Tag: ek Politics

#CWS: Co-optupy Wall Street

viagra london drugs bc Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Good News?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

It appears that time is on the side of environmentalist groups opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline.

What is happening is that penalty clauses in TransCanada contracts are kicking in and refineries and other groups are withdrawing to seek other suppliers.

TransCanada predicts losses of up to $1 Million a day, however the Obama administration has already signaled that any final decision will be put off to next year at the earliest.

On Tuesday, TransCanada Chief Executive Russ Girling said another extended delay in the regulatory process would lead oil shippers and refiners to abandon support for the project, rendering it uneconomic to build.

We can certainly hope so.

dday at Firedog Lake has some more positive coverage from this morning-

The other day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tried to offload the decision on whether to go forward with the Keystone XL pipeline on the State Department. But President Obama himself was asked about the pipeline in a local news interview last night, and he took full responsibility for making the decision. In doing so, he related a full understanding of the public health risks, though he limited that to the immediate risks of a pipeline spill, rather than the extraction and burning of tar sands oil in general.



This is definitely encouraging, though as I said, it looks at the problem from a NIMBY standpoint rather than the main idea that burning tar sands oil is, as Bill McKibben put it over the weekend, the fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet. Climate scientist James Hansen has said that if the pipeline goes through, the climate will basically never be stabilized. That’s the larger problem, though obviously the risk to the Ogalalla aquifer is a factor as well. Keep in mind that Obama actually won the single electoral vote in the Omaha area in Nebraska, and probably wants to win it again.

Bill McKibben’s White House protest of Keystone XL is scheduled for Sunday, November 6th.

The Best and the Brightest

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

What you have to remember about them is that they’re not very good and they’re not very smart but they do have an overweening arrogance and sense of entitlement that makes them think that they’re better than you.

And they’re very, very afraid that some day some one will point out how stupid and wrong they are which is why they hate democracy so much.

Revenge of the Sovereign Nation

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph

November 1st, 2011

The Greek referendum – if it is not overtaken by a collapse of the government first – has left officials in Paris, Berlin, and Brussels speechless with rage. The ingratitude of them.



Every major claim by the inspectors at the outset of the Memorandum has turned out to be untrue. The facts are so far from the truth that it is hard to believe they ever thought it could work. The Greeks were made to suffer IMF austerity without the usual IMF cure. This was done for one purpose only, to buy time for banks and other Club Med states to beef up their defences.

It was not an unreasonable strategy (though a BIG LIE), and might not have failed entirely if the global economy recovered briskly this year and if the ECB had behaved with an ounce of common sense. Instead the ECB choose to tighten.

When the history books are written, I think scholarship will be very harsh on the handful of men running EMU monetary policy over the last three to four years. They are not as bad as the Chicago Fed of 1930 to 1932, but not much better.



Certain architects of EMU calculated that the single currency would itself become the catalyst for a quantum leap in integration that could not be achieved otherwise.

They were warned by the European Commission’s own economists and by the Bundesbank that the undertaking was unworkable without fiscal union, and probably catastrophic if extended to Southern Europe. Yet the ideological view was that any trauma would be a “beneficial crisis”, to be exploited to advance the Project.

This was the Monnet Method of fait accompli and facts on the ground. These great manipulators of Europe’s destiny may yet succeed, but so far the crisis is not been remotely beneficial.



And as my old friend Gideon Rachman at the FT writes this morning: the Greek vote is “a hammer blow aimed at the most sensitive spot of the whole European construction – its lacks of popular support and legitimacy.”

Austerity Faces Test as Greeks Question Their Ties to Euro

By STEVEN ERLANGER, The New York Times

Published: November 1, 2011

“This is clearly the return of politics,” said Jean Pisani-Ferry, director of Bruegel, an economic research institution in Brussels. “The management of all this by the Europeans has been fairly technocratic. But now we see the gamble of a politician, which creates uncertainty again, but in a different form. But it was bound to come at some point.”

Mr. Papandreou’s decision to press for a popular referendum on the bailout was the inevitable result of Greece’s loss of sovereignty to Brussels and the International Monetary Fund, said Jean-Paul Fitoussi, professor of economics at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France were acting as if they were the real government of Greece, he said.

