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BREAKING NEWS – Souter to retire

Associate Justice David Souter

Associate Justice David Souter


Supreme Court Justice David Souter plans to retire, after more than 19 years on the court, once the current term ends in late June, NBC News reported Thursday night.

A retirement by Souter, 69, would give President Barack Obama his first chance to nominate a justice and the next few months would bring Senate confirmation hearings. His departure, however, isn’t likely to change the court’s liberal-conservative composition, because his successor will almost certainly be moderate to liberal, NBC News correspondent Pete Williams reported.

At 69, Souter is not the oldest member of the court. He has indicated in the past that he wanted to leave Washington and return to his native New Hampshire. Souter’s early signaling of his intention to step down is almost certainly a move to let the White House get prepared to nominate a replacement, Williams reported.

Souter was appointed by Poppy Bush



NPR has more

Conflucians Say: The first 100 days and the pandemic panic of 2009

How has Obama done in his first 100 days? Did he meet or fail to meet your expectations?  What is his overall grade?  How about individual performance on the economy, health care, foreign policy, constitutional issues, balance beam and uneven parallel bars?

And for your homework, study this image:


There will be a quiz on it later.

Join us at 10PM EST for Conflucians Say on PUMA United Radio (PURrrr)

Not Ready To Make Nice

Approval ratings and turncoat Republicans aren’t gonna change my mind. If Obama wants my support he’s gotta do a lot better than he has so far.

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

This is another one of those “open thread” thingies

Rewriting History


Sometimes you start reading an article and you see something that says “Stop here – no need to read further” because the author is obviously full of shit.

From “The Myth of 100 Days” by Mark Schmitt at The American Prospect:

But Barack Obama is one of the great mythbusters in American history. The misleading idea that if a president is going to accomplish anything, he or she has to do it, or at least get it on track, in the first 100 days is remarkably similar to another great political myth: the myth of momentum in the presidential primaries. The conventional wisdom held that to win a presidential nomination, especially as an insurgent, you needed enormous momentum coming out of the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. Obama invented an entirely new way of winning the presidency, first setting up the conditions for victory and then grinding it out, delegate by delegate. No delegate, it turned out, was more important than any other.

Remember how Hillary was pronounced DOA by Tweety and the boiz at MSNBO after Iowa?  Do you recall their shock and dismay when she came back and won New Hampshire?  How they gleefully coronated Obama after he won South Carolina?  How about all the talk about how Hillary was trying to “kneecap” Obama? (a term first used by Obama himself)

It wasn’t Obama that continued to grind it out, it was Hillary.  Despite the enthusiastic proclamations of the media that Obama was “inevitable”  she kept winning primaries, some by huge margins.  If the DNC and the boys from Brazile hadn’t dragged their Unity Pony across the finish line you would now be hearing the term “Madam President” used to address the POTUS.

I have some advice for Mr. Schmitt:

Get off your knees and don’t talk with your mouth full.

Two-Faced TOTUS


Last night Teh Precious said this in response to a question by Ed Henry:

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. In a couple of weeks, you’re going to be giving the commencement at Notre Dame, and as you know, this has caused a lot of controversy among Catholics who are opposed to your position on abortion.

As a candidate, you vowed that one of the very first things you wanted to do was sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which, as you know, would eliminate federal, state and local restrictions on abortion. And at one point in the campaign, when asked about abortion and life, you said that it was above — quote, “above my pay grade.”

Now that you’ve been president for a hundred days, obviously your pay grade is a little higher than when you were a senator. (Laughter.) Do you still hope that Congress quickly sends you the Freedom of Choice Act, so you can sign it?

MR. OBAMA: You know, the — my view on — on abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue. I think that those who are pro-choice make a mistake when they — if they suggest — and I don’t want create straw men here, but I think there are some who suggest that this is simply an issue about women’s freedom and that there’s no other considerations. I think, look, this is an issue that people have to wrestle with, and families and individual women have to wrestle with.

The reason I’m pro-choice is because I don’t think women take that — that position casually. I think that they struggle with these decisions each and every day, and I think they are in a better position to make these decisions, ultimately, than members of Congress or — or a president of the United States, in consultation with their families, with their doctors, with their clergy.

So — so that’s — that’s been my consistent position.

