Saturday, December 18

Shep Smith Blows Up over Stalling of 9/11 First Responders Bill

Smith: How do they sleep at night after this vote on 9/11 First Responders?


We've cover this hear, and let people know they didn't pass it. Jon Stewart is absolutely right, whose going to hold these people's feet to the fire? We can give tax cuts to billionaires who don't need them, and we can't help these people? Everybody who voted against it should stand up and account for himself or herself. We spend more money giving Warren Buffet his tax return.

Yes, amazing isn't it - that someone on Fox news, including Chris Wallace who concurs fully, would actually come out this forcefully on this issue?

Shep was responding to these two awesome clips from Thursday Nights Daily Show.

Part 1

Part 2

For some time now Shep Smith has been the new Alan Colmes at Fox News, with occasional uncontrolled explosions of truth seeping out around the edges.

He has previosly Ripped Fox News over it's handling of the Shirley Sherrod Fiasco. He's ranted about the AIG Bonuses.

Slammed Fox for it's Shameless Defense of BP. He even argued in Favor of the Public Option in Health Care. The "We Don't Fucking Torture" rant. His response to Birther Hate Mail. And most famously, his empathetic response to Hurricane Katrina.

While his most recent rant is commendable, it's also tragically flawed. There's a reason that The More You Watch Fox, The Less You Know and this segment is no different.

No where in this segment does Smith utter the word "Republicans".

He rails about "They" and "Them" and he asks "Whose going to hold THEM accountable?" - But he doesn't bother to Name them, not once.

The list who voted to block this act is HERE. Every Democrat (except Reid, which allows him to bring the measure up again), voted for the measure - except for Sam Brownback who didn't vote, Every Republican Voted AGAINST This.

NAYs ---- 42
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brown (R-MA)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)

DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kirk (R-IL)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)

Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)

Not Voting - 1
Brownback (R-KS)

That's who THEY are. That's who should be held "Accountable". This vote was blocked by Republicans to Give Warren Buffet, Paris Hilton and the Koch Brothers a Tax Bonus, they DON'T NEED!.

But will Shepard Smith say THAT on the air?

I'll bet that he won't, and neither will anyone else at Fox. Just as they haven't held Republicans Accountable for holding the Unemployed Hostage. Just as they haven't reported that it has been Republicans who are punishing Children for the Sins of thier Parents by blocking the Dream Act. Just as they won't admit woh has been putting our National Security at Risk by stalling and delaying the START treaty. They won't admit that the party they openly and shameless cheerlead for have been the ones screwing this Counry UP for years. They won't tell people the truth, even while pretending to.

Yes, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is moments away from being repealed and that's a great thing - but we can't forget one simple fact.

FOX and REPUBLICANS can't be trusted. But at least this outburst gives us just one more chance to make that fact obvious.


Update DADT Repeal has just passed the Senate 65 - 31, now they begin to take up the START votes.

Friday, December 17

Tax Deal Passes The House

As of late last night, the Tax Deal - is a Done Deal. The House Passed the agreement 277 to 148.

There were about 130 Yeas from Democrats and Republicans alike. Aint "Bipartisanship" grand?

The US House of Representatives has passed a compromise tax bill averting a New Year rise in income taxes for millions of Americans.


However, President Barack Obama had said that a compromise was needed to win Republican support.

The $858bn (£542bn) package was passed by 277 votes to 148 in the House of Representatives.

This Tax Deal is now Headed for Obama Desk, so the the real question is what now?

In many ways Obama is betting his Presidency on this deal. He's betting that this will finally get the economy moving by putting dollars in the pockets of people so they can spend and drive the economy up, not depend on it to all trickle down.

But something else has happened. Most of these tax cuts are essentially maintaining the current status quo of not only cuts put into place by George W. Bush, but also Stimulative Tax breaks from the Recovery Act as well as a 13 Month extension of Unemployment Benefits at least for those who haven't completely run out of them.

This is now the new normal.

But it's a normal that everyone realizes is going to cost of over $800 Billion over the next two years. EVERYONE KNOWS this is unsustainable. Before this bill passed the deficit was projected to drop by 50% by the end of 2014, what it's going to become with these revenue cuts depending on if, when and how much the economy recovers is almost anyone's guess.

But now we know that Republicans and Tea Partiers are going to do a ton of posturing over Spending Cuts, especially the pointless Effort of Banning Earmarks as we've seen from the Phony Budget Twins, Senators Cornyn and Thune.