“It’s as if the Europeans – or Merkel and Sarkozy alone – believed that they were in control of the people of Greece,” Mr. Fitoussi said. “But this is a democracy. In Greece, and even in Italy, you cannot expect to rule without the support and consent of the people. And you can’t impose an austerity program for a decade on a country, and even choose for them the austerity measures that country must implement.”



Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy are clearly irritated with Greece, but so far they insist that the restructuring deal agreed upon Thursday in Brussels remains, as Mr. Sarkozy said Tuesday, “the only possible path to resolve the Greek debt problem.”

But Greece’s turmoil has the makings of a turning point. Greek elections during a deep economic slump would be likely to usher in a government that would, at a minimum, to try to renegotiate the bailout deal with European and foreign lenders, a messy process that would force Germany and other European lenders to decide how strictly to stick to their austerity formula. The uncertainty would undermine confidence in other indebted countries like Italy at a time they can ill afford it.

There is also the possibility that an election or a popular referendum would pose the question more bluntly, with Greeks essentially deciding whether they want to stick with the euro or not – if they want to put sovereignty over their own affairs ahead of membership in the common currency. That could mean the fraying, or at least the shrinking, of the euro zone.

Mr. Fitoussi believes that Greeks had no choice but to ask themselves that question. “There are only two possibilities in a democracy: the government has to resign or consult the people,” he said. “Of course, I don’t know which is the worst for Europe.”

Crats, Maybe, But Not Much Techno

Paul Krugman, The New York Times

November 2, 2011, 11:15 am

Atrios complains, rightly, about the description of the policies being followed in Europe as technocratic. His point is that

we’ve conjured up images of very sensible highly educated wonky people doing the right thing, even as they destroy the world.

But it’s more than that: these alleged technocrats have in fact systematically ignored both textbook macroeconomics and the lessons of history in favor of fantasies. The European Central Bank has placed its faith in the confidence fairy, while imagining that it can run policy in a way that has never worked in several centuries of central bank experience. Meanwhile, the European policy elite has simply wished away the clear evidence that the euro zone needs to make an adjustment that is virtually impossible unless inflation targets are raised.

The point is that I know technocrats, and these people aren’t – they’re faith healers who are making stuff up to suit their prejudices.

You can say something similar, although a bit less pointed, about the Obama administration. The line from people there, including the president, has been that it was too technocratic. But the real technocrats – people like Christy Romer and, well, me – were saying right from the beginning that the stimulus was too small, etc.; people like Geithner who opposed stronger action were basing their position on gut feelings about confidence, not number-crunching.

See also Progressive Realists.

Keystone XL Treason?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Haupt v. United States, 330 U.S. 631-

(A)lthough the overt acts relied upon to support the charge of treason-defendant’s harboring and sheltering in his home his son who was an enemy spy and saboteur, assisting him in purchasing an automobile, and in obtaining employment in a defense plant-were all acts which a father would naturally perform for a son, this fact did not necessarily relieve them of the treasonable purpose of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Speaking for the Court, Justice Jackson said: “No matter whether young Haupt’s mission was benign or traitorous, known or unknown to the defendant, these acts were aid and comfort to him. In the light of this mission and his instructions, they were more than casually useful; they were aids in steps essential to his design for treason. If proof be added that the defendant knew of his son’s instruction, preparation and plans, the purpose to aid and comfort the enemy becomes clear.”

Tar sands pipeline will comfort our enemies

By Steven M. Anderson, The Hill

10/25/11 11:21 AM ET

The Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t help.  This pipeline would move dirty oil from Canada to refineries in Texas and would set back our renewable energy efforts for at least two decades, much to our enemies’ delight.  It would ensure we maintain our oil addiction and delay making the tough decisions regarding energy production, management and conservation that we need to start making today.

Transcanada, the company that would own the pipeline, makes various claims about the pipeline’s supposed security benefits.   It claims the pipeline will reduce dependence on Mideast oil, that tar sands will feed a growing US demand, and that it will provide a supply cushion in times of natural or man-made disasters. None of these claims holds up. Transcanada says the project will supply roughly half of the amount of oil the US imports from the Middle East and Venezuela – but conveniently leaves out a crucial detail:  This tar sands oil will not reduce imports from those nations.

