Give Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) credit for nerve. On Tuesday, the very day he finally admitted knowing that Countrywide Financial regarded him as a “special” customer, the Connecticut Democrat also announced that he was bringing to the Senate floor a housing bailout sure to help lenders like Countrywide.
How much will Countrywide benefit from Mr. Dodd’s rescue? The Senator’s plan allows mortgage lenders to dump up to $300 billion of their worst loans on to taxpayers via a new Federal Housing Administration refinancing program, provided the lenders are willing to accept 87% of current market value. The program will be most attractive to lenders and investors holding subprime and slightly-less-risky Alt-A loans made during the height of the housing bubble in 2006 and 2007.
House and Senate leaders have agreed to a new compromise surveillance bill that would effectively shield from potentially costly civil lawsuits telecommunications companies that helped the government wiretap citizens’ phone and computer lines after the September 11 terrorist attacks without court permission.
The House will debate the bill on Friday, potentially ending a monthslong standoff about the rules for government wiretapping inside the United States.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the new bill “balances the needs of our intelligence community with Americans’ civil liberties, and provides critical new oversight and accountability requirements.”
The great thing about the two-party system is that when one party is tired of fucking you, the other party is rested up and ready to take over.
In 2006, the State Department’s report on Russia contained one of the most amazing passages I’ve read in all the time I’ve been writing about political issues. This is really — honestly — what the State Department said in condemning Russia. I highly recommend reading this a few times, especially in light of what the Congress is preparing to do this week:
The law states that officials may enter a private residence only in cases prescribed by federal law or on the basis of a judicial decision; however, authorities did not always observe these provisions.
The law permits the government to monitor correspondence, telephone conversations, and other means of communication only with judicial permission and prohibits the collection, storage, utilization, and dissemination of information about a person’s private life without his consent. While these provisions were generally followed, problems remained. There were accounts of electronic surveillance by government officials and others without judicial permission, and of entry into residences and other premises by Moscow law enforcement without warrants. There were no reports of government action against officials who violated these safeguards.
What kind of monsters would spy on their own citizens without warrants even when the law requires warrants, and then not even punish those who broke the law? Russian Communist KGB thugs — that’s who would do such a horrible thing, our State Department complained in 2006.
As far as I can tell, the Associated Press is sticking by its ridiculous and unlawful assertion that “direct quotations, even short ones” are copyright infringements and result in lawsuit threats and DMCA takedown notices.
This story led us to ban the A.P., call the New York Times out on undisclosed conflicts of interest and begin to investigate some ridiculous organization called the Media Bloggers Association before getting bored and wandering off to other topics.
But now the A.P. has gone too far. They’ve quoted twenty-two words from one of our posts, in clear violation of their warped interpretation of copyright law. The offending quote, from this post, is here (I’m suspending my A.P. ban to report on this important story).
Am I being ridiculous? Absolutely. But the point is to illustrate that the A.P. is taking an absurd and indefensible position, too. So I’ve called my lawyers (really) and have asked them to deliver a DMCA takedown demand to the A.P. And I will also be sending them a bill for $12.50 with that letter, which is exactly what the A.P. would have charged me if I published a 22 word quote from one of their articles.
Do you have Firefox 3? Try about:robots in the address bar!
Maybe he’s exactly what we needed. Maybe Bush’s brand of frighteningly inept politicking has been just the right kind of sociocultural emetic to induce a true purge of our congested system, just the thing to finally snap us out of our lethargy. Hell, sometimes you gotta go deep into the darkness to realize just how much you need the light.
So thank you, George, for exemplifying and embodying everything that’s wrong with the neocon agenda, for serving as the final death knell of the failed conservative movement, of a once-noble Republican Party that’s run out of ideas and has turned bitter and nasty and paranoid.
Thank you, Dubya, for setting the stage for Obama and Hillary. Because the truth is, even as recently as eight years ago, if you’d have asked if we as a nation would be anywhere near ready for a female or black president, it would have felt incredibly premature, a good 20 years off before we could entertain such an idea. But so potent has been the recoil against everything you stood for — the misogyny, homophobia, classism, fear of “the other,” of foreigners and minorities and alternative beliefs — that we are ready to be inspired and reinvigorated sooner than anyone thought possible.
Today, as in the robber baron era a century ago, the gap between those at the top and the rest of us is simply staggering. The richest 1 percent of Americans currently hold wealth worth $16.8 trillion, nearly $2 trillion more than the bottom 90 percent. A worker making $10 an hour would have to labor for more than 10,000 years to earn what one of the 400 richest Americans pocketed in 2005.
How vast has our parallel universe of the ultrarich become? The Wall Street Journal now dedicates a full-time beat reporter, Robert Frank, to cover what he calls Richistan. Richistan did not suddenly appear on the American scene. Our top-heavy era has evolved from a heavily bankrolled effort by conservatives and corporations to instill blind faith in the market as the magic elixir that can solve any problem. This three-decade war against common sense has preached that tax cuts for the rich help the poor, that labor unions keep workers from prospering, that regulations protecting consumers attack freedom. Duly inspired, our elected officials have rewritten the rules that run our economy–on taxes and trade, on wage policies and public spending–to benefit wealthy asset owners and global corporations.
To reverse this reckless course, we need to change our nation’s dominant political narrative and restore faith in the critical role that government must play to protect the common good. But we can’t stop there. We need to confront directly the threat posed by this inequality.
“Speaking of Barack Obama, yesterday, Barack Obama said, if he becomes president, he will replace the White House bowling alleys because it’s something he would never use. That’s what he said, yeah. Yeah, apparently, this is the same reason President Bush got rid of the White House library.”
“Barack Obama surprised a bunch of students in Chicago yesterday when he showed up unannounced at an eighth grade graduation. Gave a speech at the eighth grade graduation, pretty cool. Now, don’t confuse that with President Bush’s appearance last year at an eighth grade graduation. He was just there getting a diploma.”
This just in from the Mars Phoenix Lander’s Twitter at 5:15 p.m.: “Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!!” It was just two days ago that media outlets were reporting that there were no signs of water yet.
Then nine minutes after that: “Whoohoo! Was keeping my eye on some chunks of bright stuff & they disappeared! Sublimated! So it can’t be salt, it’s ice.”
CBC Radio’s Search Engine just posted/aired its interview with Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice about his Canadian version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They’ve been trying to get him on the air for months now and he finally consented to ten minutes, but he delivered nothing but spin and outright lies about his legislation and ended up hanging up on Jesse Brown, the interviewer.