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Thursday, It’s news to me

Dear Conflucians I’ve been so wrapped up in the ins and outs of the Great Democratic Health Care Kerfuffle that I have no idea what’s been going on in the outside world.  So, please forgive me if I’m rehashing leftover news.  ::

Our good friend, StateOfDisbelief brought this story to my attention this morning.  And it’s halfway between a doozy and a cluster-f^ck.  Do you remember that a couple of years ago or so the Center on Budge and Policy Priorities issued a report on the long-term health of Social Security?

Trustees Reports Show Social Security Shortfall Manageable, Medicare’s Problems More Daunting

Social Security’s funding shortfall is relatively small and manageable. The trustees report reaffirms that Social Security is in excellent financial shape over the near term. The program will be able to pay 100 percent of promised benefits for more than three decades — until 2041.

That was April 2008 — the picture is very different today.  The Trustees have yet to release their formal report but information about SS’s current status is already showing up in the news:

Social Security to See Payout Exceed Pay-In This Year

This year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

. . .

The problem, he said, is that payments have risen more than expected during the downturn, because jobs disappeared and people applied for benefits sooner than they had planned. At the same time, the program’s revenue has fallen sharply, because there are fewer paychecks to tax.

. . .

Mr. Goss said Social Security’s annual report last year projected revenue would more than cover payouts until at least 2016 because economists expected a quicker, stronger recovery from the crisis. Officials foresaw an average unemployment rate of 8.2 percent in 2009 and 8.8 percent this year, though unemployment is hovering at nearly 10 percent.

As StateOfDisbelief explained in her post, Something Stinks, a little over a year ago how the COBRA benefits of this past year were subsidized :

Uh oh…bingo.  Social Security tax payments made by the employer will be the source of the funding.  Since Social Security funding costs are equally shared by the employer and the employee (each pay 6.2% of the employees wage), this proposal diverts the EMPLOYER’s share to pay for this subsidy – no?

Here’s a chart to make the situation a little clearer

Wow. Is this fun – or what?

Pentagon prepares to relax enforcement of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is expected to announce that the military will no longer investigate the sexual orientation of service members based on anonymous complaints, will restrict testimony from third parties and will require high-ranking officers to review all cases, sources familiar with the changes said.

Gates had asked Pentagon lawyers to review whether the Defense Department has the legal discretion to enforce the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law more loosely after President Obama urged its repeal in his Jan. 27 State of the Union address.

On the planet of, Like this is EVER going to happen:

US drone raids could land CIA officers in court: expert

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US government’s refusal to offer a legal rationale for using unmanned drones to kill suspected militants in Pakistan could result in CIA officers facing prosecution for war crimes in foreign courts, a legal expert has told lawmakers.

“Prominent voices in the international legal community” were increasingly impatient with Washington’s silence on the CIA’s bombing raids in Pakistan and elsewhere, Kenneth Anderson, a law professor at American University, told a congressional panel on Tuesday.

. . .

Human rights activists and some legal experts charge the drone strikes in Pakistan, outside of a traditional battlefield, amount to extrajudicial executions.
. . .

The American Civil Liberties Union last week filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit last week demanding the State Department and other agencies disclose the legal basis for carrying out assassinations overseas with unmanned aircraft.

It makes me sick that these raids are continuing more than a year after Bush left office.

Pope faces fresh claims of child sex abuse cover-up

Fresh pedophilia cover-up claims hit Pope Benedict XVI late Wednesday as church files suggested he had failed to take action against a US priest accused of molesting up to 200 deaf boys.


Ratzinger, then part of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was alerted to the accusations against Reverend Lawrence C. Murphy in two letters written to him by the Wisconsin archbishop.

But he failed to respond to the letters, and a secret canonical trial authorized by his deputy was halted after Murphy wrote to the future pope begging that the proceedings be stopped, the Times said.


Victims of Catholic priests say they are angered not only by the scale of abuse committed by clergy, but also by what they deem a pattern of complicity and complacency by senior Vatican officials.

They say high-ranking church officials failed to take abuse claims seriously and effectively covered up crimes, rather than punishing priests and admitting their abuses.

And did you really think you’ve heard the last of the Health Care Insurance Issue?

From TalkLeft & BigTentDemocrat

Reconciliation Fix Going Back To The House, Time For PO Amendment


Senate Republicans learned early Thursday that they will be able to kill language in a measure altering President Barack Obama’s newly enacted health care overhaul, meaning the bill will have to return to the House for final congressional approval.Because of this, there is no reason not to try and add a public option via amendment.


(laughing) Yeah. Right.

What are you reading in the news today?

57 Responses

  1. The story of the Drones is haunting me. I am horrified that Americans accept that this a valid way to conduct a “war” — it’s just assassination by long-distance.

    • They’re not really unmanned, they’re being flown remotely and onboard weapons fired remotely. So it’s not really automated, sight unseen. If a military operating the drone remotely does something wrong with it, the legal consequences or lack of them I think should be the same as if they were physically on board the craft.

