Daily Archive: 02/20/2013

Feb 20 2013

Pres. Obama’s Big Oil host has history of war profiteering, discrimination (Updated/Action)

Who cares about the temper tantrums being thrown by the pampered media because they didn’t get to meet Tiger Woods?  The real story is that while 50,000 people were at the White House asking the president to address climate change by cracking down on the fossil fuel industry, he was spending the weekend with a guy who is the epitome of Big Oil and much much more.

No wonder he was keeping the destination secret before this trip.  Intended or not, it was a big F U to the people who had planned for months to travel to Washington to protest the critical cause of climate change.  Worse, there has been no response whatsoever to the tens of thousands of protesters who came to his house on Sunday, nor to the many many more who were at coordinating marches in cities across the country and untold numbers of people who were there with them in spirit.

Well maybe there was another reason why the identity of Obama’s host was kept secret in the weeks leading up to the trip. The Tiger Woods golf date captured a lot of media attention, but the real story, in my opinion, is Jim Crane, the man who owned the Floridian country club and resort, who hosted the president for the long weekend, and who has a long, sordid history.

Feb 20 2013

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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: A Mitch that needs scratching

One of the most powerful men in Washington, it turns out, is also the most unpopular senator in the nation.

This is probably not a coincidence.

Facing reelection in 2014, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) finds himself in a tougher battle than many anticipated. According to a recent poll, just 17 percent of Kentucky voters are committed to voting for him. Given how out of touch he is with their needs, it’s no wonder. [..]

McConnell’s seat was once occupied by Henry Clay, who was dubbed “The Great Pacificator.” Admired by Abraham Lincoln, he is widely considered one of the greatest senators in American history. Clay once said, “Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees; and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people.”

Kentucky voters deserve a senator who understands the wisdom of those words.

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap: Congress Responds to Move to Amend Grassroots Organizing with “We the People” Amendment

The growing grassroots democracy movement took another huge step forward this week when Congressional Representatives Rick Nolan (DFL-Minnesota) and Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) joined Move To Amend coalition organizers Ben Manski and George “Leesa” Friday at the National Press Club to announce that the “We the People Amendment” was being introduced in Congress (H.J.Res. 29).

This amendment clearly and unequivocally states that:

Section 1. Only People Have Constitutional Rights [..]

Section 2. Money is Not Free Speech [..]

The Move to Amend Coalition was formed in preparation for the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v FEC ruling in 2010. Today, the coalition boasts over 260,000 supporters, thousands of endorsing organizations, and has organized over 150 local affiliate across the country. These are groups who have formed in their local communities to educate, agitate and organize in direct support of the Move To Amend position that only people have constitutional rights and that money is not free speech.

Jill Richardson: Another Side of the Immigration Debate: Harvesting NAFTA’s Crops

We reap the benefits of cheap farm and meatpacking labor in the form of low-priced food, thanks to the contributions of millions of undocumented workers.

Until a few years ago, Rosa Acosta had never even seen a flush toilet. She raised her 12 children in a tiny adobe home in rural Jalisco, Mexico. Several of her kids left it to work in the United States. One son, who left at age 12 to earn money as a farmworker in California, returned home to Rosa and his siblings after only a year. Another, her oldest, still works in California’s fields. Neither crossed the border legally. [..]

The Acosta family is one of millions whose fate hangs in the balance as President Barack Obama tries to convince Congress that it’s time to overhaul our immigration laws.

Saskis Sassen: Drones Over There, Total Surveillance Over Here

The massive surveillance system built up over the last 10 years is the domestic companion of overseas drone killings.

The big story buried in all the commentary about the US government’s drone policy is that the old algorithm of the liberal state no longer works. Focusing on drones is almost a distraction, if it weren’t for the number of men, women and children they have killed in only a few years. What we should focus on is the deeper condition that enables the drone policy, and so much more, and that is the sharp increase in unaccountable executive power, no matter what party is in power. [..]

What we are facing is a profound degradation of the liberal state. Drone killings and unlawful imprisonment are at one end of that spectrum of degradation, and the rise of the power, economic destructions and unaccountability of the financial sector are at the other end.

Jaon Walsh: Targeted killings: OK if Obama does it?

Salon exclusive: Study finds “liberals” more likely to favor targeted killings once they know it’s Obama’s policy

Civil libertarians have worried that some of President Obama’s comparatively hawkish national security policies are silencing “liberal” Democrats who would have opposed such measures under President Bush or another Republican. Now there’s new evidence that Obama’s support for such policies isn’t just silencing them – it’s winning them over.

Charlotte Silver: Arrested for Your Politics in America? It’s Already Happening

The nebulous but potent charge of terrorism has been used to systematically curtail justice.

In the US, due process – one of the defining features of a democratic judicial process – continues to be badly bludgeoned: Obama  fights tooth and nail to push through NDAA, which would allow indefinite detention of US citizens, and the definition of terrorism has expanded its unwieldy scope, casting a widening net that ensures more and more people are captured in its snare.

The US has pursued “domestic terrorism” by practicing pre-emptive prosecution, that is, going after individuals who have committed no crime but are alleged to possess an ideology that might dispose them to commit acts of “terrorism”. Maintaining that it can – and should – be in the business of divining intent, the government decimates crucial elements of the US justice system.

Thus, in cases where terrorism is charged, prosecutors need not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, only the defendant’s potential for committing a crime need be established in order to convict.  

Feb 20 2013

Another Bailout Since Dodd Frank Debunks the Lies

Yes, unlike what was sold to us about Dodd Frank, there are in effect already backdoor bailouts before our very eyes if we care to look. This one involves the most important regulator of our entire financial system, the New York Fed, intervening to let Bank of America off the hook for its residential mortgage backed securities fraud.  

Feb 20 2013

On This Day In History February 20

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.

February 20 is the 51st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 314 days remaining until the end of the year (315 in leap years).

On this day in 1792, President George Washington signs legislation renewing the United States Post Office as a cabinet department led by the postmaster general, guaranteeing inexpensive delivery of all newspapers, stipulating the right to privacy and granting Congress the ability to expand postal service to new areas of the nation.

History

William Goddard, a Patriot printer frustrated that the royal postal service was unable to reliably deliver his Pennsylvania Chronicle to its readers or deliver critical news for the paper to Goddard, laid out a plan for the “Constitutional Post” before the Continental Congress on October 5, 1774. Congress waited to act on the plan until after the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. Benjamin Franklin promoted Goddard’s plan and served as the first postmaster general under the Continental Congress beginning on July 26, 1775, nearly one year before the Congress declared independence from the British Crown. Franklin’s son-in-law, Richard Bache, took over the position on November 7, 1776, when Franklin became an American emissary to France.

Franklin had already made a significant contribution to the postal service in the colonies while serving as the postmaster of Philadelphia from 1737 and as joint postmaster general of the colonies from 1753 to 1774, when he was fired for opening and publishing Massachusetts Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson‘s correspondence. While postmaster, Franklin streamlined postal delivery with properly surveyed and marked routes from Maine to Florida (the origins of Route 1), instituted overnight postal travel between the critical cities of New York and Philadelphia and created a standardized rate chart based upon weight and distance. [3]

Samuel Osgood held the postmaster general’s position in New York City from 1789, when the U.S. Constitution came into effect, until the government moved to Philadelphia in 1791. Timothy Pickering took over and, about a year later, the Postal Service Act gave his post greater legislative legitimacy and more effective organization. Pickering continued in the position until 1795, when he briefly served as secretary of war, before becoming the third U.S. secretary of state. The postmaster general’s position was considered a plum patronage post for political allies of the president until the Postal Service was transformed into a corporation run by a board of governors in 1971 following passage of the Postal Reorganization Act.

Feb 20 2013

Austerity, Sequester & Simpson – Bowles, Oh My!

