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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Anonymous secret holds disrupt U.S. democracy

The games they play, the GOP.
Hopefully it will be their 'WATERLOO'

Transocean dodges paying U.S. corporate taxes by locating its headquarters in Switzerland.

Transocean, Ltd, the company that operates the Deepwater Horizon oil rig which recently exploded in the Gulf, is the “world’s biggest offshore drilling contractor.” The AP reports today that Transocean, after moving its headquarters from the U.S. to Zug, Switzerland, two years ago, paid a paltry 16 percent on its corporate income last year, less than half of the current American corporate income tax rate of 35 percent:
In the foothills of the Swiss Alps four new steel-gray towers rise from what used to be a grassy field. One of them is home to Transocean Ltd., the world’s biggest offshore drilling contractor and owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to one of the worst oil spills in history.
Low taxes prompted the decision two years ago to move to landlocked Switzerland: The company paid 16 percent tax on its $4.4 billion global operating income last year. The regular corporate income tax in the United States stands at about 35 percent.
The company, once based in Delaware, shifted its head office from the Cayman Islands, where it has been since 1999, to the central Swiss canton (state) of Zug. It joined other international corporations flocking there in search of tax advantages.
Only a dozen of Transocean’s employees are physically located in Zug — more than 1,300 are based in Houston, Texas. A “2005 survey by research firm BAKBASEL found Zug had the lowest effective tax burden for companies and high earners of any Swiss canton, and far below that of other European countries or the United States.” Transocean is holding its shareholder meeting in Zug today, angering some residents. “We want them to stop deepwater drilling and to clean up the damage they caused in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Rupan Sivaganesan, a Green Party member of the cantonal parliament. LinkHere

Republicans 'Coming Unglued'

GOP's Utah and Maine conventions show a party coming unglued
By Dana Milbank
Future historians tracing the crackup of the Republican Party may well look to May 8, 2010, as an inflection point.
That was the day, as is now well known, that Sen. Robert Bennett, who took the conservative position 84 percent of the time over his career, was deemed not conservative enough by fellow Utah Republicans and booted out of the primary.
Less well known, but equally ominous, is what happened that same day, 2,500 miles east in Maine. There, the state Republican Party chucked its platform -- a sensible New England mix of free-market economics and conservation -- and adopted a manifesto of insanity: abolishing the Federal Reserve, calling global warming a "myth," sealing the border, and, as a final plank, fighting "efforts to create a one world government."
One world government? Do our friends Down East fear an invasion from the Canadian maritime provinces? A Viking flotilla coming from Iceland under cover of volcanic ash?
I was pondering this mystery while on the elliptical machine this week and watching Glenn Beck (I find he increases my heart rate), when I heard him inform his viewers that "they" -- President Obama and friends -- "are creating a global governance structure."
"Social and ecological justice and all of this bullcrap," Beck told his viewers, "is man's work for a global government." Beck -- who is second in popularity only to Sarah Palin among the type of Tea Party activists who hijacked the Maine GOP -- tossed out phrases such as "global standards" and "global bank tax" -- all part of a conspiracy by the "global government people." He further provided the news that "Jesus doesn't want a cap-and-trade system."
Not once did Beck refer to the big news events of the day, such as Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to the White House or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It was as if he had created a parallel universe for his 2-million-plus viewers. Similarly, on Monday, when Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, Beck omitted that news in favor of a fanciful administration attempt to restore the broadcast Fairness Doctrine. On Tuesday, USA Today had the headline "Tax bills in 2009 at lowest level since 1950" (the nonpartisan Tax Foundation put it at 1959); Beck skipped that, instead saying he doesn't want changes to the Internet "at least until people aren't worshipping Satan, you know, in office." (Beck maintained later that he really wasn't "saying that Obama was a Satan worshipper.")
Beck justifiably credited his viewers for "what happened to Bob Bennett in Utah." He warned: "People in Washington, you should be terrified."
We should be terrified -- particularly the Republicans, whose party is turning into this One-World-Government, Obama-worships-Satan, Jesus-opposes-climate-bill mélange. And Beck is only part of the trouble. Consider these GOP milestones of recent days: LinkHere
Although Maine is known for its two moderate Republican senators — Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — last week’s state GOP convention showed the growing influence of far-right activists. An “overwhelming majority of delegates” voted to “scrap the the proposed party platform and replace it with a document created by a group of Tea Party activists.” Maine Politics called it “a mix of right-wing fringe policies, libertarian buzzwords and outright conspiracy theories.”
The Republican convention was at the Portland Expo, but participants went to the nearby King Middle School to hold their caucuses. While there, they went through eighth-grade teacher Paul Clifford’s items, opened sealed boxes, stole a prized poster, and vandalized the room with Republican slogans. Some details on what they did:
– For seven years, Clifford has had “a collage-type poster depicting the history of the U.S. labor movement” on his classroom door. He uses it “to teach his students how to incorporate collages into their annual project on Norman Rockwell’s historic ‘Four Freedoms’ illustrations.” When Clifford returned to his classroom on Monday, after the GOP caucuses, the poster was gone; in its place was a sticker reading, “Working People Vote Republican.”
– Republicans opened a “closed cardboard box they found near Clifford’s desk” and later objected to the fact that it contained copies of the U.S. Constitution donated to the school by the American Civil Liberties Union.
– After the caucuses, “rank-and-file Republicans who were upset by what they said they had seen in Clifford’s classroom” began calling the school, objecting to student art they had seen and a sticker on a filing cabinet reading “People for the American Way — Fight the Right.”
Although some of these callers said they supported the fact that Clifford’s poster had been stolen, the Maine Republican Party’s leadership has taken a more conciliatory approach, apologizing to the school and promising to return any stolen materials it finds. “King Middle School was kind enough to allow the (party) to use their facilities and we are deeply concerned about the lack of respect shown to the faculty,” said Maine GOP Executive Director Christie-Lee McNally. Local Knox County GOP Chairman William Chapman agreed that the vandalism was inappropriate, but added that it was disturbing that there was “nothing” in Clifford’s room “that appeared to give a more balanced view.”
Even some students are appalled by the GOP caucus-goers’ behavior. Simon Thompson, a graduate of Clifford’s eighth-grade class, wrote an open letter saying that Maine Republicans had gone too far: LinkHere

Why political futures markets got the health care bill so wrong.

Don't Short Obama
By Daniel Gross
It would be very difficult to tote up all the times pundits pronounced the health care bill dead, and the prospects for the Obama administration dire—especially after the election of Scott Brown in January. Intrade, the political futures market, which functions as a conventional-wisdom-processing machine, also got health care wrong. Check out this chart for the contract on health care reform being passed by June 2010. The contract is worth 100 if it is passed, zero if it is not. After Brown's election, it slumped to as low as 20. As recently as March 17, it was below 40. Even as late as Friday, it was trading in the mid-80s. These trading data show that "investors" in this market were skeptical of the Obama administration's ability to pass significant health care legislation, right up until the end.
Is there a larger lesson here? (Aside from the obvious one, which is political futures markets usually aren't very good at predicting what actually will happen in the future?) I think so. And it's this: Don't short Obama. In fact, that's been the lesson of Obama's entire career so far.
Think of Obama as a stock. When he came onto the national scene, he was small and undercapitalized. Some investors (i.e., donors and organizers) went long, but plenty of the heaviest hitters bet against him. During the campaign, the prospects of his success were continually downplayed by the Clintons, the national media, and the Republicans.
Those shorting the Obama candidacy got crushed. And since January 2009, so, too, have those who have shorted the Obama presidency—especially the performance of the markets and economy under Obama. The same Republican politicians and economic pundits who (wrongly) said Bill Clinton's 1993 budget would destroy the economy and the stock markets, and who (wrongly) said President Bush's tax cuts would usher in an era of endless prosperity and wonderful market performance, warned again that the presence of a Democrat in the White House would spell doom for the Dow.
Here's a two-year chart of the S&P 500; if you shorted the market after the election, or after the inauguration, you've lost money. And if you shorted in March 2009, after the passage of the stimulus package, when Stanford economist Michael Boskin penned the foolish op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with the headline's "Obama's Radicalism is Killing the Dow," you'd really be feeling some pain. The S&P 500 is up 72 percent since then.
The shorting of the economy's performance under Obama wasn't limited to the ideologues who populate the Journal's editorial page. Economist forecasters have also effectively shorted Obama, arguing that the economy would not respond to the stimulus and other efforts. In the second quarter of 2009, economic forecasters surveyed by the Philadelphia Fed said the economy would grow at a 0.4 percent rate in the third quarter of 2009 and a 1.7 percent rate in the fourth quarter of 2009. The reality: The economy grew at a 2.2 percent rate in the third quarter (more than five times the rate they projected) and at 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter (more than three times the rate they projected). Oh, and if you shorted the dollar on the grounds Obama's policies would debase our currency, you've lost money, too. LinkHere

Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster: Justice Department Investigating Massey For 'Willful Criminal Activity'

By SAM HANANEL WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department is investigating whether there was "willful criminal activity" by the company that operates the West Virginia mine where 29 workers died in an accident last month.
The U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of West Virginia says in a letter that investigators are looking into the actions by the mine's operator, Performance Coal, its directors, officers and agents.
The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, asks the Labor Department to hold off pursuing dozens of civil cases against Performance Coal for mine safety violations.
Performance Coal is a subsidiary of Massey Energy Co., which owns the Upper Big Branch mine.
Last month, federal law enforcement officials said the FBI has interviewed nearly two dozen current and former employees of Massey in the probe. LinkHere

Repairing The Job Machine

More jobs might be created this year than during George W. Bush's presidency
by Ronald Brownstein
If the economy produces jobs over the next eight months at the same pace as it did over the past four months, the nation will have created more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over the entire eight years of George W. Bush's presidency.
That comparison comes with many footnotes and asterisks. But it shows how the economic debate between the parties could look very different over time -- perhaps by November, more likely by 2012. More important, the comparison underscores the urgency of repairing an American job-creation machine that was sputtering long before the 2008 financial meltdown.
First, the numbers: From February 2001, Bush's first full month in office, through January 2009, his last, total U.S. nonfarm employment grew from 132.5 million to 133.5 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's an increase, obviously, of just 1 million. From January through April of this year, the economy created 573,000 jobs. Over a full year, that projects to 1.72 million jobs. Job-creation numbers are notoriously volatile, so the actual result could run above or below that estimate. But Obama administration economists are increasingly optimistic that job growth this year will exceed expectations. Few of them will be surprised if more jobs are created in 2010 than over Bush's two terms.
Now the principal footnote: To compare job growth in 2010 with Bush's record ignores the nearly 4 million jobs lost in Obama's first year, during the freefall that began in Bush's final months. That's like ignoring a meteor strike. Over time, voters are likely to judge Obama by his degree of success in eliminating that deficit and reducing unemployment. Still, if the economy this year produces more than 1 million jobs -- or, conceivably, more than 2 million -- that will give Democrats more ammunition to argue that their agenda has started to turn the tide.

Obama Mocks GOP As Reckless Drivers Who Drove America 'Into The Ditch'

President Obama deployed some of his sharpest metaphors at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser in New York City on Thursday, comparing Republican leaders to reckless drivers and lazy custodial workers.

"After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back," Obama said of the GOP. "No! You can't drive. We don't want to have to go back into the ditch. We just got the car out."

Obama spoke before a small, entertained crowd of 185 people at the St. Regis hotel in Manhattan, an appearance that was expected to draw a $1.3 million haul.

"We got our mops and our brooms out here and were cleaning stuff out and they're sitting there saying, 'Hold the broom better, that's not how you mop, don't tell me how to mop,'" Obama said, continuing to rib Republicans. "Pick up a mop! Do some work on behalf of the American people to solve some of these problems."

Most of Obama's speech followed in this vein -- painting Republicans as obstructionists who have blocked meaningful legislative action in Washington for pure political gain.

"They've done their best to gum up the works to make it look broken. To say no to every single thing," the President said.

Obama's message for Democrats was more uplifting, calling their actions on Capitol Hill "one of the most productive legislative sessions in history." LinkHere

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gulf Coast Leak

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

After months of GOP obstruction, Senate Judiciary Committee recommends Liu for court confirmation.

After losing the health care reform fight in March, Republicans vowed revenge by obstruction. One of their targets was President Obama’s nominee to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, University of California law professor Goodwin Liu, whom they have repeatedly blocked from receiving a Senate Judiciary Committee vote. For months, conservatives have demonized him as a radical, activist candidate with no experience — despite the praise he has received from conservative legal figures. In a Judiciary Committee hearing today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that Liu “should be running for office, not a judge.” However, the committee nevertheless finally voted 12-7 along party lines to recommend Liu’s confirmation in the full Senate. Committee chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) issued a statement praising Liu’s qualifications and denouncing the GOP obstruction:
[Liu] has an extraordinary legal mind and is a person of integrity. No one can or should question his qualifications, talent or character, all of which are first rate. In fact, today’s debate and vote will likely say more about the Senators voting than about Professor Liu. No fair-minded person who attended his hearing can doubt his temperament. He answered every question. He assured this Committee that he understands the role of a judge, and the need for a judge to follow the law and adhere to the rule of law. He meets and exceeds every standard we have used to measure judicial nominees. He met every test the Senators on this Committee presented to him. LinkHere
Goodwin Liu was 'blasted by GOP more than any other Obama nominee.'

Senate Republicans Block Bid To Raise Oil-Spill-Damages Limit

Source: Dow Jones

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- An effort by a few Senate Democrats to raise the cap on damage claims that BP Plc (BP) must pay for a a Gulf of Mexico oil spill was blocked on Thursday after Republicans said the plan wouldn't work.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R, Alaska) led the charge against the measure, aimed at raising to $10 billion the limit on damage claims. The current limit, of $75 million, has been widely criticized by lawmakers as too low. Republicans blocked efforts to proceed, saying independent offshore oil developers would not be able to stay in business under the legislation because small companies wouldn't be able to self-insure against claims.

"The only companies that are going to be able to self-insure against this level of strict liability are the national oil companies, the super majors," Murkowski said. She said that would create a "monopoly" on offshore drilling among giant companies such as BP. "We need to ensure that BP as the responsible party pays."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

96 - 0 Senate embraces audit of the Fed

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Stewart Hammers Conservatives For Hypocritical Obama-Bush Comparisons

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bloody Urban Landscapes

The crazed, almost apocalyptic violence that is destroying the lives of so many young men, women and children here and in other major cities across the country is a crisis crying out for national attention. But, so far, it’s been met mostly with a shrug.
Dozens of children school-aged and younger are murdered in Chicago every year. More than 150 have been shot (but not all of them killed) during the current school year.
This is occurring in a city that, in terms of its murder rate, is not even near the top of the list of most violent American cities. (In 2008, for example, Orlando, Fla., home of Disney World, had more murders per capita than Chicago.)
That we tolerate this incredible carnage, that there is not even much of a national outcry against it, is a measure of how sick our society has become.

21st century civilized man

Oil Spills and B Movies



Roll the opening credits:

"Andy Hardy Gets A Clue"

Mickey Rooney as Andy Hardy
Lewis Stone as Judge Hardy

A fun time for the entire family!

The Camera fades from black onto a house in a pleasant neighborhood in the mythical Midwestern town of Carvel. The home is the residence of kindly Judge Hardy and his family. The scene dissolves into the interior of the Judge's study. He is sitting in his leather-bound chair in front of the fireplace, concentrating on a small stack of legal briefs which are placed on his lap. There is a quiet knock on the door. "Come in", he says. From camera left enters the Judge's fifteen-year-old son, Andy Hardy:

Andy Hardy: Dad? I was wondering if we could have a little talk, you know, man-to-man.

Judge Hardy: What is it, Andrew?

Andy Hardy: I've been thinking a lot lately about deregulation.

Judge Hardy: In what way, son?

Andy Hardy: Well, Dad, I'm starting to think that deregulation might not have been a really neat idea.

Judge Hardy: No shit, Sherlock.

Indeed. But for the absence of something which has been called an "acoustics detector" or an "acoustics regulator" (depending on which news report you read) the catastrophe which is now playing itself out in the Gulf of Mexico might very well have been avoided. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, the device was mandatory on all oil rigs. When the Bush/Cheney regime seized power via an electoral coup in 2000 (aided and abetted by the Supreme Court), the acoustics thingamajig was deemed too expensive.

The price? Five hundred thousand dollars.

As Ben Franklin's old adage says, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It's such a basic lesson of life. Most of us learn it sooner or later....Most of us. You don't need a better example of the greed and stupidity of these people than the one I am offering you here: They placed the lives and livelihoods of millions of people living on the Gulf coast in total and undeniable jeopardy - all to save a measly half a million bucks. This is the worst case criminal negligence I have ever heard about in my entire life. You would expect someone to go to prison for this, wouldn't you? Yeah, I would, too. Don't hold your breath.

Here's the really funny part: The latest right wing talking point is that this is Obama's Katrina! How's that for a rib-tickler? Don't let them fool you. There are a lot of politicians with their fingerprints on this debacle. Barack Obama is not one of them. This tragedy is owned by failed oilmen George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney. They are primarily responsible for what has happened. The president's only responsibility is in the cleaning up of their mess - a task in itself.

Judge Hardy's restraint in dealing with his semi-clueless his was truly impressive. If I had been in the old guy's shoes, I'd have slapped Andy Hardy upside his head. Of course deregulation wasn't a "really neat" idea. In fact, three decades of historical hindsight proves conclusively that it was one of the worst policies in the history of this country. In effect we have allowed the foxes to maintain the chicken house. Why should we be the least bit surprised to come home from our drunken, thirty-year binge to find a coop full of dead chickens? LinkHere
Oily Birds and Other Atrocities
I'll say this for old Rush: He makes my life so interesting. I'm gonna miss the old bastard when he's finally thrown off the air. I really am.
Kangaroo Down Under,
Darn Tom we can only hope the old bastard would be thrown off the air, but I would not hold my breath waiting for that to happen in this life time, miss the "PERVERTED WANKER" I don't think so!!!!!!!!

Elena Kagan Tapped For Supreme Court

Elena Kagan, Supreme Court nominee

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, declaring she would demonstrate the same independence, integrity and passion for the law exhibited by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

If confirmed by the Senate, Kagan would become the third woman on the high court. At 50, she is relatively young for the lifetime post and could help shape the high court's decisions for decades.

The former Harvard Law School dean "is widely regarded as one of the nation's foremost legal minds," Obama said. He introduced her in the White House East Room as "my friend."

Kagan said she was "honored and humbled by this nomination." She called it "the honor of a lifetime."

"I look forward to working with the Senate and thank you, Mr. President, for this honor of a lifetime."

Obama cited what he called Kagan's "openness to a broad array of viewpoints" and her "fair mindedness." LinkHere

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