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Archive for July 18th, 2011

Late, Late Night FDL: Come Sail Away

Posted in Uncategorized on July 18th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Late, Late Night FDL: Come Sail Away
Styx – Come Sail Away and Doobie Brothers – China Grove

Styx – Come Sail Away

And, just because I can…

Doobie Brothers – China Grove

What’s on your mind tonite…?

Murdoch’s hacking and bribing — IT’S ALL THE LIBERALS FAULT!
Conservatives are starting to talk like the conclusion of every ‘Scooby Doo’ episode and saying they’d get away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling liberals.

But of course, get ready for this argument to make it across the ocean even faster than the next resignation and/or arrest of a Murdoch employee.

Telegraph columnist Janet Daly opines that the left is just going after Murdoch to make conservatives shut up.

The Left does not want a debate or an open market in ideas. It wants to extirpate its opponents – to remove them from the field. It actually seems to believe that it is justified in snuffing out any possibility of our arguments reaching the impressionable masses

Yes, that must be why people are being arrested at a rapid pace in the UK — because otherwise it would be perfectly legitimate to hack phones, blackmail victims, and bribe the police, to say otherwise is liberal whining. Oh, we liberals refusing to live in a Hobbesian Paradise!

I guess that works better than the last FoxNews strategy on dealing with the issue in June.

And that, as they say, was that.

Hobbesian paradises just fine for Fred Hiatt though, no different than the Wall Street Journal, only at least the latter has literally sold everything including its soul to Murdoch already.



Employer-Provided Health Insurance Taking a Bigger Bite

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 18th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Employer-Provided Health Insurance Taking a Bigger Bite
Newly published numbers from the Department of Health and Human Services show that American workers in 2010 paid average premiums of $4,940 for employer-provided health insurance to cover just themselves. That figure increased from $1,992 in 1996. Last year, the average family paid $13,871 for health insurance under employer-provided plans. For the average American household—whose median income is now about $50,000—the rising price of health insurance is consuming a substantial part of paychecks. Click the link below to see a chart documenting the rise in cost per person between 1996 and 2010, as well as a map showing a state-by-state breakdown of costs. —ARK National Journal: Just over 51 percent of workers enrolled only themselves in employer-sponsored health insurance plans, the Agency for Health Research and Quality found. Average premiums were $4,940 for one person; $9,664 for employee plus-one coverage; and $13,871 for family coverage. Read more

Newly published numbers from the Department of Health and Human Services show that American workers in 2010 paid average premiums of $4,940 for employer-provided health insurance to cover just themselves. That figure increased from $1,992 in 1996. Last year, the average family paid $13,871 for health insurance under employer-provided plans.

For the average American household—whose median income is now about $50,000—the rising price of health insurance is consuming a substantial part of paychecks. Click the link below to see a chart documenting the rise in cost per person between 1996 and 2010, as well as a map showing a state-by-state breakdown of costs. —ARK

National Journal:

Just over 51 percent of workers enrolled only themselves in employer-sponsored health insurance plans, the Agency for Health Research and Quality found. Average premiums were $4,940 for one person; $9,664 for employee plus-one coverage; and $13,871 for family coverage.

Read more

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The Most Misunderstood Member of Your Household
When Buster is snoozing, dreams of being Alpha Dog aren’t flitting around in his brain, according to animal behaviorist John Bradshaw. The top-dog myth is just one of the erroneous memes we have about our best friend, writes the respected U.K. scientist, who goes on to argue that dogs are on the brink of a crisis. Bradshaw’s new book, “In Defence of Dogs” (titled “Dog Sense” in the United States) is, in the words of The Guardian newspaper, “nothing less than a manifesto for a new understanding of our canine friends.” Click the link at the bottom to see why the canine expert feels that a dog’s life in the 21st century needs some rethinking. To listen to an NPR interview with Bradshaw and to read still more of his ideas, click here. The Guardian: Put simply: dogs are on the brink of a crisis. And as we have put them there, it is our responsibility to help them. This is the thesis of John Bradshaw’s scholarly yet passionate book In Defence of Dogs, which is nothing less than a manifesto for a new understanding of our canine friends. It is an attempt to “stand up for dogdom” – that is, dogs as they truly are, not as we assume they are. As a canine expert and dog-lover, Bradshaw is dismayed that our treatment of dogs is based on so many mistaken beliefs and assumptions. He wants to set the record straight now because canine science has made huge advances in recent decades. He starts by demolishing the notion that dogs are essentially aggressive creatures seeking dominance, which is based on discredited research into wolf packs. It is now known that wolves – the direct ancestors of dogs – actually live in harmonious family groups. Packs are not dominated by “alpha wolves”, but are fundamentally cooperative. Read more

When Buster is snoozing, dreams of being Alpha Dog aren’t flitting around in his brain, according to animal behaviorist John Bradshaw. The top-dog myth is just one of the erroneous memes we have about our best friend, writes the respected U.K. scientist, who goes on to argue that dogs are on the brink of a crisis.

