Joshau Holland writes for AlterNet.org: "The painful but unavoidable reality of the financial crisis is that every dollar spent trying to prop up a failing bank is just good money thrown after bad; a taxpayer rip-off, short and sweet. But in Washington, many are trying to avoid that fact nonetheless. Economist Paul Krugman wrote that the political establishment has 'become devotees of a new kind of voodoo [economics]: the belief that by performing elaborate financial rituals we can keep dead banks walking.' Goldman Sachs' economists estimate that those rituals might cost up to $4 trillion to perform."
No Economic Team of Rivals on Obama Staff: Rubin's Manic Neoliberals Dominate
Steve Clemons writes for The Huffington Post: "The deep ideological divide that is emerging in the economics profession between those who worried about manic neoliberalism and Bob Rubin-style turbo-charged tilts towards an increasing unregulated finance industry is not hitting the Obama administration - because it is only hiring one side of that divide. As best I can tell Obama is stacking his team with those who George Soros disdainfully calls 'market fundamentalists.' Liaquat Ahmed metaphorically profiles the Rubin-led financial ideologues in his Depression-focused new book, The Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World."
Giuliani Defends Wall Street Bonuses While Slamming Tax Cuts For The Poor
Ali Flick writes for Think Progress: "Yesterday, reacting to a New York State Comptroller report showing that Wall Street banks doled out $18.4 billion in bonuses in 2008, President Obama denounced the practice as 'shameful.' 'That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful, and part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility,' Obama said emphatically. The same day, the Congressional panel overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) recommended that financial regulators revoke bonuses for executives of firms seeking government help. "
Fetishizing Off-Center Centrism
Jamison Foser writes for Media Matters: "From the way the media have covered this week's stimulus package vote, you would think the goal of the legislation was to get Democrats and Republicans to sit together for lunch in the House cafeteria, rather than to turn around an economy in free fall. After the House passed the stimulus package by a comfortable margin, much of the media reacted not by examining the bill's contents and the likelihood that it would provide a much-needed boost to the economy, but by focusing on the fact that it passed without a single Republican vote."
Bailout Recipients Hosted Call to Defeat Key Labor Bill
Sam Stein writes for The Huffington Post: "Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority. Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill."
This Week in Scandals: Wall Street’s Bonus Bonanza, Gitmo’s File Fiasco and More
Alexandra Andrews writes for ProPublic: "That BofA-Merrill deal is still making waves: BusinessWeek reports that Merrill doled out $565 million in dividends  to its shareholders three weeks before they approved the BofA deal, which comes after news that Merrill also fast-tracked $4 billion in employee bonuses  before the deal closed. BofA ousted ex-Merrill CEO John Thain last week amid furor over the bonuses and potentially hidden losses."
What A Difference Ten Days Make
Isaiah J. Poole writes for The Campaign for America's Future: "Consider how far we've come since January 20. On Thursday, the Senate followed the House in passing a reauthorization of a child health insurance bill that will mean 4 million more children will have access to health insurance. When the Congress passed similar legislation last year, then-President Bush vetoed the legislation - twice. This time, President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law next week. Increasing the number of working-class families who have health insurance for their children is just one of the significant victories progressives can lay claim to in just the first 10 days of the Obama administration."
Obama and the Return of the Real
Jonathan Schell writes for The Nation: "The inauguration of Barack Obama, 'whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant,' is both a culmination and a beginning. The culmination is the milestone represented by the arrival of a black man in the office of president of the United States. That achievement reaches back to the founding ideals of the Republic - 'all men are created equal' - which have been fulfilled in a new way, even as it resonates around a world in which for centuries white imperialists have subjected people of color to oppression. The event fully justifies the national and global jubilation it has touched off. This much is truly accomplished, signed and sealed."
Moving the Political Center
David Sirota writes for the San Francisco Chronicle: "When they write their retrospectives about the era that ended with the 2008 election, economic historians will undoubtedly credit George W. Bush with almost single-handedly moving the country to embrace extremist conservatism. It's a simple storyline: Cowboy president drives bewildered American herd over laissez-faire cliff. What such reductionism will ignore, though, is what we must remember now: namely, that Congress also played a decisive role in the stampede."
Progressive Faith Groups Now Trying to Shift the Debate
Jacqueline L. Salmon and Michelle Boorstein write for The Washington Post: "With a president they view as more sympathetic to their causes, progressive religious activists are pushing the new Obama administration for aggressive action -- on poverty, the environment and social justice issues -- that would mark a significant shift in the faith agenda that dominated the Bush years. Many faith groups close to President George W. Bush focused on abortion, stem cell research and same-sex marriage. But now, liberal and centrist evangelicals and other activists say they are getting a voice and trying to turn the debate.
Let the Limbaughs Whine
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: "How fortunate for Barack Obama that Rush Limbaugh, big radio personality and leader of the instinctual far right, has yet to retire to a sunny island with his bottles of pills. At a moment when Republicans on Capitol Hill feel they must pretend to negotiate with the popular new president over spending to revive the economy, he blurted out what they really feel."
