George Pyle writes on the Kansas Free Press: "Good evening, fellow outcasts. Down in the valley, the respectable and the Republican of the community have gathered in a sports arena to hear from a self-professed maverick woman of the people. Up on the hill, we rabble of liberals and lefties are assembled in the local country club to hear a speech from a bald man who works for Warren Buffett. [though I must hasten to add that I do not speak for Mr. Buffett in any way, shape or form. He is perfectly capable of speaking for himself.] So. What's wrong with this picture?"
The GOP's Dubious Populism
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: "The most revealing moments in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address were not in his remarks, but the reaction to them by those listening on the Republican side of the aisle. When he proposed to recover a “financial responsibility fee”—in plainer English, a bank tax—from the largest and most heavily leveraged Wall Street firms, the Republicans sat on their hands and scowled, while Democrats cheered and whistled. And when he warned that the Supreme Court’s latest decision would open the political process to mega-corporations and their foreign owners, the Republicans were so enraged that they have since accused him of lying."
White Racial Resentment Bubbles Under the Surface of the Tea Party Movement
Editor's Note: Rich Benjamin's commentary on the underlying "white grievance" currents in the Tea Party movement were buttressed Thursday by the statements of Republican Tom Tancredo, the opening speaker at the Tea Party convention. Tancredo told attendees that President Barack Obama was elected because "we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country," an allusion to how Southern states used literacy tests as part of an effort to deny suffrage to African American voters before the civil rights era.
Rich Benjamin reports for AlterNet: "The Tea Party movement, holding its first convention this weekend, is angling to be the most revolutionary force in American politics in name and in deed, since at least the 1960s counterculture. Only this time, the political insurgents command a party of Flour Power, not flower power."
Palin's Tea Party Speech Full of False and Misleading National Security Claims
Media Matters fact checks Palin's speech and writes: "During her address before the National Tea Party Convention, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin made numerous false and misleading claims about national security and foreign policy, including suggesting that the Obama administration doesn't use the word 'war,' that interrogators didn't ask alleged Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab about his training and future al Qaeda plots, and that Abdulmutallab has not provided information since he "lawyered up and invoked our U.S. constitutional right to remain silent.'"
Chart of the Day: Take Two
Kevin Drum writes for Mother Jones: " Since Bruce Bartlett has gone to the trouble of making a nice chart out of the latest Kos/Research 2000 poll, it would be churlish of me not to steal it. So here it is. Source data here. Cliff Notes version: Republicans are nuts.
I used to talk about the Texification of the Republican Party, but that's now obsolete. We're officially seeing the Foxification of the Republican Party. It's Roger Ailes' world now, we just live in it."
Apostles of Nihilism: Republicans are winning the war of political rhetoric. Here's how the president needs to fight back.
Eliott Spitzer writes for Slate magazine: "The sense of hope that swept in with President Obama has been supplanted by existential doubt: Can the nation ever address its critical structural crises in health care, financial services, energy, and education? Governmental gridlock has frozen us while many of our competitors—most notably the BRIC nations—eat our lunch. The notion is gaining traction that our system of government cannot confront tough issues and that other, more autocratic nations will be better-suited to the nimble shifts in policy that are needed to maintain a competitive position in the world. As Tom Friedman has said, "We need to be China for a day." Who's to blame for this mess? One theory that has some merit and current appeal is that legislatures—which by their very nature and structure are designed to protect the status quo—are responsible. Legislators get re-elected in their gerrymandered districts by appealing to the current establishment. Transformative policies do not have a broad enough base of appeal to sweep away local ossifying forces."
John Yoo Renews Claim That President's Authority to Torture Depends on What Is "Necessary"
Stephen Rohde reports for Truthout: "Challenged for his 2005 statement that whether the president could lawfully torture a person's child depends on 'why the President thinks he needs to do that,' undaunted, John Yoo repeated his claim that it would depend on whether the president finds it 'necessary.'"
Robert Kuttner writes for The American Prospect: "The economy is still very fragile, yet Washington seems more fixated on deficits than on recovery. Fiscal conservatives in Congress hope to hold recovery spending hostage for long-term caps on social outlay, and they have some company in the White House. Groups like the billion-dollar Peter G. Peterson Foundation are leading the charge."
Wall Street Angry with Their Purhase
Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "Political science professors could require students to read this article from today's New York Times and little else would be needed to convey the essence of the American political system. The article describes how Wall Street -- which poured massive amounts of money into the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party over the last several years, ensuring unparalleled access and influence -- is now threatening to support the Republicans if Obama keeps saying mean things about them. Wall Street executives are angry that, after duly purchasing the Democrats (they have receipts and everything), the Obama White House is now rousing the dirty rabble with their anti-banker rhetoric:"
The Dystopia Conservatives Built
David Sirota writes for Truthdig.com: "Judging by Tim Tebow’s much-hyped Super Bowl ad, “choose life” remains conservatives’ favorite abortion shibboleth. But really, the phrase better captures the stakes in the Great Budget Wars of 2010. Plagued by deficits, communities everywhere must now decide between tax reform and public spending cuts—between economic life and death. And thanks to two Western bellwether states, we know what each choice means."