Bradshaw’s new book, “In Defence of Dogs” (titled “Dog Sense” in the United States) is, in the words of The Guardian newspaper, “nothing less than a manifesto for a new understanding of our canine friends.” Click the link at the bottom to see why the canine expert feels that a dog’s life in the 21st century needs some rethinking. To listen to an NPR interview with Bradshaw and to read still more of his ideas, click here.

The Guardian:

Put simply: dogs are on the brink of a crisis. And as we have put them there, it is our responsibility to help them.

This is the thesis of John Bradshaw’s scholarly yet passionate book In Defence of Dogs, which is nothing less than a manifesto for a new understanding of our canine friends. It is an attempt to “stand up for dogdom” – that is, dogs as they truly are, not as we assume they are. As a canine expert and dog-lover, Bradshaw is dismayed that our treatment of dogs is based on so many mistaken beliefs and assumptions. He wants to set the record straight now because canine science has made huge advances in recent decades.

He starts by demolishing the notion that dogs are essentially aggressive creatures seeking dominance, which is based on discredited research into wolf packs. It is now known that wolves – the direct ancestors of dogs – actually live in harmonious family groups. Packs are not dominated by “alpha wolves”, but are fundamentally cooperative.

Read more

Related Entries



Paul Stoller: In Search of the Public Good

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 18th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Paul Stoller: In Search of the Public Good
As the debt ceiling clock ticks down, we will soon find out if we are a people possessed by selfish personal desire or a people who promote the public good. In what kind of society do you want your children to live?

Steven Weber: Thanks, Art!
There are many Arts for which we should be grateful. But the greatest and most important of them all is the thing itself. Art. And in the case of this long-winded rant, I’m talking about Theatre.

Rudy Giuliani Warns Republican Party: ‘Get The Heck Out Of People’s Bedrooms’
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani warned the Republican party to â??move onâ? from its opposition to gay marriage in an interview with Candy Crowley…


Liz Cheney Drums Up Dishonest Claim That Obama Ignored The Private Sector

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 18th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Liz Cheney Drums Up Dishonest Claim That Obama Ignored The Private Sector

On Fox News Sunday, Liz Cheney disingenuously claimed that President Obama didn’t “say the words ‘private sector'” in his recent press conferences about the debt ceiling, claiming this proved that Obama “does not fundamentally believe that the private sector creates jobs.” In fact, Obama discussed private sector job growth during both briefings.

Cheney: Obama Didn’t “Say The Words ‘Private Sector’ ” In Either Debt Ceiling Press Conference

Cheney: In “Neither Press Conference, At Any Time Did [Obama] Say The Words ‘Private Sector.'” On the July 17 edition of Fox Broadcasting Company’s Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor Liz Cheney claimed President Obama “does not fundamentally  believe the private sector creates jobs,” because at “neither press conference” on the debt ceiling “did he at any time say the words ‘private sector.'” From Fox News Sunday:

CHENEY: This president is completely out of step with history and out of step with where most of the American people are. He does not fundamentally believe that the private sector creates jobs, and I’ll give you three example of where he stands from his press conferences this week. In neither press conference, did he at any time did he say the words “private sector.” He believes the solution is we’re going to have more government growth, we’re going to have the government hire people. [Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News Sunday, 7/17/11]

In Fact, Obama Referenced Private Businesses Numerous Times 

Obama: Debt Negotiations Should Be Strucutred To “Be Good For The Overall Business Climate.” During his July 15 press conference, Obama addressed negotiations over raising the debt ceiling and said:

And we’re in a position now where if we’re serious about this and everybody is willing to compromise, we can, as I said before, fix this thing probably for a decade or more.  And that’s something that I think would be good for the overall business climate and would encourage the American people that Washington actually is willing to take care of its business.  [White House Press Conference, 7/15/11]

Obama: “We’ve Taken A Number Of Steps To Make Sure That Businesses Are Willing To Invest.” In his July 11 press conference, Obama noted that the way to “solve” the unemployment problem is to “make sure that businesses are willing to invest”:

So this unemployment rate has been really stubborn.  There are a couple of ways that we can solve that.  Number one is to make sure that the overall economy is growing.  And so we have continued to take a series of steps to make sure that there’s money in people’s pockets that they can go out there and spend.  That’s what these payroll tax cuts were about.  

We’ve taken a number of steps to make sure that businesses are willing to invest, and that’s what the small business tax cuts and some of the tax breaks for companies that are willing to invest in plants and equipment — and zero capital gains for small businesses — that’s what that was all about, was giving businesses more incentive to invest. [White House Press Conference, 7/11/11]

Obama: “Unemployment Benefits … Improves The Climate For Businesses To Want To Hire.” During his July 11 press conference, Obama discussed unemployment and said that a payroll tax cut could “give businesses a great incentive to hire.” He added:

Unemployment benefits, again, puts money in the pockets of folks who are out there knocking on doors trying to find a job every day.  Giving them those resources, that puts more money into the economy and that potentially improves it — improves the climate for businesses to want to hire.  [White House Press Conference, 7/11/11]

Obama: “I’ve Got Three Trade Deals Sitting Ready To Go” To “Spur On Additional Job Growth.” In his July 15 press conference, Obama noted that he has “three trade deals sitting ready to go” in order to “spur on additional job growth.” From President Obama’s July 15 press conference:

OBAMA: Most of the things that I’ve proposed to help spur on additional job growth are traditionally bipartisan.  I’ve got three trade deals sitting ready to go.  And these are all trade deals that the Republicans told me were their top priorities.  They said this would be one of the best job creators that we could have.  And yet it’s still being held up because some folks don’t want to provide trade adjustment assistance to people who may be displaced as a consequence of trade.  Surely we can come up with a compromise to solve those problems. [White House Press Conference, 7/11/11]

Cheney Relied On Falsehood To Attack Obama’s Record On Stimulus, Debt, And Health Care Reform

Cheney: Obama’s “Stimulus Program Did Nothing To Help” The Economic Crisis At The Beginning Of His Presidency. On Fox News Sunday, Cheney responded to Fox News contributor Juan Williams statement that there was an “economic crisis when [Obama] came into office” by claiming “and this man’s stimulus program did nothing to help that.” [Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News Sunday, 7/17/11]

Click here for the truth about the stimulus’ effects on the economy

Cheney: “This President Has Added More To The Debt Than All Previous Presidents Combined.” Cheney further falsely claimed Obama “has added more to the debt than all previous presidents combined.” [Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News Sunday, 7/17/11]

Click here for the truth about what factors have contributed to the national debt

Cheney: “You Could Easily Find $1.4 Trillion In Savings If You Would Repeal Obamacare.” Cheney further falsely claimed “you could easily find $1.4 trillion in savings if you would repeal Obamacare.” [Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News Sunday, 7/17/11]

Click here for the truth about the claim that health care repeal would save $1.4 trillion


Scotland Yard Chief Resigns Amid Phone Hacking Scandal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 18th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Scotland Yard Chief Resigns Amid Phone Hacking Scandal
London’s police commissioner resigned his post on Sunday, just a few hours after a former executive for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was arrested in connection with the News Of The World phone hacking scandal. Sir Paul Stephenson, chief of the…

Florida League Of Women Voters Drops Registration Plan Over Restrictive Laws
It isn’t only voter ID laws which are imposing restrictions on the right to vote.

Voter ID Bill-Sponsoring Ohio Politician Faces Further Outrage Over DUI/ Viagra Incident
The Republican speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives wants a fellow Republican legislator who sponsored a voter ID bill and was charged with drunk driving to resign from his seat.



The GOP Elite: We’re Only In It For The Money

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 18th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

The GOP Elite: We’re Only In It For The Money


Public Overwhelmingly Rejects GOP Handling of Debt Crisis

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 18th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Public Overwhelmingly Rejects GOP Handling of Debt Crisis
A new CBS News poll finds Americans are unimpressed with their political leaders’ handling of the debt ceiling crisis.

Key finding: A majority disapprove of all the involved parties’ conduct, but Republicans in Congress fare the worst, with just 21% backing their intransigent resistance to raising taxes. A stunning 71% disapprove.

President Obama earned more generous approval ratings for his handling of the negotiations, but still more people said they disapproved (48%) than approved (43%).

