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Archive for July 17th, 2009

Warren I. Cohen on Obama’s Foreign Policy Challenges

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 17th, 2009 4:45 am by HL

Warren I. Cohen on Obama’s Foreign Policy Challenges

The daunting problems Bush’s successor has inherited may prove all but insurmountable as he makes his way through a thicket of difficulties—the nuclear ambitions of authoritarian regimes, the quagmire of Mesopotamia and the persistent bloodletting in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to name only the most prominent. A recent book by David E. Sanger, a longtime foreign affairs correspondent for The New York Times, offers a close-up look at the world Obama confronts.

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Pedophiles, Witches and Kids
By Lenore Skenazy

If we have reached the point in society where basic adult concern for children is mistaken for evil, we’re back in Salem, 1692.

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Lloyd Chapman: Obama Should Provide Financial Options to CIT Customers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 17th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Lloyd Chapman: Obama Should Provide Financial Options to CIT Customers
CIT has acknowledged that negotiations with the Obama Administration have broken off. It seems clear the Obama Administration has decided CIT is not too big…

Huff TV: Roy Sekoff Discusses Dick Cheney Ordering CIA To Keep Congress In The Dark About Hit Squad Program (VIDEO)
HuffPost Editor Roy Sekoff joined Ed Schultz on his eponymous MSNBC show to discuss the revelation that Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to keep secret…

David Ormsby: Good News: Pat Quinn Signs Illinois Budget; Bad News: Pat Quinn Signs Illinois Budget
The unbalanced budget “avoids a tax increase,” Minority Leader Radogno said. It also avoids any sign of real leadership–an observation Radogno left unsaid.

Kit Gallant: Congressman Courtney Issues Wake-Up Call to House: “Take a Look at Yourselves in the Mirror”
Courtney’s remarks demonstrate in no uncertain terms that Congress has nothing short of an ineluctable moral obligation to provide the American people with quality, affordable healthcare


CBS ignored evidence undermining “double whammy” small-biz attack

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 17th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

CBS ignored evidence undermining “double whammy” small-biz attack

During the July 15 edition of the CBS Evening News, host Katie Couric claimed that “there is growing opposition from small-business owners, who would pick up a big part of the tab” for health care reform, and correspondent Chip Reid claimed that a small-business owner “who has 25 full-time employees, worries about getting hit by a double whammy,” and that “[t]he second part of the double whammy is a surtax of at least 1 percent.” Neither Couric nor Reid noted that Democrats dispute the suggestion that most small-business owners would be subject to the proposed surtax; Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said on The Huffington Post that “according to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, only 4.1 percent of all small business owners will be affected by the health care surcharge.”

The House tri-committee legislation, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, would establish on taxpayers filing joint returns a 1 percent tax on income exceeding $350,000 but not exceeding $500,000 per year, a 1.5 percent tax on income exceeding $500,000 but not exceeding $1 million per year, and a 5.4 percent tax on income exceeding $1 million per year, with married individual filings and other filings subject to a surtax of 50 percent and 80 percent of those amounts, respectively. In his July 15 post, which went up in advance of Reid’s report, Miller stated of attacks on the proposal by “Republicans and right wing commentators”:

Before you adopt their rhetoric, remember that nearly half of the cost of the House Democrats’ health plan would be paid by tight cost controls and forcing down the expense of the health care system. That’s a top priority. And as for who will pay higher taxes and who won’t under our plan, here are the cold facts.

Only the highest earning 1.2 percent of American households will pay a surcharge for health care reform. That leaves 98.8 percent of American households who will not pay any surcharge at all.

As for small businesses, according to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, only 4.1 percent of all small business owners will be affected by the health care surcharge. The remaining 95.9 percent of small business owners will be completely unaffected by the surcharge.

Under our bill, a family making up to $350,000 in adjusted gross income (AGI) will not owe any surcharge at all, as President Obama has promised. A family making $500,000 in AGI will contribute $1,500 to help reduce costs and provide access to affordable health care for all Americans — 0.3 percent of their annual income. And a family making $1 million in AGI will contribute $9,000, or 0.9 percent of their annual income.

