August 14, 2009 archive

Ripping America’s Future Away

In his essay, “Senator Conrad Says He’ll Vote Against the Public Option” Slinkerwink at Firedoglake notes . . .

In a town hall meeting with his constituents, Senator Kent Conrad, D-N.D. pushed his co-operative plan, and said that he would vote against the public option in any Senate health care package.  Conrad presented his cooperative health care proposal Thursday and said he would not vote for a government-run health care program.  The proposal has received bipartisan support for several reasons, he said. The cooperative would offer a non-profit insurance option to compete with private health care. It would not be government run, he said.

In response to Conrad’s dog and pony show “co-op plan”,  Slinkerwink notes that . . .

Conrad’s been pushing the co-operative line ever since the debate over health care reform heated up earlier this spring, and he’s a part of the Senate Finance Committee that is keeping the rest of the Senate Democrats out of their caucus talks.  And he knows full well that his co-op plan wouldn’t help the majority of his constituents.  In what’s been leaked about the Senate Finance bill, the co-operative plan actually is a series of regional co-operatives, which wouldn’t do anything to lower health premium costs for American families.

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports the Oil lobby is to fund phoney campaign against U.S. climate change strategy. The American Petroleum Institute (API), the U.S. oil and gas lobby, is funding 20 fake ‘energy citizen’ rallies to “give the false appearance of a groundswell of public opinion against legislation that is key to President Obama’s climate change strategy”. The events will be “seeded with industry employees.”

    Jack Gerard, the president of the API, outlined in an email to put a “human face” on their lobbying efforts to thwart climate legislation before the Senate votes on it in September. “We must move aggressively,” he wrote.

    Elsewhere, the LA Times reports ExxonMobil pleads guilty to killing protected birds. The company will pay a mere $600,000 in fines and fees for killing 85 protected birds — including hawks, owls and waterfowl. “Most of the birds died after exposure to hydrocarbons in uncovered natural gas pits, oil tanks and waste water facilities at ExxonMobil drilling and production plants in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas”.

  2. The LA Times reports Loophole in government program to buy toxic securities will cost taxpayers. “A controversial $40-billion government program to buy toxic securities from ailing banks has a flaw that law enforcement and financial experts say could allow traders to illegally profit from inside information.”

    “The Treasury Department, which is in charge of the program, says it intends to closely monitor trading activity to prevent illegal insider trading and profiteering at the expense of the public interest.” But, Neal Barofsky, the special inspector general for the banking rescue program, said:

    “The Treasury cannot possibly match wits with the innovation and aggressiveness of Wall Street… If you give them a set of rules and there are technicalities and legal loopholes and things we haven’t thought of, they are going to find that out, not because they are bad, but because that is what they are supposed to do. They are supposed to seek out profits at all costs.”

    Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports Over 150 U.S. banks may be at the point of no return. “More than 150 publicly traded U.S. lenders own nonperforming loans that equal 5 percent or more of their holdings, a level that former regulators say can wipe out a bank’s equity and threaten its survival.”

    Already 72 banks failed this year; the most since 1992.

  3. The Guardian reports Afghanistan passes ‘barbaric’ law diminishing women’s rights. “Afghanistan has quietly passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands’ sexual demands, despite international outrage over an earlier version of the legislation which President Hamid Karzai had promised to review.”

    Meanwhile, the LA Times reports the upcoming Afghanistan report won’t include U.S. troop request. Defense War Secretary Robert Gates said the “upcoming assessment of Afghanistan by the top U.S. commander there will not include a request for additional U.S. troop”, however Gates noted it was possible that Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, “will be considered separately and subsequent to his assessment”.

    “McChrystal is expected to call for an increasing focus on protecting the population and less on mounting individual attacks on suspected extremists.”

  4. The Army Times reports the Army is on track to surpass 2008 suicide numbers.

    As many as 12 soldiers killed themselves in July, the Army announced today, and the service remains on course to setting a record for suicides in a single year.

    Of the 12 deaths, eight were active-duty soldiers and four were National Guard or Army Reserve soldiers who were not on active duty at the time of their deaths…

    Between Jan. 1 and July 31, there have been 96 reported active-duty suicides. Of those, 62 have been confirmed as suicides and 34 are still under investigation.

