Month: December 2012

Happy New Year!

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Best wishes to you and yours for a healthy and prosperous New Year!

And now…the countdown…

Monday Blog Roundup – 12-31-12

Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

You Say 2012 Was Bad?
More trouble than ever is brewing, not only in Afghanistan but across the border in P..

Obama on NRA Proposal
Obama on Meet the Press: “I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns i..

Fiscal Cliff Fiasco Part CCXXVIII
We’ve seen these budget talks break down so many times now that it’s hard to get too..

Obama Lobbying for Marriage Equality
The Sun-Times Lynn Sweet reports that President Obama is personally lobbying home-st..

The national debt? Republicans built that
As President Obama and Congressional leaders negotiate in Washington, the American p..

Year in Review: Take TIME’s 2012 News Quiz
Year in Review: Take TIME’s 2012 News Quiz

Settlement Expected With Banks Over Home Loans
Banking regulators are said to be close to a $10 billion settlement with 14 banks tha..

Who Paid For The Log Cabin Republican Ad Against Hagel?
That’s the question Glenn Greewald wants answered. I do too. The background: the Log..

Obama Calls Newtown Shooting ‘Worst Day’ of Presidency
President Obama said the Newton, Conn., shootings on December 14 were the “worst day”..

Obama’s Top 35 Accomplishments – Looking Back On A Historic Presidency (So Far)

Hillary Clinton hospitalized after doctors discover blood clot

Unfortunately, even this latest incident with the Secretary of State won’t quell the vicious innuendos and lies coming from the right-wing fringe which includes Fox News and right wing talk radio…

MSNBC

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was admitted to a New York City hospital on Sunday after doctors discovered that a blood clot had formed, the State Department said in a statement.

Philippe Reines of the State Department said in the statement that the clot stems from a concussion Clinton sustained several weeks ago.

Reines said that Clinton, 65, is being treated with anti-coagulants at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. She will be monitored there for the next 48 hours, he said.

“Her doctors will continue to assess her condition, including other issues associated with her concussion,” he said. “They will determine if any further action is required.”

Clinton sustained the concussion from fainting earlier in December. She had been sick for several days with the flu and had canceled a trip to Morocco where she was to officially recognize the Syrian rebels.

Days after she fainted, the State Department said she was at home recovering. Officials also issued a statement from Dr. Lisa Bardack of Mount Kisco Medical Group and Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi of George Washington University that provided more information about the secretary’s condition:

“Secretary Clinton developed a stomach virus, leading to extreme dehydration, and subsequently fainted. Over the course of this week we evaluated her and ultimately determined she had also sustained a concussion.  We recommended that the Secretary continue to rest and avoid any strenuous activity, and strongly advised her to cancel all work events for the coming week.  We will continue to monitor her progress as she makes a full recovery.”

It wasn’t the first time Clinton passed out while sick with a stomach bug. As a U.S. senator representing New York, Clinton fainted in 2005 during a speech in Buffalo after complaining of a stomach virus.

 

The GOP’s Five Greatest Disappointments In 2012

The GOP’s Five Greatest Disappointments In 2012

This couldn’t have happened to a more deserving group of fanatics…

TPMDC

This was a bad year for the Republican Party. What started out as a year of hope that they would return to power ended in a series of profound disappointments that left party strategists debating whether the GOP would become a permanent minority unless they change course.

Here are the party’s five most disappointing moments.

1. Payroll Tax Cut Defeat

The year began with a standoff between President Obama and House Republicans that split the GOP and ended in a clear defeat for the party. Worse, it placed the mantle of working class tax breaks in the hands of a Democrat.

Obama demanded a one-year extension of the payroll tax cut; House GOP leaders made a public showing of their resistance, insisting on offsets but resisting ideological compromise until the bitter end. Obama stood firm, as did House Republicans — until Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly called on them to give up the game.

On Feb. 13, they did, and agreed to extend the tax break without paying for it. It would prove to be a turning point in how Obama dealt with the GOP.

2. Nominating A Presidential Candidate They Disliked

The GOP’s presidential field was widely seen as weak. The race came down to two unpopular relics of the past (Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum) and a former blue stater who once embraced abortion rights, gun control and planted the seeds for Obamacare (Mitt Romney.)

After a series of embarrassing moments from the other candidates involving moon colonies,anti-porn crusades and the like, Republicans finally decided they had nowhere to go but Romney, crowing him their nominee on May 30. Conservatives never really warmed up to the former Massachusetts governor, and many lamented the selection. But, they consoled themselves, at least he had what it took to throw Barack Obama out of office.

3. Obamacare Upheld

On June 28, the Supreme Court broke Republicans’ hearts when it refused to strike down Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

It came at a time when Republican leaders were openly preparing for victory in quashing the Affordable Care Act. Even more depressing: the deciding vote in the 5-4 ruling came from one-time conservative hero, Chief Justice John Roberts, whose vote the right had mostly taken for granted. It left conservatives flummoxed and eager to understand his betrayal.

Now their only hope for repealing Obamacare was to defeat Obama.

4. Obama Reelected

On Nov. 6, Barack Obama was re-elected in a swift and brutal victory, sending shock waves through conservatives who were convinced they had the election in the bag. Mitt Romney was among those convinced he’d win, his campaign aides said, until well into election night.

Also distressing: Senate Democrats gained two seats against all odds. And while a redistricting advantage helped Republicans keep the House majority, Democratic candidates for the lower chamber picked up more votes overall than GOP candidates.

It was a crushing blow for many reasons. The America that much of the Republican base knew and loved seemed to be gone, replaced by a new America more diverse, young and liberal. The day of reckoning had arrived.

5. Taxes Are Going Up

The fix came in with the election results, and Republicans were immediately forced to come to grips with the fact that taxes are about to go up. And, because they control the House, there’s no easy way to dodge accountability.

The path toward acceptance has been ugly and painful, and the dilemma on their defining issue unenviable. If Republican strike a deficit-reduction deal with Obama, they’ll devastate and demoralize their base. If they scuttle a deal, they’ll face the wrath of a public that intends to blame them for driving the country off the proverbial fiscal cliff.

All this amid a backdrop of top GOP voices desperately urging their party to reverse course on core issues from immigration to gay rights — or risk being driven into the political wilderness.

10 things you need to know today: December 30, 2012

A pedestrian walks down Main Street in Greenfield, Mass., on Dec. 27 when an earlier storm hit the region before this weekend's snowfall.

