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To: one_less who wrote (20742)12/16/2010 4:53:56 PM
From: average joe
   of 20773
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To: average joe who wrote (20743)12/21/2010 6:08:44 PM
From: Skywatcher
   of 20773

Republicans stiffen opposition to nuclear treaty with Russia
They insist there are too many questions and too little time left in this Congress to OK the arms pact.

By James Oliphant, Washington Bureau

December 20, 2010

Reporting from Washington
Click here to find out more!

Senate Republican leaders Sunday took their most aggressive stance yet against a proposed arms control treaty with Russia, casting new doubts over its chances of approval during the remaining days of the current Congress.

The top two GOP members of the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), said they opposed ratification of the New START treaty, which requires two-thirds of the Senate — 67 votes — to pass.

McConnell, citing concerns about language in the treaty concerning missile defense, accused Democrats of trying to fast-track the agreement.

"All of a sudden, we're once again trying to rush things right here before Christmas Eve," McConnell told CNN. "I think that was not the best way to get the support of people like me."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) quickly responded, saying he was disappointed at McConnell's decision.

"I know many senators, including my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, who share the belief that this treaty is too critical to our national security to delay," Reid said.

Supporters of the treaty say its quick approval is necessary in order for the United States to resume close monitoring of Russia's nuclear stockpile.

There was one note of bipartisanship amid the discord. McConnell said that he and Reid had agreed on a deal to keep the government funded into March, guaranteeing a budget showdown in the new Congress, which will be partially controlled by the GOP.

Republicans are annoyed that Reid took time away from the treaty debate on the floor Saturday to advance a bill to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which ultimately passed, and the Dream Act, the citizenship bill for children of illegal immigrants, which fell victim to a filibuster.

In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Kyl said whether the treaty received a vote depended on whether enough time remained before the end of session to consider Republican amendments.

"This treaty needs to be fixed," Kyl said. "And we are not going to have the time to do that in the bifurcated way or trifurcated way that we're dealing with it here, with other issues being parachuted in all the time."

Kyl warned that he would vote against the treaty if language in its preamble pertaining to a missile defense shield wasn't altered.

Democrats beat back such an amendment offered by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Saturday, which would have effectively killed the deal because it would have required the U.S. to return to the negotiating table. They defeated another proposed amendment Sunday that dealt with tactical nuclear weapons.

Reid may attempt to file a motion to cut off Senate debate Monday or Tuesday in order to set up a vote before Christmas Eve.

Kyl and other Republicans contend the treaty's language limits the U.S. capacity to deploy a missile defense system in Europe. In a letter to McConnell on Saturday, President Obama maintained otherwise.

"The New START treaty places no limitations on the development or deployment of our missile defense programs," Obama said. "We are proceeding apace with a missile defense system in Europe designed to provide full coverage for NATO members on the continent, as well as deployed U.S. forces."

Obama also used his weekly address Saturday to call for the treaty's approval. Ratification would hand him another political accomplishment heading into the new year, along with the bipartisan tax-cut deal and the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

The White House continued to press moderate Republican senators to support the treaty.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate assistant majority leader, said on Fox News that he was still optimistic the treaty would be ratified before Christmas. "I think we need to bring this to a vote," he said.

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To: average joe who wrote (20743)1/21/2011 12:53:43 PM
From: Skywatcher
2 Recommendations   of 20773
Idiot Rick Santorum: Obama's Abortion Stance "Remarkable for a Black Man"

Not that I expect much from Rick Santorum, who's not exactly the poster child for cultural and racial sensitivity, but honestly (via Talking Points Memo):

The question is -- and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer -- is that human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no. Well if that person -- human life is not a person, then -- I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, 'we're going to decide who are people and who are not people.

That was an excerpt from former Senator Santorum's recent Christian News Service interview, in which he also trashed the notion of same-sex couples having the right to marry or adopt. Among other things, he said heterosexual marriage "is nature. And what we're trying to do is defy nature because a certain group of people want to be affirmed by society. And I just don't think that's to the benefit of society or to the child."

As wretched as Santorum's views are, they shouldn't really shock us since so many people in America clearly agree with the former Congressman. Dave Weigel over at Slate discusses that point:

The coverage of [the abortion] quote so far doesn't appreciate how mainstream Santorum's point is among pro-life activists. Many pro-life activists consider their work a continuation of other movements that protected human life and elevated the status of people whom the law doesn't consider "human." In the 19th century, it was African-Americans; in the 21st century, it's children in the womb. This is a common point at the annual March for Life. In 2009, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry told activists at the pro-life event: "You are the new abolitionists. You are the new civil-rights movement."

