Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Fireside chat for August 7, 2010 (VIDEO)

The President discusses a new Medicare Trustees report showing Medicare to be on much stronger footing as a result of the reforms in the Affordable Care Act. In addition, seniors are also already getting help with prescription drug costs when they fall into the infamous “donut hole.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"I hope you get cancer???"

Anti-Abortion group claims its prayers have been answered when Abortion provider comes down with Leukemia and has to close his clinic. Nice.

And of course, it's Arkansas.

Via Think Progress.

Dangerous hypocrisy of being against the "Ground-Zero" Mosque


Federal indictments unsealed Thursday in Minnesota, Alabama and California charge 14 people with terrorism offenses for allegedly aiding the radical Islamist al-Shabab organization in Somalia.

In announcing the indictments, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the charges reflect a disturbing trend in which al-Shabab, which has links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network, has appealed to U.S. citizens of Somali descent to join the group's battle against a weak U.S.-backed transitional government and African Union peacekeeping forces in Somalia.


[Holder] praised the American Muslim community for being "strong partners in fighting this emerging threat," saying its members "have provided critical assistance to law enforcement in helping to disrupt terrorist plots and combat radicalization."

Yeah, but screw whether or not the Muslims want to open a community center four blocks from Ground Zero, right Sarah? That's the real danger.

After all, why should we help Muslim Americans who want to help us catch terrorists by showing respect to their religion in an allegedly open society.

Charlie Rangel & Maxine Waters (The Idiot Edition)

Three days ago, some idiot wrote:

My only question is, after an Ethics Mechanism that's been gathering dust, why aren't the Democrats getting more credit for going after their own? We have strong majorities in both Houses and we're not papering this crap over.

Well, someone must've listening to me---errr, uhhh, that idiot, because:

On MSNBC just now, DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen made it explicit:

Dems will argue that the ethical travails of Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters prove that Dems are making good on their promise to "drain the swamp" of corruption in Congress. Even if it's their own who are swirling around that drain.

Also: Van Hollen rolled out another line of attack: He contrasted the Dem leadership's response to the Rangel mess favorably with the GOP leadership's proposal in 2004 to change the rules to allow Tom DeLay to remain in a leadership post if he were charged by a grand jury.

Republicans have signaled that they will pound away relentlessly at the Rangel and Waters affairs as proof that Dems failed to clean house. Asked if this is a liability, Van Hollen answered:

"We've actually strengthened the ethics process. The reason people are hearing about the cases of Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters is because we put in place accountability measures to make sure that we have high standards and that people are held accountable to those standards.

"If you recall back when the Republicans are in charge, and Tom DeLay was about to be indicted, the Republicans actually weakened their rules. They changed their rules to say, even after he's indicted, he can still be the Republican leader.

"We were very clear. Charlie Rangel is not the chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He stepped down as a result of allegations. And now we're going through what is a very much strengthened process, with more outside oversight."

All this comes courtesy of Greg Sargent at the Plum Line.

Charlie Rangel & Maxine Waters, continued.

Jamelle Bouie of the American Prospect, backs me up (at puts it a little better):

For my part, I don't think there's anything particularly racial about these ethics investigations; it's just that long-term incumbency breeds this kind of corruption. Indeed, if you take a quick look at each of the congresspeople under investigation, you'll notice that most are long-serving incumbents. Simply put, when you're isolated from credible challengers, you have no electoral incentive to stay clean. In the long-run, the best way to combat corruption is to create as many competitive districts as possible so that incumbents do not become complacent.

For the record, I have yet to meet a white person (male or female) named Jamelle. That's definitely a name my people use.

What's important. (My bad).

I'm starting to feel way guilty about calling the President's Speech before the AFL-CIO, the most important story of the day. I'm really down with the Unions (duh), and seeing any reconciliation between Democrats and Labor gives me joy.

But let's face facts, we did see a major blow in favor of Civil Rights in this country yesterday, so the Prop. 8 decision (which, Lord knows, I didn't ignore) may just be a teeny-tiny bit more important.

The again, the decision has got to stand. If the Supremes overturn it (and there's every chance that they could), then today's overwhelmingly good-news story becomes a footnote.

