February 16th, 2009

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Oil steady amid OPEC talks of more output cuts

Oil steady amid OPEC talks of more output cuts

Oil prices stayed above $37 a barrel Monday in Asia as OPEC members talked up more production cuts over the weekend amid weakening global demand for crude.

Light, sweet crude for March delivery fell 6 cents to $37.45 a barrel by midday in Singapore on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $3.53 on Friday to settle at $37.51.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has implemented most of the 4.2 million barrels a day of output reductions announced since September, but the cuts have been overwhelmed by a collapse in crude demand amid the global slowdown.
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Watching Republicans grieve

Watching Republicans grieve
Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi journeyed into the heart of the GOP for her new HBO documentary. She discusses what she found there: Denial, depression and a whole lot of anger.

When Alexandra Pelosi made the Emmy-winning documentary "Journeys With George" in 2000, about her 18 months on the campaign trail with soon-to-be-President George W. Bush, her mother, Nancy, was not yet speaker of the House, and the name "Pelosi" was not yet an epithet on the lips of Republicans.

Eight years later, Pelosi went back out on the GOP campaign trail and into the lion's den, in the waning days of John McCain's failed bid for the White House. In her latest film, "Right America: Feeling Wronged," which debuts on HBO Monday night, Pelosi attends McCain and Sarah Palin rallies in 28 states and puts her microphone in the faces of some very passionate conservatives. As defeat looms, she watches the Republican base go through a very public grieving process, with most of the stages that psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described -- denial, depression and a whole lot of anger -- but not very much acceptance. Salon spoke to Pelosi by phone.

Early in the film Sean Hannity points to you in front of a McCain crowd and says, "That's Nancy Pelosi's daughter." And you respond, "You're going to get me lynched." Did you ever feel endangered or like there was any personal animus toward you during the making of this film?
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Sherlock - on the side of the angles

Livni, Netanyahu and Lieberman: Israel's tangled trio

Lieberman's the king maker to whom Livni and Netanyahu are appealing in their push to become prime minister. But the scenario is complicated, and the power players have a long, fraught history.

Reporting from Jerusalem --
The three big players in Israel's leadership struggle first crossed paths in 1996 when a rising politician named Avigdor Lieberman helped a former intelligence agent land her first high-level government job.

Lieberman, who was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-hand man at the time, resigned the following year and became his bitter rival. But Lieberman and the ex-spy, Tzipi Livni, then both 39, remained friends.


Today Lieberman has the power to determine almost single-handedly who, Netanyahu or Livni, will become Israel's next prime minister.
Their tangled relationships in the intimate world of Israeli politics suggests that his choice is not clear cut.


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This whole Israeli election mindfuck is confusing and I really think this article explains a lot. And it is rather unbiased.

Military’s killer robots must learn warrior code

Autonomous military robots that will fight future wars must be programmed to live by a strict warrior code or the world risks untold atrocities at their steely hands.

The stark warning – which includes discussion of a Terminator-style scenario in which robots turn on their human masters – is issued in a hefty report funded by and prepared for the US Navy’s high-tech and secretive Office of Naval Research .

The report, the first serious work of its kind on military robot ethics, envisages a fast-approaching era where robots are smart enough to make battlefield decisions that are at present the preserve of humans. Eventually, it notes, robots could come to display significant cognitive advantages over Homo sapiens soldiers.

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SOURCE

Autonomous Military Robotics: Risk, Ethics, and Design

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Islamic law to be imposed in parts of Pakistan

Islamic law to be imposed in parts of Pakistan

The government agreed to impose Islamic law and suspend a military offensive across much of northwest Pakistan on Monday in concessions aimed at pacifying the Taliban insurgency spreading from the border region to the country's interior.

The announcement came as three missiles believed fired from a U.S. drone aircraft destroyed a house used by a local Taliban commander elsewhere in the northwest, killing 30 people, witnesses said.

The cease-fire, in Pakistan's Swat Valley hundreds of miles from the missile strike in Kurram, will likely concern the United States, which has warned Pakistan that such peace agreements allow al-Qaida and Taliban militants operating near the Afghan border time to rearm and regroup.

