Going bald, and blaming Obama…SDB Evening News Reads for 072511

A quick warning to all your Sky Dancing readers…this post may be a bit on the strange side. Just chalk it up to a crappy attitude. So with that caveat lets get this evening reads started.

I want to go outside my house and yell…”What the f*ck!” It won’t do any good, since living in Banjoville the only living soul to hear my question would be all the does and their little babies, or the squirrels…and I am sure the Baptist preacher that lives a mile down the mountain could hear it too.

Why is it when women get stressed out, they loose their hair? This past week has been a nightmare, and my body is responding by making my hair greying locks fall out it clumps. Damn, if only I would be one of those people who loose weight when they are depressed and stressed out…but no such luck. And who do I blame for my new “Costanza” predicament, why Obama of course…and all those people who voted that a-hole into office.  (Especially those freaking Super Delegates…and the DNC.) I can also say with certainty that Obama and his best buddies over at Goldman Sachs are also to blame for the other “Costanza” predicament I’ve been living with for the last 2 years…that being over forty, unemployed and living with my parents. But that is another story.

So with this recent denuding, I bring you an angry sad evening reads.

Well, he is gonna talk to the American People again tonight…must be important cause it is none other then a “prime time” 9pm talking to. Obama seeks advantage in debt limit debate – 44 – The Washington Post

President Obama will continue his push to win the public debate over the debt limit negotiations with a live televised address to the nation at 9 p.m. Monday, his seventh such address since taking office.

Eight days remain before the United States faces an economic default unless the president and Congress agree on a plan to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Obama will discuss “the stalemate in Washington over avoiding default and the best approach to cutting deficits,” the White House press office said in a one-paragraph announcement of the hastily-scheduled speech. Aides declined to elaborate on the specifics of what Obama will say.

For more on the debt ceiling crapola, check out Boston Boomers latest post.

At least there is this news from the IRS, IRS drops 2-year deadline to seek innocent-spouse status – USATODAY.com

The “innocent-spouse rule” allows taxpayers to seek relief from their spouse’s tax debts, even if they signed a joint return. In the past, the IRS has required taxpayers to file for relief within two years after a collection notice. The deadline has prevented taxpayers in the dark about their spouse’s tax debts from seeking relief, the IRS taxpayer advocate and legal aide attorneys said.

On Monday, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said the IRS is eliminating the deadline for taxpayers who seek innocent-spouse status under the “equitable relief” provision. This type of relief is often sought by taxpayers who were victims of domestic abuse, the IRS said. “When people are in tough circumstances, we need to be willing to work with them,” Shulman said.

The rule change will apply to cases that are pending before the IRS, Shulman said. Taxpayers whose applications for relief were rejected because of the two-year deadline can reapply, he said. “We’re being as flexible as we can.”

Moving on to more hell fire news, Yellowstone fires…Climate Change To Spawn More Wildfires:

Large fires are predicted for the Rockies and Yellowstone with the potential to push the area over a tipping point.

Yellowstone fires

Yellowstone and the Rockies will likely see more large fires due to climate change.

As Earth’s climate warms up, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons are likely to experience large fires more frequently, according to a new study. Within just a few decades, big fires may become as much as 10 times more common than they have been in the last 10,000 years.

A bump in fire frequency would reverberate through the environment in unpredictable ways — affecting the kinds of plants that grow in the area, the kinds of animals that can find habitats there and the amount of carbon that vegetation might be expected to pull out of the atmosphere.

Such a fiery future would also threaten people and homes throughout the northern Rockies.

Emily’s List has come out in support today of three women that are running for the House of Representatives.

Taking action against what it calls Republicans’ “war on women,” a political action committee that backs the candidacies of women who support abortion rights endorsed three Democrats on Monday.

The committee Emily’s List, endorsed Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, Val B. Demings in Florida and Dina Titus in Nevada. All three are running for House seats that have changed hands once or twice in the last two elections and are now held by Tea Party-backed Republicans.

“After the stunning victories by Kathy Hochul in New York and Janice Hahn in California, it’s clear Democratic women have the momentum and our members are more energized than ever to win back the House,” said Stephanie Schriock, the committee’s president, in a statement announcing the endorsements.

There, I will end it on that pro-woman note…I am sure to see some of you here when “Golden Boy” gives his lecture tonight. Catch ya later!

Killing Upward Mobility

Obama? Obama? Obama?

There continues to be a total disconnect between the role of  high unemployment and a slow growing economy in deficits.   It appears now to be an excuse to cut programs and experiment on children.   I’ve grown up expecting Republicans to lie.  They lie about science.  They lie about economics.  They lie about people who they’ve assigned ‘enemy’ status. They lie about climate change. They lie about history. They lie about evolution.  They lie about their sex lives.  They lie about being crooks and starting secret wars.  They just lie whenever they feel like it.

What I never thought I’d see is a continued Democratic party led onslaught against programs that have clearly kept people out of poverty and helped them to achieve and stay in the middle class.  They either believe these same lies spun by Republicans or they are acting willfully against the good of the nation in ways that perpetrate those lies.  Either way, this hurts our country.

Recently, we’ve experienced massive privatization of clearly public goods.  This has especially been true in the military since DDay Rumsfeld took over the pentagon.  It is becoming equally true for education.  Private companies that feed off government contracts are the worst of the worst.  They messed up Iraq and Afghanistan. They messed up the Gulf Coast after Katrina, Rita and BP.  They’ve messed up our schools, our infrastructure and our recovery down here.  The only thing that was done right was the Superdome and that’s only because it’s part of the bread and circuses pogrom and the big bucks of the plutocrats were involved.  It was also symbolic.  Symbolic was supposed to convince you all that we’re hunky dory down here.  We are not.  Now they want to extend that model to you.  Please, don’t let them.  Save your children.  Save them now.

Hyping cherry picking charter schools while ignoring the vast majority of  underachieving charter schools is only one way this pogrom works.  I’ll get to that in a minute.  I want to focus on the latest design to stop your children from being upwardly mobile first.  We have more clear indications that Obama/Geithner are still willing to bailout any oligopoly that’s a potential political donor while chipping away at policy designed to move working and middle class children to professional salaries.  We’ll still be paying for atrocious foreign and defense policy in Afghanistan and Iraq now while de-funding  Pell Grants and ending interest rate subsidies for all graduate students that need loans for education.

President Barack Obama‘s budget plan would cut $100 billion from Pell Grants and other higher education programs over a decade through belt-tightening and use the savings to keep the maximum college financial aid award at $5,550, an administration official said.

Nearly $90 billion of the projected savings would be achieved through two changes, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Monday’s release of Obama’s 2012 budget. The spending plan applies to the budget year that begins Oct. 1.

The first edict–if passed by congress–basically means spring semester grants must be used for summer school.  Separate summer school loans will not be available.  The second proposal means that interest will accrue on graduate students taking loans while they are in graduate school.  This would especially impact medical school students who frequently require huge loans to go to school then come out saddled with unbelievable amounts of debt that they must begin to pay while doing low paying, high intensity residency jobs.  Yes, pile more debt on us all individually. Bankrupt us with individual debt while scaring us that the government’s the one that could (NOT!!) go bankrupt.

We’re continuing to see the Obama administration pit the poor, the working class, and the middle class against each other.  They’re already noticeably doing that via an education policy called Race to the Top.  Rather than direct per pupil subsidies for needy students, schools must now compete for federal funds based on some pretty arbitrary and questionable standards.  Poor districts must fight for scraps on the floor and it’s expensive and potentially damaging to fight for those scraps.   They must fight via increases in test scores that have so much statistical variation and resultant margin of error, that you could literally place in a high or low performing school district depending on which side of the error margin you randomly land.

Same deal applies if you’re a teacher.  Frequently the difference between teacher evaluations is decimal places where there is no statistical difference.  But, this competitive game says you have to use those numbers any way.  You have to be willing to evaluate schools and students on test scores to earn race to the top funds. You also have to use test scores to evaluate teachers when most of the education literature shows the majority of factors indicating student success are factors that exist outside of the school itself.  That would be the student’s family and the degree of motivation within the students themselves. That’s even if you accept the validity of these tests. That’s even in question.  What we have is just more shots in the warfare on public workers.  We unjustifiably make more than any one. (Not true)  We have evil unions that grab unreasonable benefits for us. (Less true than ever before.)  We have no work ethnic or else we’d be in the private sector. (Some of us just don’t like the private sector for some pretty obvious reasons.)

Why aren’t we seeing removal of funds for items that clearly aren’t working for students or any one?  I can come up with a few off the top of my head. Say, why don’t we dump abstinence ‘education’ or funds for religion based programs like the ones that pay Michelle Bachman’s husband who claims to be able to ‘ungay’ gays?  Instead, we see a Democratic President pass ‘reforms’ that don’t even fall under the category of triangulation.  Clintonian triangulation would be a giant leap forward compared to what’s happening now in funding our kids’ education. (And don’t tell me Hillary Clinton would be doing this if she were president.  Hillary Clinton worked on education in Arkansas.  She didn’t pull this type of sorry ass policy out once.)

Exactly why do schools with many, many children in poverty have to compete for federal funds?   Why support school in the fall but not in the summer?  Why start tacking on additional interest to students seeking graduate and professional degrees?  Why not put the taxes back to the Clinton years, end two unnecessary wars, and start a jobs program to end the devastating unemployment that is causing the reduced revenues and need for more government services?

Why do we live in this world were not only Republicans, but Democrats now deny history, data, and theory coming out of decades of study using the scientific method?  Why are they making decisions based on differences within the margin of error and wishful thinking?  Didn’t they learn statistics or take math?  Why is a Democratic president enacting failed policies that have only worked in the minds of a few Reagan worshiping right wingers?  Do you notice that the worst policy appears to come when Geithner is standing next to Obama?

There has been this horrible experiment forced on children in the name of education reform. This is stealing their future much more than any deficit could.    Test scores indicate that charter schools are not performing better than public schools overall. In fact, the worst schools in places with charter schools  are two times more likely to be a charter school. They are also not creating a ‘competitive’ environment that’s  making public schools perform any better.  All you have to do is look at Wisconsin for a pretty good indication of that.

Well-known education researcher, professor and critic Diane Ravitch plans to tell a crowd at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee tonight that their city’s system for offering poor children publicy funded vouchers to attend private schools has been a failure.

“Everyone has sort of given up on Milwaukee and Cleveland,” she said, referring to the only other Midwestern city that has a similar voucher program. “The studies of vouchers here have proven they don’t make a difference. The researchers used to have a huge debate … and now there seems to be a consensus on both sides: no bigger gains in voucher schools than in public schools.”

And about those reforms that the state’s largest teachers’ union just embraced? Performance pay and student-assessment driven teacher evaluation systems, which are also being championed by reformers around the country?

Ravitch, 72, thinks those efforts are pretty futile, too.

There’s no extra money to fund extra pay for teachers, she said. And test scores used as accountability for teachers rather than diagnostic tools to help kids improve only make educators teach to the test.

Ravitch’s Milwaukee stop is part of a nation-wide tour she’s been on for the past year to promote her 2010 book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education. In it, she denounces her previous support for school choice, accountability and the No Child Left Behind law. She spoke to School Zone during an afternoon interview at Hotel Metro, before heading over to UWM Thursday.

In a highly publicized flip-flop, Ravitch’s now advocates for a national curriculum and a holistic education program that includes more arts and less standardized testing. She also now supports children attending their neighborhood schools.

“Public services shouldn’t have to compete for customers,” she said. “You should be able to have available for you high-quality schools. That’s the obligation of government.”

Ravitch spoke to a group of New Orleans educators recently.  Her speech is being broadcast here on our ETV.   I wish I could send it to you.  You may know that they’ve basically used New Orleans as an incubator for privatization schemes. She supported the charter school movement until she did research on it.  This is similar to what economists who were the earlier buyers of Reaganomics–like Bruce Bartlett–have done.  They supported it until the data proved it wrong.

So, why are we running our school systems with the same policies that failed in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why are funding Halliburton and KBR and their university and public school counterparts while defunding university students and public schools?

I understand why Republicans are still clinging to lies because that appears to be what the new brand of Republicans do.  They lie about climate change.  They lie about evolution.  They lie about deficits both ways, depending on who is president.  What I want to know is why is a Democratic administration buying and selling these kinds of lies using the futures of our children?  Some where there must be a way to do a naked short sell on this so that a group of hedge fund masters will make a bundle when the bubble bursts on these privatization schemes.   In the interim, a bunch of fee sucking no bid contractors are eating up the proceeds from offering no succeed services.

Why is the Obama Administration leading a war on students and education?

Friday Reads

Welcome back to the Gilded Age!!!
Well, it’s morning!

It’s more like a mourning morning than anything else.  If you ever needed more proof that voting for Democrats appears to be a waste of time any more, this is it.  Republicans have been overrun by Birchers and the Dems appear to be ready to let them get away with anything.  On top of that we have a president that appears to want to further enact Reaganomics.  It’s really a very sad situation.

Politico has an apt headline from last night’s gruel for every one else spending bill. You know those guys and gals that easily passed the Tax Breaks for Billionaires Bill?  The headline is ‘Democrats concede budget fight to Republicans’.  Senate Democrats don’t fight for the high ground and they sell out everything.

Senate Democrats abruptly abandoned an omnibus budget bill for the coming year, pushing major spending decisions into the next Congress and giving Republicans immense new leverage to confront President Barack Obama priorities.

The decision Thursday night sweeps away months of bipartisan work by the Senate Appropriations Committee which had crafted the $1.1 trillion bill to meet spending targets embraced by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R—Ky.) himself prior to the elections.

Sen. Robert Bennett (R—Utah), an old McConnell friend, worked actively to round up as many as nine potential Republican votes for the compromise, but these numbers rapidly evaporated amid personal attacks and the uproar this week over spending earmarks in the package.

McConnell, embarrassed by reports on his own earmarks in the omnibus, went to the Senate floor Thursday to propose a one page, “clean” two month extension of the current stop gap funding resolution that has kept the government funded since Oct. 1. And as if caught with their hands in the cookie jar, he and other top Republicans vowed to do everything in their powers to kill the omnibus to square themselves with their tea party backers.

It keeps getting worse. This is also from Politico: ‘Democrats keep ‘don’t ask’ on wish list’. Wish list?  They’ve got enough votes to repeal DADT. WTF is holding them up?

Senate Democrats on Thursday moved one step closer to repealing the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) scheduling a key vote Saturday on a bill to end the ban on openly gay service members.

But Democrats are bracing for an enormous backlash from repeal advocates if they fall short again.

As time runs out on the 111th Congress, top Democrats are pointing fingers at Republicans for stalling Senate action, saying if the buzzer sounds before Congress ends the policy, the GOP will be to blame. Still, there are at least four Republican senators on the record saying they’ll vote to repeal “don’t ask” under the right procedural circumstances.

Democrats also are reminding gay-rights activists that they — not their Republican counterparts — have been fighting to overturn the 17-year “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

One Republican senator suggested “he was going to do everything he could to run out the clock,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told reporters. “I don’t think that’s really what the American people want — to run out the clock. I think what they want is for us to get things accomplished.”

They frittered away two years of a supermajority when they could’ve really accomplished things instead of  following–at best–a Reagan/Dubya Democratic president.  Obama’s re-election strategy is going to be to basically run as a Republican.  I hope all those Dems that supported his vanity agenda that gave tons of money to the corporate plutocracy get thrown out of office next time.  At the very least, some special hell realm should await them.

Here’s more information on the passage of the Tax Breaks for Billionaires Act. It also zoomed through the House.  Thanks a lot Nancy!  You are sooooo gonna get lumps of coal in your stockings for the rest of your life!

Congress passed the most far-reaching tax bill in a decade late Thursday, averting across-the-board tax increases, enacting new breaks for individuals and businesses and laying a marker for how Washington might work in an era of divided government.

The bill goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature after the House overcame persistent liberal opposition and passed it with an unexpectedly large bipartisan majority of 277-148. The measure passed the Senate earlier in the week also with an overwhelming majority.

The bill reaches deeply into the life and economy of the U.S., more so than might have been expected when Congress first started tackling the matter. Wage-earners will get a new payroll tax break; wealthy heirs get a lower estate-tax rate; and businesses gain an unexpected plum—a big tax write-off for new equipment purchases.

I don’t want to hear any of these jackasses talk about the deficit if they can justify signing this kind of disastrous economic policy.  It’s tax pandering and pork squandering at its absolute worse. There’s absolutely  no economic justification for this.

So, at least one piece of good news is coming out from the Fed. Yup, that’s the FED that all the tea partiers love to hate. The Dodd-Frank Law that extended the FED’s ability to regulate credit is actually having an impact.  If you give the Fed the power to do things, they will do it.  They’re reeling in the extraordinary profits from VISA and MasterCard.

Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. may face permanent damage to the fastest-growing part of their business after the Federal Reserve proposed rules that could cut debit-card transaction fees by 90 percent.

“It is negative all around,” wrote Scott Valentin, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets, in a note to clients. “This significantly impacts the business model for the networks.”

Visa and MasterCard, the world’s biggest payment networks, plunged more than 10 percent in New York trading yesterday after the Fed proposed capping so-called interchange fees at 12 cents each. Currently, the networks charge merchants an average of 1 percent of the purchase price, regardless of cost, and pass that money along to card-issuing banks.

The change, if approved by the Fed after a public comment period, would wipe out most of an estimated $15 billion in annual revenue for U.S. lenders that issue Visa and MasterCard debit cards, including Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.

“These credit-card giants and banks are imposing fees that are in no relation to the actual cost of processing, and the retailers and merchants have no way to bargain or even resist these increases,” U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who pushed for the caps, said in an interview. “This new law brings the Federal Reserve into the picture and changes that dynamic.”

Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of plutocrats!   Here’s a somewhat depressing headline from The Daily Mail :  ‘We’re living longer… but not healthier: Children born today will suffer an extra year of disabilities than those born three decades ago’.

Living longer is not necessarily a bed of roses – it may mean more years spent struggling with disability, researchers say.

Figures show life expectancy is rising but that in return people born now will have to cope with disability or a long-term illness for an extra year compared with those born 30 years ago.

The gender gap is also closing, with women losing their traditional advantage in having better health for longer as they enjoy greater life expectancy.

There is some especially bad news for elderly women.

Men born in 2007 are likely to spend an even greater proportion of their life in poor health, 8.7 years compared with 6.4 years in 1981.

Women today spend 11 years in poor health compared with 10 years in 1981, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.

Most of these problems will be due to obesity, an increase in hypertension and high cholesterol, more cancer, and more diabetes and cardiovascular disease.   Lifestyle and eating habits as well as exercise are more important than ever.

The Independent has a article up about a new threat to Polar Bears from climate change.   Scientists believe that there will be polar bear-grizzly bear hybrids as the two species have to change their habits to survive the immense loss of habitat.  Polar bears are especially endangered.

The first polar-grizzly hybrid to be spotted in the wild was shot by hunters in 2006. It was a white bear with brown patches and DNA tests subsequently confirmed that it was the result of cross breeding between the two species.

Although hybrids were known from captive bears kept in zoos, none had been confirmed in the wild. However, earlier this year another hybrid was killed by a hunter in the western Canadian Arctic and tests confirmed that it was a second-generation hybrid – the offspring of a hybrid female and a pure-bred grizzly bear male.

Scientists said that more cases of polar-grizzly bear hybrids are probably out there waiting to be discovered because of the change in behaviour of the polar bear brought about by climate change. They are spending more time on shore waiting for the sea ice to form, bringing them into close contact with grizzlies.

Brendan Kelly of the US National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Juneau, Alaska, led a study that found 34 possible hybridisations between discreet populations or species of large mammals living in or near to the Arctic. Twenty-two of these cases involved isolated populations at risk of intermixing.

“The Arctic Ocean is predicted to be ice-free in summer before the end of the century, removing a continent-sized barrier to interbreeding. Polar bears are spending more time in the same areas as grizzlies; seals and whales currently isolated by sea ice will soon be likely to share the same waters,” Dr Kelly and his colleagues report in the journal Nature.

It looks like its going to be one of those days where I’d just like to pull the covers over my head and stay asleep.  A recent report on the war in Afghanistan shows very mixed results.

Already, parts of the country with fewer troops are showing a deterioration of security, and the gains that have been made were hard won, coming at the cost of a third more casualties among NATO forces this year.

Then there are the starkly different timelines being used in Washington and on the ground. President Obama is on a political timetable, needing to assure a restless public and his political base that a withdrawal is on track to begin by the deadline he set of next summer and that he can show measurable success before the next election cycle.

Afghanistan, and the American military, are running on a different clock, based on more intractable realities. Some of the most stubborn and important scourges they face — ineffectual governance, deep-rooted corruption and the lack of a functioning judicial system — the report barely glanced at.

“We have metrics that show increased progress,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul. “But those positives are extremely fragile because we haven’t done enough about governance, about corruption. 2010 was supposed to be a year of change, but it has not changed as much as we hoped.”

It’s not known as the grave yard of empires for lack of evidence, that’s for certain.

Anyway, hug your  loved ones and appreciate the local if you can, because, all I can say is we are so f’d on the national level.

Oh, there’s one thing I’m kind’ve giggling about.   The Obamas are not on the Wedding list for the Prince William/Kate Middleton merger. Next time, some one should tell FLOTUS she’s not to touch the Queen and tell POTUS it’s totally tacky to return a present like a bust of Churchill.  Saying you didn’t know who it was makes the return even worse.

Oh, the humiliation. Once not so long ago one of the world’s top celebrities in his own right, Barack Obama and his wife Michelle did not make the cut for invitations to the royal wedding in London next spring.

On April 29 in Westminster Abbey with all the grace and pageantry sure to capture international imaginations, commoner Kate Middleton will marry Prince William, son of Princess Diana. And don’t forget the horsedrawn carriage perhaps.

But the current residents of the White House will not be there, according to the Daily Mail.

The official excuse provided to the British paper by royal sources is that the royal couple wants to share their special nuptial moment with ordinary citizens. Anyway, it is not an official state event, they said. And, you know, Westminster only seats 2,000.

Nice try.

So then how to explain the invites to French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni?

What goes around eventually comes around.  Karma will out.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Afternoon News: The Brave and the Wimpy


Hunted man Julian Assange has agreed to talk to UK Police who now have a warrant for his arrest, sent to them from Sweden. Meanwhile, the Swiss bank that holds Wikileaks fund has frozen their account. It looks like Assange could be in police custody soon. Will that trigger the release of the documents that have not yet been revealed to the public?

From The New York Times:

The legal noose tightened around Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, after his lawyers said Monday that an Interpol notice and European arrest warrant would oblige the British police to arrest him for questioning on accusations of sexual offenses from Sweden.

The BBC, and a message on the WikiLeaks Twitter feed, reported that new warrants had been issued and that his arrest might be imminent.

Mark Stephens, a lawyer for Mr. Assange, told NBC News that a place and time were being negotiated for Mr. Assange to meet with Scotland Yard.

From the BBC:

The Swiss post office’s bank, PostFinance, has frozen the accounts of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

The whistle-blowing website says the freeze includes a defence fund and personal assets worth 31,000 euros.

Regarding the arrest warrant,

Sources have told the BBC that the European Arrest Warrant for Mr Assange arrived on Monday afternoon.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Mr Assange in connection with allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion, which he denies.

He is believed to be in hiding somewhere in south-east England. Once the police have located him, he would be expected to appear at a magistrate’s court within 24 hours, pending extradition to Sweden, says the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner.

Mr Assange’s UK lawyer, Mark Stephens, told the BBC: “We are in the process of making arrangements to meet with the police by consent in order to facilitate the taking of the question and answer that is needed.”

On the secret cache of documents that Assange is using for insurance in case anything happens to him, The Daily Mail writes:

The founder of WikiLeaks today revealed he has sent out 100,000 encrypted copies of secret diplomatic cables so they will definitely be released whatever happens to him.

Julian Assange, breaking his silence in an online question and answer session, acknowledged there had been death threats against him and his colleagues because of the damaging leaks.

He told for the first time of the insurance policy he had put in place to ensure that his whistleblowing website will not be silenced, whatever drastic steps may be taken by his enemies.

Mr Assange also hailed the young American soldier suspected of leaking the classified U.S. cables as an ‘unparalleled hero’.

I know not everyone agrees with me, but I believe this release of documents is a good thing. It could lead to changes in policy and perhaps the closing of Gitmo. Frankly, as long as Daniel Ellsberg is supportive of Assange and Bradley Manning, I will be too.


You probably read the Shrill One this morning. Man, he is getting angrier and angrier. He’s really worked up about those Bush tax cuts and our wimpy President.

…while raising taxes when unemployment is high is a bad thing, there are worse things. And a cold, hard look at the consequences of giving in to the G.O.P. now suggests that saying no, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule, is the lesser of two evils.

Bear in mind that Republicans want to make those tax cuts permanent. They might agree to a two- or three-year extension — but only because they believe that this would set up the conditions for a permanent extension later. And they may well be right: if tax-cut blackmail works now, why shouldn’t it work again later?

America, however, cannot afford to make those cuts permanent. We’re talking about almost $4 trillion in lost revenue just over the next decade; over the next 75 years, the revenue loss would be more than three times the entire projected Social Security shortfall. So giving in to Republican demands would mean risking a major fiscal crisis — a crisis that could be resolved only by making savage cuts in federal spending.

And we’re not talking about government programs nobody cares about: the only way to cut spending enough to pay for the Bush tax cuts in the long run would be to dismantle large parts of Social Security and Medicare.

Krugman’s verdict on Obama’s “leadership”:

As long as Republicans believe that Mr. Obama will do anything to avoid short-term pain, they’ll have every incentive to keep taking hostages. If the president will endanger America’s fiscal future to avoid a tax increase, what will he give to avoid a government shutdown? [….]

Yes, letting taxes go up would be politically risky. But giving in would be risky, too — especially for a president whom voters are starting to write off as a man too timid to take a stand. Now is the time for him to prove them wrong.

Sorry, Paul, it’s not gonna happen. Obama just sold us down the river.

The Daily Caller: Obama and GOP reach deal on two-year extension of Bush tax cuts for all incomes

The deal will extend the current tax levels for two more years, preventing taxes from going up on any income levels, despite the wishes of many liberal Democrats — including Obama — that individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families with more than $250,000 a year in income see their rates go up.

In exchange, Republicans have agreed to extend unemployment insurance benefits for an additional 13 months.

Obama presented the proposal to Democratic congressional leaders at the White House Monday afternoon, seeking to obtain their approval for the deal.

This is way beyond disgusting This is criminal!

Other details include a temporary two percent reduction in payroll taxes to replace Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax credit from the 2009 stimulus bill, and a compromise on the estate tax, which will be set for two years at 35 percent, with a $5 million exemption amount.

The tax rate for capital gains and dividends will be maintained at 15 percent.

The estate tax solution comes from Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat, and Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican.

This is bullsh&t!!

Stephen Stromberg at Wapo: Obama, Republicans’ ominous deal on Bush tax cuts

For weeks, observers have preemptively hailed the sort of deal the White House and congressional Republicans seem to be striking on extending the Bush tax cuts. Republicans, it seems, will acquiesce on maintaining enhanced federal unemployment benefits if Democrats extend all of the Bush tax cuts for two years. Expect a few satisfied sighs from Washington once the bargain is struck. Advocates of bipartisanship will express pleasure. Conservatives should be happy, since they clearly got the better end of the deal. Even liberals are saying this is a “bitter but significant victory.”

Stromberg, like Matt Bai, thinks this is a good thing.

But what happens when the demands of policy require pain? If Congress addresses long-term spending in coming years, which pretty much requires reform of Social Security, Medicare and taxes, ideological and/or political considerations will push each side to see the stakes as incalculable. Will a spirit of bipartisanship really develop when Congress is deciding what to cut, instead of simply how to allocate hypothetical money? Perhaps there’s some reason for optimism. Eleven of 18 members of the president’s debt commission voted for some painful spending and tax policies last week. But as far as compromises go, this one, lubricated with cash, is ominous in its resemblance to how Washington has approached dealmaking for so long.

Beware folks: the privileged young “creative classers” in the media and lots of the progbloggers are not our friends. They are going to do their very best to take away what is left of the safety net. They don’t give a damn about the rest of us. Let me remind you of what Krugman wrote today:

America, however, cannot afford to make those cuts permanent. We’re talking about almost $4 trillion in lost revenue just over the next decade; over the next 75 years, the revenue loss would be more than three times the entire projected Social Security shortfall. So giving in to Republican demands would mean risking a major fiscal crisis — a crisis that could be resolved only by making savage cuts in federal spending.

And we’re not talking about government programs nobody cares about: the only way to cut spending enough to pay for the Bush tax cuts in the long run would be to dismantle large parts of Social Security and Medicare.

The battle is joined. We have to find some way to dump Obama. In fact, IMNSHO, he should resign if this deal gets approved by Congress.

PUMA forward

puma-paw2You think it’s too late to plan some kind of commemorative/commiserative event for the 5.31 rules committee meeting that led to the birth of PUMA? Maybe make it net/blog based? Any interest?

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