AMERICAblog

AMERICAblog NewsA straight-shooting look at US Politics, with a focus on the Obama administration, the religious right, and civil rights, from DC-based political strategist and writer John Aravosis.

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6 years 38 weeks ago

February 25, 2011

16:39

Little Billy sure looks dangerous. He's not wearing a shirt with the American flag so he's probably a terrorist waiting to strike. Thankfully the TSA is there to bring security after the family gets off of the train in Savannah. What fool thinks this makes anyone safer?

Categories: Politics
15:22
Sometimes Paul Krugman is right on the money — with no "But Professor, you didn't go far enough" waiting in the wings. This time he goes far enough. He starts rhetorically, by saying maybe Wisconsin isn't just Cairo, but Baghdad under the heavy privatizing hand of L. Paul Bremer and the baby neocons.

It would be tempting to blurb the start of his article and say go read. But I'd like to feature some of the remarkable detail near the end. The Professor channels, and credits, Naomi Klein (my emphasis throughout):
What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab — an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside. Krugman fails to add "Walker created the crisis with tax cuts," but you can't say everything in 700 words. And its those "extraordinary things hidden deep inside" that get his attention, and mine.
For example, the bill includes language that would allow officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process.

And then there’s this: "Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state." ... The language in the budget bill would, in effect, let the governor privatize any or all of these facilities at whim. Not only that, he could sell them, without taking bids, to anyone he chooses. And note that any such sale would, by definition, be “considered to be in the public interest.”Krugman calls this, correctly, "a perfect setup for cronyism and profiteering". But wait, there's more. Koch Industries (remember them?) "invested" in the governor because they're already heavily invested in the state:
Koch Industries has numerous businesses in Wisconsin, from Georgia-Pacific paper mills to coal and shipping companies. Approximately 3,000 people are directly employed by the company in the state, and 8,000 more indirectly.The Professor wonders if maybe, just maybe, Koch Industries may want to buy those state-owned power plants, without having to bid, for that magic amount the Walker regime, in its sole discretion, "determines to be in the best interest of the state". (How's zero? Is zero good for you?)

So watch these power plants, and watch the Koch Brothers. The privatization of Wisconsin power is the other big story here. It should not be buried.

This is the Billionaire's Coup in action, by the way, and this time the billionaires have names — Charles & David Koch. Invest in the state, buy the governor and everyone else that counts, then use captive government to pick the state clean. There's no crime scene tape if you already own the cops.

Just so you know, the other name for the Billionaire's Coup is Rubinite Neoliberalism. Seems it's a two-party thing.

GP

Categories: Politics
14:11
If the GOP has their way in the US, expect the same result here. Bloomberg:
Britain’s economy shrank more than initially estimated in the fourth quarter, complicating the task of the Bank of England as a split deepens among policy makers on whether to withdraw stimulus.

Gross domestic product fell 0.6 percent from the previous three months, compared with an initial estimate for a 0.5 percent drop, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. The statistics office said its “best estimate” for the impact of cold weather on the data remains 0.5 percent. The slump was led by construction and investment.

Categories: Politics
12:48
Glenn Greenwald talked Anonymous on Stephen Colbert's show. You'll note around 3 minutes and 23 seconds in, right after Glenn says "we're all Anonymous," Colbert's face flashes a Guy Fawkes mask, the symbol of Anonymous.



Categories: Politics
11:52
I held off on this story for a day, fearing it was a fake. Now everyone is covering it, so I'm supposing it's for real. Curious what you all think - I'm a bit grossed out.


Chris just told me that it is from the Daily Mail, so one never knows if this is a joke or not.
[O]ne restaurant in London is selling breast milk ice cream which is being served to customers in a cocktail glass.

Icecreamists, based in Covent Garden, have named the £14 dish Baby Gaga.

Victoria Hiley, 35, from Leeds provided the first 30 fluid ounces of milk which was enough to make the first 50 servings.

But the company are looking for more women to provide breast milk - and are providing £15 for every ten ounces extracted using breast pumps.

The recipe blends breast milk with Madagascan vanilla pods and lemon zest, which is then freshly churned into ice cream.

A costumed Baby Gaga waitress serves the ice cream in a martini glass filled with the breast milk ice cream mix. Liquid nitrogen is then poured into the glass through a syringe and it is served with a rusk.
It can be served with whisky or another cocktail on request.Joke or not, is this gross or not?

Categories: Politics
10:42
A fascinating piece in the NYT about how gay marriage just isn't the spicy wedge issue it once was. The Times picked up on the fact, that I hadn't noticed, that many of the GOP presidential contenders for 2012 didn't say squat about Obama's decision not to defend DOMA any longer.
In the hours that followed, Sarah Palin’s Facebook site was silent. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, was close-mouthed. Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, released a Web video — on the labor union protests in Wisconsin — and waited a day before issuing a marriage statement saying he was “disappointed.”

Others, like Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, took their time weighing in, and then did so only in the most tepid terms. “The Justice Department is supposed to defend our laws,” Mr. Barbour said.

Asked if Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor of Indiana and a possible presidential candidate, had commented on the marriage decision, a spokeswoman said that he “hasn’t, and with other things we have going on here right now, he has no plans.”When the GOP refuses to grandstand on an issue, especially a social issue, that's news. I'd noted previously that GOP House Speaker John Boehner was also quite tepid in his criticism, focusing on jobs rather than the "gay."

Joe has a lot more about this story in the Times and its meaning over at AMERICAblog Gay.

Categories: Politics
09:17
The case is going to have plenty of challenges, but the basis of the accusations is not wrong. The behavior of the church has been immoral and irresponsible with its response to the global AIDS crisis as well as the child rape problems inside the church.Their charges concern “three worldwide crimes which until now have not been denounced . . . (as) the traditional reverence toward ‘ecclesiastical authority’ has clouded the sense of right and wrong”.

They claim the Pope “is responsible for the preservation and leadership of a worldwide totalitarian regime of coercion which subjugates its members with terrifying and health-endangering threats”.

They allege he is also responsible for “the adherence to a fatal forbiddance of the use of condoms, even when the danger of HIV-Aids infection exists” and for “the establishment and maintenance of a worldwide system of cover-up of the sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests and their preferential treatment, which aids and abets ever new crimes”.Note from Joe: Sounds like all those Catholic leaders in America who've been obsessing about same-sex marriage should start worrying about the crimes committed by their boss. And, instead of spending money to fight marriage in states like California, Maine and Maryland, they better start collecting for the Pope's Legal Defense Fund.

Categories: Politics
08:06
It would be interesting if Al Jazeera could provide coverage there as well. Their reporting has been amazing during the uprisings. The Guardian:Tensions are mounting in the Syrian capital, Damascus, after the third peaceful demonstration in three weeks was violently dispersed on Wednesday. There are increasing reports of intimidation and blocking of communications by secret services in the wake of violent unrest in neighbouring Arab countries.

Fourteen people were arrested and several people beaten by uniformed and plainclothes police on Tuesday after about 200 staged a peaceful sit-in outside the Libyan embassy to show support for Libya's protesters.

Witnesses said at least two women were among those beaten.

Categories: Politics
06:17
Don't they know that they were already liberated? Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld told us so and we know that they've never been wrong about anything.Hundreds of Iraqis have converged on Baghdad's Liberation Square, as part of an anti-government rally named the "Day of Rage" organised mainly through social networking site Facebook.

About 600 protesters are said to have already gathered on Friday, which comes after weeks of scattered protests around the country calling for an end to corruption, shortages of jobs, food, power and water.

More people are expected to join the demonstrations after Friday prayers.

But turnout may be affected by a speech by prime minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday, warning warning of possible violence by al-Qaeda and members of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party.

Categories: Politics
04:26
Maybe it's just a coincidence.Searches for Ambassador Jon Huntsman's name in Chinese on popular microblogging site Sina Weibo were met with a message saying results were not available due to unspecified "laws, regulations and policies."

A video circulating online shows Huntsman, who has been mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate, scanning the crowd at the protest site in Beijing last weekend. An unidentified Chinese man asked Huntsman what he was doing there and whether he wanted to see chaos in China. Huntsman walked away from the scene after that comment.

The U.S. Embassy was aware that Huntsman's name was being "restricted on some searches" on China's domestic Internet, spokesman Richard Buangan said, but declined further comment on the issue.

He said the ambassador and some family members were passing through the bustling Wangfujing shopping street on Sunday and it was a coincidence that they were there at the same time as the planned protest.

Categories: Politics

February 24, 2011

23:45
Of course. What else would you do in a financial crisis?

Categories: Politics
22:15
Ummm, if it's someone's home they should be able to smoke as much as they like. If guests don't like it then they can leave. On the positive side, kids really shouldn't have to suffer smoke if they don't want to. But doesn't this sound excessive?
Lighting up a cigarette at home could bring a visit from Honduran police if a family member or even a visitor complains about secondhand smoke.

A new law that took effect Monday banning smoking in most public and private spaces doesn't actually outlaw cigarettes inside homes, but it does have a provision allowing people to file complaints about secondhand smoke in homes.

Violations would bring a verbal warning on the first offense. After that could come arrest and a $311 fine — the equivalent of the monthly minimum wage in this Central American country.

Categories: Politics
20:50
Dave Weigel has the results. And TPM has the analysis.
A poll purporting to show broad support in Wisconsin for Gov. Scott Walker's (R) budget proposal made the rounds today, popping up on at least one Wisconsin news site and getting a mention on MSNBC.

"BREAKING: Poll Shows 71% of Wisconsinites Think Walker's Budget Changes are 'Fair'," screamed the release from the poll's sponsor, the conservative-leaning Franklin Center For Government and Public Integrity, based in Alexandria, VA. More on all that from TPM's Eric Lach here.

The poll was quickly picked up, making an appearance on the WisPolitics.com news site and getting a shoutout on MSNBC dayside.

There's only one problem: the poll actually shows more Wisconsin voters are on the side of the pro-union protesters and their Democratic allies than back Walker and the Republicans.Remember the number one rule: Republicans lie.

Categories: Politics
19:30
Good for her! There's no reason anyone should have to go through such an unproven and invasive method from the TSA or Rent-a-TSA. The TSA often has a poor record of finding weapons and humiliating travelers but until enough people in Washington step up, it won't change. The lemmings in Congress and the White House are much too afraid of their own shadows to scrap a failing program. Bold decisions are not part of the Washington agenda.
Rep. Sharon Cissna, D-Anchorage, underwent a body scan as she was preparing to leave Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Sunday. In a statement released late Monday, she said scan results displayed — as they had during a prior episode three months earlier — the scars from her breast cancer.

This caught the attention of the Transportation Safety Administration, Cissna said, but she refused to submit to the "invasive, probing hands of a stranger" this time.

"Facing the agent I began to remember what my husband and I'd decided after the previous intensive physical search. That I never had to submit to that horror again!" she said. "It would be difficult, we agreed, but I had the choice to say no, this twisted policy did not have to be the price of flying to Juneau."

Categories: Politics
17:56
First the rumor.

Next, the Swiss have frozen Qaddafi's assets.

And finally, the rebels plan an offensive against the capital. From NPR:Eastern Libya is now completely under the control of forces loyal to the rebellion against President Moammar Gadhafi. Libyan army troops that have defected to join the pro-democracy rebels are trying to organize an offensive against the regime, according to senior military commanders in Benghazi, the birthplace of the uprising.

The force in Benghazi being hailed as the "new Libyan army" loads boxes of tank shells onto flatbed trucks that will take them to a warehouse for storage. Soldiers that once worked for Gadhafi are trying to gather up as much of their looted arsenal as they can for an offensive against the Libyan leader's stronghold in the capital, Tripoli.

Categories: Politics
17:21
I understand Sarah Palin is using the same excuse to explain her increasingly poor polling numbers. And Gingrich says that's why he cheated on his wife, and had two divorces - damn hallucinogenic coffee.

HuffPost.
Leader Moammar Gadhafi says al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden is behind the uprising in Libya and al-Qaida followers give young Libyans hallucinogenic pills in their coffee to get them to revolt.

Categories: Politics
16:17
How un-American can you get. Having the GOP legislators pass a law requiring the protesters to be removed. In the old days we'd call that a bill of attainder - it's something Henry VIII liked to use, a lot, when he wanted to behead a wife or a top aide.

And some folks raised the issue of "how did this happen if they didn't have a quorom?" (because the Dems were AWOL).  They did have a quorom.  Here's how.  I just spoke with Terry C. Anderson, the Director of Legislative Counsel over at the Wisconsin legislature.  He's non-partisan staff.  He explained that the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization, that took this vote, is made up of ten members: 6 Republicans, and 4 Democrats.  Basically, the committee is made up of the President of the Senate (R) and the Speaker of the House (R), the majority leaders of the Senate (R) and House (R), the minority leaders of each body (D and D), the Asst Majority Leaders (R and R) and Asst Minority Leaders (D and D).  Thus you have 6 R and 4 D because the Rs control each body.  The committee circulates "ballots" through public notice posted in the Capitol Building, and the ballots are also delivered by mail to each office.  When six ballots are received back, that's enough.  In this case, all the members voted - all the Rs on one side, all the Ds on the other.  And that's how the Rs won this vote.

More from Defend Wisconsin:
Today’s vote to ban protestors from legislative offices and hearings rooms at the Capitol starting Saturday is a blatant attack on our democratic rights to be heard on the very important matter of the union-busting budget repair bill. Protestors, supported by up to 60,000 protestors outside, have occupied the Capitol for more than a week, slowing down the vote on the bill and forcing the state government to hear the voices of workers on a bill that would crush the ability of public sector workers to unionize. Offices and hearing rooms have been used to organize the protest, and removing us from them cripples our ability to continue to make the voices of the people of Wisconsin heard.

Without the presence of the protestors, it is likely that the bill would have been voted on by the Senate last Thursday, after the Republican Co-Chairs of the Joint Finance Committee cut off debate early Wednesday morning despite having promised on Tuesday to hear everyone who wanted to speak. The presence of vast numbers of anti-bill protestors encouraged Senate Democrats to make the highly unusual move of leaving the state to slow down the vote in favor of debate. That has allowed Democrats to hear more than 100 hours of testimony, lasting well through the weekend and into this week, from people who are opposed to the budget repair bill.

The vote by the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization to remove from hearing rooms and legislative offices everyone other than legislators and legislative staff between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., effective Saturday, is a blatant move to end the democratic occupation of the Capitol, which is the only thing that is making time to debate this bill. We call on the State to protect our democratic rights to be heard.

The ballot vote:

“I vote (yes|no) that it is the policy of the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization that no one, other than legislators and legislative staff who possess a valid legislative identification card, may be in any legislative office or hearing room between the hours of 6:00 PM to 8:00 AM. This policy is effective beginning at 6:00 PM on February 26, 2011, until modified by joint directive of the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the Assembly.”

Categories: Politics
15:54
And her parents are putting her on "Dancing with the Stars"! Kidding. Just an interesting apolitical story for the day, from the Anchorage Daily News.
The 3-year-old is only the second ice-age child discovered on the continent, according to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Archaeologists discovered the remains in a fire pit in an abandoned living area from 13,200 years ago and dated the child's death to about 11,500 years ago, according to research by UAF's Ben Potter and his team in the Feb. 25 edition of the journal Science.

Looking at the child's teeth, UAF bioarchaeologist Joel Irish said in initial observations that the remains had traits of North Americans and northeast Asians.

Categories: Politics
15:10
Washing your feet? Jail!  Do not steal? Jail!  Praying?  Jail!  Helping the poor?  Jail! (Well, at least that last one is consistent with GOP doctrine.) The Republicans are having a national competition to see who can be the most ridiculous and offensive.
A proposed Tennessee law would make following the Islamic code known as Shariah law a felony, punishable by 15 years in jail.

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, introduced the same bill in the Senate and House last week. It calls Shariah law a danger to homeland security and gives the attorney general authority to investigate complaints and decide who's practicing it."What do you mean, really, by saying I can't abide by Shariah law?" he said. "Shariah law is telling me don't steal. Do you want me to steal and rob a bank?"

The Attorney General's Office had no comment.Tennessee is also debating a bill that would force school teachers to address "controversies" such as evolution, climate change and other "science" issues. One can only imagine.

Categories: Politics
14:42
Just a quick video the Wisconsin protesters sent to thank you guys for the over $11,000 you donated to them via the blog the other day.

Categories: Politics