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Archive for June 26th, 2011

Report: Chavez in Critical Condition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 26th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Report: Chavez in Critical Condition
Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, who is in Cuba following emergency surgery, is in “critical” but stable condition, Miami’s El Nuevo Herald reported Saturday citing U.S intelligence sources. Chavez’s government said he was operated on for a pelvic abscess June 10 and is recovering well. There are rumors the 56-year-old is suffering from prostate cancer.



Sunday Talking Heads: June 26, 2011

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 26th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Sunday Talking Heads: June 26, 2011
No specific guests on the NY vote for equal marriage. I guess it’ll come up in a roundtable somewhere. Sure seemed momentous to me. And now a word from our Scarecrow…

No specific guests on the NY vote for equal marriage.  I guess it’ll come up in a roundtable somewhere.  Sure seemed momentous to me.

And now a word from our Scarecrow:

Sigh.  I have long hoped there is merciful, sentient, and wise Goddess of Networks who, patience exhausted, will finally pull the plug on the pathetic CBS interview program, Face the Nation.  But alas, in a week in which Greece is being forced to set the precedent for surrendering its sovereignty in order to bailout reckless creditors, thus setting the pattern for further depressing the economies of perhaps a half dozen other Euro countries with implications for our own; when mindless budget talks are said to “break down” because an ideological fool leaves the room; when New York became the sixth state to treat lots of people with dignity but other states continue to strip people of their dignity and rights; when the US Supreme Court continued its uninterrupted assault on every legal mechanism to hold corporations accountable for mistreatment of their employees, shareholders and investors; while Arizona is suffering its worst fire in history, Texas its worst drought and fires, other states suffering their worst floods and no one is making the connections as Congress continues to dismantle all environmental safeguards; when the US President announces he doesn’t have to follow the Constitution and will continue making war on anyone, anytime, anywhere . . . with all that going on, CBS chooses to interview an extreme political ideologue who has shown herself incapable of an honest, intellectually coherent thought on any of these subjects.    Pull the plug, people.

And there’s there NBC, who thinks it’s okay to reward the Governor of New Jersey, who just conned Democratic leaders into stripping away the rights of employees to collectively bargain for fair treatment and who will sign legislation effectively raising taxes (by forcing higher benefits contributions) on state employees, while shielding everyone else, including the wealthy.   We will probably not see any footage of the thousands of disgusted citizens who protested in front of the state capitol, nor will the interviewer think to link this to Wisconsin, or Greece, or Ireland, or Spain, nevermind Iceland and Argentina.  [cont’d.]

Unfortunately, ABC, our last hope, is not much better.  They expect us to listen to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who is willing to destroy the economy just to regain power and just told us his vote on whether we should send soldiers into war to kill or be killed depends primarily on whether a Democrat or Republican sends them — and yet he’s still there and allowed to dodge questions again??? . . . and Jim Clyburn, representing Democratic “leadership,” who is so hopelessly confused about what fiscal policy should be when you have 14-25 million people un- underemployed that he told reporters this week that we shouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of the middle class unless we also partly balance the budget by repealing a handful of minor tax exemptions for corporations.  Yeah, that would be fair, Jim.   The one question I hope the interviewer asks is: since neither party is representing the interests of the American people and neither has the sense the goddess gave a mule, do you think voters would be justified in storming the US Capitol with rotten tomatoes?

Once again, there are no progressive voices, no competent economists or policy analysts who can critique the insanity of what these people are doing to the country, no spokespersons for the unemployed or disadvantaged — in short, not a single person worth listening to.  Go for a long walk.

Peter hastens to add:

Go for a long walk.

Or go to church. God(dess) knows there’s a need for prayer . . .
Or go to brunch at your local neighborhood brunch-place. Help out the local economy — servers, cooks, and local vendors.
Or stay in bed with your significant other. (Always a good idea.)
Or clean the garage. (Almost always necessary.)
Or fire up the smoker for that turkey that requires a good 8 hours of smoke. Yum.
Or . . .

