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Archive for July 19th, 2011

Early Morning Swim

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2011 4:48 am by HL

Early Morning Swim


The Politicians

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

The Politicians

By Mr. Fish

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News of the World Figure Found Dead
Sean Hoare, the former News of the World correspondent who was the first member of Andy Coulson’s staff to claim the editor knew of phone hacking by his reporters, was found dead in his home Monday. He previously had told the BBC that Coulson’s claim to the contrary was “simply a lie,” and that he was personally asked to tap telephones. The police do not suspect foul play in Hoare’s death. News of it came the same day that John Yates, the assistant commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, announced his resignation from the force. Yates is facing criticism for neglecting a pile of evidence related to the hacking case. He is the second London police leader to quit in two days.—ARK The Guardian: The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.” … He told the newspaper that not only did Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives. In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson’s insistence that he didn’t know about the practice was “a lie, it is simply a lie”. Read more

Sean Hoare, the former News of the World correspondent who was the first member of Andy Coulson’s staff to claim the editor knew of phone hacking by his reporters, was found dead in his home Monday. He previously had told the BBC that Coulson’s claim to the contrary was “simply a lie,” and that he was personally asked to tap telephones.

The police do not suspect foul play in Hoare’s death. News of it came the same day that John Yates, the assistant commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, announced his resignation from the force. Yates is facing criticism for neglecting a pile of evidence related to the hacking case. He is the second London police leader to quit in two days.—ARK

The Guardian:

The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.”

… He told the newspaper that not only did Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives.

In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson’s insistence that he didn’t know about the practice was “a lie, it is simply a lie”.

Read more

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Internal Investigation: NRC Head Broke No Laws In Effort To Stop Work On Radioactive Waste Dump

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Internal Investigation: NRC Head Broke No Laws In Effort To Stop Work On Radioactive Waste Dump
WASHINGTON — The head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission withheld and manipulated information in an effort to stop work on a proposed radioactive waste dump…

Don McNay: The Path Towards Wealth Without Wall Street
Like many, I am angry. Washington and Wall Street are tied at the hip and spend most of the time talking to each other. They have social and economic connections and media outlets devoted to promoting their philosophies.

Kate Hanni: TSA: Security or Security Theater?
After an extended period of inappropriate, knee-jerk response, dealing with real security threats by providing security theater, the TSA is slowly responding to public outcry.

Bill Schneider: The Perils of a Balanced Budget Amendment
It’s baaaack! This week, Congress will vote, yet again, on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. A two-thirds majority in each house of Congress…


Fox & Friends ?Spreads Slew Of Economic Falsehoods

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Fox & Friends ?Spreads Slew Of Economic Falsehoods

Co-hosts and guests on Fox & Friends advanced numerous economic falsehoods, including the claims that half of Americans “don’t pay any tax”; that President Obama wants to fix the deficit only by increasing taxes; that most Americans do not favor tax increases as part of a deficit deal; and that Obama wants to “use the rich to fix his spending problem.”

Trump Claims “Half Of The People [In The U.S.] Don’t Pay Any Tax”

Trump: “[We] Do Have A Problem, Because Half Of The People [In The U.S.] Don’t Pay Any Tax.” On the July 18 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, the co-hosts interviewed Donald Trump about the ongoing talks regarding the default crisis. Co-host Steve Doocy claimed that “there are a lot of people in this country, over half, [that] don’t even pay any federal taxes.” Trump agreed, saying, “[H]alf of the people don’t pay any tax.” From the broadcast:

DOOCY: When the president, Donald, talks about, there has to be shared sacrifice — you know, there are a lot of people in this country, over half, don’t even pay any federal taxes. So he’s really talking about you. You’re going to have to sacrifice more.

TRUMP: Well, you know, I don’t mind sacrificing for the country, to be honest with you, but you know, you do have a problem, because half of the people don’t pay any tax. And when he’s talking about that, he’s talking about people that aren’t also working, that are not contributing to this society, and it’s a problem. But we have 50 percent — it just hit the 50 percent mark — 50 percent of the people are paying no tax. [Fox News, Fox & Friends,

[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/18/11]

But Gallup Poll Actually Showed 69 Percent Favor Mix Of Spending Cuts And Revenue Increases

Gallup: “On Deficit, Americans Prefer Spending Cuts; Open To Tax Hikes.” In an online report about its July 7-10 poll, Gallup said, “Americans’ preferences for deficit reduction clearly favor spending cuts to tax increases, but most Americans favor a mix of the two approaches.” The results showed that 69 percent of Americans favor reducing the deficit either “mostly with spending cuts,” “equally with spending cuts and tax increases,” or “mostly with tax increases.” A graphic in the report displayed the results:

spendingtaxes

[Gallup, January 2009 and January 2010]

