Sunday, July 25, 2010

Last Call

WikiLeaks has put up tens of thousands of leaked, raw DoD reports on Afghanistan.  Julian Assange wanted to call attention to the "squalor" of  our endless little war.
The first-hand accounts are the military's own raw data on the war, including numbers killed, casualties, threat reports and the like, according to Julian Assange, the founder of, which published the material Sunday.

"It is the total history of the Afghan war from 2004 to 2010, with some important exceptions -- U.S. Special Forces, CIA activity and most of the activity of other non-U.S. groups," Assange said.

CNN has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the documents. The Department of Defense will not comment on them until the Pentagon has had a chance to look at them, a Defense official told CNN.

Assange declined to tell CNN where he got the documents. He claims the documents reveal the "squalor" of war, uncovering how many relatively small incidents have added up to huge numbers of dead civilians.
It's smart of him to do this.  With these raw document available to everyone, there's well more of a chance of finding a real story here than our media would bother to report.  Then again, which single news organization has the resources to crunch through 90,000 documents in a 24-hour news cycle world?

There really are two stories here, however.  How did Julian Assange get his hands on this much unfiltered Pentagon data is one story, and what the data shows about out failure in prosecuting this war is the other.  Both have tremendous consequences to the way wars are run in the 21st century, and the way America is run in the internet age.

What will all this data reveal?  Whoever crunches these docs will be able to make their own conclusions.  I'm very interested to hear much more from the people who cover the crossroads of war and new media technology and what they have to say:  Spencer Ackerman, Bill Roggio, and Jeff Huber for starters.

It All Comes Back To The Filibuster

Sam Stein reports on House Dems being less than pleased with their Senate counterparts leaving literally hundreds of passed House bills untouched or rejected.
Appearing at a panel discussion at Netroots Nation , the lawmakers argued that the public was not discriminating in its anger with Congress' legislative inertia. And while a fair chunk of the Senate was immune from direct, electoral blowback, every member of the House would have to deal with the taint.
"They say the senate has a luxury of time, six-year cycles for elections," said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus. "But these last 18 months have, in memory, have not only been the most frustrating but the inertia created in the Senate is what is jeopardizing Democrats and progressives' opportunities in the midterms. It is not our lack of action. It has been their lack of action."
"I think [we] feel a frustration because my constituents don't necessarily distinguish between the House and the Senate," said Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). "And so when they see something not getting done they are not really tolerant of my argument which is, 'Well it passed the House.' That doesn't really wash. They hold us all accountable for the failure of these issues moving forward. I personally think the 60-vote requirement in the United States Senate is a bastardization of the United States constitution."
"It sucks," said Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), "and I mean it literally. It sucks the energy out of the room and it sucks the urgency out of what we do... The lack of urgency from the Senate on these jobs bill is soul-crushing." 
And it's House Democrats whose heads are on the chopping block here the most.  It really does all come back to the filibuster on a great many of these bills that would have easily passed with 51 but had to get over the 60 hurdle thanks to the Republicans filibustering everything.

Of course, the Senate has no intention of doing that.  It might mean those proles in the House might be able to, you know, direct the country through a simply majority vote of the people.

And the Senate can't have that.  They run this country, you know?  Where every member is President, it seems.

Sunday Funnies: Timmy Explains It All Edition

All Geithner, all day, all Bobblespeak Translations.
Tapper: what can you do to grow this economy?

Geithner: convince businesses to rehire people

Tapper: how so

Geithner: with my awesome charisma

Tapper: um do you have a backup plan?

Geithner: ha

Tapper: isn’t it terribly important to pay for unemployment benefits unlike everything else or future generations will be mad at us?

Geithner: no that’s idiotic

Tapper: shouldn’t we have less financial regulation since lack of regulation failed us before?

Geithner: no because the new law will allow the government write a strongly worded letter to businesses before they destroy America

Tapper: Liz Warren hates you but consumer groups love her

Geithner: she’s a sharp cookie I’ll give her that

Tapper: giant businesses on welfare are giving their employees free Lamborghinis

Geithner: that’s crazy we told them to buy American and get Cadillacs

Tapper: Auto companies had to take haircuts but bankers did not

Geithner: no the executives had to do that too

Tapper: Tim those were actual haircuts!
 I still say Culture of Truth makes the Sunday shows make more sense than the normally do.

Political Jujitsu

I don't think enough attention has been paid to Illinois Dem Jan Schakowsky and her simple and elegant plan to expose Austerity Hysteria for what it truly is:  gutting social programs for the poor and elderly while adding to the deficit through tax cuts for the wealthy.  You'd think then that Schakowsky's public option plan, which would in fact lower the deficit, would be widely embraced by those using the country's national debt as an excuse for wealth transfer.

Of course, you'd be wrong.
Unveiled last Thursday by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Schakowsky, and more than 120 co-sponsors, the measure would give consumers a choice between private and public health insurance plans in the new law's exchanges. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that it would cut the deficit by $68 billion between 2014 an 2020.

How would it save that much money? "It would compete with insurance companies, who frankly would have to lower their rates," Schakowsky said, promising that it would force private insurers to "be more efficient."

Progressives were disheartened with -- but still largely supported -- the resulting health care law enacted in March, which didn't offer public insurance programs to consumers ineligible for Medicare or Medicaid. Even a public option was viewed as a raw deal by liberals, who wanted a single payer system, as exists in Canada and Britain.

"This is kind of a compromise from that, saying, at least make [government-run insurance] one of the choices," explained the Democratic Congresswoman. "The American people, she added, "overwhelmingly" support it.

Republicans and conservative Democrats derided the public option as just another government program, invoking widespread distrust for government as a reason for their opposition. Their other opposing arguments, given consistent CBO projections that it would save money, were mostly without empirical backing.
But of course the deficit and the national debt was never really the argument, wasn't it?  It's all about finishing the Bush era wealth transfer to the top.  Same as it ever was.

The plan itself has no chance whatsoever of course.  But exposing Congress and where its interests really lay is the key.

It Only Took Five Years...

But our crack Village media has finally figured out that Bush's largest victory in his two terms was the appointments of Sam Alito and John Roberts to the Supreme Court.
In its first five years, the Roberts court issued conservative decisions 58 percent of the time. And in the term ending a year ago, the rate rose to 65 percent, the highest number in any year since at least 1953.

The courts led by Chief Justices Warren E. Burger, from 1969 to 1986, and William H. Rehnquist, from 1986 to 2005, issued conservative decisions at an almost indistinguishable rate — 55 percent of the time.

That was a sharp break from the court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, from 1953 to 1969, in what liberals consider the Supreme Court’s golden age and conservatives portray as the height of inappropriate judicial meddling. That court issued conservative decisions 34 percent of the time.

Four of the six most conservative justices of the 44 who have sat on the court since 1937 are serving now: Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Antonin Scalia and, most conservative of all, Clarence Thomas. (The other two were Chief Justices Burger and Rehnquist.) Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the swing justice on the current court, is in the top 10.

The Roberts court is finding laws unconstitutional and reversing precedent — two measures of activism — no more often than earlier courts. But the ideological direction of the court’s activism has undergone a marked change toward conservative results.

Until she retired in 2006, Justice O’Connor was very often the court’s swing vote, and in her later years she had drifted to the center-left. These days, Justice Kennedy has assumed that crucial role at the court’s center, moving the court to the right. 
Alito's replacement of O'Connor was the big flip, and Democrats played right along.  Now the Roberts Court is reversing some eighty years of precedent and conservatives know they can break the dam with but one more to add permanently to the Alito-Scalia-Roberts-Thomas bloc instead of Kennedy's terribly mysterious dilettantism act.

When Kennedy does play ball, we get stuff like Citizens United.  A more reliable conservative would pull the plug on a lot of things we take for granted right now.  As it is, there's a better than even chance that Kennedy will side with the right anyway.

Boy it's a good thing Alito and Roberts aren't activist judges, huh?  Great call on keeping your powder dry and only mustering 25 on that filibuster on Alito especially there Dems.
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