Obama Hosts Labor Leaders, Will Undo Bush Orders
Philip Elliott reports for The Associated Press: "President Barack Obama is playing to one of the Democratic Party's most reliable constituencies - organized labor - reversing a number of his predecessor's executive orders that critics regard as anti-union. Labor leaders were to visit the White House for a second consecutive day Friday, where, a union official said, Obama was to abolish four Bush-era directives that unions opposed and then reintroduce Vice President Joe Biden's task force focused on the middle class."
Poor Women Are Not "Pork"
Ruth Rosen writes for Talking Points Memo: "Responding to President Obama's request, House Democrats cut a provision from the stimulus package that would expand contraceptive family planning for Medicaid patients - usually poor women and girls. He, in turn, was responding to Republicans' opposition to expanding Medicaid family planning for poor women and girls."
As Army Suicides Mount, Officials Promise (Again) to Address It
Christopher Weaver writes for ProPublica: "Yesterday, the Pentagon announced that the rate of soldiers committing suicides increased last year to the highest level in thirty years. As today’s New York Times reports, the number of suicides among soldiers has now increased for the fourth year in a row . Somewhere between 128 and 143 soldiers killed themselves in 2008. (Fifteen cases are still under investigation.) Army officials in turn pointed yesterday to new programs  and a campaign to combat the stigma of mental wounds. "
Two Wars, 400,000 VA Patients
Maya Schenwar writes for Truthout: "Amid talk of a drawdown of troops in Iraq, new statistics from the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) show that US casualties are still climbing quickly. Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield injuries and deaths number 81,361, up from 72,043 last January, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Veterans for Common Sense (VCS). Veteran patients - including those who didn't seek care until their return home - shot up to 400,304 (from 263,909 in December 2007). For the thousands of soldiers flooding the VA, mental illness tops the list of ailments.... However, many barriers to adequate care and compensation remain, particularly for veterans filing for disability benefits."
Purple Hearts: A Cold-Blooded Decision
Conn Hallinan writes for Foreign Policy in Focus: "Behind the recent Pentagon decision to deny Purple Heart medals to soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a cold-blooded calculation: It saves money. The official rationale for refusing to honor what is widely considered the 'signature wound' of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that PTSD, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez, is 'an anxiety disorder caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event,' not 'a wound intentionally caused by the enemy.'"
Single Payer Moment
David Swanson writes for AfterDowningStreet.org: "While a Democratic polling firm has just found, as pollsters always do, dramatic public support for public health coverage, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill appear divided, as they have always been, over whether to take a comprehensive approach to health care. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on C-Span on Sunday that incrementalism would suit him better 'than to go out and just bite something you can't chew.' Clyburn said he opposes any comprehensive approach in 2009. Meanwhile House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) made a long speech about healthcare at a conference in D.C. on Thursday in which he said 'I am committed to helping bring comprehensive reform to the floor of the 111th Congress.'"
Is America on the Brink of a Food Crisis
Robert Jenson wites for ALterNet.org: "As everyone scrambles for a solution to the crises in the nation's economy, Wes Jackson suggests we look to nature's economy for some of the answers. With everyone focused on a stimulus package in the short term, he counsels that we pay more attention to the soil over the long haul."
Gays Hope to Gain from New Political Scene
Karen Crummy writes for the Denver Post: "Despite a year of disappointing electoral setbacks on the issue of same-sex marriage, political organizers in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community see fresh opportunities in their quest for equal treatment. Not only are more states including them in civil-rights protections, but President Barack Obama has signaled he is more supportive of LGBT rights than his predecessors. "
Prop. 8 Campaign Can't Hide Donors' Names
Bob Egelko reports for The San Francisco Chronicle: "Proposition 8 proponents' complaint that a California campaign-finance disclosure law has led to harassment of same-sex marriage opponents failed today to sway a federal judge, who refused to throw out the law or shield donors' names. Lawyers for Protect Marriage, sponsor of the constitutional amendment that won voter approval Nov. 4, said contributors have already faced consumer boycotts, picketing and even death threats after the state posted their names and other information in mandatory campaign reports."
Christopher's comment: This is a real victory for democracy. This neo-fascist try to pervert the constitutions of our nation and individual states and then don't want to be know for their actions. Says something about their character! Basic ethics teach that a person is responsibile for his/her actions. Seems like the Radical Right wants to impose their "morals" on all of us, but to hell with ethics. The ends justify the means. I really think they need to re-read their Bible.
KS House Democrats Propose Nearly Free Legislation to Help Kansans
From Kansas Jackass: "Saying the session should be about more than budget cuts, House Democrats on Thursday unveiled a list of proposals that they said would cost nothing — but help Kansans. 'The budget crisis, of course, tops our priority list this year,' said House Minority Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence. 'But that does not mean it is acceptable to spend three weeks at a virtual standstill.'”
Yochal Benkler writes for Talking Points Memo: "Lots of people are wary about the stimulus bill, and on broadband there was a good deal of concern that it would end up simply funding the incumbents to do what they were going to do anyway, without really taking the opportunity to bring in new models of broadband. But from the current versions: the version the House passed, and the Senate Appropriations Committee released, I'm actually reasonably optimistic.