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Archive for February 10th, 2009

Charles Darwin on the Origin Of Republicans

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 10th, 2009 5:42 am by HL

Charles Darwin on the Origin Of Republicans

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Et Tu, A-Rod?

A-Rod

Yet another top MLB player’s reputation has been besmirched by use of performance-enhancing drugs: Take a bow, Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez. The Yankees star admitted Monday that he’d dabbled in steroids years ago in a moment of high pressure and youthful indiscretion. He said the drug use occurred only while he played for the Texas Rangers, a team he was with from 2001 to 2003.


MLB.com:

“When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure,” Rodriguez said. “I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me, and I needed to perform—and perform at a high level—every day.

“Back then, it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young, I was stupid, I was naïve. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all-time. I did take a banned substance, and for that I’m very sorry. I’m deeply regretful.

“I’m sorry for that time, I’m sorry to my fans, I’m sorry to my fans in Texas. It wasn’t until then that I ever thought about substances of any kind. Since then, I’ve proved to myself and to everyone that I don’t need any of that.”

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Sheri and Allan Rivlin: “If You Can Keep Your Head When All About You Are Losing Theirs”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 10th, 2009 5:41 am by HL

Sheri and Allan Rivlin: “If You Can Keep Your Head When All About You Are Losing Theirs”
Barack Obama was elected in large measure because when the financial crisis became public just before the first scheduled presidential debate, voters appreciated that rather…

Cornyn Skipped Stimulus Vote To Meet With GOP Donors In New York
Glenn Thrush says the question from the Senate floor this evening was “where was Cornyn,” as the Texas Republican was the only senator to miss…

Mark Nickolas: Obama’s Press Conference Answers Three Formal Grade-Levels Higher Than Bush’s First
I copied each transcript into separate Word documents, deleted the intros and all reporter questions, leaving just the unscripted answers to all questions. Then I ran Word’s readability tool.


Media quote GOP senators attacking stimulus as not “targeted” or “temporary” without noting support for bill that was neither

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 10th, 2009 5:40 am by HL

Media quote GOP senators attacking stimulus as not “targeted” or “temporary” without noting support for bill that was neither

Several news outlets have uncritically quoted Republican senators criticizing the economic recovery plan supported by Senate Democrats as not being “timely, targeted and temporary” but did not point out that those Republicans voted in support of a proposed amendment by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) that would replace the recovery bill entirely with permanent tax cuts, some of which DeMint referred to as “broad based.”

In February 7 articles, both The New York Times and Congressional Quarterly Weekly (accessed via Nexis) uncritically quoted Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (KY) saying of the economic recovery package: “A bill that was meant to be timely, targeted and temporary has instead become a Trojan horse for pet projects and expanded government.” Similarly, on February 5, The Associated Press reported that Sen. John Thune (R-SD) “says a package that was supposed to be timely, targeted and temporary will put too much of a burden on future generations as it’s based on borrowed money.” However, none of these articles noted that the Republican senators quoted actually voted in support of DeMint’s proposal, which is neither “temporary” nor “targeted.”

DeMint’s proposal was not “temporary.” It included provisions making Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent; indeed, in a January 29 speech at the Heritage Foundation, DeMint said of his plan: “The idea is simple: first, make the temporary tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 — now set to expire in 2011 — permanent.” From DeMint’s summary of his proposal:

1) Defuse the 2011 tax bomb: Stop tax increases set to hit the economy in 2011.

o Permanently repeal the alternative minimum tax once and for all;

o Permanently keep the capital gains and dividends taxes at 15 percent;

o Permanently kill the Death Tax for estates under $5 million, and cut the tax rate to 15 percent for those above;

o Permanently extend the $1,000-per-child tax credit;

o Permanently repeal the marriage tax penalty;

o Permanently simplify itemized deductions to include only home mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

Other permanent tax cuts included in DeMint’s amendment are, by DeMint’s own admission, not “targeted.” According to DeMint, these tax cuts are formulated to both last over the “long term” and be applied “broad[ly].” These proposals include:

2) Long term, broad based tax cuts for American families and businesses.

o Lower top marginal income rates – the one paid by most of the small businesses that create new jobs – from 35 percent to 25 percent.

o Simplify the tax code to include only two other brackets, 15 and 10 percent.

o Lower corporate tax rate as well, from 35 percent to 25 percent. The U.S. corporate tax rate is second highest among all industrialized nations, driving investment and jobs overseas. Lowering this key rate will unlock trillions of dollars to be invested in America instead of abroad.

Indeed, during his January 29 speech, DeMint specifically criticized “targeted” and “temporary” tax cuts in contrasting the Democratic proposal with his own. DeMint said of the Democratic recovery bill:

The tax side of the bill is little better. Think of it this way: if nearly every Democrat in Congress supports a tax cut, it’s not really a tax cut. And, indeed, the text of the Democrats’ plan reveals $212 billion of smoke-and-mirrors gimmicks: temporary cuts and rebates exactly like those that failed to stimulate the economy last year, and eco-shakedown tax credits.

