Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

It’s hump day, and there are many blue meanies about. Watch out for glovey-dovey especially as he will tend to “point, and having pointed, POUNCE!” And remember how the Obots, um, I mean blue meanies were commanded: “Go get thee hence, and destroy yon upstarts. SMASH THEM, SQUASH THEM, CRUSH THEM! O-BLUE-terate them!” Why all the blue references, well yesterday (no pun intended) Apple Corps decided to come into the modern age and put their catalog out for digital download. Apple Inc. is having a big event and have what is quite a nice concert available free online. It’s from their first US concert at the Washington Coliseum in 1964. Go listen, before the blue meanies stomp it out. Here’s an article pointing out how stupid it has been to wait this long:

The Beatles, their surviving heirs and their misguided management finally turned in their Flat Earth Society membership cards Tuesday, allowing the sale of their music as digital downloads on Apple’s iTunes Store. La-dee-freakin’-da.

I’m sorry, were you expecting congratulations here?

This absurdly overdue development happened shortly before 10 a.m. – slightly in advance of the vague prediction posted on Apple’s home page Monday.

I have to agree. There was no reason to wait this long, and the sales will be nothing what they would have been a few years ago. What have they been smoking in Pepperland?

And speaking of, the other tribe of blue meanies are getting nasty and are trying to squash the new arms treaty efforts with Russia:

One of President Obama’s top foreign-policy goals suffered a potentially ruinous setback Friday when the Senate’s second-ranking Republican said the U.S. nuclear treaty with Russia should not be considered until next year.

The statement by Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) stunned the White House and Democrats, who scrambled to save the pact. It came just days after Obama declared that ratifying the treaty was his top foreign-policy priority for the lame-duck session of Congress.

SoS Clinton is weighing in Continue reading

Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

The aftermath of last weeks election is still being felt. In fact, it’s not over yet. The Senate race in Alaska is still being counted. Regardless of whether the winner is Miller or Murkowski, the seat will be held by a Republican. But it will certainly be interesting to see who won. Both because of the tea party angle and because of the possibility of a write-in candidate winning. The latter outcome would be very interesting and perhaps eye opening to many citizens of the country. The fact that we don’t have to take the two choices given to us would be refreshing. Everyone seems to be talking about it including WaPo, Politico, and Reuters among, well, everyone. And of course as you’d expect, the lawyers are at the ready. Miller has already launched one lawsuit requiring that Murkowski name be spelled correctly and exactly as it is registered. That’s silly as the law clearly gives leeway to counters to determine intent. Some of the legal fun from WaPo:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) both urged supporters to donate money to Miller’s legal fund, in part to send enough lawyers and monitors to Juneau. In Anchorage, tea party supporters pooled their frequent-flier miles in hopes of sending about a dozen volunteers to be trained as official observers.

Murkowski, meanwhile, has reportedly hired lawyer Ben Ginsberg, who represented George W. Bush in the 2000 recount fight and Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in his 2008 recount battle in Minnesota.

Miller has also argued that the law requires Murkowski’s name to be spelled properly, though election officials ruled that misspellings are okay as long as the voter’s “intent” is clear – a subjective standard that could lead to a litany of disputes.

Continue reading

Wednesday News

I lifted this from the Black Agenda Report!!!

So apparently we had a little election yesterday. Let’s recap the story so far. We had this lovely hopeful Democratic party ready to put the Bush years behind them, roll up their sleeves, and get to work fixing the damage. Much the same way the Clinton’s did in the 90’s. But along the way, a complete unknown with no experience, and no real drive to do anything substantive, including bothering to vote for important policies, who had more funding than all of the well known candidates combined, from wall street, banks, and insurance companies funnily enough, made his way through the primaries, making a pathetic disaster of every debate by losing every one in the worst way, and got selected in a smoke filled back room, without even a roll call vote. Along the way, the base of the party who actually elected another candidate were told to suck it up or leave. Preferably leave. And of course, as most any candidate that wasn’t Bush would do, this guy became President. Then over the next two years he proceeded to do exactly the kinds of things he did in his previous career. Play golf, party, get others to do his work for him, and do pretty much what his backers wanted. Mostly he just golfed and really didn’t give a damn. Apparently, many of the “little people” expected a bit more out of him. Silly little people. And so, they got angry. They still hate the party of Bush, make no mistake about it, but now they hate this new group just as much, and yesterday they sent a little message.

For a good look at the races across the country, the NYT has great interactive maps. The main ones to look at are those for Senate, House, and Governor races. As you can see from those maps, especially the House map, we have a proverbial bloodbath. Especially important for 2012 is the Governor results. Notice that the important battleground states of PA, OH, and FL now have Republican governors. That will become more important for the next cycle because of get out the vote efforts, redistricting, among others.

CBS has an interesting article on why Democrats lost:

Core Democratic groups stayed away in droves Tuesday, costing Democratic House candidates dearly at the polls.

Hispanics, African Americans, union members and young people were among the many core Democratic groups that turned out in large numbers in the 2008 elections, propelling Mr. Obama and Democratic House candidates to sizable victories. In 2010, turnout among these groups dropped off substantially, even below their previous midterm levels.

Voters under the age of 30 comprised 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 and nearly 13 percent in 2006 but only made up 11 percent of the electorate in 2010. The share of voters from union households dropped from 23 percent in 2006 and 21 percent in 2008 to 17 percent in 2010. African Americans made up 13 percent of the electorate in 2008 but fell to 10 percent in 2010. Such apathy likely cost the Democrats House seats as voters in each of these groups cast ballots for Democratic House candidates by at least 15 point margins.

[...]

Mr. Obama proved to be a major liability in the 2010 election. Fifty-five percent of voters disapproved of the way the president is handling his job, including 58 percent of independents. Of those who disapproved of Obama, 86 percent voted for a Republican House candidate. Even more to the point, 37 percent of voters overall, as well as 37 percent of independents, claimed a reason for their House vote was to express opposition to Mr. Obama.

Voters were no happier with the Democratic-controlled Congress. A whopping 72 percent of voters disapproved of the way Congress is handling its job, including majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents. Of those who evaluated Congress negatively, 64 percent preferred a Republican House candidate to a Democratic House candidate in their local race.

It does go on to talk about the mixed message that the voters don’t really like Republican’s either.

After the resounding defeat, Obama gave a call to John Boehner, soon to be the new speaker of the House, to congratulate him:

He phoned the presumptive next House speaker, John Boehner, to offer congratulations. Boehner says the two agreed to work together, even though Republicans have vowed to turn back much of Obama’s agenda.