Who are the highest earning 1.2 percent of all households? They are the same households who over the past 20 years have seen a massive shift in wealth in their favor and who over the last 8 years received the lion’s share of President Bush’s tax cuts.

In not reporting Miller’s statement, CBS echoed media figures and outlets who have previously allowed conservatives to characterize Obama’s and Democratic proposals to increase income taxes on wealthy individuals as a tax on small businesses, without noting the small percentage of small businesses that would actually be affected by the proposal.

From the July 15 edition of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:

COURIC: A number of proposals are making their way through the House and Senate this week, but chief White House correspondent Chip Reid tells us there is growing opposition from small-business owners, who would pick up a big part of the tab.

[begin video clip]

REID: President Obama praised Congress today for taking their first small steps toward health care reform, then pleaded with them to pick up the pace.

OBAMA: We can’t kick the can down the road any longer. Deferring reform is nothing more than defending the status quo.

REID: Democrats on a key Senate committee passed the first piece of their reform plan today with no Republican support. Yesterday in the House, Democratic leaders introduced their bill.

Both plans would extend coverage to the vast majority of the 50 million uninsured, require those without insurance to buy it, and give subsidies to low-income Americans to help them afford it.

OBAMA: Both proposals will offer stability and security to Americans who have coverage today and affordable options to those who don’t.

REID: The White House says most Americans would come out winners. But try telling that to Chris Warner, who owns a small mountain climbing business in Maryland. He’s climbed the two tallest mountains in the world, Everest and K-2, but says surviving health reform could be his toughest challenge yet.

WARNER: We really could find ourselves in a position where a lot more small businesses are going to go bankrupt.

REID: Warner, who has 25 full-time employees, worries about getting hit by a double whammy. First, under the House bill, businesses with payrolls of more than $400,000 — Warner’s is $1.4 million — must either provide health insurance for their employees or pay a penalty of 8 percent of their payroll. That could add over $100,000 to Warner’s tax bill.

WARNER: Do we do it by not giving employees a raise? By not reinvesting back in our company? You know, we’re — it’s just that classic catch-22 of small businesses.

REID: The second part of the double whammy is a surtax of at least 1 percent. Warner would have to pay it because his business earnings exceed the threshold of $280,000 a year, even though he personally takes home much less than that.

WARNER: Is the, you know, greater good for me to take that capital and pay taxes for it, or is the greater good for me to create more jobs?

REID: In an interview today with CBS News medical correspondent, Dr. Jon LaPook, the president said the money for health care reform has to come from somewhere, and he prefers getting it from those at the high end of the income scale.

OBAMA: If you can afford it, either give your employees health insurance or pay into the pot so that we’re not subsidizing it.

[end video clip]

REID: The president today, again, ratcheted up the pressure on the House and the Senate to get their initial bills passed before they go home for the August recess. The plan is then they would come back in the fall, work out the differences between the two Houses, and then get a bill to the president’s desk before the end of the year.

Today he said he wants the signing ceremony in the Rose Garden — Katie.

COURIC: Meanwhile, Chip, at a time when the president is really trying to resuscitate the economy, will the potential burdens on small businesses be addressed or lessened?

REID: Well, I think so, Katie. I’ve been going through some of his speeches. He has put himself forth as the best friend in this town of small business. He said small business is the heart of the American economy, the heart of the American dream, the job creators; they’re responsible for more than two-thirds of jobs over the last 10 years.

And on Capitol Hill the lobbying operation of small business has really kicked into gear, so the thinking is that, in the end, small business won’t be hit as hard as the House bill might suggest.

COURIC: All right, Chip Reid at the White House tonight. Thank you, Chip.


Talk Of Intensified Investigation As Rattner Resigns

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 17th, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Talk Of Intensified Investigation As Rattner Resigns
Steve Rattner may be leaving his post as the head of Obama’s auto task force because of an intensifying investigation into wrongdoing by the private equity firm he co-founded. Anonymous sources say the investigation into Quadrangle Group LLC has intensified…

Suit: Pickering Chose Mistress Over Senate Seat
Former Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS) and erstwhile C Street resident turned down Trent Lott’s old Senate seat so he could be with his mistress, according to the lawsuit filed by his estranged wife this week. The suit alleges that when…

Lanny Davis Now Lobbying In Support Of Honduran Coup
It seems like just yesterday that Lanny Davis was making the rounds of every news outlet that would have him, talking up Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House — and/or pushing the Reverend Wright story. Not too long after,…


The Tattlesnake – Questions from the New Haven Firefighters Test Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 17th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

The Tattlesnake – Questions from the New Haven Firefighters Test Edition
SAMPLE QUESTIONS FROM THE NEW HAVEN FIREFIGHTERS TEST Here is a brief selection of questions from the New Haven Firefighters Test that have been causing such a stir among Republicans at the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearing and conservatives in the media. A. What dressing is best to use in potato salad? 1. Mayonnaise 2. Miracle Whip 3. Vinegar and Bacon […]


Rights Group Says Government Requirements and Penalties Against Cuba Travelers Unconstitutional

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 17th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Rights Group Says Government Requirements and Penalties Against Cuba Travelers Unconstitutional
July 16, 2009, New York, NY – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Sokolski & Zekaria, P.C. filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Brooklyn, New York challenging the government’s attempt to fine individuals thousands of dollars for failing to fill out a self-incriminating questionnaire, as part of its efforts to stifle American travel to Cuba.  

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Conservative Group Offers to Sell Endorsement

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 17th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Conservative Group Offers to Sell Endorsement
“The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a $2 million check in return for the group’s endorsement in a bitter legislative dispute, then flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay,” Politico reports.

“The conservative group’s remarkable demand — black-and-white proof of the longtime Washington practice known as ‘pay for play’ — was contained in a private letter to FedEx… The letter exposes the practice by some political interest groups of taking stands not for reasons of pure principle, as their members and supporters might assume, but also in part because a sponsor is paying big money.”

Dodd Email Blasting Lobbyists Sent to Lobbyists
According to the New York Times, Sen. Christopher Dodd’s (D-CT) campaign recently sent out a fund raising e-mail with the subject line: “Those poor lobbyists!”

“To tout Mr. Dodd’s common-man credentials, it quoted anonymous lobbyists complaining that they could not get meetings with him… A link sent viewers to a video set against the sound of weeping — presumably the tears of a lobbyist.”

The problem? The Dodd campaign neglected to remove Washington lobbyists from its e-mail fund-raising lists and sent it to them as well.


Why the Feminist Majority Foundation Supports Engagement in Afghanistan

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 17th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Why the Feminist Majority Foundation Supports Engagement in Afghanistan
The Feminist Majority Foundation responds to a piece by Sonali Kolhatkar and Mariam Rawi urging the group not to support military escalation.

Tales of How Big Corporations Are Screwing Americans Over
Stagnant wages, sexual harassment, worsening benefits, horrible treatment: just a few of the problems faced by American workers in all industries.

Politico and the Washington Post Have Become Virtual "Escort Services" for Moneyed Elites
More and more mainstream media are brokering cozy relationships between politicians and lobbyists.


Capitol Hill Cowards

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 17th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Capitol Hill Cowards
Since the beginning of the Reagan era this country has engaged in a deceitful dialog about taxes. It’s getting worse not better. Yesterday the House announced a planned surtax on incomes over $500,000 to pay for the Health Care Plan….


