Thursday, November 4, 2010

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished


Ok, let me see if I understand this correctly: Obama and the Dems took over during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and saved the country from collapse/depression. They also:

2) Rescued GM and Chrysler (and a million or more jobs when you take into account suppliers and dealers) with a bailout. GM is now turning a profit and has begun to return some of the taxpayer's money.

3) Extended unemployment benefits. What would these millions of people had done if Republicans had succeeded in blocking this?

4) Passed landmark health insurance reform which will: provide coverage for 36 million Americans, prohibit denial of coverage/claims based on pre-existing conditions, expand Medicaid eligibility, subsidize insurance premiums for the poor, provide incentives for businesses to provide health care benefits, establish health insurance exchanges so you can compare and choose policies, eliminating lifetime limits on coverage, free preventative care, boost support for medical research, and allow kids to stay on their parent's plans until age 26...all while REDUCING the deficit $140B over the first 10 years. Yes, I would have preferred Medicare-for-all-type system like they have in Canada or UK or a public health plan option, but it's better than what we had before.

5) Passed an equal pay for women law.

6) Overturned Bush's ban on stem cell research.

7) Withdrew combat troops from Iraq and changed the strategy for the war in Afghanistan.

8) Passed a separate law that expands government-subsidized health insurance to 4 million mostly low-income children.

9) Cut taxes for 98% of Americans.

10) Passed Wall Street reform and consumer protection laws (eg. credit card reform and a consumer protection agency).

11) Boosted funding for science research, education, and infrastructure projects.

12) Expanded college access for millions by revamping the federal student loan program.

13) Cut taxes 16 times for small businesses.

14) Relaxed rules to make it easier for thousands of U.S. veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to obtain benefits.

15) Passed a law to provide health care for 9/11 responders and workers who are suffering deteriorating health.

Obama and the Dems did all of this with basically ZERO Republican support. Don't believe me? Google it yourself. The Republicans tried to filibuster and block EVERY single one of these actions.

Yes, times are hard right now for many, many people. I get it that people are frustrated with the pace of economic recovery, but did they forget that the Republicans are mostly responsible for the policies that tanked our economy (eg. our crushing deficit was mainly caused by 3 things: Bush's trillion dollar tax cut for the rich, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the economic downturn)? The only idea I ever hear from Republicans is cutting taxes (which are already at the lowest level in 60 years) mostly for rich people and spending, but have not offered even ONE proposal for what they would cut. Of course, the most expensive items in our budget, Medicare, Social Security and the military, are too radioactive for either party to touch.

There's no question that the economy hasn't yet recovered, but we are slowly recovering (jobs have gone from -800,000 per month when Bush left office to positive job growth 11 of the last 12 months). I suspect many of the same people that are hurting financially and have been helped by these actions, either stayed home yesterday or voted for Republicans anyway.

Thanks to them we can look forward to the new Republican House leadership wasting the next 2 years trying to repeal health insurance reform (after we spent a full year talking about it), cutting taxes for the top 2% richest Americans, and trying to impeach Obama (you know they'll make up some bullshit reason). Forget about any progress on plans for faster job creation, immigration reform, gay marriage rights, clean energy/climate change, etc. The Republicans have already stated that they have no intention to work with Obama and the Dems. They have only one priority: make Obama a one-term president.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Please Help

My heart goes out to the people of Haiti. Hopefully our country can see past ourselves and offer up support to these people in need. Please text the word YELE to 501501 to donate $5 to the relief efforts (it will be billed to your cell phone). I checked it out and it's legit. Everyone can afford $5 and together our efforts can be powerful.

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

GOP Web Fails

Rachel reviews some of the GOP's Internet fails this year:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Zombie Reagan Raised From Grave To Lead GOP

Considering the Republican party's candidates for President in 2012 (Palin, Huckabee, Romney), this might be the least bad option:


Zombie Reagan Raised From Grave To Lead GOP

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What He Said

If you read this blog, you know that I'm an unabashed liberal. Funny enough, one of my favorite blogs is written by a conservative named Andrew Sullivan. He, like many modern conservatives, realize that the Republican party has gone off the rails. This is pretty awesome:

I cannot support a movement that claims to believe in limited government but backed an unlimited domestic and foreign policy presidency that assumed illegal, extra-constitutional dictatorial powers until forced by the system to return to the rule of law.