The Ohio Republican says they talked about working together on the priorities of the American people, and Boehner says he defined those priorities as cutting spending and creating jobs.

Hey, create jobs. Now there’s an idea. Too bad no one thought of that before.

Now brush yourself off, because today begins the Presidential campaign season for 2012.

We’ll keep this short since there is still a lot happening in a few last races, and we’ll update as we learn more, and as others do the inevitable blaming of the Clinton’s or pretending it’s not such a big deal after all. You know they will. Chime in with what you’re seeing outside of the election as well.

Sunday News – All Hallow’s Eve Edition

Boo!!

Happy Halloween Conflucians!! What are you dressing as today and tonight? I hope you all have a great Halloween.

Other than bats in the belfry, let’s see what else is spooky out there. Some fun yesterday was the Steward/Colbert rally yesterday. I quite liked Jon’s sentiment at the end. He basically echoed what we’ve been saying for a long time. Namely that all this crap and mud slinging and race baiting and nastiness on both sides is causing great harm. He called progressives out as much as he called wingers out. Which was such a change where we tend to only ever see wingers called out and hardly ever progressives called out except here and a few other places. More of that please. It was also nice to see his message of hope about how real Americans are out there working together and get things done, unlike people in washington or in the MSM. I liked it. Here’s a bit of the Miami Herald’s take:

“This is not . . . to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do,” Stewart said as he turned serious in his closing remarks. “But we live now in hard times, not end times. We can have animus and not be enemies.”

He lambasted the cable TV news mentality that amplifies outrageous statements, stokes fear and seeks out confrontation, singling out the left-wing media for equating tea partyers with racists and the right-wing media for “the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims.”

“The press can hold its magnifying class up to our problems,” he said. “Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire. . . . The press is our immune system. If they overreact to everything we get sicker.”

The message struck a chord with the large throng of people; the National Park Service no longer provides official estimates of crowds, but the National Mall was densely packed with many tens of thousands of people.

“It’s the first time a message like this has resonated with me,” said Jonathan Dugan, 37, a product engineer who flew from San Francisco to stand on the mall on a sunny fall afternoon. “We need to get people to talk to each other in a meaningful way.”

So as you’d expect, politics is in much of the news. WaPo has a bit about Obama’s “closing arguments” for the election:

Obama laid out a sharp contrast between his party’s agenda and the GOP, saying that Republicans have done little but play politics as his party has made hard choices to revive the economy, change the health-care system and regulate the finanical industry.

“We don’t want to relive the past. We’ve tried what their selling and we’re not buying,” he said. “We’re not going back.”

While Obama told supporters that the election two years ago wasn’t about him, Democrats are betting that his lingering appeal among first time voters, African-Americans and Hispanics will boost turnout – in Philadelphia volunteers handed out leaflets with a picture of Obama and his wife on one side and a plug for Rep. Joe Sestak, running for the Senate, and Dan Onorato, who is running for governor, on the other side. Polls show Onorato trailing behind Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, and Sestak gaining ground on former Republican congressman Pat Toomey.

But the best part, and why I didn’t think of this before, he’s now out talking about, wait for it, party unity after the election, sort of:

Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s election, it’s time to put aside partisanship, President Obama is telling Democrats and Republicans.

Yet his appeal for unity includes a jab at GOP leaders in the House and Senate for comments that the president said were troubling.

House minority leader John Boehner of Ohio “actually said that ‘this is not the time for compromise,’ ’’ Obama said yesterday in his weekly radio and Internet address. The president added that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky “said his main goal after this election is simply to win the next one.’’

The address was released shortly before Obama left Washington for a day of campaigning in Philadelphia, Bridgeport, Conn., and Chicago. The three states have competitive House and Senate races, as does Ohio, where the president was slated to hold a rally today in Cleveland.

In the weekly Republican address, Boehner said Obama has failed to deliver the change he promised. The man who probably would become House speaker if Republicans win control of the chamber also promoted party pledges to cut spending and keep taxes at current levels.

Meanwhile Bill Clinton is out campaigning his ass off. He was in Youngstown yesterday:

Clinton spoke to a crowd of 1,800 to 2,000 people, most of whom stood rather than sit during his speech, at Mr. Anthony’s.

The former president urged the audience to vote and urge others to do the same for the Democratic slate, particularly Gov. Ted Strickland.

“Where’s the enthusiasm gap? Where is it?” yelled Yvette McGee Brown, the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee. “You guys do us proud. We are winning on Tuesday because of you! I just want to tell you, this has been a long year. There are people who counted us out just like people counted out the Valley.”

National polls have shown that those most likely to vote lean Republican.

But Strickland said momentum is swinging in favor of Democrats at the right time.

Republicans “won this race in August,” he said. “We’re going to win this race in November, when it really counts.”

And Bill is returning to Orlando to help Meeks again in his campaign. You know, the guy the media lied about and said Bill pushed out of the race, even though everyone disagreed before they ran those stories. The Miami Herald article includes some of that:

Clinton will join Meek and the state’s other major Democratic Party candidates at a last-minute voter rally Monday night in Orlando, the Democratic Senate candidate’s campaign said Saturday.

The announcement comes after two days of media reports over whether Clinton privately asked Meek to step aside and endorse Crist, who left the Republican party to run as an independent. Meek and Clinton have denied those reports, even those confirmed by Clinton’s spokesman.

Both Meek and Crist trail Rubio, the tea party-backed Republican. To win, Crist would need at least some of the Democrats who plan to vote for Meek.

Meek has accused Crist of starting the rumors about Clinton and says Crist directly asked him to withdraw.

“I think he’s a nice guy, but I don’t think that that plays a role and I think it’s wrong to try to paint me into the corner and say that I’m the reason why he’s not winning,” Meek told reporters at Wilton Manors city hall, where he and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz were courting early voters. “I don’t blame the position of my campaign at any time on any other opponent.”

It was Meek’s only public event Saturday. He was resting up for 24 hours of nonstop campaigning across much of the state, beginning Sunday night in Tampa.

Meek said the rumors about him possibly dropping out of the three-way race have energized his supporters.

“What some meant for bad ended up being for good. People are now awakened of their responsibility to get out to vote,” he said. “Because now the ant bed has been kicked. Folks are highly disappointed.”

The other big news of the day was the apparent terrorist plot to blow up some synagogues in the Chicago area. It’s now being reported that Yemen has made some arrests:

Yemen has arrested a female student suspected of mailing the explosive parcels from the country to the US that sparked a global security alert, sources say.

The arrest took place on Saturday in the capital, Sanaa, after security forces surrounded a house where the suspect was hiding.

The woman’s lawyer said she was a “quiet student” with no known links of religious or political groups. Her mother was also detained, but was not a prime suspect, the lawyer said.

A Yemeni security official said the woman, a medical student in her 20s, had been traced through a telephone number she left with a cargo company.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, confirmed her arrest, saying: “Yemen is determined to fight terror but will not allow anyone to intervene in its affairs.”

Security officials have been on high alert since the UK and the United Arab Emirates intercepted two packages containing explosive material that were being shipped by air from Yemen to synagogues in Chicago.

Who’s to know if that person really had anything to do with anything. They need an arrest and need it now. I’m not sure the truth really matters. But we’ll watch the events unfold. BBC has a list of Sunday papers with stories on this issue.

In other news of the world, Brazil is having elections, and with all the economic problems, the main race is about which candidate is the crazier religious wacko:

The pocketbook is battling the pulpit in Brazil’s presidential elections Sunday, as government candidate Dilma Rousseff faces opposition leader Jose Serra in a runoff election to lead this burgeoning economic power of 190 million people.

Issues that most Brazilians thought didn’t belong in national politics — in particular, abortion — have taken center stage, and both candidates are catering to the concerns of evangelical and Roman Catholic voters.

By abandoning her previous public stance on liberalizing the country’s anti-abortion laws, and attending church before the television cameras, Rousseff, a former atheist, appears to have outmaneuvered Serra. A national poll Thursday night gave her a 13-point advantage over the former governor of Sao Paulo state.

That’s some crazy shit. And I thought my congressional race was bad.

That’s a bit of what’s in the news. Chime in with what you’re doing for Halloween and what else you’re finding in the news.

Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

We start off the morning with a real stunner. Virginia Thomas called up Anita Hill and left a message that it’d be just find and dandy if Anita would admit she’s a liar and apologize:

A spokesman for the university confirmed that Hill turned the message over Monday to the school’s Department of Public Safety.

“And they in turn informed the FBI,” said Andrew Gully, senior vice president of communications and external affairs. “They felt it was appropriate thing to do.”

At the university, Hill is a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies. Hill became a household name and the subject of a national conversation about sexual harassment after her explosive testimony at Thomas’ contentious confirmation hearings in 1991. On Tuesday, Hill said she had nothing to apologize for.

“I certainly thought the call was inappropriate,” Hill said in a statement. “I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony.”

Thomas’ message was first reported by ABC News, which obtained a transcript:

“Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.”

Virginia Thomas confirmed the message.

“The offer still stands,” she told ABC News in a statement.

Apparently WTF week continues. What nerve. That sadly brings back all those memories of the intense sexism and misogyny surrounding that incident and how shocking it was that most in the media and government sided with the sex offender, now justice Thomas. I bet Harry Reid likes him too. Maybe he’s one of his pets as well.

As mentioned by myiq last night, the big story being pushed of late is O’Donnell’s disbelief that the separation of church and state can be found in the First Amendment. You could interpret that to mean she was asking if that particular phrase was in there, of course it’s not, or if the discussion were more broad. O’Donnell now is of course siding with just the particular phrase. Here’s more:

During Tuesday’s debate, O’Donnell and Coons were arguing over the teaching-of-Creationism thing when Coons said that one of the “indispensable principles” of the Founding Fathers was “separation of church of state.”

“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” said O’Donnell in reply, drawing gasps from a crowd composed largely of law students and professors.

A few minutes later, Coons returned to the subject, saying the First Amendment establishes the separation between church and state.

“The First Amendment does?” said O’Donnell. “You’re telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?”

After the debate, O’Donnell did not respond to reporters asking her to clarify her remarks. Her campaign manager, Matt Moran, later issued a statement saying that she was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state. “She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution,” Mr. Moran said.

We report, you decide. OK, couldn’t resist that. To me it looks like she didn’t mean that exact phrase but instead thinks the state can impose religion, hence being for teaching creationism. Here’s a bit more:

O’Donnell is not the only conservative Republican Senate candidate with “tea party” support who has raised the issue of what the First Amendment means. In Nevada, Sharron Angle has taken a point of view similar to that of her Delaware compatriot.

In an interview earlier this year, Ms. Angle said that Thomas Jefferson, the Founding Father credited with originating the phrase “separation of church and state,” has been misunderstood on this matter.

“Thomas Jefferson was actually addressing a church and telling them through his address that there had been a wall of separation put up between the church and the state precisely to protect the church from being taken over by a state religion,” said Angle to Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston. “That’s what they meant by that. They didn’t mean we couldn’t bring our values to the political forum.”

It sounds like some of the justifications that make their way around the circuit for teaching creationism and for pushing religion on us through the government.

Because of the recent ruling that DADT is unconstitutional, the military is now forced to consider openly gay recruits. Of course Obama is moving fast to stop this as we all know:

The military is accepting openly gay recruits for the first time in the nation’s history.

The historic move follows a series of decisions by US District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, who ruled last month that the “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ law targeting openly gay service members violates their equal protection and First Amendment rights. Yesterday, Phillips rejected the government’s effort to delay her order that halted enforcement of the 17-year policy.

Government lawyers are expected to appeal her decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco.

In the meantime, the Defense Department has said it will comply with Phillips’s order and had frozen discharge cases. Cynthia Smith, Pentagon spokeswoman, said recruiters had been given top-level guidance to accept applicants who say they are gay.

At least two service members discharged for being gay began the process to reenlist after the Pentagon’s announcement yesterday.

Recruiters also have been told to inform potential recruits that the moratorium on enforcement of the policy could be reversed at any time, if the ruling is appealed or the court grants a stay, she said.

Still, supporters of gay rights hailed the military’s decision.

“Gay people have been fighting for equality in the military since the 1960s,’’ said Aaron Belkin, executive director of the Palm Center, a think tank on gays and the military at the University of California Santa Barbara. “It took a lot to get to this day.’’

The White House has insisted its actions in court do not diminish President Obama’s efforts to repeal the ban. In their request for a stay, government lawyers argue Phillips’s order would be disruptive to troops serving at a time of war.

They say the military needs time to prepare new regulations and train and educate service members about the change.

Phillips has said her order does not prohibit the Pentagon from implementing those measures.

So on the one hand, it’s great that the judge ruled that way and for the most part it appears the military will comply. But it’s very sad that Obama is working to overturn the ruling. Of course it’s not at all surprising Obama would want to do this given the people he has surrounded himself with for many years, esp. religious leaders, but also senior staff and advisors who think it’s only a lifestyle choice.

It appears we have some interesting activity between the FED and the banks, and perhaps the recent stock market drop has to do with some of that:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has joined a group of investors demanding that Bank of America buy back billions of dollars worth of mortgage securities that are plagued with shoddy documentation and lending standards, according to people familiar with the matter.

Some of the most powerful investment groups in the country as well as the New York arm of the central bank are accusing one of Bank of America’s major mortgage divisions of cutting corners when it was issuing mortgages during the housing boom and as it has been foreclosing on struggling borrowers during the bust.

If Bank of America refuses to comply, these investors could end up suing, a person familiar with the matter said.

The demand from the New York Fed and other investors sets up an unusual and high-stakes confrontation, pitting an arm of the federal government against the country’s biggest bank. It also illustrates conflicting policy priorities, because it could put the Fed at odds with a bank the Treasury Department has been helping through the financial crisis over the past two years.

With this new confrontation, the government finds itself in the awkward position of being an unhappy private investor pressing for its rights to be enforced. The New York Fed holds roughly $16 billion of mortgage securities that it acquired after it bailed out American International Group.

On Tuesday, Bank of America dismissed concerns that investors will drag the bank into court for years with costly lawsuits.

“We don’t see the issues that people [are] worried about, quite frankly,” chief executive Brian Moynihan said in a conference call Tuesday as the bank reported a $7.3 billion third-quarter loss.

Sure, nothing to worry about. Nothing to see here. Go about your business. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Business Week has some coverage of this as well:

The action follows a foreclosure freeze that drove bank stocks lower this month as shareholders reconsidered the risks of home loans sold before the housing crash. The New York Fed acquired mortgage debt through its 2008 rescues of Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc., and the Fed’s participation may raise the odds of prevailing against Bank of America, said Scott Buchta of Braver Stern Securities LLC.

“Individual investors have been trying for years to get these big banks to buy back loans at par, and haven’t had a lot of luck,” said Buchta, head of investment strategy for the New York-based securities firm. The New York Fed “in your corner, that adds weight and might give you a better chance for success.”

Buckle your seat belts, we’re in for a bumpy ride.

And speaking of a bumpy ride, the undeniable story about how much better for candidates Big Dawg is than Oprecious is still being told:

Former President Bill Clinton is more effective than President Obama at motivating both Democrats and Independents, a new Gallup Poll indicates.

Both President Obama and former President Clinton have been traveling the country campaigning to prevent a Republican landslide in November’s elections. Clinton has headlined more than 80 events for hard-pressed Democratic candidates, and some observers think he could complete 100 appearances by election day.

In a poll conducted October 14-17, Gallup asked registered voters whether having Clinton or Obama campaign for a candidate would be a plus, minus, or make no difference. From those responses, Gallup calculated a “net impact” by subtracting the percentage who said campaigning would make them less likely to vote for a candidate from the percentage who said it would make them more likely to vote for a candidate.

“Clinton does modestly better than Obama among Democrats,” writes Gallup editor in chief Frank Newport. The net positive impact of Clinton’s campaigning among Democrats is 48 percent, while for Obama it is 42 percent.

Where the former president dramatically outshines Obama is with independent voters. Among independents, “Clinton’s impact breaks about even,” Mr. Newport writes. Some 21 percent of independents are more likely to support a candidate if Mr. Clinton works for them, while 23 percent are less likely, leaving the net result at a negative 2 percent.

But independents in the poll react in a much more negative fashion to Obama. While 12 percent say they would be more likely to vote for a person Obama supports on the stump, a whopping 39 percent say they would be less likely. That produces a net impact from Obama campaign appearances of a negative 27 percent among independents. Since independent voters are often the key to winning elections, that negative impact is a major problem for Democrats.

Unfortunately for the world, the analysis then proceeded to give an opinion as to why this might be. And of course we hear the usual mythologies and Obama pampering:

Why the gap in campaign performance? Gallup’s Mr. Newport argues that it “almost certainly reflects the fact that Clinton has been out of office for 10 years, and thus has become a more benign figure to those who are independent or who identify with the Republican Party.” Obama, he argues, as sitting president is “more likely to generate strong feelings at this point in his career.”

Another likely factor in the poll results is that Bill Clinton is a gifted campaigner, whatever one thinks of his politics. Politico columnist Annie Groer aptly refers to the former president as a man “who never saw a rope line he didn’t want to work.” At an event in New Mexico, the former president said he planned to do “about one stop for everybody that helped Hillary run for president.”

Yes, we see yet again the myth that Clinton is only popular now because he’s been out of office for so long and we’ve forgotten how much we hated him when he just left office. Never mind the facts and what those numbers were. We can’t have facts getting in the way of our mythologies. Notice they also can’t help by pushing the “whatever one things of his politics” bit. Really, you guys are going there. I think most Americans quite like his politics, it’s inside DC that they don’t like it. Nothing changes. WaPo has a related story, but hold your nose, there’s some heavy spinning there as well. But even with their spin, what’s obvious in these contrasts comes through. (In the voice of Dana Carvey doing an impression of HW Bush) Clinton good, Obama bad.

Esquire has an interesting article pointing out that given that Obama is mostly an echo of MA Gov. Patrick, watching the governors race now might be a good indication of how Obama’s will be. And perhaps that’s it’s a bit of a referendum of Obama as well. I think there’s something to that. Definitely a race to watch for a number of reasons.

Let’s change gears here and look at a few things going on in the privacy world. The first item is about how the US Gov. is watching you on Facebook, and in some cases is pushing being “Friends” with some to even more closely monitor your activity:

According to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the U.S. government is busily tracking social networks in a number of ways, including using sites like Facebook to monitor people who are applying for U.S. citizenship.

According to a May 2008 memo by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of “friends” link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know. This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS [Office of Fraud Detection and National Security] to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities.”

In other words, social networking sites give the government an opportunity to reveal potential fraud by friending people who are applying for citizenship, then monitoring their activity to see if they are being deceptive about their relationships. “In essence,” says the memo, “using MySpace and other like sites is akin to doing an unannounced cyber “site-visit” on a petitioner and beneficiaries.”

