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Archive for October 30th, 2009

Pot Politics: California Could Go All the Way

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 30th, 2009 4:45 am by HL

Pot Politics: California Could Go All the Way
California was the first to legalize medicinal marijuana and, if three ballot measures and a bill floating around the state legislature have anything to say about it, the Golden State could be the first to legalize and tax adult marijuana use across the board. Don’t get too excited. Ending pot prohibition is tricky politics, even in a state that grows and sells billions of dollars worth of the stuff every year. And while the Justice Department has relaxed its stand on medical marijuana, federal officials aren’t crazy about Cali’s reefer madness. Yet legalization advocates are closer than ever to their ultimate goal. It’s a lesson learned by other movements: Get a toehold. You can see that in the health care debate. Is there any doubt most proponents of the public option would prefer single-payer? On the other side of the political spectrum, pro-lifers have had a lot more success chipping away at and restricting abortion rights than getting Roe v. Wade overturned.  —PZS The New York Times: State lawmakers are holding a hearing on Wednesday on the effects of a bill that would legalize, tax and regulate the drug — in what would be the first such law in the United States. Tax officials estimate the legislation could bring the struggling state about $1.4 billion a year, and though the bill’s fate in the Legislature is uncertain, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has indicated he would be open to a “robust debate” on the issue. California voters are also taking up legalization. Three separate initiatives are being circulated for signatures to appear on the ballot next year, all of which would permit adults to possess marijuana for personal use and allow local governments to tax it. Even opponents of legalization suggest that an initiative is likely to qualify for a statewide vote. Read more READ THE WHOLE ITEM

California was the first to legalize medicinal marijuana and, if three ballot measures and a bill floating around the state legislature have anything to say about it, the Golden State could be the first to legalize and tax adult marijuana use across the board.

Don’t get too excited. Ending pot prohibition is tricky politics, even in a state that grows and sells billions of dollars worth of the stuff every year. And while the Justice Department has relaxed its stand on medical marijuana, federal officials aren’t crazy about Cali’s reefer madness.

Yet legalization advocates are closer than ever to their ultimate goal. It’s a lesson learned by other movements: Get a toehold. You can see that in the health care debate. Is there any doubt most proponents of the public option would prefer single-payer? On the other side of the political spectrum, pro-lifers have had a lot more success chipping away at and restricting abortion rights than getting Roe v. Wade overturned.? —PZS

The New York Times:

State lawmakers are holding a hearing on Wednesday on the effects of a bill that would legalize, tax and regulate the drug — in what would be the first such law in the United States. Tax officials estimate the legislation could bring the struggling state about $1.4 billion a year, and though the bill’s fate in the Legislature is uncertain, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has indicated he would be open to a “robust debate” on the issue.

California voters are also taking up legalization. Three separate initiatives are being circulated for signatures to appear on the ballot next year, all of which would permit adults to possess marijuana for personal use and allow local governments to tax it. Even opponents of legalization suggest that an initiative is likely to qualify for a statewide vote.

Read more

READ THE WHOLE ITEM

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In Pursuit of Happiness
Women are now less likely than men to report that they are “very happy,” despite the achievements of the women’s movement. Let the predictable debates begin. READ THE WHOLE ITEM By Ellen Goodman

Women are now less likely than men to report that they are “very happy,” despite the achievements of the women’s movement. Let the predictable debates begin.

READ THE WHOLE ITEM

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Pelosi Not Planning To Allow Amendments To Health Care Bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 30th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Pelosi Not Planning To Allow Amendments To Health Care Bill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that there’s been plenty of time for amendments already, so neither her caucus nor members of the minority party…

Steven Hill: Health Care Cooperatives Can Work
Watching the torturous turns of the healthcare debate in Congress is mind-numbing, even for the most savvy policy wonks, let alone for members of the…

Dr. Johnny Benjamin: An Open Letter: Dear Mr. President, We Need the Public Option
If you provide the American people with a competitive public option, the American people will keep the insurance industry in check. We will force them with our premium payments to treat us fairly.