The truce announcement came after talks with local Islamists, including one closely linked to the Taliban.
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....OH MY GOD.

Four Tennessee Republican lawmakers say they are serious in joining a proposed legal action to force President Obama to turn over his “original” birth certificate and other vital records to prove he is a natural-born U.S. citizen.

A similar lawsuit, based on allegations that Mr. Obama was born outside the U.S., was rejected in December by the U.S. Supreme Court. But that has not deterred the Defend Our Freedoms Foundation and its founder, Russian-born immigrant Orly Taitz, an attorney, dentist and real estate agent, who plans to file another suit.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-College Grove; Rep. Eric Swafford, R-Pikeville; Rep. Frank Nicely, R-Strawberry Plains; and Rep. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, have lent their names as would-be plainfitts in Dr. Taitz’ effort, a move which has state Democrats accusing them of being flaky at best.

“This is not about trying to be divisive or divide people,” Rep. Swafford said. “That’s not my motive at all ... Barack Obama needs to release his original birth certificate and prove where he was born so we can move on.”

He said his son and other Little Leaguers are required to show their birth certificates to play ball; so should the president.
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So, do I even drive home today from Georgia after all? I might explode from the stupid at the border.
Zen Tree

CEO? Worried about your bonus? Don't move to the UK.

David Cameron (leader of the Conservative Party) has stressed that no cash bonuses over £2,000 should be paid to any employee of a bank which has a significant taxpayer shareholding.

In an interview on the BBC Politics Show, David said, “People who work hard are seeing billions of pounds of their tax money being paid out and are rightly angry about it.” And he attacked Gordon Brown for failing to put conditions in place to limit the bonuses paid by those banks that have taken taxpayers’ money - RBS, Lloyds, B&B and Northern Rock.

“Unfortunately the only action the Government has taken is to announce a review into bonuses which will not report until the end of the year.  Because of this dithering we could see bonuses being paid out for a second year to executives in taxpayer owned banks which is unacceptable.”

Putting the limit at £2,000 would mean bank tellers are not unfairly punished.



Source courtesy of TPM commenting: "At current exchange rates this is equal to $2,854.30 -- less than 1% of the cap that Claire McCaskill has advocated over here, and for which she's been either praised or reviled as a populist lefty."
Hatted - Aretha 60s

WAT. I don't care if they are TN-built. I saw the Southern Senators during the Big 3 Loan hearings

Getting arrested will soon be good for the environment.

The NYPD is trying out hybrids as patrol cars - starting with 40 "green" 2009 Nissan Altima sedans ready to hit the streets in the next two weeks, The Post has learned.

In a pilot program aimed at both saving fuel and reducing pollution, the department has shelled out $1.1 million so far to buy and outfit the new ecofriendly cars - built at the Japanese auto company's plant in Smyrna, Tenn. - which run on combination gas-electric engines.

While the NYPD already uses some hybrid sedans and SUVs for parking enforcement and duty captains, this is the first time it's putting green cars on the beat.

"We won't know whether they are suitable for wider use until they are subjected to the NYPD's demanding environment, which includes virtual 24-hour-a-day operation by multiple drivers," said spokesman Paul Browne.

If it performs, the fuel-efficient hybrids may eventually replace the gas guzzlers that make up the current 3,254-vehicle patrol fleet of mostly Ford Crown Victorias and Chevy Impalas. Those get 16 to 18 mpg in the city - compared to 35 mpg expected from the Altimas.

To start, the NYPD has outfitted 18 hybrids as marked patrol cars, bringing the $21,500 base cost to $30,752 per car. Another 20 are unmarked ($25,595 each), and two are disguised as yellow cabs for anticrime work ($28,600 each).

Some cops doubt that the Altima, which meets California emission standards, is tough or safe enough.

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Hay Guys?  Remember 9/11?  Remember how Detroit gave all those dollars and support?  Remember how "Detroit" has to come to Congress tomorrow with viable business plans for modernization?  Remember how Ford has many types of Hybrids?  All that aside, I may side with the cops here.  You do need power for chasing criminals.  However, it is NY... not like you can get up to 100mph in the city. 

