their country -- by accepting the necessary regulation to protect the American people," Summers said in remarks prepared for delivery at the Economist's Buttonwood Gathering in New York. "There is no financial institution that exists today that is not the direct or indirect beneficiary of trillions of dollars of taxpayer support for the financial system."
Financial firms are concerned about new fees that lawmakers might impose on institutions to fund a mechanism to resolve an insolvent megabank so that its collapse doesn't cause collateral damage.

GOP Base Driven By Bizarre Ideology, Not Racism, Report Finds

GOP Base Driven By Bizarre Ideology, Not Racism, Report Finds.
What drives the GOP base, rather than race, was a genuine belief that Obama has a "secret agenda" to drive the country in a socialist direction, said the authors. These voters want more opposition, not more cooperation.

The report concludes that the extreme GOP voters are not simply at the far end of a standard political continuum that runs left-center-right, but rather they stand fully apart.

The basic belief is that Obama -- a former community organizer who seemingly came from nowhere -- must have been propelled by some secret forces. This is no small segment of the population and represents almost one-in-five voters and nearly two-of-three self identified Republicans.

"While these voters are disdainful of a Republican Party they view to have failed in its mission, they overwhelmingly view a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of this country's founding principles and are committed to seeing the president fail," reads the report.

October 12, 2009

A Case for Empathy | The American Prospect

A Case for Empathy | The American Prospect.
Back in 2007, Barack Obama said that if he got the chance to make a Supreme Court appointment, one of his criteria for a justice would be a capacity for "empathy." Conservatives were predictably outraged. But last week, we got to see what it looks like when a justice is unable to view the world from another's perspective.

[Justice Antonin Scalia ] seemed positively gobsmacked that American Civil Liberties Union attorney Peter Eliasberg would argue that a giant cross is a -- get this -- a Christian symbol....

Scalia apparently thinks that the cross is some kind of universal symbol of death, not a Christian one. "The cross doesn't honor non-Christians who fought in the war?" he asked the ACLU lawyer incredulously. Eliasberg explained that "a cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity," to which Scalia shot back, "It's erected as a war memorial. I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead. It's the -- the cross is the -- is the most common symbol of -- of -- of the resting place of the dead, and it doesn't seem to me -- what would you have them erect? A cross -- some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Moslem half moon and star?"

Eliasberg replied, "The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of Christians. I have been in Jewish cemeteries. There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew." This was greeted with laughter in the courtroom, which no doubt made Scalia's blood boil.

Something tells me those who share Scalia's perspective would feel a little differently about questions like the one raised by the Mojave case if they were outnumbered. For example, healthy majorities of the public have always supported prayer in public schools. But imagine that your typical advocate of school prayer happened to move to, say, Dearborn, Michigan, home of the densest concentration of Muslims in the country (according to the 2000 census, 30 percent of Dearborn residents were of Arab descent; the number is probably higher by now). Then imagine that at the local public elementary school, parents suggested starting each day with a passage from the Koran read over the P.A. system. Our defender of classroom prayer would probably discover a newfound affection for the separation of church and state.

Coming to that realization before you become a minority yourself requires an ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes [-- empathy]. It's seldom an easy thing to do. But some people who never thought they'd have to do so will get the chance before long.

October 01, 2009

Commentary on grant of habeas corpus to al Rahiah

Regarding the grant of habeas corpus to Fouad Mahmoud al Rahiah, held and tortured in Guantanamo for seven years, commentary from Andrew Sullivan:

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.

Mercifully, America under Bush and Cheney was not a totalitarian regime.

It had an executive branch that embraced the ethic of tyranny in warfare, and a legislative branch so supine it was a toothless adjunct, but it retained a judiciary that began, too late, of course, to push back against the hermetically sealed war-and-torture cycle. The Founders were wise to add such a check. Without it, we would have no way out of the maze that Cheney pushed us in.

Last week we discovered, thanks to the judiciary, a clear example of this tyrannical impulse occurring under Bush and Cheney. We now know that torturing a human being to get proof that he deserved to be tortured was not just a theoretical fear of mine. It happened. If it happened once, it almost certainly happened more often. The temptations are just too great; and when you have clear evidence that Bush and Cheney knew some inmates to be innocent but tortured them anyway to manufacture evidence of their guilt, we know that there was nothing in the character of those two men to restrain the true nightmare scenario.

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