Sunday, February 28, 2010

Howard Dean Interview - Bipartisan Healthcare Summit

TYT: Take The Damn Vote! (On The Public Option)

TYT: Rep. Steve King - We Don't Listen To Lobbyists Enough!

The Young Turks: Almost 30,000 Troops To Remain In Iraq In 2014?

Truthout 2/28

EPA Drastically Underestimates Coal Waste Pollution
Joshua Frank, Truthout: "The EPA's tally of coal ash contamination locations last year did not include an additional 31 sites that should have been included in the totals, stated the study, entitled 'Out of Control: Mounting Damages From Coast Ash Waste Sites.'"
Read the Article
Netanyahu Derailing Peace Effort Using Heritage Sites
Ira Chernus, Truthout: "It's the same old tragic story. Just when there is a glimmer of hope that Israel and Palestine might take a step toward peace, the Israeli government swoops in to sabotage it. At least this time the Israelis are not killing anyone - yet."
Read the Article
Guns at Starbucks? Pushing the Right to Bear Arms in Public
Michael B. Farrell, The Christian Science Monitor: "Gun owners in California have been wearing their handguns in coffee shops and restaurants. The guns are unloaded and legal, but some citizens and police departments are wary."
Read the Article
Turning Point: When Soldiers Have Had Enough
Nadya Williams, Truthout: "Josh Stieber and Conor Curran spoke to a gathering of Veterans For Peace and civilian peace activists in San Francisco, as part of their six months of walking and biking from the East Coast to the West to engage in dialogue about war and to become involved in community service along the way ... They spoke of their motivations for joining the Marines, their experiences in Iraq and the turning points that made them reject violence."
Read the Article
White Collars Are Feeling the Blue-Collar Woes
Connie Schultz, Truthout: " ... Our country has seen the most job loss in 25 years. This time, it's not just factory workers getting laid off or suffering the health consequences. Americans who never imagined themselves vulnerable - including the journalists who didn't cover those hurting factory workers - are losing their jobs at unprecedented rates. Often, laid-off professionals are losing their health care, too."
Read the Article
Jordan: Where Iraqi Women Are Also Fathers
Hanan Tabbara, Inter Press Service: "'Iraqi refugee women are bearing a disproportionate burden of family responsibilities,' says Nourjan. 'Many have had their husbands either killed, disappeared or seriously injured. The onus is now on the women to find a way to secure income,' adds Nourjan."
Read the Article
Decision Time on Climate
Herve Kempf, "In 1938, it was possible to consider Mr. Hitler a respectable man. In 1960, it was possible to believe that the Soviet Union would win the cold war. In 2010, it is possible to parse climate change as an invention of dishonest scientists."
Read the Article
The Other Victims of Battlefield Stress; Defense Contractors' Mental Health Neglected
T. Christian Miller, ProPublica: "While suicide among soldiers has been a focus of Congress and the public, relatively little attention has been paid to the mental health of tens of thousands of civilian contractors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. When they make the news at all, contractors are usually in the middle of scandal, depicted as cowboys, wastrels or worse."
Read the Article

Good Magazine: Skid Row Part 5 - The Epilogue

Good Magazine: Skid Row Part 4

Good Magazine: Skid Row Part 3

Good Magazine: Skid Row Part 2

Good Magazine: Skid Row Part 1

Tea party fears a matter of race and more


A few words on the meaning of tea. They are occasioned by a recent commentary from Keith Olbermann of MSNBC. The commentary -- you can find it on YouTube -- scores the tea party movement as the outcry of people who haven't yet made peace with the fact that their president is black.

Everything else, said Olbermann, is euphemism. Taxes? Socialism? Budget deficit? No, he argued, when you strip away the pretenses and rationalizations, ``it's still racism,'' and they hate the president only because he is black.

One is reminded of the 2008 campaign in which many of Barack Obama's opponents insisted people only supported him because he's black.

It was an offensive claim, in that it assumed black was black was black and that people were so imbecilic that skin color -- alone and of itself -- was sufficient to win their votes. As if you could sub in rapper Flavor Flav and they would not care.

The truth, it always seemed to me, was more nuanced. People liked Obama's policies, his eloquence, and his fierce intelligence and the fact that he was black, that his election would turn history on its ear, was a desirable bonus, but only that -- icing on the cake, but not the cake itself.

I submit that a rough inverse of that dynamic now helps define the tea party movement.
Ask yourself: would we even be having this discussion if Condoleezza Rice were president? If Rice, Republican stalwart, conservative icon, and black woman were chief executive, would the first pot of tea ever have been brewed?

One suspects the average tea party participant would tell you emphatically, ``no,'' and that this ``no'' serves as his personal shield against charges of racism. How can I be racist, he would demand, when I know in my heart that I would've supported Condi to the max?

If you concede him that, then you have to ask yourself what it does to Olbermann's contention that racism is the whole raison d'etre of the movement.

The answer leads us back again to nuance, albeit in mirror image. The tea party people distrust Obama's policies, his eloquence, his fierce intelligence and the fact that he is black then becomes the final straw, the difference maker and deal breaker. To put that another way: I doubt most of the tea partiers hate Obama strictly because he is black, but it sure doesn't help.

My point is not that Olbermann's argument is wrong but, rather, that it is incomplete.

Yes, race is obviously a component, and a major component at that, of the reaction against the president. The recurring use of racist imagery and language, the attendance at tea party events of a racist group like the so-called Council of Conservative Citizens, settles that definitively.

But ultimately, people seem moved by something even bigger than race. This is race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, culture, and the fact that those who have always been on the right side, the power-wielding side, of one or more of those equations, now face the realization that their days of dominance are numbered.

There is a poignancy to their responsive fury because one senses that the nether side of it is a choking fear. We are witness to the birth cries of a new America and for every one of us who embraces and celebrates that, who looks forward to the opportunity and inclusiveness it promises, there is another who grapples with a crippling sense of dislocation and loss, who wonders who and what she will be in the nation now being born.