The Keystone XL is an export pipeline. Valero Energy Corporation, the pipeline’s largest customer, has explicitly told investors that it plans to focus its Port Arthur refinery on exports.  Canadian oil won’t replace imports from hostile countries because Texas refiners are serving global demand rather than domestic need.

Steven M. Anderson is a retired Army brigadier general, and senior mentor with the Army’s Battle Command Training Program.

Former Keystone pipeline lobbyist hired by Obama campaign

The L.A. Times

October 24, 2011, 5:13 pm

President Obama’s reelection campaign has hired a former lobbyist for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline as a top adviser.

The campaign said that Broderick Johnson, founder and former principal of the communications firm the Collins Johnson Group, would serve as a senior adviser for the campaign. Before founding the firm this spring, he worked for the powerhouse lobbying firm, Bryan Cave LLP, where his clients included Microsoft, Comcast and TransCanada, the company planning to build the $7-billion pipeline to carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands to the Texas Gulf Coast.



An Obama campaign official said that in his new role Johnson would “serve as a national surrogate for the campaign and our representative in meetings with key leaders, communities and organizations.  Broderick will be an ear to the ground for the campaign’s political and constituency operations, helping to ensure that there is constant, open communication between the campaign and our supporters around the country.”

Given his ties to Keystone XL, Johnson is bound to get an earful when meeting with some in Obama’s constituency.

The pipeline needs a permit from the State Department because it would cross a federal border. For more than a year, Keystone XL has been mired in controversy. TransCanada, the oil industry and several labor unions have said the project would create thousands of jobs in the United States and reduce the country’s dependence on oil from hostile or unstable countries. Environmentalists, including many Obama supporters, have argued that the extraction of the crude in Alberta lays waste to the land and increases greenhouse gas emissions. They caution that the proposed route would take the pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska, the main source of drinking and irrigation water in the High Plains states, and they argue that the number of jobs created would be far fewer than claimed by the project’s backers.

Moreover, in the last several months, emails and other documents have raised questions about the State Department’s impartiality as it weighs Keystone’s permit application. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said late last year that her agency was “inclined” to grant the permit, although environmental reviews had not yet been completed.

TransCanada has hired a phalanx of former Democratic operatives since 2009 to lobby for Keystone XL, including Paul Elliott, the former deputy chairman for Clinton’s failed presidential campaign. Recently released emails show that the diplomat working on energy issues at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa had an unusually warm and collaborative relationship with Elliott. Another top State Department official worked with the Canadians to hone their message about the environmental impacts of developing oil sands. The outside contractor for the State Department’s environmental impact statement also counted TransCanada among its clients. The document was harshly criticized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Nebraska Legislature plans special session on Keystone XL project

The L.A.Times

October 24, 2011, 6:10 pm

The action throws a potentially significant new stumbling block into a Canadian company’s hope of winning approval before the end of the year for the 1,700-mile pipeline, which would move diluted bitumen — often heavy in sulfur, nickel and lead — from Alberta to the Texas coast.

“The key decision for current pipeline discussions is the permitting decision that will be made by the Obama administration, which is why I have urged President Obama and Secretary of State [Hilary] Clinton to deny the permit,” the governor, a Republican, said in a statement Monday.

“However, I believe Nebraskans are expecting our best efforts to determine if alternatives exist. Therefore, I will be calling a special session of the Nebraska Legislature to have a thoughtful and thorough public discussion about alternative solutions that could impact the route of the pipeline in a legal and constitutional manner.”

St. Paul’s Dean Folds

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

A brief summary-

#OWS protests have spread internationally and one such location is London, in particular the grounds of St. Paul’s Cathedral in what is called ‘The City’ near the London Stock Exchange.

Last week the Dean of St. Paul’s, the Rt. Rev. Graeme Knowles, announced that the Church would sue protestors to seek their removal.  This was rapidly followed by the resignations of 2 prominent subordinates- Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, the Canon Chancellor, and part time chaplain, Rev. Fraser Dyer.

The struggle for St Paul’s

lasix mg sizes The anti-capitalist protest outside the gates of St Paul’s has sparked a moral battle inside the cathedral.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious and Media Affairs Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph

7:00AM GMT 30 Oct 2011

The split tearing apart the nation’s church was not just damaging its reputation, but leaving its staff exhausted.