CAP: “Single Most Important [Cause Of The Deficit] Is The Legacy Of President George W. Bush’s Legislative Agenda.” In an August 2009 analysis, the Center for American Progress (CAP) concluded that about two-thirds of the then-projected budget deterioration for 2009 and 2010 could be attributed to either Bush’s policies or the economic downturn:

deficitchart

The report explained:

As for the deficit’s cause, the single most important factor is the legacy of President George W. Bush’s legislative agenda. Overall, changes in federal law during the Bush administration are responsible for 40 percent of the short-term fiscal problem. For example, we estimate that the tax cuts passed during the Bush presidency are reducing government revenue collections by $231 billion in 2009. Also, because of the additions to the federal debt due to Bush administration policies, the government will be paying $218 billion more in interest payments in 2009.

Had President Bush not cut taxes while simultaneously prosecuting two foreign wars and adopting other programs without paying for them, the current deficit would be only 4.7 percent of gross domestic product this year, instead of the eye-catching 11.2 percent–despite the weak economy and the costly efforts taken to restore it. In 2010, the deficit would be 3.2 percent instead of 9.6 percent.

The weak economy also plays a major role in the deficit picture. The failure of Bush economic policies–fiscal irresponsibility, regulatory indifference, fueling of an asset and credit bubble, a failure to focus on jobs and incomes, and inaction as the economy started slipping–contributed mightily to the nation’s current economic situation. When the economy contracts, tax revenues decline and outlays increase for programs designed to keep people from falling deep into poverty (with the tax impact much larger than the spending impact). All told, the weak economy is responsible for 20 percent of the fiscal problems we face in 2009 and 2010.

President Obama’s policies have also contributed to the federal deficit–but only 16 percent of the projected budget deterioration for 2009 and 2010 are attributable to those policies. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, designed to help bring the economy out of the recession is, by far, the largest single additional public spending under this administration. [CAP, 8/25/09]

CBPP: “[V]irtually The Entire Deficit Over The Next Ten Years” Due To Bush Policies, Economic Downturn.” The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) published an analysis of federal deficits in December 2009, which was most recently updated on June 28, 2010, titled, “Critics Still Wrong on What’s Driving Deficits in Coming Years: Economic Downturn, Financial Rescues, and Bush-Era Policies Drive the Numbers.” The report noted:

Some critics continue to assert that President George W. Bush’s policies bear little responsibility for the deficits the nation faces over the coming decade — that, instead, the new policies of President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress are to blame.  Most recently, a Heritage Foundation paper downplayed the role of Bush-era policies (for more on that paper, see p. 4).  Nevertheless, the fact remains: Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.

The report also graphed the effects of Bush’s policies and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the deficit. From the report:

cbpp

[CBPP, updated 6/28/10, emphasis in original]

Harvard Business Review Group Director: “[T]he Giant Deficit Is Mainly The Result Of The Collapse In Tax Receipts Brought On By The Recession.” In an October 2010 post on his Reuters blog, Justin Fox, editorial director of the Harvard Business Review Group, analyzed the deficit and concluded that it was “mainly the result of the collapse in tax receipts brought on by the recession”:

The Treasury Department reported on Oct. 15 that the deficit in fiscal 2010, which ended Sept. 30, was $1.294 trillion. That’s less than FY 2009’s $1.416 trillion, but it’s still really really big. Why is it so big, though? Is it because of all that stimulus and bailout spending? Or is something else going on?

To find out, I created a fantasy world. I figured out how fast federal spending and revenue grew over the last business cycle, from 2000 through 2007, and calculated where we’d be today if those growth rates had continued through 2010. I was originally motivated to do this for a commentary that’s supposed to air tomorrow night on Nightly Business Report. But I’m thinking there’s not a huge overlap between Felix Salmon readers and Nightly Business Report viewers, so I’ll go ahead and share what I learned.

In my no-financial-crisis, no-bailout, no-recession, no-stimulus scenario, spending kept growing at 6.22% a year, and revenue kept growing at 3.45%. You can see from the difference between the two numbers that this was an unsustainable path. But it clearly could have been sustained for a few more years.

