House Dems Pass Only Middle Class Tax Cut Bill

From Talking Points Memo:

Using a wily procedural maneuver to tie Republican hands, House Democrats managed to pass, by a vote of 234-188, legislation that will allow the Bush tax cuts benefiting only the wealthiest Americans to expire.

Democrats were not united on the issue. Twenty voted with Republicans to kill the tax cut bill, as they hold out for extending additional cuts to wealthy Americans — though 3 Republicans, including Reps. Ron Paul (TX) and Walter Jones (NC) voted for the tax cut extensions. However the outcome will (and was designed to) allow Democrats to draw distinctions between themselves and Republicans during the 2012 election cycle.

President Obama endorsed the plan many months ago, and continues to support it. But divisions within his party, the White House’s soft push, and the new political reality after the November election have made it highly unlikely that this legislation will become law. It would need to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, and Democrats lack the 60 votes they’d need to do that.

Close the Washington Monument

Bruce Schneier:

Securing the Washington Monument from terrorism has turned out to be a surprisingly difficult job. The concrete fence around the building protects it from attacking vehicles, but there’s no visually appealing way to house the airport-level security mechanisms the National Park Service has decided are a must for visitors. It is considering several options, but I think we should close the monument entirely. Let it stand, empty and inaccessible, as a monument to our fears.

An empty Washington Monument would serve as a constant reminder to those on Capitol Hill that they are afraid of the terrorists and what they could do. They’re afraid that by speaking honestly about the impossibility of attaining absolute security or the inevitability of terrorism — or that some American ideals are worth maintaining even in the face of adversity — they will be branded as “soft on terror.” And they’re afraid that Americans would vote them out of office if another attack occurred. Perhaps they’re right, but what has happened to leaders who aren’t afraid? What has happened to “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”?

An empty Washington Monument would symbolize our lawmakers’ inability to take that kind of stand — and their inability to truly lead.

I Get Email

All my money is tied up with the Nigerian Ministry of Petroleum at the moment so I’m passing this on to you Cynics.

Hello friend,My name is Sgt Paul Moore U.S. Army Iraq I have a monetary
deal for you.If interested reply using my most private email:

God bless America,
Sgt Paul.

Sandra Lee’s Hannukah Cake

I’m not sure what’s my favorite part about this cake. The questionably kosher marshmallows in the center? That there are marshmallows in the center at all? That she gives the cake a pearl necklace? That she makes a ton of money doing a cooking show but has yet to actually turn on the oven? That the name of her show, ‘Semi Homemade’, also means ‘Mostly Store Bought’? Or that as bad at this cake is, it’s still not as bad as the culinary hate crime known as Kwanzaa Cake.

Two Harvard Law Students Sue TSA Over Screenings

From The Boston Herald:

Two Harvard Law School students are suing the Transportation Security Administration, claiming the so-called “nude body scanners” and intrusive pat-downs used to screen airline passengers are unconstitutional.

Jeffrey Redfern and Anant Pradhan claim use of the scanners and pat-downs as primary screening methods violates their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The frequent air travelers want to stop the TSA from using either without “reasonable suspicion or probable cause.”

“The abstract risk of terrorism without a credible, specific threat … does not justify the (searches),” states the suit, filed in Boston federal court.

“The enhance pat-down procedure, if done non-consensually, would amount to a sexual assault in most jurisdictions, and the intrusion of peering under his clothes would be similarly illegal,” the lawsuit states.

Airline travelers who opt out of the scanners must submit to the new pat-downs, which use front-of-the-hand, slide-down motions to search their bodies, including their buttock, genitals and breasts. The pat-downs, first piloted at Logan International Airport and in Las Vegas beginning in August, were rolled out nationally the last week of October.