The other item is about traffic and street cameras monitoring citizens. This story has a twist in that some of these cameras are being opened up to the public, so anyone can watch, and also monitor the police as well:

Back in 1996, writer and scientist David Brin wrote “The Transparent Society,” a tale of two fundamentally similar yet very different 21st-century cities. Both were littered with security cameras monitoring every inch of public space, but in one city the police did the watching, while in the other the citizens monitored the feeds to keep an eye on each other (and the police). These days, many UK police forces monitor their city streets with cameras mounted on every corner. Now, for a fee, a private company is crowdsourcing security surveillance to any citizen willing to watch, fulfilling Brin’s prophecy in a sense.

Devon-based Internet Eyes offers businesses a surveillance service in which private citizens eager to earn cash rewards can log on and view video streams remotely, keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. If a viewer spots a shoplifter, a text is sent to two mobile numbers of the owner’s choosing, alerting store personnel of the matter. The viewer can earn rewards of up to 1,000 British pounds if the tip turns out to be accurate (that’s roughly $1,600). The business pays 75 pounds per month for the service.

If it sounds a bit Orwellian, it is and it isn’t. After all, it’s not the actual government accessing the feeds but regular civilians with no law enforcement power. And steps are taken to keep things secure; the feeds swap every 20 minutes and are completely anonymous, so a viewer doesn’t know the location of the camera. If a viewer does report a crime, the feed switches immediately afterward. In short, any kind of voyeuristic fun you might want to have via the service is seriously limited.

And one last update as we’re going to press. The DADT Judge refuses to stay her decision:

The federal judge who declared “don’t ask, don’t tell” unconstitutional denied the Obama administration’s request Tuesday to let military authorities resume discharging openly gay and lesbian troops while the government appeals her ruling.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips of Riverside rejected Justice Department arguments that she should suspend her decision to prevent disruption to military operations during the appeal.

In fact, she said, courtroom testimony showed that halting the “don’t ask” policy would help the armed forces by retaining service members, including many with exceptional skills.

The trial showed that the law “harms military readiness and unit cohesion, and irreparably injures service members by violating their fundamental rights,” Phillips wrote.

The administration, which has appealed her ruling to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, has said it would immediately ask that court for a stay if Phillips refused to issue one.

A stay would remain in effect at least until a hearing, which might not be before next spring.

Phillips’ order “brings us one step closer toward ending once and for all this unconstitutional policy, which President Obama and Congress seem incapable or unwilling to end themselves,” said Dan Woods, lawyer for the Log Cabin Republicans, a 19,000-member gay rights group that sued to overturn the law in 2004.

And so it goes. Chime in with what you’re reading and seeing.

Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

Let’s dive right in, so to speak. It looks like the deep water drilling band is lifted:

The U.S. is back in the deep water oil-drilling business. The question now is when work will resume. The Obama administration, under heavy pressure from the oil industry and Gulf states and with elections nearing, lifted the moratorium that it imposed last April in the wake of the disastrous BP oil spill.

The ban had been scheduled to expire Nov. 30, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday he was moving up the date because new rules imposed after the spill had reduced the risk of another catastrophic blowout. Industry leaders warily waited for details of those rules, saying the moratorium wouldn’t be truly lifted until then.

“The policy position that we are articulating today is that we are open for business,” Salazar declared.

The reality is more complicated. While the temporary ban on exploratory oil and gas drilling is lifted immediately, drilling is unlikely to resume for several weeks at least as oil and gas companies struggle to meet a host of new safety regulations. For example, the CEO of a company responsible for a well would have to certify it had complied with all regulations. That could make the person at the top liable for any future accidents.

“Operators who play by the rules and clear the higher bar can be allowed to resume,” Salazar said.

And as we heard yesterday, a judge ordered the Pentagon to put a stop to DADT:

US District Judge Virginia A. Phillips in California issued the injunction a month after she ruled that requiring gays in the military to keep their sexual orientation secret is unconstitutional.

The ruling permanently bars the Department of Defense from enforcing the law and goes a step further by compelling Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates to suspend any ongoing investigations or discharge proceedings.

The injunction may be appealed within 60 days. If the Obama administration decides to appeal, it would be in the uncomfortable position of defending a law it has opposed. An appeal, however, might allow the administration and the Pentagon to implement a repeal of the policy in a more orderly manner.

Alternatively, the administration could decide to let Phillips’s ruling become law, acknowledging that the court was able to accomplish what the policy’s opponents in Congress and the administration have yet to do.

The Justice Department said yesterday that it had not yet decided how to respond. “We’re reviewing the ruling,’’ Tracy Schmaler, a department spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Several legal observers, however, predicted the Obama administration would seek a stay of the judge’s order from the US Court of Appeals, a request they said would probably be approved as that court reviews the case.

So next is a simple test of the Obama administration. They could either stand by their word and campaign promise and let the ruling stand and allow it to become law, or they can go back on their word and do the stay or worse, appeal, so that they can proceed in a “more orderly manner”. You know, most every time we’ve pushed for more equality in our rights, we’ve been told to slow down and do things in a more orderly manner. We will soon see in the most clear way possible what Obama is made of. What kind of character the man has. I will give him praise and be happy if he does the right thing here. We’ll see.

As of this writing, the miners in Chile are being pulled out. Sometime later in the morning they will hopefully be all out. Here’s a write up as it started to happen:

The first of 33 gold and copper miners entombed half a mile below ground for more than two months were hauled into the frigid Chilean desert air early Wednesday morning, emerging from a cramped, life-saving haven and into the embrace of family members once forced to confront the likelihood of their deaths.

Foreman Florencio Avalos, 31, was the first of the miners to ride up the shaft that rescuers hope will serve as the lifeline for all. Wearing sunglasses to protect his eyes from aboveground lights, Avalos squeezed into a specially fitted, bullet-shaped capsule only a shade smaller than the 28-inch diameter of the tunnel and was winched to the surface over 14 agonizing minutes.

As myiq posted last night, the last debate between Brown and Whitman leaves some looking for third party candidates:

One of the most aggressive segments of the hour-long debate began with Brown responding to moderator and former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw’s question about a Brown campaign staffer caught on voice mail calling Whitman a “whore.”

Brown apologized to Whitman for the first time and called the remark “unfortunate,” but also chafed at Brokaw’s suggestion that to women the word is as offensive as the “n-word” is to African Americans.

“Women know exactly what’s going on here,” retorted Whitman, calling the word a “slur.”

That’s right Jerry, as we all know, bigotry towards women doesn’t count as much as bigotry towards most any other group. I mean come on, it’s only women. What a let down. But wait, there’s more:

On the Brown staffer’s use of the word “whore,” Whitman went on the offensive, saying that “slurs and personal attacks are … not what California is about.”

Brown retorted that “we’ve heard no outrage from you” regarding her campaign chairman former Gov. Pete Wilson’s use of the term “whores” to describe public employees unions.

Whitman’s comeback: “You know better than that Jerry, that’s a completely different thing.”

That’s pretty lame from Jerry. Just own up to it and apologize without that crap. What’s sad is Jerry is ahead by a bit, and if he just did something reasonable here, he’d move ahead. But he’s scared and feels the need to go this path. And what’s particularly tough with the path Jerry is on, is he’s opening unhealed wounds of misogyny within the Democratic party. From a state that chose to rise above misogyny in 2008.

But not to worry, he’s bringing out Obama to take care of that. Sigh.

Speaking of complete idiots out of touch, Paladino finally got word that he may have stepped in it, and now apologizes:

Republican candidate for governor Carl Paladino apologized to the gay community Tuesday for what he called his “poorly chosen words” over the weekend as he sought to steer his troubled campaign back to the tax issues that won him the GOP nomination in September.

“I am neither perfect, nor a career politician,” Paladino said in an e-mail distributed by his flagging campaign. “I have made mistakes in this campaign — I have made mistakes all my life — as we all have. I am what I am — a simple man who works hard, trusts others, and loves his family and fears for the future of our state.”

He apologized and said he should have edited more of the phrasing out of a speech he gave to Orthodox Jewish leaders on Sunday. His speech did include opposition to what he said was schools’ “brainwashing” of students into thinking the gay lifestyle is just another choice. He also said being gay is “not the way God created us” and the gay lifestyle is “not the example that we should be showing our children.”

Ah yes, the old poorly chosen words excuse. So was he lying then or is he lying now? You decide. Hey, he’s a horribly hateful bigot, maybe he can write for the Washington Post (see yesterday’s post by BB).

OK, now for a bit of comedy relief. Turns out Obama and Palin and Limbaugh are related. Somehow I’m not surprised:

President Barack Obama is distantly related to two of his most outspoken critics — Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin and talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh — as well as to former President George W. Bush, according to a genealogy website.

Family trees revealed Obama and Palin, the former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, are 10th cousins through common ancestor John Smith, according to Ancestry.com Inc. Smith was Obama’s and Palin’s 12th-great- grandfather. Smith, a Protestant pastor, was an early settler in Massachusetts and was criticized by the ecclesiastical community for supporting Quakers, said Anastasia Tyler, a genealogist for the website.

Obama and Limbaugh are 10th cousins once removed through shared connections to Richmond Terrell, a Virginia settler who came to America in the mid-1600s, Tyler said.

Palin and Obama have ties to Bush, both through links to Samuel Hinckley. Maybe leadership “runs in the family,” the website said, because Hinckley’s son, Thomas, became the governor of Plymouth Colony before it united with Massachusetts.

“Despite political differences, they do have similarities,” Tyler said. “We are all tied together; we are all part of America.”

OK, I’ll admit it. That’s a very nice sentiment at the end. They got me on that one.

WaPo’s trail mix has a round up of a few political goings on:

Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle announced Tuesday that she raised $14.3 million in the third quarter of the year – apparently a record amount for a Senate candidate who is not self-funding.

With three weeks to go until Election Day, Democrats have canceled all of their ad reservations in at least six districts where their odds of winning appear to be shrinking.

Christine O’Donnell turned heads with her “I’m not a witch” ad. But that attention hasn’t translated into votes for Delaware’s Republican Senate nominee: A new Monmouth University poll shows her Democratic opponent, New Castle County Executive Chris Coons, leading 57 percent to 38 percent among likely voters in the race for Vice President Biden’s former Senate seat.

As recently as several months ago, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) thought he’d have no trouble winning a fourth term. But recent polls have shown the incumbent facing a surprisingly tough challenge from millionaire businessman Ron Johnson (R). The latest survey, conducted by Reuters/Ipsos, shows Johnson now leading among likely voters 51 percent to 44 percent.

Nice run down of a few items. Looks like O’Donnell is going nowhere fast. Good. And sadly Feingold isn’t either. Not good. But neither are surprising.

Now for some more fun news. First, because some folks seem to have an irrational obsession with the Palins, even young Palins, Bristol managed to survive another week on DWTS. Turns out “The Situation” wasn’t so lucky.

And in sports news, the Giants and the Phillies will be playing in the National League Championship Series. It looks to be a great pitcher matchup:

In the year of the pitcher, what else should dominate the National League Championship Series, which begins in Philadelphia on Saturday?

Much of the national chatter has the Phillies with an edge because of their experience, as it should be. They have won the last two NL pennants. Also, in sweeping Cincinnati in their Division Series, Philadelphia’s Big Three starters choked off a Reds lineup that produced the league’s best offensive numbers during the regular season.

However, anyone who predicts another Philly massacre in the NLCS must consider how well the postseason novices on the Giants’ staff pitched against the Braves.

The Giants’ modus operandi in the best-of-seven series will not be a state secret: They must keep the games low-scoring and hope to get one or two good pitches to hit, a mistake here or there, and convert them into the decisive runs.

Hopefully it will be a good one. And of course hopefully the Giants will win. Your mileage may vary of course.

And finally, the Nobel prize for physics went to some scientists that came up with Graphene:

Two Russian-born scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, won the 2010 Nobel Physics Prize Tuesday for pioneering work on graphene, touted as the wonder material of the 21st century.

Both laureates began their careers as physicists in Russia but now work at the University of Manchester in Britain. Geim holds Dutch nationality and Novoselov is both a British and Russian national.

The Swedish Academy of Sciences hailed graphene — “the perfect atomic lattice” — for its glittering potential in computers, home gadgets and transport.

It lauded Geim, 51, and Novoselov, 36, for having “shown that carbon in such a flat form has exceptional properties that originate from the remarkable world of quantum physics.”

The prize honors a breakthrough that paved the way to graphene, a form of carbon touted as the next-generation super-material.

Just one atom thick, it is the world’s thinnest and strongest nano-material, almost transparent and able to conduct electricity and heat.

As a result, graphene is described as the candidate material to replace silicon semi-conductors.

It’s a big thing. A really big thing. Though small. It’s nice to know, amongst all the corrupt politics and mega corporate control, some cool things keep going on, and progress can still happen.

That’s a bit of what’s happening. Chime in with what you’re reading.

Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!!

