Archive for January 1st, 2010

Political Predictions

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

It’s time to make your best political predictions for 2010 …

Will the media stop pretending that Dick Cheney’s opinion has any value? Will they end their practice of playing stenographer for Sarah Palin and her Facebook ramblings? Will they realize that parroting talking points with bothering to fact-check isn’t really journalism? Will they — okay, these are fantasies, not predictions.

Hopefully you can do better.

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Big Wingnut FAIL

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

Matt Drudge’s sidekick Andrew Breitbart (sponsor of the ACORN video sting) almost scored another “journalistic” coup, “discovering” that ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis had visited the White House days before Breitbart released his anti-ACORN videos:
Screen capture from Andrew Breitbart’s

But uh oh…guess what? As Ben Smith reports, Breitbart’s outfit got the wrong Bertha Lewis. Same first name, same last name, but completely different person. The fact that they have different middle initials should have been a clue.

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Late Afternoon/Early Evening Open Thread

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

The decade in review.

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Best and Worst of Worst and Best Lists

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

It’s that end-of-the-year time again and (disputed) end-of-the-decade time when we get a gander at what assorted folk think was the best and worst of what we’ve experienced in the past year or the past 10. As Devilstower pointed out, these lists are stupid. That doesn’t stop them from filling the airwaves and other media, however. In late December, Top Ten and Top Five lists of everything imaginable pop up to fill the interstices left by contributors on vacation. Some of us, despite our best intentions, read them full well knowing their high potential for lowering our IQs.

This year, there’s 10 Cocktails for 2010, the Best Book I’ve Read This Year, the best films of the decade, no, these are the best films of the decade, no, these are the best films of the decade, the Worst Movie of the Decade, the 23 Shows That Changed Television during the Decade, the best 10 viral videos of the decade. And there’s …

Ten Psychology Studies from 2009 Worth Knowing About.

Decade In Review: Corporate Scoundrels And Scandals.

Top ten dreams of the decade– did yours make the list?

Capitol Hill’s Most Unhinged Republicans.

Nine Ways Our World Changed During the ‘00s.

Image of the decade.

Top 10 Sex Tape Scandals of 2009.

Biggest political winners and losers of 2009.

OK, OK, enough already, you get the picture.

Not to be outdone, the folks over at The Atlantic gave Marc Ambinder the task of putting up a reader poll to choose the worst political gaffes of the decade.

The choices: “Mission Accomplished”; Obama jokes about Nancy Reagan and seances in first post-election presser; Mike Huckabee hosts press conference to announce he won’t run negative ad, shows negative ad; John McCain unsure of how many houses he owns; John Kerry’s 2006 “Botched Joke.”

Really? That’s it?

How about John McCain’s 2008 comment, “Our economy remains fundamentally strong.” Or George Bush’s “You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie.” Or Larry Craig’s “wide stance”? Or John Edwards’s midnight encounter with the National Inquirer sneaking down the back stairs of his lover’s hotel room? Or what about Rod Blagojevich’s taped effort to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat: “I’ve got this thing and it’s f**king golden,” “I’m just not giving it up for f**king nothing,” and “Give this motherf**ker Obama his senator? F**k him. For nothing. F**k him.’”? Or Condi Rice’s slip-up when she said: “As I was telling my husb—”, then quickly changed to “As I was telling President Bush.”

As gaffes go, however, surely George W. Bush’s July 2, 2003, “Bring them on” dare to Iraqi insurgents is hard to top. If that is, it’s a “gaffe” to play tough guy with thousands of other people’s lives.

DNC moves to tie superdelegates to state’s preferences

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

Tony Romm (via DemConWatch):

A commission of Democratic leaders on Wednesday recommended their party virtually eliminate superdelegates from their presidential candidate nomination process.

Their proposal — commissioned by the Democratic National Committee in the aftermath of last year’s tough primary season — would essentially make the “superdelegate” post an honorary position.

Consequently, these powerful party leaders could no longer select the candidate of their choice; rather, their votes would be tied to the outcome of their respective states’ primaries, which choose winners by popular vote.

Technically, superdelegates can vote for whomever they want at the national convention, but in reality, there’s almost no scenario under which they would actually thwart the will of the popularly selected pledged delegates.

Nonetheless, the mere possibility that they could thwart the popular will creates the illusion that contests that have been completely settled are still up for grabs, as happened in 2008 when then-candidate Obama was a virtual lock to win a majority of pledged delegates but theoretically could have lost if the supers ended up voting for Hillary Clinton en masse. Moreover, because the media included superdelegates in the delegate counts, the delegate scoreboard never really offered an accurate reflection of who was actually winning primaries and caucuses.

Given that superdelegates are extremely unlikely to flip the actual results of primaries and caucuses once the Democratic primary electorate has spoken, they are at best useless and there’s really no point to having them in the first place. If the new proposal is adopted, superdelegates would effectively be limited to a ceremonial role, ratifying their state’s popular vote. That makes far more sense than the current system.

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The Year in Stupid

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

End of the year lists are stupid to begin with. So a list of the top outbreaks of national stupidity in 2009? Shield your brain cells before proceeding, and be sure not to read and drive (actually, that’s good advice even if you’re reading that smart stuff).

The Official Network of Stupid
This is more of a lifetime achievement award. Fox News has always required its “journalists” to check their brains at the door, but this year Fox reached new heights in depths, going beyond the tradition of labeling every politician in trouble as a Democrat and proceeding to provide fantasy backdrops that inflated the crowd for conservative events. Reality shows have been doing so well for Fox’s entertainment division, it’s clearly decided to use the “news” channel to dabble in alternate reality TV. Fox News proves again and again that it believes the American Public is that stupid. In the last couple of weeks they’ve been trying out new catchphrases. May I suggest: Fox News — because you’ll believe anything.

The Official Pundit of Stupid
You would think this would be a closely fought battle. With O’Reilly, Hannity and Limbaugh still on the air, stupid is well-represented every day (and my investment in microphone spit-shields continues to pay dividends). But for 2009, is there any doubt about the winner of this award? Weeping, wailing, slobbering, and splitting the screen to show a close-up of his bleary red eyes, Glenn Beck is the television equivalent of a geek show. That’s geek in the carny sense. Granted, there hasn’t been any chicken biting… yet. Still, Beck is to be commended for creating a show that acts as a national IQ test.

The Official Histrorical Figure of Stupid
Sorry, Mr. Godwin, but it appears your law has been repealed. It seems that it’s perfectly OK to make comparisons between Hitler and anyone you want — including the sitting president of the United States — and news programs will report on it in all seriousness. It’s quite a comeback for that paper-hanging son of a bitch, but then, who knew the Nazis had such a good health plan?

The Official Story of Stupid
There’s a little town just a couple of miles from my home that has an annual festival in support of that most Midwestern of spreads, apple butter. The population of this town is just a couple of hundred, but every year more people show up to celebrate brown biscuit goo than arrived in Washington DC for the biggest of the tea bagger bonanzas.  That’s not the stupid part. The stupid part is that Fox News, which organized the bagger event from start to finish, then wagged its finger at the other networks for not giving it more coverage. Wait, that’s still not the stupid part. The stupid part is that the other networks responded. Which only proves that no one is more experienced than Fox when it comes to knowing how to talk to idiots.

The Official Politician of Stupid
It’s a rare politician who can turn on the jets and make himself as big of a joke as Joe… Hang on, hang on. Lieberman goes in the article on laughably venal tantrums of 2009. Sorry about that. No, the official politician of stupid is the one who was such a coward he got Google to blur out his house on Google Maps even though its location is taught to sixth graders. This year Dick Cheney, the American ostrich, removed his head from the dirt long enough to complain that other people weren’t brave enough to protect his quivering tail feathers. Put your head back in the hole, Dick, and say hi to the rest of your administration while you’re down there. Bonus stupid to the media that gave him a place to squawk.

Sarah Palin
No really. That’s the title of the award.

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Midday Open Thread

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments
  • As has been the case for months now, there’s been mixed news on the economy this week:

    The Conference Board’s consumer confidence indexrose 2.3 points to 52.9, a good sign, but the “present situation index” fell 2.5 points to 18.8, a near-record low, and an extremely large 46.6 percent of respondents said business conditions are bad.

    Hotels had their worst year since the Great Depression.

    The restaurant business took another dive in November.

    The Department of Labor reported that four-week running average for unemployment compensation claims dropped again.

    The Institute for Supply Management reported a large expansion in the purchasing manager index.

    Fannie Mae reported another increase in mortgage payment delinquencies.

    NASDAQ up 45%, DOW industrials up 20% and the S&P up 25% for the year.

  • Is delayed gratification really good for you?. Edward Tenner explores the concept with a story from David Ogilvy:

    When I was a boy, I always saved the cherry on my pudding for last. Then, one day, my sister stole it. From then on, I always ate the cherry first.

  • Jeff McMahon takes note that North Dakota wants to sue Minnesota for even thinking about a carbon tax:

    North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Tuesday he expects to sue Minnesota for just that, and North Dakota’s legislature has set aside $2 million to fund the lawsuit. Now there’s a good cause.

    What did Minnesota do wrong? Two years ago the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission passed a regulation requiring utilities to consider the potential cost of carbon emissions when they project the cost of energy to Minnesota consumers.

  • Some folks are still arguing about when the decade really ends.
  • In Single-Payer’s Last Stand?, Greg Kaufmann offers a chance for the Congressional Progressive Caucus to provide a smidgen of help in this direction:

    One item worth rallying around–and it hasn’t received a lot of attention–is waiver language that would permit states to implement alternatives to insurance market exchanges, including single-payer systems.

    The Senate bill would allow such waivers, but not until 2017, even though the private exchanges start in 2014.

  • Jim Hightower suggests Six Things to Do in 2010:

    On issue after issue, it’s been go-slow and don’t-rock-the-corporate boat. “Where’s the ‘audacity of hope?’” people are asking. “Where’s the ‘change you can believe in?’”

    The answer is that in our country’s democracy, audacity and change are where they’ve always resided: out there with you and me, at the grassroots level.

  • Yes, polar bears and (walruses) are in big trouble:

    [Thursday], responding to a court-ordered deadline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized long-overdue reports documenting the status of polar bears and Pacific walrus in Alaska. The reports confirm that polar bear populations in Alaska are declining and that Pacific walrus are under threat. Both species are being hurt by the loss of their sea-ice habitat due to global warming, oil and gas development, and unsustainable harvest.

  • Targeted Yemeni cleric says, ”I’m Alive”

    A week after U.S. and Yemeni officials said the radical Yemen cleric Anwar Awlaki may have been killed in a U.S.-backed Christmas eve air strike, a Yemeni journalist says Awlaki has surfaced to proclaim, “I’m alive.”

    “He said the house that was attacked was two or three kilometers away from him and he was not there,” the journalist, Abdulelah Hider Shaea, told ABC News. He said he talked to Awlaki on the phone and recognized his voice from previous interviews.

  • The Daily Beast has something to make you smile and probably piss you off in its 2009 Gallery of Monsters and Weenies.
  • Glenn Greenwald hits the bullseye with a Tweet:

    As AQ Terrorists make explicitly clear, nothing helps them more than treating them as warriors rather than criminals:…

  • The Real News Network takes a look at a New stage of resistance in Iran, including an interview with Nader Hashemi, Assistant Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics at the University of Denver.
  • Thalif Deen investigates how U.S. Arms Feed Yemen’s Gun Culture.

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Another Kind Of Watch List

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

In the wake of the party-wide decision by Republicans to blatantly politicize last week’s attempted terrorist attack, here’s an important reminder of what seven Republican senators voted against in 2007:

The Improving America’s Security Act of 2007 … provided the Transportation Security Administration with the authority to use $250 million in funds to “purchase, deployment, installation, research, and development of equipment to improve security screening for explosives at commercial airport checkpoints.” It also urged the TSA to “to deploy such technologies quickly and broadly to address security shortcomings at passenger screening checkpoints.”

Additionally, the legislation included provisions that required the Department of Homeland Security to “submit a strategic plan to Congress that describes the system to be utilized for comparing [airline] passenger information to watch lists; explains the integration with international flights; and provides a projected timeline for testing and implementation its advanced passenger prescreening system.”

Voting against the act were: John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okl.) Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), James Inhofe (R-Okl.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ari.).

So the next time one of these terrorist-coddlers jumps in front of a camera to denounce the Obama administration’s response to last week’s attempted attack, perhaps some “journalist” can ask them why they hate America. Or at the very least, why they’re such hypocritical tools.

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Bernie Sanders: "A Revolution in Primary Care"

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

Arguably the most critical element of the health insurance bill, the one that will extend actual care to the most people, is the Sanders’ Community Health Centers expansion. He talks about that in an interview with Ezra:

In most areas of Vermont right now, you can drive to a community health center near you where you’ll get excellent quality primary health care. If you have no health insurance, you’re charged on a sliding scale basis. If you have Medicare or Medicaid, they’re delighted to have you. And private health insurance, that’s great, too. We’ve gone from two community health centers in Vermont to eight. And those eight centers have 41 separate locations and are used by about 100,000 people – and that’s in a population a bit over 600,000. So we know they work.

As of this point, we have added $10 billion for the program in the Senate bill. Congressman Jim Clyburn has added $14 billion in the House bill. And my hope is the conference committee will go with the $14 billion. What we would do with $14 billion is expand access from the current 20 million people served by community health centers to 45 million people. It will mean establishing CHCs and their satellites in 10,000 new communities. What it also means is that we will dramatically increase funding for the National Health Service Corps so we have an additional 20,000 doctors, dentists and nurses. It’s a revolution in primary health care if we get what I hope we get….

When we talk about health care, people tend to talk about insurance. But equally important is access. You need to be able to find a primary-care physician and a dentist and a mental-health counselor. The $14 billion will have a profound impact on addressing the crisis in primary care in this country. We’re not graduating enough primary-care doctors, and even people with insurance often can’t find one. But the insanity is that we’re not just depriving people of primary care they need, but we’re sending them to the emergency room. And the emergency room will treat you for the common cold and charge $600 to $1,000, and the community health center will cost $100. If we spend on community health centers, you actually save money.

We also have a major problem with dental care in this country. But community health centers provide that, and so, too, with mental-health counseling. They also provide some of the lowest-cost prescription drugs in America. This program, ironically enough, has widespread bipartisan support. Even George W. Bush put money into this program. John McCain campaigned on it. In the stimulus package, we doubled funding to about $2 billion a year and brought it up to $4 billion.

It’s a good start on actually providing more health care to some of the people who need it most, and along with Medicaid expansion is what’s worth the fight in the bill, and along with the better affordability mechanisms, public option and no excise tax aspects of the House bill, what conferees should be fighting for.

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Silence of the Lambs

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

Shocking news:, the Washington Times Web project that was billed as an ambitious “multiplatform” venture to allow “the Joe the Plumbers of the world to speak up to major thinkers, like Newt Gingrich,” has gone silent.

Okay, I lied — funny news.

But really, it was doomed to fail from the start given that:

When the site launched in the fall, then-Times editor John Solomon told the Washington Independent he envisioned’s role as an aggregator of the best content of conservative blogs …

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