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Smile

The fundies new scare tactic GAY SNIPERS in WV



Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, this ad below shows a gay sniper targeting a "nice christian" family blowing bubbles on their front porch. They also appear to of photoshopped an african-american child in one of their "adoption" photos in one of their white families. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse it does...




Also I'm loving the comments on the video so far since the American Taliban hasn't yet to comment.

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The "FDR Failed" Myth

The current recession will soon become the longest since the Great Depression. The U.S. is losing over 500,000 jobs each month, and a new president, elected overwhelmingly, is pleading for unity and urgent action on a scale not seen since the New Deal.

At such a moment, it is imperative to expose a dangerous popular myth regarding the efficacy of President Roosevelt’s actions: that it was not the programs of the New Deal, but only the placing of the nation on a wartime footing years later, that restored the health of the nation’s economy.

This belief, though widely held, cannot stand up to even the most basic economic analysis. Yet the mainstream corporate media, which abound with anti-government ideology, seek to reinforce this myth. Just this past Sunday, The Washington Post featured on Page One of its Outlook section an article by Amity Shlaes headlined “FDR Was a Great Leader, But His Economic Plan Isn’t One to Follow.” Underscoring Shlaes’s made-up claims, the Post ran the continuation of her piece under the title: “FDR’s Plan Failed to Spark Real Growth.”

In it, Shlaes, having passed over the anything-goes policies that led to the financial crash in 1929—and, to a great extent, the devastating economic losses that occurred between 1929 and Roosevelt’s 1933 inauguration—also completely leaves out any specific data on gross domestic product, incomes, consumer spending, production, investment or jobs even for the New Deal period she presumes to explain. Indeed, her pitch is based entirely on emotional misrepresentation.

The basic economic facts from the 1930s—according to the Department of Commerce, the Federal Reserve, and other official sources—are fundamentally different from the unsupported claims put forward by Shlaes and prominent in popular myth. The monthly data for industrial production show a near three-year collapse under President Hoover, ending when FDR came to office in March 1933. Production rocketed by 44 percent in the first three months of the New Deal and, by December 1936, had completely recovered to surpass its 1929 peak.




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Oh, fuck. Here we go with Don't Ask, Don't Tell again. -__-

I don't know who the "F" Merrill R. Darby is, but this guy has one of the most homophobic commentaries I've ever seen, easily eclipsing some of the best of Elaine Donnelly of The Center for Military Readiness re: DADT. It's up at WOAI-TV. It was picked up, unbelievably, by MSNBC.com as well.

Titled "'Openly gay' troops will degrade the U.S. military," it is a diatribe that embodies the ignorant "don't drop the soap in the shower" fears of rampant sodomy mentality, exhibits the paranoia seen in our favorite anti-gays re: the powerful Homosexual Agenda, and is simply a intellectually fraudulent piece of work, belched out because the prospect of overturning Don't Ask, Don't Tell is close to a reality.
Overt homosexual behavior among the troops was a controversial topic long before an American president (who himself had avoided military service) clumsily attempted to "lift the ban" in order to pay his party's political debt to the "gay rights" lobby. Not all world leaders, however, have been as dismissive of the military need for order, discipline, and uniformity as Bill Clinton was 16 years ago. Or, as President Barack Obama, another non-veteran, appears to be now. ...America's 44th president, a liberal Democrat despite all of the centrist talk, appears to be on board the pro-gay bandwagon. However, Commander in Chief Obama apparently wants to avoid the mistakes Clinton made and not rush into this contentious issue.

There are several inconvenient truths on the military's side of the argument, too.
First off, it is because of "don't ask, don't tell," which forbids out-of-the-closet behavior, that gay men and women can and do serve successfully alongside straight troops.

