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11-24-2010, 09:00 PM
I placed the link to this site in another thread but decided it should have it's own separate thread. Thought it would make it easier for people who were interested in accessing positive and factual information on the Obama Administration. I also like the name of the site.:)

The Only Adult In The Room (http://blackwaterdog.wordpress.com/)

This blog was created out of necessity. When the best American president in decades is treated with complete disrespect and viciousness by a corrupted media and crazy racists from the right, and when many of his "supporters" simply joined them - Those who follow the facts, know the truth and understand the unprecedented hate machine that works against him - must step up and do something.

So, this is my modest effort. This blog provides news, photos, videos, links, and any available information that can help spread the truth about Barack Obama's presidency.

Comments are moderated, so if you're in the business of bashing and trashing this president - don't waste your hate here. The Internet is full with places for you.
But, if you believe in the intelligence, the decency, the grace, the courage and the big heart of Barack Obama - Please stay, enjoy and love.



Obama's Achievements Center (http://obamaachievements.org/list)

Another extremely well sourced site by a group of volunteers

We are a team of about 100 volunteers dedicated to countering the constant negative drumbeat of our mainstream media. In the past two years, over 400 steps forward have been taken by the Obama administration, yet the media continues to focus on the negative.

I like this site because it breaks up his achievements in specific categories. This makes it easy to navigate depending on your interest.

11-24-2010, 09:13 PM
:cool:Thanks M, the site is like a breath of fresh air. I liked the comments by Joe Biden.......:cool:
oh hell yes.......

11-24-2010, 09:14 PM

The young lady operating, The Only Adult In The Room (http://blackwaterdog.wordpress.com/)site
updates it rather frequently. You can sign up to receive newsletters that will come directly to your email box. This makes it handy to pass along the info to your friends and family. This also saves you the step of having to go to directly to the site.

We really are the ones we've been waiting for . Help do what MSM(main stream media) is not doing, reporting all the facts, reporting all the truth.

Pass it on!

11-24-2010, 09:16 PM
You're welcome Kdub.

The young lady was posting on another political forum and you would not believe the hate she was receiving. It was a Democratic blog.

I'm happy she decided to break away and do her own thing.

11-24-2010, 09:22 PM
Me too.........thanks again, it may be cliché but I believe the truth will set you free.....doesn't really matter if you like it or not, but as long as its available I'll take advantage of it over a lie anyday.......

11-24-2010, 09:33 PM
So many people are trying to compare the hate and vitriol, President Obama is receiving to Bill Clinton but never in my life have I seen anything like I'm seeing today. When a Democratic blog starts throwing out blatant racist rants, you know we have jumped the shark.

Sadly this sort of thing is filtering back into the media and too many people are not getting the truth. It's great to see ordinary citizens taking the time to fight back.

Much is going on out here that people are not seeing because of all the divisive tactics . Then there are all the shiny baubles being thrown our way to keep our attention diverted.

Not sure what will happen over the next two years but there isn't any reason we should have to wait for history, to validate President Obama's achievements.

11-25-2010, 11:01 AM
Weekly Address: President Obama Delivers Thanksgiving Greeting (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/11/25/weekly-address-president-obama-delivers-thanksgiving-greeting)

.... This is not the hardest Thanksgiving America has ever faced. But as long as many members of our American family are hurting, we’ve got to look out for one another. As long as many of our sons and daughters and husbands and wives are at war, we’ve got to support their mission and honor their service. And as long as many of our friends and neighbors are looking for work, we’ve got to do everything we can to accelerate this recovery and keep our economy moving forward.

And we will. But we won’t do it as any one political party. We’ve got to do it as one people. And in the coming weeks and months, I hope that we can work together, Democrats and Republicans and Independents alike, to make progress on these and other issues.

That’s why, next week, I’ve invited the leadership of both parties to the White House for a real and honest discussion – because I believe that if we stop talking at one another, and start talking with one another, we can get a lot done.
For what we are called to do again today isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s not about left or right. It’s about us. It’s about what we know this country is capable of. It’s about what we want America to be in this new century.

A vibrant nation that makes sure its children are the best-educated in the world. A healthy, growing economy that runs on clean energy and creates the jobs of tomorrow. A responsible government that reduces its deficits. An America where every citizen is able to go as far as he or she desires.
We can do all this, because we’ve done it before. We’re made of the same sturdy stuff as the travelers who sat down to the first Thanksgiving, and all who came after – who worked, and sacrificed, and invested, because they believed that their efforts would make the difference for us.
That’s who we are. We shape our own destiny with conviction, compassion, and clear and common purpose. We honor our past and press forward with the knowledge that tomorrow will be better than today. We are Americans. That’s the vision we won’t lose sight of. That’s the legacy that falls to our generation. That’s the challenge that together, we are going to meet.

To every American, I am thankful for the privilege of being your President. To all our service members stationed around the world, I am honored to be your Commander-in-Chief. And from the Obama family to yours, have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you.

11-25-2010, 12:48 PM
I, too... have noticed the ramping up of hatred towards Obama, and you ain't foolin me, I know what's behind it. These right wing pundits just spew forth disinformation day after day after day. And their listeners march along like sheep to the slaughter. I was channel surfing yesterday, and came upon Rush Limbaugh pontificating about regulations placed on hunters and farmers... and new proposed legislation that would require small producer to be registered, so any problems with the food supply could be quickly tracked and fixed. He was of course, rallying against it... saying these sarcastic things like "What did our country ever DO! How did our ancestors SURVIVE without all the government agencies telling them what to do and how to do it??!!" Well... Rush, I'll tell you what our ancestors did:

1: They plowed up ALL the prairie without any buffer zones and created the dust bowl.

2: Subequent destruction of said prairie led to the near extinction of the prairie chicken, a bird that would be TREASURED by today's hunters as a delicacy without equal, according to my grandparents.

3: They hunted the passenger pigeon to extinction.

4: They hunted white tail deer to scarcity (300,000 total in 1930) until the government stepped in, and today, hunters enjoy a bounty of nearly 30 MILLION animals.

5: They clear cut ALL of the old growth forest, causing the extinction of the Imperial woodpecker and Ivory Billed woodpecker (there may be a handful of ivory bill left).

6: They let coal fired plants belch smoke into the air unregulated for decades, and now the department of conservation here warns against children and pregnant women eating largemouth bass over 12 inches long due to mercury.

And that's just a small sample.

11-25-2010, 01:42 PM
Much to often we forget the environmental destruction, thanks for the reminder JillFoster.

11-25-2010, 01:53 PM
"We All Fall Down"
by RenaRF

I was literally moved by this commercial - I saw it this morning on CNN and was riveted, waiting to find out what the commercial was for.


CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO (http://www.egmcartech.com/2010/11/24/video-gm-releases-holiday-commercial-thanking-american-taxpayers/)

I have been literally appalled at the vitriol I've seen - particularly on the right - about the GM Bailout. At a time when unemployment was rising precipitously, the Obama Administration made the decision to give GM - and auto workers across the American auto industry - a hand up.

It is estimated that the bailout saved 1.14 million jobs. It's a shame that the American public doesn't really do nuance - it's a shame that proving a negative in jobs NOT lost, doesn't resonate. It's a shame further that the hatred the Republican party shows for the working middle class in America stands largely unchallenged on a broader stage.

In addition to being a supporter of the saving of the US auto industry, I was really relieved to hear President Obama's remarks on the subject:

So here’s the lesson: Don't bet against America. (Applause.) Don't bet against the American auto industry. Don't bet against American ingenuity. Don't bet against the American worker. Don't bet against us. (Applause.) Don't bet against us. (Applause.)

I don't agree with everything this President has done and/or, sometimes, the way he's chosen to do it - but I have been and remain solidly behind the assistance given to GM and I am thrilled to see the President taking it to the Republicans on this issue. The short version of his speech, to me, could be this: "Why do the Republicans hate the American middle class?"

Indeed. That's the frame I hope is shaping up over the next two years - and one we should all be focusing on and repeating.

11-25-2010, 07:26 PM
"We All Fall Down"
by RenaRF

I was literally moved by this commercial - I saw it this morning on CNN and was riveted, waiting to find out what the commercial was for.


CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO (http://www.egmcartech.com/2010/11/24/video-gm-releases-holiday-commercial-thanking-american-taxpayers/)

I have been literally appalled at the vitriol I've seen - particularly on the right - about the GM Bailout. At a time when unemployment was rising precipitously, the Obama Administration made the decision to give GM - and auto workers across the American auto industry - a hand up.

It is estimated that the bailout saved 1.14 million jobs. It's a shame that the American public doesn't really do nuance - it's a shame that proving a negative in jobs NOT lost, doesn't resonate. It's a shame further that the hatred the Republican party shows for the working middle class in America stands largely unchallenged on a broader stage.

In addition to being a supporter of the saving of the US auto industry, I was really relieved to hear President Obama's remarks on the subject:

So here’s the lesson: Don't bet against America. (Applause.) Don't bet against the American auto industry. Don't bet against American ingenuity. Don't bet against the American worker. Don't bet against us. (Applause.) Don't bet against us. (Applause.)

I don't agree with everything this President has done and/or, sometimes, the way he's chosen to do it - but I have been and remain solidly behind the assistance given to GM and I am thrilled to see the President taking it to the Republicans on this issue. The short version of his speech, to me, could be this: "Why do the Republicans hate the American middle class?"

Indeed. That's the frame I hope is shaping up over the next two years - and one we should all be focusing on and repeating.

I tell you why the republican hatred for the middle class doesn't resonate. It's because they are blinded by the smokescreen of abortion and other social issues. Many people don't care if the republicans screw them financially, they vote the straight abortion ticket. They think that the republicans are all about God and guns, and saving babies, and keeping those fags from getting married. And as long as most of them have jobs to go to, they don't give a crap. Even if the money is coming out of their back pocket, as long as it's not coming out of the front, they seem to not notice.

11-25-2010, 09:25 PM
I tell you why the republican hatred for the middle class doesn't resonate. It's because they are blinded by the smokescreen of abortion and other social issues. Many people don't care if the republicans screw them financially, they vote the straight abortion ticket. They think that the republicans are all about God and guns, and saving babies, and keeping those fags from getting married. And as long as most of them have jobs to go to, they don't give a crap. Even if the money is coming out of their back pocket, as long as it's not coming out of the front, they seem to not notice.

In short, most people are morons. No wonder I don't like people.

11-25-2010, 09:34 PM
JillFoster I agree but IMO, it goes beyond what you've stated. All those things you talk about are true, they exist but they are wedge issues.

Here is a wiki entry explaining wedge issues. I think it's a pretty decent breakdown on the subject.

I also think it's an interesting read, something to think about for a day or two because, in order to see and understand the big picture, you need to see and understand all the underlining issues that contribute to the big picture.

A wedge issue is a social or political issue, often of a divisive or otherwise controversial nature, which splits apart or creates a "wedge" in the support base of one political group. Wedge issues can be advertised, publicly aired, and otherwise emphasized by an opposing political group, in an attempt to weaken the unity of the divided group, or to entice voters in the divided group to give their support to the opposing group. The use of wedge issues gives rise to wedge politics.

Wedge politics are the key to understanding the behavior of both candidates and voters during political campaigns. Among the voters most likely to be responsive to campaign information are those with conflicting predispositions—partisans who disagree with their party on a policy issue. For these cross-pressured partisans, campaign messages from the opposition can be persuasive if they are focused on the incongruent issue. Politicians look for wedge issues to emphasize in the campaign so that they can exploit the very tensions that create the opportunity for campaigns to “matter.” We argue that recent changes in the amount and type of information available about the mass public has increased the use of wedge politics and contributed to more fragmented and polarized issue agendas as candidates now micro-target different issue messages to different groups of voters in an effort to win over cross-pressured swing voters.

Political parties are usually fairly diverse groups though they will always try to project a united front. A wedge issue may often be a point of internal dissent within the opposing party, which that party tries to suppress or ignore talking about because it divides "the base." Such issues are typically a cultural or populist issue, relating to matters such as crime, national security, sexuality (e.g. gay marriage), or race. Another party may exploit this dissent by publicly supporting the issue, and in effect align itself with the dissenting faction of the opposing party. A wedge issue, when wielded against another party, is intended to bring about such things as:

* A debate, often vitriolic, within the opposing party, giving the public a perception of disarray.
* The defection of supporters of the opposing party's minority faction to the other party (or independent parties) if they lose the debate.
* The legitimizing of sentiment which, while perhaps popularly held, is usually considered inappropriate or politically incorrect; criticisms from the opposition then make it appear beholden to special interests or fringe ideology.
* In an extreme case, a wedge issue might contribute to the actual fracture of the opposing party as another party spins off, taking voters with it.

To prevent these three consequences from occurring, the opposing party may attempt to take a "pragmatic" stand and officially endorse the views of its minority faction. However, this can lead to the defection of supporters of the opposing party's majority faction to a third party, should they lose the debate.

11-25-2010, 10:18 PM
JillFoster, after you have gotten a handle on the wedge issues, Here are a few more topics I’d like to share.
I’m not trying to tell you or anyone what to believe or not believe, my only goal is to share information.

How you analyze and process the info, is up to you. (collective you)

This is a small excerpt from Michael Moore, film maker (I get email updates from his organization from time to time) I’m sure the entire message is on the net but I only wanted to highlight one point.

This is key point in IMO
They were, in fact, scared of you. They were afraid YOU would end up pushing them over their own greedy cliff.

Last Thoughts Before the Turkey Comes Calling
Michael Moore

As I head off for Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a final thought with you about this past week's news regarding the health care executives who sat around that table in Philadelphia four years ago and decided on a course of action to, if need be, "push Michael Moore off a cliff."

Having spent the week reading all their secret documents (and the book "Deadly Spin"), it's clear that there was something far more scary to these companies than me.
They were, in fact, scared of you. They were afraid YOU would end up pushing them over their own greedy cliff.

if you’re not familiar with what Moore is referring to, check out this Bill Moyer video.

Wendell Potter on Profits Before Patients (http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/profile.html)

JillFoster my belief is, what happened to Michael Moore is important to understand because what the Insurance Industry attempted to do to Moore, is not an isolated incident. It spreads throughout all Corporate Powers and I’m not talking about, Illuminati, Bilderberg Group , conspiracy theory stuff , I’m talking about out in the open, substantiated issues, that are not being reported in the MSM on a wide basis.

Covert Operations (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer)
The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.

Now although the above link focuses on President Obama, I think it's a lot deeper than the President or even politics. Again, no conspiracy theory, but plain old fashion GREED!

More info to come but this is enough to get those brain juices flowing.:)

11-26-2010, 04:14 PM
The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests.

The Republican campaign consultant said of the family’s political activities, “To call them under the radar is an understatement. They are underground!” Another former Koch adviser said, “They’re smart. This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.” Rob Stein, a Democratic political strategist who has studied the conservative movement’s finances, said that the Kochs are “at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. But it’s not just about Obama. They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy progressivism.”

JillFoster, the Koch Brothers are not the only players in the game

Justice Defends Ruling on Finance (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/us/politics/04scotus.html?_r=2)

Justice Thomas responded to several questions from students at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla., concerning the campaign finance case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. By a 5-to-4 vote, with Justice Thomas in the majority, the court ruled last month that corporations had a First Amendment right to spend money to support or oppose political candidates.

The ruling quoted above unleashed what could be considered one of the most unprecedented moments in our history. This ruling opened up the door for ANY major corporation to influence elections with their money and, it also opens the door for interested parties outside this country to influence our elections.

4billion dollars was funneled into the midterm elections, the largest amount of money spent ever, in an election in the US. Let me repeat 4 Billion dollars. I’ll give you one guess which party this money was funneled to, and it wasn’t the party that lost, or as the President would say, took a “shellacking.”

In another post I said, I thought this went beyond politics and in many ways I do believe that because not everyone throwing money at the Republicans is a Republican. There are many different political agendas and ideologies in the mix. The one thing the majority of them have in common is GREED, but whoever is on top is the greediest. Who do you think that would be? I’ll give you another hint the folks at the top of the food chain are not the…Republican Party, Democratic Part or Tea Party.

The folks at the very top of the food chain, are manipulating all of us because as Michael Moore said, they are scared of us (the American People) If we the people finally wake up and stop letting things divide and distract us, we will turn on these corporations like white on rice. They are not afraid we will finally wake up and start a revolution; they are afraid we will wake up and start thinking instead of reacting to those emotional hot buttons they keep throwing out to keep us divided and distracted.

They are afraid we will wake up and realize, there really is a way for us to take back our country. Wake up and realize that although right now, neither party is totally free of corruption there is one party that is more likely to be less greedy than the other.

JillFoster, I truly believe in a two party system. In theory and the way it was set up, it should work. In reality and in practice, that hasn’t always been the case.

A way to help change that is to take money out of the equation. If neither party is receiving money from major corporations, they will not be beholden to corporations, but to we the people. If you really want to know what’s going on out here, follow the money!

For those of you who think President Obama is a sell out, a corporate shill, a Bush Jr wanna be, then riddle me this.

Who in their right mind spends 4 billion dollars to defeat a man and his party, if that man and his party are doing what they want him to do????? WHO?

No one, that cares about money….

and the Corporate Powers care more about money than they will ever care about you or me.

11-26-2010, 08:06 PM
Ms. M... thanks for the info on the Kochs, that was stuff I certainly was not aware of. the Bill Moyers piece I had seen before, and I was shouting AMEN the whole time it was on. I however, feel Obama made a crucial mistake in trying to get all this health care legislation passed all at once. It gave the opposition the strategic advantage of having large, bungelsome legislation that is difficult for the general public (especially stupid ones) to wrap their minds around. And the reupblicans pounced on it like a cat on a mouse... using the public's FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN as the greatest weapon against Obama. If that health care bill would have been dissected into about 12 parts, and for instance... if the pre-existing condition bill was it's own entity, then it would have been much more simplistic for the public to grasp, and much more difficult for the opposition to shoot down. And considering the apathy and lack on intelligence of the general public, you've got to make things so an Orangutan can understand it, and then you still run into trouble. And nobody EVER talks about corporate policies that drive up health care costs, I read that over 70 percent of american companies now REQUIRE a doctor's note when an employee calls in sick. So you have tens of thousands of people every day sucking up valuable resources and driving up helath care costs for something as simple as a HEAD COLD, because youe employer REQUIRES a doctor's note. Nobody did this 40 years ago, and somehow corporate america survived. And you have a generation of people who all have employer health coverage and go to the doctor for every little thing, neccesary or not.

11-26-2010, 08:25 PM
JillFoster I disagree, a good negotiator always ask for more, always.
BTW, please keep in mind, the Koch Brothers are not the only players. There are many.

Here is something else you might be interested in.

Campaign Finance Reform.
It’s not a major issue with Americans (they are too busy being distracted and divisive to care) so Congress tends to ignore the issue and, or play lip service to it.

I need to make it abundantly clear; CFR is not the only issue facing this country. There are many, many other issues that need to be addressed. However, I think you will find the following post to be intriguing.

Wow. (updated)
by RenaRF
Just... Wow. I hadn't checked into Daily Kos since Saturday afternoon, and I return to rec list showdown, a clash of Titans about what we're here for, what we know to be "true", and what we should do about it.

I've read the expatriation diary, the first unauthorized "redefinition" of Daily Kos, the second authorized "redefinition" of Daily Kos, and I just thought - "Wow. That really misses the point and the problem."

But you know what? Both really miss an honest appraisal of the root cause of both of their issues (a better country run by better Democrats and all the effort required to affect that outcome). They are taking divergent emotional and intellectual paths towards the same goal - yet both will be continually frustrated and turned away in pursuit of that goal because neither addresses what's really going on.
Money. Money is going on.

So here's how I see it. There are certain rules that law, the courts, and the American public have set forth to even give an individual a chance at affecting change. That individual may (and likely), in their heart of hearts, have a solid set of personal ideals in which they believe strongly. When they undertake their first run for office, they carry those ideals with them, likely with the intent of stolidly pursuing policies and programs that underscore, amplify, and promote those ideals.

And then reality descends, articulated as follows:

1. It is rare to impossible to get elected without money.
2. Without money, it is rare to impossible to get your message out there sufficiently for a marginally engaged populace to make a choice.

"Them's the rules", as I am fond of saying. And they're the rules that have been laid down by the American people. They almost never elect someone who has no money and no ability to get their message out. It's the playing field upon which both teams are forced to play. Because having one's ideology is a wonderful thing - and deciding that that ideology can benefit other people is also a wonderful thing. But having zero chance of implementing that ideology because you can't ever get elected because you have no money (see rules above) is NOT a wonderful thing.

This is a particularly frustrating course for Democrats in particular. Republicans are pretty above-board about which master they serve. I don't sense an awful lot of underlying moral conflict with the choices they have to make to get elected and then try to push their ideology. One serves the other, one follows the other. It's a much straighter line given "them's the rules" for Republicans. Not so for Democrats - because at our core and our heart, we ARE about the poor and the working class and unions and minorities of every stripe. We always have been - it runs through what we campaign on and the grand ideas we seek to implement once elected. But "them's the rules". And Democrats know that it's impossible to get elected without money and that without money, they can't get their message out there sufficiently for a marginally engaged populace to make an informed choice that best aligns with their needs, wants and hopes. Their moral dilemma in having to accept lobbyist and industry money is a much more difficult row to hoe given what they generally believe overall. But hoe it they do - to the wrath of the non-politician Democrats who see them "selling out". Yet to me, the choice, right now and given "them's the rules", is simple: It's better to get elected and try to affect some of the changes you think are necessary than to never get elected and be very unlikely to affect even tiny part os the changes you think are necessary. It's a shitty deal, most of all for us - the non-politicians. But it's a deal I can understand them taking, even with pure intentions.

So my assertion is simple: The only way you accomplish buhdydharma's and Kestral9000's and countless other Kossacks' goals (even allowing for the divergent paths to those goals) is by changing the rules.
Yet - searching popular tags for either "Campaign Finance Reform" or "CFR" yields - wait for it - ZERO popular tags. Not one for either of those terms. Ditto for "Campaign Finance". Searching All tags gives this:

Total diaries (ever) with tag "Campaign Finance" - 778
Total diaries (ever) with tag "Campaign Finance Reform" - 385
Total diaries (ever) with tag "CFR" - 63
Contrast that to this:
Total diaries (ever) with tag "Sarah Palin" - 12,722
Total diaries (ever) with tag "Tea Party" - 2,412
Total diaries (ever) with tag "Rush Limbaugh" - 2,816
Total diaries (ever) with tag "Glenn Beck" - 2,403
Total diaries (ever) with tag "Bill O'Reilly" - 2,367

ALL campaign finance tagged diaries, combined, comes to only slightly more than HALF of all Bill O'Reilly tagged diaries. Am I saying that talking about Sarah Palin, the teabaggers, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly is not a fit discussion for Daily Kos? Of course not. But in context, it should be clear that the attention paid to the root cause of the problem that we are currently ALL lamenting in our different ways is infinitesimal compared to the attention paid to these other gasbags. The gasbags need to be held to account for their lies, no doubt - but it misses this key point:
With real campaign finance reform, the ability of the gasbags to co-opt the message and spread lies would be greatly reduced.

Exclamation point. And that's only a tiny part of why campaign finance reform should matter.

11-26-2010, 08:27 PM
This is the second part of the diary and for some reason it's telling me it's too short....grrrrrrrrr...need to work the bugs out admin folks....anyway, I'm trying to add more characters so it will allow me to post.

When the teabaggers were invading and astroturfing healthcare town halls across the nation, a well-meaning group of folks started the Coffee Party, a counter (a sane one) to rabid teabaggerism everywhere. I went to a Coffee Party meeting in my district. Great people - motivated, rational, reality-based, you name it. My kind of folks. But we came to one point in the initial, inaugural meeting of my local Coffee Party: we were all asked to articulate our single key primary item which bore attention. Of more than 30 people at my local meeting, I was the only one to list "campaign finance reform" as THE single most important issue on our plate.

My logic is simple - without campaign finance reform, everything else is an exercise (to varying degrees) in frustration.
- We (Americans writ large) dictate the rules on the playing field.
- The current rules require money to affect any change, let alone good change.
- Money corrupts, and change becomes corrupted.
My bottom line: Rail and flail, criticize and lambaste all you want. Pie fight each other until the cows come home. But if you keep doing all of that without acknowledging that the only REAL game changer is to get money out of politics, you're fighting losing battles.

Citizens United certainly set back the goal of meaningful Campaign Finance Reform - but maybe, just maybe, it also opened a door where this particular issue and its necessity can break into the public consciousness. I'm woe to type this out loud (as it were), but maybe Russ Feingold's loss can help bring his focus and knowledge to the issue to try to affect real, game-changing, rule-changing campaign finance reform.

I'll guarantee you this: the "better" part of "more and better" will only go to a certain point without campaign finance reform. But I'll also say - if we can struggle and fight for that day when special interests and corporate money doesn't dominate elections, our message resonates with 95% of Americans who are poor, working class, minority, disaffected, etc. etc. It will be a massive fight to affect this key, root cause change - and we'll have to swim against every powerful entity in trying to achieve it. It will take more time than we can possibly envision. But it won't start until WE start it. And imagine this if you will - elected representatives free to espouse and then follow their ideals without worrying about raising money and paybacks and raising more money to stay long enough to make some of the change you wanted.

So having said that - my stance on CFR is a simple one. It's not to limit Corporate or individual contributions. It's to eliminate them. Completely. Go to fully publicly financed campaigns. No TV advertising. No money, trade missions, gifts, meals, not even a coffee to the elected. The budget for national (Congressional, Presidential) races should be apportioned out of public monies and only specific things could be included as allowable expenses for candidates.

I'm meeting with some resistance to not necessarily the idea, but the potential of that in the comments. I welcome that - this is about fleshing out the idea to see if there's even enough to be the seed of an impetus of a movement to be found. But I would assert this, strictly as my opinion: everything that you find personally important as a matter of legislation or policy will always fall short of what you desire as long as CFR is allowed to be unattended. Everything. You will always fall farther down the list of "masters" in the current campaign finance climate. And you will always be frustrated.

I'm willing to be wrong here. I'm wanting to be wrong here. Because CFR isn't sexy. It doesn't currently meet, in my mind, the bar of a high value "single issue". Therefore, getting people together around this will be hard. Leaders won't change the rules - rules that they understand and operate within every day - unless they are MADE to change them, and only a bonafide movement can get that from thought to reality.
Just my $.02.

11-26-2010, 08:57 PM
JillFoster, the reason I wanted to start this conversation is because there is a lot more going on out here than meets the eye. We the people need to wake up and pay attention. We need to let go of the "talking points" being thrown at us and THINK for ourselves.

There are a host of issues facing us and THE ONLY ADULT IN THE ROOM (http://blackwaterdog.wordpress.com/) seems to be the only one trying to tackle them. The Repubs are trying to take him down, his own congress is not standing up behind him, and his base is acting like whiny little children, expecting him to change something in 2 years, that was 30 years in the making. YET, he has done more for the middle class in this country in two years, than any president in my life time.

He's not perfect, he's made mistakes but he's doing something while everyone else is fighting amongst themselves and falling for every piece of BS that come their way.

We THE PEOPLE definitely have an enemy to fight but it is NOT President Obama.

We are being asked

1] To work longer hours
2] To work until we drop.
3] To expect less in return for those years of hard work.
4] To cut the services we pay for.
5] To hurt the least fortunate amongst us by removing our support.
6] To make education once more a privilege.

We are being taught to be small minded and petty; and in the meantime our societies so hard fought for are being eviscerated and sacrificed at the fallacious alter of 'fiscal responsibility'. Our common dreams are turning into a collective nightmare.
We in fact are held responsible for the years of greed.
Whilst those who drove us over the cliff once more swill champagne and laugh in our faces.

11-26-2010, 09:59 PM
In other news:

Here is a Reuters article (http://exchange.ydr.com/index.php?showtopic=9798) that is based upon the CBO assessment of the Stimulus programs (both the Bush and Obama sponsored) and its assessment of the net impact of those programs.

It is perhaps in stark contrast to what most Americans would have thought. The biggest thing the stimules did NOT do was bring down the unemployment which is still uppermost on most peoples minds. The CBO contents, however, that unemployment would have been substantially higher IF the simulus efforts had not gone through.

Also, one of the most interesting statements of the CBO is in the last sentence here which recaps the effectiveness of each piece of the stimulus.

From the article

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act put between 1.4 million and 3.6 million to work in the third quarter of this year, a time when more than 15 million Americans were unemployed, CBO said.

It also boosted national output by between 1.4 percent and 4.1 percent during that time, the CBO said.

During the third quarter, the economy grew by an annual rate of 2.5 percent. Economists say a rate faster than 3 percent is needed to make any noticeable dent in unemployment.

The CBO's estimates have consistently shown that the $814 billion package of tax cuts, state aid, construction spending and enhanced safety-net provisions has blunted the impact of the worst U.S. recession since the 1930s.

But it has failed to prevent the unemployment rate from rising above 8 percent, as the Obama administration promised when it was crafted in 2009.

The unemployment rate, currently 9.6 percent, would have been between 10.4 percent and 11.6 percent without the Recovery Act, the CBO said.

The stimulus created the equivalent of 2 million to 5.8 million jobs during the third quarter as part-time workers shifted to full-time work, or employers offered more overtime work.

Voters by wide margins say the stimulus has been ineffective, and they handed a big victory to the Republicans who opposed it in the November 2 elections.

Republicans have proposed rescinding the $12 billion that remains unspent when they take control of the House of Representatives in January.

The Recovery Act has already had its greatest impact on the economy and its effects will continue to wane into 2011, CBO said.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has called on Congress to take additional measures to stimulate the economy, but analysts say his plea will probably go unanswered as Republicans eye sharp spending cuts for next year.

Not all elements of the Recovery Act got the same bang for the buck, the CBO said.

Direct spending on highway construction, water-system upgrades and energy efficiency were among the most effective, the CBO said, while tax breaks for businesses and higher-income people cost more in lost revenues than they made up for in increased economic activity.

while tax breaks for businesses and higher-income people cost more in lost revenues than they made up for in increased economic activity.

translation: tax breaks for the rich don't work!

11-26-2010, 10:15 PM
That's certainly alot to digest and consider. I think Obama needs to make a "dirty" move on this chess board. I think he needs to propose that all senators and congressmen, including himself.... take a 50% pay cut. Truly it won't make a dent in the deficit, but it would be quite the symbolic gesture, and let's see what the "cut spending" Repulbicans have to say about it. It would fascinating, to be sure.

11-26-2010, 11:10 PM
With all due respect Jill Foster,do you really believe the American people give a flying fig tree about symbolism, especially now?

None of what I have written is about what President Obama should do, but what WE THE PEOPLE should start doing.

He's doing his job, are we doing ours, or are sitting back playing armchair quarterback and criticizing and crying about what he hasn't done instead of shouting to the rafters about what he has? Cause heaven knows, the media sure "ain't" doing it.

11-26-2010, 11:15 PM
I read somewhere that a very significant percentage of the members of the senate and the house are millionaires. Some several times over. Taking a 90% cut for some of them would hardly be felt.

11-26-2010, 11:16 PM
BTW, the deficit is another one of those "talking point" issues the media and Republicans are throwing out there, trying to keep us distracted.

Funny how neither the Republicans or the media, or even the American people gave a crap about Jr taking a surplus and turning it into an albatross around our necks.

NOW, everyone is soooooooo concerned about the deficit. PLEASE!

The money being spent is what will help us in the future, not hurt us.

11-26-2010, 11:20 PM
MotownSteve, people like the Koch Brothers are multi BILLIONAIRES. Forgive my crassness but, who do you think can piss farther?

11-26-2010, 11:50 PM
I know, Ms. M... but grand, sweeping gestures are something that the amrecian people can understand. they don't care about the details. They never have, and I don't think they ever will. Do you think a re-introduction of the fairness doctrine would help matters?

11-27-2010, 12:11 AM
If grand sweeping gestures that don't do anything for the people's bottom line will make folks happy....well, imo that would mean people in this country on both sides of the political fence, are dumber than a box of rocks and we're screwed.

Good question JillFoster but here is the deal, how do you get the genie back in the bottle when billionaires like Rupert Murdoch are one of the puppeteers pulling the strings?

Kind of hard to get around a lot of this crap under the current system which is why I get so frustrated with peole.

Considering what the President is up against he is kicking arse and taking names. Again, why do you think 4 billion dollars was spent to bring the Dems down whereby trying to bring the President down?

Fairness Doctrine in this day and age is err body versus Olbermann , Maddow and 2 comedians,(Stewart/Colbert):)

hell, even NPR is beginning to go off the rails.....all that money is not coming from "public donations"....anyone is free to research that and call me on it if I'm wrong.

JillFoster in away we have to play catch up and start paying more attention, start making the effort to check this crap we are being fed. The links I provided for the President's accomplishments is a good start and there is always whitehouse.gov

Even if people don't have the time to do heavy research at least KNOW what your President is doing. Don't let pundits sell you (collective you) their spin.

11-27-2010, 02:05 AM
Dumber than a box of rocks.Yes, I believe that.

11-27-2010, 02:57 AM
True, but there isn't any reason we have to stay that way JillFoster.
I guess that's what frustrates me the most.

11-27-2010, 11:47 AM
BTW JillFoster, if folks TRULY are concerned with the deficit, then no one over 250K should be getting a tax cut or an extra tax cut which seems to be what the Repubs are trying pull now. But is the public really paying attention and pushing back against the Repubs?

Do they even know that if the 2% get their continued tax cuts and then some, the 98 percenters (us) get less not more?
Nothing has trickled down in the 9 years these tax cuts for the rich have been in place, hello are we paying attention?

while tax breaks for businesses and higher-income people cost more in lost revenues than they made up for in increased economic activity.

translation: tax breaks for the rich don't work!

11-27-2010, 03:05 PM
Public Service Message for Service Members (military) please pass it on

President Obama signed legislation in September extending the deadline. In a public service message (http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=61095)released by the White House, the President said, "You served with honor. You did your duty. And when your country called on you again, you did your duty again. Now, it's time to collect the special pay that you deserve....

I know there's been some confusion and skepticism out there. Some veterans think this is some sort of gimmick or scam, or that it's a way for the government to call you back to service. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As your commander in chief, I'm here to tell you that this is no gimmick or trick. You worked hard. You earned this money. It doesn't matter whether you were active or reserve, whether you're a veteran who experienced ‘Stop Loss’ or the survivor of a servicemember who did - if your service was extended, you're eligible."

11-27-2010, 07:24 PM
MotownSteve, people like the Koch Brothers are multi BILLIONAIRES. Forgive my crassness but, who do you think can piss farther?

ms_m, they are not in congress. However, one night wonder how much they control.

11-27-2010, 10:39 PM
True they are in Congress but the money, and the people who give it to them, control many of them and their actions in many instances. To be fair, I don't think it's all about personal gain for many in congress but about being reelected. That takes money and lots of it.

It's the main reason I would like people to understand the importance of CFR. (campaign finance reform)

If we take the control out of the hands of the corporate powers, we have a better chance at a more level playing field. Congress would be more focused on their constituents.

I think the article I posted breaks it down very well. We have a lot of issues in this country that need to be dealt with but until we get the purse strings under control, anything we do will have an air of not being enough because our legislators will continue to bend to the will of the corporate powers.

Dems in congress screwed us on HRC just as much as Republicans. Clinton screwed us by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act which repealed restrictions on the financial market.

Now it can be argued Clinton intentions were in the right place and it could be argued as the opposite. It really doesn't matter at this point because the fact is, it lead us to where we are today with even more help from Bush Jr.

To be honest, you can go back as far a Reagan to see how the dominoes were all stacked up and eventually fell. But money was behind it all, the greed of corporate powers. We need to get them and their money out of our legislative process.

4billion was spent to elect Republicans, that's a bad thing, 4 billion could have easily been spent to get Dems in office so we could continue a Dem agenda. On the surface, that could be seen as a good thing, but it's not because it means corporate powers have a seat at the legislative table either way it goes.

11-27-2010, 10:49 PM
Oh and one of the biggest "screw you" to dates has come from the Supreme Court.

Don't know if you remember the President's State of the Union Speech when he admonished them for their decision. Alito wasn't happy about it and it showed on his face. He even said something back about it under his breath if I recall. The President was right, it was a huge mistake, and will bite us in the arse for decades, if we don't find someway to fix it.

11-27-2010, 11:02 PM
BTW MotownSteve, I think it's also important to remember that a lot of congress critters were wealthy before they became congress critters. It might be interesting to see how they became wealthy in the first place...LOL...and I'm sure through their contacts with many people they have received a lot of inside tips and help but their personal wealth isn't the real issue here. The real issue is the control, the corporate powers have. That's what I think we need to focus on.

11-27-2010, 11:42 PM
ms_m, one of the problems with the Democrats is that they do not have the good sense to brag about the good they have done. They just let the republicans dump on them. Also this country would be in much better shape if the Supreme Court had not passed that bill that allows corporations to hide their donations. We could vote much more intelligently if we knew who was accepting money from whom.

