What Bhutto’s Assassination Means

Talking Points Memo,

The most likely culprit is the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda. But it’s not exactly an event met with tears by the Pakistani military, which thoroughly controls the government and the economy.
. . . U.S. strategy didn’t exactly find that so offensive. “The idea was to consolidate the alliance of the so-called moderate forces in the Pakistani military through this election that the military was going to rig but we were going to certify anyway,” Rubin observes. That is, as long as Bhutto was in the picture — since the U.S. had reduced the democratic opposition to the figure of Benazir Bhutto, although her corruption as PM was manifest. Without Bhutto, it is unclear what the U.S. will do.
Bhutto’s assassination presents an opportunity for Musharraf. “It’s very possible Musharraf will declare [another] state of emergency and postpone the elections,” Rubin continues. “That will confirm in many people’s minds the idea that the military is behind” the assassination. For it’s part, the U.S. will likely “be scrambling to say the election either needs to be held as planned or postponed rather than canceled, but Musharraf is in a position to preempt that.”
As a result, Rubin says, U.S. strategy is “in tatters.”

London Times has a roundup of “blog reaction” but I don’t know many of the blogs

.”I hope that the killing of Benazir Bhutto will open the eyes of US and UK adminsitration and will allow political forces to grow rather Pakistan Army. I hope that the people of Pakistan would come to roads and will throw away Pakistan Army and its dirty establishment and ISI.”

Raw Story has AP,

While awaiting formal confirmation of Bhutto’s death in an attack on an election rally, U.S. officials — who had labored to promote stability in the nuclear-armed country that has been an anti-terrorism ally — huddled to assess the impact of Bhutto’s passing just two weeks before legislative elections in the turbulent nation in which her party was expected to do well.”

CNN has Arnaud de Borchgrave on the air, calling him an “analyst: That’s further right than even Fox.

New Hampshire Senate Race – Jay Buckey

If you see stories like this, firedoglake: Bill Shaheen’s Obama Attack Hurts Wife’s Senate Campaign Against Sununu,

It appears Bill Shaheen’s attack on Barack Obama is hurting his wife’s Jeanne’s Senate chances. From the latest ARG poll: . . .
. . . Jeanne Shaheen is Chuck Schumer’s hand-picked candidate, and she certainly has name recognition in the state, but she’s hardly the most progressive candidate (the advantage on that front would definitely go to Jay Buckey).
It may be as Bennett says a temporary aberration, but if the moral factors of the situation weren’t enough, I think the political lesson here is also clear — some campaign tactics are simply best left to Republicans.

then you should go support Jay Buckey, who is running as a PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRACT in the New Hampshire Senate primary race.
Jay’s an astronaut, by the way, and you can get a signed space shuttle hand-squeeze stress reliever if you go to his website and donate. (I just donated.)

Republicans Again Choose Corporations Over Citizens

This time it’s the elderly that get screwed. You see, actually providing promised health care might mean a CEO has to get a smaller second jet.
Many Retirees May Lose Benefits From Employers – New York Times

,The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that employers could reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.
The policy, set forth in a new regulation, allows employers to establish two classes of retirees, with more comprehensive benefits for those under 65 and more limited benefits — or none at all — for those older.
More than 10 million retirees rely on employer-sponsored health plans as a primary source of coverage or as a supplement to Medicare, and Naomi C. Earp, the commission’s chairwoman, said, “This rule will help employers continue to voluntarily provide and maintain these critically important health benefits.”

Don’t you just LOVE that? I mean, how smooth is that? “will help employers continue to VOLUNTARILY provide” … which of course means get rid of.

The new policy creates an explicit exemption from age-discrimination laws for employers that scale back benefits of retirees 65 and over. Mr. Mackaronis asserted that the exemption was “in direct conflict” with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Record National Housing Price Drop

U.S. home prices drop 6.1% year over year, Case-Shiller finds – MarketWatch,

Home prices in 20 major U.S. cities were down 6.1% on average in the past year as of October, according to the Case-Shiller price index released Wednesday by Standard & Poor’s.
Since October 2006, prices in 10 cities fell 6.7% — a record drop. The prior largest decline was 6.3% in April 1991.
. . . Miami sustained the largest drop over the past year, with a decline of 12.4%. Next came: Tampa, with a drop of 11.8%, Detroit with a drop of 11.2%, and San Diego with a drop of 11.1%.

This is only the beginning.
By the way, does this price drop take into account 4% inflation? If not the real decline was quite a bit greater.

m4s0n501

Iowa Political Prosecution?

Bleeding Heartland:: Register columnists question McCoy prosecution

As you recall, a federal jury recently acquitted Matt McCoy after deliberating for less than two hours–an embarrassing outcome for the prosecution.
Marc Hansen, who for my money is the best columnist at the Des Moines Register, wrote a good column about speculation that politics influenced McCoy’s prosecution. Key passage:

Most Democrats you talk to around here say politics was behind the prosecution of state Sen. Matt McCoy.
They have their reasons. Some even sound legitimate, especially in light of a recent University of Minnesota study that brings hard numbers to the discussion.
For every elected Republican the Justice Department has investigated during the George W. Bush years, seven elected Democrats have been investigated, the research says.
Can that be right? Are there really that many more bad-apple Democrats?
The jury took about an hour and a half last week to decide that McCoy wasn’t guilty of attempted extortion. And that includes lunch.

