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Archive for June, 2012

Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doubletalk! Doubletalk! Doubletalk dumb!

Posted by Charles II on June 26, 2012

First, some straight talk from James Earl Carter:

THE United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.

our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.

At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.

As concerned citizens, we must persuade Washington to reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms that we had officially adopted as our own and cherished throughout the years.

While his OpEd is mostly about torture, wiretapping, and targeted assassination, it seems oddly relevant in light of the following short play called Our State Department:

QUESTION: On Paraguay.

MS. NULAND: Yep.

QUESTION: A couple of things. First of all regarding the conversation yesterday, has there been any further determination on the part of the U.S. about what happened in Paraguay, whether this constitutes a coup or more broadly whether the U.S. has objections to what took place in Paraguay?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we are having consultations in the OAS today, and we would expect that the OAS will come forward after those consultations. As a general matter, we haven’t called this a coup because the processes were followed. I think the question is one of speed. And the OAS is looking at how it can support the Paraguayan democratic process going forward. You know that they’re supposed to have elections in 2013, which need to go forward. So I think we will refrain from further comment until we see how we come out of the OAS meeting. But our interest remains in protecting and preserving Paraguayan democracy.

QUESTION: Sure. The current leadership in Paraguay – does the U.S. recognize them as legitimate – the current president?

MS. NULAND: Again, we are going to be guided by the conversation that we have at the OAS about how we should deal with formers, currents, all those kinds of things.

QUESTION: When you said you –

QUESTION: And –

QUESTION: Sorry.

QUESTION: And just – you issued a response to a question yesterday. President Lugo – then-President Lugo a day before the impeachment to go in at his own request to the U.S. Embassy.

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: I just wanted to see if there’s any more substance that you can tell us, what happened, what was the nature of the conversation. Obviously, the fact that this was right before his impeachment draws questions about what was discussed there.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I wish I did. I have nothing more for you there, Sean.

QUESTION: You said you haven’t called it a coup because the processes were followed. Does that mean you’ve decided it’s not a coup?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. We have not decided to call it a coup because it was – there were constitutional processes that were followed. The concerns that we’ve had, as we said yesterday, were that the process seemed to be extremely speedy, so –

QUESTION: Her question – that wasn’t her question. Her question was: Have you decided not to call it a coup?

MS. NULAND: I think, again, we will make our final conclusions on all of this as we see how the OAS comes forward.

Please.

QUESTION: So if the OAS decides that this was a coup —

MS. NULAND: Said, you’re taking me into all kinds of hypotheticals that I’m not going into.

QUESTION: You said that you will be consistent with the OAS decision. If they decide that it was a coup, that means that you will recognize it as such?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of the meeting until we’ve had the meeting.

Please.

QUESTION: Can we change the subject?

Posted in Latin America, our tax dollars at work, State Department | 2 Comments »

The Ron Paul Insurgency Hits A Roadblock In Massachusetts

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 26, 2012

Remember the Ron Paul group’s efforts to take over various state-level Republican Party organizations? In Massachusetts, the established Republicans have struck back:

Evan Kenney had just turned 18 and registered to vote for the first time when he campaigned to be an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention. Lauding Ronald Reagan’s principles and blasting Keynesian economics at the Lynnfield caucus in April, the Wakefield High School senior beat out several well-known Massachusetts Republicans, including the party’s most recent nominee for governor, Charles D. Baker Jr.

But earlier this month, Kenney was one of 17 delegates and alternates disqualified by a Republican committee deciding who gets to represent Massachusetts Republicans at the national convention in Tampa. Kenney and others had failed to deliver in time an affidavit swearing, under the penalty of perjury, that they would support Mitt Romney’s nomination for president.

[…]

The actions by the GOP establishment in Massachusetts are further disenchanting some libertarians and conservatives who have traditionally been suspicious of the party’s top-down leadership. In a state where Republican registration has dwindled to just 11 percent of registered voters, the party can hardly afford to alienate enthusiastic activists, they say.

There are apparently questions about the legality of these mandatory affidavits, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be enough to allow the Paulistas to be delegates at the RNC in Tampa.

Wonder if the other state-level GOP orgs are following the Massachusetts GOP’s lead in this regard?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

In the “conservatism is based on stupidity and lies” category: ITEP shows that low taxes are bad for growth

Posted by Charles II on June 25, 2012

Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy:

One of the most frequently repeated talking points used by lawmakers seeking to reduce or eliminate income and estate taxes is that doing so will usher in an economic boom. Recently a number of observers, led by supply-side economist Arthur Laffer, have sought to bolster this argument by claiming that states lacking an income tax or estate taxes have economies that far outperform those in the states with the highest top tax rates.

