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White House to propose cutting energy assistance for poor

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, would see funding drop by about $3 billion from an authorized 2009 total of $5.1 billion. The proposed cut will not touch the program’s emergency reserve fund, about $590 million, which can be used during particularly harsh cold snaps or extended heat spells, three officials told National Journal.

In 2010, Obama signed into law an omnibus budget resolution that released a total of about $5 billion in LIHEAP grants for 2011. Pointing to the increasing number of Americans who made use of the grants last year, advocates say that LIHEAP is already underfunded. The American Gas Association predicts that 3 million Americans eligible for the program won’t be able to receive it unless LIHEAP funding stays at its current level.

Talk about low hanging fruit – the working poor and their aversion to freezing to death or suffering heat stroke. As Mr. Lewison at the link points out this $3 billion is two-tenths of one percent of the overall budget deficit. To put that $3 billion in further perspective lets look at the government welfare subsidies to the coal industry, Phasing Out Federal Subsidies for Coal(pdf)

The United States also provides subsidized financing internationally through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Export Import Bank. Together, international financial institutions have helped finance 88 new and expanded coal plants since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into effect in 1994, providing more than $137 billion in direct and indirect financial support for new coal-fired power plants.

‘Forcible Rape’ Language Remains In Bill To Restrict Abortion Funding. They’ve changed a few words hoping for some public relations magic to cover the substance of the changes. Women and children who are raped and become pregnant will be forced to carry those pregnancies to term. Perhaps feeling their women hating zealot cheerios, language is also included that would allow hospitals to refuse to perform an abortion on a woman, even if that refusal threatens her life. Quote of the day from Mori Dinauer at Tapped on conservative’s bizarre idea of values regarding rape victims,  “House Republicans go all in to redefine women as subhuman baby-making machines.”

Obama’s advisors split on when and how Mubarak should goWhite House aides acknowledge that the differing views among Obama’s team of advisors has resulted in a mixed message on Egypt.

Obama’s own statements have evolved as the situation has changed, but they illustrate a gradual pulling away from Mubarak’s regime and a call to begin the transition immediately. On Jan. 28, after Mubarak said he would not run for reelection in September, Obama said the Egyptian president “has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.”

But over the last several days, his administration has expressed increasing frustration with the slow progress, and Wednesday the National Security Council made its strongest call yet to speed up the transition.

Aides acknowledge privately that the differing views among Obama’s advisors have produced a mixed message. Even Wednesday, as they continued to call for an orderly transition to democracy led by Suleiman, White House officials said the process wasn’t moving fast enough.

The last few days have shown consistency from the President. It is the team as a whole who cannot quite nail down message discipline. How difficult is it to keep repeating the phrase we’re pro democracy and stability in Egypt. As much as many would like at times, presidents do not have micromanagement control over events evolving in other nations. As the protests and the ensuing shut-downs of the Egyptian economy continue those events – as of today – do not seem to paint a pretty picture, Human Rights Watch, Egypt: Investigate Arrests of Activists, Journalists

The Egyptian government should order military police, army officers, and State Security Investigations officers to cease arresting journalists, activists, and protesters arbitrarily, Human Rights Watch said today. Army officers and military police arbitrarily detained at least 119 people since the army took up positions in Egyptian cities and towns on the night of January 28, 2011, and in at least five cases tortured them. The government needs to ensure the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the illegal detentions and torture and ill-treatment which have occurred, Human Rights Watch said.

In the cases Human Rights Watch has documented, those detained, who have since been released, said that they were held incommunicado, did not have access to a lawyer, and could not inform their families about their detention.

“Arrests by military police of journalists, human rights defenders, and youth activists since January 31 appear intended to intimidate reporting and undermine support for the Tahrir protest,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. “These arrests and reports of abuse in detention are exactly the types of practices that sparked the demonstrations in the first place.”

Everyday that the police and military act like this they only fuel the anger and determination of the protesters. Eventually, as mass protests often do, these arrests lead to undesirable counter attacks. The snowball of violence tends to proceed from there. It might help the protesters if they were more focused and formal in their demands. A formal petition and picking two leaders , say Mohamed Elbaradei and a leader from the labor movement. Insist that these two representatives be part of a provisional government with Vice President Omar Suleiman. Those leaders could in turn ask everyone to return to work and give them a few months to start going through the list of prioritized changes. There is a fleet of U.S. ships headed for the Egyptian coast. A prudent security measure always used to ward off any neighbors who might want to take advantage of the situation, to be ready for humanitarian aid and in this case to secure the Suez Canal if needed.