?

If you hear any talk about the NY Marriage Equality vote, please put it in comments.  And enjoy the celebration video 🙂

Washington Journal.

ABC’s This Week: Debt and deficit – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-SC)Roundtable: George Will, Anita Dunn, Chrystia Freeland, Jonathan KarlWar Roundtable: George Will, Martha Raddatz and professor of international politics at Tufts University Vali Nasr.

CBS’ Face the Nation: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

CNN’s State of the Union: Afghanistan –  Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Debt and deficit – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), then Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Presidential politics – Bill Burton, former deputy press secretary for President Obama, and Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

Chris Matthews: Is the president lagging the country on getting out of Afghanistan? Will the Tea Party get behind the winner, if it is Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman?

Fareed Zakaria – GPS: Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Greece – PIMCO’s CEO Mohamed El-Erian. Then, Jeffrey Toobin on changing the Constitution.

Fox News Sunday: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)Roundtable: Brit Hume, Kirsten Powers, Bill Kristol, Juan Williams.

NBC’s Meet the Press: Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ). Afghanistan – Armed Services Committee members Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)Roundtable: Katty Kay, Matt Bai, David Brooks.

Newsmakers: The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), said he is “optimistic” about Afghanistan but the partnership with Pakistan “is not going well.” …

Q & A: Russ Roberts, Economics Professor at George Mason University and host of the weekly podcast series “EconTalk,” and John Papola, a filmmaker and entertainment marketing executive. They have collaborated on the creation of two rap videos about economics. …

Religion & Ethics.

60 Minutes: Hard Times Generation – For some children, socializing and learning in school are being cruelly complicated by homelessness.  Wynton Marsalis – Jazz missionary Wynton Marsalis shares his love of America’s most distinctive art form by taking his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra around the world.

To The Contrary: Topics: How the Supreme Court decision to dismiss the gender discrimination case against Wal-Mart will affect future lawsuits; how the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan will affect the war-torn country’s women; and a new book that examines the state of marriage. Panelists: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Genevieve Wood, Debra Carnahan, Tara Setmayer. Guest Host: Karen DeWitt.

Univision’s Al Punto: Mike Hammer, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, U.S. State Department; Jorge Castañeda, Former Foreign Minister of Mexico and Author of “Mañana Forever. Mexico and the Mexicans”; Alejandro Garcia Padilla, Puerto Rican Senator and Gubernatorial Candidate (PPD); Juan Zapata, Chair, NALEO Educational Fund.

Virtually Speaking: Cliff Schecter and digby “Our Media Not Theirs.” 9pm ET.

C-SPAN’s Book TV.

FDL’s Book Salon: Troublemaker: A Memoir From the Front Lines of the Sixties.  “The political memoir as rousing adventure story—a sizzling account of a life lived in the thick of the battles that defined America’s revolutionary epoch.” Come chat with Bill Zimmerman and host Richard Flacks, 5pm ET.

FDL’s Movie Night Monday: The Last Mountain. “In the valleys of Appalachia, a battle is being fought over a mountain. It is a battle with severe consequences that affect every American, regardless of their social status, economic background or where they live.”  Join producer/writer/director Bill Haney, producer Clara Bingham, and guest host Jeff Biggers for the discussion, 8pm ET.


Late Late Night FDL: Electronica
Electronica. This Harveytoon Modern Madcap cartoon was released in August, 1960.

Electronica.  This Harveytoon Modern Madcap cartoon was released in August, 1960.

Directed and Produced (uncredited) by Seymour Kneitel.  Story by Irving Dressler.  Animation by Morey Reden and Nick Tafuri.  Scenic Art by Robert Owen.  Voices by (in alphabetical order) Gilbert Mack (Robot Salesman – uncredited) and Jack Mercer (Henry – uncredited).  Original Music by Winston Sharples.

Grab your popcorn, put your feet up on the seatback in front of ya, and aim your spitballs at the ushers please. This is Late Late Night FireDogLake, where off topic is the topic … so dive in. What’s on your mind?


U.S. to Throw More Money at Central America’s Drug War

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 26th, 2011 4:41 am by HL

U.S. to Throw More Money at Central America’s Drug War
At a regional conference this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged almost $300 million to the governments of Central America during 2011 to aid in their efforts to oppose cartels and others involved in the region’s violent, illegal drug trade. The new assistance package is almost a 15 percent increase from last year’s aid. Neither Clinton nor the article below offered details on exactly how the money should or would be used, but it seems safe to assume most will be spent on police and military operations. —ARK BBC: Announcing the increased US funding, Mrs Clinton said Washington was committed to helping the region. “Everyone knows the statistics, the murder rates surpassing civil war levels,” she said in remarks to the Central American Security Conference (SICA). Mrs Clinton said funding to tackle transnational organised crime in the region would be increased from $260m in 2010 to almost $300m this year. Read more

At a regional conference this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged almost $300 million to the governments of Central America during 2011 to aid in their efforts to oppose cartels and others involved in the region’s violent, illegal drug trade. The new assistance package is almost a 15 percent increase from last year’s aid. Neither Clinton nor the article below offered details on exactly how the money should or would be used, but it seems safe to assume most will be spent on police and military operations. —ARK

BBC:

Announcing the increased US funding, Mrs Clinton said Washington was committed to helping the region.

“Everyone knows the statistics, the murder rates surpassing civil war levels,” she said in remarks to the Central American Security Conference (SICA).

Mrs Clinton said funding to tackle transnational organised crime in the region would be increased from $260m in 2010 to almost $300m this year.

Read more

Related Entries


N.Y. Religious Groups Exempt From Gay Rights Legislation
Language protecting New York churches, synagogues and other religious institutions from lawsuit and penalty upon refusal to perform same-sex marriages was one of the key amendments that won Republican support for Friday’s historic gay rights legislation. The new law contains an inseverability clause, which binds all parts of the measure together. If the religious exemptions were ever successfully challenged in court, then all other aspects of the law, including its important gain for civil rights, could also be deemed invalid. —ARK The New York Times: The Republicans who insisted on the provision did not only want religious organizations and affiliated groups to be protected from lawsuits if they refused to provide their buildings or services for same-sex marriage ceremonies, they also wanted them to be spared any penalties by state government. That would mean, for example, a church that declined to accommodate same-sex weddings could not be penalized later with the loss of state aid for the social service programs it administers. … The amendment that was passed stated that barring access to same-sex ceremonies, or failing to provide services for them, would not “result in any state or local government action to penalize, withhold benefits, or discriminate against such religious corporation, benevolent order, a not-for-profit corporation operated, supervised or controlled by a religious corporation.” … Finally, the legislation contained what is known as an inseverability clause. If a court found any part of the act to be invalid, the entire legislation would also be invalid. The clause is an important provision to Republicans because it means that the marriage legislation would be at risk if the religious exemptions were successfully challenged in court. Read more

Language protecting New York churches, synagogues and other religious institutions from lawsuit and penalty upon refusal to perform same-sex marriages was one of the key amendments that won Republican support for Friday’s historic gay rights legislation. The new law contains an inseverability clause, which binds all parts of the measure together. If the religious exemptions were ever successfully challenged in court, then all other aspects of the law, including its important gain for civil rights, could also be deemed invalid. —ARK

The New York Times:

The Republicans who insisted on the provision did not only want religious organizations and affiliated groups to be protected from lawsuits if they refused to provide their buildings or services for same-sex marriage ceremonies, they also wanted them to be spared any penalties by state government. That would mean, for example, a church that declined to accommodate same-sex weddings could not be penalized later with the loss of state aid for the social service programs it administers.

… The amendment that was passed stated that barring access to same-sex ceremonies, or failing to provide services for them, would not “result in any state or local government action to penalize, withhold benefits, or discriminate against such religious corporation, benevolent order, a not-for-profit corporation operated, supervised or controlled by a religious corporation.”

… Finally, the legislation contained what is known as an inseverability clause. If a court found any part of the act to be invalid, the entire legislation would also be invalid. The clause is an important provision to Republicans because it means that the marriage legislation would be at risk if the religious exemptions were successfully challenged in court.

Read more

Related Entries



Mitt Romney Criticizes Obama Economic Policies

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 26th, 2011 4:40 am by HL

Mitt Romney Criticizes Obama Economic Policies
SALT LAKE CITY — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama’s economic policies Friday at campaign stops in his one-time home state of…

Geoffrey R. Stone: Marriage Equality and the Catholic Bishops
The most vehement opponent of marriage equality in New York was the Catholic Church. That the leaders of the Church take this position is certainly their right, but it is a sorry testament to their understanding of their Church’s own history in this nation.

Tea Party TV Show Coming Soon (VIDEO)

Michelangelo Signorile: Jubilation!
There is much work ahead. But what happened in New York last night will be seen to have been as pivotal as what happened in this state, in this city, over 40 years ago, when patrons at the Stonewall Inn said, “Enough!”

IA-2012 Caucus: 23% Romney, 22% Bachmann, 10% Cain (Des Moines Register 6/19-22)
Des Moines Register / Selzer & Co. 6/19-22/11; 400 likely Republican caucus-goers, 4.9% margin of error Mode: Live telephone interviews Des Moines Register story Iowa…


Jews, Muslims File Suit Against Proposed Circumcision Ban

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 26th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Jews, Muslims File Suit Against Proposed Circumcision Ban
A proposal in San Francisco to ban the circumcision of males under 18 is facing a legal challenge after opponents filed suit to block the measure from the ballot in November. The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council of…

Osama bin Laden Thought al-Qaeda Had A Marketing Problem
So say you’re the head of a terrorist organization. You treat your employees pretty well, considering, but your organization isn’t booming the way you think it should. Maybe, in the tradition of down-on-their-luck corporations of the past, it is time for a new name?



A Brief History of Nazi Fascism

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 26th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

A Brief History of Nazi Fascism


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 26th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Presented By:

Arab-Jewish dialogue: Is there a purpose?  
The word dialogue inherently bears a soft, constructive meaning that few people would quibble about. Dialogue is surely better than arguing, unquestionably better than fighting, and absolutely necessary if we are to have any success whatsoever in connecting with others…



Exclusive: Oil Industry Forms New Astroturf Group To Manipulate 2012 Republican Primary In Iowa

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 26th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

Exclusive: Oil Industry Forms New Astroturf Group To Manipulate 2012 Republican Primary In Iowa
As the Republican presidential candidates tour Iowa hoping to lock up the 2012 nomination, they will hear an assortment of questions on energy policy. Some of them, ThinkProgress has learned, will be planted by the oil and natural gas lobby to steer the candidates toward pro-Big Oil policies. A recent campaign stop by Rick Santorum […]

Logo for the oil industry's latest front group

As the Republican presidential candidates tour Iowa hoping to lock up the 2012 nomination, they will hear an assortment of questions on energy policy. Some of them, ThinkProgress has learned, will be planted by the oil and natural gas lobby to steer the candidates toward pro-Big Oil policies.

A recent campaign stop by Rick Santorum reveals at least part of the strategy. During the question and answer period of an event last Monday at the Pizza Ranch in Ames, Iowa, Santorum was asked by a man if he would pledge to support the Keystone XL, an oil pipeline currently under construction to bring crude oil from Canada through several states to refineries in Texas. Santorum disregarded the question, and spoke for a few minutes about problems encountered by the fracking industry in his home state of Pennsylvania. The man interjected and again asked whether Santorum would say definitively if he supports the pipeline. Santorum, looking slightly annoyed, relented and said yes.

During the event, two young people in the back of the room handed out cards and pamphlets from a new organization called the Iowa Energy Forum. “We’re a grassroots group,” said Connor Reed, one of people sporting Iowa Energy Forum t-shirts. The website for the forum says it is simply “a growing community of concerned citizens committed to two goals – achieving energy security for our country and holding our elected officials accountable for shaping energy policies.” The website highlights Canadian tar sands and the importance of the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as the need for more domestic drilling.

Rather than being a grassroots organization, the Iowa Energy Forum is a slick, new creation of the oil and gas industry. The group is financed by the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association representing Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Transcanada, Shell Oil, and other oil industry heavyweights.

After witnessing the spectacle at the Santorum event, ThinkProgress observed Iowa Energy Forum staffers attending various Iowa Tea Party events and Herman Cain campaign stops. Iowa Energy Forum trackers have pressed their issue to Mitt Romney and other 2012 candidates.

Daniel Weiser, a partner at the Iowa lobbying firm Capitol Strategies, told ThinkProgress that his company helped set up the Iowa Energy Forum. “We’re lobbying for them down in the capitol, got the legislative task forced signed up,” Weiser said. Weiser’s firm helped recruit about 40 people so “theoretically when a presidential candidate comes, we have people to speak to them.” The goal, Weiser said, was to press the candidates on supporting domestic energy production, including renewables. However, Weiser admitted that fossil fuels are the priority. “Drilling for oil and natural gas, those are the biggies.”

LS2g, the lobbying firm managing the Iowa Energy Forum, the oil industry front group

However, the main drivers of the front group appear to be linked to LS2g, a corporate public relations and lobbying firm based in Des Moines. Chuck Larson and Karen Slifka, former Republican Party operatives, manage the Iowa Energy Forum and the LS2g office serves as the group’s headquarters.

In addition to astroturfing candidate events, the Iowa Energy Forum has pushed to defend billions in targeted subsidies to the oil and gas industry. The group recently hosted American Petroleum Institute economist John Felmy, who blasted attempts by Congress to repeal such giveaways. The group has managed to snag notable politicians, including Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA), to appear at their press conferences.

A new profile of American Petroleum Institute head Jack Gerard sheds light on the purpose of groups like the Iowa Energy Forum. Gerard’s lobbying strategy has focused on boosting the public perception of big oil. Gerard has dedicated millions of dollars worth of ads promoting his industry, but he has also organized fly-ins of African American and Hispanic oil workers, bused in workers to hold large public rallies in pivotal states, and recruited unlikely allies to press his case, including labor unions. He even hired one of the Nature Conservancy’s top officials to help build his pro-oil army.

The oil industry’s brazen attempt to manipulate the Republican primary isn’t necessarily a new strategy, however. In 2008, the coal industry sent staffers posing as grassroots activists to campaign events for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to hawk “clean coal.” The fake activists would press the candidates to support coal industry priorities, and then once they went on record, the video would be used in coal industry advertisements.

Implications Of Chained CPI For The Very Elderly
As long as the idea of switching to the use of the Chained CPI is in the news it’s worth emphasizing that though the scale of the cut to Social Security benefits implied by doing this is very small, it falls quite heavily on people who are very old since it compounds over time. Social […]

As long as the idea of switching to the use of the Chained CPI is in the news it’s worth emphasizing that though the scale of the cut to Social Security benefits implied by doing this is very small, it falls quite heavily on people who are very old since it compounds over time. Social Security Works has a table (PDF):

CAP’s Social Security proposal pairs a switch to Chained CPI with more generous benefits for the poorest retirees and with more generous benefits for the very elderly. On net, our proposal would reduce poverty among senior citizens. But if you simply do the C-CPI-U switch without changing anything else, you end up making Social Security’s adequacy problem worse.


