Archive for the ‘politics’ tag
Of course, the Toronto Star is no fan of Rob Ford, because, truth be told, Rob Ford is kind of a jerk, not to mention a Tea Bagger Wanna Be…
That was backed up by three members of the Garrison Ball organizing committee, one of whom said Ford “seemed either drunk, high or had a medical condition.” Six guests at the ball were interviewed saying they had concerns over Ford’s behaviour. Given the Ford administration’s history of launching blistering attacks on its enemies, these sources insisted on anonymity. And, to be fair, others at the event were quoted saying they saw nothing untoward. But Councillor Paul Ainslie, a Ford ally, did confirm that the mayor was asked to leave. These allegations are what Ford specifically branded “an outright lie.” But they’re just the latest links in a chain of damaging incidents coiling ever tighter around the mayor.
Earlier this month Ford was at another public event where former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson accused him of grabbing her backside while posing for a picture. Ford dismissed that, too, as a lie but a photo emerged showed him rumpled and stained — hardly an inspiring look for the leader of Canada’s sixth largest government. Ford caused embarrassment a few days later when he reportedly showed up disheveled at a gathering attended by several orthodox rabbis and awkwardly delivered a pro-casino rant. This was reported by the Toronto Sun, which quoted Councillor Joe Mihevc as saying: “He did not do honour to our good city.” And an incident at a downtown Toronto restaurant, on St. Patrick’s Day last year, generated concern about Ford’s drinking, according to sources cited by the Star.
Add to that Ford’s increasingly light work schedule and intentionally obscured comings and goings at city hall. The Star has amply documented this in the past . And the Globe and Mail, last month, used a freedom of information request to show that Ford hardly ever schedules meetings or events after 3:30 p.m. — a remarkably lax attitude for the chief executive of a $9.4-billion corporation. Can he not handle more?
Then there are Ford’s repeated calls to 911, including an allegation that he resorted to obscenities with a dispatcher; his drunken tirade at a hockey game, inflicted on a Durham couple and flatly denied until overwhelming evidence forced him to confess; and Ford’s no-contest plea on a 1999 Florida charge of impaired driving . He didn’t tell the full truth about that, either.
Look at the pattern. In all sincerity, what does it show? An innocent victim, laid low by a conspiracy of liars, or a man struggling — and failing — to cope?
(click here to continue reading Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s pattern of behaviour tells a troubling story: Editorial | Toronto Star.)
Mayor Ford, predictably, denies angrily this charge, but not convincingly:
Ford responded angrily to the story on Tuesday, calling it “an outright lie.” Mihevc told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway that Ford’s reaction to the story was “not accurate.”
“Certainly the mayor’s comments yesterday were, let’s put it this way, not accurate,” said Mihevc. “There is something there and I think many of us have been privy to it. However I don’t really want to focus on that. It is up to the mayor to come clean and to figure out what he needs to do to pull his life together.”
Galloway asked Mihevc, a left-leaning council member who has at times clashed with Ford but remains friendly with him, whether he has seen Ford appear intoxicated in public.
“I have seen him in situations where it appears he is not fully there,” said Mihevc.
Mihevc was also critical of Ford’s claims there is a concerted effort by the media and those opposed to Ford’s cost-cutting agenda to oust him from office.
“Specifically that the whole world is conspiring against him. That simply is not true,” said Mihevc. “Many of us have deep political divisions with him, however it is just not accurate that there’s this grand conspiracy that involves members of the media and that involves member of his political opponents …. He does a lot of this to himself.”
(click here to continue reading Rob Ford response to drinking story called ‘not accurate’ – Toronto – CBC News.)
This had led to a lot of Republicans fanning out to explain what the president should be offering if he was serious about making a deal. Then, when it turns out that the president did offer those items, there’s more furious hand-waving about how no, actually, this is what the president needs to offer to make a deal. Then, when it turns out he’s offered most of that, too, the hand-waving stops and the truth comes out: Republicans won’t make a deal that includes further taxes, they just want to get the White House to implement their agenda in return for nothing. Luckily for them, most of the time, the conversation doesn’t get that far, and the initial comments that the president needs to “get serious” on entitlements is met with sage nods.
