Category Archives: Raw Story

Senate Republicans block FEMA disaster relief funds

Hold on, don’t spend that disaster aid money just yet, Republicans in the US Senate have blocked aid to Hurricane Irene victims.

I wonder what Governor Christie and fellow NJ Republicans have to say about this?

Raw Story
Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

A package of disaster relief funding worth $7 billion was blocked from coming up for a vote by Senate Republicans on Monday, drawing sharp condemnation from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) who lambasted the conservative party for abandoning Americans in need.

“Last night, Democrats tried to move forward on a measure that would have granted the Federal Emergency Management Agency additional funding to help communities devastated by natural disasters,” Sen. Reid said in an advisory.

“This ought to be the least political issue going – whether to reach out a helping hand to our friends and neighbors in their time of need,” he continued. “They have lost friends and loved ones. Their homes, businesses and livelihoods have been destroyed by acts of god. Their communities are under water or reduced to rubble.

“It’s in our power to help them. But last night Republicans overwhelmingly voted to prevent us from coming to their aid. They prevented us from getting disaster aid to American families and businesses that need it now.”

The vote was 53-33, with Republicans uniting against measure that would have brought the aid package to a vote and put a rush on some emergency funds. A 60-vote majority was required to pass it.

“They don’t need help next week or next month,” Reid railed. “They need it now. They need it today.”

He added that because of the increased number of natural disasters this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has just over $300 million left. President Barack Obama has issued disaster declarations in 48 states since the beginning of 2011.

The funds are so low, Reid said, that FEMA has stopped rebuilding the town of Joplin, Missouri, which was practically destroyed by tornadoes earlier this year. It withdrew funding for the Joplin rebuilding in order to provide food and shelter to the victims of Hurricane Irene.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said on Monday that House Republicans would include a much smaller package of relief funds, attached to a budget request needed to keep the government operating through the end of September.

Cantor has previously tried to withhold disaster funds to force major budget cuts elsewhere, like vehicle fuel efficiency programs, or public funding for light rail projects.

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Filed under Congressional Republicans, disaster assistance, Eric Cantor, FEMA, Hurricane Irene, President Obama, Raw Story, relief aid, US Sen. Harry Reid

>Supreme Court justices ‘participated in political strategy sessions’ before Citizens United

>Has the time finally come to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Supreme Court rulings of two justices, Scalia and Thomas for conflicts of interest and the selling of their decisions ?

After reading the following that was post over at Rawstory.com I am beginning to think so:

On the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, which overturned nearly a century of restrictions on campaign spending, a progressive group has asked the Department of Justice to look into “conflicts of interest” two justices may have had when issuing the ruling.

In a petition to be sent to the department this week, Common Cause will argue that Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves from the campaign finance decision because of their involvement with Koch Industries, a corporation run by two conservative activists who many say directly benefited from Citizens United.

“It appears both justices have participated in political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the decision,” the letter alleges, as quoted at Politico.

The group will urge the department to disqualify Scalia and Thomas from the ruling. If that were to happen, the Supreme Court could vacate the ruling, effectively returning the campaign finance restrictions that existed until 2010. But, as Common Cause itself admits, the odds are against it.

At the center of the group’s claims is a document from Koch Industries unearthed last fall by ThinkProgress and the New York Times. In an invitation to a Palm Springs retreat to be held this month, Charles Koch boasted that previous events were attended by Scalia and Thomas.

Read more >>> Here

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Filed under Common Cause, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, NY Times, Politico.com, Raw Story, Think Progress, U.S Supreme Court

>Kucinich to liberals: Vote or surrender to the ‘forces of nihilism’

>From RawStory.com

WASHINGTON – As Democrats fear a wave of losses in next Tuesday’s elections, due in part to a lack of enthusiasm within their base, one progressive champion made an impassioned plea for liberals to head to the polls and and vote.

“We can get out there and make our voices heard, or we can let the forces of nihilism take over,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) told Raw Story in an exclusive interview late Tuesday afternoon.

The Cleveland Democrat warned progressives that a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives – a likely scenario, according to election experts – could surrender the levers of power to “megalomaniacal neoconservatives who are more in need of mental attention.”

“There’s no question about it,” he said. “We have to vote.”

Kucinich, a seven-term congressman who seems to be in no danger, sympathized with liberals who are disenchanted with the Democratic Party, but insisted they must “work within the system” to achieve the results they want, arguing that tuning out wasn’t a better solution.

“I would never try to minimize their concerns. I understand them,” he said. “I wish we had broader options. I certainly don’t like our political system, but I’m not prepared to walk away.”

If there’s anyone in Congress who shares liberal misgivings about the Obama administration, it’s Kucinich. From health care to the economy to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he has been outspoken about his criticisms. “But this election is a choice,” he said.

Studies reveal that both of the major parties are unpopular with the public – some even say Americans still prefer Democrats – but polls consistently show that Republicans are far more likely to vote next Tuesday.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey last week found that Republicans are more likely to head to the polls on Nov. 2 than Democrats by a whopping 20 percentage points.