This is especially important to remember as the Republicans in the newly GOP-controlled House start to flex their political muscles. Anti-choice Republicans in the 112th Congress are said to be planning to "push hard" on women's reproductive rights this year, attempting to restrict abortion access and de-fund critical pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood.
By Lauren Kelley | Sourced from AlterNet

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To: TimF who wrote (20737)1/21/2011 12:54:50 PM
From: Skywatcher
1 Recommendation   of 20773
How Can the Richest 1 Percent Be Winning This Brutal Class War Against 99% of Us?
How has a tiny fraction of the population arranged for their narrowest economic interests to dominate those of the vast majority?
January 21, 2011 |

Who are they? The richest 1 percent. And maybe the next 9 percent.

Who are we? All the rest.

Which poses an interesting question.

How has a tiny fraction of the population – which is diverse in many ways – arranged for their narrowest economic interests to dominate the economic interests of the vast majority? And, while they’re at it, endanger the economic well-being of our nation, and bring the financial system of the whole world to the brink of collapse.

They have money.

We have votes.

Theoretically, that means we should have the government. Theoretically, government should be a countervailing force against the excesses of big money, take the long view for the good of the nation, and watch out for the majority. Let alone for the poor and downtrodden.

What we actually have is one political party that is flat out the party of big money and another party that sells out to big money.

Well, at least we have safety nets.

George Bush’s biggest regret is that he didn’t privatize social security. Why so eager?

One reason is that it is a big pile of money. Absolutely gigantic. It drives the bankers and brokers crazy that they can’t get their hands on it.

The other is ideological hatred. Stephen Moore (senior fellow at the Cato Institute, contributing editor of National Review and president of the Free Enterprise Fund) wrote, "Social Security is the soft underbelly of the welfare state. If you can jab your spear through that, you can undermine the whole welfare state."

Where Bush failed, Obama has now taken the first step.

His recent tax deal includes cuts on employee contributions to Social Security. Which means defunding, weakening, and setting a new precedent, that Social Security contributions can be cut to “stimulate” the economy.

The crash has put the states in trouble. Rather than raise taxes, or borrow, several have decided on cuts to Medicaid, the program that services several categories of low income people: pregnant women, children under 19, the blind, disabled, or who need nursing home care. If you’re a poor kid who needs a liver transplant, you can beg, rob a convenience store, or die.

This shift to the right is a triumph of a long and very well-funded propaganda campaign.

Every time I read an op-ed in the New York Times that was written by a “senior scholar” from the Hoover Institute or a “fellow” from the Cato Institute, I want to scream, please replace that with “paid whore funded by psychotic right-wing billionaire.” Which is significantly more accurate.

They, in turn, have a great influence on the mainstream media. “As conservatives decried the media's left bias, they saw their institutions mentioned in various media almost 8,000 times in 1995, while liberal or progressive think tanks received only 1,152 citations” (How Conservative Philanthropies and Think Tanks Transform US Policy, by Sally Covington, Covert Action Quarterly, Winter 1998).

Their influence on the national media affects the whole national dialogue.

Now, of course, they’ve taken the think tank concept to a whole new level – Fox News.

What about the media? Aren’t journalists – outside of Fox News – supposed to be objective?

In journalism there is no objective reality. There are only objectively collated quotes. Quotes can only come from “valid” sources. A journalist cannot look at tax cuts and compare them to economic results – job growth, changes in the median wage, and the like – and report that tax cuts do not create jobs. They can only quote politicians, like Bush and Obama, who say that tax cuts are a stimulus, and then look for someone of equal authority – or at least significant authority – to say the opposite, then go Chinese menu, two quotes from column A, one for column B. But what if there are no heavyweights ready to go on record for column B?

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To: one_less who wrote (20742)1/21/2011 12:56:23 PM
From: Skywatcher
   of 20773
Priebus' Republican National Committee: A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of David Koch's Americans for Prosperity?
By Adele M. Stan, AlterNet
Posted on January 21, 2011, Printed on January 21, 2011

To the casual political observer, Reince Priebus, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, seemed to come out of nowhere. But to Wisconsin progressives, Priebus is known as the state Republican Party operative who allegedly tried to suppress the votes of minorities and students in both the recent midterm congressional elections and the 2008 presidential election -- in apparent coordination with David Koch's Americans For Prosperity.