The Week

1. OBAMA ACCUSES REPUBLICANS OF BLOCKING TAX COMPROMISE
In taped remarks for NBC’s Meet the Press, President Obama said that Republicans “have had trouble saying yes to a number of repeated offers” to avoid raising taxes on the middle class, adding that “now the pressure is on Congress to produce.” Unless lawmakers act by midnight on Monday, a set of tax increases and spending cuts will automatically be imposed on Jan. 1, which would affect virtually every taxpayer and government program. On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said “hats off to the president,” because “he is going to get his tax rate increases” on wealthy Americans. Obama’s last offer to Republicans included keeping tax cuts for all Americans except those making more than $400,000. But Republicans were seeking more cuts to programs like Medicare and unemployment benefits, which has remained a point of contention in negotiations. [New York TimesBuzzFeed]
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2. INDIAN RAPE VICTIM’S BODY CREMATED IN NEW DELHI
A young Indian woman who died Saturday from the injuries she sustained from being gang-raped and battered on a New Delhi bus on Dec. 16 has been cremated. Her body had just been flown back to India from Singapore, where she had been transferred for treatment. The woman’s body was met at the airport by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party, as officials have seen an outpouring of anger and grief by millions across the country demanding greater protection for women from sexual violence. Six suspects who were arrested for allegedly perpetrating the attack were charged with murder on Saturday. The men face the death penalty if convicted. [Associated Press]
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3. FOOT OF SNOW HITS PARTS OF NEW ENGLAND
A winter storm that began Saturday afternoon and ended early Sunday blanketed parts of New England with up to a foot of snow. Six to 12 inches of snow fell in Rhode Island, eastern Connecticut, and eastern Massachusetts. The storm spread over the Northeast and parts of Ohio just days after the regions was hit by another storm that moved in from the nation’s midsection. [Associated Press]
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4. SYRIAN ENVOY WARNS OF SURGE IN DEATHS
Lakdhar Brahimi, the international envoy to Syria, warned Sunday that as many as 100,000 Syrians could die in the next year if a solution to the country’s civil war is not found. Activists say that more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which began in March 2011. Over the past week Brahimi went to Damascus where he met President Bashar al-Assad then flew to Moscow, one of Syria’s closest international allies, where he discussed ways of ending the country’s crisis. “The situation in Syria is bad. Very, very bad,” Brahimi said after meeting Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby. “The situation is deteriorating.” [Associated Press]
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5. NYC SUBWAY SHOVER CHARGED WITH MURDER
New York City woman Erika Menendez, 31, was charged with murder as a hate crime for allegedly pushing Sunando Sen in front of a 7 train in Queens on Thursday. Sen was crushed to death by the oncoming train. Menendez told police that she has hated Hindus and Muslims since Sept. 11 and pushed Sen because she thought he was Muslim. Sen, 46, was from India but it is unclear whether he was either Hindu or Muslim. Menendez could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted. This was the second subway-pushing death this month, though such incidents are generally rare. [CBS News]
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6. FLU SEASON IN U.S. GETS EARLY START, COULD BE SEVERE
The flu season in the United States has made its earliest debut in a decade, say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which could make this flu season severe. In early December, the CDC said it was noticing an uptick in flu activity about a month before authorities normally see it. But officials said the vaccine formulated for this year is well-matched to the strains of the virus seen so far and urged those who have not been vaccinated to get a flu shot. [Washington Post]
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7. GEORGE H.W. BUSH LEAVES INTENSIVE CARE
Former President George H.W. Bush was moved out of intensive care at The Methodist Hospital in Houston on Saturday. Bush was hospitalized Nov. 23 for treatment of a bronchitis-related cough. He was moved to intensive care on Dec. 23 after he developed a fever. Bush, 88, is the country’s oldest living former president. [Associated Press]
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8. 21 PAKISTANI TRIBAL POLICE FOUND SHOT TO DEATH
Officials have found the bodies of 21 Pakistani tribal policemen in the Jabai area of Peshawar. The men, who were believed to have been kidnapped by the Taliban, were found shot to death. The policemen disappeared on Thursday when militants attacked two posts in the region. Meanwhile, in southwest Pakistan, a suicide bomber driving a bus packed with explosives rammed into a bus carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims, killing 19 people. Pakistan has experienced a spike in killings over the last year by radical Sunni Muslims targeting Shiites who they consider heretics. [Associated Press (2)]
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9. VIDEO CAPTURES DEADLY RUSSIAN PLANE CRASH
Amateur video of a Russian plane crash shows part of the passenger aircraft crashing into a highway, debris flying onto the road, before five people aboard were killed. The video shows a car swerving after the impact then straightening and continuing down the highway. Behind that car is the vehicle which had the camera, capturing the scene for just over 30 seconds. That driver dodged most of the debris and managed to pull over and stop. The plane, which is owned by the Russian airline Red Wings was carrying eight people, all of them crew members, when it careered off the runway Saturday while landing at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport. The plane was traveling from the Czech Republic. [CBC News]
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10. BEYONCÉ TO BRING 100 FANS ONSTAGE DURING SUPER BOWL SHOW
As part of her new multimillion dollar partnership with Pepsi, singer Beyoncé has asked her fans to submit photos of themselves to be featured in a TV ad promoting her Super Bowl halftime show performance on Feb. 3. Of those who submit pictures by Jan. 19, 50 will be given a pair of tickets to join the singer onstage at the Superdome in New Orleans. [MTV]

Lindsay Graham: I Will Destroy America’s Solvency Unless The Social Security Retirement Age Is Raised

How much clearer can the GOP get with their extortion threats to American citizens?  Graham is a Senator with enough clout to back up his threat.  This is shameful…

Think Progress

Although official Washington is currently fixated on the so-called “Fiscal Cliff,” the biggest threat to American prosperity is the debt ceiling, which must be raised in February to prevent economic catastrophe. If Republicans refuse to reach a deal on the so-called cliff, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that they will spark a new recession in 2013. But if Republicans block action on the debt ceiling, they will make that potential recession look quaint. Without raising the debt ceiling, the United States will be forced to embrace austerity so severe it will lead to “a bigger GDP drop than that experienced during the Great Recession of 2008.”

But in an interview on Fox News Sunday this morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to oppose this must-pass bill unless Social Security benefits are taken away from millions of future retirees:

I’m not going to raise the debt ceiling unless we get serious about keeping the country from becoming Greece, saving Social Security and Medicare [sic]. So here’s what i would like: meaningful entitlement reform — not to turn Social Security into private accounts, not to take a voucher approach to Medicare — but, adjust the age for Social Security, CPI changes and means testing and look beyond the ten-year window. I cannot in good conscience raise the debt ceiling without addressing the long term debt problems of this country and I will not.

Watch it:

This is extortion, plain and simple. It is the budgetary equivalent of threatening to break America’s legs unless Congress agrees to break the backs of millions poised on the edge of retirement. Graham’s position is that seniors should have to wait longer for their retirement benefits — even if they work in physically demanding jobs that literally tear the body apart by the time a worker reaches age 65 — and that those benefits should be reduced in the future.