Aint Gonna Study War No More

Burning the Midnight Oil for the Arc of the Sun, xposted to Agent Orange, 7pm EDT

I guess its natural, as an advocate for transport cycling and for transport systems like High Speed Rail, light rail, and Quality Buses that support cycle transport, that among the enemies of our long term national interest, I tend to focus on the Oil Patch and their allies.

But, what would our economy be like if we didn’t study war no more?

Consider just official Federal Defense Spending, in 2005 dollars and as a Percent of GDP (to closest 0.1%) (BEA):

  • 1995: $476.8b, 5.2%
  • 2000: $453.5b, 4.0%
  • 2005: $589.0b, 4.7%
  • 2008: $659.4b, 5.0%

You can see right there why it was necessary to have Bush rather than Gore elected as President in 2000, and why the two candidates on the Democratic side in favor of expanding the size of the army were the two finalists in the Democratic primary contest to clean up for the mess that Bush made of things.

Direct Federal spending on “Defense” goods and services was heading south of 4%, and that could not be tolerated.

18yrs. Later RIP Navy Pilot Michael “Scott” Speicher

Jacksonville FL. Honored the return and final resting place with a motorcade through the city today.

Remembering Navy Pilot Michael “Scott” Speicher

Speicher’s Best Friend Says Homecoming is ‘Bittersweet’

How Long Will The Lies Work?

It is painfully apparent to any relatively objective and intelligent person that Conservative side of the Culture Wars is built on lies.

Mainly the lie of American Exceptionslism which, when viewed throught the lens of those Wars boils down to one central lie. White God-fearing Males are superior to everyone else on the planet earth.

Through the decades, that lie has increasingly come under scrutiny and assault through the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, and the campaigns for LGBT equality. Not only has that lie come under attack….it has been conclusively been proven to be wrong, to indeed be a blatant lie.

Not by rhetoric and invective, but by fact. The proven fact of People of all colors, and women, and gays, actually showing through deed and action that they are demonstrably and indubitably equal in intelligence, competency and ability.

The Conservatives have been forced to stop insinuating that they/we aren’t equal to White males and that Christianity is not superior to other religions.

At least in public.

As that Big Lie has died every time it has been exposed to reality, the Conservatives have been forced to retreat to smaller, less obvious, more ‘clever’ lies.

They have been forced to lie resort to lies like ‘Trickle Down Economics, ‘Affirmative Action is prejudice against Whites,’ ‘Gays will disrupt the military,’ ‘All Muslims are evil,’ etc.

As THOSE lies are in the process of being rejected…to the extent that enough Americans voted for a person of color for President…they have now been reduced to inventing fear based lies on specific issues like Health Care and Climate Change.

And that is the stage we are at now. Soon those lies will also be exposed for what they are…The Pathetic Wails of a Dying Paradigm.

But in the meantime, in the lagtime between when the lie is spread by The Mighty Wurlitzer of the Conservative Message Machine and when they are proven to be the blatant fear based lies they are…They are working.

Based purely on the lies of the Conservatives Obama’s poll numbers took a big hit (though it looks like he is rebounding) and support for “The Obama Health Care Reform Plan” (even though technically there IS no Obama Health Care Reform Plan!) has plummetted.

Again, based solely on the fear based lies and disinformation of the Conservative Message Machine.

And this has occurred no matter what efforts ….so far….have been made to dispel or refute those outright lies.

Which illustrate three seperate realities at once. The first of course is that the hard core conservatives are as impervious to facts as Superman is impervious to bullets. But we knew that. According to them, they are fighting to take their country back from evil, colored, communists. So obviously, any facts that dispute the lies they are fed are just dismissed as propaganda from the teeming horde of non-white socialist fascist that are stealing their country. Duh. To them, there simply ARE no objective facts. Only the ‘clever’ lies that they are fed by Rush…and Chuck Grassley, can be believed. No matter how many times they are proven to be false.

The second is very simple and has been true for the forty years I have been participating in politics. The Democrats SUCK at messaging. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that a 10% increase in messaging effectiveness would eliminate about 50% of the lies.

And yet the Dems STILL, after all of these decades, can’t seem to get that through their thick heads.

And the third point is of course, the media. This is more or less a subset of point two, but also a separate problem on it’s own. The media needs controversy to make a profit. The problem comes when they are willing to present the Conservative’s lies as facts to engender that controversy….and reap those profits.

