Saturday, April 16, 2011

Carolina Rocked By Tornado’s


Live coverage



Tornado warnings cover Nash, Halifax, Warren and Franklin counties until 5:15 p.m., and Harnett, Sampson and Johnston Counties until 5 p.m. The storm is very dangerous and residents are advised to take cover immediately.

UPDATE 4:38 p.m.: Roof of Earp's seafood market partially ripped off on South Saunders Street in downtown Raleigh.

UPDATE 4:19 p.m.: Tornado emergency for Rolesville. This tornado has been on the ground for well over an hour, and has caused extensive destruction.

Tornado reported in downtown Raleigh. Another tornado reported in Fort Bragg in Cumberland County

A Lowes hardware store completely destroyed in Sanford. Same storm littering highway 64 with debris in Apex.

Roxboro police report six homes demolished in Person County in the Bethel Hill community. Damage stretches to Concord.

   From WRAL-TV, which was knocked off of the air earlier. More Info here

Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolinians need to be on the look out for fast-moving storms capable of producing long-lasting tornadoes Saturday afternoon and evening.

Emergency dispatchers confirm that a large tornado has been seen about 4 miles south of Raleigh. Residents west of downtown Raleigh need to take shelter immediately.

Tornado warnings cover Nash, Halifax, Warren and Franklin counties until 5:15 p.m., and Harnett, Sampson and Johnston Counties until 5 p.m.

Spotters have reported tornadoes on the ground in Holly Springs, Sanford and Roxboro. An extremely dangerous storm is moving through Wake County.

Radar showed a possible tornadoes:

  • near Holly Springs, 9 miles south of Cary, moving northeast at 50 mph toward Raleigh, Hew Hope, Knightdale and Rolesville
  • 15 miles northeast of Sanford, moving at 70 mph toward Raleigh, Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, Lake Wheeler and Garner
  • over Raeford in Hoke County, moving at 55 mph toward Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, Spring Lake and Godwin
  • over Stem in Granville County, moving northeast at 55 mph toward Oxford, Henderson and Kerr Lake
  • near Bowmore, moving northeast at 60 mph toward Raeford

Severe thunderstorms are also hitting as a squall line moves quickly across central North Carolina.

"When it gets to you, it's going to be quick. It's going to be dirty," WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

So far, small cells ahead of a cold front are have spawned tornado warnings for at least 13 counties, including Hoke, Scotland and Person. At one point, radar showed tow possible tornadoes in Person County.

It isn't clear if a funnel cloud had touched down in any of those locations.

A tornado watch extends until 9 p.m., which means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. The storms could move as quickly as 55 mph, so people should be prepared to take shelter quickly.

North Carolina is at extremely rare high risk of severe weather, including tornadoes, Saturday afternoon and evening, WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson.

The state was at that stage of an alert in 1984 when tornadoes killed 42 people from Robeson County to Gates County.

The storms will die out quickly in the evening and early nighttime hours once the cold front passes through.

Welcome To The Communist State, Benton Harbor

  The American Taliban have struck in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

  The Press Release:

Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Takes First Step to Strip Away Rights
Joseph L. Harris issues an order prohibiting all action by all city boards, commissions, authorities and other entities, except as authorized by the emergency manager
CONTACT: Jesse Sipe 517-515-3242
In the wake of a bill that was signed into law with high objection from the people, as it was a bill that threatened local communities, schools, townships, and municipalities, the first order has been officially issued in Benton Harbor. Joseph L. Harris has used his emergency manager powers to “exercise any power or authority of any office, employee, department, board, commission, or similar entity of the City, whether elected or appointed.” In addition, the Emergency Manager has the power to supersede any officer or entity and the power to act on behalf of the city.
“This is sad news for democracy in Michigan. It comes after the announcement of Robert Bobb in Detroit ordering layoff of every single public school teacher in the Detroit Public School system,” says Mark Gaffney, President of Michigan AFL-CIO. “With the stripping of all power of duly elected officials in Benton harbor and the attack on Detroit school teachers, we can now see the true nature of the Emergency Manager system.”
This is a real life instance of taking away our fundamental rights. In fact, the only thing City Boards, Commissions, Authorities or other entities may do without the approval of an Emergency Manager is to:
1) Call a meeting to order
2) Approve of meeting minutes
3) Adjourn a meeting
Everything else is under the Emergency Manager’s control. These new powers are taking away the will and voice of the people by stripping away the rights of public officials elected by Michiganders. By exploiting the current crisis situation, these emergency managers are able to ascertain unreasonable rules to completely control a city. This is a true case of political over-reach, and will simply add to the hardships of an already suffering populace in Michigan.       Source

The order can be viewed HERE (pdf).

   It would seem that not only are most of the products that we buy now  made in China, but,  the Republicans political views/ideas are also manufactured in the same country.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Zombie Lie: That Dems "Failed" to Pass Budget - NO, GOP Senators BLOCKED IT

by Vyan    Thu Apr 07, 2011            Original

All day long I've been hearing this Republican Talking point that the current budget impasse is the fault of the Dems because they "Failed to Pass a Budget for FY2010".

Do they think everyone is a member of the C.R.A.F.T. (Can't Remember A Fucking Thing) Club?

It was only 3 Months Ago when Everything, Absolutely Everything was blocked in the Senate unless the Bush Tax Kick-Backs were extended.

Do they really think we're this dumb?  

Only because cut a deal and let the GOP have thier tasty tasty tax cuts for another 2 years was anything able to get out of the Senate.

Furthermore the GOP Senators Specifically Blocked the 2010 Omnibus Spending BIll ... because, get this.. because it contained Earmarks that they GOP had asked for.