      • I understand how drone technology saves US soldiers lives, but the way it does … by detaching us even more from the reality of the slaughter … to me it feels like a very evil thing.

        • Me too, votermom — we’re NOT playing video games but, it sure feels like it.

        • you should try being the mother of someone who was blown up by an IED or a suicide bomber. Was is evil, but failing to protect your own soldiers is evil too.

          • I was just thinking about that this morning. It’s been 9 years(?) of war with Afghanistan now? Many years of evil. The soldiers are as much victims of it as the civilians.

    • Personally, I think it’s time we stopped using warfare. Iraq had a military, but when ours arrived they couldn’t even fight back….not too much different than the use of Drones. They had to wait until we backed off and they could succeed at putting up a defense with streetfighting.

      How many countries have equipped, and trained military personnel these days? Countries we would think we needed to go to war with, that is.

      Probably not all that long before we start seeing Drones used here at home against the war on drugs. I get furious when I see cop cars hiding in turnarounds on the freeway just so they can ticket the 1 person vehicles for riding in the carpool lane.

  2. The pom-poms waving in the comment section over there astounded even me.

    • Over there = talk left.

      I need more coffee. Of course “I need more coffee” about every minute of the day. But in the morning, it’s a perfectly adequate excuse.

    • Why – mother told everyone to get along, so they don’t dare speak their minds. The commenters over there lost their credibility months/years ago. They are either in full-blown bully mode or offering each other off-handed compliments. Zero conversation value. It takes too long to find a comment that has something new to share. I come to the blogs to learn, as much as to chat.

  3. On Social security it seems Obama is applying the Grover Norquist theory of the Government: shrink it to a size where he can drown it in a bathtub.
    Not differently than what he’s doing to public education.

  4. katiebird, on March 25, 2010 at 9:53 am Said:
    The story of the Drones is haunting me. I am horrified that Americans accept that this a valid way to conduct a “war” — it’s just assassination by long-distance.

    i guess i got a dif take on the drone story im all for it
    and i hope they increase attacks.

    • i mean they are going after terrorist

      • Except for the pregnant women and kids….

        How can we get reliable pictures from satellite feeds?

        • That’s the real issue with drones and other long distance means of warfare — accuracy and collateral damage. And it’s especially exacerbated when you’re fighting a small subset of people in a wider population.

          • One can object to war, the morality of having any war. But who gets to make up the specific rules of engagement in war. Is it the rules from WW II.

        • i guess this is going to be one of those times we are going to have to agree to disagree

        • I think those feeds are giving us some of the most reliable information that we have ever had during warfare.

          • Maybe so but, it doesn’t make them accurate enough to make up for the long-distance neighborhood attacks.

            War is horrific and I don’t believe that the people conducting it should distance themselves from the horror.

            Also, it IS assassination — those people don’t have a chance in hell of defending themselves.

      • Terrorists. I’m doubting I will ever quite come to terms with that rightwing fear tactic. We’ve never done a thing to go to war against the homegrown groups. Send a drone to wipe out camps of KKKers? We have pockets of really scarey, armed and dangerous people who would love to erradicate entire populations of people who don’t look like them or share their religious views.

    • I don’t have a problem with using drones to gather information.

      There are a couple problems with using them to kill people.

      The people being targeted are not uniformed members of a military organization. The technical term for killing people this way is assassination.

      Even if they kill the correct targets without any collateral damage, how are the targets chosen? Who chooses the targets, and what criteria is used?

      As we have seen with Gitmo, a substantial number of the people our government has designated as dangerous terrorists are nothing of the sort.

      We are trying, convicting and executing people with no due process and no appeal. I don’t trust our government with that kind of power.

      From the article:

      using unmanned drones to kill suspected militants in Pakistan

      Pakistan is not in the war zone. It is a sovereign nation. What constitutes a “suspected militant?” We’re not talking about a jihadi setting an IED to kill some of our troops. Are these “militants” waging war against us or just opposed to our presence in their part of the world?

      • I have to agree with you.
        In the past the USA has propped up oppressive regimes for the sake of them being “allies”, and whose to say targets are not being fingered by such regimes. “Yes, yes, dear American CIA friend, I will let you do xyz, but please do me the small favor of removing this thorn in my side.”

      • Or, more likely, just going about their own business wishing that all sides in this dog fight would leave them the hell alone.

  5. The Obots over at TL and other places thinking maybe something good can happen over in the house just crack me up.

    The fact that they don’t get that something like the current bill was the plan all along, that the health insurance industry was in the game from the beginning to write the bill and direct where it went is amazing. Next they’re going to be surprised when Obama moves to privatize social security.

    I guess it’s hard to see these things coming when you’re head is stuck so far up your ass.

    • I never thought of Talk Left as an overwhelmingly Obot blog. And I’m actually not getting the “cheerleader” thing this morning, either.