About that "Liberal/Activist" Prop. 8 Judge

Courtesy Ezra:

This “liberal San Francisco judge” was recommended by Ed Meese, appointed by Ronald Reagan, and opposed by Alan Cranston, Nancy Pelosi, Edward Kennedy, and the leading gay activist groups. It’s a good thing for for advocates of marriage equality that those forces were only able to block Walker twice.

Josh Green of the Atlantic notes a pattern: the federal judge in Boston who struck down a significant portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that it denied gay and lesbian couples the federal benefits afforded to straight couples, was appointed to the bench by President Richard Nixon. And the chief judge of the Iowa Supreme Court who wrote the unanimous decision striking down that state’s marriage ban was appointed by Republican governor Terry Branstad, who was just renominated for governor by Iowa Republican voters. Of course, Nixon and Branstad don’t have the conservative cred of Reagan and Meese.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hatred at the Carnival

Don't be suprised when the Secret Service comes knocking on your door:

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The head of an eastern Pennsylvania amusement company has yanked a carnival game in which players shot foam darts at an image resembling President Barack Obama.

Irvin Good Jr. pulled the target-shooting game after receiving a complaint from a Massachusetts woman attending a fair in Roseto, about 65 miles north of Philadelphia. Good said Wednesday his company, Hellertown-based Goodtime Amusements, won't offer the game again.

"It was just a big, big mistake in judgment, and I feel sorry about it," he told The Associated Press. "I can't take it back, but I can try to make it better."

The game, dubbed "Alien Attack," featured a large painted image of a black man wearing a belt buckle with the presidential seal and holding a scroll labeled "Health Bill." Players could win prizes such as stuffed animals by hitting targets on the image's head and heart.

Via HuffPo.

"Spend my birthday with some good friends..." (VIDEO)

The most important story of the day (at least to l'il ol' me) the President's speech before the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO:

The complete text of the speech is here.

Similiar to the speech he gave in Michigan, and to a Democratic Fundraiser, but I liked it anyway:

Because as hard as it is out there right now for a lot of folks, as far as we’ve got to go, what’s clear is that our nation is headed in the right direction. Our economy is growing again instead of shrinking. We’re adding jobs in the private sector instead of losing them. America is moving forward.

And we’re moving forward largely without any help from the opposition party -- a party that has voted no on just about every turn. No on making college more affordable. No on clean energy jobs. No on broadband. No on high-speed rail. No on water and highway projects. That doesn’t stop them from showing up at the ribbon cuttings. It doesn’t stop them from sending out press releases. They’ve even said no to tax cuts for small businesses and 95 percent of working families. They just said no to a small business tax cut again just last week.

As we speak, they’ve been trying to block an emergency measure to save the jobs of police officers and firefighters and teachers and other critical public servants across the country who may be laid off because of state and local budget cuts.

And as if that was not enough, now they’re talking about repealing this and repealing that. I guess they want to go back to hidden credit card fees and mortgage penalties buried in the fine print. They want to go back to a system that allowed for taxpayer bailouts. They want to go back to allowing insurance companies to discriminate against people based on preexisting conditions. They would repeal the tax cuts for small businesses that provide health care for their employees. They want to go backwards; we want to move America forward.

And that’s what the choice is going to be in this upcoming election, and all your members need to understand it. I know if you’re talking to a lot of your locals, I’m sure they’re feeling like, boy, change is not happening fast enough; we are still hurting out here. They’re frustrated. They’ve got every right to be frustrated. And I am happy, as President of the United States, to take responsibility for making decisions now that are going to put us in a strong position down the road. And they need to know that, that we’re going to be working with you to make sure that we’re putting ourselves in a position where folks are working and working for a good wage and good benefits.

But you have to remind them for the next three months, this election is a choice. You’ve got these folks who drove America’s economy into a ditch, and for the last 20 months, we put on our boots and we got into the mud and we’ve been shoving that car out of the ditch inch by inch, and they’ve been standing on the side the whole time watching, telling us, no, you’re not pushing hard enough, you’re not doing it the right way -- not lifting a finger to help. And now we’ve finally got that car up on the blacktop there, about to drive, and they say they want the keys back. Well, you can’t have the keys, because you don’t know how to drive. You don’t know how to drive. You’re not going to get the keys back. You’re not going to get them back.

