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    In case you missed it, here is tonight's 60 Minutes report on the financial crisis, and how we got here.

    No doubt this is not the whole story, but it's enough: $60 trillion enough!

    Warning: You may find this frightening or depressing.

    Think of this when you hear John McCain and the Republicans try to blame too much regulation for the current mess we're in.

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    It's not quite 8 minutes long. Listen to Powell.

    What politics could be.

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    Or "Dick Fingers."

    [via Shelley]

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    The bankers paid themselves $18 buh-buh-buh-billion dollars.

    Last night on the News Hour we heard that a talking Harvard head say that if the taxpayers did not do that, that the people who got us in this mess would leave. Promises. Promise!

    Galbraith was great and said, let them leave.

    Obama chided the bankers for taking the $18 billion as bonuses for their ineptitude ... I mean, performance.

    We don't have to look to the pirates off the African coast any longer to see the mentality in action.

    I say taking $18 billion of tax payer money is tantamount to embezzlement.

  • (1)

    ...unless, of course, you mean the Constitution of ancient Rome.

    Many seem to have made the false assumption that we're stuck with the filibuster and the supermajority requirement in the Senate to stop a filibuster. So here's some news:

    The filibuster is not in the United States Constitution. Nope. Go ahead. Go look. I dare you.

    What the heck is this filibuster stuff then?

    In the United States Senate, rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless "three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn" (usually 60 out of 100 senators) brings debate to a close by invoking cloture under Senate Rule XXII. According to the Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Ballin (1892), changes to Senate rules could however be achieved by a simple majority. Nevertheless, under current Senate rules, a rule change itself could be filibustered, and in this case votes from two-thirds of the Senators present and voting would be required to break the filibuster. Despite this written requirement, the possibility exists that the filibuster could be changed by majority vote, using the so-called nuclear option. In current practice, actual continuous floor speeches are not required, although the Senate Majority Leader may require an actual traditional filibuster if he or she so chooses.

    Got it? It's a Senate rule, and now you don't even have to filibuster to get the effect of filibustering. Isn't that nice and tidy. Wouldn't want to actually make a Senator work, now, would you?

    And what about the House of Representatives?

    In the House of Representatives, the filibuster (the right to unlimited debate) was used until 1842, when a permanent rule limited the duration of debate. The disappearing quorum was a tactic used by the minority until an 1890 rule eliminated it. As the membership of the House grew much larger than the Senate, the House has acted earlier to control floor debate and the delay and blocking of floor votes.

    Imagine the braying filibustering we would have seen yesterday.

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    They claim to be about "getting the government off of our backs." The problem here is that the Tea Party seems to be salivating at the opportunity to enact on the state level laws that prohibit equal rights for gays, women and even racial minorities. Listen past the opening salvos about big government and you realize that what the tea baggers really want is to replace federal government authority with state government authority. Their central assumption is that states have inherent rights but individuals do not.

    Witness their reactions to last week's court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act as applied to Massachusetts:

    A spokeswoman for one of the biggest Tea Party umbrella organizations, Tea Party Patriots, said that social questions were not part of their mission.

    “As far as an assertion of states’ rights goes, I believe it’s a good thing,” said Shelby Blakely, executive director of The New Patriot Journal, the group’s online publication. “The Constitution does not allow federal regulation of gay marriage just as it doesn’t allow for federal regulation of health care.”

    “But I don’t want to come off saying I support gay marriage,” she added.

    No of course not. In fact, the social gains of the past 50 years seem to be in the crosshairs of tea baggers from Rand Paul to Sarah Palin to Sharron Angle.

    And then there's tea bagger heaven: Arizona, where "papers please" is not a line from a Nazi in a World War 2 movie but rather a populist mantra.

    This is not libertarian. This is authoritarian.

    Let's look at a definition of Libertarianism:

    Libertarians believe that individuals should have complete freedom of action, provided their actions do not infringe on the freedom of others.

    Encyclopedia Brittanica

    Libertarianism describes a range of political beliefs that advocate the maximization of an individual's ability to think and act with few constraints from large social structures, such as government,[1][2][3] and the minimization or even abolition of the state.


    An advocate of the doctrine of free will

    Mirriam-Webster ("libertarian")

    The Tea Party, with it's stated goal of establishing greater authority to state governments, is not libertarian. In fact, when you look at the code words, off-the-record remarks, and actions of Tea Party leaders and supporters, it becomes clear that the Tea Party is actually about authoritarianism. To the Tea Party, the federal government's oppression is that it prevents them from oppressing gays, oppressing women (especially with regard to healthcare), and oppressing racial minorities.

    And yet the Beltway crowd seems to buy into the claim that the Tea Party is libertarian.