Inside the world of Tea Party Inc. -- the array of well-funded, Washington-insider, Tea Party-affiliated astroturf groups such as Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks -- Priebus is known as a team player, the guy who, as chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, would help knock the scruffiest of Tea Party activists out of Republican primaries in favor of presumably more electable Tea Party-branded figures, such as Ron Johnson, the victorious U.S. Senate candidate who was endorsed by FreedomWorks in his primary.

On the eve of the election for RNC chair, Mark Block, who just stepped down from his post as state director for the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, lauded Priebus in a Daily Caller op-ed for having supplied AFP with bus transportation and GOP staff support "for the movement of an enormous number of Tea Party activists from the outskirts of Madison to the rally site on the steps of the State Capitol, where over 8,000 people gathered" for a 2009 AFP rally. But the collegiality of the two involves logistical planning of another kind. Priebus was allegedly involved in an alleged voter suppression scheme launched by a Wisconsin Tea Party group, GrandSons of Liberty, with the assistance of Americans for Prosperity.

As reported in November by Sarah Posner for the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute (and reprinted by AlterNet), Americans for Prosperity was implicated, together with the Republican Party of Wisconsin, in a voter-caging scheme designed to challenge the votes of university students in Milwaukee, and voters in a largely African American assembly district in the city. With the election of Priebus last week to the helm of the national GOP, AlterNet decided to take a second look at the scheme, and found Priebus' own chief counsel deeply involved, providing lists to Tea Party activists of voters targeted for purging from the rolls.

Priebus and Americans for Prosperity: 'We're In'

"Voter caging" is a term used for a process designed to challenge the legitimacy of a voter's registration by sending out mail marked "do not forward" -- in this case, postcards -- to the addresses of targeted registered voters, and challenging the registrations of those at addresses from which the mail is returned as "undeliverable." The non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice describes it this way: "Voter caging…is notoriously unreliable. If it is treated as the sole basis for determining that a voter is ineligible or does not live at the address at which he or she registered, it can lead to the unwarranted purge or challenge of eligible voters."

At a June 2010 meeting of Tea Party activists eager to join in the right's unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, Tim Dake, leader of the Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty, outlined the Tea Party/GOP/AFP caging plan, saying, "So, what we're hoping is that the various groups in the coalition, plus Americans for Prosperity and Mark Block, who has been in on this, and the Republican Party -- and this is coming all the way from the top: Reince Priebus has said, 'We're in.'"

At the meeting, Dake notes the importance of the GOP's involvement, since it has access to the "Voter Vault" -- the database of registered voters. An audiotape of the meeting was obtained by the progressive group One Wisconsin Now.

"They can go in there and look for lapsed voters," Dake explained to the group.

In the scheme to which Priebus and Mark Block, then Americans for Prosperity's state director, were apparently parties, college students at the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee and Marquette University were the prime targets, as were residents of a Milwaukee African American neighborhood.

Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, told me last October that the plan appeared to involve sending out the caging postcards in the summertime to voters in precincts where most residences were dorms, noting that most students are on vacation in the summer. (And, of course, many return to different dorms the following term.) Presumably, any cards returned to the Tea Party group marked "undeliverable" would be used as evidence to challenge that person's vote in the November midterm elections.

Photographing Homes of Targeted Voters

In a July memo outlining the plan, Dake said that Americans for Prosperity was preparing the initial mailing of 500 postcards to voters in Wisconsin's 16th assembly district -- which has a large African American population -- and that more would be mailed as funding allowed. AFP's Mark Block initially denied having any part in the scheme, but when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained a statement from Dake saying Block had been involved in more than one meeting on the plan, Block admitted that AFP had sent out the initial 500-piece mailing. However, Block said, since only 10 cards were returned as undeliverable, the plan was abandoned.

Priebus' office denied any involvement in the actual sending of letters. From the Journal Sentinel:

State Republican Party executive director Mark Jefferson said Priebus had had only general discussions with Dake about the issue of voter fraud and that the GOP had never actually went ahead with any of the plans Dake had outlined in the recording.

"We had discussions with everyone about this, but as far as sending out letters like this, I haven't had any discussions like that," Jefferson said.

However, a document uncovered this fall by One Wisconsin Now casts doubt both on that assertion and on Block's claim that the voter-caging plan was abandoned before the midterm elections. At the very least, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, under Priebus' leadership, monitored the addresses of registered voters via surveillance conducted by Tea Party activists -- who were provided with lists of "questionable addresses" by the Wisconsin GOP.