11-28-2010, 01:24 AM
I agree the Dems have a messaging problem and as much as I admire the President, so does the WH.

A lot of Dems stayed home during the midterms, I don't care if they were kids, frustrated voters or who they were. I don't even care why they stayed home but if we want better, we have to participate in the process. That means voting as well as being aware if what's happening.

Here is the way I see it though MS, the longer we keep a Dem in the WH (and give him/her a Dem congress) the better chance we have at flipping the Supreme Court more to the left. The President's last two appointments were a step in the right direction. So the way I see it, you may have to hold your nose and vote to keep Dems in control until more of the public starts to connect the dots in terms of CFR. But connect the dots we must!

11-28-2010, 10:07 AM
Motown Steve, I just noticed I misread something you said further up and I apologize for that. Fortunately it all worked out in the conversation.LOL

I read this differently than how it was written. Again, my apologies.

ms_m, they are not in congress. However, one night wonder how much they control.

11-28-2010, 12:58 PM
ms_m, one of the problems with the Democrats is that they do not have the good sense to brag about the good they have done. They just let the republicans dump on them. Also this country would be in much better shape if the Supreme Court had not passed that bill that allows corporations to hide their donations. We could vote much more intelligently if we knew who was accepting money from whom.

You'd think.... but unfortunately, here in Missouri, we now have a senator who was involved in HUGE campaign contributions from big oil, amongst others... and was freaking mentored by Tom Delay, who as we know, was just convicted on money laundering charges. but the bastard won anyhow. All because everyone in the state was scared of the daughter of a former governor (who was well liked)? And the political commercials TOLD US over and over again that he was dirty, and didn't care about the common man. But HIS commercials kept acting like Robin Carnahan was exectly like Nancy Pelosi, every single commercial from his camp mentioned Obama and Pelosi, and kept drilling people that if you want our country to "go back to what it was" you need to vote for HIM. Of course, those halcyon days of 50 years ago also included the fairness doctrine, but I'm sure they don't want THAT part of the past restored.

11-28-2010, 02:30 PM
You've summed up pretty much what I'm trying to get across JillFoster. We are being inundated with tons of bogus info. It's being repeated over and over until people are taking it as the truth without question.

We have to start questioning but we also have to stop this sort of messaging from getting out in the first place.

CFR would help rectify that. Without tons and tons of money to spread this BS, politicians would have to be more prudent and use more judgment in how they reach voters.

Instead of negative campaigning they would be forced to reach people with things that would not only resonate but actually help them. Things that would make voters THINK and not react.

THEN they would have to go to Washington and actually follow through. They could do this if they are answering ONLY to voters and not corporate interests.

Very few politicians talk issues these days, they simply throw out rhetoric and negative ads. They do it because they have the money to fight the other candidate, who has the money to do the same thing. It's a vicious cycle that keeps going around and around.

It needs to stop.....Campaign Finance Reform is the only way I can see that happening. If there is any other logical and rationale way, I'm all ears.

11-28-2010, 02:59 PM
Things that would make voters THINK and not react.

To be clear, and repeat.... few politicians are talking issues that will help us think critically. What they are doing is pushing our hot buttons. (abortion, racism, immigration, LGbt rights and the list goes on)

ALL these things are important, Each and everyone but the negative campaigning uses these issues to divide and distract us instead of finding ways to solve the problems these issues bring.

The one exception I've seen not following this formula is, The Only Adult In The Room (http://blackwaterdog.wordpress.com/)

He refuses to let himself get caught up in all the crazy. I know it makes people frustrated he doesn't fight fire with fire but someone has to be the adult in the room. He's it.

11-28-2010, 06:35 PM
Well put ms_m. What I'd like to have some some politician tell us where he his money from. By that I mean, family excepted, what corporation and how much. What individual and how much. But, I'm not going to hold my breath on this one.

11-28-2010, 07:29 PM
I hear ya
I just want to put an end to the money flow and call it a day.:)

11-30-2010, 11:44 AM
Medicare Advantage provision going smoothly (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/29/AR2010112905130.html)

One of the most significant savings envisioned in the new health- care law – limiting payments to the private health plans that cover 11 million older Americans under Medicare – is, so far, bringing little of the turbulence that the insurance industry and many Republicans predicted.

The law, which sets in motion the broadest changes to the U.S. health-care system in decades, will hold down the amount of money the government gives to Medicare Advantage plans, which are available to patients who prefer a managed-care version of the program. The savings is forecast to amount to $145 billion by the end of the decade.

Before the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Advantage insurance companies were paid more than $1,000 per person on average than seniors in traditional Medicare. All seniors on Medicare – even the 77 percent not enrolled in Medicare Advantage – helped subsidize the additional payments to insurance companies. The Affordable Care Act protects guaranteed Medicare benefits for seniors in Medicare Advantage plans and levels the playing field by ending overpayments to big insurance companies. Whether the payment changes are warranted was a contentious subplot in the protracted debate over the legislation. Democrats argued successfully that the private plans were being overpaid and could withstand the changes. Republicans warned that such plans would raise prices, lower benefits or cause defections from the program, stranding the elderly people who rely on them.Early clues to the actual effects have now materialized, as elderly Americans may sign up for a health plan for 2011 during an enrollment period through the end of the year, and the warnings of swift, serious damage to the program are not borne out. Fewer health plans are available for the coming year, but the decrease is largely for reasons unrelated to the new law. Premiums have not jumped substantially, and benefits have not tended to erode.

11-30-2010, 01:19 PM
Remarks by the President on the Federal Employee Pay Freeze


Hello, everybody. Good morning, everybody.

Let me begin by pointing out that although Washington is supposed to be a town of sharp elbows, it’s getting a little carried away. For those of you who are worried about my lip, I should be okay. The doctor has given me a clean bill of health, and I will continue to be playing basketball whenever I get a chance. In fact, I played yesterday with Sasha and Malia and they took it easy on me because they were feeling pity.

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving, but now it’s time to get back to work. Congress is back in town this week. And I’m looking forward to sitting down with Republican leaders tomorrow to discuss many issues -- foremost among them the American people’s business that remains to be done this year. My hope is that tomorrow’s meeting will mark a first step towards a new and productive working relationship. Because we now have a shared responsibility to deliver for the American people on the issues that define not only these times but our future -- and I hope we can do that in a cooperative and serious way.

Our two most fundamental challenges are keeping the American people safe and growing our economy -- and it’s in that spirit that I look forward to sitting down tomorrow and talking about urgent matters like the ratification of the New START treaty, which is so essential to our safety and security; and the status of the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of this year. And this is just one of the many economic issues we’ve got to tackle together in the months ahead.

As I said a few weeks ago, the most important contest of our time is not the contest between Democrats and Republicans; it’s between America and our economic competitors all around the world. Winning that contest means that we’ve got to ensure our children are the best educated in the world; that our research and development is second to none; and that we lead the globe in renewable energy and technological innovation.

It also means making sure that in the future we’re not dragged down by long-term debt. This is a challenge that both parties have a responsibility to address -- to get federal spending under control and bring down the deficits that have been growing for most of the last decade.

Now, there’s no doubt that if we want to bring down our deficits, it’s critical to keep growing our economy. More importantly, there’s still a lot of pain out there, and we can’t afford to take any steps that might derail our recovery or our efforts to put Americans back to work and to make Main Street whole again. So we can’t put the brakes on too quickly. And I’m going to be interested in hearing ideas from my Republican colleagues, as well as Democrats, about how we continue to grow the economy and how we put people back to work.

But we do have to correct our long-term fiscal course. And that’s why earlier this year I created a bipartisan deficit commission that is poised to report back later this week with ideas that I hope will spark a serious and long-overdue conversation in this town. Those of us who have been charged to lead will have to confront some very difficult decisions, cutting spending we don’t need in order to invest in the things that we do.

As President, I’m committed to doing my part. From the earliest days of my administration, we’ve worked to eliminate wasteful spending and streamline government. I promised to go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that have outlived their usefulness, and in each of the budgets I’ve put forward so far, we’ve proposed approximately $20 billion in savings through shrinking or ending more than 120 such programs.

I’ve also set goals for this government that we’re on track to meet: reducing improper payments by $50 billion, saving $40 billion in contracting, and selling off $8 billion of unneeded federal land and buildings.

I’ve also proposed a three-year freeze on all non-security discretionary spending -- a step that would bring that spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy in 50 years. And we’ve brought unprecedented transparency to federal spending by placing all of it online at USAspending.gov and Recovery.gov, so Americans can see how their tax dollars are spent.

The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require broad sacrifice. And that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government.

After all, small businesses and families are tightening their belts. Their government should, too. And that’s why, on my first day as President, I froze all pay for my senior staff. This year I’ve proposed extending that freeze for senior political appointees throughout the government and eliminating bonuses for all political appointees.

And today I’m proposing a two-year pay freeze for all civilian federal workers. This would save $2 billion over the rest of this fiscal year and $28 billion in cumulative savings over the next five years. And I want to be clear: This freeze does not apply to the men and women of our Armed Forces, who along with their families continue to bear enormous burdens with our nation at war.

I did not reach this decision easily. This is not just a line item on a federal ledger. These are people’s lives. They’re doctors and nurses who care for our veterans; scientists who search for better treatments and cures; men and women who care for our national parks and secure our borders and our skies; Americans who see that the Social Security checks get out on time, who make sure that scholarships comes through, who devote themselves to our safety. They’re patriots who love their country and often make many sacrifices to serve their country.

In these challenging times, we want the best and brightest to join and make a difference. But these are also times where all of us are called on to make some sacrifices. And I’m asking civil servants to do what they’ve always done -- play their part.

Going forward, we’re going to have to make some additional very tough decisions that this town has put off for a very long time. And that’s what this upcoming week is really about. My hope is that, starting today, we can begin a bipartisan conversation about our future, because we face challenges that will require the cooperation of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Everybody is going to have to cooperate. We can’t afford to fall back onto the same old ideologies or the same stale sound bites. We’re going to have to budge on some deeply held positions and compromise for the good of the country. We’re going to have to set aside the politics of the moment to make progress for the long term. And as I’ve often said, we’re going to have to think not just about the next election, but about the next generation, because if there’s anything the American people said this month, it’s that they want their leaders to have one single focus: making sure their work is rewarded so that the American Dream remains within their reach. It would be unwise to assume they prefer one way of thinking over another. That wasn’t the lesson that I took when I entered into office, and it’s not the lesson today.

So while our ideas may be different, our goals must be the same -- growing this economy, putting people back to work, and securing the dream for all who work for it; to summon what’s best for each of us to make lives better for all of us. And that’s why we are here and that’s why we serve. That’s how we’ve moved this country forward in the past -- and I’m absolutely confident that that is how we are going to move this country forward once again.

Thank you very much, everybody.

11-30-2010, 01:24 PM
A Federal Employee had this to say about the freeze. Coming from someone who the freeze affects directly, I thought he made very interesting points.

There's a lot of hullabaloo how President Obama's federal wage freeze is so very bad, bad bad for the US.

Well, I AM a federal employee, and I don't see it that way.

I have three main positive points that I see coming from the President's announcement to freeze federal pay for two years.

The first one is a matter of simple expediency. For those of you not in the know, we lowly federal employees get raises based on 1) time and 2) a base raise that congress has to vote on every year anyway. So, I ask you, considering the current make up of congress, what are the odds that we would get raises anyway? Considering how obstructionist that the GOP has been, and will continue to be, I'd say the odds were pretty much zero anyway. All Obama has done is taken that power away from Congress by not trying to push through a raise. He's taken something that could only be negative and turned it into a potential positive, which leads me to point two.

By freezing wages, Obama has basically said, "OK, you campaigned on cuts, and I've just made one. What are YOU going to do?" By leading by example, he's called the Republican fiscal-conservativism bluff. The best part of it is, there's no way for Republicans to spin this negatively. Anyone who criticizes this move is going to seem unserious about deficit reduction. Seeing as pretty much every Republican (especially tea-partiers) campaigned on this, this seems unlikely.

The last thing is by showing a willingness to actually be that Republicans are attempting to portray themselves as, he might just peel some of the teapartiers off from their party when it comes to budgetary votes, or at the very least, make them very, very unhappy having to tow the party line. Admittedly, this one seems less likely, considering how Republicans usually act, but we'll see what the infusion of tea-partiers does in the coming congress (pun fully intended).

Am I happy about a wage freeze for me in the next two years? Hell no. But I refuse to be caught up in the wailing, moaning and gnashing of teeth.

11-30-2010, 01:28 PM
Another Federal Employee was a tad more philosophical:)

I’ll just increase my naps by 5%, take home a few more ink pens, surf a little longer …….and put in a requisition for a Very Expensive Comfortable Ergonomic chair to be used while I'm sitting at my desk.

11-30-2010, 04:15 PM
Hi ms_m,
I spent 28 years working for the State of NJ. My son just started a few months ago for the Fed Govt. One thing I can say for sure is outsiders have no idea at all what it is like on the inside!
BTW, I tried sending you an email the other day and got an error message basically saying your mail box was full.

11-30-2010, 09:57 PM

Sorry about the email message. If you're referring to my SDF mailbox, I tend to forget about it but it's now empty. My personal email is never full. (loves me some gmail:))

Yeah, I thought the last comment from a Fed Employee was particularly..... errrrrrrr.... poignant.
There was actually more but I didn't want to deal with the "Black Helicopters" hovering over my house) hahaha

12-02-2010, 03:39 PM
Check your email, it's done. Sorry fOr the confusion!

12-02-2010, 03:42 PM

PRINCETON, NJ — Unemployment, as measured by Gallup (http://www.gallup.com/poll/145004/Gallup-Finds-Unemployment-Down-November.aspx)without seasonal adjustment, declined to 8.8% at the end of November — down from 9.2% in mid-November and 9.4% at the end of October, and a new low for the year. While the government’s unemployment report on Friday will include seasonal adjustments and is less timely than Gallup’s Daily monitoring, Gallup modeling suggests that it will also show a decline.


12-02-2010, 06:34 PM
First Thoughts: Fighting vs. Getting things done

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Fighting vs. getting things done: It has become another winter of liberal discontent. MoveOn has cut a 60-second TV ad urging President Obama not to compromise with Republicans on the Bush tax cuts. The progressive blogosphere is up in arms over the president’s deficit-reduction commission, arguing especially against its recommendations to change Social Security. And labor isn't happy with Obama’s pay freeze for federal workers. Despite this discontent from the left, here’s a reality check on the lame duck Congress: Things are getting done, or at least on track to get done. Even though their backs are against the wall after last month’s elections, it’s possible -- though won’t be easy -- that Democrats could get START through the Senate, repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and extend jobless benefits, too. This is the classic struggle between fighting (which the left wants Obama to do) and getting things done (which has always been the president’s first inclination). Campaigning vs. governing, and the December after an election is usually reserved for governing. As for the deficit commission, isn’t it better that Obama owns this issue and not the Republicans? This is going to happen at some point; does the left want the process controlled by the GOP or by the president?

Please Click Here For More (http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/12/02/5566503-first-thoughts-fighting-vs-getting-things-done)

12-03-2010, 07:49 PM
I've posted a few post from political blogs but this is one of my own. (my words)
It's for all who are interested but especially dedicated to my political email running partner Chi drummer.;)

A Rant/The Remix

I thought I'd expand on and repeat a comment I made in another diary. It could be considered cheating but oh well, sue me.

Several days ago someone suggested I read Ron Chernow’s biography of Washington. The commenter felt it would enlighten me to the fact,"America and its Founding Fathers were not what the Tea Party want to brainwash you into believing it to have been."
Brainwashed? Me? I found the idea amusing since I’ve always been interested in the thoughts and opinions of the Founding Fathers. Cheesy I know but, I’m fascinated by the inner workings of the minds of mankind, especially the people that make the rules and also, make the music but not necessarily in that order.
I indirectly alluded to the former, in a comment with this response and I’ll paraphrase, I can't remember when or where I read it but, the rich were appointed, not elected as Senators back then. Amazing how inconvenient truths get swept under the rug, eh?

As I’m sure most of you know and according to wikipedia, "The Senate of the United States was formed on the example of the ancient Roman Senate." Somewhat ironic considering the Roman Senate didn’t allow plebeians to serve. You know plebeians, the common people... and this is where my already published rant begins.

I’m sick and tired, of being sick and tired, of a nation that whines like a bunch of 3 year olds while the Republicans do the bidding of their Corporate Masters.

A nation that allows itself to dance around like puppets on a string being diverted, distracted, divided and dumbed down, as they are being robbed blind of their freedoms, financial security, dignity and common sense.
Until the great people of this nation (minus a few misfits here and there)stand together and overthrow or at the very least, control the corporate powers who have a seat at the legislative table, nothing will ever truly change. Maybe improve, with decidedly imperfections, depending on the political party, but never change until the people of this nation make that change. First within ourselves, and then taking it to the streets to the true and persistent enemy we all face.


Now what I didn’t say , it’s time for the people of this nation to grow up, wake up, and take a long hard look in the mirror. Because as the saying goes, no matter how many fingers you point outward, there will always be at least one, pointing back at you.You want a better government, a better president a better country? Well here is a clue, look in the mirror, decide what you truly stand for and stop fighting with your neighbors, the very people you want to help, the very people who want the same things as you but may have a different way of expressing and showing it. Don't make the job of the corporate masters easier but harder, and eventually non existent.

Continue Rant:

All the hand-wringing, dooms day scenarios and fighting make for good theater and ego boosting spots at the top of the rec list, but doesn’t do a dayum thing for the people everyone claims they want to help. Or is that claim all apart of the theater of absurd as well?

Interesting, as I wrote that, I had a vision of the Corporate Powers, front row center in the theater. They were giving a standing ovation to the show they have created. They were smiling and proud of us all for playing our roles so well, as they increased their bottom line, bank accounts and already fat pockets.
Until the change you seek comes, we have two choices, stand with the Republican Party or stand with the Democratic Party. The only difference in the two, one will screw you without the Vaseline and the other will buy you dinner first. Then, they will give you a doggie bag to take home after.
Even if you manage to get a 3rd, 4th or 5th political party in power, the best you’ll get for your efforts, is a drink before the eff.

I’ll end this with a quote, one of many of my faves. It’s from, "Gifts From Eykis" by Wayne W. Dyer. His character Eykis, is a being from an alternative universe, a universe that pretty much mirrors earth with the exception of a few quirks. The story is a new age diddy that bores the intellectual elite to tears, yet makes those of us on our never ending life journey, feel smug and secure for understanding this stuff.
On Earth, people have unique minds. Since each person is different, one can never create policies, rules, or procedures that apply to all. The concept of "everyone" simply does not exist. And on your planet too, your free-choice minds allow you to decide to learn or not to learn, to know, or not to know, to obey or disobey, at any moment. You can change your free choice minds an unlimited number of times on one issue or in any moment. You are ever changing, free willed people. Correct thinking would acknowledge this fact and say: Each person must decide for himself what he wants for each day.

...something to think about and remember, I’m only the messenger, shoot me!

12-04-2010, 07:19 PM
Statement by the President Announcing the US-Korea Trade Agreement

I am very pleased that the United States and South Korea have reached agreement on a landmark trade deal that is expected to increase annual exports of American goods by up to $11 billion and support at least 70,000 American jobs. Last month in Seoul I directed our negotiators to achieve the best deal for American workers and companies, and this agreement meets that test.

American manufacturers of cars and trucks will gain more access to the Korean market and a level playing field to take advantage of that access. We are strengthening our ability to create and defend manufacturing jobs in the United States; increasing exports of agricultural products for American farmers and ranchers; and opening Korea’s services market to American companies. High standards for the protection of worker’s rights and the environment make this a model for future trade agreements, which must be both free and fair.

Today’s agreement is an integral part of my Administration’s efforts to open foreign markets to U.S. goods and services, create jobs for American workers, farmers and businesses, and achieve our goal of doubling of U.S. exports over five years. It deepens the strong alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea and reinforces American leadership in the Asia Pacific. I look forward to working with Congress and leaders in both parties to get this done and to ensure that America competes aggressively for the jobs and markets of the 21st century.

links will connect to pdf files

FACT SHEET: Overview of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/fact_sheet_overview_us_korea_free_trade_agreement. pdf)

FACT SHEET: Economic Value of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/fact_sheet_economic_value_us_korea_free_trade_agre ement.pdf)

FACT SHEET: Increasing U.S. Auto Exports and Growing U.S. Jobs Through the U.S. Korea Trade Agreement
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/fact_sheet_increasing_us_auto_exports_us_korea_fre e_trade_agreement.pdf)

12-04-2010, 07:40 PM
...and for those who are not aware, The U.S Senate gave 98% of Americans the finger this morning.
They voted no on permanent tax cuts for the middle class.

A side note, republicans were not the only one screwing us, Russ Feingold was all in the mix as well. It seems his was a "principle vote" since it meant the bill would allow the rich to keep their tax cuts a few more years.

He was voted out in Nov and will not be back in Jan and although there was a time I liked the dude, he can take his principle and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

NOW: It's let's make a deal time. Thanks Republicans and Feingold too!

I am very disappointed that the Senate did not pass legislation that had already passed the House of Representatives to make middle class tax cuts permanent. Those provisions should have passed. And I continue to believe that it makes no sense to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage to permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Especially when those high-income tax cuts would cost an additional $700 billion that we don't have, and would add to our deficit.

12-05-2010, 03:29 PM
Political blogs can often be frustrating and annoying. Many of them rely on advertising, as a result the content too often becomes nothing more than a sensationalized echo chamber.

You really have dig through a lot of crap sometimes to get to the good stuff. Today I found some good stuff.


Republicans fear Obama, I fear some people don't understand why.

by Stephen Daugherty
Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 03:04:12 PM ADT

Why are Republicans so eager to destroy somebody who the folks on the left say are such a sellout? Why did they spend hundreds of millions of dollars with their Citizens United-Liberated friends to undo our majority?

You have to hand it to the Republicans. They know how to unite, despite their differences, when their interests are threatened. But that brings us back to my initial question: why do they fear Obama?

The problem is, Obama, if he's successful, brings back bipartisanship. Bipartisanship means that the pressures that have been forcing generations of Republicans to move hard right on policies go away. Democrats become colleagues as well as competitors. Without a certain degree of separatism, the Conservative movement of today is dead.

There's a reason that the religious conservatives want government to subsidize their children going to sectarian private schools. They're afraid modern culture will undermine their values, lure their children away from the fold.

There's a reason why Republicans have been fighting so hard for their tax cuts for the rich, even to the point of threatening to prevent any legislation from passing if they don't get it.

There's a reason why Republicans fight DADT's repeal, and why McCain so oddly chooses to continue fighting Gays in the Military, despite everything.

We assume sometimes that the reason why the Republicans don't allow the changes to take place is that somehow they don't understand the right of what we believe.

I would say, no, they do understand. But they understand something else as well. The professional Right, the politicians and the pundits understand that their continued relevance, and their political domination is built on opposition to the Liberals. That is why even sane Republicans have signed on to the Tea Party's movement, with it's extreme rhetoric. In the face of all that's happened over the last ten years, it takes that degree of extremity in rhetoric to distract people from the ugly facts of the unpopularity and the failure of their policies.

12-05-2010, 10:55 PM
While I agree with most of the above, I also think the Republicans are poor losers. They went after Clinton when he won and did the same with Obama, although somewhat differently.

12-06-2010, 11:18 AM
I hear what you're saying MS and I agree, they are poor losers but then I have to ask myself, why?

The way I interpret the article, Republicans feel they MUST make the argument they are different from Democrats/Liberals because, if they can convince people of that one simple idea, the people will not focus on the Republican failed polices over the last 30 years. (with help from Democratic President Clinton, which has been more the exception than the rule) Their policies simply have not worked and they KNOW this.

They want and need to convince the public otherwise so they are invested in the message:

Liberals bad, Conservatives good.
Liberals bad, Conservatives good
wash, rinse and repeat.

12-06-2010, 11:25 AM
The really sad and frustrating part about all of this. If both sides could stop trying to prove who's better and work together, we as a nation would be the winner.

The basic principle of conservative spending, is not bad. Neither is the basic principle of Liberals wanting to spend money to help those less fortunate, but there needs to be a balance between the two ideas. That's not happening and the nation and people are suffering because of it.

12-06-2010, 11:35 AM
MS, we are suppose to be a caring nation, a compassionate nation. The idea of walking away from those less fortunate should not even be an option BUT

you can not and I repeat, can not spend your way out of debt. Look around at the current middle class, we tried, it didn't work!

Trying to spend our way out of debt collapsed on top of us, along with the other failed ideas of the Republican Party. On the flip side, entitlement programs (with war coming in next I believe) is the largest burden we have on our deficit.

It can not and should not be, one ideology fighting the other, it needs to be the best ideas of both working in tandem.

12-06-2010, 11:46 AM
One last thing on this subject MS.

The Only Adult In The Room that seems to truly understand all of this, is getting beaten up by Congressional Republicans, the Republican base, Congressional Democrats, the Democratic base, the media and pundits. Welcome to America!

12-06-2010, 07:26 PM
For any of you who have been following the tax cut deals, you probably know there is a lot of back and forth and name calling going on.

I think this Ezra Klein article may put things in an interesting perspective. I don't always agree with Klein but I will give him props with coming across as rational and fair.

The deal isn't done, but right now, Democrats look likely to get a 13-month extension of both unemployment insurance and many of the tax breaks built into the stimulus (Making Work Pay, the bump in the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, the business tax breaks and so on). That totals about $180 billion over two years. So if the White House gets the deal that the early reports suggest are close -- and that they seem to think they'll be able to get -- this is a two-year stimulus package that approaches $300 billion. [Update: Just to be clear, that's $300 billion for tax cuts for income over $250,000, and tax extenders. Add in the rest of the tax cuts -- which I left out because they're already at consensus -- and it's closer to $750 billion. So the $300 billion is the marginal cost over the tax cuts for income under $250,000.]

Complete article here (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/12/can_the_white_house_win_in_201.html)

12-07-2010, 11:53 AM
Over the last few years I had become accustomed to the negativity thrown at President Obama, with the majority of it coming from the Republicans. Yet, the vitriol and hate being spewed these days, is coming from the extreme left, (Progressives.) Although they will loudly shout and try to convince you otherwise, their view is not the prevailing one among the Democratic base.

For those of you who may be a little anxious about President Obama's chances for 2012. Don't set your hair on fire just yet.
A lot can happen between now and Nov 2012 and let's not forget, he hasn't officially said he will seek another term. If he does, it will be a nasty fight, a very nasty fight with the extreme left doing just as much to bring him down as the extreme right but, don't count him out and never underestimate:
The Only Adult In The Room (http://blackwaterdog.wordpress.com/)


Obama 'core' coalition hardly 'shattered'

Domenico Montanaro writes: While some think President Obama's "core" coalition "has been shattered," here are some numbers from our latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll that looks at Obama's approval among some of those "core" groups:

- Blacks: 90% approve/6% disapprove
- Democrats: 82/12
- Liberals: 79/16
- Latinos: 56/33
- Post grads: 56/41
- UPDATE: 18-29: 53/38
- UPDATE 2: NBC's Ana Maria Arumi notes that in the 2010 midterm exit polls, voters 18-29 said they approved of the president's job by a 62/38 margin, which is close to how they voted in 2008 -- 66/32
- Women: 52/43
- 18-34: 49/43

Obama’s overall approval in this poll was 47/47 and was conducted from Nov. 11-15, after the Nov. 2nd midterms that saw Democrats lose 63 seats in the House -- a post-WWII record -- and six seats in the Senate.

As Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducts the NBC/WSJ poll with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, said after the poll, “It’s a reminder again … for a guy who took a shellacking, he’s got a pretty strong core pulse.” He cited

Obama’s strong support among a core constituency of younger women, blacks, Latinos, young voters, voters in the West, and under-30 urban moderates. “This is a president that retains political standing,” he added.
Where Obama has serious deficits is not with his "core" groups, but with swing voters, Republicans, and whites. He is upside-down with independents, who moved his way in 2008, and has become much more polarizing in two years with the GOP.
And that could make for an election that looks more similar to 2004 -- decided by a state or two -- rather than the '08 landslide.

To all my LGBT friends, your news is important as well and please don't think I have forgotten about you. I just don't want to jinx things or count my chickens before they hatch but.....I see a light at the end of the tunnel.:o Keep fighting, keep pushing and don't give up!

12-07-2010, 12:30 PM
He works for us, the middle class, the poor, the disenfranchised....

Statement by the President on Tax Cuts and Unemployment Benefits

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Sorry to keep you waiting.

For the past few weeks there’s been a lot of talk around Washington about taxes and there’s been a lot of political positioning between the two parties. But around kitchen tables, Americans are asking just one question: Are we going to allow their taxes to go up on January 1st, or will we meet our responsibilities to resolve our differences and do what’s necessary to speed up the recovery and get people back to work?

Now, there’s no doubt that the differences between the parties are real and they are profound. Ever since I started running for this office I've said that we should only extend the tax cuts for the middle class. These are the Americans who’ve taken the biggest hit not only from this recession but from nearly a decade of costs that have gone up while their paychecks have not. It would be a grave injustice to let taxes increase for these Americans right now. And it would deal a serious blow to our economic recovery.

Now, Republicans have a different view. They believe that we should also make permanent the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. I completely disagree with this. A permanent extension of these tax cuts would cost us $700 billion at a time when we need to start focusing on bringing down our deficit. And economists from all across the political spectrum agree that giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires does very little to actually grow our economy.

This is where the debate has stood for the last couple of weeks. And what is abundantly clear to everyone in this town is that Republicans will block a permanent tax cut for the middle class unless they also get a permanent tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, regardless of the cost or impact on the deficit.

We saw that in two different votes in the Senate that were taken this weekend. And without a willingness to give on both sides, there’s no reason to believe that this stalemate won't continue well into next year. This would be a chilling prospect for the American people whose taxes are currently scheduled to go up on January 1st because of arrangements that were made back in 2001 and 2003 under the Bush tax cuts.

I am not willing to let that happen. I know there’s some people in my own party and in the other party who would rather prolong this battle, even if we can't reach a compromise. But I'm not willing to let working families across this country become collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington. And I'm not willing to let our economy slip backwards just as we're pulling ourselves out of this devastating recession.

I'm not willing to see 2 million Americans who stand to lose their unemployment insurance at the end of this month be put in a situation where they might lose their home or their car or suffer some additional economic catastrophe.

So, sympathetic as I am to those who prefer a fight over compromise, as much as the political wisdom may dictate fighting over solving problems, it would be the wrong thing to do. The American people didn’t send us here to wage symbolic battles or win symbolic victories. They would much rather have the comfort of knowing that when they open their first paycheck on January of 2011, it won’t be smaller than it was before, all because Washington decided they preferred to have a fight and failed to act.

Make no mistake: Allowing taxes to go up on all Americans would have raised taxes by $3,000 for a typical American family. And that could cost our economy well over a million jobs.

At the same time, I’m not about to add $700 billion to our deficit by allowing a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. And I won’t allow any extension of these tax cuts for the wealthy, even a temporary one, without also extending unemployment insurance for Americans who’ve lost their jobs or additional tax cuts for working families and small businesses -- because if Republicans truly believe we shouldn’t raise taxes on anyone while our economy is still recovering from the recession, then surely we shouldn’t cut taxes for wealthy people while letting them rise on parents and students and small businesses.

As a result, we have arrived at a framework for a bipartisan agreement. For the next two years, every American family will keep their tax cuts -- not just the Bush tax cuts, but those that have been put in place over the last couple of years that are helping parents and students and other folks manage their bills.

In exchange for a temporary extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, we will be able to protect key tax cuts for working families -- the Earned Income Tax Credit that helps families climb out of poverty; the Child Tax Credit that makes sure families don’t see their taxes jump up to $1,000 for every child; and the American Opportunity Tax Credit that ensures over 8 million students and their families don’t suddenly see the cost of college shooting up.

These are the tax cuts for some of the folks who’ve been hit hardest by this recession, and it would be simply unacceptable if their taxes went up while everybody else’s stayed the same.

Now, under this agreement, unemployment insurance will also be extended for another 13 months, which will be welcome relief for 2 million Americans who are facing the prospect of having this lifeline yanked away from them right in the middle of the holiday season.

This agreement would also mean a 2 percent employee payroll tax cut for workers next year -- a tax cut that economists across the political spectrum agree is one of the most powerful things we can do to create jobs and boost economic growth.

And we will prevent -- we will provide incentives for businesses to invest and create jobs by allowing them to completely write off their investments next year. This is something identified back in September as a way to help American businesses create jobs. And thanks to this compromise, it’s finally going to get done.

In exchange, the Republicans have asked for more generous treatment of the estate tax than I think is wise or warranted. But we have insisted that that will be temporary.

I have no doubt that everyone will find something in this compromise that they don’t like. In fact, there are things in here that I don’t like -- namely the extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and the wealthiest estates. But these tax cuts will expire in two years. And I’m confident that as we make tough choices about bringing our deficit down, as I engage in a conversation with the American people about the hard choices we’re going to have to make to secure our future and our children’s future and our grandchildren’s future, it will become apparent that we cannot afford to extend those tax cuts any longer.

As for now, I believe this bipartisan plan is the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do for jobs. It’s the right thing to do for the middle class. It is the right thing to do for business. And it’s the right thing to do for our economy. It offers us an opportunity that we need to seize.

It’s not perfect, but this compromise is an essential step on the road to recovery. It will stop middle-class taxes from going up. It will spur our private sector to create millions of new jobs, and add momentum that our economy badly needs.

Building on that momentum is what I’m focused on. It’s what members of Congress should be focused on. And I'm looking forward to working with members of both parties in the coming days to see to it that we get this done before everyone leaves town for the holiday season. We cannot allow this moment to pass.

And let me just end with this. There’s been a lot of debate in Washington about how this would ultimately get resolved. I just want everybody to remember over the course of the coming days, both Democrats and Republicans, that these are not abstract fights for the families that are impacted. Two million people will lose their unemployment insurance at the end of this month if we don't get this resolved. Millions more of Americans will see their taxes go up at a time when they can least afford it. And my singular focus over the next year is going to be on how do we continue the momentum of the recovery, how do we make sure that we grow this economy and we create more jobs.

We cannot play politics at a time when the American people are looking for us to solve problems. And so I look forward to engaging the House and the Senate, members of both parties, as well as the media, in this debate. But I am confident that this needs to get done, and I'm confident ultimately Congress is going to do the right thing.

Thank you very much, everybody.

12-07-2010, 01:31 PM
Andrew Sullivan, a Conservative, is one of those pundits that I sometimes agree with and sometimes don't. When you really think about it though, there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't have to mean that people who don't always share your views, are bad people, just means they don't share your views. Pretty simply, eh? (exceptions withstanding of course)


This article was a pretty decent one. His analogy comparing the President to the Road Runner is cute and funny and anytime someone calls McConnell a sucker...it works for me:cool:....beep! beep!

The Atlantic Home
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Obama: President; McConnell: Sucker

07 Dec 2010 10:56 am

It's been fascinating to watch the left's emotional roller-coaster these past few weeks. It's also been fascinating to watch Obama out-run them, and to observe their responses to the final deal in the last 24 hours. Krugman has gone from "Let's Not Make A Deal" to "better than what I expected." The response from the far-right has also been illuminating. Drudge rushed to declare Obama's payroll tax cut as a Republican idea. Hinderaker below insists "Obama has admitted that the Republicans were right all along." Notice something about all of this? They all now realize that Obama has been a little shrewder than they took him to be.

Entire Article here (with video:)) (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/12/obama-president-mcconnell-sucker.html)

12-07-2010, 08:26 PM
Oh dear
I have nothing to say but just saw the view count and could not let it stand at 666....LOL

12-08-2010, 08:54 PM
66% of Americans like the tax cut deal, great news.

Bad news, the Democratic Congress is threatening to blow the deal up....that means

Hundreds of thousands (and then some) will not get that extra helping hand for Christmas with the Unemployment extension, could possibly loose their homes, get deeper in debt....

there will not be an extra, much needed stimulus for the economy

middle class taxes will go up

it could also jeopardize the repeal of DADT and the START agreement

the Republicans can sit back, smile and say, dayum, that was easy and we didn't have to lift a finger....but hey, 34% of the country will be happy and the national deficit will see a major downward turn....oh wait, no it won't.

stay tuned

Americans Support Two Major Elements of Tax Compromise (http://www.gallup.com/poll/145109/Americans-Support-Major-Elements-Tax-Compromise.aspx)
Liberal vs. conservative/moderate Democrats disagree on extending tax cuts for all
by Lydia Saad

PRINCETON, NJ -- Two major elements included in the tax agreement reached Monday between President Barack Obama and Republican leaders in Congress meet with broad public support. Two-thirds of Americans (66%) favor extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for all Americans for two years, and an identical number support extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.


