Saturday, December 18, 2010
Leaking on the leaker
Sex by surprise? OK, sex with two Swedish girls a third of my age would indeed be a surprise for this old man; for sure and maybe a fatal one, but it's not about me or likely to be, sad to say. It's about politics and money and power and that's no surprise at all.
So no matter what your feelings about Julian Assenge might be (mine are solidly into the Who Cares territory) you have to smile when information as to the actual charges against him are leaked to the public. That's if you love irony.
Was he sat up in a "honey trap?" I don't really care, he went into this with his eyes open and he is sort of an adult, but then his chief accuser did go on sleeping with him in her apartment for weeks and never asked him to leave. One has to wonder just where the "Surprise" was for her unless it was in E-mails leaked to Assenge's lawyer suggesting the quest for money was behind it, but then she may only have wanted the man to be tested for STDs, says The Guardian. Who knows, who cares? We're looking for scandal and a prop for our prejudices. The truth is boring.
Now can we get back to the war on Christmas?
Fox News viewers completely misinformed: study
According to the study, which can be reviewed online, in most cases, the more a person watched and read the news, the less likely they were to have been misled about the facts. But "there were however a number of cases where greater exposure to a news source increased misinformation on a specific issue," the study's authors wrote. In particular, they found that regular viewers of the Fox News Channel, which tilts to the right in prime time, were significantly more likely to believe untruths about the Democratic health care overhaul, climate change and other subjects.
The study's authors continued, "These effects increased incrementally with increasing levels of exposure and all were statistically significant. The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it — though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican."
Friday, December 17, 2010
Lie of the Year: Government takeover of health care
In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama's ambitious plan to overhaul America's health insurance system. Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a "government takeover."
"Takeovers are like coups," Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. "They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom."
The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the "public option" concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan.
But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn't let facts get in the way of a great punchline. And few in the press challenged their frequent assertion that under Obama, the government was going to take over the health care industry.
PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen "government takeover of health care" as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats' shellacking in the November elections.
Readers of PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times' independent fact-checking website, also chose it as the year's most significant falsehood by an overwhelming margin. (Their second-place choice was Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that Obama was going to spend $200 million a day on a trip to India, a falsity that still sprouts.)
By selecting "government takeover' as Lie of the Year, PolitiFact is not making a judgment on whether the health care law is good policy.
The phrase is simply not true.
Are we about to get DADT repeal?
Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown today voiced his support for a stand-alone repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, bringing the bill one vote over the 60-vote threshold that it will need to reach if and when the Senate votes on the measure in the coming weeks...
Brown's backing means that – on paper – supporters of the repeal have 61 senators in favor of the bill. On Wednesday Republicans Olympia Snowe of Maine and Lisa Murkowski both announced their support for the stand-alone repeal. The House passed the clean repeal on Wednesday and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to bring it to a vote in the Senate before the end of the year.
I want to thank Senator Reid for his leadership in bringing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010" to the Senate floor for a vote. I am confident that we have more than 60 votes to end this law that discriminates against military service members based solely on their sexual orientation. Repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will affirm the Senate's commitment to the civil rights of all Americans and also make our military even stronger.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Relief is just a leak away
Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data... we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question,
When the data conflicts with the politics, always mention "the critics." That's unslanted journalism, Fox News-style.
If you call it a "public option," the American people are split, if you call it the "government option," the public is overwhelmingly against it.
The political pendulum of potential revolution
A friend asked me recently, "Is there a revolution approaching?"
Well done, BP -- you guys are the best!
Striking resemblances between BP's Gulf of Mexico disaster and a little-reported giant gas leak in Azerbaijan experienced by the UK firm 18 months beforehand have emerged from leaked US embassy cables.
The cables reveal that some of BP's partners in the gas field were upset that the company was so secretive about the incident that it even allegedly withheld information from them. They also say that BP was lucky that it was able to evacuate its 212 workers safely after the incident, which resulted in two fields being shut and output being cut by at least 500,000 barrels a day with production disrupted for months.
Other cables leaked tonight claim that the president of Azerbaijan accused BP of stealing $10bn of oil from his country and using "mild blackmail" to secure the rights to develop vast gas reserves in the Caspian Sea region.
Free Bradley Manning!
Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months -- and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait -- under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning's detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.
House passes DADT repeal. Not that it matters or anything.
Now we get to sit around and wonder what kind of bullshit excuses Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Joe Manchin, and the other "moderates" come up with to block the bill.
DeMint is DeCrazy
A procedural vote on the treaty Wednesday garnered 66 votes, a strong indicator that the treaty could pick up the 67 votes it needs for ratification.
Thirty-two Republicans voted against opening debate on the treaty and two senators, including Democrat Evan Bayh, were not present – putting Democrats in striking distance of securing the necessary votes. Still, a number of Republicans have called for more time to debate the measure, and may ultimately vote to block its ratification if they feel like they’re being steamrolled.
We shouldn't be jamming a major arms control treaty up against Christmas; it's sacrilegious and disrespectful. What's going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians. They did the same thing last year -- they kept everybody here until [Christmas Eve] to force something down everybody's throat. I think Americans are sick of this.
No, Americans are sick of extreme partisanism and absolute obstructionism. Isn't that what we keep hearing from all those independent voters?
Regardless, there's nothing "sacrilegious and disrespectful" about legislating around Christmas. The business of government doesn't stop just because there's a major holiday coming up, and of course no one's talking about working on Christmas Day itself.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Some progress on New START?
It looks like I might have been wrong on New START, the arms reduction treaty currently being deliberated over in the Senate. Back in November I argued that the continued objections of Senator Jon Kyl -- among other Senate Republicans -- to the treaty made its passage unlikely, even though most of the critiques of the deal make little sense. In addition to Kyl's objections, Jim DeMint -- GOP Senator from South Carolina -- also threatened to force the Senate to read through the entire treaty, a process that could last 10 hours and prevent passage this year.
Now Jim DeMint seems to have "backed down," partially under pressure from GOP Senate leaders. If the treaty moves forward in the Senate before the Democrats lose several members of their caucus in the next session, its chances for ratification are rather good.
Notice, however, that I said I might have been wrong. Republicans are hardly supporting the bill, and it is very likely they could still delay a vote. So I'm not getting my hopes up yet.
If it's broke...
Here's Rachel Maddow last night on the broken Senate and what it's costing us not just in terms of getting things done but in terms of how our country works:
I'm not sure that there's ever going to be any reform in the way things work on Capitol Hill. I know people who work there on both sides of the aisle and the one thing they agree on is that yes, the process sucks but neither side is willing to make the changes to get it to work as intended because if they do, they would have to give up something and, more importantly, they don't trust the other side to act in good faith when they achieve the majority. In other words, they are sure that all of the checks and balances that one side advocates for, i.e. the protection of the minority, an end to the secret holds and the arcane rules of procedure, would be used against them when they're not in power.
We saw this played to a fare-thee-well last winter during the healthcare debate. The Republicans carried on about how the bill was "rammed down their throats," just like the stimulus bill and the bank bailouts, conveniently forgetting that all of the bills passed through the legislative process without any slight of hand. Indeed, those of us who wanted the bills to pass were frustrated at the tortuous and tortoise-like process. This is in stark contrast to the GOP's thrill of getting the Bush tax cuts and agenda swept through both Houses back in 2002 while at the same time darkly threatening to invoke the dreaded nuclear option, something the Democrats never even brought up last winter.
There will be a lot of talk about reforming the rules of the Senate and changing the filibuster rules to allow debate to go forward and putting an end to secret holds. That's all it will be, though. Every election cycle brings in new faces and tyro staffers who are determined to shake up Washington and change the way it does business. And then they get in office, they get invited to dinner with a few lobbyists, and, two years later, someone else is running against them because they're part of the problem.
And so it goes.
(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)
Waiter, there's a terrorist in my tea
I think that we also should be censoring the American news agencies which enabled him to do this and also supported him and applauding him [Julian Assenge] for the efforts. So that's kind of aiding and abetting of a serious crime.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The costs of the Obama-GOP tax deal
But Chait is right, I think, that "the liberal revolt does help demonstrate the costs the administration will pay if it capitulates on the upper-bracket Bush tax cuts in 2012."
Monday, December 13, 2010
Virginia judge rules individual mandate unconstitutional, but Obamacare will prevail
The record here may be inconvenient for the right, but it's also unambiguous: the mandate Republicans currently hate was their idea. It was championed by the Heritage Foundation. [Bob Dole incorporated the individual mandate into his reform plan in '94.] Nixon embraced it in the 1970s, and George H.W. Bush kept it going in the 1980s.
For years, it was touted by the likes of John McCain, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennett, Tommy Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Judd Gregg, and many others all notable GOP officials.
This is about cheap politics. Republican pollsters no doubt told GOP officials that the mandate is a potential vulnerability to the signature Democratic polity priority, so that's where the party is focusing its attention, hoping that the public simply doesn't pay attention to the fact that they're attacking their own idea.
The real danger to health-care reform is not that the individual mandate will be struck down by the courts. That'd be a problem, but there are a variety of ways to restructure the individual mandate such that it doesn't penalize anyone for deciding not to do something (which is the core of the conservative's legal argument against the provision)... The danger is that, in striking down the individual mandate, the court would also strike down the rest of the bill. In fact, that's exactly what the plaintiff has asked Hudson to do.
Hudson pointedly refused.
[R]ight now, the range of opinions stretch from "the law is fine" to "the individual mandate is not fine, but the rest of the law is." That could create problems for the legislation if the mandate is repealed and Republicans block any attempts at a fix, but it's a far cry from a world in which the Supreme Court strikes down the whole of the health-care law.
Republicans, whipping up blood-curdling public fury with their lies, like the ridiculous claim that there would be "death panels," drew their battle lines early on. In Congress, they were unanimously against reform, even this modest reform package that for the most part they themselves had promoted back in the '90s as an alternative to Hillarycare and that a Republican governor, Mitt Romney, had implemented in Massachusetts. They required Democrats to fight their way through all sorts of legislative hoops, denying clear majority rule. And once the bill passed, they continued to fight, pledging to repeal it if they took back Congress. But they know better, don't they? Or some of them do. They know that it's a losing issue for them, which is why they fought so hard against passage in the first place. Their electoral success, on this issue as on others, depends on public ignorance, but the public can't be kept in the dark forever.
And so these challenges will go forward, in Virginia and elsewhere, but the law will only become more and more a part of the lives of Americans, like Social Security and civil rights. You never know how SCOTUS will rule, of course, and there's a chance part of the law, if certainly not all of it, could be struck down, but I tend to doubt it. Having lost, Republicans are just flailing about, mired in the stink of their own political and ideological extremism, desperate for validation. One judge may have given them what they wanted, but they won't find any lasting success fighting health-care reform.
Judge Hudson's ruling may be a setback for reform, and perhaps even a fairly significant one, but winning a battle here and there does not mean winning the war.
Glenn Beck admits to being a terrorist
Not that he admits to having admitted it.
We've all had e-mails insisting that some event hasn't been reported by "the media" because the media is so biased. every week brings news of stories the "liberal media doesn't want you to know." I recall one that proved the "liberal" media was biased in favor of, or at least opposed to revealing the criminal nature of Black people. I've had others insisting there was some cover up of the fact that Jews, Gay people, black people and others were trying to take over or already controlling things in some secret and sinister matter. Most of them these days have to do with covering up the essentially evil nature of Muslims as Muslims.
Many of these alleged omissions share a great deal with the lack of coverage of the invasion from planet Mongo in that there is no truth to them and many simply represent that age-old gambit of taking over by insisting someone else is taking over; lying, cheating and stealing by insisting someone else is lying, cheating or stealing.
You can't get away from the fact that Glenn Beck and his employers have become rich by creating the feeling that the United States is in great danger, often from things they recently denied could even be a danger, like the National Debt and international terrorism, for instance - even things hard to seriously criticize like meat inspection.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the real media usually cowers and rarely challenges the absurd claims of the Right, for after all they're also owned and controlled by corporate interests of their owners and advertisers. When they do speak up, they often get beat down and portrayed as clowns or traitors, so I have to admire the courage of Fareed Zakaria in calling on Beck to stand behind his absurd lies. It's about goddamn time.
Beck the Bigot for hire, claims that nearly ten percent of the world's Muslims are terrorists. That, says Zakaria would make for 157 million of them -- a large number to keep hidden, even for a liberal entity like CNN, obviously out to support the violent overthrow of the US.
"Well, Glenn, again, maybe because it just isn't true," Zakaria noted on his CNN program yesterday. "I can't find any poll or study or shred of data that suggests that 1.5 million Americans, which is what that number would work out to, want to violently overthrow their government."Backpeddling like an abashed PeeWee Herman on his Schwinn, Becks' mouthpieces, having done the math, fell back to saying that well, perhaps that many support terrorism, thoughtcrimewise even if they're not shooting at us because they are angry at the US government -- which makes them terrorists. Bad move, that was.
"Does supporting such anger against the American government make one a terrorist?" he asked in a check-mate moment.Well if it does then what do we call Mr. Beck? What else is he? What do we call the guy who spends all his time railing about the wickedness of Mr. Obama, the evils of social justice, about the need for regime change, the need to override the election process in favor of some magic substitute for free elections, the need to take action before it's too late?
Why We Will Never Have To Worry About A Palin Presidency
A little over two years ago, one of Sarah Palin's first interviews after being tapped as John McCain's running mate was a multipart chat with CBS's Katie Couric. And it was a disaster. To this day, Palin still has a chip on her shoulder about one question she was asked in particular: What does she read?
Since then, Palin has been asked the question repeatedly, and has come up with something approaching a stock answer.
Said "stock answer's" shorter?
I can see books from my bedstand!
Seriously, how thin skinned is this broad? Two years after she bungles an interesting-but-inocuous question, she's still fuming about it!
"Because of that one episode, that one episode, that would turn an issue into what it has become over the last two years. I think that's ridiculous," Palin told Walters. "That's one of those things, where that issue…that I don't read, or that I'm not informed, it's one of those questions where I like to turn that around and ask the reporters, 'Why would it be that there is that perception that I don't read?'"