Three new reports from Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy show that the truth is exactly the opposite.

Specifically:

residents of “high rate” income tax states are actually experiencing economic conditions at least as good, if not better, than those living in states lacking a personal income tax. As Figure 1 shows, the nine “high rate” states identified by Laffer have actually seen more economic growth per capita over the last decade than the nine states that fail to levy a broad-based personal income tax. Moreover, while the median family’s income, adjusted for inflation, has declined in most states over the last decade, those declines have been considerably smaller in “high rate” states than in those states lacking an income tax entirely. Finally, the average unemployment rate between 2001 and
2010 has been essentially identical across both types of states.

How did an economist come to exactly the wrong conclusion? By combining–in a study of state tax rates– federal and state taxes to muddy the waters. Also, by choosing as the time frame for his study the period when growth was picking up due to the real estate boom (which, of course, was greatest in low/no tax states like Florida and Nevada). In other words, by sculpting his data and methods to fit his desired conclusion. In layman’s terms, by lying.

Laffer also claimed that Tennessee’s estate tax cost 220,000 jobs. Unfortunately for him, he produced zero credible evidence for this assertion. But he did make a testable prediction: that people are moving from Tennessee to Florida to escape the estate tax. The data do not show this.

God help us, people like Laffer are in charge. They are completely corrupt, blind, drunk on ideology.

Posted in anti-truth, taxes, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

In the “irony is officially dead” column, Honduran dictator calls Paraguay coup “a wound to democracy”

Posted by Charles II on June 25, 2012

Porfirio Lobo, the unlawfully selected successor to the Honduran dictatorship, has announced that the Paraguayan coup is a “wound to democracy.” For the record, the Paraguayan coup, while lacking in due process, at least did not involve machine gunning the presidential palace at 5AM and marching its occupant out in his pajamas to be illegally deported to Costa Rica.

Even in this era, in which irony died long ago, Lobo’s comment is truly egregious.

Posted in Honduras, impunity, Latin America | 2 Comments »

Behind Pawlenty’s Saying “No” To Being Romney’s Running Mate

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 24, 2012

Poor Lawrence O’Donnell. He keeps getting things wrong, in public, on national TV.

For instance, remember how he spent half of last year yammering that Tim Pawlenty was a lock for the GOP presidential nomination? Too bad, so sad.

Undeterred, O’Donnell simply switched from proclaiming Pawlenty a shoo-in for top of the GOP ticket to proclaiming him a shoo-in for the second slot on the GOP ticket. This is what LOD was saying as recently as last Thursday, when he chomped down hard on this Politico teaser: “Tim Pawlenty has jumped to the top of the vice presidential shortlist of several Mitt Romney advisers after emerging as the most effective — and well-liked – surrogate for the GOP-nominee-to-be, according to several Republicans familiar with campaign deliberations.”

O’Donnell spent that segment hammering Politico for what he called taking the word of a Pawlenty associate on this matter when in fact Pawlenty had been the front-runner for the GOP running mate slot for 223 days “and I put him there!

Wow. Ego much, Larry?

And guess what? Wrong again, cupcake: “Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (puh-LEN’-tee) says he’s told Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to look elsewhere for a running mate.” He announced this on CBS’ Face the Nation program this morning.

So why did Pawlenty say no? There are two likely scenarios: 1) He knew Romney’s people were going to stiff him just like McCain’s did and he wanted to do a face-saving preemptive-strike move, or 2) He can read polls. I subscribe to the second scenario, and here’s why:

Remember, this is the guy whose primary reason for wanting the 2008 RNC in St. Paul was so he could appear on stage as John McCain’s running mate. He fully expected to be picked by McCain, much as Bob Dole fully expected to be picked by George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988. He wants the presidency — or the vice presidency — so much he can taste it.

Why would such a man turn down an offer to be on the 2012 Republican presidential ticket? Because he can read the polls:

See that map? Obama needs to get, at most, two more swing states to get him over the top — and if he gets Florida, only one. Romney, by contrast, needs to pick up at least five of the six swing states, one of which had better be Florida. Furthermore, the economy is doing better in most of the swing states than it is elsewhere — which is why Romney’s been telling the GOP governors of swing states to stop talking up how well they’re doing in terms of recovering from the Bush Depression.

