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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Friday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians! TGIF.

The weather continues to be very very strange. We in southern New England are being left out of another terrible winter storm. I’m reading that there is an “intense winter storm” in the Northeast:

A huge, windy winter storm lingered Friday over the Northeast, cutting power to at least a half-million customers, fanning a hotel fire in New Hampshire, and disrupting air and road travel across the region.
Power failures were so bad in New Hampshire that even the state Emergency Operations Center was operating on a generator. Winds across the region were near 50 mph as utility companies prepared for even more outages due to toppled trees and near-blizzard conditions.

Public Service of New Hampshire, the state’s largest utility, reported power cut to at least 237,000 customers and said it would take days before everyone’s lights flickered back on.

New Hampshire? How did this storm miss us here in Boston? I’m looking out my window and I see sun. We did have strong winds blowing around last night and some rain, but that was it.

Officials in Massachusetts said the storm had knocked out power to 100,000 homes and businesses by early Friday, mostly in the northeastern part of the state. The numbers were 200,000 in New York, mostly in the Hudson Valley north of New York City, 25,000 in Vermont and more than 1,500 in New Jersey.

In New York City, 10 inches of snow had fallen before dawn and more was expected. A man was killed by a falling snow-laden tree branch in Central Park, one of at least three deaths being blamed on the storm.

The storm it somewhere in Massachusetts apparently, but not in my part of the state. I hope all you Conflucians who did get it are surviving okay.

In other news, the President held a “health care summit” yesterday. I missed the whole thing, but I got updates from the live blogs here at TC. It didn’t sound to me like much got accomplished. I don’t see a whole lot of new reaction in the big media outlets. I wonder if the whole thing is just going to fall down the memory hole.

Via right wing blog Hot Air, self-important pompous ass and CNN talking head David Gergen thinks “the Republicans had their best day in years and that they were intellectually superior to the Democrats in their arguments. Is he for real?

The Boston Globe lists some “exchanges” that took place at the “summit.” It’s a pretty short article for the highlights of a 7 hour meeting.

Jake Tapper posted a kind of open thread at his blog Political Punch, but didn’t even get many comments. This one was pretty good:

What an interesting look into the fall-out of “accelerated promotion.” You have a junior member of congress who catapults into the presidency after serving only 28 months in the body. The setting yesterday revealed Obama’s continued need to prove himself worthy of his title. What he lacks in experience and rapport with other members of congress is replaced with bravado-the only card he can play..as if his arrogance in some way makes up for his lack of qualifications in the eyes of the people in that room-most of whom, up until last year, vastly “out-ranked” him.

I think most Americans have just about given up on this administration doing anything for anyone but giant corporations.

Looking at more liberal media outlets, Lindsay Beyerstein at Alternet had this to say:

arguably, the real purpose of the summit was to captivate the attention of the media while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., figured out how to push ahead with health care reform through budget reconciliation — a parliamentary procedure that would sidestep the filibuster and the 60-vote supermajority required to overcome it, allowing Democrats to pass Senate legislation by a simple majority of 51 votes.

I still have no idea what is in this bill. Does anyone know? If they still plan to force me to buy crap insurance I can’t afford, I’m not sure what to do.

At Talking Points Memo, Greg Sargent tries to put the best possible face on Obama’s performance, while not sounding very confident about it. Sargent seems to agree with Beyerstein that the only point of the summit was to put the Republicans’ arguments on display and then go ahead and push the bill through. But did Americans get the message that Obama wanted them to get? I don’t know.

In other news, David Patterson is in more trouble in New York.

A range of political allies and even some close friends urged Mr. Paterson privately and publicly to end his bid for election. They said his political standing had been irreparably damaged by revelations on Thursday that the State Police had contacted the woman pressing a domestic violence complaint against a close aide, and by the allegation that the governor had spoken with her a day before she was due back in court.

While no prominent Democrat called for Mr. Paterson to resign, several said it would be impossible for him to both govern and run a campaign while dealing with the allegations, which the governor has asked Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo to investigate. Other officials said that if an inquiry showed that Mr. Paterson tried to influence the woman’s decision not to continue the case, he should resign.

While I was at Alternet, I found this fascinating and horrifying article by Mark Ames on Ayn Rand, who is the favorite author of many of the public officials who are destroying our country:

Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer

There’s something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don’t have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be as hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population who thought like this, but the US is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude?