Somebody pointed out to me that when you’re in a car and you want to go forward, you put it in “D.” You want to go back in the ditch, you put it on “R.” So I just want everybody to think about that.

Also, there was this story:

Now, just a few weeks before I visited that auto plant, 14 of its employees won the lottery. This is a true story. Now you’d think they would have decided to retire, cash out, walk away. But most of them didn’t. They’re staying on their jobs. And the guy who bought the ticket -- was a guy named William Shanteau -- took the money and he bought his wife one of the Jeep Cherokees that they make at the plant. And then he bought a bunch of American flags for his hometown, because he loves his country, just like he loves the company that he works for and the workers that he works with and the union that represents him.

And he’s going to keep on showing up every day because he loves that plant, he loves his coworkers, and he loves the idea of making something right here in the United States that’s worth something. He loves the idea of being productive and creating something of value for people.

That’s the true character of our people. That’s been the essence of the AFL-CIO. That’s why even in these difficult times, I remain confident about our future, because of people like that, because of the workers that I meet all across this country, members of your unions who get up every morning and put in a hard day’s work to build a company, build a future, support their families.

The facts behind Walker's finding.

Another vital catch by Sullivan, via his Atlantic colleague Marc Ambinder:

Here are the relevant facts Walker finds:

1. Marriage is and has been a civil matter, subject to religious intervention only when requested by the intervenors.

2. California, like every other state, doesn't require that couples wanting to marry be able to procreate.

3. Marriage as an institution has changed overtime; women were given equal status; interracial marriage was formally legalized; no-fault divorce made it easier to dissolve marriages.

4. California has eliminated marital obligations based on gender.

5. Same-sex love and intimacy "are well-documented in human history."

6. Sexual orientation is a fundamental characteristic of a human being.

7. Prop 8 proponents' "assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence."

8. There is no evidence that sexual orientation is chosen, nor that it can be changed.

9. California has no interest in reducing the number of gays and lesbians in its population.

10. "Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital union."

11. "Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals."

12. "Domestic partnerships lack the social meaning associated with marriage, and marriage is widely regarded as the definitive expression of love and commitment in the United States.

The availability of domestic partnership does not provide gays and lesbians with a status equivalent to marriage because the cultural meaning of marriage and its associated benefits are intentionally withheld from same-sex couples in domestic partnerships."

13. "Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages."

Remember, these are the FACTS that Walker has determined from the testimony and evidence. These facts will serve as the grounding for the legal arguments yet to come.

The President. One mean guy...

I may be a Liberal, but there are Liberals out there that I can't stand.  Namely: Arianna Huffington, Glenn Greenwald, and David Sirota.  There are others, but they're at the top of my list.

Today, the New Republic's Jonathan Chait takes on David Sirota, which gives me joy.

Prop. 8 is Unconstitutional.

Following up from yesterday, we get some good news here in Lotus land..

From the Judge's (a Bush appointee apparently) decision:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Listen, I'm straight, and I don't give much of a damn what Adam and Steve do with their lives. They want to get married, fine. Have at it! What do I care?

How does it affect me again?

Oh yeah, that's right. Not at all.

Why is what I just said not the actual conservative position in all this?  Remember, individual liberty?  No?

The President's Speech on the end of the Iraq War (White House Video)

I'm still not sure why the MSNBC Feed cut off at 30:50, but here is the White House's Video, which took an unusually long time for them to post.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

L.A. Times: Who shifted in the Prop. 8 Debate?

After months (going on years) of having the defeat of Prop. 8 put on the shoulders of African-Americans (and apparently Prince), first the San Francisco Chronicle (in an article from last year) let us off the hook, and now the Los Angeles Times puts the blame squarely where it belongs:

Immediately after Proposition 8 passed, many who supported same-sex marriage tried to make sense of the results. A set of assumptions gained wide acceptance. Some are correct. Most, however, are just plain wrong. And it's crucial that we know what happened in the last election before launching another attempt to legalize marriage for all.

