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Archive for May 16th, 2011

Shuttle Launch This Morning

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

Shuttle Launch This Morning
Space shuttle Endeavour is set to blast off early Monday at 8:56 a.m. Eastern (5:56 a.m. Pacific) on its final flight. NASA says the electrical problem that scrubbed an April 29 attempt is fixed. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), recovering from a bullet would to her brain from a mass shooting in Tucson four months ago, is again expected to attend

He’s not worth the salt of his tears

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

He’s not worth the salt of his tears
Once again, the Republicans are willing to negotiate. As long as you give them everything they want.

In the words of Admiral Akbar, it’s a trap:

“Rather than thinking of this as a crisis, I think of this as an opportunity to come together,” [John Boehner] said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that he would not support tax increases as part of the deal…

Aw, he wants to deal…right, the Republicans are always willing to deal…

On “Face the Nation,” Boehner invited President Barack Obama to join him in tackling entitlement spending, alluding to the House GOP budget that made major cuts to Medicare.

But, of course, as long as the poor and needy get screwed, it’s all good…stepping on the “little people” makes sense to Republicans because they leave less of a stain on the carpet.

And what can the President expect in return?

Boehner has also ruled out tax increases as part of a deal for grappling with the long-term deficit

Ah, nothing.

This does seem right up Obama’s alley though, I’m just surprised Boehner didn’t wait for Obama to come up with it without asking.

Late, Late Night FDL: The Dream’s Lost On Me
Blondie -The Dream’s Lost On Me

Blondie -The Dream’s Lost On Me

What’s on your mind tonite…?

Jesus Doesn’t Want Mike Huckabee to Be President … Yet

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Jesus Doesn’t Want Mike Huckabee to Be President … Yet
Fox News rocker Mike Huckabee says of his decision not to run for the presidency in 2012, “I don’t fully understand it myself,” but it has something to do with being “a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ” and not having the confidence of “God’s full blessing.” Or it could be that Obama killed Osama and this one’s in the bag.

Fox News rocker Mike Huckabee says of his decision not to run for the presidency in 2012, “I don’t fully understand it myself,” but it has something to do with being “a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ” and not having the confidence of “God’s full blessing.” Or it could be that Obama killed Osama and this one’s in the bag.

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Ian Fletcher: Should America Stiff China?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Ian Fletcher: Should America Stiff China?
Ethically, does America have the right to stiff China and repudiate our roughly $3 trillion in trade obligations? Frankly, we quite arguably do.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson: Method to the Madness in Ron Paul’s War Against Civil Rights
Unlike Trump, Ron Paul is a politician who knows how to get and sustain attention. And knocking civil rights when all else fails is always good for that.

William S. Becker: In 2012, Vote for Courage
It’s not just Republicans who flip-flop on climate change or who simply don’t want to talk about it.

John Boehner Tears Up (Again)
House Speaker John Boehner teared up while giving the commencement address at Catholic University on Saturday. The Ohio Republican, whose tearful tendencies are well documented,…

Fox News Ignores Reality To Claim Obama Isn’t Serious About Immigration Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Fox News Ignores Reality To Claim Obama Isn’t Serious About Immigration Reform

Fox News figures have suggested that President Obama isn’t serious about enacting comprehensive immigration reform and is instead “trying to shore up his base” among Hispanic voters. However, there has been a major increase in border security under Obama — which Republicans say is their starting point for action on the issue.

Fox Figures Claim Obama Is Playing Politics On Immigration

WSJ‘s Riley: “This Was Essentially A Campaign Speech.” From Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley’s appearance on Fox News’ Journal Editorial Report:

PAUL GIGOT [host]: OK, Jason, alligators in the moat. The White House was pitching this as a speech as a way to get to mobilize Republicans, get them involved, get a bipartisan deal this year if possible. Did this speech help?

JASON RILEY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: I don’t think so. I think this was essentially a campaign speech —

GIGOT: Already.

RILEY: — directed at Latinos, a group that gave Obama 68 percent of the vote in 2008, partly on the promise that he would address comprehensive immigration reform in his first year in office. And he’s failed to do that. And his numbers have rapidly declined among that constituency, down something like 50 percentage points, from the mid 70’s to just over 50 percent.

