SDB Evening News Reads for 051811

Good Evening, hope everyone has had a good Wednesday. Here are your news updates for this late afternoon. A quick round-up of a few things that caught my eye…

Finally, the White House has taken action on the terrifying state of affairs in Syria.  US to freeze assets of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and senior officials | World news | guardian.co.uk

File picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad attending the Arab League summit in Sirte

Bashar al-Assad is to have his personal assets in the US frozen as part of sanctions against his regime. Photograph: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

The US is to impose sanctions on the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for human rights abuses in an escalation of international pressure on his regime.

The penalties announced by the US treasury mark the first time that Assad has been targeted personally by the international community for his government’s crackdown on protesters.

The move freezes any assets of Assad and six senior Syrian officials that are in the United States or otherwise fall within US jurisdiction, and generally bars US citizens and companies from dealing with them.

“The actions the administration has taken today send an unequivocal message to President Assad, the Syrian leadership, and regime insiders that they will be held accountable for the ongoing violence and repression in Syria,” said David S Cohen, the acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

What took them so long? (I felt the same way about Libya as well…it took long enough to get involved.)

This next link made me cringe…but then I caught myself and realized my frustration is pointless.  We’re all f’d anyway…

ThinkProgress » EXCLUSIVE: Eric Cantor Promises Oil Speculators That Republicans Will Block Financial Regulations

Yesterday morning, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) visited the Chicago headquarters of the CME Group, “the world’s largest owner and operator” of private exchanges for derivatives products. CME Group specializes in a number of markets, including trading futures contracts for various blends of crude oil and food commodities. Cantor met with executives, and at one point, gave brief remarks before CME Group employees and various commodity speculators.

Cantor told the audience of speculators that his Republican caucus would “do our part” to block the implementation of financial reforms passed last year as part of the sweeping Dodd-Frank law. He even called out the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the regulators in charge of overseeing derivatives and energy speculation, and promised to stop regulations from going online:

Click that link to ThinkProgress if you want to read and watch the video of Cantor’s speech.  I don’t know if it is my incredibly stuffed up allergy head, but damn I just don’t understand why there aren’t massive riots in the streets.

If there were riots, with the cuts that have been imposed on many hospitals, the emergency rooms you once could count on…aren’t necessarily there. Emergency departments are closing their doors: Why? – HealthPop – CBS News

A new study shows that from 1990 to 2009, the number of emergency rooms in the U.S. plummeted from 2,446 to 1,779 – a 27-percent decline. That number includes only ERs in non-rural areas, since rural ERs typically receive federal funding that keeps them open.

What’s killing off America’s emergency rooms? Tight money and a changing marketplace.

For-profit hospitals that aren’t making enough cash and serve patients below the poverty line – with less generous forms of insurance like Medicaid – were the ones most likely to shut their doors, the study showed.

But the poor aren’t the only ones at risk. When emergency rooms close, experts say, it’s a problem for everyone.

Oh…okay. Let’s get vocal about these particular cuts because the poor aren’t the only ones at risk. If you want to read the report about this in JAMA, click here

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Mike Luckovich on Newt Gingrich

Well this next link is interesting for a couple of reasons. One, that Gingrich is again walking back to appease the extreme right-wing sect that is the GOP. Two, that Gingrich actually thinks he can say, don’t use my own words against me in this political climate.  Hell, if the Dems don’t use the gifts that Newt bestows on them…then there is something wrong in swampland.

Schumer: You’re damn right we’ll use Gingrich’s criticism of Ryan against the GOP – The Plum Line – The Washington Post

On a conference call just now, Dem messaging chief Chuck Schumer vowed that Dems would aggressively highlight Gingrich’s attacks on the Ryan proposal — and the subsequent backlash it provoked from Republicans — to paint the GOP as hostage to extremists and ideologically hell bent on ending Medicare.

“Newt and I are considered political opposites, but I couldn’t agree more with what he said Sunday about the plan to end Medicare,” Schumer said. “He acknowledged that it is right wing social engineering.”

