11/02/2010 archive

Department of Good Questions-

Why Are Democrats Going to Lose When They Are More Popular?

By: Cenk Uygur Tuesday November 2, 2010 1:10 pm

I have a crazy suggestion for you guys, which I am sure the Washington establishment will hate with every fiber of their being – why don’t you fight for us, the average American voter, over the next two years and see how that works out? Why don’t you take on the powerful and punch them in the face (politically)? Why don’t you take the fight to the Republicans and tell them you are going to stop the banks from robbing us no matter what happens? Why don’t you tell the Washington media to shove it next time they suggest you work with the Republicans in cutting taxes for the rich and balancing the budget on the back of the poor and the middle class?

But you won’t. You know it, I know it and the American people know it. You will bow your head and call populism a dirty word and keep catering to the lobbyists and the donors in a desperate attempt to appease them more than the Republicans do.

The system is broken. No one represents us. The special interests and the corporate interests have bought all of the politicians. So, when the American people throw the bums out, they are right. Unfortunately, this time around they are going to replace them with far, far worse bums. But they are going to learn that lesson the hard way. And next time, they’ll throw them out again. And they’ll keep doing that until one of the parties gets it through their heads that the Washington establishment does not represent the American people. They represent the powerful. And the more you cater to them the more the American people will hate you. And vote you out of office.

I voted for change and I’m going to keep on voting until I get it.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Embassies targeted in Greek bombing campaign

by John Hadoulis, AFP

17 mins ago

ATHENS (AFP) – Parcel bombs exploded at the Russian and Swiss embassies in Athens Tuesday and devices sent to three others were intercepted, the latest in a wave of attacks linked to left-wing extremists, police said.

The packages were similar to four devices addressed to embassies in the Greek capital and intercepted on Monday, including one addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“A Greek organisation belonging to the anti-establishment movement is very likely” behind the attacks, police spokesman Thanassis Kokkalakis told AFP.

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Dean Baker: Erskine Bowles: Social Security’s Enemy No. 1?

Nearly everyone following the Social Security debate is familiar with former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, the co-chairman of President Obama’s deficit commission. Simpson, the son of a senator, thrust himself into the national spotlight with an infamous, late-night email. In addition to displaying an ignorance of bovine anatomy, this email displayed open contempt for Social Security and the tens of millions of retirees and disabled people who depend on it.

While Simpson has seized the spotlight, it may prove to be the case that Erskine Bowles, his co-chairman, poses the greater threat to Social Security. The reason is simple: Bowles is the living embodiment of the rewards available to politicians who would support substantial cutbacks or privatization of the program

Jim Hightower: Surprise! The People Speak

The general public doesn’t want to balance the federal budget by putting Social Security on the chopping block.

Michael Duke is the Big Wally of Walmart. As CEO of the low-wage behemoth, he siphons some $19 million a year in personal pay from the global retailer.

How much is $19 million? Let’s break it down in terms that Duke’s own workforce can appreciate. While Big Wally’s workers average about $9.50 an hour, Duke’s pay comes to about $9,500 an hour. He pockets as much in two hours as Walmart workers make in a whole year!

But WalMart doesn’t give a damn about such gross pay gaps between privileged elites and the rest of us. As a spokesman scoffed, “I don’t think Mike Duke…needs me to defend his compensation package.”

Really? If not you, who?

Those who think that the hoi polloi don’t notice or care about America’s growing income disparity, should take a peek at a recent opinion survey run by the right-wing, corporate-funded Peter G. Peterson Foundation. This outfit intended to show that the general public backs the tea party’s agenda of slashing  government spending, which includes balancing the federal budget by putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block.

Marcy Wheeler: Let the Drones Begin

Fresh off exempting Yemen from any sanctions for its use of child soldiers and partly in response to this week’s attempted package bombings, the government appears to be ready to let the CIA start operating drones in Yemen.


Allowing the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command units to operate under the CIA would give the U.S. greater leeway to strike at militants even without the explicit blessing of the Yemeni government. In addition to streamlining the launching of strikes, it would provide deniability to the Yemeni government because the CIA operations would be covert. The White House is already considering adding armed CIA drones to the arsenal against militants in Yemen, mirroring the agency’s Pakistan campaign.


   Placing military units overseen by the Pentagon under CIA control is unusual but not unprecedented. Units from the Joint Special Operations Command have been temporarily transferred to the CIA in other countries, including Iraq, in recent years in order to get around restrictions placed on military operations.


   The CIA conducts covert operations based on presidential findings, which can be expanded or altered as needed. Congressional oversight is required but the information is more tightly controlled than for military operations. For example, when the military conducts missions in a friendly country, it operates with the consent of the local government.

   An increase in U.S. missile strikes or combat ground operations by American commando forces could test already sensitive relations with Yemen, which U.S. officials believe is too weak to defeat al Qaeda. Such an escalation could prompt Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to end the training his military receives from U.S. special operations forces.

If Saleh is too weak (or ideologically compromised) to get the job done against al Qaeda, then why are we foisting our special ops training on him and the 50% of his military that are children (though the US insists that no children will go through our training)?

And I wonder what would have happened if we responded to the UnaBomber by dropping bombs throughout Montana?

The War in Yemen: Obama’s Fourth War

What war in Yemen you ask. What Fourth War?

Foiled Bomb Plot Sparks Calls for Expanded Military Presence in Yemen

by John Hudson at the Atlantic Wire

The U.S. is seriously considering sending elite “hunter-killer” teams to Yemen following the mail bombing plot by militants in Yemen. The covert teams would operate under the CIA’s authority allowing them to kill or capture targets unilaterally, The Wall Street Journal reports. Support for an expanded U.S. military effort in Yemen has been growing within the military and the Obama administration, according to The Journal. Now pundits in the blogosphere are echoing calls to ramp up special operations in the country.

   * Expect a U.S. Escalation, writes The Economist: “You can be sure that the US will be seriously considering amping up its semi-secret military campaign in Yemen. And you can be almost certain the US military and the CIA will redoubling their search for Mr Al-Awlaki.”. . .

   * It’s Time to Get Serious About Yemen, writes Time’s Robert Baer, a former Middle East CIA field officer. . .

   * The Bomb Plot Demonstrates the Importance of Our Involvement in the Middle East, writes The Wall Street Journal editorial board. . . .

   * No Time for Complacency, writes Jed Babbin at The American Spectator.

Get the picture?

While we were all obsessed with the economy and the never ending election cycle, the US has established a base in Yemen, increased military operations by sending in the  JSOC to target an American citizen for assassination, huge increased military aid and increased CIA controlled drone attacks that are killing more Yemen civilians then alleged members of Al Qaeda. But, but there was the latest package bombs and the underpants bomber. No, these actions all started long before that, back before the underpants bomber. In mid-December of 2009, Obama authorized the launching of cruise missiles at suspected Al Qaeda training camps:

   On orders from President Barack Obama, the U.S. military launched cruise missiles early Thursday against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen, administration officials told ABC News …

   The Yemen attacks by the U.S. military represent a major escalation of the Obama administration’s campaign against al Qaeda.

About all we are certain that was accomplished by these attacks, as with most missiles and unmanned drone strikes, a lot of civilians were killed, mostly women and children.

Then in late January, as reported by Siun at Firedoglake, it was learned that it was more than a couple of missiles:

Back in December, before the underpants bomber, I had asked if Obama had launched his fourth war – in Yemen. Reports had appeared that just a few days before, he had apparently authorized drone attacks on reported Al Qaeda fighters.

Today we learn that Obama has done more than send in drones.

Dana Priest reports in the Washington Post:    

U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials.

Priest goes on to report that the US military operation in Yemen involves attempts to assassinate US citizens considered “High Value Targets:”

That US civilian is American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who has been specifically targeted for assassination by President Obama without evidence or due process. That’s right no evidence because, despite the White House claims that the Awlaki is the person behind the bombs, they have no basis for the accusation other than speculation and hearsay.

This must be making the likes of David Broder, who advocates attacking Iran to cure our economic woes, and the war hawks, who justify the killing of civilians as necessary to keep us safe, happy as a flock of vultures with a fresh kill.

h/t Siun at FDL and Glenn Greenwald at Salon.

A very serious proposal

Debt Panel Pauses Until After Elections

By JACKIE CALMES, The New York Times

Published: November 1, 2010

Dean Baker is alarmed about this part-

WASHINGTON – The bipartisan debt-reduction commission that President Obama created eight months ago will begin meeting privately soon after Tuesday’s elections, with just three weeks to try to agree on cutbacks to Americans’ favorite tax breaks and benefit programs.

The group, which has a Dec. 1 deadline for recommending how to reduce the annual deficits swelling the federal debt, purposely has done little to date beyond five public hearings, and it has decided nothing lest any decisions leak and blow up in the flammable mix of a campaign year with control of Congress in the balance.

which I think a little late on the realization front, but whatever.  I’m more alarmed about this part-

Mr. Bowles has suggested that perhaps two-thirds of total deficit reduction come from spending and the rest from new revenues. The panel is not considering higher income tax rates given Republicans’ resistance. It is exploring ways to shave the roughly $1.2 trillion annual cost of “tax expenditures,” the tax breaks for individuals and businesses.

Four of the most expensive tax expenditures also are the most popular. Those are deductions for mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable giving and the exclusion from income taxes of the cost of employer-provided health insurance. One option would be to keep such breaks but reduce them or phase them out, supporters say. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group of policy experts, has proposed changes to save $1.7 trillion over a decade.

It’s certainly worth reading.

Update: More from Dean Baker

Erskine Bowles: Social Security’s Enemy No. 1?

By: Dean Baker Monday November 1, 2010 1:57 pm

While Simpson has seized the spotlight, it may prove to be the case that Erskine Bowles, his co-chairman, poses the greater threat to Social Security. The reason is simple: Bowles is the living embodiment of the rewards available to politicians who would support substantial cutbacks or privatization of the program.

(C)ontrary to the Washington fear mongers, Social Security is in solid financial shape by any reasonable definition. The Congressional Budget Office projects that it can pay all scheduled benefits for the next 29 years with no changes whatsoever (.pdf). Even after it first is projected to face a shortfall in 2039, the program could still pay nearly 80 percent of benefits into the next century without any changes at all.

Modest changes, such as raising the cap on taxable income (currently $106,000) would eliminate much of the projected long-term shortfall. Changes of the size implemented by the Greenspan commission in 1983 would make the program fully solvent long into the 22nd century. Remarkably, virtually no policy wonk seriously disputes these numbers in spite of the near universal hysteria among the chattering class over Social Security.

On policy grounds, Social Security is a smashing success. It scores even better politically. Poll after poll finds that everyone from Tea Partiers to actual socialists strongly supports the program. Yet, many members of Congress stand prepared to vote for substantial cuts to Social Security or even a partial privatization of the program.

Why would members of Congress be prepared to take a vote that is both bad on policy grounds and also could hurt their own political survival? Erskine Bowles is a large part of the answer.

On This Day in History: November 2

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

November 2 is the 306th day of the year (307th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 59 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1777, the USS Ranger, with a crew of 140 men under the command of John Paul Jones, leaves Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for the naval port at Brest, France, where it will stop before heading toward the Irish Sea to begin raids on British warships. This was the first mission of its kind during the Revolutionary War.

After departing Brest, Jones successfully executed raids on two forts in England’s Whitehaven Harbor, despite a disgruntled crew more interested in “gain than honor.” Jones then continued to his home territory of Kirkcudbright Bay, Scotland, where he intended to abduct the earl of Selkirk and then exchange him for American sailors held captive by Britain. Although he did not find the earl at home, Jones’ crew was able to steal all his silver, including his wife’s teapot, still containing her breakfast tea. From Scotland, Jones sailed across the Irish Sea to Carrickfergus, where the Ranger captured the HMS Drake after delivering fatal wounds to the British ship’s captain and lieutenant.

In September 1779, Jones fought one of the fiercest battles in naval history when he led the USS Bonhomme Richard frigate, named for Benjamin Franklin, in an engagement with the 50-gun British warship HMS Serapis. After the Bonhomme Richard was struck, it began taking on water and caught fire. When the British captain of the Serapis ordered Jones to surrender, he famously replied, “I have not yet begun to fight!” A few hours later, the captain and crew of the Serapis admitted defeat and Jones took command of the British ship.

John Paul Jones (July 6, 1747 – July 18, 1792) was the United States’ first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolutionary War. Although he made enemies among America’s political elites, his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to this day.

Captain Jones’s is interred at the US Naval Academy in a marble and bronze sarcophagus.

Morning Shinbun Tuesday November 2

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Immune discovery opens up new line of attack against viruses


The war the election forgot

Is the American Dream Over?


Britain and France to seal defence pact

Sarkozy government in ‘final act’, says leading socialist

Middle East

Yemen’s splendid isolation

Al-Qaeda claims Iraq church attack


Census-takers begin visiting China’s 400 million households

Myanmar’s polls a headache for ASEAN


War-era guns linked to recent murders in Uganda

Côte d’Ivoire awaits results after millions vote

Latin America

Mexico violence casts shadow over Day of the Dead

Finding Clues to the Future in Flood of Midterm Data


Published: November 1, 2010

WASHINGTON – Even for a nation that is, by now, used to drinking in political news through a fire hose, election night on Tuesday could be a difficult one to absorb.

More than 500 House, Senate and governor’s races will be decided, if not by the end of the night, then over the course of the nail-biting days ahead as write-in ballots are counted and recounts are requested.

Beyond the individual results, the nation will be looking at the returns for answers to bigger questions: Was this election about President Obama? How powerful a phenomenon is the Tea Party movement? How will the new Congress address the still-weak economy? What will it mean for the crop of likely 2012 Republican presidential candidate?  Did anonymous campaign money sway the outcome?

Prime Time

Evelyn, could you come here for a second? Which team do you play for?

Well, I’m a Peach.

Well I was just wonderin’ why you would throw home when we got a two-run lead. You let the tying run get on second base and we lost the lead because of you. Start using your head. That’s the lump that’s three feet above your ass.

Are you crying? Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There’s no crying! THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!

Why don’t you give her a break, Jimmy…

Oh, you zip it, Doris! Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pigshit. And that was when my parents drove all the way down from Michigan to see me play the game. And did I cry?

No, no, no.

Yeah! NO. And do you know why?


Because there’s no crying in baseball. THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL! No crying!

I am given to understand there was a shocking display last night, but I’m afraid I didn’t watch it.  Oh, I’m talking about cheering for W, not the 4 – 0 blow out.

You see, the Ranger’s problem is that they are facing elimination and in front of the home crowd too.

Battle of the Aces- Lee and Lincecum.  7 – 11 the first time out.  I renew my prediction of Weapons of Mass Destruction because I’m just as convicted convinced as any Washington Pundit that if I throw enough shit there’s sure to be a pony in there somewhere.

Other things-

The overnights should be interesting, solid premiers on broadcast, also Monday Night Throwball on ESPNTexans @ Bolts (you know how to root).


Dave hosts Robert Downey Jr. and Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes with Pete Thomas.  Jon has no identified guest, Stephen Jonathan Alter.  Double Alton, Curry and Stew.

BoondocksThe Passion of Reverend Ruckus (a must see excellent episode).

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