Republican senators stand to lose nearly $2 billion in project money they requested for their home states if they stick with their leadership and block a year-end omnibus spending bill.


That's the Bill the Republicans are now screaming at the top of their lungs that Democrats Didn't Pass.

Boehner Lying His Ass Off


Let's review.

If Republicans unite behind Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Congress would be forced to pass a stop-gap measure that would likely freeze spending at current levels.

And why were they doing this?  Earmarks?

Republican senators  won a total of 1,029 earmarks worth a total of $1.9 billion in nine spending bills passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee this year, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Bond has touted money he secured for his home state in legislation such as the labor, health and human services bill and the financial services and general government appropriations bill.

His office issued a press release in July highlighting $1 million he secured for the Midwest-China Hub Commission in St. Louis.

Over 1000 Republican Earmarks Totaling almost $2 Billion Dollars.

And then all of a sudden...

McConnell declared last week that he would oppose the omnibus because it would be such a large bill that lawmakers couldn’t know of all the provisions slipped in at the last minute.

“Americans don’t want Congress passing massive trillion-dollar bills thrown together behind closed doors,” McConnell said in a floor speech. “They want us to do business differently, so I won’t be supporting an omnibus spending bill.

“We’ve seen what happens when Democrats rush legislation and try to jam it through at the last minute with no time for review or for the American people to learn what’s actually in the bill,” he said.

That Bill had been working it's way through both Houses of Congress for months, but then was stopped dead in November by Republicans, then functionally Killed in December when they began making their "Cut the Taxes or the Kitty Gets It" demands.

And now they say this is all the Democrats fault?


Sorry, some of us are NOT that Stupid.


Friday Funnies:

    Boy! What a week in the political world of the United States. Obama gave his speech on the budget that he would like to see, while the Tea Party  American Taliban members wanted to hang Majority Leader Boehner out to dry because he “ caved “ to the demands of the Democrats in the budget bill. I can still hear those toads crying into their toilet paper.

Jay Leno:  "Obama called on Americans to have more grandchildren. Probably so there's more of them to pay off our debt."

"Vice President Joe Biden fell asleep during Obama's speech. He has now been named an honorary air traffic controller."

Conan O'Brien : "Political experts are saying NBC should take 'Celebrity Apprentice' off the air because if Trump runs for president, he could use it as an unfair platform. Because nothing says 'leader of the free world' like someone who can't stop a fight between Meat Loaf and Gary Busey.

Copyright © 2011 Universal Press Syndicate


   Copyright © 2011 Universal Press Syndicate

Copyright © 2011 Creators Syndicate

Hedge Fund Managers Earnings: Enough To Make You Vomit

   I ran across an article over at AlterNet covering the earnings of the top hedge fund managers and the average middle-class household earnings in comparison. Not a pretty picture when you consider that the fund managers and all of that wealth does nothing to add to the American economy as far as goods and such.

Just take a look at the latest reports on what the top hedge fund managers haul in. In 2010 John Paulson led the list with a record $4.9 billion in personal earnings. That’s a whopping $2.4 million an HOUR. Here’s a factoid to make you wretch: It would take the median US household over 47 years to earn as much as Paulson pocketed in just 60 minutes. And, every hedge fund manager pays a lower tax rate than the average family.

Small Government? Big Needs From Government?

   Chris Matthews, hosting MSNBC's Hardball, hit on the head on Wednesday,April 13 when he said that we all cry for a small government and we do not want to pay taxes for a big government presence. But, at the same time, we want our government to come running when we need help or in the midst of emergencies. He had much more to say and it is worth a listen.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

United We Bargain ... Divided We Beg

Ryan’s Path To Prosperity: Jon Stewart’s View

   As is usual for Mr. Stewart, he nails Ryan and his pathetic budget ideas.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

CBO analysis: Spending 'cut' deal doesn't actually cut spending

Jed Lewison for Daily Kos        Wed Apr 13, 2011    

Tea party Republicans are going to love this:

A new budget estimate released Wednesday shows that the spending bill negotiated between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner would produce less than 1 percent of the $38 billion in claimed savings by the end of this budget year.

The Congressional Budget Office estimate shows that compared with current spending rates the spending bill due for a House vote Thursday would pare just $352 million from the deficit through Sept. 30. About $8 billion in cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid are offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending.

When war funding is factored in the legislation would actually increase total federal outlays by $3.3 billion relative to current levels.

Obviously, it's not funny that while domestic priorities were cut, defense spending increased, but these numbers make a mockery of the the claim that the spending cut deal is in fact a spending cut deal.

The CBO's estimate of a $3.3 billion spending increase comes from this document. It shows estimated total discretionary outlays of $1.3614 trillion for FY2011 under the continuing resolution passed last December. For the one congress is about to vote on, the estimated outlays for FY11 grow to $1.3647 trillion.

According to this CBO document, actual total discretionary outlays for FY10 were $1.349 trillion. In other words, that $38.5 billion cut from last year's spending levels? It's actually a $15.7 billion increase.

I can't wait until tea partiers wrap their mind around that math.

Barack’s Budget Speech…

    ….was pretty much what many of us thought that it would be. Obama did say that any of the Republican ideas for changing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security would not happen as long as he was the President. Obama also said that those Bush tax cuts that he approved last year would not be extended at the next go around. One must keep in mind that Obama said he would not extend those same cuts when he was running for office.

   More on this later. Right now I am going over to Red State to read the GOP fans comments and to watch them pull their hair out of their heads.

  Here are some of the comments that have just began to be posted.

we will have to compromise, since it is unlikely that we can wait out the clock financially until January of 2013 (and that even assumes we win the other two branches of government in that election). Ryan’s plan is likely unworkable (from a math standpoint) and Obama’s proposal here simply is too vague (like always) and doesn’t do much to really tackle the problems we face. However, and I really blame what went on during the Bush II years for a lot of this, this compromise will include higher taxes (whether through rate increases or more likely through the elimination of tax expenditures (which I actually agree with)) and it will (much to the D’s chagrin) include significant changes (read as reductions) in social security/medicare/medicaid.   Death_of_the_Donkey

All I heard was blah, blah, blah…it’s Bush’s fault…blah, blah, blah… the rich are not paying their fair share…blah, blah, blah…seniors have to pay for those dastardly rich folks..

Donkey, I disagree…no compromise, there was nothing in the Chosen One’s speech that leads me to believe there’s anything to compromise on. I’ll have no part in facilitating O’s “Progressive Vision for America.”     Lamplighter331

5,289 words of blithering drivel.
  And not a “Hope” in sight.    bradtidwell

Obama’s Budget Speech Looms: Wednesday Humor

   All of the talk today will be on what the President will propose so far as cutting the budget is concerned.  Of course, the middle class will be told that they must “ sacrifice “  and tighten their belts. Nothing new there. It is when Obama begins his assault on Medicare and Social Security that the shit will begin to hit the fan.

   More “ Concession we can believe in “ on the horizon?

Bill Maher: "Republicans are obsessed with abortion. If they really wanted to protect the weakest, most helpless people, wouldn't they protect the Democrats?"

"Today President Obama changed his slogan from 'Yes, We Can' to 'Have It Your Way.'" –Bill Maher, on Democrats capitulating to Republican budget demands

Jay Leno: "The Bravo Network has canceled 'Real Housewives of Washington, D.C.' At last a government shutdown we can feel good about."

Conan O'Brien : "Toyota says they're going to start integrating Microsoft technology into their vehicles. It's perfect for the person who wants a car that crashes every 10 minutes."


Murdoch’s Newscorp In British Hot Water

  Looks as if the Murdoch clan has been playing a little bit of illegal spying on the other side of the ocean.

Murdoch's Newscorp Might Be in LOTS of Trouble

by ericlewis0        Fri Apr 08, 2011         DKos

For the past five years, Rupert Murdoch's British Tabloid newspaper, News of the World, had been denying any widespread or executive involvement in a phonetapping scandal. Members of the Royal Family, Movie Stars and Government Officials -- possibly thousands of people in all -- were alleged to have been tapped.

But earlier today, Newscorp. 'accepted liability' in the case and agreed to set up a sort of disaster-relief-style fund to compensate proven victims of the operation. The gesture amounts in essence to a guilty plea. Murdoch hopes this desperate offer will keep at least two-dozen lawsuits against Newscorp. from proceeding to trial.

One can assume Murdoch has been nervous since Tuesday, when Scotland Yard arrested two News of the World reporters  “on suspicion of unlawfully intercepting mobile phone voice-mail messages." The two reporters who were detained have been unofficially identified as Ian Edmondson, who was fired as the tabloid’s news editor this year; and Neville Thurlbeck, the paper’s chief reporter.
Scotland Yard investigators searched the paper’s newsroom while the two were being questioned, he said.

article about the Tuesday arrests

from The Independent:

In the first acknowledgement from the company that its employees' phone hacking was far more widespread at the NOTW than it has ever admitted during five years of investigations, the company confirmed it was settling the cases of eight public figures, including the actress Sienna Miller and the former cabinet minister Tessa Jowell, and setting up a compensation scheme to deal with potential claims from dozens more victims of the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.


But there was little immediate sign that News International's offers had been accepted. Ms Jowell said: "It's now for the lawyers to do their work." The more claimants accept the offer, the less evidence will be aired in public.

The apology also raises the prospect of News International possibly facing criminal prosecution as a corporation at a future date, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Who knows what else the Murdoch Empire that is Newscorp may have been doing with this illegally obtained information. For example, what if Rupert bought or sold stock as a result of tapped business calls?

Also, was Murdoch ever under oath about this scandal? Because I found this in an article from 2009:

News International has always maintained it had no knowledge of phone hacking by anybody acting on its behalf.

Murdoch told Bloomberg news last night that he knew nothing about the payments. "If that had happened I would know about it," he said.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Budget Cuts? Creative Numbers

Budget deal details reveal painful cuts, but some creative accounting too

Jed Lewison for Daily Kos      Tue Apr 12, 2011

Late last night, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees revealed the final details of the compromise funding deal for fiscal year 2011. Based on numbers released by the House Appropriations Committee, here's a chart summarizing the spending level changes.

Budget Numbers

Keep in mind that we're talking about non-emergency discretionary funds here, comprising roughly 30% of the overall budget, and that taken as a whole, federal spending will actually increase in FY2011 relative to FY2010. However, within the non-emergency discretionary funds, there have been substantial cuts, particularly considering the cuts are really only for seven months of the fiscal year.

House Republicans are boasting that they cut "nearly $40 billion" in spending, but based on the numbers they released the overall cut is actually $34.1 billion. Presumably, they are simply not counting the roughly $6 billion in spending increases going to defense and the Veterans Affairs/Military Construction budget. The only way that sort of accounting makes sense is if you're more interested in cutting domestic priorities than in actually cutting overall spending, but then again, that pretty much describes the GOP, so their new math sort of makes sense, at least in a twisted kind of way.

