“A Tragic Setback For Womens’ Rights”

Via Vastleft at Correntewire

That’s what NOW president Terry O’Neill calls the bill that the House passed last night.  Here’s more from her press release this morning:

The health care reform bill passed by Congress today offers a number of good solutions to our nation’s critical health care problems, but it also fails in many important respects. After a full year of controversy and compromise, the result is a highly flawed, diminished piece of legislation that continues reliance on a failing, profit-driven private insurance system and rewards those who have been abusive of their customers. With more than 45,000 unnecessary deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies each year due to medical bills, this bill is only a timid first step toward meaningful reform.

Fact: The bill contains a sweeping anti-abortion provision. Contrary to the talking points circulated by congressional leaders, the bill passed today ultimately achieves the same outcome as the infamous Stupak-Pitts Amendment, namely the likely elimination of all private as well as public insurance coverage for abortion. It imposes a bizarre requirement on insurance plan enrollees who buy coverage through the health insurance exchanges to write two monthly checks (one for an abortion care rider and one for all other health care). Even employers will have to write two separate checks for each of their employees requesting the abortion rider.

This burdensome, elaborate system must be eliminated. It is there because the Catholic bishops and extremist abortion rights opponents know that it will result in greatly restricting access to abortion care, currently one of the most common medical procedures for women.

….

Fact: The bill permits age-rating, the practice of imposing higher premiums on older people. This practice has a disproportionate impact on women, whose incomes and savings are lower due to a lifetime of systematic wage discrimination.

Fact: The bill also permits gender-rating, the practice of charging women higher premiums simply because they are women. Some are under the mistaken impression that gender-rating has been prohibited, but that is only true in the individual and small-group markets. Larger group plans (more than 100 employees) sold through the exchanges will be permitted to discriminate against women — having an especially harmful impact in workplaces where women predominate.

We know why those gender- and age-rating provisions are in the bill: because insurers insisted on them, as they will generate billions of dollars in profits for the companies. Such discriminatory rating must be completely eliminated.

Read the whole thing.

The propaganda catapulters have been out in force in the past couple of days, trying to shape consensus reality so that it will appear that a.) anyone who praises the bill will look intelligent, modern and sexy and b.) anyone who opposes it, especially women, will be told that they’re being selfish, self-centered, hard-hearted bitches because they would rather let 32 million uninsured people die than give up their access to a cheap and easy abortion that they should be able to pay for themselves.

But even people such as myself who were in favor of health care reform and wanted to fix, not kill the bill, will find that the impact that this bill will have on women goes beyond abortion.  It appears that it will mean higher rates for women and those higher rates may make an employer think twice about hiring and firing and promotions, as if women don’t have enough to worry about.  Our salaries are lower than mens’ but we will be forking out more  to pay for our health.  As cost sharing goes, this is a raw deal for women.  It makes us a liability and drag on our employers’ bottom line and makes our lives harder.

And by the way, you propaganda artists, we happen to be among those 32 million uninsured.

Last night, Jane Hamsher put up a poll on FDL asking who was most to blame for selling out our  abortion rights in the health care bill.  The multiple choice answers included a number of culprits and probably all of them were responsible from Nancy Pelosi caving to Bart Stupak to Planned Parenthood staying silent to Barack Obama himself.  But she left out the people who were really responsible and whose decisions two years ago were the genesis of the erosion of their rights today.  That would be women such as Jane Hamsher herself who did not forcefully advocate for fairness in the primaries and who rejected a sure thing womens’ advocate in Clinton for a cipher in a mens suit.  Barack Obama had a history of voting present on abortion legislation in Illinois.  He met with evangelicals throughout the election season.  The Democratic candidates who ran the same year scrubbed their support of reproductive rights from their websites.  The effect was to give the illusion to swing voters and religious voters that Barack Obama and the new Democrats were open to negotiation where womens’ reproductive rights were concerned.

