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Chuck Todd not only decided to take a cheap shot at the Obama's this morning on MSNBC, but also managed to trivialize just who would be harmed if the Republicans continue their hostage taking on the debt ceiling.
TODD: The Obama's are millionaires according to new financial disclosure forms released yesterday. The forms show the President and First Lady Michelle Obama hold assets between $2.8 million and $11.8 million and are you ready for this? Almost all of their investments are in T-bills. So nobody would be hurt more by the debt ceiling not being raised than the President.
Really, Chuck? No one else would be hurt more? If the Republicans put us into another recession or worse yet a depression, I think there are going to be a lot of other people who will come out that a lot worse than the President of the United States. I think somehow the Obama's would manage to recover. I can't say the same for the millions of people who are just getting by now and for whom it might mean life and death if our country's economy gets thrown into a tailspin.
h/t David for the video
If the UN does not already have a team researching crimes against humanity in Syria, there is something seriously wrong and the unit needs to be disbanded. Al Jazeera:
Syria's army and security forces killed at least 27 civilians in a three-day tank-backed attack on the border town of Tel Kelakh to subdue pro-democracy protesters, a rights lawyer told Al Jazeera.
"There are 27 confirmed names. An unknown number of bodies were taken to the main hospital in Tel Kelakh and not handed over to their families," Razan Zaitouna said on Wednesday.
Tel Kelakh is a few kilometres from Lebanon's northern border with Syria.
On Tuesday, security agents violently dispersed university students protesting against Bashar al-Assad, the president, in the country's second-largest city Aleppo, a human rights activist said.
Recapping yesterday's action:
Let's see. How can I recap yesterday's action? Well, the House did nothing at all, of course. They're on recess all week. The Senate confirmed an appeals court judicial nomination (Susan Carney, 2nd Circuit) by the solid but not overwhelming vote of 71-28. And then, they failed to agree to the motion to proceed to that Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act they were hyping yesterday. Failed by a vote of 52-48. That's right. A majority wanted to bring the bill to the floor, but they lost anyway. Here's why.
And here's an item not included in yesterday's wrap-up on the Senate schedule page, for some reason: Harry Reid has filed cloture on the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the 9th Circuit Court of appeals. Liu's been blocked since forever, but with the cloture filing made, the path is cleared for a vote on Thursday. That's big news! But as you know, the title of the post is Today in Congress. And that's tomorrow.
Looking ahead to today:
Because yesterday was such a roaring success, how about we do it again today? That's what the Senate has set up for itself, this time with respect to S. 953, the Offshore Production and Safety Act. It's the Senate counterpart to the oil drilling free-for-all bills we saw over the last two weeks in the House.
The Senate is once again in the position of having to find 60 votes to end debate on the motion to proceed, having set up another very convenient "painless filibuster." Just as well, I guess, and perhaps just reward for yesterday, since I doubt many of us would be terribly enthusiastic about the bill.
And... that's it, as far as the schedule goes. It can be pretty short and to the point when all you've got to deal with is a gridlocked Senate.
Today's floor and committee schedules appear below the fold.
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE?
C&J's chocolate lab, Molly, returned home last night and dropped this in our lap:
INTERNAL & CONFIDENTIAL
May 17, 2011
It has been apparent for some time now that the current field of GOP presidential candidates is not up to the task of facing Barack Obama in 2012. Each carries assorted baggage (marital infidelity, serial flip-flopping, cardboard personality, being a former CEO of a tastes-like-cardboard pizza chain, etc.) that ensures our party may not even make it out of the starting gate. This is unacceptable.
In the wake of a closed-door meeting with top GOP consultants, the members of the Secret Society have concluded that drastic times call for drastic measures. To that end we are in agreement:
We must draft Bush.
No, not Neil, the black sheep. Nor Jeb, who has all but admitted that his last name has given his first name a bad name.
I'm speaking, of course, of George Herbert Walker Bush.