Where would it have left us in fiscal 2010? With $2.843 trillion in federal revenue and $3.270 trillion in spending, leaving a deficit of $427 billion. The actual revenue and spending totals for 2010 were $2.162 trillion and $3.456 trillion. So spending was $186 billion higher than if we’d stuck to the trend, and revenue was $681 billion lower. In other words, the giant deficit is mainly the result of the collapse in tax receipts brought on by the recession, not the increase in spending. Nice to know, huh? [Justin Fox, blogs.reuters.com, 10/25/10, emphasis added]


News Of The World Whistleblower Reportedly Found Dead

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

News Of The World Whistleblower Reportedly Found Dead
In another twist in the News Of The World scandal, a former reporter for the tabloid who initially alleged that editor Andy Coulson knew about the practice of phone hacking by his staff, was reportedly found dead Monday.

He’s Baaaack. House Ethics Committee Votes To Continue Massa Case
The House Ethics Committee voted to continue an investigation into allegations that former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) sexually harassed a male staffer — even though it’s been more than a year since Massa resigned from Congress.

Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton Steps Down As Spotlight On News Corp Continues
Les Hinton, the CEO of Down Jones and publisher of the Wall Street Journal, announced Friday that he is stepping down from his position, amid questions about his role in the News Of The World phone hacking scandal during his tenure as chief executive of News International.


“If you make the headline big enough . . .”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2011 4:40 am by HL

“If you make the headline big enough . . .”
In America, newspaper publishers have always been accorded high rank and special privileges in that democracy’s class-less society. The idea that publisher William Randolph Hearst arranged for the Spanish-American war to happen is widely believed inside and outside the journalism industry. When famed artist Fredrick Remington was sent to Cuba to cover the […]


Quote of the Day

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Quote of the Day
“Even those who believe government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub have to admit that a total shutdown of even the most basic and essential functions of government is scary.”

— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), quoted by The Hill, attacking Republicans’ position on raising the debt ceiling in graphic terms.

Bush Spokesman Considers Senate Race
Former Bush White House deputy press secretary Scott Stanzel (R) is mulling whether to challenge Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in a race next year, the Seattle Times reports.

He said he won’t decide until after he gets married in September.

A Missed Opportunity for Republicans
David Brooks follows up his previous article on the behavior of Republicans during the debt ceiling negotiations with another scathing piece to “identify the people who decided not to seize the chance to usher in the largest cut in the size of government in American history.”

The Beltway Bandits. American conservatism now has a rich network of Washington interest groups adept at arousing elderly donors and attracting rich lobbying contracts… The Big Government Blowhards. The talk-radio jocks are not in the business of promoting conservative governance. They are in the business of building an audience by stroking the pleasure centers of their listeners… The Show Horses. Republicans now have a group of political celebrities who are marvelously uninterested in actually producing results… The Permanent Campaigners. For many legislators, the purpose of being in Congress is not to pass laws. It’s to create clear contrasts you can take into the next election campaign.”

“All of these groups share the same mentality. They do not see politics as the art of the possible. They do not believe in seizing opportunities to make steady, messy progress toward conservative goals. They believe that politics is a cataclysmic struggle. They believe that if they can remain pure in their faith then someday their party will win a total and permanent victory over its foes. They believe they are Gods of the New Dawn.”

Vilsack Launches Bid Against King
Former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack (D) officially launches a bid for Congress against Rep. Steve King (R-IA) today in a video focusing on “civility, responsibility and respect,” reports David Catanese.

Key line: “That’s why we need leaders willing to lower their voices and start lifting their sights.”

“It’s a message tailor made for moderates and independents and a not so subtle swipe at King who is known for his sharp tongue and combative rhetoric… Vilsack has a three-city tour scheduled for Tuesday to officially kick-off what will be one of the most closely watched House contests in 2012.”


Rebuilding the American Dream: Why Starting a Liberal Antidote to the Tea Party Movement Isn’t Going to be Easy

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Rebuilding the American Dream: Why Starting a Liberal Antidote to the Tea Party Movement Isn’t Going to be Easy
The Tea Partiers’ sense of shared identity is crucial to their success. Who were those gathered this weekend to kick off Van Jones’ new project?