It has been the strangest week or two of propaganda campaign efforts from the zombie obot armies including: 1) You Dems are lazy, good for nothing, ungrateful for all the wonderful things, bums, get your enthusiasm going again, idiots, 2) What, you don’t think Hillary would have been as horrible as Obama has turned out to be, of course she would. And you know she’s an evil Republican anyway, 3) Look over there, it’s a witch, and 4) Did we mention Hillary is evil. There have been a few other fun memes but you get the idea. They’re losing, they’re desperate, and frankly they’re pathetic. I’d feel sorry for them if they hadn’t destroyed the Democratic party, if not more. But that’s neither here nor there, because there’s some news.

Let’s start on a good note, Steven Chu announces the WH installs some solar panels. Sure a bit gimmicky and symbolic, but it’s a good thing:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House Council on Environmental Quality chair Nancy Sutley announced Tuesday morning that the administration will install solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House residence as part of a broader DOE solar demonstration project.

“This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home,” Chu said at the GreenGov symposium. “Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.”

The move comes in the wake of a grassroots campaign led by 350.org founder Bill McKibben to get Obama to reinstall solar panels then-President Jimmy Carter put on the White House in 1979. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan removed the panels and let federal renewable energy subsidies expire; several of the panels were donated to Unity College in the 1990s. McKibben brought some of the old panels down to the District last month as part of his group’s “10/10/10 Global Work Party” on climate change, but at the time, the White House remained noncommittal on the matter.

Of course the effort wasn’t perfect. They stumbled even on such a no brainer move (emphasis mine):

In September, the writer and climate change crusader Bill McKibben sent a jolt of dismay through the environmental community after recounting a distressing trip to the White House. McKibben and some young activists had come up with what they thought was a great idea. They had located one of the solar panels that President Jimmy Carter had installed on the roof of the White House (later removed by Ronald Reagan) and they decided to bring it back to Washington for a triumphant reinstallation.

They made it into the White House, but then got stonewalled. When the college-age activists accompanying McKibben asked why the administration wouldn’t do the “obvious thing” and put solar panels on the White House, they couldn’t get a straight answer.

The Obama administration’s reluctance to put a Carter-era solar panel on the White House roof was understandable, even if repulsively pusillanimous. The last thing the White House wanted to do was to give the right another talking point comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter. You can see the wheels turning — Carter put solar panels on the White House, and ended up a one-term president mocked for decades by Republicans…. run away!!!

But now, a few weeks later, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announces that the White House will install solar panels on the roof and a solar water heater. Bill McKibben applauds, but would be well within his rights to ask, what took you so long?

When McKibben and his cohorts arrived at the White House, the “bureaucrats” could have politely told them that, while it didn’t make sense to install some 30-year-old technology on the premises, they did nonetheless intend to make a big solar push. There would still be a hit from the right-wing news cycle, but, more important, Obama would have given his own supporters a reason to feel good.

Instead, the White House managed to bum environmentalists out, and then, a few weeks later, go ahead and invite the Carter-Obama comparison anyway. That’s just bungled political management.

Well, I still like it. But as usual, they’re kind of incompetent about it all. Who’s running things at the WH anyway?

This will make you feel better. Some on the right are having troubles. Meg Whitman running against my fav, moonbeam, has had a rather bad week(emphasis mine):

Like a lot of California Democrats, I’ve been waiting for Jerry Brown to start his campaign for governor. Sure, he began running ads last month — terrible ads, in my opinion, featuring Brown as a talking head, that mostly serve to remind people he was already governor, a long, long time ago, whatever his accomplishments.

I’ve always assumed Brown would win anyway, though, because he’s got one key asset: He’s not Meg Whitman. And during Saturday’s Univision debate, I spotted another Brown asset: He knows how to make a moral and emotional appeal to our sense of justice, that California used to be a better place, and can be one again.

Whoever is behind the sudden emergence of Whitman’s former maid, Nicky Diaz — the woman the former eBay CEO says deceived her about having legal immigration status, going so far as to steal a letter from the federal government notifying Whitman about her illegal status (that turned out not to be true), but whom Whitman fired immediately upon “learning” the truth — it’s a defining story for Whitman, and not in a good way. I am sensitive to all the ways women are held to a different and higher standard than men in politics, and I search for descriptors that capture Whitman that are not somehow stereotypical.

Yes, I’m quoting Joan Walsh. I held my nose, so it’s OK. Notice the bold bit. Yea, me too. We’ll resume after we all stop laughing. OK, stop laughing now. Well, anyway, Meg has some troubles, fair or not, and Jerry’s benefiting.

A new poll about the Tea Party members shows half of them to be religious conservatives. Well duh:

A new poll shows that half of those who consider themselves part of the tea party movement also identify as part of the religious right, reflecting the complex – and sometimes contradictory – blend of bedfellows in the American conservative movement.

The poll released Tuesday, by the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute, comes as the tea party’s composition and potential impact is still under hot debate. Experts disagreed about what the poll meant, with some saying it reveals serious fissures between social and fiscal conservatives and others saying the two movements can find common ground on subjects such as limiting public funding for abortion.

The Tea Party are not our friends. But then again, neither are the new Democrats. All we can do is have popcorn and watch the fireworks. And maybe cry a bit too.

And speaking of the insanity coming from the alleged left, here’s a sad one:

The Christine O’Donnell witch doll hits the market — and gives all the people who dressed like Sarah Palin in recent years some easy Halloween costume inspiration.

Clearly they’re trying their hardest to get O’Donnell elected. Either that or they’re complete idiots. Could it be both?

Some of us have been brave enough to watch the first couple of episodes of Parker red light Spitzer’s show on CNN. It’s bad. Really bad. Apparently we’re not the only ones who think so:

CNN’s primetime talk show anchored by disgraced ex-New York governor Eliot Spitzer and journalist Kathleen Parker debuted to low viewership and scathing reviews, with comments on Tuesday ranging from “unbearable” to “icky” and “obnoxious”.

Spitzer, a Democrat who was forced to resign in 2008 for hiring high-priced prostitutes, and Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative Washington Post columnist, were hired by CNN in a bid to add some fireworks to its struggling evening line-up.

But barely a good word could be found on Tuesday for the new “Parker Spitzer” show, which debuted one night earlier as a daily discussion about politics and other hot button issues.

Monday’s debut also drew disappointing ratings, attracting an audience of 454,000, the Nielsen company said. The figure put CNN in fourth place in the time-slot, well below “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News (3.1 million), and “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on MSNBC (1.1 million).