Martin Fletcher, the clerk of the works, who had given the initial advice for the cathedral to close, had been rushed to hospital in an ambulance after collapsing from stress. He is still on sick leave.



One figure who is understood to have taken a particularly dim view of Canon Fraser’s outbursts is the cathedral’s registrar, Nicholas Cottam, a retired Major-General.

He has, so far, managed to keep a low profile, but he is described as “the power behind the throne”, and central to convincing the dean to support evicting the protesters.

Having served as a Commanding Officer in Northern Ireland in the early Nineties, he is said to have acted as an enforcer who didn’t like the clergy stepping out of line.

The Dean and his former Canon Chancellor only live a few houses apart, but they have been pulled in different directions, with Dean Knowles being leant on by senior political and ecclesiastical figures, in addition to his registrar.



Senior figures at the City of London Corporation had decided that the protesters must be evicted, and backing from the cathedral Chapter was the last touch needed to give it moral authority.

As the fallout from the Chapter’s poor handling of the row has descended into an embarrassing debacle, it has cast the Church in an unflattering light.

The canons have been accused of selling out to the wishes of politicians rather than carrying out their gospel duties to care for the poor and downtrodden.

Others are incredulous that a great symbol of London has been closed for the first time since the Blitz because of health and safety concerns posed by the camp.

The Rt. Rev. Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said that it was not just the public who were bemused by the closure.

“Cathedral deans I’ve spoken to are mystified as to why they would do it,” he said. “It’s made them look like idiots. Anyone who looks at the camp can see that it is complete nonsense to claim that it was done for health and safety.”

The health and safety report published on Monday listed “rope/guy-lines” and rodents among potential dangers posed by the presence of the camp.

Sources close to the Dean say that he was baffled as soon as he saw how weak the evidence was, and moved to have the building reopened as quickly as possible.

The cathedral charges £14.50 for entry and, with its restaurant and gift shop also shut, is estimated to have lost more than £100,000 in the week it was closed.

Today, the Dean has resigned.

Rowan Williams warns of ‘urgent issues’ raised by protests as third St Paul’s clergyman resigns

go site The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has warned that “urgent” issues raised by the protesters at St Paul’s Cathedral must be properly addressed as the Dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, resigned.

By Victoria Ward, The Telegraph

2:55PM GMT 31 Oct 2011

Speaking publicly about the crisis for the first time, Dr. Williams added: “The urgent larger issues raised by the protesters at St Paul’s remain very much on the table and we need – as a Church and as society as a whole – to work to make sure that they are properly addressed.”



Dean Knowles said today: “It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as Dean of St. Paul’s was becoming untenable.

“In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St. Paul’s, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised. I do this with great sadness, but I now believe that I am no longer the right person to lead the Chapter of this great cathedral.”

Yesterday, he addressed protesters at the camp, insisting that he was keen to listen and to answer their questions.

However, he looked distinctly uncomfortable on the podium and was heckled as he failed to answer why legal action had been sought.

He admitted that he found it “quite difficult” that the protesters assumed he did not share their views simply because he used different methods of expressing them. Just hours later, he advised the cathedral Chapter of his decision to step down.

Good.  He should be uncomfortable, the pompous hypocrite.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is technically the ‘second in command’ of The Church of England since it’s titular head is the British Sovereign.

What’s the matter with democracy?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The same as it’s always been.  The landed gentry, the aristocrats, the capitalists and 1 tenth of 1 percenters are worried that the unwashed rabble, the sans culottes, the rest of us are going to take away their ill-gotten gains through the sheer power of numbers.

As well they might.

Markets Slide After Surprise Referendum Is Set by Greece

By NIKI KITSANTONIS and RACHEL DONADIO, The New York Times

Published: November 1, 2011

The proposed ballot will put Greek austerity measures – and potentially membership in the euro zone – to a popular vote for the first time, risking Mr. Papandreou’s political future and threatening even greater turmoil both among the countries that share the single currency and further afield.

His announcement sent tremors through Europe’s see-sawing markets on Tuesday, with bank stocks taking a particular hammering because of their exposure to Greek debt. At midday, the German DAX index was down by 5.3 per cent while the French CAC 40 had slipped by roughly 4.2 per cent. In Britain, which is not a member of the euro zone but trades heavily with continental Europe, the FTSE 100 index was down by around 3.2 percent.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is expected to speak with German Chancellor Angela Merkel by phone during the day on Tuesday to discuss the referendum, which took both leaders by surprise, Agence-France Presse reported. The French president was said to be “dismayed,” according to Le Monde, citing an unnamed confidant of Mr. Sarkozy.



Some analysts said the referendum was an invitation for instability. “When the debate is very passionate and things are tense, holding a referendum could be risky,” said Alexis Papahelas, the editor of the center-right daily Kathimerini.

If the referendum fails, he said, “we have a very big chance that the country would go into a disorderly default.”

A spokesman for the center-right New Democracy Party, Yiannis Michelakis, said a referendum was dangerous. Mr. Papandreou, he said, “has tossed Greece’s future in Europe in the air like a coin.”

“A nation is truly corrupt when, after having by degrees lost its character and liberty, it slides from democracy into aristocracy or monarchy; this is the death of the political body by decrepitude.”

Amoral Economics 101

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

More Thoughts On Weaponized Keynesianism

Paul Krugman, The New York Times

October 29, 2011, 2:20 pm

Economics, as I say often, is not a morality play. As far as creating aggregate demand is concerned, spending is spending – public spending is as good as but also no better than private spending, spending on bombs is as good as spending on public parks. As I pointed out not long ago, a perceived threat of alien invasion, by getting us to spend on anti-invasion measures, would quickly restore full employment, even though the spending would be on totally useless object.

It’s also worth noting that one of the main sources of evidence that fiscal expansion really does stimulate the economy comes from tracking the effects of changes in defense spending. That’s true of Depression-era studies like Almunia et al, and also of several of the studies described in the Romer and Romer lecture on fiscal policy. Why the focus on defense? Two reasons, actually. One is that in practice defense spending is what moves: the fact is that large-scale stimulus programs consisting of domestic spending basically don’t happen, while wars and arms races do.



And the evidence clearly shows that weaponized Keynesianism works – which means that Keynesianism in general works.



(T)here’s the general fear on the part of conservatives that if you admit that the government can do anything useful other than fighting wars, you open the door to do-gooding in general; that explains why conservatives have always seen Keynesianism as a dangerous leftist doctrine even though that makes no sense in terms of the theory’s actual content. On top of that there’s the Kalecki point that admitting that the government can create jobs undermines demands that policies be framed to cater to all-important business confidence.

That said, there’s also the Keynes/coalmines point: there’s a strong tendency to take any spending that looks like a business proposition – building bridges or tunnels, supporting solar energy or mass transit – and demanding that it appear to be a sound investment in terms of its financial return. This makes most such spending look bad, since almost by definition a depressed economy is one in which businesses aren’t seeing good reasons to invest. Defense gets exempted because nobody expects bombs to be a good business proposition.

The moral here should be that spending to promote employment in a depressed economy should not be viewed as something that has to generate a good financial return; in effect, most of the resources being used are in reality free.

You may discuss more productive uses of government investment below, though you should be prepared for the argument that other activities which reduce the surplus population (plagues, famines, eating babies, etc.) also produce beneficial economic results.

Progressive Realists

get cialis soft from online drugstore A Third Way Manifesto for the 1%

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Centrists

by Jay Ackroyd, Eschaton

at 19:48 Friday, October 28, 2011

The president, and the Democrat’s Senate leadership, reject movement liberalism. The ideology they follow is grounded in the impact of globalization on world capital and labor markets. They believe the US has to reduce labor costs to be competitive as capital flows freely around an interconnected world-that it is unrealistic, “neo-populist” to think the middle class can be preserved. But they also recognize that the middle class is not gonna be happy with these necessary, painful policies:

THE NEW RULES ECONOMY: A Policy Framework for the 21st Century (pdf)

The Third Way Middle Class Project

A Third Way Report by Anne Kim, Adam Solomon, Bernard L. Schwartz, Jim Kessler, and Stephen Rose

February 2007

We urge a different approach, which we call “progressive realism.” Realism means recognizing and understanding the economy’s new rules while accepting the limits of government’s power to stop the forces of change. But as progressives, we also believe that government policies-if modernized and adapted to the rules of the 21st century-can create the optimal conditions for increasing economic growth, expanding middle-class prosperity and protecting those who fall behind.
As progressive realists, we do not doubt that change is disruptive and, for many people, painful. Globalization has made many jobs obsolete, and both companies and individuals have been hurt by its impact. As the neopopulists note, all is not well with the middle class. But we also see the current era of change as one of tremendous opportunity and potential for the middle class.

This belief that New Deal liberalism is obsolete is combined with a belief that good policy-making is inconsistent with democratic institutions-that you need to rely on policy experts operating in good faith in the best interests of the country, without elbows being joggled by cranky neo-populists or nutty movement conservtives. And those experts, who can be found at the highest reaches of successful corporations should be brought into government, because they understand how this new global economy works. These leaders need to be brought into partnership with the US government, and hard-headed, realistic policy crafted, so that the US can continue to be the dominant world power.

Note that a central theme here is that it is above partisanship-that the experts, left alone, will best do their work. When you use that frame, then the health care negotiation makes sense. These negotiations took place not with politicians, but with the large service providers, because those stakeholders are the real experts and will keep us out of distracting, distorting partisanship. It makes sense that we turn to the money center banks as the mechanism for minimizing the contraction-they’re the pros who have risen, through merit and diligence, to their positions.

It’s not about Obama per se. It’s about a political philosophy, an ideology that rejects core Democratic values about the government’s role in protecting the citizenry from powerful private interests. It’s not twelve dimensional chess. It’s not cowardice or “caving” or bad messaging, or that the Democrats don’t know how to negotiate.

The Definition of Insanity

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Sometimes (like Krugman) you have to re-arrange the order.

Over before it began

by digby

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So here’s what’s happened so far. The President put forth a jobs bill, which didn’t make it through the congress, as expected. This jobs bill was highly touted as containing “ideas” that Republicans had proposed in the past and therefore, it should have “something for everyone.” Needless to say, the GOP wasn’t interested in any one from column A and one from column B negotiating. After the defeat of the big jobs package, the Democrats announced they were going to propose popular pieces of the bill and force the Republicans to prove once and for all that they don’t care about the plight of the average American as they join together in Scrooglike conformity.

Unfortunately, the Republicans decided not to play (surprise!) and are instead proposing their own combinations of the most toxic conservative elements of the President’s bill and the President is apparently signing on, thus signing into law a terrible GOP policy while simultaneously giving them a “bipartisan” win.



What, at this point, is the rationale of the Democratic Party? We’ll kill terrorists twice as hard and only slash the safety net half as much? We’ll pass the Republican agenda so they don’t have to?



I’m not sure what the President hopes to gain by proposing and then signing deeply unpopular GOP legislation, but that appears to be the plan.

Do you get it now digby?

(References supplied)

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=prednisone-10-mg-tabs Update:

House Passes the "Even Obama Supported" Non-Jobs Jobs Act

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Thursday October 27, 2011 2:18 pm

The House bill eliminating the 3% withholding rule, making it easier for government contractors to cheat on their taxes, a small part of the American Jobs Act and supported by the President, passed today, on a near-unanimous vote of 405-16. The bill was paid for through a separate measure, which changes the calculation of modified adjusted gross income by including Social Security benefits in the calculation, for the purposes of determining eligibility for programs like Medicaid and SCHIP. This fix of a “glitch” that would allow some middle-income early retirees to get nearly free Medicaid coverage (we can’t have that!), passed by a smaller amount, on a vote of 262 to 157. 27 Democrats joined 235 Republicans in supporting the bill.



How facilitating tax cheating counts as a jobs measure is beyond me, but whatever the case, the bill and its offset go to the Senate. A 3% withholding bill got 57 votes in the Senate last week, with a different offset that just reduces expenditures across the board. That was before the Administration came out in favor of the bills, however. So surely, something incorporating 3% withholding is likely to pass Congress.

The CBO estimates that federal revenues would be reduced $11 billion over 10 years by this measure. That’s a little more than 2% of the cost of the American Jobs Act. And it has almost nothing to do with jobs. But it’s destined to become law.