One hopes they will find answers that satisfy them because the change they fear will not be turned back. No one ever volunteers to return to the rear of the bus.

So for all the frustration the tea party movement engenders among the rest of us, one also feels a certain pity for people like the woman last year who cried, plaintively, that she wanted her country back.

As if she didn't realize that it is already, irrevocably, gone.

First priority: Fix the JJC's air conditioning

The Editors
South Bend Tribune

St. Joseph Probate Judge Peter Nemeth says that he needs $67,000 to pay for an overhaul the Thomas N. Frederick Juvenile Justice Center's air conditioning chillers. He wants to use money from the probation user fee fund.

But first the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners has to sign off on the request. The commissioners won't do it.

We've heard this before. It's a familiar refrain in St. Joseph County.

After the commissioners first turned down Nemeth's $67,000 request, even though the County Council had approved it, the council overrode their veto. And now the commissioners say they still won't sign off on the purchase. They're waiting to be told by the Indiana Supreme Court that Nemeth's planned use for the money is proper.

In fact, the pending decision from the Supreme Court will be the resolution of an earlier standoff between Nemeth and the commissioners. It started as a request by Nemeth for $355,000 from JJC and probation user fee funds. The request was approved by the council and commissioners. But then the commissioners reversed themselves.

The first series of events resulted in a mandate by Nemeth, which was supported by as special judge (who also assessed the county $18,000 for Nemeth's legal fees) and now is before the high court.

Nemeth's response to this latest round? He says he'll take more legal action because he's in the right and the air conditioner chillers have to be fixed.

But the commissioners aren't budging.

Ill will between Nemeth and the commissioners notwithstanding, there are some facts at play here.

First, the JJC must have air conditioning. The temperature control system must be repaired. The building cannot be used during warm months without it.

The commissioners and the judge need to do what is necessary to accomplish this task. It is their duty, not a question of goodwill.

It is a shame when officials whose job it is to act in the public interest resort to lawsuits against one another and money wasted on avoidable legal fees. We surely do not want to hear about any more threats of legal action. What we want to hear is that the air conditioners at the JJC have been fixed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Off the hook

Repower America

Next week could make or break America's climate and energy future.

Last summer, the House passed a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill that could create millions of clean energy jobs and begin to address the climate crisis. Now, a new Senate version, with significant support from key Senators, could be less than a week away* -- but lobbyists from Big Oil and Coal are already lining up to do whatever they can to gut critical provisions.

We can't let lobbyists and special interests win. America needs clean energy and the jobs it will bring to our economy.

That's why we're launching our biggest calling campaign ever. We're joining forces with a coalition of climate groups to create a perfect storm of grassroots pressure from Tuesday through Thursday of next week. We're holding an event near you where local members can call other supporters around the state and connect them to our Senators. Can you join us?

Your calls were crucial to shutting down Senator Lisa Murkowski's attack on the Clean Air Act last month.

Now, with the Senate negotiating the contents of this critical new bill, its fate is in our hands too. We need to keep our Senators' phones ringing off the hook -- the more they understand that passing this bill is our top priority, the more they will make it theirs.

To get it done, we're setting the ambitious goal of 20,000 calls from the Climate Protection Action Fund alone next week. And to reach that number, we'll need the help of committed supporters like you to make it happen. Can you help us reach our goal?

Help us flood the Senate with calls. RSVP for a local phone bank next week.

Successful legislation isn't just important here in the U.S. As we saw at the Copenhagen climate conference, countless nations are relying on our action to catalyze global efforts to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution.

But for this bill to make a real impact, it's got to include two things:
1) Strong investment in clean energy to create American manufacturing and construction jobs, and
2) A cap on carbon pollution that limits the amount of carbon companies can emit, giving them incentives to reduce emissions while holding violators accountable.

Your calls have made a difference before. And next week, your barrage of phone calls will tell our Senators to stop wasting time, stop caving to big oil and coal, and finally pass a strong clean energy and climate bill -- because we can't afford the consequences of their inaction.

Please RSVP to a phone bank today.

Dave Boundy
Campaign Manager

* Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, "Reid demands climate bill ASAP," Washington Post - Post Carbon blog,
Paid for by the Climate Protection Action Fund

What's in that tea they're drinkin'?

Don Wheeler

Lord knows how this happened, but I'm on the Tea Party e-mail list.  My colleague, fake consultant, has always counseled knowing one's "enemy" as a wise course of action.  He tends to try to change hearts and minds, but that would be a lost cause in this case.  One doubts either are working well in these folks.  I kept this relationship going for opposition research purposes only.

I'll let you be the judge.  What follows will be "their" take (courtesy of Sher Zieve) and then how things seem to me.

Chicago-Boss Obama and Democrats' Unprecedented Attack against American People

For the first time since the loyalists to King George III and the British army moved against the American colonists and patriots, the US government is moving en masse to both stop and silence any opposition from the American people to Obama and any and all of his and his Marxist-Democrats.

I'll hold back here a bit and suggest they might be exaggerating.  As I recall it was the "patriots" that attacked.

While watching Thursday's faux Obama-organized Health Care Summit (planned as a day of photo-ops and sound-bites for Obama's 2012 campaign), it became clear to me and others that the Democrat leadership had and have no intention of listening to sound arguments against the ObamaCare Death Plan, Cap & Trade or any of the other ulterior-motive clandestine procedures they have planned against We-the-People.

Actually, the topic was President Obama's first proposal for health care reform.  The idea was to ask for objections coupled with suggestions for alternatives.  He got plenty of the former and none of the latter. 

Instead, Harry Reid had already announced the day before - Wednesday - that he and the Dems would affect reconciliation (the "ramming and shoving" process), probably next week, in the Senate in order to force the despotic ObamaCare Death Plan onto us. Note: Reconciliation - incorporating a simple and not a super majority - is supposed to be used for budgetary items.