“It was refreshing to hear such candor from a top Republican,” Schumer continued. “Gingrich was saying what everyone knows to be true: The plan is extreme.”

Schumer added that the fact that Republicans turned so aggressively on Gingrich proves that they have become far more extreme than they were in Gingrich’s heyday — and vowed that Dems would continue pounding away at this theme.

Schumer called Newt a “Republican canary in a coal mine.” Further saying that when a “canary speaks truth, he is snuffed out.” Well, that goes for the left Democrat canaries as well. Just ask Cornel West.

The next opinion piece is from Politico:  Opinion: Cancer cuts save money, cost lives – Nancy G. Brinker –

For the past two decades, since the launch of the National Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program, a federal/state partnership to provide screening for working-class, poor and minority women who are uninsured or lack adequate insurance, we have made a real impact on detecting cancers early — which means increasing survival rates. Unfortunately, much of that progress is now at risk.

The struggling economy has created two unfortunate trends that directly affect the women we fight for every day. First, because of high unemployment, many women are now without insurance and must rely on government programs for cancer screenings and other care.

Second, large budget deficits are forcing state and federal policymakers to cut numerous programs — reducing access to critical services when they are needed most.

And third (my addition to this opinion link) the outright attack against women by the PLUBs and Religious Right, Brinker didn’t mention that one.

She goes on to say that many states are cutting funding for screening services offered to women. Her response:

While we may not be in a position to add funds to this vital program, at the very least we must protect and maintain our current commitment. How can we possibly ask the women in our lives to accept anything less?

Accept anything less? WTF…get a bit more pissed off already. Why take this crap with an attitude of “we aren’t in a position to demand it,” I think it is this mindset that is making all these laws against women’s health and women’s rights even more maddening to me. If I could get out and physically organize a group of women to stand up and fight for themselves I would.  I would pluck these oppressed women from the population and set them up on the steps of the Capitol and make the assholes who are waging this war against women realize we aren’t going to take it. But when the head of organizations like Susan G. Komen are this cowardly, what the hell kind of message does that send to all those women that are willing to take this protest to the next level.

Suzie Madrak has a quick post that you should check out here:  Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Glenzilla

As many of you know, Sky Dancing is not one to blow off any criticism of Obama just because he is who he is. So with that in mind this next link bothered me.  White House shuts out Herald scribe – BostonHerald.com

The White House Press Office has refused to give the Boston Herald full access to President Obama’s Boston fund-raiser today, in e-mails objecting to the newspaper’s front page placement of a Mitt Romney op-ed, saying pool reporters are chosen based on whether they cover the news “fairly.”

“I tend to consider the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering the White House regularly and fairly in determining local pool reporters,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich wrote in response to a Herald request for full access to the presidential visit.

“My point about the op-ed was not that you ran it but that it was the full front page, which excluded any coverage of the visit of a sitting US President to Boston. I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the President’s visits,” Lehrich wrote.

You know, the actions of this administration are really disgusting. And I know that this issue is lighting up the right-wing blogs, but dammit. You can’t ridicule Newt for asking not to quote his statements, and then keep the press that is critical of you out of the press pool.

Which leads me to my last link. A big H/T to pdgrey for this link in the comments section of today’s morning reads. It is written by Ted Rall, and I think it is marvelous. Mr. Rall states that he was optimistic when Obama took office, being a liberal cartoonist, he figured he would be able to get a regular gig, like he had before 9/11. However, as he puts it:

I didn’t count on the cult of personality around Barack Obama.

If I could reprint the entire article I would. Just go and read the whole thing…go on, do it!

RISE OF THE OBAMABOTS – Yahoo! News

Rall is my new hero! And if I could say one thing to him, it would be this phrase, said with a large dose of approval…Que cojones!


What’s our Return Policy?

State of Disbelief sent me this link earlier today.  I very rarely  just post some one else’s stuff outright, but this column by Ted Rall is just is beyond belief.  I’m looking forward to her comments and background work over on The Confluence later, hopefully, today.[UPDATE:  LINK] But right now, I’m pretty speechless.  Let’s just file this under Buyer’s Remorse.  Ted, talk to me, why didn’t you do your homework earlier now that we’re stuck with him? We couldn’t even get Bush impeached and we still can’t get his war criminal cabinet investigated and there’s a majority of Dems in Congress?  You think any one’s going to seriously discuss resignation with  Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi on the Flight Deck?

