Friday Mid-Morning News and Views

Spring Morning

Good Morning Conflucians!! TGIF! And it’s Spring! What more could we wish for? How about a little bit of socialism? The tea party folks decry it, but what do they know? Not much. Check out this story from The Boston Globe on the recent tea party rally in New England, featuring Sarah Palin (via Reclusive Leftist).

Early yesterday morning, Valerie and Rob Shirk corralled their 10 home-schooled children into their van for the 2 1/2-hour drive from their home in Connecticut to Boston, arriving just in time to hear Sarah Palin denounce government-run health care at the tea party movement rally on Boston Common.

They thought it would be a learning opportunity for their children, who range in age from 9 months to 15 years old and who held up signs criticizing the government for defying the “will of the people.’’

“The problem in this country is that too many people are looking for handouts,’’ said Valerie Shirk, 43, of Prospect, Conn [....]

The couple, who rely on Medicaid for their health care, were also upset about the nation’s new health reforms.

When asked why her family used state-subsidized health care when she criticized people who take handouts, Valerie Shirk said she did not want to stop having children, and that her husband’s income was not enough to cover the family with private insurance.

“I know there’s a dichotomy because of what we get from the state,’’ she said. “But I just look at each of my children as a blessing.’’

Shirk? That can’t be their real name, can it? It’s just too perfect.

Here are a few other stories I’ve been reading this morning. From the New York Times:

C.I.A. Document Details Destruction of Tapes

Porter J. Goss, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in 2005 approved of the decision by one of his top aides to destroy dozens of videotapes documenting the brutal interrogation of two detainees, according to an internal C.I.A. document released Thursday.

Shortly after the tapes were destroyed at the order of Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, Mr. Goss told Mr. Rodriguez that he “agreed” with the decision, according to the document. He even joked after Mr. Rodriguez offered to “take the heat” for destroying the tapes.

“PG laughed and said that actually, it would be he, PG, who would take the heat,” according to one document, an internal C.I.A. e-mail message.

According to current and former intelligence officials, Mr. Goss did not approve the destruction before it happened, and was displeased that Mr. Rodriguez did not consult him or the C.I.A.’s top lawyer before giving the order for the tapes to be destroyed.

It’s so nice to know that the rule of law is still such an important guiding principle in Washington, isn’t it?

Reuters: Foreclosure Actions Spike Despite Aid

The government aid, intensified in late March, has so far failed to overcome the staggering effects of nearly double-digit unemployment and wage cuts on borrowers.

Foreclosure activity jumped 19 percent to a monthly record in March, driving first-quarter actions up 7 percent from the prior quarter and 16 percent from a year ago to a record of more than 932,000 properties.

One in every 138 U.S. households got a foreclosure filing in the quarter such as a notice of default, auction or bank repossession.

Banks took back more than 257,000 properties in the quarter, a record high, putting repossessions on pace to shatter last year’s record of more than 918,000 properties.

“If there’s going to be a modification program that really has a material effect this year, it’s not there yet,” Rick Sharga, senior vice president at RealtyTrac, told Reuters.

Ahhhhh…good times! You just knew if we voted for “the Democrat” those happy days were coming back, didn’t you? If only the Democratic Party had nominated a Democrat, it might have happened.

Neil Armstrong is angry with President Obama for ruling out future manned moon landings.

In an open letter obtained by NBC News, the first man to set foot on the moon takes Obama to task for marginalizing NASA and the nation’s space program.

“For the United States, the leading space-faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future destines our nation to become one of second- or even third-rate stature,” wrote Armstrong in a letter also signed by Apollo 13 commander James Lovell and Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan.

But hey…what do they know? Anyway, Gregg Easterbrook says, Get over the moon. We need NASA to save the Earth. Easterbrook thinks a better job for NASA would be preventing a giant asteroid from striking Earth.