Is majority rule suddenly un-American?  And I think this matter involves the budget in some small way.

In fact, this Obama "summit" quickly degraded and devolved into Obama shutting down any and all Republican who offered alternate proposals and opposing comments while Democrats engaged in ongoing "kiss the tyrant" moments. In fact, Obama told Republicans that he could speak as long as he wanted because - "I'm the president!" Apparently, the rest of the Democrat leadership believed the same about their own self-inflated self-importance as comment-time from the far-left was twice as long as comments from the right. Note: That's also "right" as in "correct."

Surely this writer must have observed that the Republicans present offered no proposals - other than to "start over".  Rope-a-dope is what Muhammed Ali called it. 

During Thursday's Health Care Summit, I viewed the patently totalitarian Marxist-Democrat Party telling We-the-People that we no longer matter to them. Our voices are - once and for all per the Democrats - of no further importance. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Dictator-in-Chief Obama made it crystal clear that the American people WILL accept whatever draconian plans they force upon them - and like it - or else. Each and every time the questioning and contradictions from the right to false statements made by the dictator-in-chief became too uncomfortable for his fragile ego - or simply presented the truth in too bright a light, Obama shut down the questioner with reprimands similar to "you're off of the subject" or "stop your talking points" or "the campaign is over and I won."

Obviously, English isn't this person's first language.  Why doesn't he/she learn the thing or get lost?  And shame on someone leading an important discussion asking the participants to stick to the topic.

During much of the time Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) was quoting directly from one of the voluminous Democrat ObamaCare plans, Obama refused to make eye contact with him and, with increasingly tightly-pursed lips, started shuffling through some of the papers in front of him. Note: This was a Judge Judy moment. Whenever this happens on her television show, Judge Judy Sheindlin says sternly to the offender: "Put down your papers and look at me!" Wish she'd been there.

As long as any of the Marxist-Democrat Party members are in power, their abuses of said power will continue to escalate. This is what despots do. When asked at the Obama-Summit if the Democrat leadership was even listening to the American people, the response was either silence or a quick change of the subject.

Actually President Obama outranks Judge Judy.  I imagine he was also getting a bit bored and somewhat resentful of having his time wasted by obstructionists reciting the same old nonsense.

Not since the first American Revolution War officially began in 1775 has the oppression against We-the-People from an opposition government been so intense and so relentless. Now, for the first time in our history, the majority leadership within the US Government is moving against its own people with increasing alacrity, force and determination. They have told us and continue to shout to us in myriad ways that they will refuse to listen to anything we say unless it is to thank them (our new "masters") for placing us into bondage and slavery.

Despite increasingly overwhelming opposition from the American people to Obama's and the Democrats' Orwellian plans for us, they are moving even faster and harder to oppress us and shut us up. This is how tyrannies are formed, folks. And we are now firmly smack-dab-in-the-middle of our own.   
By Sher Zieve  Friday, February 26, 2010

 Fill in the blank.  This is so far from reality it's breathtaking.

Truthout 2/27

Michael Winship | Two Legal Foes Unite to Fight for Same-Sex Marriage
Michael Winship, Truthout: "Watching this week's 'health summit' in Washington, with both sides barely repressing the urge to turn the Blair House event into the Potomac version of mixed martial arts cage fighting, was discouraging. To get a little peace and quiet, I was tempted to switch to ESPN and search for an hour of the world's greatest soccer riots. At least they make better theater. And there are better-defined goals."
Read the Article
Congress Reauthorizes Patriot Act, Sidesteps Privacy Concerns
Kyle Berlin, Truthout: "Under pressure from the White House and Republicans, a bill to extend three key provisions of the Patriot Act was passed by the House Thursday with little discussion or debate and sent to President Obama, who is expected to immediately sign it into law."
Read the Article
Where Is the Outrage?
William Fisher, Truthout: "It was fascinating to watch the leaders of the Republican Party going through their ritual gyrations at CPAC - the annual conservative jamboree - last week to woo the support of the Tea Baggers. The party that spent us into historic deficits now attempting to join hands with the newest proponents of fiscal restraint!"
Read the Article
GOP Sen. Bunning Blocks Unemployment Benefits Extension
David Lightman and Halimah Abdullah, McClatchy Newspapers: "Some unemployment benefits could dry up Monday. Newly laid-off workers wouldn't get federal help with health insurance premiums. Road and transit bills could go unpaid, Medicare payments to doctors would stay high and rural satellite reception could be affected, all thanks to Sen. Jim Bunning's decision to block legislation that would keep alive a host of programs that expire Sunday night."
Read the Article
Healthcare Summit Ends in Deadlock; Single-Payer Advocates Excluded (VIDEO)
Amy Goodman, Democracy NOW!: "After nearly seven hours of televised debate, President Obama's so-called bipartisan healthcare summit ended Thursday without any substantive agreement between Republicans and Democrats. Republican lawmakers remained staunchly opposed to using the federal government to regulate health insurance." Amy Goodman speaks with Columbia Journalism Review contributing editor Trudy Lieberman and pediatrician Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program.
Read the Article
Ray McGovern | Iran Captures a "Good" Terrorist
Ray McGovern, Truthout: "The Iranian government is celebrating the capture of Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of a violent group called Jundallah (Arabic for Soldiers of God), which Tehran says is a terrorist organization supported by the United States, Great Britain and Israel."
Read the Article
Judge Orders Another Guantanamo Detainee Freed
Carol Rosenberg and Mark Seibel, McClatchy Newspapers: "A federal judge here has ordered the release of a Yemeni prisoner who's been held at the Guantanamo detention center since January 2002."
Read the Article
Mark Weisbrot | America's Public Debt: The Least of Our Worries
Mark Weisbrot, The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR): "Various political demagogues and Wall Street interests have mounted a campaign to convince Americans that despite persistent massive unemployment for the foreseeable future, more than 15 million people underwater on their home mortgages, and two unnecessary wars, what we really should be worried about is America's national debt."
Read the Article
The Dirty Truth Behind Clean Coal
Joshua Frank, Truthout: "If you've tuned in to the Winter Olympics this past week, you likely sat through repeated showings of a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign paid for by Big Coal regarding the potential laurels of 'clean-coal' technology. The premise of the 30-second spot is simple: Coal can be clean and America needs to wean itself off of foreign crude and create jobs back home by tapping our nation's vast coal reserves."
Read the Article
J. Sri Raman | Sri Lanka: After the "War on Terror"
J. Sri Raman, Truthout: "Democracy in Sri Lanka only faces new threats after the defeat of Tamil 'terrorism.' The first major event to follow the war was the presidential election of January 26, pitting the two 'anti-terror' heroes in a titanic struggle against each other. As noted in these columns (Sri Lanka: The Battle After the War, January 25, 2019), the contest between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and army chief Sarath Fonseka started on an extremely confrontational note. And it has not ended with the election."
Read the Article
Bernard Weiner | Can the Ticking Middle East Conflict Be Defused?
Bernard Weiner, Truthout: "I had a fascinating email conversation over the weekend on the Middle East conflict, and it seems worthy of reproducing here. Not just because of the issues raised, but because they encapsulate the difficulty of even agreeing on what the central questions are."
Read the Article
Defying Progressives, Obama Revives Nuclear Power
Randy Shaw, Truthout: "Those who continue to insist that President Obama would implement progressive measures if he only had 60 Senate votes (ignoring that he had this for most of 2009) will have a hard time explaining his move this week to launch the first nuclear power plants built in the United States since the 1970s."
Read the Article
Carlton Meyer | The Myth of Low Military Pay
Carlton Meyer, Truthout: "One great myth in American society is that military personnel are poorly paid. That was true until the 1980s, when a push to improve recruit quality boosted military pay each year at twice the inflation rate. The military was once known for low pay yet great retirement, but now has great pay as well. This fact is hidden from the public with absurd propaganda from military associations about the need to boost pay, and fear in the Pentagon that if Congress catches on, the days of big pay raises may end."
Read the Article