..."Many GIs are fundamentally opposed to the idea [of openly gay troops] especially due to HIV/AIDS, which takes time to appear in lab tests but can infect you upon contact," a retired non-commissioned officer (NCO) in Army Special Forces remarked. "Imagine this scenario: There are mass casualties requiring medivac and the helicopter's rotor-wash, as you know, throws sand, debris, and blood as well as other bodily fluids all over the place. Guess what-any blood or bodily fluid residue, no matter how minute, that hits an open wound or moist area including the eyes will be a conduit for transmission of the virus. Therefore, the casualty count increases not because of battlefield injury but cross-contamination."
"Somehow," added this veteran of conflicts in Central America and Afghanistan, "this factor is often overlooked by the Left and their fellow conspirators in the press."
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movies | Impish Fräulein2

"Clinton-Obama Body Politics: It's All In The Faces".


In our last post we looked at the element of touch and the role it plays in the burgeoning relationship between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. Now, we want to explore a play of expressions on and around their mouths. Our mouths are exquisitely sensitive reflectors of emotion. They go into an "O" of surprise and fear; they tremble when we're about to cry; they form a tight line when we're angry. Fortunately, they also spread wide and turn up when happiness is purring inside us or when we see a beloved. Collapse )




▲ Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton (whispering to Barack) are all
smiles following the first debate of the 2008 presidential campaign April 26, 2007
at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina.


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________

Dude, remember when Baby-B and Hill-Rod were totally Frien-emies?
Music Is Love

Kansas suspends state income tax refunds; employee payroll checks in jeopardy



The following is a statement by Governor Kathleen Sebelius regarding efforts today by Republican Leadership to derail the State Finance Council:

“This is a difficult time for Kansas families, seniors, workers and business owners who are dealing each day with the economic challenges presented by this historic recession.

“Last week, I called a meeting of the State Finance Council to consider the issuance of a certificate of indebtedness – a routine action dealing with state cash flow, that allows us to move money from one account to another so we can pay our bills on time. The use of these certificates has been approved every year for the last decade.

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Okay, so this is very important to me for several reasons: 1) I'm a poor college student who happens to be one of those state employees who may not end up being paid this week, 2) it further shows what dire straits we're in fiscally in this state, 3) it also shows how ridiculously douchey our Repubs are being, and 4) I work in the payroll department for my university, meaning if this actually happens, I'll be dealing with a LOT of irate calls. DO. NOT. WANT.
' jules
  • schmiss

I can call you Norman, and Norman when you call me, you can call me Al.

Franken's Official Title: "You Can Call Me Al"



Here a footnote to Al Franken's speaking tour of Minnesota, in which the campaign is promoting him as "Senator-Elect Franken" as he speaks to crowds around Minnesota about the economy, and the need for him to get to Washington soon to help out.

Franken told CNN that he doesn't insist that people address him as Senator-elect -- but that it isn't inaccurate, either. "I won the recount," said the apparent-provisional-sort-of-Senator-elect. "You can call me Al."

"I don't think this is presumptuous at all," he added, when asked that particular question about his speaking tour. "I think that Minnesotans know that it's...very possible that I'll be in the Senate, and that I want to hit the ground running when I get there."

At today's post-court press conferences, Coleman lawyer/spin-man Ben Ginsberg was asked about Franken's speaking tour as Senator-elect. "I think it's a cute media stunt," Ginsberg replied with a smile.

Source

I REFUSE TO SUFFER ALONE:



(And Minnesota happens to have our own Betty, which makes it that much more appropriate.)
RDJ - Ent Week Dec 2009

Rock star Preznit and autograph-seeking, sekrit GOP fanboys?

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Jan. 27, 2009: House Republicans surround the President after the meeting. Many of them were seeking his autograph. Every House Republican eventually voted against the bill.


Obama Photo Album Subtly Digs GOP, Says They Asked For His Autograph
Sam Stein stein@huffingtonpost.com | HuffPost Reporting From DC
February 16, 2009 04:54 PM

The Obama White House has put out a slideshow of 23 pictures documenting the process by which the President and Congress forged a voting coalition in support of the economic stimulus package.

And yet, looking through the album, one gets the sense that the White House photographer responsible for the package -- Peter Souza -- was trying to make a political point as much as serve as an official documentarian.

