Daily Archive: 04/13/2012

Apr 13 2012

Et Tu, Howard?

Gaius Publius at AMERICAblog is not alone in “hating this stuff“.

Money buys the world, both the Dem side and the other. In fact, I’ve said far too many times – the goal of Money is to enable Republicans and neuter the Dems. It’s why the rachet works.

And by Money I mean the big boys (Our Betters) who own both sides of every bet. Money is why progressives never win, even when Democrats do.

Lee Fang: Howard Dean Advises Corporate Health Care Clients To Fund ‘Both Sides,’ Run Attack Ads

One of the biggest problems with lobbying in Washington D.C. is the extent to which so many influence peddlers work behind closed doors, refusing to disclose their clients or register their work with the ethics office. Newt Gingrich became the poster boy for this phenomenon with the revelation that he was paid $1.6 million by Freddie Mac’s lobbying office, a fee the former Speaker laughably tried to downplay as part of a contract for “history” lessons. But Gingrich isn’t the only politician working as an unregistered lobbyist.  I have uncovered video that shows liberal icon Howard Dean discussing his government affairs work for corporate interests. [..]

Dean has been lobbying without disclosure for about three years. In 2009 after his stint as chairman of the Democratic Party, Dean joined the law/lobbying firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge as a non-attorney “Strategic Advisor.” The firm’s lobbying practice has a wide range of clients, from health care, to insurance, to even Keystone XL beneficiary TransCanada. The firm website says Dean “focuses on health care and energy issues, as well as providing expertise derived from his extensive experience in public office.” The firm seems to advertise Dean as a lobbyist, despite the fact Dean has not registered as a lobbyist.

What is even worse is his support of an organization that has been designated as a terrorist organization under US law. From Glenn Greenwald at Salon:

One of the most under-reported political stories of the last year is the devoted advocacy of numerous prominent American political figures on behalf of an Iranian group long formally designated as a Terrorist organization under U.S. law. A large bipartisan cast has received substantial fees from that group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), and has then become their passionate defenders. The group of MEK shills includes former top Bush officials and other Republicans (Michael Mukasey, Fran Townsend, Andy Card, Tom Ridge, Rudy Giuliani) as well as prominent Democrats (Howard Dean, Ed Rendell, Bill Richardson, Wesley Clark). As The Christian Science Monitor reported last August, those individuals “have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak in support of the MEK.” No matter what one thinks of this group – here is a summary of its activities – it is formally designated as a Terrorist group and it is thus a felony under U.S. law to provide it with any “material support.”

There is more from Jeremiah Goulka, formerly a lawyer from the Bush administration and an Iraq analyst for the RAND Corporation, in these two op-ed articles posted by Greenwald at Salon:

THE IRAN WAR HAWKS’ FAVORITE CULT GROUP

Despite the flurry of support by some prominent politicians as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scrutinizes its case, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a dissident Iranian group based in Iraq with a propaganda arm in Paris, is no enigma.

The U.S. declared the MEK a terrorist organization 13 years ago partly because the group is thought to have assassinated three U.S. Army officers and three U.S. civilian contractors in Tehran in the 1970s. The group’s pep rallies feature U.S. politicians lured with high fees to come speak on its behalf. The MEK wants the U.S. government to take the group off its terrorist list – as the E.U. and U.K. have already done. But before that happens the group requires close scrutiny.

INVESTIGATIONS BEGIN INTO MEK SUPPORTERS

The U.S. Treasury Department has begun an investigation into nearly two dozen prominent former government officials who have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to promote the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian dissident cult group that has been designated by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) since 1997.

These officials include several prominent George W. Bush Administration anti-terror officials like Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, Homeland Security advisor Frances Fragos Townsend, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, UN ambassador John Bolton; as well as former Republican Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani; former Democratic governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Howard Dean of Vermont; ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh; and retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton.  These former officials have given speeches at home and abroad urging the State Department to remove the MEK from the FTO list.

I was a supporter and admirer of Dr. Dean when he ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004.  I met him at a conference in 2009 and had a conversation with him about humanitarian aid. As of late, I’ve been extremely disappointed with many of the things he’s said and policies he has espoused. I should not have been too surprised at this, since most of the Democrats that I supported have left me hating the stuff that they do.

Apr 13 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

New York Times Editorial: An Overdose of Pain

Spain could be the next European economy brought down by German-led mismanagement of the euro-zone crisis. It need not turn out that way. But it surely will unless Chancellor Angela Merkel and her political allies inside and outside Germany acknowledge that no country can pay off its debts by suffocating economic growth.

Austerity, the one-size-fits-all cure prescribed by Ms. Merkel, is not working anywhere. After weeks of misleading calm, and despite huge injections of liquidity by the European Central Bank, countries are slipping back into recession, unemployment is climbing and deficit forecasts are worsening. Bond markets are especially jittery about Spain and Italy, two of Europe’s largest economies.

Paul Krugman: Cannibalize the Future

One general rule of modern politics is that the people who talk most about future generations – who go around solemnly declaring that we’re burdening our children with debt – are, in practice, the people most eager to sacrifice our future for short-term political gain. You can see that principle at work in the House Republican budget, which starts with dire warnings about the evils of deficits, then calls for tax cuts that would make the deficit even bigger, offset only by the claim to have a secret plan to make up for the revenue losses somehow or other.