Obama to Use Backdoor Taxes to Hit Middle Class? Oops, not true.
Laurent Belsie reports for the Christian Science Monitor: "It says something about the state of partisanship in America when the biggest budget story of the day is a nonstory. Literally. After Reuters published a story Monday about how backdoor taxes would hit middle-class Americans under President Obama, the White House complained about inaccuracies. Reuters pulled it Tuesday morning, saying a replacement story would be coming. Later in the day, it said the story was wrong and that there would be no substitute."
Peace Talks May Follow Ex-Taliban Mediators' Plan
Gareth Porter reports for Inter Press Service: "If peace talks do ultimately begin between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban leadership, they may well follow a "road map" to a political settlement drawn up by a group of ex-Taliban officials who have been serving as intermediaries between the two sides. The four Taliban mediators have been encouraging both Karzai and the Taliban leadership to begin with steps toward military de-escalation and confidence-building before proceeding to the central political-military issues that must be negotiated, a member of the mediation team, Arsullah Rahmani, told IPS in an interview at his home in Kabul."
No Defense for This Budget
Katrina vanden Heuvel comments for The Nation: "Deficit hysteria has reached new levels yet where is the attention to an out of control defense budget that is now the largest since World War II? While the Obama Admistration's three-year freeze on discretionary spending is a bad idea, it's made even worse because unprecedented Pentagon spending is exempted from it."
Report: "No Strategic Value" to Afghan Outpost Where Eight Died
John Walcott and Jonathan S. Landay report for McClatchy Newspapers: "A US military investigation into a battle last October in eastern Afghanistan that cost eight American soldiers their lives has concluded that the small outpost was worthless, the troops there didn't understand their mission, and intelligence and air support were tied up elsewhere in the province."
California's Nuclear Nexus: A faux disarmament plan has roots in the Golden State's pro-nuclear lobby
Darwin Bondgraham and Nicholas Robinson and Will Parrish write for Z magazine: "In early 2007 four honored Cold Warriors published what appeared to be an unlikely op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) calling for a "world free of nuclear weapons." The essay was signed by none other than the former Secretaries of State George P. Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense William S. Perry, and former Georgia Senator and long-time Chair of the Armed Services Committee Sam Nunn. Now referred to as the 'the four horsemen' by those who work on nuclear policy, they wrote that complete nuclear disarmament is 'a bold initiative consistent with America's moral heritage.' The essay implored international leaders to work 'energetically on the actions required to achieve' the lofty goals outlined within."
Health Care Spending Skyrockets and Shows No Signs of Tapering
Grace Huang reports for Truthout: "In 2009, health care spending grew by 5.7 percent, now reaching $2.5 trillion. It is the largest increase since the federal government began tracking these figures in 1960, according to a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)."
House Likely to End Health Insurers' Antitrust Exemption
David Lightman reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "The House of Representatives plans next week to vote on - and probably approve - a measure to strip health insurers' antitrust protections, which will be Congress's first step this year to try to overhaul the nation's health care system. However, the effort to remove the 65-year-old exemption is a small step that's unlikely to have much direct impact on consumers, according to independent analysts."
Global Warming: The Hottest Decade
Saul Landau writes for The Daily Censored: "'The decade ending in 2009 was the warmest on record, new surface temperature figures released Thursday by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration show…. 2009 was the second warmest year since 1880, when modern temperature measurement began. The warmest year was 2005. The other hottest recorded years have all occurred since 1998, NASA said.' 'The decade ending in 2009 was the warmest on record, new surface temperature figures released Thursday by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration show…. 2009 was the second warmest year since 1880, when modern temperature measurement began. The warmest year was 2005. The other hottest recorded years have all occurred since 1998, NASA said.'”
Daily Newspaper Reading (Print or Online) Down to Two in Five
Jack Loechner reports for Media Post" "According to the findings of a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll, of 2,136 U.S. adults surveyed online between December 14 and 16, 2009 by Harris Interactive, the era of Americans reading a daily newspaper each and every day is coming to an end."
The Right Gets Itself Wired
Robert Parry writes for Consortiumn News: "In past years when I talked to American progressives about the growing media imbalance – as the Right gained dominance in books, magazines, newspapers, talk radio and cable TV – a typical response was, “well, the Left is stronger on the Internet.” But now even that advantage is disappearing, as should have been expected."