Daily Archive: 08/11/2011

Aug 11 2011

Congressional Game of Chicken: Super Catfood Committee Members

Yes, we are still playing and the Republicans have the advantage. So far they have won 98% of everything they asked for and are still holding hostages. The new extra-constitutional super committee of 12 will start work on the next round of hostage negotiations. Composed equally of Democrats and Republicans, three of each from the Senate and the House, the committee is tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts. Here are the members that have been selected by the leadership:

The Senate

Democrats

  • Sen. Patty Murray (WA) was selected by Reid to be co-chair of the committee. “The Mom in Tennis Shoes” is the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The feeling is that she will consider the electoral implications of the policy decisions.
  • Sen. John Kerry (MA) is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is expected to be central to cutting defense spending.
  • Sen. Max Baucus (MT) is the chairperson of the Senate Finance Committee and is expected to be the leading voice on tax policy.

None of these Senators were part of the “Gang of Six” that was working with Vice President Joe Biden. They are not particularly trusted by liberals and some feel that Kerry is the weakest link. Baucus who was on the original Cat Food Commission, dissented because of cuts to Social Security and Medicare. He is also protective of the Affordable Health Care Act which was his “baby” as chair of the SFC. Kerry, however, has said that he supported the President’s “grand bargain” that put Social Security and Medicare under attack. Murray is a friend of the big defense contractors who received $5.2 billion in defense contracts in her home state.

The Republicans

  • Sen. John Kyl(AZ),retiring at the end of his term, was a member of the “Gang Of Six” who walked out of the talks and is the minority whip.
  • Sen. Rob Portman [OH], a freshman senator, was George W. Bush’s budget director and a member of the original Cat Food Commission .
  • Sen. Pat Toomey (PA), backed by the Tea Party and a freshman senator, was the president of Club for Growth and is the only Republican pick to vote against the debt ceiling compromise passed last week.

All three have signed “President” Grover Norquist’s pledged not to raise taxes.

The House

Democrats:

  • Rep. Jim Clyburn (SC), was a member of the “Gang of Six” and is a fierce opponent of cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD), also a memeber of the “Gang of Six”, is the ranking member on the House Budget Committee and opposed to cuts in the big three social safety nets.
  • Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA), has voted consistently to protect Social Security and Medicare.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said that they’ll focus on economic growth and job creation, which reduces deficit.

Republicans:

  • Rep. Dave Camp (MI), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, is the head tax-law writer in the chamber.
  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX) is one of Boehner’s deputies on the GOP leadership team.
  • Rep. Fred Upton (MI) is the only Republican with a moderate record.

All three have again signed the Norquist Pledge.

So there you have it. We are damned no matter what happens on this committee.

Aug 11 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Robert Reich: Why the President Doesn’t Present a Bold Plan to Create Jobs and Jumpstart the Economy

Americans are deeply confused about why the economy is so bad – and their President isn’t telling them. In fact, the White House apparently has decided to join with Republicans and blame it on the long-term budget deficit.

Before I turn to the President, though, let’s be clear: The lousy economy is due to insufficient demand. Consumers – who are 70 percent of the economy – can’t and won’t buy because they’re running out of cash. They can’t borrow against homes that are worth a third less than they were five years ago, and most consumers are bad credit risks anyway because they’re losing their jobs and their wages are dropping.  They also have to start saving for the kids’ college or for retirement, which will cut their spending even more.

Robert Sheer: Another Bailout Joins the Goofball Economy

The whole thing is nuts. The economy is a shambles, saved from a free fall only by the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented promise of free money for banks for at least two years. That’s how long a seven-member majority of the Fed’s Open Market Committee expects it to take for significant relief to take hold for the 25 million Americans who can’t find full-time employment.

The 10-member committee’s three dissenters in Tuesday’s decision, all unelected Fed regional board presidents, are free-market ideologues who don’t believe the government has a role to play in reversing the nation’s economic disaster. One is a former Wall Street investment banker and vice chairman of Henry Kissinger’s consulting firm. The other two are University of Chicago school of economics disciples long committed to free-market purism and blind faith in the mathematical models that had much to do with radical deregulation and the subsequent collapse of the financial markets.

Dr. Brian Moench: United Snakes of America: Obama, the Republicans and the Media

I’ve been angry with slimy politicians before – Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush – for many different reasons, but with the common denominator of sacrificing the public interest for private interests. So, I was thrilled to vote for Obama. My wife and I donated more money to his campaign than we have given to any candidate running for any office. I believed he was more than just pocket “change we could believe in.” I still have an Obama bumper sticker on my car. This weekend, with gusto, I’m tearing it off.

Obama has fulfilled more of the Tea Party’s dreams than Sarah Palin, Grover Norquist or Rush Limbaugh could ever have done as president. He has done more damage to the Democratic Party than Karl Rove in his wettest of dreams. There are two possible explanations for Obama’s behavior, both are equally disturbing.

Thom Hartmann: Democracy Died First in Wisconsin – Long Live the Oligarchs

The Wisconsin recall election was the first major test of the new era in American politics

That new era began in January of 2010 when the US Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. FEC that the political voice of We The People was no longer as important as the voices of billionaires and transnational corporations.

Now we know the result, and it bodes ill for both 2012 and for the tattered future of small-d democracy in our republic.

A few of America’s most notorious oligarchs – including the Koch and the DeVos (Amway fortune) billionaires – as well as untraceable millions from donors who could as easily be Chinese government-run corporations as giant “American” companies who do most of their business and keep most of their profits outside the US – apparently played big in this election.

Robert Greenwald: WI: The Kochs, Colbert and $ in Politics

Much of the nation watched last night with breath held, waiting to see the recall results in Wisconsin. In the end, two WI Senate Republicans were replaced with Democrats, falling short of the three needed to take control of the Senate.

While this wasn’t the outcome many hoped for, it was still a bit of a victory. No longer are politics played on an even field, and the situation in Wisconsin makes this clearer than any other state. But despite the slanted scale, working people in Wisconsin were still able to change two seats out of six. It is movement in the right direction.

What I mean about there no longer being an even playing field in politics is the vast amount of control and power money now has in our democratic system. While Scott Walker has pushed so extremely to rob working people of their basic rights and protections, he’s been cushioned in support of endlessly flowing money backing his efforts.

Jim Hightower: The Downgrading of America

As Lily Tomlin noted, “No matter how cynical you get, it’s almost impossible to keep up.”

Many of us view the deficit ceiling brouhaha between the Obama White House and the laissez-fairy extremists in the Republican House as some combination of farce and fiasco. So much political playacting around a made-up deficit “crisis” in order to avoid dealing with the real deficit that’s crushing America’s middle class and draining the lifeblood from our economy: the jobs deficit.

But wait — before I could work out my anger over that fiasco, here came an even more incredible farce. Last Friday, a Wall Street credit rating firm, Standard & Poor’s, thrust itself onto the national stage by arrogantly, recklessly and wrongly downgrading the sovereign credit status of the United States of America from AAA to AA+.

Aug 11 2011

On This Day In History August 11

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

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 11 is the 223rd day of the year (224th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 142 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1934, the first Federal prisoners arrived at Alcatraz.

A group of federal prisoners classified as “most dangerous” arrives at Alcatraz Island, a 22-acre rocky outcrop situated 1.5 miles offshore in San Francisco Bay. The convicts–the first civilian prisoners to be housed in the new high-security penitentiary–joined a few dozen military prisoners left over from the island’s days as a U.S. military prison.

Alcatraz was an uninhabited seabird haven when it was explored by Spanish Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775. He named it Isla de los Alcatraces, or “Island of the Pelicans.” Fortified by the Spanish, Alcatraz was sold to the United States in 1849. In 1854, it had the distinction of housing the first lighthouse on the coast of California. Beginning in 1859, a U.S. Army detachment was garrisoned there, and from 1868 Alcatraz was used to house military criminals. In addition to recalcitrant U.S. soldiers, prisoners included rebellious Indian scouts, American soldiers fighting in the Philippines who had deserted to the Filipino cause, and Chinese civilians who resisted the U.S. Army during the Boxer Rebellion. In 1907, Alcatraz was designated the Pacific Branch of the United States Military Prison.

In 1934, Alcatraz was fortified into a high-security federal penitentiary designed to hold the most dangerous prisoners in the U.S. penal system, especially those with a penchant for escape attempts. The first shipment of civilian prisoners arrived on August 11, 1934. Later that month, more shiploads arrived, featuring, among other convicts, infamous mobster Al Capone. In September, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, another luminary of organized crime, landed on Alcatraz.

By decision of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the penitentiary was closed on March 21, 1963. It was closed because it was far more expensive to operate than other prisons (nearly $10 per prisoner per day, as opposed to $3 per prisoner per day at Atlanta), half a century of salt water saturation  had severely eroded the buildings, and the bay was being badly polluted by the sewage from the approximately 250 inmates and 60 Bureau of Prisons families on the island. The United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, a traditional land-bound prison, opened that same year to serve as a replacement for Alcatraz.

The entire Alcatraz Island was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and was further declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 1993, the National Park Service published a plan entitled Alcatraz Development Concept and Environmental Assessment.  This plan, approved in 1980, doubled the amount of Alcatraz accessible to the public to enable visitors to enjoy its scenery and bird, marine, and animal life, such as the California slender salamander.

Today American Indian groups such as the International Indian Treaty Council hold ceremonies on the island, most notably, their “Sunrise Gatherings” every Columbus and Thanksgiving Day.

Aug 11 2011

We Got Taylor To The Thugs, We NEED Cee Lo To The Dems

For the unwashed among you, Cee Lo Green has had a hit “Fuck You”, which is about a girl dumping him for his lack of funds. Taylor Swift has had a hit “Mean”, where she tells off some mean meanie for being a meanie – it is very high school song.  

I’ve listened to pop music for decades – it tells us what is going on out there among the mob of us nobodies, kind of like how the highly priced painting of a campbell’s soup can tells us how outta touch our ‘elites’ are.

These 2 songs have been popular for months – and some of the excuse making for 0bummer’s LATEST $ell out just hit me the other day – blaming fascist pigs for being pigs while your ‘champions’ sell you out is … great for the well paid ‘champions’!      

Aug 11 2011

My Little Town 20110810: Uncle Bill and his Friend

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile of so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I never write about living people except with their express permission, but since he is long gone, he is fair game.  He was not really an uncle, but rather was my great uncle, the brother to my paternal grandfather.  I always called him Uncle Bill, but did not know him very well, and hardly at all until his old age.

Uncle Bill was always nice to me, and I liked that.  When I grew to know him, he lived in the little, shabby rent house up the street.

Aug 11 2011

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

If you do not get Current TV you can watch Keith here:

Watch live video from CURRENT TV LIVE Countdown Olbermann on www.justin.tv

Aug 11 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Taliban who downed US helicopter killed: general

By Dan De Luce, AFP

45 mins ago

Taliban insurgents who shot down a US Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan, leaving 30 American troops dead, have been hunted down and killed in an air strike, a US commander said Wednesday.

But the insurgent leader who was the target of the original operation in which the Americans perished remained at large, said General John Allen, commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.

“Did we get the leader that we were going after in the initial operation? No, we did not,” he told reporters by video link from Kabul.

A Complete.  Abject.  Failure.

How do you become the guy who “ask(s) a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

But the issue, gentlemen, the issue is Terrorism!, and the question is whether or not we will leave that country to the Terrorists!

#fuckyouwashington