    E.J. Dione seems to think the Tea Party makes the common mistake:

    The rise of the tea party movement is a throwback to an old form of libertarianism that sees most of the domestic policies that government has undertaken since the New Deal as unconstitutional. It typically perceives the most dangerous threats to freedom as the design of well-educated elitists out of touch with “American values.”

    In a fascinating article analyzing the Tea Party — and the prevalence of women tea baggers — Ruth Rosen identifies some disturbing characteristics:

    One important difference, however, is race. At Tea Party rallies you don’t see faces with dark complexions. Another important distinction is that men and women are drawn to this sprawling movement for a variety of overlapping but possibly different reasons. Both men and women seem to embrace an incoherent “ideology” which calls for freedom from government, no taxes, and an inchoate desire to “take back America,” which means restoring the nation to some moment when the country was white and “safe.”

    She goes on to note how the conservative brand of "feminism" isn't quite the feminism that states that "Feminism is the radical idea that women are people." On the contrary:

    Here is a great irony. Since 1980, when the backlash began attacking the women’s movement, young secular American women have resisted calling themselves feminists because the religious right-wing had so successfully created an unattractive image of a feminist as a hairy, man-hating, lesbian who spouted equality, but really wanted to kill babies. Now, Palin is forcing liberal feminists to debate whether these Christian feminists are diluting feminism or legitimizing it by making it possible to say that one is a feminist.

    When I read what women write on Christian women’s web sites, I hear an echo from the late nineteenth century when female reformers sought to protect the family from “worldly dangers.” Frances Willard, leader of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, urged millions of women to enter the public sphere in order to protect their families, to address the decadent consequences and casualties of capitalism, to win suffrage, and to fight for prohibition, all in the name of protecting the purity of their homes and families.

    For many contemporary evangelical Christian women, their motivations are similar. They want to enter the public sphere or even run for office to eliminate abortion, protect marriage, contain sexual relations, oppose gay marriage and clean up the mess made by the sexual revolution. [Emphasis added.]

    This doesn't sound like liberty. It sounds like vesting greater freedom to state governments so they can oppress entire classes of people with impunity.

    Am I wrong? If so, I'd love to see some proof.

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    Yes, Sarah Palin is still playing big in mainstream media headlines. But watch out, girl! There's a new hottie basking in the sunguns.

    Christine O'Donnell.

    Thank goodness for Jon Stewart!

    The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Tea Party Primaries - Beyond the Palin
    Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

    My question is this: If Christine O'Donnell were not young and throwing out the cutes, would we be hearing so much about her?

    Here we are in 2010, facing the same old crap coverage from the mainstream media. They obsess about certain candidates and then justify it by all the coverage being given. Hype-filled stenography. Blah.

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    The United States Senate is stalled. A minority of Senators threatens to filibuster. Legislation is killed.

    I am old enough to remember when filibusters actually required filibustering. That is, when a filibuster took place, Senators had to actually show up to do it. Trudging bleary eyed, sometimes in their pajamas, they would trundle forward for a roll call so that the process could go on. But now that is a thing of the past. Today all the minority has to do is say, "filibuster," and it is as if the process had taken place,

    I am reminded of the Star Trek episode, "Taste of Armageddon," where the Enterprise encounters a civilization that is at war, but instead of using real weapons, they fight using computer simulations. However, there are casualties, as each side puts those who would have been killed, had it been a real attack, into disintegration chambers.

    Finally, when the Enterprise and its crew are declared "dead" in the computer simulation, Captain Kirk can stand it no longer, and with phasers, they destroy the computer, and the whole game starts to unravel.

    ANAN: You realize what you have done?

    KIRK: Yes, I do. I've given you back the horrors of war. The Vendikans now assume that you've broken your agreement and that you're preparing to wage real war with real weapons. They'll want do the same. Only the next attack they launch will do a lot more than count up numbers in a computer. They'll destroy cities, devastate your planet. You of course will want to retaliate. If I were you, I'd start making bombs. Yes, Councilman, you have a real war on your hands. You can either wage it with real weapons, or you might consider an alternative. Put an end to it. Make peace.

    ANAN: There can be no peace. Don't you see? We've admitted it to ourselves. We're a killer species. It's instinctive. It's the same with you. Your General Order Twenty Four.

    KIRK: All right. It's instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers, but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes. Knowing that we won't kill today. Contact Vendikar. I think you'll find that they're just as terrified, appalled, horrified as you are, that they'll do anything to avoid the alternative I've given you. Peace or utter destruction. It's up to you.

    Today the Senate does not put people, but legislation into disintegration chambers, all in the name of a filibuster that never takes place.

    At it too long, the Senators who meekly acquiesce to killing legislation in a legislative simulation have lost their nerve.

    Where's Captain Kirk when you need him?