12-08-2010, 09:17 PM
Fact Sheet on the Framework Agreement on Middle Class Tax Cuts and Unemployment Insurance

The framework agreement announced by the President secures vital tax relief and investments in our workers that will create jobs and accelerate economic growth. The plan has three key accomplishments:

* Working families will not lose their tax cut. A typical working family faced a tax increase of over $3,000 on January 1st. That’s avoided under this framework agreement, and working families won’t see their tax cuts go away next year.
* Focused on high impact job creation measures. The framework agreement includes some of the best measures for jumpstarting growth and job creation, including a full year of emergency unemployment insurance benefits, an about $120 billion payroll tax cut for working families and a continuation of tax credits for working families. This is on top of growth generated by extension of the middle-class income tax rates.
* Does not worsen the medium- and long-term deficit. These are responsible, temporary measures to support our economy that will not add costs by the middle of the decade. The President does not believe it is affordable to make the high-income tax cuts permanent and will continue to have that debate in the years ahead.

Overview of the Framework Agreement:

* Extending the 2001/2003 Income-Tax Rates for Two Years. The framework agreement includes a mutually agreed upon solution to the impasse over taxes by extending the 2001/2003 income tax rates for two years and reforming the AMT to ensure that an additional 21 million households will not be hit with a tax increase. These measures will provide relief to more than 100 million middle-class families and prevent a tax increase of over $2,000 for the typical family.
* Additional Provisions Designed to Promote Vigorous Economic Growth. In addition to the 2001/2003 rates, the Administration secured several provisions that are vital for our economy’s growth, which would not have been possible without this framework agreement: $56 billion in unemployment insurance, an about $120 billion payroll tax cut for working families, about $40 billion in tax cuts for our hardest hit families and students; and 100% expensing for businesses next year.


The framework agreement reached by the administration includes an about 2%, employee-side payroll tax cut for over 155 million workers – providing tax relief of about $120 billion next year. This tax cut will have a major impact on jobs and growth – creating substantial numbers of jobs. It is widely recognized by economists across the political spectrum as a high bang for the buck way to boost growth and was cited by both major deficit reduction commissions as consistent with long term fiscal discipline.

A payroll tax cut has been endorsed by experts and commentators from across the political spectrum. Just last month, both the President’s Fiscal Commission and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force described a payroll tax cut in 2011 as an effective way to spur growth and job creation. The tax cut legislation would provide for a transfer of General Revenues to the Social Security Trust Fund, ensuring no negative impact on Social Security solvency. And, as economist Nouriel Roubini wrote earlier this year, a payroll tax cut would spur growth because “for employees, the increased take-home pay would boost much-needed economic consumption and advance the still-crucial process of deleveraging households.”


Economic studies consistently find that lower-income households are the most likely to spend additional money, creating jobs and helping overall growth. That’s why the Congressional Budget Office, for instance, has concluded that “policies aimed at lower-income households tend to have greater stimulative effects.” The President fought to secure a two-year increase of the full Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. These provisions will, together, provide ongoing tax cuts to 12 million lower income families, with a total of 24 million children. In addition, the deal fully extends the American Opportunity Tax Credit for two years.
Lower-Income Working Families Benefited by Expansions in EITC and CTC
Families Children
Total 12.2 24.3
White 5.6 9.8
Hispanic 3.7 8.0
African American 2.2 4.7
Other 0.7 1.7

Illustrative Family: A working family with three children making $20,000 will continue to receive a tax cut of more than $2,000 as a result of the EITC and Child Tax Credit expansions in this framework agreement. The same family would receive an additional $400 tax cut from the new payroll tax cut.

* Child Tax Credit: The $1,000 child tax credit will be extended for two years with the $3,000 refundability threshold established in the Recovery Act. This extension will ensure an ongoing tax cut to 10.5 million lower income families with 18 million children.
* Earned Income Tax Credit: The Recovery Act included an expansion of the EITC worth, on average, $600 in additional assistance to families with 3 or more children. It also helped working married families by reducing the marriage penalty in the EITC. Continuing this tax cut for two years will benefit 6.5 million working parents with 15 million children.
* American Opportunity Tax Credit: The Recovery Act included a new, partially refundable tax credit of up to $2,500 to help students and their families cover the cost of college tuition. This deal fully extends AOTC for two years, ensuring that more than 8 million students will continue to receive this tax benefit to help them afford college.


The framework agreement extended unemployment benefits at their current level for 13 months, through the end of 2011. This will save millions of Americans searching for work from losing their unemployment benefits in the coming months and will help create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

* In December alone, 2 million workers who would have lost benefits will continue to receive them because of this framework agreement. Over the next year, 7 million workers will no longer need to worry that their unemployment benefits could be eliminated as they search for jobs.
* According to the Council of Economic Advisers, passing this provision will create 600,000 jobs in 2011 alone.


In September, the President called for temporarily allowing businesses to expense all of their investments in 2011. This growth-oriented tax cut was included in the framework agreement.

* According to the Treasury Department, complete expensing could generate more than $50 billion in additional investment in the U.S. in 2011.
* The provision will provide a crucial incentive to 2 million businesses to invest and create jobs in the U.S and would be the largest temporary investment incentive in American history.
* The framework agreement also includes a 2-year extension of the R&D tax credit and other tax incentives to support business expansion.

12-08-2010, 10:19 PM
Cliff Notes:

Short and sweet understanding of what has gone down so far.

On Saturday, (Dec 4) two votes were taken in the Senate

1. extend tax cuts for households earning less than extend individual tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000 per year
2. extend tax cuts for households earning less than $1 million,

Both of these bills were defeated….Dems cast 53 votes and in the Senate there are archaic or, as some call them, dumb rules that say you need 60 votes to pass any legislation of consequence

As of right now there are (technically) 60 Dem votes that could have passed these bills which would have extended (and possibly permanently extended) tax cuts for the middle class

I say technically because, Bernie Sanders is actually a Socialist that caucuses (votes) with the Dems

And no one but Joe Lieberman knows, what Joe Lieberman is but he does caucus (votes) with the Dems as a general rule with exceptions

That means there were 7 Democratic Senators that decided the middle class should not get their tax cuts extended or receive a permanent tax cut

Please Note the House does not have the same rule in the House and both these measures passed with a large majority in the House

Ironically, the president has been lobbying the Senate for months to take this vote because you see, the House has passed close to 400 bills of consequence that the Senate has been sitting on doing nothing about. In January, these bills become a moot point.

Anyhoo, the Senate waited to the last minute to vote and didn’t follow through and now we have to deal.

Three Branches of Government


Each have their function….if the legislative branch screws up, the President has to clean up their mess the best way he can and in the best overall interest of the American people.

Welcome to the world of USA Government 101

I typed this as an afterthought from memory. I didn't do my due diligence in research to make sure this is 100% correct, please feel free to correct any error you may find.

12-08-2010, 11:54 PM
Oh My!

Didn't get a chance to watch the President's press conference earlier but it was a doozy.

For several weeks I have been monitoring Democratic political sites. I HAVE NEVER in my life seen so much hate and vitriol towards a president. I heard things that were NEVER said about Bush Jr. and he has gone down in history (so far) as the worst president ever. Too much of what I heard was racist in nature and let me remind you, I was reading DEMOCRATIC BLOGS!!!!

People wanted to see a man with "a spine" well today that got one and it wasn't pretty to the Dems. Of course it's human nature for many people not to like hearing truth to power, but today, that's what they got. So here is the link to the video...oopsies...LOL

President Obama Finally Gets Pissed And Lets Them Have It “I Couldn’t Go Through The Front Door When This Country Was Founded!”

12-09-2010, 04:38 AM
Visuals are great tools so I thought I'd post this. Please keep in mind these are estimates.

Note the balls in the picture below. All the blue balls represent everything the Middle Class (98% of Americans) will walk away with from this proposed deal.

The little red ball represents what the Republicans/Rich (2%) will receive from the deal.

There is no official cost estimate for the compromise proposal. These numbers are ballpark estimates based on analysis of similar proposals.

Below is a more detailed breakdown:

Bush tax cuts: $458 billion. The package would extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone for two years, including two years of relief for the middle class from the Alternative Minimum Tax. The estimated cost would be $458 billion, according to earlier numbers from the Treasury Department.

The bulk of that cost -- $383 billion -- is for the extension of cuts for families making less than $250,000. The rest -- roughly $75 billion -- is attributable to the extension of cuts that apply to the highest income families.
The cost of extending all the tax cuts over 10 years would have been $3.7 trillion.

Unemployment benefits: $56 billion. The package would also leave in place for 13 months the option to file for extended federal unemployment benefits -- which go as high as 99 weeks in states hit hardest by job loss. The White House estimates it would cost $56 billion.

Social Security tax break: $120 billion. The package would also offer workers a payroll tax holiday worth 2 percentage points next year, so that instead of paying 6.2% on their first $106,800 of wages, they will only have to pay 4.2%. The White House estimates the measure would cost $120 billion.
Individual tax credits: $40 billion. The compromise framework would also extend for two years the increased value of a number of tax credits that benefit low- and middle-income tax filers, such as the earned income tax credit, the child credit and a revamped tax credit for college costs. The measure would cost $40 billion, the administration said.

Business tax breaks: Cost unclear. It is still not clear how many business tax breaks are in the package. Some, like an extension of the research and development credit, has drawn bipartisan support and is typically renewed annually. But also included is a new temporary option for businesses to write off 100% of their expenses in 2011. A cost estimate was not immediately available.

12-09-2010, 09:55 AM
The People’s View
Informed Citizenry: Progressive Analysis, Commentary and Rants (http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2010/12/president-obama-strikes-back-his-line.html)

I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.

~Barack Obama

Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I haven’t gotten it done yet, I’m still trying to do it.

~Barack Obama

Q. Where is your line in the sand?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, I’ve got a whole bunch of lines in the sand. Not making the tax cuts for the wealthy permanent -- that was a line in the sand. Making sure that the things that most impact middle-class families and low-income families, that those were preserved -- that was a line in the sand. I would not have agreed to a deal, which, by the way, some in Congress were talking about, of just a two-year extension on the Bush tax cuts and one year of unemployment insurance, but meanwhile all the other provisions, the Earned Income Tax Credit or other important breaks for middle-class families like the college tax credit, that those had gone away just because they had Obama’s name attached to them instead of Bush’s name attached to them.

So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for for a hundred years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.

Now, if that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let’s face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of preexisting conditions or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.

That can’t be the measure of how we think about our public service. That can’t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat. This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people. The New York Times editorial page does not permeate across all of America. Neither does The Wall Street Journal editorial page. Most Americans, they’re just trying to figure out how to go about their lives and how can we make sure that our elected officials are looking out for us. And that means because it’s a big, diverse country and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done, we’re going to compromise. This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify. And yet now it is something that really helps a lot of people. When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew.

Under the criteria that you just set out, each of those were betrayals of some abstract ideal. This country was founded on compromise. I couldn’t go through the front door at this country’s founding. And if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn’t have a union.

So my job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there. What is helping the American people live out their lives? What is giving them more opportunity? What is growing the economy? What is making us more competitive? And at any given juncture, there are going to be times where my preferred option, what I am absolutely positive is right, I can’t get done.

And so then my question is, does it make sense for me to tack a little bit this way or tack a little bit that way, because I’m keeping my eye on the long term and the long fight -- not my day-to-day news cycle, but where am I going over the long term?

And I don’t think there’s a single Democrat out there, who if they looked at where we started when I came into office and look at where we are now, would say that somehow we have not moved in the direction that I promised.

Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I haven’t gotten it done yet, I’m still trying to do it.

And so the -- to my Democratic friends, what I’d suggest is, let’s make sure that we understand this is a long game. This is not a short game. And to my Republican friends, I would suggest -- I think this is a good agreement, because I know that they’re swallowing some things that they don’t like as well, and I’m looking forward to seeing them on the field of competition over the next two years.

12-09-2010, 09:58 AM
Questions we should ask ourselves...

How do you get to pass a law that will allow 2 million people get unemployment Benefit?

How do you get to pass a law that will allow folks keep on the average $3,000 to 95% of Americans.

How do you get to pass a law that gives students and families up to $2,500 in tax savings to help pay for college tuition and other expenses?

How do you get to pass the Earned Income Tax Credit that increases the credit for families with three or more children, bringing the maximum amount to $5,657?

How do you get to pass the Child Tax Credit that helps low-and moderate-income families with children which reduces the minimum amount of earned income used to calculate the additional child tax credit to $3,000 from $12,550?

How do you get to pass COBRA and Unemployment Benefits for those who lost their jobs in the recession, to help them get back on their feet, providing a 65 percent tax credit to help cover the cost of health care and making the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits tax-free, when normally 100 percent of those benefits are taxable?

Well, this is what the compromise will do and honestly it is a deal that is good for America while it has a steep price, a price worth paying to ensure the millions of Americans who are struggling to keep their families afloat are not Abandoned.

12-09-2010, 07:44 PM
Need to make a correction to something I stated up thread.

There are 57 Democratic Senators with Sanders and Lieberman bringing the Dem caucus vote tally to 59. That leaves Dems 1 vote short of passing legislation of consequence.

This came to my attention after reading the procedural vote to the National Defense Authorization Act , which included DADT, was defeated in the Senate, 57 to 40.

Something is bugging me on this though (besides the obvious)
One Dem Senator apparently voted no (Joseph Manchin - D-W.Va.)
but one lone Republican voted yes (Susan Collins R-Maine)

There still seem to be 2 missing Dem votes I can't account for. I'll keep reading but in the meantime, the next step is to try to put up DADT as a stand alone bill.

Something of note:
The National Defense Authorization Act is an annual bill that has been enacted "each of the past 48 years", this is a glaring exception.

12-09-2010, 08:14 PM
The more I think about the rules of the Senate the more attention they need to receive to understand what we're up against.

Procedural votes in the Senate, are taken on all major pieces of legislation. You need 60 votes to get a yes and advance that legislation to the next step. The next step, you only need a simple majority to pass the bill.

President Obama could yell, scream, twist arms and bash heads all day, every day and would still only have 59 votes. That's fact. Which means, you need Republican votes. Usually more than one since Blue Dog Dems will throw you under the bus in a heart beat.

If memory serves, the health care bill had 3 Republican votes during the procedural phase which is how it was able to advance, get a simple majority, and pass, even though all Republicans voted no, during the final phase.

These are just one of many things that need to be thought about and considered, when trying to understand the "sausage making" process of getting a bill passed, and to the President's desk.

12-09-2010, 09:00 PM
A bill to grant legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant students passed the House of Representatives late Wednesday, giving President Obama an unexpected although largely symbolic victory in the final days of Democratic control of Congress on an issue he has called a top priority.

The bill, known as the Dream Act, passed the House by a vote of 216 to 198. But a vote in the Senate on opening debate on the bill was scheduled for Thursday, and the measure seemed likely to fail there.
Still, Democratic leaders celebrated the House vote, which gave them a triumph in the final days of the Congressional session before they yield the majority next year to Republicans. It also gave them something to show Hispanic voters, who strongly support the measure and could play a pivotal role in the 2012 presidential election.

Nice symbolic victory that doesn’t mean much to the people the bill was designed to help. However, note the last sentence.

With only a few more days left in the 111th Congressional Congress, the chances of this bill being considered in the Senate are slim to none, with an emphasis on none.

It makes a great talking point for elections among Hispanic voters though.

How many times has the President said to Congress, (and I paraphrase) help people now and worry about the “politics of elections later? Rhetorical question but I’ll answer anyway, since the day he walked into the WH.

Related/Unrelated blind item:

OFA (Organizing for America) is always looking for volunteers. It is the grassroots organization that supports President Obama's agenda for change. You want change, you have to do more than vote and critique.

In other news, I broke my fingernail to day; it’s President Obama's fault!

12-10-2010, 04:12 AM
Let’s Break for San -ity –Clause - Hahaha hohoho
(that one was for you SophisticatedSoul);)

Happy Holidays SDF!!

The Obama family at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, with special guest, B.B. King


Click to watch: Slide Show and Video (http://blackwaterdog.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/something-fot-the-soul/)

12-10-2010, 04:58 AM
Something to think about

I stated earlier, President Obama had been lobbying the Senate to take the tax cut vote for weeks, months actually. Although there were only 59 votes if all the Democratic members (plus Sanders and Lieberman) caucus together , you may ask yourself, what difference would it have made? Dems still would not have had the 60 votes to take the bill to the next level.

True but....consider this.

If this vote had been taken prior to the midterms, two likely scenarios would have occurred. Republicans would have been forced to vote yes or they would have voted no......If they had voted yes, yeah for Democrats because they would have been in a better position to keep more seats in the election. They could have done this by looking like the good guys for not raising taxes on the middle class, extending UI, benefits and getting rid of the tax cuts for the 2% crowd.

If the Republicans had voted against the bill, Republicans would have been going into an election trying to explain why they like the rich more than the middle class and poor, why they raised taxes on the middle class and, why they refused to extend UI benefits for millions of Americans. The extra bonus, it would have placed the President in a much better position to make a better deal.

The Senate showed no nerve or imagination. For whatever reason they steadfast refused to take this vote prior to the midterms.

Isn't it interesting, no one has focused on the Senate and why they didn't take this vote when they had a much better strategic advantage?

Something to think about

12-10-2010, 05:14 AM
A reminder of how this went down on Saturday Dec 4, 2010 (a month after the elections)

Democrats are seizing to paint the GOP as guardians of the rich.

Wouldn't it have made more sense to, "seize" and "paint" prior to the midterms?????

Senate Republicans on Saturday (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/12/04/senate-dems-seeking-weaken-gop-force-doomed-vote-tax-cut-plans/) voted against President Obama's plan to extend the Bush tax cuts to only the middle class in a pair of votes Democrats are seizing to paint the GOP as guardians of the rich.

The Senate voted 53-36 to extend all expiring tax cuts on individuals with incomes of less than $200,000 a year and married couples making less than $250,000 -- seven shy of the required 60 to advance.

The other proposal, which drew opposition from White House officials, would have renewed them for all tax filers with incomes of $1 million or less. That also failed in a 53-36 vote.

12-10-2010, 10:46 AM
Based on the way the media is framing the vote the House took the other day, you might believe it was a big fact rejection of the proposed plan, a way of standing up for the little guy.....well not quite, the resolution was nothing more than smoke and mirrors, or as the editorial below states, "political theater."

House Dems Put on Quite a Show Against Tax Deal – But That’s All It Is

On December 9, 2010, at 9:58 pm, In Politics-House, By Leanne

If you’ve been listening to the media coverage of today’s angry demonstration by the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives, you could be forgiven for believing that the Dems had killed the deal by voting against an actual bill. Judging by many of the headlines the media is using to describe their action – of which the Boston Globe‘s House Dems reject Obama’s tax plan was representative – they were probably aiming to create exactly that misperception.

But the fact is that today’s “rejection” of the Obama tax deal framework was nothing more than a non-binding resolution, a symbolic gesture that could rightly be considered a dramatized sternly worded letter. It has no concrete effect and no official impact on any legislation. Sure, it stated that Speaker Nancy Pelosi should not allow the bill based on the deal to come to the floor unless changes are made to it, but these people aren’t fools. They know damned well that any changes they make that cut back the estate tax proposal or try to monkey with the Bush tax cut extension for the rich will never make it through the Senate. They know this because every liberal bill they’ve passed has been systematically killed or weakened in the other house for two whole years.

Click for full editorial (http://bluewavenews.com/blog/category/politics-house/)

12-10-2010, 03:22 PM
Chatter, chatter, chatter::confused:

What I find interesting and amusing about all the hoopla the press conference brought, is the way people processed it all.

President Obama had been lobbying for the Senate to take the tax cut vote for months, they didn't. When they finally decided to take the vote, the Dems received 53 votes. (several no votes as a result of individual principles)

When I listened to his response to the reporter, I heard frustration at the Senate, the legislative body that brought us to where we are now.

Not saying he's not frustrated with many Dems; politicians and voters, but I think the ones that have caused him the most headaches at this point would be the ones in the Senate.

The other voices???? (voters, bloggers, media, etc.)

I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.

~Barack Obama

I'd really be interested in hearing if anyone on SDF heard things differently, took it personally, and why.

12-10-2010, 08:05 PM
Great editorial and love the new word..."frustrati" LOL

I have to agree the Congressional House drama does seem pretty pointless and contrived. Irony is, the House should be proud of their record in the 111th. They actually accomplished things. Unfortunately the Senate threw a lot of their accomplishments under the bus but Pelosi did her job.

House Dems now like the Frustrati? (http://bluewavenews.com/blog/category/politics-house/)

On December 10, 2010, at 4:30 pm, In Policy, Politics-House, Politics-White House, By FleetAdmiralJ

There may be a very simple reason why the House Democrats are suddenly sounding more and more like netroots, or as some here like to describe them, the frustrati: just like many liberal blog writers, the House Democrats are now facing a situation where they’ll have no power and can afford to scream and yell about how things should be, without having any power or responsibility to actually get those things done.

This is one of the things that has gotten me aggravated about the actions of the House Democrats who are opposed to the tax deal right now: they are demanding that the tax compromise be defeated and have the battle move into the next Congress, where, conveniently enough, House Democrats will be in the minority, thus they’ll have exactly no power or responsibility to either create or pass legislation. It is almost literally “we don’t want this, but we won’t take and don’t have any responsibility for actually getting anything better passed.”

And then there is this from the Hill this morning: (http://thehill.com/homenews/house/133039-dems-show-signs-of-abandoning-obama-after-frustration-with-tax-deal)

Incensed over President Obama’s tax compromise, House Democratic leaders are showing signs of abandoning the administration and going their own way on critical issues such as national security.

That article is quite a read in it’s own right about chaos caused by the Appropriations bill slipping in a provision to prevent Obama from closing Guantanamo Bay, but I just wanted to make a point. So the House Democrats are threatening to “go their own way” over the next couple of years? The thing I have to say to that is this: Big deal! As I mentioned above, they won’t control committees. They won’t control the agenda. Minority rights in the House are non-existent beyond using the motion to recommit. The House Democrats couldn’t work with Obama even if they wanted to. But now they’re threatening to go their own way. I find that threat to be less than empty. Or maybe someone just yell “f*** the President” during the State of the Union this year.

Perhaps if the House had done things like passing middle class tax cuts before the election or even last year when they had the power and leverage to do so, they may not be in this position now.

12-11-2010, 03:57 PM
MS M good to see you back in full force! How did you feel about Clinton at the press conference? By the way I appreciate the graphs and all of the information you have been supplying us with.

12-11-2010, 04:45 PM
Thanks Stephanie, glad you're enjoying the reading material.

I actually have mixed feelings about Clinton and the press conference.
I have to admit though, my opinion could be tainted by the fact I don't
care much for him.

We shall see how this all plays out in the end.

A divided Democratic Party could give our country a President Palin. We should never forget that.

12-11-2010, 05:40 PM
I don't really think she has a chance. After all, the four candidates she really supported in the last election lost. But, I could be wrong. And this is one time I'd really hate to be so.

12-11-2010, 06:30 PM
I'd like to think you're right MS but we live in a country that kept Bush Jr. in office for 8 years. It's not easy trying to second guess voters in this country.

The statement isn't so much about Palin becoming president, but more about someone like her ending up in the WH. You would think the possibility of something like that happening, would be causing more concern and less negative noise from the left.

A lot could happen over the next year or so. Will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

12-11-2010, 06:49 PM
I know, I know. Hopefully what Joe Scarborough said on his show Friday will prove to be true and continue. He said Obama is finally acting like a president.

12-11-2010, 08:01 PM
That’s cute. I’m sure the comment was Scarborough’s attempt at humor and a backhanded compliment. I disagree, although I usually disagree with Scarborough. Ronald Reagan, "acted" like a president.

Barack H. Obama is the President and has been since January 20, 2009.;)

12-11-2010, 09:44 PM
One of the benefits of the proposed deal:

EDITORIAL: Tax holiday coming?
It’s a direct gift for most workers
Published: Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 05:01AM

One of the most interesting parts of the tax deal that President Obama and Republican leaders worked out this week would provide a one-year “holiday” from part of the Social Security payroll tax.

Something along this line has been advocated by a variety of tax experts. The Social Security tax takes 6.2 percent of a worker’s paycheck and an equal amount from his or her employer, for 12.4 percent in total. This money provides the funding for current Social Security benefits.

The Obama-GOP package would relieve workers of two percentage points of this obligation for the coming year. This would provide a $1,000 reduction to a worker earning $50,000. Those at the top of the Social Security tax scale, with incomes of $106,800 annually, would save $2,136. The employer’s 6.2 percent rate would not be changed.

Many wage earners today pay more for this tax than they do in federal income taxes. The Social Security payroll tax is the one inescapable tax for almost everyone; no deductions or exemptions apply.

Thus, for millions of payers a Social Security tax holiday will be more meaningful than the income tax cuts that formed the core of the recent debate. This holiday will provide real money, coming in with every paycheck. And those dollars will be likely to go out just as quickly as they came in, providing a substantial stimulus for the national economy.

The Bowles-Simpson deficit commission has recommended a payroll tax break. And the separate bipartisan deficit study group led by former Sen. Pete Domenici and former Congressional Budget Director Alice Rivlin proposed a one-year payroll tax holiday for the full employee contribution. The Domenici-Rivlin proposal would cost an estimated $650 billion. The Obama proposal is said to cost $112 billion.

Some payroll industry executives are complaining they can’t get the appropriate forms ready for use by the start of next year. But adjustments can surely be made for mechanical problems.

A larger problem may be presented by the fact that some 600,000 federal employees don’t pay any Social Security tax. Instead they pay 7 percent of wages into a civil service pension plan. So they would get no benefit from the tax holiday.
Something equitable will have to be worked out for them.

12-11-2010, 09:54 PM
Interesting article on the safety of Social Security (http://www.udel.edu/PR/UDaily/2008/may/retirement051108.html)

Seidman told a capacity crowd that when he asks his students if they believe that Social Security benefits won't be there when they retire, more than half raise their hands.

This is a misconception, he said. “We have a serious problem in Social Security, but we don't have a crisis; we don't have a collapse on the horizon.” The system needs fixing, and there are various ways to do it, but it will not go broke, he said.


12-12-2010, 09:12 AM
Haven’t been to the site below for awhile. The Pulitzer Prize winning site is both fair and accurate with excellent links to validate their conclusions. (although many of the conclusions could probably be interpreted differently by some, including me)

PolitiFact.com (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/)

Statement below is worth considering when evaluating the current tax deal as well as the overall actions of the President since stepping into the Oval Office.

One important point about Obama's tax compromise is that it was made in a world different from the one anticipated when he was making promises during the campaign. Obama's economic promises anticipated a mild downturn, not a major economic crisis. But this week's compromise was crafted after unemployment numbers edged up to an unexpected 9.8 percent.

Contenders for biggest lie of the year, the President didn’t make the list.
The winner will be named on December 16, 2010.
I’m pulling for Rep. Michele Bachman, R- Minn. What’s your fave?

Which of these was the biggest lie of 2010?

"The president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day." -- Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

ObamaCare is a "government takeover" of health care. -- Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio; Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla.; the Republican Party of Florida; Wisconsin Lt. Gov.-elect Rebecca Kleefisch; and others

"Taliban Dan" Webster thinks wives should submit to their husbands. -- Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla.

"The stimulus has not created one private sector job." -- Gov.-elect Rick Scott, R-Fla., and others

"Ninety-four percent of small businesses will face higher taxes under the Democrats' plan." -- Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, and others

"Phoenix is the No. 2 kidnapping capital of the world." -- Rep. John McCain, R-Ariz., and others

The ethics report "exonerates me." -- Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.

Republicans want to dismantle or privatize Social Security. -- Florida Democratic Party and other Democratic candidates

The Pants on Fire section is very informative. It’s reserved for what could be called, the really big lies.

I checked all 7 pages and found the President on the list 3 times but only once as President. The other statements were made during the campaign and one of those was a campaign ad. The 3 can be found below.

1. "If you actually took the number of Muslims [sic] Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world."
Monday, June 1st, 2009 in interview with Canal Plus Television

2. "And 100 percent, John, of your ads . . . 100 percent of them have been negative."
Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 in a debate in Hempstead, N.Y.

3. Obama ad contends that John McCain endorses Rush Limbaugh's comments about immigration.
Thursday, September 18th, 2008 in a video ad.

Pants On Fire Section (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/rulings/pants-fire/?page=1)

Pundits Section is definitely worth a read. You may even find a few surprises.

12-12-2010, 09:39 AM
With a Republican majority in the house starting in January, you will being seeing more of these types of votes in the next few years.

Plan to Aid 9/11 Victims Is Rejected in House

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Thursday blocked a Democratic plan to provide billions of dollars for medical treatment to rescue workers and residents of New York City who suffered illnesses from the toxic dust and debris at ground zero.

12-12-2010, 10:20 AM
Pete Souza, the Official WH Photographer, takes amazing shots of the President, First Family and Bo.


Check out a few of the links below to see his work.


http://www.petesouza.com/gallery.html?gallery=The%20Rise%20of%20Barack%20Ob ama


12-12-2010, 11:55 AM
I’ve been reluctant to add this next piece of info because I wasn’t sure if it was relevant to the thread. But it is political as well as music related so I decided I would post it.

I was having a discussion recently about Louis Armstrong versus Duke Ellington. I’m in the Ellington camp as far as musical genius goes. However after reading the article below, I walked away with a new found respect for Mr. Armstrong. Wasn’t aware of this golden nugget of history but I’m glad my friend turned me on to it.
Just goes to show, things are not always what they seem.

The Day Louis Armstrong Made Noise (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/opinion/23margolick.html)

12-12-2010, 05:08 PM
Charles Krauthammer is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist and political commentator. He has a column in The Washington Post and is syndicated in more than 200 newspapers and media outlets. He is a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and The New Republic and is a Fox News contributor, a regular panelist on Fox’s evening news program Special Report with Bret Baier and a weekly panelist on Inside Washington.

To say Krauthammer is firmly in the Republican camp would be redundant, but what amuses me is the article below.

Swindle of the year

House Democrats seek changes to tax-cut deal
The House Democratic Caucus has voted to change President Barack Obama's tax deal with Republicans from its current form. (Dec. 9)

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, December 10, 2010

Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 - and House Democrats don't have a clue that he did. In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. It will pump a trillion borrowed Chinese dollars into the U.S. economy over the next two years - which just happen to be the two years of the run-up to the next presidential election. This is a defeat?

Full Article Here (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/09/AR2010120904472.html)

Democrats are running around with their hair on fire thinking somehow they were sold down the river while a Republican Pundit, is telling Republicans they were swindled.


You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried!

12-12-2010, 05:15 PM
I guess this Republican didn’t get the Krauthammer memo. Although he's full of it if he thinks taking the 2% crowd back to the Clinton days of a 39% tax rate is a bad idea.
They managed quite well at 39%.

Sen. Alexander: Tax Deal Will Create Jobs

NPR's Melissa Block talks to GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander about the proposed tax plan. The Tennessee Republican says the plan will result in job creation.

GUY RAZ, host:
So, we heard why many Democrats are angry about the tax deal. We move on now to someone who is happy with it.

I'm joined now by Republican supporter of the deal, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. He is the third ranking Republican leader in the Senate. Welcome to the program.

Senator LAMAR ALEXANDER (Republican, Tennessee): Thanks, Melissa.

BLOCK: Senator Alexander, what about this insurrection today by House Democrats? They're saying if this is essentially a take it or leave it deal, we're going to leave it. How does that complicate things on the Senate side?

Sen. ALEXANDER: Well, I wasn't in the Democratic conference. It's a part of an adjustment around here. One of the adjustments is we're moving from a situation where the Democrats have these huge majorities and say we won the election, we'll write the bill, we have the votes - to a situation where the president is trying to act in a bipartisan way by taking some Republican ideas, as well as Democratic. And that just takes a little getting used to.

BLOCK: But one thing that the House Democrats are demanding is flexibility on the estate tax. Do you see any room for negotiation there?

Sen. ALEXANDER: I hope not. I mean, we need to settle the estate tax. This is a compromise that makes a lot of sense. It's 35 percent, $5 million exemption. We think it's fair, and we should pass it.

BLOCK: Let's talk about some of the broad contours of what you like about this bill. How do you justify that a quarter of the tax savings in this deal go to the wealthiest one percent of the population? Help us understand why that's fair.

Sen. ALEXANDER: Well, the goal is to create jobs. And if you raise taxes in the middle of an economic downturn on anybody, especially the job creators, you make it harder to create jobs.

BLOCK: And if you look at the proportions, though, of the top, top sector of earners in this country getting the bulk of the benefits why does that help?

Sen. ALEXANDER: Well, if you're a small business person in Tennessee, what this means is that you won't be paying tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps more, in taxes and you can use that to create a job. It also means that your employees who work there will get a one-third reduction in their payroll tax payments every two weeks. And maybe they'll spend some more money creating more jobs. So it's a combination of policies that all together are focused on jobs.

BLOCK: Would you want, Senator Alexander, the tax cuts on the wealthiest earners extended permanently, not just for the two years that you've agreed to now?

Sen. ALEXANDER: Keep in mind, these aren't tax cuts. These are the tax rates that have been in place for 10 years.

BLOCK: But they're set to expire and they would be extended. And I'm wondering if you would want them to extend permanently.

Sen. ALEXANDER: That means they're set to go up. So they're not cuts, they're tax increases. It's the largest tax increase in history that's automatically set to go up January 1st. I believe that those tax rates ought to stay the same permanently. Our taxes aren't too low, our spending is too high. That's another debate we're going to be having. But right now, our whole goal is to make it easier and cheaper to create private sector jobs. Raising taxes on anybody doesn't do that.

BLOCK: So you would want a permanent extension, then. Curious, then, how that can be justified with the widespread fear about ballooning deficits and the talk about the future that we're leaving for our grandchildren. How do you justify a package of tax cuts that adds $900 billion to the deficit?

Sen. ALEXANDER: You keep calling them tax cuts and I have to respectfully disagree with you. You don't cut taxes when you leave tax rates at the same level they are. This is a big tax increase that will happen January 1st. The debt is the second big problem we have. Jobs is the first, debt is the second.
One way to reduce the deficit is to increase the revenues. And you increase the revenues of the government by growing the economy. So this is one way to help reduce the deficit by getting revenues up. A second way is to reduce spending and the debt commission, with five out of six senators of both parties voting yes, has recommended a very dramatic way that we could move in reducing spending, which I hope we get to and I intend to try to support.

BLOCK: Senator Alexander, thanks for talking with us.

Sen. ALEXANDER: Thank you for your time.

BLOCK: That's Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee.

12-12-2010, 05:17 PM
The Adult In The Room speaks

President Obama tells Democrats to pass tax cut or we will all pay more

President Obama Saturday called on Democratic lawmakers to pass a Republican-backed tax-cut deal, telling them it would keep America's recovery on track.
In his weekly radio address, the President said without the proposal's approval, more than 1 million jobs could be lost nationwide and families would face tax hikes in the new year.
"If Congress doesn't act, tax rates will automatically go up for just about everyone in our country," he said yesterday. "That's unacceptable to me."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2010/12/12/2010-12-12_pass_tax_cut_or_we_will_all_pay_more_bam_tells_ dems.html#ixzz17vD3p41H

12-12-2010, 11:53 PM
Good News to end a Good Nite

President Obama's goal to double US export over the next 5 years begins to look achievable

U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services Highlights
December 10, 2010

Goods and Services Deficit Decreases in October 2010
The Nation's international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $38.7 billion in October from $44.6 billion (revised) in September, as exports increased and imports decreased.


12-12-2010, 11:56 PM
and a bonus

Bailout is making the USA money

Treasury: Financial bailout income at $35 billion
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hhqh7owSR2s8eJrSZ1N_1LDKXRBA?docId=88d0da622 dce44939e13c24125d77357
(AP) – 2 days ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government's heavily criticized $700 billion financial rescue program has earned nearly $35 billion in income over the past two years, according to data obtained by The Associated Press.
The data showed that income from the Troubled Asset Relief Program rose nearly 17 percent through November, compared to where it stood in October. The income was boosted by the government's ongoing sales of Citigroup stock.
The $35 billion estimate will be included in the monthly report on the bailout that is due to be released later Friday. The AP obtained the data in advance.
The new total is up from the nearly $30 billion in income shown in the previous report covering the program's finances through October.

Much of the added income came from the government's sale of Citigroup common stock. The Treasury Department sold off the last of its stake in the giant banking company Tuesday, ending up with a profit of $12 billion on the government's investment of $45 billion.

Smaller amounts came from dividend payments from other banks that received support from the bailout fund, and also from dividends from the support provided to the former financing arm of General Motors.
While income from the bailout has risen, the estimates of its overall final costs have been dropping. Last month, the Congressional Budget Office slashed its estimate of the projected losses from the bailout program to $25 billion, down from an August projection of $66 billion and a March forecast that the program would cost the government $109 billion in losses.

The CBO credited TARP's brighter prospects to continued repurchases of preferred stock by banks that received the bailout funds, a lower estimated cost for assistance to insurance giant American International Group and automakers Chrysler and GM.