GIGOT: But, Jason, if this speech doesn’t galvanize some kind of negotiation for a deal, then how does it help him fulfill that promise?

RILEY: Paul, when Obama is serious about addressing immigration reform, he’ll do it in prime time from the Oval Office, not in the middle of the week in the afternoon when most people are at work. This is not a true effort to bring in bipartisan support. You also cannot call for bipartisan support and then mock your political opponents the way he did in the clip you just ran. Alligators and moats? This was not serious about seriously taking on the issues. [Fox News, Journal Editorial Report, 5/14/11, via Nexis]

Nauert: Obama Is “Really Trying To Shore Up His Base.” Adopting Republican guest Karen Hanretty’s talking point, America’s Newsroom guest co-host Heather Nauert said to radio host Alan Colmes, “What about that point? Because, Republicans of course in charge of the House. This thing’s not likely to go anywhere. So is this simply just about politics? Because it’s not likely to go through.” Nauert later said:

NAUERT: Alan, what about the point that Latino voters are frustrated, increasingly frustrated with this president. Karl Rove on earlier this morning, and he was on earlier talking about that, how the polls among Latinos have really gone down. So the president’s really trying to shore up his base there. How successful do you think he might be? [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 5/11/11]

Hayes: Obama’s Immigration Speech Is All About 2012 Hispanic Vote. After Special Report host Bret Baier mentioned the percentage of the Hispanic vote that went to Democrats since 2006, Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes said:

HAYES: Look, this is all about 2012 and the president’s turnout in important state with high Hispanic population. If you go back and look at how the president did in states like Colorado and New Mexico and Nevada, Florida, Hispanic voters you can make the argument that Hispanic numbers put the president over the top in those states.

I think that is what this is all about. And that is why he is making the argument at this time despite the fact that no one in Washington thinks any of this is going anywhere.

And it’s sort of ironic that you had, remember when Republicans came in, in this Congress and they had a vote on healthcare reform and Democrats were up in arms you’d do a show vote and take the vote you knew wasn’t going to go anywhere. That is exactly what is happening here. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/10/11, via Nexis]

Bolling Labels Obama’s Immigration Reform Speech A “Photo-op” And “A Campaign Stop.” From Eric Bolling’s guest-hosting of Glenn Beck:

BOLLING: Hello. I’m Eric Bolling, in for Glenn Beck.

He’s in Israel today. He’ll be back tomorrow. But, today, President Obama, fresh off his bin Laden victory lap, has put the immigration debate back in the front burner. He offered a speech and grabbed the photo-op with the border city of El Paso, Texas.


BOLLING: Listen to what Mr. Obama had to say about his efforts to secure the border just moments ago.


OBAMA: They wanted more agents at the border. Well, we now have more boots on the ground, on the southwest border, than at any time in our history.

They wanted a fence. Well, the fence is —


OBAMA: The fence is now basically complete. All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done.


BOLLING: It sure sounds like a campaign stop, doesn’t it? We thought so. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 5/10/11, via Nexis]

Rove Dismisses Obama’s El Paso Visit As “A Political Speech.” Asked by America’s Newsroom co-host Bill Hemmer about President Obama’s new focus on comprehensive immigration reform, Fox News contributor Karl Rove said:

ROVE: This is more a political speech. I’m not certain this is where the president ought to be going in order to build on the image of being a strong leader. The odds of getting a comprehensive immigration reform are zero. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 5/10/11]

GOP Demands Border Security First

McCain: “No Point” To Reform “Unless You Can Have The Borders Secure First.” From an April 20, 2010, blog post from The Hill, quoting Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

“I believe that we can convince our Republican colleagues that we have to secure the border first,” McCain said during an appearance on KFYI radio in Arizona. “There’s no point of having immigration reform unless you can have the borders secure first.”