Go read the rest
I think we are going to see LOTS of news stories about Democratis “investgated” by the Justice Department before the 2008 elections. Those prosecutors are still there – the ones who wouldn’t play ball and investigate Democrats are drop investigations of Republicans have been sacked.
And the Senate has issued strongly-worded statements – but done little else.

Romney and Scientology?

I missed this in April … Romney Favors Hubbard Novel,

When asked his favorite novel in an interview shown yesterday on the Fox News Channel, Mitt Romney pointed to “Battlefield Earth,” a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. That book was turned into a film by John Travolta, a Scientologist.
A spokesman said later it was one of Mr. Romney’s favorite novels.
“I’m not in favor of his religion by any means,” Mr. Romney, a Mormon, said. “But he wrote a book called ‘Battlefield Earth’ that was a very fun science-fiction book.” Asked about his favorite book, Mr. Romney cited the Bible.

I ask this in all seriousness, is it possible to even know about this novel if you are not involved in Scientology – much less say it is your favorite novel? OK, it’s possible, but is it possible for an educated person who does know about the novel to not know that it is Scientology? (Never mind that it is a candidate for worst movie ever made.)
What is Mitt Romney doing mixed up in Scientology? It’s possible that he has had the kind of life that makes a person vulnerable to their recruitment – as well as a target.

Health Care Mandates

Let me say this about that.
People are discussing Health Care Mandates. The idea is that you require everyone to purchase health insurance. There – problem solved, you have Universal Health Care.
Health care doesn’t work unless everyone has insurance. Otherwise you are only insuring the sick, which is expensive. And the sick who aren’t uninsured aren’t insured so what is the point?
Hillary and Edwards are for it, Obama says he is against it. Which means, of course, his plan can’t work.
The reason this is discussed as an option at all is that everyone is afraid of the big insurance companies. The feel that if they don’t offer a plan that keeps the big insurance companies in the deal those companies will campaign against them,like they did against Bill Clinton after Hillary offered her plan in the early 90’s. So they come up with plans that depend on pumping money to private insurance companies.
Of course, the big insurance companies are going to work to undermine a Democratic President no matter what, but the candidates have to pretend this won’t happen… otherwise they would have to offer the dreaded Medicare-For-All plan that every other country in the world has, and works, and covers everyone, and costs so much less…
Mandates require us to give large amounts of our money to corporations. Cool! My wife and I currently pay about $1200 a month for health care for two people. Imagine thinking you can get elected by offering a plan that requires everyone to give $1200 a month to corporations!
This all shows that the candidates are far more afraid of offending the big corporations than of offending the People.

Romney Didn’t Make Up MLK Story

Mitt Romney’s father George was solid on civil rights, and probably did walk with Martin Luther King – at least would have if he had the opportunity. I saw something that indicated this yesterday, but not enough to post. But this has more: Talking Points Memo | Witnesses Back Up Mitt Romney On MLK,

It’s looking like Mitt Romney might have been judged too quickly on the Martin Luther King business. Two witnesses have now come forward to The Politico, insisting that they saw the late Gov. George Romney (R-MI) make a surprise appearance alongside King in 1963.
The campaign has also posted a collection of citations — including a contemporary account from the Detroit Free Press — attesting that it happened.

Fair is fair. This certainly is not an endorsement of Mitt Romney.

“We’re gonna take their power away and we’re not gonna have this kind of problem again.”

Edwards Says He’ll Take On Big Insurance Companies – From The Road,

John Edwards tonight cited the case of a 17-year-old California girl who died after her insurance company refused coverage on a liver transplant to save her life as a call to action to change the current system of healthcare in America.
Nataline Sarkysian died last night at UCLA Medical Center after complications arose from a bone marrow transplant to treat her leukemia. Her insurance provider, CIGNA Healthcare, first denied the potentially lifesaving transplant, but relented after a loud public protest and outrage. By that time, though, Sarkysian passed away before the procedure could be performed.
“Are you telling me that we’re gonna sit at a table and negotiate with those people?” asked a visibly angered Edwards, challenging the health care companies. “We’re gonna take their power away and we’re not gonna have this kind of problem again.”

Ron Paul’s Appeal

I think I understand the appeal of Ron Paul a little better now. This post at an economics blog makes the case:

. . . Bush would rather waste $70 billion and another 10,000 lives than admit his programs are a complete failures.
“With great fanfare” the Pentagon adopted a reduction in overseas force plan in 2004. The only thing that has changed since then is more lives have been lost, more money has been wasted, and the economy has soured. There are no jobs here so Bush will do whatever he can, including the deliberate sacrificing the lives of US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the deliberate waste of $billions elsewhere, just to prevent unemployment numbers from rising headed into an election year.
What’s even sadder is that spineless Democrats are going along with his strategy. If you want to stop this madness, there is only one choice: Vote for Ron Paul.

People want the war stopped, they don’t see the Democrats doing that. Therefore…
Update – I am in no way endorsing Ron Paul here, I am saying I understand the appeal — to the “low information voters” who don’t understand what many of his other policies mean in the real world Some are good ideas, others are proven to not work. nd then there’s this “NAFTA Highway” conspiracy stuff… Wow.