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    • The murder of two NY policemen in retaliation—
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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.

Lazy Saturday News and Views

Feeling Under the Weather Today

Good Morning, Conflucians!! My cold or flu or whatever it is has gotten worse than it was yesterday, so this will be a short post. And if it’s full of typos, I apologize for that too. I plan to spend today like I did yesterday, reading a trashy mystery novel, and dozing off from time to time.

So, let’s see, what’s happening in the news this morning? Not a whole lot, I guess. The Pentagon shooter is still the top story in the Washington Post.

Parents warned police of Pentagon shooter’s bizarre mental state

Experts: Pentagon shooter, others strike symbols of ‘power for the powerless’

On the health care reform front, Bart Stupak is once again flexing his anti-woman muscles. Raw story reports that Rachel Maddow is asking questions about Stupak’s connections with “The Family.”

Did secretive religious group subsidize Congressman’s rent?

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow believes that Stupak is just looking for publicity with “this antiabortion stunt” and that “it is not rational to think that the Democratic-led House and the Democratic-led Senate are going to let him use health reform as a way to effectively ban abortion.”

Oh really? I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one, Rachel.

She points out, however, that Stupak’s new notoriety means that he may “end up having to answer for some of the unexplained things that no one cared to have [him] explain before.”

“For example,” Maddow noted on Thursday, “Bart Stupak famously was one of the conservative politicians who lived at C Street — a $1.8 million town house on Capitol Hill that featured in the Mark Sanford sex scandal and the John Ensign sex scandal and the Chip Pickering sex scandal. The house is home to a number of members of Congress. It has been reported to be run by the secretive religious group known as the Family.”

The series of scandals involving the Family and its high-level network of political connections has been growing since last summer, when it was learned that the three conservative lawmakers involved in allegations of infidelity all had ties to the C Street house. The Family has since been linked to a proposed law in Uganda which would mandate the death penalty for cases of “aggravated homosexuality.”

Good luck to Maddow on exposing this, although I don’t expect the Obama administration to help her out.

Oh, and get this, Obama is promising “progressives” that he’ll “revisit” the public option after the Dems force the crappy insurance bill down our throats.

It is to laugh. How many times can he get away with these transparent lies? I’m afraid to check the Cheeto to see if this one is working.

ABC news’s Ben Feller asks a good question: A Furious Health Care Push _ but What About Jobs? There’s more detail and a more liberal point of view in this article from The Socialist Worker’s Party site: A recovery that leaves workers behind

CNN’s idiotic anchor Wolf Blitzer has apologized for putting up a news chryon that called the Department of Justice the ‘Dept. Of Jihad’

“CNN had no intention of suggesting that the Justice Department supports terrorism,” he said. “Lawyers at the Justice Department are patriotic Americans, and we certainly regret any confusion that may have been caused by our graphic.”

The graphic came before a segment yesterday on the ad by Liz Cheney’s group that attacks DOJ officials who previously represented Guantanamo detainees.

A chyron during the segment asked, “Are Justice Department Lawyers Disloyal?”

Blitzer referenced the storm of criticism the segment set off on Twitter, which was initiated by Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald.

Today, Greenwald has a column about New Republic editor Martin Peretz and his anti-Arab bigotry.

And here’s some more bigotry news: Virginia AG orders colleges to stop protecting gays

At Antiwar.com, Scott Horton interviews Nat Hentoff on the death of the Bill of Rights, and James Lucas writes about how the U.S. destroyed Afghanistan.

That’s about all I have the strength for right now. Add your own links in the comments, and I hope you all have a very nice day.

BB

Friday Morning News and Views

Good morning Conflucians!!! TGIF!

When I first wrote that I really thought it was a good morning. I just spent around 2-1/2 hours writing a long morning news post, and when I tried to save it, I discovered that WordPress had logged me out. Therefore, my entire post was wiped out. I’ll try to recreate some of it, but here are some non-political stories to get you started. Too bad I got so involved in writing that I didn’t save till the end…

We were back in the deep freeze this morning in New England–12 degrees where I live, but we aren’t facing what the Twitter folks are calling “snowmageddon” and “snowpocalypse.”

the main event with this storm will be heavy snow in the Mid-Atlantic States. Snow will begin in the Washington area this afternoon and spread northward towards Philadelphia by evening.

Heavy snow will continue into Saturday before winding down by evening. Travel may grind to a halt for a time, especially overnight and Saturday.

By the time the storm ends, many areas in northern Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and southern Pennsylvania will have over a foot of snow. Some places may end up nearly two feet of snow from this storm.

As the low pushes off the coast, it will strengthen quickly and produce very strong winds, especially along the Mid-Atlantic coast. Gusts between 45 and 50 mph are possible from southern New Jersey to the Norfolk area Friday night and Saturday morning.

Blizzard warnings are in effect for southeastern areas of New Jersey as well as much of Delaware.

It is also worth mentioning that this storm will spread snow as far west as the Ohio Valley.

Amazingly, the storm is expected to blow out to sea before it can get up here to New England. It’s our second weekend of nice weather while those south and west of us suffer. I feel for the people in the areas that will be hard-hit, but I’m sure glad I won’t have to shovel snow this weekend (fingers crossed, because you never know with the weather).

Police Arrest Drive-by Ass Grabber (with video!)

RIDGELAND, Miss. — A Madison man was arrested by Ridgeland police and is accused of driving up and grabbing a woman’s butt, police said.

Christopher Johnson, 26, was arrested Friday and is charged with disorderly conduct, Ridgeland police said.

He is accused of grabbing Debbie Thweatt’s butt as she was walking out of Walmart in Ridgeland Tuesday, police said.

The guy grabbed another woman’s ass before he was arrested!

Beware lottery winners: Friend of slain lottery winner arrested on accessory charges

A Florida woman has been arrested in connection with the death of a lottery millionaire, whose body was found buried under recently added concrete at a home, authorities said.

Dorice Donegan Moore, 37, was arrested Tuesday evening on charges of accessory after the fact regarding a first-degree murder in the death of Abraham Shakespeare, 43, said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee.

Moore befriended Shakespeare after he won a $31 million Florida lottery prize in 2006 and was named a person of interest in the case after Shakespeare went missing, authorities said.

******************************************************************************

Can I just say again that I love Al Franken?


Al Franken lays into David Axelrod over health care bill

Sen. Al Franken ripped into White House senior adviser David Axelrod this week during a tense, closed-door session with Senate Democrats.

Five sources who were in the room tell POLITICO that Franken criticized Axelrod for the administration’s failure to provide clarity or direction on health care and the other big bills it wants Congress to enact.

The sources said Franken was the most outspoken senator in the meeting, which followed President Barack Obama’s question-and-answer session with Senate Democrats at the Newseum on Wednesday. But they also said the Minnesotan wasn’t the only angry Democrat in the room.

“There was a lot of frustration in there,” said a Democratic senator who declined to be identified.

“People were hot,” another Democratic senator said.

But apparently Franken was the only one with real guts.

And then there’s this: Sen. Al Franken Rips NBC, Comcast Execs Over $30 Billion Merger

and this: Franken telling weak-kneed NARAL to beware of the current SCOTUS, especially Chief Justice Roberts.

What redeems my faith in the system is the fact that every so often, a politician comes along who actually exceeds my expectations, who comports themself the way we expect a politician to — without fear of losing, with more of a focus on the people they represent than the next election. The late, great Sen. Paul Wellstone, DFL-Minn., was one of those politicians. He ran a spirited campaign and talked a good show, but once elected he backed up his words with actions. He walked the talk.

And now, the man who holds his seat in the Senate is doing the same thing.

On Tuesday, Sen. Al Franken, DFL-Minn., served as the keynote speaker for the NARAL Pro-Choice America Roe v. Wade anniversary luncheon. And his remarks to the group were outstanding. Franken gave a full-throated, unapologetic defense of the right of women to choose their own reproductive destinies — and did so with both humor and grace.

I like this piece on Franken by Allison Kilkenney at True/Slant

Kilkenny is very good. She had a great snarky post yesterday too: Another columnist asks administration for blanky, cup of cocoa. It’s about “Terrorism Derangement Syndrome.”

Another loudmouthed politician whom I don’t like or trust as much as I used to, Barney Frank, made a very good speech recently about how the Right Wing Noise Machine works.

I have to agree with Frank that John Fund is a slimy, scurrilous liar and he deserves to be shunned.

Dennis Kucinich (another member of the House whom I don’t trust as much as I used to) has a post at Truthdig on health care reform after Massachusetts.

The verdict in Massachusetts was a verdict on the overall economy. But it was also a commentary on how the entire health care debate was flipped upside down by insurance interests who were able to intervene so that the final product that was offered out of the Senate was nothing more than a sell-out to the insurance industry.

We can still have health care reform in America. We need to take a short-term and a longer-term view. On the short-term: We need to take away the antitrust exemption that insurance companies have. We need to make sure, on the short-term, that we can see everyone with a pre-existing condition have access to insurance. There are things that we can do with single-initiatives to help regain the momentum on health care.

And for the longer-term: The answer is “Medicare for All.” The answer was never to continue to give the insurance companies one out of every three dollars in our health care system.

If only someone would listen to him!

Please check out this autobiographical piece on living under DADT by Retired Navy Capt. Joan E. Darrah.

OK, that’s about all I can remember of my lost post. I know I had more links, but I can’t remember them all. I’ll leave it to you Conflucians to post your stories in the comments. I love you guys!

HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!!!!!

Tuesday Mid-Morning News and Views

A confused-looking President Obama meets with NSC chief Denis McDonough about failed underwear bombing

Good Morning Conflucians!!! Dakinikat has jury duty this morning and Riverdaughter is tussling with the charts at Survey Monkey, so I’m going to get us started today with a few links to stories that interested me this morning. As always, post your own choice links in the comments.

First up, Joseph Cannon has provided more information and background on the Afghan bombing that I was speculating about yesterday. My head is spinning after reading that, but I plan to keep following this story anyway.

President Obama has finally returned from vacation and will be getting updated on all the latest crotch-bomber intel, according to CNN.

Obama will meet with FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano Tuesday, an administration official told CNN.

Obama will get an update from Mueller on the FBI’s investigation. Obama will get information from Holder on the prosecution of the suspect in the botched Christmas Day airline bombing. And he will get an update from Napolitano on her review on detection capabilities, the official said.

After the meeting, Obama will make public statements about his findings and an initial series of reforms to improve the country’s ability to thwart future attempts to carry out terrorist attacks, according to the official.

The president met with Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan for 90 minutes on Monday and is scheduled to meet with him again Tuesday, the official said.

And then I suppose Obama will be headed back to the golf course?

Mickey Kaus wants to know: Wherein lies the greatness of Janet Napolitano?

She gave an awful public performance in the wake of the Flt. 253 terror incident–assuring air travelers that “the system worked” when the one obvious thing was that for whatever reason the system didn’t work, as President Obama acknowledged a few days later. She then seems to have panicked and pressed the “Friends, Save Me” button.

Then he links to a lot of articles by smarmy villagers like David Broder and MoDo defending Napolitano. Will she stay or will she go?

The U.S. embassy in Yeman is open again, according to the LA Times.

U.S. officials said they reopened the embassy today because a Yemeni counterterrorism operation on Monday “addressed a specific area of concern.”

Yemeni officials reportedly killed two and injured two suspected Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operatives Monday. The Interior Ministry today said it had arrested five other “terror elements” in and around the capital and Hudaydah province.

The ministry said it had beefed up security measures around foreign embassies and residential districts favored by the international community in Sana, according to Yemen’s official Saba news agency. An unnamed official told Saba that security forces had imposed a “cordon” and round-the-clock surveillance around Al Qaeda militants.

Commenter Laurie posted this piece by John Pilger in the New Statesman: Welcome to Orwell’s world Pilger argues that the US is Oceania and I guess Obama is Big Brother. It would be hard to pick an except from this piece–you need to read the whole thing.

Here’s an interesting piece by Professor James Petras on how China and South Korea are beating the pants off U.S. in economic terms while our government focuses on military power and empire building.

The story told by the articles and headlines in a single day’s issue of the Financial Times reflects a deeper reality, one that illustrates the great divide in the world today. The Asian countries, led by China, are reaching world power status on the basis of their massive domestic and foreign investments in manufacturing, transportation, technology and mining and mineral processing. In contrast, the US is a declining world power with a deteriorating society resulting from its military-driven empire building and its financial-speculative centered economy….

[….]

To become a ‘normal state’ we have to start all over: Close all investment banks and military bases abroad and return to America. We have to begin the long march toward rebuilding industry to serve our domestic needs, to living within our own natural environment and forsake empire building in favor of constructing a democratic socialist republic.

When will we pick up the Financial Times or any other daily and read about our own high-speed rail line carrying American passengers from New York to Boston in less than one hour? When will our own factories supply our hardware stores? When will we build wind, solar and ocean-based energy generators? When will we abandon our military bases and let the world’s warlords, drug traffickers and terrorists face the justice of their own people?

What are you reading this morning?

HAVE A TERRIFIC TUESDAY, CONFLUCIANS!!!!!!!

Saturday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!!! What’s happening out there in the world?


The big story of this slow news day seems to be the attempted “terrorist attack” in Detroit.

ABC News: Man Attempts to Set Off Explosives on Detroit-Bound Airplane

Federal officials and police are interviewing a Nigerian man, who allegedly tried to “explode” a powdery substance aboard a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, injuring himself and two other passengers, law enforcement officials said.

The man said he was directed by al Qaeda to explode a small device in flight, over U.S. soil, ABC News has learned. Authorities have no corroboration of that information, and the credibility of the suspect’s statements are being questioned, officials said.

The suspect was identified as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, who according to federal documents is an engineering student at University College of London.

The latest from CNN: Device was on fire in terror suspect’s lap, plane passenger says

A Nigerian man is “talking a lot” to the FBI, said a senior U.S. official, after what the United States believes was an attempted terrorist attack on an inbound international flight.

The initial impression is that the suspect was acting alone and did not have any formal connections to organized terrorist groups, said the official, who is familiar with the investigation.

The suspect, identified by a U.S. government official as 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, ignited a small explosive device Friday, shortly before a Northwest flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, landed at Detroit Metro Airport in Michigan.

Passenger Jasper Schuringa told CNN that with the aid of the cabin crew, he helped subdue and isolate Abdulmutallab.

Abdulmutallab was taken into custody and is being treated for second- and third-degree burns on his thighs, according to federal law enforcement and airline security sources.

CNN World: London police hunt airline terror link

Counterterrorism officers are searching buildings in London in connection with the alleged terrorist attempt aboard a flight to Detroit, police said Saturday.

The officers were believed to be searching locations including an apartment block in central London, but a spokeswoman for the city’s Metropolitan Police would not say specifically where and what they are looking for, or how many officers are involved.

She also said the police are making several inquiries at the request of U.S. authorities.

Continue reading

Christmas Day News and Views

Peace on Earth

Merry Christmas Conflucians! I hope everyone has a lovely day today. News events march onward, of course, despite the holiday season. Here are some stories that caught my eye this morning. Please add your own important and interesting links in the comments.

If you haven’t see in it already, please go read this excellent post at Corrente by Tony Wikrent: How the status quo can kill: the example of free trade

Boy, was this writer’s talent ever wasted on the progs at dailykos! There is really no way to provide an excerpt that will do this piece justice. You really do have to read the whole thing.

A woman leaped over a barricade at midnight mass at the Vatican and knocked Pope Benedict onto the marble floor. Here is some amateur video of the events.

More Vatican news:

NYT: Vatican Defends Status of WWII Pope

In an effort to calm growing tensions with Jewish groups, the Vatican said Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI’s decision moving the wartime pope Pius XII closer to sainthood was not a “hostile act” against those who believe Pius did not do enough to stop the Holocaust.

Really?

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a statement saying that the beatification process evaluated the “Christian life” of Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, and not “the historical impact of all his operative decisions.”

Moving Pius toward sainthood “is in no way to be read as a hostile act towards the Jewish people, and it is to be hoped that it will not be considered as an obstacle on the path of dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church,” Father Lombardi wrote.

That sounds a little odd and hypocritcal to me, but then I don’t really believe in the concept of sainthood. The Catholic Church made Maria Goretti a saint because she supposedly forgave the man who raped and murdered her. That tells me that the Church’s decisions about sainthood actually do send messages.

Amy Sullivan, Time Magazine: No Churchgoing Christmas for the First Family

But there’s one common Christmas practice not on the First Family’s schedule: a visit to Christmas Eve church services.

Why am I not surprised?

Church, in fact, has been a surprisingly tough issue for the Obamas. They resigned their membership with Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in 2008 after Obama renounced the church’s controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. And while the First Family intended to find a local church to attend when they moved to Washington, concerns about crowds and displacing regular worshippers has prevented them from finding a new religious home during their first year here.

The Obamas have attended Sunday services in Washington three times this year — once at the predominantly African-American 19th Street Baptist Church, and twice at St. John’s Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square from the White House.

Three times in a whole year! Amazing, for such a deeply religious man {snort}

At Huffpo, the ever-hopeful Cenk Uygur argues that progs can move Obama to the left! {hysterical laughter}

There are many debates among progressives now on the true nature of Barack Obama. Did he mean anything he said on the campaign trail? Is he really a progressive? Did he ever mean to challenge the status quo or was he using the word “change” as a campaign gimmick? Is he just a corporatist like most other politicians?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! That’s funny. I know Cenk can’t possibly think there’s a chance in hell that Obama actually meant any of the promises he made while campaigning. Come on!

Does he mean well or does he have bad intentions? Come on, don’t be ridiculous. Of course, he means well. But in his own mind, George Bush thought he meant well too (for the most part). I’m positive that Obama thinks that he is doing the best he can to bring about as much change as he can within the limits of this system.

Ooops! I guess Cenk has a way to go before he finally gets all that Koolaid out of his system.

Is he a true progressive or a corporatist sell out? Well, that depends on what you mean. Has he wound up helping corporate America tremendously through health care “reform,” finance “reform,” etc.? Well, Wall Street certainly seems to think so (and so do most progressives). Did he do that because he thought, “I can’t wait to help corporate America and screw over the little guy”? No, I’m sure he thought he had to accommodate the powers that be in order to affect any change at all in this system. But the bottom line has been the same, either way – the system has been tweaked but corporate America chugs along with even more government largesse than before.

I’m sure Obama is a progressive that would help the average American if he thought he could. But apparently he thinks he can’t. He can only bring them a small amount of change because of what he thinks the system will allow.

Uh huh. Keep on telling yourself that, Cenk. Maybe it will somehow make you feel better about being hoodwinked into voting for Bush III.

Paul Krugman thinks that the Heath Care bill will save millions of future Tiny Tims–after 2014, that is.

Krugman scolds people like us who think the bill is nothing but a big mess of corporate giveaways and efforts to control women’s bodies:

Finally, there has been opposition from some progressives who are unhappy with the bill’s limitations. Some would settle for nothing less than a full, Medicare-type, single-payer system. Others had their hearts set on the creation of a public option to compete with private insurers. And there are complaints that the subsidies are inadequate, that many families will still have trouble paying for medical care.

Unlike the tea partiers and the humbuggers, disappointed progressives have valid complaints. But those complaints don’t add up to a reason to reject the bill. Yes, it’s a hackneyed phrase, but politics is the art of the possible.

Oddly, Krugman never mentions either the anti-abortion language in both the House and Senate versions of the bill; nor does he address the shoring up of the Bush conscience rules in the Senate version. How very very strange. I guess Krugman thinks it’s just fine if Congress passes a health care bill for men that allows the government and health care workers to control women’s choices.

The News side of Krugman’s paper isn’t as sanguine as he is.

Health Care Changes Wouldn’t Have Big Effect for Many

what about the roughly 160 million workers and their dependents who already have health insurance through an employer? For many people, the result of the long, angry health care debate in Washington may be little more than more of the same.

As President Obama once promised, “If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.”

That may be true even if you don’t like your health plan. And no one seems to agree on whether the legislation will do much to reduce workers’ continually rising out-of-pocket costs.

Chris Good at The Atlantic: Insurance Industry’s Reaction: Senate Bill Would Raise Costs


And some Christmas-oriented stories:

BBC News: In pictures: Christmas around the world

Longmont Times-Call: The true Father Christmas: Before there was a Santa Claus, there was the generous St. Nicholas

BBC News: Christmas in Iraq: Muslims buy Christmas decorations in a Baghdad market, where both faiths have worshipped side by side for centuries

China View: World pray for peace on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem

NYT Op-Ed: Everyone Is Invited

Kansas City Star: Excerpts from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’

Christmas Eve in West Fargo, North Dakota

HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!

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!!!!!

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