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Archive for April 5th, 2010

Harnden: Petraeus for President

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2010 4:51 am by HL

Harnden: Petraeus for President
Toby Harnden: Americans have never been so disgusted with their politicians. … Many voters yearn for an outsider, someone with authenticity, integrity and proven accomplishment. Someone who has not spent their life plotting how to ascend the greasy pole, adjusting every utterance for maximum political advantage. … [N]o one stands out like General David Petraeus, head of United States Central Command, leader of 230,000 troops and commander of United States forces in two wars.


A Small, Petty, Place reserved in Hell

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2010 4:51 am by HL

A Small, Petty, Place reserved in Hell
Making a dollar by keeping a jobless person from getting a nickel — a uniquely American story.

I know society comes up with a million stereotypical reasons to hate lawyers (and speaking as a lawyer I will received 333,333 reasons before taxes). But really it’s the mix of the law and the chance to make a buck off the misery of others that really takes it.

Talx, which emerged from obscurity over the last eight years, says it handles more than 30 percent of the nation’s requests for jobless benefits. Pledging to save employers money in part by contesting claims, Talx helps them decide which applications to resist and how to mount effective appeals.

Across the country the standard for obtaining unemployment is essentially the same – a terminated employee is entitled to unemployment insurance benefits unless they either quit their job or engaged in serious misconduct.

But, if benefits are rewarded an employer has to pay more unemployment insurance tax.

Enter Talx, making money by encouraging employers to be jackasses and increase misery, because it may, ‘just may’ save more in taxes than it costs to pay Talx.

“Talx often files appeals regardless of merits,” said Jonathan P. Baird, a lawyer at New Hampshire Legal Assistance. “It’s sort of a war of attrition. If you appeal a certain percentage of cases, there are going to be those workers who give up.”

Kicking a person when they’re down — for fun and profit.

(pic from here)

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Late Late Night FDL: The Afterlife
Featuring new videos from YACHT and Local Natives.

Featuring new videos from YACHT and Local Natives.

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Campaign Donors Prefer Democrats

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2010 4:49 am by HL

Campaign Donors Prefer Democrats
It costs about $1.36 million to win a seat in the House of Representatives and about twice that in the Senate. Democrats are finding that when it comes to raising that kind of cash, it’s good to be in the majority. Republicans are having a harder time selling their agenda to donors, plus they’ve got something of a Tea Party insurgency to deal with. For the Democrats, it also helps to be able to deliver for corporate America. Guess which party has gotten more money from pharmaceutical companies? Hint: The one that just passed a comprehensive health care bill that largely ignores spiraling drug costs. The Democrats would do well not to boast. Republicans enjoyed similar fundraising advantages when the Democrats retook the House in 2006.  —PZS Washington Post: Democrats in both chambers are enjoying the traditional advantages of majority-party status—and then some. They lead in donations by political action committees, by committees affiliated with the national political parties or with House and Senate leaders, and in individual contributions to incumbent lawmakers. In some instances, their lead exceeds what the Republicans had when that party controlled both chambers in the 2005-06 midterm election cycle. To no surprise, analysts differ by party on the causes and significance of the disparity. Some Republicans say a donation surge may still come, particularly as the party courts new, small donors outside Washington. They also complain that donations to party stalwarts have been affected by internal squabbles with rebellious “tea partiers,” which they hope will end soon. Read more

It costs about $1.36 million to win a seat in the House of Representatives and about twice that in the Senate. Democrats are finding that when it comes to raising that kind of cash, it’s good to be in the majority.

Republicans are having a harder time selling their agenda to donors, plus they’ve got something of a Tea Party insurgency to deal with.

For the Democrats, it also helps to be able to deliver for corporate America. Guess which party has gotten more money from pharmaceutical companies? Hint: The one that just passed a comprehensive health care bill that largely ignores spiraling drug costs.

The Democrats would do well not to boast. Republicans enjoyed similar fundraising advantages when the Democrats retook the House in 2006.? —PZS

Washington Post:

Democrats in both chambers are enjoying the traditional advantages of majority-party status—and then some. They lead in donations by political action committees, by committees affiliated with the national political parties or with House and Senate leaders, and in individual contributions to incumbent lawmakers. In some instances, their lead exceeds what the Republicans had when that party controlled both chambers in the 2005-06 midterm election cycle.

To no surprise, analysts differ by party on the causes and significance of the disparity. Some Republicans say a donation surge may still come, particularly as the party courts new, small donors outside Washington. They also complain that donations to party stalwarts have been affected by internal squabbles with rebellious “tea partiers,” which they hope will end soon.

Read more

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Robert Reich: The Obama Administration’s Approach To Financial Reform Will Do ‘Nothing’ To Change Wall Street (VIDEO)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2010 4:48 am by HL

Robert Reich: The Obama Administration’s Approach To Financial Reform Will Do ‘Nothing’ To Change Wall Street (VIDEO)
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich blasted the Obama administration’s approach to financial reform on Sunday. After Obama’s top economic adviser, Larry Summers, said on…

Arianna Huffington: Sunday Roundup
Happy Easter, HuffPosters! This week delivered a courageous ruling on the illegality of Bush’s domestic wiretapping program; a cowardly example of attacking the messenger by those defending the Pope; and the bizarre revelations of bondage club expenditures by the RNC. The environmental scorecard showed both a victory and a head-scratching setback. The victory: the biggest-ever jump in fuel economy standards (fleets must average 35.5 mpg by 2016, up 30 percent from current standards). This is a smart and long overdue way of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. The setback: the Obama administration’s decision to allow offshore drilling for oil and gas in selected areas. This is a risky and shortsighted way of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. Better to send fossil fuels the way of the dinosaurs that created them and focus on the alternative energy future. Innovate, baby, innovate!

Tina Wells: America’s Youth Divided on Healthcare Reform
My research firm, Buzz Marketing Group, sent out a survey to gauge the reactions to healthcare reform from America’s teens and young adults. This “Healthcare…

Terrorist Trials: Lieberman Criticizes Obama Admin For Prosecuting Terrorists In Civilian Courts
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) argued on Sunday that the Obama administration had erred in its decision to place several terrorist suspects into the criminal court…

Byron Williams: King’s Final 365-Day Odyssey
King’s final year, though controversial to some and irrelevant to others, was an unwavering commitment to those on the underside of life.


Hume accuses White House of “economic illiteracy” by pushing economic myths

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2010 4:47 am by HL

Hume accuses White House of “economic illiteracy” by pushing economic myths

Fox News contributor Brit Hume relied on dubious claims to accuse the White House of “economic illiteracy,” pushing the myth that March employment gains were primarily driven by “government jobs” and the discredited claim that the stimulus has failed. But March job growth at private employers was the largest in nearly three years, and economic analyses have concluded that unemployment would be higher and GDP lower without the stimulus.

Hume accuses Obama administration of “economic illiteracy”

Hume: “This is an administration that seems beset by kind of an economic illiteracy.” During the April 4 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, Hume stated:

HUME: This is an administration that seems beset by kind of an economic illiteracy. I don’t think the president nor those immediately around him really have a grasp — surprisingly — have very little grasp of what the private — how the private sector works, how incentives work, and how disincentives work.

Hume’s accusation based on discredited and dubious economic analysis

Hume: “[S]o many of the jobs were these government jobs.” Discussing March’s unemployment numbers recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Hume commented: “Just as in the past, so many of the jobs were these government jobs which have either been saved, as they like to say, or created.” He continued, “This is, in jobs terms, an exceedingly feeble recovery.”

BLS: Private employers added 123,000 jobs in March. In the most recent monthly employment survey, BLS reported that total nonfarm payroll increased by 162,000 employees in March; private employers added 123,000 employees in March, the largest one-month gain since May 2007.

From a BLS news release on the March jobs report:

marchpayroll

Hume: “I think the stimulus has been remarkably ineffective.” During the discussion, Hume also stated: “They talk about the effect of the stimulus. I think the stimulus has been remarkably ineffective.”

Independent analysts agree with White House: Unemployment would be higher, GDP lower without stimulus. In a quarterly report issued January 13, the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) estimated: “As of the fourth quarter of 2009, the CEA estimates that the [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] has raised employment relative to the baseline by between 1½ and 2 million. The CEA estimates for both the effects on GDP and employment are similar to those of respected private forecasters and government agencies.” From CEA’s quarterly report:

employment

In the same report, CEA stated: “The CEA estimates suggest that the Act contributed between 2 and 3 percentage points to real GDP growth in the second quarter; between 3 and 4 percentage points in the third quarter; and between 1½ and 3 percentage points in the fourth quarter. The estimates imply that as a result, it has raised the level of GDP at the end of 2009 by about 2 percent, relative to what otherwise would have been.” CEA noted that “private sector estimates” of the stimulus effects on GDP were “generally similar”:

GDP

Hume: White House ignores “the effect of what the Federal Reserve has been doing.” Hume further stated: “I think the stimulus has been remarkably ineffective when you — you know their analyses never seem to include the effect of what the Federal Reserve has been doing — unprecedented efforts to inject cash into the economy. A lot of it has gotten into the economy. That, I think, has provided whatever buoyancy we have.”

White House: “[T]he Federal Reserve’s program … surely contributed to the difference” in the economy. In its January 13 quarterly report, CEA wrote:

This projection methodology provides one way of estimating the impact of the ARRA on employment and the economy. It shows that using the past history of GDP and employment and actual data through the first quarter of 2009, one would have predicted that employment as of the middle of the fourth quarter would be about 2 million lower than it actually was. To ascribe much of this difference to the ARRA, the key policy action taken in the first quarter, is certainly plausible. However, other policy actions, such as the Financial Stability Plan, monetary policy, and the Federal Reserve’s program of buying agency debt and long-term U.S. government bonds, surely contributed to the difference. Also, any other factors not captured by the past history of GDP and employment, such as unusual moves in foreign demand or asset prices, would also be captured in the difference.

Kristol criticizes White House for not extending Bush tax cuts — which CBO says is less cost effective than the stimulus

Fox News contributor Bill Kristol: “Why doesn’t he extend the Bush tax cuts again next year?” During the same Fox News Sunday panel discussion, Kristol stated:

KRISTOL: Taxes are going up next year, [Fox News contributor] Juan [Williams] — that’s a fact. He extended the Bush tax cuts this year. Think of the logic. Why did he do that? Because he knew that raising taxes is deflationary and recessionary. Why doesn’t he extend the Bush tax cuts again next year?

CBO: Extending tax cuts less efficient than Recovery Act’s tax credits. In February, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director Douglas Elmendorf discussed the estimated effects that extending the Bush tax cuts would have on the economy and the federal budget and testified that “the effects of this policy per dollar of budgetary cost are smaller than the effects of extending [the stimulus] tax credits.”

CBO: Extending tax cuts “does not create much incentive … to hire more workers.” Elmendorf also stated in his written testimony that “[d]eferring the scheduled increases in tax rates in 2011 would help some businesses” but that “increasing the after-tax income of businesses typically does not create much incentive for them to hire more workers in order to produce more, because production depends principally on their ability to sell their products.”


Extremist Group Presses Govs To Step Down — Seeking ‘Final Remedy To Enslavement’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2010 4:46 am by HL

Extremist Group Presses Govs To Step Down — Seeking ‘Final Remedy To Enslavement’
In the latest flareup of extremist anti-government activity, the FBI is investigating a fringe group that says it wants to “restore America” by peacefully dismantling the government.


New Ensign Details: ‘If You Want John Ensign To Work With You, You Have Got To Hire Doug Hampton’
More details have emerged about the actions of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) in the aftermath of his 2008 affair with a top aide’s wife — already the subject of a heated federal probe.


Gearing Up For Midterms, GOP Heavyweights Raise $30M For New 527 Group
Some of the biggest names in the GOP are organizing an outside group to help Republicans win in the 2010 midterms — and donors have already pledged a whopping $30 million for the new project, according to National Journal.


The Tattlesnake — The Teabaggers Should Thank Liberals Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2010 4:42 am by HL

The Tattlesnake — The Teabaggers Should Thank Liberals Edition
Aging Tea Partiers a Jaw-Dropping Example of Stupidity and Ingratitude “It’s the same with narrow-minded people as it is with narrow-necked bottles: the less they have in them, the more noise they make in pouring it out.” – Anonymous, from Planet Proctor 2010-7. Most of the gray-haired Teabaggers are snapping, snarling and filled with rage but, […]


Whitman Leads Brown in California

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2010 4:41 am by HL

Whitman Leads Brown in California
A new Los Angeles Times/USC poll in California finds Meg Whitman (R) — who leads Republican primary rival Steve Poizner (R) by 40 points — also leads Jerry Brown (D) in a general election match up for governor, 44% to 41%.

Close GOP Race to Challenge Boxer
A new Los Angeles Times/USC poll in California Tom Campbell (R) holds a slim lead over Carly Fiorina (R) in the Republican Senate race, 29% to 25%, followed by Chuck DeVore (R) at just 9%.

In the general election, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) “has a comfortable cushion over a generic Republican, 48% to 34%, as she seeks her fourth term. Although somewhat diminished in popularity, Boxer maintains a positive impression among California voters, the poll found.”


Dr. George Tiller Was a Hero

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2010 4:40 am by HL

Dr. George Tiller Was a Hero
The walls of his office were covered with thank you notes from the women grateful to him for treating them with dignity at one of the most difficult times in their lives.

The walls of his office were covered with thank you notes from the women grateful to him for treating them with dignity at one of the most difficult times in their lives.

What You’re Eating Could Make or Break Our Planet — 7 Principles of a Climate-Friendly Diet
Anna Lappe talks about her new book "Diet for a Hot Planet" and explains how to change our diet so it becomes part of the solution, not the problem.

Anna Lappe talks about her new book "Diet for a Hot Planet" and explains how to change our diet so it becomes part of the solution, not the problem.

It’s Hard to Mock Obama — So a Humorist Pines for the Hilarity of the Bush Years
For political comics, George W. Bush was the equivalent of the political comedy Full Employment Act — for eight wonderful years.

For political comics, George W. Bush was the equivalent of the political comedy Full Employment Act — for eight wonderful years.

10 Things You Didn’t Know Were in the Health Care Bill
Calorie counts? A disclosure of swag Big Pharma reps give doctors? Abstinence education? Here are some surprising items in the health care bill.

Calorie counts? A disclosure of swag Big Pharma reps give doctors? Abstinence education? Here are some surprising items in the health care bill.


REVISED: Marty Peretz: Outraged that Obama’s Seder Was At White House, Not Bibi’s House

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2010 4:39 am by HL

REVISED: Marty Peretz: Outraged that Obama’s Seder Was At White House, Not Bibi’s House
This cafe post originally started with Ed Koch but Marty Peretz, the New Republic publisher, has moved ahead in the Jackie Mason sweepstakes. Peretz is upset that the President convened a seder at at the White House rather than attending…



IsraelAmerican Israel Public Affairs CommitteeEd KochBarack ObamaJerusalem

One Progressive’s Two Red Lines on National Security
Two policy decisions where I see particularly high stakes are on the White House docket to be decided any day, so I thought I’d offer one more plea. (Consider it a closing argument.) President Obama should really stand firm on…


Barack ObamaUnited StatesPresident of the United StatesNational securityNuclear weapon