Fox & Friends report on “overstated” stimulus job impact ignores that errors were corrected a week ago

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 30th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Fox & Friends report on “overstated” stimulus job impact ignores that errors were corrected a week ago

In an October 29 report, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said that an Associated Press investigation showing that some of the jobs reported by federal contract recipients as having been created due to the stimulus were inaccurate, which Kilmeade said “makes the [jobs] numbers suspect.” But, while Kilmeade reported that the “White House says it’s aware of the problems and working to fix them,” he ignored that the White House has claimed that the majority of the errors identified in the AP report had already been corrected prior to the report running and that the job data posted represent “just 2% of Recovery Act spending.”

Fox report: Stimulus job “numbers suspect”; ignores that most of identified errors had been fixed

From the October 29 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

KILMEADE: A Colorado company said it used stimulus money to create 4,200 jobs. In fact, it was fewer than 1,000. A Florida company said it used stimulus money to save 130 jobs; instead, it gave pay raises to employees. The Associated Press says companies across the country are routinely inflating what they’ve done with their stimulus money. No one’s telling the truth anymore, and that makes the numbers suspect. In tomorrow’s big report on the impact of the stimulus, the White House says it’s aware of the problems and working to fix them.

overstated

Four of the five errors AP identified had already been corrected

White House: “Of the five specific problems cited by AP, four had already been found and fixed.” The AP report identified five different specific instances in which businesses reported inaccurate job numbers. From an October 29 White House press release (the italized text indicates a direct quote from the October 29 AP report):

“A Colorado company said it created 4,231 jobs with the help of President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan. The real number: fewer than 1,000.”

FACT: The very first example AP cites was already corrected more than a week ago as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday. This item represents over 3,000 — or 60 percent — of the “nearly 5,000 jobs” AP uses to try to make its argument.

[…]

Officials at East Central Technical College in Douglas, Ga., said they now know they shouldn’t have claimed 280 stimulus jobs linked to more than $200,000 to buy three semi-trucks and trailers for commercial driving instruction, and a modular classroom and bathroom for a health education program.

FACT: This item — which represents less than .06 percent of the total jobs reported was also already corrected more than a week ago as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday.

[…]

The San Joaquin, Calif., Regional Rail Commission reported creating or saving 125 jobs as part of a stimulus project to lay railroad track. Because the project drew from two pools of money, the commission reported that figure twice, bringing the total to 250.

FACT: This item — which represents less than .04 percent of the total jobs reported – was also already corrected as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday.

[…]

The Toledo, Ohio-based Koring Group also received two FCC contracts to help people make the switch to digital television. The company reported hiring 26 people for each of the two contracts, bringing its total jobs to 54 on the government’s official count. But the company cited the same 26 workers for both contracts, meaning the same jobs were counted twice. The job count was further inflated because each job lasted only about two months, so each worker should have counted as one-sixth of a full-time job.

FACT: This item — which represents less than .01 percent of the total jobs reported — was also already corrected as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday.

Obama administration: Companies were given until October 30 to correct job numbers

Recovery Board chair said prior to data’s release, “[W]e don’t expect perfection”; recipients can correct errors in their reports. On October 13, prior to releasing the first batch of stimulus job data, Recovery Board chairman Earl E. Devaney noted that “there will be errors and omissions in some reports” and stated:

For those of us at the Recovery Board, October is a pivotal month. For the first time since our founding in February under the Recovery Act, we will be posting data from recipients of Recovery funds on our website, Recovery.gov. As many of you no doubt know, we built this new, state-of-the-art website so that we could provide you, the American people, with an inside look at how your money is being spent. On Oct. 15, therefore, we will be posting data from companies and other entities that received direct contracts from federal agencies. Two weeks later, on Oct. 30, we will disclose data from recipients receiving grants and loans.

We don’t expect perfection in these initial data reports. Indeed, there will be errors and omissions in some reports, and still other recipients may not even bother to submit information. Given our focus on accountability and transparency, we are urging federal agencies to work closely with recipients to correct any problems in their reports. Agencies can point out errors, omissions or other problems, but only recipients can make changes in their reports — and, then, only during a brief period. Over time, with so much public scrutiny of the data, we expect improved reporting; the number of recipients will grow and more information will be displayed on Recovery.gov.

White House: “[R]ecipients were given through October 30th to clarify and confirm their data.” An October 29 White House press release repeatedly stated: “All recipients were given through October 30th to clarify and confirm their data — including those linked to federal contracts. Any conclusions drawn about the quality of that small portion of data as it was posted two weeks ago are simply premature.”

New York Times reported the jobs “come from a small slice of a sliver of the $787 billion stimulus program.” On October 15, when the data was released, The New York Times reported, “The new jobs reported Thursday come from a small slice of a sliver of the $787 billion stimulus program: the roughly $16 billion worth of stimulus contracts that were awarded directly by federal agencies, of which about $2.2 billion has been spent so far.” Recovery.gov shows that the $16 billion in federal contracts awarded, of which around $2.2 billion has been paid out, is a relatively small portion of the direct stimulus spending for contracts, grants, and loans. The following graphics were posted on Recovery.gov [accessed 10/23/09]:

Recovery.gov chart Recovery.gov graphic

Funds for contracts, grants, and loans are one portion of stimulus package. Recovery.gov states that the $787 billion stimulus package is comprised of three categories: 1) tax benefits, for which $62.5 billion has been paid out as of October 8; 2) contracts, grants, and loans, for which $47 billion has been paid out; and 3) extensions of entitlement benefits, of which $63.7 billion has been paid out:

jobcount6-

Job data from stimulus “grants and loans” not yet available. Recovery.gov states, “As of Oct. 10, 2009, there were 112,219 total awards, 8% were federal contracts, 91.7% were grants, and 0.3% were loans.” The job data from recipients of “grants and loans will be added on Oct. 30,” according to the website.


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 30th, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Presented By:

Presented By:


Beck The Great Halloweenie

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 30th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Beck The Great Halloweenie


Bankers Expect Bigger Bonuses

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 30th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Bankers Expect Bigger Bonuses
A Bloomberg Global Poll on financial executives finds three in five traders, analysts and fund managers expect their bonuses to match or exceed last year’s, with 1 in 10 predicting their best-ever payout. Just one in four see a decline.

Another Poll, Another Dead Heat in New Jersey
The latest FDU Public Mind poll in New Jersey shows Gov. Jon Corzine (D) and challenger Chris Christie (R) in a close race for governor, with Corzine holding a lead among likely voters by a statistically insignificant thread of 44% to 43%. Another 6% volunteer they will vote for independent Chris Daggett and 4% are undecided.

Said pollster Peter Woolley: “At this point, anyone who says their vote doesn’t count is mistaken. And no one knows that better than the campaigns.”

Interestingly, when Daggett is included in a list of possibilities his support grows to 14%, with Christie edging Corzine, 41% to 39%.


3 Silly Religious Beliefs Held By Non-Silly People

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 30th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

3 Silly Religious Beliefs Held By Non-Silly People
Many of the beliefs held by religious moderates — smart people who respect science and the separation of church and state — are as untenable as the dogma of fundamentalists.

How Our Broken Immigration System Hurts Both Immigrant and Native-Born Workers
The real answer to “enforcement†at the worksite is making sure all workers can exercise their labor rights and upholding our employment laws

Former Wall Street Player Reveals the Inside World Behind Shady Bailouts to Bankers
An interview with Prins, former managing director at Goldman Sachs, now a razor-sharp financial muckraker and author of the new book, "It Takes a Pillage."

How a Racist Judge Inadvertently Made the Case for Gay Marriage
A bigoted justice of the peace in the backwoods of Louisiana accidentally got to the heart of the issue around a key argument in California’s gay marriage debate.

Pelosi Unveils a Ground-Breaking Health Care Plan — Will Senate Dems Follow Her Lead?
Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the Senate bill will have a public option, but now it’s time to walk the walk.


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 30th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Presented By:

Winning the Peace
With all the Bloviators pulling out their “Afghanistan=Vietnam” analogies, Joshua Kurlantzick writes in the Washington Post, that we should only be so lucky. 76 percent of Vietnamese say U.S. influence in Asia is positive, according to a 2008 study by…


Sponsored Topics: VietnamWashington PostAsiaAfghanistanUnited States


During Forged Letter Investigation Hearing, Coal Industry Lies Under Oath About Its Lobbying History

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 30th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

During Forged Letter Investigation Hearing, Coal Industry Lies Under Oath About Its Lobbying History
Today, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held a hearing investigating fraudulent letters forged by Bonner & Associates on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) to attack the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454). As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has reported, ACCCE President and […]

Today, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held a hearing investigating fraudulent letters forged by Bonner & Associates on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) to attack the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454). As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has reported, ACCCE President and CEO Steve Miller lied under oath when he told the committee that his organization has never opposed clean energy legislation.