Sponsored Topics: Health careRonald ReaganCapitol Hill Washington D.C.WashingtonSurtax

Stimulus Works in China
China released figures showing that its GDP grew at a 7.9 percent annual rate in the second quarter. It’s growth is projected to accelerate further in the second half of this year. While this rate is still down from its…






Sponsored Topics: ChinaGross domestic productAsiaBusinessUnited States

Paranoids have enemies too
A theme running through the comments of Justin, Matt, and Daniel is the supremacy of irrationality and chaos over enlightened order. I tried to say that this is a fundamental misconception of our problem. I will try again. There is…


Sponsored Topics: EconomicIrrationalitySocial SciencesFinanceGovernment


Black Chamber of Commerce CEO accuses Barbara Boxer of racism.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 17th, 2009 4:32 am by HL

Black Chamber of Commerce CEO accuses Barbara Boxer of racism.
In a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today, National Black Chamber of Commerce CEO Harry Alford accused Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) of being a racist. Alford, an opponent of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, attacked Boxer for being “racial” when she cited the NAACP’s support of clean energy and climate legislation. […]

In a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today, National Black Chamber of Commerce CEO Harry Alford accused Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) of being a racist. Alford, an opponent of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, attacked Boxer for being “racial” when she cited the NAACP’s support of clean energy and climate legislation. Saying he took “offense as an African American and a veteran,” he asked why she didn’t quote an “Asian” instead:

All that’s condescending, and I don’t like it. It’s racial. I don’t like it. I take — I take offense to it. As an African-American and a veteran of this country, I take offense to that. You’re quoting some other black man — why don’t you quote some other Asian or some — I mean, you’re being racial here. And I think you’re getting on a path here that’s going to explode, in the Post.

Watch the exchange:

Alford, whose organization has received at least $275,000 from ExxonMobil, spoke on behalf of the “black community” in his opening statement. As Boxer noted, it seems “relevant” that other organizations with “a deep understanding” of the “black community,” such as NAACP and 100 Black Men of Atlanta see the threat of global warming and the opportunity in a clean energy future.

Bachmann Misreads House Health Bill To Claim ?Whatever Health Care You Have Now? Will Be Gone In 5 Years
On Tuesday, three separate House committees — Ways and Means Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, Education and Labor Committee — released a single health care reform bill, the American Affordable Healthy Choices Act. An analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that the legislation would cost $1 trillion over 10 years and cover 94 […]

bachmann-glasses.jpgOn Tuesday, three separate House committees — Ways and Means Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, Education and Labor Committee — released a single health care reform bill, the American Affordable Healthy Choices Act. An analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that the legislation would cost $1 trillion over 10 years and cover 94 percent of Americans (97% if you don’t count undocumented immigrants).

On Dennis Miller’s radio show today, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacked the bill, claiming that it plainly stated that Americans would be forced out of their current health care plans “within five years”:

BACHMANN: Well, what does that mean? That means that politicians are going to substitute their choice for your doctor’s choice for you. That’s exactly what this bill does. Here’s the other thing about that bill. It’s a monstrosity. I have the bill printed out on my desk, it’s over 1,000 pages long. On the 16th page, it says whatever health care you have now, it’s going to be gone within five years. So your current health care plan, you’re not going to have in five years. What you’re going to have is a government plan and a federal bureau is going to decide what you get or if you get anything at all.

Listen here:

Bachmann either misread the bill or is willfully misrepresenting it. In fact, page 16 is the beginning of the section on “Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage.” The section that refers to five years is on page 17, but it’s not about pushing Americans off their current health plans. As the summary on Rep. Pete Stark’s (D-CA) website notes, it simply “provides for a five year grace period for current group health plans to meet specified standards.”

In fact, as the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky points out, the CBO’s coverage tables “undermine the conservative claim that a public option would eliminate private insurance and erode employer-sponsored coverage”:

The House bill actually increases the number of people who receive coverage through their employer by 2 million (in 2019) and shifts most of the uninsured into private coverage. By 2019, 30 million individuals would also purchase coverage from the Exchange, but only 9-10 million Americans (or approximately 1/3) would enroll in the public option, the rest would enroll in private coverage.

So, in Bachmann’s world, increased private insurance is a government takeover of health care.