DeMint also criticized “targeted tax benefits” for corporations in the Democratic bill, saying that they “only encourage” those companies to “spend money on the lobbyists who secure such goodies”:

And rather than giving large companies loopholes and targeted tax benefits — which only encourage them to spend money on the lobbyists who secure such goodies — Congress should get out of the business of picking winners and losers in the market and simply cut everyone’s taxes and let the best company win. My plan will make businesses compete for consumers, not Congressmen.

From The New York Times‘ February 7 article, “Divisions Over the Competing Stimulus Bills” by David M. Herszenhorn:

In debate on the Senate floor, many Republicans, including the party’s defeated presidential nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, offered amendments to reduce spending and broaden the tax cuts in the plan. The Democrats easily swatted those down.

Critics of the stimulus plan say Democrats have packed it not with the most effective short-term proposals to lift the economy, but with favored, liberal spending programs that will drastically increase the national debt and cause long-term fiscal harm.

“A bill that was meant to be timely, targeted and temporary has instead become a Trojan horse for pet projects and expanded government,” the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, said in a floor speech on Friday.

From Congressional Quarterly Weekly‘s February 7 article, “Senate Scales Back Its Stimulus” by Joseph J. Schatz and CQ Staff (accessed via Nexis):

House and Senate leaders hope to begin negotiations on the stimulus measure this week with a goal of sending a final product to Obama before the Presidents Day weekend.

But no House Republican voted for the bill when it passed that chamber, and GOP support seemed almost as slim in the Senate. Republicans, including 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain of Arizona and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, protested that even the slimmer compromise was too costly, and said public opinion was turning against the proposal.

“The more the American people learn about this bill, the less they like it,” McConnell said. “Americans realize that a bill which was meant to be timely, targeted and temporary has instead become a Trojan horse for pet projects and expanded government.”

From the AP’s February 5 article, “Thune Calls Stimulus Bill Unfocused, Unending”:

Sen. John Thune says President Obama’s nearly $1 trillion economic stimulus plan is laden with extraneous spending on pet projects that won’t stimulate the economy.

He says he’ll vote against the bill unless it’s significantly modified.

The South Dakota Republican says a package that was supposed to be timely, targeted and temporary will put too much of a burden on future generations as it’s based on borrowed money.

Thune is pushing for more tax breaks for middle-class families and small businesses and incentives for small business to create jobs.


‘Buy American’ — or Bye-Bye America

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 10th, 2009 5:39 am by HL

‘Buy American’ — or Bye-Bye America
“British jobs for British workers!” thundered Gordon Brown, as he emerged from the shadow of Tony Blair to become prime minister. His populist sloganeering has now come back to bite him. Across Britain, thousands laid down tools in wildcat strikes in solidarity with a walkout from a French-owned oil refinery in North Killinghome — to protest a $300 million contract to an Italian company that plans to bring in 400 Italian and Portuguese workers to fulfill it.


Thain: “I Don’t Know How These People Can Run This Company Without Me”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 10th, 2009 5:38 am by HL

Thain: “I Don’t Know How These People Can Run This Company Without Me”
We’re getting way past flogging a dead horse territory here, but yesterday, in a rich and lengthy rundown on the troubled Merrill-Bank of America marriage, the New York Times had some great new details about John Thain’s narcissism and self-delusion…

The Daily Muck
A scandal may be brewing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as a debate grows over whether the agency was correct to deny 650,000 applications for housing after Hurricane Ike. FEMA claims that 90 percent of claimants don’t understand the…


Why Are we Keeping Old Ladies Locked Up in Prison?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 10th, 2009 5:35 am by HL

Why Are we Keeping Old Ladies Locked Up in Prison?
Nonviolent and medically neglected, elderly prisoners in California routinely die horrible deaths.

Why Are we Keeping Old Ladies Locked Up in Prison?
Nonviolent and medically neglected, elderly prisoners in California routinely die horrible deaths.

Porn Star Stormy Daniels to Take on Sexual Hypocrite Sen. David Vitter?
Vitter’s phone number was found in the records of the notorious D.C. madam. Now he faces re-election against a sultry adult entertainer.

The Icelandic Volcano Erupts: A New Era of People Power in the Streets?
Can a hedge-fund island lose its shirt and gain its soul?


The Grown-Up

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 10th, 2009 5:34 am by HL

The Grown-Up
You can maintain that Obama can’t guarantee that his stimulus can create 4 million jobs. That he is too gracious to Republicans. That he doesn’t “make news” with his national audience. What you can’t argue is that he disrespects the…

The Israeli Center: Players and Program
If all one means by center is a vague desire to contain Palestinian terrorism yet distance oneself from settlers’ excesses–to do the former without alienating Washington, and the latter without splitting the Jewish people–then a stable majority has been centrist…

Senator Collins and the fateful choice: not stimulus but investment
Senator Collins — who is a not so much a moderate as a negotiator for the extreme conservative faction of American politics — says that money spent to stop a global pandemic flu doesn’t belong in the stimulus bill.That crystallizes…


Obama DOJ affirms Bush?s state secrets position in extraordinary rendition lawsuit.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 10th, 2009 5:33 am by HL

Obama DOJ affirms Bush?s state secrets position in extraordinary rendition lawsuit.
In federal court today, the Obama administration signaled it would uphold the Bush administration’s state secrets position in a lawsuit regarding Bush’s use of extraordinary rendition. Five men who say they were victims of extraordinary rendition — including current Guantanamo detainee and torture victim Binyam Mohamed — sued, but the case was thrown out last […]

In federal court today, the Obama administration signaled it would uphold the Bush administration’s state secrets position in a lawsuit regarding Bush’s use of extraordinary rendition. Five men who say they were victims of extraordinary rendition — including current Guantanamo detainee and torture victim Binyam Mohamed — sued, but the case was thrown out last year after Bush declared it to be a matter of state secrets. In an appeal today, the new administration took the same position:

A source inside of the Ninth U.S. District Court tells ABC News that a representative of the Justice Department stood up to say that its position hasn’t changed, that new administration stands behind arguments that previous administration made, with no ambiguity at all. The DOJ lawyer said the entire subject matter remains a state secret.

Last Wednesday, Britain’s High Court of Justice revealed that the U.S. had threatened to stop sharing evidence with Britain if it disclosed evidence of the torture Binyam Mohamed has endured.

GOP Leaders Taking Cues From Malkin On Stimulus, Call It ?Generational Theft?
In early January, when President Obama first proposed his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin balked at the proposal’s name, writing that it should be called “The Generational Theft Act of 2009.” Malkin has been pushing her attempted re-branding ever since, repeating it over and over and over again. Malkin’s views are apparently […]

In early January, when President Obama first proposed his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin balked at the proposal’s name, writing that it should be called “The Generational Theft Act of 2009.” Malkin has been pushing her attempted re-branding ever since, repeating it over and over and over again.

Malkin’s views are apparently beginning to hold sway with Republicans in Congress. On January 29, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said of the proposed stimulus package, “This bill is a generational theft bill.” In a blog post yesterday for AmericaSpeakOn.org, a new conservative 501(c)4 group, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) used Malkin’s language as well:

The hundreds of billions of dollars Washington is borrowing to finance this pork-barrel monstrosity will come from our children and grandchildren. This is not “stimulus” – it’s generational theft.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has become a top critic of the recovery package in the Senate, also referred to it as “generational theft” on CBS’ Face The Nation yesterday. Watch it:

Malkin isn’t the only far right conservative pundit influencing the GOP these days. As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, congressional Republicans are embracing right-wing talker Rush Limbaugh as their “unofficial leader.” Some Republicans, like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), are following Limbaugh’s lead by referring to the stimulus as the “porkulus” bill.


In Stimulus Bills, A Windfall for Agency Budgets

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 10th, 2009 5:32 am by HL

In Stimulus Bills, A Windfall for Agency Budgets
The economic stimulus packages under consideration on Capitol Hill represent a massive financial windfall for agencies across the federal government. Taken together, they could lead to more spending for “green” initiatives, the upgrading of federal buildings and facilities, and improved health-care…

Harvard Dean, Chosen as Solicitor General, Goes Before Senators
When Harvard Law School hosted a huge dinner a few years ago for the conservative Federalist Society, the school’s dean, Elena Kagan, received such long and enthusiastic applause that she felt compelled to hold up her arms in mock protest.

Obama Asks For Review Of Online Security
President Obama yesterday ordered a 60-day review of the nation’s cybersecurity to examine how federal agencies use technology to protect secrets and data.

Obama Says Economic Crisis Comes First
President Obama declared last night in his first prime-time news conference that the task of saving and creating jobs is more important than cultivating the bipartisan cooperation he promised to bring to Washington, and he pressed his case for the massive economic stimulus plan working its way…

Bush Faithful Rewarded With Jobs
Fred F. Fielding, Emmet T. Flood, William A. Burck and Daniel M. Price worked together at the White House under George W. Bush. Less than two weeks before leaving office, Bush made sure the senior aides shared a new assignment, naming them to an obscure World Bank agency called the International…


The President Shouldn’t Use Doom to Sell a Flawed Bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 10th, 2009 5:28 am by HL

The President Shouldn’t Use Doom to Sell a Flawed Bill
Rick Moran, PJM

The Bailout Isn’t a Morality Play
Robert Samuelson, Newsweek

The Persistence of Ideology
Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal