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Barack Obama, the human cave-in

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that Obama, if he signs what is being called the National Defense Authorization Act, “will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law.” More here.


The unholy alliance between Congress and media corporations will most likely result in the passage of SOPA, and could mean the end of blogging as we know it:

Some of the original engineers of the Internet called Thursday for lawmakers to scrap anti-piracy bills, saying the proposals would pose major technological barriers for the Web and stifle new innovations.

The letter comes as House Judiciary committee members on Thursday debate the Stop Online Piracy Act introduced by Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) that has drawn impassioned support from media firms but opposition by Web firms and some public interest groups.

At the hearing, California Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D) and Darrell Issa (R) have asked the committee to reconsider the bill and amendments to it in a hearing.

But many lawmakers of both parties are in support of the legislation.
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I wonder who’s behind this? Via Cannonfire, some very intriguing news:

Someone has paid for a poll designed to see if there is any enthusiasm for a Jeb Bush run against Barack Obama in 2012.

Here’s more:

After all, it would be too late for Bush to enter the race, right? Everyone has been told that the field is set. And indeed, in several primary states qualifying has closed. But New Hampshire allows voters to write-in any name they choose. And most party caucuses either don’t have a ballot or have a pretty open write-in policy. Don’t forget, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. won a surprise write-in victory in New Hampshire without ever declaring himself a candidate for President in 1964.

There is still time. In fact, if Jeb was interested in seeking the party’s nomination, this might be his smoothest path to victory.

I can see why some in the GOP leadership might be intrigued by this idea. The base simply does not care for Romney. Newt probably can’t win in the general. Ron Paul is a sincere libertarian — no TARP for him, thank you — and thus will never be allowed to get near the nomination.

The Bush name appeals to the Tea Party cranks and to the Establishment — in other words, to the third of the country who remained stalwart Dubya supporters to the very end. However, I don’t think the name has much appeal to anyone outside that 33 percent.

Jeb’s spokesperson has denied that he has anything to do with the poll. However, there was a Florida poll in April matching Obama against Jeb Bush. Bush won handily, and even attracted a surprising amount of Democratic support.

Water cutoff

This is simply horrifying. And you’ll notice the real culprits:

The facility, which has been under construction since 1996, was meant to cost about $300m.

But the bill soared to $3.1bn after construction problems and a series of bond and derivatives deals that went sour in the financial meltdown of 2008.

Investment bank JP Morgan Securities and two of its former directors have been fined for offering bribes to Jefferson County workers and politicians to win business financing the sewer upgrade.

Six of Jefferson County’s former commissioners have been found guilty of corruption for accepting the bribes, along with 15 other officials.


Christopher Hitchens, 62.

‘Deserves to be dumped’

Harper’s publisher John MacArthur on Obama:

By now it should be obvious that the system, and the Democratic Party, run Obama, not the other way around. Under this arrangement, the president carries out his duties as pre-eminent party functionary — fundraising being at the top of his list of responsibilities — and defers on legislation, leaving it to corrupt Democratic barons such as Sen. Max Baucus (D.-Mont.), devoted friend of the insurance, pharmaceutical, and banking crowd and sworn enemy of reform.

As Ron Suskind’s book “Confidence Men” confirms, there was never any question of doing things differently. Describing the then president-elect’s choice of economic advisers, he notes, “Obama, after all, had selected for his top domestic officials two men [Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner] whose actions [in the Clinton Administration] had contributed to the very financial disaster they were hired to solve.” These anti-reform appointments did not go unnoticed by party regulars, even though they were ignored by Obama groupies. “I don’t understand how you could do this,” Suskind quotes Sen. Byron Dorgan (D.- N.D.) saying to Obama. “You’ve picked the wrong people!”

The “wrong people” included Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago, and his replacement as White House chief of staff, William Daley; both of these advisers were four-star generals within the Chicago Democratic machine who cut their teeth in Washington during the campaign to pass that job-killer North American Free Trade Act and who later worked for investment banks. But Obama’s hypocrisy in Osawatomie, Kan., set a new standard in deception. Among other things, his speech blamed “regulators who were supposed to warn us about the dangers of all this [the unfettered sales of bundled mortgages], but looked the other way or didn’t have the authority to look at all. It was wrong. It combined the breathtaking greed of a few with irresponsibility all across the system.”

What’s truly breathtaking is the president’s gall, his stunning contempt for political history and contemporary reality. Besides neglecting to mention Democratic complicity in the debacle of 2008, he failed to point out that derivatives trading remains largely unregulated while the Securities and Exchange Commission awaits “public comment on a detailed implementation plan” for future regulation. In other words, until the banking and brokerage lobbies have had their say with John Boehner, Max Baucus, and Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner. Meanwhile, the administration steadfastly opposes a restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act, the New Deal law that reduced outlandish speculation by separating commercial and investment banks. In 1999, it was Summers and Geithner, led by Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin (much admired by Obama), who persuaded Congress to repeal this crucial impediment to Wall Street recklessness.
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Merry Christmas, Baby

Have yourself a merry little Christmas


One in two

That’s half, folks. Half of all Americans. So it ain’t just you.

Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that’s shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

“Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too ‘rich’ to qualify,” said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.
“The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal,” he said. “If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years.”

Congressional Republicans and Democrats are sparring over legislation that would renew a Social Security payroll tax reduction, part of a year-end political showdown over economic priorities that could also trim unemployment benefits, freeze federal pay and reduce entitlement spending.

And in case you think establishment conservatives are unsympathetic to your plight, they are.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, questioned whether some people classified as poor or low-income actually suffer material hardship. He said that while safety-net programs have helped many Americans, they have gone too far. He said some people described as poor live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.

What? Some poor people still have cars they aren’t living in? So much more work to do, eh Robbie?

In the meantime, you poor folk should stop complaining and watch that big-screen TV.

UPDATE: I have been kicking this story around in my head for a little while and I wondered why a quote from a Heritage Foundation douchebag is even in the story. I went back to the story and saw no corresponding quote from an advocate for the poor. The closest thing was the quote, included in the snippet above, from Sheldon Danziger, the poverty expert from the University of Michigan. Being an expert in poverty doesn’t necessarily mean he is an advocate for the poor, although he may be. It just means he knows what he is talking about.

It’s just another example of the MSM’s fetish with the bullshit idea of “balance,” which in this case apparently means that if you report that nearly half of all Americans are impoverished or low income, you have to find some asshole willing to say that poverty isn’t so bad.

I guess the next time the AP reports on a rape, it will have to find someone to say that rape isn’t so bad. You know, for balance.

Hey, if you are a reporter writing about a rape and need that “rape isn’t so bad” quote to ensure complete, balanced reportage, try this guy. One caveat: The victim has to be Latino.

Cross-posted at Redsoxville.

Ryan’s new sneak attack on Medicare

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Ayn Rand fanatic, never tires of trying to shred the government safety net. His latest scheme involves reaching across the aisle — all the way to the Senate, actually — to a so-called Democrat who shares Ryan’s passion for privatization:

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is teaming up with Paul Ryan, the House’s top budget guy and the author of the GOP’s controversial budget which proposes phasing out traditional Medicare and replacing it with a private plan… The move makes Wyden the first elected Democrat to endorse creating a premium-support system to compete with traditional fee-for-service Medicare…

The policy… allows insurers to compete with traditional Medicare turning Medicare essentially into a public option on a private insurance exchange. Wyden and Ryan would give patients subsidies that could be applied to either private insurance or fee for service Medicare…

Unlike previous plans, those subsidies would rise and fall with the cost of the plans themselves — not at a fixed rate below the explosive rate of health care inflation… This plan relies mostly on the theory that competition among insurers could hold down costs — a proposition with little evidence behind it — and would therefore save the government much less, if any, money at all.

The talking points for selling the Wyden-Ryan plan sound a lot like Mitt Romney’s plans for Medicare, so don’t be surprised if Ryan endorses Romney for president. Let’s hope voters can see past the smoke and mirrors of these cold-blooded frauds.

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