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Archive for August 7th, 2011

Late Late Night FDL: The Seapreme Court

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: The Seapreme Court
Little AudreyThe Seapreme Court. This Harvey Films Famous Studios cartoon was released on January 29, 1954.

Little AudreyThe Seapreme Court.  This Harvey Films Famous Studios cartoon was released on January 29, 1954.

Directed by Seymour Kneitel.  Produced by Seymour Kneitel (uncredited) and Izzy Sparber (uncredited).  Story by Larz Bourne.  Animation Direction by Tom Golden (uncredited).  Animation by Tom Golden and Morey Reden.  Scenics by Robert Owen.  Voices by (in alphabetical order) Jackson Beck (Judge – uncredited), Jack Mercer (Various Fish – uncredited), Mae Questel (Little Audrey, Little Fishes – uncredited), and Sid Raymond (Whale – 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?

Sunday Talking Heads: August 7, 2011
It’s Morningtime! ABC scheduled the managing director of Standard and Poors, none of the the other shows mentions the downgrade but it will surely be a topic. C-SPAN’s Q&A will be interesting with RT’s Alyona Minkovski, and Avedon Carol and digby are Virtually Speaking this evening. FDL Book Salon is quite the adventure, Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs. FDL Movie Night goes behind the scenes of the culty group Up With People.

It’s Morningtime!

ABC scheduled the managing director of Standard and Poors, none of the the other shows mentions the downgrade but it will surely be a topic. C-SPAN’s Q&A will be interesting with RT’s Alyona Minkovski, and Avedon Carol and digby are Virtually Speaking this evening.

FDL Book Salon is quite the adventure, Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs.  FDL Movie Night goes behind the scenes of the culty group Up With People.

If there ever was a week we needed more kittens, this was it, so I have one of the cutest ever for you here, h/t to watertiger –>

Washington Journal.

ABC’s This Week: S&P ratings downgrade – S&P Managing Director John Chambers. Debt ceiling – Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD), chair of the Democratic Governors Association, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.  Roundtable: George Will, Cokie Roberts, Steve Rattner, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).  Syria – U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. Then, Gloria Steinem on feminism today.

CBS’ Face the Nation: David Axelrod, Obama campaign strategist and fmr. White House Advisor, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and fmr. Democratic presidential candidate, Gov. Howard Dean. “Washington finds a way to lift the debt limit… But can it fix the economy and create jobs?”

CNN’s State of the Union: Steve Forbes, the CEO of Forbes Incorporated and Pres. Obama’s former top economic adviser, Larry Summers.  Then, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA). Debt ceiling – Former White House communications director Anita Dunn and former Republican congressman Tom Davis.  Syria – Vice Adm. Mike McConnell, former director of national intelligence.

Chris Mathews: Wall Street Is The Latest Name For Obama’s Pain. The 24/7 Media Universe: Already Fired Up To Fight That Super Committee!

Fareed Zakaria – GPS: Debt ceiling – Arianna Huffington, Joe Klein, and others.  The “Ground Zero mosque” controversy – New York real estate developer Sharif el-Gamal. And more.

Fox News Sunday: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI); Bill Miller, chair and CIO of Legg Mason Capital Management; Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty.**

NBC’s Meet the Press: Debt ceiling – John Kerry (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ)Roundtable: former Chair of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, former Chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbee, Rachel Maddow, and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.

Newsmakers: Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) on the famine in Somalia and the tensions between Sudan and the newly independent South Sudan. Rep. Smith chairs the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa.  He told Newsmakers that the famine in Somalia  “needs much more focus on the part of world leaders, including President Obama.  We have people dying and there needs to be a much more focused effort and global leadership on the part of the U.S.  Or we’ll have more massive loss of life”…

Q & A: Alyona Minkovski, host of “The Alyona Show”. Minkovski discusses her television program, shown weeknights at 6pm and 10pm on RT. Formerly known as Russia Today, RT is a Russian government funded media network. She talks about her program’s goal of examining the news not typically covered by traditional media outlets in the United States…

Religion & Ethics.

60 Minutes: The next housing shock – As more and more Americans face mortgage foreclosure, banks’ crucial ownership documents for the properties are often unclear and are sometimes even bogus – a condition that’s causing lawsuits and hampering an already weak housing market. The co-founder – Lesley Stahl speaks to Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen in his first interview about his upcoming book in which he criticizes his Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates. Eminem – Anderson Cooper profiles the chart-topping rapper from Detroit who overcame addiction to reclaim the winning style that made him the biggest selling artist of the past decade.

To the Contrary: Host Bonnie Erbe examines the impacts immigration and population growth have on healthcare, poverty and our natural resources.

Univision’s Al Punto: Rosario Marin, Former United States Treasurer; Henry Cisneros, Former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; María Corina Machado, Venezuelan Opposition Congresswoman and Presidential Candidate; Ezequiel Hernández, Immigration Lawyer; Hollman Morris, Journalist and Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Virtually Speaking: Avedon Carol and digby. 9pm ET.

C-SPAN’s Book TV.

FDL Book Salon: Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs.  “In Jackpot, author Jason Ryan takes us back to the heady days before drug smuggling was synonymous with deadly gunplay. During this golden age of marijuana trafficking, the country’s most prominent kingpins were a group of wayward and fun-loving Southern gentlemen who forsook college educations to sail drug-laden luxury sailboats across the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean.”  Chat with author Jason Ryan, hosted by Stanford Neill Franklin. 5pm ET.

FDL Movie Night Monday: Smile Till It Hurts: The Up With People Story “explores the clean-cut, smile-drenched singing phenomenon Up With People.”  Come meet with producer/director Lee Storey, and producer Bari Pearlman, executive producer Jack Lechner, and Lisa Derrick.  8pm ET.



Web Waylays Cable Porn Profits

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Web Waylays Cable Porn Profits
Internet porn causes pay-per-view sales to fall; a new chip will make HIV testing easy, affordable and readily available; meanwhile, mobile phones become more essential than toilets in the developed world. These discoveries and more, below. On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that have found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies. The links below open in a new window. Newer ones are on top. TV Porn Sales Plummet Cable and satellite companies watch pay-per-view revenues fall as consumers turn to the Web. Can a $1 Plastic Chip Really Diagnose HIV? Diagnosing HIV may have just gotten a lot easier, faster, and cheaper. Battle of the Mormon Wannabes The two Republicans with the best chance of beating Obama in 2012 happen to be rich, business-friendly, perfectly coiffed cousins from rival Mormon clans. No wonder there’s no love lost between Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney. How YouTube Wins in the Great Unbundling of Cable TV YouTube wants to be one of several new providers of ‘Premium’ Bundles of Video. Car Brain Saves Drivers Computerized car systems are doing a better job avoiding common low-speed crashes than human ones. The hard truth about getting old Sixty isn’t the new 40, and 80 isn’t the new 60. I know it. You know it. So why do we buy into it? Anders Breivik’s twisted time machine With so much speculation surrounding the issue, what were the real motives behind Breivik’s attacks? Mobile Subscriptions Outnumber Toilets When it comes to betting the farm on mobile media, the math don’t lie. Facial recognition identifies your social security number A picture of your face is all it takes for Alessandro Acquisti at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to access a wealth of personal information. Big Sugar Daddy on Campus Apparently, the latest way for college students to pay for their tuition is to set up an arrangement with a sugar daddy.

Internet porn causes pay-per-view sales to fall; a new chip will make HIV testing easy, affordable and readily available; meanwhile, mobile phones become more essential than toilets in the developed world. These discoveries and more, below.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that have found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

The links below open in a new window. Newer ones are on top.

TV Porn Sales Plummet
Cable and satellite companies watch pay-per-view revenues fall as consumers turn to the Web.

Can a $1 Plastic Chip Really Diagnose HIV?
Diagnosing HIV may have just gotten a lot easier, faster, and cheaper.

Battle of the Mormon Wannabes
The two Republicans with the best chance of beating Obama in 2012 happen to be rich, business-friendly, perfectly coiffed cousins from rival Mormon clans. No wonder there’s no love lost between Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney.

How YouTube Wins in the Great Unbundling of Cable TV
YouTube wants to be one of several new providers of ‘Premium’ Bundles of Video.

Car Brain Saves Drivers
Computerized car systems are doing a better job avoiding common low-speed crashes than human ones.

The hard truth about getting old
Sixty isn’t the new 40, and 80 isn’t the new 60. I know it. You know it. So why do we buy into it?

Anders Breivik’s twisted time machine
With so much speculation surrounding the issue, what were the real motives behind Breivik’s attacks?

Mobile Subscriptions Outnumber Toilets
When it comes to betting the farm on mobile media, the math don’t lie.

Facial recognition identifies your social security number
A picture of your face is all it takes for Alessandro Acquisti at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to access a wealth of personal information.

Big Sugar Daddy on Campus
Apparently, the latest way for college students to pay for their tuition is to set up an arrangement with a sugar daddy.

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Rick Perry Speaks At Prayer Rally

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Rick Perry Speaks At Prayer Rally
HOUSTON — Texas Gov. Rick Perry sent a strong message to the nation’s evangelicals Saturday: he is a member of the important constituency for Republicans…

Pro-Romney Super PAC Mystery Donor Comes Forward
WASHINGTON — Former Bain Capital managing director Ed Conard came forward Friday night and admitted that he is the creator of W Spann LLC, the…

Jonathan Miller: Credit Downgrade for Dummies
We have not reached financial Armageddon. But unless Congress immediately begins to address our financial debt in a meaningful, bipartisan way, our economy will suffer a devastating blow.


Attention Media: S&P Lacks Credibility

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Attention Media: S&P Lacks Credibility


When reporting on Standard & Poor’s recent downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and its assessments of the U.S. fiscal situation, media outlets should carefully examine the rating agency’s credibility.

Congressional Commission: Rating Agencies “Key Enablers Of The Financial Meltdown.” From the January 2011 Financial Crisis Inquiry Report:

We conclude the failures of credit rating agencies were essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction. The three credit rating agencies [Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings] were key enablers of the financial meltdown. The mortgage-related securities at the heart of the crisis could not have been marketed and sold without their seal of approval. Investors relied on them, often blindly. In some cases, they were obligated to use them, or regulatory capital standards were hinged on them. This crisis could not have happened without the rating agencies. Their ratings helped the market soar and their downgrades through 2007 and 2008 wreaked havoc across markets and firms. [The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report, Final Report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States, January 2011, emphasis in original]

Initial S&P Downgrade Document Included “$2 Trillion Mistake.” From an August 5 New York Times report:

S.& P. had prepared investors for the downgrade announcement with a series of warnings earlier this year that it would act if Congress did not agree to increase the government’s borrowing limit and adopt a long-term plan for reducing its debts by at least $4 trillion over the next decade.

Earlier this week, President Obama signed into law a Congressional compromise that raised the debt ceiling but reduced the debt by at least $2.1 trillion.

On Friday, the company notified the Treasury that it planned to issue a downgrade after the markets closed, and sent the department a copy of the announcement, which is a standard procedure.

A Treasury staff member noticed the $2 trillion mistake within the hour, according to a department official. The Treasury called the company and explained the problem. About an hour later, the company conceded the problem but did not indicate how it planned to proceed, the official said. Hours later, S.& P. issued a revised release with new numbers but the same conclusion.

In a statement early Saturday morning, Standard & Poor’s said the difference could be attributed to a “change in assumptions” in its methodology but that it had “no impact on the rating decision.” [The New York Times, 8/5/11]

Krugman: “It’s Hard To Think Of Anyone Less Qualified To Pass Judgment On America Than The Rating Agencies.” From an August 5 post by economist Paul Krugman:

[I]t’s hard to think of anyone less qualified to pass judgment on America than the rating agencies. The people who rated subprime-backed securities are now declaring that they are the judges of fiscal policy? Really?

Just to make it perfect, it turns out that S&P got the math wrong by $2 trillion, and after much discussion conceded the point — then went ahead with the downgrade.

More than that, everything I’ve heard about S&P’s demands suggests that it’s talking nonsense about the US fiscal situation. The agency has suggested that the downgrade depended on the size of agreed deficit reduction over the next decade, with $4 trillion apparently the magic number. Yet US solvency depends hardly at all on what happens in the near or even medium term: an extra trillion in debt adds only a fraction of a percent of GDP to future interest costs, so a couple of trillion more or less barely signifies in the long term. What matters is the longer-term prospect, which in turn mainly depends on health care costs.

So what was S&P even talking about? Presumably they had some theory that restraint now is an indicator of the future — but there’s no good reason to believe that theory, and for sure S&P has no authority to make that kind of vague political judgment.

In short, S&P is just making stuff up — and after the mortgage debacle, they really don’t have that right.

So this is an outrage — not because America is A-OK, but because these people are in no position to pass judgment. [The New York Times, 8/5/11]

Rating Agencies Criticized For Handling Of Enron, WorldCom Ratings. A February 6, 2005, New York Times article reported:

When Enron and WorldCom failed, investors were stunned by how long it had taken the agencies to recognize the companies’ declining fortunes. For example, all three agencies had rated Enron an investment-grade company until four days before it filed for bankruptcy. They had rated WorldCom similarly until a few months before it collapsed. [The New York Times, 2/6/05]

In 2002, the Times reported:

Credit-rating agencies, the independent securities analysts that pass judgment on a company’s financial fitness, saw signs of Enron’s deteriorating finances by last May. But the agencies — Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings — did little to warn investors until at least five months later, long after more problems had emerged and Enron’s slide into bankruptcy had accelerated. [The New York Times, 2/8/02]


Senate Hearing Moves NRC Towards Nuclear Reform, Airs Its Concern for Industry

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2011 4:41 am by HL

Senate Hearing Moves NRC Towards Nuclear Reform, Airs Its Concern for Industry
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is not as fundamentally split as it previously appeared on the issue of post-Fukushima U.S. nuclear regulation, as a Tuesday Senate hearing showed. By the end of the hearing, the majority of the 5-person commission…

Judge Rules Against Anti-Abortion Group’s Claim That Health Care Reform Law Funds Abortion
A federal judge has allowed a defamation lawsuit by former Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) to move forward, on the grounds that an anti-abortion group’s ad campaign erroneously attacked him for supporting taxpayer-funded abortion with his vote for health care reform.

Black Alumna Sues High School Over ‘Wednesday Wigger Day’
Students at a high school in Red Wing, Minnesota brought school spirit to new lows with a “Wigger Wednesday” dress-up day tradition, according to a lawsuit filed against the school district. Quera Pruitt, a Red Wing high school alumna, is…



Postcards from the GOP Edge 2: Republican Crap Baths

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Postcards from the GOP Edge 2: Republican Crap Baths


Quote of the Day

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Quote of the Day
“Ask Donald Trump to be Treasury secretary. Have Donald Trump take the job for 90 days. It’s a game changer.”

— Mike Huckabee, quoted by CNN, saying President Obama needs to fire Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Perry Tells Bundlers to Get Ready
The Austin American Statesman reports the people who are expecting to raise money for a potential Rick Perry presidential campaign got “their marching orders.”

“Leaders of Perry’s fundraising operation sent information on how to raise money for a presidential campaign to potential bundlers — the people who will be tasked with raising hundreds of thousands or dollars, or more, from their friends and business associates… Sending information to bundlers is not the same as raising money. But it’s another sign of what has become fairly obvious, which is that Perry will announce for the Republican presidential nomination very soon. Sensing that momentum is on his side, Perry’s team wants a quick show of force as soon as he enters the campaign, and raising the first few millions of dollars quickly would allow that to happen.”

Why the Downgrade Makes Sense
Felix Salmon: “Any student of sovereign default knows that it is born of precisely the kind of failures of governance that we saw during the debt-ceiling debate. That is why the US cannot hold a triple-A rating from S&P: the chance of having a dysfunctional Congress in future is 100%, and a dysfunctional Congress, armed with a statutory debt ceiling, is an extremely dangerous thing, and very far from risk-free.”

“Yes, there’s a lot of fiscal math in the S&P statement. But at heart, any sovereign ratings decision is political, not economic: the economics is there to provide a veneer of empirical respectability to what is fundamentally a value judgment. We saw the values of Congress during the debt-ceiling debate, including various members of the House who said with genuine sincerity that they’d actually welcome a default. In that context, S&P’s judgment is hard to fault.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that in a conference call with reporters S&P called the bitter stand-off between President Obama and Congress over raising the debt ceiling a “debacle” and warned that further downgrades may lie ahead.


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Presented By:

The Hostage Crisis Continues: Why Obama Can’t Pivot to Jobs and Growth
With the hostage crisis behind him, the President is now ready to talk about the nation’s real problem. Nine paragraphs into his remarks today announcing the nation has paid most of the ransom the radical right demanded as a condition…


GOP As The Exception That Proves The Rule

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

GOP As The Exception That Proves The Rule
When I speak ill of the concept of third party presidential campaigns solving anything, someone inevitably brings up the precedent of the Republican Party. Quite clearly, Abraham Lincoln and his administration solved quite a bit. This is, in my view, the exception that proves the rule in the true sense of the term. The crux […]

When I speak ill of the concept of third party presidential campaigns solving anything, someone inevitably brings up the precedent of the Republican Party. Quite clearly, Abraham Lincoln and his administration solved quite a bit. This is, in my view, the exception that proves the rule in the true sense of the term.