And you can see it in the actions of Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who talks loudly about acting responsibly but may actually be the least responsible governor the state has ever had.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Building a Progressive Counterforce to ALEC

In recent months, the need to build progressive strength in cities, towns, counties and states across the country has become crystal clear. Conservative coordination across state lines has led to assaults on workers rights, voting rights and women’s rights, and only an energetic, well-coordinated progressive response has prevented far more extensive damage to our democracy.

Mississippi soundly defeated a ballot initiative to legalize “fetus personhood.” Maine saved same-day voter registration at the ballot box. As The Nation’s John Nichols has so brilliantly laid out in his new book Uprising, the people of Wisconsin employed an inside/outside strategy to fight back against a right-wing attack on workers’ rights. Dozens of towns and states have passed resolutions calling for the repeal of Citizens United.

Increasingly, citizens and progressive politicians have begun to win sensible reforms. There have been key wins on paid sick leave and the minimum wage-common sense reforms that benefit the 99 percent. Gay and lesbian equality has advanced at the state and local levels.

Amy Goodman: The Long, Hot March of Climate Change

The Pentagon knows it. The world’s largest insurers know it. Now, governments may be overthrown because of it. It is climate change, and it is real. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last month was the hottest March on record for the United States since 1895, when records were first kept, with average temperatures of 8.6 degrees F above average. More than 15,000 March high-temperature records were broken nationally. Drought, wildfires, tornadoes and other extreme weather events are already plaguing the country.

Across the world in the Maldives, rising sea levels continue to threaten this Indian Ocean archipelago. It is the world’s lowest-lying nation, on average only 1.3 meters above sea level. The plight of the Maldives gained global prominence when its young president, the first-ever democratically elected there, Mohamed Nasheed, became one of the world’s leading voices against climate change, especially in the lead-up to the 2009 U.N. climate-change summit in Copenhagen. Nasheed held a ministerial meeting underwater, with his cabinet in scuba gear, to illustrate the potential disaster.

Joe Conason: What’s in a Name? George W. Regrets Dubbing Those ‘Bush Tax Cuts’

When George W. Bush made his first public appearance in many months to discuss economic policy in New York on Tuesday, his utterances may have revealed more than he intended. “I wish they weren’t called the ‘Bush tax cuts,'” he said of the decade-old rate reductions that bear his name. But does he really believe, as he seemed to suggest, that Americans want to let those cuts expire from a desire to spite him? Or is there a deeper Bush somewhere within who would prefer not to be associated with fiscal profligacy and ideological overreach?

Whatever his motives, Bush’s curious remark draws a sharp contrast with his predecessor Bill Clinton-who often speaks proudly of the tax increase that was so central to his first budget as president two decades ago. Clinton, who talks publicly far more often than Bush, often notes that the 1993 tax increase, supported only by Democrats, was the first step toward balance and growth after a dozen years of Republican irresponsibility and stagnation.

Rebecca Leisher: Watch Us Move Our Millions

Cities, churches, and colleges take steps to move their money home.

Since the big corporate banks crashed the economy in 2008, they’ve been rewarded with bailouts, tax breaks, and bonuses, while American workers lose jobs and homes. Little wonder that many Americans-and now, institutions and local governments-have been closing their accounts at big corporate banks and transferring their money to community banks and credit unions. The idea is to send a strong message about responsibility to government and Wall Street, while supporting institutions that genuinely stimulate local economies.

Bank Transfer Day was publicized over five weeks, largely through social networks. In that period, credit unions received an estimated $4.5 billion in new deposits transferred from banks, according to the Credit Union National Association.

Apr 13 2012

On This Day In History April 13

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 13 is the 103rd day of the year (104th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 262 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1742, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah premieres in Dublin, Ireland.

Nowadays, the performance of George Friedrich Handel’s Messiah oratorio at Christmas time is a tradition almost as deeply entrenched as decorating trees and hanging stockings. In churches and concert halls around the world, the most famous piece of sacred music in the English language is performed both full and abridged, both with and without audience participation, but almost always and exclusively during the weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas. It would surprise many, then, to learn that Messiah was not originally intended as a piece of Christmas music. Messiah received its world premiere on this day in 1742, during the Christian season of Lent, and in the decidedly secular context of a concert hall in Dublin, Ireland.

Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel, and is one of the most popular works in the Western choral literature. The libretto by Charles Jennens is drawn entirely from the King James and Great Bibles, and interprets the Christian doctrine of the Messiah. Messiah (often but incorrectly called The Messiah) is one of Handel’s most famous works. The Messiah sing-alongs now common at the Christmas season usually consist of only the first of the oratorio’s three parts, with “Hallelujah” (originally concluding the second part) replacing His Yoke is Easy in the first part.

Composed in London during the summer of 1741 and premiered in Dublin, Ireland on 13 April 1742, it was repeatedly revised by Handel, reaching its most familiar version in the performance to benefit the Foundling Hospital in 1754. In 1789 Mozart orchestrated a German version of the work; his added woodwind parts, and the edition by Ebenezer Prout, were commonly heard until the mid-20th century and the rise of historically informed performance.