I caught Jane on several occasions going head to head with conservative bloggers on C-Span and other programs, warning viewers that Republicans were going to take away their rights to abortion and that only Obama and the Democrats would protect them.  And a lot of women, young women of child bearing age, listened to Jane and Jessica and Ariana and others like them, rejected Hillary Clinton in the primaries due to her Iraq War Resolution vote and heaped scorn and derision on Sarah Palin because of her anti-choice stance and supposed stupidity.  But they utterly failed to look carefully at what Barack Obama was doing or had done.  They refused to look at the evidence and draw conclusions about what the evidence meant. The final insult was Ms. Magazine itself proclaiming that Barack Obama was some sort of superhero feminist on its cover after a year of the most brutal and obscene misogynism we have ever witnessed in a national campaign.

Jane is responsible for that.  We, the newly unaffiliated liberal Democrats, were not distracted and fooled.  We knew Obama by watching him.  We believed our lyin’ eyes.  And once again, we were proven right.  It makes us villains to Jane.  Instead of asking for our help, she gives us her scorn and disrespect.  Jane calls us “A certain type of woman”.  What kind of woman is that, Jane?  The kind that isn’t duped by appeals to their emotions and terrorized to vote against their best interests?  This is what happens when malicious forces act to divide us.  Women, like the rest of the impotent left, can only watch in dismay as we are now relegated to the same socio-economic status we had 40 years ago.

I don’t know if this country can be healed.  From what I know, women have very little status in truly fascist regimes.  That word, fascism, is not one to throw around lightly or it will lose its meaning.  Maybe a fascist political system that isn’t one we necessarily planned but towards which we drift, propelled by the evolving nature of our media, finance system and millenialist religious views.  But last night’s vote looks like it brought the real impact of that word a little closer to our everyday reality.  We are now locked into a law that gives our money to private entities, we are told that our individual and gender grievances must be subordinate to the glory of the bill and the status of more than half of the citizens of the country has been diminished.

I wanted health care reform.  Just not this one.

Eric Massa Fights Back

Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY)

Suddenly the Eric Massa story is everywhere. I don’t know what finally set him off. He seemed pretty resigned about the whole thing just a couple of days ago. From Hotline this AM:

Embattled Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) lashed out in an emotional radio appearance Sunday, accusing Dem leaders of what he suggested was an orchestrated campaign to force his resignation.

“There’s a reason that this has all happened, frankly one that I had not realized,” Massa said on WKPQ radio on Sunday. “Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill, and this administration and this House leadership have said, quote unquote, they will stop at nothing to pass this health care bill. And now they’ve gotten rid of me and it’ll pass.”

Massa admits he made an “inappropriate” remark to a male staffer at a New Year’s party, which led to a House ethics investigation, but he claims he was set up by Democratic leaders because of his votes against the health care bill and other administration initiatives. Massa had harsh words for White House enforcer Rahm Emanuel:

“When I voted against the cap and trade bill, the phone rang and it was the chief of staff to the president of the United States of America, Rahm Emanuel, and he started swearing at me in terms and words that I hadn’t heard since that crossing the line ceremony on the USS New Jersey in 1983,” Massa said. “And I gave it right back to him, in terms and words that I know are physically impossible.”

As for Steny Hoyer’s claim that he talked to Massa about the ethics inquiry,

“Steny Hoyer has never said a single word to me at all, never, not once,” Massa said. “Never before in the history of the House of Representatives has a sitting leader of the Democratic Party discussed allegations of House investigations publicly, before findings of fact. Ever.”

“I was set up for this from the very, very beginning,” he added. “The leadership of the Democratic Party have become exactly what they said they were running against.”

The New York Daily News has even more:

“Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn,” he said. “He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive.”

Massa alleges that Emanuel ripped into him a number of times over votes, including in the House shower.

“I am showering, naked as a jaybird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me,” said Massa.

Here is some audio from the radio interview:

The latest thing I heard is that Massa is going to go on Glen Beck’s show tomorrow–that’s what Dave Wiegel says anyway.

Rep. Eric Massa’s (D-N.Y.) scorching attack on Democrats — while a lot of attention is going to a silly story about Rahm Emanuel, he accuses his party of trying to “shove the [health care] bill down our throats” — will be amplified tomorrow with a full-hour interview on Glenn Beck’s Fox News show.