The crux of the matter is that the GOP, when founded, was a movement of party-switchers from among the ranks of established politicians. Galusha Aaron Grow, the first Republican Speaker of the House, is a case in point. As a young Pennsylvania lawyer, he ran for congress as a Democrat in 1850 and won. He ran for re-election in 1852 and won. He ran for re-election again in 1854 and won again. Then he switched parties in response to Franklin Pierce’s signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, became a Republican, ran again in 1856 and won again. Then he ran again in 1858 and won yet again. Then he ran and won in 1860 and became Speaker. Charles Sumner was appointed to the Senate by the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1850 and he sat as a Democrat, espousing anti-slavery views until nearly beaten to death by (fellow Democrat!) Preston Brooks. While convalescing back home, he was re-appointed by the legislature in 1856 this time as a Republican. Abraham Lincoln served in congress as a Whig, was an Illinois Whig activist and 1854 Whig Party Senate candidate, then ran again two years later as a Republican.

Which is all just to say that what happened in 1860 was not at all the case of an outsider third party presidential campaign sweeping the nation and changing things up. Instead, starting in 1854 and with continuing force in 1856 and 1858 a large number of established northern politicians left existing parties and came together at the Republican Party. Then, with caucuses already in place in the House and the Senate and strong bases of support in every northern state legislature, they won a presidential campaign against a splintered Democratic Party. So, yes, a third party that manages to persuade large numbers of incumbent officeholders from both parties to jump ship and join it could have a huge practical impact on American politics. But this simply underscores the fact that a lone wolf presidential bid, even if somehow successful, would change little. You walk before you run. You win seats in congress and identify a regional base of support before you sweep the nation. Presidential elections are fun. Party building is tedious.


August will shake the 2012 Republican presidential field

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

August will shake the 2012 Republican presidential field

The contest for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, until now a sleepy, shapeless and uninspired affair punctuated by comedic interludes, turns serious this month. A debate, a straw poll in Iowa and the possible entry into the race of Texas Gov. Rick Perry are likely to make the coming weeks the most consequential yet in the campaign.

By the end of August, more will be known about almost every aspect of the race, including the identity of the politician best positioned to challenge the front-runner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the staying power of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and the likely final makeup of the field.

Read full article >>

Evangelicals gather for Gov. Perry’s day of prayer

HOUSTON – Texas Gov. and possible Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry led a crowd of more than 20,000 Christians Saturday, asking God to help a nation he calls “in crisis,” at a Christian-revival event he organized.

In the football stadium where the Houston Texans play, Christians from the state and around the country gathered for an all-day event called “The Response.” It resembled a service at a very large evangelical mega church but without a formal sermon.

“Father, our heart breaks for America, we see discord at home, we see fear in the marketplace, we see anger in the halls of government,” Perry told the crowd in his prayer. “As a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that, we cry out for your forgiveness.”

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Political parties trade blame for downgrade in U.S. credit rating

Standard & Poor’s historic downgrade of the U.S. credit rating caused Washington to erupt on Saturday in the exact partisan clashes that S&P had said led to its decision in the first place.

Both major political parties accused each other of causing the downgrade and used the credit rating agency’s report to make their cases. Democrats criticized Republicans for refusing to consider increasing tax revenue to help tame the nation’s debt. Republicans blamed Democrats for not taking serious action to reform entitlements and faulted President Obama for allowing the downgrade to happen on his watch.

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Mystery pro-Romney donor revealed as former executive at private equity firm

The mystery donor whose $1 million contribution set off a furor over secrecy in politics has been identified as a longtime supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Edward Conard, a former executive at Bain Capital, a private equity firm that Romney helped found, gave the contribution to a pro-Romney super-PAC called Restore Our Future through a shell corporation, W Spann LLC.

Conard said in a statement to Politico that he made the anonymous donation “after consulting prominent legal counsel regarding the transaction, and based on my understanding that the contribution would comply with applicable laws.” Conard said he has asked the group to amend its disclosure filings to list him as the donor.

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Venezuelan opposition resists Republican measure

Don’t do us any favors. That’s the message that Venezuela’s political opposition is sending to House Republicans, who recently voted to cut off U.S. dues to the Organization of American States.

Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who introduced the amendment scrapping the $48.5 million annual dues, singled out what he called the organization’s support of autocratic President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Let’s not continue to fund an organization that’s bent on destroying democracy in Latin America,” he said in the debate last month.

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