Why Revolutions and Raptures Can’t be Digitized

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Why Revolutions and Raptures Can’t be Digitized
Asked recently to compare Harvard and Yale undergraduates, I quipped that a Harvard student studying the German sociologist Max Weber will ask, “What were his main points, and how will they help me when I’m Secretary of State or founder…

Letter to the Editor
My colleague Ken Berlin and I wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times which was published in this morning’s paper. Letter An Economic Stimulus Proposal Published: July 4, 2011 To the Editor: Re “Whose Stimulus?” (editorial,…


Tea Party Nation Calls On Members To Stand With Bachmann?s Ex-Gay Clinics

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Tea Party Nation Calls On Members To Stand With Bachmann?s Ex-Gay Clinics
Right Wing Watch’s Brian Tashman notices that the Tea Party Nation is increasingly embracing a reactionary social issues agenda at odds with its economic focus and is now calling on supporters to rally behind Michele Bachmann and her husband’s ex-gay clinics. In an email to activists, the group’s president Judson Phillips defended Marcus Bachmann’s description […]

Right Wing Watch’s Brian Tashman notices that the Tea Party Nation is increasingly embracing a reactionary social issues agenda at odds with its economic focus and is now calling on supporters to rally behind Michele Bachmann and her husband’s ex-gay clinics. In an email to activists, the group’s president Judson Phillips defended Marcus Bachmann’s description of gay people as “barbarians” and asked members to “stand with the Bachmanns“:

The liberal freak show is coming after Michele Bachmann. That is not much of a surprise. Bachmann is running a very disciplined campaign, encouraging conservatives and running with a conservative agenda. But now the left is coming after her.

The left wants to use the gay rights issue against her. Bachmann’s husband, Marcus is a therapist and according to the left, he has committed a horrible crime. He used therapy to help gays who did not want to be gay any more change. […] Most Americans do not believe gay marriage is a good thing. Most Americans do not believe homosexuality (which is only 1-3% of the population) is a good thing, though most Americans are tolerant of most things.

The left is not tolerant. The left never allows dissent. To the horror of Americans, Marcus Bachmann once referred to gays as “barbarians.”

Barbarians? If you are a conservative you have been called much worse and usually in much more obscene terms, for being a conservative.

The group joins a long list of conservative organizations in supporting Michele and Marcus Bachmann, reiterating the notion that at the root of almost all anti-gay policies is the misguided belief that gay people choose to be gay and can change their sexual orientation through prayer and therapy.

?Louie? Late Pass Open Thread: Louis Meets Joan
Apologies for not getting to Louie until now — A Dance With Dragons kind of ate my brain last week. This post contains spoilers through last week’s episode, “Joan.” This episode starts with a woman Louie can’t get away from fast enough, and ends with one he can’t get enough of. When he tries to […]

Apologies for not getting to Louie until now — A Dance With Dragons kind of ate my brain last week. This post contains spoilers through last week’s episode, “Joan.”

This episode starts with a woman Louie can’t get away from fast enough, and ends with one he can’t get enough of. When he tries to order groceries from the corner deli, he’s interrupted in the middle of a complex negotiation over whether he was six or 60 bananas by a call from his sobbing sister, declaring, “Louie, I am so sorry I wasn’t a better big sister to you.” Maybe this is the way Louis C.K. sees the world, but there seem to be an awful lot of hysterical women in his life.

And it’s because of that it’s refreshing to see Joan Rivers show up after Louis bombs a gig in Atlantic City, resorting to begging his audience to stay by telling them “Folks, why are you giving your money to Donald Trump? He’s a billionaire and you work hard for your money.” But even though he’s cranky and depressed, Louis’ face lights up watching Joan do her shtick on the main stage. For once, this is a woman who isn’t using Louis because he’s famous, or inviting him over for spectacularly awkward sex, or getting mad at him in some old dude’s apartment. She’s in his field, and she’s incredibly accomplished, and as it turns out, she’s pretty cool — suddenly, Louis’ hanging out with her in her suite where “Cher had this place, she slept here. Madonna. Bette Middler.”

So it’s interesting to see the particular variety of gawky that Louis pulls out for the occasion. “Do you know how many blow jobs I had to get where I am now?” Rivers asks him. “I don’t want to guess,” he initially demurs, before venturing “40? Around 40?” It’s of course manipulative of Rivers to push him to answer, and it’s probably unfair of her to freak out when he guesses an insulting high number, but his answer does reveal something about how he sees the business and imagines it must be like for women. And then he ends up sleeping with her, but not before Rivers warns him not to tell anyone “for your sake, not mine. Nobody likes necrophiliacs. And if you meet Melissa, not a word. She still thinks I’m a virgin.”

Both Rivers and Louis operate in a kind of comedy that involves them saying things about themselves before someone else can say them. With Rivers, the things she says are outsized, like a bit where she complains that her breasts sag so much that she has to kick them out of the way when she walks. Louis, on the other hand, mostly says things about him that are true. The distorted version of herself that Rivers puts on display keeps people away from the real person behind the performance, while Louis is much more painfully vulnerable. I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s a gender inversion, but it’s a fascinating juxtaposition that says more than just a study in tradecraft.