The answer is Ayn Rand’s writings. Among her fans are

former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox — along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

The loudest of all the Republicans, right-wing attack-dog pundits and the Teabagger mobs fighting to kill health care reform and eviscerate “entitlement programs” increasingly hold up Ayn Rand as their guru. Sales of her books have soared in the past couple of years; one poll ranked “Atlas Shrugged” as the second most influential book of the 20th century, after The Bible

And according to Rand’s biographer, the novelist based her most famous male characters, John Galt and Howard Roark, on a serial killer named Walter Hickman, with whom Rand was obsessed and described as “genuinely beautiful soul.” You can read more about Hickman at the link. This is a must-read.

Speaking of serial killers, I’m guessing Rand would also have been an admirer of Amy Bishop. The latest news on Bishop’s case is just incredible. There’s video at the link of Norfolk County DA William Keating making an announcement last night that the case of Bishop’s shooting of her younger brother Seth in 1986 has been reopened, and he is asking for an inquest. The reasons for this are first that Bishop’s parents have refused to speak to investigators and second that new evidence has been found.

Keating also said there were inconsistencies in the police reports, including two different accounts of Seth Bishop’s body position when he was found, with one saying he was face-up and another saying he was face-down.

And he said that a crime scene photo from that era showed that next to the rifle shells found in Amy Bishop’s bedroom, there was a newspaper with an article that chronicled a similar attack to the one she allegedly committed.

Keating said he questioned whether the shooting was truly accidental, and he added that an inquest could lead to a homicide charge against Amy Bishop.

During the press conference, Keating said that the article lying next to Bishop’s bed was about someone who killed a family member and then escaped by stealing a car from a dealership, which is exactly what she tried to do. What more can come out about this woman? My only question is, was she planning to kill her brother or her father? The father is the one she had had an argument with just before she went upstairs to get the shotgun. Keating wants to know what that argument was about.

So what are you reading this morning, and are you buried in snow?

HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!!!!

Saturday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!! There’s a lot happening in the world today. I’ll share the stories I’ve been reading, and you can add your own links in the comments.


HAITI EARTHQUAKE

The situation is very desperate in Haiti. Tensions Mount in Haiti as Situation Grows Desperate

Haiti’s capital is now devoid of a functioning police force. When the earthquake struck, it destroyed the city’s prison, allowing thousands of inmates to escape.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels to Haiti Saturday to get a first-hand look at relief efforts, days after tens of thousands of people were killed, and many other left homeless.

Clinton plans to meet with Haitian President René Preval and other officials, along with members of the U.S. government team on the ground.

Clinton said she will limit her visit to the confines of the airport so as not to disrupt relief efforts. Secretary Clinton said she planned to take relief supplies with her and that later, the same aircraft will carry Americans and others being evacuated.


Haiti earthquake: President Preval says country like a war zone

Haitian President Rene Preval said: “The damage I have seen here can be compared to the damage you would see if the country was bombed for 15 days. It is like in a war.”

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated much of the hilly coastal city on Tuesday also collapsed the elegant presidential palace and his own home.

Authorities in Haiti, already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, are saying they believe the death toll will be between 100,000 and 200,000 and that three-quarters of the city will need to be rebuilt.

I’ve been listening to CNN on XM radio, and I have to say I have new found respect for Sanjay Gupta. He and his CNN crew were at a hospital last night when all the UN doctors and nurses were ordered to leave because of security concerns. Gupta stayed and worked on injured people through the night, then cancelled his show this morning in order to keep working.

The anchors filling in for Gupta had Gen. Honore on–he was instrumental in the Katrina efforts. Gen. Honore said the UN needed to “suck it up” and realize that saving lives is more important than security in this critical time. He also said that dropping bundles from helicopters would be better than nothing for now. He seemed disgusted that the UN is so risk averse.


SCOTT RITTER ARRESTED IN INTERNET CHILD SEX STING

I saw this story yesterday, and I just didn’t know what to think. Well known writer and former U.N. Weapons inspector Scott Ritter was caught in a child sex sting and was arrested in November, but the news has just come out. He had been caught in a sting in 2001, and liberal bloggers blew it off as the Bush administration trying to shut Ritter up. But he was caught again a couple of years later, and again now. So apparently, the guy has been fooling around with teenage girls on the internet all this time. People are really strange.

Former Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter Nabbed in Teen Sex Sting


Ex-U.N. Weapons Inspector Is Charged in Child-Sex Sting

Cop who catches perverts

Here is a blog post by Justin Raimondo after Ritter was arrested for the second time in 2003

Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector who quit in 1998 and now says the U.S. is intent on manufacturing phony “evidence” of arms violations as a pretext for war, is the victim of what may be the sleaziest set-up job in recent history, a smearing so foul that it makes the Clinton crowd look like a bunch of amateurs. The news that he may have been arrested, in June 2001, as the result of an internet sex sting, in which an undercover cop posing as a sixteen-year-old girl lured him into “sex chat” over the internet, came to light in a very strange way. A local newspaper, the Daily Gazette, of Schenectady, New York, was first to pick up the dirt, which apparently came to light when an assistant district attorney was fired for settling the case and not informing the D.A. According to the Gazette:

“Police and prosecutors have declined to discuss the case, which involved at least one class B misdemeanor, because it was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal and ordered sealed by a Colonie Town Court justice. The Daily Gazette’s request for access to the arrest report was denied by the Colonie town attorney’s office, which ruled disclosure was barred under the state Freedom of Information Law.”

So the police just happened to conduct a “sex sting” operation against the one man who had exposed the lies of our war-mad rulers from the inside. On the eve of war, as hundreds of thousands protest in the streets, this staunch Republican and solid family man who has become one of the War Party’s most formidable enemies is suddenly “exposed” as a child molester.

Apparently, sometimes the person caught in a sting is actually guilty, even if he is a famous person who spoke truth to power. As I said earlier, people are strange.


MASSACHUSETTS SPECIAL ELECTION

The Democrats brought out the big guns–including Bill Clinton–for Martha Coakley yesterday, and now she seems to be embracing the Kennedy legacy that she avoided during the primary.

Martha Coakley waves as Bill Clinton hugs Rep. Jim McGovern

Coakley hopes for historic win in Kennedy seat bid

For much of her campaign, Martha Coakley steered clear of the Kennedy mystique, methodically crafting a low-key campaign to fill the late Edward Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat the way the seasoned prosecutor would build a case in court.

But with the wheels threatening to come off the campaign and a double-digit lead eroding to a dead heat in the polls, Coakley, the state’s attorney general, is banking that a deep-seated loyalty to Kennedy among Massachusetts Democrats will be enough to propel her to victory.

Coakley has publicly accepted the endorsement of Kennedy’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, and nephew, the former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy. Vicki Kennedy has also made a fundraising appeal and cut a television ad on Coakley’s behalf.

The Republicans responded by trotting out Rudy Giuliani to stump for Scott Brown: Rudy Giuliani joins Scott Brown, slams Martha Coakley on terrorism

Former New York City mayor and GOP stalwart Rudy Giuliani hammered Attorney General Martha Coakley on terrorism during a raucous campaign stop in the North End today where he revved up Scott Brown’s surging campaign.

“His election, I believe, will send a signal and I believe a very dramatic one, that we are going in the wrong direction on terrorism,” Giuliani said of Brown.

Coakley has come under fire from the opposition for comments she made about terrorists deserting Afghanistan for Pakistan and Yemen during Monday’s debate.

Coakley is opposed to President Obama’s plans to increase troop levels in Afghanistan. Brown supports the troop build-up and has sharpened his focus on terrorism in recent days

Democrats countered that Brown voted against giving financial assistance to 9/11 rescue workers.

This morning, nearly every website I’ve clicked on has Scott Brown ads at the top. His campaign has reportedly raked in $1 million per day every day this week.

Tomorrow, President Obama is coming to Massachusetts to help Coakley–at least she hopes he will help. It’s hard to know, because some of the people he needs to shore up support with are working class independents who voted for Hillary Clinton in the Massachusetts presidential primary.


OBAMA PAL CASS SUNSTEIN AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Here’s one more strange story. It seems that Obama’s chief of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass Sunstein wants to stop Americans from speculating about conspiracies. Here is Joseph Cannon’s take on this story.

Legal scholar Cass Sunstein is Obama’s Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. In 2008, he co-wrote an odd and disturbing paper on conspiracy theories, which you can read here. Here’s the gist:

The existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories, we suggest, is no trivial matter, posing real risks to the government’s antiterrorism policies, whatever the latter may be.

“Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.

Of course, it never occurred to this nitwit that using conspiratorial methods to fight conspiracy theories is a lot like fighting a house fire by spraying it with gasoline.

Glenn Greenwald also commented on the story yesterday

In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-“independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper’s abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here.

Sunstein advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups.” He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called “independent” credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging (on the ground that those who don’t believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false “conspiracy theories,” which they define to mean: “an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”

So what are you reading?

HAVE A SPECTACULAR SATURDAY!!!!!!!!

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Tea Party Thoughts

I didn’t pay much attention to the buildup to the “Tea Parties” that were held on April 15, and I didn’t follow any of the coverage of these events after they happened. I had gotten the impression that the “tea parties were a right wing phenomenon focused on high taxes. Since I actually would like to see higher taxes for the super-rich and corporations, I didn’t think I would fit in. It turns out the “Tea Parties” were also about other issues, like protesting the bank bailouts that most Americans, including myself, didn’t want. Apparently, the “tea parties” were heavily promoted by Fox News Channel as well as former U.S. Representatives Newt Gingrich and Dick Army.

I also thought it was interesting that so-called “progressive” bloggers like Jane Hamsher and Mike Lux along with professional organizers Joe Trippi and Zephr Teachout organized a protest on April 11 called “A New Way Forward.” Please note that the rallies were heavily promoted by William Greider and The Nation magazine. Greider even appeared on The Bill Moyers show to promote the “movement.” Here is a report on the Washington DC “a new way forward” demonstration, attended by Jane Hamsher. The video has a Republican bias, so tune that out if it bothers you.

Our own Riverdaughter attended the “new way forward” rally in New York City, and reported that it was a little small and disappointing, although she did meet two very nice young people there named Zach and Alana.
Continue reading

Amy Siskind on CNN re: Ms. Magazine

(h/t Egalia at TGW)

McClatchy: Obama Already Acting as “Co-President”

obamaseal1

Barack Obama is a man in a very big hurry. For those of us who have been paying attention, this is nothing new. As soon as he won his Senate seat–if not before–Obama began planning a run for the presidency. A humbler man might have waited until he had a little experience under his belt, but Obama didn’t want to wait.

During his primary run he repeatedly claimed to have already won the nomination. No sooner had he come in first in Iowa, then his minions at the cable networks and the Cheeto blogs were calling for Hillary Clinton to step aside so he could get on with the general election. Hillary managed to slow him down a bit when she won New Hampshire and went on to do well on Super Tuesday. But even as Hillary continued to win primary after primary in traditionally Democratic states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, Obama’s campaign continued to claim that he had already won. Continue reading

CNN hack tries to ambush Governor Palin

This Tim Russert wannabe hit Sarah with a question asking her reaction to this partial quote:

“it’s sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward, or — or, well, all of the above.”

But here was the FULL quote:

Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it’s sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward, or — or, well, all of the above. Palin, the governor of Alaska, has faced more criticism than any vice-presidential candidate since 1988, when Democrats and the press tore into Dan Quayle. In fact, Palin may have it even worse than Quayle, since she’s taking flak not only from Democrats and the press but from some conservative opinion leaders as well….

 Yes, there are legitimate concerns about Palin’s lack of experience. Who wouldn’t, at the very least, wish that she had more time in the governor’s office on her résumé? But a look at Palin’s 20 months in power, along with interviews with people who worked with her, shows her to be a serious executive, a governor who picked important things to do and got them done — and who didn’t just stumble into an 80 percent job-approval rating.

Slightly different meaning, no?  This sleazy tactic worked for Charlie Gibson, but Sarah’s a fast learner.

h/t Ace of Spades

Rep. John Lewis: Then and Now

From Sugar and Spice, Sugar’s comments on John Lewis’s recent race-baiting remarks directed at the McCain campaign:

I’m pretty much at a loss for words regarding the news that Georgia Congressman, and civil rights icon John Lewis said this about John McCain:

“What I am seeing reminds me of too much of another destructive period in American history,” Lewis said in a statement released to FOX News. “Senator McCain and Governor Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.”

“George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights,” Lewis added. “Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.”

I’m so sad about this. So very sad. Some months ago, I wrote about how the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was being pimped for Obama’s sake and now this. Lewis lived through the George Wallace era. He knows what that was like and he knows damn well that the issues of today where race relations are concerned can not compare to the hell minorities were living in back then. Why in God’s name would he say something so absolutely ridiculous?

I’m just. I’m flabbergasted by all of this, and my decision to not utter “yeah Congressman Lewis!” after hearing this news makes me a sellout? No, that makes me sane. I haven’t heard McCain or Palin once urge anybody to not vote. The idiocy of this all is just shocking and forgive me the disrespect, but John Lewis is a fool for pimping himself out like this after the way the Obama goons railroaded him into switching his support from Hillary to Obama.

Video of Rep. John Lewis on the PBS News Hour, January 14, 2008.

Video of Rep. John Lewis after he was pressured into switching his support to Obama after he was threatened with losing his seat in the House.

Video of Rep. John Lewis comparing John McCain with George Wallace

Unbelievable. Funny, I don’t remember this kind of media outrage when Barack Obama gave Hillary Clinton the finger. Or when Obama supporters yelled, “iron my shirt!” Or any of the too numerous to count episodes of misogyny that took place during the primaries. I don’t see the slightest effort to point out the sexism against Sarah Palin either. Yes people are angry, and unfortunately they are going to get angrier if the press insists on forcing their chosen candidate down our throats. It has gotten so heavy handed at this point that I dread what will happen when the votes are counted–regardless of which candidate wins, it looks like it could be very ugly.

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