Daily Archive: 06/23/2011

Jun 23 2011

Cantor Temper Tantrum: No Taxes, No, No, No (Up Date)

Up Date below the fold

Call a Wahmbulance for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as he quits the debt ceiling talks with Vice President Joe Biden:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, said Thursday that he was quitting  the debt ceiling negotiations being led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. because of an impasse over the role of taxes in any final deal.

“I believe that we have identified trillions in spending cuts, and to date, we have established a blueprint that could institute the fiscal reforms needed to start getting our fiscal house in order,” Mr. Cantor said in a prepared statement.

“That said, each side came into these talks with certain orders, and as it stands the Democrats continue to insist that any deal must include tax increases. There is not support in the House for a tax increase, and I don’t believe now is the time to raise taxes in light of our current economic situation. Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue.”

David Kurtz at Talking Point Memo says this may not be such a big deal:

The read we’re getting is that this could be merely an indication that the emissaries to the talks have gotten as far as they can get and that the remaining heavy lifting is going to have be done by the principals: President Obama and Speaker Boehner.

Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner doesn’t sound to pleased that he will now have to defend the Republican stand that tax increases are off the table:

“I understand his frustration, I understand why he did what he did, but I think those talks could continue if they’re willing to take the tax hikes off the table,” he said.

One possible interpretation of Cantor’s pullout was that he needed Boehner’s authority to negotiate revenue increases necessary to complete a far-reaching deal with Democrats, but Boehner made repeatedly clear on Thursday that he had not budged at all on the issue.

“Tax hikes are off the table,” he said. “First of all, raising taxes is going to destroy jobs….second, a tax hike cannot pass the US House of Representatives — it’s not just a bad idea, it doesn’t have the votes and it can’t happen. And third, the American people don’t want us to raise taxes. They know we have a spending problem.”

(emphasis mine)

Boehner may be correct on point two but he is so wrong on one and three that is totally laughable and flat out lies that the press refuses to counter. Americans know we have a revenue problem because of the Bush/Obama tax cuts and loop hole in the tax code. Americans overwhelmingly support tax increases on millionaires. I don’t think Boehner is stupid, I think he is a tool of his corporate masters.

My only question now is where the hell is the Democratic leadership to counter this? Why aren’t the Democrats out in front of the cameras pointing out how wrong the Republicans are? The Democrats need to listen to the people, too and take Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid off the table as well.  

Jun 23 2011

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”.

Eugene Robinson: What Obama didn’t say about leaving Afghanistan

There was almost a pro-forma air to President Obama’s speech tonight.

He touched all the right bases – at times with specificity, at times with platitudes – but there was no sense, for me, that anything had fundamentally changed.

It was informative to learn that 10,000 U.S. troops will come home from Afghanistan this year and another 23,000 or so by the summer or fall of 2012. I am sure this announcement gives comfort and joy to the families of those young men and women who, fairly soon, will be homeward bound.

But that means nearly 70,000 troops will remain beyond next year – nearly twice as many as were in the country when Obama took office.

Dana Mibank: ‘Mission accomplished,’ Obama style

There was no banner, no naval cheering section, no aircraft-carrier landing and – thank heavens – no flight suit. But make no mistake: President Obama gave his own version of a “mission accomplished” speech Wednesday.

The policy itself was no triumph, just a split-the-difference compromise between the slower troop withdrawal from Afghanistan sought by the generals and the faster one many congressional Democrats and a majority of the public desired. But Obama packaged it nicely, wrapped it with a bow and declared, perhaps prematurely, that his “surge” in Afghanistan had been a success.

The New York Times: The Way Out?

Americans are impatient – and increasingly despairing – about the war in Afghanistan. After 10 years of fighting, more than 1,500 American lives lost and $450 billion spent, they need to know there is a clear way out.

On Wednesday night, President Obama announced that American troops will soon begin to withdraw, but at a size and pace unlikely to satisfy many Americans.

He said that 10,000 of the 33,000 troops from the “surge” would come home before the end of this year, with the rest out by next summer. He vowed that reductions would continue “at a steady pace” after that, and that “the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security” by sometime in 2014.

David K. Shipler: Free to Search and Seize

THIS spring was a rough season for the Fourth Amendment. The Obama administration petitioned the Supreme Court to allow GPS tracking of vehicles without judicial permission. The Supreme Court ruled that the police could break into a house without a search warrant if, after knocking and announcing themselves, they heard what sounded like evidence being destroyed. Then it refused to see a Fourth Amendment violation where a citizen was jailed for 16 days on the false pretext that he was being held as a material witness to a crime.

In addition, Congress renewed Patriot Act provisions on enhanced surveillance powers until 2015, and the F.B.I. expanded agents’ authority to comb databases, follow people and rummage through their trash even if they are not suspected of a crime.

Dean Baker: Blognote in Honor of Thomas Friedman: Spending on the Commerce Department Is Going to Bankrupt the Country

The United States has to cut back spending on the Commerce Department or it will bankrupt the country. Okay, I have no evidence for this and it really doesn’t make any sense. The Commerce Department’s budget is about $10 billion a year, less than 0.3 percent of total spending, but this note is written in the spirit of Thomas Friedman.

