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Archive for June 9th, 2011

Geithner, Goldman ‘Thick as Thieves’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 9th, 2011 4:48 am by HL

Geithner, Goldman ‘Thick as Thieves’
Robert Scheer, The Nation: What was Timothy Geithner thinking back in 2008 when, as president of the New York Fed, he decided to give Goldman Sachs a $30 billion interest-free loan as part of an $80 billion secret float to favored banks? The sordid details of that program were finally made public this week in response to a court order for a Freedom of Information Act release, thanks to a Bloomberg News lawsuit. Sorry, my bad: It wasn’t an interest-free loan; make that .01 percent that Goldman paid to borrow taxpayer money when ordinary folks who missed a few credit card payments in order to finance their mortgages were being slapped with interest rates of more than 25 percent.

Saving Money by NOT Privatizing

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 9th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

Saving Money by NOT Privatizing
New Sheriff Al Neinhuis of Hernando County, Florida is actually saving the county more than a million and a half dollars just this year, compared to what CCA would have charged to operate the facility. And he’ll do it better.

The new Sheriff of Hernando County, Florida, is continuing in the ways of his predecessor. After Sheriff Nugent uncovered widespread neglect of maintenance at his county jail, which had been run for 22 years by CCA, he took over operations and estimated he could save more than $200,000 per year by operating it as part of the department (which should have been operating it all along).

New Sheriff Al Neinhuis went a step further. He is actually saving the county more than a million and a half dollars just this year, compared to what CCA would have charged to operate the facility. And he’ll do it better.

Pointing and laughing
We amuse the rest of the world, we’re like a clown to them.

Teapartier sign…via Messay Shoakena at flickr.com

Apparently, the rest of the world pays more attention to our politics than we do…without having to suffer through it…or maybe by this time they just point and laugh?

The social network and dating website Badoo.com asked 30,000 people across 15 countries to name both the “funniest,” or best at making people laugh,” and “the least funny” nationality.

Americans took the funniest prize

And all this before our latest round of Weiner jokes and tea-wrestling.

Apparently, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and our newest “target audience” Yemen were not allowed to participate.

Fall of the LA Traffic Cameras

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 9th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Fall of the LA Traffic Cameras

By Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons

Mr. Fish's Cartoon

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College Student Speaks Out On Interactions With Weiner

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 9th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

College Student Speaks Out On Interactions With Weiner
A female college student in Washington state who was sent an inappropriate picture from the Twitter account of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), spoke out on…

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WASHINGTON — A resolution before the Senate pressures President Barack Obama to seek congressional consent for continued U.S. military involvement in Libya and requires the…

Right-Wing Media Hype Pawlenty’s Economic Plan — Which Experts Call “A Joke”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 9th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Right-Wing Media Hype Pawlenty’s Economic Plan — Which Experts Call “A Joke”

Right-wing media figures have been hyping the economic plan that GOP presidential contender Tim Pawlenty presented in a June 7 speech. But economic experts, including prominent conservative economists, have called Pawlenty’s plan unrealistic, “a joke,” and “patently ridiculous.”

Pawlenty Presents Economic Plan In Op-Ed, U. Chicago Speech

Pawlenty: “A Tim Pawlenty Plan For Recovery.” In a June 7 op-ed in The Chicago Tribune, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty outlined his plan for economic growth. From the Tribune:

Let’s start with a big, positive goal. Let’s grow the economy by 5 percent, instead of an anemic 2 percent.


But just changing business tax rates is not enough. That’s because we know most job growth will come from small and medium-size businesses, and their owners are taxed under individual tax rates, not corporate rates. So, pro-job and pro-growth tax reform must include individual tax reform as well.

Five percent economic growth over 10 years would generate $3.8 trillion dollars in new tax revenues. With that, we would reduce projected deficits by 40 percent — all before we made a single budget cut.

The next part of my plan deals with that other 60 percent.

A balanced federal budget should not just be a political sound bite. As one of 49 governors operating with balanced budget requirements, I balanced every budget in my two terms as governor of Minnesota. I know the only reason the Minnesota legislature ever gave me a balanced budget was because, under Minnesota’s Constitution, it had to.

That’s why I support a constitutional amendment that not only requires a balanced federal budget, but also caps federal spending as a percentage of our economy, around 18 percent of gross domestic product.

But passing a constitutional amendment will take awhile. The crisis that we face requires immediate action. That’s why I have proposed capping and block-granting Medicaid to the states, raising the Social Security retirement age for the next generation and slowing the rate of growth in defense spending.

I will also call for Congress to grant the president the temporary and extraordinary authority to freeze spending at current levels, and impound up to 5 percent of federal spending until the budget is balanced.

Pawlenty also outlined the details of his proposal in a speech made at the University of Chicago on June 7. [The Chicago Tribune, 6/7/11; Associated Press, 6/8/11]

“Excellent,” “Bold,” “Reaganesque”: Right-Wing Media Praise Pawlenty’s Plan

Hewitt: “Pawlenty’s Core Message Ought To Be Adopted By Every GOP Candidate And Repeated By Every Advocate For Every Campaign.” In a June 7 post to his blog, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt said of Pawlenty’s economic plan as outlined in The Chicago Tribune: “It is an excellent piece, emphasizing as it does the need for economic growth …The pro-growth agenda contrasts sharply with the agenda of ever-increasing, creeping state control and higher taxes pushed by President Obama. Pawlenty’s core message ought to be adopted by every GOP candidate and repeated by every advocate for every campaign.” [Hugh Hewitt, 6/7/11]

Fox Nation: “Pawlenty Outlines Bold Reaganesque Supply-Side Tax Cut Plan.” In a June 8 post to Fox Nation, a headline linking to a Washington Post article about Pawlenty’s speech read, “Pawlenty Outlines Bold Reaganesque Supply-Side Tax Cut Plan.” [Fox Nation, 6/8/11]

But Experts, Economists Say Pawlenty’s Plan Is “A Joke”

Holtz-Eakin: “Growth Rate Is Not Going To Be 5%…The Market Just Doesn’t Support That.” In a statement to Talking Points Memo, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director under George W. Bush, said of Pawlenty’s plan:

“The trend growth rate is not going to be 5% in the United States,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the CBO under President Bush and a top GOP advisor, told TPM. “The market just doesn’t support that. It just doesn’t.” [Talking Points Memo, 6/8/11]

Reischauer: “It’s Impossible.” Robert Reischauer, former CBO director under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Clinton said: “It’s impossible … You get growth because of investment, an increased labor force, a rise in human capital, and innovation. Add all those components together and they don’t sum up to 5% given what the labor force is going to be and the investment possibilities are.” [Talking Points Memo, 6/8/11]

Klein: “This Plan Isn’t Optimistic. … It’s A Joke.” From a June 7 post by Washington Post economic and political blogger Ezra Klein:

Economic plans are often disappointing and underpowered. They’re occasionally radical and even inspiring. They’re frequently dull. They’re rarely hilarious. But Tim Pawlenty’s proposal is the exception. I’m going to quote from it extensively, because I don’t want you to think I’m unfairly simplifying his ideas. Here’s the big one:

Let’s start with a big, positive goal. Let’s grow the economy by 5 percent, instead of an anemic 2 percent.

Yes, let’s! One small problem, though: There is no economist anywhere who knows how to add three percentage points to the country’s growth. Goosing economic growth over any long period is is [sic] hard enough when you’re talking about a tenth or two of a percent. Three percentage points? I’ve never seen anyone make that sort of a claim. But perhaps Pawlenty has stumbled upon something new:

It’s been done before: Between 1983 and 1987, the Reagan recovery grew at 4.9 percent annually. Between 1996 and 1999, under President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress, the economy grew at around 4.7 percent annually.

Read that sentence carefully: Pawlenty says he wants “5 percent growth.” Later in his piece, he specifies “five percent economic growth over 10 years.” And his evidence that “it’s been done before”? Two periods in which growth was under five percent and held there for less than five years. So even in his handpicked examples, Pawlenty can’t come anywhere close to his target.


Members of both parties have already proposed closing loopholes and lowering rates. Until Pawlenty, no one from either party, at least to my knowledge, predicted that doing so would lead to 10 years of 5 percent growth. And it’s not as if politicians are known for being particularly pessimistic about the effects of their policies.


This plan isn’t optimistic. It isn’t a bit vague. It’s a joke. And I don’t know which is worse: The thought that Pawlenty knows that and went forward with this pandering, fantasy-based proposal anyway, or the thought that he doesn’t know it, and he really thinks this could work. [The Washington Post, 6/7/11]

Linden: “Pawlenty’s Tax Proposal Would Cost $7.8 Trillion Over Ten Years, Triple The Size Of Bush Tax Cuts.” From a June 7 post on ThinkProgress by Michael Linden, Director of Tax and Budget Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund:

Earlier today, presidential candidate and former governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) outlined his economic policy “vision,” which included several major proposals to cut taxes.


These proposals, taken together would bestow a massive tax cut on the wealthiest people in the country. They would also reduce overall federal revenues to a such a low level that even if Pawlenty’s draconian, radical spending targets were achieved, deficits and debt would still soar out of control.

All together, Pawlenty’s tax proposal would generate an average revenue level of just 13.6 percent of GDP from 2013-2021. That translates to a tax cut of $7.8 trillion, and that’s on top of $2.5 trillion cost of extending all of the Bush tax cuts (see below for details on how this estimate was calculated).

Pawlenty also says that he will balance the budget, and cap spending at 18 percent of GDP. Unfortunately for Pawlenty, his tax plan leaves him about $8.4 trillion short. Given that reality, he can either embrace a huge middle-class tax increase, or give up his claims to a balanced budget. If he doesn’t make up that revenue, deficits and debt will skyrocket, even if he does slash spending back to levels not seen in half a century. [Think Progress, 6/7/11, emphasis in the original]

Crowley: “[Pawlenty] Doesn’t Mention … That Both Those Periods Of Growth [He Cites] Followed Substantial Tax Increases.” In a June 7 post on Time magazine’s politics blog, Swampland, senior correspondent Michael Crowley wrote:

Pawlenty’s plan, which he calls “A Better Deal,” centers around tax reform — similar to that proposed by Paul Ryan — that would close tax loopholes and lower rates on individuals and corporations. His changes would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers and corporations. Pawlenty would lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%, and create two new income tax brackets at 10% and 25%. He would also completely eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest income and dividends — a huge boon to wealthy investors — as well as the estate tax, which currently applies only to the most valuable fraction of estates.

In what is essentially a supply-side argument, Pawlenty simply assumes that these changes will unleash dramatic economic growth of up to a 5% annualized rate, generating enough new tax revenue to cut the deficit by 40%.


But I suspect that economists who don’t share his assumptions about the effect tax cuts for the wealthy will have on economic growth will find that this is not a realistic plan for paring down the national debt. What’s more, you don’t need to slash taxes to enjoy an economic boom. Pawlenty notes two recent periods when the U.S. economy grew at a 5% clip — from 1983 and 1987 and from 1996 to 1999. What he doesn’t mention is that both those periods of growth followed substantial tax increases. Bill Clinton’s 1993 budget plan was derided as the biggest tax hike in history, but preceded an economic boom (also fueled by a tech explosion); and Ronald Reagan raised taxes three times during the early-middle 1980s. [Time, 6/7/11]

Former Boehner Staffer Galupo: “Tim Pawlenty Proposes Insane Economic Plan.” In a June 7 U.S. News and World Report op-ed, titled “Tim Pawlenty Proposes Insane Economic Plan,” Scott Galupo, who formerly worked for House Speaker John Boehner, wrote:

When consuming Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s economic plan, be sure to take extra time to chew–it’s gag-inducing.


He matches McCain’s 10 percent reduction in corporate income taxes–and ups the ante another 10 percent. And he’s just getting started. The capital gains tax–gone. The estate tax–gone. On top of that, individual rates would be flattened into two brackets: 10 percent on $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for married couples. Anything, and everything, above that would be taxed at 25 percent.

I haven’t seen an estimate yet of how much these cuts would cost. I’m sure one will be forthcoming in days, if not hours. More importantly, I didn’t hear one from Pawlenty himself.

He simply offered the same old mythical claptrap: “Once we unleash the creative energy of America’s businesses, families, and individuals, as we did in the ’80s and ’90s, a booming job market will reduce demand for government assistance. And rising incomes will increase federal revenues.”

“Five-percent economic growth over 10 years would generate $3.8 trillion dollars in new tax revenues,” he said. “With that, we would reduce projected deficits by 40 percent.”

And the remaining 60 percent would be eliminated through … what? Entitlement cuts? Troop drawdowns? 

Of course not!

Pawlenty favors–you guessed it–a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.

This, from a candidate who promised “to level with the American people. To look them in the eye. And tell them the truth.”

I can hardly get over the sting of Pawlenty’s hard truths: more and deeper tax cuts, no painful budget cuts, and the sunlit uplands of 5 percent annual growth. Please–spare me more of such hard truths! I surrender! [U.S. News and World Report, 6/7/11]

CAP: Pawlenty’s Plan Is “Patently Ridiculous.” From a June 7 post on MSNBC.com:

The Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress today denounce Tim Pawlenty’s economic plan as “patently ridiculous,” saying there is absolutely no way the former Minnesota governor’s plans would cure the country’s economic woes.


Both Linden and Ettlinger say Pawlenty’s remedies are inadequeate [sic], because his revenue projections overestimate how much the economy can grow. Pawlenty projected that the economy, under his leadership, would be able to by 5%. But during the economic expansions of 1983-1987 and 1996-1999, the economy never grew above 5% annually — let alone over 10 years.

“Historically, it’s never happened,” Ettinger said. “But if pigs had wings, they’d fly. If we had 20% economic growth a year, we’d be done with the deficit in six weeks.” [MSNBC.com, 6/7/11]

Weiner Faces Mounting Legal And Ethics Questions Over Sexting Scandal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 9th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Weiner Faces Mounting Legal And Ethics Questions Over Sexting Scandal
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) may be in more ethical and legal trouble than previously thought, if he used Congressional resources to provide public-relations advice on covering up the sexual online relationships to the women involved.

Louisiana House Green-Lights Ten Commandments Monument At Capitol
Louisiana lawmakers are doing Moses a solid. On Monday, the Louisiana state House approved a measure to install a monument to the Ten Commandments outside the capitol, Reuters reports.

John Edwards Plea Deal Undone By Prospect Of Jail Time
Prosecutors made a final offer to John Edwards before he was indicted last Friday, but the former senator and presidential candidate could not accept the prospect of jail time, according to a report in The News & Observer. The deal would have avoided felony charges for Edwards, making it possible for him to keep his law license. But in exchange for pleading guilty on three misdemeanor campaign finance law violations, prosecutors wanted a sentence that would result in up to six months in prison.

RNC Putz Preibus’ Hypocrisy on Weiner

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 9th, 2011 4:40 am by HL

RNC Putz Preibus’ Hypocrisy on Weiner

Huntsman’s No Names Strategy

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 9th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Huntsman’s No Names Strategy
Jon Huntsman “is trying out a novel strategy: running for president without criticizing the incumbent by name,” Politico reports.

“Obama’s political team has so far returned the courtesy. Even as they blast out a seemingly endless stream of attacks on Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, Huntsman’s two establishment GOP rivals, the DNC is issuing few press releases and pushing little opposition research about the man who until the end of April served in the administration.”

“It amounts to a de facto non-aggression pact that is as unconventional as it is tenuous. With a Republican primary electorate convinced Obama is doing grave damage to the country, it’s difficult to see how bloodless rhetoric about the administration and generalized talk about America’s challenges are the recipe for victory. And if Huntsman emerges as a strong contender, it’s improbable to think that a White House that affirmed his political potential by dispatching him to far-off Beijing would let him rise unchecked.”

Weiner’s Reckless Pattern
The New York Times talks to several women with whom Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) sent lewd photos to online and concludes “in each case Mr. Weiner’s online conduct in many ways mirrored that of his offline life — he was aggressive, blunt, feisty and willing to push boundaries with an apparent disregard for the possible consequences.”

Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Sun notes a fifth woman has reluctantly admitted to engaging in sexually suggestive online chats with Weiner.

Target: Osama bin Laden
A must read for your Kindle or iPad: Bin Laden: The Death and Life of Public Enemy Number One by ABC News.

The ebook includes a siginifcant amount of original reporting on the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Obama Approval Flattens as Economic Concerns Grow
A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Obama’s “bin Laden bounce” is flattening out, as American voters give him a 47% to 45% job approval rating, down from 52% to 40% last month.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Although President Obama’s overall approval numbers are better than before the killing of bin Laden, he continues to get strongly negative ratings on the economy. What should worry the White House is that 78 percent of voters think the country is in a recession and the number of voters who think a recovery has begun has dropped from 54% to 43% in a January 18 Quinnipiac University poll to a negative 45% to 52% today.”

The Breitbart Effect: Why Weiner’s Boring (Non-) Sex Scandal Is Getting More Play Than Republicans’ Sordid Sexcapades

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 9th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

The Breitbart Effect: Why Weiner’s Boring (Non-) Sex Scandal Is Getting More Play Than Republicans’ Sordid Sexcapades
The sensational interest in Weinergate is a sad reflection of our shallow, sex-and-celebrity-obsessed culture.

Love the iPhone, Hate the Tax Cheat: US Uncut Protests Apple, and Apple Gets Aggressive
US Uncut protesters from across the country were met with heavy-handed treatment in their targeted action against the Apple Corporation.

Congress to Palestinians: Drop Dead

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 9th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Congress to Palestinians: Drop Dead
If anyone had any doubt about whether the Palestinians would declare a state in September, they can’t have them now. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Congress that essentially was a series of insults to Palestinians…

Bibi Caves At AIPAC
That was one real nothing of a speech Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered to a crowd of 10,000 at AIPAC who were hanging on every word. He praised President Obama. In fact, he linked himself to Obama, talking about the common…

The Fake Outrage Of The Israel Firsters
There was absolutely nothing about President Barack Obama’s Middle East speech to get excited about. (and even less in his statement following Friday’s meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu). The President did not even attempt to set out an action…