I cannot support a movement that exploded spending and borrowing and blames its successor for the debt.

I cannot support a movement that so abandoned government's minimal and vital role to police markets and address natural disasters that it gave us Katrina and the financial meltdown of 2008.

I cannot support a movement that holds torture as a core value.

I cannot support a movement that holds that purely religious doctrine should govern civil political decisions and that uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power.

I cannot support a movement that is deeply homophobic, cynically deploys fear of homosexuals to win votes, and gives off such a racist vibe that its share of the minority vote remains pitiful.

I cannot support a movement which has no real respect for the institutions of government and is prepared to use any tactic and any means to fight political warfare rather than conduct a political conversation.

I cannot support a movement that sees permanent war as compatible with liberal democratic norms and limited government.

I cannot support a movement that criminalizes private behavior in the war on drugs.

I cannot support a movement that would back a vice-presidential candidate manifestly unqualified and duplicitous because of identity politics and electoral cynicism.

I cannot support a movement that regards gay people as threats to their own families.

I cannot support a movement that does not accept evolution as a fact.

I cannot support a movement that sees climate change as a hoax and offers domestic oil exploration as the core plank of an energy policy.

I cannot support a movement that refuses ever to raise taxes, while proposing no meaningful reductions in government spending.

I cannot support a movement that refuses to distance itself from a demagogue like Rush Limbaugh or a nutjob like Glenn Beck.

I cannot support a movement that believes that the United States should be the sole global power, should sustain a permanent war machine to police the entire planet, and sees violence as the core tool for international relations.

Does this make me a "radical leftist" as Michelle Malkin would say? Emphatically not. But it sure disqualifies me from the current American right. To paraphrase Reagan, I didn't leave the conservative movement. It left me. And increasingly, I'm not alone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Obama Promotes Science and Math Education

I almost forgot what it was like to have a President that doesn't disdain science:
To improve science and mathematics education for American children, the White House is recruiting Elmo and Big Bird, video game programmers and thousands of scientists.

President Obama announced on Monday a campaign to enlist companies and nonprofit groups to spend money, time and volunteer effort to encourage students, especially in middle and high school, to pursue science, technology, engineering and math.

“You know the success we seek is not going to be attained by government alone,” Mr. Obama said kicking off the initiatives. “It depends on the dedication of students and parents, and the commitment of private citizens, organizations and companies. It depends on all of us.”

Mr. Obama, accompanied by students and a robot that scooped up and tossed rocks, also announced an annual science fair at the White House. [...]

“Scientists and engineers ought to stand side by side with athletes and entertainers as role models, and here at the White House, we’re going to lead by example. We’re going to show young people how cool science can be.”

Did You Know?

This cool video illustrates how new technologies have radically changed our lives in a few short years. Just imagine what it will be like in 20 years.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Are You Sure That's Tuna You're Eating?


Next time you're craving sushi, think about this:

“A piece of tuna sushi has the potential to be an endangered species, a fraud or a health hazard,” wrote the authors. “All three of these cases were uncovered in this study.”

The team of researchers from Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural History ordered tuna from 31 sushi restaurants and then used genetic tests to determine the species of fishes in those dishes. More than half of those eateries misrepresented, or couldn’t clarify the type of fish they were mongering. Several were selling endangered southern bluefin tuna.

Although their results were shocking, exposing sloppy sushi joints wasn’t their main goal. The scientists were trying to improve on a new species-identification technique, called DNA barcoding. A coalition of labs has been collecting fish, reading their genes and uploading the information to a database called FISH-BOL.

FISH-BOL. Get it? Who says scientists aren't funny.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Heart Disease Found in Egyptian Mummies


The conventional wisdom says that atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is generally the result of a modern sedentary life spent eating fast food and smoking cigarettes. Perhaps not (please note that I'm not advocating that you eat a Big Mac everyday!):

An examination of mummified bodies has revealed that ancient Egyptians suffered from hardening of the arteries in surprising frequency, suggesting that blame for heart disease extends beyond the modern culprits of smoking, fast food and the remote control.

Among 22 mummies who received full-body computed tomography scans, 16 had hearts or arteries preserved enough to study. Of those, nine had evidence of blockage from atherosclerosis. “This disease has been around since before the time of Moses,” said Randall Thompson of the St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City.