This is like something out of MAD magazine’s Spy vs Spy, Security Firms Pitching Bank of America on WikiLeaks Response Proposed Targeting Glenn Greenwald

As TechHerald reports, among those documents was a presentation, “The Wikileaks Threat,” put together by three data intelligence firms for Bank of America in December. As part of it, they put together what they claimed was a list of important contributors to WikiLeaks. They suggested that Glenn Greenwald’s support was key to WikiLeaks’ ongoing survival.

Also in the cable was the claim that Glenn weighs “professional preservation” against “cause”. So if threatened by a PR campaign Greenwald would fold to avoid damaging his lucrative career. If Glenn cared that much about money he could have joined in some big league law firm and been raking in cash long ago.

In physics or somewhere at least this is called the Limbaugh Backtrack Deviation in honor of the Right’s favorite anti-American drug addict draft dodger, Santorum Backtracks On Comment That Palin’s Skipping CPAC For The Money.

Rick Santorum today denied that he said Sarah Palin was skipping CPAC for financial reasons, calling a Politico story about the comments “garbage.”

The video otherwise, but better to lie than disparage the Right’s current icon of foreign policy insights.

New York Fed Economists Say Bush-Era Bankruptcy Law Fueled Over 200,000 Foreclosures

Economists at the New York Federal Reserve have concluded that a controversial 2005 law backed by banks and credit card companies pushed more than 200,000 people into foreclosure and exacerbated the subprime mortgage crisis.

Consumer advocates fought hard against the law, which made it much more difficult for individuals to alleviate credit card debt in bankruptcy. This inability of homeowners to eliminate other debts, the New York Fed economists conclude, in turn made borrowers unable to pay off their mortgages, spurring foreclosures.

Despite opposition from public interest groups, the 2005 law easily cleared both chambers of Congress and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. In a paper released Tuesday, New York Fed researchers Donald P. Morgan, Benjamin Iverson and Matthew Botsch determined that the law sparked about 116,000 additional subprime mortgage foreclosures a year after going into effect.

What’s more, they note, these foreclosures pushed home prices down, which may have lead to additional foreclosures. When the value of a home drops below what a borrower owes on the mortgage, it becomes nearly impossible to get out of the loan by selling the house or refinancing, making foreclosure more likely if they become unable to afford the monthly payment.

Democrats – and you know who you are – did not come out clean as the bill had to have some Democratic votes to pass both Chambers.

Blue City Skyline with Clouds wallpaper, Claymation Deathmatch – Kristol versus Beck

Blue City Skyline with Clouds wallpaper

Watching Bill Kristol and Glenn Beck fight is like watching two guys swat each other with kidskin gloves accompanied by shouts of your mamma. Let’s re-roll the tape for Kristol’s criticism of Beck on Egypt- Stand for Freedom,

But hysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.

Nor is it a sign of health when other American conservatives are so fearful of a popular awakening that they side with the dictator against the democrats. Rather, it’s a sign of fearfulness unworthy of Americans, of short-sightedness uncharacteristic of conservatives, of excuse-making for thuggery unworthy of the American conservative tradition.

Glenn Beck, whose lace jockeys ride up at the mere hint that someone somewhere disagrees with him and whose feelings are hurt even more easily than Sarah Palin and has never been one to argue in good faith, replies,

“I don’t even know if you understand what conservatives are anymore, Billy,” Beck said in his extended, sarcastic attack on Kristol. “People like Bill Kristol, I don’t think they stand for anything anymore. All they stand for is power. They’ll do anything to keep their little fiefdom together, and they’ll do anything to keep the Republican power entrenched.”

[  ]…”I think he’s still trying to get Bob Dole elected, i’m not really sure,” said Beck.

Have you done a minute of research Bill?” Beck asked later, promising to expose the ties between the left and Islamic radicals during this week’s television show and advising Kristol, “Just watch the show in the next week.”

Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly sees all this beyatch slapping as a big deal, but maybe in the wrong way.

I especially liked it when Beck asked rhetorically on the air, “Have you done a minute of research, Bill?” It’s amusing to think Beck believes additional scholarly work would prove there’s a global conspiracy to “divvy up” the world between communists and “radical Islamists.” If only Kristol would do more “research,” he’d see how right Beck’s delusions are.

We’ll see if Kristol feels compelled to respond to this, though I rather doubt he’ll bother. The larger point to keep in mind, though, is that the fissures within the right that generally go unnoticed are starting to widen.

Steve is usually a great analysis of political events, but it might be overestimating riffs on the right. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Sarah Palin, former RNC head Micheal Steele, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford all criticized the Duke of Rethugicanism Rush Limbaugh, and all very quickly walked back their statements. The Right generally stays on script and when they go off it is like a stage actor trying to talk past the gaffe. And Whiskey Fire brings up an obvious problem. Bill Kristol slamming someone on his own team for crazy conspiracy theories, Sad Freaks of the Nation

Glenn Beck doesn’t ordinarlily scrawl on his chalkboard anything of any significant order of magnitude nuttier than what William Kristol typically scribbles in the absurd Weekly Standard, and for Kristol to be simpering about the “health” of conservatism as an “intellectual movement” is like one zombie prissily cautioning another to politely request “cerveaux” instead of vulgarly demanding braaaaiiinnnssss.

Betting on which wing-nut wins this pissing contest is time you’ll never get back, but I’ll pick Kristol. He is the establishment and is so for a reason, the establishment wins on setting the agenda. And speaking of wild ass theories about the way the world works, just last month Kristol joined the wacky Right’s gold standard club,

And it’s worth further asking–as more and more people are beginning to ask–whether a modernized international gold standard, which anchors currencies to a standard outside government manipulation, wouldn’t better serve the interests of free and limited government both at home and abroad. After all, it’s the dollar’s status as a reserve currency that has allowed the U.S. government to amass huge debts, debts which the legislatively imposed debt ceiling has been unsuccessful in limiting. Fiat currency seems to be related to bloated and unlimited government, and to speculative bubbles, and to international instability. Do we just to have to live with this, or simply hope for better Fed chairmen?

Kristol hedges his bets by using the term “modernized international gold standard”. I don’t want to verve off into deep economics and the gold standard, so to keep it simple: Kristol and the Right’s favorite past time of the last ten years has been to lie us into wars and propose new ones. How did we finance those wars? By printing money and selling our debt to China. Kristol’s gold standard, and the rest of the Right’s for that matter, would mean Bill is a kind of backdoor isolationist or Quaker peace activist who would prohibit further foreign escapades and nation building by not having the funds to pay for them. Which brings us back to Kristol and Beck and who is the biggest conspiracy nut and who is doing their “research”. If these two did not have so much money and power they’d just be two inmates at the asylum arguing over who is the real messiah. Icing on the conspiracy nut cake, PERRspectives reminds everyone that Mitt Romney was on the caliphate train in 2009, Beck Echoes Romney on Threat of Islamic Caliphate. Reasonable people can agree there are radicals in the world, high on some kind of fundamentalism that would like to see the U.S. and Europe burn to the ground. Many on the Right continue to blow these relatively few radicals into giant all powerful bogeymen.

CCR Announces Bush Indictment for Convention Against Torture Signatory States

“Waterboarding is torture, and Bush has admitted, without any sign of remorse, that he approved its use,” said Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at CCR and Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “The reach of the Convention Against Torture is wide – this case is prepared and will be waiting for him wherever he travels next. Torturers – even if they are former presidents of the United States – must be held to account and prosecuted. Impunity for Bush must end.”

While the U.S. has thus far failed to comply with its obligations under the Convention Against Torture to prosecute and punish those who commit torture, all other signatories, too, are obligated to prosecute or extradite for prosecution anyone present in their territory they have a reasonable basis for believing has committed torture. If the evidence warrants, as the Bush Torture Indictment contends it does, and the U.S. fails to request the extradition of Bush and others to face charges of torture there, CAT signatories must, under law, prosecute them for torture.

Where can we turn to for the sharpest insight into this conundrum? Right-Wing News of course, Unhinged CCR Announces Bush Indictment For Torture

Interesting that the Center For Constitutional Rights, a far left pro-communist and open borders lobby group, has never announced an indictment against people like Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, or any of the other Islamic terrorists on the FBI’s top 10 list. Of course, like so many on the far left, they quietly support the ideals of Islamic terrorists, and Islamists in general, and tend to avoid discussion of things like al Qaeda having an actual torture manual, beheadings, hanging gays and women who have been raped, suicide bombings, and all the other things the hardcores do. No, instead they announce an indictment of President Bush…

The jihadist radicals RRN mentions are terrorists and criminals. By definition they do not adhere to any moral code or international laws. They are also non-state actors. Something the Right should understand after the last ten years. Unlike Bush they are not heads of state. Unlike Bush they did not swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution – part of which are the treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory (we all know by now the Right also has a feeble concept of the U.S. Constitution) such as the Convention Against Torture, the War Crimes Act, and the U.S. anti-torture statute. RRN ends their “unhinged” rant by citing ye old ticking time bomb canard. One assumes they’re also guarding their children from whooping cough by burying a potato in the backyard.