The other thing that I said consistently during the campaign is, I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies, which has started to spike up again.

And so I’ve got a task force within the Domestic Policy Council in the West Wing of the White House that is working with groups both in the pro-choice camp and in the pro-life camp to see if we can arrive at some consensus on that.

Now, the Freedom of Choice Act is not my highest legislative priority. I believe that women should have the right to choose, but I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the — the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on. And that’s — that’s where I’m going to focus.

(Emphasis added)

Edgeoforever alertly points out this statement by Obama:

“The first thing I’d do, as president, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”

speech to Planned Parenthood July 17, 2008

I’m told that I “failed in my quest to become a feminist” (I missed the final  exam on feminist theory) but gotta wonder if Ms. Magazine still believes this:


Thursday: Chrysler, Cytokine Storms and Crowd Control

Eight years of the Bushies have left me paranoid.  I suspect there is a dosier on me in the Department of Homeland Security, I worry about being able to get on planes, and periodically I say “Hi!” to the NSA when I’m on the phone.  It’s hard for me to see myself as a threat to anyone but distrust has become ingrained in many of us since 9-11.  I don’t like to think ill of our government but something feels deeply weird about the recent flu pandemic.

But before I get to that, the big news today is that Chrysler is on the verge of bankruptcy due to the recalcitrance of bondholders to strike a deal with Treasury.  That’s right, banks and hedge funds have been holding out expecting that the government will sweeten the pot instead of forcing the automaker to bankruptcy court where assets will be sold and thousands of jobs lost.  What happens to Chrysler will surely happen to GM and when that happens, I would expect to see a lot of very angry autoworkers who will see their way of life disappear due to the unchecked greed of bank and hedge fund managers. And this is partially due to the gentle handholding that the Bush and Obama administration have been giving the banks since they lost all of our money.  It could get really ugly.  James Kwak at Baseline Scenario has more to say about banks and the government in a Cuban Missile Crisis scenario that will make your blood boil.  Just go read it.

Back to the flu thingy.  Mexico has now issued directives on crowd control due to the “pandemic” swine flu:

The president said a shutdown of a broad range of public services and activities would start Friday and continue through Tuesday, encompassing the long Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend. Most federal offices will be closed; restaurants, schools and museums will remain shuttered; and spectators will be barred from all professional soccer matches.

Churches are expected to be nearly empty on Sunday.

The measures came as the World Health Organization raised its alert level on swine flu to Phase 5 on Wednesday, based on the flu’s continuing spread in the United States and Mexico. Phase 5, the next-to-highest level in the worldwide warning system, has never been declared since the system was introduced in 2005 in response to the avian influenza crisis. Phase 6 means a pandemic is under way.

Worldwide, at least 10 countries have confirmed cases of swine flu.

“All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the W.H.O. director general, said at a news conference in Geneva. While she emphasized the need for calm, at times she spoke as if a pandemic had already begun, saying, for instance, “W.H.O. will be tracking the pandemic.”

Now, I’m not a health professional but this seems to me to be a bit of overkill.  I have to assume they know something I don’t but so far there is no evidence that this particular flu triggers a cytokine storm.  A cytokine storm is what killed young healthy adults during our worst flu pandemics in the past.

triggering a cytokine storm

triggering a cytokine storm

It was the reason for half of the deaths from the 1918 Spanish Flu and was also present in the Asian and Hong Kong flus of the recent past.  A cytokine storm is what happens when your immune system takes it up to 11.  The body sort of overreacts to the flu antigen and unleashes an immune system “storm” of macrophages, T-cells and other elements of its defense arsenal.  Usually, there is a feedback mechanism that tells the body to stop before it goes too far and damages itself.  In cytokine storms, the feedback mechanism doesn’t get triggered so the body can’t stop itself.  People with robust immune systems, where all systems are ‘go’ most of the time, tend to fare the worst during these kinds of flu.

But here’s the thing.  As recently as yesterday, the CDC bulletin on Swine flu makes no reference to a cytokine storm.  It just looks like a normal seasonal flu with the expected symptoms.  The people most at risk are the typical populations: kids under 5, senior citizens, people with compromised immune systems.  Nevertheless, Mexico is closing up shop, going on siesta and cancelling tickets to their soccer games.  It seems a bit extreme.  The only thing I can think of that would provoke this kind of reaction is that the vaccine makers didn’t see this one coming and they don’t have a vaccine ready.  So, we’re all kind of vulnerable- to a typical flu.  If you get it, you can expect to be sick and uncomfortable.  You probably won’t be able to take the cheap anti-virals to make it less bad.  And if you fall into one of the high risk groups, it could be serious.  But other than that?  It’s not like 1918. There won’t be body laden carts driven by lackadaisical smartasses crying, “Bring out your dead!”

Having a country on lockdown seems counterproductive to me, especially in a bad economy.  Not all of us can work from home and some of our employers have made that pretty impossible these days anyway.  I suspect that such a directive could make the economic crisis exponentially worse.  But yesterday as I went into work, there were signs posted on the doors telling people to not enter the buildings if they had a runny nose, sore throat, fever or cough.  I considered for a moment whether my scratchy throat was due to spring pollen or some deadly plague and decided that going through the medical review team gauntlet was probably not worth the day off and went in.  But still, you have to wonder why we go to these extremes over a typical flu.  Maybe we’re just covering our asses.  Maybe we just can’t deal with illness these days when everyone expects a quick cure and a shot for everything.  Or maybe it’s just a perfect excuse to keep everyone scared and indoors.

I told you I was paranoid.

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Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Morning Papers

  • David Rothkopf identifies the clear winner of Obama’s first 100 days. I agree with him
    Hillary is ‘suprise winner’ of first 100 days, Rothkopf says

    FP blogger David Rothkopf has picked his surprise winners and losers of Obama’s first 100 days, and one of the winners is Secretary Clinton. After stating that National Security Advisor James L. Jones is the surprise loser in the “foreign policy division,” Rothkopf writes:

    [A] good place to look if [Jones] wants an example [of] how to do it all right thus far is over in Foggy Bottom where the surprise winner of the first 100 days in this division is Hillary Clinton. She was supposed to be the uncontrollable ego, but instead she has turned out to be the team player who is using her star-power to very effectively advance the Obama agenda.

    Indeed, check out the powerful response Clinton gave to U.S. Rep. Mike Pence

  • Not too long ago, Karl Rove, Tom Delay and other Right-wing apparatchiks were talking about a permanent majority for the GOP. How’s that going?
    G.O.P. Debate: A Broader Party or a Purer One?

    A fundamental debate broke out among Republicans on Wednesday over how to rebuild the party in the wake of Senator Arlen Specter’s departure: Should it purge moderate voices like Mr. Specter and embrace its conservative roots or seek to broaden its appeal to regain a competitive position against Democrats?

    Republicans feud over Specter

    Faced with a high-profile defection and the prospect of political irrelevance in the Senate, Republicans took off the gloves Wednesday for a ferocious game of finger-pointing.

The First 100 Days of…



Today is the day when the world waits with baited breath to hear all about the accomplishments of the leader of the free world.  We here at the Confluence are no different.  We anxiously await the spectacular run down.  So let us begin by reminiscing about some of TOTUS’s phenomenal moments.

So,…what has TOTUS done in his/her’s/its first 100 days?

Started a blog

Barack Obama’s Telepromter Blog

Twittered (or is that tweating?)

TOTUStelepromt on Twitter

Kept POTUS’s neck muscles nice and limber (2 words left, 3 words right, 3 words left, 3 words right)

Started a private line of Swag

Barack Obama’s Teleprompter Shop

Called in Sick once or twice

Held its own ‘presser’ to publically list contract demands

and Punk’d POTUS real good on several occasions

So, what’s your favorite TOTUS moment? photo? anecdote? Share Conflucians…share!  We’re all entranced by the smooth (surfaced) talker!


Coming Soon – Bad Commercials

This Saturday at 8pm Eastern – bring out your worst

We’re having a bad commercial contest. Multiple categories (foreign, domestic, sexist, stupid, classic, etc)

Pick yer brains and scour YouTube.

(no comments, this is just an ad)

War Porn


Videos like this one are the kind of thing that makes war look fun and exciting, so impressionable kids enlist to be John Wayne and come home in body bags. The video was edited down from approximately one hour.

This is an open thread.