Published on Thursday, May 28, 2009 by TedRall.com

An Early Call for Obama’s Resignation

With Democrats Like Him, Who Needs Dictators?

by Ted Rall

We expected broken promises. But the gap between the soaring expectations that accompanied Barack Obama’s inauguration and his wretched performance is the broadest such chasm in recent historical memory. This guy makes Bill Clinton look like a paragon of integrity and follow-through.

From healthcare to torture to the economy to war, Obama has reneged on pledges real and implied. So timid and so owned is he that he trembles in fear of offending, of all things, the government of Turkey. Obama has officially reneged on his campaign promise to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. When a president doesn’t have the ‘nads to annoy the Turks, why does he bother to show up for work in the morning?

Obama is useless. Worse than that, he’s dangerous. Which is why, if he has any patriotism left after the thousands of meetings he has sat through with corporate contributors, blood-sucking lobbyists and corrupt politicians, he ought to step down now–before he drags us further into the abyss.

I refer here to Obama’s plan for “preventive detentions.” If a cop or other government official thinks you might want to commit a crime someday, you could be held in “prolonged detention.” Reports in U.S. state-controlled media imply that Obama’s shocking new policy would only apply to Islamic terrorists (or, in this case, wannabe Islamic terrorists, and also kinda-sorta-maybe-thinking-about-terrorism dudes). As if that made it OK.
In practice, Obama wants to let government goons snatch you, me and anyone else they deem annoying off the street.

Preventive detention is the classic defining characteristic of a military dictatorship. Because dictatorial regimes rely on fear rather than consensus, their priority is self-preservation rather than improving their people’s lives. They worry obsessively over the one thing they can’t control, what Orwell called “thoughtcrime”–contempt for rulers that might someday translate to direct action.

Locking up people who haven’t done anything wrong is worse than un-American and a violent attack on the most basic principles of Western jurisprudence. It is contrary to the most essential notion of human decency. That anyone has ever been subjected to “preventive detention” is an outrage. That the President of the United States, a man who won an election because he promised to elevate our moral and political discourse, would even entertain such a revolting idea offends the idea of civilization itself.

Obama is cute. He is charming. But there is something rotten inside him. Unlike the Republicans who backed Bush, I won’t follow a terrible leader just because I voted for him. Obama has revealed himself. He is a monster, and he should remove himself from power.

“Prolonged detention,” reported The New York Times, would be inflicted upon “terrorism suspects who cannot be tried.”

“Cannot be tried.” Interesting choice of words.

Any “terrorism suspect” (can you be a suspect if you haven’t been charged with a crime?) can be tried. Anyone can be tried for anything. At this writing, a Somali child is sitting in a prison in New York, charged with piracy in the Indian Ocean, where the U.S. has no jurisdiction. Anyone can be tried. Why is it, exactly, that some prisoners “cannot be tried”?

The Old Grey Lady explains why Obama wants this “entirely new chapter in American law” in a boring little sentence buried a couple past the jump and a couple of hundred words down page A16: “Yet another question is what to do with the most problematic group of Guantánamo detainees: those who pose a national security threat but cannot be prosecuted, either for lack of evidence or because evidence is tainted.”

In democracies with functioning legal systems, it is assumed that people against whom there is a “lack of evidence” are innocent. They walk free. In countries where the rule of law prevails, in places blessedly free of fearful leaders whose only concern is staying in power, “tainted evidence” is no evidence at all. If you can’t prove that a defendant committed a crime–an actual crime, not a thoughtcrime–in a fair trial, you release him and apologize to the judge and jury for wasting their time.

It is amazing and incredible, after eight years of Bush’s lawless behavior, to have to still have to explain these things. For that reason alone, Obama should resign.
© 2009 Ted Rall

Ted Rall is the author of the new book “Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?,” an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America’s next big foreign policy challenge.