On September 16, Dake forwarded to a group of Tea Party activists an e-mail (obtained by One Wisconsin Now) from Jonathan Waclawski, then the finance director and chief counsel of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, with the subject line: COALITION NEWS: FOR LEADERSHIP: Voter Fraud Project. In the e-mail -- originally sent to Dake and Mark Musselman, also of the GrandSons of Liberty -- Waclawski explains that the party already has good "coverage" in 17 counties, but could "use help" in others, notably in Milwaukee County, which he contends "has over 16,000 questionable addresses."

In his introduction to the Republican Party e-mail, Dake verifies that Waclawski's e-mail is part of the same project discussed at the June meeting where One Wisconsin Now obtained the damning audio, writing: "Here are the forms for the voter fraud project that was debuted at the Marshfield meeting in June…The idea is to verify the suspect voter registrations per the supporting documentation."

Attached to the e-mail were four documents, including a non-disclosure agreement signed by Waclawski for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, which barred participants in the project (presumably the Tea Party activists conducting the voter "fraud" project) from disclosing that information to anyone but the Republican Party. There is also one offering instructions for a step-by-step address verification process that includes taking photos of buildings listed on the voter rolls bearing "questionable addresses" and instructions for forwarding the information to Waclawski. In a press release, One Wisconsin Now described that as an instruction to "photograph the homes of people targeted for voter suppression activities."

"One Wisconsin Now made a formal request for investigation with the U.S. Attorney's Office, as well as the Wisconsin Attorney General's Election Integrity Task Force and the Government Accountability Board," reads a statement issued by the group.

The group also cites Priebus' involvement in voter-caging schemes executed in previous elections in Milwaukee precincts. "In 2002, the state Elections Board enacted new guidelines for poll-watchers in response to a Priebus-led racially charged voter intimidation scheme in Milwaukee," Scot Ross said in a statement. "In 2008, Priebus' Republican Party of Wisconsin sent out an email recruiting volunteers for alleged 'inner city' voter intimidation in Milwaukee."

As of press time, the Republican National Committee had not returned AlterNet's call for comment. This story will be updated if we receive a response from the RNC.

Not Everyone's Cup of Tea

While Americans for Prosperity and the GrandSons of Liberty may love them some Reince Preibus, the same can't be said for some of those Wisconsin Tea Party leaders not supported by the big money of the Koch brothers. Some saw an inside game at work in Priebus' endorsements of Senate candidate Ron Johnson and gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker in their primaries, races in which they were competing against other Tea Party candidates. Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel reports that eight Wisconsin Tea Party leaders, including Ken Van Doren of the Campaign for Liberty, and Dan Horvatin of the Rock River Patriots, are miffed at what looked to them like the backroom dealings of the power class in the GOP primaries.

And Michael Steele humbly compared himself to Julius Caesar, casting Priebus, whom Steele had elevated to the RNC as general counsel, in the Brutus role for having challenged and defeated Steele in this year's race for national party chairman. "I know exactly how Caesar felt," Steele told Tim Mak of Frum Forum, claiming that Priebus had apparently been plotting his challenge to his mentor for at least six months before announcing he was getting into the race. "We put a lot of resources in Wisconsin over the last two years…." Steele told Mak. "[T]hat's what you do for [the] team."

It seems that nobody told the astroturf crew of the ground-level disgruntlement with Priebus. Russ Walker of FreedomWorks, which was founded with Koch's money, told WBUR, the Boston NPR affiliate: "In some states, you have a disconnect between the grassroots and the party. You just don't see that in places like Wisconsin. And you don't see it with a guy like Reince."

Who Owns the GOP Now? Who Owns the Tea Party?

At the swearing-in of the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives, David Koch, chairman of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, made a rare public appearance. You could hardly blame him for wanting to witness the fruits of a victory that his billions and his operatives had worked hard to obtain by any means necessary.

But there's another casualty besides the Democratic Party reflected in the ascendancy of Reince Priebus to the helm of the GOP. The true grassroots of the Tea Party movement has gotten a kick in the teeth, while Koch's astroturfing operation triumphed, subsuming the Tea Party under its own brand -- and the GOP, as well.

Talking to Politico, Jake Speed of La Crosse Liberty Coalition said, "A lot of people like to say that the Republican Party kind of co-opted the Tea Parties, but I think it was the other way around."