Interesting back story, U.S. Has Secret Tools to Force Internet on Dictators

Egypt is Making Conservative Bromides About Democracy Come Back to Haunt Them

Where should American and President Obama stand on Egypt. If you listen to Conservatives you’ll need to be capable of assuming multiple personalities. They seem to be grasping. Conservatives are the grand gurus of foreign policy? If you grew up in the good old US of A you grew up with that myth. It doesn’t matter how they botched everything they touched from Vietnam to Kosovo to Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention being asleep at the wheel when it came to the threat from al-Qaeda.  One would think that a movement with a track record of dismal failure would at least learn a little humility. But no. When it comes to second guessing what President Obama should do and how they see events in Egypt unfolding they are screaming and fist pounding from the peanut gallery. Everyone admits that revolutions are unpredictable and Egypt and Egyptians could end up with less freedom rather than more. With the next decade turning into a Middle-East French Revolution. A revolution that started out with high ideas and struggled through instability and hardships that made the old monarchy not seem so bad at times – though democracy ultimately prevailed. Republicans do not do messy, not in their sermons from the pulpit of conservative rectitude anyway. As we bounce around the floundering of conservative insight conspiracy theories, half-baked nonsense and the usual vitriol there is one relative constant. Whatever is wrong and whatever happens is Obama’s fault.

Right-Wing Media Claim Obama “Lost Egypt,” But Can’t Agree On Why

Dick Morris: Obama Should Be Standing With Mubarak. From Dick Morris’ January 30 syndicated column:

In the 1950s, the accusation “who lost China” resonated throughout American politics and led to the defeat of the Democratic Party in the presidential elections of 1952. Unless President Barack Obama reverses field and strongly opposes letting the Muslim Brotherhood take over Egypt, he will be hit with the modern equivalent of the 1952 question: Who Lost Egypt?

America’s foremost authority on prostitute toe sucking Dick Morris has sided with the authoritarian dictator we know rather than the scary possibility of the unknown. That unknown being the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is an enemy of al-Qaeda. Are there some radical elements within Egypt’s Brotherhood. There probably are just in the same way there are racists, anti-Semites and misogynists, social-Darwinists within the Republican Partay. Conservative has some doctor and cop killers, but they claim they should not be judged by the multitude of extremists within their ranks. So why is it so unreasonable to make an effort to see Egypt’s Brotherhood as the Republican Party of Egypt – a mix of  moderates with some extremists. What are wing-nuts like Morris, Beck, blogs such as American Power and all of Andrew Breitbarts’s blogs, with their Muslim Brotherhood paranoia, missing? Coptic Christians are part of the demonstrators pushing for change, Images of solidarity as Christians join hands to protect Muslims as they pray during Cairo protests

Striking photos of unity have emerged from the chaos in Egypt as Christian protesters stood together to protect Muslims as they prayed.

A group of Christians joined hands and faced out surrounding hundreds of Muslims protesters left vulnerable as they knelt in prayer.

[  ]…’I am hoping to turn out an impressionist painting of the scene of Tahrir Square with tens of thousands of protesters in it in front of a huge government building at night. The largest protestant church in Egypt, Kassar Debara, is hidden behind it.

‘Some Muslims have been guarding Coptic churches while Christians pray, and on Friday, Christians were guarding the mosques while Muslims prayed.’

This is what Breitbart’s Big Peace writes, Code Pink: Obama, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood Ally Raising (Tax Exempt) Money to Overthrow Egypt Gov’ta

Obama fundraiser group Code Pink issued an emergency appeal on Thursday for thousands of dollars to help the group overthrow the Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak.

Code Pink, which has a history of working with enemies of the Egyptian government Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, said in the appeal it wanted to raise $5,000 to fund “the next big uprising” against the Egyptian government on Friday.

Kristinn Taylor and Andrea Shea King present zero evidence that Code Pink has provided material support for any violent or radical behavior. They connect Code Pink’s donations of food, clothing and other humanitarian aid to support of terrorism. This is from Code Pink’s web site and their horrible connections with support for Hamas,

Providing Vital Aid to the
Women & Children of Gaza!

According to the United Nations, “Children are hungry, cold, without electricity and running water, and above all, they’re terrified. Women are at greater risk of maternal death and or injury…” With your help, CODEPINK will continue its ongoing efforts to hand-deliver humanitarian aid to the region and bring media attention to this urgent issue.

Probably anticipating that someone might investigate further they ask how does anyone really know where that money is going. That is not evidence, that is exploiting xenophobia and creating a nefarious conspiracy where there is no proof of one. One hopes they never find themselves in court accused of a crime with a jury who uses that kind of twisted thinking as compelling enough to convict them. Taylor and King’s bed wetting is what passes for journalism in Breitbart World.

Bill Always Wrong Kristol is trying to rack up one foreign policy right, Stand for Freedom – William Kristol

So, whatever our differences in historical interpretation or foreign policy tactics, we agree with our skeptical comrade that the United States must support the Egyptian awakening, and has a paramount moral and strategic interest in real democracy in Egypt and freedom for the Egyptian people. The question is how the U.S. government can do its best to help the awakening turn out well.

Kristol gets the substance of his analysis all screwed around, but his record is dismal that he deserves pity credit. He agrees with Charles Krauthammer’s assessment that we should get more behind the military and less supportive of the protesters. The fact is that Egypt’s military is the U.S. key to a stable transition of power. Some of the tear gas canisters used on protesters came from U.S. suppliers. Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid, after Israel. Much of that aid goes to the military. Also explained at the tear gas link is that Egyptian military officers regularly come to the U.S. for training. Bill and Chuck are out of the loop as usual. These are people who make a living off punditry. The military has been involved in some violence, including roughing up some journalists, but in comparison to other military crackdowns – Iran and Myanmar – they have been restrained in the context of how violent they could be. Mubarak’ has ostensibly been forced out of power. A move not possible without acquiescence by the Egyptian military leadership. Thus far the demonstrators have been largely successful despite some of the more violent scrimmages reported,

5. They demonstrated that they are a nation-wide movement, bringing hundreds of thousands out in Alexandria, Suez, Ismailiya, Mansoura, Luxor, Aswan and elsewhere.

6. They put pressure on the Obama administration to hold Mubarak’s feet to the fire about an early departure.

7. They so reassured Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that they are the future of Egypt that he took the risk of calling for Mubarak to step down.

8. By making a Mubarak departure seem sure, they tempted new presidential candidates into the arena, as with the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, who visited the crowds at Tahrir Square to some acclaim.

9. The optimism created by crowd actions caused Nobel prize winner Mohamed Elbaradei to make an about-face and affirm that he would be willing to run for president if drafted.

10. Gave cover to to Ayman Nur of the Tomorrow (Ghad) Party and other leaders of opposition political parties to continue to demand Mubarak’s departure.

Back to little Chuckie Krauthammer who represents a sub-issue of Egypt – Obama is not doing enough or he is doing too much. Chuck recently called for President Obama, you know the guy is currently the official leader of  U.S. foreign policy and as such still speaks for the free world, to stop talking about Egypt,

…he still thought it was not advisable for Obama to be injecting himself into the story and questioned “why does he pop up on television right after the President of Egypt speaks? He did that on Friday and he does it again today.” Expressing general solidarity with people in the streets is fine, but Krauthammer feared “it looks as if it was our decision, our pressure, and I’m not sure that we want a direct connection between our President and Egypt.”

Some people, such as Chuck, are celebrating the myth of Saint Ronnie’s words, which alone were responsible for bringing down the Soviet Empire and Chuck thinks words expressing solidarity with and encouraging a peaceful transition to a more democratic state are not appropriate. The man Ann Coulter called a secret liberal in the mold of President Jimmy Carter, and perennial presidential bride Mike Huckabee is firmly in the Glenn Beck crazed loon camp on Egypt, Defending Egypt’s Autocracy, Huckabee Warns Of The ‘Cascading Effects’ Of Democracy Across The Middle East

The overall consensus is two-fold. First, real shock and surprise down to the average on the street Israeli citizen at how quickly the Obama administration abandoned a 30-year ally and a long standing friend to peace and stability President Mubarak. I don’t think anybody is trying to defend everything he did as President, but they would’ve liked to have seen at least an acknowledgement that he’s been a friend these years. […] The second concern is that this could have cascading effects across the Middle East.

Like so many other Republicans “experts” on foreign policy and current events Mike swings and misses. The Obama administration acknowledged during the initial protests that Mubarack was a stabilizing force in the region. The heavens would part, the moon would drop from the sky and cats would bark if Mikey and those who share his view would admit that handling Egypt is a delicate tight rope walk and that considering the close ties between the U.S. and Egypt over the last thirty years, Obama and company have walked that tightrope pretty well.

Justin Elliott has a great rundown of the anti-Egypt democracy fan club on the Right, The pundits and politicians who are siding with the brutal dictator over Egypt’s people. First up is Ralph Reed who has worked tirelessly over the years to give Christianity a bad reputation and last heard from entangled in the Jack Abramoff scandal,

Wrote Reed: “I sympathize with the protestors in Egypt. They want democracy and freedom. But if Mubarak is replaced by ElBaradei in a government that includes the Muslim Brotherhood, the solution is worse than the problem.”

A Google search of right-wing blogs mentioning ElBaradei and Egypt will turn up post after post of some livid hatred of the man. ElBaradei had the temerity to tell the world the truth about Iraq’s nuclear weapons program – it was non-existent. He later took an exacting nuanced view of Iran’s nuclear ambitions ( he pressed for inspections and sanctions against Iran). Both of these moderate positions has earned him the Right’s unhinged hatred. He is not particularly close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

John Bolton, known for his anger management issues and wet dreams of nuking Iran,

“We have a profound interest in the stability of the Israeli-Egyptian peace relationship. We’ve got an enormously strong relationship with the Egyptian military. Mubarak, while no Jeffersonian democrat to be sure, has been an American ally for 30 years. These are not things you toss away lightly against the promise, the hope, the aspiration for sweetness and light and democratic government.”

On what basis does the Bolton crowd and others on the Right believe an Egypt without Mubarak will be anti-Israel. Besides reading the right-wing Israeli press. It would not be in their interests economically and a rekindling of an Israel/Egypt conflict would undermine one of the protesters biggest concerns – jobs and economic security. They would certainly lose any American foreign aid. Lacking any proof to the contrary the threat to Israel is about as real as Iraq’s threat was to the U.S. – more about politics and paranoia than reality.

Queen of the Muslim hating bed wetters Pamela Geller,

The notoriously anti-Muslim blogger has distinguished herself with her sheer enthusiasm for the Mubarak regime. One headline on Geller’s “Atlas Shrugged” blog read: “GOOD NEWS: EGYPT ARRESTS MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD LEADERS.” She wrote in another post: “Mubarak has been a US ally for decades. We send three billion dollars a year to Egypt. And Egypt made a peace deal with Israel. But knowing Obama, he will throw another ally under the bus.”

Remember Iran’s brief and tragic Green Revolution. This is what Geller wrote, The Case for Iran: Fighting for Freedom

He (meaning Mousavi) is a Muslim — nothing much has changed about that, but he may bow to pressure from the Iranian people for a relaxation of Shari’a rule and a return to something like the way Iranian society was under the Shah. This could lead him to moderate things in Iran a bit: no bomb, and perhaps no Syria, Hezb’allah and Abbas as proxies by which to wage terrorism.

It is conceivable.  This result would be wonderful in light of the ongoing radicalization of Syria, Turkey, and Pakistan. A moderate Iran could be a very stabilizing thing in the region. This is why Obama’s failure to seize the moment is so shortsighted and stupid.

Many were horrified at the murder of Neda Soltan, the beautiful young woman who was shot dead by the mullahs’ thugs on a street in Tehran, but there have been many Neda Soltans. The most visible feature of this movement is the leadership role of the women in Iran. They are the heart, soul and fuel of this defiance in the face of crushing repression.

And while many protesters have been shouting “Allahu akbar,” this doesn’t in itself mean that they are fighting for more Shari’a. Many more have been shouting “Death to the dictator!” and “Freedom or death!”

Fighting for moderation in Iran is good. Making Mousavi who is a moderate in the context of Iran, but more fundamentalist than the relatively secular ElBaradei, is some mighty fine rationalization. Why wouldn’t a more moderate Egypt be a stabilizing force in the Middle-East. Why not cheer on the liberation of the women of Egypt as she did the women of Iran. Geller seems to get her foreign policy insights and consistency from a round glass ball sold in novelty shops. There are several more conservative Mubarak lovers at the link.

While some of the bigger name reporters from the networks are in Egypt are there for reasons having to do with network ratings and narcissism as they are there to report the news. They are also giving the protesters a face and voice to the world. While journalists are harassed, beaten and detained by pro-Mubarak forces, conservative pundits stifle laughs Video

That is why Rush Limbaugh said this, about New York Times reporters who’ve been detained by the Mubarak government:

Ladies and gentlemen, it is being breathlessly reported that the Egyptian army — Snerdley, have you heard this? The Egyptian army is rounding up foreign journalists. I mean, even two New York Times reporters were detained. Now, this is supposed to make us feel what, exactly? How we supposed to feel? Are we supposed to feel outrage over it? I don’t feel any outrage over it. Are we supposed to feel anger? I don’t feel any anger over this. Do we feel happy? Well — uh — do we feel kind of going like, “neh-neh-neh-neh”? I’m sure that your emotions are running the gamut when you hear that two New York Times reporters have been detained along with other journalists in Egypt. Remember now, we’re supporting the people who are doing this.

And that is why Andrew Breitbart’s “BIG PEACE” features a post by Hoover Institution research fellow Peter Schweizer headlined “I Don’t Have a Lot of Sympathy for Those Journalists Attacked in Egypt.”

A journalist walking into a crowd of tens of thousands of protestors facing off against tens of thousands of other protestors is akin to the foolish hikers you read about from time to time who end up getting trapped in a snowstorm and have to be taken off the mountain by helicopter. They made a foolish decision to ascend a mountain and simply were not prepared.

Hah, dumb reporters, attempting to broadcast uncensored images from the scene of a historic uprising in the ancient capital city of the Middle East’s most populated country.

Limbaugh snapped out of his cheer leading for journalist head busting when some Fox News crews were attacked.

While I have tried to place the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in some proper context – they do have some goals which I’m not fond of – but they are far less radical than al-Qaeda and there are multiple factions within the Brotherhood as there are in many political movements. A larger point that seems to be lost in making observations about the make-up of the Egyptian protesters is there are of multiple factions with both common and varied interests. I’ve already mentioned the Coptic Christians. Juan Cole gets into the various players in this excellent post, Why Egypt 2011 is not Iran 1979. Among the groups protesting are white and blue collar workers, secularists parties, merchants who rely on trade and tourism and various religious groups. Juan cites a poll that fully 60% of Egyptians are worried about religious extremism. That hardly sounds like the makings of the next Iran.

Ice Crystals on Glass wallpaper

Ice Crystals on Glass wallpaper

This is nothing to freak-out about and is a plus for the Affordable Care Act, Democrats and a more populist view of the Constitution in the long run – Federal Judge Rules That Health Law Violates Constitution

A second federal judge ruled on Monday that it was unconstitutional for Congress to enact a health care law that required Americans to obtain commercial insurance, evening the score at 2 to 2 in the lower courts as conflicting opinions begin their path to the Supreme Court.

Vinson used almost word for word the tea smoker’s line that someone choosing not to participate, thus not buy insurance, does not fall under the legal precedents of the commerce clause. If we were taking about requiring people to buy tree insurance he might have a point. If a tree gets sick or injured it does not have to participate in our health care system. People, not being trees, will most assuredly participate in the health care system at some point. We all get sick or injured eventfully and when that time comes, if you do not have health insurance you are a  burden on the entire system. I’m not crazy about the mandate, but that isn’t the point. Vinson has out done himself on the judicial activism. Frank Pasquale at Balkinization has the best take down of Vinson’s legal reasoning,

5.  There is no coherent basis for declaring a purchase mandate to be constitutionally “improper,” and a categorical ban on regulating inactivity would contradict the implicit reasoning underlying several other established precedents — such as those upholding the draft and the Congressional subpoena power.   Also, federal eminent domain allows compelled transactions justified in part by the Necessary and Proper clause’s expansion of the commerce power, when applied, for instance, to citizen’s refusal to sell land for use in constructing highways, bridges, and canals.

9.  Counteracting imaginary slippery slope concerns about absurd hypothetical laws are the legitimate concerns about insurmountable barriers that a prohibition of purchase mandates would erect.  Forbidding Congress from any purchase mandate could cripple necessary efforts, for instance, to require preventive measures in the face of a massive pandemic that threatened tens of millions of lives.

The other points many of you may have already read in other articles, but they are all worth reading. I used these two because they illustrate a larger point about government compelling people to perform certain actions under certain conditions. If you buy a home the bank will force you to buy at least a basic fire policy( some loans also require flood and/or wind storm insurance). The federal government is not compelling the homeowner directly, but indirectly through the bank. If the home burns down the bank would be stuck with the loss of the loan without the insurance. Since the feds regulate the amount of assets the bank must have in relation to its loans they are indirectly and sometimes directly backing your loan. Some people call this government coercion and others call it government paternalism. Its forcing people to do the right thing for their own good. As Balkin notes the mandate in this context is not a slippery slope. State, local and the federal government require us to do a hand full of things related to insurance for cars, property, liability and so forth. Otherwise we could not run an advanced industrialized society. Most of us, politics aside, have an aversion to having too many of these mandates and for that reason there are relatively few and they are concentrated around insurance and bonding for liability. We know Wall St likes insurance because that is what derivatives are. Unlike the fairy tale capitalism that many still speak of as though it were real – the kind where you take risks and if things do not pan out you move to a cardboard box under a bridge, we have insurance that pays off if you take a risk and lose.

Republican Nut-jobs Reported To FBI By Planned Parenthood Turned Out To Be Hoaxers, Like Planned Parenthood Suspected

Last week, it was revealed that several Planned Parenthood offices had been visited by persons who willingly identified themselves as being the head of an “interstate sex trafficking ring that involves minors and illegal immigrants.” Those offices coordinated their information with Planned Parenthood’s national organization, who reported the activity to the FBI, despite the lingering notion that they were actually being set up for a James O’Keefe-style “sting.”

As it turns out, their instincts were right, right down to the identity of the hoaxers: Lila Rose’s Live Action, who on Tuesday posted their heavily-edited video encounter with a Planned Parenthood staffer.

And more here, Republican con-artist Lila Rose sounds like a female James O’Keefe because she is, Earned Her Video Sting Stripes With James O’Keefe At UCLA

Rose And O’Keefe “Received Criticism” For Their Deceptive Tactics, Which O’Keefe Called “Justified.” The Los Angeles Times reported:

O’Keefe, 24, said he and Rose have received criticism from some of their associates for using deception. “It’s a pretty complicated ethical issue,” he said, “but we believe there is a genocide and nobody cares, and you can use these tactics and it’s justified.” Rose and O’Keefe visited their first clinic — UCLA’s Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center — in 2006. They videotaped an employee telling them “some pretty bad things,” said O’Keefe, including that the fetus is a collection of cells. “That’s what set us in motion.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/26/09]

Your average modern wing-nut conservatives honestly believes a lot of weird, i.e. Leading Neoconservative Frank Gaffney Argues Muslim Brotherhood Has ‘Infiltrated’ The U.S. Federal Government. On the other hand they project a lot of hyperbole into their beliefs. So much so they seem to take on an inner life of their own – a permanent political LSD trip. In this little fairyland they live in things like bearing false witness, sometimes murder, doctoring video tape, going on long deranged rants without a shred of truth is all justified for what their disturbed minds feel is the greater good. Let’s all be civil and have a nice high brow debate about the issues? That is never going to happen with most of the Right because it is the violent language, the violent imagery, the con-artist video tape, the wild accusations and the bizarro conspiracy theories that fuel the right-wing zeitgeist. Just after the Tucson murders some reasonably asked if the constant use of violent language and imagery might be a contributing factor. Many reasonable people thought is was worth seriously looking at how this language might not be best for the culture in general. Yes words like target, campaign and opponent are all part and parcel of politispeak, but maybe some folks could take it down just a notch. Right-wing conservative Don Surber replied, I do not want civil discourse

The left suddenly wants civil discourse.

Bite me.

The left wants to play games of semantics.

Bite me.

The left wants us to be civil — after being so uncivil for a decade.

Bite me.

Don’s clearly sado-masochistic fantasies about liberal doing things to him aside, he does us all a service by his honesty. I’ve been listening to, viewing and reading right-wing hate mongering since the early 90s. As much as I do not like to write anyone off as a loss cause it is a mistake, much like having a toxic relationship with an unrepentant alcoholic, to think after years of abuse of themselves and others that they are ever going to change despite your best efforts – they have to want to change. Want to get on a conservative’s last nerve in a debate on-line or in person, be relaxed and civil. They have always hated civility. Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh are good examples. If they started being civil and truthful tomorrow they wouldn’t have any angry genuflecting followers. If Michelle Bachmann, Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin had everything they planned to say fact checked first they’d be reduced to a few grunts and rolling their eyes.

Two slightly different takes on the same WSJ article. Barry Ritholtz takes up for some of that high end compensation, Wall Street Pay Hits Record Highs (and . . . ?) and a different view at naked capitalism, Croesus Watch: Banker Pay Levitates to New Highs

Oh, I need a new round of black humor as a coping device to deal with the predictable but nevertheless disheartening news that banksters are getting record pay for 2010, after having gotten record pay for 2009…after having wrecked the global economy.

If this isn’t incentivizing destructive behavior, I’d like you to suggest how we could make this picture worse. A newspaper ad for the swaps salesman that tanked the most municipalities? Ticker tape parades for the deal structurer that was best at pulling most fees out of clients in ways they wouldn’t detect? (Oh wait, you’d have to include pretty much every derivative salesman) Honorable mention for the banker with the biggest expense account charges in the industry? (Oh wait, that’s not the right metric, we learned in Inside Job that the drugs and hookers get charged to research budgets. Damn).

One point I would like to make is that if Barack Obama, Harry Reid D-NV) and Democrats are turning the country into a Marxist paradise they are doing an absolutely suckass job at it. Wall St is back to the status quo and corporate profits are soaring. Conservatives will ignore this rational empirical evidence and continue to sling their monkey pooh without pause.