There are at least six photos in which the president is conferring either by conference, conversation or phone, with Republican officials over the past few weeks. One has the president talking in private with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- who passed up few opportunities to criticize the stimulus -- at the exclusive Alfalfa Club dinner in late January.

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Beyshawn

Photo of President Obama removed at Peterson Air Force Base




President Barack Obama's picture was removed this week from a Presidents Day sign at the Peterson Air Force Base commissary after customers complained that the image did not fit the holiday commemorating the birthdays of past presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

The head of the local NAACP and a commissary employee say it was blatant racism.

The picture of the first black president accompanied a sign near the entrance listing the government-run military grocery store's operating hours on for Presidents Day. The store will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Employees took the sign down after customers complained that the holiday wasn't about the current president, according to the Defense Commissary Agency, which oversees the base grocery stores.

Rosemary Harris, president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said something more sinister was afoot.

"It bodes poorly for the progress that we hoped we would see in this country; we might have taken one step forward but we see many steps being taken backwards," she said Friday.

A cashier at the commissary who did not want her name used said pictures of past presidents, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have accompanied the Presidents Day closure sign.

One customer, a military retiree, objected this year because of Obama's race, the cashier said.

"He said they're not going to have no black man on the window where he shops," the cashier said.

The commissary agency disputed the cashier's story, saying no past presidents have had their picture displayed with the holiday message.

They said four customers had complained that Presidents Day is to honor Washington and Lincoln, not Obama, causing the agency to remove the Obama image.

"The customers stated it is inaccurate to associate other presidents with this holiday and asked that we remove President Obama's photo from the flier," the agency said in a statement.

The commissary came up with a new, less controversial notice.

"The one presently posted is titled Washington's Birthday and has no photos," the agency said.

Harris isn't buying it, and said she wants Obama to again greet shoppers.

"To me it doesn't matter if its racism or politics," Harris said. "It's probably some of both."

(source)
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AP Analysis: Meltdown threatens Chavez triumph

AP Analysis: Meltdown threatens Chavez triumph

President Hugo Chavez's timing was impeccable, scheduling the vote that ended term limits at what may be the last possible moment before the global financial crisis wreaks havoc on Venezuela's oil-based economy.

When it hits, his support will undoubtedly suffer — meaning he is far from assured a victory in the next presidential vote in 2012.

As he spoke from a palace balcony to thousands of triumphant supporters, Chavez called his referendum win a "perfect victory." But behind the rhetoric, Chavez has been struggling against a long slide at the polls, and Sunday's numbers reflected that.
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POKEMON || pikachu

Okay this shit is seriously getting outta control...

Chef dishes on Obamas' Valentine's dinner

Chef Art Smith knows what America's thinking.

The man known for his decadent southern dishes must have clogged the Obamas' arteries on Valentine's Day with his fried delicacies and three-cheese macaroni, right?

Wrong, says Smith, whose Gold Coast restaurant, Table Fifty-Two, was the site of the couple's big date Saturday.

The president and first lady who are known for their nutritious eating habits and penchant for organic foods selected healthy dishes for their Valentine's dinner, he said.

Michelle Obama ordered a pistachio-crusted chicken breast with coconut-ginger chili sauce and string vegetables, while the president selected the grouper special.

"I know all of America thinks I served them fattening foods," Smith told the Tribune. "But I didn't."

Smith won't say if the Obamas ordered dessert, but he acknowledges a pecan pie made its way to the private dining room on his restaurant's second floor. The first couple also was served Parmesan cheese biscuits and deviled eggs, a welcome gesture presented to all of the eatery's patrons.

"Everyone gets those," Smith said. "It doesn't matter if you're the president or not."

Smith, a renowned cookbook author who was Oprah Winfrey's personal chef for 10 years, admitted to being a little star struck by the Obamas' appearance. Though he has served celebrities and dignitaries -- including Winfrey, Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou -- he had never cooked for a sitting president.

"It's a milestone in my career," he said. "I was happy and humbled that they would come."

For a restaurant owner, he said, it doesn't get much better than the presidential seal of approval.