This is why Obama can’t make a deal with Republicans
After being hit by all sorts of, shall we say, nonserious petitions like the Death Star one that reached the 25,000-signature benchmark, the White House has raised the bar. From now on, a petition will require 100,000 signatures in order to win White House attention. …”If you had told me a year and a half ago that the White House would be devoting time writing [an official statement] on how Lord Vader could fix our economic woes, I would have just laughed loudly at you,” one White House staffer who has worked on the WTP outreach program tells Mother Jones. Another White House staffer connected with the program is more blunt: “Sometimes, I find myself thinking, ‘My God, what have we done?’”
in most places for most of history, publicly available statements have been either made or vetted by the ruling class, with the right of reply rendered impractical or illegal or both. Expansion of public speech, for both participants and topics, is generally won only after considerable struggle, and of course any such victory pollutes the sense of what constitutes truth from the previous era, a story that runs from Martin Luther through Ida Tarbell to Mario Silva, the drag queens outside Stonewall, and Julian Assange.
There’s no way to get Cronkite-like consensus without someone like Cronkite, and there’s no way to get someone like Cronkite in a world with an Internet; there will be no more men like him, because there will be no more jobs like his. To assume that this situation can be reversed, and everyone else will voluntarily sign on to the beliefs of some culturally dominant group, is a fantasy. To assume that they should, or at least that they should hold their tongue …
Media analysts project that campaigns, Super PACs and “social welfare” groups will spend a record-breaking $3.3 billion on political ads by Election Day.
And let’s consider these stations — are they offering any local news coverage to debunk the lies in these ads? Are they exposing the deep-pocketed interests behind the groups buying ad time?
…Free Press took a deeper look at local news coverage in five of the cities — Charlotte, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Milwaukee and Tampa — where ad spending has been highest.
We inspected the political files of stations in these markets, identified the groups most actively placing political ads and pored over hundreds of hours of local news transcripts. In all five of these markets, we found that local newscasts were lacking when it came to covering the ads that dominated their stations.
In other words, they provided no local stories exposing the special interests behind these ads, and only one station among the 20 surveyed devoted eve
Nicholas Kristof has a great quiz for you students of Christianity and its Holy Book. You’ll be surprised by a lot of the answers, such as:
The Bible suggests “marriage” is:
a. The lifelong union of one man and one woman.
b. The union of one man and up to 700 wives.
c. Often undesirable, because it distracts from service to the Lord.
(click here to continue reading Religion and Sex Quiz – NYTimes.com.)
What did you guess?
A, B and C. The Bible limits women to one husband, but other than that is all over the map. Mark 10 envisions a lifelong marriage of one man and one woman. But King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (I Kings 11:3). And Matthew (Matthew 19:10-12) and St. Paul (I Corinthians 7) both seem to suggest that the ideal approach is to remain celibate and avoid marriage if possible, while focusing on serving God. Jesus (Matthew 19:12) even seems to suggest that men make themselves eunuchs, leading the early church to ban enthusiasts from self-castration.
The people of Sodom were condemned principally for:
c. Lack of compassion for the poor and needy.
What did you guess? The answer was c.
C. “Sodomy” as a term for gay male sex began to be commonly used only in the 11th century and would have surprised early religious commentators. They attributed Sodom’s problems with God to many different causes, including idolatry, threats toward strangers and general lack of compassion for the downtrodden. Ezekiel 16:49 suggests that Sodomites “had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”
Hmm. “Did not aid the poor and needy.” Who knew that that’s what the Bible condemns as sodomy? At a time of budget cuts that devastate the poor, isn’t that precisely the kind of disgusting immorality that we should all join together in the spirit of the Bible to repudiate?
Kinda rules out most of the holier-than-thou Republicans running or considering running for president in 2012, no?
There’s more here, about abortion (not mentioned), homosexuality (conflicting information), pornography (Umm, read much of Song of Songs lately?), and more.
Tourism and culinary adventurism aren’t the only reasons to come to Illinois, having to flee reactionary Rethuglicans in your home state is a good excuse too.
As battles over limits to public-sector unions and collective-bargaining rights erupted in capitals in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, Illinois suddenly found itself as the refuge of choice for outnumbered Democrats fleeing their states to block the passage of such bills. By Wednesday evening, most of Indiana’s 40 Democratic state representatives were living in rooms (“plain but all we need,” in the words of one) at the Comfort Suites in Urbana, Ill., about 100 miles west of the state Capitol in Indianapolis. Wisconsin’s Senate Democrats were preparing to mark their first full week, on Thursday, somewhere in northern Illinois.
Republican leaders left behind in the various Capitols fumed, but Gov. Patrick J. Quinn of Illinois seemed to delight in the new arrivals, some of whom said Mr. Quinn, a Democrat, had telephoned them to offer his personal welcome. “We believe in hospitality and tourism and being friendly,” Mr. Quinn said on Wednesday, quickly adding, “I also believe in unions.”
The main reason Illinois was suddenly a magnet for vanishing lawmakers was a matter of geography. From both Wisconsin and Indiana, getting over the Illinois line before state law enforcement authorities might be able to find them and haul them back to their stately chambers was a matter of a few hours by car. Still, the state seemed a fitting getaway. As Republicans seized control in a number of Midwestern capitals in November, Illinois was one of the few where Democrats held on to theirs.
“It seems like very friendly territory,” said State Representative Win Moses, 68, one of the Indiana Democrats
(click here to continue reading Life on the Run for Democrats in Union Fights – NYTimes.com.)
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you or me.
Paul Robeson sings, “Joe Hill”
Pete Seeger sings, “Which Side Are You On?”
bonus, Billy Bragg, circa 1985, singing, “Which Side Are You On?”
Ronald Reagan was never a hero of mine – he was the President right as I became interested in politics, and his genial, fact-free hatred of everything liberal still irks me. Even worse is how the conservatives worship him as a god, conveniently omitting mention of all of deeds that don’t conform to the Reagan myth.
Tomorrow will mark the 100th anniversary of President Reagan’s birth, and all week, conservatives have been trying to outdo each others’ remembrances of the great conservative icon. Senate Republicans spent much of Thursday singing Reagan’s praise from the Senate floor, while conservative publications have been running non-stop commemorations. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee and former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich are hoping to make a few bucks off the Gipper’s centennial.
But Reagan was not the man conservatives claim he was. This image of Reagan as a conservative superhero is myth, created to untie the various factions of the right behind a common leader. In reality, Reagan was no conservative ideologue or flawless commander-in-chief. Reagan regularly strayed from conservative dogma — he raised taxes eleven times as president while tripling the deficit — and he often ended up on the wrong side of history, like when he vetoed an Anti-Apartheid bill.
ThinkProgress has compiled a list of the top 10 things conservatives rarely mention when talking about President Reagan:
Conservatives seem to be in such denial about the less flattering aspects of Reagan; it sometimes appears as if they genuinely don’t know the truth of his legacy. Yesterday, when liberal activist Mike Stark challenged hate radio host Rush Limbaugh on why Reagan remains a conservative hero despite raising taxes so many times, Limbaugh flew into a tirade and demanded, “Where did you get this silly notion that Reagan raised taxes?“
(click here to continue reading ThinkProgress » 10 Things Conservatives Don’t Want You To Know About Ronald Reagan.)
Especially humorous is Ronnie’s record re raising taxes:
1. Reagan was a serial tax raiser. As governor of California, Reagan “signed into law the largest tax increase in the history of any state up till then.” Meanwhile, state spending nearly doubled. As president, Reagan “raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,” including four times in just two years. As former GOP Senator Alan Simpson, who called Reagan “a dear friend,” told NPR, “Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his administration — I was there.” “Reagan was never afraid to raise taxes,” said historian Douglas Brinkley, who edited Reagan’s memoir. Reagan the anti-tax zealot is “false mythology,” Brinkley said.
The Ronald Reagan who won the cold war, cut taxes, shrank the government, saved the economy, and was the most beloved president since FDR is a myth, Bunch says. The cold war fizzled out primarily because of Soviet economic collapse. Reagan cut taxes just once, in 1991, and thereafter raised them yearly. He vastly expanded the government and burdened the economy with enormous deficits. Moreover, his approval ratings were just average, reflecting his divisiveness as a political figure. Bunch also shows that however tough-talking, Reagan was a negotiator who achieved nuclear arms reductions by talking with Soviet leader Gorbachev and got into the Iran-Contra mess because he wouldn’t send combat troops abroad. In practice, especially of foreign policy, he was a pragmatist, not an ideologue. The truculent jingoist of the myth was concocted after Alzheimer’s silenced the man and the would-be juggernaut launched by the GOP’s 1994 election triumph crashed and burned before a Democratic president who shrank government and the deficit, balanced the budget, and even racked up surpluses. Bunch names the leading, venal mythmakers and shames the myth exploiters, too. Anyone interested in America’s immediate future should read this book.
And a bit of historical perspective from Peter Dreier:
During his two terms in the White House (1981–89), Reagan presided over a widening gap between the rich and everyone else, declining wages and living standards for working families, an assault on labor unions as a vehicle to lift Americans into the middle class, a dramatic increase in poverty and homelessness, and the consolidation and deregulation of the financial industry that led to the current mortgage meltdown, foreclosure epidemic and lingering recession.
These trends were not caused by inevitable social and economic forces. They resulted from Reagan’s policy and political choices based on an underlying “you’re on your own” ideology.
Reagan is often lauded as “the great communicator,” but what he often communicated were lies and distortions. For example, during his stump speeches, while dutifully promising to roll back welfare, Reagan often told the story of a so-called “welfare queen” in Chicago who drove a Cadillac and had ripped off $150,000 from the government using eighty aliases, thirty addresses, a dozen Social Security cards and four fictional dead husbands. Journalists searched for this “welfare cheat” in the hopes of interviewing her and discovered that she didn’t exist. But this phony imagery of “welfare cheats” persisted and helped lay the groundwork for cuts to programs that help the poor, including children.
Reagan’s most famous statement—“Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem”—has become the unofficial slogan for the recent resurgence of right-wing extremism. The rants of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, the lunacy of Tea Party, the policy ideas promulgated by propaganda outfits like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation masquerading as think tanks and the takeover of the Republican Party by its most conservative wing were all incubated during the Reagan years. Indeed, they all claim to be carrying out the Reagan Revolution.
What did that revolution bring us?
Many Americans credit Reagan with reducing the size of government. In reality, he increased government spending, cut taxes and turned the United States from a creditor to a debtor nation. During his presidency, Reagan escalated the military budget while slashing funds for domestic programs that assisted working-class Americans and protected consumers and the environment. Not surprisingly, both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush followed in Reagan’s footsteps.
(click here to continue reading Reagan’s Real Legacy | The Nation.)
Greg Mitchell interviewed Eugene Jarecki about the upcoming HBO film about Reagan, which truth be told, I probably don’t have the intestinal fortitude to sit through.
An orgy of Ronald Reagan worship, including at the Super Bowl, will roll out today to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. For those who can stand to wait another day for a more evenhanded, though often critical, assessment, HBO will be airing Eugene Jarecki’s documentary, fresh from Sundance, titled Reagan, on Monday night at nine. Jarecki (left) is best known as the director of the acclaimed docs, Why We Fight and The Trials of Henry Kissinger (and, more recently Freakonomics). Reagan is an extremely well-made film, featuring some expected and some surprising talking heads, plus occasional spurts of fun provided by a Daily Show clip, Phil Hartman’s famous SNL skit portraying two faces of Reagan (public bumbler, private strongman), and even a Simpsons moment.
Reagan’s two sons take center stage. That would be the rightwing radio talk show ranter Michael Reagan (who was adopted) and the much more liberal Ron Reagan. Others interviewed include familiar Reaganites such as George Schultz, James Baker and Grover Norquist, and what Jarecki calls ‘honest brokers” including Tom Frank, Andrew Bacevich, Will Bunch, Frances Fitzgerald, James Mann and Simon Johnson.
At Sundance, Jarecki admitted he had “an axe to grind,” but not so much to expose Reagan as a bad guy but to dispel various “myths” that absurdly enlarge — or diminish – him. He also revealed that he had received a fair amount of criticism from some who feel the film is too kind to Reagan. Indeed, its first half paints a largely favorable picture of the man’s early life and rise to the governor’s mansion in California, but the second half, on his presidency and fallout from it, proves largely critical. What that means is that viewers who like the first half are more likely to stick around and learn something in the latter sections.
“The Reagan sales pitch has been going on a long time,” Jarecki told me in an interview this week. “If people see the real Reagan they may learn a lot. What’s amazing is how much we are told about Reagan today is only half true,” if that.
(click here to continue reading “Reagan” Comes to HBO: An Interview With Director Eugene Jarecki | The Nation.)
I’ve been pretty successful at ignoring Sarah Palin for a while,1 in the vain hope that she would stop being the GOP standard bearer if nobody paid attention to her, but Palin’s latest hateful egocentrism was too much. Since I’m not a paid pundint (sic), I couldn’t bear to watch her entire seven minute hate, so have instead relied upon professionals who have more intestinal fortitude to parse her half-truths and slanders.
so let’s just lead off with Sarah Palin’s video response to critics who alleged that her crosshairs map and no-holds-barred rhetoric contributed to a political climate that may have helped lead to the Arizona massacre:
A few quick things to note. First, the obvious care that went into making this video — the pre-written script is over seven minutes long; she clearly rehearsed the reading at some length; and the backdrop includes an American flag on the right flank — demonstrate once again that Palin and her advisers knew this was a potential make-or-break moment. Palin, of course, has long taken her case directly to supporters via Twitter and Facebook, while not permitting herself to be exposed to any journalistic cross-examination. Utilizing a pre-taped video message is a new twist on that strategy, and a reflection of how high the stakes have become.
Second, her core accusation on the video, the one that was clearly selected with an intent to drive headlines, not only accuses critics of “blood libel,” but actually accuses them of expressing concern and outrage about the shooting in bad faith, as if they are doing so in an effort to do nothing more than damage her politically:
(click to continue reading The Plum Line – Sarah Palin and `blood libel’.)
I don’t know if Palin’s teleprompter told her to slip in the phrase “blood libel” to discuss Arizona’s only Jewish Congressperson, or if Palin freelanced it, but since the 7 minute hate was obviously not an off-the-cuff production, perhaps someone might have done a bit of research:
Blood libel (also blood accusation) refers to a false accusation or claim that religious minorities, usually Jews, murder children to use their blood in certain aspects of their religious rituals and holidays.
Historically, these claims have–alongside those of well poisoning and host desecration–been a major theme in European persecution of Jews.
The libels typically allege that Jews require human blood for the baking of matzos for Passover. The accusations often assert that the blood of Christian children is especially coveted, and, historically, blood libel claims have often been made to account for otherwise unexplained deaths of children. In some cases, the alleged victim of human sacrifice has become venerated as a martyr, a holy figure around whom a martyr cult might arise. A few of these have been even canonized as saints, like Gavriil Belostoksky.
In Jewish lore, blood libels were the impetus for the creation in the 16th century of the Golem of Prague by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel. Many popes have either directly or indirectly condemned the blood accusation, and no pope has ever sanctioned it.
These libels have persisted among some segments of Christians to the present time.
(click to continue reading Blood libel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
I’m a firm believer in free speech, even for maggots festering on the political body such as Sarah Palin, but enjoying free speech doesn’t preclude others from criticizing your words if they are as inflammatory as Palin’s.
“Instead of dialing down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this tragedy of somehow engaging in a ‘blood libel’ against her and others,” said David Harris, president of the National Democratic Jewish Council, in a statement. “This is of course a particularly heinous term for American Jews, given that the repeated fiction of blood libels are directly responsible for the murder of so many Jews across centuries — and given that blood libels are so directly intertwined with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism around the globe, even today.”
“The term ‘blood libel’ is not a synonym for ‘false accusation,’ ” said Simon Greer, president of Jewish Funds for Justice. “It refers to a specific falsehood perpetuated by Christians about Jews for centuries, a falsehood that motivated a good deal of anti-Jewish violence and discrimination. Unless someone has been accusing Ms. Palin of killing Christian babies and making matzoh from their blood, her use of the term is totally out of line.”
U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head Saturday and remained in critical condition in a Tucson hospital, is Jewish.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said “it was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy or for being an accessory to murder. Palin has every right to defend herself against these kinds of attacks, and we agree with her that the best tradition in America is one of finding common ground despite our differences.
“Still, we wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase ‘blood libel’ in reference to the actions of journalists and pundits in placing blame for the shooting in Tucson on others. While the term ‘blood libel’ has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.”
(click to continue reading Blood libel: Jewish leaders object to Palin’s ‘blood libel’ charge – chicagotribune.com.)
And contrasting Barack Obama’s speech, Halmark-esque as it was, with Palin’s vitriol reminded a lot of folks why Obama won the election.
Wednesday was bookended by two remarkable — and remarkably different — political performances that demonstrated the vast expanse of America’s political landscape.
The day opened at 5 a.m. with Sarah Palin, whose seven-and-a-half minute video statement captured with precision the bubbling anger and resentment that is an undercurrent of the national conversation about our public discourse.
Sarah Palin issued a forceful denunciation of her critics in a video statement posted to her Facebook page. It ended with President Obama, whose plea for civility, love and compassion — for us to all be not just better citizens but better people — exposed for the first time the emotions of a leader who has spent two years staying cool and controlled for a nation beset by difficult times.
The tone of the two speeches could not have been more different. The venues were a world apart — the smallness of a rectangular video on a computer screen and the vastness of an echo-filled basketball arena.
And they both served as a reminder of the political clash to come when the 2012 presidential campaign gets underway in earnest next year.
(click to continue reading Obama and Palin, a Tale of Two Speeches – NYTimes.com.)
In the span of a single news cycle, Republicans got a jarring reminder of two forces that could prevent them from retaking the presidency next year.
At sunrise in the east on Wednesday, Sarah Palin demonstrated that she has little interest—or capacity—in moving beyond her brand of grievance-based politics. And at sundown in the west, Barack Obama reminded even his critics of his ability to rally disparate Americans around a message of reconciliation.
Palin was defiant, making the case in a taped speech she posted online why the nation’s heated political debate should continue unabated even after Saturday’s tragedy in Tucson. And, seeming to follow her own advice, she swung back at her opponents, deeming the inflammatory notion that she was in any way responsible for the shootings a “blood libel.”
Obama, speaking at a memorial service at the University of Arizona, summoned the country to honor the victims, and especially nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, by treating one another with more respect. “I want America to be as good as Christina imaged it,” he said.
It’s difficult to imagine a starker contrast.
(click to continue reading Barack Obama takes opportunity Sarah Palin missed – Jonathan Martin – POLITICO.com.)
Can we all take a vow to ignore Sarah Palin for a while now? At least until she announces she is running for president in 2012?Footnotes:
- Since 9/2010 on my blog [↩]
Social Security was never the cause of the nation’s debt problems. This issue dates all the way back to the Eighties, when Ronald Reagan hired Alan Greenspan to chair the National Commission on Social Security Reform, ostensibly to deal with a looming shortfall in the fund. Greenspan’s solution was to hike Social Security tax rates (they went from 9.35% in 1981 to 15.3% in 1990) and build up a “surplus” that could be used to pay Baby Boomers their social security checks 30 years down the road.
They raised the SS taxes all right, but they didn’t save the money for any old Baby Boomers in the 2000s. Instead, Reagan blew that money paying for eight years of deficit spending and tax cuts. Three presidents after him used the same trick. They used about $1.69 trillion in extra Social Security revenue (from the Greenspan hikes) to pay for current-day goodies, with the still-being-debated Bush tax cuts being a great example. This led to the infamous moment during Bush’s presidency when Paul O’Neill announced that the Social Security Trust Fund had no assets.
Well, duh! That is what happens to a fund, when you spend 30 years robbing it to pay for tax cuts for Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. It will tend to get empty. But of course this wasn’t presented to the public as being the consequence of too many handouts to wealthy campaign contributors: this was presented as a problem of those needy goddamned old people wanting to retire too early and being just far too greedy when it came to actually wanting their Social Security benefits paid out.
