Let's try to keep a straight face here, OK?

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders insist they will push ahead with efforts to overhaul health care despite losing undisputed control of the Senate.

link: Dems mull options for moving health care bill - Yahoo! News

They had undisputed control of the Senate? Coulda fooled me.

Well, that's a surprise but this isn't:

They just haven't decided what it will look like or how they will pass it.

They don't care what kind of crappy bill they pass, they just want something - anything- with "health care" in the title. Maybe they should just re-name something they've already got - call it Health Care for Goldman Sachs or something - and call it a day.

Anyway, this AP story goes on, the D's might pass their health-whatever bill using a "special" procedure that requires only 51% to constitute a majority.

Go figure.

On fiduciary duty

Yesterday’s decision makes the US a soft fascist state. Roosevelt’s definition of fascism was control of government by corporate interests. Unlimited money means that private interests can dump billions into elections if they choose. Given that the government can, will, and has rewarded them with trillions, as in the bailouts, or is thinking about doing so in HCR, by forcing millions of Americans to buy their products the return on investment is so good that I would argue that corporations have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to buy out government - after all if you pay a million to get a billion, or a billion to get a trillion, that’s far far better returns than are avaiable anywhere else.

link: The Unvarnished Truth About the US | Ian Welsh

Republican's want a special exemption for the Naked Senator's truck?

WASHINGTON - Seeking to resuscitate stalled global warming legislation in Washington’s suddenly changed political climate, a bipartisan group of senators including John Kerry of Massachusetts has been conducting private talks this week with the White House and a key business group over an array of concessions sought by Republicans.

link: Election energizes climate bill talks - The Boston Globe


How screwed are you?

A record 20 million Americans collected unemployment benefits last year, and so far twenty-five states have run out of funds and been forced to borrow from federal government, raise taxes, or cut benefits. In many other states the situation is deteriorating fast.

link: All States | ProPublica Unemployment Insurance Tracker

Click the link to see how your state fares.

Change who can believe in?

On the same day that President Barack Obama announced an ambitious plan to reform the US financial system, bankers at the largest Wall Street institutions indicated that they are already finding ways around the proposed changes.

Sources at three Wall Street banks told BusinessInsider's John Carney that "they are already finding ways to own, invest in and sponsor hedge funds and private equity funds" despite the proposed restrictions on those activities. One unnamed operative at a major bank said his firm expects the reforms to affect no more than one percent of its business.

link: Banks already finding ways around Obama financial reforms | Raw Story

Naked senator "smothered" by reporters, says Globe

WASHINGTON - Senator-elect Scott Brown arrived in the nation’s capital yesterday to a reception fit for a celebrity, greeted by spontaneous applause in the marble hallways of the Russell Senate Office building, invited to a spaghetti lunch with Senate Republicans, and smothered by reporters.

Aides to senators used cellphones to snap photographs, looking to preserve their first glimpses of the once little-known Wrentham Republican whose unexpected victory in Tuesday’s election caused a political upheaval still reverberating across the country....

link: It’s all Scott Brown on Capitol Hill - The Boston Globe

Editorials we never finished reading

Congress must act immediately...

link: Editorial - The Court’s Blow to Democracy - NYTimes.com


Bush's third term

“The FBI’s use of exigent letters and other informal requests for telephone toll billing records circumvented, and in many cases violated, the requirements of the Electronic Communications Protection Act statute,” according to the [Justice Department's Inspector General in an internal audit report, available for download here]....

[And] in a surprise buried at the end of the 289-page report, the inspector general also reveals that the Obama administration issued a secret rule almost two weeks ago saying it was legal for the FBI to have skirted federal privacy protections.

link: FBI, Telecoms Teamed to Breach Wiretap Laws | Threat Level | Wired.com

Why would I want to vote again for this guy?

