Terrance Heath comments for The Campaign for America's Future: 'Forget about 'the Aughts.' Never mind 'the Naughts.' The decade just passed - and which promises to leave a lingering, bitter aftertaste - deserves a far better, more descriptive name. So for what it's worth, I hereby dub the past ten years 'The Uh-Ohs: A Decade of Conservative Failure.'"
Partisan Hysteria Hypes (and Helps) Al-Qaida
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: "The latest atrocity attempted by al-Qaida seems to be yet another example of history reprising a great tragedy as farce. What make the misadventure of the underpants bomber on Flight 253 seem darkly ridiculous, however, is not only his incompetence in setting himself on fire, but the hysteria and hypocrisy of the reactions set off on the right by his painful squib. Then again, the Republican exploitative response to terror is as predictable as al-Qaida’s urge to kill."
Answering Helen Thomas on Why They Want to Harm Us
Ray McGovern, Truthout: "Thank God for Helen Thomas, the only person to show any courage at the White House press briefing after President Barack Obama gave a flaccid account of the intelligence screw-up that almost downed an airliner on Christmas Day."
The Question No U.S. Official Dare Ask
William Pfaff writes for Truthdig.com: "It is time to ask a question that virtually no one in an official or political position in the United States is willing to contemplate asking. For a person in a responsible public position to pose this question would be to risk exclusion from the realm of 'serious' policy discussion. It could be, as they say in the bureaucracies, 'a career destroyer.' It would be like declaring that after long analysis you had come to the conclusion that the world is indeed flat, and not round. A round earth is merely an illusion, which everyone has accepted, and adapted to—and fears challenging."
Blackwater and the Khost Bombing: Is the CIA Deceiving Congress?
Jeremy Scahill writes for The Nation: "A leading member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has told The Nation that she will launch an investigation into why two Blackwater contractors were among the dead in the December 30 suicide bombing at the CIA station at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan. 'The Intelligence Committees and the public were led to believe that the CIA was phasing out its contracts with Blackwater and now we find out that there is this ongoing presence,' said Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky, chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, in an interview. 'Is the CIA once again deceiving us about the relationship with Blackwater?'"
Recommended Audio: New Study Shows Impact of Immigrant Labor
Odette Keeley reports for New America Media: "A recent study by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that immigrants are significantly contributing to the economy. For example, in Los Angeles, they account for a third of the city’s economic output as editor Jerry Sullivan of the Los Angeles Garment and Citizen newspaper explains."
Economy Loses 85,000 Jobs in December, Ends Decade With Job Loss
Dean Baker, The Center for Economic and Policy Research: "The economy lost another 85,000 jobs in December, driven by continued job losses in construction and manufacturing. While the current data still show a 378,000 job gain for the decade, these numbers will be lowered by approximately 824,000 when the benchmark revision is incorporated into the data with the release of the January employment report. The data show a decline in private sector jobs of 1,549,000 for the decade. The benchmark revision will increase the private sector job loss for the decade to more than 2.4 million."
Tip of the Iceberg
Eliot Spitzer, William Black, and Frank Partnoy write for New Deal 2.0: "In a December New York Times op-ed, we called for the full public release of AIG email messages, internal accounting documents and financial models generated in the last decade. Today, a Bloomberg story revealed that under Timothy Geithner’s leadership, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York told AIG to withhold details from the public about its payments to banks during the crisis. This information was discovered when emails between the company and the Fed were requested by representative Darrell Issa, ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee."
Study: More Families Using Food Stamps to Feed Kids
David Goldstein, McClatchy Newspapers: "The United States has more poor children now than it did a year ago. As recession-hammered families increase, more are using food stamps to feed their kids, according to a study by the Brookings Institution and First Focus, a bipartisan child advocacy group.
Hoping for a Brighter Future: Kansans Join to Fight for Responsible Tax Policy
Christopher E. Renner writes for the Kansas Free Press: "The conservatives in the Kansas Legislature are going to face a new kid on the playground this year. Kansans for Quality Communities has come out to play and they intend to change who gets to play on the swing set.Bringing together organizations representing education, health care, the disabled and state workers, Kansas for Quality Communities will provide a united front in reforming tax policy that has been inspired by the now discredited "starve the beast" mentality of the conservatives."
Is Your Country on Drugs?
George Kenney interviews Melody Petersen for In These Times: "Melody Petersen has been writing about the pharmaceutical industry for more than 10 years, including as a staff reporter for the New York Times. Her recent book, Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), should be required reading for anyone who’s serious about healthcare reform."
Senate's Tax on High-Cost Health Plans: Democratic Suicide Pact?
Art Levine comments for Truthout: "A much-vaunted Senate proposal to tax high-cost health plans, once seen as all but inevitable, came under new attacks Wednesday from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, members of the Democratic caucus and influential health policy experts - even as President Obama was reported as pressing Pelosi to accept the Senate version. The Senate bill would impose a 40 percent excise tax on plans worth more than $23,000 for families and $8,500 for individuals, with the purported aim of raising $150 billion in revenues and reducing health care costs from these so-called 'Cadillac' plans."
If Health Care Bill Passes, Some Changes Would Start Fast
David Lightman reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "More money for community health centers. Immediate help for the uninsured. No more lifetime limits on coverage. Under the health care legislation that's moving through Congress, these and other benefits would take effect quickly and should produce a noticeable impact on consumers, according to many independent analysts and Democrats."
As Old-Timers Depart, Congress Breaks Down Under New Dynamics
David Lightman reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "Congress is breaking down under the pressures of a number of modern, rapidly changing political dynamics. Among them: the rise of hyper-partisanship magnified by today's Internet, talk radio and cable TV ideologues; the drawing of legislative district lines to maximize partisan purity and to avoid making lawmakers have to appeal to voters of all stripes; and the passing from the scene of legislative veterans who came of age politically in the pre-technology age and who were schooled in the art of compromise."
Did Court Deal Fatal Blow to Tasers for Police?
Raj Jayadev and Aram James comment for New America Media: "In what is being heralded as a landmark decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently declared that police officers could be held liable for using a Taser without proper cause. And in making their determination, the court also set new legal parameters on how law enforcement is to use Tasers, stating, "The objective facts must indicate that the suspect poses an immediate threat to the officer or a member of the public." The federal finding substantially changes the landscape of Taser usage, and may signal the end of Tasers for law enforcement agencies who are now more vulnerable to civil and criminal action then ever before."
How to Save Journalism
John Nichols and Robert MeChesney write for The Nation: "The founders of the American experiment were even by their own measures imperfect democrats. But they understood something about sustaining democracy that their successors seem to have forgotten. Everyone agrees that a free society requires a free press. But a free press without the resources to compensate those who gather and analyze information, and to distribute that information widely and in an easily accessible form, is like a seed without water or sunlight. It was with this understanding that Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton and their contemporaries instituted elaborate systems of postal and printing subsidies to assure that freedom of the press would never be an empty promise; to that end they guaranteed what Madison described as 'a circulation of newspapers through the entire body of the people...[that] is favorable to liberty.'"