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Archive for July 10th, 2011

Sunday Talking Heads: July 10, 2011

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 10th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Sunday Talking Heads: July 10, 2011
Good morning friends. I suppose the lineup bugged Scarecrow, here’s what he had to say …

hang in there (photo: twolf1)

Good morning friends. I suppose the lineup bugged Scarecrow, here’s what he had to say:

Suppose the President’s Party, the Tea-GOP Party, and everyone else brainwashed by dominant free market, anti-government ideology since Ronald Reagan — including Clinton, Bush and Obama — had produced an economic structure that only three years earlier had caused the worst financial and economic crash since the Great Depression, putting tens of millions out of work across the globe and leaving much of Europe still in crisis.

And suppose that having listened to Tea-GOP zealots and thus failed to produce a sustainable recovery in the US from that collapse, these same people had allowed the economy to remain anemic, the states to become budget-starved and forced into massive cuts of public services, and 25 million workers to remain under- and unemployed.

And suppose further that virtually every sensible economist agreed that the economy desperately needed a major infusion of federal spending, and that without this major infusion of funding, the economy risked sliding back into recession, state budget crises would worsen and the unemployment rates would rise or at best remain stuck at intolerable levels. In short, only large federal spending could keep the economy from tanking again, just as it had kept the economy above water for the last two years.

Now suppose these same national leaders, starting with President Obama, had convinced themselves that what they wanted to do was exactly the wrong thing, indeed, the dumbest thing they could do. They wanted to impose massive federal spending cuts with or without large tax increases on an economy that needed exactly the opposite remedy, even though all reasonable economists explained these cuts would make the economy worse and cause even more unemployment. [Cont’d. Listings after the jump.]

And suppose we had the good fortune of having seen this austerity policy tried in several European countries already, and seen it fail exactly as predicted. So we already knew that what didn’t make sense in theory, also failed in practice. We had no excuses for not knowing this.

Even dumber, suppose these fools had set up a hostage situation involving the debt limit — which everyone with a brain knew had to be increased under all the proposals under discussion — in which the Tea-GOP insisted it would risk defaulting on the national debt, thus harming US credit and tanking financial markets again, unless the other side agreed to massive spending cuts that would tank the economy and increase unemployment.

And the President had foolishly, recklessly or cynically insisted that he would accept this blackmail only if Democrats agreed to make significant reductions in spending, including reductions in the nation’s most important, and Democratic, health and retirement programs for the elderly and the poor. In other words, the President proposed to make the Democrats pay the electoral price for both making the economy worse while cutting some of the most worthy and popular programs in American history, or be blamed letting the Tea-GOP ruin US credit.

Any rational observer would conclude that the Tea-GOP had been taken over by economic terrorists, the President of the United States was either a blithering idiot or worse, and the Democratic Party was being set up to take the fall for either destroying the credit of the United States or their own future and credibility with American voters.

Given all that, whom should the Sunday Talk Shows invite to explain this monstrous situation to the American people? The answer is: you wouldn’t invite any of the people ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, or Fox chose, because all of those invitees are either clueless, dishonest or complicit in this monstrous situation. So naturally, all those programs will feature exactly the people who are clueless, dishonest or complicit, and there won’t be a single person willing or qualified to tell the truth.

Shut them down. All of them.

And if you’re so inclined, do what Peterr also reminds me: go to your house of worship and pray for your country, because it’s probably going down.

To which masaccio replied: “It isn’t just the guests who are clueless or complicit. The people hosting are clueless and complicit, and pretend they are neither. We’d all be better off if they took Peterr’s advice, and sought forgiveness for their arrogance.”

Washington Journal.

ABC’s This Week: Debt Ceiling – White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley. Economy Roundtable: George Will, Donna Brazile, Al Hunt, Jonathan Karl.  Then, IMF Chair Christine Lagarde on the risks of a US default. Also, is the media too quick to rush to judgment? Murdoch hacking scandal – Vanity Fair columnist and ADWEEK editorial director Michael Wolff (who also wrote “Murdoch: The Man Who Owns the News”), NPR’s Nina Totenberg, and CourtTV founder Steve Brill.

CBS’ Face the Nation: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, and Democrat Budget Committee member Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

CNN’s State of the Union: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).  Then, Rick Santorum.  After that, a discussion of Space exploration.

Chris Matthews: Is the Tea Party’s Flirtation with Default a Big Favor to Barack Obama? Is Michele Bachmann Too Far Right Even for the GOP?

Fareed Zakaria – GPS: “On GPS this week, we’ll circle the world in an hour – from transatlantic views on L’Affaire DSK to the civil war in Libya; the birth of a new nation in Africa and a look at how that continent’s “African lions” could be the next “Asian tigers”. Plus: how Hollywood has hit a Great Wall in China.”

Fox News Sunday: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Minority Leader. Then, “Senator ‘Tea Party’” – Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Roundtable: Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Steve Hayes, Juan Williams.

NBC’s Meet the Press: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.  Then, Tim Pawlenty.

Newsmakers: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Chair of the House Republican Study Committee (RSC), emphasizes the efforts of RSC committee members to support legislation that cuts or caps spending, and requires the Federal Government to balance its budget. …

Q & A: Nick Gillespie, Editor in Chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv, and the co-author (with Matt Welch) of a new book about libertarianism. The book, his first, discusses the problems of the two-party system and the consequences of that system, and proposes solutions to America’s problems based on Libertarian beliefs.

Religion & Ethics.

60 Minutes: Shaleionaires – While some complain that extracting natural gas from shale rock formations is tainting their water supply, others who have allowed drilling on their property are getting wealthy and becoming “shaleionaires.”  Stand Down – Some veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan into the recession are finding themselves homeless. Report on an annual encampment in San Diego where veterans can find hope, help and services. Market Street – Report on a mystery that was solved about a 100-year-old film that we now know was made on San Francisco’s Market St. just days before the 1906 earthquake.

To The Contrary: Topics: New Campaign to involve women in politics
Younger Women Freezing their eggs. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). Cyberstalking. Guest Host: Irene Natividad, Global Women. Panelists: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Tara Setmayer, Lara Brown, Jennifer Marshall.

Univision’s Al Punto: Hector Capriles Radonski, Governor of the State of Miranda and Leading Contender for President of Venezuela; Rene Jaquez, Special Agent, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; Andrew Breitbart, Tea Party Leader, Publisher, Editor and Commentator; Demian Bichir, Actor “A Better Life.”

Virtually Speaking: Avedon Carol and Correntewire‘s Lambert Strether “Our Media Not Theirs.” Developments of the week, highlighting issues neglected or misrepresented on the Sunday morning broadcasts of traditional media.

C-SPAN’s Book TV.

FDL’s Book Salon: Habeas Corpus after 9/11 examines the rise of the U.S.-run global detention system that emerged after 9/11 and the efforts to challenge it through habeas corpus (a petition to appear in court to claim unlawful imprisonment). Habeas expert and litigator Jonathan Hafetz gives us an insider’s view of the detention of “enemy combatants” and an accessible explanation of the complex forces that keep these systems running.  5pm ET.

FDL’s Movie Night Monday: Flex’s 10 Rules for Dealing with Police.   Based in Washington, DC, Flex Your Rights (Flex) collaborates with community activists to fight new policing schemes that violate citizens’ Bill of Rights protections. Come talk with Scott Morgan and Steve Silverman, hosted by Lisa Derrick.  8pm ET.

Late Late Night FDL: The Overture to “William Tell”
The Overture to “William Tell”. This Universal Pictures Walter Lantz Production cartoon was part of the Musical Miniatures series and was released on June 16, 1947.

The Overture to “William Tell”.  This Universal Pictures Walter Lantz Production cartoon was part of the Musical Miniatures series and was released on June 16, 1947.

Directed by Dick Lundy.  Produced by Walter Lantz.  Story by (in alphabetical order) Ben Hardaway and Milt Schaffer.  Animation by Laverne Harding (as Verne Harding) and Casey Onaitis (as S.C. Onaitis). Backgrounds by Fred Brunish.  Voices by Harry Stanton – Bass singer (‘B-O!’) (uncredited).  Musical adaption by Darrell Calker.