“That must be done for us to move forward with any immigration reform,” McCain added of immigration reform during a separate interview on KQTH radio. [The Hill, 4/20/10]

Rep. Lamar Smith: Action On Reform “Pointless” Until “We Secure The Border.” From a December 24, 2010, Washington Post article:

“It is pointless to talk about any new immigration bills that grant amnesty until we secure the border, since such bills will only encourage more illegal immigration,” incoming House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) said in a statement. [The Washington Post, 12/24/10]

Experts, Media Say Border Is “More Fortified Than Ever” Under Obama Administration

PolitiFact: “[Border Patrol] Manpower Has Roughly Doubled Since 2004, As Obama Said In His Speech At El Paso.” PolitiFact rated as “true” Obama’s statement that “[t]he Border Patrol has 20,000 agents — more than twice as many as there were in 2004.” From PolitiFact:

In a speech on immigration reform in El Paso, Texas, President Barack Obama boasted about an unprecedented number of border security agents along the U.S. border with Mexico, but he said critics probably still won’t be satisfied.

“Under Secretary Napolitano’s leadership, we have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible,” Obama said in his May 10, 2011, speech. “They wanted more agents on the border. Well, we now have more boots on the ground on the southwest border than at any time in our history. The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents — more than twice as many as there were in 2004, a buildup that began under President Bush and that we have continued.”


In March 2011, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report, “Border Security: DHS Progress and Challenges in Securing the U.S. Southwest and Northern Borders,” in conjunction with testimony from GAO Director Richard Stana.

The report confirmed that personnel and other resources to stop illegal crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border have increased dramatically in recent years. In 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was created, reorganizing several federal agencies under a single roof. That year, the agency had 10,500 agents to patrol land borders.  That number now stands at nearly 21,000.

In other words, manpower has roughly doubled since 2004, as Obama said in his speech in El Paso. Again, that trend began under President Bush, whom Obama credited, but it continued under Obama. We rate Obama’s statement True. [PolitiFact, 5/10/11]

Wash. Post: “The Fact Is That The United States Has Established Tighter Control Of The Border Than At Any Time In Recent Memory.” A recent Washington Post editorial in response to President Obama’s immigration speech stated:

In fact, Republican posturing on border security is deadly serious, and worse than the president suggested. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the border has become safer and less leaky, the GOP would have the nation believe the opposite.

Using such scare tactics, Republicans are trying to distort the debate on immigration and justify their opposition to reform.

Exhibit A for Republican distortion is Rep. Lamar Smith (Tex.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who recently assigned a “failing grade” to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol efforts along the Mexican border. Mr. Smith based his “failing grade” on the fact that the Border Patrol classifies just 44 percent of the nearly 2,000-mile border as being under “operational control.” That sounds bad, until you ask what it actually means. The answer: not much.

A case in point is the Marfa sector, a 510-mile stretch of desolate terrain in southwestern Texas comprising more than a quarter of the frontier between the United States and Mexico. According to the Border Patrol, just 10 percent of the Marfa sector is under “operational control,” meaning agents can reliably stop crossers at or near the border.

But it also happens that the Marfa sector, owing to its isolation, sparse population and forbidding, deep river canyons, is the least crossed, sleepiest area of the entire southwest border. The Border Patrol arrests scarcely a dozen people a day along the entire length of the sector, despite (or because of) the 700 agents assigned there, triple the 2005 number.


The fact is that the United States has established tighter control of the border than at any time in recent memory. Serious crime is down dramatically in almost every major American town along the frontier. As Rep. Silvestre Reyes, an El Paso Democrat, pointed out, the six largest southwestern border cities have lower crime rates — and, specifically, lower rates of murder, rape, robbery and burglary — than the six largest cities in Ohio, home state of Republican House Speaker John A. Boehner, whose spokesman said last week that immigration reform was dead until violence at the border was checked. [The Washington Post, 5/14/11]

AP: “The U.S.-Mexico Border Is More Fortified Now Than It Was Even Five Years Ago.” A June 23, 2010, Associated Press article noted: “You wouldn’t know it from the public debate, but the U.S.-Mexico border is more fortified now than it was even five years ago. Far more agents patrol it, more fences, barriers and technology protect it and taxpayers are spending billions more to reinforce it.” [AP, 6/23/10]

There Are Currently More Border Patrol Agents “Than Ever Before In The History Of This Country.” The Obama administration has been increasing the number of Border Patrol officers on the southern border. During a July 2010 hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol chief Michael Fisher said, “Currently we have over 20,000 Border Patrol Agents nationwide, more than ever before in the history of the country.”