Poor people in the suburbs, eeeek

Chicago area suburbs saw a 47 percent spike in the number of poor, and the nation's suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country from 2000 to 2008.

link: Poor in suburbs up 47% :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Business

Of course that 47% increase could be going from two to three, if the third poor person were a little on the small side. So maybe we shouldn't panic quite yet.


WASHINGTON – The number of newly-laid off workers seeking jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, as the economy recovers at a slow and uneven pace....

The unemployment rate is 10 percent and many economists expect it to increase in the coming months.

link: Initial jobless claims unexpectedly rise - Yahoo! News

If the D's in Washington are thinking what caused the voter backlash in MA the other day is their wimpy health care bill they're wrong, IMNSVHO. It was about the economy, and the economy is about jobs. Jobs on Main Street, not Wall Street.

The Minnesota chapter of the Democratic Party is called the DFL, which stands for Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which is the party I grew up with and pretty much what I mean when I say I'm a Hubert Humphrey Democrat, or was, before I gave up on the whole thing and became, somewhat belligerently, an I. Not Democratic-Wall-Street-Big-Pharma Party, which is what the D's in Washington seem to think.

If they want my opinion, which obviously they do not, they ought to ditch the WSBP and go back to FL.

Stick a fork in it

Scott Brown, the senator-elect, promised to kill the health care bill with his 41st vote so Congress would take it back and start over. Which is not going to happen — nobody will start over on health care until every politician who remembers the name “Martha Coakley” has gone to his or her final reward.

link: What the Results in Massachusetts Mean - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com

People. Need. Jobs.


The Big Blue Bug of Justice

Oh yeah, this cracks me up:

The Tick - Full Episodes and Clips streaming online for free - Hulu

Obama gets tough

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama ordered federal agencies on Wednesday to take measures to prevent companies that are delinquent in paying taxes from obtaining new government contracts.

Obama also instructed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to review the accuracy of companies' reports on their tax obligations to be sure they are truthful.

"We need to be sure that when a company says it's paying taxes, that company is, in fact, paying taxes," Obama said.

link: Obama targets "tax cheats" seeking government work - Yahoo! News

(Emphasis mine)

He has to instruct the IRS to check tax returns? I thought that's what the IRS freakin' did. Telling them to do it is stupid. Like telling the FBI to enforce the law.

Oh, wait.

OK, that was a bad example.

Ya think?

...in electing Brown, a large segment of the electorate declared that there is little appetite for near-universal national health care, the chief domestic policy initiative of Obama, who carried the state by 26 percentage points only 14 months ago.

link: Voter anger caught fire in final days - The Boston Globe

I've said all along I've got no stake in the health care squabble but, just for the record, if there's any message in the conservative trucker's election it's that people don't think Obama's health care plan goes far enough, not that they think it goes too far. Whether the national plan now on the table in Washington passes or fails should not make much difference to a Massachusetts voter, who already has pretty much the same plan and, in the end, still will.

Meanwhile, I'm just pointing out here, no sooner had we elected our favorite-son nutjob to the Senate the snow stopped falling, the sun came out, the temp zoomed to 34º and the snow on the ground began melting, and I'm looking forward to ducks in the puddle. And tulips.

I know, of course, I will be cruelly disappointed. And by the way, that wet ice on the sidewalks is very, very, very slippery, so watch your ass.

Yes, Bunky, we are doomed, but...

...our entertainment quotient here in Massachusetts has gone way, way up and, maybe better yet, maybe they will quit calling us liberal commie pinko weenies now that we have our own pet wingnut and our own official senatorial wardrobe malfunction, glory, glory, what will we tell the children?

The puditocracy will be achatter over this for eternity or until the next person of swarth sets his underwear on fire, whichever comes first. The most amusing take so far is someone's saying all this happened because Obama, in his first year, has not been moderate enough, which is sort of like calling the Washington Monument insufficiently vertical.

I say to hell with it, geaux Saints.


What's happening, or not, or maybe

Well, today was the day we went to the polls here in Massachusetts to decide between the regrettable Coakley and the unthinkable Brown to be the occupant of Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat. (There was a third candidate on the ballot, a Joe Kennedy, no relation, running as a Libertarian and on the assumption that if you're in Massachusetts and your name is Kennedy, what the hell, it's worth a shot.)

There was a very, very little bit of cold, sleety, almost-snow drizzling down all day which should have served to suppress the vote but apparently it has not - most reports have it the turnout is high. Considering neither candidate is much worth getting excited about and further that 90 percent of the voting machines in this state are Diebold machines, the other 10 percent Sequoia, all run on proprietary software and, in any event, are eminently hackable and most, if not all are maintained by a company that's admitted to fixing an election in another state (in other words, boys and girls, the votes are counted in secret by a bunch of people we don't know and can't check up on) you have to wonder why anybody bothers voting at all, or how dumb is it to run a government this way, or both.

The polls close at 8 PM Eastern time.

Meanwhile I got a robocall this morning - the only one in this campaign (a woman I work with said she and her other got 20, between them, yesterday). It started out by asking if I was registered to vote in MA - I said yes - and then it asked if I planned to vote today. I said I already had, whereupon the robo got all in my face and said if I didn't say yes, no, or repeat, it would end the call. So I hung up. And immediately started regretting that. Because, dude, if I'd said repeat and made it repeat, and then said repeat again....

I wonder if I could have got it stuck in a loop. If I ever get another one, that's the first thing I'll try.

PS. My hunch is that a big turnout here favors Brown. I hope I'm wrong.

Seattle goes into crisis mode

[Starbucks] rolled out a new pricing plan last week, boosting the cost of some menu items by as much as 33 percent in several large U.S. and Canadian markets, according to published reports....

For an example of how this can affect a drink's price: ordering the triple grande soy vanilla latte, which was already $5.55, is now $6.25, the paper reported.

link: Starbucks raises prices of complex orders - Food Inc.- msnbc.com

Meanwhile, this story from MSNBC contains one of the most masterful bits of PR doubletalk ever recorded:

“This is as a part of our comprehensive approach to providing the value while balancing our business responsibilities,” spokeswoman Valerie O’Neil said at the time.

And that about sums things up

US President Barack Obama 'tweeted' his very first message on Monday, joining the millions who have used the Twitter micro-blogging site as a vital information vehicle for the Haiti disaster....

As he moved about the room, where large maps of Port-au-Prince were tacked to the walls, he stopped at a media team desk and hit the "Send" button on a message that had just been typed on Twitter: "President Obama and the First Lady are here visiting our disaster operation center right now."

This was followed by: "President Obama pushed the button on the last tweet. It was his first ever tweet!"

link: In a first, Obama tweets for Haiti | Raw Story


It seems like only yesterday

George W. Bush rescued the economy from collapse, according to Karen Hughes.

link: Karen Hughes: Bush rescued the economy | Raw Story


Letter from Haiti

This is my sponsor child Boaz (in yellow) and his family during our visit on Friday. As you can see they are all safe, but have lost everything. Please visit www.lifeline.org for more info on how you can help. You can donate directly through the website with a credit card or there is info on the most needed items and locations where they can be dropped off. Please spread the word among your family and friends and give them Lifeline's website. This is a wonderful organization that is celebrating it's 30th anniversary. I guarantee that anything you contribute will go directly for relief in Grand Goave, Haiti. Also, please consider sponsoring a child. The cost is $30 a month and you will also have the opportunity to send gifts and money directly to your child four times a year. I have visited with Boaz and his family and have developed a close tie with them. They are truly my Haitian family and I am praying constantly for their continued safety. Please join me in praying that my Haitian brothers and sisters survive this disaster and that aid will reach them soon.

Thanks you for all your prayers and love while I was in Haiti. I cannot begin to tell you what it has meant to me.

God bless each of you.

-Lissa Knue