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Archive for July 14th, 2011

Dayton Offers MN GOP Hobson’s Choice: Protect Rich Or Bust Unions

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 14, 2011

As you may have heard by now, the Minnesota state shutdown is likely to come to an end soon, as Governor Mark Dayton offered the state Republican leadership a Hobson’s Choice:

Dayton offered to accept their June 30 budget proposal, which delays school payments and doesn’t tax the rich, on these three conditions:

– They dump all the ALEC-inspired social/policy agenda bullshit (including their own version of Scott Walker’s union-busting bill), crap which they’d spent the entire session pushing and which they’d tacked onto the bill

– They drop their plan to cut state employee numbers by 15%

– They approve a $500 million bonding bill to put people back to work in Minnesota.

In other words, he challenged them to show, once and for all, their true priorities.

And guess what? They’ve tentatively agreed to it.

That’s right, folks: The Republican Party of Minnesota not only jettisoned their union-busting, their stem-cell research ban, their mandatory picture voter ID demand, as well as their anti-stimulus stance and their deficit hawkery, just to make sure Governor Dayton didn’t raise taxes on the richest .03% of the population.

That should tell you something. So does the fact that Michael Brodkorb and other Republican leaders, who would have been filling their Twitter feeds with boasts about making Dayton cave if they really liked this deal, have done no such thing today. They now have to sell this to their freshman Tea Party goons, and that’s going to be difficult.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Just when you think you can’t get any more cynical/updated, now with new cynicism

Posted by Charles II on July 14, 2011

There is a dime’s worth of difference between the parties. Just not much more than a dime. CTJ:

Both Sides of Debt Ceiling Talks Propose Increasing the Budget Deficit

President’s and GOP’s Positions Both Include Greater Tax Cuts than Spending Cuts

It’s hard to say what will happen with the necessary increase in the federal debt ceiling. Perhaps something like the proposal put forward by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to essentially raise the debt ceiling without any guarantee of cuts in spending or revenue increases will be adopted. Or perhaps the President will continue to try to get congressional Republicans to agree to a “grand bargain” that would supposedly reduce the budget deficit by $4 trillion over ten years.

But one thing is clear: Almost anything that the President and the Congress can possibly agree upon will not reduce projected budget deficits. Instead, it will increase them. The problem is that both sides want to extend all or most of the expiring Bush tax cuts. And neither side has proposed spending cuts or tax increases large enough to offset the tremendous cost of such an extension.

Here is what the two sides proposed in the negotiations over the possible “grand bargain”:
Congressional GOP position: Extend all of the Bush tax cuts, which are otherwise scheduled to expire at the end of 2012. Such an extension would cost $5.4 trillion over the upcoming decade. [1] To offset most, but not all of that cost, Republicans want to slash public services, to save about $4 trillion over 10 years. Net deficit increase: $1.4 trillion.

President Obama’s position: Extend 81 percent of the Bush tax cuts plus some other, smaller tax cuts he has promoted, at a cost of about $4.7 trillion over 10 years. He proposes to offset part of that cost by slashing public services, to save about $3.2 trillion over 10 years. Reports indicate that the President has discussed several measures to close tax loopholes. While it’s uncertain exactly what has been discussed, even if we assume that the President is pushing all of the tax loophole-closing proposals in his most recent budget blueprint, that would save only $0.7 trillion over a decade.[2] Net deficit increase: $0.8 trillion.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, Obama Administration, Republicans as cancer | 5 Comments »

Did phone hacking lead to police murder?

Posted by Charles II on July 14, 2011

One of the most perplexing events in Britain over the last decade was the hunting down and murder–seemingly out of the blue– of a Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes by police officers. According to the Justice for Jean campaign:

At approximately 9.20am on the 22nd July 2005, Jean Charles de Menezes left his flat in Tulse Hill and began his commute to work. It was a normal day of work for him, Jean was an electrician and that day, him and his friend Gesio had a job in North West London. It was a warm sunny summer’s day in London and Jean left home wearing his favourite type of relaxed clothes; some lightweight jeans, a t-shirt and a denim jacket. He did not carry a bag with him. He walked from his flat to the bus top nearby and caught a bus towards Brixton. When he arrived in Brixton however, he realised that the Victoria line was not working on that day so he called his friend Gesio and explained that he was running late and would instead travel to Stockwell and get the Northern line from there. Jean then proceeded to get on a bus from Brixton to Stockwell. He disembarked from the bus opposite Stockwell tube and waited at the traffic lights to cross the road. With the lights on green, he crossed over and entered Stockwell metro station. He paused to pick up a copy of the free newspaper, the metro, from a stand and walked through to the ticket barriers where he used his electronic Oyster ticket card to walk through the barriers. He then proceeded to take the escalator down towards the platform of the Northern line.

Having walked off the escalators, Jean sees and hears a tube arrive at the platform. Jean jogged onto the platform and entered the tube carriage. He saw an empty seat, sat down and takes out his paper.
At this point an undercover plain clothed police officer standing in the tube carriage identifies Jean to nearby (similarly plain clothed) officers. The officers jump onto the tube carriage, grab Jean, drag him out of his chair. They push him onto the ground. They hold him down. And they shoot him 7 times in the head, killing him instantly.

The police thought Menezes was a terrorist. But why? An answer may now be at hand. Sam Jones and Vikram Dodd, The Guardiam:

Detectives have told a cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes that his number was found among documents belonging to the News of the World private investigator at the centre of the phone-hacking scandal.

Relatives and campaigners in the case of Menezes – a Brazilian shot dead by police marksmen at Stockwell tube station in 2005 – now fear they may also have been targeted by the investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

Yasmin Khan, a spokeswoman for the Justice4Jean campaign, told the Guardian they had just discovered that Mulcaire’s list included the phone number of Jean Charles’s cousin Alex Pereira.

The letter [by the Menezes family to PM David Cameron] takes particular issue with the relationship between Andy Hayman – the former assistant commissioner who ran the first phone-hacking inquiry – and News International. Since leaving the police Hayman has written for the Times, which is owned by NI.

“In the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s Stockwell 2 investigation the practice of police off-the-record briefings to the media was scrutinised,” the letter notes, “and the IPCC found that Andy Hayman had deliberately ‘misled the public’ over claims the person who had been shot dead by the police on 22 July 2005 was one of the four men who were being sought in connection with the attempted bombings of the previous day.

This illustrates how dangerous a corrupt, politicized press can become. Could Menezes have been targeted because he or his cousin was on Mulcaire’s radar for some other reason? Or was the cousin targeted in the aftermath of the shooting, to get private material for the News of the World to blackmail or shout down the Menezes family and so assist the police? Depending on the timing of the hack, which we are not told, either is possible. But the fact that a policeman left the force to write with the Times suggests to me that the former is more likely. Either way, the press and the government have, instead of serving as checks and balances, allied with one another.

Separately, the FBI has opened an inquiry into the possible hacking of 9/11 victims. Little is likely to be produced because of the passage of time.

Also, Andy Coulson’s subordinate at NoTW has been arrested.

Posted in terrorism | 1 Comment »

Don’t know much about history…if you listen to the corporate media

Posted by Charles II on July 14, 2011

Robert Parry, Consortium News:

In November 1991, as Newsweek and The New Republic were ridiculing the idea that Ronald Reagan’s campaign chief William Casey might have made a secret trip to meet Iranians in Madrid in 1980, a senior State Department official was informing George H.W. Bush’s White House that Casey indeed had gone to Spain on a mysterious visit.

State Department legal adviser Edwin D. Williamson told associate White House counsel Chester Paul Beach Jr. that among the State Department “material potentially relevant to the October Surprise allegations [was] a cable from the Madrid embassy indicating that Bill Casey was in town, for purposes unknown,” Beach noted in a “memorandum for record” dated Nov. 4, 1991.

In other words, as Newsweek and The New Republic were making the October Surprise story into a big joke in mid-November 1991, Bush’s White House had information that contradicted the smug self-certainty of the two magazines. Not surprisingly, the White House made no effort to clarify the record.

From those records, [Newsweek and The New Republic] concluded that Casey, then Reagan’s campaign chief, had been present for a morning session on July 28, 1980, and thus could not have attended a two-day meeting in Madrid, as described by Iranian businessman Jamshid Hashemi.

Now, this may seem like ancient history. But in 1980, Ronald Reagan won the presidency largely because Jimmy Carter did not succeed in freeing American hostages taken by the Iranian Revolution. Therefore, if Reagan’s camp were responsible for delaying the release of those hostages, one could say that Reagan took power through treason. And not treason defined as, “stuff I don’t like” but treason defined as in Article III, Section III of the US Constitution.” Delaying the release of American hostages would probably qualify. And William Casey traveling to Madrid contradicts what the Administration told the Congress, meaning at the very least that the Administration abetted the obstruction of a Congressional investigation.

William Faulkner said that not only is the past not dead, it’s not even over. US democracy is dying because at a series of critical moments, Republicans seized power through illegitimate means, and the corporate media acted as their accomplices. Those moments were:

1. The McCarthy era.
2. The 1968 election, in which Richard Nixon won election by (treasonously) obstructing the peace accords.
3. The 1972 election, in which Richard Nixon used the power of government to win the election.
4. Perhaps the 1980 election, in which Ronald Reagan may have won election by conspiring with Iran
5. The 1994 election, the Gingrich “revolution” seized power using illegal money, personal smears, and lies.
6. The 2000 election, in which Bush was appointed by the Supreme Court, itself the product of perjury and corruption.

I would argue that the elections after 2000 were all fake elections, in which the media were used as propaganda arms of a corporate state to push the result as far to the right as possible. But we probably won’t know until the whole corrupt mess falls apart, and people are willing to talk.

It’s very likely that none of the post-Watergate elections would have been corrupted if Reagan had been exposed in what increasingly looks like treason. Of course, if elections can simply be bought or stolen, why listen to the voice of the people. Until this poison is drained, and people properly understand why Washington seems less and less responsive to their desires, democracy has no chance.

Posted in corruption, election theft, frauds, Iran Contra, Media machine, mediawhores, ratf*cking | 8 Comments »

Why Do Conservatives Blame Fannie/Freddie When Banks Are the Real Crash Culprits?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 14, 2011

Why do conservatives and Republicans blame Fannie and Freddie when the banks are the real crash culprits?

That’s the question everyone should be asking. Prominently. On many nightly newscasts, where most Americans can see it.

Unfortunately, it’s seldom addressed anywhere where a majority of the American voting public might see it. Which is a pity, because the answers would be revealing (emphases mine):

The FCIC’s report put the majority of the blame squarely where it belonged: On the shoulders of the Wall Street executives who led their companies straight into the financial abyss. Rather than finding themselves in jail or in bankruptcy
court
, you can find them in Sun Valley, Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons, living very well indeed off the hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation they Hoovered up during their years of mismanagement at the top.

The report’s gutsy and accurate conclusion was not the unanimous view of the commission. Rather, it was endorsed by only six of the 10 commissioners, all Democrats. The four dissenters, who were Republicans, made their views known in two separate reports, which had some good points but went too easy on Wall Street’s behavior.

Now the author of one of those dissenting reports — Peter Wallison, a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute — appears to be on some kind of crazy crusade to rewrite history. He is intent on deflecting any blame
away from Wall Street and its unhealthy incentive system and toward the much-maligned government-sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“Far from being a marginal player, Fannie Mae was the source of the decline in mortgage underwriting standards that eventually brought down the financial system,” Wallison wrote in a Wall Street Journal column published yesterday. “It led rather than followed Wall Street into risky lending.”

Sure, Fannie and Freddie — and their political cronies in Congress and the White House — had a meaningful role in the origins and the exacerbation of the crisis, as is well documented in “Reckless Endangerment,” a new book by Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times and Joshua Rosner, a Wall Street analyst. But to pretend that Fannie and Freddie are the sole culprits is a terrible distortion of the truth of what actually
occurred.

So why do Republicans blame Fannie and Freddie for all of the crash? Simple: Because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government programs that help people who aren’t already filthy rich. Many of these people happen to have darker skin tones than do most Republicans or their voter base — or their financial base, which happens to be the very same banksters Wallison lets off the hook.

That’s right, kids: It’s yet another wrinkle of the Southern Strategy, wherein Corporate America and its GOP handmaidens cloak bigotry in the code words of finance, and use that bigotry to win elections.

Lo and behold, we find out (via Huffington Post) that Peter Wallison played fast and loose with the confidential information with which Darrell the Car Thief Issa entrusted him, leaking it to various Republicans and other ideological buddies and generally having a good old sleazy time with it while pretending to investigate the causes of the financial crisis. Somehow that doesn’t surprise me in the least.

Posted in abuse of power | 1 Comment »

 
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