Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for March, 2009

Tuesday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 31, 2009

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— Still no Election Contest Court ruling in the Franken-Coleman contest as of this morning. They’ve been at it for over two weeks now. What could be the problem? [UPDATE: They hear and obey!]

— Speaking of the Franken-Coleman contest, Eric Boehlert notes that the same media that was viciously attacking Al Gore for being a “sore loser” in 2000 is being nice as pie to Norm Coleman even though his actions have been far more sore-loserish — and have been far more time-consuming — than Gore’s ever were.

— In more pleasant news, Skype has come to the iPhone. Glorious.

Posted in 111th Congress, 2008, Al Franken, Al Gore, GOP/Media Complex, media, Media machine, mediawhores, Minnesota, Norm Coleman, technology | 2 Comments »

Some Good News On The Energy Front

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 31, 2009

Cathy Zoi is now a big wheel at DoE.

Posted in doing the right thing, energy, environment | Comments Off on Some Good News On The Energy Front

Joint Committee on Taxation scores Obama tax proposal

Posted by Charles II on March 30, 2009

The link is here.

The proposal adds $3T to the debt. Here are the big items, as I interpret them:

$447B…. index the Alternative Minimum Tax to inflation
$225B…. keep taxes on capital gains and dividends low
$578B…. keep middle class income taxes from rising
$472B…. keep upper class income taxes from rising on all but wealthiest
$543B…. tax subsidies for marriage and children
$537B…. tax subsidies for the working poor
ca. $200B… business tax cuts

There’s also a hefty little tax subsidy for those hard-working people who got their money the old-fashioned way: they inherited it.

My guess is that the Congress will take back most of the tax goodies for the working poor, some of them for marriage and children, and some of them for the middle class.

Posted in budget, taxes | Comments Off on Joint Committee on Taxation scores Obama tax proposal

Pension insurance fund has been looted

Posted by Charles II on March 30, 2009

Ok, this is serious. [Via Talking Points Memo and Atrios]. Michael Kranish, The Boston Globe:

Just months before the start of last year’s stock market collapse, the federal agency that insures the retirement funds of 44 million Americans departed from its conservative investment strategy and decided to put much of its $64 billion insurance fund into stocks.

Switching from a heavy reliance on bonds, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation decided to pour billions of dollars into speculative investments such as stocks in emerging foreign markets, real estate, and private equity funds.

Emerging market stocks?? High yield corporate debt??? WTF!!!???

Atrios thinks that the Powers-That-Be were using this to prop up the market.

Posted in financial crisis, Republicans as cancer | 3 Comments »

Conservatives, ConservaDems block middle class tax cut and honest budgets

Posted by Charles II on March 30, 2009

Bernie Horn of the Campaign for America’s future has a worthwhile article on what the budget battle is really about.

They’d like us to continue to lie about the true costs of government rather than have an honest budget, so they’ll scream about deficits.

They want to block a middle class tax cut while preserving tax cuts for the rich, so they’ll scream about how this hurts small business (like they ever did anything for small business).

They want to protect the profits of the insurance companies while letting 16,000 Americans die every year from lack of health insurance, so they’ll scream about socialism.

They want to let coal companies continue to profit from pollution, so they’ll block the woefully inadequate cap-and-trade proposal.

In short, they are a disgrace and need to be removed from office. But all things in due time. Right now, they need letters and phone calls from you.

Posted in Blue Dogs, global warming, Republicans as cancer, taxes | Comments Off on Conservatives, ConservaDems block middle class tax cut and honest budgets

Sauce For The Goose, Sauce For The Gander

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 30, 2009

If our alleged Majority “Leader” wasn’t a guy from a shaky seat in a red state, this would have already happened by now:

Republicans are in a tizzy because Democrats are threatening to use the budgetary procedure known as reconciliation — it reconciles policy with fiscal guidelines — to overhaul the health care system, possibly enact climate change legislation and rewrite education policy.

They have good reason to fret: If Democrats successfully invoke reconciliation, such major bills could pass by a simple majority vote, denying Republicans the filibuster, their sole remaining weapon to influence federal policy given the Democratic grip on government.

“It stinks,” Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said as he pondered the prospect of Democrats pulling the trigger on reconciliation.

But there are a couple of problems for Republicans as they push back furiously against the idea, chief of which is the fact that they used the process themselves on several occasions, notably when enacting more than $1 trillion in tax cuts in 2001.

That means critics can have a field day lampooning Republicans and asking them — as Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, did repeatedly the other day — why reconciliation was such a good idea when it came to giving tax cuts to millionaires but such a bad one when it comes to trying to provide health care to average Americans.

The record is also replete with past statements by Republicans such as Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the party’s leader on budget issues, praising the logic of reconciliation.

“We are using the rules of the Senate here,” Mr. Gregg said in 2005 as he fought off Democratic complaints that reconciliation was wrongly being employed to block filibusters against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. “Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don’t think so.”

Time to lower the boom on these clowns.

Posted in 111th Congress, budget, Congress, GOP bullying, hypocrites, IOKIYAR | 1 Comment »

Extremely Weird Twit Network

Posted by Charles II on March 29, 2009

Added: ChartDoes the political party in power affect the incidence of abortion? (from 1973-1977, a moderate Republican was in the White House, liberal Democrats controlled the House, and the Senate was split between Dixiecrats, liberals Democrats, and Republicans. I have left it uncolored. Otherwise blue and red are in rough proportion to the control of government by the parties.).

Most of the time, EWTN is elderly nuns in support hose or sour priests who look like they’re still drying out. But at least they’re engaged in something recognizably Christian. There’s some nice liturgical music, and occasionally a treat like an Irish family of musicians.

And then there’s Raymond Arroyo’s Worldover, which is when EWTN becomes the Extremely Weird Twit Network.

Today the topic was Obama’s speech at Notre Dame, which Arroyo discussed with alum William Dempsey. “Project Sycamore ” (sorry, no direct link: their server exceeded bandwidth) says “We wish to express our astonished dismay at, and deep disappointment in, the decision to invite President Barack Obama to deliver this year’s Commencement Address and to confer upon him an honorary degree.” You can see their statement here.

EWTN host Raymond Arroyo actually called Barack Obama “the [Catholic] Church’s greatest enemy.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in abortion, Barack Obama | 21 Comments »

There Is No Justice, But There Is Is Irony

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 29, 2009

Remember Mike Doogan, the Alaska state representative and self-professed hater and outer of anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers?

Guess what? He just might be blogging under a pseudonym himself!

Per this Progressive Alaska reader:

Actually, Doogan (I can’t bring myself to call him “Mr. Doogan”) is actually supposedly a Democrat. Used to be a journalist for the ADN. Pissed people off left and right, and seems to pride himself on racking up detractors and enemies, much like a petulant teenager. He actually wrote a scathing opinion piece about Sarah the week she was nominated for VP. He is the author of some lowbrow detective stories staged in Alaska, and actually used to write a blog under an anonymous penname himself. Called himself “Billy Muldoon” Guess it’s OK for him, but not for anyone who might not be one of his fans. What a shithead!

I would use my real name here, but, like so many others in Alaska, I would be at great risk of losing my job because of Sarah Palin’s vindictiveness. (And apparently now, Mike Doogan’s as well). It may sound like a stretch, but it’s very real for many of us in this small state, where the Governor has appointed her BFFs from High School into many positions of power in government. Mike Doogan should be ashamed of himself, but, as is clear from the emails above, he clearly does not have that capacity.

Googling “Billy Muldoon” alaska turns up quite a bit — and interestingly, “Billy Muldoon” has now blocked access to his blog to all but invited guests. Hmmm.  (Even better:  Billy Muldoon, whose “Tribal Fires” blog existed to critique the Anchorage Daily News, was himself criticized back in 2005 for hiding behind a pseudonym.)

UPDATE: Doogan, according to Dawn Teo in Huffington Post (h/t Charles), is denying that he is in fact Billy Muldoon. At this point, I’m not sure if Doogan’s word is worth much of anything, as he has already been caught lying at least once about this issue. I’d like to see him prove it. In the meantime, he certainly didn’t seem to mind it when Sheila Toomey, his former colleague who sat next to him when he worked with her at the Anchorage Daily News, blogged under a pseudonym for a few years before revealing that she was “The Alaska Ear” — a point that Phillip Munger emphasizes here. (Not surprisingly, in light of Doogan’s having protected her anonymity/pseudonymity for so long, Toomey’s latest “Ear” piece is a rousingly tin-eared and mendacious defense of Doogan.)

Posted in blogger ethics, blogs and blogging, eedjits, hypocrites, mediawhores | 3 Comments »

China spy network

Posted by Charles II on March 28, 2009

Paul Harris, Guardian:

A mystery electronic spy network apparently based in China has infiltrated hundreds of computers around the world and stolen files and documents, Canadian researchers have revealed.

The network, dubbed GhostNet, appears to target embassies, media groups, NGOs, international organisations, government foreign ministries and the offices of the Dalai Lama, leader of the Tibetan exile movement. The researchers, based at Toronto University’s Munk Centre for International Studies, said their discovery had profound implications.

“This report serves as a wake-up call… these are major disruptive capabilities that the professional information security community, as well as policymakers, need to come to terms with rapidly,” said researchers Ron Deibert and Rafal Rohozinski.

After 10 months of study, the researchers concluded that GhostNet had invaded 1,295 computers in 103 countries, but it appeared to be most focused on countries in south Asia and south-east Asia, as well as the Dalai Lama’s offices in India, Brussels, London and New York. The network continues to infiltrate dozens of new computers each week.

Such a pattern, and the fact that the network seemed to be controlled from computers inside China, could suggest that GhostNet was set up or linked to Chinese government espionage agencies. However, the researchers were clear that they had not been able to identify who was behind the network, and said it could be run by private citizens in China or a different country altogether. A Chinese government spokesmen has denied any official involvement.

A massive network operating from within China without the government’s knowledge.

I don’t think so.

Posted in China, computers and software | 8 Comments »

Dorkwad State Legislator Outs Blogger Who Dared Pick On Him

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 28, 2009

Seems that Mike Doogan, a Democratic state representative and ally of Sarah Palin, has an obsession with outing anonymous bloggers, especially those that point out uncomfortable truths about him.

This has touched off a firestorm in the world of Alaskan politics, and Doogan’s been receiving hundreds if not thousands of outraged e-mails and phone calls. But the most effective way to get a message into his thick head is probably this way:

If you want to really express your outrage, you should write an email to the Democrats with the real power, the Minority Leader and Minority Whip. There email addresses are rep.beth.kerttula@legis.state.ak.us,
rep.david.guttenberg@legis.state.ak.us .

Here’s the email I sent:

Dear Minority Leader Kerttula and Minority Whip Guttenberg,

You may or may not be aware of this but a fellow member of the Democratic Caucus, Rep. Mike Doogan, has taken it upon himself to trample upon the privacy of a citizen of Alaska. Rep. Doogan recently unilaterally and maliciously revealed the identity of a anonymous female blogger who writes the site Mudflats. Rep. Doogan’s actions were reprehensible and will involuntarily expose this poor woman and her family to the harsh light of the public media spotlight.

Please find below my email to Rep. Doogan complaining about his deplorable actions. I hope that you will take this matter under advisement and consider how poorly these actions by Rep. Doogan tarnish the image of the Democratic Party in Alaska.

If you want to really spread the word, you should email the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. Their emails are Representative_John_Coghill@legis.state.ak.us,
Representative_Berta_Gardner@legis.state.ak.us,
Senator_Gary_Stevens@legis.state.ak.us,
Senator_Thomas_Wagoner@legis.state.ak.us .

Here’s the email I sent:

Dear Reps. Coghill and Gardner and Sens. Stevens and Wagoner,

You may or may not be aware of this but a member of the Alaska House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Doogan, has taken it upon himself to trample upon the privacy of a citizen of Alaska. Rep. Doogan recently unilaterally and maliciously revealed the identity of an anonymous female blogger who writes the blog Mudflats. Rep. Doogan’s actions were reprehensible and will involuntarily expose this poor woman and her family to the harsh light of the public media spotlight.

Please find below my email to Rep. Doogan complaining about his deplorable actions. As members of the Alaska legislature’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, I hope that you will take this matter under advisement and consider how poorly these actions by Rep. Doogan tarnish the image of the Alaska legislature.

You know what to do.  (By the way: As noted above, Doogan has made his political bed with Sarah Palin, which with the big blowup (and not just the Mount Redoubt volcano) going on right now was probably not a wise move. He could try switching parties, but since he represents the Anchorage district, that would put him in an even worse electoral spot.)

Posted in blogs and blogging, blowback, eedjits, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | Tagged: | 8 Comments »

 
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