Monday, December 27, 2010

Fwd: What If You Had Guaranteed Health Care? ANS

this is an old one I am resending, because I came across it and found it interesting.  What if?

Here is Sara on healthcare again.  This points out how it enslaves us.  (but the math is wrong.)

What Would You Do If You Had Guaranteed Health Care?

By Sara Robinson

August 26th, 2008 - 5:56pm ET

This was the Campaign for America's Future's Big Afternoon at the Big Tent. CAF took over the Digg Stage (the entire upstairs floor of The Big Tent) for a series of four panels addressing some of the Big Questions we wrestle with here.

One of the highlights for me was Rep. Jan Schakowsky's presentation, which was part of the second hour's health care panel. She cited an avalanche of statistics describing what condition our condition is in (and I don't need to tell you: it's not good). Two in particular leaped out at me. One (which I knew) is that an American dies due to lack of health care access every 30 seconds. The second (which I did not know) is that Americans are being driven into bankruptcy by health care costs at exactly the same rate. Sixty thousand deaths, sixty thousand bankruptcies, every single year.

(Update: A perspicacious commenter points out that Schakowsky's math was a little off. Sixty thousand deaths (or bankruptcies) works out to about one every ten minutes. My bad for not working the numbers out myself before posting them.)

Schakowsky also said that health care hasn't been a hot-button political issue to date because the political conventional wisdom says that nobody's ever lost an election due to their health care position. That, she said, needs to change -- starting with John McCain, whose plan will make things far worse than they are now (as if such a thing were possible).

As an American living in Canada, my permanent resident card (the Canadian version of a green card) entitles me to the services of that country's health care system. I also still see doctors in the US, even though I'm no longer insured there. As a participant in both systems, I've written at some length here and here about the myths Americans tell each other about the Canadian system. Right now, I think there's one important question we could ask Americans that would focus this debate, and take the conversation to the next level. It's this:

What would you do with your life if you never had to worry about health care again?

It's a hard thing for most Americans to imagine -- but it's odd how your vision of the future changes once you stretch your mind and see what it might be like.

Would you start a business of your own?

Go back to school to upgrade your skills, or retrain for an entirely new career?

Tell your toxic boss where to stick it, and find a job with reasonable hours and nice people?

Spend a few years at home with your kids?

Join the Peace Corps?

Move to a town that you really love?

Save some money up, and retire early?

I should probably warn you: You may get good and angry once you start to take stock of the huge trade-offs you've made over the years just to hold onto your health insurance. You may be even more angry when you realize that nobody else in the industrialized world has had to make those choices.

I live in a country where nobody is tied to a job they hate, or forced to give up important life opportunities just to hang onto a health care plan that may or may not even come through for them when they need it. Nobody ever declares bankruptcy because they can't pay a medical bill, either: most Canadians find this as mind-blowing as Americans seem to find the "What would you do...?" question. Almost nobody dies because they can't get care (and when it does happen, it's a cause for national outrage).

Countries with universal coverage free up their citizens to take advantage of personal development opportunities that, in the long run, stimulate the economy and create a more skilled, traveled, educated, and fulfilled workforce. Americans, on the other hand, routinely stay chained to jobs they hate -- and are forced to pass up on chances to expand their horizons and their fortunes -- because they can't afford to jeopardize their health care coverage.

Our health care mess has reached a point where it jeopardizes not only our lives, but also our liberty, our property, and our ability to pursue happiness -- as well as the long-term strength of the economy as a whole.

We cannot abide more of the same. Let's make sure John McCain pays the ultimate political price for his indifference to this issue -- and that every other elected official hears, loud and clear, that health care is a right they ignore at their own peril.

In the meantime, indulge yourself in a little fantasy. What would you do with your life if you never had to worry about health care again? Tell us in the comments.

book review ANS

Here's an example of Brad Hicks reviewing the books he has read this year.  If you like reading this kind of review, go to his site and read the rest of them.
Find it here:

Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. Somebody responded to one of my entries on this blog, just the other day, by saying, "It's better to be on top of a short hill than halfway up a tall mountain." But it turns out that there has been a ton of recent research arguing that no, in fact, it's not: in a society with wide income disparities, it isn't just the poor who suffer, but the rich live worse lives than if they would if they were less rich and living in a more egalitarian society. And, yes, they do cite a ton of studies that have been done to rule out co-causal factors and to rule out coincidence; it's not just correlation, it is, in fact, demonstrably causality. This book probably ties with Searching for Whitopia for best non-fiction book I read all year, and if I had to pick, I'd say probably edges out Whitopia slightly just for the repeated hammer blows of impossible to argue with, impossible to honestly refute research that everything that the US and Britain have done since Reagan and Thatcher has been wrong -- not just unpleasant, not just different from what liberals would prefer, but absolutely provably wrong.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dionne: The agents of change ANS

Here is an article about some Democrats who did the right thing and got voted out for it.  He's calls them Obama's Orphans.  They deserve credit for caring more about us than about themselves. 
Find it here: 
This was sent in by one of our readers.


Dionne: The agents of change

"Obama's Orphans" deserve to take a bow
By E.J. Dionne
Washington Post Writers Group
Posted: 12/26/2010 01:00:00 AM MST

At the beginning of 2009, the choice before Democrats who controlled the 111th Congress was whether they would enact historic legislation, even at the risk of their majority, or whether they would play it safe.

They gave the safe option a pass, with two results: This will go down as the most productive Congress since the 89th, which was even more Democratic because of Lyndon Johnson's 1964 landslide. And 52 Democratic House incumbents, most elected in 2006 or 2008, lost their seats.

The departing Democrats are, as one in their ranks put it, "Obama's Orphans." So many of them cast vote after vote for the president's programs. They were then left at the side of the road while history moved by.

During the recent campaign, these loyalists were accused of being "out of touch," and they certainly were out of sync with the prevailing mood of those who chose to vote this year. But this accusation begs an important question: To whom did these members owe their real loyalty? Instead of yielding to the feelings of the moment, they kept faith with those who supported them precisely because of their promises to change the direction of the country. And change the country they did.

Say what you will about the new health care law. It was a response to (how easily we forget) a widely held sentiment that our health system was broken, that too many of us lacked coverage or feared we might lose it. The final product was a start in addressing these anxieties.

It is a tribute to the 111th Congress that its achievements will largely set the agenda for the 112th. The new Republican House majority is devoted less to a bold agenda of its own than to repealing, scaling back or derailing the accomplishments of the outgoing majority.

The fact that wiping out what they call "Obamacare" is a unifying priority for the conservative newcomers is a backhanded compliment to those who enacted it: Yes, it was a big deal after all, and in the forthcoming debate, reform's supporters will get a second chance to make the case for what they did.

Republicans also hope to undercut financial reform, giving the law's supporters the opportunity to explain more clearly why a financial system with loose rules becomes little more than a casino operated by people in much nicer suits than those worn by the average croupier.

And some of the 111th's achievements will stand without challenge because they so plainly reflected the country's will. Congressional leaders never gave up on ending "don't ask, don't tell," knowing they were building on a three-decade-long revolution in the attitudes of average Americans toward gays and lesbians. That really is a change we can believe in.

That so many other reforms have been virtually unheralded is another monument to the efforts of Obama's Orphans. Bills that in another Congress would have loomed large were passed with hardly a ripple in the media.

Consider: the new food safety rules, the big repair in the student loan program, stronger regulations on the credit card industry, the creation of a financial consumer protection agency, an improved children's health care program and a broad expansion of national service opportunities.

The startling achievements of this lame-duck session owed to the decision of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to shun the counsel of those who said they should just pack it in after a bad election. If a certain amount of boldness had cost some of their colleagues at the polls in November, the same audacity would at least permit those on their way out to add to their record. They would use their majorities right to the end.

Our media and political systems are obsessed with presidents. We are also very tough on those who lose, in elections no less than in sports. As a result, end-of-year commentary will concentrate on how much stronger President Obama looks today than even a month ago, and on all he got done. The vanquished of 2010 will get barely a nod on their way to the rest of their lives.

