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Archive for January 10th, 2010

And Now, the California Budget Cuts

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 10th, 2010 5:44 am by HL

And Now, the California Budget Cuts
What’s to be done about California’s budget woes? Well, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is cutting way back on spending on such superfluous concerns as “health, welfare, transport and the environment,” according to the BBC. But really, this’ll hurt him more than it’ll hurt … oh, never mind.  —KA BBC: Mr Schwarzenegger acknowledged that the cuts would be painful, but said there was no conceivable way to avoid them. California’s economy has been hit by the global downturn. Unemployment is the third highest in the US and the state’s tax revenue has plummeted. … “These are the hardest decisions, the hardest decisions a governor must make. Yet there’s simply no conceivable way to avoid more cuts and more pain,” [Schwarzenegger] added. Read more

Schwarzenegger

What’s to be done about California’s budget woes? Well, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is cutting way back on spending on such superfluous concerns as “health, welfare, transport and the environment,” according to the BBC. But really, this’ll hurt him more than it’ll hurt … oh, never mind.? —KA

BBC:

Mr Schwarzenegger acknowledged that the cuts would be painful, but said there was no conceivable way to avoid them.

California’s economy has been hit by the global downturn. Unemployment is the third highest in the US and the state’s tax revenue has plummeted.

… “These are the hardest decisions, the hardest decisions a governor must make. Yet there’s simply no conceivable way to avoid more cuts and more pain,” [Schwarzenegger] added.

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Courts Chip Away at Campaign Ad Curbs
As the country awaits a key Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance law, several recent lower-court decisions have rolled back longstanding restrictions on political ad spending, a possible boost for Republicans in this election year. —JCL The New York Times: Even before a landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance law expected within days, a series of other court decisions is reshaping the political battlefield by freeing corporations, unions and other interest groups from many of the restrictions on their advertising about issues and candidates. Legal experts and political operatives say the cases roll back campaign spending rules to the years before Watergate. The end of decades-old restrictions could unleash a torrent of negative advertisements, help cash-poor Republicans in a pivotal year and push President Obama to bring in more money for his party. If the Supreme Court, as widely expected, rules against core elements of the existing limits, Democrats say they will try to enact new laws to reinstate the restrictions in time for the midterm elections in November. And advocates of stricter campaign finance laws say they hope the developments will prod the president to fulfill a campaign promise to update the presidential campaign financing system, even though it would diminish his edge as incumbent. Many legal experts say they expect the court to use its imminent ruling, in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, to eliminate the remaining restrictions on advertisements for or against candidates paid for by corporations, unions and advocacy organizations. (The case centers on whether spending restrictions apply to a conservative group’s documentary, “Hillary: The Movie.”) Read more

As the country awaits a key Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance law, several recent lower-court decisions have rolled back longstanding restrictions on political ad spending, a possible boost for Republicans in this election year. —JCL

The New York Times:

Even before a landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance law expected within days, a series of other court decisions is reshaping the political battlefield by freeing corporations, unions and other interest groups from many of the restrictions on their advertising about issues and candidates.

Legal experts and political operatives say the cases roll back campaign spending rules to the years before Watergate. The end of decades-old restrictions could unleash a torrent of negative advertisements, help cash-poor Republicans in a pivotal year and push President Obama to bring in more money for his party.

If the Supreme Court, as widely expected, rules against core elements of the existing limits, Democrats say they will try to enact new laws to reinstate the restrictions in time for the midterm elections in November. And advocates of stricter campaign finance laws say they hope the developments will prod the president to fulfill a campaign promise to update the presidential campaign financing system, even though it would diminish his edge as incumbent.

Many legal experts say they expect the court to use its imminent ruling, in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, to eliminate the remaining restrictions on advertisements for or against candidates paid for by corporations, unions and advocacy organizations. (The case centers on whether spending restrictions apply to a conservative group’s documentary, “Hillary: The Movie.”)