The time has come to end this segment of the Big Lie. That selling controversy based on lies is somehow “news.” That somehow the media is serving the public by essentially selling the lies of the Conservatives. That somehow they are no longer required to fact check the lies that they broadcast as “part of the discussion.’

There is only one conclusion to be drawn: For Profit “news” just does not work in the public interest.

It is time, apparently for a ‘socialized’ news source as well. Or at least holding NPR to the standards of one of the last real news sources, the PBS News Hour….and they could stand to clean up their act as well!

But the message that we must take away from this latest round of lies is this…..Messaging, Messaging, Messaging.

It has never been clearer, the lies of the Conservatives, and the coordinated apparatus they use to sell thenm to the public, simply MUST be broken.

And they can only be broken by finding more effective ways of spreading the truth.  

“Vacation” Open Thread

This is just so impressive I wanted to share here.

Animation With Blackboards and Chalk … Yanni Kronenberg and Lucinda Schreiber took 6 months to produce this animation using only chalk and blackboards.

Dr. Dean on KO: End-of-life is going back in, GOP screwing themselves, with polling data

Crossposted at Daily Kos

Dr. Dean on Keith Olbermann video at bottom of diary

   The GOP is hoping that all the old people in America will freak out over whatever they can say to scare Grampa, but it isn’t working on anybody else.

It’s easier to scare older people than it is younger ones.

    What is interesting here, other than the majority support after all the GOP scare tactics and the media hysteria, is that even though people like what they have, they understand that what they have is quickly vanishing, 14,000 people a day, and that what they have now will cost more each coming year if the GOP and the status quo has their way.

   And though it may work on the wingnuts and the low information McCain voters, it simply isn’t working on anyone else.

   Well, when I look at some polls based on age, something really glaring comes out.

Has anybody in our idiot media noticed that there are ZERO young or minority Americans at these astroturf heavy town halls? (not counting children dragged along by their wingnut parents)

    This seems to be the response the GOP wishes to receive from our nation’s elderly.

    The good thing is, it isn’t working to move the entire 60-65+ demographic towards the GOP. Rather, it is turning off anyone who isn’t a rabid wingnut to begin with.


More below the fold

After Prop 8 – A Netroots Nation Panel

The Dog is at the Netroots Nation and it is fabulous! For those playing our home game this week the Dog is going to try to post as many posts about being here as possible! This post is about the first panel of the day. It was titled Prop 8 and beyond. Marriage Equality for all 50 States.  

The Class War: Income Inequality Is At An All-Time High

There are Two Americas, the wealth and the rest of us:

Income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression, according to a recently updated paper by University of California, Berkeley Professor Emmanuel Saez. The paper, which covers data through 2007, points to a staggering, unprecedented disparity in American incomes.


Saez calculates that in 2007 the top .001 percent of American earners took home 6 percent of total U.S. wages, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2000.

As of 2007, the top decile of American earners, Saez writes, pulled in 49.7 percent of total wages, a level that’s “higher than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of stock market bubble in the ‘roaring” 1920s.'”…

The entire paper is available here:…

From Saez’s paper:

[W]hile the bottom 99 percent of incomes grew at a solid pace of 2.7 percent per year from 1993-2000, these incomes grew only 1.3 percent per year from 2002-2007. As a result, in the economic expansion of 2002-2007, the top 1 percent captured two thirds of income growth.”

Paul Krugman comments that it was “Even more gilded” than we thought.


The charts from Saez at Krugman and HuffPo say it all.

The Dog and the Big Dog At Netroots Nation

Okay, okay, the Dog has not been posting from Netroots Nation like he promised everyone he would. There are no excuses, the laptop is working, the wireless connection while sometimes spotty it functional for posting. The Nuns used to say “the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions”, so the Dog is just going to crank up Highway to Hell and own the fact the swirl of people and events here has kept him from posting to those playing the home game. Sorry.

Originally posted at

DD Writer’s Jam Fest: Round Robin 14_01


The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense. ~Tom Clancy

I want to try something different today. And I should mention I will be here intermittently as I have some errands and adventures to attend to. (Did I mention I’m on vacation? 😉


Your RR challenge today, if you should decide to accept it, is to craft-write something from the prompts below. It can be a story or a poem or song lyrics or whatever. Or you can jumpstart a Round Robin with one, if you want (make sure you tell us if that’s what it is).

Shall we begin?

The GOP’s health care reform

During a staged press conference, the GOP finally rolled out their health care reform plan…  

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