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Sternly worded statement from the huge coalition of left grassroots groups for whom filibuster reform was one of only three top priority items.
These are groups who worked hard to elect Democrats in 2012 and who work hard for Democrats year after year, decade after decade.  Harry Reid strung them along for months, candidates ran on filibuster reform as a campaign issue, and then at the last minute he threw it away and threw this coalition of activists who worked so hard on it right under the bus. Then Reid excoriated the senator who partnered with them, Sen. Merkley, who dared to provide a little bit of transparency and tell them which senators in the caucus were sabotaging reform.  The Fix the Senate coalition should have at least issued a statement demanding Harry Reid resign as Senate majority leader.  There should be consequences for things like this if the coalition hopes to make any headway on their priority issues.   The party needs to fear them.

Why the 'Filibuster Reform' Deal Is a Joke
Today's announcement by Senate leaders does nothing to end obstructionism in the chamber

The plan does nothing to end our Senate's chronic "culture of obstructionism." It won't force lawmakers to stand up and defend their position when blocking the legislative process, as Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) had proposed in their rival filibuster reform bill. It won't shift the burden onto the offending party, by requiring 41 votes to retain a filibuster – as opposed to the current standard, where you need 61 votes to end one – as Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) had proposed.

[...]

With reforms this weak, don't expect the Senate's state of paralysis to end anytime soon. A coalition of labor groups and progressive organizations called "Fix The Senate" released a statement saying as much hours before the deal:

If the agreement proceeds as expected, Senator Reid and the entire chamber will have missed an opportunity to restore accountability and deliberation to the Senate, while not raising the costs of obstruction.
Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell Reach Filibuster Reform Deal [UPDATE]

The pressure from the liberal senators, led by Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley and backed by a major coalition of progressive groups, created the political space for Reid to cut the deal with McConnell, which includes changes to how the Senate operates but leaves a fundamental feature, the silent filibuster, in place.

[...]

The arrangement between Reid and McConnell means that the majority leader will not resort to his controversial threat, known as the "nuclear option," to change the rules via 51 votes on the first day of the congressional session. Reid may have been able to achieve greater reforms that way, but several members of his own party were uncomfortable with the precedent it would have set. And Reid himself, an institutionalist, wanted a bipartisan deal for the long-term health of the institution. Reid presented McConnell with two offers -- one bipartisan accord consisting of weaker reforms, and a stronger package Reid was willing to ram through on a partisan vote. McConnell chose the bipartisan route.

[...]

Added another supportive Democratic Senate aide: "We are now a more efficient Senate; we'll be able to get on bills without having 60 votes and without having to spend a week to do it. We are getting the ability to confirm certain nominees who have objections against them. Instead of taking a week to confirm them, it'll take a few hours. That's all Reid ever really wanted."

[...]

At Tuesday's closed-door caucus meeting, Merkley was upbraided by Reid for breaking unspoken Senate rules and naming specific senators in a conference call with Democratic activists last week, according to sources familiar with the exchange. "He's pissed off so many in the caucus," said one Democratic aide piqued at Merkley. "He has been having conference calls with progressive donors and activists trying to get them energized. He's named specific Dem Senators. Many are furious. He was called out on Tuesday in caucus and very well could be again today."

[...]

Asked about complaints from filibuster reform advocates who were seeking an end to the silent filibuster, Durbin essentially said that life isn't always fair.

"Let me tell you, that's how this world works," he said. "People start aspiring at very high levels, then you get a negotiation, then you reach something called compromise. And I think we are at that point."

Durbin said there was overwhelming support for the deal among Senate Democrats, though he conceded that he was uncertain whether it would make it easier to pass bills.

"It can," he said. "It requires good will [and] good faith."

Jack Goldsmith, Open Source OLC Lawyer, to Obama: You’re Breaking the Law

Now, let me be clear: Goldsmith never comes out and directly says that the Obama Administration is, currently, breaking the law (and he makes no comment on whether the Administration is violating National Security Act requirements on briefing Congress). That’s just the clear implication if you take Wyden’s letter in conjunction with Goldsmith’s Office of Legal Counsel-type advice.

But consider what it means that this solidly conservative lawyer is telling the Obama Administration the same thing he had to tell George Bush when the latter relied on John Yoo’s crappy legal advice.

This suggests that the administration will continue to rely as much as possible on an expansive interpretation of the AUMF and on Article II.  We will see if these authorities suffice to meet the threat.
[...]

Goldsmith’s advice, writing without the authority he once had as the confirmed OLC head, and lacking the leverage of an expiring wiretapping authorization or the imposing figure of a 6’8″ Acting Attorney General to deliver his message, may not carry the weight it once did.

But he is offering fundamentally the same warning he did 9 years ago.

The President of Perpetual War

Four years into his presidency, Barack Obama’s political formula should be obvious. He gives fabulous speeches teeming with popular liberal ideas, often refuses to take the actions necessary to realize those ideas and then banks on most voters, activists, reporters and pundits never bothering to notice - or care about - his sleight of hand.

[...]

Never was this formula more apparent than when the president discussed military conflicts during his second inaugural address. Declaring that “a decade of war is now ending,” he insisted that he “still believe(s) that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”

The lines generated uncritical applause, much of it from anti-war liberals who protested against the Bush administration. Living up to Obama’s calculation, few seemed to notice that the words came from the same president who is manufacturing a state of “perpetual war.”

[...]

Obama partisans’ typical riposte to these horrifying truths is to first and foremost attack the messenger. As just one example, a confidante of Obama’s national security director recently berated war critics as “Cheeto-eating people in the basement working in their underwear.”

[...]

That’s the conclusion of a new analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations - an establishmentarian group that cannot be dismissed with insults about snack food, subterranean dwelling and tighty-whities. Citing a concurrent increase in drone strikes and terrorists in Yemen, CFR says there is a predictable “blowback” effect whereby bombings result in “heightened anger toward the United States and sympathy with or allegiance to al-Qaida” among local populations.

These facts, of course, are a downer for those mesmerized by the president’s soothing inauguration rhetoric. No doubt, he is hoping we simply ignore reality because we so want to believe the anti-war oratory. If we do that, though, we will be aiding and abetting the very state of “perpetual war” that the president has created.

This is a huge thing but in this warmongering country today, it's hardly even big news.
Why Serving In Combat Does Not Serve Women (Or Anyone Else) Well

As the women’s rights advocacy group AF3IRM GABNET said in a statement on their Facebook page,

The Pentagon lifted a ban on women in combat, stating that women can now serve on the frontlines. We in AF3IRM know that this is already common practice and that women of color and transnational women are already disproportionately over-represented in the US military. They are pushed into military duty due to poverty and lack of other options.

We do not celebrate this new “elimination of a gender-based barrier.” We do not celebrate sending us women overseas to kill other women and children in someone else’s name. (emphasis mine)

[...]

Further,

More than eight-in-ten post-9/11 female veterans say they joined to serve their country or receive education benefits (83% and 82%, respectively). Fully 70% say they joined to see more of the world and almost as many (67%) say they joined to gain job skills.

However, there is one key difference in the reasons that men and women joined the military. Some 42% of female veterans say they joined the military because jobs were hard to find, compared with one-quarter of men.

Worth watching this video, especially the latter part where they talk about how the SEC brought no charges against Lehman execs and how the SEC was located right in their building.  "They officed there."
Ian Fraser: Something Sinister About the Lack of Prosecutions at Lehman Brothers
 

This is the first interview that Chicago lawyer Anton Valukas has given since the publication of his 2,292 page report into the bankrutpcy of Lehman Brothers on March 11th, 2010. At that time, Valukas found strong evidence of financial and accounting fraud designed to deceive investors at the defunct New York-based investment bank. Valukas is surprised, especially given Lehman Brothers’ rampant abuse of Repo 105 to disguise its precarious financial position in the quarters ahead of its September 2008 collapse, that the former Lehman Brothers’ chief executive Dick Fuld or any other Lehman Brothers’ director has been charged with fraud or related offences.

[...]

The New York State attorney general Andrew Cuomo is pursuing Ernst & Young for aiding and abetting a fraud using the Martin Act, one of the most powerful prosecutorial tools in the United States. The case bounced from the New York State to the Supreme court and is now back in the State court. A trial is expected soon [thanks, Cate Long, for the update here].

The whole thing is sinister and astonishing in equal measure. The reason that no director of Lehman Brothers has been brought to book would appear to be that US financial regulator the Securities & Exchange Commission, which had a dedicated team inside Lehmans’ headquarters at 745 Seventh Avenue prior to the uber-leveraged bank’s collapse, knew all this chicanery was going on, and must therefore have given it the nod at the time. The SEC may therefore be complicit in the alleged crime and no less guilty than Lehman. Shades of the FSA’s hopelessly compromised position where failed UK banks like Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS are concerned?





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It's National Pie Day!

The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.  

Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.

Why is National Pie Day the perfect opportunity to tell you more about us?  Well you'll see why very soon.  So what are you waiting for?!   Head on over now and be one of the first!

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