Although researchers have previously taken X-rays and other images of famous mummies, “no one has ever put a series of ancient people through modern CT scans,” Thompson said. The mummies, from the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, ranged from 2,000 to 3,500 years old. All were selected by museum staff, who chose the most intact bodies from different spans of time. On a CT scan, the buildup of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances inside artery walls looks as distinct for the dead as the living.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What are Dreams?

I caught a super fascinating documentary on PBS last night called What are Dreams?. It focused more on the reasons why we dream, rather than what our dreams mean (although there was some of that too). I've long known that the brain is sorting things out while we sleep (which gives a lot of truth to the old saying, "sleep on it."). I remember staying up late cramming for some big biology exam when I was in college and oftentimes I would hit a wall. I'd read some passage in a textbook over and over, but couldn't really understand it. But I found that if I got some sleep, the next day I'd pick up the concept very quickly. As the program shows, scientists now know that Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep enhances creative problem-solving.

The documentary also made me realize that in order for us to understand the brain (which is basically still a black box to us), we must understand dreams. Given that we spend one-third of our lives sleeping, this makes sense. Here's the program description, in case you are interested (check airing dates here):

Delving deep into the thoughts and brains of a variety of dreamers, scientists are asking important questions about the purpose of this mysterious realm we escape to at night. Do dreams allow us to get a good night's sleep? Do they improve memory? Do they allow us to be more creative? Can they solve our problems or even help us survive the hazards of everyday life?

NOVA follows a number of scientists, including Matthew Wilson of MIT, who is literally "eavesdropping" on the dreams of rats, and other investigators who are systematically analyzing the content of thousands of human dreams. From people who violently act out their dreams to those who can't stop their nightmares, from sleepwalking cats to the rare instances of individuals who don't seem to ever dream, each fascinating case study contains a vital clue to the age-old question: What Are Dreams?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ignorance is Bliss

Chase Whitestead and Erick Stroll of New Left Media set out to interview Sarah Palin supporters:



Well, that was illuminating. Aside from the obvious laughs, this video made me realize that he rich corporate interests in this country have fully succeeded in brainwashing the stupid that government spending is always bad. One woman says she wants to cut "all of it." Great. No highways; no fire or police departments; no bridges; no water supplies; no K-12 public schools; no public universities. I hope she'll be happy driving on dirt roads, toting water buckets to put out house fires, chasing burglars away with her shotgun, and home schoolin' the kids.

Solving Hard Problems

Are we witnessing the critical unraveling of U.S. society? NYT columnist Thomas Friedman gives us 6 reasons why our government is paralyzed to forge optimal solutions to our biggest problems:

1) Money in politics has become so pervasive that lawmakers have to spend most of their time raising it, selling their souls to those who have it or defending themselves from the smallest interest groups with deep pockets that can trump the national interest.

2) The gerrymandering of political districts means politicians of each party can now choose their own voters and never have to appeal to the center.

3) The cable TV culture encourages shouting and segregating people into their own political echo chambers.

4) A permanent presidential campaign leaves little time for governing.

5) The Internet, which, at its best, provides a check on elites and establishments and opens the way for new voices and, which, at its worst provides a home for every extreme view and spawns digital lynch mobs from across the political spectrum that attack anyone who departs from their specific orthodoxy.

6) A U.S. business community that has become so globalized that it only comes to Washington to lobby for its own narrow interests; it rarely speaks out anymore in defense of national issues like health care, education and open markets.

These six factors are pushing our system, which was designed to have divided powers and to force compromises, into the realm of paralysis. To get anything big done now, we have to generate so many compromises — couched in 1,000-plus-page bills — with so many different interest groups that the solutions are totally suboptimal. We just get the sum of all interest groups. [...]

