Archive for Blue America

Take Those Threats Seriously

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Nicole Sandler

Americans have really short memories. It was less than a year ago that the Republicans shut down the US government for 16 very long days. And now Mitch McConnell is threatening to do it again. I suggest we take those threats very seriously.

To refresh our country's collective memory loss:

FirstFederal employees were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million days, more than in any previous government shutdown. At its peak, about 850,000 individuals per day were furloughed. That number fell once most Department of Defense civilian employees were able to return to work as the Pentagon implemented the Pay Our Military Act.

Secondthe shutdown cost the Federal government billions of dollars. The payroll cost of furloughed employee salaries alone – that is, the lost productivity of furloughed workers – was $2.0 billion. Beyond this, the Federal government also incurred other direct costs as a result of the shutdown. Fees went uncollected; IRS enforcement and other program integrity measures were halted; and the Federal government had to pay additional interest on payments that were late because of the shutdown.

Thirdthe shutdown had significant negative effects on the economy. The Council of Economic Advisers has estimated that the combination of the shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship resulted in 120,000 fewer private sector jobs created during the first two weeks of October. And multiple surveys have shown that consumer and business confidence was badly damaged.

The report highlights some of the more direct impacts the shutdown had on the economy by shutting down government services.

For example:

  • Federal permitting and environmental and other reviews were halted, delaying job-creating transportation and energy projects.
  • Import and export licenses and applications were put on hold, negatively impacting trade.
  • Federal loans to small businesses, homeowners, and families in rural communities were put on hold.
  • Private-sector lending to individuals and small businesses was disrupted, because banks and lenders couldn’t access government income and Social Security Number verification services.
  • Travel and tourism was disrupted at national parks and monuments across the country, hurting the surrounding local economies.

Fourththe shutdown impacted millions of Americans who rely on critical programs and services halted by the shutdown.

For example:

  • Hundreds of patients were prevented from enrolling in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
  • Almost $4 billion in tax refunds were delayed.
  • Agencies from the Food and Drug Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency had to cancel health and safety inspections, while the National Transportation Safety Board was unable to investigate airplane accidents in a timely fashion.
  • Critical government-sponsored scientific research was put on hold. Notably, four of the five Nobel prize winning scientists who work for the Federal government were furloughed during the shutdown.

Fifththe shutdown could have a long-term impact on our ability to attract and retain the skilled and driven workforce that the Federal government needs. The shutdown followed a three-year pay freeze for Federal employees, cuts in training and support, and, for hundreds of thousands of workers, administrative furloughs earlier this year because of sequestration. These cuts will make it harder for the government to attract and retain the talent it needs to provide top level service to the American people.

To put it much more simply, it was really, truly awful.

And Americans, for a change, laid the blame (mostly) where it belonged: squarely at the feet of the GOP.

But those short memories were what the Rethuglicans were counting on, as Mitch McConnell seemingly has no qualms about threatening similar action again IF REPUBLICANS TAKE CONTROL OF THE SENATE! You'd think that would be impetus enough to keep anyone with even a modicum of sanity from voting for any member of that party.

But sadly, Mr. Predictor of Election Outcomes Better than Anyone Else himself, Nate Silver's latest pronouncement is "Republicans Remain Slightly Favored To Take Control Of The Senate".

I hope everyone will take a few minutes to read Dave Johnson's apocalyptic tome about what they are threatening to do (and will likely follow through on) should that unthinkable outcome become reality on Nov. 4: "GOP Vows to Dismantle  or Shut Down Government if They Win Senate." Dave joined me on the show this morning to explain why you should be afraid, very afraid, of that prospect (unlike the fake fears the GOP is always ginning up.)

In the first hour, Howie Klein was on with me, as he is each Monday morning, for The Steve Israel Hour, sponsored by Little Debbie. We talked about tomorrow's primaries in FloriDUH, Arizona and Oklahoma; about Andrew Cuomo's running mate, Kathy Hochul and how truly conservative she is, the vote coming before the people of Scotland to decide on their independence, and more..

Tomorrow, we'll talk with Tom Risen of US News and World Report about his friend, the late James Foley. And the Gliberal Goddesses (GottaLaff, Amy Simon and myself) are back with more gliberal giddyness.... Radio or Not!

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Torture & Lies

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NicoleSandlerHeadshotw202h202

President Obama admitted the US tortured "some folks" following the 9-11 attacks.

Obama has used the word "torture" before to describe the harsh interrogation tactics used at CIA-run secret prisons during the Bush administration. But his words at a White House news conference were notably more direct than previous statements.

The comments reflect the line the president is preparing to walk as he gets ready for the release of a Senate committee report on the Bush-era rendition, detention and interrogation program.

According to the president, torture is not OK - but lying about torture is acceptable, as long as you apologize for it. Why do I feel like he learned this strategy by parenting pre-schoolers?

Marcy Wheeler joined in for the last segment of today's show, and she hit the nail on the head with her aptly-titled post, "But Brennan Didn’t Fuck His Biographer!"

Amidst calls for Brennan’s firing, Obama basically responded, “Sure, we tortured some folks, but I still have confidence in the guy who found the waterboard and black sites at which to torture.”

But I’m not sure why folks are so surprised by Obama’s reluctance to criticize Brennan for lying about hacking the SSCI. Aside from the mutual complicity — Brennan was personal witness to each and every drone strike Obama approved that violated international law, after all — CIA Directors don’t get fired for lying.

They get fired for fucking their biographer.

In the first hour of the show, Howie Klein was on for our weekly "Steve Israel Hour." We touched on the torture and lies problem, and both admitted to having the same scary thought: that once a president is sworn in and sits at the Oval Office desk for the first time to read the letter left by his or her predecessor, they find out just how limited their power really is, and that the CIA and NSA are the ones calling the shots.

Howie wrote "If You Let Criminals Off Lightly, You Guarantee One Thing: More Crime" about the problem with Obama's thinking in excusing Brennan's role in all of this.

We also talked about some important Senate races (Tom Udall who was the first to call for Brennan's ouster after his "apology" and is facing a very tough re-election. Plus Shenna Bellows, Jeff Merkely, Brian Schatz and a few others.) Blue America has a Senate page for donations here.

We also talked about some gubernatorial races up for grabs, including a tough re-election campaign for Illinois' Pat Quinn and his "sleazy billionaire sociopath" challenger. They also have a gubernatorial page here... 

And we called out another World's Biggest Asshole today, Iowa Congressman Steve King who we remember as the one who claimed that for every valedictorian among the Dreamers, there are 100 who have calves the size of cantaloupes from smuggling marijuana across the border. Yeah, that guy. He's back...

During a conference call last month with the National Emergency Coalition, Rep. Steve King said that the U.S. needs to crack down on immigration because our nation’s borders were established by God. Disrespecting the borders, the congressman suggested, is disrespecting God’s will.

He also blamed the child migrant crisis not on drug-war-related violence in Central America but on President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, or as he calls it, “deferred action for criminal aliens.”

- via

As if that wasn't enough, he went of Fox "news" Sunday to threaten impeachment if President Obama dares to issue another Executive Order dealing with the issue of immigration:

How we've managed to survive this long is beyond me!

A big show is on tap for tomorrow, with Congressman Alan Grayson joining in at the beginning of the show (so get here at 10ET sharp!), and @GottaLaff in hour two.. Radio or Not!

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