Later during the hearing, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) asked Miller about the purpose of ACCCE. Miller replied that in addition to grassroots lobbying (astroturfing) and state-based lobbying, his front group has only began federal lobbying in “April of 2008″ in its “16 year history”:

INSLEE: Your entire goal of your organization is to influence Congress. Is that right?

MILLER: We do work at the state level, we do regulatory matters, we do general education to the public. So, the federal, direct federal lobbying has only been part of our portfolio since April of 2008 with a 16 year history of the organization.

Watch it:

Miller’s claim is another example of the coal industry’s perjury under oath. In a six month period of 2007 alone, ACCCE, under its previous name of Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, spent $2,660,000 lobbying the federal government. Senate disclosures show that the organization has spent millions more lobbying since 2001.

ACCCE was formed in 2008, according to its website, with the combined “assets and missions of the Center for Energy and Economic Development (CEED) and Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC).” So when Miller noted his 16 year history, he was referring to the lobbying efforts of the coal industry’s previous incarnations, ABEC and CEED.

?Party of No? Continues To Hold Obama Judges Hostage
Last June, ThinkProgress reported that Senate conservatives were using single-senator anonymous holds to deny dozens of Obama nominees the up-or-down vote Republicans used to think was so important.  Four months later, nothing has changed. Since taking office last January, only four of President Obama’s judicial nominees have been confirmed, despite the fact that President Bush’s […]

Gavel Last June, ThinkProgress reported that Senate conservatives were using single-senator anonymous holds to deny dozens of Obama nominees the up-or-down vote Republicans used to think was so important

Four months later, nothing has changed. Since taking office last January, only four of President Obama’s judicial nominees have been confirmed, despite the fact that President Bush’s judges received very different treatment:

Consider, for example, the judicial nominations process during President George W. Bush’s last two years in office, 2007 and 2008. Bush was deeply unpopular at the time, and he faced a Senate firmly under Democratic control. Still, a large number of Bush nominees sailed through. The Senate voted on more than one-third of Bush’s confirmed nominees (26 of 68) less than three months after the president nominated them. […]

The story was similar in the first two years of Bush’s presidency: A Democratic majority in Congress confirmed 100 of Bush’s nominees in 17 months, even after delays due to a change in party control of the Sen. after Senator James Jeffords left the Republican Party in May 2001.

Blocking nearly every single one of a President’s nominees is unprecedented, but conservatives have played Calvinball with the Senate’s confirmation rules for decades.  During the Reagan and Bush I Administrations, then-Senate Judiciary Chair Joe Biden (D-DE) followed a longstanding rule allowing a nominee’s home state senators to block a judicial nominee, but only if both senators agreed to do so. After President Clinton took office and conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) became judiciary chair, however, the rules suddenly changed to allow a single-home state senator to veto a nominee — a power that segregationist Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) used to block every single one of Clinton’s nominees from North Carolina. Yet when Bush II took office, Hatch eliminated the home-state senator veto altogether.

This time, however, the right doesn’t even have enough votes to maintain a filibuster if the Majority Leader insists that President Obama’s nominees deserve the same favorable treatment he gave to President Bush’s; the only question is how long Reid will let the “Party of No” say no to Obama’s judges.


Iran counters U.N. on uranium plan

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 30th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Iran counters U.N. on uranium plan
Iran on Thursday appeared to reject a key element of a U.N.-backed proposal aimed at quickly reducing its stockpile of enriched uranium, offering an informal oral counteroffer that diplomats said fell far short of a tentative deal reached earlier this month.

President Obama delivers remarks at enactment of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
SPEAKER: PRESIDENT BARACK

House Democrats announce health-care bill
SPEAKERS: REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF.), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE; REP. STENY H. HOYER (D-MD.), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER; REP. JAMES E. CLYBURN (D-S.C.), HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP; REP. CAROL SHEA-PORTER (D-N.H.); REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA.); REP. MARY JO KILROY (D-OHIO); REP. MARCIA FUDGE (D-OHIO); REP. KATH…

Dozens in Congress under ethics inquiry
House ethics investigators have been scrutinizing the activities of more than 30 lawmakers and several aides in inquiries about issues including defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling, according to a confidential House ethics committee report prepared in July.