Daily Archive: 05/22/2013

May 22 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; Going Bulworth

The New York Times reported last week that President Obama fantasizes with aides about “going Bulworth.”

For those who don’t remember, Bulworth is a brilliant 1998 film by Warren Beatty, depicting a corrupted and suicidal liberal senator from California who is facing a primary challenge while dealing with financial ruin. Unable to sleep or eat, Bulworth suddenly busts out before an African American congregation in a black church in South Central Los Angeles and begins rapping the unspeakable truths about our politics. The Times report has led commentators to speculate on what the president might say if he went “Bulworth.” What’s revealing, however, is how much could be taken directly from the movie itself.

As Republicans and the press hyperventilate about inflated scandals, the president could simply “go Bulworth” by borrowing directly from the movie to talk about what the actual scandals are: [..]

Jane Mayer: A Word from Our Sponsor: Public Television’s Attempts to Placate David Koch

Last fall, Alex Gibney, a documentary filmmaker who won an Academy Award in 2008 for an exposé of torture at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, completed a film called “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream.” It was scheduled to air on PBS on November 12th. The movie had been produced independently, in part with support from the Gates Foundation. “Park Avenue” is a pointed exploration of the growing economic inequality in America and a meditation on the often self-justifying mind-set of “the one per cent.” As a narrative device, Gibney focusses on one of the most expensive apartment buildings in Manhattan-740 Park Avenue-portraying it as an emblem of concentrated wealth and contrasting the lives of its inhabitants with those of poor people living at the other end of Park Avenue, in the Bronx.

Among the wealthiest residents of 740 Park is David Koch, the billionaire industrialist, who, with his brother Charles, owns Koch Industries, a huge energy-and-chemical conglomerate. The Koch brothers are known for their strongly conservative politics and for their efforts to finance a network of advocacy groups whose goal is to move the country to the right. [..]

For decades, federal funding for public broadcasting has been dwindling, and the government’s contribution now makes up only twelve per cent of PBS’s funds. Affiliates such as WNET are almost entirely dependent on gifts, some of which are sizable: in 2010, WNET received fifteen million dollars from James Tisch, the C.E.O. of Loews Corporation, and his wife, Merryl. (James Tisch is now the chairman of WNET’s board.) In New York City, such benefactors inevitably live in lavish buildings. Indeed, several relatives of WNET board members live at 740 Park.

Lori Wallach: A ‘Legislative Laxative’: On Fast-Tracking, Democracy, and Free Trade

What do a zombie, handcuffs, a steamroller and a legislative luge run for job-killing trade agreements all have in common? They’re all apt metaphors of an expired, scandalously anti-democratic procedure called Fast Track.

And, I should know. I just wrote the book on it. How this little-known but extremely dangerous procedure was first hatched and how it has been used to ram extremely dangerous “trade” agreements through Congress over public opposition is a scary story. This is not a book for the nightmare-prone.

But everyone else should give it a read, because, gruesomely, the Obama administration and some in Congress are looking to bring Fast Track back from the dead.

With a powerful gang of corporations eager to use massive agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now under negotiation, or the looming U.S.-EU Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) to steamroll policies supported by the public and enacted by Congress, the threats posed by such an extreme procedure are severe.

Sharon Stapel; America has a Fundamental Problem with People Who Hate Gay People

A recent hate crime in New York City highlights the culture of hate that we have to change to protect people from violence

New York City is the heart of America’s “melting pot” of cultures and ideas. Yet even here, violence against those seen as “other” occurs. This week we mourn the brutal death of Mark Carson, a 32-year-old, shot and allegedly taunted with homophobic slurs by the shooter. The killing happened in Greenwich Village, one of the city’s most famous gay friendly neighborhoods.

In recent years, we at the New York City Anti-Violence Project have seen an increase in reports of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer hate violence throughout the city and the country. From 2010 to 2011, we saw a 13% increase of reports of this violence in New York City, which followed an 11% increase from the year before. In 2011, our National Coalition (NCAVP) reported the highest number of LGBTQ bias-related homicides in its 15 year history.

Yet again after the homicide of Carson, we are left asking what we can do to prevent this violence from ever happening again?