But the president's accomplishments were possible only because a group of younger, largely unsung politicians ­ the infantry of political change ­ refused to think only about polls, politics and their personal ambitions. Obama's Orphans deserve to take a bow.

Read more: Dionne: The agents of change - The Denver Post
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content:

Americans Are Horribly Misinformed About Who Has Money ANS

Here is an article about wealth distribution in the USA.  the top line of the graph shows how wealth is actually distributed.  the second group of lines shows what various groups think the distribution is (all of them vastly underestimated how much wealth the rich people have cornered.) The third group of lines shows various groups' ideal distributions.  Notice, even the estimates were more skewed than the ideals, while the reality is far, far, far more skewed than the ideals.  Notice how little the lowest three quintiles have.  (Note, also, that Kerry voters are more optimistic than Bush voters....)
You just can't have a real democracy in a situation like this.  We have to fix it, or America is doomed. 
Find it here:     


Americans Are Horribly Misinformed About Who Has Money

  • September 28, 2010 • 12:00 pm PDT

Americans have a really distorted view of how wealth is distributed in this country.

This chart is from a paper called "Building a Better America One Wealth Quintile at a Time" by Dan Ariely and Michael I. Norton.

The top row shows the actual distribution of wealth in America. The richest 20 percent, represented by that blue line, has about 85 percent of the wealth. The next richest 20 percent, represented by that red line, has about 10 percent of the wealth. And the remaining three-fifths of America shares a tiny sliver of the country's wealth.

Below that, the "Estimated" rows show how different groups think wealth is distributed. As you can see, in people's misinformed minds things are much more equitable.

Matt Yglesias explains what's interesting here:

What's interesting here is the extent to which the public vastly overestimates the prosperity of lower-income Americans. The public thinks the 4th quintile has more money than the median quintile actually has. And the public thinks the 5th quintile has vastly more wealth than it really has.

You can easily see how this could have a giant distorting effect on our politics. Poor Americans are simply much, much, much needier than people realize and this is naturally going to lead to an undue slighting of their interests.

Indeed. It's fine if reasonable people have different ideas about whether we should extend the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000. Or think estate taxes are unfair. But when we have those debates, it's critical that everyone has a clear understanding of how things really are. We're becoming a plutocracy.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Missoula District Court: Jury pool in marijuana case stages ‘mutiny’ ANS

And now for something completely different:  Here's a somewhat humorous case in Montana, where the tide has turned on people's attitudes towards marijuana.  Maybe laws will catch up soon?  From the Billings Gazette:
Find it here:  

Missoula District Court: Jury pool in marijuana case stages 'mutiny'

Missoula District Court: Jury pool in marijuana case stages 'mutiny'

GWEN FLORIO of the Missoulian The Billings Gazette | Posted: Sunday, December 19, 2010 5:20 pm | (140) Comments Font Size:
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A funny thing happened on the way to a trial in Missoula County District Court last week.

Jurors – well, potential jurors – staged a revolt.

They took the law into their own hands, as it were, and made it clear they weren't about to convict anybody for having a couple of buds of marijuana. Never mind that the defendant in question also faced a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.

The tiny amount of marijuana police found while searching Touray Cornell's home on April 23 became a huge issue for some members of the jury panel.

No, they said, one after the other. No way would they convict somebody for having a 16th of an ounce.

In fact, one juror wondered why the county was wasting time and money prosecuting the case at all, said a flummoxed Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul.

District Judge Dusty Deschamps took a quick poll as to who might agree. Of the 27 potential jurors before him, maybe five raised their hands. A couple of others had already been excused because of their philosophical objections.

"I thought, 'Geez, I don't know if we can seat a jury,' " said Deschamps, who called a recess.

And he didn't.

During the recess, Paul and defense attorney Martin Elison worked out a plea agreement. That was on Thursday.

On Friday, Cornell entered an Alford plea, in which he didn't admit guilt. He briefly held his infant daughter in his manacled hands, and walked smiling out of the courtroom.

"Public opinion, as revealed by the reaction of a substantial portion of the members of the jury called to try the charges on Dec. 16, 2010, is not supportive of the state's marijuana law and appeared to prevent any conviction from being obtained simply because an unbiased jury did not appear available under any circumstances," according to the plea memorandum filed by his attorney.

"A mutiny," said Paul.

"Bizarre," the defense attorney called it.

In his nearly 30 years as a prosecutor and judge, Deschamps said he's never seen anything like it.


"I think that's outstanding," John Masterson, who heads Montana NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), said when told of the incident. "The American populace over the last 10 years or so has begun to believe in a majority that assigning criminal penalties for the personal possession of marijuana is an unjust and a stupid use of government resources."

Masterson is hardly an unbiased source.

On the other hand, prosecutor, defense attorney and judge all took note that some of the potential jurors expressed that same opinion.

"I think it's going to become increasingly difficult to seat a jury in marijuana cases, at least the ones involving a small amount," Deschamps said.

The attorneys and the judge all noted Missoula County's approval in 2006 of Initiative 2, which required law enforcement to treat marijuana crimes as their lowest priority – and also of the 2004 approval of a statewide medical marijuana ballot initiative.

And all three noticed the age of the members of the jury pool who objected. A couple looked to be in their 20s. A couple in their 40s. But one of the most vocal was in her 60s.

"It's kind of a reflection of society as a whole on the issue," said Deschamps.

Which begs a question, he said.

Given the fact that marijuana use became widespread in the 1960s, most of those early users are now in late middle age and fast approaching elderly.

Is it fair, Deschamps wondered, in such cases to insist upon impaneling a jury of "hardliners" who object to all drug use, including marijuana?

"I think that poses a real challenge in proceeding," he said. "Are we really seating a jury of their peers if we just leave people on who are militant on the subject?"

Although the potential jurors in the Cornell case quickly focused on the small amount of marijuana involved, the original allegations were more serious – that Cornell was dealing; hence, a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.

Because the case never went to trial, members of the jury pool didn't know that Cornell's neighbors had complained to police that he was dealing from his South 10th Street West four-plex, according to an affidavit in the case. After one neighbor reported witnessing an alleged transaction between Cornell and two people in a vehicle, marijuana was found in the vehicle in question.

The driver and passenger said they'd bought it from Cornell, the affidavit said. A subsequent search of his home turned up some burnt marijuana cigarettes, a pipe and some residue, as well as a shoulder holster for a handgun and 9mm ammunition. As a convicted felon, Cornell was prohibited from having firearms, the affidavit noted.

Cornell admitted distributing small amounts of marijuana and "referred to himself as a person who connected other dealers with customers," it said. "He claimed his payment for arranging deals was usually a small amount of marijuana for himself."

Potential jurors also couldn't know about Cornell's criminal history, which included eight felonies, most of them in and around Chicago several years ago. According to papers filed in connection with the plea agreement, Cornell said he moved to Missoula to "escape the criminal lifestyle he was leading," but he's had a number of brushes with the law here.

Those include misdemeanor convictions for driving while under the influence and driving with a suspended license, and a felony conviction in August of conspiracy to commit theft, involving an alleged plot last year to stage a theft at a business where a friend worked, the papers said. He was out on bail in that case when the drug charges were filed.

In sentencing him Friday, Deschamps referred to him as "an eight-time loser" and said, "I'm not convinced in any way that you don't present an ongoing threat to the community."

Deschamps also pronounced himself "appalled" at Cornell's personal life, saying: "You've got no education, you've got no skills. Your life's work seems to be going out and impregnating women and not supporting your children."

The mother of one of those children, a 3-month-old named Joy who slept through Friday's sentencing, was in the courtroom for Friday's sentencing. Cornell sought and received permission to hug his daughter before heading back to jail.

Deschamps sentenced Cornell to 20 years, with 19 suspended, under Department of Corrections supervision, to run concurrently with his sentence in the theft case. He'll get credit for the 200 days he's already served. The judge also ordered Cornell to get a GED degree upon his release.

"Instead of being a lazy bum, you need to get an education so you can get a decent law-abiding job and start supporting your family," he said.