Yesterday, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and John Thune (R-SD) denounced earmarks and the omnibus bill during a press conference, despite requesting hundreds of millions of dollars of earmarks between them. “I support those projects, but I don’t support this bill,” reasoned Thune. Cornyn defended himself in a “heated exchange” with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl.

Here's a little secret that these Deficit Peacocks don't want you to know besides the fact that Earmarks only account for 1% of the budget.

Removing Earmarks doesn't remove Spending.

If members of Congress don't specify what they'd want the money to be spent on the Obama Administration gets to make that decision for them.

It's just like the Alaskan "Bridge to Nowhere", in the end Sarah Palin didn't say "No Thanks", Congress did - but Alaska still got the money, they simply spent it on something different.

Be that as it may Senator Reid has pulled the Omnibus Bill until next year and begun to focus on DADT, as well as other critical outstanding issues such as START and The Dream Act.

The only way to do any Real spending cuts is to dig into Medicaid and Medicare ($898 Billion/Year), Social Security ($787 Billion/Year) or the Military Budget ($928 Billion/Year). Now, some of this is actually already in the works because this upcoming year the last of our troops are coming out Iraq, and in June our withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan begins. I for one would like to see a drastic. reduction in the use of Contractors from Halliburton, KBR to Wackenhut and Blackwater/Xe. These guys should all be first on the chopping block, or else we're not serious about this.

If this is going to be a war of Quien is Mas Cutter, then we should plan to WIN that War and getting rid of some real Fat that deserves to be ripped off the flesh of the nation and squished like a TICK. Blackwater/Xe should be at the top of that list.

We also need to start doing a serious reduction of international bases, especially in countries that are completely without any current serious threat like Western Europe.

Another effort already in the pipe is the $500 Billion worth of savings and Medicare efficiencies that are to be implemented as a result of Health Reform. I seriously doubt the Repubs will find a savings as large as that anywhere. Despite all the Tea Party Blather, this needs to be protected and looking at the currnet "Plan" coming from Freedom Works on trying to "Repeal" Healthcare - they don't even have these savings on their radar.

A memo from the Tea Party group FreedomWorks outlines the group's strategy to repeal health care reform and replace it with "a set of patient-centered" bills.

"The group identifies four reform provisions that it believes have bipartisan support: the individual mandate, 1099 reporting requirements, a bill allowing Americans to keep the private health insurance the way it is, and a bill that lets states opt of out Medicaid eligibility expansion. FreedomWorks also thinks it has time on its side, writing that 70 percent of the law's spending doesn't begin until 2014."

This really just shows that they really don't even understand the bill. People who already have private insurance, already get to KEEP IT. The individual mandate, besides being a Republican Idea that used to be touted by the Heritage Foundation, and like the 1099 requirement is not critical to the bill. States opt-ing out of the Medicaid Expansion will mean their losing hundreds of $Millions in Federal funds and lead to more situations like the Jan Brewer Transplant Death Panels.

What we have to do is show Republicans for the Heartless Hypocrits they are - Mercilessly. Relentlessly. Viciously. We have to do what Jon Stewart did this week when he sat down with 4 9-11 First Responders who are all dying of Cancer, yet have had Emergency Funds to provide for their Health Care Block Again By Republicans while they whine about not being able to go home to Celebrate Christmas!

Part 1

Part 2

These Republicans are SCUM. They have voted REPEATED against 9-11 First Responders, and Repeatedly against the TROOPS - not because they disagreed with our War Fighting Strategy, but simply because they can't ABIDE THE OPENLY GAY.

Their rank xenophobia, hypocrisy and opportunism is naked for all to see.

Democrats have to make sure they take advantage of all this. The Unemployed and those Business Trying to Grow have been taking out of the firing line and removed from the fray. We have to hold our ground to prevent dangerous cuts to essential services like Education, Medicaid and Medicare - but there's nothing wrong with pushing for better accountability and better efficiency. We should all expect more bang for our buck, however the fact is that none of this cut frenzy will probably make that much of a difference in the end.

Despite all the claims about "Run Away Spending" the fact is that the biggest jump in the Deficit at the end of Bush's last year - over 30% - actually came from the Crashing Economy, not TARP, and not the Stimulus. If the economy finally does begin to recover over the next 13 months - and historically speaking it's grown as well if not better than the Reagan recovery - then we have the leverage to turn our fire back onto Bush's wasteful Paris Hilton Bonus Tax.

I don't think we should simply let them expire again, I think we should push to have them increased to 42% in order to keep the Obama Cuts Permanent.

That of course will require recapturing the Congress is 2012 as well as retaining the Presidency, but it's not impossible. Just difficult and we've done difficult plenty of times already. Republicans beat us this year because they spent every waking moment, every second, on doing exactly that and nothing else. Now, that's what we have to do. In 2006 we took back the Congress when almost noone thought we would - we can do it again.

We have to.

I for one refuse to cry about it, we lost a Battle - not the War.


Monday, December 13

Virginia Judge Finds Individual Mandage Unconstitutional

From the Hill

A federal judge in Virginia ruled the healthcare reform law’s provision requiring Americans to buy insurance is unconstitutional, marking the Obama administration’s first major defeat in defense of the new law.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson only struck down the individual mandate and “directly dependent provisions” while upholding the rest of the reform law. The decision marks the first major step in a lawsuit destined for the Supreme Court.

\What's interesting about this ruling is that it's not the first one despite what many may say, it's actually the third ruling on the Individual Mandate - only this is the first of the three to go against the bill. 14 other challenges to the law have been dismissed outright.

The First Federal Ruling found the Individual Mandate Constitutional in opposition to this ruling.

In Detroit today, U.S. District Court Judge George Steeh refused to issue a preliminary injunction to delay implementing the law in the state. He also dismissed the key contention of the bill's conservative opponents: that a mandate requiring individuals to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.

Another Judge in Virginia ruled that same way last month.

But this new judge, who happens to be a Bush appointee, has ruled that the personal responsibility section of the Health Care Law is Unconstitutional not because of what's written in the law, but because of how it was discussed prior to completion.

Hudson said the law’s final language deceptively labels the penalty a tax, after it had been called a penalty in draft language just hours before the final bill was passed on Christmas Eve last year. The distinction between penalty and tax became a sticking point because the Constitution grants the federal government wide latitude to impose taxes, but a penalty would amount to regulation of commerce across state lines in violation of the Constitution.

Throughout the debates, Democrats in Congress and Obama said it wasn’t a tax in part because that would have violated his pledge not to raise taxes against middle-class Americans. The administration changed its tune to back its legal arguments for the individual mandate, but the judge didn’t buy it.

“This Court’s analysis begins with the unequivocal denials [during the debate] by the Executive and legislative branches that the [law] was a tax,” Hudson wrote.

A lot of things were discussed prior to passing the bill, such as the Public Option, or a Triggered Medicare Buy-in, but they aren't in the legislation either. Neither is what he's ruling on.

The actual bill has the "penalty" handled as a tax by the I.R.S. only if a person is unable to find an affordable even with subsidies. People in this position are exempt from this tax. If you already have Employer based Care, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or the VA - you are exempt from this mandate and this tax. Only those people who have the funds and ability to pay, and have available affordable plans in their area would be required to pay the tax penalty, and even if they don't pay it they are exempt from any further penalty.

If this ruling stands then, you'll have the Freedom to be a freeloader and let everyone else pay for your healthcare when you get sick or get into an accident. (Like, for example, the Car Accident my wife and I were in yesterday, with a resulting 5 Hour Emergency Room stay - which frankly was Record Time, down from 16 Hours last time)

Technically this portion of the bill was a Republican Idea that used to be championed by the Heritage Foundation, and was established as a gift to the insurance industry in order to get them to go along with the bill and isn't central to what the bill provides in banning pre-existing conditions, setting up the Exchanges for purchasing affordable care or accessing the Non Profit Option to avoid being gouged by Private Insurers. Even with this gift, the Industry still fought against the bill, so if this version of the lawsuit were to go forward, despite the contrary rulings in other cases, then only this provision would be struck taking away the number one gift to the Insurers and leaving the rest of the law in tact.

The Judge didn't issue an injunction blocking enforcement of this provision, but then it doesn't go into effect until 2014 anyway.

(There is also the fact that this Judge has partial ownership of a Right-Wing Lobbying Shop that campaigned against Health Care and was paid by the Plaintiff Ag Cuchinelli to argue against the law. That's more than a BIT of a comflict of interest and a hint of political motivation for his ruling.)

Frankly, I'm fine with it either way, but I have my doubts that this clearly ideologically based ruling is going to outstrip other legal opinions.