Mattea Kramer and Jo Comerford: How America Became a Third World Country (2013-2023)

The streets are so much darker now, since money for streetlights is rarely available to municipal governments. The national parks began closing down years ago. Some are already being subdivided and sold to the highest bidder. Reports on bridges crumbling or even collapsing are commonplace. The air in city after city hangs brown and heavy (and rates of childhood asthma and other lung diseases have shot up), because funding that would allow the enforcement of clean air standards by the Environmental Protection Agency is a distant memory. Public education has been cut to the bone, making good schools a luxury and, according to the Department of Education, two of every five students won’t graduate from high school.

It’s 2023 — and this is America 10 years after the first across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration went into effect.  They went on for a decade, making no exception for effective programs vital to America’s economic health that were already underfunded, like job training and infrastructure repairs. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

rebecca Solnit; What Comes After Hope

Too Soon to Tell: The Case for Hope, Continued

Ten years ago, my part of the world was full of valiant opposition to the new wars being launched far away and at home — and of despair. And like despairing people everywhere, whether in a personal depression or a political tailspin, these activists believed the future would look more or less like the present.  If there was nothing else they were confident about, at least they were confident about that. Ten years ago, as a contrarian and a person who prefers not to see others suffer, I tried to undermine despair with the case for hope.

A decade later, the present is still contaminated by the crimes of that era, but so much has changed. Not necessarily for the better — a decade ago, most spoke of climate change as a distant problem, and then it caught up with us in 10,000 ways. But not entirely for the worse either — the vigorous climate movement we needed arose in that decade and is growing now. If there is one thing we can draw from where we are now and where we were then, it’s that the unimaginable is ordinary, and the way forward is almost never a straight path you can glance down, but a labyrinth of surprises, gifts, and afflictions you prepare for by accepting your blind spots as well as your intuitions.

May 22 2013

John T. Harvey: Austerity Leads To… Austerity!

In the real world and the reality based community, there is talk about austerity from people who understand the nuances of it and macroeconomic accounting identities. They point out the undeniable fact that there is austerity in the UK, the Eurozone, and yes, the United States. This interactive chart will show this, though I can’t embed it here. So instead, I will add a small snapshot of some of the data.

Net spending in the United States has steadily declined since it rose from 2008 to 2009 when the inadequate stimulus(only $500 billion of direct spending at about 1.5 percent of GDP) was passed. Stimulus packages don’t exist in a vacuum, and you have to count all government spending, which basically shows how exactly the numbers, including the stimulus as this does, didn’t close the output gap. And since the numbers didn’t, that is actually austerity. After all, spending went up in the UK and Eurozone from 2008 to 2009 as well, and since then, their spending has declined. Even though it is on a higher level, it is being cut at an even more alarming rate with its fate set to go below our miserable level by 2017.

I have pointed this out before. Sometimes I get frustrated, and point this out harshly, because some pride themselves on denying this established data to support whatever a politician in their party says or does. I don’t know why. Denying reality is not going to give resources to people who need them. There is a reason my last diary has been cited by the reality based Post Keynesian MMT community, in which I am truly grateful for and humbled by; it is the truth.

The real economy of jobs and wages continues to go nowhere thanks to the lack of deficit spending and an illogical debate in DC about how much austerity we need to appease the invisible bond vigilantes and confidence fairies. It is neoliberal deficit terrorist economic insanity based on lies. And on that note, it is my pleasure to republish a piece by someone in the reality based economic community whom I can now proudly say is a friend of mine, Post Keynesian MMT economist John T. Harvey. He, once again, brings clarity to these matters in a way that only he can.  

May 22 2013

On This Day In History May 22

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.

May 22 is the 142nd day of the year (143rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 223 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1843, the Great Emigration departs for Oregon

A massive wagon train, made up of 1,000 settlers and 1,000 head of cattle, sets off down the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri. Known as the “Great Emigration,” the expedition came two years after the first modest party of settlers made the long, overland journey to Oregon.