The standard answer is that we need better leaders. The real answer is that we need better citizens. We need citizens who will convey to their leaders that they are ready to sacrifice, even pay, yes, higher taxes, and will not punish politicians who ask them to do the hard things. Otherwise, folks, we’re in trouble. A great power that can only produce suboptimal responses to its biggest challenges will, in time, fade from being a great power — no matter how much imagination it generates.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Apocalypse 2012

Saturday Night Live parodies the disaster movie "2012" to imagine a world in which Sarah Palin wins the presidency:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Art for the Cause

My favorite poster from Public Option Please's (a grassroots organization founded to champion the cause of making health care a right in the US) art contest:



More posters here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine Keeps Churning

Think Progress caught Faux News using old campaign footage of a McCain/Palin rally from 2008 to make it appear like the crowds Sarah Palin drawing on her book tour are larger than they are:



Why am I not surprised? When you consider that they did the same thing a few weeks ago and several times before, one must conclude that they are consciously attempting to mislead viewers. Who do they think they're fooling? I guess that's pointless question because they know exactly who they're fooling. The types of people who go to Palin rallies and line up at dawn to have her sign a book:

Sometimes Imitation is Not Flattery

In what's becoming a common occurrence (as evidenced here and here), South Park spoofs Glenn Beck:

My Congressman is a Birther?!

I live in New Jersey, a state which, despite the recent election of a Republican governor, is generally thought to be fairly liberal (8/13 Members of Congress and both Senators are Dems). Unfortunately, I happen to live in one of the "red" districts, represented by one Scott Garrett. Although I knew that he is one of the most conservative members ever to represent the state in Congress (he's received a perfect score from the American Conservative Union, while other NJ Republicans scored much lower), I didn't expect this when he was asked by a constituent whether he thought President Obama was born in the United States:

“Obviously, there is no political solution to it,” says Garrett. “Even if the entire Republican Party was united on the issue–”

He’s cut off by another constituent. “Have him show his birth certificate! It’s as simple as that! None of this ‘talk about it, talk about it’ — just let’s see the birth certificate!”

I agree,” says Garrett — who’s not one of the 12 sponsors of the “birther bill.”

Sigh. Perhaps one of his aides should inform this jackass that this ridiculous nonsense had been discredited a long time ago.

On the Wrong Side of History

NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof runs through many of the Republican arguments that we've heard ad nausem:

Critics storm that health care reform is “a cruel hoax and a delusion.” Ads in 100 newspapers thunder that reform would mean “the beginning of socialized medicine.”

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page predicts that the legislation will lead to “deteriorating service.” Business groups warn that Washington bureaucrats will invade “the privacy of the examination room,” that we are on the road to rationed care and that patients will lose the “freedom to choose their own doctor.”

Guess what? These arguments are not from the last few months, but from the 1960s as Republicans fought against legislation which led to Medicare!

“The basic concerns and arguments were the same” in 1935 against Social Security, in 1965 against Medicare, and today against universal coverage, said Nancy J. Altman, author of “The Battle for Social Security,” a history of the program.

These days, the critics of Medicare have come around because it manifestly works. Life expectancy for people who have reached the age of 65 has risen significantly. America is no longer shamed by elderly Americans suffering for lack of medical care. [...]

It’s now broadly apparent that those who opposed Social Security in 1935 and Medicare in 1965 were wrong in their fears and tried to obstruct a historical tide. This year, the fate of health care will come down to a handful of members of Congress, including Senators Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu. If they flinch and health reform fails, they’ll be letting down their country at a crucial juncture. They’ll be on the wrong side of history.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things Change

Via Kottke:

From a book called Obsolete, a list of things that were once common but not so much anymore: blind dates, mix tapes, getting lost, porn magazines, looking old, operators, camera film, hitchhiking, body hair, writing letters, basketball players in short shorts, privacy, cash, and, yes, books.

A few more I thought of on the fly (not sure if any of these are in the book): yellow pages, VCRs, public phones, kids playing outside, desk top computers, and smoking.

Gene Therapy Pumps Up Monkeys

Several years ago, scientists created a myostatin "knockout" mouse. Put simply, a knockout mouse has had one of its genes deleted. Scientists use this strategy to study the effects of a single gene (if the gene is missing, we can see what effects its absence has on the animal). The myostatin gene in mice (and other animals) prevents muscle growth and instead promotes deposition of fat. This gene is thought to have been evolutionarily conserved in order to promote formation of energy stores (fat) and restrict calorie consumption (by muscle) in animals who don’t have a guaranteed source of food. Check out what happened when researchers knocked out the myostatin gene in mice:



The mouse blew up like body builders on steroids! Funny enough, the mouse was appropriately nicknamed "Mighty Mouse." Because the function of myostatin appears to be conserved across species, the researchers are hopeful that the findings will be beneficial in shaping treatments for muscle-wasting diseases, like muscular dystrophy, in humans. Via NPR this week:

Scientists are a step closer to finding a treatment for people with diseases like muscular dystrophy, thanks to some muscle-bound monkeys.

The monkeys grew bigger thigh muscles after receiving a type of gene therapy, according to a new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Because monkeys are genetically similar to humans, the success means this sort of gene therapy is likely to work on people too. [...]

The success means the team is ready to move on to people. Researchers want to begin with patients who have a disease called inclusion body myositis, Mendell says. It leaves thigh muscles so weak people can't stand up.

"If everything works out we should be in a clinical trial by next summer, Mendell says.

On the downside, this will likely mean that in about 20 years most of us will look like the meatheads on the Jersey shore.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"How Do We Allow This to Continue?"

As a nation, we should be embarrassed. If you have the means, please support the National Association of Free Health Clinics.

Poll: Americans Still Support Public Option; Divided Over Reform

The Senate will be taking up health care reform legislation this week. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Americans still divided over the proposals under consideration, but strongly support the public option:

Americans continue to support key elements of the legislation, including a mandate that employers provide health insurance to their workers and access to a government-sponsored insurance plan for those people without insurance.

Over the past few months, public opinion has solidified, leaving Obama and the Democrats with the political challenge of enacting one of the most ambitious pieces of domestic legislation in decades in the face of a nation split over the wisdom of doing so. In the new poll, 48 percent say they support the proposed changes; 49 percent are opposed. [...]

As in previous polls, a majority supports a government-sponsored heath insurance plan to compete with private insurers, although the percentage supporting the general idea has slipped slightly over the past month to 53 percent. Support for the scheme jumps to 72 percent when the public plan is limited to those who lack access to coverage through an employer or the Medicare or Medicaid systems.


I think Americans are divided about overall reform because they still don't know what the final bill will look like. There have been many different bills (Senate, House, Finance committee, etc) and countless amendments. Plus, every week it changes: public option in or out, no coverage for abortions, employer mandates, etc. Not to mention, politicians on both sides of the aisle and numerous special interest groups have been trying to sway public opinion for months, but mostly have only succeeded in muddling the key points.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We're Not Out of the Woods Yet

NYU Professor of Economics Nouriel Roubini tells us that the immediate economic outlook is not good:

Think the worst is over? Wrong. Conditions in the U.S. labor markets are awful and worsening. While the official unemployment rate is already 10.2% and another 200,000 jobs were lost in October, when you include discouraged workers and partially employed workers the figure is a whopping 17.5%.

While losing 200,000 jobs per month is better than the 700,000 jobs lost in January, current job losses still average more than the per month rate of 150,000 during the last recession.

Also, remember: The last recession ended in November 2001, but job losses continued for more than a year and half until June of 2003; ditto for the 1990-91 recession.

So we can expect that job losses will continue until the end of 2010 at the earliest. In other words, if you are unemployed and looking for work and just waiting for the economy to turn the corner, you had better hunker down. All the economic numbers suggest this will take a while. The jobs just are not coming back. [...]

Based on my best judgment, it is most likely that the unemployment rate will peak close to 11% and will remain at a very high level for two years or more.

Ouch. Although this guy is often called Dr. Doom by his colleagues, in September 2006 he warned to a skeptical IMF that: "The United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence, and, ultimately, a deep recession."

Liberty and Justice for All?

As I noted in my post last week, young people tend to be progressive on gay rights issues. Meet Will Phillips, an elementary school student who refuses to say the pledge of allegiance in school because of discrimination against gay people:
“I've always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said. “I really don't feel that there's currently liberty and justice for all.”

After asking his parents whether it was against the law not to stand for the pledge, Will decided to do something. On Monday, Oct. 5, when the other kids in his class stood up to recite the pledge of allegiance, he remained sitting down. The class had a substitute teacher that week, a retired educator from the district, who knew Will's mother and grandmother. Though the substitute tried to make him stand up, he respectfully refused. He did it again the next day, and the next day.

Bravo, Will!



By the way, did I mention this kid is from Arkansas? Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for this country, after all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Bull in the GOP China Shop


Max Blumenthal analyzes Sarah Palin's past, present and future in an interesting piece at HuffPost. A taste:
By emphasizing her own crises and her victimization by the "liberal media," Palin has established an invisible, indissoluble bond with adherents of that subculture -- so visceral it transcends any rational political analysis. As a result, her career has become a vehicle through which the right-wing evangelical movement feels it can express its deepest identity in opposition both to secular society and to its representatives in the Obama White House. Palin is perceived by its leaders -- and followers -- not as another cynical politician or even as a self-promoting celebrity, but as a kind of magical helper, the God-fearing glamour girl who parachuted into their backwater towns to lift them from the drudgery of everyday life, assuring them that they represented the "Real America."

Andrew Sullivan pulls no punches:
Palin is a delusional fantasist, existing in a world of her own imagination, asserting fact after fact that are demonstrably untrue, and unable to adjust to the actual reality after it has been demonstrated beyond any empirical doubt. The campaign's media strategy of making sure she was never in a position to be asked anything in an uncontrolled setting, and of never holding an open press conference (unprecedented in the history of presidential campaigns) were a response to this. The only interview that dared stray even a little from this fawning celebrity-deference, Katie Couric's, revealed Palin to be an astonishingly inept know-nothing, camouflaged by incessant victimology.

He catalogs all of her lies here. The Associated Press fact checks her new book and find more than a few falsehoods.

Catholic Church Gives D.C. Ultimatum

How very Christian of them:

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

In other words, the Archdiocese of Washington DC is saying that it is willing to abandon the hungry, the poor, and the homeless if that means it has to abide by non-discrimination laws. Apparently, it is much more important to the Archdiocese that gay people not marry. However, this is not the only recent example of church involvement in political issues. Catholic Bishops have urged Senators to oppose health care reform (which would extend life saving healthcare to millions of poor and not so poor people) because a few women just might be able to spend their own money to buy insurance that covers abortions.

Simply unbelievable. This is thinly veiled political extortion which should result in immediate loss of the church's tax-exempt status.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thirsty?


Big news from NASA:

There is water on the Moon, scientists stated unequivocally on Friday, and considerable amounts of it.

“Indeed yes, we found water,” Anthony Colaprete, the principal investigator for NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, said in a news conference.

The confirmation of scientists’ suspicions is welcome news both to future explorers who might set up home on the lunar surface and to scientists who hope that the water, in the form of ice accumulated over billions of years, could hold a record of the solar system’s history.

The satellite, known as Lcross (pronounced L-cross), slammed into a crater near the Moon’s south pole a month ago. The impact carved out a hole 60- to 100-feet wide and kicked up at least 24 gallons of water.

“We got more than just whiff,” said Peter H. Schultz, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University and a co-investigator of the mission. “We practically tasted it with the impact.”

Faux News Caught Red Handed!

Remember that "sick" right-wing protest I posted about last week which featured banners comparing health care reform to the Holocaust?

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That's deliberate falsification of news to make political points to push their right-wing agenda. Hmmmmm. I wonder how many other "facts" they have doctored?

Say What?

As I mentioned earlier in the week, the House of Representatives passed a health care reform bill. What I didn't point out, however, is that the bill contained an amendment (known as Stupak-Pitts) which prohibits use of Federal funds "to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion" except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother. Every Republican in the House of Representatives voted for the Stupak-Pitts. In a statement, Planned Parenthood noted that the amendment would result in a new restriction on women's access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market, undermining the ability of women to purchase private health plans that covers abortion, even if they pay for most of the premium with their own money. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Obviously, the Republican party's position on abortion is clear: no abortions under any circumstances (including cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother).

Ummm, explain this then:

The Republican National Committee’s health insurance plan covers elective abortion – a procedure the party’s own platform calls “a fundamental assault on innocent human life.” Federal Election Commission Records show the RNC purchases its insurance from Cigna. Two sales agents for the company said that the RNC’s policy covers elective abortion.

Informed of the coverage, RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told POLITICO that the policy pre-dates the tenure of current RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

“The current policy has been in effect since 1991, and we are taking steps to address the issue,” Gitcho said.