The “comedy team” of former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wy) and businessman Erskine Bowles trotted out their latest version of their unauthorized report from the “Cat Food Commission” that they co-chaired for President Barack Obama. Not surprisingly, the dynamic duo of austerity and cuts to the social safety net go even further with the 2.0 version of their solution for ending the mythical budget crisis calling for even greater cuts and less revenue all on the backs of those who have the least to contribute:

The corporate austerians released their ‘new’ Bowles-Simpson recommendations today (pdf). They claim that they are building upon their original plan, not replacing it. They framed their recommendations as the last two steps in a four step process. For Social Security followers, Step Three includes the chained CPI. And Step Four includes all of the previous cuts to Social Security which they recommended in their first plan.  Raising the retirement age starting in 2022 slowly to 69, cutting benefits through re-indexing and flattening  all future benefits for our recipients in 2050. [..]

The corporate austerians go for installing the chained cpi first. Why? It could be that they still think that most Americans do not realize that the chained cpi is a cut which keeps on cutting [..]

The language is a vague euphemism for cuts; code words to their rich buddies that the uploading of wealth will not be threatened with significant new taxes. No pesky new scrap-the-FICA cap income taxes which might be used to pay for under-funded social insurance programs.

Meanwhile, President Obama, seemingly ignoring his two side show buddies, called for tax reforms that would increase revenue and a more balanced approach to the looming sequestration that would impose draconian cuts to non-defense spending programs. Taking lessons from Bill Maher, the Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), is having none of that and has proposed “new rule“:

“The sequester will be in effect until there are cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balance the budget in the next 10 years.”

At Maddow Blog, Steve Benen points out that Mr. Boehner may not have thought this “new rule” through and it could pose some problems in his caucus:

One of the details that often goes overlooked is that the House Republican budget plan from the last Congress — the one that included all the spending cuts, entitlement reforms, and tax breaks the GOP are desperate to have — didn’t bring the federal budget into balance until 2040. That’s not a typo — under the House Republican plan, written by Paul Ryan, the United States would run deficits every year for nearly three decades, and then might reach a balanced budget 27 years from now if optimistic projections are met.

And that plan included spending cuts so severe, GOP candidates were afraid to talk about them out loud in public.

This year, however, thanks to a new “rule” embraced by Boehner and his cohorts, the new House Republican plan intends to balance the budget by 2023, instead of 2040. Why does that matter? Because trying to eliminate the entirety of the deficit in one decade instead of three necessarily means ridiculously drastic cuts.

A plan from the House Progressive Caucus that presented the unique idea that creating jobs would bring down the already shrinking deficit. But, as Greg Sargent of the Washington Post‘s “Plum Line“, notes it stands little chance of even being considered in the Republican held House:

Needless to say, this plan – the creation of the Congressional Progressive Caucus – has no chance whatsoever of passing Congress. Which is exactly the point: No plan that prioritizes job creation as the best means of reducing the deficit; no plan that cuts defense while determinedly avoiding any cuts that would hurt the poor and elderly; no plan that includes equivalent concessions by both sides – could ever have a prayer in today’s Washington. It’s yet another indication of how out of whack Washington’s priorities are.

Greg sums up the problem of the GOP’s approach in a nutshell:

So, Boehner says House Republicans are not only willing to let the sequester hit, but that the only acceptable replacement for it will be a plan that wipes away the deficit in 10 years – all without revenues. [..]

There’s simply no chance that House Republicans will produce such a budget by March 1st, which is the deadline for the sequester. If Boehner means any of this, he’s confirming that we’re getting the sequester, and it will remain in effect until it is replaced by a plan that is simply never, ever going to happen. Wiping out the deficit in 10 years with no new revenues would be at least as bad as the Ryan plan – probably worse – yet even that plan was loaded up with unspecified cuts and other big question marks. Republicans are never going to propose specific cuts that balance the budget in 10 years with no new revenues – ever. Boehner has, in effect, just taken ownership of the sequester.

No, Mr. Boehner has not thought this “boner” through.