I [the article's author, David Fleischer] recently headed a team that analyzed data from polls conducted by the No on 8 campaign during the run-up to the election. Our analysis sheds new light on what fueled the Proposition 8 victory.

One big question after the election: Who moved? Six weeks before the vote, Proposition 8 was too close to call. But in the final weeks, supporters pulled ahead, and by election day, the outcome was all but certain.

After the election, a misleading finding from exit polls led many to blame African Americans for the loss. But in our new analysis, it appears that African Americans' views were relatively stable. True, a majority of African Americans opposed same-sex marriage, but that was true at the beginning and at the end of the campaign; few changed their minds in the closing weeks.

The shift, it turns out, was greatest among parents with children under 18 living at home — many of them white Democrats.

The numbers are staggering. In the last six weeks, when both sides saturated the airwaves with television ads, more than 687,000 voters changed their minds and decided to oppose same-sex marriage. More than 500,000 of those, the data suggest, were parents with children under 18 living at home. Because the proposition passed by 600,000 votes, this shift alone more than handed victory to proponents.

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise. The Yes on 8 campaign targeted parents in its TV ads. "Mom! Guess what I learned in school today!" were the cheery-frightening first words of the supporters' most-broadcast ad. They emerged from the mouth of a young girl who had supposedly just learned that she could marry a female when she grew up.

Another good catch by Andrew Sullivan.

"The Stupidity of Liberal Apathy" (National Security Edition)

Jonathan Cohn started this meme on the Stupidity of Liberal Apathy. It was followed up by Andrew Sullivan. Now, Heather Hurlburt, Executive Director of the National Security Network, wrote the following in response to Mr. Cohn's original piece:

Granted, I didn't buy her line about Mr. Cohn "falling into the same trap as his apathetic Netroots liberals as far as national security is concerned", but the list was good and instructive. Once again: good stuff in bold, bad stuff in red.

Jonathan Cohn falls into the same trap as his apathetic Netroots liberals as far as national security is concerned. The Rodney Dangerfield of the Obama Administration, it can’t even get enough of their attention to be disrespected. (It should be said that Netroots organizers convened their first-ever broadly-themed foreign policy panel to take a look at exactly this question, and invited my organization, the National Security Network, to put it together, so give them some credit. Like many of the successes described below, it’s a work in progress.)

And yet. In 2008, Americans said they were anxious about terrorism, about Iraq, about US global standing. Liberals felt we were trapped on a path toward expanding, endless wars and shrinking interaction with global partners on global problems. President Obama will have us down to 50,000 troops in Iraq (from 145,000 in February 2009) and an end to combat missions next month. His Administration revived the international consensus on reducing and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons, and safeguarding nuclear materials. Next month will likely get the new START Treaty through the Senate (albeit with an ugly, healthcare-like orgy of side deals).

The economy looks bad now, but with full global recession it might have been much worse–Administration leadership prevented global meltdown and created a more representative and inclusive forum, the G20, to manage global recovery.

The first 18 months of the Administration saw more terrorism convictions in civilian courts than did five years of Bush Administration military tribunals–and the killing or capturing of half the leadership of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, according to CIA Director Leon Panetta. Counter-terrorism experts like Stephen Flynn of the Center for National Policy argue that the smaller-scale terrorism attempts we’re now seeing (and thwarting) reflect an important success–Al Qaeda no longer enjoys the safety in its AfPak border hideaways to plot complex, multi-part attacks such as September 11.

The Administration successfully reset relations with Russia to get things we want in other fora (Afghanistan, Iran). Iran itself is weaker, more isolated externally and divided internally, than at any time in recent memory. Last year, the Administration and Congress passed through a significant increase in aid to fight poverty and disease around the world. Global public opinion of the US moved up nearly everywhere, soaring in Western Europe, Russia and China. Americans who work at the UN and other international bodies tell stories of foreign nationals sidling up to them in the halls with a message: “We’re so glad you’re back.”