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Hawaii Budget Crisis: State Can’t Afford Congressional Election

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 10th, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Hawaii Budget Crisis: State Can’t Afford Congressional Election
HONOLULU — Cash-strapped Hawaii can’t afford to pay for an election to replace a congressman who is planning to step down next month to run…

David Quigg: Contingency Plans For Revised Edition of “A Happier History of America” by Rudy Giuliani
MEMORANDUM FROM: Rudy Giuliani, NYC mayor on 9/11/01 TO: Revisionist & Sons Publishing Co. RE: contingency plans for revised second edition of my forthcoming textbook,…

Trita Parsi: Open Letter to Congressman Gresham Barrett on his plans to deport all Iranian visa holders
Congressman Barrett, The National Iranian American Council and the Iranian-American community is outraged by your plan to reintroduce legislation mandating the deportation of thousands of…


Giuliani still in denial about Bush-era terror attacks

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 10th, 2010 5:42 am by HL

Giuliani still in denial about Bush-era terror attacks

After falsely claiming on Good Morning America that “[w]e had no domestic attacks under Bush,” Rudy Giuliani stated during CNN’s The Situation Room, “I did omit the words ‘since September 11th.’ I apologize for that. I should have put it in.” However, Giuliani continued to ignore several domestic attacks that took place under Bush after 9/11 — including the 2002 attack at the Los Angeles International Airport, the 2002 DC-area sniper shootings, and the 2006 SUV attack at the University of North Carolina – and dismissed the 2001 anthrax attacks, which were characterized by John Ashcroft as “a terrorist act,” because, Giuliani said, “as far as we know, that was not done in the name of Islamic terrorism.”

Giuliani now claiming “no major domestic attack under President Bush since September 11th”

Giuliani: “I usually say we had no domestic attacks, no major domestic attack under President Bush since September 11th.” After falsely claiming on the January 8 edition of Good Morning America that “[w]e had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama,” Giuliani stated during The Situation Room, “I did omit the words ‘since September 11th.’ I apologize for that. I should have put it in.” Giuliani later agreed with Wolf Blitzer’s statement that “you’re saying in terms of terror attacks since 9/11, there have been no — no terror attacks since 9/11 under President Bush, but one terror attack, Fort Hood, under President Obama,” provided that only “Islamic terror attacks” are counted.

From the January 8 edition of CNN’s The Situation Room:

BLITZER: All right. As you know, the blogosphere is going crazy with that, the comment, we had no domestic attacks under Bush.

All right, you remember at least one, don’t you?

GIULIANI: No, here — here’s what I usually say when I said that — and I did not put that — those words in. I said — I usually say we had no domestic attacks, no major domestic attack under President Bush since September 11th. And the reason I say it is, on September 11th and the days after September 11th, I received many briefings, many warnings, as the mayor of New York, that we were going to be attacked again, that we were going to be attacked frequently.

And I think many people are surprised, even those people who hate President Bush — I think many people were surprised that we didn’t have those major attacks and that at least some of the things that President Bush was warning was helping in making certain that we didn’t have any kind of major terrorist attack.

I did omit the words “since September 11th.” I apologize for that. I should have put it in. I do remember September 11th. In fact, Wolf, I remember it every single day and usually frequently during the day.

[…]

BLITZER: So at — at this point, given what you’re — what you’re saying in terms of terror attacks since 9/11, there have been no — no terror attacks since 9/11 under President Bush, but one terror attack, Fort Hood, under President Obama…

GIULIANI: Islamic…

BLITZER: …President Obama. Islamic terror attacks…

GIULIANI: Islamic terror attacks.

BLITZER: Is that what you’re saying, zero to one, in effect?

GIULIANI: Correct. And the o — the only reason I point that out is that the — the president himself has finally now come to the conclusion that he can say war on terror. I wish he would also describe it as Islamic terrorism so that we clearly define our enemy. And I wish he would follow through on our being at war with — with Islamic terrorism.

Giuliani doesn’t count anthrax attacks, but State Department listed attacks among “Significant Terrorist Incidents”

Giuliani: “There’s no — no proof” that anthrax attacks were “terrorist attack.”  From the January 8 edition of The Situation Room:

BLITZER: There — there was at least one terror attack on U.S. Soil that happened after 9/11. I’m referring to the anthrax attacks in New York and in elsewhere. What that a terror attack, do you believe?

GIULIANI: Well, as far as I know, the FBI has never been able to figure out who did it and has never designated it as a terror attack. I mean, I lived through that. I — there was…

BLITZER: But whoever was trying to do it was trying to terrorize a lot of people.

GIULIANI: Yes, but that was not done in the name — as far as we know, that was not done in the name of Islamic terrorism any more than, you know, serial killers who…

BLITZER: Right. It could have been a domestic terror attack, too, and we don’t know, as you correctly point out, who was responsible…

GIULIANI: That’s right. So you’re — so…

BLITZER: …for that anthrax attack.

GIULIANI: …so you can’t — you can’t describe something as a terrorist attack if it hasn’t been investigated and there’s no — no proof. And the best thinking on the part of the FBI is that it wasn’t involved with Islamic terrorism.

But, again, that’s pretty — we’re on pretty shaky grounds there because they’ve never been able to solve that.

Ashcroft said of anthrax mailings: “[I]t’s a terrorist act.” A March 2004 State Department report on “Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1961-2003” quotes then-Attorney General John Ashcroft saying of the letters containing anthrax mailed to various targets: “When people send anthrax through the mail to hurt people and invoke terror, it’s a terrorist act.” Five people were killed as a result of those letters in the autumn of 2001.

FBI: Anthrax attacks were “worst act of bioterrorism in U.S. history.” On August 6, 2008, the FBI held a press conference about its investigation into the anthrax attacks, which U.S. Attorney Jeff Taylor characterized as “the worst act of bioterrorism in U.S. history.”

Other domestic attacks took place under Bush

2002 attack against El Al ticket counter at LAX. In July 2002, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet opened fire at an El Al Airlines ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport killing two people and wounding four others before being shot dead. A 2004 Justice Department report stated that Hadayet’s case had been “officially designated as an act of international terrorism.”

2002 DC-area sniper. The state of Virginia indicted Washington, D.C.-area sniper John Allen Muhammad — along with his accomplice, a minor at the time — on “an act of terrorism” for one of the murders he committed during a three-week shooting spree across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Muhammad was convicted, sentenced to death, and subsequently executed for the crime. Muhammad’s accomplice, Lee Malvo, reportedly testified that Muhammad had plans to “set up a camp to train children how to terrorize cities.”

2006 UNC SUV attack. In March 2006, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill graduate Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar drove an SUV into an area of campus, striking nine pedestrians. According to reports, Taheri-azar said he acted because he wanted to “avenge the deaths or murders of Muslims around the world.” Taheri-azar also reportedly stated in a letter: “I was aiming to follow in the footsteps of one of my role models, Mohammad Atta, one of the 9/11/01 hijackers, who obtained a doctorate degree.”

Other conservatives have downplayed terrorist attacks under Bush

Frederick: All domestic terrorist attacks since 9-11 took place “on Obama’s watch.” As Media Matters for America documented, Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher Sherman Frederick wrote in a January 3 column that “the two cases of domestic terrorism since 9/11” were “both on Obama’s watch.”

Matalin downplays attacks under Bush, falsely claiming “Bush inherited” 9-11 attacks. On the December 27 edition of CNN’s State of the Union, Republican strategist Mary Matalin falsely claimed that Bush “inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation’s history.” In fact, the September 11, 2001, attacks occurred eight months into Bush’s presidency and more than a month after he had received a Presidential Daily Briefing titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

Perino: “We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.” Bush White House Press Secretary Dana Perino falsely claimed on the November 24, 2009, edition of Fox News’ Hannity that “[w]e did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.”


Emails: Fed Pressed AIG To Keep Bailout Details Under Wraps

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 10th, 2010 5:41 am by HL

Emails: Fed Pressed AIG To Keep Bailout Details Under Wraps
The New York Fed pressured AIG in late 2008 to withhold from the public details about its massive and controversial payments to counter-parties, according to emails obtained by Bloomberg News.

Flight 253 Intel: What Did They Know And When Did They Know It?
TPMmuckraker compiles what has been publicly reported about what U.S. government agencies knew about Abdulmutallab. One finding: the oft-repeated claim that Abdulmutallab bought a one-way ticket appears to be unsubstantiated, and in fact contradicted by at least two government sources.

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A Day at the Gay Beach

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 10th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

A Day at the Gay Beach


Dodd’s Gift to the Democrats

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 10th, 2010 5:37 am by HL

Dodd’s Gift to the Democrats
To read the esteemed New York Times reporters Zeleny and Nagourney this morning, you would think that the retirement of Chris Dodd was a major blow to the Democratic Senate majority, when in fact it was just the opposite. Not…


New York TimesChris DoddDemocraticUnited States SenateChristopher Dodd

The Difference Between Talking Tough and Acting Smart
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) is Chair of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel. As we have seen since the attempted terrorist attack on Northwest Flight 253, there are those who never will understand the difference between talking tough and acting smart….