Well, that depends on whose Tea Parties you're talking about. If you're talking about David Koch's Tea Parties -- the groups that work with Americans for Prosperity -- then you'd be right. Game over.

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.
© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

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To: Skywatcher who wrote (20746)1/21/2011 3:09:16 PM
From: TimF
   of 20773
How Can the Richest 1 Percent Be Winning This Brutal Class War Against 99% of US

The question assumed something that isn't true. There is no general class war in the US, and particularly not from the richest one or ten percent, who generally create wealth rather than take it, and who also pay significantly more in taxes than their percentage of the national income. Some of them are of course rent-seekers, and I consider at least the more extreme cases of that to be reprehensible, but while rent-seeking is reasonably common it is not the prime factor in the wealth or income for most wealthy people.

George Bush’s biggest regret is that he didn’t privatize social security. Why so eager?

Another question that assumes a false premise. Privatization would be getting government out of it, essentially there would be no social security. Having privately owned accounts on the side, you don't really have privatization.

As to why he was so eager to have privately owned accounts on the side? Well they would allow a portion of social security to actually be invested and generate a return. Currently the "trust fund" (in quotes because it is no such thing) is "invested" in government bonds. Government bonds sounds like an investment and it would be for you or me, but not for the government itself. If you lend money to yourself you don't actually have an asset (and so there is and never was a trust fund). If I take $100 from my right pocket and put it in my left and writhe out a note "Right pocket, I owe you $100 and will pay 5 percent interest", and put that note in my right pocket, I don't actually have an asset.

If we assume that the government will pay out social security payments without severe cuts then the "trust fund" makes no difference in reality.

Lets say the government brings in $X with social security taxes, and it needs to spend $X+$100bil on social security payments. We'll assume it does actually make the payments.

If there is a "trust fund" of a hundred quadrillion dollars, what happens? The government takes $100bil in ordinary income taxes and uses them to pay for Social Security payments.

If there is a "balance of zero in the trust fund", what happens? The government takes $100bil in ordinary income taxes and uses them to pay for Social Security payments.

The "trust fund" has no effect whatsoever, its meaningless, if you assume the government is actually going to make the social security payments.

Under current law its not meaningless, in one way, and for one reason, only - That under current law if there is an insufficient "balance" in the nominal trust fund, to cover a shortfall of social security taxes, then the social security payments automatically get cut.

But that law might easily be changed considering the power of the senior voting block. And even if it isn't its a law that reduces payments based on an accounting entry that other than that specific point of the law has no real world significance.

His recent tax deal includes cuts on employee contributions to Social Security. Which means defunding, weakening, and setting a new precedent, that Social Security contributions can be cut to “stimulate” the economy.

Its a tax cut like any other tax cut. You can be for or against it for any number of reasons, but it hardly signifies any kind of ideological hatred, or hostility to Social Security.

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To: Skywatcher who wrote (20744)1/21/2011 3:16:32 PM
From: TimF
   of 20773
"Almost treasonous" is ridiculous. They have a serious disagreement about this treaty, they think it will, or at least might, be harmful to our national security. They might be wrong (or they might not be), you might even argue that they are foolish, but even if that's true (and you haven't demonstrated that in any way), "foolish" and "treasonous" (even just "almost") are very different things.

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To: TimF who wrote (20749)1/24/2011 2:11:18 AM
From: Skywatcher
   of 20773
putting their 'power' ahead of the military security of the US on a treaty that was a DONE DEAL and one that would ensure a much healthier nuclear balance is almost treasonous

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To: Skywatcher who wrote (20750)1/24/2011 10:56:09 AM
From: TimF
   of 20773
They believe the treaty was against the security interest of the US.

I understand you think their wrong, but even if not ratifying the treaty would be harmful to the country (which is debatable itself), that doesn't mean they agree. They would have to completely agree about the harm for it to be even vaguely treasonous, and really it would have to be serious deliberate harm at the behest of or in cooperation with, or to serve the interest of, our enemies.

I understand that some on the right have thrown "treason", around all to easily, but that isn't any reason to do the same.

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To: TimF who wrote (20751)1/24/2011 1:15:14 PM
From: Skywatcher
2 Recommendations   of 20773
they...stupid REPUBLICAN politicians trying to GRAB POWER...vs...
EVERY SINGLE STATE DEPARTMENT without reservation have supported this treaty signing FOR YEARS
vs their sick GOP attempted power grab in order to EMBARRASS the US PRESIDENT for their own political BS....AND put the United States and the rest of the world into a much more nuclear situation

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