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Archive for March 20th, 2009

What Is the Point of NATO?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 20th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

What Is the Point of NATO?

NATO today, approaching its 60th birthday, faces the prospect of sending home all of its units not willing to fight in Afghanistan under the American flag. They will go home to “defend” Europe. From whom?

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Obama Sends Iran Direct Message On Nowruz: It’s Time For A New Beginning

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 20th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Obama Sends Iran Direct Message On Nowruz: It’s Time For A New Beginning
In a major turning point in the United State’s approach to Iran, President Barack Obama released a taped message to the Iranian people late Thursday…

Obama On Tonight Show With Jay Leno: FULL TRANSCRIPT, VIDEO
Video will be posted shortly Below, the full transcript of President Barack Obama’s appearance on the Tonight Show: * * * * * Q The…

Many In Government Knew Weeks Ago About Huge AIG Bonus Program
WASHINGTON — The question was direct and prescient. Representative Joseph Crowley, Democrat of New York, asked the Treasury secretary in an open hearing what could…


Fox’s Hemmer did not challenge Inhofe’s assertion that Obama cap-and-trade proposal is “the most regressive tax that you can have”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 20th, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Fox’s Hemmer did not challenge Inhofe’s assertion that Obama cap-and-trade proposal is “the most regressive tax that you can have”

During the March 19 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer did not challenge Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-OK) claim that President Obama’s proposal to cap annual carbon emissions and auction the right to pollute is “the most regressive tax that you can have, because … someone who is very poor spends a very high percentage of his or her income on home heating, on gasoline, things — energy that they have to buy. Someone who is well off, it’s a very small thing.” Hemmer did not point out that, in proposing a cap-and-trade program in his budget outline, Obama addressed the issue of higher energy costs impacting consumers differently by proposing to return “[t]he balance of the auction revenues … to the people, especially vulnerable families, communities, and businesses.”

Moreover, in March 11 testimony before the Senate Budget Committee (accessed via Nexis), Energy Secretary Steven Chu stated, “[W]hen you have a cap-and-trade system, it will have impacts. And there is a sensitivity with the poor people in our country, and so there was a decision made that a certain fraction of it would try to offset the impacts.”

From Obama’s budget blueprint:

The Administration is developing a comprehensive energy and climate change plan to invest in clean energy, end our addiction to oil, address the global climate crisis, and create new American jobs that cannot be outsourced. After enactment of the Budget, the Administration will work expeditiously with key stakeholders and the Congress to develop an economy-wide emissions reduction program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions approximately 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and approximately 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. This program will be implemented through a cap-and-trade system, a policy approach that dramatically reduced acid rain at much lower costs than the traditional government regulations and mandates of the past. Through a 100 percent auction to ensure that the biggest polluters do not enjoy windfall profits, this program will fund vital investments in a clean energy future totaling $150 billion over 10 years, starting in FY 2012. The balance of the auction revenues will be returned to the people, especially vulnerable families, communities, and businesses to help the transition to a clean energy economy.

From the March 11 Senate Budget Committee hearing:

SEN. [JIM] BUNNING [R-KY]: Okay. If that is the case, then why is your administration proposing that we dedicate less than 20 percent of the auction revenues from this assumed cap-and-trade program to emerging technologies in clean coal and renewables and over 80 percent of its tax credit that not every citizen and certainly not every small business will qualify for?

MR. CHU: Well, when you have a cap-and-trade system, it will have impacts. And there is a sensitivity with the poor people in our country, and so there was a decision made that a certain fraction of it would try to offset the impacts. But a significant amount of that would be for investing in the development of new technologies so we can get it out there faster.

[…]

SEN. [MIKE] ENZI [R-WY]: Except that we’re about to make it a federal — a federal issue and a federal tax because we’re talking about cap and — cap-and-trade which is a tax and that tax will be passed on to the consumer, and in the budget I noticed that yes, some of that is going to go to energy research and I think that’s tremendous and provide maybe an incentive. It’s kind of a back end sort of an incentive. But a portion of that is going to cover the increased taxes the people will have on the energy, which does give some recognition that it’s the consumer that’s going to — going to pay the taxes.

I — I thought that the purpose of a cap-and-trade was to have all of the money that was coming in from whatever was being taxed would go toward the solution of that tax. Does your department have any — any role in how that’s divided up?

SEC. CHU: I think the recognition that a significant part of the money goes to offset the, you know, the economic consequences — (inaudible) — poorest parts of our population is important but I also simultaneously believe that the money going into research and development so we can get much better solutions than we have today is actually essential. And so it’s — it’s really what’s the proper balance.

From the March 19 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

HEMMER: So take that to the next level then. What does that mean to the consumer in America? What does that mean to a small-business owner?

INHOFE: Well, it’s the most regressive tax that you can have, because the percentage of someone — someone who is very poor spends a very high percentage of his or her income on home heating, on gasoline, things — energy that they have to buy. Someone who is well off, it’s a very small thing.

So it’s just a huge tax increase, and a very regressive tax increase.

HEMMER: Is this going to get —

INHOFE: Now we found out —

HEMMER: Is this going to be pushed through, Senator?


Can Obama Hold the Center?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 20th, 2009 4:41 am by HL

Can Obama Hold the Center?
The public’s approval of Barack Obama breaks along stark partisan lines, mimicking George W. Bush at the same point in his presidency. The steady support of independents, meanwhile, has sustained Obama’s overall public approval. Six in ten independents have supported Obama since he entered the White House, according to tracking by the Gallup Poll, matching his public standing on the whole. Bush, by comparison, began March 2001 with similarly strong support from moderates. By the close of the month Bush’s independent support withered to 48 percent, slimming his majority for the first time into the low 50s.