TPM identified some of the most painful and counterproductive cuts:

  • Environmental Protection Agency funding cut by $1.6 billion, a 16% decrease, including $49 million cut from climate change programs
  • Roughly $750 million cut from energy research and development programs
  • $1 billion cut from efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases
  • $600 million cut from community health centers
  • $78 million cut from research on reducing health care costs

Other cuts include $390 million cut from the LIHEAP energy assistance program and a 0.2% across-the-board cut to all non-defense line items. And one of the worst cuts was the elimination of Ron Wyden's program to allow under-insured workers to buy insurance in health care exchanges.

But while many of the cuts are severe, CBS and AP report that a significant chunk of the cuts actually reflect accounting and budget gimmicks.

Many of the cuts appear to have been cuts in name only, because they came from programs that had unspent funds.

For example, $1.7 billion left over from the 2010 census; $3.5 billion in unused children's health insurance funds; $2.2 billion in subsidies for health insurance co-ops (that's something the president's new health care law is going to fund anyway); and $2.5 billion from highway programs that can't be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation.

About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks - pet projects like highways, water projects, community development grants and new equipment for police and fire departments. Republicans had already engineered a ban on earmarks when taking back the House this year.

Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule -- used for years by appropriators -- placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as "budget savings." The savings are awarded year after year.

In all, that's $24.9 billion. I think the report is wrong about the co-op funding not actually being cut, but cutting them doesn't impact the discretionary baseline from next year. And not all of it is smoke and mirrors—earmarks are real spending (though Republicans had previously promised to ban them) and, as David Dayen argues, zeroing unspent funds represent an opportunity loss. Still, they aren't cuts to existing programs, and that's important when considering that funding levels for current programs provide a baseline for next year's budget.

But even if the actually story of the spending cuts isn't as bad as the GOP's top-line claim of "nearly $40 billion" might suggest, there's still nothing good about what happened here. The only problem we have with domestic discretionary spending is that we're not spending enough of it, and this deal cut it, while holding the line on homeland security funding and increasing our military budget, which actually should be a real source of savings. And to the extent we have a long-term spending issue, it's driven by health care costs, yet this deal actually cuts funding to research ways to reduce health care expenses.

So given political realities, this deal is probably less bad than it otherwise could have been, and at least in my view, it's better than shutting the government down. But that doesn't mean it takes us in the right direction.

The Glenn Beck Farewell Roast

  Since this raving lunatic is finally leaving the American Taliban News Network FoxNews Channel, some of us on the Internet have given to publish a few of his past rants and raves, and so on.

  But, you and I shall go for those famous Beck Qoutes as provided by Daniel Kurtzman at

"I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it." –Glenn Beck, May 2005

"You know, we all have our inner demons. I, for one – I can't speak for you, but I'm on the verge of moral collapse at any time. It can happen by the end of the show." –Glenn Beck, Nov. 2006

''There are a lot of universities that are as dangerous with the indoctrination of the children as terrorists are in Iran or North Korea. ... We have been setting up reeducation camps. We call them universities.'' Glenn Beck, Glenn Beck show on FOX News Channel, Sept. 1, 2010

'If you log onto this ( at your home, everything in your home is now theirs.''Glenn Beck, arguing that the Cash for Clunkers program was nothing more than a secret government plot to gain access over your computer, July 2009

'I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today.''

—Glenn Beck, on why people who lost their homes in forest fires in California had it coming, 'The Glenn Beck Program,' Oct. 22, 2007

''Roosevelt...Am I wrong by saying there was a good portion of people that thought, 'Holy cow, I'm glad he's dead. He was turning into a dictator.'''

—Glenn Beck, on FDR, who was wildly popular after being elected four times, bringing America back from economic collapse, and leading the Allied powers to victory in World War II (May 21, 2010)

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Obama Dream is Over: He Praises Damaging Cuts as "Historic" Victory

barbwire     Mon Apr 11, 2011     Original Article

This weekend we saw a President give away the store -- succumb to the blackmail and threats of politicos completely outside the mainstream of political thought -- just as we saw in the "compromise" he made to extend the Bush tax cuts at the end of last year. He then bragged about it smugly as a victory for bipartisan, oh-so-American cooperation. He even boasted about last year's tax cut deal in commenting on the deal.

In no other era would this be considered acceptable behavior by someone with a D next to their name. In fact, I have no doubt that in eras past Obama would be seen by most Democrats and even the press as more than a little delusional in claiming victory during a smashing defeat to Democratic values and policy. The only other view is that he is now one somehow with the right-wing bullies and tea party whack jobs in seeing government spending as the problem, and drastic cuts in spending and more tax cuts as the only "solutions," even while the same thing is going on at the state and local levels.

Robert Reich: The Prez and Ds caved in, endangering the recovery and strengthening the right-wing bullies. A tactical win for Prez and strategic loss.

Think Progress: The spending cuts agreed to tonight totaled $38.5 billion. Total cost of extending Bush tax cuts to the richest 2% of Americans over the next 10 years: $690 billion.

Robert Reich: The right held the U.S. govt hostage, and O paid most of the ransom -- inviting more hostage-taking. Next is raising debt ceiling.

Ezra Klein: The substance of this deal is bad. But the way Democrats are selling it makes it much, much worse.

Comment on Daily Kos: We don't really have two parties. Republicans = insane corporatists. Democrats = polite corporatists. In the end, they both work for the plutocracy.

The alleged deal: Keep the federal government open through next Thursday with a cut of about $2.5 billion to cover the extension. Then, pass the FY 2011 budget sometime next week with $38 billion more in cuts on top of $40 billion in cuts to date to Obama's original budget plan.

The rumor is that it took about $5 billion in cuts to important programs to get the atrocious $330 million defunding of Planned Parenthood rider out of the agreement (which nobody has seen yet).

Bullied relentlessly by the right wing nuts who are somehow seen in Obama's twisted fantasy world as intelligent, respectable, fair-minded players, he did what he has done before and what it is now clear he will do again -- "compromise" to benefit the interests of wealthy global financial, corporate and banking interests to the detriment of ordinary Americans. He then came out and blustered on about how this will be good for us all, that it's an "historic" victory to cut about $40 to 80 billion dollars (depending how you measure) out of spending on our domestic programs smack dab in the middle of a deep and continuing workers' depression.

What Obama Said
You can read Obama's remarks
here (pdf). Some of what he said:

"... today Americans of different beliefs came together again ... This agreement between Democrats and Republicans, on behalf of all Americans, is on a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history. Like any worthwhile compromise, both sides had to make tough decisions and give ground on issues that were important to them. And I certainly did that."

Yeah, you certainly did. And the Republicans gave up ... on cutting Planned Parenthood funding.

"But beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help America compete for new jobs -- investments in our kids’ education and student loans; in clean energy and life-saving medical research. We protected the investments we need to win the future."

I wonder what "new jobs" Obama thinks we'll be competing for in a world economy dominated by a race to the bottom overseas, and now right here in America -- a place of escalating privatization and dramatic defunding of almost everything, including our schools. He has achieved almost nothing in the realm of clean energy, but we are now supposed to believe we'll be experiencing a huge boom in clean energy jobs. He points to medical research that will save and extend lives, but where will these people be working and how will they be able to survive on the decimated pensions, Social Security and Medicare that will be available to ordinary people?

"At the same time, we also made sure that at the end of the day, this was a debate about spending cuts, not social issues."

As I type this, almost nothing has been discussed publicly about where and how the massive cuts will be applied and, in fact, almost the entire "debate" in the media leading up to this debacle was about a "social issue" -- Planned Parenthood funding.

"A few months ago, I was able to sign a tax cut for American families because both parties worked through their differences and found common ground. Now the same cooperation will make possible the biggest annual spending cut in history".

In other words, he thinks he did working people proud -- did us a big favor -- by caving totally to the right-wing demand to keep the incredibly damaging Bush tax cuts for the rich in place. And he thinks huge spending cuts in discretionary programs and our already meagre social safety net will bring us to the Promised Land. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. must be rolling in his grave.

Big Bad Biden
Did you dig the fairy tale spin
story about Big Bad Biden who, we're to believe, raised his voice during the "negotiations" last week and drew a line in the sand? Why it's said he even threatened to go to the American people to make a case against the Repub line! Imagine that!

What did he actually draw a line in the sand about? Some 330 million dollars in funding for women's health care services provided by Planned Parenthood -- which owes much of its existence to the Bush family. However, before Big Bad Biden put his foot down (because Barack didn't feel like stepping down off his self-made Big Compromiser pedestal), we were treated to several days of media headlines and public "debate" about the wisdom of funding abortion services via Planned Parenthood. Except that not one dollar of federal funding goes to abortion services at Planned Parenthood or anywhere else. It's illegal, thanks to earlier Dem cave ins.

Obama's Victory
We don't really know much about what is in the back room deal to be sealed this week, except that the budget bill for the rest of FY 2011 won't destroy the powers of the EPA. That's for later, in a separate vote. We know that Washington DC will no longer get to decide on their own how to spend the District's own money in terms of women's reproductive choice. Those folks were thrown under the bus by Obama along with whatever else he gave away. We know that defense will actually get a $5 billion increase above the 2010 baseline -- about the amount spent in two weeks in Afghanistan.

And yet Obama stepped before the microphones and said it was a victory. I guess it is if you think the battle is over whether or not Obama gets to continue to portray himself as Mr. Middle-of-the Road Centrist Compromiser Bipartisan Adult-in-the Room Daddy Supreme.

But if you have even a smidgeon of respect and value for progressive measures designed to help ordinary people cope during an era of massive upward displacements of money and power, flat or falling wages, skyrocketing energy, food and health care costs and what is daintily and inaccurately called a "jobless recovery," then you, like me, will probably see it as just another Obama refusal to be a strong, assertive Democrat. You'll see it as another painful loss for working people in the long and winding road to corporatist rule here and around the globe.

Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train
Progressive sage Howard Zinn once said you can't be neutral on a moving train. In this case, Obama can't be neutral and nonpartisan on a train that's speeding so far to the right, to the crazy and ridiculous tea party way of seeing government, that there is no Democratic turf left to fight on. By clinging to his pose of wise man in the middle -- a feint that is no doubt much beloved by his corporate and Wall Street donors -- he has been dragged into territory that only a few years ago was considered corrupt, anti-Democratic and bordering on fascism.

A Frightening Blueprint
What we have now is a clear blueprint of what Obama will be doing from this point forward to the 2012 election. He caved to the bullies and refused to use his own bully pulpit to take the fight to the American people -- to his supposedly fellow Democrats -- when he allowed himself to be maneuvered into a corner (purposefully or not) on the extension of the Bush tax cut banquet for the rich. He then did the same thing in this "fight," ceding to the demands of right wingers on almost everything and doing it with an odd form of smug enthusiasm.

Obama will no doubt do it again when the "negotiations" begin on raising the debt ceiling, and when the 2012 "budget talks" happen, centered around Rep. Paul Ryan's insane (but, you know, courageous in the eyes of the pundits) attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and everything else that the Democratic Party has been known for. The conversation will now take place entirely within the right-wing frame of deficit reduction, cutting the role of government (except in the case of "security" and immigration enforcement) and cementing the power of corporations and banks on the world stage.

There will not be any serious battles that take place on the left side of the playing field -- taxing the rich and corporations is now officially and permanently off the table as a top priority as long as Obama is President even if he claims otherwise. There will be no "negotiations" that center on why we need to raise revenues, except as lip service. Congress will be 100% involved in debasing "entitlements" and keeping the playing field tilting away from working people and towards the entities that became citizens under the Citizens United decision. We will increasingly be hearing how the Catfood Commission recommendations represent the middle ground. Count on it.

In other words, Mr. Change You Can Believe In has now come out publicly and obviously against everything Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Baines Johnson and other genuine liberals fought for since the Great Depression. Obama has been pivotal in moving the dialogue into right-wing territory as the primary frame, as the place where the pseudo-battles take place, as the turf where the two corporate-funded  parties will now conduct their kabuki.

Win the Future!
Now Obama can proceed on with his Win the Future campaign spin campaign -- he did say he managed to protect those elements he considers part of his future winning strategy -- and play the role he and his handlers have created for him. He is the adult in the room where children fight. He doesn't enter the fray but plays wise man referee. He has no real connection or passion for any outcome except "bipartisan" compromise. And all this is supposed to bring back the "independent" voters who deserted him during the 2010 midterm election.

What he doesn't see -- or thinks is irrelevant -- is that he and many Dems were thrown under the bus in 2010 by significant numbers of the Democratic base, by former Change We Can Believe In fans, by those who once saw him as capable of firing up the people to take back the country and our jobs from the global-military-industrial-security-financial-banking-corporate conglomerate of plutocrats and oligarchs who are now calling the shots on behalf of the narrow but powerful investor class. Obama now seems to be firmly on the side of the forces that are pushing almost every government and nation in the developed world into bankruptcy, austerity and a march to the ultimate destruction of any safety net that still exists, anywhere.

Obama has now come out -- at least to observers willing to emerge from denial -- as One of Them. He is now firmly in the privatizer-deficit hawk-eternal war-Wall Street pinball machine pusher camp, and there is no going back. And he has the perfect reptilian-brain scare tactic excuse to convince people he's out to snooker to vote for him again. After all, he's not as crazy as those other candidates, is he?

I sometimes wonder if the nuts are being marched out on purpose to make Obama seem like the only sane choice in 2012, because he has been such a good soldier for the corporatist cause. There are still so many who can't quite admit to themselves that an African-American of obvious intelligence who ran on hope and change is really nothing more than a shill for the global moneyed classes. Take off your blinders, people. I have.

What Now?
More and more, I have to admit that I agree with a lot of what Chris Hedges has to
say. As in,

"We must view the corporate capitalists who have seized control of our money, our food, our energy, our education, our press, our health care system and our governance as mortal enemies to be vanquished ... Only a revolution can save us now."

Being a lifelong Democrat, and having been heavily involved in the Democratic Party ever since the Howard Dean for president days, I never thought I'd ever feel this way at this point in my life. I've been elected to county and state party offices. I've worked hard for Dem candidates, including Obama. I've helped run a local DFA group since 2004. I've blogged on a daily basis in support of progressive and Democratic candidates, issues and causes. But I now don't see how I can continue to put party politics above conscience and support this president or what he is doing. I believe it is more important to be loyal to my principles -- long-time core Democratic principles -- that to be loyal to our president.

I don't know what I will do in 2012 as far as voting goes, but I know that I will concentrate on doing what I can until then to help expose the realities of the Obama agenda and urge others to pressure the president instead of falling into line as an Obama/OFA cheerleader. It doesn't feel good, but it feels right.

There Is NO Debt-Deficit "Crisis"

Tasini      Mon Apr 11, 2011    Original Article

  We keep repeating the same mistake--no matter how many times good progressive leaders, writers, thinkers and activists use the word "framing". And we are at it again--offering "better proposals" to address the debt-deficit "crisis". But, we should be saying something much different: there simply is NO debt or deficit "crisis".

  As I write in the "It's Not Raining, We're Getting Peed On: the Scam of the Deficit Crisis", we have plenty of money, or access to money, and any money issues we have are all quite manageable. This is still the richest nation in the history of the planet. One day, the debt/deficit “crisis” will assume its ranks among fairy tales such as Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and trickle-down economics.

   The question before us is simple: what are our priorities as a country, how should we spend our great wealth and who should pay to advance those priorities?

   But, that gets obscured by foolish statements made about the phony “crisis." Example: in 1946, the country’s debt-to-gross domestic product ratio—meaning, how much we owed compared to how much we produced—was 108.6 percent. In other words, the adults living right after World War II were handed the greatest debt the country had ever had, but that generation experienced the greatest prosperity in the country’s history—and maybe even in the history of humans. Today, the debt-to-GDP ratio isn’t even close to that.

   If you want to wring your hands about the bigger government deficit, don’t go pointing the finger at the president or Congress. Instead, you can thank Goldman Sachs, Angelo Mozilo, Robert Rubin and the rest of the smart boys who built a financial system that was a mix of a floating casino, Ponzi scheme and Fool’s Gold paradise—all patched together by lies, deceit and a healthy dose of massive public indoctrination of the wonders of the “free market."

   What’s the connection? The collapse of the financial system—thanks to the greed and incompetence of the people running it—is the principle reason today for a larger deficit, not typical government spending. The deficit and debt “crisis” is a huge distraction from the real crisis in our country: declining wages, no decent jobs for one in five Americans, and the siphoning of the great wealth of the country into the hands of a few.

   There are are four easy ways to bring in more money—not to deal with the phony “crisis” but simply because we can do better: stop funding immoral wars, significantly raise taxes on the very rich (an Eisenhower-era proposal that goes far beyond anything even Democrats are suggesting), ask Wall Street to pay a fair share in taxes and, finally, truly deal with our health care costs by getting rid of the insurance industry that kills Americans and enact a “Medicare for All” system. Presto: trillions of dollars appear.

   We should stop using the word "crisis" when we talk about the debt and deficit. THERE IS NO CRISIS. We should use the word "crisis" only when we talk about the class warfare underway in the country.

Planning to sit out 2012? Come see your future in Florida

ObamOcala         Tue Apr 05, 2011       Original Article

( The following is brought to you by another  Florida resident who gets to watch the state get turned into shit by Rick Scott and his Florida Taliban cartel. This could happen to you if you let your states residents continue to stay in the “ low information voter “ class of people. )

I am becoming increasingly disturbed - strike that, downright angry - at the number of people here at Daily Kos who learned nothing from the "enthusiasm gap"-related disaster we suffered in 2010, when "principled" Democrats stayed home and allowed Republicans to win back the U.S. House of Representatives, and handed the keys to several state houses not just to Republicans, but Tea Party Republicans.

It was this comment which finally set me off and made me decide to write this diary. The pertinent part follows:

Obama lied his way into power and if I support him irregardless of his lies and his Repub-lite governance, then I have walked away from my principles.  That isn't going to happen.  

If Obama governs like a progressive until the next election, I'll reconsider.  Otherwise, I'm prepared to have batshit insane in the WH.

May[be] batshit insane is the only way the American people wake up.

My response to that comment was so angry I mispelled "principles" (I wrote "principals") - then mispelled it again (leaving out an "i") in a correction. I've calmed down a bit since, but if you want to know why this attitude angers, disgusts and frightens me, follow below the fold.

I was born in Ocala, Florida in 1960, and though I've lived in other parts of the state for a few years at a time, I'm now back in Ocala, living in the house I grew up in. I've seen a lot of changes here, few for the better. But I've never been as frightened for the future of my state as I am now. All because a bunch of "principled" progressives decided to stay home in November, 2010.

Okay, it wasn't all progressives. There were a lot of frustrated, disenchanted Democrats and Independents who stayed home nationwide, and a lot of motivated Tea Party voters who turned out. But the numbers are stark:

Population of Florida (2009 Estimate): 18,537,969

Registered Voters (2010 General Election): 11,217,384
(60.5% of Population)

Votes Cast in 2010 Gubernatorial Election: 5,359,735
(47.8% of Registered Voters, 28.9% of Population)

Votes Cast for Rick Scott: 2,619,335
(48.9% of Votes Cast, 23.4% of Registered Voters, 14.1% of Population)

Bottom line: Rick Scott was elected by less than 50% of those who voted in Florida in 2010, by less than 25% of all registered voters, and less than 15% of the total population of Florida.

Scott's margin of victory was a mere 61,550 votes out of more than 5 million cast.

And there is no doubt a lot of Democrats stayed home. I'm not laying the blame on the Daily Kos community - support for Alex Sink was strong here, and on those occasions when an anti-Sink diary or comment was posted, the writer got smacked down.

But there was anti-Sink sentiment expressed, most centering around her stint as an executive with Bank of America in Florida and what at least one Kossack saw as her dismissive attitude towards the black community. And again, there's no question a lot of Democrats stayed home in Florida last November, giving Rick Scott just enough of a margin - a bit over 1% of votes cast - to win the election.

The result is a developing nightmare for Floridians. The right-wingers had already taken over the legislature before Rick Scott was elected, but had been held in check by the moderate stances of our previous Republican governor, Charlie Crist. Now. with a criminal corporatist hack in the executive branch, all their Tea Party fetishes are coming to pass:

• They're working on wholesale de-regulation of numerous business sectors in Florida, including auto mechanics and moving companies, just to name two... auto mechanics, for example, will no longer have to give customers a written estimate, contact customers for permission to perform extra work or turn over the replaced parts to customers. Moving companies will no longer be forbidden from raising their rates in the middle of a move, or holding your possessions hostage until you pay.

• They're preparing to dismantle the Department of Community Affairs, the angency which coordinated growth management in our state. Builders will no longer be restrained from destroying wetlands, and local communities will not be allowed to pass growth management, anti-pollution or environmental protection laws which are tougher than the state's (and the at the state level, those laws are being eviscerated).

• As Rachel Maddow reported last night, there are no fewer than 18 anti-abortion laws proceeding through the legislature.

• As in Wisconsin, Ohio, Maine and New Jersey, anti-union measures are moving through the legislature, including one which would end the practice of public workers having union dues deducted directly from their paychecks, requiring the union to collect those dues directly from the members.

• A bill removing teacher tenure and evaluating teachers solely on the basis of standardized test results has already passed the legislature and been signed by Scott. Plans are also in the works to expand the state's voucher program to funnel more taxpayer dollars away from public schools and towards private religious and for-profit charter schools.

• The legislature has already established "Leadership Funds," essentially legalized bribery, in which corporate special interests will be able to donate cash directly to legislative leaders, who will be able to disburse those funds to individual campaigns as they see fit.

• Rick Scott claimed a mandate after receiving less than 50% of the vote. Yet he's stalling implementation of two "fair districts" constitutional amendments which would take re-districting out of the hands of the governor and legislature and make it more non-partisan. Those amendments were both approved by well over 60% of those voting in 2010.

• A move is on to pack the courts with political appointees. Currently, a judicial nominating commission chooses nominees for the Supreme Court and state courts. Under the new plan, the JNC would be disbanded, and the governor would have sole authority to nominate state judges and Supreme Court justices. Further, the current seven-member Supreme Court would be split into two five-member courts, one overseeing civil cases and the other overseeing criminal cases. This would give Scott three immediate Supreme Court picks, meaning he could pack both courts - especially the criminal one - with judges sympathetic to views and willing to look the other way when faced with his looting of the state treasury for his own private gain.

Many of these actions tear at the very fabric of democracy itself. Florida already had a severe problem with voting districts so badly gerrymandered that a large majority of our legislature - mostly Republican - had no challengers in their races, and thus never had to face voters. Several of the policies documented above will make that situation even worse. The voters have little enough say as it is. In four years, it's likely that Florida voters - especially those in traditionally Democratic constituency groups such as women, the LGBT community, blacks, hispanics, union members, college students and the poor will have no say. Florida is well and truly screwed.

And the above is by no means a complete list of the horrors about to be visited upon my state by our so-called "leaders."

There are many diaries and comments being posted claiming Obama is no better than Republicans. To be sure, Obama has been a disappointment to progressives who were hoping for significant, transformative change. Many fantasize about primarying Obama, or believe that, as one diarist wrote in a diary published overnight:

If Obama loses, so be it. Maybe the American people need to suffer at the hands of the Corporate Republican hatchet-men to wake up and put an end to the corrupt corporate-funded two-party system we now have.

That might well be what was going through the minds of more than 61,550 Florida voters last November. Now Florida is suffering, and is about to suffer much more, at the hands of the Corporate Republican hatchet-men. Yeah, we woke up: a recent PPP poll showed that if we had it to do over, Florida voters would elect Alex Sink by a 62-37% margin. But we don't get to do it over, and by the time 2014 rolls around, much of Florida's environmentally-sensitive land will be destroyed, many more Floridians will be unemployed or underemployed, many more Floridians will be out on the street, and yes, some Floridians will actually die as a direct result of Tea Party-approved Republican policies. All because just 62,000 Floridians - less than one-half of one percent of our population - decided Alex Sink was no different than Rick Scott.

I've droned on long enough. Perhaps in another diary I'll have space to document, despite all the ways Obama has disappointed us, that his administration has been better for the country than a McCain/Palin administration and a Republican Congress would have been (for now, just four words: Justices Kagan and Sotomayor).

The bottom line is, we've got to wake up. We can't allow our disappointment in Obama to lull us into allowing a truly dangerous strain of conservative philosophy to gain any more traction than it already has.

The choice is Obama or a Tea Party Republican. There is no other alternative. Neither Alan Grayson or Dennis Kucinich or any other progressive Democrat, nor any Green Party or Socialist Party candidate, is going to be the knight in shining armor on a white horse who will save us from another lackluster four years of Obama. Obama or the Tea Party - it's a crappy choice, but it's the only choice we've got. And we'd better get it right.

Because if you honsetly believe it can't get any worse, you need to talk to someone in Florida, or Wisconsin, or Michigan, or Ohio, or New Jersey, or Maine. It can get worse. If Republicans hold the House, regain the Senate and re-take the White House, it will get much, much worse. You will feel "buyer's remorse" almost instantly. But you will not be able to do anything about it. And in four years, you may no longer have the right to do anything about it.

No, I'm not crazy about Obama. But I'm in. Because there's no other choice.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

So let me get this straight

by firenze       Sun Apr 10, 2011             Original Article

We can't afford universal health care for our people. We can't afford to provide the basic level health care for our poor and our elderly that we've been doing until now. We can't afford to guarantee decent retirement benefits for our elderly. But it's imperative to continue cutting taxes for our wealthiest citizens. Because it would ruin economic incentives if we returned to the top marginal tax rates in place during most of the Clinton administration -- even though during that time we turned a budget deficit into a surplus.

We weren't worried about the deficit through 8 years of the Bush administration turning that small budget surplus into a mountain of debt, thanks to launching a needless war of choice in Iraq. But now we all really really need to worry about the deficit -- at a time when stimulus spending has been critical to maintain the fragile signs of a possible economic recovery.

It is too expensive for either governments or corporations to provide full retirement benefits to their workers -- despite the  immense resources available to governments and companies, as well as their ability to spread risk over a large population size. However, individuals would be able to do so with their own resources as long as they get tax incentives, despite the enormous actuarial risks of doing so for a population size of one or two (married couple).

It is too expensive for the US government to provide basic health care for all -- or even continue providing basic health care for the elderly, despite the government's immense resources and ability to spread risk over a huge population. However, it would work out just fine for us to figure out how to do so ourselves, despite the enormous actuarial risks of doing so for a population size of nucelar family. Even though the new plan adds in corporate profits by shifting insurance to the for-profit sector.

Union workers' pensions have apparently gotten "too expensive" now that the financial meltdown has reduced the value of pension funds. But we don't want to blame those who oversaw the pension funds, those who caused the financial meltdowns, or executives making multi-million-dollar salaries at for-profit healthcare and insurance firms. No, we'll blame workers earning 50 grand a year for needing health services and hoping to retire when they're old. Because even though governments and corporations haven't been able to figure out how to afford their retirement and health insurance, middle-class and blue-collar workers clearly should be able to do so on their own.

How exactly does this make sense to anyone?