Plus, Pawlenty’s seen this past week how well the Latino community has reacted to Obama’s end run around Republican refusal to pass the DREAM Act. That’s going to be a big issue in Florida. If he wasn’t sure before that Romney’s going to go down in flames, he’s probably sure now — and he doesn’t want his 2016 presidential-nomination résumé contaminated by being the running mate for a failed presidential candidate.

06/25/12 Update: And now we see that Michigan’s just flipped from toss-up to Leans Obama, giving him a total of 269 EVs of the 270 needed. And with the GOP-dominated SCOTUS just handing down an SB1070 ruling that preserves the worst and key part of it, Romney can kiss goodbye any hope of getting the Latino vote.

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

Another coup, in Paraguay?

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2012

Via Adrienne, we learn from Mark Weisbrot that the oligarchy has seized power in Paraguay:

A coup d’etat is taking place right now, Friday afternoon, in Paraguay.

That is how it has been described by a number of neighboring governments. …

The Congress of Paraguay is trying to oust the president, Fernando Lugo, by means of an impeachment proceeding for which he was given less than 24 hours to prepare and only two hours to present a defense. …It would be impossible to call this due process under any circumstances, but it is also a clear violation of Article 17 of Paraguay’s constitution, which provides for the right to an adequate defense.

The main trigger for the impeachment is an armed clash between peasants fighting for land rights with police, which left at least 17 dead… But this violent confrontation is merely a pretext, as it is clear that the president had no responsibility for what happened.

The Obama administration has responded to the current crisis in Paraguay with a statement in support of due process…. But Washington may still play its traditional role by assuring the opposition that the new government will have support, including financial and military, from Washington. We will watch what happens.

The OAS’ human rights branch has effectively declared Paraguay to be in breach of international law. This should lead to the prompt expulsion of Paraguay from the OAS.

Note that this coup follows a similar form to the Honduran coup, with a pseudo-legal process. They were smart enough not to deport Lugo in his pajamas.

Posted in Latin America | 1 Comment »

Oops

Posted by Charles II on June 22, 2012

Abraham Lustgarten, ProPublica:

Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation’s geology as an invisible dumping ground.

No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia.

There are growing signs they were mistaken.

Posted in environment | 2 Comments »

algore Requests Your Attendance at an Event Supporting Democracy/Corrected

Posted by Charles II on June 22, 2012

Don Siegelman’s appeal to the Supreme Court needs your assistance. Our last legally-elected president, algore, requests your doing your duty to challenge this miscarriage of justice.

Oh, and just adding my own commentary here– F.U., Eric Holder.
—————
Added, 6/23. The Supreme Court has declined to hear Siegelman’s appeal. Apparently the Gore mail went out at about the time the USSC was deciding to be a bunch of jerks for maybe the millionth time. Doesn’t mean that the Legal Defense Fund doesn’t need money, but it does mean that there’s now no hope that Siegelman will get justice in this lifetime.

And please accept my apologies for not checking on the status of the case before posting.

Posted in Don Siegelman, Supreme Court | 7 Comments »

CTJ digest

Posted by Charles II on June 22, 2012

States are underinvesting:

A new report from the National Governors Association (NGA) and National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) explains that an uptick in revenues from modest economic growth is not enough to undo the damage from years of cuts to state governments during the recent economic downturn when revenues were underperforming. According to NASBO, while state revenues are returning to pre-recession levels, spending is not, largely because lawmakers are being conservative – replenishing rainy day funds, for example – rather than restoring revenues to agencies that have been under-serving citizens for years.

with the cost of education and health care (the two biggest chunks of total state spending) growing faster than the economy and taking an ever growing bite out of budgets, states are facing a genuine crisis.

state governments can and should make systemic changes such as expanding the state sales tax base to include services, eliminating tax loopholes (like those for capital gains) and ending corporate tax breaks that allow corporations to dodge taxes with accounting tricks.

Republican governors actually demonstrate leadership:

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad recently joined with a dozen other Republican governors in calling for Congress to pass a measure that would allow states to require the largest online retailers to collect sales taxes. In pushing for the measure, however, Republican governors are finding that their biggest roadblock is opposition from their own party in Congress, who perceive the measure as being a “tax increase.”

The growth in online shopping is staggering and it is costing states tens of millions a year in lost sales tax revenues.

Give ’em credit. Sales taxes may be regressive, but the only people benefiting from the sales tax exemption for online sales are either shareholders of online retailers or high end customers who do a lot of their shopping online.

Comparison of Obama vs. GOP on tax policy.

Posted in taxes | Comments Off on CTJ digest

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on June 22, 2012

Friday Cat Blogging

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 11 Comments »

 
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