Just as Thomas Friedman can tell readers that Social Security and Medicare are bankrupting the country with no evidence, in my blognote I get to blame the Commerce Department. The reality of course is that Social Security is fully funded by its own dedicated tax revenue through the year 2036, meaning the program on net imposes no burden on the government.

E. J. Dionne, Jr. Is Jon Huntsman too moderate for the GOP?

Here are the key questions about Jon Huntsman’s presidential candidacy: Is he the American version of David Cameron? And is the Republican Party ready for a Cameron moment?

What does a British prime minister have to do with the 2012 Republican primaries? If Huntsman is lucky, quite a lot. The British Conservative Party chose Cameron as its leader in 2005 because it was sick of losing elections and realized it could no longer present itself as an old, cranky, right-wing party. Cameron was Mr. Nice, Mr. Modern, Mr. Moderate and Mr. New. And now he’s in power.

Jeff Biggers: FOX and Republicans Rerun Mexicans, Lies and Videotape, As Arizona Becomes Grand Canyon State Again

As Interior Secretary Ken Salazar joined Havasupai tribal elders and Congressman Raul Grijalva for a historic announcement at the Grand Canyon National Park on Monday, Republicans across Arizona scurried to create their own roadside attraction.

And relying on information from a widely denounced anti-immigrant extremist, FOX News and other media outlets have been right behind them to fan the flames of Arizona’s right-wing discontent this summer.

Jun 23 2011

The Markets: And They All Fall Down

The stock market came tumbling this morning on the bad news that started yesterday with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s bleak economic outlook. With the news that there were higher than expected new unemployment claims, a drop in new housing sales and the announcement from the International Energy Agency that they would release 60 million barrels oil, sent stocks, oil and gold prices in to a downward spiral.

This isn’t necessarily all bad news. Lower the price of oil that has been driven wholly by speculators that have “no skin in the game” has been a major cause of the economic slow down. As the price of fuel drops, the price of transportation and goods fall, people have more money to spend or invest.

Global Oil Reserves Tapped in Effort to Cut Cost at Pump

The United States will lead an international effort to release 60 million barrels of petroleum reserves to world markets, replacing some of the oil production lost because of the conflict in Libya, the International Energy Agency announced in Paris on Thursday.

The action is aimed at reducing energy prices for businesses and consumers, and in early trading futures contracts for West Texas intermediate crude oil were down $4.50 a barrel to around $91.

The United States will release half of the total amount from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with the rest of the oil to be provided by other nations among the international agency’s 28 member states. Negotiations for the coordinated response have been going on in secret for weeks, according to a person involved in the talks. Similar unified action was taken in 1991 at the outbreak of the first Persian Gulf War.

Stocks and Oil Fall Sharply

The Dow Jones industrial average fell sharply and energy stocks declined more than 2 percent on Wall Street on Thursday after a report that the United States would release some oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Crude oil prices also fell.

The International Energy Agency announced in Paris on Thursday that the United States will release half of the 60 million barrels of petroleum reserves to world markets, with other nations releasing the rest, replacing some of the oil production lost due to the conflict in Libya.

Jobless Claims in U.S. Rise More Than Expected

More Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week, showing companies are less confident about the expansion than they were earlier this year.

Applications for jobless benefits increased 9,000 in the week ended June 18 to 429,000, Labor Department figures showed today. The level of claims exceeded the highest estimate in a Bloomberg News survey in which the median projection called for 415,000 filings. The number of people on benefit rolls was little changed, while those getting extended payments rose.

Unemployment claims have swelled after dropping to an almost three-year low at the end of February, indicating businesses may be reluctant to hire until demand strengthens. The data underscore Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s comment yesterday that job growth is “frustratingly” slow, a reason policy makers pledged to maintain monetary stimulus.

May new home sales fall 2.1 percent

(Reuters) – Sales of new U.S. single family homes fell for the first time in three months in May, but inventories of new homes for sale reached record lows and the median sales price rose slightly, a government report showed on Thursday.

Gold Drops Most in Seven Weeks as Slow Economy, Oil Slump Ease Inflation

Gold futures plunged the most in seven weeks as a slowing U.S. economy and slumping oil prices eased the risk of inflation, while the dollar rallied on signs the Federal Reserve won’t add more stimulus measures.

The economy is recovering at a “moderate pace, though somewhat more slowly” than the central bank had expected, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said yesterday. The dollar gained as much as 1.4 percent versus six major currencies, while oil prices dropped to a four-month low after the International Energy Agency said its members would release crude from strategic reserves.

“It’s basically down on what the chairman said yesterday,” said Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Integrated Brokerage Services LLC in Chicago. “Also, crude is sharply down, while the dollar has risen.”

Treasuries Gain as Jobless Claims Rise, Trichet Cites European Bank Risk

Treasuries rose as U.S. initial jobless claims climbed last week more than economists forecast and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said the sovereign-debt crisis threatens to infect banks.

Yields on 10-year notes dropped toward the lowest level this year a day after the Federal Reserve said it will maintain monetary stimulus after its $600 billion program of debt buying ends this month, with policy makers lowering their forecasts for economic growth and employment.

