February 3rd, 2009

garf tired

Its long, but read it

Doing the Recovery Right

By Robert Pollin



For most of the past generation, the aims of environmental sustainability and social justice were seen as equally worthy, yet painfully and unavoidably in conflict. Tree huggers and spotted owls were pitted against loggers and hard hats. Fighting global warming was held to inevitably worsen global poverty and vice versa. Indeed, the competing demands of the environmental and social justice agendas were frequently cited as a classic example of how public policy choices were fraught with trade-offs and unintended consequences--how you could end up doing harm while seeking only to do good.
Over the past couple of years, there has been a dramatic reversal of thinking: the idea has emerged that protecting the environment--in particular, defeating global warming--can also be an effective engine of economic growth, job creation and even poverty reduction. A small band of determined activist organizations, including the Apollo Alliance, Green For All and 1Sky, deserve credit for pushing this idea into the mainstream. Labor and environmental organizations like the Steelworkers and the Natural Resources Defense Council were open to persuasion. By the time the presidential campaign began, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had both incorporated variations on this idea as major planks in their platforms. Now, under President Obama, the idea of a green recovery--an investment program to promote energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy--is a central feature of his $825 billion program to defeat the most severe financial crash and recession since the 1930s.
Of course, arguments about trade-offs and unintended consequences have not disappeared. Robert Stavins, chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty Group at Harvard, recently offered this analogy: "Let's say I want to have a dinner party. It's important that I cook dinner, and I'd also like to take a shower before the guests arrive. You might think, Well, it would be really efficient for me to cook dinner in the shower. But it turns out that if I try that I'm not going to get very clean and it's not going to be a very good dinner."
A weighty intellectual pedigree does undergird the Stavins story. This is a proposition developed by Jan Tinbergen, co-recipient of the first Nobel Prize in Economics and a lifelong leftist. Tinbergen held that you need separate policy tools to address distinct policy aims--that, in other words, trying to kill two birds with one stone is not likely to succeed. As the Obama administration begins spending in the range of $150 billion to create jobs and fight global warming through a single tool of green investments, it is clearly an appropriate time to examine how much Tinbergen's law might actually apply to our current situation.

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Keepin' an eye on Sarah... don't forget to wink!

Remember Sarah Palin's Aerial Wolf Hunt Bounties?

From HuffPo:

Actress Ashley Judd stars in a new campaign targeted at Sarah Palin's alleged "anti-conservation agenda" and her promotion of the killing of wolves and bears in Alaska.
Defenders Action Fund launched the campaign today with a new Website, EyeonPalin.org. In a video, Judd condemns Palin for promoting the aerial killing of wolves and even accuses her of suggesting $150 bounties for the severed forelegs of killed wolves.
"Now back in Alaska, Palin is again casting aside science and championing the slaughter of wildlife," Judds recites somberly.

"Palin even proposed a $150 bounty for the severed foreleg of each killed wolf. And now she is encouraging even more aerial killing. it is time to stop Sarah Palin and stop this senseless savagery."

You can check out the site at http://www.eyeonpalin.org/

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/02/ashley-judd-slams-sarah-p_n_163312.html


Israel-Hamas war deals blow to schools in Gaza

Israel-Hamas war deals blow to schools in Gaza

The jewel of Gaza's bare-bones education system — a U.S.-style school on lush grounds overlooking the Mediterranean — is now a mound of broken concrete. The territory's only laboratory for genetic testing, at a Gaza university, lies in ruins.

With 37 primary and secondary schools destroyed or damaged by air strikes, and 18 others still serving as refugee shelters, learning in Gaza has become even more of a struggle.

Israel says the attacks on schools struck militants and a weapons lab during its three-week war against Hamas. Gaza educators say Israel hasn't provided proof to back up its claims, adding the strikes on some of its best educational institutions set back efforts to develop the impoverished territory.

Even before the offensive, overcrowding had forced most of Gaza's 380 primary and secondary schools to run morning and afternoon shifts of no more than four hours each to accommodate 450,000 students.
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[Rainn] ridiculously fabulous

Michelle Obama Brings Hope and Change to the World of Drag


On the Red Carpet at the RuPaul's Drag Race Launch Party
Tuesday, January 27th.

Logo Corespondent: What are your hopes for 2009? Or predictions.
RuPaul (as a mustachioed man!): Hope is the key word. The end of the bimbo era. With Michelle Obama entering the White House, we are ushering a new era of smart, beautiful women... Bringing drag back to the forefront in this new era of hope is a dream come true for me... Drag reminds us to not take life so seriously.


I really hope Michelle becomes a huge trend in female impersonation. Palin may have been a big Halloween costume last year, but I predict our new FLOTUS will be emulated for generations.

Anyone else seen RuPaul's Drag Race? I'm addicted to it already. D8


Joe the Plumber advises GOP-ers

Joe the Plumber in southern Israel
Fresh off his stint as a war correspondent, Joe the Plumber will talk strategy with Hill Republicans.
Photo: AP

By ALEX ISENSTADT | 2/2/09 7:26 PM EST 

Fresh off his stint as a war correspondent in Gaza, Joe the Plumber is now doing political strategy with Republicans.

When GOP congressional aides gather Tuesday morning for a meeting of the Conservative Working Group, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher – more commonly known as Joe the Plumber — will be their featured guest. This group is an organization of conservative Capitol Hill staffers who meet regularly to chart GOP strategy for the week.

Wurzelbacher, who became a household name during the presidential election, will be focusing his talk on the proposed stimulus package. He's apparently not a fan of the economic rescue package, according to members of the group.

If nothing else, GOP aides are using the appearance to get staffers to attend the 9 a.m meeting.

“In case you weren’t planning to attend CWG tomorrow morning, you might want to reconsider because Joe the Plumber will be joining us!” Kimberly Wallner, an aide to South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, wrote in a message to her e-mail list this afternoon.

Last month, Wurzelbacher did a brief stint as a war reporter for the conservative web site pjtv.com.


Under the heading of  "You've GOT to be f*cking kidding me".  First he's a "war correspondent", something that aparrently involved him standing in front of a pile of old ammunition shells saying, "Yep, that's a bunch of stuff." and offering various random but consistently absurd comments.  Now he's "advising" the GOP???   This is about as nuts as the idea that Obama might call up Blago tomorrow and ask him to take Daschle's place as Secretary of HHS.

Edit:  Oh, and this comment?

If nothing else, GOP aides are using the appearance to get staffers to attend the 9 a.m meeting.

So, basically, JTP has roughly the same meeting-draw potential as the promise of coffee and a box of fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
kurt blaine intimacy

Fox's Wallace: Armey insult "pretty funny"

I'm an instructor and in a couple of weeks my class will begin our section on arguments. Could you all help me find books/online articles/ads/speeches that depict political propoganda and logical fallacies. I want to make argument and logic real for my students in a way the text doesn't.

To make this legal:

At least a couple people think former House Majority Leader Dick Armey's comments about Salon Editor-in-Chief were funny.

If you're just tuning in, last week, while on MSNBC's Hardball, Armey told Walsh, "I am so damn glad that you could never be my wife, 'cause I surely wouldn't have to listen to that prattle from you every day."

Later in the week, Think Progress notes, conservative radio host Mike Gallagher had Fox News' Chris Wallace on his show, and the two discussed the remark. That conversation culminated with this exchange:

GALLAGHER: Now, now, feminists are very angry that he said, “I’m glad you couldn’t be my wife.” I mean…

WALLACE: It’s pretty funny actually.

GALLAGHER: It’s hysterical. Do you know how many times a week I say, “thank God I don’t have to wake up next to her.” I mean some of these callers, these shrews that call.

Audio of the discussion is below.
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Source: http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/
' jules
  • schmiss

Your silly red glasses are not enough to save you this time, Daschle

WSJ, NYT Editorials Call for Daschle’s Withdrawal; WaPo Backs Him

In a rare moment of agreement, the editorial pages of the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have both called for Tom Daschle to give up on becoming secretary of Health and Human Services. The Washington Post says Daschle still deserves the job.

In its lead editorial this morning, the NYT points out that Daschle earned $5 million in the past few years, including “hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches to interest groups, including those representing health insurance plans, medical equipment distributors and pharmacy boards.” The piece says ignoring Daschle’s failure to pay taxes would “send a terrible message to the public,” and concludes that “Daschle could clear the atmosphere by withdrawing his name.”

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Howard Dean's just chillin' at home refreshing ONTD_P like

all morning. That's karma bitches.
' jules
  • schmiss

we can has good news?

Tammy Duckworth tapped for Assistant VA Secretary.

Today, the Obama administration announced that the President intends to nominate veteran Tammy Duckworth to be Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Duckworth, who lost both her legs serving in the Iraq war, is currently director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and ran for the House in the 2006 elections. From the Obama team’s press release:
As assistant secretary, Duckworth will direct VA’s public affairs, internal communications and intergovernmental relations. She also will oversee programs for homeless Veterans, consumer affairs and special rehabilitative events.

Duckworth was appointed director of the state Veterans office in Illinois in 2006. In previous testimony before Congress, she expressed her commitment to Veterans and the need for transformation of the Department. “The VA system faces new challenges as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” She also noted “the patient profile is changing. More wounded soldiers are surviving very serious injuries.”


garf tired

More Tax Problems? What the hell is going on?

Your request is being processed...

Nancy Killefer: Obama's Chief Performance Officer

WASHINGTON — Nancy Killefer, who failed for a year and a half to pay employment taxes on household help, withdrew her candidacy to be the first chief performance officer for the federal government on Tuesday.
Killefer was the second major Obama administration nominee to withdraw and the third to have tax problems complicate nominations after President Barack Obama announced he had chosen them.
In a brief letter to Obama, the 55-year-old executive with consulting giant McKinsey & Co. wrote that she had "come to realize in the current environment that my personal tax issue of D.C. unemployment tax could be used to create exactly the kind of distraction and delay" that must be avoided in responding to urgent economic problems.
She offered no further details of her tax difficulties.
Obama took no questions Tuesday after announcing his choice of Sen. Judd Gregg to be commerce secretary. He left the White House lectern ignoring a shouted question about why so many of his nominees have tax problems.
When Killefer's selection was announced by Obama on Jan. 7, The Associated Press disclosed that in 2005 the District of Columbia government had filed a $946.69 tax lien on her home for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help. Since then, administration officials have refused to answer questions about the tax error, which she resolved five months after the lien was filed.
Obama's first choice for commerce secretary, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, took his name out of consideration when his confirmation appeared headed toward complications because of a grand jury investigation over how state contracts were issued to political donors.
More recently, Timothy Geithner was confirmed as treasury secretary despite belatedly paying $34,000 in income taxes, and Tom Daschle is still waiting to see if his late payment of more than $128,000 in income taxes will harm his nomination to be health and human services secretary.
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What the hell man? And why doesn't Daschle withdraw?

(no subject)

New York Artist Known for 'Gay Pride' Subjects is Prop 8 Donor

On her website, Chappaqua-based artist Maureen Mullarkey writes, in response to a question about why she uses gay pride parade imagery in her work:

Mullarkey"Because it is a marvelous spectacle, an iconographic lode. There is so much to look at. Art is not about 'appreciating.' It is about looking. People get accustomed to viewing art through a filter of words: theories, press releases, the pieties of art appreciation. Spectacle cuts through the static...I've never really liked parades that much...But when the majorette is a middle-aged man in a tutu and sneakers you know you are not in Kansas and you might want to stay awake."

But Mullarkey apparently has other thoughts about her subjects as well, which she expressed through a financial donation of $1,000 to pass Proposition 8, revoking marriage rights from millions of gay and lesbian Americans.

The New York Daily News reports: "Maureen Mullarkey, 66, made her sizable contribution to the National Organization for Marriage's 'Yes on 8' fund in June, a Daily News review of campaign records found. The Westchester County woman was one of tens of thousands who poured a total of more than $83 million into the coffers of Proposition 8 support groups - money that helped convince California voters to overturn an earlier court decision granting gays the right to marry in the Golden State. Questioned outside her home in tony Chappaqua - the same town where Bill and Hillary Clinton live - she refused to discuss her donation last night. When asked how she could have donated money to fight gay marriage after making money from her depictions of gays, she just said, 'So?...If you write that story, I'll sue you,' she said."


lol,How exactly can you be sued for printing the truth?
' jules
  • schmiss

Here's an actual post so it doesn't get buried by Crazy Baby Lady (no offense to CBL)

Tom Daschle Withdraws As Health Nominee

Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday as President Obama’s nominee to lead the Health and Human Services Department, a decision that came one day after Mr. Obama declared that he would stand behind Mr. Daschle as problems over unpaid taxes were scrutinized on Capitol Hill.

“I accept his decision with sadness and regret,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.

The decision to withdraw his nomination as a member of the Obama cabinet comes as the White House battled across several fronts on Tuesday with tax problems of the president’s top political appointees. Mr. Daschle had expressed regret for not paying about $140,000 in back taxes, but on Monday vowed to press ahead.

The move came as a surprise on Capitol Hill, where Democratic senators had rallied behind Mr. Daschle. It is the highest-level political casualty of the young Obama administration.

“Now we must move forward,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.

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WH Press Briefing will be starting shortly.
aaliyah » doin' it for the fame
  • abiding

brb silently fuming in COM 101 class

Octuplets mom gets TV, book offers to tell story
The mother of the longest-living octuplets in the U.S. is in high demand

Associated Press
updated 6:57 p.m. ET, Mon., Feb. 2, 2009

LOS ANGELES - The mother of the longest-living octuplets in the U.S. is being deluged with offers for book deals, TV shows and other business proposals, but has not decided what she might do other than care for her children, her newly hired spokeswoman said Monday.

Hundreds of requests have been made since Nadya Suleman gave birth to six boys and two girls a week ago, said Joann Killeen, president of Killeen Furtney Group, a public relations company.

"She's the most sought after mom in the world right now," Killeen said. "Everyone wants to talk to her."

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soupy baby poop

OMFG I want to scream but I'm in class right now. dkjnaslkjncadfnc WTF?! At least the babies are doing well. D:< UGH.

  • wands

"Israel restrictions on al-Jazeera"

Israeli officials say they are taking measures to restrict the work of the Arabic television network, al-Jazeera, inside Israel.

It follows a decision last month by al-Jazeera's owners, the state of Qatar, to cut trade ties with Israel.

The work visas of some al-Jazeera employees based in Israel will not be renewed, according to reports.

Al-Jazeera's journalists will have limited access to Israeli news conferences and briefings.

Qatar was the only Gulf state to have trade ties with Israel, but they were cut in January in protest at the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Israeli officials were fiercely critical of al-Jazeera's coverage of the conflict in Gaza, accusing it of being a mouthpiece for the militant Islamist movement, Hamas.

An Israeli official in Jerusalem was quoted as saying that it was Qatar's own actions which had now created a problem for al-Jazeera.

Me - ♡ I&#39;M A BABE TBH ♡

"Get yer nails done, get yer hair did."

The Michelle Obama hair challenge


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Nappy or relaxed, African-American hair has always been a loaded subject. So what does it mean to have a black do in the White House?

By Erin Aubry Kaplan

Feb. 03, 2009

Are we moving toward a "black hair" moment?

It might sound like one of those media-created, racially overwrought questions meant to boost ratings and Internet chatter. But with Obama in the White House and a black family center stage -- not to mention a first lady whose appearance and fashion choices are already being endlessly dissected -- the question suddenly becomes almost reasonable.

Consider: Michelle's hairdresser, Johnny Wright, just signed a development deal for his own beauty reality show. Chris Rock recently went to Sundance to screen his documentary "A Good Hair Day," a look at the enormous but mostly unexamined industry and culture of black hair care. "[Black women's] hair costs more than anything they wear," Rock recently said in a Salon interview. "It's like the No. 2, 3 expense of their whole life." Meanwhile, in a recent discussion on MSNBC, black Princeton prof Melissa Harris-Lacewell agreed with Rachel Maddow that an Obama administration meant white people would be more emboldened to ask black people about previously taboo issues, like how they do their hair (Harris-Lacewell admitted she wasn't looking forward to that). The interest is encouraging to a point. And like all white scrutiny of any aspect of black life, it also feels like voyeurism, to a point. The gray area is just one of many reminders that bridging the racial divide, like black hair itself, is going to be complicated.

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Thoughts? I thought it was an interesting article although I don't think it should be the Obama's responsibility to define trends in black hair. Everybody has their own preferences :\ And as somebody who has had their hair straight as well as natural and in braids at different points of my life, the implication that black hair is straightened to please the mainstream does bother me. I understand the sentiment, of course, and I'll be the first one to admit that if Michelle got a bit of curl to her "do" Fox News and other idiots will be the first to scream ZOMG RADICAL, but plz, it really depends. The girls look cute in any hair style though, which is great. And IDGAF what style Michelle's hair is in, it's always on point.

ETA: Lolz, made a slower version of the gif XP

Scrub. Rinse. Repeat. - DOJ Special Edition

Justice Rehires Attorney Fired Amid Gay Rumor

by Ari Shapiro


All Things Considered, February 2, 2009 · On Monday, the Justice Department undid a small part of the damage that top officials caused in a scandal of politicized hiring and firing during the Bush administration. The department rehired an attorney who was improperly removed from her job because she was rumored to be a lesbian.

NPR first broke the story of Leslie Hagen's dismissal last April, and the Justice Department's inspector general later corroborated the report. Now, Hagen has returned to her post at the department's Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.

In 2006, Hagen was the liaison between the main Justice Department and the U.S. Attorneys' committee on Native American affairs. The chairman of that committee, Tom Heffelfinger, described Hagen to NPR last year as "the best qualified person in the nation to fill that job." Hagen's performance evaluations had the highest possible ratings — "outstanding" in each of five categories.

The job came up for renewal every year. After the first year, Hagen was surprised to hear that she would have to move on.

As NPR reported in April, a top aide to the attorney general had heard a rumor that Hagen was a lesbian. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is against Justice Department rules. But Monica Goodling, senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, had Hagen removed from her job anyway.

That was more than a year ago. The inspector general eventually confirmed the NPR report and added new details, saying Goodling not only ousted Hagen but also blocked Hagen from getting other Justice Department jobs she was qualified for.

Last year, the Justice Department posted Hagen's old job again. The department conducted a national search. Applications came in from around the country. After several rounds of interviews, Hagen eventually won the job.

The paperwork makes it official as of Monday, Feb. 2. Hagen now has her old position back, but this time it's a little different. Her contract no longer comes up for renewal every year. Now, the job is permanent.

It is not a perfectly happy ending for Hagen. Nobody official from the department ever apologized to her for what happened. She still owes thousands of dollars in attorney fees, and the Justice Department has refused to pay those bills.

That was the department's position under the Bush administration, anyway. Hagen's attorney says her client hopes the new attorney general will take a different view.


Yes, let's hope that after our "esteemed" Department of Justice illegally fired her, and then caused her to rack up thousands in legal fees, would now have the honor to pay for them!

Wait did the President just said he made a mistake??... can they do that???

Obama blames himself for mishandling Daschle

President Barack Obama is taking responsibility for mistakes in the handling of the tax controversy that led to Tom Daschle's withdrawal as President Barack Obama's nominee to be health and human services secretary, saying: "I screwed up."

The president did a series of back-to-back television interviews in which the subject of failed nominees was a top subject.

Obama told NBC "I'm frustrated with myself" for unintentionally sending a message that there are "two sets of rules" for paying taxes, "one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks."

"I take responsibility for this mistake,"
he told Fox News.
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Puppy chillin
  • 0405

Bailed-out Wells Fargo plans Las Vegas junket.

Company spokesperson says event is part of the bank’s culture.

WASHINGTON - Wells Fargo & Co., which received $25 billion in taxpayer bailout money, is planning a series of corporate junkets to Las Vegas casinos this month.

Wells Fargo, once among the nation’s top writers of subprime mortgages, has booked 12 nights at the Wynn Las Vegas and its sister hotel, the Encore Las Vegas beginning Friday, said Wynn spokeswoman Michelle Loosbrock. The hotels will host the annual conference for company’s top mortgage officers.

The conference is a Wells Fargo tradition. Previous years have included all-expense-paid helicopter rides, wine tasting, horseback riding in Puerto Rico and a private Jimmy Buffett concert in the Bahamas for more than 1,000 employees and guests.

“I was amazed with just how lavish it was,” said Debra Rickard, a former Wells Fargo mortgage employee from Colorado who attended the events regularly until she left the company in 2004. “We stayed in top hotels, the entertainment was just unbelievable, and there were awards — you got plaques or trophies.”

While the nation’s recession has led other banks, such as Bank of America, to cancel employee recognition outings, Wells Fargo has not.

“Recognition events are still part of our culture,” spokeswoman Melissa Murray said. “It’s really important that our team members are still valued and recognized.”

Corporate retreats have attracted criticism since the bank bailout last fall. Congress scolded insurance giant American International Group Inc. for spending $440,000 on spa treatments for executives just days after the company took $85 billion from taxpayers.

AIG has since canceled all such outings.

Beginning Feb. 25, Wells Fargo’s insurance division is hosting a 40-person team meeting at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Murray did not immediately have details about the size or cost of the events or what was planned.

In previous years, top loan officers were treated to performances by Cher, Jay Leno and Huey Lewis. One year, the company provided fortune tellers and offered camel rides, Rickard said. Every night when employees returned to their rooms, there was a new gift on their pillows, she said.

Wells Fargo Chairman Richard Kovacevich has traditionally greeted every employee personally when they arrived.

Rooms at the Wynn and the Encore are consistently among the most expensive in Las Vegas. The $2.3 billion Encore opened in December. Its decor includes a 27-foot Asian dragon made from 90,000 Swarovski crystals and artwork by Colombian artist Fernando Botero. One of the restaurants features Frank Sinatra’s 1953 Oscar.

Both properties have high-end retail stores, including Manolo Blahnik at Wynn and Chanel at Encore.

On Monday, Wells Fargo said it would pay a quarterly dividend of $371 million to the Treasury Department as part of the bailout. The government invested billions in the company to help shore up the banking industry.

&#39; jules
  • schmiss

They see me rollin', they hatin'

Duke’s Place: Michael Dukakis on How to Fix America

It’s hard not to have the sense that after twenty years of relative obscurity–or at least being thought of primarily as a guy who looks stupid in a tank gunner helmet–Michael Dukakis is poised for a renaissance. The trajectory of Al Gore could be instructive: eggheaded Dem becomes media laughing stock in the course of losing to a man named Bush but gets his mojo back as an opinion leader.

Dukakis certainly deserves to be an important voice in the national debate about how to rebuild our roads and rail. He has a black belt in transportation policy and as governor of Massachusetts had an impressive record of completing large public works projects on time and on budget.

Curious about the Duke’s thoughts on the stimulus bill and the larger project of rebuilding America’s infrastructure, we reached him recently at UCLA, where he’s teaching this semester. He talks about why the U.S. can’t build big things anymore, what he thinks about when he’s stuck in L.A. traffic, and what America would be like if he’d been elected back in ‘88.

Setting aside modesty, if you’d beaten “Poppy” Bush would we be facing an infrastructure crisis now?
Oh Christ, we’d have been at this thing all guns blazing.

You mean, for instance, we’d now have a halfway decent passenger rail system in the U.S.?
Are you kidding me? If I’d served as president for eight years? I certainly think so.

You backed Obama in the primaries. He’s obviously made infrastructure investment a priority. What should he be doing to get it right?
I must say, he has impressed me more and more. The guy looks and sounds like a president. But, remember, it’s generally the state and local governments that do infrastructure in this country. Which means the Obama administration is going to have to kick a lot of people in the fanny to get moving with this stuff and to give us a little more of the spirit of the transcontinental railroad. What his transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, should really do is bring in the mayors and governors, sit them down with the president and say, “Guys, we’re not fooling around. We want to see hundreds of people working out there. If you’ve got work them on weekends, do it. We want projects done and done quickly and on budget.”

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Hamas prepared for 1-year truce with open borders

Hamas prepared for 1-year truce with open borders

Hamas officials said Tuesday they are ready to commit to a cease-fire with Israel for at least a year in exchange for a full opening of Gaza's borders, as the group began a new round of truce talks with Egyptian mediators.

At the same time, foreign ministers of pro-U.S. Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, met in the United Arab Emirates in a show of unity in support for Egypt's efforts to forge a long-term truce and against Iran, Hamas' most important ally.

Egypt is trying to mediate a durable cease-fire in place of the temporary and increasingly wobbly truce that ended the Gaza war last month. It has set a Thursday deadline for the Islamic militant rulers of Gaza to accept a deal.

But the complicated details of an accord appeared unresolved with border security arrangements a key obstacle.
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fleur de lis

Cutting the Payroll Tax

Stewart Interviews author Lawrence Lindsey

LINDSEY: For the same amount of money, actually for less, than what they're about to spend on the stimulus, you
could cut the payroll tax in half.
STEWART: So that'd be 15% down to 7.5%?
LINDSEY: Yes, I'd take 6 points off. Leave the Medicare, just cut the Social Security part. If you're making $50,000,
that's $1,500 in your pocket and it's $1,500 in your employer's pocket if he keeps you on the job. If what you're worried
about is job creation, job preservation, and making sure people have more money, that gives it to them directly. Don't
send the money to the other politicians, that's where most of the stimulus package is going.
STEWART: Here's what I like about that: They always talk about, 'Oh, we don't want to give tax cuts to people who
don't pay taxes, but they don't talk about payroll tax, the one that everyone pays it up until, what, $100,000?
LINDSEY: Up to $100,000.
STEWART: Up to $100,000. Then after that, why not cut it in half and then extend payroll taxes up through $500,000,
through $1 million? That way you won't even lose any money, you still get that stimulus.
LINDSEY: You're not going to get the money back. The other thing is you're gonna extend benefits. The catch here, I'll
tell ya, is that our benefits are tied to what we pay in. So if you don't...
STEWART: By extending the ceiling, by means testing to a much higher degree, won't you not lose...
LINDSEY: This is stimulus. The idea of stimulus is to put more money in people's pockets. You don't take from one
pocket and give to another.

1. Lindsey's counterpoint to Stewart's idea is individual benefits are tied to what the individual has paid in payroll tax. Thus, in proposing we eliminate the Social Security tax, Lindsey proposes we eliminate Social Security benefits and in effect the Social Security program, though he doesn't state the effects of his proposal outright.
2. I know Social Security benefits are tied directly to payroll, but are Medicare benefits as well?
3. Stewart's idea: Cut payroll taxes under $100,000 in half and then extend the payroll tax to whatever income level necessary to recoup the losses from the cut. This way, middle- and low- income people have their taxes lowered while high-income people suffer no increased tax burden. The problem of benefits being tied to paying into payroll taxes can be resolved by simply changing the calculation of how benefits are distributed. I imagine the reason we don't discuss Stewart's idea in the United States is out of Wurzelbacher-esque fears of Redistribution of Wealth™, though we redistribute wealth all the time through Welfare, Medicaid, and tax credits to people with low incomes, not to mention all the fundamental functions of government and capitalism involve redistribution of wealth.
you could cut ties with all the lies

myspace removes 90,000 sex offenders; facebook remains haven for pervs

MySpace: 90,000 sex offenders removed from site

About 90,000 sex offenders have been identified and removed from the social networking Web site MySpace, company and law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

The number was nearly double what MySpace officials originally estimated last year, said North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who along with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has led efforts to make social networking Web sites safer for young users.

Cooper said he wasn't surprised by the updated numbers, and demanded that MySpace and rival online networking site Facebook — which claim to have more than 170 million users combined — do more to protect children and teenagers.

"These sites were created for young people to communicate with each other. Predators are going to troll in these areas where they know children are going to be," Cooper said. "That's why these social networking sites have the responsibility to make their sites safe for children."

The attorneys general received agreements last year from MySpace and Facebook to push toward making their sites safer. Both sites implemented dozens of safeguards, including finding better ways to verify user's ages, banning convicted sex offenders from using the sites and limiting the ability of older users to search members under 18.


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But don't worry, pervs:

MYSPACE has banned 90,000 sex offenders from its site — but the pervs may be turning to rival Facebook.

New measures to make online social networking safer resulted in the MySpace purge.

But technology experts claimed last night to have found 8,000-plus sex fiends on Facebook.

John Cardillo, a former New York City cop who runs internet security firm Sentinel, said: “We’ve identified and removed 90,000 sex offenders from MySpace.

“But Facebook could still be a haven for such people. We found 8,487 registered sex offenders on Facebook in just a few days by doing a basic search that any user can access.

“So that’s a small percentage of what is there.

“If you look at the size of its community, there could be as many as 100,000 sex offenders or paedophiles on Facebook.”


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Slow Mo Guys - Gavin

State high court to hear Prop. 8 case March 5

SAN FRANCISCO -- The state Supreme Court will hear arguments March 5 on the validity of Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage that California voters approved in November.

The court said today that it would hold a three-hour hearing, from 9 a.m. to noon, at its chambers in San Francisco. The proceedings will also be televised statewide on the California Channel, the court said. A ruling is due within 90 days of the hearing.

Prop. 8, approved by 52 percent of the voters on Nov. 4, amended the state Constitution to declare that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. It overturned the court's May 15 ruling that recognized a constitutional right for gays and lesbians to marry.

The court will hear lawsuits by same-sex couples and a group of local governments, led by the city of San Francisco, challenging Prop. 8. The plaintiffs argue that a measure eliminating fundamental rights from a historically persecuted minority amounts to a revision of the Constitution and exceeds the power of initiatives.

A revision can be placed on the ballot only by a two-thirds legislative vote or by delegates to a state constitutional convention. The court has upheld such challenges to initiatives only twice in its history, in 1948 and 1990.

Opponents of Prop. 8 also argue that it violates the constitutional separation of powers by stripping the judiciary of its ability to protect a minority group. Attorney General Jerry Brown has sided with opponents of the measure and argues that it is invalid for another reason: that it abolishes "inalienable rights," guaranteed by the state Constitution, without a compelling justification.

The court has also asked the opposing sides to present arguments on whether 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California before Nov. 4 remain valid if Prop. 8 is upheld.

The initiative is being defended by its sponsors, a group called Protect Marriage. The group's lead attorney is Kenneth Starr, the former prosecutor in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

The lead case is Strauss vs. Horton, S168047.

Futurama--Bunch of Idiots

oh Christ, not in Iowa too...

Council passes traditional-marriage resolution

SIOUX CITY -- The City Council majority will send a message to the Iowa Legislature that voters should decide how to define marriage.

Voting 3-2, the council Monday adopted a resolution supporting the legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, opposing efforts to redefine the institution as anything else and urging the Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
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GFTO OF MY STATE. At least the mayor seems to be sane. Some of those people are total assholes. Then again, this is the part of Iowa represented by Steve King, so yanno...those idiots elected him, they are capable of anything, I suppose.