Great Migration of 1843

In what was dubbed “The Great Migration of 1843” or the “Wagon Train of 1843”, an estimated 700 to 1,000 emigrants left for Oregon. They were led initially by John Gantt, a former U.S. Army Captain and fur trader who was contracted to guide the train to Fort Hall for $1 per person. The winter before, Marcus Whitman had made a brutal mid-winter trip from Oregon to St. Louis to appeal a decision by his Mission backers to abandon several of the Oregon missions. He joined the wagon train at the Platte River for the return trip. When the pioneers were told at Fort Hall by agents from the Hudson’s Bay Company that they should abandon their wagons there and use pack animals the rest of the way, Whitman disagreed and volunteered to lead the wagons to Oregon. He believed the wagon trains were large enough that they could build whatever road improvements they needed to make the trip with their wagons. The biggest obstacle they faced was in the Blue Mountains of Oregon where they had to cut and clear a trail through heavy timber. The wagons were stopped at The Dalles, Oregon by the lack of a road around Mount Hood. The wagons had to be disassembled and floated down the treacherous Columbia River and the animals herded over the rough Lolo trail to get by Mt. Hood. Nearly all of the settlers in the 1843 wagon trains arrived in the Willamette Valley by early October. A passable wagon trail now existed from the Missouri River to The Dalles. In 1846, the Barlow Road was completed around Mount Hood, providing a rough but completely passable wagon trail from the Missouri river to the Willamette Valley-about 2,000 miles.

May 22 2013

Climate Change:” We Are Stuck In This Together”

In the wake of the tornado that left Moore, OK a pile of rubble and killed 24 people, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) took to the floor of the Senate to take the climate denying Republicans to task.

“So, you may have a question for me,” Whitehouse said. “Why do you care? Why do you, Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, care if we Republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? I’ll tell you why. We’re stuck in this together. We are stuck in this together. When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we’re in this together.” [..]

“You drag America with you to your fate,” he continued. “So, I want this future: I want a Republican Party that has returned to its senses and is strong and a worthy adversary in a strong America that has done right by its people and the world. That’s what I want. I don’t want this future. I don’t want a Republican Party disgraced, that let its extremists run off the cliff, and an America suffering from grave economic and environmental and diplomatic damage because we failed, because we didn’t wake up and do our duty to our people, and because we didn’t lead the world. I do not want that future. But that’s where we’re headed. So I will keep reaching out and calling out, ever hopeful that you will wake up before it is too late.”

h/t Jeff Poor at The Daily Caller  

May 22 2013

Corporate Taxes = 0

The Real IRS Scandal Is That ‘They Let General Electric Not Pay Any Taxes’

In an email to The Huffington Post on Sunday, GE spokesman Seth Martin wrote that the company paid $3.2 billion in cash income taxes worldwide, including in the U.S., in 2012. In addition, he stated, GE paid more than $1 billion in other state, local and federal taxes.

“GE is one of the largest payers of corporate income taxes,” Martin wrote.

Still, GE and other hugely profitable U.S.-based companies like it have come under fire in recent years over their tax practices. Tax breaks given to corporations cost the U.S. government $180 billion per year, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. In addition, companies are likely stashing $1.9 trillion overseas in an aim to avoid paying U.S. taxes on those profits, according to a March analysis by Bloomberg.

GE parks the most profits offshore of any company, Bloomberg found. Many companies including, Apple, Microsoft and Google allegedly employ this strategy of keeping money overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes on those profits.

The real problem is that GE doesn’t pay its fair share of the US tax burden and, apparently, Apple gets away with a billion dollar tax dodge due to a loop hole in the tax laws. Tim Cooke, Apple’s CEO, appearing before Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations defended funneling billions to off shore tax shelters. What didn’t get mentioned at the hearings were the billions that Apple saved using the “excess stock options” tax break. The loophole allows corporations to deduct compensation that they give to executives in the form of stock options as an expense, the same way they deduct cash compensation. The hitch: stock options don’t hurt the companies bottom line, unlike cash options.

“The only meaningful costs associated with this are that the more stock you issue, the more it dilutes the value of the stock that’s already held by shareholders,” Matthew Gardner the executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy told The Huffington Post last month.

Apple took home $3.2 billion between 2010 and 2012 (pdf) thanks to this tax break — the most of any company, the report found. But it’s not the only company taking advantage of the loophole. Activists have criticized Facebook over its use of the executive stock option tax break in recent months after the social networking giant used it to wipe out its entire tax liability in 2012.

Though using the tax break has been rather common practice among technology companies, which tend to issue a higher percentage of their compensation in stock options, it’s becoming more common and lawmakers are slowly starting to take notice, Gardner said.

While the hearing focused on Apple’s offshore holdings, companies have stashed $1.9 trillion in offshore accounts to avoid paying US taxes.