There are ample reasons why the senior Bush is perfect: He has actual Oval Office experience. Unlike his son, he concluded a war and brought the troops home. Thanks to his two terms as Vice President from 1981 to 1989, he still has molecules of CO2 exhaled by Ronald Reagan circulating in his body, making him a walking shrine. And unlike the current crop of Republican candidates, he can tell time.
Can Bush, Sr. really go up against Barack Obama? We've thought this over carefully and, yes, we believe he can. In fact, we contend he can go one better than Obama. For example, instead of ordering strikes from the comfort of the Situation Room, George H.W. Bush will parachute into terrorist hideouts himself and capture evildoers with his bare hands. (But he'll bring an aide with a bazooka just in case they're particularly stubborn.)
Some might say that, at 86, he's really old. We say he's really experienced. However, we do admit that we'll want to avoid certain head-to-head competitions with Mr. Obama, such as, believe it or not, bowling.
You might be asking yourself if this is legal. Yes! Mr. Bush only served one term as president, which means he's got one left in his electoral quiver. Finally, the Republican party will have it's own Grover Cleveland.
We urge you to take this proposal seriously. We've set up a special pre-exploratory exploratory committee called "PoppyPAC" (not to be confused with Poppypac). We urge you to give generously as we ramp up our operation to take back America. As soon as we raise a thousand bales of cash, we can re-unleash the thousand points of light. It will be a momentous day when we go to Kennebunkport and tell Mr. Bush: "Read?our?lips. You?are?drafted."
Seriously. It's all we got.
Randolph Abercrombie Winthorp "Skip" Throckmorton IV
The Secret Society
P.S. As for the First Ladies, it will be no contest. Michelle Obama's biceps may be "guns," but Bar is 100 percent "battle axe."
Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
On Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor and former Republican Congressman John Shadegg falsely claimed that the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the health care reform bill would "decide to lower reimbursement rates, essentially rationing care." In fact, the bill specifically prohibits the board from making "any recommendations to ration health care."
Shadegg: IPAB Will "Lower Reimbursement Rates, Essentially Rationing Care." From the May 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
KILMEADE: [I]f comes down to it, where we are running out of money, we're going to have to make a decision and that decision might be rationing care which we were told was not going to happen.
SHADEGG: Unfortunately, that's right. What's in place in the law right now is -- and what the president's solution is -- is a board, called IPAB, which would decide to lower reimbursement rates, essentially rationing care. Many Republicans think that's not a good idea. We can restructure the program and continue to deliver the kind of services that Americans expect. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/18/11]
Law Specifically Prohibits Advisory Board From Making "Any Recommendations To Ration Health Care ... Or Otherwise Restrict Benefits." As Media Matters has noted, the health care law specifically prohibits the Independent Payment Advisory Board from making "any recommendations to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits." [Media Matters, 10/12/10; Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accessed, 4/21/11]
White House: "IPAB Is Specifically Prohibited By Law From Recommending Any Policies That Ration Care." In an April 20 blog post on the White House website, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle wrote that the "IPAB is specifically prohibited by law from recommending any policies that ration care, raise taxes, increase premiums or cost-sharing, restrict benefits or modify who is eligible for Medicare." [WhiteHouse.gov, 4/20/11]
Kaiser Family Foundation: Board Cannot "Ration Care, Increase Taxes, Change Medicare Benefits Or Eligibility, Increase Beneficiary Premiums And Cost-Sharing Requirement, Or Reduce Low Income Subsidies Under Part D." From the Kaiser Family Foundation's "Explaining Health Reform: Medicare and the New Independent Payment Advisory Board":
The Board is prohibited from submitting proposals that would ration care, increase taxes, change Medicare benefits or eligibility, increase beneficiary premiums and cost-sharing requirements, or reduce low-income subsidies under Part D. Prior to 2019, the Board is also prohibited from recommending changes in payments to providers and suppliers that are scheduled to receive a reduction in their payment updates in excess of a reduction due to productivity adjustments, as specified in the health reform law. The law establishes specific rules and deadlines for Congressional consideration of the Board's recommendations, and specific timelines and procedures for Congressional action on alternative proposals to achieve equivalent savings. [Kaiser Family Foundation, Explaining Health Reform: Medicare and the New Independent Payment Advisory Board, 5/10/10]
Pam Spaulding has been having some fun with the end-of-the-world-is-coming [Saturday] crowd.
Here's an update from Pam; though left unmentioned is whether that weird storm extending West from the Atlantic Ocean is the beginning of that horror-of-horrors process.
Note the Rapture Index is at near-record high of 182, indicating imminent End Times. But like many religious people, these guys who do the Rapture Index possess what Bertrand Russell used to term their "corners of madness" of significant girth.
So, let us join Pam, Lauri Lebo and many others in saying: Dear Lord, we mock thee.
From Lauri Lebo at Religion Dispatches:
I've been fielding a lot of questions from friends about the upcoming Rapture, which Christian doomsday prognosticator Harold Camping and his sad motley group of followers say will take place May 21. This is the day that true believers will be taken up to heaven, while everybody else -- Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics and anyone who supports gay marriage or accepts evolution -- will be stuck here on Earth for another six months while war and pestilence rains down on us. Then, on Oct. 21, the world will end.
... Well, because God created time zones -- just as he apparently created US international borders -- the Rapture will begin at 6 p.m. in each time zone. Also, you'll know when the Rapture will begin because it will be preceded by an earthquake.
... ?starting in the Pacific Rim at around the 6 p.m. local time hour, in each time zone, there will be a great earthquake, such as has never been in the history of the Earth,? he says. The true Christian believers -- he hopes he's one of them -- will be ?raptured?: They'll fly upward to heaven. And for the rest?
?It's just the horror of horror stories,? he says, ?and on top of all that, there's no more salvation at that point. And then the Bible says it will be 153 days later that the entire universe and planet Earth will be destroyed forever.?
AP has a headline today, ‘Revelations Could Tarnish Schwartzenegger’s Legacy’.
Now he’s revealed to be the father of an out-of-wedlock child, a secret he kept during two gubernatorial terms.
No matter his accomplishments in office, Schwarzenegger may be best remembered as yet another philandering politician who got caught.
Let us not forget history. California elected a actor nicknamed, ‘The Gropinator’. Schwartzenegger had a reputation as a man who liked to bully and humiliate women. Now his wife is paying the price for turning a blind eye to what was there all along, but the voters did not choose him for his decency– they wanted a bully.
His legacy will be his actions as Governor. The tough guy didn’t deliver as promised. That’s the betrayal the voters won’t forgive.
From 1885 to 1958 it always cost between two and three cents to mail a letter. That's right, for millions of Americans alive today, born in the '40s and '50s, the price of a postage stamp was steady at three cents. In 1958 it went to four cents... and it's been rising ever since. Today it costs 44 cents to mail a letter, not much of a burden for businesses (or for rich people who have their businesses send their mail) because it's a deductible expense. In other words, the cost of sending letters-- if you're rich-- is paid for by the taxpayers. If you're poor and want to mail a letter... well, it used to be subsidized too. But somewhere along the line after the New Deal days the wealthy started getting more and more control over government, and started making it work for themselves. Congress is filled with millionaires-- and not just the despicable House of Lords, even the People's House. The GOP shill running for Congress in NY-26 a week from today, Jane Corwin, is "worth" $150 million.
You think these people know anything about the problems the rest of us feel? They don't. For the most part, they have no empathy and little interest in the trials and tribulations of "the little people." And we keep electing them. I want to persuade myself that Democratic Party millionaires and billionaires in Congress aren't as bad as Republican millionaires and billionaires. And to some extent-- the extent that they hew to party principles-- it's sometimes true. But there's something wrong with these rich people. I know it's a weekday and I usually save these kinds of stories for the weekends, but stick with me if you have the time.