Just because an asteroid strike was the premise of a ridiculous Bruce Willis movie is no reason to think this can’t happen. As recently as a few decades ago, researchers believed asteroid strikes were extremely unlikely, or had been confided to the mists of the far past. Recent research shows that near-Earth asteroids are far more common than thought, while major strikes have occurred much too recently for comfort: including a probable asteroid strike in the year 536 that might have caused mass extinctions, if the rock had hit land instead of the ocean. Here is detail on asteroid-threat research. And here is the running count of asteroids that might threaten Earth – 280 as of Wednesday, and nearly all of them discovered in the last 10 years.

Yet NASA has no program to counter an asteroid threat – not one piece of equipment in development. This 2008 Air Force “war game” concluded that it would be possible to deflect an asteroid away from Earth, but that five to 10 years of preparation would be needed. So why are we gambling the existence of humanity by doing nothing? True, an asteroid-deflection rocket might never be used. But we built ICBMs in the hopes they would never be used. And an asteroid-deflecting project should cost substantially less than the amount NASA is eager to waste on the Moon.

One can appreciate that neither the space agency, nor the White House, wants to announce a program that sounds like a Bruce Willis movie. But the threat is genuine, and if we wait until a large asteroid is observed approaching, it will be too late. Unlike a Moon base, asteroid protection could return tangible benefits to the taxpayer. Stopping an asteroid from striking the Earth could be, well, the greatest achievement in human history. Didn’t somebody say NASA needs an inspirational mission?

Good idea! OTOH, if an asteroid wiped out humankind, the tea partiers wouldn’t have to worry about socialism anymore, and the rest of us wouldn’t have to worry about torture, illegal spying, lack of Habeas Corpus rights, and our current rapid slide into corporatist tyranny. And speaking of large objects approaching Earth from space….

People are still talking about the meteor that lit up the skies over Wisconsin and the Midwest.

It was an impressive sight to see and if you missed it this is what the meteor looked like from a dashcam inside a Bayside police car.

Alec Preston saw it in real time. “It was white first and a tail kind of grew and then in turned bright green, said Preston. “I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately and I was like what could this possible be.”

It was also captured on a dashcam from a sheriff’s squad car in Portage, Wisconsin.

In Iowa, the meteor looked like a mid air explosion on another police car dashcam.

Video available at the link.

In the category of “everything old is new again,” Democrats are wooing Senator Susan Collins of Maine again. That woman sure does know how to get attention from Democrats. This time she’s playing hard to get on the “Financial reform” bill. And, of course The Hill is calling Collins a “centrist” again… {sigh….}

A GOP aide said Collins is the only Republican senator who has not signed a letter promising to filibuster a motion to proceed to the bill unless Democrats reopen bipartisan negotiations. The letter has not been made public.

In order to torpedo the measure crafted by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) needs 41 votes.

Feeling the wind at their backs, Senate Democrats say they will vote next week on the legislation. But it’s unclear if they have the 60 votes necessary after an intense whipping effort this week by Senate GOP leaders.

Whatever…I’m relatively confident that it’s not going to be real reform anyway.

And finally, Howard Kurtz reports that CBS is spreading rumors about Elena Kagan’s sexual orientation.

The White House ripped CBS News on Thursday for publishing an online column by a blogger who made assertions about the sexual orientation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan, widely viewed as a leading candidate for the Supreme Court.

Ben Domenech, a former Bush administration aide and Republican Senate staffer, wrote that President Obama would “please” much of his base by picking the “first openly gay justice.” An administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing personal matters, said Kagan is not a lesbian.

CBS initially refused to pull the posting, prompting Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director who is working with the administration on the high court vacancy, to say: “The fact that they’ve chosen to become enablers of people posting lies on their site tells us where the journalistic standards of CBS are in 2010.” She said the network was giving a platform to a blogger “with a history of plagiarism” who was “applying old stereotypes to single women with successful careers.”

Didn’t the corporate media do something similar to Sonia Sotomayor? You mean we could end up with two lesbian Supreme Court Justices? Maybe then all the right wingers on the court would resign? Now that’s a great Friday morning fantasy.

So what are you reading this lovely spring morning? Have a fabulous Friday everyone–and post your links freely in the comments.

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