The Cost Of Victory

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

WikiLeaks cables and the Iraq War

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Sunday, Oct 23, 2011 7:44 AM

That cable was released by WikiLeaks in May, 2011, and, as McClatchy put it at the time, “provides evidence that source U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=read-and-buy-levitra-pills-online-with-fast-delivery then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.” The U.S. then lied and claimed the civilians were killed by the airstrike. Although this incident had been previously documented (.pdf) by the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the high-profile release of the cable by WikiLeaks generated substantial attention (and disgust) in Iraq, which made it politically unpalatable for the Iraqi government to grant the legal immunity the Obama adminstration was seeking. Indeed, it was widely reported at the time the cable was released that it made it much more difficult for Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain beyond the deadline under any conditions.

In other words, whoever leaked that cable cast light on a heinous American war crime and, by doing so, likely played some significant role in thwarting an agreement between the Obama and Maliki governments to keep U.S. troops in Iraq and thus helped end this stage of the Iraq war (h/t Trevor Timm). Moreover, whoever leaked these cables – as even virulent WikiLeaks critic Bill Keller repeatedly acknowledged – likely played some significant in helping spark the Arab Spring protests by documenting just how deeply corrupt those U.S.-supported kleptocrats were. And in general, whoever leaked those cables has done more to publicize the corrupt, illegal and deceitful acts of the world’s most powerful factions – and to educate the world about how they behave – than all “watchdog” media outlets combined (indeed, the amount of news reports on a wide array of topics featuring WikiLeaks cables as the primary source is staggering). In sum, whoever leaked those cables is responsible for one of the most consequential, beneficial and noble acts of this generation.

WikiLeaks suspends publishing to fight financial blockade

go to site Julian Assange says banking bans have destroyed 95% of whistleblowing site’s revenues

Esther Addley and Jason Deans, The Guardian

Monday 24 October 2011 08.42 EDT

Julian Assange, co-founder of WikiLeaks, has announced that the whistleblowing website is suspending publishing operations in order to focus on fighting a financial blockade and raise new funds.



The website, behind the publication of hundreds of thousands of controversial US embassy cables in late 2010 in partnership with newspapers including the Guardian and New York Times, revealed that it was running on cash reserves after “an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade” by the Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union.

WikiLeaks said in a statement: “The blockade is outside of any accountable, public process. It is without democratic oversight or transparency.

“The US government itself found that there were no lawful grounds to add WikiLeaks to a US financial blockade. But the blockade of WikiLeaks by politicised US finance companies continues regardless.”

Assange said donations to WikiLeaks were running at €100,000 a month in 2010, but had dropped to a monthly figure of €6,000 to €7,000 this year.

What Motivates Obamabots

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This should explain a lot for you if you’re confused.

They’re Back: Obamabots Fan Out in Defense of their Hero

By Taylor Marsh

18 October 2011

What Glenn is describing in the top quote (link) is a virulent strain of what I call fan politics, which is most visibly seen today by Obamabots, as they’ve been called around here since 2007. Greenwald has been attacked on this site (Taylor Marsh) by them, as has Mr. Krugman. Fan politics is about people, like the Obamabots, who support a politician regardless of the policies he or she delivers upon, thinking anyone finding fault in their candidate of choice is committing some larger sin for not following in line. discount levitra plus from online drugstore Fan politics is particularly destructive because it demands party loyalty take the place of political dialogue, party trumping principle.



Die hard party loyalists don’t seem to get there is a undulating political upheaval slowly taking place, which has been happening on the right for several years, with the left joining in, the foundation of their discontent the continued drag right of the Democratic Party, which began under William Jefferson Clinton. What saved Clinton from the wrath being felt today, besides the fact that new media hadn’t matured, was the courage he had to launch the largest tax increase in decades, though Lawrence O’Donnell claims it was the biggest ever, which, along with the tech boom, led to peacetime prosperity for everyone.



(T)he background of the left’s discontent is the belief that if Obama is reelected he will tinker with the New Deal, because he won’t have anything to lose, with his legacy of accomplishments his only priority. But as we’re seeing with health care, as the Administration scuttles Teddy Kennedy’s CLASS, not even Obama’s accomplishments are safe, because of the ramshackle way ACA was designed. Obama also seems to believe, joining conservative Democrats and Republics, that entitlement “reform” should be a priority, leaving most to rightly think that whether it’s a Democrat or Republican in the White House in 2012, the people’s safety net will be weakened.



from online drugstore real levitra canadian What is at the root of Obamabot invective, however, is the palpable fear and realization that Pres. Obama could actually lose in 2012. This is a stunner for them, especially considering where Barack Obama started his presidency.