When I moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco, I moved from running my own small indie label and making-- at best-- $10,000 a year (after many years of making $5,000) to what seemed to me like a gargantuan annual salary of $90,000 a year, more than my father ever made. I felt like I was the richest guy evah! And my spirits were high. I'm workin' at Warner Brothers, running Sire (the coolest label) and feeling great and feeling rich.
My two best friends were not nearly as ebullient. One was making a million a year, and he was bitter and angry that so many others made so much more than he did. He put all his energy into stealing everything he could from the company. The other guy was already making $250,000 a year, and he was pissed off too. I was shocked when he told me, "One day we'll break free from these chains of poverty." He wasn't kidding. It was a good warning for me that these rich people were all insane and completely divorced from the reality I had lived my whole life in. I vowed to never let that happen to me.
Last Christmas I rented a riad for a month in Marrakech. It was a pretty tony neighborhood. Right next door was the king's private residence, and across the alley was the former villa of one of Marrakech's most distinguished and beloved residents, Yves Saint Laurent. Around the corner: the palatial residences of Bernard-Henri Lévy (English version here) and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who until this weekend was favored to be the next President of France, and who was denied bail while awaiting trial for raping a maid at a Midtown New York City hotel.
Prosecutors had asked the judge, Melissa C. Jackson, supervising judge of Manhattan Criminal Court, to remand Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, contending that he was a flight risk. They also indicated that a similar attack may have occurred.
?Some of this information include reports that he has in fact engaged in conduct similar to the conduct alleged in this complaint on at least one other occasion,? said John McConnell, an assistant district attorney, adding that the district attorney?s office was still investigating the other occasion, which occurred outside the United States.
In opposing bail, prosecutors highlighted the serious nature of the allegations.
?The defendant restrained a hotel employee inside of his room,? Mr. McConnell said. ?He sexually assaulted her and attempted to forcibly rape her,? and when that failed, Mr. McConnell said, he forced her to perform oral sex.
The IMF chief who allegedly sodomized a Manhattan hotel maid proved the height of pompous arrogance yesterday, throwing a fit over a battle on his bail -- which left him parked on a wooden bench in an East Harlem station house the whole day, sources said.
Leading French presidential contender and accused sex attacker Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 63, was finally led out of the NYPD's Special Victims Unit at around 11 p.m. in handcuffs, scowling and red-faced.
Sporting a long navy-blue coat and an open collar, he refused to acknowledge reporters as he was placed in the back of a police car and whisked off to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.
Sources said he was taken out of the police station house only after finally agreeing to a medical exam -- and only after cops had moved to obtain a warrant to gather potential DNA evidence.
Clues they're looking for include possible DNA from his alleged victim that might be found in scratches on his body.
He had been set for arraignment last night, but one of his lawyers, Bill Taylor, at a hastily called press conference outside Manhattan Criminal Court, said:
"Our client willingly consented to a scientific and forensic examination... at the request of the government. It's being done. In light of the hour, we've agreed to postpone the arraignment until [this morning], and we expect to be in court with him."
Click on the chart to enlarge
Looks like that half million dollars Republican Craig Huey spent out of his own pocket may have earned him a spot in the July run-off against front-runner Janice Hahn who was supported by the L.A. political machine. He appears to have edged progressive champion Debra Bowen by around 200 votes. In 4th place is the other progressive in the race, Marcy Winograd. Many people will say that Marcy played the spoiler and ruined Bowen's chances to make the runoff and beat Hahn. But Marcy has a unique message and had every right to run and she probably wouldn't have run had Bowen not played into Joe Trippi's hands-- Bowen's consultant-- with a bogus Israel pledge meant to lure Marcy into the race and do... exactly what was done. Bowen should never have signed the pledge, just said she supports a two-state solution and the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in Israel. The pledge was created to enrage Marcy and lure her into the race to split the progressive vote and hamper Bowen. It worked.
However... there are still 9,800 absentee votes to be counted, more than enough to make up for the 200 vote lead Huey has over Debra. We may not know what the result is for another week or even two.
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