And if Congress won’t agree to this deal, then Graham is prepared to thrust the nation into an economic calamity unheard of since the Great Depression.

Then and Now…How Will Hunting Got It Right

Consider this:

The following is a snippet from a film made 16 years ago.

The film is called Good Will Hunting

The scene:

The relevancy of Will’s answer to an NSA recruiter’s question  and our current geopolitical issues is astonishing.  Watch it flow from there.

It’s an amazing scene.  I may be the only one that thinks so, but see for yourself.

Watch:

Obama To Appear Sunday On ‘Meet The Press’

Obama Meet The Press

This will be a rare occasion for the POTUS…

The Huffington Post

President Barack Obama will appear Sunday for an exclusive interview on “Meet the Press,” as fiscal cliff negotiations come down to the wire before the Dec. 31 deadline.

Obama didn’t sit for interviews on any of the Sunday public affairs shows while running for reelection in 2012. He last made the Sunday show rounds when pushing for health care reform in Sept. 2009.

“Meet the Press” host David Gregory, who sparked controversy and prompted a D.C. police investigation after holding up an empty gun magazine during last Sunday’s interview with National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre, will return from vacation to conduct the interview with the president. NBC News has not commented on the police investigation.

Obama’s Sunday appearance will be his 11th on “Meet the Press” and second as president.

GOP Senators Want To Take Debt Ceiling Hostage In Order To Raise Retirement Age

Those guys are such creeps.  Someone needs to tell them about the results of the last General Election.  They appear to be stuck on stupid

Think Progress

Two Republican senators want to use the threat of an economic meltdown to raise the retirement age and cut Medicare. Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a plan today that would raise the federal debt limit by $1 trillion in exchange for $1 trillion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as The Hill reported:

The Corker-Alexander dollar-for-dollar plan has several components.

It would structurally reform Medicare by creating competing private options giving seniors greater choice of healthcare plans. It would not, however, cap Medicare spending.

The plan would also give states more flexibility to manage Medicaid programs and prevent states from “gaming the federal share of the program with state tax charges.”

It would gradually raise the Social Security retirement age and use the “chained CPI” formula to calculate cost-of-living adjustments, curbing the growing cost of benefits.

In exchange, it would direct the debt limit be increased by the same amount as the savings generated from entitlement reform.

The U.S. will hit its debt limit on or around December 31st. The Treasury Department estimates that, using extraordinary measures, it could avoid default for another two months or so. Allowing the U.S. to default on its debt via not raising the debt ceiling could cause a complete financial meltdown. The 2011 debt ceiling debacle — during which House Republicans nearly pushed the country into a default due to their intransigence on taxes — cost the country about $19 billion in higher interest payments and at least one million jobs.

Corker and Alexander are threatening more economic chaos in order to achieve one of the most regressive potential policy changes. Though lawmakers point to America’s increasing life expectancy in order to justify raising the retirement age, life expectancy is only increasing for wealthier workers in non-physical jobs. As the Center for Economic and Policy Research put it, “there has been a sharp rise in inequality in life expectancy by income over the last three decades that mirrors the growth in inequality in income.”

Charles Krauthammer: Obama Showing ‘Great Skill, Ruthless Skill’ In Fiscal Cliff Talks

Charles Krauthammer Obama

Praise for President Obama from someone on Fox News is major.  Albeit just one person doled out the praise, Charles Krauthammer is one of the more influential of the Fox News “contributors” which makes his statement news…

The Huffington Post

Columnist and Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer said Thursday that he thinks President Obama has been acting with “great skill” in the negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Talks have continually stalled as the GOP and the Obama administration struggle to produce a deal about how much to raise taxes or cut spending. On Friday, the president summoned Congressional leaders to the White House for one more attempt at an accord.

Krauthammer told Hannity that Obama had been able to create a “civil war” over taxes within the GOP. Several high-profile Republicans have said that the party should concede to raising taxes on people making over $250,000.

“He’s been using this — and I must say with great skill, and ruthless skill, and success — to fracture and basically shatter the Republican opposition,” he said. “The only redoubt of the opposition is the House. And his objective from the very beginning was to break the will of the Republicans in the House, and to create an internal civil war, and he’s done that. How did he do it? By always insisting from day one after the election that Republicans had to raise rates … he did that because he knew it would create a crisis among Republicans, and it did.”

Hannity, predictably, did not give Obama quite as much credit.

(h/t Mediaite)