Where we are now

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Nobel laureate Paul Krugman.  I happened across a column published in June 2008 which will serve to remind us of the expectations then - and what he (and I) worried would come of them.

It’s feeling a lot like 1992 right now. It’s also feeling a lot like 1980. But which parallel is closer? Is Barack Obama going to be a Ronald Reagan of the left, a president who fundamentally changes the country’s direction? Or will he be just another Bill Clinton?

Current polls — not horse-race polls, which are notoriously uninformative until later in the campaign, but polls gauging the public mood — are strikingly similar to those in both 1980 and 1992, years in which an overwhelming majority of Americans were dissatisfied with the country’s direction.

So the odds are that this will be a “change” election — which means that it’s very much Mr. Obama’s election to lose. But if he wins, how much change will he actually deliver?

Reagan, for better or worse — I’d say for worse, but that’s another discussion — brought a lot of change. He ran as an unabashed conservative, with a clear ideological agenda. And he had enormous success in getting that agenda implemented. He had his failures, most notably on Social Security, which he tried to dismantle but ended up strengthening. But America at the end of the Reagan years was not the same country it was when he took office.

Bill Clinton also ran as a candidate of change, but it was much less clear what kind of change he was offering. He portrayed himself as someone who transcended the traditional liberal-conservative divide, proposing “a government that offers more empowerment and less entitlement.” The economic plan he announced during the campaign was something of a hodgepodge: higher taxes on the rich, lower taxes for the middle class, public investment in things like high-speed rail, health care reform without specifics.

We all know what happened next. The Clinton administration achieved a number of significant successes, from the revitalization of veterans’ health care and federal emergency management to the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and health insurance for children. But the big picture is summed up by the title of a new book by the historian Sean Wilentz: “The Age of Reagan: A history, 1974-2008.”

So whom does Mr. Obama resemble more? At this point, he’s definitely looking Clintonesque.

Like Mr. Clinton, Mr. Obama portrays himself as transcending traditional divides. Near the end of last week’s “unity” event with Hillary Clinton, he declared that “the choice in this election is not between left or right, it’s not between liberal or conservative, it’s between the past and the future.” Oh-kay.

Mr. Obama’s economic plan also looks remarkably like the Clinton 1992 plan: a mixture of higher taxes on the rich, tax breaks for the middle class and public investment (this time with a focus on alternative energy).

Sometimes the Clinton-Obama echoes are almost scary. During his speech accepting the nomination, Mr. Clinton led the audience in a chant of “We can do it!” Remind you of anything?

Just to be clear, we could — and still might — do a lot worse than a rerun of the Clinton years. But Mr. Obama’s most fervent supporters expect much more.

Progressive activists, in particular, overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama during the Democratic primary even though his policy positions, particularly on health care, were often to the right of his rivals’. In effect, they convinced themselves that he was a transformational figure behind a centrist facade.

They may have had it backward.

Mr. Obama looks even more centrist now than he did before wrapping up the nomination. Most notably, he has outraged many progressives by supporting a wiretapping bill that, among other things, grants immunity to telecom companies for any illegal acts they may have undertaken at the Bush administration’s behest.

The candidate’s defenders argue that he’s just being pragmatic — that he needs to do whatever it takes to win, and win big, so that he has the power to effect major change. But critics argue that by engaging in the same “triangulation and poll-driven politics” he denounced during the primary, Mr. Obama actually hurts his election prospects, because voters prefer candidates who take firm stands.

In any case, what about after the election? The Reagan-Clinton comparison suggests that a candidate who runs on a clear agenda is more likely to achieve fundamental change than a candidate who runs on the promise of change but isn’t too clear about what that change would involve.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that Mr. Obama really is a centrist, after all.

One thing is clear: for Democrats, winning this election should be the easy part. Everything is going their way: sky-high gas prices, a weak economy and a deeply unpopular president. The real question is whether they will take advantage of this once-in-a-generation chance to change the country’s direction. And that’s mainly up to Mr. Obama.

Paul Krugman
New York Times

Friday, February 26, 2010

Common Dreams headlines 2/26

'Buy Local' Campaigns Fight Against Corporatism and 'Local Washing'
The US Chamber of Commerce: A Record of Obstruction on Climate Action
Obama Aides to Meet with Secular Coalition, Atheists on White House Grounds
Death Penalty Phasing Out Worldwide
Attack in Kabul: Nowhere 'Immune from Conflict'
Rains Threaten More Haiti Misery
US Congress Extends Patriot Act without Privacy Improvements

and more...
What Happened to Health Reform?
Healthcare Summit Ends in Deadlock; Single-Payer Advocates Excluded

Speaker Pelosi: "We must act!"

Democracy for America

At yesterday's bipartisan summit, President Obama gave Republicans one last chance to get on board healthcare reform or choose to become even more irrelevant while Democrats pass reform without them. Of course, Republicans chose to be irrelevant.

Now, Democrats will use reconciliation to pass healthcare reform and our state-by-state polling shows that if the bill has a public option in it -- then voters want it even if it gets zero Republican votes. Here's exactly what we asked:
What would make you more likely to vote for Democrats in the 2010 elections: If they pass health care reform that includes a public health insurance option but gets zero Republican votes OR if they pass health care reform without a public option but with some Republican votes?
State after state -- swing states, blue states, conservative states -- voters want a public option more than Republican votes.

As of this morning, 24 Senators have signed Senator Bennet's Public Option letter calling for passing a public option using reconciliation. Now that Republicans have lost their last chance to support reform, it's time to get every Senate Democrat on board.


Speaker Pelosi's final remarks at yesterday's healthcare summit were clear: We must act and include a public option.
"Mr. President, I harken back to that meeting a year ago. At that time, Senator Grassley questioned you about the public option.

And you said the public option is one way to keep the insurance companies honest and to increase competition. If you have a better way, put it on the table.

Well, I bring that up because we have come such a long way... As a representative of the House of Representatives, I want you to know that we were there that day in support of a public option which would save $120 billion, keep the insurance companies honest, and increase competition.

We've come a long way to agreeing to a Republican idea, the exchanges... because the insurance companies opposed the public option. They couldn't take the competition.

We have in our bill market-oriented, encouraging-to-the-private-sector initiatives. I think the insurance industry, left to its own devices, has behaved shamefully. And we must act on behalf of the American people.

We have lived on their playing field all this time. It's time for the insurance companies to exist on the playing field of the American people."
When Speaker Pelosi calls for a way forward on healthcare that includes passing a public option, she's talking about using reconciliation to do it. That's why 119 House Democrats, 24 Senators, and over 300,000 Americans have endorsed this strategy. But at least one of your Senators hasn't signed the Bennet Public Option letter yet.


We're at a critical time. Democrats in Washington need to see that we have backbone. They need to know that good policy is good politics. We're fighting for them to include a public option and get the job done, because passing real reform is the only way to victory in 2010 and beyond.

Please make the call. Thank you for everything you do.


Charles Chamberlain, Political Director
Democracy for America

P.S.The polling we announced today with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Credo Action is availble here.

On Assigning Blame, Or, “So, You Think I’m Retarded?”

LANGUAGE WARNING: Today’s story is uncharacteristically blunt, and from this moment forward we will be using lots of inappropriate language in making our points.

Gentle Reader, you have been officially...warned.

With that in mind, if you take offense when confronted with language strong enough to knock a fuckin’ buzzard off a shitwagon, please stop reading now.

It is by now fairly well known that Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, had a bit of a blow-up with liberals who were ready to start running ads against “blue dog” Democrats who were working very hard to shut down the health care reform effort.

Now we’re not gonna get in the middle of that argument today; instead, since we’re finally getting a chance to talk, I figured me and Rahm could get a few other things out of the way that have been on everyone’s mind for the past year or so.

“...What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.

Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage.

He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.

Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy...”

--Sun Tzu, The Art of War

So...Rahm,’s the thing:

In January of 2009 you came into the White House having just beaten down both the Republicans and Hillary Clinton, and baby, y’all were on a roll.

Reforming health care was the top priority of 59% of the population, you had a 75+ seat majority in the House...and of course, to quote your boss, there was that “largest Senate majority in a generation”.

Y’all were appointing smart people to take over agencies, and the President gave that speech in Cairo—and even though people had their misgivings about the way the bailout and the stimulus came together, we were still right there with you.

And then, in May...remember when y’all promised to get a heath care vote done by August? If I recall correctly (and I do), the President said:

"...We've got to get it done this year. Both in the House and the Senate. We don't have any excuses. The stars are aligned."

And then for some reason, you decided it would be a smart idea to spend a couple of months letting Ben Nelson and Charles Grassley, who were both happy to let you know they were against this thing from the beginning, run the show.

“...When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.

Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare...”

--Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“...and then the C.H.U.D.S. came at me...”

--Homer Simpson

And then came the Tea Parties. For a solid month we were bombarded with images of uninformed people carrying signs demanding we protect Medicare while at the same time demanding Government stay out of health care, people who see Obama as the new Hitler, and people who apparently think Socialism, Fascism, Communism, and Vegetarianism are all different flavors of the same political junk food.

In other words, fuckin’ retards.

And just to make things perfect, the Republicans couldn’t wait to jump on the retard train: Sarah Palin quit being a Governor so she could turn her interest in “Death Panels” (and her desire to never be a quitter...) into a gig at Fox—and Rick “Goodhair” Perry, the Governor of what might be the most “Rah Rah America!” state in the Nation, suggested that making Texas into its own country might be the smartest way to save these United States.

