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Archive for September 13th, 2010

Things Don’t Go Better with Koch — Boycott Their Products!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 13th, 2010 4:43 am by HL

Things Don’t Go Better with Koch — Boycott Their Products!


Bloomberg Hits the Road

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 13th, 2010 4:42 am by HL

Bloomberg Hits the Road
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg “is at work expanding his national profile, delivering a string of high-profile candidate endorsements around the country and using his outsized megaphone to become a spokesman for swaths of disgruntled elites who were once part of President Obama’s base,” Politico reports.

“What he wants isn’t entirely clear. The mayor, armed with a $15 billion fortune, publicly denies in the most emphatic terms — death, incapacitation — any interest in cutting short his third term to run for higher office.”

“But his schedule and growing portfolio suggests he’s looking for a national voice or something more, one that echoes well beyond the city’s five boroughs, and he is attracting attention from elites who have become disillusioned with the White House.”

The Politics of Economic Stimulus
James Surowiecki notes the economic stimulus package has become a political albatross:

“Paradoxically, the very things that made the stimulus more effective economically may have made it less popular politically. For instance, because research has shown that lump-sum tax refunds get hoarded rather than spent, the government decided not to give individuals their tax cuts all at once, instead refunding a little on each paycheck. The tactic was successful at increasing consumer demand, but it had a big political cost: many voters never noticed that they were getting a tax cut. Similarly, a key part of the stimulus was the billions of dollars that went to state governments. This was crucial in helping the states avoid layoffs and spending cuts, but politically it didn’t get much notice, because it was the dog that didn’t bark — saving jobs just isn’t as conspicuous as creating them. Extending unemployment benefits was also an excellent use of stimulus funds, since that money tends to get spent immediately. But unless you were unemployed this wasn’t something you’d pay attention to.”

“Bizarre as it may seem, a less well-designed stimulus might have been more popular, and that would have made it easier for Obama to sell the electorate on his new stimulus proposals.”


Study Finds Calif. Hospitals Profit From Record Numbers of Cesarean Births

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 13th, 2010 4:41 am by HL

Study Finds Calif. Hospitals Profit From Record Numbers of Cesarean Births
Critics charge that unnecessary C-sections are performed to help pad hospitals’ bottom line.

Critics charge that unnecessary C-sections are performed to help pad hospitals' bottom line.


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 13th, 2010 4:40 am by HL

Presented By:

‘Tolerance’
This morning it really hit me how strange it is to ask people whether they view Islam favorably or unfavorably. Popularity ratings for 1400-year old religious traditions? Really? As far as I know, Islam isn’t a proposition for the American…


IslamReligionReligion and SpiritualityUnited StatesInvitation to Islam

CLARITY ON WHAT THE ARTISTS ARE SAYING ABOUT PERFORMING IN ARIEL
As newspapers have reported, Israeli actors have refused to perform with their national theater companies in the new cultural center in Ariel, a West Bank settlement that juts far into the West Bank (12 kilometers from Israel’s recognized border). No…


West BankIsraelIsraeli settlementMiddle EastAriel


GOP House Candidate Pantano Claims Rauf, Iran Behind Gaza Flotilla

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 13th, 2010 4:39 am by HL

GOP House Candidate Pantano Claims Rauf, Iran Behind Gaza Flotilla

Speaking yesterday at Stop Islamization of America’s rally at Ground Zero against the Park 51 Islamic cultural center, North Carolina GOP congressional candidate Ilario Pantano attempted to turn the event into an anti-Iran rally. Pantano also spun a bizarre conspiracy theory in which Imam Abdul Feisal Rauf, the leader of the Park 51 group, was in league with Iran to support the Gaza flotilla in late May that resulted in the killing of nine Turks — including one Turkish American — by Israeli commandos.

“Let’s take a moment to take a look at the person that wants to bring it [the Islamic center] here,” Pantano said, referring to Rauf. “Does anyone find it interesting that he’s also involved in the Free Gaza flotilla movement that had a made-for-TV action with Israel just as all of this was developing?”

PANTANO: But there was something else that happened. Because, and I want to stretch your imagination for a second, but every time Iran is about to face a nuclear sanction, from the EU or the UN, what happens? Something flares up with Israel! I wonder how that happens? I wonder in 2006 when Iran was about to face nuclear sanctions for their nuclear weapons program — yes folks, we want to give radical extremists nuclear weapons, it’s unconscionable to me — but remember back to 2006, a fight in Lebanon with the Israelis. Who provoked that? Iran! Iran! Think back to 2008, again, Iran about to face sanctions, who provoked attacks from Gaza, missile attacks on Israel? Iran. And radical Islam. That’s exactly right.

Ladies and gentlemen, in 2010 as Iran faced its toughest round of sanctions, we have the made-for-TV episode, with Israel rightfully trying to protect itself by maintaining a blockade to make sure murderous rockets don’t kill its innocent citizens, where did that come from? Imam Rauf is a member of the organization that has been behind all of that. We know that Iran has been complicit in all of that. I want to know where the money for this mosque is coming from!

Watch it:

Pantano’s rant was neatly emblematic of the entire event, stirring together half-truths with outright falsehoods into a stew of anti-Muslim paranoia. His claim that Imam Rauf is a member of the organization behind the Free Gaza movement is probably a reference to the Malaysian-based Perdana Global Peace Organization, a major donor to the flotilla campaign. Like much of the misinformation floating around about the Park 51 project, this claim originated with the New York Post. But a Cordoba Initiative FAQ page notes that Imam Rauf “has never been a member of this group,” explaining that “several years ago, Imam Feisal was invited to Malaysia, the most moderate Islamic country in the world, to participate in a Peace Conference sponsored by the Perdana Peace Group. He was one of the hundreds of speakers present.”

The idea that Iran was “complicit,” along with Rauf, in the Gaza flotilla is a strange new element, one that hasn’t been claimed elsewhere, let alone proven. And while it’s clear that Iran maintains supportive relationships with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, it’s simply false to present the aims and actions of the groups as identical to those of Iran, or to suggest that they have anything to do with Imam Rauf. Unless, of course, your purpose is to gin up paranoia and hatred against an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan.

John Fund Attacks Public Workers By Claiming ?Very Few Teachers Have Been Laid Off?

One of the right’s newest crusades has been to claim that public employees are overpaid and have too much job security. As Jonathan Cohn writes, it is almost as if “public employees are the new welfare queens.”

The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund was the latest to push this crusade this morning on Fox & Friends. During a discussion about public employees’ pay and the New Jersey budget, Fund complained that public employees have “far more job security than private employees” and that their “benefits and pay packages are bigger than the average private sector salary.” He even went as far as to say that “public servants are in danger of becoming the public masters.” As evidence, he told the Fox host that “very few teachers have been laid off in New Jersey or elsewhere”:

FUND: The public employees basically have job security. Very few teachers have been laid off in New Jersey or elsewhere. We used to have a bargain, the public employees have job security but they didn’t quite get the kind of salary that private employees did. Now, they not only have far more job security than private employees but their benefits and pay packages are bigger than the average private sector salary. The public servants are in danger of becoming the public masters.

Watch it:

While the phrase “very few” is relative and it’s hard to know how many teachers would have to be laid off to qualify for being more than “very few” in Fund’s mind, it would be difficult to imagine that the thousands of teachers that have been laid off during the recession across the country as states face budget constraints would agree with his assessment. Here’s a short but not comprehensive list of some of the layoffs teachers have faced just in the past few months:

– As many as 8,000 teachers are expected to be laid off in Georgia over the coming school year. Budget constraints in the state are expected to force more than 30,000 public employees to lose their jobs over the next year. Federal assistance legislated last month may help blunt the layoffs. [7/18/10]

– Two weeks before school started in Kansas City, 175 teachers were notified that they would be laid off. The budget woes the state is facing also forced the closing of 24 schools in that same district alone. [8/12/10]

66 teachers were laid off for the coming school year in the Glendale Unified district in Glendale, California. “I don’t know what we’re going to do,” said the district’s Chief Financial Officer, fearing further layoffs in the future due to the recession. [6/23/10]

– Last spring, Cleveland was forced to lay off 545 teachers, unable to get the funding to keep them on. The layoffs also included a total of 800 public employees. [4/22/10]

19 teachers just found out they will be laid off in the small town of Methuen, Massachussetts. Administrators say stimulus funds helped keep them on until now. [8/24/10]

– Hundreds of Miami-Dade teachers were laid off over the summer. The district hopes that federal legislation will allow it to rehire at least some of them. [8/11/10]

While important federal legislation has kept many teachers from being laid off and may help rehire many of those who were let go, it is clear that teachers — and the children and communities that depend on them — have suffered greatly during the recession. With thousands of teachers having been laid off across the country, it is difficult to argue that “very few” have been faced with losing their jobs.

It is also worth noting that there is little merit to the notion that public workers are wildly overpaid versus their private sector counterparts. As a study by the National Institute for Retirement Security shows, once you factor in comparable education, “employees of state & local government earn an average of 11% and 12% less, respectively, than comparable private sector employees.”


Democrats Can Win the House

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 13th, 2010 4:31 am by HL

Democrats Can Win the House
Ben Crair, The Daily Beast
Two months after White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs let slip that Republicans could take over the House of Representatives in November, the Democrats’ prospects have only grown bleaker: No one seems to think that they have a prayer. Nate Silver announced Friday that Republicans have a two-thirds chance of gaining control of the House. Charlie Cook says the Republicans will win “well north of the 39 seats needed for the House to flip,” while, at a recent gathering of the American Political Science Association, several academics predicted Republican…

Obama’s Clunker School of Economics
George Will, Washington Post
Looking back with pride, the British are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when Churchill said of the pilots fighting the Luftwaffe: Never “was so much owed by so many to so few.” Looking ahead with trepidation, Americans are thinking: Never have so many of us owed so much.Actually, they owed slightly more when the recession began, when household consumer debt was $2.6 trillion. The painful but necessary process of deleveraging is proceeding slowly: Such debt has been reduced only to $2.4 trillion.

Palin Bubble Would Burst If She Ran for Prez
Steve Chapman, Chi Trib

Good Policy, Good Politics From Obama

Stopping the U.S. Road to CanadaCare
Ted Balaker & Sally Pipes, Reason.tv
Now that they've passed ObamaCare, can we see what's in it? Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute and author of The Truth About ObamaCare sits down with Ted Balaker to discuss what's really on the way courtesy of the recent health care overhaul: higher costs, decreased access to care, and the looming spectre of a single-payer system in America.Pipes, who hails from Canada, worries that ObamaCare has set the U.S. on a path toward a Canadian-style system. She weighs in on if and how ObamaCare could be repealed and what should replace it.