Something to think about

January 30, 2010 at 1:33 am | Posted in Miscellany | Leave a comment
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Home Sweet Home, East Hampton, Long Island, New York. c1913 (Library of Congress)

George Lakoff at Common Dreams has a post titled “Where’s the Movement?” in which he talks about our role as active participants in our political system that I think you all should read.

Movements also transcend particular policies. The framing of moral principles comes first and the policies elaborate on the principles. The way to unite a movement is to form policies that carry out the principles in ways that everyone can understand.

As a citizen, what moral principles, values or characteristics do you believe are important for a happy and well-functioning society?

Compassion, cooperativeness, fairness, generosity, honesty, industriousness, loyalty, moderation and tolerance are important to me.

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Chilcot Hearings on Iraq War

January 29, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Posted in Bush, Foreign Affairs, Historical, terrorism, torture | Leave a comment
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Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Arsacids and of the Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia, now Iraq. c1932 (Library of Congress)

Wufnik at Scholars and Rogues has been doing regular posts on the goings on at the Chilcot hearings on the Iraq war that are well worth a read.

The first post in which Wufnik talks about the inquiry is Christmas music (9)–Best English folk/indie/whatever Christmas album, then Stout Denial, More Chilcot, Blogging Blair and Blogging Blair (2).

The British Government has a website for the Iraq Inquiry that has video, transcripts and background documents.

Charlie Brooker explains the news

January 29, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Posted in journalism | Leave a comment
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Newswipe with Charlie Brooker is a British news review show on BBC Four which exposes the inner workings of news media and politics.

A first series of six episodes ran from March 25, 2009 to April 29, 2009. A second series began on January 19, 2010. You can watch the whole first series at Youtube.

In this clip from episode 3 Charlie Brooker dissects the architecture of television news stories.

Cross-posted at From Laurel Street

Permanent tax cut for the wealthy! Hooray!

January 29, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Posted in Economy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Look to the right side of the chart. See that dark blue line? That’s where the deficit will go if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire. See that lighter blue line above it, the one that goes almost straight up? That’s where the deficit will go if the Bush tax cuts are made permanent.

Perrspectives gets to the heart of the matter.

President Obama Schools House Republicans.

January 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Posted in House of Representatives, Obama Speaks, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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House Pages told courtesy first rule. Washington, D.C., Jan. 3. Courtesy is the Cardinal rule for House pages, Paul R. Ashbrook, Chief Democratic Page, tells the boys at a coaching session just before the 76th Congress convened today. 1939 January 3. (Library of Congress)

This year’s House Republican retreat was held at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland and sponsored by the Congressional Institute, a nonprofit run by Republican corporate lobbyists for Republican House members in 1987 but which pretends to be nonpartisan. President Obama was invited for a televised question-and-answer session.

The president’s full remarks can be seen at C-span.

[C-Span seems to be experiencing an overload. You can read a transcript of the president’s statement and the Q&A here.]

House Democrats held their retreat on January 14, in the basement of the Capitol visitor Center. President Obama addressed the group, reminding them of accomplishments and the direction he would like them to take going forward, encouraging them not to drop the ball on health care reform.

Today we are on the doorstep of accomplishing something that Washington has been talking about since Teddy Roosevelt was President, and that is reforming health care and health insurance here in America.

Now, believe me, I know how big a lift this has been. I see the polls. I get 40,000 letters every day, and I read a stack of them each night. I catch the occasional blog post or cable clip that breathlessly declares what something means for a political party, without really talking much about what it means for a country. I know that the virtues of this legislation for Americans with insurance and Americans without it have been entirely obscured by fear and distraction.

But I also know what happens once we get this done, once we saw this law — sign this bill into law. The American people will suddenly learn that this bill does things they like and doesn’t do things that people have been trying to say it does. Their worst fears will prove groundless, and the American people’s hope for a fair shake from their insurance companies for quality, affordable health care they need will finally be realized.

This year alone, this reform will ban some of the worst practices of the insurance industry forever. They’ll no longer be allowed to refuse coverage for preexisting conditions for children or drop coverage when folks get sick and need it the most. They’ll no longer be allowed to impose restrictive annual limits on the amount of coverage that you receive, lifetime limits on the amounts of benefits received. They’ll be required to offer free preventive care — like checkups and routine tests and mammograms — at no cost. Patients will have rights. They will get what they pay for. And that’s just the beginning.

All told, it’s reform that finally offers Americans the security of knowing that they’ll have quality, affordable health care whether they lose their job or change their job or they get sick. (Applause.) And by the way, it’s reform that begins to bring down costs for families and businesses and governments.

In his remarks to House Republicans, the president was direct: “But if you were to listen to this debate, and frankly how some of you went after this bill, you’d think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot — (scattered laughter, stray applause) — I mean, that’s how you guys presented it.

House Republicans apparently think that acting like school children is a laughing matter. I don’t expect that to change but one can always hope.

UPDATE: Oops!

“The Best Democracy Money Can Buy”

January 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Posted in House of Representatives, law, politics straight up | 8 Comments
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Some members of the Supreme Court believe that their ruling in Citizens United case does not allow wholly foreign corporations to buy American elections. But will that stop foreign corporations or countries from doing so?

I would imagine that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud of Saudi Arabia — the largest shareholder of News Corp outside the Murdoch family — as well as are many foreign governments, will have no problem influencing American politics thanks to Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Kennedy and Thomas.

Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling, the next step in our country’s downward spiral will be that corporations themselves will run for elected office.

As a result, “the progressive PR firm Murray Hill Inc. has announced that it plans to satirically run for Congress in the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th congressional district.”

Given the age requirement, I doubt that Murray Hill Inc. is qualified. But Exxon is. So are Walmart and Microsoft.

Here is Murray Hill’s first campaign ad:

Thanks, ThinkProgress!

State of the Union

January 28, 2010 at 11:14 am | Posted in Obama Speaks, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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"Come on, little fishie!"

Mrs. Herbster's main hobby is breeding tropical fish. He exchanges fish with other breeders and now has a tank with over a dozen varities. c1941 (Library of Congress)

Nope, I didn’t watch it. I couldn’t. I’m so far past being able to stop myself from breaking things if I hear one more promise, I figured I’d really better find another activity for the evening.

I did spend some time over in the crack van at First Draft for old time’s sake, but for the most part I stuck to Suicide.

UPDATE: BBC News has instantaneous reaction to the SOTU address by Mark Mardell, BBC North America editor, and Paul Reynolds, BBC world affairs correspondent, as well as some interesting information about the history of the SOTU address.

Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was this year’s “designated survivor.”

Christina Bellantoni of TPM was in the press gallery and has a report about what she saw of the chamber audience.

RIP Howard Zinn

January 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Posted in Obituary | Leave a comment
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Civil rights march on Washington, D.C, 1963 Aug. 28. (Library of Congress)

Howard Zinn, activist, historian, educator and author of a number of books, including A People’s History of the United States, has died at age 87.

Tap Dance

January 26, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Posted in Department of Justice, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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"We're not commenting."

Frances Benjamin Johnston's cats, Herman and Vermin, seated on brick railing of New Orleans house, Louisiana. (Library of Congress)

Gosh, what could possibly be a motivation for Robert Flanagan, son of acting US Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, being involved in an attempted tapping of Senator Landrieu’s office phone?

Landrieu submitted the names of two people to replace outgoing USA Donald Washington. William J. Flanagan was not on the list. Stephanie A. Finley was one of Landrieu’s picks. Last week it was announced that Finley is the president’s nominee for the position.

My guess is that the Flanagan family has been stewing over this slight since July 2009.

How to destroy a presidency, a political party and a country in a few easy steps

January 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Posted in Economy, environment, health, House of Representatives, Obama!, Reality Bites, senate, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Cincinnati ; New York : Strobridge Litho. Co., c1900. (Library of Congress)

Apparently Barack Obama does not understand the job of president, because he has refused to avail himself of the most basic tool that office holds: power.

He has allowed the Republicans — the failed and disgraced minority party whose policies got us where we are today — to continue to set the agenda and determine our direction forward.

In How to Squander the Presidency in One Year, or Hey, Conan Obama: How About Now? Can You Hear Us Now?, David Michael Green of CommonDreams.org summarizes Obama’s failure of leadership.

Why are we headed for failure again on health care reform?

Could there possibly be a greater prescription for failure than allowing a bunch of the most venal people on the planet [“those dickheads on the Hill,” i.e., Congress] to cobble together a 2,000 page monstrosity that entirely serves their interests and those of the people whose campaign bribes put them in office?

You would think in a country of over 300 million people, that claims to be the awesomest country on the planet, we could find a president better than this.

UPDATE (8/21/11): Yeah, I was right peeved back in June 2010. Although I still wish President Obama would bitch slap Republicans more and the health care reform didn’t go far enough, given the circumstances, the ACA is an improvement over what we had.

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