Based on Department of Homeland Security data, The Arizona Republic created the following chart showing the increase in border patrol agents since 2001.

Border patrol stats

[House Homeland Security Committee Hearing, 7/22/10; The Arizona Republic5/26/10]

Obama Signed $600 Million Border Security Bill For More Border Patrol Agents And Customs Inspectors. On August 13, 2010, Obama signed a $600 million border security bill to “fund some 1,500 new border patrol agents, customs inspectors and other law enforcement officials along the border, as well as two more unmanned aerial ‘drones’ to monitor border activities.” [Reuters, 8/13/10]

Seizures Of Drugs, Weapons Along Border Have Increased. According to data reported by USA Today, “[w]eapons seizures rose 28% and illicit-currency seizures were up 35% in fiscal 2009 and 2010.” [USA Today, 2/9/11]

Deportations Have Increased Under Obama. According to data from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), nearly 100,000 more people were deported by ICE in both 2009 and 2010 than in 2007. [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, accessed 2/14/11]

Deportations Of Convicted Criminals Are At Their Highest Levels. According to AZ Fact Check — a project of The Arizona Republic, AZCentral.com, 12 News, and Arizona State University — “ICE has removal numbers immediately available for only the past 10 fiscal years, and according to those figures, the most convicted criminals were indeed removed in fiscal 2010.” [AZ Fact Check, 2/9/11]

Illegal Immigration Fell In FY 2010 Due To “Economic Distress” And “Changes In The Level Of Immigration Enforcement.” In a study on the national and state trends of the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States, Pew Hispanic Center found that “economic distress” and “changes in the level of immigration enforcement” led to a decrease in the number of undocumented immigrants crossing into the United States. From Pew Hispanic Center:

The decline in the population of unauthorized immigrants from its peak in 2007 appears due mainly to a decrease in the number from Mexico, which went down to 6.5 million in 2010 from 7 million in 2007. Mexicans remain the largest group of unauthorized immigrants, accounting for 58% of the total.

  • The number of unauthorized immigrants decreased from 2007 to 2010 in Colorado, Florida, New York and Virginia. The combined population in three contiguous Mountain West states-Arizona, Nevada and Utah-also declined.
  • In contrast to the national trend, the combined unauthorized immigrant population in three contiguous West South Central states-Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas-grew from 2007 to 2010.
  • Although the number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. is below 2007 levels, it has tripled since 1990, when it was 3.5 million and grown by a third since 2000, when it was 8.4 million.

The estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, augmented with the Pew Hispanic Center’s analysis of the demographic characteristics of the unauthorized immigrant population using a “residual estimation methodology.”

Although the estimates indicate trends in the size and composition of the unauthorized-immigrant population, they are not designed to answer the question of why these changes occurred. There are many possible factors. The deep recession that began in the U.S. economy officially ended in 2009, but recovery has been slow to take hold and unemployment remains high. Immigration flows have tended to decrease in previous periods of economic distress.

The period covered by this analysis also has been accompanied by changes in the level of immigration enforcement and in enforcement strategies, not only by the federal government but also at state and local levels. Immigration also is subject to pressure by demographic and economic conditions in sending countries. This analysis does not attempt to quantify the relative impact of these forces on levels of unauthorized immigration. [Pew Hispanic Center, 2/1/11]

State Dept. IG: Diplomats In Athens, Greece Don’t Need A Vacation Bonus

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2011 4:41 am by HL

State Dept. IG: Diplomats In Athens, Greece Don’t Need A Vacation Bonus
Diplomats in Athens, Malta and Hong Kong might soon have to say sayonara to the rest and relaxation benefits they were getting for enduring hardship postings thanks to a State Department Inspector General report which found the conditions at those locations no longer justified the benefit.

Issa Wouldn’t Let Witness Testify In Favor Of Disclosure By Government Contractors
House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Darrell Issa refused a request from Ranking Member Elijah Cummings to allow the head of an open government organization to testify in support of an executive order which would require government contractors to disclose more information about their political donations.

