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No One Should Die For Lack of Health Care

This remarkable viral campaign on Facebook has a very simple message. It happens to be the one that Harris Wofford rode to a Senate victory over a well-funded Republican opponent prior to the 1992 elections. It's what Bill Clinton pretty much ran on during those 1992 elections. It's an appeal to basic American fairness, and it's worked over and over again.

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Health Care Activists Battle Powerful Insurance Companies

[Editor's note: For more on how you can fight for health care reform, click here.]

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Neocon Moral Lepers Continue to Defend and Glorify Torture

Now that I've had some time to marinate in these depraved memos justifying and finding legal rationalizations for torture, I am convinced that the members of the Bush Administration who directed and authorized all this just willed themselves to believe they were doing the righteous and just thing. Sure, they knew enough to find some thin strand of legal reasoning to cover their naked bodies, but that was seen by them as a brave and forthright act. I don't see another way to live with approving Room 101 techniques like putting someone in a box with a bug unless you've convinced yourself of your own worthiness. The memos also produce a fact pattern of deliberate lies by the CIA to put their proposed torture of Abu Zubaydah in the best possible light (claiming he was of sound mental health when contemporaneous reports term him a basket case, for example). Combine that with typical Republican victimhood status, and you have the squealing pigs in the media today despairing about the release of these documents.

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Why DC Media Twits Have Been Quick to Embrace Twitter

The Politico, seeking to prove its commitment to substantive journalism, had an article yesterday about the 10 most influential DC Twitterers. Enough said on their claims to substance. But they do hit on a mini-phenomenon; unlike blogs, which the Beltway media was slow to accept and embrace, Twitter has become something of a hit. Which makes perfect sense. After all, if you knew nothing about a topic except the barest outlines of the "who's winning/who's losing" dynamic, you'd want to limit yourself to 140 characters, too.

I'm not saying that Twitter is useless: it's a good publishing tool for quick news bytes and reporting from spaces where a computer is impractical. The best information from the California budget standoff came from the few reporters and advocates left in Sacramento updating their Twitter feeds (of course, that says more about California's political media than it does about the medium). However, reading the blurb for Ana Marie Cox' designation on the list, it appears that to them, Twitter has just become Village IM:

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What Is Worse Than Coal in Your Stocking? Coal in Your Drinking Water

The water main break in Montgomery County, Maryland had some compelling visuals to it, with water pouring from the ground and drivers trapped in their cars, so it received some treatment on the cable shoutcasts today. It's a good thing, too, because the rupture of a 44 year-old pipe causing this kind of chaos does show the need for infrastructure repairs, not only as part of a larger fiscal stimulus, but to avoid catastrophes and their ancillary costs, and to maintain vital services which will have tangible benefits for years to come.

But a massive coal ash spill like we saw yesterday in Tennessee - the result of a burst dam at a private coal processing plant - is actually far more dangerous with far more lasting consequences, even if the visuals aren't as stellar.



You're talking about hundreds of acres of toxic sludge, the residue plants create by burning coal to produce energy, which includes mercury, arsenic and lead, spilling into the tributaries of the Tennessee River, poisoning the water supply for multiple communities, including Chattanooga.

Bush Lays More Landmines for Obama

Yesterday I mentioned all the internal challenges that President-elect Obama will be facing. Today's Washington Post reveals how Bush is trying to institutionalize those challenges.

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Ted Stevens Returns to Alaska to Try and Salvage His Career

Digby can maybe speak to a more personal experience with Alaska, but I'll tell you, this is exactly what I expected to happen upon his (triumphant?) return.

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Hurricane Gustav Comes in Slow and to the Left

As I hoped, Hurricane Gustav changed course slightly, moving to the West and away from New Orleans, and the storm downgraded to a Category 2 storm upon landfall. The eye of the storm is 40 miles west of the city, toward Houma. Now, the Industrial Canal is being overtopped, and some runaway barges and tugboats are flying around in the area, and there are at least six hours to go here. But the absolute worst option has not materialized... yet. And I'm hopeful that the storm is far away enough that we won't see catastrophic flooding.

But you never know. The Port of New Orleans is underwater. If this was a Category 4 storm we'd be in a tremendous amount of trouble. The Army Corps of Engineers simply never built anything to stop water from Lake Pontchartrain to stream in through the Industrial Canal. If there's real breaching, the Lower Ninth is going to fill up. Again. (UPDATE: CNN reports "spurts of water" are coming into the Lower Ninth Ward already. This isn't that big a storm and the levees are already starting to fail.)

Corporate Media Focuses on DNC as the World Burns

Katie Couric puts on her serious face and talks to bloggers, who then post about her talking to bloggers, and the universe explodes on itself.

Meanwhile apparently this is the Hillary Clinton convention and the Democratic Party is at war, although none of us know it.

And oh by the way: Pakistan's government has collapsed (which is probably as it should be after Musharraf was dumped), Iraq's Prime Minister reaffirms the need for a hard timeline for all US troops to leave Iraq, the Prime Minister has also cut oil deals with China and Russia, the Russians have recognized independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and in the wake of yet another airstrike killing dozens of civilians in Afghanistan ...

Siegelman Redux? More Allegations of Politicized Prosecutions Surface

We often chronicle the voter suppression and intimidation machinations from the right. There's also the use of US Attorneys to investigate Democrats at fortunate times for their Republican opponents. Despite the high-profile nature of the Don Siegelman case and others, this element of the Republican machine hasn't been shut down. In fact, it's in full force in a Senate race in Mississippi.

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Intriguing Twists and Turns in the Anthrax Case

There is a very coordinated push to leak details about the late Bruce Ivins to certify that he is the "lone nut" anthrax killer, details which don't entirely hold up upon scrutiny. There's definitely a desire on the part of the government to make this an open and shut case seven years after the fact, but it doesn't completely hold together. In fact, the media reports are almost all contradictory.

The LA Times is claiming that Ivins stood to make money off of an anthrax panic, because he invented some bioterror vaccines, but inside the article it's made clear that we're talking about not much more than $10,000. A social worker who worked as a therapist with Ivins was reportedly scared to death of him and claimed that he tried to poison people in the past, but the social worker, Jean Duley, has her own checkered past, with a long rap sheet, and apparently knew about the grand jury investigation, as it's in her restraining order against Ivins:

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SCOTUS Upholds the Rule of Law for Gitmo Detainees

I gotta say, I didn't expect this to happen:

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McCain Backs Illegal Wiretaps

McCain's flip-flop on radical executive power and illegal spying actually happened a few days ago, but I'm glad Charlie Savage elevated it by covering it in the New York Times.

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Spineless Dems To Capitulate on FISA

I congratulate Barack Obama on his primary win and think he has the opportunity to bring forward meaningful change in America. In fact, he can start today. He can go to the well of the Senate and demand that the party he now leads not authorize new powers to spy on Americans and immunize corporations who broke the law with their illegal spying in the first place.

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Can the Iraqis Save Iraq?

A unified front is forming in Iraq among Sunnis and Shiites, opposed to the terms of the draft of a long-term security agreement to keep US forces in the country. Muqtada al-Sadr tapped into a populist rejection of the US occupation and the Iraqi government, for now, is playing hardball.

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Petraeus Moves the Goalposts - Again

Are people really going to fall for this again?

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The Party Will Survive The Primary

Rachel Maddow basically just namechecked Atrios on MSNBC and called the race a series of Friedman Units, where pundits and media types say "the next primary will be over!" and then nothing happens. This was the ultimate inconclusive result, in Pennsylvania, 30-40 million to get a 10-point win with probably around ten delegates in Clinton's favor. The media has a real desire to keep this thing going and hype up the "this is it!" nature of the next primary, and then nothing happens. I'm with Matt Yglesias - this kind of has to end. There really isn't a whole lot more information that superdelegates are going to get. There's a saturation level that has been reached. We know the strengths and weaknesses of these candidates. We know what demographics they win against one another and what demos they lose. About half the Democrats in the country like Clinton and about half like Obama. She's from the Northeast and he's from the Midwest, and they get a tilt in their favor in each of those regions. He can't knock her out because she's really good at campaigning, and she was swamped by him early because he's really good at campaigning. The level of competition is far higher here than it will be in the fall against John McCain, actually. So the superdelegates can make their choice. They could make it today.

And I agree with Stoller, we're going to be fine. Democrats forced a runoff, and came within a hair's breadth of winning, in a seat in the middle of Mississippi (MS-01) tonight, an R+10 seat. The "Clinton/Obama voters will vote for McCain if their guy doesn't win" polling is about as relevant in the middle of a hotly contested primary as a national Paul-Richardson head-to-head (You might have noticed that Ron Paul got 16% of the vote in the GOP primary in PA tonight, and Huckabee 21% 11%. Does that mean core Republicans won't vote McCain? Uh, no). There were high numbers for disafffected McCain supporters voting for Gore over Bush in 2000. This is essentially a Parliamentary country among core party members, the kind who vote in primaries.

Obama lost the plot in the last several weeks, and Clinton capitalized with a faintly divisive, but strong campaign. Obama needs to get back on his feet in two favorable states. He has not lost a single state that shares a border with his home state of Illinois (Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri). His speech tonight was pretty much a replay of his 2004 DNC keynote, and he's trying to return to the themes on which he won early. If he wins those two states it will be very significant. But the superdelegates need to come out from under the rocks where they're hiding and end this.

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