The New York Times said the Spitzer scandal “cast an awkward shadow” over the pair’s chemistry and gave the show an “ickiness factor” that was hard to watch.

ime magazine’s James Poniewozik also felt uncomfortable, saying the show struggled to find its tone, and he called the closing “round-table” section “just vapid”.

The New York Post headlined its review “Freak show unbearable to watch”, while the Baltimore Sun summed up the first show as “a load of obnoxious, self-important noise.”

I had to double check because at first I thought they were talking about Obama and the new Democratic coalition. But no, just that crappy show. These creeps apparently spend most of their time saying how bad, or stupid, or witchy people like Palin are. If people like that don’t like you, isn’t that a complement?

Speaking of the enthusiasm gap, Obama is going to MTV:

In a final push to excite his party’s base before the Nov. 2 elections, President Obama is reaching out (and reaching out and reaching out) to young voters, a group that helped elect him two years ago. Democrats fear that many of them will sit out the midterms – part of the “enthusiasm gap” identified in surveys – so Obama has taken on the role of campaign scold to urge them to the polls.

MTV announced Tuesday morning in a news release, which was tweeted immediately by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, that Obama will host a “youth town hall” on Oct. 14.

“A Conversation With President Obama,” as the hour-long afternoon event is being called, will air on MTV, MTVu, BET, Centric, TR3s and CMT at 4 p.m. It will also stream live on MTV.com, BET.com and CMT.com.

Yawn.

But not to worry, Latino’s still support Democrats. They just won’t be voting for them this time around:

There is good news and bad news for Democrats in a new poll ahead of the 2010 elections – Latinos support the party, but about half of those questioned say they might not show up at the polls on Nov. 2.

The gap between support and motivation provides an opening for Republicans, who have had an up-and-down relationship with Latinos over the last few years: George W. Bush made inroads, but John McCain then lost ground to Barack Obama. Recently, the GOP has done little to court these voters on issues such as education, immigration and health-care legislation.

But Republicans hold one big advantage over Democrats in key races this cycle that could matter more than any one issue – they have more high-profile Latino candidates running for statewide offices.

Where else are you going to go? How about the couch with some popcorn? How about a third party candidate? Et cetera.

Out on the campaign trail, Obama is also talking about some other issues, including how the evil Republicans will cut education funding. What?, cut it even more than Democrats? I think that might be another 2% less evil argument they’re so fond of:

Obama framed the fate of community colleges as a matter of global economic competition. Speaking weeks before crucial midterm elections, Obama said the signature Republican Pledge to America would cut education funding by one-fifth to fund tax relief for the wealthy, at a time when other nations are padding their investments.

“Think about it: China is not slashing education by 20 percent right now,” he said. He likened the GOP proposal to “unilaterally disarming our troops right as they head to the front lines.”

Republican leaders responded that their pledge rolls back nonsecurity discretionary spending to 2008 levels but does not require cuts to any particular program. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), chairman of the pledge, said in a statement his party seeks to undo a “reckless spending spree” by the Obama administration.

Community colleges represent the largest and most affordable sector of higher education. Obama said he expects them to take a lead role in his American Graduation Initiative. America has fallen from first to ninth in a single decade, he said, in its share of young people holding college degrees.

“As far as I’m concerned, America doesn’t play for second place,” he said, “and it certainly doesn’t play for ninth.”

So apparently the movie “Dumb and Dumber” wasn’t just a movie, it was a picture of our future political landscape.

There have been some banking policy changes in Japan lately:

Japanese stocks rose for a second day after U.S. service companies expanded faster than forecast and speculation grew that the Federal Reserve will join the Bank of Japan’s efforts to spur economic growth.

Fanuc Ltd., Japan’s largest maker of industrial robots, rose 1.2 percent. Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s largest commodities trader, increased 2.1 percent after crude and metals prices gained yesterday. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., the country’s largest lender, advanced 1.8 percent. Mitsubishi Estate Co., Japan’s second-biggest developer, gained 1.9 percent. Japan’s central bank pledged yesterday to keep its benchmark interest rate at “virtually zero” and to purchase more assets including real estate investment trusts.

“The Bank of Japan’s action may accelerate movements towards monetary easing globally,” said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, a strategist at Tokyo-based SMBC Friend Securities Co. “Confidence grew that the global economy is on a recovery track, and investors will likely put money back into risk assets.”

The Supremes, yea, I called them that, will be hearing a case about those creepy people that protest military funerals tomorrow:

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in a legal battle that pits the privacy rights of grieving families and the free speech rights of demonstrators.

In 2006, members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested 300 feet from a funeral for Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Maryland, carrying signs reading “God hates you” and “Thank God for dead soldiers.”

Among the teachings of the Topeka, Kansas-based fundamentalist church founded by pastor Fred Phelps is the belief that the deaths of U.S. soldiers is God’s punishment for “the sin of homosexuality.”

Albert Snyder, Matthew’s father, said his son was not gay and the protesters should not have been at the funeral.

Of course we want free speech. But what if protestors are nuts and make no sense?

I hope Nancy is serious and up to something reasonable here. She wants to have an inquiry on mortgage lenders. Ha, what am I thinking, they were part of all this. Most likely smoke and mirrors. What, me cynical (emphasis mine):

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the Justice Department on Tuesday to investigate the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, and Maryland joined a growing list of states seeking to halt foreclosures while they probe claims of fraudulent filings.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Pelosi (Calif.) and dozens of other Democrats accused the nation’s biggest banks of making it difficult for struggling borrowers to get foreclosure relief while the firms routinely evicted them with flawed court papers.

The group said that recent reports of lenders initiating hundreds of thousands of questionable foreclosures “amplify our concerns that systemic problems exist.”

The request from Democrats puts pressure on the Obama administration to get more involved in a matter that it so far has said little about publicly. The move is also likely to stoke cries for a broad moratorium on foreclosures across the country.

Yea, the bold part is another laugh out loud moment. And people say government isn’t funny.

And finally, I’ll leave you with this gem. Are test tube babies the work of God or some human error:

Do you think a baby conceived in test tube is still a child in the eyes — or mind or hands, depending on your theology/philosophy — of God? Does the science behind this merit the Nobel Prize for Medicine or condemnation in the realm of faith and ethics?

I’m starting out with the questions today because the impact of the Nobel Prize for Medicine going to the doctor who developed in vitro fertilization is still rumbling around the world.

The Vatican has already denounced the prize going to British scientist Robert Edwards, for work that led to the birth of the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, 32 years ago.

Bad science, bad. Yea, snark. So there’s a bit of what’s happening. Chime in with what you’re finding.

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