Normally, Paul said after the sentencing, a case involving such a small amount of marijuana wouldn't have gone this far through the court system except for the felony charge involved.

But the small detail in this case may end up being a big game-changer in future cases.

The reaction of potential jurors in this case, Paul said, "is going to be something we're going to have to consider."

Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268 or at .

Copyright 2010 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Fwd: Good News ANS

Hi -- I got this from our "environmentalist" reader in Colorado.  It underscores what I've been saying about Obama: anything that doesn't hit the mainstream media big, he gets his way on.  That's an exaggeration, but his success rate is much higher with the quiet stuff than the big talked-about stuff.  Joyce says it might be the other way around: that the media only lets you know about the ones he has trouble getting through so you think he has trouble with everything.  Anyway, that's why a non-partisan count like Obameter is really valuable for keeping perspective on Obama's accomplishments.  Anyway, here's our reader's comment, and I copied and pasted the article:

This is why it is important to have a democrat at the head of the executive branch . . .

What's wilderness? Bush-era curbs are repealed

Interior chief reverses 2003 policy against protections not approved by Congress

DENVER ­ The Obama administration on Thursday undid a Bush-era policy that curbed some types of wilderness designations within the 245 million acres managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

While Congress remains the only body allowed to create "Wilderness Areas," the move gives BLM field managers the go ahead to protect areas determined to have "wilderness characteristics."

"I am proud to sign a secretarial order that restores protections for the wild lands that the Bureau of Land Management oversees on behalf of the American people," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in Denver, where he announced the shift.

Congressional Republicans pounced on the announcement as an attempt by the Obama administration to close land to development without congressional approval.

"This backdoor approach is intended to circumvent both the people who will be directly affected and Congress. I have to question why this announcement is being made only after Congress adjourned for the year," said Washington state Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican tapped to lead to the House Natural Resources Committee when the GOP takes control of the House in January.

The order essentially repeals a policy adopted in 2003 under then Interior Secretary Gale Norton. That policy stated that Interior could not designate some wilderness protections on its own and had to rely only on Congress for any designations.

The 2003 policy reflected an out-of-court deal struck between Norton and then-Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt to remove protections for some 2.6 million acres of federal land in Utah.

The policy allowed oil and gas drilling, mining and other commercial uses on land under consideration as wilderness areas.

The new policy creates a management category called "Wild Lands".

The Interior Department said that "'Wild Lands,' which will be designated through a public process, will be managed to protect wilderness characteristics unless or until such time as a new public planning process modifies the designation.

"Because the 'Wild Lands' designation can be made and later modified through a public administrative process, it differs from 'Wilderness Areas,' which are designated by Congress and cannot be modified except by legislation, and 'Wilderness Study Areas,' which BLM typically must manage to protect wilderness characteristics until Congress determines whether to permanently protect them as Wilderness Areas or modify their management."

BLM Director Bob Abbey said it hasn't been decided how many acres are expected be designated as "Wild Lands" and whether those acres will be off-limits to motorized recreation or commercial development while under congressional review. It's also unclear whether there will be a time limit on how long acres can be managed as "Wild Lands" before a decision is made on their future.

Salazar said the agency will also resume evaluating federal BLM lands that could be recommended to Congress for designation as wilderness areas.

The BLM has six months to submit a plan for new wilderness evaluations, Salazar said.

Ranchers, oil men and others have been suspicious of federal plans to lock up land in the West, worrying that taking the BLM land out of production would kill rural economies that rely on ranchers and the eastern Montana oil and gas business.

Their suspicions have been heightened since memos leaked in February revealed the Obama administration was considering 14 sites in nine states for possible presidential monument declarations.

That included 2.5 million acres of northeastern Montana prairie land proposed as a possible bison range, along with sites in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

Environmental groups praised the reversal, though there has been grumbling that it took the Obama administration nearly two years to overturn the Bush-era policy.

" Washington D.C. always takes longer than you want, but we're glad we've gotten here," said Suzanne Jones, regional director for The Wilderness Society.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

United Nations Restores Sexual Orientation To Resolution Condeming Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions ANS

This seemed to be a big deal in the mainstream media when they took out protection for homosexuals, but I didn't hear anything about it being put back in until I read this by chance.
Find it here: 


United Nations Restores Sexual Orientation To Resolution Condeming Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions

Jim Burroway

December 22nd, 2010
The United Nations General Assembly yesterday succeeded in restoring �sexual orientation� to a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions. The category of sexual orientation had been removed last month as a result of an Arab and African proposal. Yesterday�s 93-55 vote (with 27 abstentions) approved an American proposal to reinsert �sexual orientation� back into the resolution. The resolution was then passed with 122 yes votes, none against and 59 abstentions.

The UN passes a resolution every two years condemning extrajudicial killings. The 2008 version included a reference to sexual orientation. Zimbabwe�s U.N. Ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa harshly condemned its re-insertion into the 2010 resolution:

We will not have it foisted on us,� he said. �We cannot accept this, especially if it entails accepting such practices as bestiality, pedophilia and those other practices many societies would find abhorrent in their value systems.

�In our view, what adult people do in their private capacity by mutual consent does not need agreement or rejection by governments, save where such practices are legally proscribed,� Chitsaka said.

Paul Canning, who has an extensiverundown of the vote, reports that one-third of African countries either supported the American proposal to reintroduce �sexual orientation� into the resolution or abstained from voting, representing a change from their votes last month removing the clause. He also notes that almost all of the Caribbean, including Jamaica, also changed their votes as well. Canning noted the Rwandan ambassador�s �yes� vote:

In the debate at the UN the most moving contribution was from the Rwandan delegate who said that a group does not need to be �legally defined� to be targeted for massacres and referenced his countries experience. �We can�t continue to hide our heads in the sand� he said.�These people have a right to life.�

Obameter reminder ANS

Just a reminder to check out the Obameter every now and then to see
how he's really doing.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Republicans Gear Up To Challenge The Constitutionality of the Constitution ANS

hi -- Richard Rice* said:  "Republican anti-immigrant crusaders have launched a bizarre plan to challenge the constitutionality of the 14th Amendment. How exactly they go about challenging the constitutionality of the Constitution is so bizarre of a concept, that it only could have its provenance in the conservative movement; ..."
find it here: 

*Richard Rice is a Facebook Friend through the folk music community.

Republicans Gear Up To Challenge The Constitutionality of the Constitution

Posted on December 21, 2010 by Rmuse


Over the summer, Arizona's papers please, anti-immigration law drew critic's ire for the law's racial profiling aspect and preposterous subjugating of Federal laws regarding border security. If SB 1070 wasn't bad enough, Americans can brace themselves for the next assault on immigration and this time it is in the form of a challenge to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Arizona's SB 1070 gave law enforcement the right to demand proof of citizenship from anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, and makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime. The law gives the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, and critics expressed their concern that any Latino risks being unfairly targeted based on the color of their skin. The law was spearheaded by Russell Pearce, and it has several provisions that are inherently discriminatory in that it requires police officers, "when practicable," to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization, and to verify their status with federal officials.

The problems with the law are that immigration and border security are the Federal government's jurisdiction and that many racists in law enforcement will abuse the law and detain any Hispanic as a form of harassment. Now, Russell Pearce is taking his anti-immigrant war a step farther by targeting the children of immigrants born in the United States, and there are several states joining the attack on constitutionally guaranteed birthright citizenship in the 14th Amendment.

Legislators in several states are intent on coordinating their push for identical bills in state houses in an effort to challenge Federal law although they are not disclosing their exact approach. If passed, states could refuse to issue birth certificates to immigrant's children, or deny benefits to children because under their proposed laws, the children will not be American citizens. The stated goal of Pearce and other anti-immigrant legislators is to bring the case to the Supreme Court so the constitutionality of the 14th Amendment can be challenged. How exactly they go about challenging the constitutionality of the Constitution is so bizarre of a concept, that it only could have its provenance in the conservative movement; of course, if it is bizarre enough, it must be a Republican-inspired idea.

The part of the 14th Amendment that proponents want the Supreme Court to overturn is the first sentence that says: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." It is fairly straight forward, and doesn't sound like there is any duplicity in that one sentence, but that will not stop Republicans from challenging the constitutionality of the Constitution. The premise that Pearce and cohorts is questioning is whether unauthorized immigrants are "subject to the jurisdiction" of the federal and state governments. However, the 14th Amendment clearly says that "all persons born or naturalized…and subject to the jurisdiction" is a citizen. There is nothing unclear in the statement "all persons born…are citizens," and the Republicans in Arizona know the Amendment is clear.

As far back as the 1800s, the Supreme Court has upheld the 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship. In an 1892 case, US v. Wong Kim Ark, the court ruled that the 14th Amendment "affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and under the protection of the country, including all children born here of resident aliens."

It is ultimately hypocritical for Republicans who claim to love and protect the Constitution to subvert the 14th Amendment to suit their hatred for immigrants, but hypocrisy is the hallmark of conservatives and especially Republicans. There is fear among Republicans that Hispanics will vote for Democrats, and despite their lies about resources immigrants take from America, or the crime they bring, it is the loss of white power they fear most.

Republicans are quietly fighting to maintain a white power base in America because they see the country is becoming homogenized into a beautiful melting pot of multi-cultural citizens and it frightens them. If the law allowed white bigots to exterminate Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and gays, there would be a holocaust that would make Adolph Hitler's Nazis jealous. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will not have to hear a case to determine the constitutionality of the Constitution, and if it does, there are none in this country who are citizens; because at some point in every American's lineage, they were born of immigrants who were not yet citizens. This outrage is just another in a long line of Republican and conservative's attempts at destroying the Constitution, so in a way, it is not surprising that they would try to test the constitutionality of the United States' Constitution.

Hunting for a Parking Spot? Now Your iPhone Can Help ANS

This is interesting:  your iphone can help you find a parking place (in a few select areas, so far.)  If it works, it will spread.  However, it also lets the parking police know if the parking spot has been filled for longer than the allotted time....  My brother's company helped design this. 
Find it here:   

Technology   Technology Technology


Hunting for a Parking Spot? Now Your iPhone Can Help

BY Ariel SchwartzTue Dec 21, 2010


Imagine: you're late for a meeting in a congested area of the city, and a bad parking situation will only make it worse. So you take out your iPhone, open up the "Parker" app, and discover that there are over four parking spaces (all of which take cash or credit) available on a street just a few blocks away from your destination. Crisis averted.

Real-time parking search is something of a holy grail for drivers in big cities--and now it's available, at least to iPhone users in Hollywood, courtesy of a San Francisco-based startup called Streetline.

Streetline already works with a number of U.S. cities, such as New York and San Francisco. The company installs low-power wireless sensors in parking spots and parking meters that can give city officials comprehensive information (in map form) about available parking spots, occupied spots, and parking violations.

This is useful for many reasons. A city can adjust parking rates based on when certain areas have the most people looking for spots, or it might even be able cut down on the number of parking enforcement officers since it knows exactly where to look for violations.

Now Streetline is bringing some of this information to drivers with the Parker app, starting in Hollywood, one of the most car-filled neighborhoods of LA. "The app dramatically increases your chances of finding parking," explains CEO Zia Yusuf. Drivers select an area to search in, and Parker points out where there are less than two spots, more than two spots, or more than four spots available. It also highlights pricing, hours, time limits, and whether the spots take cash or cards.

The app doesn't reveal exactly how many spaces are available on a certain street, but it does offer information on where there are the most parking spots in a given radius--which should cut down on a lot of in-car arguments.

Hollywood is just the beginning for the $1.99 Parker app, which is only being revealed to Streetline's other city partners this week. There's no cost for cities who already use Streetline's services to add the app, so we may soon see real-time parking information in New York City (sensors are installed on Roosevelt Island), San Francisco (in the Embarcadero), and elsewhere.

Streetline also hopes to add Parker to in-car GPS systems. An Android app will be available in the beginning of 2011. "This is the beginning of changing how people park," says Yusuf.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

Fwd: Historic START Treaty Wins Overwhelming Senate Vote, 71-26

Hi gang -- This was such a momentous week in the news, that I am just forwarding the Truthout newsletter whole.  go through it and read the headlines, then read more as you please.  What a week!

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Historic START Treaty Wins Overwhelming Senate Vote, 71-26
David Lightman, McClatchy Newspapers: "The Senate Wednesday voted 71-26 to approve a historic U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty that mandates new reductions in both nations' deployed strategic nuclear weapons. Thirteen Republicans joined 56 Democrats and two independents in giving an overwhelming bipartisan endorsement of the pact signed in Prague in April by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. 'We have lived up to our moment,' said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass."
Read the Article

Family Escalates Fight Against Air Force Academy for Allowing On-Campus Proselytizing
Nadia Prupis, Truthout: "New evidence has surfaced that the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) may have endorsed on-campus proselytizing by fundamentalist and evangelical organizations, particularly the Cadets for Christ ministry. The Baas family, whose daughter Lauren was converted after entering the school to become a pilot, has been fighting with watchdog group Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) for the USAFA to address the accusations against the academy and Cadets for Christ. The Baas family has alleged that the ministry, which was given free rein by the USAFA to operate on campus, convinced Lauren to abandon her career aspirations and focus solely on an arranged, subservient marriage."
Read the Article

White House Drafts Executive Order for Indefinite Detention
Dafna Linzer, ProPublica: "The White House is preparing an Executive Order on indefinite detention that will provide periodic reviews of evidence against dozens of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, according to several administration officials. The draft order, a version of which was first considered nearly 18 months ago, is expected to be signed by President Obama early in the New Year. The order allows for the possibility that detainees from countries like Yemen might be released if circumstances there change."
Read the Article

Senate Passes Reduced-Cost, 9/11 Health Care Bill
Nadia Prupis, Truthout: "The Senate passed a bill today covering the cost of medical care of 9/11 first responders, who are now suffering from long-term or crippling illnesses after inhaling toxic fumes and smoke during their rescue work at ground zero. Led by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and Charles Schumer (D-New York), the Senate reached a compromise with Republicans, who were concerned over the initial cost of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would have provided $7.4 billion over ten years. Today's approved legislation will provide $4.3 billion over five years."
Read the Article

News in Brief: President Obama Signs Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Into Law, and More ...
Wednesday morning, President Obama signed into law the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell"; WikiLeaks cables: Iraq security firms run "mafia"; Obama administration pens new rules to deter extensive rate hikes; South Korea prepares for military exercises; federal judge rules Bush illegally spied on Islamic charity.
Read the Article

On the Historical Necessity of WikiLeaks
Lawrence Davidson, Truthout: "Given the ahistorical nature of the public mind, few people will recall that as the United States prepared to enter World War I, American citizens were quite exercised over the issue of 'open diplomacy.' Indeed, at the time, President Woodrow Wilson made it the No. 1 issue of his 14 points - the points that constituted US war aims and, so, the ones for which some 320,518 American soldiers were killed or wounded in the subsequent year. Here is how the president put it while addressing Congress on 8 January 1918. 'The program of the world's peace ... is our program' and among the 14 prerequisites to peace is, '1. Open covenants of peace must be arrived at, after which there will surely be no private international action or rulings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.'"
Read the Article

Sarkozy's India Visit: The Nuclear Fallout
J. Sri Raman, Truthout: "India is readying to get the first lot of nuclear reactors, for which the famous US-India nuclear deal paved the way. But it is not getting them from any suppliers of the United States. On December 6, 2010, France took many by surprise by becoming the first country to sign agreements to build nuclear reactors in India. The event came 12 years after India's nuclear weapon tests (of May 11, 1998) and two years after the deal preceded by the death of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group's anti-India sanctions (October 8 and September 6, 2008, respectively)."
Read the Article

Rebecca Solnit | Iceberg Economies and Shadow Selves
Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch: "After the Macondo well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, it was easy enough (on your choice of screen) to see a flaming oil platform, the very sea itself set afire with huge plumes of black smoke rising, and the dark smear of what would become five million barrels of oil beginning to soak birds and beaches. Infinitely harder to see and less dramatic was the vast counterforce soon at work: the mobilizing of tens of thousands of volunteers, including passionate locals from fishermen in the Louisiana Oystermen's Association to an outraged tattoo-artist-turned-organizer, from visiting scientists, activist groups, and Catholic Charities reaching out to Vietnamese fishing families to the journalist and oil-policy expert Antonia Juhasz, and Rosina Philippe of the Atakapa-Ishak tribe in Grand Bayou."
Read the Article

Mexico Activists Vow to Press Ahead After Mother Seeking Justice Is Murdered
Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor: "All she wanted was justice for her slain daughter. But what Marisela Escobedo Ortiz received was a bullet in the head, after leading a series of marches, including most recently a sit-in outside the governor's palace in Chihuahua City in northern Mexico, demanding that the killer of her teen daughter face sentencing. It was there, last Thursday night, that masked men drove up to the government hall and shot Ms. Escobedo dead."
Read the Article

Chip Pitts | Cherish - and Work to Protect - Our Rights
Chip Pitts, Truthout: "The executive branch remains primarily responsible for many of our vanishing rights. While laws such as the USA Patriot Act may have emerged under the Bush administration, President Obama has flip-flopped on most major issues affecting fundamental human rights. Despite his campaign rhetoric criticizing a 'false choice between liberty and security,' he decided, in summer 2008, to support the Bush approach to massive warrantless surveillance, along with immunity for the telecommunications companies that had illegally cooperated with the secret program."
Read the Article

This Modern World | Year in Review Part One
Award-wining editorial cartoonist Tom Tomorrow shows you his "incomplete and subjective look at The Year in Crazy."
View the Comic

Michael Whitney: Bradley Manning's Detention (Video)
Laura Flanders, GRITtv: "PFC Bradley Manning remains in solitary confinement despite not having been tried or convicted of any crime. The accused leaker of much of the military information that WikiLeaks has so far published turned 23 on Friday and celebrated his birthday without family or friends, in a six foot by twelve foot cell without a pillow and in which he is not allowed to exercise. Michael Whitney of FireDogLake has been following Manning's case closely, and joins us via Skype to fill us in on the latest reports on Manning's condition - and why the government feels the need to hold Manning in conditions like those of an enemy combatant."
Read the Article

Click here for more Truthout articles


Why does Mary Matalin want money from me? Don't she and her hubby, James Carville, have enough millions between them not to solicit my lunch money?

Based on an email I received from Matalin on December 21, she is passing the can for the Libby Legal Defense Trust. The name of the c-3 charitable fund for a convicted Cheney staffer, who endangered our national security, is a bit out of date. After all, Scooter Libby was convicted and Bush didn't pardon him, so what is there to defend?

According to Matalin, Scooter deserves his "good name" back, and wants me to pop for a few dollars to help him remove the blemish of being convicted of a crime. Scooter must be feeling really down after exposing a CIA agent engaged in trying to reduce illicit trade in weapons of mass destruction (the ironies abound).

Indeed, Matalin is particularly crestfallen that Scooter's reputation is under siege again: "Scooter's name has been in the news quite a bit lately," Matalin emailed me and many others, "due to the release of the highly partisan, inaccurate, and distorted movie 'Fair Game' based on Valerie Plame's book."

I have no idea how I got on the Libby Legal Defense Trust list, but in response to Matalin's appeal, I'm going to break open my piggy bank and give a donation to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund.

Now, there's a guy who deserves some financial support. We owe him dearly.

Mark Karlin
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

Is the Swedish Government Acting as a Go-Between to Extradite Assange to the US?
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Nearly One in Four Fails Military Exam
Read the Article at AP

FCC Passes a Trojan Horse, Industry-Friendly, "Net Neutrality" Bill That Threatens Long-Term Open Access
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Will Cutting Taxes for the Rich Really Create Jobs? Of Course Not!
Read the Article at PR Watch

Italian Students Protest Education Cutbacks: Where Are the US Students?
Read the Article at Reuters

Click here for more BuzzFlash headlines

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Fwd: Fox & the holidays

I got this and thought it was interesting and helpful.  Have a look.

The holidays present an important opportunity to talk with those you're close to about Fox.


Here are a few tips for having a successful conversation.

And if you have any good conversations, let us know:

Click here  

Dear Kim,

In the coming days, many of us will be spending time with family and close friends. You might find yourself in a house with Fox News on the TV, or you might find yourself in the company of a family member who likes to talk about the "truth" coming from Fox. You could also be with folks who understand the damage Fox does, but haven’t heard about this campaign. Any of these could be a great opportunity to talk about why you don’t watch Fox and why you’re part of the movement to get it turned off in public places. And if you have any good conversations, let us know.

There's no need to be confrontational.  The person you’re talking with may not be receptive to what you have to say — and thatâ’s ok. But you might be surprised. This is about sharing your concerns and beliefs, and hearing the thoughts of someone you love.  When people are approached respectfully by someone they like and trust, it creates space for them to think and change.

Here are some pointers:

  1. Remain calm. The point here isn't to start an argument —" it's to share information. Even though some people may be hostile to what you have to say, keeping your cool can help defuse tense situations and make even skeptics receptive to what you have to say.

  2. Just the facts. We’re often tempted to use inflammatory language when describing Fox News and their tactics — "evil" or "raacist," for example. But think of the impact that this language might have on someone you’re trying to win over to your point of view. Does the fact that they watch Fox News make them "evil" or "racist"? Better to stick to the facts by describing what Fox News Channel does — stoking rracial fear, helping to spread dangerous conspiracy theories, and distorting the truth. You can refer to our flyer "The Case Against Fox" for a few examples of what Fox News does, and the impact of their actions.

  3. Listen to what others have to say. If you want to be listened to, then you should also be willing to listen to others' perspectives. If they state something untrue, you can and should offer facts to correct the record when you can — but not until after they've finished their thougght. And remember, the point isn’t to get into an argument or even prove that you're correct. It's to share your point of view.

  4. Offer more information. If the folks you talk to are interested in learning more about our campaign, just have them check out They can sign up for the campaign at that website.

The holiday season provides a unique opportunity to help more people understand what Fox is, how it poisons national discourse, and what role everyday people can play in stopping the damage.

After you have these conversations (even with those who already understand the issue), we would love to hear how they went. Tell us about it by clicking the link below:

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

-- James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Natasha, and the rest of the team
   December 22nd, 2010

Help support our work. is powered by YOU ­ your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don't share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way. You can contribute here:

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fwd: Obama's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year

Here's another one sent to me by a reader.  It's a summary of the year in politics.  Note that the unemployment rate doesn't change a lot. 

Obama's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year

Tue Dec 21, 12:11 AM EST

Barack Obama's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year got off to a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad start.

There he was, on New Year's Day, on vacation with his family in Hawaii, stuck on a secure phone with counterterrorism officials, trying to figure out what screw-ups had allowed a would-be terrorist to board a Christmas Day flight with explosives in his underwear.

Things only got worse for Obama when he returned to Washington in between a pair of epic winter storms.

From the start, 2010 delivered a string of setbacks that built up to an electoral shellacking come November, to use the president's own word.

No matter that the recession was officially over. That sweeping health care changes at last had been enacted. That combat operations in Iraq ended. That General Motors was making money and hiring again. That banks paid back most of the billions they'd borrowed from the government.

"This is what change looks like," Obama said proudly, after the health care law passed.

But. The economic recovery was too slow. The oil gushed for too long. The health care law was too complicated. The unemployment rate too high. The political discourse too raw. The tea party too loud.

Americans were in a foul mood, and Democrats got the blame.



Unemployment rate: 9.7 percent. Presidential approval rating in Associated Press-GfK poll: 56 percent. Congressional approval: 42 percent.

The Jan. 19 election to fill the Senate seat vacated by the death of Obama's ally and friend, Ted Kennedy, delivered a jarring result. Republican Scott Brown's victory, in liberal Massachusetts no less, deprived Democrats of their 60th vote in the Senate, the number needed to overcome GOP delaying tactics on legislation.

The consequences rippled through everything, recasting the already bruising health care debate, dimming hopes for climate change legislation and exposing animosity from voters over joblessness, Wall Street bailouts, exploding federal budget deficits and the toxic ways of Washington.

Obama recognized what was obvious, yet remarkable for a man who just one year earlier had embodied the restless mood of voters who swept him into office. He was losing touch.

"Do they really get us and what we're going through?" Obama wondered aloud.

He meant that extraordinary circumstances had forced themselves on the presidency and the country. "I hated it, you hated it," he said of the bank bailouts, for example. "It was about as popular as a root canal."

His State of the Union speech was in part a soliloquy about the expectations he'd raised. "I campaigned on the promise of change — change wwe can believe in, the slogan went," he said. "And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change. Or, at least, that I can deliver it."



Unemployment rate: 9.7 percent.

Bipartisanship came briefly into fashion, as lip service. Early in the month, Obama invited Republican leaders to the White House for the first time in two months, even as the capital was all but shut down by snow and ice. The meeting simply made clear Washington was polarized to the point of paralysis — in government as well as on the streets.

"Bipartisan cannot mean simply that Democrats give up everything that they believe in, find the handful of things that Republicans have been advocating for, and we do those things, and then we have bipartisanship," Obama sniped.

House Republican leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor told Obama in a letter: "'Bipartisanship' is not writing proposals of your own behind closed doors, then unveiling them and demanding Republican support."



Unemployment rate: 9.7 percent. Presidential approval rating: 53 percent. Congressional approval: 22 percent.

It was a month of passion and poison, a cry of "baby killer" from the House floor, roiling tea party protests, ugly shouts at lawmakers and sometimes by them. In the fierce maneuvering for a health care law, Democrats rained favors in back rooms to placate deep-pocketed special interests and wavering lawmakers. Spring arrived like streaks of mud on the carpet.

It was a mess.

And it placed Obama squarely in the history books as the president who achieved what Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton could not — a path to nearly universal health care. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, despised insurance company practices would be forbidden and Americans would finally get the help they need to afford health insurance as well as an IRS-enforced mandate to obtain it.

"We proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things," Obama declared after the crucial House vote late the night of March 21.

Boehner steamed from the House floor in the final throes of debate. "Can you say it was done openly, with transparency and accountability, without back-room deals?" Boehner demanded. "Hell, no you can't!"

Obama summoned exhausted aides to the Truman Balcony in the midnight hour for champagne.

"Fired up! Ready to go!" Democrats exulted at the signing two days later. Vice President Joe Biden remarked to the president, a little too close to the microphone, "This is a big f------ deal."

Obama took his victory on the road. In Iowa he dared Republicans to try to repeal the law. You could say he taunted them.

"Go for it," he said. "Be my guest."

"If they want to have that fight, we can have it. Because I don't believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat."



Unemployment rate: 9.9 percent. Presidential approval rating: 49 percent. Congressional approval: 28 percent.

At first, it was just another tragic accident. On April 20, an explosion ripped through the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, killing 11 crewmen and injuring 17 as the massive structure sank into the Gulf of Mexico.

Four days later, oil was found leaking nearly a mile below the surface.

Another circumstance had forced itself upon the presidency and the nation.



Unemployment rate: 9.7 percent. Presidential approval rating: 49 percent. Congressional approval: 28 percent.

The oil slick was massive and growing. Americans were becoming conversant with terms like blowout preventer, static kill and top kill. A live video feed from the ocean floor constantly reminded Americans that the government and the industry could not staunch a disaster unfolding before everyone's eyes.

"This man is working hard," Michelle Obama told a meeting of Democratic women early in the month.

"Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" Malia Obama asked her father late in the month.

In Utah, the tea party movement unseated Republican Sen. Bob Bennett at a state convention, signaling to both parties that a new political force was in play. The conservative grass-roots activists scored a succession of upsets in Republican primaries from Alaska to Florida. But could those people win widely in a general election? That was the burning question for the fall.

GM, rescued by government, reported its first quarterly profit since 2007.

Overseas, just before Memorial Day weekend at home, a roadside bomb pushed the U.S. military death toll to 1,000 in Afghanistan, the war that Obama decided to fight with escalating force while withdrawing combat boots from Iraq.



Unemployment rate: 9.5 percent. Presidential approval rating: 50 percent. Congressional approval: 24 percent.

Where's the outrage? If coolness in a crisis is a virtue in the Oval Office, people also want to see leaders channel their anger and frustration.

Obama absorbed that lesson as the oil still gushed. He told Americans his talks with Gulf fishermen and oil and environmental experts were "so I know whose ass to kick."

An Associated Press-GfK poll during the crisis found that Americans had become just as dissatisfied with Obama's work on the Gulf oil spill as they had been with President George W. Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina.

"He's certainly moved from seeming to walk on water to really slogging in the mud, the oil-filled mud if you will," Fred Greenstein, a Princeton University presidential scholar, told AP. "He is hitting a lot of existential obstacles — things that are out there and that are intractable."

In an extraordinary loose-lips episode, Obama's Afghanistan war commander and his aides unloaded on senior administration officials in a Rolling Stone magazine profile. Obama swiftly fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal and summoned his Central Command leader, Gen. David Petraeus, to step back from that plum post and run the war effort. The episode revealed continuing frustration over what some front-line officers see as micromanaging by Washington.



Unemployment rate: 9.5 percent.

The administration called it "Recovery Summer" but people didn't seem to be buying it.

Yes, economic growth was coming back from the year before. But the $814 billion stimulus package was supposed to wrestle down unemployment, and that was still perilously close to 10 percent. Democrats who had gone to the wall for the health care overhaul were hearing voters tell them to fix the economy.

The vastly complicated health law may be as far-reaching as Social Security in the 1930s or Medicare in the 1960s. But it is different. Most people aren't suddenly getting a check from the government in the mail. The promised gains unfold in many stages spread out over years.

Joblessness is now.



Unemployment rate: 9.6 percent. Presidential approval rating: 49 percent. Congressional approval: 24 percent.

Vacations are rarely just vacations for a president and his family. This year was no exception.

Michelle Obama's five-day trip to the south of Spain with daughter Sasha touched off a mini-firestorm stoked by questions about the wisdom of such a glamorous trip and over-the-top speculation about who was footing the bill. Suddenly the popular first lady was being labeled a "material girl" sponging off taxpayers.

Later in the month, the oil spill finally choked off in advance of the final kill of the well, the Obamas symbolically vacationed in the Gulf to show the world that beaches were safe, clean and open for business again. Playing in the Florida Panhandle, the president and Sasha swam out of public view in Saint Andrew Bay off of Alligator Point, technically not the Gulf.

August produced "a good day" for Obama, the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, and a milestone in Iraq as the last combat troops came out, leaving 50,000 to try to help Iraqi forces maintain security. "It's time to turn the page," he said.

GM, recipient of a nearly $50 billion bailout, reported another quarterly profit, $1.3 billion, and began the process of shedding government ownership. The automaker stayed profitable in the fall and raised $13 billion for taxpayers in its initial stock sale to the public. Like Chrysler, also out of bankruptcy protection, GM has been hiring thousands more workers.



Unemployment rate: 9.6 percent. Presidential approval rating: 49 percent. Congressional approval: 26 percent.

Restive voters were not waiting for November to have their say. Republican nomination races gave them their bullhorn and they were using it with dramatic effect.

In one of the year's biggest upsets, Joe Miller, backed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express, defeated GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, adding her to a column of incumbents pushed aside. Murkowski conceded a week after the Aug. 24 primary as the ballot count went against her. She later set about a long-shot campaign to win as a write-in candidate in November.



Unemployment rate: 9.6 percent. Presidential approval rating: 49 percent. Congressional approval: 23 percent.

Obama campaigned largely in urban areas in liberal states, his unpopularity such that many Democrats wanted to keep their distance from him in the home stretch. Former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden stepped in to fight for the cause in places where the president could not.

If Democrats used the health care law in their campaigns, it was to dissociate themselves from it. Some labored equally hard not to be tied to Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker demonized by Democrats' foes.

"Republicans are on offense and Democrats are running for cover," Boehner said. Democrats used every opportunity to remind voters of the bitter fruits of Republican governance. "They're offering more of the past," Biden said, "but on steroids."

Democrats had little doubt they were in for a drubbing Nov. 2.



Unemployment rate: 9.8 percent. Presidential approval rating: 47 percent. Congressional approval: 26 percent.

Obama was reflective the day after. He was not looking for asses to kick. Republicans won the House from the Democrats, shaved the Democratic majority in the Senate, picked up governorships and surged in state legislatures.

"You know," Obama said, "this is something that I think every president needs to go through."

"Now," he went on, "I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night. You know, I'm sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons."

Said Pelosi: ""Nine and a half percent unemployment is a very eclipsing event."

The tea party demonstrated both its potency and its limits. Republican House candidates backed by the activists are coming to Washington by the dozens. Yet some Republicans are quietly convinced they would have won the Senate, too, if not for a collection of flawed candidates chosen with tea party support.

Tea party favorites won Senate seats in Florida, Kentucky and Utah, but lost in Nevada, Delaware and Colorado. In Alaska, Murkowski's improbable write-in campaign succeeded.

Obama blew off some steam at a pickup basketball game, coming away with a gashed lower lip needing 12 stitches.



The year drew to a close with the government in a defensive crouch against the drip-drip-drip of WikiLeaks disclosures. The first hundreds to be released, in a cache of more than 250,000 State Department cables coming out, proved a huge embarrassment for Washington in its dealings with other nations, and followed the leak of nearly half a million documents from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

A burst of bipartisanship came back, this time with teeth. It has left liberal Democrats feeling bitten.

Although Obama has probably called the Republicans' bluff on their vow to repeal "Obamacare" — they don't have the votes — he has ts to deal with them on a broad front now. He compromised on tax cuts in the lame-duck session, agreeing to extend lower rates for the rich as well as the middle class before their expiration at year's end. The agreement is expected to add $900 billion to the deficit.

Has harmony come to the capital? Hardly. Obama likened the Republicans to hostage-takers.

But it's a new world now. He dealt.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Fwd: Soon the government check won't be in the mail

Hi -- This valuable bit of trivia was sent to me by one of our readers. It's about Social Security switching over to electronic payments. If you know someone on SS who is not comfortable with this, perhaps you can help them get it sorted out.  Note how much money this saves SS.  And the checks presumably arrive faster this way.  I hope it all works out. 

Soon the government check won't be in the mail

Tue Dec 21, 7:45 AM EST

Before too long, the government check will no longer be in the mail.

Officials have settled on the dates when millions of people will no longer be able to get their Social Security and other benefit checks by mail.

New recipients of benefits will have to accept paperless payments starting on May 1 of next year, three months later than first proposed.

Those already on Social Security will have until March 1, 2013 to make the switch to direct deposits or a debit card.

More than 58 million retirees, disabled people and surviving family members receive Social Security or Supplemental Security benefits. Already eight out of 10 people getting federal benefits receive those payments electronically, officials say.

The switch to electronic payments will eliminate the problem of lost or stolen checks and also the problems faced by people displaced from their homes who have to worry about getting their checks mailed to them, said Richard L. Gregg, the Treasury Department's assistant fiscal secretary.

"Even though we have done a good job of encouraging people to switch over, we still are making 120 million payments by mail for Social Security every year and another 15 million annually for veterans and other types of benefits," Gregg said.

Every year, the government has to process about 600,000 claims for lost or stolen checks. Social Security will save $1 billion over the next decade from phasing out paper checks, he said.

The final rules, scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday, are very similar to the proposal the government put forward in June.

But in response to public comments, the government has decided to allow people who are 90 and over and are still getting Social Security benefit checks to continue to receive their benefits the same way. The government estimates there are 275,000 people who fall into that category.

For people who do not have accounts at a bank or credit union, the government has an option that allows them to use a Direct Express debit MasterCard issued by Comerica Bank, Treasury's financial agent. More than 1.5 million people have obtained these cards, which were first issued in 2008.

In addition to the automatic waiver from electronic payments for those 90 and over, people living in remote areas who might have trouble getting to a bank can also petition for a waiver from the new rules. Gregg said that the government expects fewer than 1 percent of current benefit recipients will petition for a waiver.

Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue said that people should not wait until the deadlines to make the switch to electronic payments.

"Switching now eliminates the risks of lost and stolen checks and provides immediate access to your money on payment day," Astrue said.

The new deadlines for the switchover were announced by Treasury's Financial Management Service, the agency that processes payments for the federal government.

Congress passed a law in 1996 giving the agency the power to halt mailing paper checks for all government payments outside of refund checks from the Internal Revenue Service.

To help with the switchover for those still getting paper checks, the government has created a website, and a toll-free phone number, 1-800-333-1795, that people can call for assistance.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why Shouldn’t Freedom of the Press Apply to WikiLeaks? ANS

This is what I thought about the leaks: freedom of the press is supposed to be important in this country.  I also thought we need these guys doing this stuff precisely because we no longer have real news, real investigative journalism, in this country. 
Find it here:   

Why Shouldn't Freedom of the Press Apply to WikiLeaks?

You may not like Julian Assange, but the campaign to silence WikiLeaks should appall you

Dan Kitwood/Getty
By Tim Dickinson
December 15, 2010 5:07 PM EDT

Here's a thought experiment: Imagine for a moment that the quarter of a million secret government cables from the State Department had been leaked, not to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, but to Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times.

First, let's state the obvious: The Times would never have returned the confidential files to the Obama administration. Most likely, the newspaper would have attempted to engage with State to try to scrub life- and source- threatening details from the cables ­ as Assange and his lawyers did.

And if the administration had refused to participate in that effort -- as it did with WikiLeaks? The Times would have done what any serious news organization has the imperative to do: It would have published, at a pacing of its own choosing, any cable it deemed to be in the public interest. In this digital age, it's likely the Times would have even created a massive searchable database of the cables.

The optics of the information dump would likely have been very different -- overlaid with the Times' newspaper-of-record gravitas. But the effect would have been identical: Information that the U.S. government finds embarrassing, damning, and even damaging would have seen the light of day.

Now let's extend the thought experiment:

How would you react if top American conservatives were today baying for Bill Keller's blood? If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had called on Keller to be prosecuted as a "high-tech terrorist"? If Sarah Palin were demanding that Keller be hunted down like a member of Al Qaeda? If Newt Gingrich were calling for the Times editor to be assassinated as an "enemy combatant."

What if Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, had successfully pressured the Times' web hosting company to boot the newspaper off its servers? What if Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal suddenly stopped processing subscriptions for the paper?

Imagine that students at Columbia University's graduate school of international affairs had been warned not to Tweet about the New York Times if they had any hopes of ever working at the State Department.

Imagine U.S. soldiers abroad being told that they'd be breaking the law if they read even other news outlets' coverage of the Times' exclusives.

Imagine that the Library of Congress had simply blocked all access to the New York Times site.

You can't imagine this actually happening to the New York Times. Yet this has been has been exactly the federal and corporate response to Assange and WikiLeaks.

The behavior is outrageous on its face and totalitarian in its impulse. Indeed, we should all be alarmed at the Orwellian coloring of the Obama administration's official response to the publishing of the cables:

"President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal."

Secrecy is openness. What the fuck?!

Listen: You don't have to approve of Assange or his political views; you can even believe he's a sex criminal. It doesn't matter. What's at stake here isn't the right of one flouncy Australian expat to embarrass a superpower. It's freedom of the press. And it's a dark day for journalists everywhere when the imperatives of government secrecy begin to triumph over our First Amendment.