(click to continue reading Matt Bai’s Post-Partisanship | Rolling Stone Politics | Taibblog | Matt Taibbi on Politics and the Economy.)
Social Security taxes are capped, which means that above a certain level (I believe it’s $106,000 this year) there are no additional taxes. Which means that Jamie Dimon pays a disproportionately small amount of Social Security tax — an arrangement that makes sense, if that money is only going to one place, i.e. back, later on, to the person who paid the taxes, in the form of Social Security benefits.
But if all that money is just going into a big pile to be stolen by a long line of presidents who are using it to pay for things like pointless wars and income tax cuts for their rich buddies, the Social Security cap means that this stealth government revenue source disproportionately comes from middle class taxpayers. Add in the fact that the proposed solution to the budget problem now is cutting Social Security benefits, and what you get is a double-screwing of middle-class taxpayers: first they see their Social Security taxes used to fund tax cuts for the wealthy, and then they see cuts to their benefits to pay for the fallout from that robbery.
Grist for the mill of your next argument with a right-winger clamoring to privatize Social Security. Of course, facts have never been very important to right-wingers.
Tax breaks for 6,000 year old Earthers is a travesty. Tax breaks for any religious organization is absurd, actually, but especially for the Christian Taliban who want to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and institute a theocracy in its stead.
On Dec. 1, Kentucky Gov. Steven L. Beshear announced that the state would provide tax incentives to support the construction of Ark Encounter, a sprawling theme park on 800 acres of rural Grant County. Under Kentucky’s Tourism Development Act, the state can compensate approved businesses for as much as a quarter of their development costs, using funds drawn out of sales-tax receipts. It’s a considerable sweetener to promote development and jobs.
But in this case, say critics, it may pose a constitutional problem. The developers of Ark Encounter have close ties to a Christian ministry called Answers in Genesis, which promotes “young-earth” creationism—the belief that the account of creation provided in Genesis is scientifically accurate and that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
More seriously, civil libertarians’ are concerned that the park would involve an unconstitutional advancement of religion. But over the past two decades federal law has moved toward nondiscrimination against religious organizations. This began with the “charitable choice” provisions in Bill Clinton’s welfare-reform package, which sought to allow religious groups to receive government-funded social services. The trend continued with the Bush administration’s promotion of faith-based initiatives, which the Obama administration has extended in barely modified form. The constitutional argument therefore seems tired, supporting a form of discrimination that the government is abandoning in other quarters.
Should the promotion of tourism be subject to this kind of discrimination? The legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky has stated that he objects to the park receiving state funds because it “is about bringing the Bible to life.” But why is that different, legally speaking, from Disneyland bringing Pirates of the Caribbean to life? At what point did the planners of Ark Encounter go too far in their concerns for religious authenticity?
(click to continue reading Wilfred M. McClay: Rebuilding Noah’s Ark, Tax-Free – WSJ.com.)
I wouldn’t be surprised if, despite the outcry, Kentucky gives in to these fanatics.
Morons. Even worse, morons getting their way. What’s funny is that I always thought the Republican goal was to take the country back to the Robber Baron era1. If they studied history at all, they’d remember that trains were the main transportation option back then.
Gov.-elect Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Gov.-elect John Kasich in Ohio campaigned on pledges to stop passenger-rail projects in their states. On Thursday, they got their wish.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood rescinded nearly $1.2 billion that had been allocated to Wisconsin and Ohio for new train lines. Wisconsin, which received $810 million for a passenger train between Madison and Milwaukee, will have to forfeit the entire amount. Ohio must give up $385 million of the $400 million allocated for a train connecting Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.
The funds will be redirected to train projects in 14 states. California and Florida will receive the largest portions, up to $624 million and $342.3 million, respectively. Wisconsin will retain up to $2 million for the Chicago-Milwaukee line.
(click to continue reading Wisconsin, Ohio Off the Rails – WSJ.com.)Footnotes:
- no federal regulation, tiny taxes, return to the gold standard, yadda yadda. You know, like Somalia or something [↩]
Not too surprising, considering George W Bush’s oft repeated aphorism, “Ya’ll Are Either With Us or Agin’ Us”. And on that subject, can you explain how Canada not joining in on an illegal war harmed Canada? Me either.
A cable briefing President George W. Bush before a visit to Ottawa in late 2004 shed further light on the asymmetrical relationship with Canada — a country, the embassy wrote, that was engaged in “soul-searching” about its “decline from ‘middle power’ status to that of an ‘active observer’ of global affairs, a trend which some Canadians believe should be reversed.”
It also noted that Canadian officials worried that they were being excluded from a club of English-speaking countries as a result of their refusal to take part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The United States had created a channel for sharing intelligence related to Iraq operations with Britain and Australia, but Canada was not invited to join.
The Canadian government “has expressed concern at multiple levels that their exclusion from a traditional ‘four-eyes’ construct is ‘punishment’ for Canada’s non-participation in Iraq and they fear that the Iraq-related channel may evolve into a more permanent ‘three-eyes’ only structure,” the cable said.
(click to continue reading WikiLeaks Archive – U.S. Fretted Over Canada’s Chip – NYTimes.com.)
John Kelso reads Governor Good Hair Perry’s book so we don’t have to, and boils down its essence to this blunt thought – stay out of Texas unless you are a Tea Partier. Such a friendly message. Texas hospitality, indeed.
Perry’s solution to all this is that if you don’t like what’s cookin’ in your state, leave. I think this is a first in American history. I don’t recall a chamber of commerce type ever telling potential customers to take a hike. I mean, I’ve done it in my column with Californians, but I was just kidding. Perry, apparently, is serious. “If you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol, don’t come to Texas,” Perry writes. “If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California.” This strikes me as Middle Eastern thinking, putting people in places based on their beliefs. You got your Shiites over here and your Sunnis over here. Thank you, Ayatollah Perry.
(click to continue reading Perry’s book: if you don’t like Texas, stay out | Kelso’s Cranky Corner.)
Of course, 40-some percent of Texans would disagree with Perry, but hey, as far as he’s concerned, these folk should pack up and leave, or else just shut up and enjoy it.1Footnotes:
Bush is mounting a defense, as selective as it might be, of the Iraq war. He acknowledges that he experiences “a sickening feeling every time” he recalls the absence of WMDs in Iraq, but he contends that invading Iraq was the right move because “America is safer without a homicidal dictator pursuing WMD.”
Yet that statement is flat-out wrong. Not the “safer” part, but the description of Saddam Hussein and WMDs. Bush is still trying to mislead the American public, for at the time of the invasion, Saddam, brutal dictator that he was, was not pursuing the development or production of WMDs. The Bush administration’s own investigation found this. Following the invasion, there was a probe of Iraq’s WMD activity conducted by Charles Duelfer, a hawkish fellow who had been handpicked by the administration to handle this sensitive job. In 2004, his Iraq Survey Group submitted its final report. The report noted that Saddam “aspired to develop a nuclear capability.” But it was quite clear on the key point: Iraq had not been actively working on WMD projects. The Duelfer report concluded that Iraq’s ability to produce nuclear weapons — the most troubling W in the WMD category — had “progressively decayed” since 1991 and that inspectors had found no signs of any “concerted efforts to restart the program.” In plain talk: nada on nuclear. The same was true, the report said, for biological and chemical weapons. It found that by 1995, under U.N. pressure, Iraq had abandoned its biological weapons efforts and that there was no evidence Iraq had made any chemical weapons in the preceding 12 years.
The report was blunt:
The former regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD policy makers or planners. Nobody working on WMDs; no schemes to develop or obtain such weapons. The bottom line: Saddam was not pursuing weapons of mass destruction. The U.N. inspections of the 1990s and the international anti-Iraq sanctions had rendered Iraq’s weapons programs kaput.
(click to continue reading George W. Bush: Still Not Telling the Truth About Iraq.)
So, what are the odds that any upcoming interviews with or discussions of Bush will mention this? 3% chance? Less?