I loved it.

I knew what was about to happen: the classic “pincer move”, where you let the enemy race into the trap, and then slam the door behind them, locking them in a box from which they cannot escape.

And the best part was, they had made it so easy that a politician with even a moderately high degree of mental acuity could spring the trap. All the President had to do was to go to the States where these politicians live, stand up on a platform, with cameras running, preferably in the early part of the daily news cycle, and do one of these two things:

--Either put his arm around [insert politician’s name here]’s shoulders and tell the giant crowd how the President and [again, insert name] are going to fight the insane Republicans and the evil insurance companies together, “No matter how much they try to stand in our way...”

--Or go to the same podium and give this speech: “I’m going to fight for you, all the way, and I want you to call [insert name here] and demand that they join the fight, too.”

For extra effect, you could have sent him to one of those free clinics the viewers of Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” were paying for.

Repeat this process a dozen times or so, and the next thing you know you own the news cycle, and the enemy is crushed and disorganized.

This is Politics 101, and it’s just as effective at moving along reluctant Democrats as it is reluctant Republicans.

But that never happened, Rahm, did it?

Instead, as far as I can tell, you let the fuckin’ retards kick your ass for the past eight months.

You didn’t even really try to organize your friends: for example, where was the coalition-building process while all of this was going on? Did it ever occur to you to try to get gay activists and youth activists and healthcare activists together to help move this process along?

Had you been on the ball here you could have organized a “Counter Tea-Party” for every single one of those stupid “patriotfests”...and now, when you need support to move issues that matter to the gay community, you haven’t built up the kind of trust that would have been enormously helpful in keeping the GaYTM open and available, as it was in 2008.

Only in the past ten days or so have y’all finally figured out what Alan Grayson seems to have known all along: an aggressive, in-your-face Democrat will not only survive, but thrive—even in Florida.

And that’s the part I don’t get: you came in here enormously popular, with every advantage, with Republicans who were falling all over themselves to make your life easy, with the facts on your side, and a public who wanted to go along with the program.

And despite that, you let yourself get beaten down by idiots, you failed to spring the obvious trap, you never tried to really engage with your friends at critical times, and now you find yourselves in a tough election environment having to play catch-up, when it’s the Rs who should be running for cover while your guy is pulling a 65% approval rating, or something similar, and Democrats expand that Senate majority to 63 or 64 seats.

And if all that wasn’t enough, now you have to sit here and listen to people like me, the proverbial “overfed, long-haired, leaping gnomes” of politics, tell you something you should have known all along.

Which finally brings me to the part I really don’t understand: how did our situation get so turned upside down that you are viewed as the big-time highly-paid political genius...and somehow, the people who thought you would be easily digest the pre-chewed political snack food that was being served up to you on a silver platter became the fuckin’ retards?

It’s a question I can’t answer, Rahm...but you better figure it out, and fix it—quickly—or the next three years are going to suck a lot more than this one did.

Truthout 2/26

National Archives, Watchdog Demand DOJ Probe Destruction of John Yoo's Emails
Jason Leopold, Truthout: "The National Archives and a watchdog group sent letters to the Justice Department (DOJ) Thursday demanding an investigation into the destruction of John Yoo's emails in the summer of 2002, when he and other government attorneys prepared and finalized legal memoranda for the CIA that redefined torture and authorized interrogators to brutalize war on terror detainees."
Read the Article
Jim Hightower | Fighting the Subversion of Our People's Sovereignty
Jim Hightower, Truthout: "As you've probably heard, corporations are now 'people' - humanoids that are equivalent to you and me. This miraculous metamorphosis happened on January 21. Accompanied by a blinding bolt of lightning, and a terrifying jolt of thunder, five Dr. Frankensteins on the Supreme Court threw a judicial switch that endowed these pulseless paper entities with the human right to speak politically."
Read the Article
Skewing the Health Care Debate
William Rivers Pitt, Truthout: "President Obama met on Thursday with the glitterati of Capitol Hill in a much-ballyhooed confab on health care reform, and more specifically, the health of his current health care reform proposal. I was supposed to use this space to describe the details of that conference, to get into the nitty-gritty details of who said what, who made the most sense and What It All Means in the end."
Read the Article
Rachel Corrie Gets Her Day in Court
Robert Naiman, Truthout: "On March 10, in the Israeli city of Haifa, American peace activist Rachel Corrie will get her day in court. Corrie's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, are bringing suit against the Israeli defence ministry for Corrie's killing by an Israeli military bulldozer in Gaza in March 2003."
Read the Article
CREW Files Lawsuit, Alleges the VA Underreported Number of PTSD Cases
Mary Susan Littlepage, Truthout: "The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) after the VA admitted to destroying documents responding to CREW's May 2008 Freedom of Information (FOIA) request. CREW's FOIA request called for documents related to the VA's policy of underdiagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."
Read the Article
Marjah: Success for the Military, Hell for the Residents
Jean MacKenzie and Mohammad Ilyas Dayee, GlobalPost: "The dusty squares of Marjah are empty; there is no life, the soul of the place seems to have disappeared. Those residents who are left cower in their homes, afraid of bullets or mines if they venture out, even for food."
Read the Article
How Big Banks' Greek-Style Schemes Are Bankrupting States Across the US
Mike Elk, Truthout: "Just when you thought Wall Street couldn't get any more clever in their attempts at predatory lending, they have. Big Banks have created an exotic financial instrument that is the equivalent of a payday loan for cash-strapped state and local governments, innocently labeled an 'interest rate swap.'"
Read the Article
What Do Republicans Stand for?
Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III, Truthout: "This past weekend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held its annual conference in Washington, DC. Many Republican Party stalwarts and presidential hopefuls, such as Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck and former Vice President Dick Cheney, were in attendance."
Read the Article
All Teachers Fired at Rhode Island School. Will That Happen Elsewhere?
Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, The Christian Science Monitor: "A small, high-poverty school district in Rhode Island is now ground zero for some of the most explosive debates over reforming America's worst-performing schools."
Read the Article
"Flirting With Disaster"
On the occasion of the paperback release of Marc Gerstein's, "Flirting with Disaster," reviewed here last year, Truthout's Leslie Thatcher corresponded and spoke with Dr. Gerstein in mid-February about his book and about our society's continuing penchant for producing avoidable disaster ...
Read the Article
Alexander Cockburn | The Bogus Crime Wave
Alexander Cockburn, Truthout: "Nothing more easily elicits roars of assent across a good slice of the political spectrum than the hoarse alarums that wave after wave of brown-skinned illegals continually flood across the border, plunging neighborhoods and whole cities into an inferno of crime, overwhelming cops and prosecutors, clogging the justice system, cramming the prisons."
Read the Article
David Sirota | It Is Happening Here
David Sirota, Truthout: "Let's pause and give thanks to Glenn Beck. No, seriously - because that's what he's due. We owe this talk-show-host-turned-political-leader gratitude for using his televised keynote address to the Conservative Political Action Conference to so frankly outline what the conservative movement has become - and why it repulses so many Americans."
Read the Article
Connie Schultz | Maybe If Teens Talk About Sex, Adults Will Listen
Connie Schultz, Truthout: "On Monday night, two teenagers in the Midwest stood before their city's school board and essentially pleaded that the grown-ups in charge change how sex education is taught in their district."
Read the Article

Pete for Treasurer

from the Pete For Indiana Committee

With a unique background and wealth of experience, Peter “Pete” Buttigieg is interested in running for Indiana State Treasurer to bring new ideas, new energy and a new commitment to working people to the Statehouse.

As Indiana’s next State Treasurer, Pete would work to protect Hoosier taxpayers from risky Wall Street schemes and unscrupulous companies. He would use the office to help create jobs across the state by investing our tax dollars in our businesses and communities. And Pete would work to lower taxes by better managing the office and its investments to ensure the maximum return on our funds.

A resident of his native South Bend, Pete is a businessman with a unique range of experience. As an associate with a top global management consulting firm, he travels the world advising senior business, government, and nonprofit leaders.

He graduated as valedictorian from St. Joseph’s High School and went on to Harvard where he graduated magna cum laude in history and literature. After graduation, he was named a Rhodes Scholar and attended Oxford University, where he studied economics.

Pete is a co-founder of the Democratic Renaissance Project and a Fellow at the Truman National Security Project. He has also worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC in Chicago, and in congressional, gubernatorial, and presidential campaigns. He is a past winner of the John F. Kennedy Library’s “Profiles in Courage” national essay contest, has served as president of Harvard’s Institute of Politics, on the board of the College Democrats and also as an editor at the prestigious Oxford International Review. Pete’s work has appeared on NPR, local television and radio, the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe, and the New York Times.

Pete spends his free time in South Bend restoring a historic home he recently purchased in the neighborhood where he grew up, attending Notre Dame football games and relaxing with family and friends.

For more information on Pete or his exploratory committee, contact us at .

Another World is Possible! Learn about the US Social Forum in Detroit this Summer!

I invite you to a panel event being organized at St. Mary's College next Thursday at 3:30pm in the Warner Conference Room. Please help us spread the word to interested students. The U.S. Social Forum is an exciting opportunity for citizens from around the country to come together to find new ways to address the social justice and ecological crises our nation and world are facing.

We're hosting a national organizer from the USSF national planning committee next week, and there are a few opportunities for informal meetings with local organizers as well. If you know anyone who want to meet with him while he's in town next Thursday, please let me know. In any case, please help inform members of your congregation about the US Social Forum. Our local Jobs with Justice chapter will be organizing group travel via Amtrak, and I can keep you posted on that, or send people to our website:


Interested in making a difference on issues like poverty, housing and jobs?

Text Box: The US Social Forum (USSF) is a convening of activists interested in creating strategies to respond to our economic and ecological crises, both at home and globally.   Held in Detroit June 22-26 2010, the USSF is a key step in the effort  to build a multi-racial, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, and internationalist movement that transforms this country and our local communities.   The USSF provides opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences and struggles, and  share our analysis of the problems our communities face – all with the goal of aligning  with our international brothers and sisters to strategize how to reclaim our world.

Three Speakers from the US Social Forum will be at SMC to speak about why these issues are important and how YOU can get involved

Want To Be A Leader? Here is your chance!

Jackie Smith
Associate Professor of Sociology and Peace Studies
Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies
307 Hesburgh Center
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5677
University of Notre Dame

MomsRising: 15 million U.S. children are left alone after school.

Every afternoon 15 million U.S. children are left alone after school. And now there's even more proposed cuts to afterschool programs.
Tell Congress to stand up for Afterschool!

Every afternoon 15 million U.S. children, more than a ¼ of our kids, are left alone after school. [1]

This huge and heartbreaking number isn't because of parent neglect, it reflects a simple fact: Afterschool programs are unavailable or too expensive for millions of families across this country.

In fact, studies show that 18 million U.S. parents would enroll their kids in an afterschool program if one were simply available. [2]

Unfortunately, we're now in danger of losing the limited afterschool programs we currently have.

The President just released his proposed budget and it does a lot of things right, but it cuts more than 13,000 kids out of safe and educational afterschool programs. [3]

Congress is debating our national budget right now. So it's up to our Representatives to get America back to work and keep our children safe and learning by protecting afterschool programs.

Will you take a moment to tell your Representative that you are a part of the 83% of American parents who support public funding for afterschool programs?