Lawmaker Scuffles with Armed Intruder
Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) “scuffled with an armed intruder at his southern Iowa farmhouse late Saturday night before his grandson pointed a gun at the intruder, who then fled,” the AP reports.


ABOVE ALL, ACT

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 18th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

ABOVE ALL, ACT
In wake of Friday’s dismal jobs data, it is past time to stick into any Congressional vehicle moving at any speed at all the following authorization: The Treasury shall auction the right to repatriate one trillion dollars of offshore profits,…

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…


The (Nonsensical) Politics of Fisheries Funding

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 18th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

The (Nonsensical) Politics of Fisheries Funding
– by Michael Conathan All eyes in Washington are focused up these days. They’re peering cautiously at that ever-encroaching debt ceiling and the economic ruin pundits and politicians are forecasting if we allow ourselves to bump into it. Meanwhile, spending-phobia has gripped the less headline-grabbing, more mundane aspects of congressional operations as well. So we’re […]

by Michael Conathan

All eyes in Washington are focused up these days. They’re peering cautiously at that ever-encroaching debt ceiling and the economic ruin pundits and politicians are forecasting if we allow ourselves to bump into it. Meanwhile, spending-phobia has gripped the less headline-grabbing, more mundane aspects of congressional operations as well. So we’re going to spend a bit of time today in one of Capitol Hill’s metaphorical windowless rooms crunching numbers to find out what Congress is doing to fund (or not fund) fisheries management.

Let’s start with a quick note about the congressional appropriations process. Per the Constitution, Congress holds the “power of the purse.” The president asks for money by submitting a budget but the legislature dictates how much will actually be spent.

Like all pieces of legislation—recall your “Schoolhouse Rock”—spending (also known as appropriations) bills originate in committee. In this case, that’s the Appropriations Committee, which passes them on, accompanied by an explanatory report, for consideration of the full body. Ultimately, both House and Senate must pass identical versions of legislation that are then sent to the president to be signed into law. The bill that contains funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and thus for fisheries management, is the Commerce, Justice, and Science, or CJS, Appropriations Act.

House appropriators talked a good game this year in the CJS bill’s report, stating “healthy levels of investment in scientific research are the key to long-term economic growth.” One would think that in these days of anemic job growth, 9.2 percent unemployment, and an angry electorate, if Congress held “the key to long-term economic growth,” they might use that key to unlock America’s potential. Instead, line-in-the-sand politics rose up and trumped common sense. In short, the “cut spending now” mantra seems to have all but obliterated the more reasoned and storied catchphrase of entrepreneurs everywhere: “You have to spend money to make money.”

So let’s take a look at a few specific instances in which House appropriators have decided to try creating jobs by slashing spending. For each entry, the first number in parentheses will be the level of funding in the FY 2012 House CJS bill, the second number the president’s budget request for 2012, and the third will be the level at which the program was funded in 2011.

The overall budget for the National Marine Fisheries Service ($685M; $895M; $910M)

The House proposes cutting $210 million, or 24 percent, from the 2011 budget for the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, the branch of NOAA responsible for all fisheries and living marine resources management. Not a strong start for the science-first crowd. But to really find out where these cuts will hit hardest, we have to dig deeper, down to specific programs, or “line items” that fall within NMFS’s purview.

The National Catch Share Program ($22M; $54M; $43.9M)

The administration’s signature fisheries management program is designed to promote use of a management structure for fisheries in which the total allowable catch is divided up and doled out to fishermen who can then choose to catch their quota of fish or trade it to other fishermen. This policy fared relatively well in last year’s spend cycle, but this year appropriators cited “ongoing concerns” about the program and included a “more modest investment.” Fifty percent more modest to be precise.

Such a reduction will be felt most painfully in areas where catch share management has already taken hold. In New England, for example, fishermen operating under a catch share system are already extremely worried about an end to federal subsidies for the costs of monitoring their catch. This budget would make it a virtual certainty that this assistance would end next year, potentially jeopardizing the viability of the system. That’s because if the feds don’t pay the costs of monitoring, the industry will have to pick up the tab.

While on the topic of catch shares, I should also mention one notable amendment that Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) included in last year’s funding bill but hasn’t yet appeared in this one. Rep. Jones’s amendment prevented funding from being used to implement new catch share systems in much of the country. Its absence is a positive sign, but without additional funding for catch shares, the ban on implementation may be moot because managers simply may not be able to afford them.