Let’s Not Play Standards Roulette
catologo.gif Whether it’s blind hope that Washington can fix anything, a lack of ideas for reforming our crummy schools, or some other reason entirely, calls for national academic standards are increasingly loud and frequent. And while President Barack Obama stopped short of explicitly advocating for them in his first major education address, there have been several high–profile calls recently by American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, the National Governor’s Association and Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan. But instituting national standards will not solve the problems facing our schools. Indeed, it would be like playing Russian roulette with our kids — with only one empty chamber.


Is Cassano Vulnerable To Fraud Charges That Felled Ebbers, Lay?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 20th, 2009 4:40 am by HL

Is Cassano Vulnerable To Fraud Charges That Felled Ebbers, Lay?
Yesterday we laid out some preliminary evidence that AIG execs — led by Joseph Cassano, who ran the firm’s financial products unit — may have committed criminal fraud in connection with those credit default swaps that brought the company down….

Court: B of A Must Reveal Names Of Merrill Bonus Recipients
While we’ve all been focused on those AIG bonuses, there’s been a major development in the Wall street bonus saga that seemed, a week ago, like the ultimate in outrageous corporate behavior. A court ruled yesterday that Bank of America…






Mistaken Identity

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 20th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Mistaken Identity


Watching for Pitchforks

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 20th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Watching for Pitchforks
Walter Shapiro notes that an angry public — and not necessarily the Republicans — may be the greater threat to President Obama’s agenda. As we’ve seen this week, “a corrosive anti-establishment rage that does not fit into any pre- existing political category” is brewing across America.

Shapiro makes a good case that “apolitical populism — a spasmodic outpouring of ideologically incoherent rage — could easily drown Obama’s inevitable request for more bank bailout funds. The White House, according to insiders, is very concerned that pitchfork-wielding voters are already raging against any future bailouts of the banking industry or even Detroit.”


Why What’s For Dinner May Be About to Change

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 20th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Why What’s For Dinner May Be About to Change
From a White House garden to rule changes at factory farms, the era of industrial ag calling the shots is changing.

Sad News: America’s Billionaires Facing Tough Times
Have billionaires, as some observers claim, now ‘suffered’ their way back to the rest of us? Nope.

Why What’s For Dinner May Be About to Change
From a White House garden to rule changes at factory farms, the era of industrial ag calling the shots is changing.

The Hilarious Hypocrisy of the GOP’s So-Called ‘Tea Bag Revolution’
Their gimmick to protest the bailout is hilarious because GOP tax policies are more in line with King George than colonial patriots.


Juan Cole on Responsibility for Getting Us Into Iraq

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 20th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Juan Cole on Responsibility for Getting Us Into Iraq
As I wrote earlier, Juan Cole’s “Engaging the Muslim World” is one assumption-transforming book. Take the Iraq war. There are two schools of thought. One says that the Cheney oil gang manipulated us into Iraq to get their hands…

Back To The Issue – Can We Avoid A Quagmire In South Asia?
There is something about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the question of Zionist influence in American politics that, if you bring it up, dominates the discussion ever after. I stand by my theory of an unprecedented alliance of the Cheney…


Petraeus ?Frustrated? By Admirers Lindsey Graham And John McCain?s Opposition To Chris Hill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 20th, 2009 4:32 am by HL

Petraeus ?Frustrated? By Admirers Lindsey Graham And John McCain?s Opposition To Chris Hill
Earlier this month, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced their opposition to the nomination of Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. “While Mr. Hill is a talented diplomat who has served our country for many years, his selection for this post concerns us,” said […]

mccaingraham.jpgEarlier this month, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced their opposition to the nomination of Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. “While Mr. Hill is a talented diplomat who has served our country for many years, his selection for this post concerns us,” said the two senators in a statement. The McCain/Graham statement was the first shot fired by “a cadre of Senate Republicans” aiming to sink Hill’s nomination.

But the senators’ effort to derail Hill took a major hit today when Foreign Policy’s Laura Rozen reported that “Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus, top Iraq commander Gen. Raymond Odierno, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are frustrated by the delay in getting a U.S. ambassador confirmed and into place in Iraq.” Though Rozen’s initial report was based on anonymous sources, she later updated with an on the record statement from the Pentagon:

The U.S. military chief spokesman Geoff Morrell told The Cable Thursday: “Generals Odierno and Petraeus have come out very publicly and very forcefully in support of Amb. Hill’s nomination. I know they support it. They know him from previous assignments, they like him, they believe he is well suited to the job and are anxiously awaiting his confirmation because they do need help, frankly. … With regards to [Senate] members who have issue with him, I would say this,” Morrell added. “We appreciate their steadfast support of the Iraq mission. But you can’t be bullish in support of that mission and not send an ambassador in a timely fashion.

The pushback from Petraeus must be especially stinging considering the high esteem that senators like Graham and McCain have for the general:

– Asked in August to name “the three wisest people” who he “would rely on heavily in an administration,” McCain replied, “First one, I think, would be General David Petraeus, one of the great military leaders in American history.”

– “Thank God for General Petraeus, one of the great generals in American history,” said McCain in April 2008.

–On Meet The Press in July 2007, Graham spoke of Petraeus as though he “could see past obstacles that blocked ordinary men.” “I will not vote for anything until generous—General Petraeus passes on it,” said Graham.

– “If I could promote you to five stars, I would,” said Graham when Petraeus testified before Congress last April. “I cannot tell you how proud I am of both of you,” he said to Petraeus and Ryan Crocker.

Former McCain aide Michael Goldfarb writes at the Weekly Standard that Petraeus and Odierno’s support for Hill deals “a serious blow to the campaign against his appointment.”