TerrorismWarfare and ConflictWar on TerrorismSeptember 11 2001Yemen

To My Conservative Friends (or ‘Dear Shadow Government’)
Now is the political season of our disappointment. So many in the pundit class feeling let down after the high hopes of a year ago. Me too. You see, I actually believed in — and still hope for — the…


ConservativePoliticsShadow GovernmentConservatismParties


Let The Cameras Roll

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 10th, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Let The Cameras Roll
Our guest blogger is John D. Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. My colleagues Igor Volsky and Matt Yglesias have eloquently argued on ThinkProgress that C-Span’s cameras should not be allowed to film the final negotiations between the House and Senate as they hammer out health care legislation that President […]

Our guest blogger is John D. Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

PiccspanMy colleagues Igor Volsky and Matt Yglesias have eloquently argued on ThinkProgress that C-Span’s cameras should not be allowed to film the final negotiations between the House and Senate as they hammer out health care legislation that President Obama will soon sign into law. While I respect their arguments, I take a very different view. I have long believed that openness and transparency are essential bedrock measures for ensuring public accountability of our government. Letting C-Span cameras into health care conference meetings will keep negotiators honest, give the public an opportunity for input, and allow the process to be more collaborative.

Open government and citizen access to information is a first principle of liberty in a democracy that has to be defended — even when it’s unpopular or deemed unhelpful in the short term. It is my experience that corruption in government begins at the moment when officials in power believe no one is paying attention. The scrutiny of traditional journalists, citizen journalists, and other interested Americans serves as a powerful disinfectant for our legislative process and restores confidence in our participatory democracy.

Critics have argued that the presence of cameras is likely to produce political posturing and grandstanding by politicians. And indeed, with the cameras rolling, Republicans have said health care reform is a bigger threat than terrorism, claimed that seniors would be told to “drop dead,” and even called the President a liar. But I’m glad cameras were there to capture those demeaning comments. They have helped all Americans gain a better understanding of the unwillingness of some on the right to engage in a rational debate.

The presence of cameras has also produced some beneficial outcomes. For instance, C-Span cameras exposed House GOP efforts to silence members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus when they tried to speak on the floor. The cameras also shamed Senate Republicans when they tried to filibuster the debate by forcing the reading of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ single-payer amendment.

Democrats have nothing to fear from an open debate. They are working to expand affordable coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans, lowering premiums, ending the insurance industry’s denial of pre-existing conditions, and ensuring women will no longer be charged much more for the same coverage as men. When the House and Senate meet in the coming weeks to discuss this historic legislation, I would humbly urge them to let the cameras roll. We can handle the truth.

Members of Congress should not forget that they are representing actual Americans who stand to be either benefited or harmed by the choices they make. It’s my view that if the American people are allowed to bear witness to the conference negotiations, the most important health care reform in decades will be stronger for it. And the American public will rightly feel that they helped bring it about.

Right-Wing Radio Host Incensed That ?Butt Sniffer? Michael Steele Canceled Appearance On Her Show
There was significant media speculation yesterday when embattled Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele abruptly canceled a noon interview with ABC News. According to ABC’s Rick Klein, Steele backed out just 30 minutes before he was scheduled to talk to him. The RNC said that the scheduling conflict was because of a noon meeting […]

There was significant media speculation yesterday when embattled Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele abruptly canceled a noon interview with ABC News. According to ABC’s Rick Klein, Steele backed out just 30 minutes before he was scheduled to talk to him. The RNC said that the scheduling conflict was because of a noon meeting at the organization, but officials stressed that it wasn’t an “emergency” meeting.

Less discussed was the fact that Steele also canceled an interview with conservative radio host and Tea Party activist Dana Loesch, whose show airs Monday-Friday at 7:00 p.m. CT. Loesch was incensed when Steele canceled his interview with her, writing on Twitter that it was indicative of his failure to connect with Tea Party protesters:

Dana Loesch Twitter page

She also gave props to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO) for keeping her interview, writing, “So out of @clairecmc and @chairmanmsteele , McCaskill is the one who keeps her interview. #steelefail”

Loesch ended up doing a “fake” interview with Steele, where she asked the questions she was planning to ask and then also gave mock answers as the RNC chairman, whom she called a “butt sniffer” for standing her up. While the interview was fake, Loesch’s mock answers for Steele reflected real dissatisfaction with the RNC — which initially backed Republican Dede Scozzafava in the NY-23 special election instead of far-right favorite Conservative Doug Hoffman — from the Tea Party movement. Some highlights from fake Michael Steele in the interview:

– “I’m probably very likely most definitely going to get fired from the GOP because instead of using opportunities like the crotch bomber and instead of using opportunities like the fact that Democrats have shut the doors and refused to allow the public to view the debate going on between reconciling the House and the Senate bill — instead of doing that, I’m out promoting my stupid book!

– “I said in an interview previously that I had this book written before I even became chairman of the Republican Party. Ha ha! In fact, I became chairman Republican Party just so I would have a platform to go out and sell my book. Because I’m going to tell you something, Dana. You see my book here? It’s called “Right Now.” It doesn’t sound so awesome when you’re like, ‘Oh, here’s a book by the Lt. Gov. of Maryland!’ It sounds way much more awesomer to say, ‘Here’s a book by the Chairman of the Republican Party!’”

– “Oh, it’s because I am cool, Dana. What up? I know that you saw the original title to my blog. It was called, ‘What up?’ That’s hip, that’s fresh young talk.

Loesch responded to fake Steele by asking, “Why should we believe in you? Let’s look at what you’ve done. We don’t have a clear leader for 2012. We don’t even have a clear leader congressionally for 2010. The RNC screwed up NY-23. The RNC has failed to get behind Scott Brown adequately; they haven’t give him enough support. You endorsed Dede Scozzafava for crying out loud! You guys come in and you try to co-opt this movement and that movement. You have egg on your face. Donations to the RNC are down.” Watch it:


THE TALK SHOWS

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 10th, 2010 5:35 am by HL

THE TALK SHOWS
Guests to be interviewed Sunday on major television talk shows:

Sunday Take: Not much concrete with this Steele
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele published a book this past week titled “Right Now.” It should have been called “Going Rogue.”

The unintended ripples from the biomass subsidy program
It sounded like a good idea: Provide a little government money to convert wood shavings and plant waste into renewable energy.


Washington Needs Dose of Common Sense

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 10th, 2010 5:30 am by HL

Washington Needs Dose of Common Sense
Larry Kudlow, RealClearPolitics
After the arrival of a disappointing December jobs report, my thought on putting America back to work is simple: ) de-stimulate.That's right. Get rid of the Obama stimulus monster, including the government takeover of health care, cap-and-trade and all this nonsensical talk of creating green jobs. Get rid of the increase in marginal personal tax rates and capital-gains tax rates. Get rid of the payroll tax hike from the health care talks. Get rid of the spending that is a counterweight to growth. Get rid of it, every part of it. It's creating so much uncertainty that even profitable…

Obama’s Transparent Insincerity on Health Care
Rich Lowry, NRO
Barack Obama couldn't possibly have meant his campaign promise to hold negotiations on major legislation in public, broadcast live on C-SPAN. How could he?He'd been in the Illinois legislature for eight years and in the Senate for two, not enough experience to make him a Robert Byrd-style expert on Senate procedure going back to the Romans, but surely enough to realize that much important work has to take place in secret. Receive news alertsIf sunshine is a great disinfectant, it's also a great encouragement to grandstanding and obfuscation. Sensitive negotiations have to be…

States Face Disaster Without Federal Help
Bob Herbert, New York Times
We didn’t pay attention to the housing bubble. We closed our eyes to warnings that the levees in New Orleans were inadequate. We gave short shrift to reports that bin Laden was determined to attack the U.S. And now we’re all but ignoring the fiscal train wreck that is coming from states with budget crises big enough to boggle the mind. Bob Herbert The states are in the worst fiscal shape since the Depression. The Great Recession has caused state tax revenues to fall off a cliff. Some states — New York and California come quickly to mind — are facing…

Goldman Shouldn’t Pay a Penny in Bonuses
Simon Johnson, New Republic
Sources say that Goldman Sachs’s bonuses will be announced on Monday, January 18, and actually paid sometime between February 4 and February 7. In previous years, the bonuses were paid in early January–but the financial year shifted when Goldman became a bank holding company.For critics of the company and its fellow travelers, the timing could not be better.Anxiety levels about the financial sector are on the increase, even on Capitol Hill. The tension between high profits in banking and stress in the rest of the economy becomes increasingly a topic of…