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?


South Sudan Becomes a Nation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 10th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

South Sudan Becomes a Nation
After more than five decades of civil war that have seen millions displaced and killed, South Sudan seceded from the Arab-dominated north Saturday to become Africa’s newest nation. The country’s president, Salva Kiir, wore his signature black cowboy hat—a gift from George W. Bush—while he signed the interim constitution before cheering crowds. The struggle for peace is far from over, however. Relations with the north remain tense and the country’s leaders have to decide how to manage its oil supplies. They will have to do so while contending with rebels who want control of the region, some of whom threaten to renew the north-south conflict as they continue fighting in the borderlands, analysts say. —ARK The New York Times: A new nation was being born in what used to be a forlorn, war-racked patch of Africa, and to many it seemed nothing short of miraculous. After more than five decades of an underdog, guerrilla struggle and two million lives lost, the Republic of South Sudan, Africa’s 54th state, was about to declare its independence in front of a who’s who of Africa, including the president of the country letting it go: Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, a war-crimes suspect. … “This is a beautiful day for Africa,” said Joseph Deiss, president of the United Nations General Assembly. “This is a remarkable achievement, a longstanding conflict has been stopped.” Perhaps. But South Sudan — Texas-size and with about eight million people — is already plagued by ethnic tensions and rebellions. More than a half-dozen renegade groups are battling the government, some with thousands of fighters. And relations with the north are still dicey. Negotiators have yet to agree on a formula to split the revenue from the south’s oilfields, which have kept the economies of both southern and northern Sudan afloat. And Mr. Bashir’s army has been pounding southern-allied rebels who have [been] refusing to disarm just north of the border in the Nuba Mountains, which some analysts worry could drag the whole region back into a full-scale war. Read more

After more than five decades of civil war that have seen millions displaced and killed, South Sudan seceded from the Arab-dominated north Saturday to become Africa’s newest nation. The country’s president, Salva Kiir, wore his signature black cowboy hat—a gift from George W. Bush—while he signed the interim constitution before cheering crowds.

The struggle for peace is far from over, however. Relations with the north remain tense and the country’s leaders have to decide how to manage its oil supplies. They will have to do so while contending with rebels who want control of the region, some of whom threaten to renew the north-south conflict as they continue fighting in the borderlands, analysts say. —ARK

The New York Times:

A new nation was being born in what used to be a forlorn, war-racked patch of Africa, and to many it seemed nothing short of miraculous. After more than five decades of an underdog, guerrilla struggle and two million lives lost, the Republic of South Sudan, Africa’s 54th state, was about to declare its independence in front of a who’s who of Africa, including the president of the country letting it go: Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, a war-crimes suspect.

… “This is a beautiful day for Africa,” said Joseph Deiss, president of the United Nations General Assembly. “This is a remarkable achievement, a longstanding conflict has been stopped.”

Perhaps. But South Sudan — Texas-size and with about eight million people — is already plagued by ethnic tensions and rebellions. More than a half-dozen renegade groups are battling the government, some with thousands of fighters. And relations with the north are still dicey. Negotiators have yet to agree on a formula to split the revenue from the south’s oilfields, which have kept the economies of both southern and northern Sudan afloat. And Mr. Bashir’s army has been pounding southern-allied rebels who have [been] refusing to disarm just north of the border in the Nuba Mountains, which some analysts worry could drag the whole region back into a full-scale war.

Read more

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House Directs Pentagon To Uphold DOMA Law On Gay Marriage

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 10th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

House Directs Pentagon To Uphold DOMA Law On Gay Marriage
By Kevin Eckstrom Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) House lawmakers voted Thursday (July 7) to order the Pentagon to uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage…

Obama Urges Lawmakers On Both Sides To Make ‘Political Sacrifices’
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James Zogby: Strategic Thinking Needed to Juggle Israeli-Palestinian Equation
If there is to be Israeli-Palestinian peace, the current dynamics at work in Israeli and Palestinian societies and in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship must be changed. That will require strategic thinking and a willingness to shake thing up, especially in Israel.


Patrick Leahy To Hold Hearing On DOMA Repeal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 10th, 2011 4:41 am by HL

Patrick Leahy To Hold Hearing On DOMA Repeal
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is planning to hold a hearing on repealing the Defense of Marriage Act “in the coming weeks.”


DOJ Lawyer Disbarred in Connection to Abramoff Scandal
Three years after pleading guilty to violating conflict of interest laws, the former U.S. Department of Justice lawyer involved in the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal has been disbarred, Legal Times reports. Robert E. Coughlin II was the former Deputy Chief…


Madame Jane predicts: Our grandchildren’s fate rests in the hands of the duped

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 10th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Madame Jane predicts: Our grandchildren’s fate rests in the hands of the duped
“Americans have been duped,” Madam Jane stated yesterday. She is our neighborhood fortune teller and her predictions are always accurate — if a bit scary. And while gazing into her new and improved high-tech crystal ball, Madame Jane also predicted that all this unwarranted and inappropriately naive gullibility on the part of Americans today is […]


Deficit Talks Scaled Back

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 10th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Deficit Talks Scaled Back
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) “said the White House and congressional leaders have stopped pursuing the major deficit-reduction deal tackling entitlement programs and an overhaul of the tax code that he and President Obama had been seeking,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the Washington Post, Boehner told Obama that their plan to “go big,” and “forge a compromise that would save more than $4 trillion over the next decade, was crumbling under Obama’s insistence on significant new tax revenue.”

New York Times: “As potential elements of the plan became public, Mr. Boehner was encountering stiff resistance from fellow Republicans determined to oppose any package containing proposals that could be construed as a tax increase, worried such a deal could cost the party dearly in the 2012 elections.”

Bottom line: The breakdown of talks on a “grand bargain” isn’t nearly as surprising the fact that so many thought such a deal was even possible.

Quote of the Day
“The Sugar Daddy has run out of sugar.”

— Sarah Palin, writing on Facebook, on President Obama’s policies.


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 10th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Presented By:

David Brooks’ Shot at Foreign Aid
In his trademark fashion, David Brooks crams a lot of issues into his critique today of US reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan: ambitious government initiatives, social engineering, the poverty-violence link (known in the trade as “greed v. grievance”), the (in)effectiveness of…

Welcome to Palestine – if you can get in
Palestinians have globally touted an array of rights that Israel systematically denies. There is the right of return, the right of freedom of movement, the right to water, the right to education, the right to enter (not to be confused…


Nonprofit Property Tax Bias

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 10th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Nonprofit Property Tax Bias
When I made the case that property tax codes shouldn’t exempt non-profits, the response I got was mainly from irate conservatives. I gather that the reason for this was that my example of unjustly untaxed landowners was churches. That was my example because I believe that in the vast majority of municipalities churches do, in […]

When I made the case that property tax codes shouldn’t exempt non-profits, the response I got was mainly from irate conservatives. I gather that the reason for this was that my example of unjustly untaxed landowners was churches. That was my example because I believe that in the vast majority of municipalities churches do, in fact, account for the bulk of untaxed nonprofit ownership of land and structures. But obviously churches are something that conservative valorize culturally, and conservatives also dislike taxes, so when they hear that some heathen liberal wants to start taxing churches they get upset.

So to take another cut at the issue, I see Reihan Salam touting a Vance Fried Cato paper (PDF) calling for reduced subsidization of college tuition that involves, among other things, trying to persuade us that even non-profit institutions have profits:

How can a nonprofit have profits? Simply put, it happens when the revenue the nonprofit derives from providing a service exceeds the cost of providing that service. This might seem obvious, but it is often assumed that putatively “nonprofit” schools, by virtue of their designation, never make a profit from providing a particular service. In addition, such schools never report that they have realized profits, even when the profits happen to be large. Why? Because profits are reported as expenses.

Without endorsing Fried’s particular policy conclusions about higher education (I haven’t even read the whole paper) that’s exactly right. And of course it applies in general to the concept of diversified nonprofits. The synagogues I’m familiar with treat High Holy Day services as profit centers, selling tickets and generating funds to subsidize other activities. Some of those activities are worthy social endeavors, but many constitute something like a private benefit for congregation leaders, rabbis, etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It makes perfect sense for organizations to feature bundled services, cross-subsidization, etc. And it also makes perfect sense for the United States to offer a variety of forms of corporate organization, including a nonprofit designation.

But we should really think harder about the implications of writing a major preference into the tax code for ownership of land and structures by firms with a non-profit organizational form. Probably the least enlightening way of thinking about this is to focus on the short-term fact that absent the tax preference, non-profits would have higher expenses in the form of tax payments. That, in turn, would allow for lower levels of residential or commercial property tax or lower sales taxes or whatever. The larger issue, however, is the long term one. Failing to tax non-profit ownership of land and structures encourages non-profits to invest their revenue in ownership of land and structures. This ends up reducing the amount of space available for residences and commercial ventures, but also reduces the extent to which non-profits will actually recycle their revenues into programming. A school faces a choice at the margin between hiring more professors and building fancier buildings. A church faces a choice at the margin between serving more lunches to poor people and building a fancier church. Exempting schools and churches from property taxes encourages them to choose to invest in buildings. Why do that?

As I understand it, churches really are the main issue here since substantial universities can usually be coerced/cajoled into making PILOT payments by determined municipalities. But conservatives may be more comfortable with this idea if they think of it in Fried’s terms as a call for less valorization of nominal nonprofits in general.


Panetta: U.S. ‘within reach’ of defeating al-Qaeda

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 10th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

Panetta: U.S. ‘within reach’ of defeating al-Qaeda

KABUL — The United States is “within reach” of defeating al-Qaeda and is targeting 10 to 20 leaders who are key to the terrorist network’s survival, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Saturday during his first trip to Afghanistan since taking charge at the Pentagon.

Panetta, who led the CIA until June and oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, strongly endorsed the Obama administration’s increasingly aggressive campaign to hunt down al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. He hinted of more to come, saying he would redouble efforts by the military and the spy agency to work together on counterterrorism missions outside the traditional war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Read full article >>

It was a low-down, no-good godawful bailout. But it paid.

The bailout of the financial system is roughly as popular as Wall Street bonuses, the federal budget deficit or LeBron James in a Cleveland sports bar. You hear over and over that the bailout was a disaster, it cost taxpayers a fortune, we didn’t really need it, it didn’t work, it was a failure. It has become politically toxic, which inhibits reasoned public discussion about it.

But you know what? The bailout, by the numbers, clearly did work. Not only did it forestall a worldwide financial meltdown, but a Fortune analysis shows that U.S. taxpayers are also coming out ahead on it — by at least $40 billion, and possibly by as much as $100 billion eventually. This is our count for the entire bailout, not just the 3 percent represented by the massively unpopular Troubled Assets Relief Program. Yes, that’s right — TARP is only 3 percent of the bailout, even though it gets 97 percent of the attention.

Read full article >>

Industries lobby against voluntary nutrition guidelines for food marketed to kids

The food and advertising industries have launched a multi-pronged campaign to squash government efforts to create voluntary nutritional guidelines for foods marketed to children.

Calling themselves the Sensible Food Policy Coalition, the nation’s biggest foodmakers, fast-food chains and media companies, including Viacom and Time Warner, are trying to derail standards proposed by four federal agencies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also lent its lobbying muscle to the effort.

The guidelines are designed to encourage foodmakers to reduce salt, added sugars and fats in foods and drinks targeted to children. If their products did not meet the standards, foodmakers following the guidelines would refrain from advertising them to children.

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Beyond the Big City Blues

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 10th, 2011 4:31 am by HL

Beyond the Big City Blues
Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest
Policy, Politics & Culture In my last post, I argued that we need to stop thinking about our inner city problems so heavily in terms of race.  Racial problems in the US contributed to the particular history of the urban underclass and race can never be totally ignored in this country, but the inner city today is haunted by three serious problems, none of which is racial in nature: a lack of jobs, an advanced state of social disintegration and decay, and the presence of the illegal drug industry.There are no silver bullets for any of these problems; they were built up over many…

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Obama Calls for “Balanced Approach” on Debt
Jamie Klatell, The Hill
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