Russian economy faces freefall conditions as GOP Right-Wingers Praise Putin | MSNBC

A friend of mine recently asked why I’m so hung up on Russian President Vladimir Putin and the adulation he’s received from Republicans in the U.S. I think it comes down to two things. The first is that GOP gushing over the Russian autocrat has always struck me as a historical oddity: I simply can’t think of a comparable moment in modern American history in which the United States butted heads with a major foreign rival, and prominent figures from an American political party started publicly praising the other country’s leader. It served as a reminder that Republican contempt for President Obama has reached levels that defy basic patriotic norms. The second, however, is more basic: a variety of conservative Americans not only expressed their admiration for Putin, they also saw him as a strategic mastermind, guiding Russia towards power and greatness, and demonstrating the kind of leadership needed in the United States.

via Russian economy faces freefall conditions | MSNBC.

Cheney on torture report: Saddam Hussein had a 10-year relationship with al-Qaida | PunditFact

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been a consistent defender of past interrogation techniques. “We are castigating the CIA for doing what the president ordered them to do and the Justice Department said was legal,” Cheney said on NBC’s Meet the Press, Dec. 14, 2014.For Cheney, the deaths of 3,000 people on 9/11 at the hands of al-Qaida terrorists justified expanded interrogation methods and the subsequent invasion of Iraq.

via Cheney on torture report: Saddam Hussein had a 10-year relationship with al-Qaida | PunditFact.

Dick Cheneys America is an ugly place – The Week

I used to like Dick Cheney.I can still remember watching him on NBCs Meet the Press back in the early 1990s, when he was serving as defense secretary under President George H. W. Bush. Whether he was talking about the collapse of the Soviet Union or making the case for expelling Saddam Husseins army from Kuwait, Cheney was impressive. Unlike so many career politicians and Washington bureaucrats, he came off as charming, sober, smart, unflappable, and sincere.Today? Well, Ill give him this: he still seems sincere.Some day I hope some psychologically gifted writer will turn his attention to Dick Cheney and explore just what the hell happened to him after the Sept. 11 attacks. Something about the trauma of that day — perhaps it was the act of being physically carried by the Secret Service into the Presidential Emergency Operations Center under the White House — flipped a switch in his mind, turning him into Americas foremost champion of amoral patriotism.

via Dick Cheneys America is an ugly place – The Week.

Inside Wall Street’s new heist: How big banks exploited a broken Democratic caucus – Salon.com

As the CRomnibus becomes law, many rank-and-file liberals have wondered how Democrats, needing to reconnect with the public after another midterm debacle, could in their first order of business help roll back a key Wall Street reform. The answer lies in the nature of this rollback, along with the real lack of communication between lawmakers ostensibly on the same side.First of all, it’s worth mentioning that the CRomnibus was a horrible bill even without weakening Dodd-Frank. It was loaded with favors to wealthy and well-connected special interests, and its very existence, as a must-pass, short-term budget bill larded up with unrelated policy riders that will last forever, sets a dangerous precedent for the future.But let’s just focus on this one Wall Street rider, and how it made its way into law.

via Inside Wall Street’s new heist: How big banks exploited a broken Democratic caucus – Salon.com.

Cheney on torture report: Saddam Hussein had a 10-year relationship with al-Qaida | PunditFact

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been a consistent defender of past interrogation techniques. “We are castigating the CIA for doing what the president ordered them to do and the Justice Department said was legal,” Cheney said on NBC’s Meet the Press, Dec. 14, 2014.For Cheney, the deaths of 3,000 people on 9/11 at the hands of al-Qaida terrorists justified expanded interrogation methods and the subsequent invasion of Iraq.”We got to the point where we were very concerned about the possible linkage between terrorists on the one hand and weapons of mass destruction on the other,” Cheney said. “Saddam Hussein had previously had twice nuclear programs going. He produced and used weapons of mass destruction. And he had a 10-year relationship with al-Qaida.”Cheney and the rest of the administration of President George W. Bush made the link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida a linchpin in its rationale for war. In that light, Cheney’s claim about a 10-year relationship merits a closer look.His statement runs counter to at least two major official inquiries.

via Cheney on torture report: Saddam Hussein had a 10-year relationship with al-Qaida | PunditFact.

Why America’s middle class is lost | The Washington Post

DOWNEY, CALIF. — One day in 1967, Bob Thompson sprayed foam on a hunk of metal in a cavernous factory south of Los Angeles. And then another day, not too long after, he sat at a long wood bar with a black-and-white television hanging over it, and he watched that hunk of metal land a man on the moon.On July 20, 1969 — the day of the landing — Thompson sipped his Budweiser and thought about all the people who had ever stared at that moon. Kings and queens and Jesus Christ himself. He marveled at how when it came time to reach it, the job started in Downey. The bartender wept.On a warm day, almost a half-century later, Thompson curled his mouth beneath a white beard and talked about the bar that fell to make way for a freeway, the space-age factory that closed down and the town that is still waiting for its next great economic rocket, its new starship to the middle class.They’ve waited more than a decade in Downey. They’ve tried all the usual tricks to bring good-paying jobs back to the 77-acre plot of dirt where once stood a factory that made moon landers and, later, space shuttles. Nothing brought back the good jobs.ABOUT THIS SERIES:Liftoff & Letdown: The American middle class is floundering, and it has been for decades. The Post examines the mystery of what’s gone wrong, and shows what the country must focus on to get the economy working for everyone again.Chapter 2: The devalued American workerThose jobs aren’t coming back. Not at the old North American Rockwell plant, and not in thousands of similarly socked towns.

via Why America’s middle class is lost | The Washington Post.

Defense Bill Passes, Giving Sacred Native American Sites To Mining Company

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed a measure authorizing the nation’s defense programs Friday, and along with it managed to give lands sacred to Native Americans to a foreign company that owns a uranium mine with Iran.The $585 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 is one of the must-pass pieces of legislation that Congress moves every year. But like they did in attaching extraneous riders to the must-pass government funding bill, lawmakers used the defense bill as a vehicle to pass a massive public lands package.The bill sailed through on a vote of 89 to 11.

via Defense Bill Passes, Giving Sacred Native American Sites To Mining Company.