Stock assessments ($63.8M; $67.1M; $53.8M)

The committee went out of its way to recognize that the shortage of timely stock assessments—the scientific research that determines how much fish fishermen can catch—“has caused significant problems” and that the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act requires managers to set hard annual catch limits for all fisheries based on the best available science.

It’s noteworthy that this program received more than a $10 million boost from the 2011 funding level, but it remains drastically underfunded. As a result, stock assessments will retain high levels of uncertainty, and that means catch limits will be kept lower than perhaps they otherwise would have been. Because managers are prevented by law from allowing overfishing to continue, when the science is subpar, they must err on the side of caution and set lower limits. That takes money out of fishermen’s pockets.

Cooperative research ($7M; $7.2M; $10.1M)

Cooperative research programs, in which fishermen and scientists partner to collect data, are an increasingly popular tool. They provide a win-win partnership in which each group learns from the other about the complexity of their work. They also gather data that improves the quality of stock assessments, and they help build partnerships and relationships among stakeholders that can otherwise be somewhat contentious. Yet the committee bill cuts funding by 30 percent from 2011 levels.

Marine and Aviation Operations and Maintenance ($145M; $188.5M; $154.8M)

This funding is not directly linked to the fisheries budget but it allows NOAA to operate vessels for fisheries research. So the House is effectively keeping NOAA’s research fleet from carrying out a third of its work by cutting more than 30 percent from the president’s request. This is particularly odd given the assertion that the committee “supports the further utilization of fishery independent data” or data that doesn’t come from tracking what fishermen catch. If the data doesn’t come from fishermen, it comes from NOAA’s research fleet. Which was just cut by 30 percent. A head-scratcher for sure.

Habitat Conservation and Management ($25.1M; $53.6M; $49.8M)

It’s a fact of nature that fish, like people, need a healthy habitat to survive. It seems logical, then, that if one’s goal is to bring back fish stocks, one might want to start by protecting the areas where the fish live. And yet this bill halves spending for habitat management and restoration. Not much more to be said about this one.

NOAA released its annual Status of Stocks report the day after the House Appropriations Committee passed the CJS bill with its promises of jobs first and “healthy levels of investment” in science. According to NOAA, commercial and recreational fisheries already contribute $72 billion per year to the U.S. economy and support 1.9 million jobs. Fully rebuilt fish stocks would boost those figures by $31 billion and 500,000 jobs.

There’s no question our elected representatives are in a bind when it comes to making budget decisions. The twin mandates of belt tightening and job creation are perched on legislators’ shoulders, with one whispering in their left ears to “cut, cut, cut” and the other whispering in their right ears to “grow, grow, grow.” And every time they take from one pot of money—whether it’s fisheries management or education or funding the military—some of their constituents feel slighted.

But here the committee has gone out of its way to explicitly identify a greater investment in science as a potential solution—a means of putting people back to work, supporting and eventually growing an industry that sustains communities and puts food on our tables. And then, in the same breath, it advances policies undermining that very same solution.

That makes no sense at all. Even in Washington.

Michael Conathan, CAP’s Director of Ocean Policy, in a cross-post


2012 presidential race: Expense reports give peek at candidates’ priorities, styles

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 18th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

2012 presidential race: Expense reports give peek at candidates’ priorities, styles

Mitt Romney is big into political consultants and security guards, underscoring the establishment nature of his campaign. Newt Gingrich is so fond of the Internet and luxury jets that he got himself $1 million in hock.

And President Obama has devoted about a third of his $14 million in early expenditures to fundraising — suggesting that it really does take money to make money.

These and other details, gleaned from the first major spending reports of the 2012 campaign, provide a revealing look at the contrasting priorities and styles of the White House hopefuls. Taken together, the candidates burned through $32 million for telemarketing calls, posh hotel rooms, makeup artists and myriad other expenses, even with the first ballots still half a year away.

Read full article >>

Clinton voices U.S. support for Greece’s recovery plan

ATHENS— U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced strong American support Sunday for Greece’s plan to recover from its financial crisis, calling its latest proposals to reform “vital first steps.”

“We know these were not easy decisions, they were acts of leadership,” Clinton said in Athens while meeting with Greek officials. “We know the price of inaction would have been far higher.?.?..The payoff for these sacrifices will not come quickly, but it will come.”

Besides praise for Greece’s leaders, however, Clinton carefully avoided weighing in on the larger debate between Greece and other European nations over how to settle the escalating debt crisis.

Read full article >>

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