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    • What Protests in Lebanon, France, Chile and Ecuador Have In Common
      There’s some important events happening today: another Brexit vote, and the Canadian federal election (whose results are not obvious), but we won’t know how either of those end till later, so let’s discuss some popular protests of massive size. In France the protests were sparked by an increase in diesel taxes. The demands included an […]
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Bob Dylan gets the “Gates” treatment

From ABC News:

Bob Dylan was detained by police in Long Branch, N.J. last month, when a young officer failed to recognize him, police said. The officer proceeded to go to earnest lengths to ensure the hooded, disheveled, rain-soaked music legend was, in fact, who he said he was.

Dylan, 68, one of the most celebrated, eccentric artists in American history, was in the area on July 23 as part of a national concert tour — a fact lost on 24-year-old Long Branch police officer Kristie Buble.

To hear the young New Jersey police officer describe it, the scene was like something out of one of Dylan’s epic song-poems: It was pouring rain, Dylan was soaked and wandering alone, far from the traveling home of his entourage of tour buses.

[…]

When Dylan wandered into the yard of a home that had a “For Sale” sign on it, the home’s occupants became spooked by his appearance and called police with a report of an “eccentric-looking old man” in their yard, Long Branch Police said. One of the occupants even went so far as to follow Dylan as he continued on down the street.

“We got a call for a suspicious person,” Buble said. “It was pouring rain outside, and I was right around the corner so I responded. By that time he was walking down the street. I asked him what he was doing in the neighborhood and he said he was looking at a house for sale.”

Luckily for music lovers the NJ cops didn’t taser the rock legend to death.

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What Happened to Obama Nation?

ObamaNation
Remember when all the Obots at the previously liberal blogs told us that Barack Obama would be the best candidate for President because Hillary Clinton would have to deal with all the old scandals of the ’90s? And remember how the Obots then dug up all the old right-wing attacks and used them against Hillary in the primaries?

Remember how they told us the Republicans would have a field day if the Clintons were back in the White House? How they told us that Obama would be able to get things done that Hillary couldn’t because he was new and fresh and charismatic? And when we asked them what Obama stood for, whether there was any issue that was so important to him that he’d stand and fight, they attacked us and called us racists and Republicans or told us to “go read his website?”

Well here we are, just seven months into Obama’s term and the Republicans have already gained the upper hand in the health care debate. The crazies are out in force–shouting down Democrats at town halls and carrying nutty signs claiming Obama is a socialist and claiming he’s not a U.S. citizen. How long before the Republicans start accusing him of dealing drugs and murder–just like they did the Clintons? Worst of all, we no longer have any semblance of an independent media to debunk the nonsense being spread by the right wing noise machine. As Rick Perlstein points out in a piece written for tomorrow’s Washington Post:

Conservatives have become adept at playing the media for suckers, getting inside the heads of editors and reporters, haunting them with the thought that maybe they are out-of-touch cosmopolitans and that their duty as tribunes of the people’s voices means they should treat Obama’s creation of “death panels” as just another justiciable political claim….

It used to be different. You never heard the late Walter Cronkite taking time on the evening news to “debunk” claims that a proposed mental health clinic in Alaska is actually a dumping ground for right-wing critics of the president’s program, or giving the people who made those claims time to explain themselves on the air. The media didn’t adjudicate the ever-present underbrush of American paranoia as a set of “conservative claims” to weigh, horse-race-style, against liberal claims. Back then, a more confident media unequivocally labeled the civic outrage represented by such discourse as “extremist” — out of bounds.

The tree of crazy is an ever-present aspect of America’s flora. Only now, it’s being watered by misguided he-said-she-said reporting and taking over the forest.

Let’s face it, President’s Obama’s health care initiative is in danger of going down in flames. Last week Organizing for America sent out e-mails to supporters asking for help in defeating the right-wing memes that have already overwhelmed the health care “debate.” The e-mails asked supporters to get out in force to defend the President’s plan (whatever it is–I don’t think anyone really knows). Continue reading

Your Breakfast Read, Saturday Edition

Health Care Nightmare

Somebody please kill me now! I beg of thee.
Conrad says he won’t support the public option

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. presented his cooperative health care proposal here Thursday and told an audience of 100 that he would not vote for a government-run health care program.

McClatchy does an excellent job in this piece, although the whole picture is getting muddier by the day.
Who’s behind the attacks on a health care overhaul?

Much of the money and strategy behind the so-called grassroots groups organizing opposition to the Democrats’ health care plans comes from conservative political consultants, professional organizers and millionaires, some of whom hold financial stakes in the outcome.

If President Barack Obama and Congress extend health insurance coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for it, and limit insurers’ discretion on who they cover and what they charge, that could pinch these opponents.