National poll leader Romney and latest entry Bachmann ahead in poll of Iowa GOP caucus-goers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 26th, 2011 4:34 am by HL

National poll leader Romney and latest entry Bachmann ahead in poll of Iowa GOP caucus-goers

DES MOINES, Iowa — A new Iowa Poll shows national Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney and tea party favorite Michele Bachmann leading among the state’s likely GOP caucus-goers.

The poll conducted for The Des Moines Register shows Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, with support from 23 percent in Iowa. Bachmann is right on his heels. The Minnesota representative who plans to launch her campaign in Iowa on Monday has support from 22 percent.

Romney was the No. 2 finisher in the caucuses in his bid for the 2008 GOP nomination. Bachmann is a three-term congresswoman and newer face in the 2012 White House mix.

Read full article >>

Army worries about ‘toxic leaders’ in ranks

A major U.S. Army survey of leadership and morale found that more than 80 percent of Army officers and sergeants had directly observed a “toxic” leader in the last year and that about 20 percent of the respondents said that they had worked directly for one.

The survey of about 22,000 Army leaders was conducted by the Center for Army Leadership and comes during a year when the Army has removed or discipline three brigade commanders who were en route to, or returning from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Selection to command a combat brigade, which consists of about 5,000 soldiers and is commanded by a colonel, is highly competitive in the Army.

Read full article >>

N.Y. Gov. Cuomo seen as getting political boost from gay marriage bill

The passage of a same-sex-marriage bill late Friday in New York drew considerable national coverage to the Empire State and was broadly touted as a major victory for first-term Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

It also has stoked talk that Cuomo is rapidly transforming himself into a first among equals when it comes to the jockeying for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

“It’s not just that he delivered on a major civil rights issue for the Democratic base in a huge state, it’s how he did it — winning bipartisan support and sticking with it when it seemed it might fail,” Democratic consultant Jason Ralston said. “Combine that with his name and his focus on the middle class, and he is at the front of the pack for 2016.”

Read full article >>


Progressives Squawk at Obama

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 26th, 2011 4:31 am by HL

Progressives Squawk at Obama
Dana Milbank, Washington Post
It was another day of President Obama-bashing at the Capitol.“I’m profoundly disappointed,” one lawmaker said at a news conference Thursday morning.“A disappointment to say the least,” said another.“Wrong decision,” said a third.“His proposal failed.”“It is unjustifiable.”“Quite simply unconscionable.”

California’s Mess Not Texas’ Fault
Steven Greenhut, OC Register
As California's budget battle continues, Republicans and Democrats have engaged in a rhetorical battle regarding the relative merits and demerits of our lovely state and one of the nation's other megastates, Texas. This debate started after a legislative delegation made up mostly of Republicans went eastward in April to meet with Lone Star State officials to learn about job growth; it has re-emerged as Texas Gov. Rick Perry is being mentioned as a potential GOP presidential hopeful.

Did the IEA Just Deliver a QE3 Quick Fix?
Larry Kudlow, IBD
Did the International Energy Agency (IEA) just deliver the oil equivalent of Quantitative Easing 3?The decision to release 2 million barrels per day of emergency oil reserves — with the U.S. covering half from its strategic petroleum reserve — is surely aimed at the sputtering economies of the U.S. and Europe following an onslaught of bad economic statistics and forecasts. This includes a gloomy Fed forecast that Ben Bernanke unveiled less than 24 hours before the energy news hit the tape.I wonder if all this was coordinated.The Bernanke Fed significantly downgraded its economic…

Bachmann: Queen of the Tea Party
Matthew Continetti, Weekly Standard
If she'd fallen backward, she'd have been killed. It was September 2009, during her second term in Congress, and a magazine had sent a photographer to shoot Michele Bachmann. He escorted her to the third floor rotunda in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, where he positioned a large orange crate next to the balustrade. He told her to stand on it. She reluctantly obliged. Behind her were three stories of empty air.