That may be pushing things a little too far. I’ll update if I get more info. Please add your own links in the comments.

Christmas Eve at The Confluence

Good Morning Conflucians! It’s hard to believe, but The Confluence is nearly two years old. In early 2008, Riverdaughter started this blog as an oasis for disaffected Kossacks who dared to question whether Barack Obama was the right choice for the Democratic nomination.

Riverdaughter hung in day after day, posting her intelligent and snarky commentary on daily events in one of the most hard-fought nomination fights I can remember. Gradually this blog grew into a small but powerful alternative voice in the liberal blogosphere.

After the RBC meeting on May 31, 2008, when the deal was sealed to install Obama as nominee, SM came up with the PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) acronym, and her idea went viral. Although we have been reviled for our dissident views, and we had to fight off numerous ugly troll-storms, we hung together through the Convention farce and the general election campaign.

After the election we continued on as an alternative liberal voice–a thorn in the side of the prog blogs and Obama syncophants who thought we would slink off and never be heard from again. Fat chance! Unfortunately, the puma label was twisted into things we had never intended, so we don’t use it anymore. We’ve moved on to be a voice in the wilderness, providing political commentary from the point of view of people whose eyes were wide open all along instead of clouded by Koolaid haze.

Each day that passes shows how right we were in our trepidation about Obama. More and more Americans are waking up to the reality that Obama isn’t much of a change from Bush. These days you see griping about Obama’s policies all over the liberal blogs, but no one wants to acknowledge that we were right all along. Jane Hamsher, for example would rather work with Grover Norquist and the tea party crowd than include us in her efforts to fight the health insurance bailout bill.

Something tells me we’ll continue to hang in there. My best Christmas present this year is waking up in the morning knowing that TC is here and I can count on all you Conflucians to pick me up when I’m down. And lately there have been more mornings when I wake up to find a brilliant Riverdaughter rant to read! I appears that RD’s hypergraphia is back, and that makes me really happy this holiday season.

So on this Christmas Eve, 2009, I want to thank each and every one of you for your contributions to this blog. That is the best Christmas present I can think of.

Here are some links to get the discussion going. Please post your own choice links in the comments.

Danny Glover: I See No Difference Between Bush And Obama Policies

“I think the Obama administration has followed the same playbook, to a large extent, almost verbatim, as the Bush administration. I don’t see anything different,” the activist movie actor said of Obama’s policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. “On the domestic side, look here: What’s so clear is that this country from the outset is projecting the interests of wealth and property. Look at the bailout of Wall Street. Why not the bailout of Main Street?”

That’s a good start, but Glover goes on to blame the system for Obama’s actions:

“What choice does he have—in four years, eight years? Let’s just call a spade a spade. Really. There are no choices out there. He may be just a different face, and that face may happen to be black—and if it were Hillary Clinton, it would happen to be a woman—but what choices do they have within the structure?”

Um…How come the Republicans always had choices–even when they didn’t control Congress–but the Democrats don’t? The Democrats have a supermajority and they’re still acting like Republicans. Danny Glover has a way to go before he completely wakes up to reality, but it’s a start.

And from the Black Agenda Report where no one was fooled by Obama’s lies: Barack Obama and Langston Hughes on “Grumblers” and “Merry Christmas”

When US presidents offer us their holiday greeting messages, do we know what are they really saying? How hard can it be to figure that out? Langston Hughes died in 1967, but he knew what every US president, including Barack Obama is really saying, underneath and behind the mask.

Go read the whole thing!

Of course the big news of the day is that the Senate has passed their monstrosity of a “health care reform” bill.

Senate Passes Sweeping Health-Care Bill

Thursday’s vote was a victory for President Barack Obama, who made the issue his top domestic priority despite lingering divisions among Democrats and the fierce opposition of Republicans. And it was a validation of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to build consensus on his side of the aisle, rather than reach across party lines, a move that would have forced a lowering of ambitions.

What a pile of crap that is! What ambitions? Does the WSJ really believe that Republicans don’t want to hand over wads of money to giant health care corporations? And if Obama is the victor, who are the vanquished? Women mainly.

If the Stupak and Nelson language survives reconciliation between the House and Senate versions of the bill, abortion will effectively be abolished in many parts of the U.S. If the abortion isn’t covered by health insurance, doctors won’t perform them, and medical schools won’t provide training (many already do not). On top of that the conscience rules are strengthened in this bill to protect health care and pharmacy workers who refuse to provide treatment to women who need abortions, including rape victims who ask for the morning after pill and women who want birth control in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

More articles on the Senate vote:

NYT: Senate Passes Health Care Overhaul Bill

Ezra “anything Obama does is OK with me” Klein: Winning ugly, but winning

From some formerly united-behind-Obama prog blogs:

Crooks and Liars: State Prosecutors Probe Constitutionality Of Nelson’s “Nebraska Compromise” In Health Reform Bill

Emptywheel: Peace on Earth Air Strike in Yemen

David Sirota at Open Left: Permanent Militarism: When Bioweapons & Land Mines Aren’t Even Mentioned

At the Great Orange Cheeto, they are still busy bashing their new object of hatred, Jane Hamsher.

HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS EVE!!!!!

Griswold and Roe are dead, Joan

I just read Joan Walsh’s flimsy excuse for passing the health care reform bill as is.  Put me among the “fix it now, not later” camp.  Health care reform is vitally important for millions of families.  But why everyone has to be held hostage to unchecked insurance companies when good and thorough regulation that is found in other civilized nations could have spared all of us from profit and rent seeking monopolies is a mystery.  The Democrats had a chance to lock up their status as national heros for a generation and they’ve thrown it away by getting an F in negotiation skills.

But what is even more troubling is how they have allowed a few conservative members of their caucus to completely run over the rights of women.

Actually, women have no rights.

What this bill has exposed once and for all is that Griswold and Roe were fatally flawed decisions that were substitutions for women’s equality.  Almost as soon as Roe was decided, the move to pass the Equal Rights Amendment ground to a halt.  It finally died for good in 1982.  I guess we decided that it was enough that biology was no longer destiny.  A flimsy “right to privacy” was sufficient for equality.

We didn’t count on other people’s consciences eventually trumping our own.  It should have been obvious that this is what the fundamentalists were after.  They wanted some way to put women back in their place in their universe.  I don’t know why they need this.  It has never made any sense to me.  I suspect it doesn’t really make any sense to them either.  They don’t stop to think about the implications and the miracles of modern biology from birth control to DNA testing.  It’s just tradition.  It is written.  The fundamentalist conservatives are lagging indicators.

What this bill shows is that you can not have equality based on a right to privacy.  You can have all the private conversations you want with your health care providers.  But if their religious beliefs tell them that they can’t deliver your health care needs, you are SOL.  You are entitled to privacy but not your own conscience.  If you aren’t entitled to your own conscience and liberty, you are not equal and never will be.

And so, Joan, you may think it’s vitally important for the Democrats to insure millions of people and who can argue with that?  But they also have an obligation, after screaming at us for months on end about Roe! Roe! Roe! to not allow women to become the sacrificial lambs of the health care reform bill.  They owe young women that, especially the young stupid women they terrified and herded like cattle who threw away the one candidate that never would have sold them down the river for health care reform no matter what.

But if the Democrats do dump those women and Roe and Griswold die because Bob Casey, Bart Stupak and Ben Nelson’s consciences have more weight than more than half of all of the citizens of this country, maybe it’s the best thing really.  Women will see themselves as the party sees them- easily manipulated, lesser beings whose rights and needs will always take a backseat to everyone elses. It will pay lip service to Roe and then do whatever the hell it wants.  In fact, why even bother with the lip service?

And if it can’t take the time to stare Ben Nelson down, then it no longer deserves our support as a party.  Well, we’ve had that attitude since the RBC meeting of May 31, 2008.  We were ahead of the curve back then.  We warned you party loyalists that if you accepted the RBC hearing’s decisions without sticking up for the rights of the voters that the party would ignore your wishes in the future.  The result of the Obama camp victory was predictable.  And if the Joan Walsh’s of the world accept this bill as is without insisting on substantive changes before the Senate votes on the bill, then don’t be surprised at what comes after.

Here’s what’s going to happen:  Somewhere across the nation, some woman with an urgent need for reproductive healthcare will have a private conversation with her provider and that provider is going to tell her “No” and there won’t be a damn thing she can do about it.

If it can happen in Omaha, it can happen anywhere.

Roosting chickens, party unity and all that stuff, Joan.

Live blogging the healthcare reform bill: What about the Conscience Rule? (or “All women are Catholic now”)

John Ensign just got done flapping his jaw right now on C-Span about the individual mandate.  It’s unconstitutional, he says, to make people buy insurance.  I don’t know about the constitutionality of it but it certainly is callous and stupid to make them buy insurance they can’t afford and for which there will be no anti-trust regulations or competition among the insurance companies to keep premiums low and affordable.

But, what about the Bush Conscience Rule?  Remember that gift that the Bushies left us before they grabbed the loot and left the White House?  You know, the one where some nosy pharmacist out in East Bumfuck can deny women access to her birth control or some other medical procedure if they feel it violates his/her conscience?  Like, you go to get your Yaz prescription filled for that weekend you planned with your SO and the lady behind the counter says, “Sorry, no.  I’m Catholic and this weekend, you’re going to be Catholic too.”?  Where did I read that Bob Casey was thrilled that Harry Reid’s manager’s compromise would strengthen that?

And where is the female US senator who will stand up and threaten a filibuster if it  isn’t removed from the final bill?  And if she does, will it all be planned theater to make the health care bill go down easier? Will there be a scurrying of last minute negotiations to appease one of our female senators or will all of them decide to forego their own consciences to achieve a pyrrhic victory for the party?

I noticed that they plan to pass this on Christmas Eve.  Will they all light their little candles, join hands afterwards and sing Silent Night?

Round yon virgin, mother and child, Holy infant so tender and mild

And now part of every childbearing woman’s health care policy!

Remember, once you enshrine it into law, you’re going to have to live with the consequences.

Aw, jeez, now Orrin Hatch is blathering.  Shoot me now.

Live Blog: Senate Health Care Debate

Senator Ben (not a moderate) Nelson

I just got home and discovered that the Senate debate on the “health care reform” bill is still on. I’m not sure how long they are going to keep debating today. Senator Ben Nelson (who is not a moderate, media!) has proposed his Stupak-clone anti-abortion amendment, and much of the debate today will focus on abortion, according to CNN.

The amendment by moderate Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska would mirror language from the health care bill passed by the House last month that prevents any health plan receiving federal subsidies from offering coverage for abortion. It was unclear if a Senate vote on Nelson’s amendment would occur Monday.

Anti-abortion legislators say the House language that Nelson seeks to adopt maintains the current level of restriction by preventing any federal funding for abortion, except in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother.

Opponents of the tougher language say the amended language would expand the current level of restriction because women receiving coverage under a federally subsidized health care plan would be barred from purchasing abortion coverage with their own money.

According to John Walker at Firedoglake, the Nelson bill is every bit as bad as the Stupak-Pitts amendment that is included in the bill passed by the House.

What have you heard? You can watch the debate on C-Span 2 or get the live stream here.

John Cornyn (ugh!) just finished a ridiculous rant and right now Barbara Boxer is speaking about women’s health issues. Please document the atrocities in the comments.

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Saturday Morning at The Confluence

Good morning everyone! What are you reading this morning? I recently started the new book by John Perkins, Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded–and What We Need to Do to Remake Them.

In the news, I’m half-heartedly following the health care bill’s progress and wondering what is going to happen with the Fort Hood story. Even though there seems to be a lot happening, I get the feeling that absolutely no progress is being made on anything whatsoever. Is it just me?


SENATE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL

I know I should be all worked up about the health care bill, but I’m not. The Senate will have a vote tonight at 8PM to see if debate on the bill can go forward, but who cares? The bill doesn’t seem worth all the months of arguing and haranguing. The politicians haven’t listened to the people’s concerns at all, as far as I can tell. It has all been just a big kabuki dance leading up to the next corporate bailout.

The New York Times has an editorial on the situation, but it’s hard to tell if they are endorsing the bill or not:

The Senate bill is weaker in many respects than the trillion-dollar bill passed by the House, which would cover more of the uninsured and provide greater subsidies. It would postpone many reforms until 2014, a year later than the House bill, delaying benefits for millions of Americans. It also lacks an explicit mandate on employers to offer coverage. The House bill does a better job of closing the gap in Medicare that leaves many elderly beneficiaries struggling to pay for medicines.

Conservative Democratic senators whose votes will be needed to break a Republican filibuster are restive over the costs of the overall plan and over including a public option, even with an opportunity for states to opt out. Some may also object to provisions that would allow enrollees to buy plans that cover abortions on the exchanges using their own money, a more reasonable standard than the virtual ban on abortion coverage under the House bill. Despite these concerns, conservative Democrats owe it to the nation to help break a Republican filibuster and allow debate to proceed.

Whatever….

More health care reform links:

Reuters: Healthcare bill faces first U.S. Senate test

Bloomberg: Reid, Democrats Face First Big Senate Test on Health-Care Bill

CNN International: What to expect in Senate’s Saturday health care vote

Politics Daily: Pollster Celinda Lake: Where Women Really Stand on Health Care

Washington Post: Health Bill Opponents Turn Up the Volume


FORT HOOD SHOOTINGS

News 8 Austin: Hasan to have first court hearing Saturday

Wall Street Journal: Army Taps General to Probe Shootings

AFP: Fort Hood Shooter Talked with Radical Cleric

Boston Globe Editorial: Questions swirl in Fort Hood

CRUCIAL QUESTIONS need to be answered about the motives and contacts of Colonel Nidal Hasan, the suspect charged in the mass murder at Fort Hood, Texas. Was the army psychiatrist radicalized by a Yemeni-American imam who had known two of the 9/11 hijackers and who called the Fort Hood massacre a “heroic act’’? Could the killings have been prevented if the FBI had notified the army about an exchange of e-mails the bureau was monitoring between Hasan and the radical imam?

These are questions that may not be the focus of prosecutors but are rightfully the concern of congressional committees with oversight responsibilities. Irritating as Senator Joe Lieberman’s grandstanding on other matters might be, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was doing what needs to be done when he opened hearings Thursday to determine if federal agencies “missed signals or failed to connect the dots in a way that enabled Hasan to carry out his deadly plan.’’

LA Times: Senate inquiry into Ft. Hood misplaced

Sen. Joe Lieberman insists on pushing ahead with a Senate inquiry into the mass murder at Ft. Hood, despite White House and Pentagon anxieties that the probe could compromise the prosecution of alleged killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

It’s always interesting to see how many friends due process has in times of extreme stress. Given what looks like the security authorities’ wretched mishandling of the Hasan case — the guy appears to have done everything but paste an “Osama bin Laden Rocks” bumper sticker on his car — there’s every reason for the administration and the FBI to want to put off a legislative reckoning for as long as possible. “We want to guarantee everyone a fair trial” is always good cover. But in this case, it has the additional virtue of being true.

Lieberman isn’t the only Senator calling the Fort Hood attack “terrorism.” Now Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan is saying it too:

The Hill: Sen. Levin: Fort Hood shooting rampage was likely a terrorist attack

“It probably could be labeled as a terrorist attack. I am not uncomfortable with thinking that’s the likely outcome here or the likely accurate description,” Levin added.

[....]

Levin said his panel has to receive a number of closed-door briefings from the military and other involved agencies before it holds a public hearing. Levin did not offer a timeline as to when the hearings will occur but said he is committed to holding them.

He also stressed that Congress has an important oversight role to play in regard to the shooting and identifying deficiencies within military processes and policies.

This could get ugly.


THE ECONOMY

NYT: New Consensus Sees Stimulus Package as Worthy Step

WSJ: Goldman Holders Miffed at Bonuses

WSJ: House Attacks Fed, Treasury

Obama Says Asia Trip Focused on Economy and Creating U.S. Jobs


ODDS AND ENDS

Man arrested at LAX with fifteen live lizards strapped to chest

In an apparently cold-blooded attempt at smuggling, a Lomita man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport this week with more than a dozen wriggling lizards strapped to his chest.

Michael Plank, 40, was detained by U.S. Customs agents after they discovered 15 live lizards stuffed into his money belt, officials with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said Friday.

Ancient Crocs Ate Dinosaurs

Thursday, University of Chicago dinosaur hunter Paul Sereno writes about five skeletons of ancient crocodiles that lived 100 million years ago.

“We have crocs that ate plants and galloped and ate dinosaurs and were flat as a board,” said Sereno, who unearthed the skeletons over the last several years in the Sahara.


Tips for the Admissions Test … to Kindergarten

Test preparation has long been a big business catering to students taking SATs and admissions exams for law, medical and other graduate schools. But the new clientele is quite a bit younger: 3- and 4-year-olds whose parents hope that a little assistance — costing upward of $1,000 for several sessions — will help them win coveted spots in the city’s gifted and talented public kindergarten classes.

Motivated by a recession putting private schools out of reach and concern about the state of regular public education, parents — some wealthy, some not — are signing up at companies like Bright Kids NYC. Bright Kids, which opened this spring in the financial district, has some 200 students receiving tutoring, most of them for the gifted exams, for up to $145 a session and 80 children on a waiting list for a weekend “boot camp” program.

Quick restart of Big Bang machine stuns scientists

The nuclear physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider were surprised that they could so quickly get beams of protons whizzing near the speed of light during the restart late Friday, said James Gillies, spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
The machine was heavily damaged by a simple electrical fault in September last year.
Some scientists had gone home early Friday and had to be called back as the project jumped ahead, Gillies said.

HAVE A STUPENDOUS SATURDAY, EVERYONE!!!!


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God Forbid we Should Change the Status Quo

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Jake Tapper of ABC News had an “exclusive” interview with President Obama today. The first part of the interview was shown on ABC News hour tonight, more will be shown on Nightline tonight, and the rest on Good Morning America tomorrow. Tapper asked the President about the abortion language in the “health care reform” bill passed by the House on Saturday night.

“I laid out a very simple principle, which is this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill,” Obama said. “And we’re not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.

Saying the bill cannot change the status quo regarding the ban on federally funding abortions, the President said “there are strong feelings on both sides” about an amendment passed on Saturday and added to the legislation, “and what that tells me is that there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo.”

Call me crazy, I thought Mr. Hope ‘n Change was elected because he wanted to change the status quo. Can someone please explain to me why it is so important to make absolutely sure there is no change in the status quo on funding abortions? And furthermore, doesn’t the Stupak amendment already guarantee a very big change in the status quo? So does that mean Mr. Obama will do something about the Stupak amendment to return us to his beloved status quo? It’s not really clear, but no, I don’t think he plans to do anything but sit around waiting for someone else to take responsibility for this ongoing nightmare of a health care bill.

Obama told ABC News’ Jake Tapper that he was confident that the final legislation will ensure that “neither side feels that it’s being betrayed.”

“I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test — that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices,” he said.

I don’t know what the heck that means except that Mr. Obama is not going to take any kind of stand. He’s going to carry on with the “on the one hand…on the other hand” crap until someone else take responsibility for limiting women’s rights so dramatically that many of us are still in shock. But Mr. Bipartisanship is still trying to please both “sides.” Of course both of those “sides” are mostly made up of very rich, old men.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today that the President is not going to “take sides” on the Stupak amendment controversy.

The White House on Monday signaled it would keep its distance in the increasingly vocal debate over whether health insurance reform should include language related to abortion.

When asked whether the president supported Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) amendment to prohibit the public insurance plan from covering abortion services, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dodged the question — multiple times.

“Well, ask me that right before Christmas and the end of the New Year,” Gibbs said during today’s press briefing, noting the president still expected to sign a healthcare bill before the year’s end.

The press secretary later clarified, “We will work on this and continue to seek consensus and common ground.”

Now there’s a surprise. Has Barack Obama ever taken a stand on anything? I don’t think so. And once again he’s going to vote “present” while women are stripped of what reproductive rights they had left. Good luck finding “common ground” on the abortion issue. If there is any common ground, it’s a very small strip of land indeed.

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the house bill *only* makes older people pay twice as might for health insurance as older people. These are the figures:

under the House’s 2-to-1 cap, a 20-year-old would pay $3,169 in annual premiums and a 60-year-old would pay $6,339 for comparable plans, if they both had incomes above the subsidy-eligible level. Under a bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee, which had a 4-to-1 age-rating ratio, the 20-year-old would pay $2,258 and the 60-year-old would pay $8,357.

I have never in my life had to pay more than $2,000 for health insurance. The idea that I could ever afford to pay more than $6000 or $8,000 per year is unimaginable to me. What have these so-called Democrats done to us?!!

We are so screwed. I guess I should be grateful that I’m past menopause, so at least I won’t be needing an abortion. It looks like some young women are going to be finding out what it was like when I was in college. No birth control, no abortion, no help for women in crisis.

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The Obama Delusion and Health Care Reform

Obama Transition

The Obama Delusion: The belief that although President Obama is a liberal and has liberal values and goals, he cleverly pretends not to be a liberal in order to to fool Republicans into supporting his agenda.

{{Sigh…}} Where to begin? While perusing Memeorandum this morning, I noticed Booman’s post from yesterday about “11-dimensional chess.” Frankly, the less said about Booman’s post, the better. It’s just embarrassingly silly and illogical. Besides, Big Tent Democrat, who coined the term “11-dimensional chess,” has already handily disposed of Booman’s arguments, such as they are.

Booman’s post was prompted by one at the Cheeto in which the author, Maimonides, makes the claim that Obama, along with his trusty enforcer Rahm Emanuel, are actually using not 11-dimensional chess, but “Sun Tzu’s the strategy of “formlessness,” outlined in this quote:

“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

Here is what Maimonides thinks Obama and his capo are up to:

For several months now I’ve been pushing the idea that President Obama is engaged in the Sun Tsu strategy of “formlessness.” This strategy is not the much-derided “11-D Chess” that so many choose to dismiss. This is the very simple and time-tested strategy of not taking a position that is easily defined by your opponents, of not giving them anything to attack. By doing so, one forces one’s opponents to take positions, giving you the advantage of adaptability and information, which they now lack.

Maimonides also claims to have some vital inside information, but, sadly, he/she cannot reveal the sources of that information.

You may not see reports of what Rahm Emanuel says to your Congressperson. You may not hear rumors of it. But it is going on all the time; what did you think he spent his time doing, checking in on Dkos diaries? Rahm is putting pressure where he is told to, floating trial balloons as directed, keeping all options on the table, and most of all keeping Obama’s strategy of formlessness alive. Until he’s directed otherwise.

Which brings us to now. Rumor in DC* is that Rahm has gotten exactly what he wanted: a “Big mess,” as Rahm reportedly described it. Formlessness has payed off. There are virtually no Congressional players left whose opinions we do not know, and every option has been talked to death. And now the Administration, rather than having its policies debated to death, has the ability to sweep in and choose among the options presented.

*Here I open myself to claims that I’m using unsourced “insider knowledge”, which is true, I am. You can take it or leave it, but I would hope that you would be open to the possibility that those of us working in the trenches may hear things that you do not.

Okay? See, Maimonides has inside sources, because he/she “works in the trenches.” But we just have to take that and the “rumors” Maimonides has heard on faith–just like we have to take on faith that Obama wants health care for all at a reasonable price.

Here’s the thing. In a sense I agree with Maimonides that Rahm and Barack have gotten exactly what they wanted–a “big mess.” And for all I know, Obama and Emanuel may both have read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and may be using it as a guide for their political strategy. But whether the “mess” is the result of a deliberate strategy or just one big clusterf*ck is irrelevant to the President’s actual goals for health care “reform.” Continue reading

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