      • It isn’t. As a matter of fact the 2-3 Obots who stick around over there call the people over there the “gloom and doomers who find fault with everything.” Watching Capt Howdy play Britney Spears(we should support our President) and debate people like Anne has actually been quite fun.

        Heck, even Jeralyn has gotten critical a time or two of The One.

      • Many folks over there have been pretty “Obot” about this health insurance debacle….or forgiving of the ridiculous, at least.

        Andgarden, Ruffian, CST, Capt and many of the others whose handle’s are unspellable to me.

        And they’re doing a great deal of forgiving today.

        Did you know that insurance hates this bill ?? LOL.

        I think it’s hard for some people to let go of the team they supported for all of these years.

        • Just as many haven’t MT, Anne, Cream City, and a whole host of others I could list. Heck short of Capt even people like andgarden criticized the bill as not near enough and teeter between believing Obama fumbled or deliberately fumbled the ball on health care. Now mind you I don’t believe andgarden is upset enough to jettison the Democratic party but I think it’s erroneous to suggest he’s in thrall of the One.

          • I would say other than MT, Anne and Cream City, any “objection” has been in it’s the better than nothing category.

            The rest have been Rah-rah, or I just don’t know why the Dems are doing this intellectual dishonesty category.

            And the “it’s better than nothing” category to me is pretty ridiculous too. This bill is NOT better than nothing. It will bankrupt both the country and individuals at the same time.

            Andgarden, to me, is very much O-bot about this bill. He even said, “gee, if you can’t afford the insurance, you simply pay the tax. As if those who can’t afford the insurance should be able to afford the tax! Very Obot, and elitist at the same time.

            It’s pathetic. And apparently you and I differ in our opinions of those folks. I certainly don’t have the energy to argue with you over who carries the biggest pom-poms over there.

          • Anyone being rudely chased by squeaky, jondee, MileHigh, CST, MKS, Capt H, gyrfalcon, and a few others desperately trying to return TL to its pre-primary days is pretty much strongly opposed to both Obama and his policies. In fact, up until the ultimatum delivered by JM a couple of days ago, I’d have said the majority of commenters were opposed to this HIR bill.

      • No, they’re just on a timeout for the non-stop bullying that the “D’s at any cost” were doing to the “nothing O does is good” group. Under threat of being banned, they are trying really hard to get along….so, they have lost their opinions in favor of stroking each other.

        • Jeralynn the Mommy. Barf.

          Has she expressed any anger at all about women’s rights being thrown under the bus by The One?

  6. Social Security is just a font of opportunity for Obama. He’s used the employee portion to fund the “extra money” in people’s paychecks and the new “tax break” allow employer’s who hire new people to get out of paying their portion for a year. He should have social security decimated in no time.

    • Yup. This time he gest to accomplish what W wasn’t able to! Booyah!!! Mots historic preznit evah!!!!

    • yeah, this worries me to no end! great round up Katiebird!

      • We gotta figure out a way to ration our worrying … my supply of worry for BO’s term is almost at the bottom and he isn’t even at mid-term yet!

        • Seriously. I can’t even think about being worried about retirement right now (except for the fact that my grandparents are now on my personal payroll, but that is kind of their own fault), there are so many other catastrophes on my to-do list.

  7. Not My Tax Dollars: We Asked, You Answered h/t TGW

    • That’s an awesome ad. It’s too darn bad the reproductive rights groups didn’t utilize it before the proverbial horses were let out of the barn.

  8. Glenn Greenwald has another great post about Obama the waffler.

  9. From my sister-in-law’s Facebook…

    What does OBAMA stand for?

    One Big Ass Mistake America!

  10. New Thread up

  11. Remember how the pundits sneered at Al Gore’s SS lock box? Investment by us little people and our employers to the tune of 12.4% of income are the clearest example of bait and switch ever to come down the pike. Pay all that money throughout your working life, and then find out it was just a cash cow to fund all the things the elite wanted, but didn’t want to pay taxes for. Like bombs, bullets, drones, mercenaries, etcetera… but not for “giveaways” like Social Security, and (dog forbid) health care.

  12. Obama throws Greenpeace under the bus, advocates killing whales. I kid you not.

    It’s “Kick the Left” day again at the White House! Which isn’t surprising, because every day is “Kick the Left” day at the White House!

    • Just when I think he couldn’t be worse than Bush, he does ONE more thing to prove he is …

      • Obama lies, whenever he moves his lips. He cannot be trusted by anyone.

        • That was a pretty solid observation during the primaries, which is why so many of us see no reason to change our first impressions of him.

          His approval ratings are showing the “hold my nose to vote” crowd is now backing away, and it’s just a matter of time before the rest will have to admit to themselves he is not going to make anyone’s life but his own better.

    • Whales and women. Obama supports them both. Right? This becomes more of a nightmare every day.

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