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Archive for March 19th, 2007

I Predict Somebody Will Be Leaving the Administration Soon

Posted by MEC on March 19, 2007

No, not Abu Gonzales. (Now, really, would Bush fire somebody who knows where all the bodies are buried?)

NIH chief Elias A. Zerhouni has told a Senate panel that the ban on stem-cell research should be lifted.

Recall that “Bush issued the first and so far only veto of his presidency last year when he killed legislation that would have expanded federal funding of stem-cell research. In January, the House passed a revived proposal.”

Dr. Zerhouni has committed two fatal offenses against Bush’s sovereignty: he’s said, in effect, that Bush is wrong about something, and he’s indicated that he actually wants to do the job right instead of working to ruin the agency he’s in charge of.

He’s toast.

Posted in Congressional hearings, NIH, stem cell research | 8 Comments »

Mexican oil producer Pemex heads for crisis

Posted by Charles II on March 19, 2007

AP (3/16): MEXICO CITY: Depleted reserves, crumbling pipelines, outdated technology and billions of dollars (euros) in debt….


The company’s main shallow-water Cantarell oil field off the Gulf coast is slowly running out of oil, while the company struggles with leaky pipelines that have led to spills and explosions. Debt and pension obligations total upward of US$100 billion (€76 billion)….The field is Mexico’s largest single source of crude oil, oil provides nearly 40 percent of the government’s revenues and Mexico is one of the largest exporters of oil to the United States. “Whatever happens in Cantarell affects public finances and the credit rating not only of Pemex but of the country as well,” Baker wrote in a policy paper last month….


Pemex CEO Jesus Reyes Heroles said last month that the company can make up for a good part of that lost production with expanded output at the offshore Ku-Maloob-Zaap oil field in the Gulf’s Campeche Sound, and other projects. But David Shields, an independent energy expert in Mexico City who has written books on Pemex, has his doubts. Shields, citing Pemex’s own internal projections, says while the government estimates a production drop of about 200,000 barrels a day this year, “it’s probably going to be much more than that, around 600,000.”

Posted in Mexico, Oil | 3 Comments »

Another Dirty Effing Hippie Calls For Gonzales To Step Down

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 19, 2007

The hippie in question?  Bob Barr.

Posted in Alberto Gonzales | 1 Comment »

The only thing we have to fear is…

Posted by Charles II on March 19, 2007

There is no fiscal crisis. No Social Security crisis. There is only a Medicare crisis because we have failed to follow the rest of the civilized world into universal health care.

Igor Greenwald of Smartmoney 

Now, a decade after the Internal Revenue Service was effectively declawed amid complaints from the taxpayer-rights movement, politicians of all stripes mean to do something, many things in fact, about the newly relevant “tax gap.” [uncollected taxes]


The IRS pegs the difference between the taxes owed and taxes collected at $290 billion a year, based on the 2001 data it surveyed and after enforcement efforts that recovered an additional $53 billion. …

But even that is an underestimate because

[I]t relied heavily on 46,000 individual audits while extrapolating corporate tax dodges (and underestimating them, the IRS commissioner admits in passing) from statistics dating back to 1988.  By this incomplete reckoning, underreporting of individual tax income accounts for 57% of the entire tax gap. The largest slice, $109 billion annually, is attributed to “underreported business income,” which in turn robs Social Security of another $39 billion in self-employment taxes.


…[T]he revenue-agent headcount declined by nearly 30% in the nine years through fiscal 2004, while the number of filed tax returns rose 9% over the same span. The federal tax code has ballooned by roughly 65% over the same period, according to Cato & Co. A couple of morale-sapping reorganizations and a voluntary-retirement wave later, the agency appears to have its hands full with prisoners mass-producing fictitious refund requests and deadbeats who haven’t paid in years. Despite the contracting of private collectors, billions of dollars in taxpayer debt get written off each year.  …


The answer at the White House is more computers and stuff. The presidential budget requests $282 million for Business Systems Modernization (versus a $26 million funding increase to ensure tax compliance by multinationals). They should federalize the whole Geek Squad while they’re at it, given how badly the IRS bungled last year’s $20 million “upgrade” of its Electronic Fraud Detection System. To make a long story short, the contractor dropped the ball, the upgrade malfunctioned, the system went offline and the agency program designed to weed out false refund requests stopped less than one quarter of the fraud it had prevented in the prior year. 

Seven years audit, recovering $290 B per year in taxes and $35B in employment taxes means that we could just about pay off Bush’s deficits. The Social Security shortfall over 75 years is between 0.4 and 0.7% of GDP, or somewhere around 2.1-3.7 T. Recovering $35B in employment taxes is 2.6T, right in the middle of the range.

So, don’t let anyone turn you around. The only thing we have to fear… is Republicans in office.

Posted in corruption, fearmongering, Social Security, taxes | 11 Comments »

What a Difference an Election Makes

Posted by MEC on March 19, 2007

Senator Leahy intends to subpoena White House officials to testify in The Case of the Purged Prosecutors.

“I want testimony under oath. I am sick and tired of getting half-truths on this,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. “I do not believe in this, ‘We’ll have a private briefing for you where we’ll tell you everything,’ and they don’t.”

Leahy said his committee would vote Thursday to issue subpoenas in the inquiry.


Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has said he’ll seek a vote this week on issuing subpoenas to Rove and others.

Posted in Congressional hearings, Democrats with spines, John Conyers, Patrick Leahy, US attorney firings | Comments Off on What a Difference an Election Makes

We Knew They Would

Posted by MEC on March 19, 2007

Last Friday, I predicted that The Usual Suspects, rather than admit defeat in their attempts to discredit Joe and Valerie Wilson, would accuse Valerie of lying under oath in the Congressional hearing.

I don’t know whether Brit Hume was the first, but he certainly went at it with gusto. Think Progress demolishes him, but I expect we’ll be hearing the same accusation from others of his ilk, probably in the same words and everything.

I expect demands that Valerie be indicted for lying under oath, because it’s a Very Serious Crime, from the exact same people who’ve been defending Scooter Libby by saying he should never have been prosecuted because there was “no underlying crime”.

[H/T Salon’s Table Talk]

Posted in anti-truth, Brit Hume, Fox Noise, GOP/Media Complex, hypocrites, mediawhores, Table Talk, Valerie Plame | 2 Comments »

So Much For Grover

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 19, 2007

Looks like even some Minnesota Republicans realize that Grover Norquist’s “use debt to kill social programs” scam is not how responsible adults run a government — or at least they want to have it both ways, voting for a bill that they claim the governor will veto anyway, without mentioning that it’s going to pass by a veto-proof majority.

In other news, that oh-so-nice man Michael “Minnesota Democrats Exposed” Brodkorb — who is trying to shake his partisan Republican reputation and history to get more and better exposure in the mainstream media — has been revealed to be the guy behind yet another local partisan Republican site, this one attacking newly-elected Democratic Congressman Tim Walz.

Posted in local blogging, Minnesota, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Silly Republicans, Tim Walz, WTF? | Comments Off on So Much For Grover

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