Hey, I can be critical, too. The opportunity to close Guantanamo promptly, send most of its inmates to humane destinations and try those deserving in our civilian courts fell victim to ugly politics and inattention. Nobody, not even General Petraeus, thinks Afghanistan is going well enough as the Administration tries to hold steady on its plan for an “inflection point” next summer. (Speaking of Afghanistan, just 8% of Netroots attendees told pollsters that “finishing Afghanistan” should be the Administration’s top priority, vs. 74% favoring “improve the jobs situation.” I’d say the White House hears them loud and clear.) Middle East results have disappointed. The effort to find a post-Bush language for the promotion of democracy and human rights remains a work in progress. Some vital longer-term structural questions, about how we organize our nation’s conduct of international affairs and redress the funding and capability imbalance between civilians and the military, have slipped down the priority list in the welter of short-term challenges–as does the effort to explain again and again to Americans what kind of a world it is we are building toward.

Substantively, though, those shortcomings and delays are fixable–if the Administration has the political capital and the time. Where on the domestic side, liberals got the big change and need the enthusiasm to use and keep them, in foreign policy the Administration has fought to clear the path. A changed paradigm is now possible–if liberals can rouse themselves from apathy enough to work for it and embrace politicians when they are supportive, in addition to pummeling them when they are not.

Just "lip service" to Veterans?

Paul Reickhoff wrote this at the IAVA blog, and at Huffington Post last night:

The hardly new announcement that the US is drawing down in Iraq captured media headlines all day. The press ran with every possible variation of this theme, but neglected to report on an equally important component of the speech - and the war: the veterans.

If you watched the whole speech, you saw that the drawdown update on Iraq was just one of two big themes – the other being what the Obama Administration is doing for veterans. And even though the President said many of the right things, the hard results were lacking. Lip service doesn’t go far with military folks. We expect more than rhetoric about respect and promises; we expect outcomes.

Mr. Reickhoff, as well as every other man or woman who has served in uniform, all have a hell of a lot more standing than I ever will on Veterans matters. (Mea Culpa, he's the expert, he's lived it, I haven't.)

Still, I watched the speech, and this list strikes me as a little more than lip service (accomplishments in bold, proposals in blue):

At the same time, every American who has ever worn the uniform must also know this: Your country is going to take care of you when you come home. Our nation’s commitment to our veterans, to you and your families, is a sacred trust. And to me and my administration, upholding that trust is a moral obligation. It’s not just politics.

That’s why I’ve charged Secretary Shinseki with building a 21st century VA. And that includes one of the largest percentage increases to the VA budget in the past 30 years. We are going to cut this deficit that we’ve got, and I’ve proposed a freeze on discretionary domestic spending. But what I have not frozen is the spending we need to keep our military strong, our country safe and our veterans secure. So we’re going to keep on making historic commitments to our veterans.

For about 200,000 Vietnam vets who may have been exposed to Agent Orange and who now suffer from three chronic diseases, we’re making it easier for you to get the health care and benefits you need.

For our Gulf War veterans, we’ve declared that nine infectious diseases are now presumed to be related to your service in Desert Storm.

For our disabled veterans, we’ve eliminated co-pays for those of you who are catastrophically disabled. We’ve kept our promise on concurrent receipt by proposing legislation that would allow severely disabled retirees to receive your military retired pay and your VA disability benefits. It’s the right thing to do.

We’ve dramatically increased funding for veterans health care across the board, and that includes improving care for rural veterans and women veterans. For those half-million vets who had lost their eligibility -- our Priority 8 veterans -- we’re restoring your access to VA health care.

And since the rumors continue to fly, even though they are wrong, let me say it as clearly as I can: The historic health care reform legislation that I signed into law does not -- I repeat, does not -- change your veterans benefits. The VA health care benefits that you know and trust are safe, and that includes prosthetics for our disabled veterans.

Thanks to advanced appropriations, the delays for funding for veterans medical care are over. And just as those delays were unacceptable, so too are long delays in the claims process. So Secretary Shinseki is working overtime to create a single lifetime electronic record that our troops and veterans can keep for life.

And today -- today I can announce that for the first time ever, veterans will be able to go to the VA website, click a simple “blue button,” and download or print your personal health records so you have them when you need them and can share them with your doctors outside of the VA. That’s happening this fall.

We’re hiring thousands of new claims processors to break the backlog once and for all. And to make sure the backlog doesn’t come back, we’re reforming the claims process itself with new information technologies and a paperless system.


