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Archive for December 9th, 2009

If it wasn’t for the fact that the Washington media establishment is gamed in favor of Republicans, it’s very likely that they would have long since been relegated to nothing more than a LaRouche-style crackpot cult, handing out mimeographed pamphlets outside the post office.

How else, other than via the self-conscious deference afforded it by the press, do the Republicans get away with issuing the following two press releases within a single 24 hour span:

Sunday: “Cutting Medicare is not what Americans want.”

Monday: “Expanding Medicare a plan for financial ruin.”

In case you’re wondering, these statements didn’t come from one of the many far out wingnuts like Steve King, Michele Bachmann or Virginia Foxx (Medicare recipient). They were, in fact, dispatched from Senate Minority Leader (And Real-Life Albino Sleestak) Mitch McConnell’s office. Yes, the highest ranking Republican in Congress wrote-up both headlines, ostensibly proof-read and unapologetically shoved into the public record.

Two press releases that exactly contradict each other. Yet I’m a little disappointed that Mark Halperin and Chuck Todd didn’t fire off tweets about how the opposing headlines were “bad news for Obama.” After all, every Republican gaffe is somehow “bad news for Obama.” And so they get away with it.

As we have observed over the years, this Republican contradiction problem has been a feature of modern Bush Republicanism for a while now, but it’s only during the past year that the gap between contradictory statements — let’s call it the Wingnut Gap — has narrowed down to just 24 hours. Prior to this week, it took several years for, say, the Republicans to contradict their “criticizing the commander-in-chief during wartime undermines the troops” mantra, or for Glenn Beck to accuse the Obama administration of being Maoists then to inexplicably suggest that America needs to be more like the Chinese.”

Say nothing of the contradictions evident in Sarah Palin’s America-hating commie Castro headgear:

And don’t give her the benefit of the doubt on this, either. She’s not smart enough to wear it with deliberate irony.

But this is a dynamic that’s most prevalent when the Republicans discuss Medicare. It really flummoxes them. After all, they despise socialized medicine. They despise single-payer health insurance. They despise government-run health care. They voted against the formation of Medicare during the high water mark of LBJ’s Great Society. They ultimately would love to privatize (or drown in a bathtub) the whole thing and be done with it.

(more…)

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The Irrefutable Stupidity of Sarah Palin

Cenk Uygur

Host of The Young Turks

Huff Post- Posted: December 7, 2009 03:48 AM

From time to time, I’ll get into a debate with a right-winger about whether Sarah Palin is actually stupid or if liberals are just hopelessly biased against her. They claim this bias comes from the fact that liberals are scared of her electability, her charm, her looks, her femininity, her Christianity, her ability connect to the common man and her overall wonderfulness. So, the theory is that we have all collectively decided that she is the best Republican candidate in some secret liberal meeting and are conspiring against her because we are afraid of how brilliant and electable she really is.

Now, there are a couple of problems with this theory. There are no opinion leaders on the left with Rush Limbaugh-like authority who can command all other progressives to think the same thing and use the same arguments against one person. In other words, we all think she is stupid because she is in fact stupid, not because some liberal cabal told us to think that.

How come we don’t call Newt Gingrich stupid? Or Dick Cheney or Kay Bailey Hutchinson or Elizabeth Dole or Dennis Hastert? And the list goes on and on of heinous and deplorable right-wingers who are not stupid. We don’t make those charges against those people, because as much as we might not agree with them or like them, we know that they are not dullards. They’re all clever in their own way. Mitt Romney is greasy, Michael Steele is a clown and Tom DeLay is dirty, but we don’t go after their mental acuity like we do with Sarah Palin because they’re not as dumb as her (not even Steele).

So, finally we get to the evidence. I thought I’d just do it here and be done with it. Then I can just point people to this post from now on and end this senseless argument.

Now, there are a million examples of this, but I thought I’d go with three knockout punches here. In the first video, we have the classic Bush Doctrine answer, where she does not know the basic foreign policy of the Republican president at the time. How could she possibly be running for vice president and not know this? The only thing more unconscionable is the sad excuses her supporters make for this terribly botched answer.

VIDEOS & MORE HERE

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by Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle, Dec 8, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO – The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues.

[John Yoo is accused of authorizing the torture of a terror suspect. (AP)]
John Yoo is accused of authorizing the torture of a terror suspect. (AP)

Such lawsuits ask courts to second-guess presidential decisions and pose “the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military’s detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict,” Justice Department lawyers said Thursday in arguments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Continues >>

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Global Boiling: An Alphabet Of Nations

The Wonk Room-  By Brad Johnson on Dec 8th, 2009 at 6:30 pm

It’s day two of the Wonk Room’s on-the-scene coverage of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The skies are briefly blue, a reprieve from the darkness that engulfs this northern city for most of the day.

As the nations of the world gather in Copenhagen, the Wonk Room has prepared this alphabetical journey of the impacts of climate change around the globe.

A

East Antarctica, long stable, is now losing ice.

B

Bolivia needs $1 billion over the next seven years to build reservoirs, as the glaciers that hold the nation’s water supply are shrinking rapidly.

C

Leatherback sea turtles that spawn on the beaches of Costa Rica are threatened with extinction by warmer temperatures and rising seas.

D

Denmark joined United States, Norway, Canada, and Russia in identifying climate change as “the most important long-term threat” to future existence of polar bears.

E

The rapidly warming highlands of Ethiopia are becoming too hot for its elite athletes, such as local-born Haile Gebrselassie, to train there.

F

Noting the unprecedented floods this year in Fiji, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama recently warned that rising sea levels affect not just the islands’ economies, but put into doubt the very existence of his nation.

G

Greece suffered through another storm of extreme wildfires this summer as heat waves and drier conditions increase.

H

Global warming-fueled hurricanes, intense poverty, and widespread deforestation combine to form a gathering storm of disasters for Haiti.

I

The deforested peatlands of Indonesia are drying, disintegrating, and burning.

J

The increasingly early arrival of cherry blossoms in Japan reflects rising global temperatures.

K

The more frequent and severe droughts that are killing off the elephants will likely trigger more conflicts in the arid lands of northeast Kenya.

L

The incidence of wildfires in the cedar forests of Lebanon has increased tremendously over recent years.

M

“If things go business-as-usual, we will not live, we will die,” Maldives President Mohammad Nasheed told the UN General Assembly. “Our country will not exist.”

N

The ministers of Nepal have held the world’s highest cabinet meeting on Mount Everest, as rapidly rising temperatures have reduced snowfall over the mountains and caused glaciers to melt.

O

More than 50 per cent of the population of Oman lives on coastlines vulnerable to rising seas, but its supplies of peridotite may help sequester carbon dioxide emissions.

P

The massive floods that killed hundreds in the Philippines this summer are becoming the norm.

Q

Petroleum-soaked Qatar emits 60 tons of carbon dioxide per person, the most of any nation on earth.

R

Increased floods and malaria outbreaks from global warming, deforestation, and unsanitary conditions have hit Rwanda hard in the past decade.

S

The inhabitants of the Alpine villages of Fieschertal and Fiesch in Switzerland have asked for the Pope to bless their prayers for the restoration of their nation’s glaciers, which shrank by 12 percent over the past decade.

T

Newly discovered, exotic species like the fanged frog of Thailand are especially vulnerable as climate change will further shrink their already restricted habitats.

U

Agriculture in the United States has been ravaged this year by catastrophic droughts in Texas and California, heat waves in Louisiana and Nebraska, storms across the High Plains and the Midwest, floods in North Dakota and Minnesota, and torrential rains in Illinois and Georgia.

V

Speaking from Vatican City on the eve of the Copenhagen conference, Pope Benedict XVI counseled “all people of good will to respect the laws laid down by God in nature and to rediscover the moral dimension of human life.”

W

Warming oceans and sea level rise threaten the coral reefs of the remote Polynesian islands of Wallis and Futuna.

X

The nomadic descendents of Kublai Khan in Inner Mongolia, where Xanadu once stood, are being driven from the grasslands as the Chinese government attempts to fight the region’s desertification.

Y

Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, may be the first capital city in the world to run out of water, as drought and overuse diminish its supply.

Z

On the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, the flow of Victoria Falls is far below average, as drought and high temperatures reduce the Zambezi.

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We Are Now in a Crucial Moment — It’s Time to Make a Decision

Al Gore

HuffPo- Posted: December 7, 2009 03:49 PM

Editor’s note: This guest post was written by former Vice President Al Gore for the Hopenhagen movement.

The world has arrived at a moment of decision.

As long as we continue to depend on dirty fossil fuels like coal and oil to meet our energy needs, and dump 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere, we move closer and closer to several dangerous tipping points—points which scientists have repeatedly warned would, if crossed, threaten to make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable destruction of the conditions that make human civilization possible on this planet.

I’ve said it numerous times already, but right now we are trapped in a dangerous cycle—borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf, and then burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.

Right now, here in the US and all over the world, people are demanding action. There is a much broader consensus than there was when President George H.W. Bush negotiated—and the Senate ratified—the Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992. And there’s much stronger consensus than when we completed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

The road to the signing of an agreement in Copenhagen will not be easy, but the world has traveled this path before. More than twenty years ago the US signed the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to protect the ozone layer, and strengthened it to the point where we banned most of the major pollutants that created the hole in the ozone over Antarctica. And we did it with bipartisan support: President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill joined hands to lead the way.

We can do it again and solve the climate crisis, protecting our planet for future generations.

Help turn Copenhagen into Hopenhagen at Hopenhagen.org

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