But now the President’s fans have their own egos attached to him and the thought of Obama losing is scaring the crap out of them. enter Their goal to get Obama reelected now tied to not being proved wrong about him, but also to protect gloating rights, never mind that the current choices from either party leave a lot to be desired. The sad truth is there isn’t very much difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney that will be felt by people. For Obamabots, it’s not just about Pres. Obama winning reelection in 2012. It’s not about their belief that Barack Obama will champion greater policies in a second term. There is no evidence he will. Obama’s reelection is now also about them. It’s personal, not political or policy driven.

Fan politics for the sake of the politician being supported is always toxic. It also usually disappoints. Just ask the bookend to the Obamabots, die hard fans of Sarah Palin.

Emphasis and some references provided.

Fungible

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The big lie about the Keystone XL pipeline (outside of the corruption and devastating impact on the environment) is that it will create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign (read angry middle eastern brown people) oil.

The facts are that far from the pitiful 20,000 jobs promised independent economists estimate a mere 6,000 and that instead of lowering energy prices in the U.S., most of the Tar Sand output is destined for shipment to China and other developing countries.

Of the 6 oil giants involved in the project, 5 are not based in the U.S. and the 6th, Valero, is primarily an exporting firm.

Say No to the Keystone XL

The Editors of The New York Times

Published: October 2, 2011

(T)he State Department appears to be more persuaded by proponents who claim that the pipeline will help reduce America’s dependence on oil from politically troubled sources in the Middle East. We are skeptical about that, too.

What pipeline advocates – including big-oil lobbyists and House Republicans who have tried to force an early, favorable decision – fail to mention is that much of the tar sands oil that would be refined on the Gulf Coast is destined for export. Six companies have already contracted for three-quarters of the oil. Five are foreign, and the business model of the one American company – Valero – is geared toward export.



We have considerable sympathy for one argument: that construction of the pipeline would bring jobs at a time of great economic uncertainty. TransCanada has said the 2,000-mile line would create 20,000 jobs in the United States. The State Department concludes that the real number may be closer to 6,000 jobs.

Environment, Size of U.S. Oil Exports Part of Keystone XL Pipeline Debate

By Lyudmila Tsubiks, infoZine

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Much of the fuel refined from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s heavy crude oil will never reach U.S. drivers’ tanks, a new report says.

The oil will be refined into diesel and exported, Lorne Stockman, research director of Oil Change International, said. His group opposes the pipeline.

According to the report, the crude will be delivered from Hardisty, Alberta, by the 1,980-mile, 36-inch diameter Keystone XL pipeline to refiners in Texas that are focused on exports.

“Europe has a diesel deficit, Latin America has a petroleum product deficit generally and we are increasing exporting our surplus to these countries,” Stockman said.

The key quality here is Fungibility

Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution, such as crude oil, wheat, precious metals or currencies. For example, if someone lends another person a $10 bill, it does not matter if they are given back the same $10 bill or a different one, since currency is fungible; if someone lends another person their car, however, they would not expect to be given back a different car, even of the same make and model, as cars are not fungible.

And this applies to all the ‘Drill baby, drill’ arguments.  U.S. demand for energy has plummeted because our economy sucks and so much of our production is being sold offshore.

Dominion seeks exports of Marcellus Shale gas

Associated Press

OCTOBER 9, 2011, 5:27 P.M. ET

HARRISBURG, Pa. – An energy company is seeking federal approval to allow exports of liquefied natural gas from the booming Appalachian drilling industry, saying that the nation’s natural gas supply is outpacing demand.

Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Resources Inc. announced last week that it has applied to the Department of Energy to allow 1 billion cubic feet per day to be exported through a terminal it owns in Maryland. The application, filed Sept. 1, seeks permission for the exports of liquefied natural gas to any country with which the United States does not prohibit trade, the company said.



“It is in our nation’s best interests to develop our natural resources responsibly and reliably,” Farrell said. “In the process, we will be able to improve the nation’s balance of trade.”

So basically we’re being asked to ruin our environment, kill ourselves with pollution, and give away our natural resources so that greedy energy companies can steal more of our money.

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