TARP, which was developed by the previous Bush administration and passed by Congress at the height of the financial crisis in October 2008, became widely unpopular with the public.
Republicans used voter unhappiness with the bailout and soaring federal budget deficits to pick up six Senate seats in the November elections and take control of the House.

12-13-2010, 10:25 AM
In each of the articles below, all written last Sept, the #1 reason cited by the Senate, for not taking the tax cut votes before the midterms was based on a fear of losing their seats. Many lost their seats anyway...

Senate Democrats give up push for pre-election tax cut vote

September 23, 2010|From Dana Bash and Brianna Keilar, CNN Congressional Correspondents

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders have expressed desire to extend the tax cuts.

Senate Democrats will not vote on extending Bush-era tax cuts for families making less than $250,000 a year before the upcoming congressional elections, the spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed Thursday.

"We will come back in November [after the elections] and stay in session as long as it takes to get this done," said a statement from Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley.
The announcement followed reports by CNN, citing senior Democratic sources, that Senate Democrats would hold off for now on forcing a vote on the measure pushed by President Obama.

No tax cut vote before election: Democrat

(Reuters) - The Senate will not vote on renewing Bush-era tax cuts before the November 2 elections, a spokesman for the Majority leader said on Thursday, as Democrats face internal divisions and potential Republican obstacles.
Democrats faced a potential Republican filibuster of their plan plus unease among some Democratic lawmakers who worry that voting on extending tax cuts enacted under former President George Bush could hurt re-election chances. Democrats are expected to lose seats, and perhaps even control of at least one chamber of Congress.

Dems put off votes to extend Bush tax cuts until after elections

By Alexander Bolton and Russell Berman - 09/23/10 05:49 PM ET

Similar divisions have roiled Democrats in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) split over voting on the tax rates before the election, according to Democratic aides.
Hoyer on Thursday reiterated his position that the House should wait to see what the Senate would do, and that delaying a vote would not hurt his party’s chances in November.

“We don’t need to have a vote to let the American public know where we stand,” Hoyer said.

12-13-2010, 10:34 AM
372 Bills passed in the House still waiting on the Senate
From Open Congress

In theory, the Senate is supposed to slow the legislative process down sometimes. It was intended to be the more deliberative chamber, preventing the potentially impulsive House from doing anything too rash. Therefore, one might reasonably expect some bills to get past the House but not the Senate, and consider them indicators that the Senate is doing its job.

However, the bills the Senate holds up probably ought to be the controversial ones — the ones deserving of serious and lengthy debate. The word “controversial” describes few of these 372 bills. 182 of them were passed in the House by voice vote, so there aren’t recorded vote totals for them. Of the other 190:

* 44 were passed with 100% (of those voting) voting in favor,
* another 31 were passed with at least 99% voting in favor,
* another 46 were passed with at least 90% voting in favor, and
* another 53 were passed with at least 60% voting in favor,

leaving only 16 passed with less than 60%. Over 85% of the roll call votes had at least 261 (60% of the House) in favor, meaning they could have passed even if the House shared the Senate rules that allowed for filibusters (necessitating a three-fifths vote for cloture).

On average, the bills have been waiting about 10 months. 242 of the 372 were passed in the House more than six months ago (of which 131 were passed more than a year ago). A couple (H.R.35 and H.R.36) were passed January 7, 2009. Are Senators, as we would hope, spending this time to exchange opinions, consider and reject unneeded bills, and improve other bills before passage? For the most part, no.

For a list of bills passed by the House, but not by the Senate, click Link

Bills have to be passed by both houses in the same congress to become law, so bills not passed by the Senate before the session ends will have to be re-introduced in the 112th Congress. The time the current House spent passing them this time will have been wasted, and they will have to wait months to go through the process again (assuming they are re-introduced at all). The Senate’s leisurely pace arguably has the benefit of slowing government expansion, but, even if one favors small government, is this really how the government should be shrunk — by a Senate too overwhelmed to properly consider what should and shouldn’t be passed? And, if it lacks the time to consider some matters at all, how likely is it that the Senate is giving enough attention to all the bills it does pass?

12-13-2010, 11:01 AM
Why didn’t liberals/progressives get in Saint Russ Feingold’s face when he begged the White House not to allow the vote to come up BEFORE the elections, or Barbara Boxer, or Patti Murray, or Carl Levin?

Were liberals ever in the streets to champion their causes these past two years. folks voted in Nov 2008 then went home expecting one person who has ONLY 1/3 of the power of government to carry everyone’s water right?

These are the same folks who claimed to have preferred his “calm and rational” demeanor, and now that he using said “calm and rational” demeanor to get legislative victories that no other President has won, or obstruction that no President in the last fifty years has had to contend with; now he is not good enough?

AND THEN SHE SAID... (http://blackwaterdog.wordpress.com/)

12-13-2010, 05:47 PM
We are living in a time of grossly distorted fun-house mirror political debates, where the far-right thinks that the president is a Marxist and the far-left thinks that he is a Wall Street sellout. In this over-heated environment, the responsibilities of governing get downgraded as the country gets divided. It is time to start turning the tide.

Obama Finds His Mojo
by John Avlon

“My job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there. What is helping the American people live out their lives? What is giving them more opportunity? What is growing the economy? What is making us more competitive? And at any given juncture, there are going to be times where my preferred option, what I am absolutely positive is right, I can’t get done. And so then my question is, does it make sense for me to tack a little bit this way or tack a little bit that way, because I’m keeping my eye on the long term and the long fight—not my day-to-day news cycle, but where am I going over the long term.”

Full Article Here: (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-12-11/obama-tax-cut-deal-john-avlon-applauds-presidential-act/)

12-13-2010, 07:22 PM

Op-Ed Columnist
Obama’s Very Good Week
By DAVID BROOKS (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/10/opinion/10brooks.html?scp=2&sq=david%20brooks&st=cse)
Published: December 9, 2010

Over the past week we’ve seen the big differences between cluster liberals and network liberals. Cluster liberals (like cluster conservatives) view politics as a battle between implacable opponents. As a result, they believe victory is achieved through maximum unity. Psychologically, they tend to value loyalty and solidarity. They tend to angle toward situations in which philosophical lines are clearly drawn and partisan might can be bluntly applied.

Network liberals share the same goals and emerge from the same movement. But they tend to believe — the nation being as diverse as it is and the Constitution saying what it does — that politics is a complex jockeying of ideas and interests. They believe progress is achieved by leaders savvy enough to build coalitions. Psychologically, network liberals are comfortable with weak ties; they are comfortable building relationships with people they disagree with.

This contrast is not between lefties and moderates. It’s a contrast between different theories of how politics is done. Ted Kennedy was a network liberal, willing to stray from his preferences in negotiation with George W. Bush or John McCain. Most House Democrats, by contrast, are cluster liberals. They come from safe seats, have a poor feel for the wider electorate and work in an institution where politics is a war of all against all.
Barack Obama ran for president as a network liberal, and entranced a Facebook nation. But in office, Obama, like George W. Bush before him, narrowed his networks. To get things done quickly, he governed like a cluster liberal, relying on partisan leaders.

The results were predictable: insularity, alienation and defeat. So now we are headed toward divided government. But there is a whiff of coalition-building in the air. Dick Durbin and Tom Coburn boldly embraced the bipartisan fiscal commission process. Obama opened up a comprehensive set of negotiations with Republican leaders to handle the Bush tax cuts.

The big story of the week is that Obama is returning to first principles, re-establishing himself as a network liberal. This isn’t a move to the center or triangulation. It’s not the Clinton model or the Truman model or any of the other stale categories people are trying to impose on him. It’s standing at one spot in the political universe and trying to build temporarily alliances with people at other spots in the political universe.
You don’t have to abandon your principles to cut a deal. You just have to acknowledge that there are other people in the world and even a president doesn’t get to stamp his foot and have his way.
Cluster liberals in the House and the commentariat are angry. They have no strategy for how Obama could have better played his weak hand — with a coming Republican majority, an expiring tax law and several Democratic senators from red states insisting on extending all the cuts. They just sense the waning of their moment and are howling in protest.

They believe nonliberals are blackmailers or hostage-takers or the concentrated repositories of human evil, so, of course, they see coalition-building as collaboration. They are also convinced that Democrats should never start a negotiation because they will always end up losing in the end. (Perhaps psychologists can explain the interesting combination: intellectual self-confidence alongside a political inferiority complex).

The fact is, Obama and the Democrats have had an excellent week. The White House negotiators did an outstanding job for their side. With little leverage, they got not only the unemployment insurance, but also an Earned Income Tax Credit provision, a college scholarship provision and other Democratic goodies. With little leverage, they got a package that could win grudging praise from big-name liberal groups like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Center for American Progress.

Moreover, Obama has put himself in a position to govern again. The package is popular. According to the most recent Gallup numbers, 67 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats support extending all the tax cuts. Higher numbers support extending the unemployment insurance. Obama is reminding independents why they liked him in the first place.

He only needs to work on two things. He needs to explain his method better than he did in his press conference. It is entirely consistent to support a policy and be willing to move off of it in exchange for a greater good or a necessary accommodation. That’s called real life.

Then he’s got to bring this networking style to the larger issues. It’s easy to cut a deal that explodes deficits. It’s harder to cut one that reduces them. But there are more networks waiting to be built: to reform the tax code; to reduce consumption and expand productivity; to reform entitlements.
Washington doesn’t know how to handle coalition-building anymore; you can see consternation and confusion all around.

But did anybody think changing the tone was going to be easy?


12-13-2010, 07:58 PM
Ms M.

I don't get the chance to visit here anymore, but I just wanted to thank you for putting out some very important information, that seems to somehow get overlooked by people whoses jobs it is to get that information too us.

Many people will still keep their heads buried in the sand & believe what they WANT to believe, like that egg-headed guy who plays for the Orioles. Sadly, for as intelligent & sophisticated as many of our fellow americans believe themselves to be, the intelligent quotient for all too many these days is in retrograde

Thanks for trying to give PROOF, proof which will likely fly over the heads of those who simply prefer to hold on to erroneous beliefs simply because it gives them something to bitch about, as opposed to actually doing something to improve their lot in life.

I'm sure glad that Rosa Parks & so many of my forefathers during the Civil Rights struggle had more fortitude & endurance than some of my generation & that of the younger generation whom have chosen to forgotten WAY too much, WAY too soon.

If our forefathers had this kind of spine, my black behind would still be drinking at "Colored Only" water fountains & sitting at the back of the bus, not because I CHOOSE to (as is my preference), but because I had no other choice.

Thanks again for what you're trying to do. It's appreciated & you're doing a better job of putting out the accomplishments of the Democrats, than the damn Democrats are.

I think that they need to hire you because they've been dropping the ball big-time!

12-13-2010, 09:21 PM
Hi Juice,
Good to see you.

Thanks for the kind words and please know they are very much appreciated. There is so much noise out here these days, it's really difficult to get the facts needed to make informed decisions. I hope this info helps in that regard.

Thanks again and hope all is well with you and yours. If I don't get a chance to say this later, Happy Holidays!

12-13-2010, 09:22 PM
U.S. Senate Advances Extension for Bush-Era Income Tax Cuts


The U.S. Senate advanced President Barack Obama’s $858 billion agreement with Republicans to extend all Bush-era income-tax cuts, setting up a vote on final passage as soon as tomorrow.
The 83-15 vote, with 60 needed, had support from members of both political parties including many Democrats. Senators who frequently disagree on fiscal issues, such as Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voted to advance the bill.

The vote was held open for several hours to allow lawmakers time to return to Washington.
Obama, speaking at the White House during the vote, congratulated the Senate on moving forward, saying the “bill does some very good things” for the economy. He urged the House to act quickly, saying “the nature of compromise” is “sacrificing something that each of us cares about to move forward on what matters to all of us.”

12-13-2010, 09:25 PM
This is a cool and instructive interactive tool. You can click to compare the current, proposed plan versus other options.

After clicking on link below, place your cursor over the different images and play around with it to get the feel of how it works.



12-13-2010, 09:41 PM
A Glimpse into the future of a Republican Controlled House

Incoming GOP Financial Services Chairman: Washington’s Role Is ‘To Serve The Banks’
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL)

During the financial reform debate, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) — who will become chairman of the House Financial Services Committee in the 112th Congress — continually criticized the reform effort. He falsely characterized the legislation that ultimately became the Dodd-Frank financial reform law as creating “permanent bailout authority,” (http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/04/12/bachus-aig/)and he staunchly opposed the creation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Now that he’ll be taking the Financial Services committee gavel, Bachus has telegraphed his intention to weaken some of the bill’s most important sections, including derivatives reform (http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/11/03/bachus-derivatives/)and rules meant to prevent banks from making risky trades with federally insured dollars.

Full Article Here (http://thinkprogress.org/)

12-14-2010, 11:07 AM
Social Security Administration Eliminates Mulligans (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/12/13/101840/61)
by JDWolverton
Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 12:18:40 PM ADT

I saw this (http://www.allvoices.com/s/event-6625297/aHR0cDovL2ZlZWRzLndhc2hpbmd0b25wb3N0LmNvbS9jbGljay 5waGRvP2k9ZjkzYjUxZDIwYjMwYzNmZWNiZjNiZjdkYTFlYTA3 NWU=)last Fall and shrugged it off as important, but not urgent. It's a win for fiscal responsibility. It's not getting much press. It's responsible governance initiated by the Obama administration that is getting very little media play that deserves a closer look.

The (now nixed) strategy (aka interest free loan program) was to take early retirement at age 62, then at ages 66-70, return all the money received over the previous 4-8 years and refile for social security to receive greater benefits benefits available to those who retire at ages 66-70.

The kick was you had to have a spare $100,000-$160,000 or so hanging around to take advantage of this option. It was more than an interest free loan. It was a way to have your cake and eat it too, a concept that only people affluent enough to do the payback could afford. Imagine getting $1,000-$1,600 per month to play the stock market for 8 years, then at the end you only have to return the original funds you received. You get to keep all of the proceeds.

This sweetheart of a deal came to an end last week.

The Social Security Administration made the new withdrawal and suspension rules (http://finance.yahoo.com/focus-retirement/article/111550/social-security-payback-option-eliminated?mod=fidelity-managingwealth&cat=fidelity_2010_managing_wealth)effective last Wednesday, but will accept comments for 60 days and will post a permanent rule at the end of the comment period. The lack of media attention on this fiscally responsible rule highlights the hypocrisy (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/2010/05/18/12-ways-to-fix-social-security) of fiscal conservatives. Unlike the payroll tax holiday, this rule change benefits the Social Security Trust Fund. You'd think that Obama would be crowing about this rule change, but all we're hearing are crickets.

Crocodile Tears

Kiplinger is going to have to rewrite their Social Security strategies and nix Strategy #3. (https://www.kiplinger.com/features/archives/secrets-to-maximizing-social-security.html?si=1)

Interestingly, they have a "call to action" (https://www.kiplinger.com/features/archives/social-security-eliminates-payback-option.html) article posted as of last Wednesday encouraging their readers to comment on the Social Security Administration's changes to withdrawal rules.

What Kiplinger rightly points out is that there's a bunch of people who elected to do the payback strategy are mid stream in the process and the SSA made this change with about 2 months of poorly publicized notice. Meaning anyone who planned to get greater benefits later needed to file their withdrawal from SSA immediately (as of last September) or they would stay at reduced social security benefits for life. Ten years ago only 500 people utilized this option per year, but the option was gaining popularity every year and those numbers nearly doubled by 2009. It's true, this is a sudden change (for a government agency ), however, I'm not sympathetic to those caught in this snare.

Affluent retirees want to retain their ability to withdraw and reapply for social security benefits and are willing to repay the money with a "reasonable" interest payment, which again, will be lower than what a savvy investor can generate. Isn't this what the vaunted private market is all about? If these retirees wanted a high paying annuity, then they should have bought one on the free market.

Annuities in Perpetuity

This is a little publicized win for the tax payer. We've been subsidizing (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/2010/12/08/social-security-payback-option-eliminated.html)an interest free loan program for affluent retirees for decades. Now, I'm all for an annuity, but we're talking about Social Security's modified perpetuity that ends at death. (True perpetuity investments are rare.)

If you wanted an annuity that paid $1,500 a month for 84 months, you'd have to put in more than $120,000 to start (with no absolute guarantee on your rate of return) and at the end of eight years you'd have zip. For the average retiree, Social Security keeps paying you long after you've recovered your contributions plus interest. The SSA interest-free loan program was so attractive because at the end of 8 years you'd refund social security and then mulligan for up to a 57% increase in monthly benefits for the rest of your life. Why didn't more people do it? Well, a lot of people need their social Security money to pay the rent.


Isn't this social security we're talking about? What about the 40 years or so they paid into the program first? Shouldn't I calculate that in? Yes and if you look at the linked annuity calculator (http://www.freeannuityrates.com/annuities/calculators/deferred-annuity-calculator.php), you can see that you get back your 40 years of Social Security contributions after about 5 years of retirement.

Hypocrisy Now

The irksome takeaway from eliminating the Social Security Mulligan is the hypocrisy.

Where's the Tea Party on this? This is a win for the Social Security Trust Fund that is going to save it millions of dollars, but we got more crickets.

Where's Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Dick Armey and Karl Rove on this? What? and find something nice to say about President Obama's Administration? forgedaboudit, here, have some cricket sound effects.

What's Cramer, Cavuto, Bartiromo and other finance reporter's take on this? What about Hannity, Beck or O'Reilly? Buchanen, Scarborough? After all, most of them decry the trust going bust every chance they get. This policy change is a boon for new business with privately owned investment firms. (http://www.freeannuityrates.com/annuities/annuity-company-ratings.php) Why not crow about a fiscally responsible policy change ...for a change? Yep, you got it, more crickets.

Where are the Libertarians like Ben Stein or Rand & Ron Paul on this tax payer saving, policy change? Why aren't they hopping up and down with approval? It reduces government spending. What? Why would any Libertarian find anything positive to say about anything a Democratic Administration does? It would be unlibertarian? ...and I'll dispense with the crickets in favor of a deafening silence.

It's not lost on me why the Tea party, Republicans, Libertarians and finance reporters aren't giving this policy change much press. It's personal. It's political. It's cherry picking the facts to support moral bankruptcy dressed up as a political philosophy. Social Security's closing the Mulligan Loophole and saving money doesn't fit their Obama frame, so they aren't talking about it.

12-14-2010, 01:48 PM
A few weeks ago I went with a friend to visit his mom who is in a nursing home.
It was a surreal experience to say the least. When we arrived my friend’s mom was sitting with a diverse group of residents talking and the subject of politics came up. I was surprised they were so up on current events, and quite knowledgeable. Most were between the ages of 70-90 with my friend’s mom being 93.

In the middle of the conversation an older White gentleman, with a very heavy southern drawl spoke up, he said, “in all my years, I have never seen a President treated with such disrespect.” Everyone around him shook their head and agreed.

I started this thread out of frustration. Not only frustrated with the misinformation but the ad homien attacks, hate and vitriol I was seeing throughout the internet, much of it coming from “Democratic Progressives.”

Constructive criticism tempered with facts is necessary and even expected but the tone from many of the Democratic base, and the obstructionist behavior of the President’s own Congress has been mind blowing to watch. When things are going well, they are all cheers and grins, when they are not; they throw knives in his back. Of course nothing is their fault, it’s all about what the President didn’t do, should do or did do, to cause all the problems.

Yet, the Only Adult in the Room continues to move forward, continues to work, to make the lives of people in this country better than he found it. It hasn’t been an easy process and he still has a very long way to go, with jobs being the critical tipping point for many.

But contrary to what many believe, he is working and he is accomplishing a great deal. The progress is slow, but it is out there. Turning around a country riddled with 30 years of damage was never going to happen in two years. I would love to see all the critics do more, but that will never happen. When you ask them for solutions, they only criticize more.

There are those that are fighting back and standing up. Hopefully more will join in before it’s too late.

Beth Broderick
Actress, founding member of MOMENTUM
Posted: December 13, 2010 09:16 PM
Obama and the Age of Unreason

I cannot imagine a worse job than being President of these Untied States in these most trying of times. President Barack Obama has been under siege from every side for the entirety of his time in office. The poor guy just cannot do anything right. Passing health care legislation, wrestling 25 billion out of BP, turning around the auto industry and his many other accomplishments are simply ignored. The good is simply not good enough. In spite of his many courageous acts the common wisdom prevails that he is not tough, not all up in the Kool-Aid of the opposition. A notion complicated by the fact that those who oppose him are often on his home team.

Not tough enough? The guy is made of steel. Governing this wild kingdom of a nation is like a never ending episode of Survivor. Every week we send our leader into a shark tank with a bucket of bloody mackerel around his neck. Then when by some miracle he manages to come back alive with enough fish to feed the team we scream: "What? No tuna? No orange roughy?" "Is that the best you can do"? We moan, we wail, we shake our fists!! "Should a gave those sharks a what for!!" We cry. Then we bait him up again and send him back into the tank.

The recent hand wringing over the temporary tax cut deal is a true case in point. The president does not preside over only like minded citizens. He must govern for us all. I agree with Bernie Sanders on principle, but I applaud the president's deft avoidance of a show down in crazy town. A whole lot of folks most pointedly do not agree with Mr. Sanders or with me for that matter as the last election made exceedingly clear. Obama saved the bacon of the unemployed, assured tax credits for children and college students and prevented the middle class from receiving a bill for 3,000.00 on January 1. We seem to think that he has some kind of magic wand that he is refusing to wave. There just simply is no such thing. He is the president not the King and God help him. Really I mean that, God ... please help him.

The seeming horror of holding the highest office in the land makes me wonder what all this jealousy is about among the members of the Senate. Those little green men (and a few women) who are the true hobgoblins of our eternal gridlock. Poor John McCain has been so eaten up with jealousy that he has shrunk to near invisibility. If a Senator shouts in the woods ... and no one hears him ... is he still a Senator? Much of the argument about the issue should be taken up with Cantwell or Murray or Baucus those who clamor for permanent estate tax cuts. There were 12 Democrat Senators prepared to vote against you and me and our dear determined Bernie if the president had not made this deal. The ground shifts under that chamber so relentlessly that it is a wonder some of the older members have not taken a tumble down the aisle. Mr. Schumer is a smart smart guy, but he holds only one perspective while Obama must behold them all.

One of my biggest complaints (and there were so very many) about the Bush administration was that he seemed to care not a whit about those on the left side of the electorate. He did not seem to be my president. He did not hear my voice or care about my values and it hurt my damned feelings. It also demonstrably hurt the country.

I hear a constant refrain about Republicans. It is argued that they are pure and always get their way due to an admirable lock step in their party gait. The Republicans are finger pointers not problem solvers and I do not envy their approach to politics. The fact is they did not do much governing last time around. They did plenty of war starting and marriage defending, but, very little actual governing. There is a reason for that. Governing this nation is hard and truly thankless, but it needs doing. I most certainly do not want Democrats to start acting like Republicans. I absolutely never want to see Mr. Obama acting like Mr. Bush and if you do then I respectfully suggest that you go back on your meds.

I have great hopes for this president and for the future of this country. I am grateful to Bill Clinton, a man I have had my issues with, for stepping up and having Obama's back this week. It is something we are all going to need to do if we want progressive values to prevail in the end. We need to surrender this idea that political purity is the highest value. Good governance should be the goal. The problem with political purity is that it leads to purging on both sides of the equation. Can we really survive wave election after wave election without achieving the tiniest ripple of consensus? The notion that we lost in 2010 because the White House did not tack far enough to the left is simply unfounded. A struggling economy was not helpful, but every election is ours to lose and we lost because we did not support our team. Turnout among Democrats was terrible especially by the young and newly registered, the very folks whose future depends on the success of this president.

If we turn into the latte version of the Tea party threatening censure of all but the most purely progressive, this country will continue to be torn apart. Let's leave the wringing and the rancor to the Republicans. We are not a party known for its unity, but we are united in our desire to work for the common good and to bend the will of history toward justice.

President Obama is not perfect nor is he a purist, but he is on our side. I for one intend to stand by his efforts on this mission near impossible. It is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it and so I pray may God bless him. Really, God please bless him, because God knows he is going to need it. And he is going to need us.

12-14-2010, 01:49 PM
President Obama signs the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 Into Law

Monday, December 13, 2010, the President and First Lady Michelle Obama jointly delivered remarks during the signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 at Harriet Tubman Elementary School, Washington, D.C. This new law will provide $4.5 billion in new funding and will give USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods regularly sold in schools creating a national standard. It also will increase the number of eligible children enrolled in federally subsidized school meal programs by approximately 115,000 students.

12-14-2010, 04:46 PM
December 14, 2010, 2:50 pm

House Democrats To Make Final Push On “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

House Democratic leaders have decided to make one last push to repeal the military’s ban on gays and lesbians serving openly, leaving the door slightly open to lifting the ban before the end of the lame-duck Congress.
Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader, said he and Representative Patrick Murphy, Democrat of Pennsylvania, would bring a standalone repeal of the ban to the floor as early as Wednesday.

The House move comes in response to the Senate’s failure last week to break a Republican filibuster against a broader Pentagon measure that would have lifted the ban.

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Independent of Connecticut, urged Senate leaders to try to pass a separate measure ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell rule,” untangling the issue from the broader military policy measure.
“I look forward to bringing this bill to the House floor soon, and I hope the Senate will swiftly take action as well so that the bill can be signed into law as soon as possible,” Mr. Hoyer said Tuesday. “This discriminatory and harmful policy has weakened America’s security by depriving us of the work of tens of thousands of gay and lesbian troops who have served their country honorably. And it has severely compromised our armed forces’ core value of integrity.

The House has previously approved repealing by the ban by a 40-vote margin. Under the procedure the House intends to follow, passage of the new standalone measure would mean that the Senate would face just one procedural vote requiring the support of 60 senators to pass the bill.
Since more than 60 senators have already indicated they would support the repeal if sufficient debate were allowed, the biggest hurdle may be time since the Senate process could consume at least parts of three days. In addition, opponents of the ban would have to keep the measure free of any changes so it could be sent directly to President Obama were it to pass the Senate
Activists pushing for repeal drew hope from the House action.
“Introduction of a House repeal bill is a strong indicator that momentum is on the side of an end to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Please get involved, call the offices of your congress critters and make sure they understand, DADT needs to be repealed now!

12-14-2010, 05:05 PM
START Treaty...Can You Help Make Calls? (With Pics)

One of President Obama's major goal is ratifying the agreement signed on April 8, 2010, with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia that would commit the U.S. and Russia to cut their deployed nuclear weapons by about 30 percent limiting their nuclear warheads to 1,550 within the next seven years.

The treaty has passed through the Senate Foreign Relations committee on Sept. 16, 2010, with a 14-4 vote with all Democrats voting to approve the resolution along with Republican Sens. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

Four Senators, James Inhofe (R-OK), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Jim Risch (R-ID) VOTED NO with South Carolina's Senator DeMint a no show for the vote.

As of today, the leadership in the Republican Party don't find it important or are too busy plotting the next "how can we undermine THAT ONE" game to actually do something, anything constructive.

It is utter hypocrisy when the Republican Party rail about national security and go all hawkish on the Democrats and yet when it is time to act to defend the national security of the Country, they are missing in action or playing politics and for that amongst many things they must be exposed.

Senate ratification of New START treaty would require a two-thirds vote which means 9 Republicans in the current congress, or 14 next year have to vote for it when the new congress is in session.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been very instrumental in the back door negotiations with her Russian counterpart and has made clear she wants to see a vote before newly elected senators take their seats.

So does the President and this is why?

Read more here

There are more pics in the article. I posted this one because there is something about the President’s causal attire, with those shoes and socks that cracks me up.


12-14-2010, 05:23 PM
Ms M, I miss you at the Motown Forum...but back to the subject. As coming from another country (the Netherlands) I value democracy. But democracy requires work. Don't believe the media, check several sources and make up your own mind.

It's a shame for a lot of people that is too much work....they just like to be told what to think and what is right and wrong. We all know the world is more complex than black and white.

Teach, read, listnen, talk, discuss and learn....

12-15-2010, 04:29 AM

You're preaching to the choir. I rarely listen to MSM (main stream media) with a few net link exceptions from time to time. Can't even tell you the last time I watched a TV program from beginning to end. Although I do check out PBS and C-span via the net but they aren't main stream.

As a matter of fact, I'm not even a big supporter of the two liberals on the block. They're ok and better than most but I can live without 'em. I realized what was going on in MSM a couple of years ago during the campaign. I've even watched sources I cherished turn to garbage.

I prefer doing my own research and then I research the research. It's fun and something I enjoy.

After awhile, you learn to sniff out the good and discard the bad and BS, but thanks for looking out.

12-15-2010, 04:39 AM
Many people are screaming the Stimulus Package didn’t work and of course, it’s, all the President’s fault….really?

It’s time for citizens to look beyond the President and start asking a few questions, maybe throw some of that criticism in another direction, a direction where it would really do some good. It’s time to look locally and statewide, in your own areas.

Despite the increase in homes being weatherized, the program has done little to create new jobs, despite $4 million that was set aside for weatherization job training.
4mil set aside for job training but little jobs created? It’s time for NJ residents to ask their GOVERNOR…”where the jobs at?” The same question should be asked of Governor’s all around the country who have received Stimulus Money. (http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/Pages/RecipientReportedDataMap.aspx)

You probably should also ask your Governor, what the heck is up with paying 27 bucks for a light bulb?

Unless of course, throwing President Obama under the bus is more important to you, than fighting for jobs for people in you area who are struggling.

State ramps up program for energy-efficient homes
By Beth DeFalco
Associated Press

TRENTON - With winter temperatures setting in, New Jersey has ramped up a program to help low-income residents make their homes more energy-efficient using federal stimulus money after a recent audit found the program plagued by mismanagement and possibly fraud.

Community Affairs Commissioner Lori Grifa told lawmakers Monday that the state would easily have 30 percent of the promised 13,000 units done by the end of the year.

The weatherization program is designed to help residents save on energy costs through the installation of insulation and sealing ducts and reduction of heat loss through leaky windows and doors.
The program has been around for many years but typically received as little as $5 million in federal grants annually. In April 2009, it received $119 million over three years as part of President Obama's economic-stimulus plan with the intention of creating green jobs while helping low-income families save money.

The Department of Community Affairs oversees the program but uses government and nonprofit agencies to do the work.
Though the program had been operating for more than a year, a recently released audit showed that as of July, just more than 1,000 units had been completed and only 5 percent of $119 million in federal stimulus money spent, which put New Jersey at risk of losing half the money.

New Jersey was awarded half, or $64 million, up front. The state was promised the other half once it could demonstrate progress, which it classified as 30 percent of the units the state promised to weatherize as having been completed.
The audit also said $2.7 million of $8.7 million in expenditures submitted to the state appeared fraudulent.
The Senate Legislative Oversight Committee asked Grifa and a state Labor Department official to explain the audit's findings and to discover what was being done to fix the program designed to reduce energy use, save low-income residents money, and create jobs.

Grifa said the rapid expansion of the program in 2009 - before she was appointed - exposed weaknesses in oversight, but she also said the state was taking steps to speed up the work and put more stringent monitoring in place.
"We have turned this program around," Grifa said, adding that the program now completes an average of 715 units a month, compared to 129 units it had been averaging earlier in the year.

State Auditor Stephen Eells agreed that the program had made "significant progress" since July, when his audit showed that construction costs fluctuated dramatically, workers were underpaid, and contractors were overpaid, according to the audit.

One weatherization agency charged the program $1.50 for lightbulbs, while another charged $27.
Grifa said she had referred some weatherization agencies to the state Attorney General's Office for investigation.

Despite the increase in homes being weatherized, the program has done little to create new jobs, despite $4 million that was set aside for weatherization job training.

12-15-2010, 04:47 AM
Several days before the Wikileaks scandal broke, there was a story about Homeland Security teaming up with the RIAA to close down several P2P file sharing sites. I meant to bookmark it but forgot. Anyhoo, It was a few days later, Julian Assange did the amazing dump of confidential Diplomatic records.

I have mixed feelings about the entire Wikileaks mess. The handling of this dump by Assange was (imo) extremely irresponsible and did not serve this country in anyway shape or form. As a matter of fact it may have harmed us in terms of getting sorely needed information that could protect our National Security.

However, I do not like the idea of restricting information, especially in light of the fact, Homeland Security seems to be using the dump of info, from Wikileaks, as an excuse to target many file sharing sights.

Whatever your feelings are about file sharing, restricting these sight gets dangerously close to stifling freedom of speech. That’s a concern we all need to pay closer attention to.

Today, I ran across another interesting story and I think anyone on this site connected to the industry (and I’m more concerned with “Indies” than major labels) should read the article below.

Full disclosure, I do not have any great love for the RIAA. Their pretense at caring for and fighting for the rights of artist is full of holes. As far as I’m concern their real allegiance is with making money for themselves and for major record labels at the expense, of artist.

I refuse to get into any conspiracy theories, (sorry Des) but something about all of this does not smell right. The stench isn’t coming from Assange and Wikileaks, as much as it’s coming from the RIAA and all their former lawyers in the Justice Department.

I'm going to break this up in several parts because it is rather long and has a lot of links inside the article you guys should also check out.

12-15-2010, 05:10 AM
The Chilling Story You May Have Missed
by beachmom
Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 01:46:04 PM ADT

These last few weeks, we have heard a lot of talk about WikiLeaks, and government action to shut down their website. But what has surprised me is how little talk there has been about the Department of Homeland Security's seizure of 82 domain sites for alleged piracy and counterfeit. Wired had the story (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/11/us-website-takedowns/) here which gives a detailed list of the sites. Now it appears a lot of them were selling counterfeit handbags, sunglasses, and so on for which they look to have a case. However, a series of hip hop sites were also taken down, which brings us to why I find this government action so troubling.

It seems the Justice Department has several, former RIAA lawyers, 5 to be exact.

Obama Taps 5th RIAA Lawyer to Justice Dept.

Monday’s naming of Ian Gershengorn, to become the department’s deputy assistant attorney of the Civil Division, comes more than a week after nearly two-dozen public interest groups, trade pacts and library coalitions urged the new president to quit filling his administration with lawyers plucked from the Recording Industry Association of America.

Yes the same RIAA who sued fans for file sharing, oftentimes in error. The attorney appointed in April represented the RIAA against Grokster, and is now in the "DOJ Federal Programs Branch", which:
just told a federal judge the Obama administration supports monetary damages as high as $150,000 per purloined music track on a peer-to-peer file sharing program.

*Donald Verrilli, associate deputy attorney general — the No. 3 in the DOJ, who unsuccessfully urged a federal judge to uphold the $222,000 file sharing verdict against Jammie Thomas.

*Tom Perrilli, as Verrilli’s former boss, the Justice Department’s No. 2 argued in 2002 that internet service providers should release customer information to the RIAA even without a court subpoena.

*Brian Hauck, counsel to associate attorney general, worked on the Grokster case on behalf of the record labels.

*Ginger Anders, assistant to the solicitor general, litigated on the Cablevision case.

The Justice Department certainly has made a lot of noise in support of the file sharing lawsuits, but given that the RIAA has decided to end suing individuals (because they were a P.R. disaster, extremely costly, and did not slow down the rate of illegal downloading: a TOTAL failure, if you will), it didn't seem so bad at first. However, we now know what the RIAA wants to do instead of suing fans -- they want the government to help them. They have already been busy in Europe where France passed a three strikes and you're out law, and now we have this DHS action. So why is the DHS action disturbing?

There was allegedly no due process. No notice was given, no legal action: they just seized the sites. Says Mashable: (http://mashable.com/2010/11/27/homeland-security-website-seized/)

Yesterday, it was reported that the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office had seized Torrent-Finder.com, a site that linked to other sites that hosted and shared torrent files of copyrighted material. The news itself was not too unusual; what seems out of order was that the site had been shut down without the owner being notified and without a court conviction or, to our knowledge, any other legal proceedings.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seizing sites directly from ICANN because of complaints filed against them; the agency is not doing so under the auspices of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) or a more recently introduced, so-called "censorship" bill, the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act, or COICA, which was created specifically to address the issue of piracy.

What we can’t debate is that the government has a right to enforce its own laws. If copyrights are being infringed upon and goods are being counterfeited, the government does have the authority to put a stop to those activities.

But when legislators have taken great pains to construct and pass laws that create procedures for dealing with these exact issues, it does seem a bit off that none of those procedures were used.

12-15-2010, 05:26 AM
Check out what happened to Kevin Hofman, owner of the hip hop site smashon.com, as reported today in the New York Times: (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/business/media/14music.html?_r=4)

Thanksgiving Day had barely begun when Kevin Hofman’s BlackBerry buzzed. It was one of the technical operators of OnSmash.com, Mr. Hofman’s popular hip-hop blog, telling him that the site had gone mysteriously blank just after midnight.

OnSmash.com and the handful of other music blogs shut down by the government post brand-new songs and videos without licenses, but much of that material is often leaked to them by managers, music labels and even the artists themselves.

As a result, these sites have a complex symbiosis with the music business. While the Recording Industry Association of America wants to shut them down, the rank and file of the record labels (particularly in hip-hop circles) uses them as marketing tools and publicity outlets.

Yes, you heard that right. Music labels and artists USED OnSmash.com as a promotional vehicle, were in constant contact with them, and they fed mp3s to the music blog to post!


I wanted to take a break for a second before I ended this and remind everyone I am not into CT thinking. The story I've presented was not written by me, I did check out all the links and they match the story up to this point. Again, please take the time to read the links yourself.

I do not know if 5 RIAA lawyers being appointed to the Justice Dept is a coincidence or deliberate. However, the author does have a theory and I repeat this is ONLY a theory.

12-15-2010, 05:29 AM
Authors Theory

Here is my theory. The RIAA remains a lobbyist outfit that is as incompetent as it is arrogant. Doubling the problem? The Justice Department is now full of folks who are friendly with the RIAA. Hey, these are their pals. So when the RIAA whispers complaints to the federal government, it seems the government didn't check the situation out very thoroughly, because they trust the RIAA. Meanwhile, there is profound disagreement within the music industry on what their business model should be, so this music blog gets shut down on account of that confusion! You know, in spite of my distaste for the RIAA, I actually am in favor of paying for music, and am saddened by so many people freeloading off artists' blood, sweat, toil and tears. But I also expect my government to respect the rule of law, and respect a free and open internet.

For now the seized domains are in legal limbo. David Snead, a lawyer specializing in Internet cases who is representing the owner of torrent-finder.com, speculated that it might be 30 to 60 days before he would be able to see a seizure order. "The government is providing zero information to help us determine what he is being charged with," he said. "It’s a black hole."

Seeing as they are not providing the public with any information (what is this a terrorist investigation??), I find this story quite disturbing and worthy of more attention. We the people deserve an explanation.

12-15-2010, 05:55 AM
My final words.

Although I understand and agree with the author up to a point, I'm not adamantly against P2P file sharing sites and here is my reason why. As you have seen in the article, major labels leak music to many of these sites. Why, because it's another way for their artist to get heard. For totally Independent artists it can be one of the most important PR tools for you to have because, totally indie artist as a general rule (with few exceptions) DO NOT GET terrestrial radio airplay.

People who download music and like the artist they are listening to, more often than not will seek out music they can buy from that same artist whose music they downloaded. (strange but true) but keep in mind, the quality of a CD out performs a MP3 any day of the week. Not to mention the CD comes with liner notes, maybe a booklet; many of the things you don't get with file sharing (there can be exceptions, depending who uploaded the files)

I truly believe if the major labels and RIAA had sat down with Napster back in the day and worked out a fair and equitable deal for artists, we would not be having this problem today but IMO they were BOTH greedy and here we are.

I'm not comfortable with any of this. Not the odd way these companies are being shut down with out seemingly any rule of law being followed, nor am I comfortable with the RIAA possibly having this type of control over the Justice Dept.

For now, I think it would be prudent we all kept our good eye open and monitor this situation to see where it could lead. That also means staying on top of Wikileaks reports since it seems to be the Pandora's box, that ushered in a need for the Justice Dept to even go down this road.

12-15-2010, 07:21 PM
Senate Passes $858 Billion Tax Plan by Wide Margin (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/16/us/politics/16cong.html?nl=us&emc=politicsemailema1)

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday approved the $858 billion tax plan negotiated by the White House and Republican leaders — the first concrete product of a new era of divided government and acid compromise.

The vote was 81 to 19, as Democrats yielded in their long push to end the Bush-era lowered tax rates for high-income taxpayers, and Republicans agreed to back a huge economic stimulus package, including an extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and a one-year payroll-tax cut for most workers, with the entire cost added to the federal deficit.

The bill goes next to the House, where Democratic leaders said they expected to bring the bill to the floor on Thursday. They predicted that it would be approved this week, despite lingering opposition among rank-and-file Democrats who are still intent on making changes to a provision that grants a generous tax exemption to wealthy estates. Republicans have said they will not accept any change.

“A tremendous accomplishment,” the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, declared shortly before the vote on Wednesday. “Whether you agree with all the contents of the bill or not, everyone should understand this is one of the major accomplishments of any Congress where two parties, ideologically divided, have agreed on a major issue for the American people.”

The two-year tax measure will touch virtually every American — poor and rich, old and young, married or single, with children or living alone, and even those who die. And, with a reprise of this year’s contentious debate now slated for the height of the 2012 presidential campaign, the bill is likely to be a precursor to a broader effort by President Obama to overhaul the nation’s labyrinthine tax code and begin tackling the long-term deficit.

The tax plan would extend all of the lowered income tax rates enacted under President George W. Bush, as well as the 15 percent rate on capital gains and dividends, which were due to expire at the end of this month. And it would set new estate tax parameters, including an exemption of $5 million per person, or $10 million per couple, and a maximum rate of 35 percent. All these provisions would last for two years.

The estate tax lapsed entirely this year, but was set to return on Jan. 1 with an exemption of $1 million per person and a maximum rate of 55 percent. House Democrats were particularly infuriated by the White House’s agreement on the estate tax, which provides a more generous exemption and lower rate than many of them wanted.

The bill would also keep jobless aid flowing to the long-term unemployed for an additional 13 months, maintaining extended limits, which now range from 60 weeks in states with less than 6 percent joblessness to 99 weeks in states where the unemployment rate is more than 8.5 percent. Benefits normally last for just 26 weeks.
The one-year payroll tax cut would reduce to 4.2 percent the 6.2 percent Social Security tax levied on income up to $106,800. For a family with $50,000 in annual income, the cut would yield tax savings of about $1,000. For a worker paying the maximum tax, it would provide savings of $2,136.

The bill also contains an array of other tax breaks for individuals and businesses, aimed at pumping up the economy. It continues a college tuition credit for some families, an expanded child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. It also includes a two-year adjustment to the Alternative Minimum Tax to prevent as many as 21 million more households from being hit by it, and it contains a provision allowing businesses to write off some kinds of expenses more quickly.
The tax deal was sealed in back-channel talks between Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. It offered a glimpse of a new power dynamic that is likely to characterize the next two years, as Republicans take control of the House and occupy six additional seats in the Senate.

Many Democrats had reacted furiously to the proposal, but ultimately bowed to the political reality that Republicans, by making big gains in the November elections, had also won the upper hand in the tax debate. Some Democrats said they had concluded that the White House had won important concessions that would help middle-income Americans and potentially give a big lift to the still-struggling economy.

Democratic opponents of the plan said it would overly benefit the wealthiest Americans and not do enough for the working-class and the poor, and that the money used to continue reduced tax rates on the highest incomes could be better spent on other steps to stimulate the economy.

The bill met with opposition as well from some Republicans, who said it was too expensive and would add dangerously to the deficit at a time when many public officials are worried about the nation’s rising debt.

Even so, President Obama defended the deal as the best that could realistically be struck, and said it should be enacted despite its shortcomings. “I am absolutely convinced that this tax-cut plan, while not perfect, will help grow our economy and create jobs in the private sector,” Mr. Obama said on Wednesday before a meeting with business leaders.
The Senate’s overwhelming approval of the tax plan was a brief flash of bipartisan cooperation amid the deep partisan acrimony in the waning days of the 111th Congress. The tax plan was supported by 43 Democrats, 37 Republicans and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent. Opposed were 13 Democrats, 5 Republicans and Senator Bernard Sanders, the Vermont independent. Both Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Sanders caucus with the Democrats.
Ahead of the tax vote on Wednesday, Mr. McConnell denounced the effort by Democrats to approve a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would finance the government through the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2011.
Mr. McConnell called on Democrats to approve a stop-gap spending measure that would last only through the early part of next year instead, and to abandon everything else on their agenda and adjourn for the year.
“We should accomplish the most basic function of government — we can at least vote to keep the lights on around here,” he said. “Pass the tax legislation and keep the lights on,” Mr. McConnell said. “Everything else can wait.”
Democrats, however, are refusing to back down on any of their priorities, which include the omnibus spending bill, the New Start arms control treaty with Russia, a bill to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy barring open service by gay soldiers, and an immigration measure that would create a path to citizenship for certain illegal immigrants brought to the United States as young children.

Mr. Reid said that the Senate would be in session on Sunday in a push to finish work on all of these legislative items, but Republicans were maneuvering aggressively to thwart him. Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said he would force a complete public reading of both the Start treaty and the more than 1,900-page spending bill, potentially locking up the Senate floor for more than 24 hours.

12-15-2010, 07:25 PM
Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 14, 2010:

Op-ed by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

The full text of the op-ed by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is printed below. The piece, published in today’s Washington Post, can be read online HERE (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/13/AR2010121303816_pf.html).
Health reform will survive its legal fight

By Eric H. Holder Jr., Attorney General of the United States, and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of health and Human Services

In March, New Hampshire preschool teacher Gail O'Brien, who was unable to obtain health insurance through her employer, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lymphoma. Her subsequent applications for health insurance were rejected because of her condition. With each round of chemotherapy costing $16,000, she delayed treatment because she knew her savings wouldn't last.

Then President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to this law, O'Brien is getting treatment through a temporary program that provides affordable coverage to people who've been shut out of the insurance market because of a preexisting condition. Even better, she knows that in 2014 insurers will be banned from discriminating against her or any American with preexisting conditions.

That's what makes the recent lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act so troubling. Roughly 20 cases question the new law's individual responsibility provision, which says that Americans who can afford to must maintain basic health coverage.

Federal courts in Michigan and Virginia have upheld the law as constitutional, but Monday, a federal court in Virginia reached the opposite result. These and other cases will continue through our courts as opponents try to block the law. But these attacks are wrong on the law, and if allowed to succeed, they would have devastating consequences for everyone with health insurance.

The majority of Americans who have health insurance pay a higher price because of our broken system. Every insured family pays an average of $1,000 more a year in premiums to cover the care of those who have no insurance.
Everyone wants health care to be affordable and available when they need it. But we have to stop imposing extra costs on people who carry insurance, and that means everyone who can afford coverage needs to carry minimum health coverage starting in 2014.

If we want to prevent insurers from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions, it's essential that everyone have coverage. Imagine what would happen if everyone waited to buy car insurance until after they got in an accident. Premiums would skyrocket, coverage would be unaffordable, and responsible drivers would be priced out of the market.
The same is true for health insurance. Without an individual responsibility provision, controlling costs and ending discrimination against people with preexisting conditions doesn't work.

The legal arguments made against the law gloss over this problem even as opponents have sought to invent new constitutional theories and dig up old ones that were rejected 80 years ago.
Opponents claim the individual responsibility provision is unlawful because it "regulates inactivity." But none of us is a bystander when it comes to health care. All of us need health care eventually. Do we pay in advance, by getting insurance, or do we try to pay later, when we need medical care?
The individual responsibility provision says that as participants in the health-care market, Americans should pay for insurance if they can afford it. That's important because when people who don't have insurance show up at emergency rooms, we don't deny them care. The costs of this uncompensated care - $43 billion in 2008 - are then passed on to doctors, hospitals, small businesses and Americans who have insurance.

As two federal courts have already held, this unfair cost-shifting harms the marketplace. For decades, Supreme Court decisions have made clear that the Constitution allows Congress to adopt rules to deal with such harmful economic effects, which is what the law does - it regulates how we pay for health care by ensuring that those who have insurance don't continue to pay for those who don't. Because of the long-held legal precedent of upholding such provisions, even President Ronald Reagan's solicitor general, Charles Fried, called legal objections to the law "far-fetched."
As these lawsuits continue, Americans should be clear about what the opponents of reform are asking the courts to do. Striking down the individual responsibility provision means slamming the door on millions of Americans like Gail O'Brien, who've been locked out of our health insurance markets, and shifting more costs onto families who've acted responsibly.
It's not surprising that opponents, having lost in Congress, have taken to the courts. We saw similar challenges to laws that created Social Security and established new civil rights protections. Those challenges ultimately failed, and so will this one.

Rather than fighting to undo the progress we've made, and returning to the days when one out of seven Americans was denied insurance due to their medical histories, supporters of repeal should work with us to implement this law effectively. The initial decisions about the Affordable Care Act will be reviewed on appeal. We are confident that the law will ultimately be upheld.

12-15-2010, 08:12 PM
MS M thank you!! I didnt know all of this stuff about the RIAA it was interesting reading it makes me want to open up a bottle of wine and even though I dont drink I would like to have a glass of wine and stay at my computer all night this is gold.

12-15-2010, 08:48 PM
Glad you like it Stephanie.

It's definitely something to keep an eye on. If the DOJ decides it can go in anytime and start closing down sites, that's censorship and a loss of Freedom of Speech.

There are a lot of things on the net I don't like but I can self censor. Don't need or want the "gubment" to do it for me.

The RIAA thing has me troubled as well. I think the author was dead on with the "arrogant" tag and in the end it may bite the RIAA and major labels in the butt more than independent musicians. At least that's my wish.;)

12-15-2010, 08:55 PM
Hey Ms. M

It's good to be here. The real world has intruded on me & has greatly reduced my ability to visit here often. Between mom & my grandson who's here every weekend, my hands are more than full. At this rate, my lady's going to think I've been hanging with Mrs. Jones. And it's great having a grandson & watching the things that his curious 7 month-old mind comes up with. Thinking that he's big enough to walk, crawling around getting into all kinds of things & if he's not doing that, he's decided that he's my siamese twin & usually refuses to hang with anyone but me.

Yes, I do believe that you're doing a great jobs of putting information out here for those who just MIGHT want to hear a fair explanation about what's really going on & the various nefarious tricks being employed to make President Obama's life & job a living hell. Why anyone would vote for people who openly stated NOT that we're going to work together to do what's best for the American public, NOT that they'd refuse to allow partisan politics to persuade them into holding the needs of the American public hostage, but that their goal was to make President Obama a ONE-TERM PRESIDENT, is beyond me.

Knowing the mess that we're in (while quite conveniently forgetting HOW we got there), to give power to those whose openly-stated goal is that our President FAIL, is absolutely ridiculous.

And now these folks will see exactly what the cost for doing that will be.

It's absolutely amazing to consider that during the last election, the largest contigent that came out to vote, that voted AGAINST President Obama's so-called "failed" policies, voted for the very people who want to screw them tenfold. They chose to re-elect people whom have been systematically attacking the very institutions that are supposed to safeguard them in their golden years & would be so disgusting as to try to attach monies for necessary benefits for the workers from Ground Zero & 2 million Americans facing the end of their unemployment, to a deal that makes millionaires & billionaires richer...folks by the way whom have proven that THEY DO NOT CREATE JOBS as is so commonly alleged by their supporters!

America...I have looked into the mirrors of my so-called peers & have found that often times, the TRUE enemies of Americans don't always come wearing turbans or towels on their heads, nor do they necessarily come bearing car bombs, nor as suicide bombers. In my mind, the greatest threat to Americans & our future are other Americans whom choose to be ignorant about important issues that truly affect them, whom can be easily swayed by lies & 2 minute soundbites & are just too damn stupid & arrogant to consider that he whom forgets the past is condemned to repeat it.

This $hit is beginning to look like "Groundhog Day" to me.

Just keeps going around...& around...& around...& around...& around...

Thanks for caring enough to risk exasperation, appoplexia, high-blood pressure, agita & the heartbreak of psoriasis trying to explain all this to a public whom far too many are just too apathetic & filled with misplaced rage too care.

Keep shining your light sweetie...keep on shining your light. There are some folks out there whom will get it, which makes it all worthwhile :)

12-15-2010, 09:48 PM
Hi Juice,

I can see the grin from here when you talk about the "little man" so it's all good. I bet he's a blast.:D

To say things are crazy out here is an understatement and yep, the deal sucks, you will not get an argument from me on that one. The problem though, it was the President's own Dem congress that tied his hands. If they had taken the vote before the midterm elections he would have had more wiggle room to negotiate a better deal.

The Dems never had the votes to repeal the tax cuts but they could have flipped the script on the Repubs by showing the country the Repubs cared more about the rich than the middle class and poor. Going into an election the GOP would have been seen for the arses they are or would have taken whatever deal they could, to control their image with their voters. Not even Tea Party folks want to see their taxes raised.

The Dem Congress took away their hold card because they were scared of losing seats in the election, which is what they did anyway and, in the process gave the President less room to negotiate.

The one thing to keep in mind though Juice, these tax cuts are not new, they have been in place for the last nine years. This is an extension of what was already in place.

As bad as the deal is the middle class still managed to get quite a lot from it. The Social Security Holiday Tax may prove to be somewhat of a problem down the road but people need relief now and every little bit helps.

Then we have 20% of the Dem voter base (Progressives) who have turned into raging idiots. It's like watching Glen Beck on steroids, with ALL that implies if you catch my drift. Their goal is definitely to make him a one term president and let me repeat, I'm talking about 20% of the DEMOCRATIC base! Fun, fun times ahead. (rolling eyes) Good news, 87% of the Dem base accepts the deal so, let the crazy rage on if that's what makes them happy.

To tell you the truth Juice, this thread has turned into my oasis of sanity. Finding little gems and nuggets plus National News is therapeutic. I hope people are getting something out of it, but I definitely know I am.

Thanks again for your support. It means a lot!

12-15-2010, 09:58 PM
Senate kicks off debate over US-Russia arms treaty

The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 15, 2010; 7:18 PM

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats secured the backing of a significant number of Republicans in a crucial test vote Wednesday on a new U.S.-Russia arms control treaty - President Barack Obama's top foreign policy priority.
The 66-32 vote to take up the treaty bolstered White House and senior Democrats' claims that they will have the two-thirds majority needed to ratify it before Congress adjourns for the holiday, even though a majority of Republicans prefer waiting until next year.

Nine Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Obama's 2008 presidential rival and a top lawmaker on national security issues, supported moving ahead on the treaty now.

Obama has said he is prepared to delay a planned holiday vacation until the treaty is completed, elevating the measure to year-end, must-do status along with the tax deal he cut with Republicans. Democrats are determined to push the treaty through the Senate in hopes of giving Obama a foreign policy victory before the GOP grabs more power next year.
"We believe we should stay here as long as it takes to get this treaty ratified, and we are prepared to do so," said Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass.

Still, several Republicans, led by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., objected to considering the treaty in the waning days of Congress' lame-duck session, insisting the Senate should delay action until it has more time. Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said they could support the treaty but not under the current timetable. Alexander told reporters it was "reckless."

Speaking for the treaty before Democrats took their turn, Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana said the treaty "will enable American teams to return to Russia to collect data on the Russian arsenal and verify Russian compliance. These inspections greatly reduce the possibility that we will be surprised by Russian nuclear deployments or advancements."
U.S. weapons inspections ended a year ago with the expiration of the 1991 arms control treaty.

Angry accusations marked the hours before the vote as Republicans threatened to force the treaty, signed in April, to be read aloud in the Senate, which would have delayed consideration. The White House called the GOP out on the maneuver, with press secretary Robert Gibbs assailing it as a "new low in putting political stunts ahead of our national security." Gibbs singled out Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., for possible delaying tactics.

The heated rhetoric quickly gave way to a more sober analysis. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said of the talk about reading the treaty, "Our view is that is not essential."
Several Republicans had argued that the limited time available in the lame-duck session made it difficult to give the treaty the consideration it deserved. Twenty-two Republican senators signed a letter Dec. 2 calling for debate on the treaty to be delayed until next year.
Proponents of the treaty cite the renewed weapons inspections and say it would keep the two biggest nuclear powers on the path to reducing their arsenals. Opponents have asserted it would limit U.S. missile defense options and argued that it has insufficient procedures to verify Russia's adherence to the treaty.

The treaty has pitted moderate Republicans against hard-line conservatives, with potential 2012 challengers to Obama making opposition a requirement for anyone weighing a bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Lining up in opposition are Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.
Backing the treaty are former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and several secretaries of state and defense from Republican and Democratic administrations, including Condoleezza Rice.

Supporters are pushing for ratification in this legislative session because prospects for passage will dim when the Democrats' majority shrinks by five senators in January. The Constitution requires approval by two-thirds of the Senate to ratify a treaty.

Obama signed the treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April. It would allow each country 1,550 strategic warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200.

GOP Nominees???

The treaty has pitted moderate Republicans against hard-line conservatives, with potential 2012 challengers to Obama making opposition a requirement for anyone weighing a bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Lining up in opposition are Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.

12-15-2010, 10:09 PM
Click This Link to See Available Positions (http://www.rrb.gov/pands/jobs/rrjobs.asp)

Railroad Job Vacancies Reported to the RRB
December 10, 2010


12-16-2010, 08:44 AM
Bob Cesca: Are Progressives Losing Touch With Reality?

This afternoon, Markos Moulitsas wrote an offhanded comment on Daily Kos that seems completely in line with the recent upswing in progressive apoplexy.

Referencing a post by Duncan Black about the president's tax cut deal, Markos wrote, "Tax cuts don't create jobs. It's really obnoxious hearing Democrats like Obama trying to make that argument."

Right off the bat, and not to go all Aaron Sorkin nitpicky on Markos, but it's President Obama. Come on. Is it seriously that difficult to type the word "president?" And while I agree with the first part, I'm not sure what Markos is talking about in the second part. The president has never once suggested that tax cuts create jobs.
In fact, he said exactly the opposite as recently as Dec. 10 on NPR. From ThinkProgress:

And in an interview on NPR this morning with Morning Edition host Steve Inkseep, President Obama reflected this point of view, agreeing that the tax cuts for the wealthy will not create "one single job":

INSKEEP: Let me ask you about something that we heard from one of our listeners... The question that we got was: "Please ask him how keeping the tax rate for the richest the same as it has been for a decade creates one single job."

President Obama: It doesn't, which is why I was opposed to it -- and I'm still opposed to it.

Link to audio. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mewen_ZDvm8&feature=player_embedded)

"It doesn't" create jobs, the president said. No gray area there. The exact opposite of what's being claimed by Markos and other progressives.

Concurrently, the president has obviously been ballyhooing his tax-cut compromise with the Republicans, while commenting that the deal will create jobs -- not the tax cuts part of the deal, specifically, but the overall deal. And he's right. If the CBO numbers indicating $1.61 in stimulus for every dollar spent on unemployment benefits are correct, then extending the benefits will create jobs as the economy grows.
What's so difficult to understand about this?

My intention here isn't to single out Markos -- or the tax-cut deal, for that matter. There's a larger and growing crisis within the progressive movement. I'm worried that certain factions of the movement are losing touch with reality.

No, this tax-cut deal isn't perfect. We're all well aware that tax cuts for the richest two percent won't create jobs, nor will they stimulate the economy. But -- and this is the case the president is making about the deal -- the only way to pass some form of economic stimulus (unemployment benefits) is to achieve a whip count that includes Republican votes.

And the only way to get Republican votes is to accept their deficit-ballooning tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans -- financed with money borrowed from China. Toss into the mix their laugh-out-loud, self-satirical contradictions about the deficit and debt "crisis" even though they're supporting the Bush tax cuts, which will add another $830 billion over the next 10 years. But the challenge is to overcome the GOP filibuster of, well, everything. Hell, they're even filibustering health care for the 9/11 heroes. These Republican 9/11 fetishists, who gladly exploit images of planes crashing into buildings along with the rubble-strewn streets of New York in campaign commercials, are filibustering health care for the heroes of that terrible event. And if they're willing to filibuster 9/11 heroes, naturally they'll filibuster unemployment benefits -- or any other form of effective stimulus for that matter.

President Obama understands this. And while the optics and his performance in trying to sell the deal have been lacking, the politics are best case, given the opposition party's carpet-bombing strategy.

Somehow, though, certain progressives don't get it. They believe the president is
betraying progressive principles and deliberately sticking it to "the base."
First of all, the progressive movement is hardly the president's base. Most progressive leaders supported John Edwards during the primaries, and many were ambivalent about the president once he was nominated. The president's base is made up of mostly non-political Americans -- many of whom desperately need their unemployment benefits to continue until the jobs return.

Second, stop whining and wise up, progressives. The president isn't going to pass every last thing on your personal wish list. Just because he compromised on something that you've been frantically tweeting about doesn't mean it's time to pitch a tantrum and hurl the board game across the room -- storming off in a snit.
The volume of progressive crabbery and moping lately has been staggering -- otherwise sane progressives vowing to not vote in 2012, or to somehow conjure up a viable primary challenger to run against the president. Suffice to say, both ideas are ridiculous and ultimately self-defeating. Fun to bitch about as a way to blow off steam, but also a great way to elect Awful Republican President X.
Good gravy, are we really this fragile? The president accurately criticizes progressives for not understanding the political climate on the Hill, and we stomp and flail like a gaggle of infants? Pathetic.

Last week, Keith Olbermann delivered a Special Comment about the tax cut deal. In it, he predictably eviscerated the president for accepting the tax-cut compromise. Fine. I get it. And I like Keith.

But within the cablecast essay, Olbermann noted how the president engaged in a "preemptive abandonment" of both the public option and single-payer. Regarding the aforementioned and ridiculous notion of running a primary challenger to the president, it's worth noting here that not one serious Democratic presidential candidate has ever proposed single-payer. Ever. Not the 2008 progressive favorite John Edwards. Certainly not Hillary Clinton. And not even 2004 progressive favorite Howard Dean. And neither did Barack Obama. So I'm not exactly sure how President Obama can "abandon" a policy he never proposed in the first place.

The public option wasn't "preemptively" jettisoned either. Like every aspect and line item contained within the various health-care-reform bills that were ricocheting around Congress, it was up for negotiation. Every policy within those bills was negotiable. Not just the public option.

And despite that, it was still alive by November and December of 2009 -- at the end of that protracted battle. The president himself even promoted the idea in his joint session address in September of 2009, deep within the belly of the process. Hardly a "preemptive abandonment." (By the way, I couldn't believe my ears when Olbermann brought up the Gitmo closing in his list of presidential trespasses. Keith surely must be aware that the president ordered Guantanamo closed, but the Senate, including the progressive members like Bernie Sanders, voted against funding to actually close the base and move the detainees to Supermax prisons on the mainland.)
Okay, okay. I'm not making any friends here, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to participate in a movement where so many colleagues have careened off the rails. We're supposed to be the smart ones, the reality-based people.

And yet, out of some sort of manic-depression or desire for hipster cred, we've become overly preoccupied with tearing down the most liberal president in decades using non-reality-based criticisms instead of laser-focusing our efforts and resources on tearing down the real killers -- conservatives, Tea Party people and the GOP.
We need to focus and engage in smart accountability -- carefully pick our battles with the White House and, when we fight, we need to employ airtight, concise, reality-based arguments designed to convince rather than to hector. Otherwise, we're everything the president said in his press conference last week -- or worse -- and our attempts at accountability will increasingly resemble Tea-Party-style screeching. Featureless, brainless white noise in the distance.

But mainly, enough with the pouting. We have to stop mistaking petulance for "principle" and get something done.

12-16-2010, 08:45 AM
New Wall St Journal poll shows Obama w/ huge leads over GOP rivals
(http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704828104576021900230935000.html?m od=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories)
Short and sweet, lets get to the meat.

But putting a specific Republican name into the question changes the picture. Mr. Obama leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by seven percentage points, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin by 22 points, and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota by 20 points.

In all, 63% of Democrats polled said they wanted to see Democratic leaders in Washington make compromises to gain consensus on legislation, about the same percentage of independents who expressed that view. Just 29% of Democrats said they would rather see their elected leaders stick to their positions, even if that meant not reaching any consensus.
This is a President who was elected with 52% of the popular vote and is holding strong after two contentious years of Tea Party onslaught and, 20% of Democratic Progressives yapping at his heels.

On paper, Mitt Romney might be the GOP's best candidate for the 2012 general election, but he's got a problem: the party's conservative base just doesn't trust him.

Soon-to-be House budget chair Paul Ryan said Tuesday that some of the shots that fellow conservatives are taking at the bipartisan tax deal are motivated by politics, not policy.

“A lot of people are making these political arguments, which are, ‘What is the proper political chess move against Obama?’ And that is not the way we should be thinking right now when it comes to jobs and economy,” Ryan said in an interview Tuesday.

Ryan, the Janesville congressman, supports the tax deal, saying that without it, the Bush tax cuts would lapse, taxes would go up, and “that’s going to harm the people I represent.”
The package has come under fire from the left for including GOP priorities such as an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and favorable treatment of the tax on large estates.

But it has also come under fire from the right for generating more borrowing and for extending unemployment benefits without paying for them. Some Republicans have complained that the plan is a re-election aid for Obama because it borrows money to provide short-term stimulus to the economy.

Likely GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney came out against the tax deal in an op-ed for USA Today.
Asked about Romney’s opposition, Ryan said:

“I think presidential aspirants will try to out-conservative each other for their own purposes.”

You don't hear conservatives arguing that Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich or Mike Huckabee are positioning themselves, because conservatives basically trust those candidates. But Mitt Romney they don't trust. They just don't think he's authentic. And they've got a point: Romney didn't support the Bush tax cuts to begin with.


12-16-2010, 11:19 AM
There is a good news, bad news aspect of rummaging around political blogs. The good news is finding great fact based commentary that you don’t get from MSM. The bad news is seeing some of the vilest comments ever from all sides of the political spectrum. To say it’ like walking through garbage would be putting it mildly but you do run across positive comments and I’m posting one below.

One of the things I’d like to highlight is the commenter’s reference to people in the “middle.” Folks on both sides of the isle tend to forget, voters in this country are more “center” than either extreme to the left or the right.

It will always be a mystery to me how many so call intelligent Democratic voters saw Barack Obama as part of their extreme left (Progressives)

He never pretended to be a Progressive. As a matter of fact the polices he was putting forth during the campaign, were not that much different than the ones HRC was putting out there and the Clinton’s were hardcore DLC. The difference between the two came down to a nuance in their political ideology, their style and personality more than anything else.

From where I sit, average voters in this country are not political purist. They understand the need for capitalism but they want corporations to be restrained from going overboard to the point of destroying the country. Seems fair to me.

Random Comment from a blogger

I just think the press conference was a turning point. I caught a glimpse of the man who gave the red state/blue state speech, as well as the speech on race. There was a hard truth to his words that hit home. And I think some progressives were just hurt to see the return of that eloquence and biting truth, directed towards them! lol
Many feel defeated and have been yearning for someone to fight for them.

What they need to understand is, his ability to turn from a “shellacking” and in a blink of an eye, be able to swim with sharks, speaks well for the country and will help Dems as a whole in the long run.

If he did a press conference where he talked of nothing but bipartisanship and rainbows, that would be troubling. But that press conference was reality-based in the coldest possible terms. He showed he knows EXACTLY who he is dealing with on both sides. And just because he’s of the left doesn’t mean he thinks the left is above reproach. Also, he knows the GOP and what motivates them (their “Holy Grail”).

He is now in a position to govern, to be seen as a voice of reason, etc. He may very well turn into the “Red state/Blue state” Obama and figure of change that many in the middle hoped he be. Of all the campaign promises he’s kept, the goal of “changing how Washington works” and “changing the tone” are areas that were not within reach because of the GOP’s demonization and obstruction. This tax deal affords him a new look.

12-16-2010, 12:52 PM
I realize for many of you much of what I post is redundant. I’ve learned through experience, there are some that skim through material as oppose to reading it thoroughly. I often like to present an article in a different way to help folks catch things they may have missed.

Statement by the President on Senate Passage of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/12/15/statement-president-senate-passage-tax-relief-unemployment-insurance-rea)

Today, the Senate passed with strong bipartisan support a bill that’s a win for American families, American businesses, and our economic recovery. This vote brings us one step closer to ensuring that middle class families across the country won’t have to worry about a massive tax hike at the end of the year. It would offer hope to millions of Americans who are out of work that they won’t suddenly find themselves without the unemployment insurance they need to make ends meet as they fight to find a job. And it would offer additional tax relief to families across the country and encourage businesses to grow and hire.

I know that not every Member of Congress likes every piece of this bill, and it includes some provisions that I oppose. But as a whole, this package will grow our economy, create jobs, and help middle class families across the country. As this bill moves to the House of Representatives, I hope that members from both parties can come together in a spirit of common purpose to protect American families and our economy as a whole by passing this essential economic package.

Statement by the President on the House Passage of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/12/15/statement-president-house-passage-dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal-act-2010)

I applaud the House for passing, with bipartisan support, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. Legislative repeal is supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The process contained in this legislation allows for a smooth and responsible repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" in a way that maintains good order and discipline in our military ranks. Indeed, all of the Service Chiefs have said that when this law is changed , they will implement an orderly transition effectively and efficiently. As the comprehensive study by the Department of Defense clearly shows, we can move to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and our national security.

I particularly want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Congressman Patrick Murphy for their leadership on this issue. I have consistently called for the repeal of this law. Moving forward with the repeal is not only the right thing to do, it will also give our military the clarity and certainty it deserves. We must ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally by their country.

House Votes to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask,’ Gates Urges Senate Action

American Forces Press Service

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is pleased with today’s House of Representatives vote to repeal the law that bans gays from serving openly in the military, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said, and he hopes the Senate will follow suit before its current session ends.

The House voted 250-175 to repeal the so-called "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" law, and Senate action is required for the bill to go to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature.

The president has advocated the law’s repeal, and Gates and other military leaders repeatedly have expressed a preference for legislative action – which they say would permit an orderly transition for the military – over having the law struck down by a court, requiring immediate compliance with the change and possibly creating different rules in different places.

"(The secretary) encourages the Senate to pass the legislation this session, enabling the Department of Defense to carefully and responsibly manage a change in this policy instead of risking an abrupt change resulting from a decision in the courts," Morrell said....

(I’ve always wanted to say that;))

The Senate has the votes for DADT repeal!

The Senate has at least 62 votes to repeal the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Thursday morning.

"I have to give Joe Lieberman credit. We were told, Steny Hoyer was told by the Senate leadership, and particularly by Senator Lieberman -- Senator Collins and I will give her credit too, she has been good on this from our standpoint -- that if we passed it as a separate bill that would help," Frank said on the Sirius XM Satellite Radio show "POTUS." "There are at least 62 senators -- more than the 60 that is needed under that outrageous filibuster rule,

12-16-2010, 03:50 PM
GOP Senator Calls Cops on 9/11 Responders

Republican senators were so worried about meeting with 9/11 responders who came to Washington today that at least one called the cops on them, the Daily News has learned.

Even before the nine responders had a chance to start visiting senators’ offices - where they intended to stay until meeting with legislators - they were greeted by Capitol Police, who had been called by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Collins apparently reacted to a story in the today’s News, which quoted a letter to senators from 9/11 advocate John Feal, warning that he and others planned to sit in offices until they got meetings - or the police made them leave.

Collins is among the senators the 9/11 community hopes will come over to their side, but her call to authorities left them wondering if they could succeed.

“I’m deeply disappointed in Sen. Collins for calling the Capitol Police, but they welcomed us with open arms,” said Feal, although he wound up with a police escort for the first stops on his visit.

“I’m more disappointed that Susan Collins is hiding behind ideology, and now the police, to stop from helping us,” Feal said. “And the people she called to stop us, are just like us. It’s a little ironic.”

Officers eventually determined he and his team were not threatening and left them alone.

Only one Republican has agreed to back the $7.4 billion James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, and even he - Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois - voted against bringing it up until the Bush-era tax cuts are extended.

Collins’ office did not immediately comment on why she was worried enough about the 9/11 responders to call police.

Read more: (http://www.nydailynews.com/... http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dc/2010/12/gop-senator-calls-cops-on-911.html#ixzz18IgqA9g7)

The irony of news reporting:

It’s possible that Sen. Collins and or her staff were reacting to this hyperbolic, over-the-top headline:

Ground Zero workers plan to storm senators' offices in bid for Zadroga Act support (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2010/12/16/2010-12-16_well_storm_senator_offices_heroes_warn.html)

Yet the next article stated:

Collins apparently reacted to a story in today’s News which quoted a letter to senators from 9/11 advocate John Feal warning that he and others planned to sit in offices until they got meetings - or the police made them leave.

Note: all the hyperbole is missing.
Both articles are from the same paper, The NY Daily News.

I can’t begin to understand why the Republicans vetoed this bill but to call First Responders on the First Responders, who answered the call of bravery during 911, is almost as incomprehensible as denying them benefits.

…the sensationalized reporting of the media? I report, you decide.

12-16-2010, 08:04 PM
I just went to her website where it lists her accomplishment. No mention of the above. But in 2007 she co-sponsored a bill supporting them: http://collins.senate.gov/public/continue.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=DDC7FBC7-802A-23AD-46B9-B770EE8FE105&CFID=65561613&CFTOKEN=38448839 Hmm.

12-16-2010, 08:16 PM
From what I can tell MS the Republicans are claiming this is about reigning in spending, the deficit, yada yada yada

You would think continuing the funding for 9-11 First Responders would be a no brainer. The ill affects from all that dust and smoke have been well documented.

I thought it was cool how the police treated the responders with the respect they deserve.

They didn't go there to cause harm, but to get answers and support. She and her staff overacted. hmmmmm...is right.:confused:

12-16-2010, 09:12 PM

Obama in Good Shape for 2012 Despite Current Woes, Poll Finds

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll out Thursday finds while only 42 percent of respondents say they'd probably vote for the president if he runs again, just 39 percent say they'd vote for a Republican. Ten percent say it depends who the GOP opponent is.

But when you put a Republican name into the equation, the numbers change -- in favor of Obama. The president leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 47 to 40 percent. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota trails by 20 points, 47 to 27 percent.

In fairness to the Republicans, voters are a long way from Election Day 2012, and GOP unannounced potential challengers such as Thune are handicapped in mock head-to-head match-ups because their names are much less known than the president's. But name identification is hardly Sarah Palin's problem -- and the president leads the former Alaska governor, 55 to 33 percent.

Read More (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/12/15/obama-in-good-shape-for-2012-despite-current-woes-poll-finds/)

12-16-2010, 11:08 PM
Political Theater

Two weeks before the year ends, a Republican majority coming in January, and the best Dem Congress Critters in the House can do is play games???

“Liberal” Democratic Tantrum Delays Tax Bill in House (http://bluewavenews.com/blog/category/politics-house/)

On December 16, 2010, at 5:21 pm, In Politics-House, By Leanne

The Democrats in the House who take pains to classify themselves as “liberals” want you to know they are NOT HAPPY with the tax deal negotiated by President Obama and passed yesterday by an overwhelming majority in the Senate. And they are demonstrating how much they are NOT HAPPY by creating a procedural delay in the vote on this bill.

Now, bear in mind that this is all for the benefit of you, the public, their constituents. They know that they are going to have to pass this thing or be roundly vilified by pretty much everybody in the country. But by kicking and screaming, stomping their feet, and throwing themselves to the floor and holding their breath, they can make sure that their constituents know that they DID NOT WANT to vote for this bill – after they vote for it.

Read More (http://bluewavenews.com/blog/category/politics-house/)

12-16-2010, 11:13 PM
Here comes the sun:D

W.H. aims to fast-track solar power

By PATRICK REIS | 12/16/10 12:57 PM Updated: 12/16/10 7:15 PM

Obama administration officials on Thursday unveiled a key piece of their plan to jump-start the solar power industry: opening up public lands for “sun farms” and other solar power projects.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu released a draft document intended to speed the process for obtaining permits for clean energy sun farms on land held by the federal government, which would create 24 “solar zones” in six states.

“We are working hard to rapidly and responsibly develop renewable energy on public lands,” Salazar told reporters on a conference call. The sites would be able to support up to 24,000 megawatts of solar power on 214,000 acres, he said.

Full Article Here (http://www.politico.com/politico44/perm/1210/here_comes_the_sun_1d424f8c-1fdf-431c-924b-9c86b5a3c15d.html)

12-17-2010, 12:22 AM
I just watched four First Responders to 9/11 on the Jon Stewart Show. I have some ideas on what the house and senate should do. The mildest of them is when they go home for Christmas, don't come back. Give up your insurance and get what most of the rest of us have. Then try to get a real job.

12-17-2010, 01:25 AM
Then there's the National Association of Broadcasters blocking the expansion of LPFM non-commercial (i.e., non-corporate) community radio.

http://http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46433.html (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46433.html)

12-17-2010, 02:00 AM
Good catch sunshineonacloudyday

Low power stations are usually community oriented stations. I think it's safe to say the larger (corporate owned) stations are lobbying against this

MS as of January not much matters since the House will come back with the Republicans in the majority. All revenue bills have to originate with them before they reach the Senate. Anything of major consequence we can forget about it for the next 2 years. (with maybe a few exceptions)

12-17-2010, 02:05 AM
oh and any bills that do not get passed in the next week or so are basically toast. The probability of any of them being reintroduced is slim to none. 300 plus bills that were passed in the House are going right down the drain.

The Republicans filibustered and obstructed everything down the pike so well these first two years, it's actually amazing we were able to get as much as we did.

12-17-2010, 02:09 AM
The House finally got over their little hissy fit late this evening and passed the tax bill .

12-17-2010, 02:21 AM

The more I think about this the more I KNOW how important it is to get corporate money away from the legislative table.
They are not even trying to hide their dirty deeds. It's all out in the open and people still are not paying attention.

Campaign Finance Reform it's the only way we are ever going to truly change how business is done in DC.

12-17-2010, 03:09 AM
Last week, when an unidentified Democratic lawmaker muttered "fuck the president" during a House caucus meeting, it was clear that a full-scale revolt was underway among liberals enraged over the president's tax-cut compromise with the Republicans. And the White House fired back. Vice President Joe Biden lit into Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) for slamming Obama as a "negotiator-in-chief" instead of a leader. "There's no goddamned way I'm going to stand here and talk about the president like that," Biden reportedly said. It looked like civil war.

Link to story (http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/12/democrats-tax-cuts-civil-war)

Liberal Dems and Obama: It's Complicated
Are the Democratic lawmakers who went to war with the White House over tax cuts ready to kiss and make up?

— By Suzy Khimm

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) has called Obama's bill "just awful" and still refuses to support it. But with the passage of the tax package now all but a forgone conclusion, he says he doesn't resent the White House and is prepared to move on. "I'm a professional, that's yesterday," McDermott told reporters Wednesday. "Now today, what's on the table for today? You can't walk around sort of nursing grudges. A lot of things get said, and people sometimes go a little over the top. The next day you get over it and go onto the next one."

But what if the White House adopts the same model for compromises with the next Congress, where the Republicans will have an even stronger hand? Welch insists that he'd support such an approach: "I think we've got to find common ground and compromise." Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.)—a member of the House Progressive Caucus who's undecided about the bill—emphasizes that the president had the right to intervene. "The executive branch needs to go ahead to cut the deals they have to cut, and we [in the House] have to do what we can do," he says. The California Democrat added there was nothing unusual about the rifts within the party: "Herding Democrats is like herding cats...we air our laundry sometimes."

Read More (http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/12/congress-democrats-obama-tax-cuts)

"I'm a professional, that's yesterday,"

Hope someone reminds the Progressives base... :(

12-17-2010, 03:38 AM
ms m

You are so right about corporate corruption. And the corporate heads are blatant about it. Arrogant even, right under our noses.

The struggle over LPFM is one big clue to their methodology...Simply lock a monopoly on the media--primarily radio and television--among 4 or 5 like-minded corporate group$ and dumb down your audience with ignorant reality shows (TV), or a limited playlist of "music" from the latest video star (radio.)

Low Power radio OTOH, gives the power back to the People at a LOCAL level, indeed a frightening concept for the corporate elite.

For more information on LPFM check out


12-17-2010, 10:47 AM
And the corporate heads are blatant about it. Arrogant even, right under our noses.

They can afford to be. They have become so adept at keeping us divided and distracted, not enough people are paying attention. And they are using the Republicans as their lackeys. Now we all know the Dems hands aren't totally clean either but you can trace what's going on out here, all the way back to the Reagan Administration.

If you have read Audacity of Hope reread it. The media has so distorted what President Obama was saying about Reagan it's pathetic.

12-17-2010, 11:12 AM
Don’t know what’s gotten into Charles Krauthammer these days. Maybe he’s drinking the “kool aid” too.:D
But his commentary has been dead on lately.

Viewpoints: The political death of Barack Obama is greatly exaggerated

By Charles Krauthammer
Published: Friday, Dec. 17, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 19A

If Barack Obama wins re-election in 2012, as is now more likely than not, historians will mark his comeback as beginning on Dec. 6, the day of the Great Tax Cut Deal of 2010.
Obama had a bad November. Self-confessedly shellacked in the midterm election, he fled the scene to Asia and various unsuccessful meetings, only to return to a sad-sack lame-duck Congress with ghostly dozens of defeated Democrats wandering the halls.

Now, with his stunning tax deal, Obama is back. Holding no high cards, he nonetheless managed to resurface suddenly not just as a player but as orchestrator, dealmaker and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama.

I think he's over reaching on this though because although Dem Congress critters and Progressives were pissed, many of us that make up his base were going, hell yes! :cool:

The greatest mistake Ronald Reagan's opponents ever made – and they made it over and over again – was to underestimate him. Same with Obama. The difference is that Reagan was so deeply self-assured that he invited underestimation – low expectations are a priceless political asset – whereas Obama's vanity makes him always needing to appear the smartest guy in the room. Hence that display of prickliness in his disastrous post-deal news conference last week.

...then he goes on to say...

"But don't be fooled by defensive style or thin-skinned temperament. The president is a very smart man. How smart? His comeback is already a year ahead of Clinton's."

Read More (http://www.sacbee.com/2010/12/17/3264233/the-political-death-of-barack.html)

12-17-2010, 11:35 AM
Random Thought

If the Dem Congress Critters and the Progressive base had screamed, push back and fought as hard against the Republicans as they have against the President....

We are the change we've been looking for

Hope We the people, figure that out soon, really soon.

12-17-2010, 12:48 PM
I posted this in the Wikileaks thread but I wanted to re post here. There is a lot we simply don't understand and the truth is, unless we have the resources and access to every law and detail on our books at a moments notice, unless we are apart of the 3 branches of government in this country, it will be almost impossible to understand everything that's going on. However, jumping to conclusions without knowing at least a few of the facts will only muddy the waters. Which I'm willing to bet is exactly what the folks pulling the strings want; to muddy the waters and keep us from seeing the truth.

Jumping on every conspiracy theory and every piece of info that conforms to our views or beliefs does not make that info correct, and that goes for me just as much as it goes for anyone else. That's why we have to research, ask questions, read and use every ounce of critical thinking skills we have to even begin to get through the maze of how things are working, and why many things are being done.

Whether I post it, or you read and or hear it from the media or the internet PLEASE, check it out for yourself and use as many resources as possible.

The " deliberate dumbing down of American" has been a part of our culture since Reagan.

It's not all about if you can spell, use the correct grammar or come up with the latest 5 dollar word, its about using your mind to THINK.

I cannot come up with one good reason we have to remain dumb, not one....unless we choose to.

With reading and accessing WikiLeaks documents, some law to consider
By Professor David Glazier (http://llsblog.lls.edu/faculty/2010/12/the-law-behind-reading-reading-wikileaks-documents.html)

There has been significant discussion over the past week about potential consequences of downloading and sharing WikiLeaks documents classified by the U.S. government, ranging from schools' cautions to their students about potential job consequences to government agencies restricting access or discussion. One thing missing from most of this discussion is the relevant law. It does not seem to be widely understood that the public exposure of these documents does NOT declassify them. WikiLeaks can disclose classified information, but it cannot declassify it. As a matter of law these documents retain the original classification assigned to them until such time as an executive branch official with legal authority to alter the classification formally does so, or until the period of time established for them to remain classified has expired. (Many classified documents will be marked with a specified duration for their classification). While it may seem like government agencies endeavoring to limit access to the WikiLeaks site or public discussion of the documents by their employees are engaging in politically motivated censorship, it is in fact consistent with their obligations to enforce the law.

The reason that the fact that these documents continue to be classified really matters is federal espionage law, particularly 18 U.S.C. sec. 793. Most subsections of that statute contain a mens rea requirement that the perpetrator intends or has reason to believe that the information they are accessing or distributing "is to be used to the injury of the United States." I would contend that a citizen accessing information online for the purpose of informing themselves about what the U.S. government has been doing does not satisfy this requirement and could not reasonably be prosecuted under those sections. It is not hard to see, however, that those responsible for leaking the information to WikiLeaks, and potentially those responsible for posting it--knowing it would almost certainly be accessed by foreign governments and groups with interests inimical to those of the U.S. might reasonably be prosecuted under these sections. But the way U.S. espionage law currently reads, any American who simply retains or forwards any of these documents could also find them self violating federal law.

The specific legal provision of most concern is subsection (e) of 18 U.S.C. sec. 793, which reads (with some omissions simply for clarity):

(e) Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any . . . information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated . . . to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same . . . shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Read More (http://llsblog.lls.edu/faculty/2010/12/the-law-behind-reading-reading-wikileaks-documents.html)

12-17-2010, 03:11 PM
Jon Stewart talking to First Responders to 9/11. A MUST WATCH! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNDmKorWJn0

12-17-2010, 03:31 PM
Great video MS.

I still cannot get over the Republicans determination to destroy this country and everyone in it, just to bring down the current President of the United States.

The fact so many people, are so dayum determined to dislike the man (for every reason under the sun and more) they can't even see who their real enemies are.

Un effn real!!!!

12-18-2010, 12:02 AM
Hi ms_m,


If you want a good but not really funny laugh, go to youtube and look for Mitch McConnell videos and read the comments about the video where he cries over one of his buddies leaving. While we are on the subject of crying, a friend of my has seen Boehner put on his act many times.

12-18-2010, 09:06 AM
Setting the Record Straight on a False Statement

The tax cut deal is giving "$700 billion to millionaires and billionaires."
Sherrod Brown on Thursday, December 9th, 2010 in a CNN interview

Sen. Sherrod Brown overstates amount that 'millionaires and billionaires' would get in tax deal (http://www.politifact.com/ohio/statements/2010/dec/15/sherrod-brown/sen-sherrod-brown-overstates-amount-millionaires-a/)

The rich are different from you and me.

With apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has been prone recently to talk about the rich. They tend to want tax breaks. To be more precise, Republicans want lavish tax breaks for their rich constituents, says Brown, an Ohio Democrat.

And some of these breaks go too far, says Brown, citing the recent deal to extend all Bush-era tax breaks, which President Barack Obama and congressional Republican leaders announced on Dec. 6. Three days after that announcement, Brown told Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer on CNN, "You know basically what we're doing here is we're borrowing $700 billion from the Chinese. We're charging it to our kids’ and grandkids' credit cards for them to pay off later and then we're giving that $700 billion to millionaires and billionaires."

That’s a lot of money, even for billionaires, so PolitiFact Ohio decided to take a look.

We’re not here to ask whether whether it’s fair or whether it will trickle down and help the economy. We’re asking something more basic: Will there really be $700 billion worth of tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires?

A short answer: No. That’s because Brown’s figure is loaded with an assumption and a rhetorical flourish.

The assumption is that the top income tax bracket for people with high incomes will remain at 35 percent for 10 more years. That’s roughly what it would take for the tax cuts for the nation’s top 2 percent of earners to reach a cost of $700 billion, according to projections in August by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

Republicans at the time were pushing for a permanent extension of all the cuts that Congress passed in 2001 and 2003, and tax writers in the House of Representatives asked the joint committee to run a cost projection.

The problem with using that figure now is that the Obama-GOP deal, and the resulting tax package that Congress could approve this week, calls for extending the tax breaks for only two more years. A 10-year extension is not on the table.

It is true, as Brown’s communications director, Meghan Dubyak notes, that Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other economic advisers used the $700 billion figure as recently as September. They sounded a lot like Brown. But that was before the White House cut the two-year extension deal.

What figure should Brown have used? The answer depends on the rhetorical flourish we mentioned, which is this: That $700 billion figure for ten years includes a whole lot of people who are neither millionaires nor billionaires.

The figure, in fact, includes all single filers earning more than $200,000 a year and joint filers earning more than $250,000.

If you added up all the tax filers expected to report incomes of more than $200,000 in 2012, you’d get 7.5 million people, according to a rough calculation using figures from the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. But out of that 7.5 million people, only 531,000 would be from people with incomes of $1 million or more.

So the figure used by Brown -- and previously used by others -- includes "millionaires, billionaires and a whole bunch of people with incomes below that," said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

Using a slightly different technical perspective, the Joint Committee on Taxation said that out of 161 million tax filers nationwide, 315,000 earn at least $1 million.

People earning less than that can be considered millionaires, of course, because of their home values, investments and net worth. But to call a two-earner couple making $251,000 "millionaires and billionaires" exaggerates matters, and the $700 billion projection that Brown used never included such an assumption.

So if the cost is not $700 billion for millionaires and billionaires, what is it?

The Joint Committee projections earlier this year showed that a single year of extensions for just the $1 million-and-above filers would cost $32.7 billion. Run out over 10 years, that would come to $327 billion, although this is a rough estimate because the number of filers and their incomes and deductions can vary year to year.

The best estimate available comes from Joint Committee projections released on Dec. 10, a day after Brown spoke on CNN. They show the cost of retaining both the 33 percent tax bracket and the 35 percent bracket for two more years would come to $60.7 billion. This, too, covers a lot more people than millionaires and billionaires.

There is a chance that the two-year deal will be extended again in 2012. Obama, who is up for re-election that year, has not said as much, but Spitzer suggested it to Brown on CNN, and Brown agreed.

"Nobody really believes this is only a two-year extension of middle class tax cuts or the payroll tax holiday or the income tax cut or frankly the estate tax cut," Brown said. "I don't think anybody thinks that's only a two-year extension. I think it's well into the future. Who knows how to predict, five or 10 years out?"

But he did know how to project, and he chose 10 years.

How to rate Brown’s statement, then?
• His $700 billion cost figure certainly was used by the Obama White House when rejecting another 10 years worth of tax cuts for top earners. Yet by the time Brown appeared on CNN (three days after the administration announced the compromise), the deal was for two years, and it was that very deal that Brown went on the air to criticize.

• Even if the deal had been for 10 years, Brown misapplied the cost figure by describing the whole $700 billion as going to millionaires and billionaires. Joint Committee projections from earlier this year estimated that cost would be more like $327 billion over 10 years.

Those are two key points on which Brown’s statement simply is not accurate. On the Truth-O-Meter, we rate his statement False.

No one disputes this deal continues tax cuts that the rich do not deserve, but let's make sure we are at least truthful in presenting the facts.

12-18-2010, 09:08 AM
Hi ms_m,


If you want a good but not really funny laugh, go to youtube and look for Mitch McConnell videos and read the comments about the video where he cries over one of his buddies leaving. While we are on the subject of crying, a friend of my has seen Boehner put on his act many times.

Funny video.:D
Thanks for the link

12-18-2010, 03:19 PM
The DREAM Act was voted down earlier but debates for DADT are going on now and the word, it has the votes to pass.

The actual vote is scheduled at 3pm.

Click Here to Watch it on Cspan (http://www.c-span.org/Events/Senate-Set-to-Take-a-Final-Vote-on-Dont-Ask-Dont-Tell/10737418303-1/)

Note:McCain is coming up soon though so you may want to skip him.:mad:

12-18-2010, 03:30 PM
I forgot to add. the cloture vote was taken earlier and passed with more than the needed 60 votes. The vote was 63-33

The final vote at this point, is a forgone conclusion.

Pre victory congrats. I met a lot of people who worked really hard on this one. Great job!

By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will patriotic Americans be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love. ~ President Barack Obama, via Twitter and Facebook, 12/18/10

12-18-2010, 04:32 PM
Final Vote

Next Step: The President's Desk to be signed into law!

12-18-2010, 04:36 PM
Last night, the Senate voted on the House approved budget to continue federal spending in order to keep the government running through next Tuesday. The stop-gap measure will allow the House and Senate time to come up with a new resolution to fund the government through early next year.
The Senate also hopes to complete debate and vote on the START Treaty before the Christmas holiday.

Background on START and what it means to our National Security

Moscow wants START ratified, Iran engaged diplomatically (http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/12/18/37155495.html)

December 18 2010 19:29
At long last, the US Senate has opened a debate on ratifying the latest Russian-American strategic arms reduction treaty, signed at a summit on Prague on April 8th. The contention is over the preamble, which the Republican members want changed in a way that eliminates an agreed link between strategic weapons and missile defence. →

Remember during the campaign it was said negotiating with Iran
was naive?

President Obama presses Senate into ratifying START (http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/12/18/37140221.html)

December 18 2010 14:00
The US President Barack Obama insists that the Senate should ratify the new START treaty, or else America could forget about improving relations with Russia. President Obama says that Washington needs Moscow’s aid in settling numerous problems, specifically those related to Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear programme. →

Democrats ready to initiate vote on START today (http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/12/17/37105975.html)

December 17 2010 19:25
The Democrats in the US Congress are ready to initiate the vote on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) already on Friday if the Republicans don’t come up with new amendments, John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Friday. →

Moscow hopes US ratifies START by year end (http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/12/17/37083127.html)

December 17 2010 15:49
Moscow hopes that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will be ratified by the US Congress by the end of the year, a spokesman with Russia’s Foreign Ministry Alexei Sazonov said Friday. →

US Senate debates "killer" amendments to START (http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/12/17/37076976.html)

December 17 2010 15:18
The US Senate is debating the new START treaty with Russia. The Democrats are asking their colleagues to vote for the agreement. The Republicans are criticizing the document and suggesting either postponement of the ratification until next year or adoption of important amendments. →

US will hopefully ratify START this year – Russian Foreign Ministry (http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/12/17/37067934.html)

December 17 2010 14:16
The Russian Foreign Ministry hopes that the United States will ratify the START treaty this year, says a Foreign Ministry official Alexei Sazonov. He told a news briefing in Moscow that one shouldn’t rule out that the United States may ratify the treaty before the end of the year. →

Republicans to offer 12 amendments to START (http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/12/17/37039650.html)

December 17 2010 10:24
The Republican Senators say they will make up to 12 amendments to the Russian-American Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, and will come up with a resolution on ratification. This comes in a statement by the deputy leader of the Republican faction in the Senate John Kyl. →

12-18-2010, 05:27 PM
Bo goes to Hawaii


Last year Bo the First Dog didn't get the chance to go on the annual family Hawaii Christmas vacation.

What a difference a year makes. He's packed and ready to go!

...and a few words from the First Dog


In an exclusive interview with this DogTime.com reporter, Bo Obama revealed, "Yes, it's true, the President scoops my poop whenever the need arises. Hey, he's had plenty of practice considering all the manure he had to move when he first took office. The previous administration left a virtual mine field of meadow muffins he had to bag and toss before he could get down to business!"

12-18-2010, 06:16 PM
Cute. During W's first term a NYC radio personality said it will take generations to undo what this president has done.

12-18-2010, 06:25 PM
I hope it's never undone with two exceptions.

I'd like a public option (for health care)
and the tax cuts for the 2% permanently repealed.

I also have some wish list items that he's working on but.....he has six more years to deliver;)

12-18-2010, 06:27 PM
And I also want to see the DREAM ACT passed but I plan to talk about that later.

12-18-2010, 06:30 PM
oops...my bad, I was thinking of what President Obama had done.
sorry about that MS.

pays to put on ya glasses:)

12-18-2010, 08:16 PM
Well, I got official notice today, no increase in social security. I'm sure the house and senate won't get raises either. Or will they? Hmm.

12-18-2010, 11:23 PM
I really don't know what they will get MS but I'm a glass half full kinda gal. You get a check every month, it didn't decrease. I'm sure there are many that would love to take your place.

Have a great evening.

12-18-2010, 11:34 PM
DREAM Act Fails in Senate, 55 to 41

The DREAM Act would put young undocumented immigrants with a clean criminal record on a long path to citizenship if they commit two years to the military or higher education. In order to qualify, young people must have lived in the country for at least five years, entered the country before the age of 16 and still be under 30 years old. The bill passed the House earlier this month.

In the end, the bill, which has always enjoyed bipartisan support, actually got enough Republican votes to secure its passage. But the Democratic caucus disintegrated when North Carolina’s Kay Hagan, Arkansas’ Jon Pryor, Montana’s Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and Nebraska’s Ben Nelson all voted against ending debate on the bill. Meanwhile, some key Republicans voted for the DREAM Act: Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, Richard Lugar from Indiana and outgoing Sen. Bob Bennett from Utah.

President Obama on the DREAM Act: "My Administration Will Not Give Up" (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/12/18/president-obama-dream-act-my-administration-will-not-give)

Posted by Kori Schulman on December 18, 2010 at 12:53 PM EST

Following a disappointing vote in the Senate, President Obama released the following statement on the DREAM act:
In an incredibly disappointing vote today, a minority of Senators prevented the Senate from doing what most Americans understand is best for the country. As I said last week, when the House passed the DREAM Act, it is not only the right thing to do for talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own, it is the right thing for the United States of America. Our nation is enriched by their talents and would benefit from the success of their efforts. The DREAM Act is important to our economic competitiveness, military readiness, and law enforcement efforts. And as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported, the DREAM Act would cut the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. There was simply no reason not to pass this important legislation.

It is disappointing that common sense did not prevail today. But my administration will not give up on the DREAM Act, or on the important business of fixing our broken immigration system. The American people deserve a serious debate on immigration, and it’s time to take the polarizing rhetoric off our national stage.

I thank Senators Durbin, Reid, and Menendez for their tireless efforts. Moving forward, my administration will continue to do everything we can to fix our nation’s broken immigration system so that we can provide lasting and dedicated resources for our border security while at the same time restoring responsibility and accountability to the system at every level.

12-19-2010, 12:15 AM
What They Are Saying: The Affordable Care Act and the Courts (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/12/15/what-they-are-saying-affordable-care-act-and-courts)

Posted by Stephanie Cutter, Assistant to the President for Special Projects
On Monday, a Virginia judge issued a narrow ruling on the constitutionality of the individual responsibility provision in the Affordable Care Act. In two other cases – including a separate case in Virginia -- federal judges looked at the merits of the opponents’ arguments and upheld the law. 12 other challenges to the law have been dismissed by courts across the country. You can learn more about these court cases and the Administration’s arguments here.
In the days following the ruling in Virginia, editorial boards nationwide have examined the decision and the Affordable

Care Act’s individual responsibility provision. Here’s what they are saying:

Los Angeles Times: The individual mandate: It's constitutional (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-health-20101215,0,7566577.story)

In that sense, what's at stake isn't Americans' cherished "right to be let alone." It's whether they'll continue to be stuck in a system in which millions of uninsured people force those with insurance to pick up at least part of the tab for their visits to the emergency room and for the untreated diseases that they spread....

USA Today: Our view on 'individual mandate': Ruling on health law offers a victory for freeloaders

.... If the requirement that most Americans buy insurance is thrown out, but the insurance reforms remain in place, premiums would skyrocket for existing policyholders.
The individual mandate once enjoyed significant support among conservatives, who saw it as promoting an ethic of personal responsibility, but the drive to oppose President Obama's signature reform led many of them to abandon that principle and denounce the insurance mandate as big government run amok. They had it right in the first place.

Las Vegas Sun: (http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/dec/15/poor-decision/)A poor decision; Judge misses point on health care law, not seeing how everyone is affected

The law certainly has a constitutional basis. Congress has a right to address health care, which accounts for one-sixth of the nation’s economy, and it has a right to regulate an industry that affects everyone.
.... yet some conservatives are more interested in protecting the insurance industry over the public, claiming the law violates their liberty. But that’s a disingenuous argument.

The reality is that by providing more equity in the system, the health care law isn’t undercutting liberty, it’s actually upholding it.

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Health care reform and the freedom to freeload (http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/the-platform/article_42a89958-07da-11e0-b5cd-00127992bc8b.html)

.... The final word will come from the U.S. Supreme Court, as has always been expected....
Judge Hudson is entirely and demonstrably wrong. His grasp of health care economics and the realities of the marketplace are, to put it charitably, flawed. His ruling is an exercise in sophistry...
...(H)is ruling would be a blow to the vast majority of responsible Americans who already have health insurance. They’ll have to continue footing ever-higher premiums to cover freeloaders who refuse to take responsibility for their own care.

New York Times: The Latest Health Care Decision (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/opinion/14tue2.html?_r=3)

Yet it seems clear that decisions not to buy insurance will, in the aggregate, affect costs in the broader health care markets. We hope higher courts will find that a decision to forgo insurance simply shifts much of the cost for subsequent illness to hospitals, doctors and insured individuals. Taxpayers’ costs would rise to pay for billions of dollars in uncompensated care given to individuals who can’t pay for it....

Washington Post: Judge Hudson's flawed but restrained ruling on the health law (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/13/AR2010121305014.html)

Importantly - and correctly - Judge Hudson, in invalidating the individual mandate, declined to bring down the rest of the law with it, as Virginia had asked.... On the constitutionality of the individual mandate, he made what we consider the wrong call in a difficult case. But he did it in a thoughtful way that will be minimally disruptive to implementing the law and obtaining a final determination on its constitutionality.

12-19-2010, 04:13 AM
Obama Urges Swift Approval of START Treaty

President Barack Obama is urging the U.S. Senate to rafity the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia before the end of the legislative session.

President Obama says approving the New START treaty is an urgent national priority. "Ratifying a treaty like START is not about winning a victory for an administration or a political party. It is about the safety and security of the United States of America," he said.

The president again appealed for approval of START during his weekly address on Saturday.

Senators are expected to debate and vote on the treaty in the coming days, as their session ends.

Republicans who oppose ratifying the treaty are threatening amendments to the legislation to slow the process.

Mr. Obama reminded them that the previous nuclear arms treaty has expired, and that the U.S. is no longer able to verify Russia's nuclear arsenal. "Every minute we drag our feet is a minute that we have no inspectors on the ground at those Russian nuclear sites," he said.

Full Story (http://www.voanews.com/english/news/President-Obama-Urges-Congress-Swift-Approval-of-START-Treaty----112121134.html)

12-19-2010, 04:15 AM
GOP Reversal on 9-11 Health Bill

9/11 Health Bill Wins Support From G.O.P. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/nyregion/19health.html)

WASHINGTON — Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand said Saturday that she and other sponsors of a stalled 9/11 health bill had won new Republican support for the measure and intended to try again to pass it before the end of the 111th Congress.
Following the Senate’s vote to repeal the ban on gays serving in the military, Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said Democrats intended to resurrect the health initiative in the coming days after falling three votes short of breaking a filibuster against it earlier this month.
“We have the votes we need,” Ms. Gillibrand said. “We have indications from several Republicans that they very much want to vote for this bill.”

The $7.4 billion measure is intended to provide medical care to workers and others who had become ill as a result of being exposed to toxic debris and fumes at the site of the World Trade Center attack in 2001.

Republicans have raised concerns about how to pay for the program, and Ms. Gillibrand said the bill’s authors have identified ways to cover the costs through new federal fees that are acceptable to enough Republicans to advance the measure. It stalled on a party line vote of 57 to 42 when 60 votes were required.

12-19-2010, 11:32 AM

Justice Scalia and the Tea Party

Published: December 18, 2010

When the Tea Party holds its first Conservative Constitutional Seminar next month, Justice Antonin Scalia is set to be the speaker. It was a bad idea for him to accept this invitation. He should send his regrets.

The Tea Party epitomizes the kind of organization no justice should speak to — left, right or center — in the kind of seminar that has been described in the press. It has a well-known and extreme point of view about the Constitution and about cases and issues that will be decided by the Supreme Court.

By meeting behind closed doors, as is planned, and by presiding over a seminar, implying give and take, the justice would give the impression that he was joining the throng — confirming his new moniker as the “Justice from the Tea Party.”

The ideological nature of the group and the seminar would eclipse the justice’s independence and leave him looking rash and biased.

Full Story (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/opinion/19sun3.html?ref=opinion)

12-19-2010, 11:34 AM
The Supreme Court and Obama’s Health Care Law

Published: December 18, 2010

So far in three lawsuits against the plan, two federal judges appointed by Democrats have upheld the law; one Republican-appointed judge has declared an important part of it unconstitutional. Use party as your measure, send the cases up the appeals ladder, and you quickly get to a 5-4 decision at the Supreme Court: the justices appointed by Republican presidents will vote to strike down the law. Game over, thanks for playing.

But the votes of the Supreme Court are not that easy to divine, and while political considerations can creep into any judge’s views, deeper factors are at play, said Mark Tushnet, a professor at Harvard Law School. Supreme Court justices, for the most part, “are attuned to their reputations as individuals in history, and their overall place in the government as a whole,” he said.

Read More (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/weekinreview/19schwartz.html?ref=health)

12-19-2010, 12:04 PM
Intriguing article

Soros vs Murdoch: The battle for the soul of America

Two billionaires – one liberal, the other conservative – are at war. The prize is the future of the US. David Usborne reports

Who knew that Rupert Murdoch and George Soros, two billionaires of not so tender years, had it in them? But consider.

While the one means to impose a right-wing "dictatorial democracy" on America, the other is a "master puppeteer" bent on collapsing the dollar and forming a socialist world government.

Cartoonish this may be, but a joke it is not. These two behemoths of media and finance might, as they approach retirement, have restricted themselves to brandishing their ideological differences over an occasional dinner at their clubs in New York and London. Instead they are projecting their increasingly bitter fight on to the canvas of American politics. To whose benefit exactly, it's not clear.

Full Story (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/soros-vs-murdoch-the-battle-for-the-soul-of-america-2163632.html)

12-19-2010, 04:12 PM
Food for thought.

12-19-2010, 08:35 PM
Chk this out

The Little Bill That Could

Little noticed but extremely important to progressives, on Saturday afternoon Congress also passed the Local Community Radio Act.

This legislation opens up radio spectrum to hundreds, if not thousands, of local independent radio stations (also known as LPFM).

Its passing will bring new choices and voices on the radio dial nationwide, but is especially relevant to a broadcast area reaching 160 million people who lived in areas where these stations had previously been barred from local airwaves.

Anyone tracking the rise of radio personalities like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage understands the primary political significance of gaining access to spectrum.

With the opening of the airwaves to LPFM stations, progressives can gain a small but consequential spot on the radio dial. The challenge now is to organize local groups to gain access to licenses. Follow and support the Prometheus Radio Project to learn more.

Read More (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/the-little-bill-that-coul_b_798768.html)

12-19-2010, 09:18 PM
Chk this out

that's wonderful news! Of course, television has had low power television stations for as long as it's existed, but that has been primarily used by religious channels, spanish channels, and most notably low power translators, which simply "re-broadcast" the signal of network affiliates in highly mountainous and remote rural areas. This is wonderful news, and will increase the amount of voices heard over the airwaves. I'm sure large corporation broadcasters are bemaoning this, because it can only further erode their market share, but hey... tough crap! Corporate ownership of multiple stations in a single broadcast market has virtually killed radio for me, luckily I live in a rural area, so there are a "few" left out here in the boondocks where the audience is too small for the big guys to want to pay attention.

12-19-2010, 09:37 PM
Jillfoster not only will it cut into their market share but it loosens the control they have over many of these communities.

For a lot if these places the only thing they hear are folks like Limbaugh. That's about to end and yes, that
is good news!

12-19-2010, 10:05 PM
Missed this op ed when it first came out but I’m glad I ran across it.
For all those that think the President sold out. This article should give you a few things to consider.

He has always said he didn’t like the tax cuts for the rich but like it or not, the Republicans held the middle class tax cuts hostage in order to keep them.

The purist said, don’t cave no matter who gets hurt. Thank goodness he didn't listen to 20% of the extreme left.

The President wasn’t willing to throw the middle class under the bus. Personally, I call that principled with a backbone of steel!

Does Obama have contempt for the left?
By Adam Serwer

Yesterday, President Obama gave a combative response to criticism he's been receiving from the left for his proposed deal with Republicans to extend both the middle and upper income tax cuts. Sounding a note that resembled his rebuke to neoconservatives regarding the "satisfying purity of indignation" in his Nobel acceptance speech, the president said:

Now, if that's the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let's face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of preexisting conditions or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.

More (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/12/does_obama_have_contempt_for_t.html)


The newest meme coming from the Progressive left; (or the I hate Obama Dems)
pushing the idea he wants to dismantle Social Security.

SS is one of the cornerstone pieces of legislation in the Dem Party. The POTUS is a lot of things but stupid he's not. PLEASE, check things out before buying into that meme.

Questioning is a good thing. Accepting without questioning is not.

12-19-2010, 11:15 PM
Geesh, where was all this bipartisan support
Two years ago?

Senate Approves Food Safety Bill

Capping off a productive weekend, the Senate passed a food safety bill by unanimous consent on Sunday night—approving the legislation in a brisk, surprise move that caught some staffers by surprise. The bill, which would give new powers to the FDA to prevent contamination in food products, had already been passed by the Senate several weeks ago, but a parliamentary snafu invalidated the vote. “Our food safety system has not been updated in almost a century,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid, who vowed to again send the completed bill back to the House for final approval—this time with the correct language. "This is a common-sense issue with broad bipartisan support.”

In Sunday-evening surprise, Senate unanimously passes food safety bill

The Senate unexpectedly approved food safety legislation by unanimous consent Sunday evening, rescuing a bill that floated in limbo for weeks because of a clerical error.

The Senate passed the Food Safety and Modernization Act on Nov. 30 by a vote of 73-25. But the bill was later invalidated by a technical objection because it was a revenue-raising measure that did not originate in the House — Senate staff had failed to substitute the food safety language into a House-originated bill.

A coalition of groups supporting the bill sent a letter Sunday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) calling for action on food safety.

12-20-2010, 01:19 AM
Amendment Would Enable States to Repeal Federal Law

This is NOT a good thing...

And to refresh your memory, here is a reminder of a few major acts of congress,http://www.enotes.com/major-acts-congress including a little something called, Civil Rights.

The idea a repeal of this magnitude would pass in the next 2 years is pretty preposterous, but the fact Republicans/Tea Party folks are even going down this road, should give rational thinking people serious pause.

You think you have issues with the current WH resident?

Well take a look at what the future could bring with a Republican at the helm.

Amendment Would Enable States to Repeal Federal Law

Published: December 19, 2010
The same people driving the lawsuits that seek to dismantle the Obama administration’s health care overhaul have set their sights on an even bigger target: a constitutional amendment that would allow a vote of the states to overturn any act of Congress.

Jay Paul for The New York Times

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the attorney general of Virginia, wrote to his counterparts in every state this month, asking them to support a constitutional amendment that would allow the states to vote to overturn acts of Congress.
Under the proposed “repeal amendment,” any federal law or regulation could be repealed if the legislatures of two-thirds of the states voted to do so.
The idea has been propelled by the wave of Republican victories in the midterm elections. First promoted by Virginia lawmakers and Tea Party groups, it has the support of legislative leaders in 12 states. It also won the backing of the incoming House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor, when it was introduced this month in Congress.

Read More (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/20/us/politics/20states.html?_r=2&hp)

12-20-2010, 02:49 AM
YAY!!!!!!!!!!!! I think I'll do a thread for LPFM, this is BIG news for little radio stations!!!!

12-20-2010, 11:13 AM
Social Security

Earlier I made a foot note about Social Security. The underground buzz on this is getting louder which means sooner or later, MSM will probably pick up on the crazy and run with it.

To refresh your memory, the new meme is, President Obama is trying to gut Social Security. I cannot find any concrete evidence to support this meme.

Let me give you a little background on all of this. During the volatile tax cut debate on Democratic blogs, things really got out of hand. There are two camps, supporters of the President and non supporters. From what I’ve observed, both sides were over the top. Both sides said pretty hateful and vile things, when charges of racism starting flying, all hell broke loose. Were there racist comments made? YES.
Was ALL the criticism against the President racist? NO.

Personally, I think some of it was intentionally being stirred up by outside agitators on both sides, but it reached the point where you really didn’t know what the heck was going on. In the middle of all this, the idea of SS being gutted started to appear. It died down for awhile but now it’s coming back with a vengeance.

For the life of me I can not figure out why anyone would think the President would want to gut SS. He’s never said anything remotely close to wanting to do so and, it would be political suicide if he tried.

It seems some of the suspicions’ come from the SS Holiday Tax that was placed in the Tax Deal. Some think it’s the beginning of the end. I have checked numerous sources and the overall opinion of many highly respected economists; SS is sound for now, possibly thorough 2027 or beyond. Are there dissenting and conflicting ideas? Yes, but they seem more opinion based than fact based, whereas the other guys are coming up with some pretty hard facts. I went back and checked the 2010 Fiscal Budget and found the following.

See next page (2)

12-20-2010, 11:21 AM
Page 2

Budget of the United States Government: Browse Fiscal Year

Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2010 (http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy10/browse.html)
Funding Highlights:

Social Security Section (PDF) (http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy10/pdf/budget/social.pdf)
• Provides $11.6 billion for the Social Security Administration, a 10-percent increase targeted at completing crucial workloads and providing the American public with better service.
• Enables processing of a rising number of retirement and disability claims.
• Provides funding for increasing program integrity efforts to ensure payments are made to the right person and in the correct amount.
• Modernizes rules for evaluating disability.
• Looks forward to working in a bipartisan way to preserve Social Security for future generations.

Please keep in mind this budget that was submitted by the President and passed by congress. Note the 11.6 billions dollars which was a 10 percent increase in the SS portion of the budget.

Then I checked the 2011 Fiscal Budget and found the following:

Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2011 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Overview/)
Funding Highlights:

Scroll to the SS section

• Provides $12.5 billion for the Social Security Administration, an 8 percent increase, targeted at
reducing backlogs and improving service for the American public.
• Expands program integrity efforts to make sure payments are made to the right person and in
the right amount.
• Restructures Federal Wage Reporting.

Here is the catch, the 2011 budget has not been passed and is in Dem/Repub gridlock. That gridlock seems to be what’s scaring the crap out of people.

Another thing I ran across was this:

US tax deal, budget feud set stage for 2011 cuts (http://blogs.reuters.com/james-pethokoukis/2010/12/17/us-tax-deal-budget-feud-set-stage-for-2011-cuts/)

Democrats and Republicans in Congress are gridlocked over the $1.1 trillion budget for 2011. So they will probably pass a temporary spending measure to keep the government running for another month or two. This creates a situation next year where the flood of new Tea Party Republicans can combine a threat of government shutdown with a refusal to raise the national debt ceiling so as to squeeze spending cuts out of Obama and congressional Democrats.

Indeed, some GOP insiders believe the president – with a bit of nudging — may be ready to strike a deal to reform the tax system and cut future Social Security benefits along lines suggested by his own debt commission earlier this month. And as the tax compromise shows, Obama now seems willing to anger some within his own party in order to get legislation passed.

The key to any longer-term deal on the deficit is to make it happen before presidential politics starts to intrude by the middle of 2011. That’s not going to be easy — but the flurry of activity at the end of 2010 provides a glimmer of hope.

I’m sure there are some that will read this and say, he’s going to gut SS. Nowhere does it say that. It does theorize he may be willing to anger Dems by cutting back but it’s a theory and nothing more. As a matter of fact, under the heading of the author it says:

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

…Theory, opinion, but no concrete evidence.

But think about this, why put billions of dollars in SS if your plan is to gut it? Does that really make any rational or logical sense?

12-20-2010, 11:24 AM
Page 3

In August of this year the President said:

Obama: Social Security 'is not in crisis'
By Jordan Fabian - 08/18/10 10:31 AM ET

President Obama said Social Security is not in crisis and only modest changes are needed to keep it solvent.
The president acknowledged at a small town hall gathering in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday that the pension fund "has to be tweaked because the population is getting older" but said Republicans' plans to drastically overhaul the program are wrong.

"Social Security is not in crisis," Obama said. "We're going to have to make some modest adjustments in order to strengthen it."

Social Security has become a significant campaign issue during the August recess — Democrats have attacked the GOP, accusing them of wanting to privatize the Great Depression-era program. They cite Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget roadmap, which proposes raising the retirement age to 70 and cutting benefits for wealthy retirees.
In the past, the GOP has proposed putting some Social Security benefits in private accounts. But many Republicans have said they do not support the plan.

Still, some economists worry the program will soon become insolvent because there are more retirees and, thus, fewer workers paying into the system. Recent polling also shows that most people believe they will not receive their benefits upon retirement.

But the president said these problems can be solved so everyone can receive benefits.
"There are some fairly modest changes that could be made without resorting to any newfangled schemes that would continue Social Security for another 75 years, where everybody would get the benefits they deserve," he said.

"I have been adamant that Social Security should not be privatized, and it will not be privatized as long as I am president," he added.

Obama also said his bipartisan fiscal commission could come up with proposals to extend the life of the program.
"I am absolutely convinced it can be done," he said.
Read More (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/114821-obama-social-security-not-in-crisis)

He wants to preserve the program but for all we know SS is wasting money on things that have nothing to do with benefits and trust me it’s possible. Government waste such as spending 100 bucks for a toilet seat has been known to occur and, it’s been documented.

12-20-2010, 11:30 AM
Page 4

Another thing that has the Progressive Left in a tizzy is the President’s Deficit Commission, affectionately known as the Cat Food Commission.

Personally, I’ve always thought Democrats were allergic to cutting back on spending but in all fairness, a lot of that has to do with, usually the things that are cut hurt the middle class and poor. Although it’s rather ironic the middle class folk that are complaining now, didn’t get their panties in bunch when Clinton cut back Welfare that ended up hurting the children of Welfare mothers…hmmmmm….but I digress.

Anyhoo, this Cat Food Commission came up with the following recommendations and I will admit many are quite extreme and go after entitlement programs, yet many make perfect sense.

Obama's deficit commission calls for talks with Congress (http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/12/obamas-deficit-commission-calls-for-talks-with-congress/1)

The co-chairmen of President Obama's bipartisan deficit commission are urging him to enter into serious negotiations with Congress about specific ways to cut spending, raise taxes and control the $13.8 trillion national debt.

Those would be interesting talks, given that Obama and proponents of a tentative agreement to temporarily extend President George W. Bush's tax cuts acknowledge it would increase the deficit by more than $700 billion over the next two years.

The commission issued its final report last week calling for nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. It included tough proposals to eliminate special-interest tax breaks, charge more for Medicare and give less in Social Security benefits. It also called for big cuts in defense and domestic spending.

Members of the panel met this morning at the White House with budget director Jacob Lew and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. After the meeting, co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson said lawmakers should come together on a deficit-reduction plan before they vote to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling next year.

If you're wondering what the recommendations were, you can read a summary by scrolling through the text document: Click on link


Which recommendations the President will take, I do not have a clue. Neither does any of the people running around screaming their hair is on fire.

And yes, I do understand people are suspicious, and do not like Geithner and a few others.

But suspicions and dislike do not equal proof of gutting anything.


If you have any concerns or feeling uneasy, now is the time to be proactive, let your congress critters and the President know by emails, phone calls, petitions or carrier pigeon, you are concerned and will not accept any major cuts in SS.

Please do not accept hyperbole and unsubstantiated rumors or speculations based on distrust or hate of the POTUS. Do not follow the hysterical people into bizzaro world and then at the last minute, blame the President because you don’t like the way he’s doing his job.

Then again, do the opposite, your choice, but understand choices bring consequences. Those consequences could come wrapped in Republican/Tea Party clothing sitting in the WH or in the majority of both the House and Senate come 2012.

To paraphrase a saying, if you are not working to be part of the solution, you ARE a part of the problem.

There is something else I would like to add to this and I’m just as guilty as anyone but like it or not, folks on the left need to face the fact our deficit needs to be addressed. Many of the programs the President has created pay for themselves but many do not. We can’t keep spending without looking at ways to make cuts. That’s reality.

President Obama is a long term thinker so at some point he will be making what he feels are necessary budget cuts. My guess many if not all will be addressed in his State of the Union Speech.

These cuts will hurt some and not others so this will be another one of those major fights that will not please everyone and will get twisted with talking points and spin.

Don’t have a clue what measures he will take and it’s possible I may not agree with all of them, but gutting SS is not on my list of concerns.

I don’t want to tell anyone what they should or should not be concerned with. All I’m asking is for people to verify first. Trust can come after.

12-20-2010, 11:41 AM
One more thing

THE 2011 Fiscal Budget, has not been passed by Congress.
This also has many people concerned.

This Dem/Repub gridlock is in Congress not the WH

12-20-2010, 12:26 PM
Jobs and Solar Power

Back in Black: US Now a Net Exporter of Solar
by Timothy B. Hurst on December 18, 2010

“The U.S. imports and exports product from every continent. But in addition to being a major net exporter of solar energy products, the industry is creating significant wealth in the United States and jobs in all 50 states,” said Rhone Resch, President and CEO of Solar Energy Industry Association, the largest solar industry trade association in the U.S.

Read More (http://earthandindustry.com/2010/12/back-in-black-us-now-a-net-exporter-of-solar/)

I like these types of stories but it's sad we don't get more of this on constant rotation in the MSM.

12-20-2010, 01:33 PM
Attention Fox News Viewers(?)


There was a story reported that Emanuel Clever a member of the Black Caucus submitted a 48 billion dollar earmark request. Yes I said 48 billion dollars

The story IS NOT TRUE!!!!!

"I think it would be hilarious if thousands of people did not believe it."
— Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri

A $48 billion earmark? Blogosphere runs wild with erroneous report

Read Full Story (http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/12/17/1978796/a-48-billion-earmark-blogosphere.html#ixzz18fo5LtGd)

Rep. Cleaver is one of the more than 25 or so members of Congress, who lists ALL earmark ideas submitted to his office. No matter how crazy. No matter who they are from. He does this in the name of transparency.

Too easy, won’t even go there.:rolleyes:

Just to be clear, he writes them all down, He does not submit them all to congress

12-21-2010, 02:44 AM
Two down: Obama ends first half of term with big victories

President Obama chalks up victories on taxes and 'don't ask, don't tell' as the first half of his presidential term ends. He's getting a fresh look from voters as engaged and involved — a deal maker.

By Paul West, Washington Bureau
December 19, 2010

WASHINGTON — President Obama is ending the first half of his term the same way he began it — with a storm of activity of impressive, even historic, dimensions. Year-end victories on taxes, economic stimulus and landmark cultural change are reshaping the image of a president who seemed isolated and out of touch only a month ago in the wake of an enormous midterm election defeat.

Suddenly, he looks like a deal maker who can reach across party lines to get things done and, perhaps, make progress that Americans found lacking when they went to the polls in November.

Obama is "a progressive leader who, in fact, understands that politics is all about the art of the possible," Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday on NBC. Both parties, Biden said, had "heard the message" of the election, that voters "want us to reasonably compromise to move the business of the nation forward."

Read More (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/sc-dc-congress-obama-assess-20101219,0,4148330.story?track=rss)

12-21-2010, 11:39 AM
Obama Scores a Victory, Along With Some Vindication (http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/obama_scores_a_victory_along_with_some_vindication _20101220)
Posted on Dec 21, 2010

By Eugene Robinson

President Obama must be tempted to respond to his progressive critics with a quote from the old-school rapper Kool Moe Dee: “How ya like me now?”

Repeal of the military’s bigoted and anachronistic “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military—a campaign promise that seemed to be slipping out of reach—doesn’t fully mend the relationship between Obama and the Democratic Party’s liberal wing. But it’s a pretty terrific start.

Progressives needed a clear, unambiguous victory to ease the sting of those extended tax cuts for the rich. They got one Saturday with the Senate’s historic vote to end “don’t ask, don’t tell”—and Obama won vindication for the slow, patient, step-by-step approach that drove gay and lesbian activists crazy but ultimately produced a stunning result.

Obama’s 2010 Successes and Failures in the Middle East (http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/obamas_2010_successes_and_failures_in_the_middle_e ast_20101221/?ln)

By Juan Cole
Posted on Dec 21, 2010

As 2010 dawned, President Barack Obama had four big issues on his plate regarding the Middle East. These were Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Iran, and Afghanistan. The year has been as unkind to him on those issues as it was with respect to unemployment and the Republican resurgence. As the decade draws to a close, it is clear that the bright hopes inspired by Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech have markedly faded, and the disappointments have outweighed achievements in the most important arena for contemporary American foreign policy. In some important respects, the fault lies with Obama himself for being less a leader than a coordinator.

In Iraq, the U.S. State Department’s hopes that the March 7 parliamentary elections would contribute to national reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites and form a bridge to a successful American withdrawal have been put in doubt. The Iraqiya Party, headed by former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, had attracted the support of Iraq’s minority Sunnis, and was backed by Saudi Arabia and, initially, the United States. Although it had the largest single number of seats in the new Parliament, it never found enough partners to form a majority.

12-21-2010, 09:12 PM
Obama Is Suffering Because of His Achievements, Not Despite Them

With this weekend’s decisive Senate repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for gay service members, can anyone seriously doubt Barack Obama’s patient willingness to play the long game? Or his remarkable success in doing so? In less than two years in office—often against the odds and the smart money’s predictions at any given moment—Obama has managed to achieve a landmark overhaul of the nation’s health insurance system; the most sweeping change in the financial regulatory system since the Great Depression; the stabilization of the domestic auto industry; and the repeal of a once well-intended policy that even the military itself had come to see as unnecessary and unfair.

So why isn’t his political standing higher?

Read More Here (http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2010/12/obama-is-suffering-because-of-his-achievements-not-despite-them.html)

12-21-2010, 09:22 PM
The Dems, (I think I've said this before, have no ability to market themselves.) Meanwhile, I'm tired of the republicans complaining about work the week before Christmas. If they had worked earlier in the year they might be home by now. But now, it is all the fault of the Democrats. And McConnell today. I wonder if the guy has ever really worked a day in his sorry life. Enough ranting for now.

12-22-2010, 11:54 AM
I know the feeling MS.
Jim DeMint is trying to back peddle on his involvement with the fake Christmas outrage and he still sounds foolish.

Jim DeMint and the war on Christmas vacation

South Carolina GOP Sen. Jim DeMint repeated today his claim that "millions of Americans" are "outraged" that Congress would dare work on major legislation, namely New START, this close to Christmas. He previously called it "sacrilegious."

"Don't tell me about Christmas. I understand Christmas," Vice President Joe Biden responded in a Dec. 16 interview. "There's 10 days between now and Christmas. I hope I don't get in the way of your Christmas shopping, but this is the nation's business. National security's at stake. Act."

Less than a week later, DeMint is back at it again. "It's clear with this treaty that [the administration is] trying to cram something down the throats of the American people under the cover of Christmas," DeMint said in a press conference on Tuesday. "They're not looking at politics right now, they're celebrating their holy Christmas holiday, and the fact that we're doing this under the cover of Christmas...is something to be outraged about."

Full Article Here (http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/21/jim_demint_and_the_war_on_christmas_vacation)

12-22-2010, 12:05 PM
Senate Continues Work on START Treaty and 9/11 Health Bill
Senate Passes Defense Bill‎

Washington, DC
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Senate continues to work on major legislation to wrap up 111th session, including the START treaty and 9/11 first responders’ health bill. Earlier today, Senators passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 by unanimous consent.

The Senate plans to finish taking up amendments on the START treaty and take a final vote. Also, negotiations continue on the 9/11 first responders’ health bill. If the Senate is able to approve the legislation, the House is standing by to act on it.

Earlier today, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 by unanimous consent. The House, which approved the measure last week, will review it this week.

Read More (http://www.c-span.org/Events/Senate-Continues-Work-on-START-Treaty-and-911-Health-Bill/10737418426/)

Senate Now On C SPAN2 – click to watch (http://www.c-span.org/Events/Senate-Continues-Work-on-START-Treaty-and-911-Health-Bill/10737418426-2/)

12-22-2010, 01:04 PM
Obama Signs DADT Repeal Into Law

President Obama this morning signed into law the bill repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
"I am just overwhelmed," Obama said as he took the stage among chants of "Yes we can!" and whoops from the audience. "This is a very good day."

"No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military, regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay," he said. "No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie."

Read More (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/obama-signs-dadt-repeal-into-law.php)

It's Over: Senate Repeals Don't Ask, Don't Tell/Slideshow (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/gallery/2010/12/senate-repeals-dont-ask-dont-tell-1.php?img=1)

12-22-2010, 01:31 PM
Sarah Palin is such a twit…
…and that’s me being nice.

Mike Huckabee Defends Michelle Obama Against Sarah Palin (AUDIO)
The Huffington Post | Nick Wing Posted: 12-22-10 09:49 AM

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee took a moment on Tuesday to counter Sarah Palin's recent claim that Michelle Obama is out to rob children and parents of their rights to eat dessert.

"With all due respect to my colleague and friend Sarah Palin, I think she's misunderstood what Michelle Obama is trying to do," Huckabee said Tuesday during a radio appearance the "Curtis Sliwa Show."

On Sunday's episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," the state's former governor quipped on a camping trip that she planned to make her family s'mores "in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert," an apparent jab at the first lady's campaign anti-obesity campaign, which does include, among other things, an encouragement that American families attempt to find dessert replacements.

Huckabee, who struggled with weight issues himself, but later took up marathon running and had managed to lose significant weight through exercise (another staple of Michelle Obama's initiative), wanted to make clear that the program is not, as Palin has claimed, simply a move to try to get big government on "our back."

Read and listen to audio here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/22/mike-huckabee-sarah-palin-michelle-obama_n_800130.html)

Personal Opinion:
Out of all the names that have been discussed as a possible Republican Presidential Candidate in 2012,
I’ve always believed Mike Huckabee would be the most difficult for the President to beat. He can come off a little goofy at times though. That could be an issue in terms of a credible leader that would demand respect. But all in all, I think he could give President Obama a run for his money. We shall see.

12-22-2010, 02:16 PM
Must See TV

Many people know I’m not a TV watcher but I do watch clips from time to time on the net. I prefer Maddow over Olbermann because Rachel is calm and reasonable, even when she criticizes the President. She also gives opinions that are fact based and well researched, and she doesn’t have any problems admitting when she has gotten something wrong. Wow, another Adult In The Room.:cool:

Anyhoo, for those who may have missed her show yesterday you can watch it here. (see link below)

She gives an excellent breakdown of why the START TREATY is important not only for the US but for the world.

She gives the President praise (based on facts) for what he’s been able to accomplish in the last two years and, she shows how hard Republicans have tried to undermine his presidency and the lengths they are willing to continue to try.

(rather ironic since the talking points from his critics is, he’s a Republican in sheep’s clothing, a sell out and another Bush Jr.):rolleyes:

I’ve said this before but current Republicans care more about destroying President Obama than they care about …..WE THE PEOPLE!

The Rachel Maddow Show (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#40774380)

12-22-2010, 03:09 PM
Deal struck to pass 9/11 workers' health bill

By Michael O'Brien - 12/22/10 01:16 PM ET

Democrats struck an agreement on Wednesday on a bill funding health benefits 9/11 first responders, clearing its way for passage by the end of the day.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said he'd reached an agreement with Democratic leaders that would let the legislation move forward without the procedural hurdles he had threatened.
“I’m pleased the sponsors of this bill agreed to lower costs dramatically, offset the bill, sunset key provisions and take steps to prevent fraud," Coburn said in a statement. "Every American recognizes the heroism of the 9/11 first responders, but it is not compassionate to help one group while robbing future generations of opportunity. I’m pleased this agreement strikes a fair balance and improves the bill the majority attempted to rush through at the last minute."

Read More (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/134837-deal-struck-on-911-workers-health-bill)

FYI: In spite of what Coburn states this was NOT a last minute bill. It has been stalled by Republicans for months AND, it’s paid for. It’s sad the only way to get the votes to pass this was to “hostage” 2 billions dollars that was already paid for, but that’s how Republicans operate. It’s all about what the Republicans’ want, how to screw the President and not what is best for the country.

Take the deal or screw 9-11 First Responders?
We take the deal. (been there done that)

Playing politics with the lives of people is stupid but that’s what the current Republican leadership does, (with the help of many bluedog Dems) time and time again.

12-22-2010, 03:23 PM
Welcome to NC

NC is my home. I was born and raised here and when unfairly criticized as nothing more than a "typical southern state," I will defend it because it is a gross misinterpretation of this state and many other southern states. But there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes, there’s nothing you can say about this place. This is one of those times.:(

How Far Will One Company Go to Avoid Hiring Blacks?

A North Carolina company, currently a darling among Wall Street investors, goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid hiring blacks, according to a federal lawsuit filed by one current and two former employees.

Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, which develops student housing near college campuses, recently issued a $380-million IPO. But according to the lawsuit, the company takes specific steps to avoid hiring blacks for certain positions and fosters a racially hostile environment for the blacks who do work there.

Read Here (http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2010/12/how-far-will-one-company-go-to-avoid.html)

12-22-2010, 04:55 PM
Senate Passes Arms Control Treaty With Russia, 71-26 (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/23/world/europe/23treaty.html?_r=1&emc=na)

WASHINGTON — The Senate gave final approval on Wednesday to a new arms control treaty with Russia, scaling back leftover cold war nuclear arsenals and capping a surprisingly successful lame-duck session for President Obama just weeks after his party’s electoral debacle.

The 71 to 26 vote sends the treaty, known as New Start, to the president for his signature, and cements what is probably the most tangible foreign policy achievement of Mr. Obama’s two years in office. Thirteen Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic caucus to vote in favor, exceeding the two-thirds majority required by the Constitution.
The ratification vote was the third bipartisan victory for the president in the waning days of the session, while Democrats still control both houses of Congress. The treaty had assumed such symbolic importance for Mr. Obama’s presidency that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. took the rare step of presiding personally over the vote, in his role as president of the Senate. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former Senator, was on the floor as well.

Senate Passes 9/11 Health Bill as Republicans Back Down
2:46 p.m. | Updated The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to cover the cost of medical care for rescue workers and others who became sick from breathing in toxic fumes, dust and smoke after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
The vote, passed by unanimous consent, came soon after a deal was reached between conservative Republicans and Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. The New York Democrats agreed to changes demanded by the conservative lawmakers, who raised concerns about the measure’s cost and prevented the bill from advancing in the Senate. After drawing criticism in recent days from Democrats and Republicans alike, the Republican senators backed down.

Under the new agreement, the bill provides $4.3 billion over five years for health coverage to the 9/11 workers, instead of the original $7.4 billion over eight years.
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand called the deal a “Christmas miracle.”

Congress Critters work when they put their minds to it.:rolleyes:

12-22-2010, 05:06 PM
Guess there are a few reasonable current Republicans…?

“I think, is that there are plenty of Senate Republicans who aren't too comfortable with the class of conservatives who got elected in 2010.”

Why has the lame-duck session been so productive?
By Ezra Klein
So far, the lame-duck session has managed to pass an $850 billion tax-cuts-and-stimulus deal, the repeal of DADT, the Defense Authorization bill, a continuing resolution to keep funding the federal government, the START treaty, the food-safety bill, and probably a few more pieces of legislation I'm forgetting.
This is vastly more than anyone expected, and even if I'm disappointed by the failure of the omnibus spending bill (for reasons explained here) and the DREAM act, I can see why Sen. Lindsey Graham summed up the session by saying, "When it's all going to be said and done, Harry Reid has eaten our lunch."

Read More (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/12/why_has_the_lame-duck_session.html)

12-22-2010, 07:29 PM
Getting Things Done!


Two Years of Progress
Watch Video Here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z90SeYwK_Q&feature=player_embedded)

12-22-2010, 08:40 PM
As long as I live there are some things that will never cease to amaze, but not surprise me.
Everything in this op-ed points to the fact that President Obama does indeed have “game.” I will even give the author props for saying he has been among those that have dismissed him. But it’s funny how Fine feels the need to qualify himself by implying that maybe the President didn’t have game all along, but just recently found it.

(smiling and shaking head) I guess half a compliment is better than none.;)

Obama's Got (Found) Game
Howard Fineman

WASHINGTON - People who play basketball with Barack Obama say he's more dogged than flashy, more determined than skillful, more adaptable than unique. He'll trash talk on a dribble-drive with Reggie Love, but in the old days he was a studious, unselfish passer with classroom colleagues at Harvard Law.

And often, they say, he ended up with more points than you thought he'd have. No one noticed until it was over.
As in basketball, so it is now: his life on the court is a parallel to the first two years of his up-and-down-and-now-sort-of-up-again presidency.

It hasn't been pretty; it certainly hasn't been easy. Pundits, including this one, have dismissed him as a lousy negotiator, a dreamy academic or worse. He's been a New Dealer one minute, Reaganite the next. He's been rigidly partisan one minute and too eager to cut a deal with the Republicans leadership the next.

He's been called a Socialist by the Tea Party and a Wall Street toady by MoveOn. His public standing is weak; the public thinks the country is headed in the wrong direction. Beltway-wise guys think he can be had.

But through dogged patience, and adaptable style and a refusal to panic, the president has piled up the longest list of new laws, treaties and administrative actions anyone has seen here in decades.

That list may or may not get him reelected. The economy is what matters, as will the nature of his GOP competition in Congress and in 2012. The academic comparisons to LBJ and FDR won't be worth the bluebooks they're written on if the unemployment rate is 10 percent.

But everyone should accept that the fact that Obama's got game. Or found it.

He played the first year by dribbling for the most part to the left, cutting deals primarily - almost exclusively - with his Democrats, who had what seemed to be overwhelming majorities in Congress.

That got him a stimulus bill, various bailouts and monumental, if highly controversial, health-care and financial-services legislation.

In the post-shellacking lame duck, he moved right on taxes, which, in turn, created a sense of momentum and confidence that helped him and Democrats pass food-safety and child-nutrition laws and a measure to aid 9/11 first responders.

Perhaps the president's best move of all was when he was choosing up sides two years ago. He asked George W. Bush's Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, to stay on - and then passed Gates the ball repeatedly.

It was Gates who helped the president this week to sell a history-making repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and to convince the U.S. Senate to ratify the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Both were major accomplishments.

It's just the end of the first half. But, as Obama heads to Hawaii, he's entitled to point to the scoreboard with pride - and to feel that he's at least got a fighting chance to win it all when he comes back out onto the court.

Article reposted from Huffington Post

12-23-2010, 01:05 AM
Fiscal Responsibilty? - House Tea Party Caucus Members Requested Over $1 Billion In Earmarks

Tea Party Caucus Takes $1 Billion In Earmarks
By Reid Wilson
December 2, 2010 | 4:30 AM
Members of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus may tout their commitment to cutting government spending now, but they used the 111th Congress to request hundreds of earmarks that, taken cumulatively, added more than $1 billion to the federal budget.

Read More (http://hotlineoncall.nationaljournal.com/archives/2010/12/tea-party-caucu.php)

12-23-2010, 03:30 PM
They Said It Couldn't Be Done: An Improbable Presidency and Unlikely Triumphs

Thursday, December 23, 2010

That's how Rachel Maddow started off her show Monday night, the first segment focused on the Senate passing an end to the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Here's how she opened after clips that documented the path that repeal traveled:
They said it couldn't be done. They said it couldn't be done. Actually that was me specifically saying it couldn't be done. I was quite spectacularly over and over again wrong. It's done.

DADT repeal isn't the only thing that happened with…. They said it couldn’t be done

Let's start at the beginning.

They said he couldn't win.

Then, they said a rescue of the auto industry would fail. They said you couldn't revive the American auto industry.

They said the banking sector was doomed and it couldn't be rescued - not for less than $700 billion, anyway.

They said health care reform couldn't be done.

They laughed at the idea of an independent consumer financial protection agency.

Read More (http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2010/12/they-said-it-couldnt-be-done-improbable.html)

12-23-2010, 06:15 PM
Economy appears to show signs of life; some expect 2011 to be best year in more than a decade

• By Jeannine Aversa / Associated Press
• Posted December 23, 2010 at midnight

WASHINGTON -- Expectations for economic growth next year are turning more optimistic now that Americans will have a little more cash in their pockets.
A cut in workers' Social Security taxes and rising consumer spending have led economists to predict a strong start for 2011.

Still, most people won't feel much better until employer’s ramp up hiring and people buy more homes.
Analysts are predicting economic growth next year will come in close to 4 percent. It would mark an improvement from the 2.8 percent growth expected for this year and would be the strongest showing since 2000.

"Looking ahead, circumstances are ripe for the economy to develop additional traction," said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc. in New York. He is estimating growth for 2011 to be above 3.5 percent.

Read More (http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/dec/23/rising-expectations/)

Economy brightens as consumers spend, layoffs slow

The Associated Press
Posted Dec 23, 2010


Economic reports Thursday suggest employers are laying off fewer workers, businesses are ordering more computers and appliances, and consumers are spending more confidently.

Combined, the latest data confirm that the economy is improving, even though too few jobs are being created to lower the 9.8 percent unemployment rate.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits edged down by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 420,000, the Labor Department said. That was the second drop in three weeks.

Weekly unemployment applications at around 425,000 signal modest job growth. But economists say the number would need to dip consistently to 375,000 or below to indicate a significant decline in unemployment. Weekly applications peaked during the recession at 651,000 in March 2009.

The four-week average, a less volatile gauge, rose slightly to 426,000. The average had fallen for six straight weeks to the lowest point in more than two years.

Read More

12-23-2010, 06:24 PM
Opinion: Conservative Media Bias Exposed?

Dec 23, 2010 – 1:40 PM

Almost exactly a year ago, liberal talk show host Keith Olbermann went on a rant about the right-wing bias in the media. "There is no liberal media," he said. "The media which is, after all, owned by corporations naturally leans to the right. Corporations, by definition, lean to the right, towards the status quo."

Conservatives scoffed at the notion. But maybe Olbermann has a point.

After all, when it comes to conservatives, reporters can't seem to get enough of them.

Indeed, a Pew Research Center survey found that of the top 10 most-covered candidates in the midterm elections, conservatives held the top three spots.

Here's more evidence. I asked AOL's Relegence team, which tracks more than 30,000 news sites on the Web, to compare coverage of comparable liberals and conservatives over the past 12 months.

The results are stark. Conservatives were featured in vastly more stories.

Here are three illustrative examples.

Read More (http://www.aolnews.com/2010/12/23/opinion-conservative-media-bias-exposed/)

12-23-2010, 06:32 PM
With Lame Duck Over, 2012 Campaign Begins

Let the games begin.

With President Obama on vacation in Hawaii, lawmakers streaming away from Washington and the new year around the corner, there’s no excuse to pretend anymore.

The 2012 presidential campaign is underway. There are some — including many voters — who will refuse to focus on 2012 until, oh, that very year.

But for political deal-makers and junkies, there is already much to consider. In less than six months, for example, as many as a dozen Republicans will crowd onto a stage for the first major debate of the campaign, their eyes on the G.O.P. nomination and the opportunity to face President Obama.

More (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/23/with-lame-duck-over-2012-campaign-begins/?ref=politics)

12-23-2010, 07:26 PM
Let me see if I understand this. For six months the republicans will be busy doing their best to make sure Obama is a one term president. Then for 18 months they, at least some, of them will be busy campaigning and support those campaigning. No wonder it takes so long to do so little.

12-23-2010, 07:46 PM
I think some of it may be about control between the Tea Party and the Republicans. Should be an interesting year MS.

12-23-2010, 07:48 PM
Amanda Terkel

Obama To Make A Grassroots Push For DREAM Act, Won't Engage In Filibuster Reform Fight

WASHINGTON -- The White House is preparing a major grassroots push to pass the DREAM Act next year, which President Obama said Wednesday was one of his top priorities after the legislation failed in the recent lame duck session. Acknowledging the next Congress will be much more resistant to the President's agenda, the White House also backs changing the rules of the Senate, although it won't get involved in specific proposals.

On a conference call with journalists Wednesday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the President is willing to "wage a very public campaign" to push the DREAM Act, which would grant undocumented students who were brought into the United States as minors by their parents a path to citizenship through higher education or military service. He added that grassroots activism will be essential to success.

More (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/22/white-house-dream-act-passage-bottom-up_n_800506.html)

12-24-2010, 11:37 AM

12-24-2010, 03:02 PM
111th Congress Was Most Productive Session Since ‘At Least’ The 1960s
By George Zornick on Dec 23rd, 2010

Public approval of Congress has never been worse: this week, Gallup tracked the highest disapproval rating it has ever recorded for the legislative branch, with 83 percent disapproving and only 13 percent approving of the job being done by lawmakers. Conservatives like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) have blasted this Congress as “a disaster,” while some liberal groups complained through much of this term that “[h]opes for change are turning to disappointment as Congress fails to meet goals for a progressive agenda.”

There is no debate, however, that the 111th Congress passed a historic volume of substantial legislation, whatever one might think about the merits of these achievements. Historian Alan Brinkley told Bloomberg yesterday that “[t]his is probably the most productive session of Congress since at least the ’60s,” for an article outlining the historic achievements of this session:

For the first time since President Theodore Roosevelt began the quest for a national health-care system more than 100 years ago, the Democrat-led House and Senate took the biggest step toward achieving that goal by giving 32 million Americans access to insurance. Congress rewrote the rules for Wall Street in the most comprehensive way since the Great Depression. It spent more than $1.67 trillion to revive an economy on the verge of a depression, including tax cuts for most Americans, jobs for more than 3 million, construction of roads and bridges and investment in alternative energy; ended an almost two-decade ban against openly gay men and women serving in the military, and today ratified a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.

In addition to these headline achievements, the 111th Congress also:
– Passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for women and other minorities to file equal-pay discrimination lawsuits.

– Overhauled the federal student loan system, eliminating billions of dollars of waste being paid to for-profit loan companies while expanding access to loans, especially for low-income students.

– Confirmed two Supreme Court nominees.

– Passed legislation to help Sept. 11 first responders deal with ongoing health problems.

– Expanded the Children’s Health Insurance Program to include an additional 4 million children and pregnant women, after the Bush administration denied funding increases for years.

– Passed child nutrition legislation, which expands the federal school lunch program and improves the quality of the meals.

– Enacted food safety legislation, which intends to improve safety measures and prevent food-borne illnesses.

– Approved a settlement for black and Native American farmers that were subject to discrimination by the USDA.

– Passed legislation strengthening the prosecution of hate crimes.

– Passed pro-consumer legislation further regulating abusive practices of credit card companies.
Brinkley also noted these achievements are “all the more impressive given how polarized the Congress has been.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has famously said that “the single most important thing” his party wanted to achieve was a one-term Obama presidency, and congressional Republicans used an unprecedented number of filibusters and filibuster threats; they employed various procedural holds and other tricks to delay or block legislation, and blocked historically high numbers of judicial appointments and appointments to the executive branch. That these legislative achievements occurred in the face of epic Republican obstruction makes them all the more noteworthy.

Article Reposted From: ThinkProgress (http://thinkprogress.org/)

12-24-2010, 03:09 PM
Biden sees 'inevitability' for gay marriage
By Russell Berman - 12/24/10 10:02 AM ET

Vice President Joseph Biden said in a television interview Friday that “there’s an inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage.”

The vice president, who backs civil unions but not same-sex marriage, weighed in on the issue two days after President Obama acknowledged his position was “evolving.”

“I think the country's evolving,” Biden said in the interview with ABC News. His comments were not the first time he has suggested the country would eventually accept and support gay marriage. Asked in a 2007 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if gay marriage was inevitable, Biden replied that “it probably is.”

Read More Here (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/135043-biden-sees-inevitability-for-gay-marriage-consensus)

12-24-2010, 03:10 PM
Reid: My job will be 'easier' next year
By Russell Berman - 12/24/10 12:10 PM ET

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says his job will be “easier” in the 112th Congress, despite a slimmer Democratic majority and a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

“It’s going to be much easier than it was,” Reid told the Las Vegas Sun. He seemed to be referring, if indirectly, to the vastly lower expectations that many political observers have for the divided Congress that takes power in January, compared with the grand hopes that Democrats had entering the 111th Congress when they controlled both chambers and had a near filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The Republicans will hold 47 seats in January, six more than they held before the November elections.

With Republicans running the House, Reid said his job would be to act as a “cooling vessel for the heat of the House of Representatives.” Led by Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House is expected to quickly pass a raft of legislation that reflects Republican priorities, including a repeal of the healthcare law, but that will be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Read Full Article (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/135051-reid-my-job-will-be-easier-next-year)

12-24-2010, 03:11 PM
Obama pens holiday message to supporters boasting of 'PROGRESS'
By Michael O'Brien - 12/23/10 02:21 PM ET

President Obama wrote supporters on Thursday with a holiday message reminding them of "progress" made in the past year.

The president, who capped off a tumultuous year in Washington on Wednesday, wrote supporters of Organizing for America (OFA) — his political arm within the Democratic National Committee — to acclaim the accomplishments of his time in office.

"The reforms that we fought long and hard for are not talking points," Obama wrote. "And their effects don't change based on the whims of politicians in Washington. They are achievements that have a real and meaningful impact on the lives of Americans around the country. They are achievements that would not have been possible without you. PROGRESS localizes them — and brings them to life."

Read More Here (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/135007-obama-pens-holiday-message-to-supporters-boasting-of-progress)



12-24-2010, 08:10 PM
Obama vs. McConnell: Who's the Grown-up?
David Corn

One of the reasons Barack Obama is president is because when the U.S. economy was falling off a cliff, he was the adult in the room, and John McCain wasn't. When the stock market imploded in September 2008, McCain, who had just earned a shoot-from-the-hip reputation for picking Sarah Palin as his running mate, flailed. He couldn't decide what policies to back. He put his campaign on hold, then quickly reversed himself. He was clueless. Obama, on the other hand, eschewed the drama, joined the chorus of convention in favor of the too-hastily-constructed bailout for Wall Street, and came across as a steady and mature fellow. Obama, the rookie senator, looked like a leader. McCain, the longtime lawmaker and Vietnam veteran, looked like a desperate nervous Nellie. It was perhaps the most decisive moment in the general campaign.

Obama is now heading toward something of a repeat showdown -- but not with McCain, whose crankiness is undermining his influence. The president's face-off will be with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the GOP leader in the Senate. And, if Obama gets his wish, the issue again will be: Who's the grown-up here?

The Answer Can Be Found Here (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/12/24/obama-vs-mcconnell-whos-the-grown-up/) :D

12-25-2010, 01:11 PM
Senate Farewells Sound Familiar Warning: Partisanship Is Ruining Us
Linda Killian

Over the past few weeks, many of those leaving the U.S. Senate -- either voluntarily or by defeat -- have given a farewell address, something of a Senate tradition.

The speeches have been remarkable for their similarity. Not in terms of thanking staff and family members and recounting memorable moments or greatest hits of a legislative career. Most of the senators did those things.

Rather, they have been remarkable for the warning most of them have sounded about the dismal state of the nation's body politic.

Intense partisanship. The lost art of compromise. The vast sums of cash needed to run for office. Abuse of the filibuster. Repeatedly, senators said such factors are crippling the political process, and that the country's future depends on changing that culture.

"I will begin by stating the sadly obvious. Our electoral system is a mess," said retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

At age 14, Dodd watched from the gallery as his father took the Senate oath of office. A few years later he worked as a Senate page and in 1980, after serving in the House for six years, Dodd was elected to the Senate and would become the longest-serving senator in Connecticut history. His message to colleagues and successors was direct and stark.

"Intense partisan polarization has raised the stakes in every debate and on every vote, making it difficult to lose with grace and nearly impossible to compromise without cost. Americans' distrust of politicians provides compelling incentives for senators to distrust each other, to disparage this very institution, and to disengage from the policy-making process."

More (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/12/22/senate-farewells-sound-familiar-warning-partisanship-is-ruinin/)

12-25-2010, 01:23 PM
President Obama and the First Lady wish families across the country a “Merry Christmas” and encourage everyone to support the troops and their families this holiday season.


Watch the Video (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/12/25/weekly-address-merry-christmas-president-first-lady)

12-25-2010, 05:25 PM

PROGRESS is designed to show the real effects of the steps President Obama and Democrats have taken to rebuild our economy. Behind these numbers are stories about people whose lives and communities have been positively affected by the change Democrats have made.

Check Stimulus Progress in you Area Here (http://progress.democrats.org/?source=BOFeature)

NC did something right - Yeah:)

North Carolina will lead the nation in growth of stimulus-created jobs for the remainder of the year with a 121.5 percent increase, a new report says. Seattle business-consulting firm Onvia reports that North Carolina also ranks highly – No. 2 in the nation – for per capita stimulus spending at $960.51. And that ranking could improve if Onvia is right about a coming surge in jobs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

12-25-2010, 05:47 PM
Job Offers Rising as Economy Warms Up

As the economy gradually recovers, some big U.S. companies are cranking up their recruiting and advertising thousands of job openings, ranging from retail clerks and nurses to bank tellers and experts in cloud computing.
Many of the new jobs are in retailing, accounting, consulting, health care, telecommunications and defense-related industries, according to data collected for The Wall Street Journal by Indeed Inc., which runs one the largest employment websites. It said the number of U.S. job postings on the Internet rose to 4.7 million on Dec. 1, up from 2.7 million a year earlier. The company daily collects listings from corporate and job-posting websites, removing duplicates.


Its figures may undercount available jobs because some companies don't post all listings online, an Indeed spokesman said. Farming, manufacturing and construction jobs tend to be under-represented in online postings, while skilled computer and mathematical jobs are overrepresented, said June Shelp, an economist and vice president for the Conference Board, a private research group.

More (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703548604576037612752480904.html?m od=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories)

12-25-2010, 05:48 PM
CHART OF THE DAY: Surprise! The U (http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-us-growth-upside-2010-12#ixzz18njLDI9F)S Economy Is Now Everyone's "Surprise" Pick To Surge In 2011


12-25-2010, 06:33 PM
Experts Citing Rising Hopes for Recovery

WASHINGTON — Eighteen months after the recession officially ended, the government’s latest measures to bolster the economy have led many forecasters and policy makers to express new optimism that the recovery will gain substantial momentum
Economists in universities and on Wall Street have raised their growth projections for next year. Retail sales, industrial production and factory orders are on the upswing, and new claims for unemployment benefits are trending downward.
Despite persistently high unemployment, consumer confidence is improving. Large corporations are reporting healthy profits, and the Dow Jones industrial average reached a two-year high this week.
The Federal Reserve, which has kept short-term interest rates near zero since the end of 2008, has made clear it is sticking by its controversial decision to try to hold down mortgage and other long-term interest rates by buying government securities.
President Obama’s $858 billion tax-cut compromise with Congressional Republicans is putting more cash in the hands of consumers through a temporary payroll-tax cut and an extension of unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed.

Read More (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/24/business/economy/24forecast.html?_r=2&hp)

12-25-2010, 08:36 PM
A little Something different

Getting Help With Electronic Gifts that Don't Work Right Out of the Box
Larry Magid
Technology journalist
Posted: December 24, 2010

If you got an electronic gift for Christmas and can't figure out how to install it or configure it, you're not alone. A very large percentage of electronics that are returned are not broken, but just too hard for the person to figure out.
The first thing you need to do when you unwrap your holiday tech gift is to make sure you keep all the packaging. That way, if something really goes wrong or you just don't like it, you can hopefully return it.

Hunt for the Manual
Some products just work out of the box and are intuitive enough to figure out on your own. If that's not the case with yours you may have to resort to reading the manual. But a lot of products these days come with little if any documentation. There may be a CD-ROM with a manual or you may have to go to the company's website. If you can't find your manual, go to Retrevo (http://www.retrevo.com/samples/index.html).com to see if they have one. The company has digitized thousands of them for popular products.

Read More (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-magid/getting-help-with-electro_b_801187.html)

12-26-2010, 02:14 AM
What's wilderness? Bush-era curbs are repealed
Interior chief reverses 2003 policy against protections not approved by Congress

DENVER — The Obama administration on Thursday undid a Bush-era policy that curbed some types of wilderness designations within the 245 million acres managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management.
While Congress remains the only body allowed to create "Wilderness Areas," the move gives BLM field managers the go ahead to protect areas determined to have "wilderness characteristics."
"I am proud to sign a secretarial order that restores protections for the wild lands that the Bureau of Land Management oversees on behalf of the American people," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in Denver, where he announced the shift.
Congressional Republicans pounced on the announcement as an attempt by the Obama administration to close land to development without congressional approval.
"This backdoor approach is intended to circumvent both the people who will be directly affected and Congress. I have to question why this announcement is being made only after Congress adjourned for the year," said Washington state Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican tapped to lead to the House Natural Resources Committee when the GOP takes control of the House in January.

Read More (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40796163/ns/us_news-environment/)

12-26-2010, 02:16 AM
Medvedev Praises Obama for New Start Treaty

Medvedev: “President Obama is a man who knows how to hear and to listen, a man not trapped by stereotypes, a man who lives up to this standard — he keeps his word”


MOSCOW — Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, on Friday called the New Start treaty “a cornerstone of security for the coming decades,” and spoke warmly of President Obama, saying that “under very difficult circumstances, he managed to make the Senate ratify this document.”

Mr. Medvedev said Mr. Obama “is a man who knows how to hear and to listen, a man not trapped by stereotypes, a man who lives up to this standard — he keeps his word.” He said he expects the thaw in relations between Russia and the United States to be a lasting one, despite midterm Congressional election gains by Republicans who are wary of Russia.

More (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/25/world/europe/25russia.html?_r=1&src=twrhp)

12-26-2010, 03:38 PM
FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules, a Victory for Obama

Christopher Weber

The Federal Communications Commission has approved new regulations that will prohibit providers from limiting how their customers use the Internet at home.

The rules, passed by a 3-2 vote Tuesday, will be used to enforce "network neutrality," provisions that require Internet service providers to treat web traffic equally and not slow or block websites.

The new regulations apply mostly to "wireline" broadband content and not information from the web received via cellphones.

The FCC's three Democratic members voted yes, including FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who proposed the rules over a year ago. Both Republicans on the panel voted no.

After the vote, Genachowski said, "It is essential that the FCC fulfill its historic role as a cop on the beat to ensure the vitality of our communications networks and to empower and protect consumers of those networks."

Article (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/12/21/fcc-approves-net-neutrality-rules-a-victory-for-obama/)

12-26-2010, 03:41 PM
A Firmly Drawn Presidential Line Between Work and Play

Published: December 25, 2010

KAILUA, Hawaii — If there is one thing President Obama craves during his leisure time, it is privacy.


President Obama in Hawaii, a place that an aide says is “extraordinarily special to him.”
Mr. Obama arrived on the island of Oahu in the middle of the night as Wednesday turned into Thursday and slipped on a green lei as he descended the steps of Air Force One. Then he sped off in an S.U.V. toward this laid-back residential community on the windward side of the island, far from the bustle of Waikiki Beach, where the bulk of his traveling White House stays, in Honolulu, the city he lived in as a boy.
Then, the most visible man in America promptly dropped out of sight.

Mr. Obama’s disappearance behind the palm trees reveals much about his presidential style, and also his thinking about how to balance work and play. He tends to separate the two, as much as any president can. Other presidents, especially those who owned secluded homes or vacation retreats, often mixed them, using their homes outside Washington as tools of the presidency — another means of advancing their goals and agendas.

Full Article (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/us/politics/26memo.html?ref=politics)

12-26-2010, 06:41 PM
Snowstorm coats East, frustrating holiday travel
(AP) – 4 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — A powerful winter storm lay a snow blanket from the South to the Northeast on Sunday, turning roads slick, stranding thousands of airline, train and bus passengers and putting a chill in retailers' day-after-Christmas sales.

Up to 20 inches of snow were expected in some areas, including Philadelphia, where the Eagles-Vikings NFL game was canceled, and Boston, where an aquarium had to protect — of all things — penguin ice sculptures from the elements.

Some flights out of Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and the Carolinas also were canceled. Amtrak canceled train service from New York to Maine on Sunday evening, after doing the same earlier for several trains in Virginia.

As much as 18 inches could fall on the New Jersey shore with wind gusts over 40 mph.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared a snow emergency as of 2 p.m. Sunday, and he urged residents to stay off the roads.


The snow was easier to enjoy for people with no place to go. As the wind swirled snow through the doors of a Brooklyn supermarket, New Yorkers hurried to pick up a few staples before heading back home to hunker down.

"I'm seeing it as a great excuse to stay in and relax and drink tea," said Toni Gifford, who works in academics and has the week off.

Read More (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101226/ap_on_bi_ge/us_winter_weather)

12-27-2010, 10:05 AM
Obama Is Set to Shuffle His Staff

Published: December 23, 2010

WASHINGTON — President Obama is planning the first major reorganization of his administration, preparing to shuffle several positions in the West Wing as he tries to fortify his political team for the realities of divided government and his own re-election.
The latest on President Obama, the new Congress and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion.

The president is studying how to maximize the power of the executive branch, advisers said, seeking insight from veterans of previous administrations and fresh advice from business leaders to guide the second half of his term.
He is reviewing the restructuring plan during the holidays, aides said, and intends to make the first announcements in the opening days of January.

A reshaping of the economic team, beginning by naming a new director of the National Economic Council, is among the most urgent priorities of the new year. Gene Sperling, a counselor to the Treasury secretary who held the position in the Clinton administration, is among the final contenders to succeed Lawrence H. Summers in the job, along with Roger C. Altman, a Wall Street investment banker who also served in the Clinton administration.

Full Article Here (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/24/us/politics/24obama.html?_r=1&ref=politics)

12-27-2010, 10:16 AM
Ten Great Moments
From Congress In 2010

As the year comes to a close, and we look ahead to all the wild and wacky things that are sure to happen in the new Republican-controlled House and only narrowly Democratic-controlled Senate, let's take a look back at the past year. A whole lot of amazing and memorable moments happened not only on the campaign trail, but on the two Congressional floors in the Capitol itself.
We've gathered together 10 unforgettable moments from the House and Senate in 2010. Some of them are great -- while others are just so bad that they're good.
But all of them give some perspective on the people who have been running our government, or who are about to have even more power next year. So sit back, relax, and laugh -- because it's better than crying.

1. Boehner: 'Hell No, You Can't!'
On March 21, as the House was on the verge of approving health care reform, House Minority Leader -- and now Speaker-designate -- John Boehner (R-OH) railed against the Democrats, with a riff on the "Yes We Can" slogan used by President Obama in his 2008 campaign.
"Can you go home and tell your senior citizens that these cuts in Medicare will not limit their access to doctors or further weaken the program, instead of strenghtening it? No, you cannot," said Boehner. "Can you go home and tell your constituents with confidence that this bill respects the sancitty of all human life, and that it won't allow for taxpayer funding of abortions for the first time in 30 years? No, you cannot.
"And look at how this bill was written. Can you say it was done openly? With transparency and accountability? Without backroom deals and struck behind closed doors, hidden from the people? Hell no, you can't!"

2.Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX): 'Baby Killer!'
Also on March 21 during the debate on the health care bill, there came a moment when pro-life Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak went to the floor to speak on the assurances he had received from Democratic leaders that the bill would not result in publicly funded abortions.
At that moment, a voice rang out in the chamber: "Baby killer!"
The next day, March 22, after a hunt by reporters to figure out the identity of the shouter, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) admitted that it was he -- but said in a statement that he was calling the bill a baby-killer, not Stupak:
"Last night was the climax of weeks and months of debate on a health care bill that my constituents fear and do not support. In the heat and emotion of the debate, I exclaimed the phrase 'it's a baby killer' in reference to the agreement reached by the Democratic leadership. While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself."

"I have apologized to Mr. Stupak and also apologize to my colleagues for the manner in which I expressed my disappointment about the bill. The House Chamber is a place of decorum and respect. The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate."

3. Dodd Rails Against GOP Filibusters Of Financial Reform
On April 15, during the debates on financial reform, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) accused Republicans of planning to vote en masse to filibuster the bill, even after some of them had worked with him on it.
"If the debate is going to consist of Democrats offering ideas to tackle this very complex -- and it is a complex set of issues -- and critical challenges on behalf of the American families and businesses, and the Republicans reading false talking points from Wall Street's playbook, then count me out, Mr. President," said Dodd. "I"m not going to engage in that kind of a debate, and that kind of a negotiation. I have no interest in that whatsoever."

4. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) And The 'Terror Babies'
On June 24, Rep. Louie Gohmert delivered a speech that appears to have been related to efforts by some conservatives to overturn birthright citizenship -- the legal principle enshrined in the 14th Amendment that all persons born in this country, with certain narrow exceptions such as the children of foreign officials serving here, are natural born citizens of the United States.
The danger, as Gohmert said, involved a plot by some very patient terorrists.
"I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at were terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system. And it appeared they would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life. 'Cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system, hurt our economy, get set up in a position to destroy our way of life."

5. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): 'It's A Shame! A Shame!'
On July 29, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) really made the most of only about two minutes to blast Republicans who were objecting on the stated basis of procedure against the bill to assist emergency personnel who suffered health problems as a result of the 9/11 attacks.
"It's Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans, rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes!" Weiner said, in just one of the many turns of phrases (and bulging of veins) from the speech.

12-27-2010, 10:17 AM
6. Rangel: 'Hey, If I Was You, I'd Want Me To Go Away, Too'
On August 10, a defiant Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) took to the House floor and forcefully declared that he would not resign the House as a result of his ethics troubles -- despite a lot of Democrats who might have preferred for him to get out of their hair.
"I don't want anyone to feel embarrassed, awkward," he continued. "Hey, if I was you, I'd want me to go away too.

"I am not going away. I am here," he said, to applause.

7. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Chokes Up Over 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) took to the Seante floor on September 21, to call for the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military. Franken told an anecdote of his own experiences meeting gay soldiers during his former career as a comedian, when he would entertain troops with the USO.
As Franken told the story, during one show at an unnamed base he told some jokes about how he did not agree with the policy, saying that the commanding general of the base was "one of the gayest men I've ever met" and should not have to stay in the closet when he is such a great leader. Franken noticed that a group of women had been applauding the joke -- and as it turned out, the general later pointed those same women out to Franken, telling him to keep telling those jokes. And in turn, those women affirmed to Franken that they were gay. "I think everybody knew it," said Franken.

8. Steve King On Black Farmers Settlement: 'Johnny' Wouldn't Help His Daddy, Became A Drug Addict
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is known for his vitriolic right-wing rhetoric, both on and off the floor of Congress -- often with a racial tinge. But probably his most over-the-top floor speech ever was this past November 29, when he attacked the Department of Agriculature's settlement with African-American farmers for discrimination in past decades as "slavery reparations," and that the government would be defrauded by someone who didn't want to work on the farm, went to the city, and became a drug addict.
"The fraudulent claims might be, well Johnny, yeah he was raised on a farm but he wouldn't help his dad. He went to the city, became a drug addict, and when Daddy needed the help, Johnny wouldn't come and help his daddy," King said. "But now his daddy's died and Johnny wants the $50,000 that comes from the USDA under this claim."

9. The FiliBernie
On December 10, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) went to the Senate floor and gave voice to progressives who objected to the Obama administration's deal with Congressional Republicans to temporarily extend both the Bush tax cuts and unemployment benefits.
In an event that became known online as the "FiliBernie," the senator was joined by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in speaking for almost nine hours, against a policy that he said bailed out wealthy people who did not need help in the tough economy.
"The point that needs to be made is, when is enough enough? That is the essence of what we are talking about. Greed, in my view, is like a sickness. It is like an addiction. We know people who are on heroin. They can't stop. They destroy their lives. They need more and more heroin. There are people who can't stop smoking. They have problems with nicotine. They get addicted to cigarettes. It costs them their health. People have problems with food. We all have our share of addictions. But I would hope that these people who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars will look around them and say: There is something more important in life than the richest people becoming richer when we have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. Maybe they will understand that they are Americans, part of a great nation which is in trouble today. Maybe they have to go back to the Bible, whatever they believe in, and understand there is virtue in sharing, in reaching out; that you can't get it all."

10. McCain: DADT Repeal 'A Very Sad Day' -- Troops Will Lose Limbs
During the December 20 debate on the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) warned that the repeal would lead to "distractions" for soldiers -- and these distractions could result in more soldiers losing limbs.

"I don't want to permit that opportunity to happen and I'll tell you why. You go up to Bethesda [Naval Hospital], Marines are up there with no legs, none. You've got Marines at Walter Reed with no limbs."

Watch Video (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/on-the-floor-ten-great-moments-from-congress-in-2010-video.php?ref=fpi)

12-27-2010, 11:52 AM
More small businesses are offering health benefits to workers

The increase is partly attributed to a tax credit created by the nation's new healthcare law. Some insurers are aggressively marketing the break, which can offset up to 35% of a company's costs.

Read More (http://www.latimes.com/health/healthcare/la-fi-health-coverage-20101227,0,5024491.story)

Medicaid Bonuses to Reward States for Insuring More Children

Published: December 27, 2010

The Obama administration plans to announce Monday that it will make $206 million in bonus Medicaid payments to 15 states — with more than a fourth of the total going to Alabama — for signing up children who are eligible for public health insurance but had previously failed to enroll.

Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, has called the matter “a moral obligation.”
The payments, which were established when Congress and President Obama reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2009, are aimed at one of the most persistent frustrations in government health care: the inability to enroll an estimated 4.7 million children who would be eligible for subsidized coverage if their families could be found and alerted. Two of every three uninsured children are thought to meet the income criteria for government insurance programs.

Read More (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/health/policy/27medicaid.html?_r=2&hp)

12-27-2010, 11:53 AM
Some foreign policy spine

David Ignatius
Sunday, December 26, 2010

For a world that feared (and in some cases, cheered) the prospect of American decline, this holiday season has been bracing. It showed that despite U.S. political and economic difficulties, President Obama is still able to rally support at home and abroad for a strong foreign policy.

Obama's Christmas-week legislative successes capped a two-month period in which his foreign policy team strengthened key alliances, from East Asia to NATO. After Obama's humbling in the November elections, world leaders were talking in stage whispers about the erosion of American power, and of Obama as a weak and inattentive president. Those worries haven't disappeared, but they are allayed by his recent successes.

Read More (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/25/AR2010122501819.html)

12-27-2010, 11:54 AM
Obama's Game May Be Picking Up -- Even with Tougher Congress

Barack Obama's team is working better and delivering results that just weeks ago seemed out of reach. Tomorrow, I'm going to be offering thoughts on these results and how the Obama White House is gaining ground.

But as a preview, I think that the successes are tied to four key factors: (1) Barack Obama seems more comfortable holding the line and fighting the long fight rather than giving ground early in efforts to seduce his opponents; (2) Tom Donilon, Denis McDonough, John Brennan and the entire National Security Council team are just working better together and are sewn into Obama Land better than before; (3) Rahm is doing what he always should have been doing -- staying in the spotlight as he runs for Mayor of Chicago; No one hears from the interim Chief of Staff Pete Rouse who is moving people, initiatives, and game plans so deftly that no one sess his hand (keep him!); and (4) Joe Biden and his apparatus not only have a killer batting average on the tough jobs Obama has given him (Russia, START, nuclear summitry, Iraq, keeping peace with the labor community) but his team in its entirety is woven in deeply as part of the Obama apparatus (no more David Addington cells).

More tomorrow, and while I admit that there have been significant failures, missteps, and occasional weak knees when Obama should have clung to the courage of his convictions, there have been heartening successes.
Momentum may have changed in the President's favor -- even while the Congress has become a higher hill.
Reposted from The Washington Note

Read More (http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2010/12/obamas_game_may/)

12-27-2010, 05:39 PM
At first, I was disappointed that President Obama didn't fight the Republicans on the tax issue and thought he might have blown that one. But then I saw him give his explanation as to why his decision was best for the American people. That politicians weren't put in Washington to fight amongst themselves but were there to serve America to the best of their abilities. He made me think about that and realize he was right on the money. The remainder of the successful Lame Duck session proved this out and has made me realize, more than ever, what a great president we have.

12-28-2010, 02:10 AM
I agree Ralph. Many people seemed to have forgotten those tax cuts had been in placed for nine years. Ironically, all that time no one was screaming about it then. If they had expired, not only would they have expired for the rich but the middle class. Everyone's taxes would have gone up, not to mention millions would have been without their UI benefits.

He did the best he could under really bad conditions that IMO could have been avoided if the Dems had taken the vote before the midterms.

President Obama has done one hell of a job and it's only now he's getting the credit he deserves. No President in the last 40 plus years has gotten this much legislation done in a 2 year term.

The media will turn on him again though. That's the way it is I guess.

12-28-2010, 02:24 AM
Steroid abuse among law enforcement a problem nationwide

By: Juliana Keeping
AnnArbor.com Health/Environment Reporter

Daily dose of health news: Steroid abuse among law enforcement a problem nationwide

Topics: Health
Posted: Dec 27, 2010 at 11:42 AM

The badge and steroids?

It's a less common association than athletes and the drug, but it's a problem nationwide, according to recent media reports.

A growing number of police officers have been caught using steroids illegally, AOL News reported.
According to the Office of National Drug Policy, anabolic steroid use can cause increased irritability and aggression. Withdrawal symptoms include severe depression and mood swings.

Lawrence Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, told AOL the DEA is in the midst of an active investigation into steroids, and numerous cases they've investigated have links to police officers.
"It's a big problem, and from the number of cases, it's something we shouldn't ignore. It's not that we set out to target cops, but when we're in the middle of an active investigation into steroids, there have been quite a few cases that have led back to police officers."

Read More (http://www.annarbor.com/health/steroid-abuse-among-law-enforcement-a-problem-nationwide/)

Unrelated but ironic story

Downtown Express photo by Jonathan Kuhn

Taking ‘diagonal parking’ a little too literally

The car that ended up on the sidewalk at West and Bethune Sts. in the West Village on Sunday afternoon Dec. 12 with its front end down against a tree and its rear end up 45 degrees against the Superior Ink luxury residential building got that way when a driver, identified in the New York Post as an off-duty police officer, swerved to avoid an accident. The driver sustained minor injuries.

12-28-2010, 10:58 AM
Chicago is the likely base for Obama's reelection campaign
In an anti-Washington climate, distance from the nation's capital is seen as a plus.

Reporting from Washington —

The White House says President Obama has not made a decision on where to locate his reelection headquarters for 2012, but observers expect the campaign to return to its 2008 base: Chicago.

Such a decision would buck recent history. Every two-term president in the last 30 years — George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan — set up reelection campaign offices near the White House or in suburban Virginia.

A key factor favoring Chicago's selection is the anti- Washington climate that has swept the country. Another is the insurgency candidacy anticipated from Obama's rivals, who are expected to make the case that the times are bad, the nation's capital is broken, Obama has been captured by Washington — and they offer voters an alternative.

Read Full Story Here (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-obama-campaign-headquarters-chi20101226,0,5551970.story)

12-28-2010, 11:00 AM
Nearly One In Nine Federal Judgeship's Are Now Vacant

The Senate adjourned earlier this week, even though it confirmed only half of the 38 judicial nominees awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. And the overwhelming majority of the blocked nominees cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee without a single negative vote.

This failure to confirm even many of the most uncontroversial nominees is the culmination of a concerted GOP strategy to delay as many of President Obama’s judges as much as possible, and it leaves Obama with fewer judges confirmed than any recent president:


The Senate’s failure to even hold a vote on these nominees leaves the federal judiciary with record vacancies — approximately one in nine federal judgeships are now vacant.

Notably, three of these vacancies are on just one court. Of the four active judgeships on the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, three are presently vacant, leaving the court’s chief judge as its only active member. Two of President Obama’s nominees to this court, James Shadid and Sue Myerscough, were unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee for this excessively overburdened court. Yet none of Obama’s nominees to the Central District of Illinois received a vote in the 111th Congress.

This failure to confirm anyone to this Illinois court may be the most reckless legacy of the right’s obstruction of Obama’s judges, but it isn’t even the most absurd. One of the president’s blocked nominees, District of Oregon nominee Marco Hernandez, was previously nominated for the exact same job by President George W. Bush. Somehow, now that he’s an Obama nominee, the GOP has suddenly decided to throw up roadblocks before his confirmation.

Reposted from: Thinkprogress (http://thinkprogress.org/)

12-28-2010, 11:50 AM
Obama administration steps up monitoring of banks that miss TARP payments

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 28, 2010; 12:00 AM

The Obama administration has begun monitoring the high-level board meetings of nearly 20 banks that received emergency taxpayer assistance but repeatedly failed to pay the required dividends, according to Treasury Department officials and documents. And it may soon install new directors on some of their boards.

The moves come as the number of banks that failed to make at least one dividend payment to the government rose to 132 in the last quarter. These "deadbeats," as they are sometimes called, are virtually all community lenders and collectively received billions of dollars in taxpayer assistance.

Read Full Article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/27/AR2010122704236.html)

12-28-2010, 11:51 AM
Danger ahead for the GOP

Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's been not quite two months since Republicans won a sweeping midterm victory, and already they seem divided, embattled and - not to mince words - freaked out. For good reason, I might add.

Sen. Lindsey Graham captured the mood with his mordant assessment of the lame-duck Congress: "Harry Reid has eaten our lunch." Graham's complaint was that the GOP acquiesced to a host of Democratic initiatives - giving President Obama a better-than-expected deal on taxes, eliminating "don't ask, don't tell," ratifying the New START treaty - rather than wait for the new, more conservative Congress to arrive

Read More

12-28-2010, 04:31 PM
$#!% Joe Biden Says

by Lisa DePaulo
photograph by Brigitte Lacombe
December 2010


Can he raise the rafters like his boss? No. But nobody can flat-out talk like Joe Biden. And these days, everybody's listening

There are only two reporters traveling coast-to-coast with the vice president on Air Force Two on a clear day in early October. Which is two more than usual. Even though Joe Biden is in the midst of a long-overdue respectfest—the recent 9,300-word Atlantic opus declaring him "indispensable," the eighty or so floundering Democratic candidates who called Joe before O to come stump for them—he's still largely ignored by the press. Until he puts his foot in his mouth. (At the signing ceremony for the health care bill: "Mr. President, this is a big fucking deal"—well, it was!) In an ironic consequence of the ongoing economic crisis—the one he's traversing the country to assuage voters' angst about—few media companies can afford to send reporters on both Air Force One and Air Force Two. We finally have a vice president who loves to talk, and the poor guy is stuck with just me and a Bloomberg reporter. "Bloomberg still has money," cracks one of Biden's aides.

Traveling with Biden instead of his boss is notable for other reasons, too. The vice president rarely avails himself of the closed private cabin up front in the 757. He prefers to sit with his staff, at a table or in an aisle seat from which he can see the entire plane. When it's dinnertime, everyone is served chili in plastic bowls. The vice president has a choice of basically anything he wants. He wants the chili.

Twice during the cross-country tour, the veep makes his way to the back of the plane, past the cabin jammed with White House doctors and Secret Service, to schmooze his traveling press corps. In his morning visit between D.C. and Madison, Wisconsin, he's revved up about his mission for today. He is leaning over the seat in front of me and Kate Brower, the Bloomberg reporter, occasionally making his point by touching our hands. Only Joe Biden can do this like a gentleman. He tells us he believes—and thinks the people believe—that "the stimulus did exactly what it was supposed to do, but it wasn't enough." And he is positive we'll get almost all the TARP money back. "It has a sell-by date on it, man." (Biden calls everybody "man.") He leaves us with this parting thought: "I used to say to my late wife, 'I have great faith in the American people.' And she would say, 'How much faith would you have in them if you lost?' " With this guy, probably the same amount.

Read More (http://www.gq.com/news-politics/politics/201012/joe-biden-interview-vice-president-obama)

12-29-2010, 12:12 AM
Obama and Wall St.: Still Venus and Mars

By: Ben White
December 28, 2010 04:33 AM EST

NEW YORK - On the mental list of slights and outrages that just about every major figure on Wall Street is believed to keep on President Barack Obama, add this one: When he met recently with a group of CEOs at Blair House, there was no representative from any of the six biggest banks in America.

Not one!

"If they don't hate us anymore, why weren't any of us there?" a senior executive at one of the Big Six banks said recently in trying to explain his hostility toward the president.

"It's not so much just this one thing,” he said. “Who cares about one event? It's just the pattern where they tell you things are going to change, that they appreciate what we do, that capital markets are important, but then the actions are different and they continue to want to score political points on us."

Still, the executive understands that it makes political sense for the White House to stiff-arm Wall Street, if not bash it with a massive sledge hammer.

Full Article Here (http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=2A8140B2-C586-FED2-2F5B406630C0DD88)

12-29-2010, 11:22 AM
Key healthcare provisions take effect Jan. 1, just as GOP moves into House
By Jason Millman - 12/28/10 02:00 PM ET

Key parts of the new healthcare law will go into effect on Jan. 1, just before a Republican-controlled House returns to Washington.

The massive overhaul of healthcare approved by Congress earlier this year will begin to take effect in 2011, though some of the biggest changes prompted by the law — including the mandate that everyone buy insurance, the state insurance exchanges and subsidies to help most Americans buy insurance — don't kick in until 2014.

Still, more than 20 provisions of the reform law go into effect in 2011, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation timeline. (http://healthreform.kff.org/timeline.aspx)

Full Article (http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/135287-numerous-reform-law-provisions-take-effect-jan-1)

12-29-2010, 11:26 AM
Race could backfire on the right
By Julian E. Zelizer, Special to CNN
December 27, 2010 1:38 p.m. EST

Princeton, New Jersey (CNN) -- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a possible Republican presidential candidate, recently caused a major stir. In an interview with the Weekly Standard, he referred to race relations while growing up in Mississippi this way: "I just don't remember it as being that bad."
Of course, his state was one of the most racially explosive sections of the country in the days of segregation and the start of the civil rights movement.

In the same interview, Barbour also tried to distinguish the citizens councils of his hometown from the Ku Klux Klan, even though historians have amply documented how citizens councils spent much of their energy using economic, and sometimes physical, intimidation to prevent racial integration. Although Barbour sought to clarify his remarks when they triggered a political firestorm, the fallout is likely to continue given the long and complicated history of conservatism.

Full Article (http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/12/27/zelizer.barbour.race/index.html?hpt=Sbin)

12-29-2010, 06:20 PM
Obama's Budget Delayed a Week


WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama's budget proposal for fiscal 2012 will be released in mid-February, a little more than a week after its planned release date. The administration is scrambling to assemble what could be a pivotal document following a six-week delay in the confirmation of the White House's new budget director, a senior administration official said Monday.

The budget's release date will be pushed back from Monday, Feb. 7, to some time the following week, the official said.

The White House's new budget director, Jacob Lew, saw his confirmation put on hold by Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who was protesting the administration's moratorium on offshore oil drilling. Mr. Lew was confirmed Nov. 19.
The official also cited Congress's late moves to fund government operations for the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. Last week, Congress passed a resolution funding the government largely at last year's levels, but only through early March.

Read Full Article Here (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203731004576045931795150202.html?m od=WSJ_WSJ_US_PoliticsNCampaign)

12-29-2010, 06:22 PM
Obama Likely to Pursue Corporate-Tax Cut, Way to Pay for It

All signs point to President Barack Obama pursuing far-reaching changes to the corporate income tax, seeking to lower one of the highest statutory corporate-tax rates in the world by eliminating deductions, credits and loopholes.

If he proceeds, the administration will insist that any changes raise as much revenue as the existing, 35% corporate tax. That's to constrain those who want to lighten the business-tax burden and those who want to get more money from business. But the constraint means that for every company that saves a dollar, another will pay a dollar more.

The White House says no decisions have been made and that the president has yet to have a session with his economic team devoted to corporate taxes. But Treasury tax technicians are sifting through options, CEOs are buzzing and the president has voiced his druthers: "We would be very interested," he said in October, "in finding ways to lower the corporate-tax rate so that companies that are operating overseas can so do effectively and aren't put at a competitive disadvantage." In a recent interview with National Public Radio, Mr. Obama talked about "a conversation over the next year" aimed at "simplifying the system, hopefully lowering rates, broadening the base."

Read Full Article Here
(http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204204004576049651801089800.html?m od=WSJ_article_related)