A Rallying Cry for the Left: "Down with Corporate Feudalism" ANS

Here's another two-word sound bite by the writer who suggested "Cheap Labor Conservatives" as the proper label for the guys trying to subvert the American Dream. 
Find it here: 

A Rallying Cry for the Left: "Down with Corporate Feudalism"

By Conceptual Guerilla
October 15th, 2007

Tagged: Framing

I finally have a "bumper sticker" that offers a better description for the corporate "new world order".

Perhaps it is unfortunate, but the reality is that political agendas must frequently be expressed in slogans. The truth is that the left's positions are more complex, because reality is more complex than the neat slogans and rhetoric of the right. We are not very good at "PR", because we mostly detest the deliberate manipulation of corporate huxters – including the huxters that have crafted the Republican "message". So we are rightly distrustful of the politics of image and oversimplfication. Which makes it a challenge to come up with a slogan that is accurate, meaningful and short. Nevertheless, I believe I have discovered one.

The central slogan of the right is "less government". The right has literally built an entire political movement out of these two words. Every thing you read from right wing activists is an interpretation of reality through the "lens" of these two words. In fact, this slogan is contradictory, as used by conservatives. Conservatives are the "punishers". They are the believers in military action abroad, and retributive justice at home. They want to increase of the power of the police, not reduce it. "Less government" really means less government for the corporate interests they represent. It means a world where you are controlled, while your corporate boss runs wild.

Those two words – "less government" – accomplish what any really effective communication accomplishes. The phrase has levels of sophistication. The least sophisticated conservative activist understands it, and the think-tank academic likewise understands it. The only difference is the level of understanding. It is a phrase that actually has intellectual content, and you can probe its meaning as deeply as you like. In fact, this is the strength of the phrase. It is accessible to abolutely everyone. It is a theme that furnishes the basis for every sort of particular application imaginable. You can literally find "yet another example" to give you something rant about in five minutes.

We on the left have a similarly simple formulation. It is instantly recognizable to anyone who hears it. And the level of understanding of its meaning is as deep as you care to probe. You can delve into the very bowels of historical, economic or socialogical scholarship and see its continued relevance. It doesn't, like so many other slogans, dissolve into meaninglessness upon closer scrutiny. It has power, because while simple it identifies something both complex and real. What is the simple phrase that sums up our opponent, and unites every progressive in common cause against the right?

Corporate feudalism. Variants include industrial feudalism or "neo-feudalism". In fact, it is a new name – a more accurate name – for "less government". It enables you to re-define conservatives – virtually anywhere you go. Whenever you hear the words "less government", it is a simple matter to correct the speaker. "Oh, you mean 'corporate feudalism'".

Because that is exactly what the conservative is talking about. Feudalism – the original version – divided control of the land of a nation among a noble elite. A handful of such elites governed as landlords over a peasantry who owned nothing "but their bellies", but worked in service to the lord of the manor. Feudal serfs were "bound to the land" and considered an "appurtenance" to the land, like its streams, timber and minerals. Not unlike today's industrial workforce, they were nothing more than assets to be exploited. "Freedom" was for "freed men" or "gentlemen" as they came to be known. It wasn't – and isn't – for serfs.

Today's conservative sees things much the same way. His corporate neo-feudalism is about a new world of "privitized tyranny". He is talking about a world where the government is the agent for private corporate power. The "public good"or "public interest" have no place in this new world of "corporate feudalism". Private ambition, private profit, private fortunes, and of course "pivate property" are the only legitimate concerns of government. Even the uses of the US military have been subverted to the uses of "corporate feudalism". What else is the coming "oil war" but a war to allow the US to distribute the oil wealth of Iraq to private oil companies to exploit for profit? Do you really believe that the US government is going to establish any sort of democracy that doesn't "know its place"? In fact, you can look around the third world and see a consistent pattern. American foreign policy makers talk about "democracy" but what they set up are corporate client states.

Corporate feudalism isn't new at all. Capitalism – especially before the emergence of soical democracies – has always had a feudal character. In foreign affairs, we've been propping up governments who see their job as making the world safe for corporations since at least the end of World War II. What are the World Bank and International Monetary Fund but tools of transnational corporations to force sovereign nations to serve the interests of the corporate lords?

Everyone on the left understands these realities. The people in the middle – those who concern themselves with their own business, and don't pay much attention to the larger political and economic world – do not. Oh, they have heard complaints of "US imperialism" from time to time, but that phrase creates no understanding, and in fact alienates the American moderate. He hears in that phrase an attack on "America", which he translates into an attack on himself. He accepts the "heroic" view of America in the world, and disbelieves the stories he hears of "American imperialism", because to believe them is to denigrate, in his mind, the character and virtues of the America he was taught to revere.

The phrase "corporate feudalism" solves his problem of understanding. It is a phrase he can understand. It is as simple to comprehend as the old "company store". Many middle Americans who work for corporations are well aware of the feudal hierarchy in place where he works. Many more have the nagging sense that they are little better than serfs. It is also a more substantive description of "American imperialism". "Imperialism" suggests military conquest, but "corporate feudalism" doesn't quite fit that model. "Economic conquest" is more accurate, and its subjugation and oppression is much more subtle.

Not only that, while it was done by "Americans" – such as they are – it does not reflect American values, American institutions or American freedom. Corporate feudalism is decidedly "unAmerican", and is a gross departure from American values. It represents the seizure of American government to serve a new purpose – the promotion of corporate wealth and power. Opposing this corrosive new form of "privitized tyranny" is not "unAmerican". Neither is publicizing the abuses of the corporate lords around the world in Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Iran or Vietnam. America didn't do those things. You didn't do those things. An American government subverted by corporate oligarchs did those things, and lied to you about their true purpose.

The "traitors" are the corporate "feudal lords" who stole our government and committed oppression and exploitation in our name. The 'traitors" are the one's who now seek to use debt and "free trade" to do to the US, what they have already done to Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. The traitors are the one's – in the name of "liberty" no less – who seek a government they say can do nothing for the people who live under it, but can only serve the interests of corporate fiefdoms. Patriots expose these corporate potentates. Patriots seek to restore democracy, subverted by corporate feudalism.

Just as it did for the conservatives, two simple words define this reality. Two simple words explain to the average American the forces at work against him. Two words explain the subversion of American democracy by a new power never before seen, namely the power of the transnational corporation – a force grown so large that only a democratic govenrment can possibly control such potential monsters. Two words sum up the gradual growth of the "global economy". Two words explain the gradual corruption of American institutions. Two words explain the subverion of the press and media – once the sentinels of democracy, now the mouthpieces for corporate PR.

Those two simple words are "corporate feudalism". People need to hear those words, You, as a progressive activist, need to use those words. You need to listen to conservative propaganda, listen to the media's corporate propaganda, and learn to translate their euphemisms for the reality of "corporate feudalism". You need to become the spokesmen for this new interpretation, and use these two simple words, until the last person in America understands how his government has been stolen from him by people who do not believe in American democracy, but who worship before a very different altar, the alter of corporate power.

Now you can see the opposition between left and right in stark relief. While the left believes in equality, democracy, social justice and genuine liberty, the right believes in the wealth, power and privilege of a corporate neo-feudal elite. And now you have a simple way to illustrate that fundamental difference.
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Gegner's picture
Submitted by Gegner on Tue, 2007-10-16 12:54.

I'm guessing the response to this 'defining concept' is 'muted' because it's been floating around for awhile, most of us have heard it without giving the idea much thought.

Yet when one rolls the idea around in their minds, it 'clicks' on many levels.

Just like paychecks you can't live on...or a minimum wage that fails to protect the worker from abject poverty.

Naturally, accepting the idea of 'corporate feudalism' leaves all of us freedom loving Americans faced with the fact that our beloved nation has been usurped via a bloodless coup.

Our government no longer exists and our constitution is meaningless.

While Corporate feudalism defines what has happened to our once fair nation, the left needs to re-inforce its stance...the stance it has always had

'Justice for all.'

If the Right stands for less government, the Left stands for justice.

Justice is what the public is thirsting for and justice is what they'll get when they unite under the banner of the left.