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Archive for January 23rd, 2010

War Looms Between Israel and Hezbollah

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 23rd, 2010 5:45 am by HL

War Looms Between Israel and Hezbollah
It looks like a hop, skip and a jump. There’s the first electrified fence, then the dirt strip to identify footprints, then the tarmac road, then one more electrified fence, and then acres and acres of trees. Orchards rather than tanks. Galilee spreads beyond, soft and moist and dark green in the winter afternoon—a peaceful Israel, you might think.

By Robert Fisk

It looks like a hop, skip and a jump. There’s the first electrified fence, then the dirt strip to identify footprints, then the tarmac road, then one more electrified fence, and then acres and acres of trees. Orchards rather than tanks. Galilee spreads beyond, soft and moist and dark green in the winter afternoon—a peaceful Israel, you might think.


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Geithner’s Treasury May Help Banks Avoid Obama’s Proposed Limits

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 23rd, 2010 5:44 am by HL

Geithner’s Treasury May Help Banks Avoid Obama’s Proposed Limits
Only a year after the government stepped in to aid Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley by granting them access to the federal safety net, policy…

Huff Radio: Left, Right & Center: The MA election, Obama v. Wall St., and what has the Supreme Court done?
With the Supreme Court declaring that “free speech” equals “free spending for all,” has the course of American Democracy been changed forever?

GOP Candidates Latch On To Scott Brown
Republican candidates for Congress are latching onto Scott Brown’s bolt-from-the-blue win this week in the Massachusetts Senate race, with political outsiders and longtime office-holders alike…

Christine Pelosi: After Citizens United – The Money is the Message
Once upon a time, the medium was the message – now, the Supreme Court Citizens United decision to increase corporate dollars in political campaigns means…

Sen. Michael Bennet: Corporations and Democracy
Usually, when some new political development is called “a threat to democracy,” I consider it a bit of an exaggeration. But in the case of the Citizens United decision, I must make a major exception,


Quick Fact: IBD again pushing discredited claim that affordable housing caused financial collapse

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 23rd, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Quick Fact: IBD again pushing discredited claim that affordable housing caused financial collapse

An Investor’s Business Daily editorial advanced the discredited claim that efforts to “facilitate homeownership among minorities” and the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) “undermined the financial system” and “started” the “financial collapse.” Numerous experts, including Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, have said that the CRA did not contribute to the crisis “in any substantive way.”

IBD claim that CRA “started it all” echoes previously debunked claim that the law “forced banks to make many more subprime loans”

IBD states that minority homeownership initiatives and “the Community Reinvestment Act … started it all.” From the January 21 IBD editorial:

 But Wall Street didn’t cause the collapse — government did . And this call for tougher rules is yet another attempt to escape blame. All Glass-Steagall did was let bank holding companies buy into investment banks. What undermined the financial system was a fanatical application of rules aimed at getting banks to lend as much money as possible to facilitate homeownership among minorities.

It was the government, not Wall Street, that created the subprime market by compelling banks to make bad loans and urging Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to cash out the banks by putting more and more of the toxic mortgages on their balance sheets.

The administration apparently hasn’t given a thought to limiting, let alone blocking the proposed expansion of, the Community Reinvestment Act that started it all. Or to reining in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-created monsters that aided and abetted the meltdown.

Echoing numerous other conservatives, previous IBD editorial claimed that CRA “forced banks to make many more subprime loans.” A September 25, 2008, Investor’s Business Daily editorial claimed the CRA “forced banks to make many more subprime loans.” As Media Matters for America has documented, numerous media conservatives have advanced the discredited claim that the CRA was responsible for the financial crisis.

FACT: Experts say CRA did not contribute to financial crisis “in any substantive way”

Bernanke: Experience “runs counter to the charge that CRA was at the root of, or otherwise contributed in any substantive way to, the current mortgage difficulties.” In a November 25, 2008, letter, Bernanke stated: “Our own experience with CRA over more than 30 years and recent analysis of available data, including data on subprime loan performance, runs counter to the charge that CRA was at the root of, or otherwise contributed in any substantive way to, the current mortgage difficulties.”

SF Reserve Bank’s Yellen: “[S]tudies have shown that the CRA has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households.” Janet Yellen, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, stated in a March 2008 speech that “studies have shown that the CRA has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households.”