Kucinich, who ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2004 and 2008, said he doesn’t envision any circumstance in which he’d run again in 2012.

“I don’t see it,” he said. “I think anybody who runs against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination would be handing the presidency to the other party on a silver platter.”

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Filed under Dennis Kucinich, election day, Liberals, Raw Story, Republicans, US House of Representatives

Raw Story Exclusive: ‘Ellie Light’ regrets damage done to Obama, blasts right-wing ‘conspiracy theorists’

Rawstory.com

WASHINGTON — In an interview with Raw Story, prolific Obama supporter and letter-writer “Ellie Light” slammed conservatives claiming the published writings were part of a White House “astroturf” operation, and regretted the “damage” they’ve done to the president.

The interview was conducted before the Cleveland Plain Dealer revealed that the deep, husky-voiced “woman” publicly calling herself “Ellie Light” was actually a man named Winston Steward. Most initially believed he was a woman, probably due to his mannerisms and tone, including this reporter.

Steward, 51, is a traveling health care worker based in Frazier Park, California. He admitted to being the author of letters published in dozens of newspapers across the country — sent with fake addresses from a variety of locations — under the name “Ellie Light.”

“The damage has been done,” Steward told Raw Story, “with blog posts and YouTube videos. I don’t think anything can undo that.”

He ripped conservatives for their unsubstantiated allegations about his ostensible affiliations with the White House.

hey are conspiracy theorists, there’s no doubt. Apparently I’m a space alien, that’s the newest thing on one Web site, so it just goes on and on. The Michelle Malkin people — they’re clowns. We know they’re clowns.”

Steward’s alias, Ellie Light, became the subject of widespread conservative fascination after one letter he wrote in defense of President Obama, first published by Politico’s Ben Smith, subsequently appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country.

The story about his letter’s numerous appearances with different addresses was first broken on Friday, January 22 by Sabrina Eaton of The Plain Dealer newspaper before catching the attention of conservative Web sites such as Michelle Malkin’s blog, Patterico’s Pontifications and the National Review.

Following allegations that he wasn’t a real person and merely a ghost-name for an Obama official, Steward posed as a woman and claimed his name was “Ellie Light” in a radio interview on Tuesday, claiming that name was real but admitting he was “wrong” for “giving false address” while submitting the letter to various regional newspapers.

A flurry of conservative bloggers have since suggested — and outright accused — Steward of being an Obama administration plant. Many of them, including Michelle Malkin, declared he was part of White House “astroturf” activities to deceptively burnish its credentials.

He told Raw Story he believed the whole issue had been blown far out of proportion.

No evidence has been unearthed linking Steward to the Obama administration or the Democratic Party. He said he is not and has never been a activist for a political advocacy group.

“Affiliated with an organized group? No,” he said bluntly. “I’ve never been affiliated with anyone like that.”

Steward, who for a brief period after Obama got elected wrote diaries for the Daily Kos, said he hopes people will take the time to understand the situation rather than jump to conclusions.

“For those who pay attention a little longer, it could end up being good, but for the people who are only going to pay attention for the ‘Balloon Boy’ period it’ll be ‘oh, another one of those Obama things’.”

He said if he could go back in time, he “probably would have written the letter and told them all I was in the Los Angeles area.”

Criticizes Democrats: ‘not as loyal’ as Republicans

Steward declined to criticize Obama, calling him “the most remarkable elected official,” and criticized Democrats and progressives for allegedly wanting instant gratification of their wishes.

“Democrats have abandoned the president that they practically worshiped such a short time ago because he couldn’t tend to their needs in the first twelve months of office. And they’re behaving like a bunch of babies,” he said.

“They need to show that there’s a groundswell of support for the president so that the yahoos have nothing to talk about.”

Though he accepted that there are genuine critics of Obama on the left, he criticized Democrats for not being as loyal to Obama as Republicans were to former President George W. Bush.

“Think about the Republicans that had to suck it in in 2003 and 2004 when Bush was caught lying over and over and over again,” he said. “All the Republicans stood there and said ‘the president has his reasons, we trust the president.'”

“And we laughed at them, because they were all liars. But at least they were loyal.”

Steward said he will continue writing letters to newspapers in support of Obama and hoped more Democrats will do the same.

(Editor’s Note: Article originally confused Winston Steward’s last name. Thanks to the multiple readers who noticed the mistake. Raw Story regrets the error, and hopes Eric Arthur Blair’s estate will not mind.)

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Filed under Cleveland Plain Dealer, Daily Kos, Democrat, Ellie Light, health care reform, National Review, Politico.com, President Obama, Raw Story, Republicans, Winston Steward

Michael Moore: Goodbye, GM

By Michael Moore

June 1, 2009

I write this on the morning of the end of the once-mighty General Motors. By high noon, the President of the United States will have made it official: General Motors, as we know it, has been totaled.

As I sit here in GM’s birthplace, Flint, Michigan, I am surrounded by friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town. Forty percent of the homes and businesses in the city have been abandoned. Imagine what it would be like if you lived in a city where almost every other house is empty. What would be your state of mind?

It is with sad irony that the company which invented “planned obsolescence” — the decision to build cars that would fall apart after a few years so that the customer would then have to buy a new one — has now made itself obsolete. It refused to build automobiles that the public wanted, cars that got great gas mileage, were as safe as they could be, and were exceedingly comfortable to drive. Oh — and that wouldn’t start falling apart after two years. GM stubbornly fought environmental and safety regulations. Its executives arrogantly ignored the “inferior” Japanese and German cars, cars which would become the gold standard for automobile buyers. And it was hell-bent on punishing its unionized workforce, lopping off thousands of workers for no good reason other than to “improve” the short-term bottom line of the corporation. Beginning in the 1980s, when GM was posting record profits, it moved countless jobs to Mexico and elsewhere, thus destroying the lives of tens of thousands of hard-working Americans. The glaring stupidity of this policy was that, when they eliminated the income of so many middle class families, who did they think was going to be able to afford to buy their cars? History will record this blunder in the same way it now writes about the French building the Maginot Line or how the Romans cluelessly poisoned their own water system with lethal lead in its pipes.

So here we are at the deathbed of General Motors. The company’s body not yet cold, and I find myself filled with — dare I say it — joy. It is not the joy of revenge against a corporation that ruined my hometown and brought misery, divorce, alcoholism, homelessness, physical and mental debilitation, and drug addiction to the people I grew up with. Nor do I, obviously, claim any joy in knowing that 21,000 more GM workers will be told that they, too, are without a job.

But you and I and the rest of America now own a car company! I know, I know — who on earth wants to run a car company? Who among us wants $50 billion of our tax dollars thrown down the rat hole of still trying to save GM? Let’s be clear about this: The only way to save GM is to kill GM. Saving our precious industrial infrastructure, though, is another matter and must be a top priority. If we allow the shutting down and tearing down of our auto plants, we will sorely wish we still had them when we realize that those factories could have built the alternative energy systems we now desperately need. And when we realize that the best way to transport ourselves is on light rail and bullet trains and cleaner buses, how will we do this if we’ve allowed our industrial capacity and its skilled workforce to disappear?

Thus, as GM is “reorganized” by the federal government and the bankruptcy court, here is the plan I am asking President Obama to implement for the good of the workers, the GM communities, and the nation as a whole. Twenty years ago when I made “Roger & Me,” I tried to warn people about what was ahead for General Motors. Had the power structure and the punditocracy listened, maybe much of this could have been avoided. Based on my track record, I request an honest and sincere consideration of the following suggestions:

Read More from this Raw Story Op-ed

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Filed under Flint Michigan, General Motors, GM, Michael Moore, President Obama, Raw Story, Roger and Me, Roger Smith

Congressional Democrats announce earmark reforms

From Raw Story

After this week’s media coverage of the heavily earmarked omnibus spending bill, leading congressional Democrats and the Appropriations Committee triumphantly announced two earmark reform recommendations this morning. President Obama, who helped write the committee’s recommendations, admitted that the $410 billion spending bill was imperfect but insisted that “important progress” was being made.

The reforms were published today in a joint release from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The Democrat-led initiative has two facets, both focusing on increasing the power of the executive branch. The first part of the reform specified a review by an “appropriate executive branch agency.” A review, according to the document, will ensure that “the earmark is eligible to receive funds and meets goals established in law.” The second part of the recommendation is aimed at cutting down for-profit earmarks; earmarks directed towards for-profit entities will have to undergo a “competitive bidding process” in order to be a part of legislation. The bidding process will also be run by the executive branch.

If these recommendations are enacted by Congress, this will be the third stage of reforms aimed at fixing the earmark problem. In January 2007, the House of Representatives enacted a set of rules concerning earmark ownership and fiscal interest, as well as a 1-year earmarking moratorium. And starting with fiscal year 2010, new earmarks come with a homework assignment for their owner; all Members’ requests for earmarks are to be publicly disclosed on their website with an explanation of why it is an appropriate use of taxpayer money. The new fiscal year will also bring a permanent earmark ‘budget’. No more than 1% of the total discretionary budget will be used for congressional district’s pet projects.

 
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Filed under Appropriations Committee, Congressional Democrats, earmarks, Nancy Pelosi, Omnibus spending bill, President Obama, Raw Story

CBS: Did Wall Street speculators create oil price bubble?

Raw Story – One of the most inexplicable economic events of the past year involved the doubling of the price of oil last spring and summer from $69 a barrel to nearly $150 — driving gasoline and heating oil costs through the roof — followed by its even more rapid collapse this fall to under $50

60 Minutes looked into various theories of what happened and concluded that “many people believe it was a speculative bubble .. and that it had more to do with traders and speculators on Wall Street than with oil company executives or sheiks in Saudi Arabia.”

Oil is traded on the commodities futures market, whose original purpose was to enable farmers and manufacturers to stabilize their expenses and receipts. But in 2007, those markets began to behave erratically.

Read More about it >>>HERE

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Filed under 60 Minutes, CBS News, commodities, oil companies, Oil Prices, Raw Story, Saudi Arabia, speculators, Wall Street