THE PRESIDENT: We got an Amen over here. (Laughter and applause.)

As a result of the innovation competition that I announced last summer, our dedicated VA employees suggested more than 10,000 new ways to cut through the red tape and the bureaucracy. And we’re already putting dozens of these innovative ideas into action. Additionally, we’re enabling more veterans to check the status of their claims online and from their cell phone.

As a next step, we’re opening this competition to entrepreneurs and academics so the best minds in America can help us develop the technologies to serve our vets, including those of you with multiple traumatic injuries. And we’re going to keep at this until we meet our commitment to cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, and deliver your benefits sooner. This is a priority and we are going to get it done.

We’re making progress in ending homelessness among our veterans. Today, on any given night, there are about 20,000 fewer veterans on the streets than there were when we took office. But we’re not going to be satisfied until every veteran who has fought for America has a home in America. We will not stop.

Finally, we’re keeping faith with our newest veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. We’re offering more of the support and counseling they need to transition back to civilian life. That includes funding the post-9/11 GI Bill, which is already helping more than 300,000 veterans and family members pursue their dream of a college education.

And for veterans trying to find work in a very tough economy, we’re helping with job training and placement. And I’ve directed the federal government to make it a priority to hire more veterans, including disabled veterans. And every business in America needs to know our vets have the training, they’ve got the skills, they have the dedication -- they are ready to work. And our country is stronger when we tap the incredible talents of our veterans.

For those coming home injured, we’re continuing to direct unprecedented support to our wounded warriors in uniform -- more treatment centers, more case managers -- delivering the absolute best care available. For those who can, we want to help them get back to where they want to be -- with their units. And that includes service members with a disability, who still have so much to offer our military.

We’re directing unprecedented resources to treating the signature wounds of today’s wars -- traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And I recently signed into law the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. That’s a long name, but let me tell you what it does. It not only improves treatment for traumatic brain injury and PTSD, it gives new support to many of the caregivers who put their own lives on hold to care for their loved one.

And as so many of you know, PTSD is a pain like no other -- the nightmares that keep coming back, the rage that strikes suddenly, the hopelessness that’s led too many of our troops and veterans to take their own lives. So today, I want to say in very personal terms to anyone who is struggling -- don’t suffer in silence. It’s not a sign of weakness to reach out for support -- it’s a sign of strength. Your country needs you. We are here for you. We are here to help you stand tall. Don’t give up. Reach out.

We’re making major investments in awareness, outreach, and suicide prevention -- hiring more mental health professionals, improving care and treatment. For those of you suffering from PTSD, we’re making it a whole lot easier to qualify for VA benefits. From now on, if a VA doctor confirms a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, that is enough -- no matter what war you served in.

These are the commitments my administration has made. These are the promises we’ve worked to keep. This is the sacred trust we have pledged to uphold -- to you and all who serve.

The following is Mr. Reickhoff's list of demands:

And so far during President’s Obama’s time in office, veteran unemployment has risen, the VA disability backlog remains unacceptably high and suicide rates continue to skyrocket. The veterans community hoped that the President would deliver concrete solutions to these acute challenges in this speech and issue a call to action. But what we got instead, was mostly just talk.

Now, the President addressed both the backlog and suicide rates. There's more funding for both, and they're still working on making a single electronic record for our returning vets to end the backlog once and for all. I'd say that one falls under in progress. Once the source of PTSD is cut off, one we stop creating combat veterans, the suicide rate will start to fall. The most important thing for groups like IAVA is to let the Administration know how well the improvements are working and if they feel more money is necessary.

The problems of Vet unemployment is connected to the broader economy (let's not get tribal here, Paul; this is kicking the crap out of everybody). An uptick in the economy will fix that. In the meantime, there the Federal Government is hiring more Vets, and there's job training. That problem isn't going to get better with a special appropriation for Veterans. Once businesses start hiring, that rising tide will lift all boats, including Veterans.