Slate’s Gross: “[t]he notion that the Community Reinvestment Act is somehow responsible for poor lending decisions is absurd.” In an October 7, 2008, Slate article, Daniel Gross, a business columnist for Newsweek and author of Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation, criticized the notion that affordable housing initiatives caused the financial crisis, writing that “the notion that the Community Reinvestment Act is somehow responsible for poor lending decisions is absurd” and that “lending money to poor people and minorities isn’t inherently risky. There’s plenty of evidence that in fact it’s not that risky at all.” Gross further explained, “On the other hand, lending money recklessly to obscenely rich white guys … can be really risky. In fact, it’s even more risky, since they have a lot more borrowing capacity.”


Trijicon: We’ll Stop Putting Bible Inscriptions On Military Rifle Scopes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 23rd, 2010 5:42 am by HL

Trijicon: We’ll Stop Putting Bible Inscriptions On Military Rifle Scopes
Trijicon, the company that produces U.S. military rifle scopes with Biblical inscriptions, will end the decades-old practice and provide the military with modification kits to remove the markings.

Military On Rifle Scope Bible Citations: It’s Just Like ‘In God We Trust’ On Money
Responding to the controversy over Biblical inscriptions on military rifle scopes in Iraq and Afghanistan, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command told the AP, “This situation is not unlike the situation with U.S. currency. Are we going to stop using money because the bills have ‘In God We Trust’ on them?”


Arpaio: I’ll Cooperate With Federal Probe
Joe Arpaio has said he’ll cooperate with the federal investigation into whether he used his law enforcement powers to pursue political vendettas.


Onward Neocon Soldiers, Fighting As to Orwell!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 23rd, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Onward Neocon Soldiers, Fighting As to Orwell!


A Rumble with Wall Street … That’s a Fight We Should Welcome

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 23rd, 2010 5:38 am by HL

A Rumble with Wall Street … That’s a Fight We Should Welcome
One of the lessons of Tuesday’s election is that voters don’t want to see their elected leaders capitulating to the very people who brought the economy down.

One of the lessons of Tuesday's election is that voters don't want to see their elected leaders capitulating to the very people who brought the economy down.


Podhoretz: Limbaugh Can’t Be An Anti-Semite, He’s Pro-Israel

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 23rd, 2010 5:37 am by HL

Podhoretz: Limbaugh Can’t Be An Anti-Semite, He’s Pro-Israel
Well, at least there is some good news this week. Rush Limbaugh is clearly stung by the accusations that he is an anti-semite. This is after he employed the old National Socialist canard that Jews and bankers are one and…


AntisemitismJewRush LimbaughAnti-Defamation LeagueRace-Ethnic-Religious Relations

An Orwellian Moment: NYT Editors Declare 60 Votes a “Majority” of 100
We’re told on the front page of today’s NYT that “Democrats lost a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.” We’re told inside that Scott Brown’s election “deprived Democrats of their 60-vote majority.” Also inside, we’re told that “Democrats lost their filibuster-proof…


DemocraticUnited States SenateScott P. BrownUnited StatesScott Brown

Obama Foreign Policy: Lackluster or Courageous?
GlobalPost’s John Aloysius Farrell has a fascinating survey up of perspectives on Obama’s year in foreign policy. Read the entire piece, but I’ve put some of the zinger quotes below — including my own. What stands out is that perhaps…


Foreign PolicyUnited StatesAfghanistanWarfare and ConflictPakistan


ThinkFast: January 22, 2010

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 23rd, 2010 5:36 am by HL

ThinkFast: January 22, 2010
Some conservative House Democrats are pushing to extend the Bush tax cuts, likely earning themselves favor with “Republican-leaning business associations.” Pat Garofalo writes, “There’s absolutely no reason to extend these cuts, which this year will give millionaires more in tax breaks than 90 percent of Americans will earn in income.” Ben Bernanke’s confirmation for a second […]

George W. Bush

Some conservative House Democrats are pushing to extend the Bush tax cuts, likely earning themselves favor with “Republican-leaning business associations.” Pat Garofalo writes, “There’s absolutely no reason to extend these cuts, which this year will give millionaires more in tax breaks than 90 percent of Americans will earn in income.”

Ben Bernanke’s confirmation for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman “could be a closer vote than seemed likely just a few weeks ago.” Three senators have publicly said they will vote against Bernanke and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said there are other Dems who are quietly planning to do the same.

In the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on corporate involvement in elections, the Colorado Republican Party plans to sue “to overturn voter-approved state limits on some campaign contributions.” “Our firm will be bringing a challenge to this law in the coming days,” said Ryan Call, a lawyer whose firm will represent the state GOP. The 2002 law banned direct corporate or union expenditures in state races.

“The nation’s mayors are asking the federal government for a second wave of stimulus money,” saying the first round hasn’t done enough to combat urban unemployment. More than 230 mayors are in Washington for a conference and warn that they will be forced to impose more layoffs without a second stimulus.

Liberal radio network Air America announced yesterday that it was declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy and shutting down after six years on air. The company raised the profile of Al Franken and Rachel Maddow and “helped build a new sense of purpose and determination among American progressives” at a time when dissent on issues was “often denounced as ‘un-American.’” Despite yesterday’s news, progressive radio remains alive and well.

In a speech on internet freedom yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Those who disrupt the free flow of information in our society or any other pose a threat to our economy, our government and our civil society.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry lashed out today saying Clinton’s speech was “harmful to Sino-American relations.”

“A bill that would ban abortions in Nebraska during the second trimester or later would be the first law of its kind in the nation if passed by the Legislature,” according to the bill’s sponsor. The legislation would ban abortion after the fetus has the “physical structures necessary to experience pain” and would “require a doctor to determine the gestational age of the fetus before performing an abortion.”

The Obama administration “has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release,” an administration official told the press Thursday. There are currently nearly 200 detainees left at the prison.

Several European governments reacted positively to a new Obama plan “to curb banks’ size and trading activities” yesterday. “They see that regulation, which was a taboo word that was difficult to use in financial circles in the United States, is vital to contain … banking excesses,” said French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde.

Continuing his “White House to Main Street” jobs tour, President Obama will travel to the Cleveland suburb of Elyria, Ohio today, one of the hardest hit areas in the country in terms of unemployment. The president will visit the Riddell sporting goods factory to witness the production of baseball and football helmets.

And finally: Washington now finds itself in the middle of the NBC controversy between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien: The White House Correspondents’ Association has reportedly chosen Leno to headline its annual dinner on May 1.

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Scott Brown carries the weight of great GOP expectations to D.C.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 23rd, 2010 5:35 am by HL

Scott Brown carries the weight of great GOP expectations to D.C.
Scott Brown left the truck back in Massachusetts. At 9:30 on Thursday morning, the Republican state senator arrived by US Airways shuttle at Reagan National Airport, though he rode a GMC-driving everyman image and a wave of Tea Party-stoked, establishment-financed frustration into the U.S. Senate…


Rep. Edwards: Public option now optional in health reform vote
After pledging not to vote for any health care bill that did not contain a public option, Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) now says she “may” do just that.

Scott Brown’s Senate win boosts GOP campaign efforts
Emboldened by Scott Brown’s stunning win in Massachusetts, Republicans are convinced this is their year to climb out of the political abyss and capture congressional seats and governor’s offices held by Democrats across the country.

In Ohio, Obama says he won’t ‘walk away’ from health-care fight
ELYRIA, OHIO — Offering both a passionate defense of his policies and a populist pitch, President Obama told audience members in this economically struggling region Friday that he will continue fighting for them even in the face of stiffening political opposition.


Populist backlash puts Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke under siege
The populist brushfire that has burned through Democratic fortunes this week threatened Friday to claim Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, imperiling his nomination for a second term and sending an unsettled stock market tumbling for the third straight day.


Senate 2010: More Shocks on the Way?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 23rd, 2010 5:31 am by HL

Senate 2010: More Shocks on the Way?
Larry Sabato, Center for Politics
With Tuesday night's upset by Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, the GOP gained more than just a 41st vote to disrupt the Obama agenda. As attention turns to the midterm elections in November, the Republican Party has strong momentum. A few months ago, even GOP leaders said that taking over the Senate was a pipe dream, and it is still not probable. But as some independents sour on the Democratic Party, the possibility for a GOP majority can no longer be dismissed out of hand. More likely, next year's Senate will still have a Democratic majority but be much more closely…

The Supreme Court’s Blow to Democracy

How Democrats Missed the Memo
Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post
On Jan. 14, five days before the Massachusetts special election, President Obama was in full bring-it-on mode as he rallied House Democrats behind his health care reform. “If Republicans want to campaign against what we've done by standing up for the status quo and for insurance companies over American families and businesses, that is a fight I want to have.”The bravado lasted three days. When Obama campaigned in Boston on Jan. 17 for Obamacare supporter Martha Coakley, not once did he mention the health care bill. When your candidate is sinking, you don't throw her a…