The Brits have had enough of the Right-wing smears.
UK defends its healthcare

The US right has used the NHS as an example of the potential pitfalls facing President Barack Obama as he tries to push through a healthcare reform bill.

Some Republicans have ridiculed it as a bureaucratic and “Orwellian” system that often denies care to the elderly – with Sarah Palin, the former Republican presidential candidate, decrying it as “evil”.

But in Britain, where since 1948 all citizens have enjoyed free healthcare from birth to death, the attacks are widely seen as wrong and insulting.

U.K. Health System, Maligned in U.S., Draws Praise at Home

The rancorous U.S. health-care debate has hopped the Atlantic, with British politicians and citizens racing to defend the honor of the country’s National Health Service against perceived attacks from the Americans.

Obama Must Set ‘End Game’ for Health-Care Measure, Podesta Says

President Barack Obama must be more forceful in confronting health-care critics and take a clear position soon on crucial elements of the proposed legislation, said John Podesta, President Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff.


All Politics Is National

Oh I can help Newt here. 1) Is already happening. 2) I think she will get a gig on Fox News very soon. 3) I can see that happening. 4) Weeeell, I have a tough time seeing it, although she can deliver a speech. 6) That ain’t gonna happen. As gifted a retail politician as she is, Sarah Palin is simply not a “really, really hard” worker and by all objective accounts she lacks the discipline and prefers to wing it. 5) Ain’t gonna happen, see 6). I simply can’t see her seriously sinking her teeth in an issue, read 100s of documents about it, 1000s of pages. Life is way to easy if you can put up some thoughts on Facebook.
Newt Gingrich’s advice for a Sarah Palin comeback

1. Write a book.

2. Land a regular commentator slot on television.

3. Consider getting a condominium in New York or Washington.

4. Write and master three types of speeches.

5. Create some sort of national project or center.

6. Plan on working really, really hard.

The Big Dawg would be right if we only had a Democratic Congress with a super majority in both Houses. I’m afraid the current era will be filed under “What could have been”.
Bill Clinton: ‘New era of progressive politics’

Former President Bill Clinton told an audience of liberal online activists Thursday evening that the nation has “entered a new era of progressive politics” that could last for decades if Democrats can pass ambitious measures such as health care reform and climate change.

In a nearly hour-long keynote address to the fourth annual Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh, a gathering of roughly 1,500 progressive bloggers and activists, Clinton said the nation—and public opinion—has dramatically changed in the 16 years since he took office. But he noted that President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress needed the support of the online community to achieve their agenda.

Huh? Come on Bill! Don’t they have to give us something to support and not these watered-down bills they keep putting out?

This is not really a surprise, is it? You can’t punk all the suckers all the time.
Health Debate Fails to Ignite Obama’s Web

The grass-roots enthusiasm of the campaign has not carried over to efforts to overhaul the health care system.


Madam Secretary In Africa

Many have certainly missed the important groundwork Hillary Clinton did during her recent trip across Africa, especially because the dismal US media and many pundits are only interested in ridiculing or smearing whatever the Clintons do.
A stop-by-stop account of Clinton’s Africa trip

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wraps up her whirlwind tour of Africa Friday, after logging 21,200 miles in 11 days. From massive oil-producing Nigeria to the tiny island-nation of Cape Verde, Secretary Clinton’s trip highlighted the many sides of the diverse continent. Her seven-country tour was as much about securing US interests in resource-heavy lands as it was about supporting African development.

Hillary Clinton Gets Her Message Out, the Hard Way

Despite Distractions, and Outbursts, Clinton’s Africa Trip Is Viewed as a Success

Photo Gallery: Hillary Clinton Visits Africa

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrapped up her 11-day tour of Africa with a brief stop in Cape Verde. The seven-nation trip was aimed at emphasizing the Obama administration’s interest in Africa, and Clinton pressed for good government and democratic reforms.


Around The Nation

What a sleaze bucket!
John Edwards is the Daddy

Who, you might ask, really cares at this point? Edwards is washed up politically, and most people assumed the 18-month-old girl is probably his kid.

But it seems to me that the man who put himself forth for last year’s Democratic presidential nomination — and who could have been vice president if Sen. John F. Kerry had won Ohio in 2004 — has now lied twice. First he denied the affair with his former campaign videographer. Then he acknowledged it in a “Nightline” interview but said the baby wasn’t his.

A lot of people believed in the guy and his “two Americas” message. Imagine the Democrats’ plight if he had won Iowa in 2008 instead of finishing second.

This is a good development. There’s nothing wrong with opposing the POTUS, but debasing the culture, inciting hatred should not be tolerated, at not sponsored.
Advertisers deserting Fox News’ Glenn Beck

In what is shaping up to be one of the more effective boycott campaigns in years, advertisers are abandoning the “Glenn Beck” show on Fox News following the host’s incendiary comments that President Barack Obama is a “racist” and has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.”