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's worse. (Julian Assange is a clown - Part III)

I called him a clown, and I wish I could stand by that. It's now confirmed by Newsweek:

After WikiLeaks published a trove of U.S. intelligence documents—some of which listed the names and villages of Afghans who had been secretly cooperating with the American militaryit didn’t take long for the Taliban to react. A spokesman for the group quickly threatened to “punish” any Afghan listed as having “collaborated” with the U.S. and the Kabul authorities against the growing Taliban insurgency. In recent days, the Taliban has demonstrated how seriously those threats should be considered. Late last week, just four days after the documents were published, death threats began arriving at the homes of key tribal elders in southern Afghanistan. And over the weekend one tribal elder, Khalifa Abdullah, who the Taliban believed had been in close contact with the Americans, was taken from his home in Monar village, in Kandahar province’s embattled Arghandab district, and executed by insurgent gunmen.

One dead, but that's one dead too gauge this by Mr. Assange's standards.

I mean, that's why you did it, right? You were outraged by all the death and destruction in Afghanistan, and you wanted to do something about it.

Congratulations, your overinflated sense of self-importance just got someone killed. I really hope that all the Interviews and publicity were worth it.

Again, I will repeat. I have no truck with Whistleblowers. I'm not comfortable with them leaking stuff on National Security, but it's sometimes necessary (see: Ellsberg, Daniel). But for Wikileaks to black out everyone's names except for the Afghanis is now bearing tragic consequences, and all it is directly attributable to Mr. Assange's decision to put this nearly worthless crap out there.

I hope Mr. Assange enjoys the limelight, and burns in hell afterwards.

Joe Klein's Mea Culpa on the Iraq War...

Until our recent reunion (when I started reading him again), the Iraq War was the reason I stopped listening to Joe Klein:

As for myself, I deeply regret that once, on television in the days before the war, I reluctantly but foolishly said that going ahead with the invasion might be the right thing to do. I was far more skeptical, and equivocal, in print--I never wrote in favor of the war and repeatedly raised the problems that would accompany it--but skepticism and equivocation were an insufficient reaction, too. In retrospect, the issue then was as clear cut as it is now. It demanded a clarity that I failed to summon. The essential principle is immutable: We should never go to war unless we have been attacked or are under direct, immediate threat of attack. Never. And never again.

"Reluctantly" is a term for editorial discussion. I personally remember him being a little less than reluctant.

The President's Speech on the end of the Iraq War (VIDEO)

Joe Klein, Time Magazine:

There is no "victory" in Iraq, nor will there be. There is something resembling stability, but that might not last, either. There is a semblance of democracy, but that may dissolve over time, or in the next few months, into a Shi'ite dictatorship--which, if not well-run, will yield to the near-inevitable military coup. Yes, Saddam is gone--and that is a good thing. The Kurds have a greater measure of independence and don't have to live in fear of mass murder, which is a good thing, too. But Iran has been aggrandized. Its Iraqi allies, especially Muqtada Sadr's populist movement, remain a force that will play a major role--arguably one more central than ours--in shaping the future of the country. This attempt by western neo-colonialists--that is, the Bush Administration--to construct an amenable Iraq will most likely end no better than previous western attempts have. Certainly, even if something resembling democracy prevails, the U.S. invasion and occupation--the carnage and tragedy it wrought--will not be remembered fondly by Iraqis anytime soon. We will own the destruction in perpetuity; if the Iraqis manage to cobble themselves a decent society, they will see it, correctly, as an achievement of their own.


It is the way of the world that Barack Obama's announcement today of the end of the combat phase in Iraq, and the beginning of a 16-month period of advice and support for the Iraqi security forces before U.S. troops leave in 2011, will not be remembered as vividly as George Bush's juvenile march across the deck of an aircraft carrier, costumed as a combat aviator in a golden sunset, to announce--six years and tens of thousands of lives prematurely--the "end of combat operations." But celebration is not appropriate now. What is appropriate is what the President did: promise that amends will be made to those whose lives were shattered and that their service in an unnecessary cause will be honored. What is also appropriate now is a mournful colloquy on America's place in the world--and how our natural leadership among nations, a consequence of the freedom that Bush misconstrued, is best utilized in the future.

I got to say, the President’s speech was good, but the crowd’s reaction was even better. This was not a tame, laid back, polite VFW crowd, but a raucous, rowdy, full-bore, full-on Disabled American Vets crowd.

And I liked it.

UPDATE: 4:39pm Pacific: Why the MSNBC Video cut things short at 30:50, I don't know. When the White House Video is put online, I'll put it up.

UPDATE: August 4, 2010: It took 'em long enough, but here it is.

Charlie Rangel & Maxine Waters

I'm not ignoring the Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters stories, and I think this Joe Klein column provides a decent enough overview, but I think Joe neglects one aspect:

At the end of the day, black districts are poorer districts, and any Congressperson who brings home the bacon to those poorer, black districts is going to be popular, no matter what they do. If those same Congresspeople just happen to be black, there are going to be allegations from those districts that those charges are racially based.

Of course, race doesn't apply here at all.  This is about entitlement and yes, as Joe said, longevity.  I think the Ethics Committee is moving with clean hands and a clear conscience.

 I've been hearing about Maxine for years for having family members on the Congressional Office Payroll. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a Liberal Ethics Watchdog has had her on their most corrupt Congresspeople list for years.  In this case, we're talking about steering Federal Money to a Minority-owned bank.  I still can't explain to you in clear english what Rangel did, but it involved chicanery on his tax returns and some free trips to the Caribbean.  In either case, I think these are cases of low-level corruption.  No one's going to jail in either of these cases.  Lose their jobs?  Maybe, but I'd let the information loose, and let the people of their districts make their choice.  Knowing my people, they'll look after their own.  Calling them crooks, as Joe Klein does, is going a little overboard.  My understanding is that these were clear violations of House Rules, and they deserve some kind of comeupance.

At the same time, any time the media wants to focus this much attention on Sen. John Ensign's actual criminal behavior, be my frickin' guest.

My only question is, after an Ethics Mechanism that's been gathering dust, why aren't the Democrats getting more credit for going after their own?  We have strong majorities in both Houses and we're not papering this crap over.

"The blacks..." and "Unmarried women"...

Courtesy Andrew Sullivan:

"One of the things Obama’s been doing is deliberately trying to increase the percentage of our population that is dependent on government for your living. For example, do you know what was the second biggest demographic group that voted for Obama? Obviously the blacks were the biggest demographic, y’all know what was the second biggest? Unmarried women. 70% of unmarried women voted for Obama. And this is because when you kick your husband out, you’ve got to have Big Brother Government to be your provider. And they know that. They’ve admitted it. And they have all kinds of bills to continue to subsidize illegitimacy… The Obama administration wants to continue to subsidize this group because they know they are Democratic votes."

Ladies and Gentlemen, your (and I do mean your) Republican Party.

Apple and Amazon versus the State of Connecticut


Well, I'm willing to take one for the team(s) (I own both) if it'll get Richard Blumenthal elected to Chris Dodd's Senate seat.

Citing "potentially anticompetitive ebook deals," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is investigating the relationship between Apple, Amazon and publishers. Blumenthal claims Apple and Amazon have struck exclusive deals with publishers that would block smaller ebook distributors from offering better prices.

Courtesy Gizmodo.

He's still leading the WWE Lady by like a gazillion, so...

The President's Interivew with Harry Smith of CBS News (VIDEO)

This is one unstable embed. I've seen the picture scrambled, and off to the side. Generally, it works, but is warning me of HTML errors.

Basically, don't be surprised in this one doesn't work. But so far, so good.

If you see an image of the President in your browswer, and a button to hit "play", go for it! It's fine.

Are Tea Partiers Racist? ... an follow-up to an unfortunately ongoing series

When I posted the image of the Tea-Party Comix last week, I started off with a collection of quotes from people saying that Tea-Party was not racist. Now, we can add the creator of Tea Party comix to that list:

I do not understand the connection with 'big ears' and 'racism', and I do not understand how a 'dark face' implies racism. The accusation of 'Hate' is true, but it is the hate of an IDEOLGY [sic], not a of race of people..... I understand that the ideology has captured 80 or 90% of the race(s) in question, but it is STILL a AN IDEOLOGY and NOT a "race" that this comic book attacks.

Yeah, he's special isn't he?

He also mentions that the heat has forced him to take down the comics from being on sale.  That or the fact that he used a trademarked image in his comic.