Large U.S. companies boosted their offshore earnings by 15 percent last year to a record $1.9 trillion, avoiding hefty tax bills by keeping the profits abroad, according to a new report.

The overseas earnings stockpile has climbed by 70 percent over the past five years, said research firm Audit Analytics. Data in its report covers the Russell 3000 index of the largest U.S. corporations. [..]

Conglomerate General Electric Co , had the most indefinitely reinvested overseas earnings, at about $108 billion, while drugmaker Pfizer Inc was next with $73 billion, according to Audit Analytics.

Yeah, corporations not paying taxes is the problem.

May 22 2013

Chronic Tonic- With A Flare~

originally published at VOTS

I guess the fibro flare was inevitable, what with the uptick in stress and all. The tiredness and muscle pain, well, I can deal with that. I’m only mildly annoyed, really. You want to know what’s killing me? The fog. The losing my train of thought, my next word, the standing there with my mouth hanging open…I hate that!

And it is stupid things too. I’ll be standing in kitchen, wanting more coffee, but being fogged, I will have left my cup by my computer. So I say, “Collin, could you bring me my….” that thing, that thing right there, I’m looking at it, I’m pointing at it, the kid is starting to look at me strangely now….”cup, that cup.” Damn it.

My dad talks to my while I’m typing. Well, to be honest, my dad talks to me, no matter what I’m doing. On the phone, typing, talking, reading, and normally, I don’t like to say anything to him because if I do he gives me that exaggerated ‘sorry” that tells me he’s anything but, and I ought to feel like shit for daring to speak. He just thought I’d like to know that pot roast was on sale. While I’m busy telling him that he buys it I just cook it– I look down to notice I just typed “pot roast”– in an e-mail to Dan’s teacher. Yeah…son of a bitch. Backspace, backspace, backspace…..ugh.

Then last night I pissed myself off so badly…I can scarcely express it. I’ve always been a bit of a channel surfer during commercial breaks. I was watching a true crime thing on Discovery ID and it went to commercial, so I surfed. Do you know I never came back? Nope. Just clean forgot I was watching something. It wasn’t like I found something more fascinating to watch on another channel or something like that, no. Oh, no, no, no! I was still mindlessly switching around when a glance at the clock showed me 59 minutes and I made an audible gasp. Now how the hell did that case turn out? Gah!

Stuff like this…it really bothers me.

May 22 2013

TDS Draft

I’m feeling better rested, I still might have a meeting either tomorrow or Thursday (perhaps both) that will prevent me from participating on that (those) night(s).

New indications are that next week are all repeats.  Sorry, Comedy Central was entirely unclear.  June 10th John Oliver takes over hosting duties on The Daily Show.

This means we have at least 6 more days before Tia returns.

The Stars Hollow Gazette/DocuDharma Digest

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

* On This Day In History May 21 by: TheMomCat

* AP-Gate Just Got Worse by: TheMomCat

* Punting the Pundits by: TheMomCat

* Obama’s Never Ending War by: TheMomCat

* Emanuel, Duncan, and Rhee’s Neoliberal War on Public Education- Chicago Fights Back by: ek hornbeck

* Around the Blogosphere by: TheMomCat

The Stars Hollow Gazette

Photobucket

* Late Night Karaoke by: mishima

* Muse in the Morning by: Robyn

* On This Day In History May 21 by: TheMomCat

* US: Silencing news sources? by: mishima

* Cartnoon by: ek hornbeck

* Whole lot of walkin’ by: ek hornbeck

* Grassroots or Astroturf? by: ek hornbeck

* Around the Blogosphere by: TheMomCat

DocuDharma

Told you it would be busy and that’s not including my other lives.

Not only that this is a more than usually busy weekend for me.  There is Monaco and Indianapolis to cover.

Now I always like to encourage people to get involved, but without some help here we’re going to have some dark days and I’d hate to see this franchise deteriorate.

Now it would be easier for you if any of the guests are people you particularly like or hate.

Tonight Jon will be hosting Phil Jackson.  Wednesday will be Bill O’Reilly and Thursday Morgan Freeman.

Stephen will have Noah Feldman tonight, with The National on Wednesday (yuck, musical segment), and C.J. Chivers.

But who watches for the interviews.  They uniformly suck.  There’s been a lot of news so the segments will probably be great.

What else are you going to watch anyway?

The Hypnotoad.

"Television is a vast wasteland"

hypnotoad