“It’s just uncertainty,” said Dan Mulholland, a Treasury trader in New York at Royal Bank of Canada, one of 20 primary dealers that trade with the Fed. “Jobless claims provided the latest pop. Treasuries are the beneficiary.”

Jun 23 2011

On This Day In History June 23

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.

Click on images to enlarge.

June 23 is the 174th day of the year (175th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 191 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin. Hopes for better U.S.-Soviet relations run high as U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin in Glassboro, New Jersey, for a three-day summit. The meeting ended inconclusively, however, as issues such as Vietnam and the Middle East continued to divide the two superpowers.

Background

With the United States gradually losing ground in the Vietnam War, the administration was looking for other solutions to the conflict.

On 5 June 1967 the Six-Day War began between Israel and the Arab states. The war led to an increase in Soviet-US diplomatic contact and cooperation; there were some who hoped this could continue to help the US solve the Vietnam war and other pressing international issues. Several days later the Soviet Union sent Premier Alexei Kosygin to New York to hold a speech on the then-ongoing Middle Eastern crisis at the United Nations headquarters. When the United States government was informed of this the Americans gladly welcomed Kosygin to a meeting between him and President Lyndon B. Johnson. On 13 June 1967 Johnson sought out J. William Fulbright, a Senator, at a White House reception. Llewellyn Thompson, then US ambassador to the USSR, believed that a conference could “start the process of moving toward an understanding with the Soviets”. Fulbright even believed that Johnson was reconsidering his Vietnam strategy. Later Fulbright wrote two letters to Johnson about the importance of a summit between the two nations. Johnson agreed, and wrote a letter in return, which said they were waiting for a Soviet response for US invitation. Walt Rostow, the National Security Adviser at the time, said it was a 20 percent chance of the summit having a good effect on Soviet-US relations, and only a 10 percent chance of the summit going awry.

The Soviet Political Bureau (Politburo) were divided over the usefulness of the summit. Andrei Gromyko, the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time and still not a member of the Politburo, was able to win support for it. Gromyko noted that Soviet-US dialogue which had been suspended in 1963 should be reactivated, despite the Vietnam War putting a great deal strain on the two countries’ relations.

Kosygin agreed to address the United Nations wished to conduct the summit in New York. Johnson, wary of encountering protesters against the war in Vietnam, preferred to meet in Washington, D.C.. Roughly equidistant, Hollybush was selected as a compromise. The summit took place at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in Glassboro, New Jersey.

Jun 23 2011

Six In The Morning

Afghanistan: France follows US in troop withdrawal

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced the phased withdrawal of its 4,000 soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

The BBC   23 June 2011

A statement said the French would follow the timetable of US withdrawals announced by President Barack Obama.

Mr Obama said 10,000 US troops would pull out this year, with another 23,000 leaving by the end of September 2012.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed the move, but the Taliban dismissed it as “symbolic” and vowed to continue fighting until all foreign forces left.

Continue reading the main story



Start Quote

Our mission will change from combat to support”

President Obama

As it happened: Speech reaction

At least 68,000 US troops will remain in the country after the 33,000 have been withdrawn, but they are scheduled to leave by 2013, provided that Afghan forces are ready to take over security.




+Thursday’s Headlines:

Net neutrality enshrined in Dutch law

Dissident artist bailed after ‘confessing his crimes’

Journey Through a Divided Syria

Sudan army arrests six UN staff

Political party of youth splits from Egypt’s Brotherhood

Jun 23 2011

My Little Town 20110622: Forgotten Brands

Those of you who read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I rarely write about living people except with their express permission, but this installment is more about THINGS, particularly brands of things, that have essentially disappeared now.  Many of them were foods, but some were non food items.

I was raised eating mostly from scratch, home cooked food that Ma, my mum, or my dad (he was very good at a few things) cooked.  I have introduced you to Ma before, here, and as soon as I introduce you to my mum I shall use a more personal term for her in future.

Jun 23 2011

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

If you do not get Current TV you can watch Keith here:

Watch live video from CURRENT TV LIVE Countdown Olbermann on www.justin.tv

Jun 23 2011

The Abbreviated Evening Edition

Due to playing in the mud (don’t ask, trust me it’s messy), the Evening Edition will brought to you by c’est moi.

Democrats call for new spending in debt deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic leaders called on Wednesday for additional spending to boost the sluggish U.S. economy, setting up a fresh hurdle for bipartisan efforts in Washington to head off a government debt default this summer.

Democrats’ demand for new stimulus spending is at odds with the work of negotiators, led by Vice President Joe Biden, who are trying to find trillions of dollars in savings as part of a deal that would allow Congress to sign off on new government borrowing before the U.S. runs out of money to pay its bills.

Obama to claim success for Afghan surge

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama will argue Wednesday his Afghan war surge forged substantial progress and a “position of strength” which allows thousands of US troops to come home, officials said.

In a primetime speech to a war-weary US public, Obama will say his decision to pour fresh US resources into Afghanistan has hammered Al-Qaeda, broken Taliban momentum and turned around a conflict that had gone sour on America.