The proposed budget cuts $13 million out of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) before school, afterschool and summer programs. [4] CCLC programs focus on academic achievement, enrichment, and family literacy for thousands of elementary, middle and high school students in high poverty or low performing schools. [5]

These cuts couldn't come at a worse time. In today's economy more moms are returning to work and more parents are working two jobs to make ends meet. [6] So more kids need a safe and enriching place to spend the afterschool hours. Unfortunately, quality afterschool programs are hard to find. The hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. [7] That's why afterschool programs are so important to American famlies.

Here's the link to tell your Representative to speak out for afterschool:

And please pass this link along.  Together we can be a voice for the 15 million children with no place to go after school.

Together, we are a powerful voice for women, children, and families!

--Sarah, Kristin, Donna, Joan and the whole team

P.S. Big thanks to the Afterschool Alliance for all the work they do on this issue:

P.P.S. Want to see how the proposed afterschool cuts impact your state?  Check out this state-by-state chart:

[1] "America After 3pm" Afterschool Alliance 2009:

[2] "America After 3pm" Afterschool Alliance 2009:

[3] Afterschool Alliance

[4] Afterschool Alliance

[5] Department of Education

[6]"In Downturn's Wake, Women Hold Half of U.S. Jobs" Wall Street Journal, Nov 12, 2009

Why Bayh's leaving the Senate - a differing view

Dustin Blythe

If there is an secondary motive in Bayh's maneuver and subsequent PR campaign (The View?  Really?), I would argue that it is to set up a run for Governor in 2012, not President. 
To challenge Barack Obama in the 2012 Democratic primary, even a weakened Barack Obama, would be political suicide for Bayh.  Conspiracy theorists might look for a "Johnson statement" from Obama ("I shall not seek, nor will I accept, my Party's nomination for another term as your President"), which would blow 2012 wide open, but I doubt it.
At first blush another run for Governor would seem like a step down, but look at it this way.  Bayh left the Governor's office with almost an 80% approval rating and a budget surplus.  In the minds of many Indiana Democrats ( and certainly after Mitch Daniels), there is a tremendous amount of goodwill and nostalgia for Evan Bayh as Governor.  While trying to recreate those good times would be a huge gamble politically, but if he could do so, it would set him up for what will certainly be a wide open field in 2016.  Bayh will be 60 years old, and with his almost fanatic jogging regimen, he should be in excellent physical shape. 
Bayh would certainly be in a better position to distinguish himself as Governor versus as a member of the Senate, counterintuitive as that may seem.  Also, what more intriguing angle could there be than someone who left the Senate, regains his old Gubernatorial seat, (theoretically) rejuventates Indiana, and decides to "follow Barack Obama and continue the work of bringing America together"? 

Updated (almost) daily!

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Why Bayh's leaving the Senate

Don Wheeler

In his New York Times OpEd entitled "Why I'm leaving the Senate",  Senator Evan Bayh certainly gave us the Full Monty about what he dislikes about the institution, but precious little about why he's leaving - unless he thinks its not worth saving.

But it didn't sound that way to me.  It sounded a lot like he thought that the problems ought to be solved.  In fact, he listed several changes which would improve things and all of them lie within the authority of the august body he is leaving.  Apparently these things are worth doing, but not worth his effort.  That's an awfully tricky position to take.

To wit:  these folks have some observations put to music.  They are a bit crude at times (note the empty bottles motif) but generally on point.

Mr. Bayh even received less than cordial treatment on The View

"I hate to say it, but you sound like Sarah Palin right now," Joy Behar said, accusing the senator of quitting his job before his work was done.

There may be something else at work here.  To use the vernacular of our friendly fake consultant, perhaps we should be anticipating the beta version of the Bayh 2012.  fc has documented the evolution of past political models - their triumphs and setbacks - it's not beyond the realm of possibility he will have another opportunity.

Over the last few months Senator Bayh has consistently positioned himself as a "voice of caution" to most of President Obama's and the Democratic Caucus' proposals for sweeping reform and aggressive stimuli.  It's true he voted in favor of the Senate version of health care reform.  But that measure had most of the good stuff stripped out of it by that point.  Bayh even voted against increasing the federal debt ceiling - knowing full well that if his side prevailed the government would have to shut down.  He has consistently practiced right flanking maneuvers on a President who can most fairly be characterized as a raging moderate.  Triangulation, anyone?

Add in his brief Presidential run in 2008, Veep considerations, and a curious statement he's made in interviews that he's "better suited as an executive than a legislator", and one might reasonably regard with skepticism his claim that he will not run for President in 2012.

FP morning post 2/26

Bombings target foreigners in Central Kabul

Top story: A series of terrorist attacks targeting guesthouses used by foreigners in Central Kabul killed at least 17 people this morning. With Taliban forces routed from their stronghold in Marjah and dozens of senior leaders captured in recent days, the attack seems to be evidence that the organization is still capable of carrying out major operations.

The attacks began with a car-bombing outside a guesthouse used by Indian doctors, then continued with the bombing of a second hotel. At least nine Indians as well as a French diplomat and an Italian national were among the dead. In a statement condemning the attack, Karzai said it would not affect relations between India and Afghanistan. India and Pakistan held their first bilateral meeting since the 2008 Mumbai attacks on Thursday.

A Taliban spokesperson claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the bombers targeted “where the foreign people are staying.” It is the fourth Taliban assault on the capital since last October.

Environment: A vast 2,500 square kilometer iceberg has broken off from Antarctica.

  • Burma's highest court has rejected democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's latest appeal for release.
  • Thailand's supreme court found former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra guilty of corruption.
  • Four South Koreans have been detained in North Korea for entering the country illegally.
Middle East
  • Haiti's government is now urging thousands of homeless to return to their original neighborhoods as the rainy season approaches.
  • Venezuela's government disputed the findings of an OAS report accusing it of human rights abuses.
  • The government of Honduras has filed new corruption charges against former president Manuel Zelaya.
-By Joshua Keating


What do you think it symbolizes?