Election 2012: The GOP’s Undeclared Nut-Cracker Suite of Candidates

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Election 2012: The GOP’s Undeclared Nut-Cracker Suite of Candidates

Trump Decision Due Today

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Trump Decision Due Today
Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with NBC executives this morning to give them his final decision on whether he’ll do another season of his show Celebrity Apprentice — or leave the show to explore a run for president — “just hours before they are supposed to present their plans for the new fall season to advertisers,” the New York Post reports.

IMF Chief Arrested for Sexual Assault
International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on sexual-assault charges, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The arrest could change the course of France’s presidential elections next year. Mr. Strauss-Kahn had been widely expected to leave the IMF soon to enter the race as the leading Socialist Party candidate, and was running ahead of President Nicolas Sarkozy in recent polls. The arrest likely scuttles Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s candidacy, and strengthens Mr. Sarkozy’s prospects, analysts said.”

New York Times: “Strauss-Kahn’s extramarital affairs have long been considered an open secret. But the legal charges against him — which include attempted rape, an illegal sexual act and an effort to sequester another person against her will — are of an entirely different magnitude, even in France and elsewhere in continental Europe, where voters have generally shown more lenience than Americans toward the sexual behavior of prominent politicians, most notably the sexual escapades of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy.”

Felix Salmon notes that at the very least Strauss-Kahn is guilty of low level corruption for accepting a $3,000 per night hotel room.

Palestinian Politics: Getting Interesting

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Palestinian Politics: Getting Interesting
Yesterday, the?Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project revealed that among six predominantly Islamic countries, Muslims in the Palestinian territories “voiced the most support for the assassinated al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.” Something like a third of respondents admired him and…

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Mitt
One of my regrets in life is losing the chance to debate Mitt Romney and whip his ass. It was the fall of 2002. Mitt had thundered into Massachusetts with enough money to grab the Republican nomination for governor. Meanwhile,…

Why Washington Should Pay Attention to the Economy Here and Now
After a week of non-stop Osama Bin Laden, Washington is now returning to the battle of the budget deficit and debt ceiling. All over Capitol Hill Republicans and Democrats are debating spending caps and automatic triggers, and whether to begin…

George Will: Newt Gingrich ?Is Just Not A Serious Candidate? For President

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

George Will: Newt Gingrich ?Is Just Not A Serious Candidate? For President

Today on ABC’s This Week, host Christiane Amanpour wondered whether Newt Gingrich will run in to some difficulties running for president considering he has been married three times. Noting that Gingrich recently converted to Catholicism, NPR’s Cokie Roberts said that “there are an awful lot of divorced Catholics who are very pained by this situation of their own divorce and feeling like they can’t be Catholic,” adding, “and to have this sudden new Catholic with three wives is not going to play well with them.” Conservative columnist George Will, however, said that Gingrich’s problems extend far beyond social issues:

WILL: He’s been out of elective office for 12 years. … Newt Gingrich’s problems are so far beyond just his multiple marriages and all that. His ethanol love affair right now. ON the 7th of March he said, “Let’s go Qaddafi.” On the 23rd of he says, “I never favored intervention.” He did it on television. … He’s one of these people who says that to understand Barack Obama you need to understand his “Kenyan anti-colonial mentality.” This is just not a serious candidate.

Watch it:

Huckabee Omits Romney From His List Of Social & Fiscal Conservative 2012 GOP Candidates

Last night on his Fox News program, Mike Huckabee announced that he will not seek the GOP nomination for president in 2012. This morning on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Huckabee which potential candidate benefits from his absence in the GOP field. Huckabee said he likes Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin because, he said, “of their strong positions on issues like life, and traditional marriage as well as fiscal conservatism.” When Wallace noted that Huckabee left Mitt Romney out, the former Arkansas governor said he would support him, just as he would support Donald Trump if the real estate mogul won the nomination:

WALLACE: Now you didn’t mention Mitt Romney. […]

HUCKABEE: If Mitt Romney is the nominee for our party I will support him because I believe that Mitt Romney would be a better president for the United States than Barack Obama on any day. […]

I’m going to support the Republican nominee and unless a person is way out there and is not clear on issues that to me are non negotiable like the sancity of life. I believe Donald Trump would be better for America than Barack Obama.

Watch it: