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Archive for January 14th, 2010

Ethiopia Shakes Down Its Minnesota Refugees

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 14th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Ethiopia Shakes Down Its Minnesota Refugees
By Doug McGill Immigrants to Minnesota from eastern Ethiopia are being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to support an Ethiopian security force that tortures and kills thousands of its own innocent people. By Doug McGill

Immigrants to Minnesota from eastern Ethiopia are being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to support an Ethiopian security force that tortures and kills thousands of its own innocent people.


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Gay Military Ban: Military Lawyers Advise Delay Of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 14th, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Gay Military Ban: Military Lawyers Advise Delay Of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal
WASHINGTON — Lawyers for the nation’s senior military officer are recommending a delay of at least a year in beginning the process to repeal the…

Senate Race For Ted Kennedy’s Seat Turns Negative In Massachusetts
BOSTON — What for weeks had been a polite – even sleepy – race in Massachusetts to fill the late Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat…

Steve Sheffey: Obama’s First Year: Pro-Israel
Political pundits are like astrologers and psychics: They get away with making outlandish predictions and are remembered when lightning strikes and they guess right, but…


In Palin interview, Beck criticizes bank bailouts and oil company tax hikes — but Palin supported both

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 14th, 2010 5:44 am by HL

In Palin interview, Beck criticizes bank bailouts and oil company tax hikes — but Palin supported both

During his January 13 interview with Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck criticized John McCain as a “progressive” who “was for the bank bailouts,” and also criticized those who call for windfall profit taxes on oil companies but ignore the Federal Reserve’s “record profits.” In fact, both Beck and Palin have previously expressed support for the 2009 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and Palin, while Alaska governor, increased taxes on oil companies operating in Alaska.

Beck: McCain is a “progressive” because he “was for the bank bailouts”

From the January 13 edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck:

BECK: John McCain is a progressive. John McCain, he’s an honorable man —

PALIN: He is an honorable man.

BECK: He’s an honorable man, and that goes a long way. There’s — I mean, that’s a rare island to find. He’s an honorable man. But he’s also a progressive. He’s big government, he was for the bank baliouts, he was for the — health care, he’s for all of it. He’s for all of it.

Both Beck and Palin supported passage of TARP

Beck: “I think the bailout is the right thing do.” On the September 22, 2008, edition of his CNN Headline News show, Beck said: “I thought about it an awful lot this weekend, and while it takes me — it takes everything in me to say this, I think the bailout is the right thing do. The ‘Real Story’ is: The $700 billion that you’re hearing about now is not only, I believe, necessary, it is also not nearly enough, and all of the weasels in Washington know it.”

Palin on “economic bailout provisions”: “[I]t is a time of crisis and government did have to step in.” During an October 21, 2008, CNN interview, Palin said: “Now, as for the economic bailout provisions and the measures that have already been taken, it is a time of crisis and government did have to step in playing an appropriate role to shore up the housing market to make sure that we’re thawing out some of the potentially frozen credit lines and credit markets, government did have to step in there.”

Palin: GOP opposition to TARP “not helpful to our cause.” In her book Going Rogue, Palin wrote:

[T]he House of Representatives rejected a Bush-backed economic bailout plan in a vote in which two-thirds of Republicans voted no. The impression this made on the electorate was not helpful to our cause. Millions of Americans were poised to go bankrupt or lose their savings, and the perception was that Republicans had failed to respond. [Page 270]

Beck berated MSNBC’s O’Donnell for referencing Palin’s support of TARP. On the November 19, 2009, edition of his radio show, Beck played a clip of MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell pointing out to a teenager in line at a Palin book-signing whose shirt indicated opposition to TARP that Palin had supported that bill. Beck commented, “Of course Sarah Palin was for the TARP bill if the presidential ticket — the presidential candidate on the ticket was for it. That’s the way it works, all right?” He then added of O’Donnell: “You gotta go after a 13-year-old? This is child abuse. I want to report this father to some sort of, you know, department of health and children’s services or whatever it is for child abuse, allowing Norah — anybody from the media to talk to your children.”

Beck: Unlike with Exxon, “nobody is looking for a windfall profits tax on the Fed”

From the January 13 edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck:

BECK: Did you see that the Fed made the — you know, Exxon had their record profit a couple years ago. It was $45 billion. The Fed just had record profit, over $50 billion. Nobody’s having hearings on the Fed, nobody is looking for a windfall profits tax on the Fed. Nobody seems to — we can’t even open the Fed’s books.

PALIN: Yeah. Yeah.

BECK: Where do you stand on the Fed?

PALIN: That — it’s so ironic there too, especially that you bring up this private-sector company, Exxon, because in Alaska we saw what was going on with Exxon, and we did have our own hearings on what was going on with this private-sector company and how could the state of Alaska adjust some things to make sure that there was a share of the resource — yet you’re right. Nobody has even lifted a finger to go that route with the Fed. And it’s a scary thing — it’s one of those things that we’re thankful for, Glenn, that you’re bringing this to light. And I don’t know anybody else who is, certainly nobody else who has a platform or the megaphone like you do.

Palin “adjust[ment]” included supporting tax increase on oil companies in Alaska

Palin “introduced a graduated tax pegged to increased oil prices.” From an August 10, 2008, Seattle Times article:

In the fall primary of 2006, Palin upset Republican incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski, whom she criticized for giving too much of a break to the oil industry.

Then last year, Palin introduced a graduated tax pegged to increased oil prices. The state Legislature modified her proposal to increase the state’s take even further.

Production falling

The bill’s proponents — a coalition of Democrats and maverick Republicans — argued that oil production was declining in Alaska, and that the lower tax rate under previous governors had done little to spur additional investment in the state’s oil industry.

Critics say the companies, who have lobbied to open the federal Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration, have lagged badly in developing already available fields on state lands. Some estimates indicate those fields may contain billions of barrels of oil, mostly heavy crude that’s difficult to extract.

They argue that the state — which owns most of the land around Prudhoe Bay, North America’s largest oil field – needs to grab its fair share of proceeds from the declining output there.

“You don’t get to grow another oil barrel,” said French, the Anchorage lawmaker. “You sell that barrel once, and it’s gone forever.”

The Alaska tax is imposed on the net profit earned on each barrel of oil pumped from state-owned land, after deducting costs for production and transportation, which are currently estimated at just under $25 a barrel.

The tax is set at its highest rate in Prudhoe Bay, where the state takes 25 percent of the net profit of a barrel when its price is at or below $52.

The percentage then escalates as oil prices rise over that benchmark. Alaska gets about $49 of a $120 barrel, not counting other fees.

ConocoPhillips said that in total, once royalty payments and other taxes are added in, the state captures about 75 percent of the value of a barrel.

An accounting benefit eases the sting for oil companies. They get a huge deduction on their state taxes when calculating their federal taxes.

The Times further reported that “Alaska collected an estimated $6 billion from the new tax during the fiscal year that ended June 30 [2008], according to the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.”

Wash. Post: Federal Reserve “returns its profits to the Treasury.” While Beck complained that “nobody is looking for a windfall profits tax on the Fed,” The Washington Post reported on January 12 that the Federal Reserve “will return about $45 billion to the U.S. Treasury for 2009,” which were “the highest earnings in the 96-year history of the central bank. The Fed, unlike most government agencies, funds itself from its own operations and returns its profits to the Treasury.” The Post added that these profits “are good news for the federal budget and a sign that the Fed has been successful, at least so far, in protecting taxpayers as it intervenes in the economy — though there remains a risk of significant losses in the future if the Fed sells some of its investments or loses money on its stakes in bailed-out firms.”


Weekly Standard Scribe And Coakley Aide In Altercation On DC Street

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 14th, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Weekly Standard Scribe And Coakley Aide In Altercation On DC Street
Conservatives are up in arms over an incident last night in which a Weekly Standard reporter who was pursuing Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley ended up on the ground — with ripped pants — after an altercation with a Coakley aide.

Victims Of Moon Church Ponzi Scheme Plead For Leniency For Scamster
The victims of a New Jersey woman who was convicted of bilking investors of as much as $2.5 million pleaded for leniency at her sentencing hearing Monday, arguing that she was fooled by a mysterious business partner — who authorities believe may not actually exist.

Tea Party Convention Organizer Used ‘Our Passion For The Movement To Build His Start-Up’
The organizer of the National Tea Party Convention used conservative activists’ willingness to work on behalf of the Tea Party cause in his bid to launch a money-making enterprise, according to one fellow Tea Partier.



Blumenthal Crushes Republicans in Connecticut

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 14th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Blumenthal Crushes Republicans in Connecticut
A new Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut finds Richard Blumenthal (D) has astonishingly high 35 to 47-point leads over three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, thumping Linda McMahon (R) 64% to 23%, crushing Peter Schiff (R) 66% to 19% and beating Rob Simmons (R) 62% to 27%.

Key finding: Connecticut voters approve 84% to 11% of the job Blumenthal is doing as attorney general and give him a 74% to 13% favorability rating.

Said pollster Douglas Schwartz: “Blumenthal’s job approval is unbelievably high, higher than any other politician we’ve ever measured, other than former President George W. Bush after 9/11.”

DADT May Be Headed For Repeal This Year
“Congressional negotiators and White House officials are moving forward with plans to add the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the upcoming defense authorization bill,” according to the Huffington Post.

“In Congress, members are being whipped to ensure that the votes will be there for passage, should the legislation be placed in the bill. At this juncture, aides say, the prospects look good. Meanwhile, a source close to the White House says the president has instructed the Defense Department that he believes the repeal of DADT should be placed in the authorization bill.”


Haiti’s Tragic History Is Entwined with the Story of America

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 14th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

Haiti’s Tragic History Is Entwined with the Story of America
In announcing the U.S. response to Haiti’s devastating earthquake, President Obama noted the two countries’ historic ties. But few Americans know that sad story.

In announcing the U.S. response to Haiti's devastating earthquake, President Obama noted the two countries' historic ties. But few Americans know that sad story.

The Disaster of the Century: How to Help Haiti
A guide to the best ways your aid can go to use immediately to help save lives, protect the survivors and rebuild from Haiti’s ruins.

A guide to the best ways your aid can go to use immediately to help save lives, protect the survivors and rebuild from Haiti's ruins.

Does Kentucky Fried Chicken Own Your City’s Fire Hydrants?
Welcome to the latest reach by commercial hucksters to cover every square inch of America the Beautiful with ads.

Welcome to the latest reach by commercial hucksters to cover every square inch of America the Beautiful with ads.


Aggregate hours show economy has bottomed out

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 14th, 2010 5:37 am by HL

Aggregate hours show economy has bottomed out
The jobs number for December are hardly great news, but if you look at total aggregate hours of work in the economy — a more stable number that better accounts for economic activity since it doesn’t worry about the mix…


Working timeEconomicsGreat DepressionUnited StatesGovernment

Democrats Should Tax The Hell Out Of the Upcoming Wall Street Bonuses
This is from today’s New York Times. “Industry executives acknowledge that the numbers being tossed around — six-, seven- and even eight-figure sums for some chief executives and top producers — will probably stun the many Americans still hurting from…


New York TimesWall StreetUnited StatesChief executive officerGoldman Sachs


Shep Smith hits Robertson?s ?devil? comments: The people of Haiti ?don?t need that? at a time like this.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 14th, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Shep Smith hits Robertson?s ?devil? comments: The people of Haiti ?don?t need that? at a time like this.
Today on his 700 Club broadcast, televangelist Pat Robertson said that the horrific earthquake that hit Haiti was a result of the country’s “pact to the devil” “a long time ago.” This afternoon on Fox News, Shep Smith did a segment on the devastation in the country and played a clip of Robertson’s remarks, which […]

Today on his 700 Club broadcast, televangelist Pat Robertson said that the horrific earthquake that hit Haiti was a result of the country’s “pact to the devil” “a long time ago.” This afternoon on Fox News, Shep Smith did a segment on the devastation in the country and played a clip of Robertson’s remarks, which he then sharply condemned:

SMITH: The people of Haiti have been used and abused by their government over the years. They have dealt with unthinkable tragedy day in and day out. And we’re in the middle of a crisis the Western Hemisphere has not seen in my lifetime, and 700 miles east of Miami, hundreds of thousands of desperate human beings need our help, our support, our money, and our love. And they don’t need that.

Watch it:

Chinese state press highlights China?s first public same-sex ?marriage.?
Today’s China Daily, a state-owned English publication, has a story about the first public same-sex wedding ceremony in the country. Zeng Anquan and Pan Wenjie married 10 days ago at a gay bar. AFP notes that China Daily’s decision to run a story on the two men is significant, since same-sex marriages and civil unions […]

Today’s China Daily, a state-owned English publication, has a story about the first public same-sex wedding ceremony in the country. Zeng Anquan and Pan Wenjie married 10 days ago at a gay bar. AFP notes that China Daily’s decision to run a story on the two men is significant, since same-sex marriages and civil unions aren’t actually legal in China:

State press splashed a front-page photo of China’s first publicly “married” gay couple on Wednesday — the latest sign of new openness about homosexuality in a country where it has long been taboo. […]

Homosexuality remains a sensitive issue in China. It was officially considered a form of mental illness as recently as 2001. Same-sex marriages or civil unions have no legal basis.

Same-Sex Marriage in China

China has roughly 30 million gay men and women. The first government-backed gay bar opened last month “after a three-week delay sparked by intense media attention, in a bid to boost HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.”


Obama joins congressional leaders in talks to work out health-care kinks

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 14th, 2010 5:35 am by HL

Obama joins congressional leaders in talks to work out health-care kinks
President Obama spent several hours with congressional leaders Wednesday in a marathon negotiating session aimed at resolving outstanding differences between the House and Senate Democrats over health-care legislation and pushing his top domestic priority through to final passage.

Senate race in Massachusetts getting uglier with attack ads in final stretch
BOSTON — Massachusetts Democrats and their allies have rolled out a series of negative TV ads over a 48-hour period, a striking departure from what has been a polite Senate campaign as polls show the contest tightening.

In Capitol Hill hearing, bankers remain torn on their role in crisis
A year after the financial system nearly went over the brink, the congressional commission investigating the roots of the crisis confronted four of the world’s most powerful bankers on Wednesday and challenged them to take more responsibility for their role in upending the global economy.

New FDA deputy to lead food-safety mandate
A year ago, Michael Taylor was sitting in his office at George Washington University, considering a basic mission of the federal government: making sure food is safe. He’d devoted his career to food safety, working in and out of government, and he was finally in academia where he could think deeply…

U.S. faces long odds in improved relations with Asia
HONOLULU — In her first year as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton went to East Asia three times — more than any other part of the world. It was her first destination, and until the earthquake in Haiti, she was set to return to the region this week on the lead-off trip of her sophomore …



Behind the Goldman Sachs-AIG Scandal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 14th, 2010 5:30 am by HL

Behind the Goldman Sachs-AIG Scandal
James Keller, RealClearMarkets
The Goldman Sachs-AIG scandal may be worse than we think. Former New York Fed President and current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is being castigated for paying off AIG's counterparties – Goldman foremost among them – 100 cents on the dollar and then keeping these payments secret. But it seems likely that Goldman actually got much more than 100%. What is worse, Goldman may have received this windfall by trading on information that was deliberately withheld from the public. A brief recap of the Goldman-AIG story is necessary. Goldman has revealed that it had $20 billion in…

Take the ‘Crony’ Out of ‘Crony Capitalism’
John Stossel, RealClearPolitics
When Judge Richard Posner, the prolific conservative intellectual, released his book “A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of '08 and the Descent Into Depression” last year, you might have thought the final verdict was in: Capitalism caused the economic downturn and high unemployment.That this verdict was pronounced by someone like Posner, who is associated with the University of Chicago and the free-market law and economics movement, gave moral support to all the politicians who were intent on exploiting the recession (as they exploit all crises) to increase government control…

Would Dems Try to Delay Seating Scott Brown?
Memoli & Trygstad, RCP
Should Republican Scott Brown pull off an upset victory in next week's special election in Massachusetts, Senate Democrats may seek to use the chaos surrounding the appointment of Roland Burris last year as a precedent for delaying the swearing in of a man who campaigned as the 41st “no” vote on health care reform.When the disgraced and soon-to-be-impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich chose Burris for Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, Democratic leaders delayed seating him by citing a statute that required a formal certificate of election to be signed by all appropriate…

We Need Much More Debate on Global Warming

Democrats Behaving Badly