Economy Watch

How Goldman Sachs landed on top

While most of Wall Street melted down, Goldman Sachs only got stronger. Why?

There are some good signs but the worst is not completely over
Consumer Confidence in U.S. Declines on Job Losses, Inflation Is Contained

Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly fell in August as concern over jobs and wages grew.

These stories are not over yet?
Colonial BancGroup becomes biggest bank failure of 2009

Colonial BancGroup Inc. became the largest bank failure this year after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation seized the struggling Alabama-based lender Friday and sold it to BB&T Corp.

Is there a lesson here for us?
Millions, Billions, Trillions: Germany in the Era of Hyperinflation

During the hyperinflation in Germany of 1920s, the country’s currency, the mark, went crazy. The government of the Weimar Republic may have been able to clear its debts, but it came at the cost of the citizens’ savings. It’s an era that is still part of the national psyche today.


Op-ed Columns

US healthcare expenditure – the biggest waste of money in the world

America spends vastly more per head of population and as a percentage of GDP on healthcare than any other nation in the world (see accompanying bar chart), yet this fails to result in notably better life expectancy or quality of life for the US as a whole than other advanced nations that spend far less. Nor is this lack of value for money accounted for by the averaging down effect caused by the sizeable, uninsured minority that enjoys only sub-standard healthcare. American medicine, knowing that in the end it is the insurer that picks up the tab, has a tendency to apply the most extraordinary array of safety first, mainly unnecessary but hugely costly, tests and procedures to almost any condition. This enriches the medical profession and its support industries but is steadily bankrupting the nation and its corporations.

Healthcare paranoia is part of America’s culture war

“We want our country back,” is the refrain of many of the protesters who turn up to the rowdy town hall meetings that have become venues for “tea party” protests against the effort to impose “socialism”, “Nazism” or “big government liberalism” – take your pick – on America.

Some of the protesters, particularly the elderly, who already benefit from government largesse under Medicare, are worried about what will happen to their benefits. But by far the largest chunk know little about the proposed reforms and have no intention of rectifying their ignorance.

The US economy is still struggling

Is the worst over for the US economy? Some recent figures point that way, and much US economic commentary is growing cautiously optimistic. For the moment, though, the emphasis needs to stay on caution not optimism.

Certainly, the economy is levelling off: output is no longer in free-fall, and unemployment is no longer growing at post-war record rates. But it is unclear whether the bottom for output has quite been reached. Once it has, growth may be slow for some time. As for jobs, whatever happens, unemployment is likely to rise further before it falls back to more normal levels

The big question is “Will HE do it”. In this environment, I don’t even think the POTUS needs to be particularly courageous.
‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’: Retreating from a mistake

Momentum is building against the military policy. Obama should lead the charge.

Doctors shouldn’t shy from straight talk about death

WHEN key senators decided Thursday not to seek Medicare reimbursement for doctors who discuss end-of-life choices with their patients, it was a dispiriting defeat for political discourse in this country. A House bill would reimburse doctors for time spent advising patients on living wills and other options, but in the fevered imaginations of Sarah Palin and other diehard opponents of health reform this became a blueprint for a “death panel’’ that would pull the plug on ailing seniors. Unwilling to defend in raucous town halls a perfectly reasonable proposal to help Americans plan for their last days, senators are giving Palin an undeserved victory.


Around The World

Should we just get the Hell out of Afghanistan?
An Afghanistan Exit Strategy: Buying Off the Taliban?

By measure both of blood and of treasure, the war in Afghanistan is a costly business. To date, 782 U.S. troops have been killed there, and the conflict is costing Washington $4 billion a month. Is that a good investment? Some suggest it may be a lot more cost-effective to simply pay those currently earning their keep as gunmen for the Taliban to stay out of the fight.

Bomb Kills 4 Near NATO’s Afghan Headquarters

Five days before Afghanistan’s presidential election, a huge explosion rocked the diplomatic district of Kabul, the capital, Saturday morning, killing four civilians and wounding 91 other people, most of them on their way to work.

Clash Breaks Out Between Hamas, Splinter Group

Security forces and fighters of the ruling Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip battled for several hours Friday with gunmen from a splinter group advocating a strict form of Islamist law for the enclave.


Odds & Ends

Italian hotel mistakenly offers 1-cent weekend

You had to be quick, but what a deal.
A four-star hotel near Venice mistakenly offered the ultimate low-cost vacation — a romantic weekend in the Italian lagoon city for 1 euro cent.

Quiz:So you think you know alien movies?

Extraterrestrials are once again featured on the big screen with Neill Blomkamp’s “District 9.” Do you remember the aliens that have landed in theaters worldwide throughout the last several decades? Prove it. Test your knowledge of the films in which these otherworldly beings star.

Have a nice weekend!!!

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