Breathtaking hypocrisy, huh? Meteor Blades at Daily Kos put it best:

I'm glad that the RNC supplies this reproductive health care coverage for its employees. Unplanned and health-crippling pregnancies can happen to any woman, and they should not be financially hampered from the full array of choices in dealing with such matters. No woman should. So, for once, hurrah to the hypocrites for not doing as they say the rest of us should do.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who is America's Most Trusted Newscaster?

Proof that Jon Stewart is the antidote to TV for profit sensationalism news. The only "real" news journalist worth watching right now is Rachel Maddow (watch the video in my last post if you need proof). Period.

Rachel: "You child labor-endorsing, pro-slavery freaks!"

Rachel pushes back hard against rampant corporatism:



Just goes to show how far off the tracks we've gone as a nation when you actually have people with a straight face arguing in favor of these abhorrent practices.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Last Decade in 7 Minutes

We're getting close to 2010. Pretty cool vid via Newsweek:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wisdom From the Youth

Don't gay marriage opponents realize that it's only a matter of time before gay marriage is legalized everywhere?


As the chart shows, the younger the age group, the more support for gay marriage. Heck, even in the South and parts of the country that are generally more hostile to gay marriage, young people are significantly more supportive than their older counterparts.

House of Representative Passes Health Care Reform

In case you didn't hear the big news from over the weekend, health care reform jumped another hurdle (keep in mind that never before has the House passed a comprehensive health care bill):

Handing President Obama a hard-fought victory, the House narrowly approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system on Saturday night, advancing legislation that Democrats said could stand as their defining social policy achievement.

After a daylong clash with Republicans over what has been a Democratic goal for decades, lawmakers voted 220 to 215 to approve a plan that would cost $1.1 trillion over 10 years. Democrats said the legislation would provide overdue relief to Americans struggling to buy or hold on to health insurance.

“This is our moment to revolutionize health care in this country,” said Representative George Miller, Democrat of California and one of the chief architects of the bill.

What's in it, how are we gonna pay for it, and does it include a public option?

Democrats say the House measure — paid for through new fees and taxes, along with cuts in Medicare — would extend coverage to 36 million people now without insurance while creating a government health insurance program. It would end insurance company practices like not covering pre-existing conditions or dropping people when they become ill.

...Most employers would have to provide coverage or pay a tax penalty of up to 8 percent of their payroll. The bill would significantly expand Medicaid and would offer subsidies to help moderate-income people buy insurance from private companies or from a government insurance plan. It would also set up a national insurance exchange where people could shop for coverage.

Columbia professor and Huffington Post blogger Lincoln Mitchell explains what's next and outlines the Dem's likely strategy to get this bill passed in the Senate:

Now the Democrats must win in the Senate. To do that, it is essential to somehow build on this initial, if unsurprising, victory in the House. However, the House and Senate are different institutions which often do not take cues from each other. Success in one far from guarantees success in the other; and momentum is an elusive, and often nonexistent issue in legislation, particularly given that it could be a number of months before the health care bill comes to the senate floor. The issue in the Senate will not be winning a simple majority, that should be relatively simple, but winning a cloture vote. A cloture vote requires 60 senators voting to end discussion and bring the bill to a vote. Winning a cloture vote will be difficult, but the make or break moment for Obama.

The real partisan makeup of the Senate is now 59-41 in favor of the Democrats. This includes one nominal independent, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who often votes with the Democrats, and one nominal Independent, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who is part of the Democratic caucus but is really a Republican. Accordingly, the main focus of Obama's and the Democratic Senate leadership's aim should be to consolidate support of 59 Democrats and pick off one, or even two Republicans. The most likely candidates here are Senators Collins and Snowe from Maine. This is a different strategy than actively suiting a bipartisan bill. Doing that would require reaching out to the Republican Party and its leadership and seeking their input on the final bill. This would be a mistake because the Republican Party leadership had made it clear that their goal is to see health care, and with it the Obama presidency, fail. Reaching out to them would only make this easier for the Republican Party. Trying to peel off one or two Republicans through cutting political deals and appealing to the political realities in their home state is a distinctly different, and better, strategy.

We can also expect more obnoxious behavior from the Republicans.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Election 2009

As usual, The Daily Show tells us what it really means:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2009 - Local Election Results
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UPDATE: SNL hilariously parodies Fox News' coverage of the 2009 election: