Wednesday, August 3

Al Gore Wants You! (To Begin the New American Spring Movement)

Al Gore Wants You! (To Begin the New American Spring Movement)

Sunday, July 31

O'Reilly Calls out "Hateful Crazy Right-Wing Rhetoric" against Obama

O'Reilly Calls out "Hateful Crazy Right-Wing Rhetoric" against Obama

Thursday, February 17

Walking Like an Egyptian in Madison Wisconsin

Not long ago Rush Limbaugh suggested that people should "Go Egypt on Obama" over Health Care - but it appears that what he suggests is already happening, but it's already happening in Madison Wisconsin.




The issue for those who don't already know is the Governor Walker's attmept to fix the $130 Billion Million State Budget shortfall -Which just 2 Weeks Ago was Running a SURPLUS, until the Governor signed a massive business tax cut ill - by taking out of the Pay, Pensions and Health Benefits of State Union Workers. He hasn't done this by coming to the Unions and striking a deal, in fact he 's refused to negotiate at all, instead he has tried to ram these cuts through the legislature and at the same strip the Unions of their right to collective bargaining ensuring that he'll NEVER have to bother coming to the table and negotiating.

As a result thousands of people, tens of thousands have appeared to protest the Governors action - in response he's gone Full-on Mubarak and threatened to call out the National Guard.

Sometimes Rush, you really should wish for something when you don't really realize what you'll get.



VAN SUSTEREN: You have the Guard on alert. Why, if that is true?

WALKER: No, in our case we have contingency plans that we put into place that are updated from where they were before. The National Guard is part of that. They would be part of that whether it is a snow emergency, tornado, earthquake, flood, anything else. And a work walk-off is part of contingency plan.

Most of our local workers are going to continue to be professionals, they're going to continue to show up for work. And while there's a handful upset about this - the bottom line is that most of the Union leaders are upset about this because part of our plan is to - also says for state and local workers - you can no longer be forced by law to be in a union you get to have the option.

More from John Nichols on Scott Walker and how he's out to Destroy Government.



Nichols: Scott Walker is out to Destroy Government.



Rachel Raps this up by documenting how destroying the public section, and especially public unions, has become part of the open plan of the Republican movement to ro
ll back the overall rights of workers, including suggesting the return of child labor...

Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham (R) is pushing a bill which would dramatically claw back state child labor protections. As the bill’s official summary explains:

This act modifies the child labor laws. It eliminates the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen. Restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day are also removed. It also repeals the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen obtain a work certificate or work permit in order to be employed. Children under sixteen will also be allowed to work in any capacity in a motel, resort or hotel where sleeping accommodations are furnished. It also removes the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ. It also repeals the presumption that the presence of a child in a workplace is evidence of employment.

And while we putting children into the workplace, we might as well stick mom back home making babies where she belongs - the better to open up that fresh new job for junior - by cutting head start funding as has been moving through the Maryland Legislature.

In yet another example, the Frederick County, Maryland, Board of County Commissioners voted to end the county’s contribution to its Head Start program, cutting overall funding for the program by more than 50 percent. Two of the Republican officials justified their decision to cut Head Start — which provides early childhood education to the children of low-income parents — by saying that women should really be married and home with their kids, thus rendering the program unnecessary:



COMMISSIONER C. PAUL SMITH (R): I think its very significant that we did make this marriage week announcement today, because that is the best long-term way to help our children, as marriage is strengthened in our community. As many of you know, I had a lot of kids, and my wife stayed home, at significant sacrifice, during those early years, because she knew she had to be with those kids at that critical age. I know everybody isn’t able to survive doing that, but clearly, as we can strengthen marriage we can decrease the children that we have to reach.

COMMISSIONER KIRBY DELAUTER (R): My wife, college educated, could go out and get a very good job. She gave that up for 18 years so she could stay home with our kids, we had to give up a lot to do that. I agree again with Commissioner Smith, you know, the marriage thing is very important. I mean, education of your kids starts at home, okay? I never relied on anyone else to guarantee the education of my kids.


This is not just an attack on the middle-class, this is an attack on the American Dream - the ability to buy a home, start a family, provide for that family and offer them a a better future while working a trade. This is an attack on the ability to have a trade and build a future for your family working with your hands to improve your community. It's an attack on the ability to enter the middle-class in the first place and create a new permanent caste system of workers and managers. The owners and the owned.

This movement has to be fought and it has to be stopped. If State Governments want to work with their public sector Unions and renegotiate to helps these states gradually pull themselves out of debt until the economy begins to recover - that could be accomplished, but that's not the goal. The tax issue is merely a means to an ends.

If Walker manages to break the Unions in Wisconsin - which by his own words is his ultimate goal - it'll begin a wave across the nation and as the public sector Unions lose rights and the ability to protect their working conditions and work environment - so will the private sector.

This movement has to be stopped, and Egypt has shown us the way. The time to stop them is NOW - the place to stop them is in Madison, and then spread that resolve across the country to protect the rights of workers.

Vyan

Lawrence Nails Rep. Chaffetz as Tax Cheat

This has to be seen to be believed.



After getting Rep. Jason Chaffetz that he would seek to raise the Social Security retirement age, and cut the COLA for Social Security Benefits - which by the way have already been frozen for the last two years - O'Donnell closes in and Boom goes the Dynamite.

The issue Lawrence raises is the fact that Rep. Chaffetz doesn't Rent a place to sleep in Washington and instead uses his office, as a result he gains a benefit from avoiding paying that rent which he doesn't declare on his income as taxes. The issue has been raised in a letter by CREW which points out that 7 Democrats and 26 Republicans are currently having these "Sleepovers".

[U]nder the Internal Revenue Code, members who sleep in their offices are receiving a taxable benefit. The IRS treats lodging as a taxable fringe benefit unless it is offered on the employer's business premises, is for the employer's convenience, and is required as a condition of employment. As living in a House office clearly is not a condition of serving in Congress, members must pay taxes for imputed income based on the fair market value of their lodging.

Notably, members of Congress and congressional staff already have imputed taxable income based on the fair market value of their reserved parking spaces. If members must pay taxes to lodge their cars, surely they must pay taxes for their own lodging.
"Americans expect members of Congress to follow the tax laws just like everyone else. If legislators are going to treat their offices as dorm rooms, at the very least they should pay the appropriate taxes."

CREW sent their letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics which has yet to respond or rule on the matter, but it's clear this type of thing has been going on for decades.

From CBS News.



By doing this these Congressmen will save about $20,000 in Rent out of their $174,000 yearly salary.

Chaffetz sort of laughs this all off as "ridiculous", but he doesn't seem to realize that O'Donnell was the former Chief of Staff from the Senate Finance Committee so he probably knows Tax Law better than most law makers since it happens to be staffers like him who actually write the laws.

In fact O'Donnell led the Senate Staff during the consideration of President Clinton's first budget - so when Lawrence brings this up - in all likelyhood he knows what's he's talking about!

It's also not like issues like this haven't come up before.

Many members of Congress may have a Tom Daschle problem. A week after the former senator withdrew his nomination for Health and Human Services secretary because of reports he didn't pay taxes on a car and driver, lawmakers are facing their own tax questions. Some of the same lawmakers who criticized Daschle also neglected to pay taxes when they brought family members on trips paid for by outside groups, according to tax experts and a watchdog group. Most Americans pay taxes when they bring a spouse or family members on a business trip on the company's tab.

But many members of Congress have been ignoring that section of the tax code since they wrote it in 1993. It's hypocritical for some members to criticize Daschle's tax problems while ignoring their own, said Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group that filed a complaint with the IRS on this issue in 2006. "It is identical," Holman said. "It's such an obvious issue, but the IRS looks the other way." But most members of Congress don't see it that way. They don't agree that the money for spouse trips is taxable, and they don't see any comparison with Daschle's failure to pay more than $100,000 in taxes on a car and driver. "There is a clear difference between members of Congress being accompanied by a spouse in the course of official duties and a private citizen failing to pay taxes after being given a limousine and driver," said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). "This isn't comparing apples and oranges, it's like comparing apple juice to Dom Perignon." Boehner is one of many lawmakers who have taken their spouses on trips paid for by outside groups. Another is former Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), who has been confirmed as President Obama's secretary of Transportation.

Just as the lawmaker themselves would have to disclose a gift and pay taxes for having received it, they should have to disclose and pay taxes for the gift of a trip provided by and outside group.


And I strongly suspect, although I'm not a tax expert, that O'Donnell is also correct that lawmakers who choose to avoid paying for rent by living on government property - which is essentially accepting a gift from the American people who actually OWN that property - they should disclose it and file it on their taxes as income.

Villanova Law Professor James Edward Maule thinks they possibly should.


CREW could be correct, but it requires tax analysts to answer several difficult questions in particular ways to reach the same conclusion.

First, CREW contends that members of Congress are receiving lodging, and that it is taxable because it is not provided as a condition of employment, as required by § 119 for the lodging to qualify for exclusion from gross income. CREW points out that no member of Congress is required to live in their offices. Though this conclusion is debatable – certainly when Congress meets late into the evening or overnight, as sometimes happens, one might reasonably infer that members are required to remain on the premises – the difficulty with the analysis is that it presupposes that the government is providing “lodging” when a member of Congress stays overnight. But does an office constitute “lodging” simply because someone falls asleep therein? Or because someone takes a nap therein? [...]

If someone is specifically bringing a cot to sleep in, it's not a matter of then occasionally "taking a nap" - it's part of a deliberate plan to avoid paying for rent by squatting in their offices. And according to the CBS report and various others, saving money is exactly their goal - not just convenience.


Vyan

Wednesday, February 16

A Truly Progressive Budget, could save $3.2 Trillion

So the President has put out a Budget that cuts $1 Trillion over the next ten years, while the House GOP has proposed $63 Billion in cuts that Obama has already promised to Veto. But has every reasonable (not to mention unreasonable) idea been brought to the table?

Thinkprogress has Five Progressive Ideas that neither the GOP or the President has mentioned, maybe it's something the House Dems should be putting on table.


http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/15/five-progressive-deficit-ideas/

1. Rein In The Military Budget: Neither the president’s budget or the House CR cuts the overall level of defense spending. In fact, Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s request for the Pentagon budget is a whopping $553 billion — “the largest request ever” by the Pentagon and the largest adjusted for inflation since World War II. CAP Senior Fellow Lawrence Korb has laid out $1 trillion in defense reductions that can be made over the next 10 years by phasing out outdated programs and resizing our military. This comes out to roughly $100 billion a year, which is approximately how much funding is being proposed to be cut from the Pell Grant program.

2. Reduce Or Eliminate Subsidies To Big Agribusiness: The federal government “paid out a quarter of a trillion dollars in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2009.” “Just ten percent of America’s largest and richest farms collect almost three-fourths” of these subsidies. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) has proposed — as a part of her progressive deficit reduction plan — a fifty percent cut in federal direct support for agriculture, which would save $7.5 billion in 2015.

3. Reduce Or Eliminate Wasteful Tax Expenditures: The CAP paper “Cracking the Code: A Closer Look at Tax Expenditure Spending” notes that “special credits, deductions, exclusions, exemptions, and preferential tax rates provide more than $1 trillion in subsidies intended to support public objectives,” yet are ineffective and should be reduced or eliminated. Eliminating this tax expenditure could save $100 billion, for example.

4. Enact A Financial Transactions Tax: A “0.25 percent tax on trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other Wall Street financial instruments” would do little to nothing to reduce commerce or productivity but would generate “between $50 billion and $150 billion annually,” according to a CAP analysis.

5. Empower Medicare To Negotiate For Lower Drug Prices: One of the main drivers of the growing U.S. budget deficit is health care costs. While there are a number of things that can be done to streamline the efficiency of our health care system, like introducing a public option or even moving towards a Medicare-for-all system, one policy option that would be very simple to enact and would not require any sort of increased spending or expansion of government would be to simply allow Medicare to use its bulk purchasing power to negotiate with drugmakers for lower prices. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) estimates that doing this could save as much as $156 billion over 10 years.


Taken all together these proposals could save as much as $3.2 Trillion over the next decade, far more than what has been proposed by either the President's Budget or the Republicans - without negatively impacting Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare and leaving plenty of room for infrastructure investment, green job growth and even retain significant middle-class and small business tax cuts.

Wouldn't you love to see a budget like this put forward by Democrats in the House and scored by CBO lined up side-by-side against the GOP or Presidents proposals?

How could either of them seriously argue they would prefer to go with the plans that Saves Less and Hurts More compared to a plan like this? Rather than sit on the sidelines, Progressives need to make sure their voice is heard and their priorities are on the table. You never know, just like with the Patriot Act Vote, we could pull more than a few surprise upsets as the GOP caucus splits, divides and separates into their far-right and super-far-right-libertarian flanks.

Vyan

Tuesday, February 15

Fox Attacks Gregory for Questioning Boehner on Birtherism



Via Media Matters.

On his Fox News show tonight, Bill O'Reilly criticized NBC's David Gregory for wasting "valuable airtime" during the February 13 edition of Meet The Press by pushing Boehner on his refusal to condemn those who claim Obama is Muslim. O'Reilly said of Gregory: "We've got a country that's just about bankrupt. We may be selling furniture on Capitol Hill pretty soon. And he's back to the birth certificate Muslim stuff." According to O'Reilly, the issue is settled and stupid, and he can't figure out why NBC would be talking about it.

O'Reilly argues that this issue is "getting no traction" and doesn't affect any public policy issue - except that it came up multiple times at CPAC.



And this Fox News Focus Group who think Obama is a Muslim.



This is why the point is relevant, and that fact that less than half of Republicans think Obama was an American.

Also...

A Harris poll released on March 24 found that a majority of Republican respondents believe that President Obama "is a socialist," "wants to take away Americans' right to own guns," "is a Muslim," "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government," and "has done many things that are unconstitutional." The findings follow a year of such smears and attacks on Obama by conservatives.


Mary Catherine ham accuse NBC of having a double-standard because supposedly Chris Matthews has argued that Obama could resolve this by "Showing his Birth Certificate" but that's frankly a lie since Matthews already has a copy of his certificate.



The Only Official State Certified Document is the one that Obama has already released. There is no evidence that his mother left the country while she was pregnant and then smuggled her son back into Hawaii somehow. There is no evidence that Obama is a Muslim, or a Socialist (since Socialism is than transfer of all private property into public hands).

The real issue isn't the Birthers and Islamophobes, it's the fact that people like Boehner and cantor are more than willing to Pander to them by taking the position that they somehow have a "Right" to believe complete and total nonsense.

Just like the crazy idea that tax cuts increase revenues, and spending it "out of controL" when in fact it's actually gone down slightly for this year.

Vyan

South Dakota GOP to Make Killing Abortion Doctors Legal

Yes, that's right the South Dakota GOP is literally and seriously considering making Murder - a legal option if the person being killed is a Doctor who provides abortions.

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of "justifiable homicide" to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state's GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

So now we're looking at adding "Justifiable Terrorism" to our lexicon?

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state's legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person "while resisting an attempt to harm" that person's unborn child or the unborn child of that person's spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman's father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one.

Essentially this bill would make this type of argument part of the law.




Roeder: The blame for the death of George Tiller belongs more with the State of Kansas rather than me. Had the courts acted rightfully I would not have killed George Tiller. The State of Kansas permits, protects and promotes the slaughter of these children. George Tiller was their Hitman. Do you expect ordinary people to just sit back and watch this happen?

We fought a bloody civil war while our courts denied personhood to people of color. 37 years ago the rights of the unborn were similarly denied, and in 37 minutes a Kansas court found George Tiller innocent and me guilty of murder

There's just so much wrong with that it's hard to figure out where to begin. Clearly he is trying to equate Dred Scott with Roe v Wade -the problem with that is that sad though it may be, Dred Scott was correctly decided since at that time the Original Constitution included the 3/5th language for African Immigrants as well as the Fugitive Slave Clause.

This Constitutional Flaw wasn't corrected until the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were Ratified.

In the case where George Tiller was acquitted, he wasn't accused of performing illegal abortions - he was simply accused of not getting an independent second opinion before performing the procedures. While those on the right like the rail about the "Rights of the innocent" they seem to completely ignore the women - mostly girls - whom Tiller was trying to help.

When you look at the actual complaint against Tiller you find that of the 19 counts against Tiller - 7 of the cases were for girls who were just 15 years-old, one girl was just 16 years-old, two of them were only 14 years-old, one was just 13 years-old and one was only 10!. Only 3 of them were over 18 years old.

Most of these girls were in fact raped by members of their own family, usually their father.

If a ten-year-old in this situation doesn't deserve to be protect and isn't "Innocent" I don't exactly know who is.

And now South Carolina would make helping this girl - essentially a non-judicial Capital Offense - while the rapist scumbag who put her in this situation gets what, a pat on the back for "nailing" her? Where is the argument for birth control to avoid unwanted and unplanned pregnancies? Where is the argument to provide better and simpler adoption services for babies born to parents without the means or ability to care for them?

If this doesn't make you sick to your stomach you might be suffering from compassion deficit disorder.

Vyan

TeaPublicans Balance the Budget on the Backs of Bruised, but save the Best Cheddar for themselves

Rachel Contrasts the Budget Priorities of the President and Republicans. Both suggest harsh cuts - but it's on the spending that we see interesting and dramatic differences. Obama still wants to invest in Fast Rail, Green Tech and High Speed Telecom Backbone - they want to buy C-17s and engines for the F-31 that the Pentagon Doesn't Need.



And isn't it an interesting coincidence that the plants for these unwanted military projects just happen to be in Rep. Beohner and Cantor's districts? What was that about "No More Earmarks" again?

Before I get into the heart of this I just want to get one pet peeve from watching today's talking head class chatter about how "Obama's Budget Cuts aren't Serious because he didn't address Entitlements".

That is nothing but a Crock.

Obama spent well over a year passing a Health Care Plan that does address entitlements, it's saves $500 Billion from Medicare without cutting quality or restricting service and according to the Medicare Trustee's brings it into Surplus starting in 2012.

The outlook for Medicare has improved substantially because of program changes made in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the "Affordable Care Act" or ACA). Despite lower near-term revenues resulting from the economic recession, the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is now expected to remain solvent until 2029, 12 years longer than was projected last year, and the 75-year HI financial shortfall has been reduced to 0.66 percent of taxable payroll from 3.88 percent in last year’s report. Nearly all of this improvement in HI finances is due to the ACA. The ACA is also expected to substantially reduce costs for the Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) program; projected program costs as a share of GDP over the next 75 years are down 23 percent relative to the costs projected for the 2009 report.

Medicare is doing just fine.

Social Security is also going to be fine for Decades and before we start talking about raising the retirement age - we need to have increasing the payroll cap on the table too.

The biggest cause of the deficit was not spending (both TARP and the Auto Bailout were Loans which have been largely paid back), it was loss of revenue from the economic downturn and tax cuts - Spending as the CBO explains.

Since 2007, the recession and financial crisis, as well as the legislative responses to those problems, caused individual tax receipts to fall markedly. In 2009, individual receipts totaled just 6.4 percent of GDP, the lowest share since 1950.

Therefore the best way to fix this shortfall is to rescind necessary tax cuts and to invest in jump starting the economy. It's all about Jobs, Jobs, JOBS!

Let's all jump in the way back machine and recall how Republicans trashed the Stimulus in public, but praised it's "Job Creation" in private.



As Thinkprogress has noted nearly half the Republicans in Congress last session have engaged in rank Stimulus Hypocrisy.

ThinkProgress finds that over half of the GOP caucus, 110 lawmakers — from the House and Senate — are guilty of stimulus hypocrisy. Among some of the key findings:

– Top Republican Senate Recruits Are Stimulus Hypocrites: As ThinkProgress reported, Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), a candidate for Senate, touted over $5 million in stimulus programs he voted to kill. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the GOP nominee for Senate in Illinois, signed a letter urging Gov. Pat Quinn to provide “Recovery Act (ARRA) funding to expand the Illinois Community College Sustainability Network.”

– GOP Leadership Leads The Way In Hypocrisy: Although he regularly slams the stimulus as a waste while in DC, McConnell has returned to Kentucky to take credit for stimulus programs, even taking time to request more funds. ThinkProgress attended two job fairs held by Cantor, where we found dozens of employers able to hire directly because of the stimulus. Indeed, even Boehner’s office released a statement boasting that the stimulus will create “much needed jobs.” – The Audacity Of Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds: Many opponents of the stimulus have been quite brazen with their ability to try to claim credit for the program. For instance, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) spent the morning of July 28th railing against the stimulus, yelling “Where’s the stimulus package? Where’s the jobs?” on the House floor. On the same day of his rant, Kingston’s office sent out multiple press releases bragging that he had secured hundreds of thousands in stimulus funds to hire additional police officers in his district. Other stimulus opponents, like Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) — who has called the stimulus a “trillion dollar debt bill” — have printed out jumbo-sized ceremonial stimulus checks to present to local communities to try to garner positive press.

Individually, over half of the entire Republican caucus has hailed nearly every aspect of the stimulus as a success — from infrastructure funds, to food programs, to education grants

Despite this Republicans latest Budget Cut Proposal won't help create any jobs as it attempts to cancel and rescind all unspent Stimulus dollars, but it could also very well could help Kill People.

(Republicans) would cut about $60 billion relative to the 2010 baseline (under which the government is currently operating), or about $100 billion compared to President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget request (which was never enacted).

The GOP’s proposal includes a slew of cuts to important programs, agencies, and investments, and would be detrimental to job creation, education, and scientific research. But they also specifically zero out many programs, cutting their funding entirely, including:

– High speed rail investments ($5 billion)

– COPS Hiring (supporting local law enforcement) ($298 million)

– High School Graduation Initiative ($50 million)

– Weatherization assistance program ($210 million)

– National Park Service climate change monitoring and response ($4.5 million)

– Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($86 million)

– Green Jobs Innovation Fund ($40 million)

And...

the proposal includes a 22 percent reduction in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, massive cuts in basic science research, budgets slashing seeking to essentially eliminate U.S. government research on climate change, ... a true anti-science syndrome agenda.

This would be in additional to cutting all Health Care Funding, all funding for Wall Street Reform as well as funding to help stop lose nukes.

On Friday, House Republicans put forth a “continuing resolution” (CR) to fund the government past March 4th that was filled with spending cuts. While this came as no surprise, one focus of the cuts is causing some heads to turn. House Republicans are choosing to significantly cut the National Nuclear Security Administration’s nonproliferation programs, the sole purpose of which is to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on loose nuclear weapons and materials. While Republicans have talked about the need to inflict pain in their budget, doing so in a way that increases the risk of the nuclear annihilation of an American city is perhaps taking the pledge too far.

House Republicans have proposed to cut funding for these programs by 22 percent or $647 million. Michelle Marchesano of the Partnership for Global Security warns:

The US programs charged with securing fissile materials and thwarting terrorists’ efforts to acquire them are among the victims of this year’s federal budget fights. … Without appropriated budgets commensurate to program agendas, efforts to improve global nuclear material security will stall.

So the GOP don't want to spend on Health Care to help save the Lives of 45,000 Americans per year, they won't spend on Food Safety, Clear Air or Water (EPA), early warnings for Hurricanes and Storms (NOAA), to protect America from Nuclear Terrorism or from reckless Wall Street Investing which nearly destroyed the World's Economy - but they will spend to make Jet Engines we don't need?

The President has essentially staked out the middle ground, calling for tax increases (reversing the Bush Cuts), investments to spur the economy further and some spending cuts. Democrats need to champion their priorities, even if they differ from the President to pull as much of the budget back from the abyss as possible while the Republicans are sliding slowly off the far right edge. Ultimately this tug of war will probably bring us right back to where the President has started out, but one thing the Republicans can no longer claim is that they don't support spending to create jobs because it's quite obvious that THEY DO.

It's just they support spending on things we don't need, while Democrats want to invest on things that not only create jobs, they'll also save lives.

Vyan

Saturday, February 12

Arizona Sues Gov over Border Security, while TeaPublicans Cut It

In a counter suit to the governments blocking implementation of SB1070, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has filed against the Government for $760 Million dollars in alleged lost State Revenue for the cost of incarcerating non-documented residents.

"Our citizens have lived with this dark cloud for too long .. It's time for the federal government to do its job and secure the border," said Governor Jan Brewer, announcing the lawsuit outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix.

The lawsuit notably charges that the US federal government has failed to reimburse Arizona for more than $760 million in costs for incarcerating illegal immigrants.

"While control of the border is a federal responsibility, illegal aliens who successfully cross the border and commit crime in Arizona become an Arizona responsibility," said Attorney General Tom Horne.

Meanwhile in the GOP Controlled House the latest Budget proposals include cuts to border security of up to $600 Million because - get this - spending on these items has increased by "double digits" in recent years.



So which is it, we're spending too little to secure the border - or too much? And if we have all these illegals who haven't been caught running around committing all this crime, why's it cost so much to keep them in jail?
More from Brewer...

Brewer said the boundary between Arizona and Mexico remains a dangerous place despite stepped-up enforcement along the nearly three thousand mile border by federal authorities.

She also cited the recent death of a US Border Patrol officer as evidence of illegal incursions across the border by criminal drug cartels. "Our border and immigration system are still broken," she said.

The lawsuit also seeks compensation from the federal government for the cost to the state of securing the border.

Brewer claimed fighting illegal immigration had cost the state more than a billion dollars, funds the state simply does not have while facing a serious budget crisis.


Yet while Brewer is constantly claiming nothing is being done on the border to improve security, the numbers and the facts contradict that claim.

There were 11.1 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally in March 2009, down from a peak of 12 million two years earlier, the Pew Hispanic Center said in a report issued Wednesday. From 2007 to 2009, the number of illegals entering the country shrank to about 300,000 per year, down by nearly two-thirds from the estimated 850,000 per year from March 2000 to March 2005.

"The decrease represents the first significant reversal in the growth of this population over the past two decades," the report said.

The biggest drop -- 22 percent from 2007 to 2009 -- was in the number of unauthorized immigrants from Latin American countries other than Mexico, it said. And the decline was most apparent along the United States' Southeast coast -- Florida, Virginia, Delaware and Georgia -- as well as in Western mountain states like Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

The Pew Hispanic Poll doesn't attempt to discern the cause for this downturn, simply to document it - it could be many factors from the slow economy to chilling effect of SB1070 - or it could be increased enforcement and expedited deportations by the Obama Administration. Of course all of that costs something.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday signed a bill directing $600 million more to securing the U.S.-Mexico border, a modest election-year victory that underscores his failure so far to deliver an overhaul of immigration law.

The new law will pay for the hiring of 1,000 more Border Patrol agents to be deployed at critical areas, as well as more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. It provides for new communications equipment and greater use of unmanned surveillance drones. The Justice Department gets more money to help catch drug dealers and human traffickers.

Hm.. $600 Million, where have I heard that figure before?

But this wasn't Obama first attempt at improving Border Security - far from it.

The current era is one of contradicting messages and promises from the federal government. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it prioritizes the removal of immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes (even green card holders can get a deportation order if they have been convicted of an aggravated felony) but the majority of deportees have committed no crime outside of crossing the border illegally or overstaying their visa. And new data shows that the vast majority of those who were convicted of crimes were guilty of minor offenses, including traffic violations. Only 1 in 6 have committed serious crimes.

These are the latest numbers, courtesy of Deportation Nation and TRAC:

Io CE has deported 279,035 immigrants in 2010 compared to 254,763 at this same point last year.
o The number of non-citizens deported in the first nine months of FY 2010 is up 10 percent from 2008, the last comparable year under the Bush administration.
o The pace of deportation for immigrants convicted of crimes is an an all time high: 60 percent more than the last year of the Bush administration, and 37 percent above Obama’s first year in office.
o Still, more than half of those deported so far in FY 2010 – 51 percent – had no criminal record.

So how did the Obama Administration Accomplish all this even before he signed his resent $600 Million Bill which the House GOP is threatening to repeal? One Word: Stimulus.

A month before signing Arizona’s notorious papers-please anti-immigrant law, Gov. Jan Brewer burnished her border-security credentials by dipping into the state’s ARRA funds to ply border law enforcement agencies -- already awash in Homeland Security funding through DHS’s Operation Stonegarden -- with another $10 million.

“A government’s principle [sic] responsibility to its citizens is to provide safety and security. However, the federal government has failed miserably in its obligation and moral responsibility to its citizens regarding border security,” declared Governor Brewer on April 22 when announcing state’s the launch of the state’s Border Security Enhancement Program.

Brewer took a page out of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s playbook by asserting that the federal government’s failure to protect Arizona against illegal immigrants, border crime, and drugs obligated the state to secure the Arizona border with Mexico – all the while downplaying that the state’s border security program is underwritten by stimulus funds intended for the state’s fiscal stabilization. Like Perry, Brewer planned to ride the anti-immigrant backlash and border-security bandwagon to victory in November 2010 gubernatorial contest.

Brewer has been using Stimulus funds to pay for exactly what she claims she needs the Federal Government to pay for. I also find her figure of $760 Million for Arizonas incarceration costs alone highly dubious particularly when she's already made it clear she would spend this funds primarily on private prisons.

According to campaign finance records, CCA executives and employees contributed more than $1,000 to the governor’s re-election campaign. The company’s political action committee and its lobbyists contributed another $60,000 to Brewer’s top legislative priority, Proposition 100, a sales tax to help avoid budget cuts to education.

Caroline Isaacs from the American Friends Service Committee, which advocates for social justice issues, said the money is evidence of influence the company has on the governor.
Isaacs said private prison companies have been buying influence in Arizona politics for years.
The number of private prisons and jails operating across the state shows the result of that influence, he said.

Currently, there are at least 12 for-profit prison, jail and detention facilities in Arizona.
Isaacs said the state has something else that attracts these companies.

“The other Holy Grail, if you will, of private prison construction is immigrant detention,” Isaacs said.

Corrections Corporation of America holds the contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to lock up illegal immigrants picked up in Arizona. Tough immigration laws such as Arizona's SB 1070 could send thousands of new bodies its way, and millions of dollars.

So with SB1070 currently tied up in the courts, Brewer is essentially counter sueing to make sure her campaign cronies get their cut of cash - and the GOP Congress by undermining Obama's legitimate and successful efforts to control the border only manage to make her - currently bogus - argument seem actually legitimate by undoing all the progress and improvements that have been made over the past 2-3 years.

They want to reverse improvements that have been made on the border, reverse the now multi-decades long reduction in crime that began with the Clinton COPS program, reverse progress on disease control just a couple years after a deadly outbreak of Bird Flu and reverse our progress on pollution just a year after the largest Gulf Oil Spill in history.

But then that's the GOP for ya, always looking backwards.

And in the end, none of these cuts will even make a serious dent in the deficit which remains at more than $1.2 Trillion - that's with a "T". - largely as a result of the economic downturn, not any massive increase in specific spending. As a matter of fact overall government spending was already on track to go down in FY2012, before the TeaPublicans even showed up.



Vyan

Thursday, February 10

Egypt just gave us al Qaeda's worst Nightmare

A secular, non-islamic, non-violent uprising of the people - just drove out a pro-American, pro-Israeli dictator who'd been well lodged in place for 30 straight years.

al Qeada's entire raison d'etre has just been shot in the goat nads.

Mubarak has Stepped Down and Left, power has been transferred temporarily to the Military and Courts - Democracy has Won. The People have Won, without Firing a Shot - or a single suicide bomber.



A secular, non-islamic, non-violent uprising of the people - just drove out a pro-American, pro-Israeli dictator who'd been well lodged in place for 30 straight years.

al Qeada's entire raison d'etre has just been shot in the goat nads.

Mubarak has Stepped Down and Left, power has been transferred temporarily to the Military and Courts - Democracy has Won. The People have Won, without Firing a Shot - or a single suicide bomber.

A Foxer Finally Admits, They just make Shit Up

Yeah, we've all known it for a long time and Robert Greenwald did a great job of laying it all out with insiders and detailed analysis in his film "OutFoxed" - but today yet another report has come from behind partisan enemy lines, and the truth is devastating.

Indeed, a former Fox News employee who recently agreed to talk with Media Matters confirmed what critics have been saying for years about Murdoch’s cable channel. Namely, that Fox News is run as a purely partisan operation, virtually every news story is actively spun by the staff, its primary goal is to prop up Republicans and knock down Democrats, and that staffers at Fox News routinely operate without the slightest regard for fairness or fact checking.

“It is their M.O. to undermine the administration and to undermine Democrats,” says the source. “They’re a propaganda outfit but they call themselves news.

In other words, they're Liars.



Some of these quotes are just amazing.

“They say one thing and do another. They insist on maintaining this charade, this fa├žade, that they’re balanced or that they’re not right-wing extreme propagandist,” says the source. But it’s all a well-orchestrated lie, according this former insider. It’s a lie that permeates the entire Fox News culture and one that staffers and producers have to learn quickly in order to survive professionally.

“You have to work there for a while to understand the nods and the winks,” says the source. “And God help you if you don’t because sooner or later you’re going to get burned.”

The source explains:

“Like any news channel there’s lot of room for non-news content. The content that wasn’t ‘news,’ they didn’t care what we did with as long as it was amusing or quirky or entertaining; as along as it brought in eyeballs. But anything—anything--that was a news story you had to understand what the spin should be on it. If it was a big enough story it was explained to you in the morning [editorial] meeting. If it wasn’t explained, it was up to you to know the conservative take on it. There’s a conservative take on every story no matter what it is. So you either get told what it is or you better intuitively know what it is.”

What if Fox News staffers aren’t instinctively conservative or don’t have an intuitive feeling for what the spin on a story should be? “My internal compass was to think like an intolerant meathead,” the source explains. “You could never error on the side of not being intolerant enough.”

Yeah, that pretty much explains everything doesn't it?

Technically not news, but still interesting to see exactly how they slowly indoctrinate their staff to becoming right-wing dittoheads.

When you first get in they tell you we’re a bit of a counterpart to the screaming left wing lib media. So automatically you have to buy into the idea that the other media is howling left-wing. Don’t even start arguing that or you won’t even last your first day.

“For the first few years it was let’s take the conservative take on things. And then after a few years it evolved into, well it’s not just the conservative take on things, we’re going to take the Republican take on things which is not necessarily in lock step with the conservative point of view.

“And then two, three, five years into that it was, we’re taking the Bush line on things, which was different than the GOP. We were a Stalin-esque mouthpiece. It was just what Bush says goes on our channel. And by that point it was just totally dangerous. Hopefully most people understand how dangerous it is for a media outfit to be a straight, unfiltered mouthpiece for an unchecked president.”

Just as it's dangerous to have an unfettered, unfiltered pack of attack dogs whose only purpose is to Destroy a Democratic President by any means unneccesarry. Y'now, like this.



Always the victim, always under seige.

“It was a kick ass mentality too,” says the former Fox News insider. “It was relentless and it never went away. If one controversy faded, goddamn it they would find another one. They were in search of these points of friction real or imagined. And most of them were imagined or fabricated. You always have to seem to be under siege. You always have to seem like your values are under attack. The brain trust just knew instinctively which stories to do, like the War on Christmas.”

And don't worry when you are really attacked or criticized, you have the rest of the so-called mainstream media that will come to your rescue.

“They don’t have enough staff or enough balls or don’t have enough money or don’t have enough interest to spend the time it takes to expose Fox News. Or it’s not worth the trouble. If you take on Fox, they’ll kick you in the ass,” says the source. “I’m sure most [journalists] know that. It’s not worth being Swift Boated for your effort,” a reference to how Fox News traditionally attacks journalists who write, or are perceived to have written, anything negative things about the channel.

You wouldn't want to turn into Keith Olbermann and become the new Head of News Programming at your own Network or Jon Stewart or anything.



The former insider admits to being perplexed in late 2009 when the Obama White House called out Murdoch’s operation as not being a legitimate new source, only to have major Beltway media players rush to the aid of Fox News and admonish the White House for daring to criticize the cable channel.

“That blew me away,” says the source, who stresses the White House’s critique of Fox News “happens to be true.”

Yeah, we know.

Vyan


Link to Original story : http://mediamatters.org/blog/201102100007

Wednesday, February 9

Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from Affordable Care Act Decisions

That's what 74 lawmakers apparently think...

As an Associate Justice, you are entrusted with the responsibility to exercise the highest degree of discretion and impartiality when deciding a case. As Members of Congress, we were surprised by recent revelations of your financial ties to leading organizations dedicated to lobbying against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We write today to respectfully ask that you maintain the integrity of this court and recuse yourself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of this act.



Uh oh, I think that's going to upset the apple cart on Tea Bagger Hill.


It's not like Repubs can claim that Thomas is being "picked on and singled out" because he happens to be a certainty to vote against the constitutionality of the mandate because Senator Orrin Hatch has already called for Justice Kagan to recuse herself from the Patients Affordability Act deliberations for far flimsier reasons.

WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, an opponent of the recently enacted health care overhaul, says Justice Elena Kagan should not take part in the widely expected Supreme Court consideration of the new law.

...

Hatch said he is sure that Kagan participated in discussions about the law and challenges to it while she served in the Justice Department as Obama's top Supreme Court lawyer. Hatch told Fox News that he believes Kagan "should recuse herself," although he noted the justice alone will make that determination.

Oh, "He is Sure" is he? Never mind the fact that as Solicitor General she wouldn't have had anything to do with this particular issue until it appeared it might actually go before the Supreme Court - which hasn't happened yet. But he figures that it must have been water-cooler office talk??

There are several cases from which Kagan actually will have to recuse herself because she was involved in forming the administrations legal rationale for them, and hence would be judging her own arguments. In fact she has already volunteered to recuse herself from over 2 dozen cases.

Kagan, 50, has recused herself from 25 of the 51 cases the court has accepted so far this term, all as a result of her 14-month tenure as solicitor general, the government's chief legal representative in the Supreme Court and the nation's lower appellate courts.


This simply isn't one of those cases.

Kagan addressed her participation during her confirmation hearing. She said then that she "attended at least one meeting where the existence of the litigation was briefly mentioned, but none where any substantive discussion of the litigation occurred." Kagan left the administration in August, about five months after the health care overhaul became law.

So basically Hatch is a) Making Shit UP that goes directly against Kagan's sworn testimony b) Implying she's a liar and c) Implying she's a Perjurer.

Nice.

But in the case of Thomas it's not really a matter of opinion that his family, through his wife Ginny's activism for Right-Wing causes, would directly benefit from his decision. She already has in the case of Citizen's United, and she is currently making money lobbying against the Health Care Bill via her firm Liberty Central.

RICHMOND, Va. — As one of the keynote speakers here Friday at a state convention billed as the largest Tea Party event ever, Virginia Thomas gave the throng of more than 2,000 activists a full-throated call to arms for conservative principles.

Mrs. Thomas is the founder and head of a new nonprofit group, Liberty Central, dedicated to opposing what she characterizes as the leftist “tyranny” of President Obama and Democrats in Congress and to “protecting the core founding principles” of the nation.

...

A federal law requires justices to recuse themselves in a number of circumstances where real or perceived conflicts of interest could arise, including in cases where their spouses could have a financial interest. But the decision to step aside is up to each justice; there is no appeal from the nation’s highest court.

It’s shocking that you would have a Supreme Court justice sitting on a case that might implicate in a very fundamental way the interests of someone who might have contributed to his wife’s organization,” said Deborah L. Rhode, a law professor and director of the Stanford University Center on the Legal Profession.

As many of us know Thomas failed to document the earnings from his wife's activism for over a dozen years.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has amended 13 years’ worth of disclosure reports to include details of wife Virginia Thomas’s sources of income, documents released on Monday show.

The documents indicate that Thomas’s wife, who goes by Ginni, had worked for Hillsdale College in Michigan, the Heritage Foundation and the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, among other entities.

Like all federal judges, Thomas must file annual disclosure reports on his personal finances, but he had omitted details of his wife’s earnings in what he wrote was a “misunderstanding of the filing instructions.” He also had checked a box marking no spousal income.

He also didn't disclose any information about her work with Liberty Central until recently.

Here she is on Fox News with Neal Cavuto.



Most recently Ginni has formed Liberty Consulting, a firm that couldn't have existed without Citizen's United.

Ginni Thomas’ new career advising clients on how to donate money to political causes is striking in light of the fact that this career path was much more difficult to break into just one year ago. In Citizens United v. FEC, Ginni’s husband Clarence cast the key fifth vote enabling corporations to spend unlimited money influencing U.S. elections. As a result of this vote, outside groups spent nearly $300 million influencing the 2010 elections — much of which would have been illegal before Justice Thomas greenlighted this spending.

Now, Ginni Thomas appears to have found a way to earn money off her husband’s actions as a justice. Clarence Thomas released countless amounts of corporate spending on U.S. elections, and Ginni Thomas can get rich advising those corporate clients on how to direct that spending

The point is that this isn't just a matter of opinion (or fantasy) as Hatch's criticism of Kagan, this is a matter of law.

(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

(b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances: …

(5) He or his spouse, or a person within the third degree of relationship to either of them, or the spouse of such a person: . . .

(iii) Is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;

Even beyond Hatch, Republicans have used this very same arguement themselves in the past when they called for the recusal of one judge from a decision on California Proposition 8, because his wife had been part of an anti-Prop 8 advocacy group.

It’s worth noting that conservatives have already interpreted this ethics law in a way that requires Justice Thomas to recuse himself from the health care litigation. After progressive Judge Stephen Reinhardt was assigned to the appellate panel that was to hear a challenge to anti-gay Proposition 8, supporters of the anti-gay law called for Reinhardt to recuse because his wife’s organization advocates against Prop 8.

Not that anyone seriously thinks Thomas will do the right thing and recuse himself in case, but it's going to interesting watching Repubs who called for Kagan and Reinhardt to recuse themselves wriggle out of the hypocrisy noose on this one.

Here's a blast from the past on Ginni by former CNN Host Rick Sanchez.



Vyan

Update: Added more videos, and links to Ginni Thomas and her current work with Liberty Consulting, as well as link to WaPo article that documents that Elena Kagan has recused herself in nearly half the cases the Supreme Court will hear this session.

Tuesday, February 8

No, Rummy the Intelligence Wasn't Wrong - You Were.

Rumseld with Diane Sawyer.

Rumsfeld: The idea that he (Powell) was lying (before the U.N.) or duped is nonsense. He believed it. Our military believed. Our military got chemical weapons suits on to protect them. Saddam Hussein neighbors told us, "Be ready, when you get close to Bahgdad their going to use Chemical Weapons againt yor troops"

Sawyer: But you were wrong?

Rumsfeld: Oh my goodness, the intelligence was most certainly wrong.


No, really it wasn't.

The fact is the original Iraq NIE was doctored...

WASHINGTON — In a classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared before the Iraq war, the CIA hedged its judgments about Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction, pointing up the limits of its knowledge.

But in the unclassified version of the NIE — the so-called white paper cited by the Bush administration in making its case for war — those carefully qualified conclusions were turned into blunt assertions of fact, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on prewar intelligence.

The repeated elimination of qualifying language and dissenting assessments of some of the government's most knowledgeable experts gave the public an inaccurate impression of what the U.S. intelligence community believed about the threat Hussein posed to the United States, the committee said.

Dedicating a section of its 511-page report to discrepancies between the two versions of the crucial October 2002 NIE, the panel laid out numerous instances in which the unclassified version omitted key dissenting opinions about Iraqi weapons capabilities, overstated U.S. knowledge about Iraq's alleged stockpiles of weapons and, in one case, inserted threatening language into the public document that was not contained in the classified version.

"The intelligence community's elimination of the caveats from the unclassified white paper misrepresented their judgments to the public, which did not have access to the classified National Intelligence Estimate containing the more carefully worded assessments," the Senate panel's report concluded.

"The fact that the NIE changed so dramatically from its classified to its unclassified form and broke all in one direction, toward a more dangerous scenario … I think was highly significant," the committee's vice chairman, Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), said Friday.

Donald Rumsfeld would have had access to the classified version of the report and should certainly have known that the unequivocal certainty presented in the unclassified version of the report which was presented to Congress... was a sham.

Within the Classified version of the report the State Dept disputed the Niger Yellowcake Report.

The newly released report, however, also included a dissenting view from the State Department's intelligence arm, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, known as the INR.

"The claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious," read the dissent,

Another U.S. official said the intelligence on uranium in the NIE never rose to the level that it could be "stated flatly" by the United States.

The official also said the Niger information was included in the 90-page report because it "was out there," and for "an effort at completeness." The official said the NIE contained six main arguments supporting the case that Iraq was continuing its efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction, but uranium from Africa was not one of them.

Another point is that even within the Unclassified Version of the Report, the overall assessment was that Saddam was unlikely to to actually use any WMD's unless he was provoked. So it made a ton of sense to invade him under those circumstances unless you goal actually was to provoke him in order to provide a rationale for the invasion itself.

And if that idea seems far fetched, just remember that Bush did consider a plot provoke Saddam into shooting at UN aircraft (which would have been in disguise) in order to prompt the UN into action.

· Mr Bush told Mr Blair that the US was so worried about the failure to find hard evidence against Saddam that it thought of "flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours". Mr Bush added: "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach [of UN resolutions]".

That plan wasn't actually put into place, but it does show Bush's mindset of desperation to find an excuse, any excuse to attack and invade Iraq and any contrary facts or evidence that he wasn't an actual danger - be damned.

For example, in that same 2002 NIE Energy Dept Disputed that the Aluminum Tubes would be used as "centerfuges", but Bush and Rummy didn't listen.

Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although "most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch "believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons."

And it wasn't just the statement Dept who had their doubts and reservations.

In addition, Vanity Fair has found at least 14 instances prior to the 2003 State of the Union in which analysts at the C.I.A., the State Department, or other government agencies who had examined the Niger documents or reports about them raised serious doubts about their legitimacy--only to be rebuffed by Bush-administration officials who wanted to use the material. "They were just relentless," says Wilkerson, who later prepared Colin Powell's presentation before the United Nations General Assembly. "You would take it out and they would stick it back in. That was their favorite bureaucratic technique--ruthless relentlessness."

The information about mobile labs came from one source, Curveball, whom the Defense Intelligence Agency - Rumsfeld's agency - had been well informed was a fabricator and that his claims could not be trusted.

Jan 2000-Sept 2001: Curveball's statements are recorded in German, shared with a local Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) team, and sent to the US, where they are translated into English for analysis at the DIA's directorate for human intelligence in Clarendon, Va. "This was not substantial evidence," one senior German intelligence official later recalls in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said." The reports are then sent to the CIA's Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC), whose experts analyze the data and share it with artists who use Curveball's accounts to render sketches.

In fact the CIA never got their hands on Curveball, the DIA had first dibs.

The CIA never had access to Curveball. Instead, he was controlled by Germany's intelligence service, which passed along the information it collected to the United States through the Defense Intelligence Agency, a Pentagon spy agency that handled information from Iraqi defectors.

So the raw information - including the German agencies doubts about it's accuracy - were being directly funneled to Rumsfeld.

But at least one officer at CIA, European Field Office head Tyler Drumheller did discover that Curveball couldn't be trusted, however he couldn't get anyone to listen to him - not even Tenet.

In late 2002, the Bush administration began scouring intelligence files for reports of Iraqi weapons threats. Drumheller was asked to press a counterpart from a European intelligence agency for direct access to Curveball. Other officials confirmed that it was the German intelligence service.

The German official declined but then offered a startlingly candid assessment, Drumheller recalled. "He said, 'I think the guy is a fabricator,' " Drumheller said, recounting the conservation with the official, whom he declined to name. "He said, 'We also think he has psychological problems. We could never validate his reports.' "

...

Drumheller said he called the office of John E. McLaughlin, then the CIA deputy director, and was told to come there immediately. Drumheller said he sat across from McLaughlin and an aide in a small conference room and spelled out his concerns.

Yet to this very day, George Tenet claims nobody told him about Curveball being a liar.

And it seems nobody told him about Ibn Sheik al-Libi being a tortured in Egypt (apparently under the direction of our new Egyptian VP Omar Suleiman).

The new documents also raise the possibility that caveats raised by intelligence analysts about al-Libi's claims were withheld from Powell when he was preparing his Security Council speech. Larry Wilkerson, who served as Powell's chief of staff and oversaw the vetting of Powell's speech, responded to an e-mail from NEWSWEEK Wednesday stating that he was unaware of the DIA doubts about al-Libi at the time the speech was being prepared. "We never got any dissent with respect to those lines you cite ... indeed the entire section that now we know came from [al-Libi]," Wilkerson wrote.

So yet again, the DIA - Rumsfeld - had the information that al Libi was a liar, but didn't share that information - and now he tries to blame the intelligence for being wrong?

But according to the newly declassified DIA and CIA documents provided to Levin, the credibility of those statements by Bush and Powell were already in doubt within the U.S. intelligence community. While the DIA was the first to raise red flags in its February 2002 report, the CIA itself in January 2003 produced an updated version of a classified internal report called “Iraqi Support for Terrorism.” The previous version of this CIA report in September 2002 had simply included al-Libi’s claims, according to the newly declassified agency document provided to Levin in response to his inquiries about al-Libi. But the updated January 2003 version, while including al-Libi’s claims that Al Qaeda sent operatives to Iraq to acquire chemical and biological weapons and training, added an important new caveat: It “noted that the detainee was not in a position to know if any training had taken place,” according to the copy of the document obtained by NEWSWEEK. It was not until January 2004—nine months after the war was launched—that al-Libi recanted “a number of the claims he made while in detention for the previous two years, including the claim that Al Qaeda sent operatives to Iraq to obtain chemical and biological weapons and related training,” the CIA document says.

So al Libi lied too, after he had been buried alive up to his neck - and claimed that there were bogus links between al Qeada and Saddam when there weren't.

Ultimately the Duelfer Report showed that Saddam had destroyed his WMD stockpiles all the way back in 1991, meaning that the final declaration he provided per UN mandate prior to the war was absolutely correct and that the U.S. was absolutely wrong to blow it off and claim Saddam Failed to Explain where the Yellowcake and Mobile Labs were.

Via Condoleeza Rice.

Instead of a commitment to disarm, Iraq has a high-level political commitment to maintain and conceal its weapons, led by Saddam Hussein and his son Qusay, who controls the Special Security Organization, which runs Iraq's concealment activities. Instead of implementing national initiatives to disarm, Iraq maintains institutions whose sole purpose is to thwart the work of the inspectors. And instead of full cooperation and transparency, Iraq has filed a false declaration to the United Nations that amounts to a 12,200- page lie

For example, the declaration fails to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad, its manufacture or specific fuel for ballistic missiles it claims not to have, and the gaps previously identified by the United NAtions in Iraq's accounting for more than two tons of the raw materials needed to produce thousands of gallons of anthrax and other biological weapons."

This put Iraq in an impossible position of having to disprove a lie based on a forgery, and then calling them the liars for it. The truth is that Saddam was cooperating fully, and the inspectors - at our direction - were turning up "garbage after garbage".

In fact, the U.S. claim that Iraq is developing missiles that could hit its neighbors – or U.S. troops in the region, or even Israel – is just one of the claims coming from Washington that inspectors here are finding increasingly unbelievable. The inspectors have become so frustrated trying to chase down unspecific or ambiguous U.S. leads that they've begun to express that anger privately in no uncertain terms.

U.N. sources have told CBS News that American tips have lead to one dead end after another.

Example: satellite photographs purporting to show new research buildings at Iraqi nuclear sites. When the U.N. went into the new buildings they found "nothing."

Example: Saddam's presidential palaces, where the inspectors went with specific coordinates supplied by the U.S. on where to look for incriminating evidence. Again, they found "nothing."

Example: Interviews with scientists about the aluminum tubes the U.S. says Iraq has imported for enriching uranium, but which the Iraqis say are for making rockets. Given the size and specification of the tubes, the U.N. calls the "Iraqi alibi air tight."

So frustrated have the inspectors become that one source has referred to the U.S. intelligence they've been getting as "garbage after garbage after garbage." In fact, Phillips says the source used another cruder word. The inspectors find themselves caught between the Iraqis, who are masters at the weapons-hiding shell game, and the United States, whose intelligence they've found to be circumstantial, outdated or just plain wrong.

What worse, is that George Bush had been specifically and directly told there were no WMD's prior to the war by Hubbush the head of Iraqi Intelligence.



Suskind reports that the head of Iraqi intelligence, Tahir Jalil Habbush, met secretly with British intelligence in Jordan in the early days of 2003. In weekly meetings with Michael Shipster, the British director of Iraqi operations, Habbush conveyed that Iraq had no active nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs and no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

When Tenet was informed of the findings in early February, he said, “They’re not going to like this downtown,” Suskind wrote, meaning the White House. Suskind says that Bush’s reaction to the report was: “Why don’t they ask him to give us something we can use to help make our case?

Instead the White House ordered the CIA to get Hubbush to forge a false letter that yet again linked Saddam to al Qeada by claiming that Mohommad Atta was trained in Iraq in an effort to yet again provide yet another bogus excuse to invade Iraq and remove Saddam from power by force. The Bush White House has denied that they asked Habbush to write this letter - even though the letter actually exists - it's interesting that they do not deny he told them there were no WMD's and they ignored it.

The handwritten memo, a copy of which has been obtained exclusively by the Telegraph, is dated July 1, 2001 and provides a short resume of a three-day "work programme" Atta had undertaken at Abu Nidal's base in Baghdad.

In the memo, Habbush reports that Atta "displayed extraordinary effort" and demonstrated his ability to lead the team that would be "responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy".

If the Bush administration didn't have direct influence on this letter being written - who did? Why exactly would Habbush lie - and provide Bush with exactly the smoking gun he was desperate to have - like this?

Just imagine if instead of making up this kind of bullcrap, Bush had done the right thing and let the weapons inspectors finish their job so that it would be been finally revealed that the intelligence was right. We could have seen the kind of democracy flowering in Iraq that we're now seeing in Egypt. Just imagine if the insurgency had been turned against Saddam instead of against us?

There were no mobile labs. There was no yellowcake and centerfuges. There were no action chemical weapons or nuclear programs. There were no stockpiles (and if there were they would have been degraded to near uselessness after so many years). All of these arguments were based on forgeries and lies that were either paid for or generated by torture.

The intelligence wasn't wrong Rummy - You Were.

It seemed incomprehensible at the time, but now in the wake of such unreasonable irrational right-wing beliefs such as Death Panels, Creeping Sharia Law, the Coming Egypto-Iranian Caliphate, Climate-Change Denierism, the Supply-Side Cult of Tax Cut Fetishists, Tentherism and Birtherism - it seems far more clear how some people are far more invested in thier own paranoid apocalyptic fantasies than in the facts and that when those people gain economic and political power the results can be devestating.

Vyan

Sunday, February 6

So Why do the Righties Love Reagan - the tax raising, cut and running, terrorist appeaser - Again?

Mike Stark Strikes Again... in this brilliant pwning of Rush Limbaugh.



Stark: I want to know why a tax-raising, amnesty-giving, cut-and-running, negotiating-with-terrorists (Iran-Contra) guy is a hero to the conservative movement?

Friday, February 4

Caliphate-o-Phobia vs the Power of Hope

This weeks dramatic story in Egypt has riveted the world, with amazing images of courage and brutality, such as this one here where Christians lock hands to protect Muslims in Tahrir square during their morning prayers.



The facts are clear, but despite that Mubarak Regime has attempted to weave a completely alternative scenario as to what is actually happening claiming that "outside interests" and foreigners have instigated these protests and attempting to destabilize the country.

Friday, January 28

CBO says Bush Tax Cuts will Explode Deficit, Again!

It's been said before, but yet again in their most recent update to the current Budget CBO has said it again. Here are the before and after projections.



As you can see there is a marked increase from the OMB numbers for FY2011 Budget compared to latest CBO projection. Why the difference? Follow over the flip.


From the CBO's Full Report

Revenues under the President’s proposals would be $1.4 trillion (or 4 percent) below CBO’s baseline projections from 2011 to 2020, largely because of the President’s proposals to index the parameters of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) for inflation starting at their 2009 levels and to extend many of the tax reductions enacted in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA). CBO’s baseline projections reflect current law, under which the parameters of the AMT revert to earlier levels and the reductions under EGTRRA and JGTRRA expire as scheduled at the end of December 2010.

...

CBO has also updated its baseline budget projections, which—unlike the President’s budget—assume that current tax and spending laws and policies remain unchanged. CBO has not modified its economic forecast, so those updated projections just take into account new information obtained about various aspects of the budget since the previous projections were completed in January. The resulting changes are modest, adding $11 billion to the projected deficit in 2010 and reducing projected deficits over the 2011-2020 period by a total of $63 billion.


So they make it pretty plain, the Bush Tax Cuts from 2001 and 2003 are why the deficit will not drop nearly 50% by 2012 as President Obama's administration had previously predicted.

But what about that "Job-Killing Health Care Spending Act"?

Other proposals—including ones associated with significant changes in the nation’s health insurance system—would, on net, increase revenues.


In other words, it would reduce the deficit.

And what would happen if we follow Tea-Publican advice and extended the Bush cuts permenently?

Another set of proposals would permanently extend or modify certain provisions of EGTRRA and JGTRRA that are set to expire at the end of December 2010. Those provisions include reductions in tax rates on dividends, capital gains, and other income;4 relief from the so-called marriage penalty; and an increase in the child tax credit. Other proposals would modify estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes by extending 2009 law permanently. If enacted, those changes would reduce revenues, relative to the baseline, by $2.2 trillion through 2020, according to estimates provided by JCT.


Not that such simple A-B=C math seems to work for Tea-Publicans like Michele Bachmann who responded to the President saying "every day families sacrifice to live within their means — they deserve a government that does the same."

With this...

"He's absolutely shameless," the Minnesota Republican could be seen saying to her seatmate, Representative Jean Schmidt, an Ohio Republican, according to a video taken in the U.S. House chamber during Obama's State of the Union address two nights ago.

Bachmann, 54, who later gave a televised response to the president on behalf of the Tea Party Express, turned back to face Obama and repeated, "Absolutely shameless!" She spoke as the president was saying the government should balance its budget more like average American families.


Interesting the Bachmann's SOTU-Prom Date was Jeane "Coward's Cut and Run" Schmidt.

And of course Bachmann would think it's "Shameless" since she's been going around Touting this bogus chart which attempts to blame all of our deficit and debt problems on President Obama.



Michele Bachmann may honestly not know this since she apparently doesn't know that John Quincy Adams died almost 20 years before the ratification of the 13th Amendment which finally abolished Slavery, or the fact the he's not a "Founding Father" since he was only 9-years-old in 1776, it's his Father was a Founding Father - not him, but she also doesn't know that the Federal Governments Fiscal Year for 2009 began on October 1st of 2008 - which was one month before Obama was even elected.

Via Factcheck.

Before Obama Took Office, The FY 2009 Deficit Was Projected At $1.2 Trillion. As reported by the Washington Times: "The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn't enact any new programs. [...] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record." [Washington Times, 1/8/09, emphasis added]


The Actual Deficit Chart from the End of Clinton (which shows a surplus) through Obama (which shows the deficit dropping after Bush's explosion) looked like this before the Bush cuts were extended by Decembers Tax Cut Deal.



Tea-Publicans like Bachmann are constantly trying to pin our budget problems on President Obama, but the fact is that the deficit began with Bush and that continuing to implement Bush's Policies will do nothing but continue to worsen our budget problems and deficit - not improve them.

Vyan