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Archive for December 13th, 2010

Happy Anniversary Plus One Day

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 13th, 2010 5:48 am by HL

Happy Anniversary Plus One Day
Oh what a lovely decade we’ve had thanks to the Supreme Court…and what fighting the Democrats haven’t made.

It was ten years ago, plus one day, that Conservatives who railed for years about “activist judges” managed to get the Supreme Court of the United States to decide that the most important thing in a democracy isn’t actually counting votes, but getting a result, especially one that fits the Court’s ideological majority.

And they summed up the wisdom of then 213 years of Constitutional scholarship thusly:

None are more conscious of the vital limits on judicial authority than are the members of this Court, and none stand more in admiration of the Constitution’s design to leave the selection of the President to the people, through their legislatures, and to the political sphere.

But they were going to decide anyway. Oh, but it wasn’t a precedent for future courts.

After that the Democratic Nominee…failed to put up any fight.

But that was a precedent.

And, of course, the last decade has really worked out well for the country as a result.


Late, Late Night FDL: Simple Song of Freedom
Bobby Darin – Simple Song of Freedom and Pete Seeger – Bring ’em Home

Bobby Darin – Simple Song of Freedom

Pete Seeger – Bring ‘em Home

We never learn…

What’s on your mind tonite…?


No Act of Rebellion Is Wasted

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 13th, 2010 5:47 am by HL

No Act of Rebellion Is Wasted
We may feel, in the face of the ruthless corporate destruction of our nation, our culture, and our ecosystem, powerless and weak. But we are not. We have a power that terrifies the corporate state.

By Chris Hedges

We may feel, in the face of the ruthless corporate destruction of our nation, our culture, and our ecosystem, powerless and weak. But we are not. We have a power that terrifies the corporate state.


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Jeff Faux: Forget Obama: Attack the Corporate Money

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 13th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Jeff Faux: Forget Obama: Attack the Corporate Money
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Olympia Snowe Faces Tea Party Threat If She Fights For Reelection In 2012
Bolstered by Republican Paul LePage’s victory last month, Republican and tea party activists are hoping to carry the conservative momentum into 2012 by unseating moderate…


“I Now Hope This Deal Fails”: Conservatives Divided on Tax Compromise

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 13th, 2010 5:45 am by HL

“I Now Hope This Deal Fails”: Conservatives Divided on Tax Compromise

In the wake of last week’s announcement of a compromise between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans on the extension of the Bush tax cuts, the leaders of the right-wing media has fractured into a camp that supports the deal and a camp that fervently opposes it.

Gingrich, Kristol, Wall Street Journal Line Up In Favor Of Deal That Is “Good For The Economy”

Newt Gingrich: Tax Deal Is “A Great Victory For American People And GOP Leadership.” From former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Twitter feed on December 7:

Gingrichtaxdeal2

Bill Kristol: “This Is A Very Good Deal From A Conservative Point Of View.”

CHRIS WALLACE: Is this deal good for the economy? And what about the question of adding basically another trillion dollars to our debt?

KRISTOL: Yes it’s good for the economy. Keeping– Some of us have been arguing for a year that keeping current tax rates where they are is much better than allowing them to rise. A cut in the payroll tax cut– the payroll tax has been something conservatives have always thought was one of the best taxes you could cut on labor, especially– It’s a tax cut on labor in a time of high unemployment. The estate tax is what Jon Kyl, a leading Senate conservative, has been for, that tax cut, the estate tax compromise is what he’s been arguing for for years. So, there are a few things in the deal that most of the conservatives won’t like, but this is a very good deal from a conservative point of view. Jim DeMint, who’s against the deal because he’s against sort of any deal, I think honestly, Jim DeMint said that Senator McConnell had gotten “the best deal we could get,” he said. I agree with that. [Fox News Sunday, 12/12/10]

Wall Street Journal: “This Deal Is Superior To Anything We Could Have Imagined Six Months Ago.” From an editorial in the December 8 edition of the Wall Street Journal:

Should Republicans have held out for more, since they would return in January with a stronger position? We wish they had won a longer extension, kicking the next possible tax hike further into the future. As it is, Mr. Obama made clear on Monday that he’ll try again to raise taxes in 2013, figuring he’ll be politically stronger if the economy improves. The growth policy victories here are partial and temporary.

Yet this deal is superior to anything we could have imagined six months ago. Much credit goes to Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans for holding together against the class war attacks of Chuck Schumer and other Democrats. By holding firm, they divided the opposition. This proves again that Republicans win the economic debate when they make the case for lower taxes for everyone in the name of faster growth and job creation. [Wall Street Journal12/8/10]

Limbaugh, Palin And Others Say “Tax Compromise Must Now Die”

Erickson: “The Tax Compromise Must Now Die.” In a December 10 post on RedState.com, blogger and CNN contributor Erick Erickson said that the tax deal reached by President Obama and the Republican Party was “loaded up with budget busing pork of ridiculously absurd levels” and urged readers to call their senators and tell them to oppose it. He wrote:

But the deal must now die. It must now be opposed by Republicans. Released now in print, the legislation is loaded up with budget busting pork of ridiculously absurd levels. The attachments to the compromise represent everything wrong with Washington. Many of them mirror the same porkulus spending in TARP.

The GOP must now say no. GO TO THE REDSTATE ACTION CENTER RIGHT NOW and call your Senator.

The legislation contains a huge amount of pork, some in the form of tax extenders that only the most coin-operated of conservatives can really defend. It even has ethanol subsidies. Put it to you this way — with the logic of those vocally calling for support of these earmarks, if the Democrats gave a tax credit for abortion, you’d have these same conservative groups defending them. No, that is not an exaggeration.

The tax compromise already busted the budget with the unemployment extension. Ultimately, all the Republicans were getting anyway was keeping current income tax rates.

They now need to walk away from the table. Call now. [Redstate.com, 12/10/10]

Limbaugh: “I Now Hope This Deal Fails.” From the December 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show:

It’s hard to break old habits, folks. Especially in Washington. Even the Republican leaders have been part of this system for decades. False deadlines, foolish deals: they’ve become the rule, and it need not be. I now hope this deal fails. I say it, directly and officially. 

If the deal fails, the Democrats are in control, so it is they who will be raising taxes. Let the tax rates go up on January 1. Let ’em go up. Wait for our cavalry to show up and deal with this the right way. They had two years to deal with this. They’ve had the two years of Obama’s presidency to deal with this. And they haven’t. On purpose. They want the tax rates to go up. And we’re buying– They’re selling, really, in any great shakes, we agree to two years of the tax rates not changing? How about permanently, the tax rates not changing? Then we’ll talk to you. 

Two years? And we’ve got thirteen more months of unemployment? But that– The only way you can describe that thirteen months is, look at all the spending that is. That’s new spending. Three years. Now, of unemployment compensation benefits. In exchange for a 35% death tax, a 2% cut in the payroll tax, and two years of tax rates on income not changing. 

They had two years to deal with this. The new Congress coming in will fix it. If the GOP leadership will allow it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/10/10]

Krauthammer: Tax Cut Deal Is “The Swindle Of The Year.” In a December 10 Washington Post column, Krauthammer wrote “Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010.” He went on to write:

If Obama had asked for a second stimulus directly, he would have been laughed out of town. Stimulus I was so reviled that the Democrats banished the word from their lexicon throughout the 2010 campaign. And yet, despite a very weak post-election hand, Obama got the Republicans to offer to increase spending and cut taxes by $990 billion over two years. Two-thirds of that is above and beyond extension of the Bush tax cuts but includes such urgent national necessities as windmill subsidies.

No mean achievement. After all, these are the same Republicans who spent 2010 running on limited government and reducing debt. And this budget busting occurs less than a week after the president’s deficit commission had supposedly signaled a new national consensus of austerity and frugality.

Some Republicans are crowing that Stimulus II is the Republican way – mostly tax cuts – rather than the Democrats’ spending orgy of Stimulus I. That’s consolation? This just means that Republicans are two years too late. Stimulus II will still blow another near-$1 trillion hole in the budget.

At great cost that will have to be paid after this newest free lunch, the package will add as much as 1 percent to GDP and lower the unemployment rate by about 1.5 percentage points. That could easily be the difference between victory and defeat in 2012.

Obama is no fool. While getting Republicans to boost his own reelection chances, he gets them to make a mockery of their newfound, second-chance, post-Bush, Tea-Party, this-time-we’re-serious persona of debt-averse fiscal responsibility.

And he gets all this in return for what? For a mere two-year postponement of a mere 4.6-point increase in marginal tax rates for upper incomes. And an estate tax rate of 35 percent – it jumps insanely from zero to 55 percent on Jan. 1 – that is somewhat lower than what the Democrats wanted. [Washington Post, 12/10/10]

The Hill: Palin “Came Out Against The Tax-Cut Deal President Obama Brokered With Republicans.” From a December 8 blog post on TheHill.com:

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) on Wednesday came out against the tax-cut deal President Obama brokered with Republicans. 

The potential 2012 presidential candidate endorsed a Twitter post that applauded Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) criticism of the deal. 

“Thank you, @JimDeMint – DeMint comes out against tax deal, says GOP must do ‘better than this,'” reads the message from conservative commentator Jedediah Bila. [TheHill.com, 12/08/10]

From Sarah Palin’s Twitter feed, December 8:

Palintaxdeal


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 13th, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Presented By:

No Charges For Minn. Pol Found With Gun Outside Planned Parenthood
The St. Paul, Minn. city attorney will not press charges against Tom Hackbarth, a Republican state representative who was handcuffed by police last month after they found him lurking outside a Planned Parenthood with a gun strapped to his hip.

Two Men Charged With Hate Crimes For Allegedly Assaulting Imam
Two men have been charged with assault and robbery as a hate crime after attacking a Muslim religious leader on a New York City subway platform.


Kabul vs. St. Louis: Boom town vs. Ghost town

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 13th, 2010 5:40 am by HL

Kabul vs. St. Louis: Boom town vs. Ghost town
When a friend of mine recently returned from six months in Afghanistan where he had been teaching school in Kabul, I jumped at the chance to grill him. At first he told me a lot of generalized stuff — such as how the young Afghans he talked with felt about the future of their country […]


Steele Expected to Step Down

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 13th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Steele Expected to Step Down
RNC Chairman Michael Steele is expected to announce he will drop out of the highly contested race to keep his post, sources told Fox News.

Quote of the Day
“I’ve never been in a tanning salon in my life, I’ve never used a tanning product in my life.”

— House Republican leader John Boehner (R-OH), in an interview on 60 Minutes.


It’s the Political Economy, Stupid

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 13th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

It’s the Political Economy, Stupid
The title is directed at myself. I maintain that the Obama tax deal is not awful economics. I’ve become convinced that it is awful politics. Ultimately awful politics dictates catastrophic economic policy. Some progressives used to say Bill Clinton was…

Link Israel Aid To Ending Occupation
The Obama administration has abandoned its feckless effort to induce Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to accept a 90-day settlement freeze designed to kick start peace negotiations – and save Israel from suicidal settlement expansion. Any doubt that the settlements could…


Wake-up, America
I’ve been talking recently about the rise of inequality in America. And while much of this change can be traced to the Reagan and Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans, a greater source of class tension in the next ten…


Banks Gave Heavily To Scott Brown As He Watered Down Financial Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 13th, 2010 5:37 am by HL

Banks Gave Heavily To Scott Brown As He Watered Down Financial Reform
When negotiations over the Dodd-Frank financial reform law reached their final stages, Democrats were desperate to find a few Republican votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. Ultimately, three Republicans senators — Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME) — supported the Dodd-Frank legislation. But before he gave his approval, […]

When negotiations over the Dodd-Frank financial reform law reached their final stages, Democrats were desperate to find a few Republican votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. Ultimately, three Republicans senators — Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME) — supported the Dodd-Frank legislation.

But before he gave his approval, Brown extracted a few concessions. First, he forced Democrats to strip from a bill a bank tax that would have raised $19 billion to pay for the implementation of the law. He also pushed to water down a key reformthe Volcker rule — that was aimed at preventing banks from making risky trades with dollars backed by the government. Both of Brown’s wishes were ultimately agreed to.

At the time, Brown stated that his opposition to those two provisions had to do with their potential effect on job creation. But according to an analysis in the Boston Globe, during the three weeks Brown was working to water down financial reform, campaign contributions from banks and investment banks “poured in“:

From mid-June until the Fourth of July, according to a Globe analysis of his campaign finance reports, the Massachusetts senator took in $140,000 from banks and investment firms and their executives, including companies based in the state, such as MassMutual and State Street Corp. That is 400 percent more than the $28,000 received on average by all Republican senators during the same three weeks.

As the money poured in, Brown and his Senate staff were working both publicly and behind the scenes to scuttle $19 billion in fees on the financial industry that would have paid for part of the regulatory overhaul, and to weaken a provision intended to curb certain types of investment activities by banks and insurance companies.

When he came into office, Brown promised that there would be “no more closed-door meetings or back-room deals.” However, it seems he was willing to bend his own rules, once Wall Street came calling with its wish list.

And this wasn’t the first time that the financial services industry flooded Brown’s coffers with cash when it saw an opportunity to influence financial reform. In fact, a ThinkProgress analysis revealed that banks lavished Brown’s campaign with 11th hour contributions and a significant get-out-the-vote effort, prompting Brown to initially oppose Dodd-Frank.

Cross-posted at The Wonk Room.


Senate having trouble ‘doing business in the modern era’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 13th, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Senate having trouble ‘doing business in the modern era’
Last week, the U.S. Senate failed for the first time in 48 years to pass an annual bill authorizing money for national defense – not over disagreement about the part of the bill that would repeal a ban against gays serving openly in the military but on procedural grounds. Moderate lawmakers incli…

The Fix: Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh won’t run for governor in 2012
Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh has decided against a run for governor in 2012, robbing Democrats of their top recruit in the Hoosier State.

Lawmakers predict Senate passage for tax package
The Senate will hold a key test vote Monday on the tax package President Obama negotiated with Republicans to prevent rate increases from hitting most American workers starting Jan. 1.