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From the monthly archives: October 2009

Great new video from Media Matters:

Today, Media Matters for America released a new video demonstrating how the conservative echo chamber operates in the age of President Obama. Conservative activists – aided by Fox News, a political organization disguised as a news network – use distortions, lies, and smear tactics to shape public opinion and influence national policy.

“Unlike the Clinton and Bush years, the right-wing echo chamber is now aided by a network that has thrown any remaining shred of journalistic credibility out the window, ” said Eric Burns, President of Media Matters. “The modern conservative movement has gained an enormous megaphone in Fox News that they are using to impact legislation and shape public opinion.”

Burns added: “People need to decide how long they will allow the policies of their country to be dictated by a media outlet accountable not to voters or constituents but to ratings.”

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Sully ponders an interesting point by conservative economic historian Bruce Bartlett:

Suppose you had a 10 percent VAT and we said we weren’t going to collect it for the next 10 months. People would buy like crazy. They’d buy toilet paper, they’d buy anything they could get their hands on that they knew they’d need in the future. We’re depriving ourselves of a great stimulant tool by ignoring this.

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One thing that I didn’t take away from the news reports today about Harry Reid’s announcement about the inclusion of a public option in the bill that will be presented to the Senate for a floor vote is this:


I highlight that because one of the main arguments in favor of a public option has been the cost pressure that a public option would exert on the private “health” insurance market due to the potential scale of a real public option that ANYONE could choose to opt into.

If the public option is only available to a tiny slice of the American people, this “economies of scale” argument gets dramatically weakened.

Just something to bear in mind while pondering the convoluted legislative goulash the spineless schmuck in charge of the Senate put out there today.

h/t to The Rachel Maddow Show and Senator Ron Wyden (from my home state of Oregon) for casting this in the light I describe above.

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Here’s a random thought I wrote on Facebook recently about the announcement today that weak little Harry Reid managed to muster what little gumption he still possesses in order to include a public option in the health care reform bill that’s headed for a floor vote in the Senate, which is qualified by the idea of a state “opt-out”:

If it’s an opt out after the program has been in place for a few years, I don’t think there’s even a slim chance that insane wingnut politicians (even in the south) will have the stones to actually affirmatively yank millions of their constituents out of a health care option that’s been made available to them for years.

In my opinion, the opt-out is just a bit of Washington Kabuki to allow corrupt, spineless conservadems to strut and preen like they forced something “responsible” into the bill while all the liberals were off going crazy with wacky ideas like single-payer, communism and what-not.

What do you think?

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Oh, please, great Flying Spaghetti Monster, let this news be true and grant the politicos in the White House and Congress the stones to actually follow through and pass meaningful financial regulatory reform in order to rein in the power of those gluttonous financial institutions that have become “too big to fail”:

Congress and the Obama administration are about to take up one of the most fundamental issues stemming from the near collapse of the financial system last year — how to deal with institutions that are so big that the government has no choice but to rescue them when they get in trouble.

A senior administration official said on Sunday that after extensive consultations with Treasury Department officials, Representative Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, would introduce legislation as early as this week. The measure would make it easier for the government to seize control of troubled financial institutions, throw out management, wipe out the shareholders and change the terms of existing loans held by the institution.

The official said the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, was planning to endorse the changes in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday.

The White House plan as outlined so far would already make it much more costly to be a large financial company whose failure would put the financial system and the economy at risk. It would force such institutions to hold more money in reserve and make it harder for them to borrow too heavily against their assets.

Read the whole NYT article here.

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This was done in all of our names and we should all, individually, be deeply and profoundly ashamed:

We were receiving CIA intelligence. MI-6 and the CIA share all their intelligence. So I was getting all the CIA intelligence on Uzbekistan and it was saying that detainees had confessed to membership in al-Qaeda and being in training camps in Afghanistan and to meeting Osama bin Laden. One way and another I was piecing together the fact that the CIA material came from the Uzbek torture sessions.

I didn’t want to make a fool of myself so I sent my deputy, a lady called Karen Moran, to see the CIA head of station and say to him, “My ambassador is worried your intelligence might be coming from torture. Is there anything he’s missing?”

She reported back to me that the CIA head of station said, “Yes, it probably is coming from torture, but we don’t see that as a problem in the context of the war on terror.”

In addition to which I learned that CIA were actually flying people to Uzbekistan in order to be tortured. I should be quite clear that I knew for certain and reported back to London that people were being handed over by the CIA to the Uzbek intelligence services and were being subjected to the most horrible tortures.

I didn’t realize that they weren’t Uzbek. I presumed simply that these were Uzbek people who had been captured elsewhere and were being sent in.

I now know from things I’ve learned subsequently, including the facts that the Council of Europe parliamentary inquiry into extraordinary rendition found that 90 percent of all the flights that called at the secret prison in Poland run by the CIA as a torture center for extraordinary rendition, 90 percent of those flights next went straight on to Tashkent [the capital of Uzbekistan].

via Sully

Who wants to take bets on whether we’ll see any of this in the mainstream TV media anytime soon?

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The bit highlighted below has got to be my favorite quote of the week (via maru):

National Security Senior Adviser Gen. Paul Eaton (Ret.), who served more than 30 years in the United States Army and oversaw the training of the Iraqi military, responded to Mr Five Deferments’ [“dithering”] accusations on Afghanistan.
The record is clear: Dick Cheney and the Bush administration were incompetent war fighters.

They ignored Afghanistan for 7 years with a crude approach to counter-insurgency warfare best illustrated by: 1. Deny it. 2. Ignore it. 3. Bomb it. While our intelligence agencies called the region the greatest threat to America, the Bush White House under-resourced our military efforts, shifted attention to Iraq, and failed to bring to justice the masterminds of September 11.

The only time Cheney and his cabal of foreign policy ‘experts’ have anything to say is when they feel compelled to protect this failed legacy. While President Obama is tasked with cleaning up the considerable mess they left behind, they continue to defend torture or rewrite a legacy of indifference on Afghanistan. Simply put, Mr. Cheney sees history throughout extremely myopic and partisan eyes.

As one deeply invested in the Armed Forces of this country, I am grateful for the senior military commanders assigned to leading this fight and the men and women fighting on the ground. But I dismiss men like Cheney who inject partisan politics into the profound deliberations our Commander-in-Chief and commanders on the ground are having to develop a cohesive and comprehensive strategy, bringing to bear the economic and diplomatic as well as the military power, for Afghanistan — something Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld never did.

No human endeavor can be as profound as sending a nation’s youth to war. I am very happy to see serious men and women working hard to get it right.

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