"Honey," he said, "I'm in fried chicken heaven."

Source



Okay, I'm interested in the Obama's as a couple too, but seriously, was this story really necessary?
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U.S. "war on terror" eroded rights worldwide: experts

U.S. "war on terror" eroded rights worldwide: experts

Washington's "war on terror" after the September 11 attacks has eroded human rights worldwide, creating lingering cynicism that the United Nations must now combat, international law experts said on Monday.

Mary Robinson, who was the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights when al Qaeda militants flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, said the United States caused harm with some of the ways it responded.

"Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and repeal abusive laws and policies," the former Irish president said, warning that harsh U.S. detentions and interrogations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba gave a dangerous signal to other countries that could easily follow suit.
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Another Nobel Prize Winner on the Stimulus:

Ipek Cem: There is talk of a stimulus package in the US. We also know that the average US citizen is highly leveraged as a consumer. And when we talk about stimulus we are also talking about consumer pending. How to make the two of them, you know work hand in hand?

Robert Mundell: Well there’s a lot of questions about “What a stimulus package really is?” And I don’t think the major has been taken called a stimulus package are going to be much of a stimulus. To a certain extent, monetary policy, an easy monetary policy, is stimulating for us. But that’s not the pack what we mean by a “stimulus package” because “Federal Reserve” can always do that. What they mean by that is government spending. But government spending doesn’t have that bigger effect. If you have a big increasing government spending, without monetary expansion, they have to finance that deficit by bringing bonds. So while the spending adds to demand, the selling of the bonds, takes away the demand. So if there’s a multiplier in one process, there is a negative multiplier with the other process. And the other fact is that the exchange rate is flexible. So if you sell more bonds with a stimulus pending interest rates rise a little bit. And the capital comes in, the current account deficit increases. The trade deficit increases. So a good part of that stimulus package goes to the rest of the world.

Ipek Cem: So what kind of policy measures would you be advocating at a time like this?

Robert Mundell: Well I think that the difficulty of all the banks, they need to recapitalize the bank, which everybody says it’s necessary. And is also true with corporation you need to recapitalize the corporations like “General Motors”, “Ford” and “Chrysler”. The glories, what used to be glories of American capitalism in the 20th century. American manufacturing. They need to be recapitalized, too. And instead of the government taking its stimulus package, the bailout package, recapitalizing, buying stocking these banks, it is much more important to look at what’s happenning right now, what the goverment is doing today to economy. What the government does to the corporation today is take thirty five percent of the profits of the corporation. And without putting anything in. So with the 35 percent of corporate tax, they take all that, draining the corporation from that, without putting anything in. And so what the best thing to do for stimulus is to reduce or eliminate the corporation tax. It is a double taxation anyway, because the capital pays the tax to the corporation and the profits are taxed at the corporate level after 35 % is taken out. And then there are also tax in the individual level. So eliminate it. By the way the revenue isn’t going to be very much because the corporate tax used to earn 5 % of GDP in revenue. It’s gone down about 1,5 % of GDP. So it doesn’t add too much. And in a recession period there won’t be any profits and tax, so the revenue will be very little. So you don’t loose too much, but you would, if you stimulate economy all the other taxes will increase. And the revenue then from the tax cuts of corporations will increase the tax of every other corporation. Just recently, Germany has cut it it corporation tax from 25 % to 15 %. That’s a very good move and that’s what the United States should do. I think, I was going to say from 35 % to 20 %, but it would be even better if they do it to 15 %.


Full source, including video, here

Emphasis mine. I know it's not Paul Krugman and everything but maybe, just maybe, there are other economists out there in the universe with different opinions.
RDJ - Ent Week Dec 2009

NYT: Two Faces of the GOP -- one supports Obama, the other doesn't

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G.O.P. Governors Support Obama
By JACKIE CALMES
Published: February 16, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Obama must wish governors could vote in Congress: While just three of the 219 Republican lawmakers backed the $787 billion economic recovery plan that he is signing into law on Tuesday, that trifling total would have been several times greater if support among the 22 Republican state executives counted.

The contrast reflects the two faces of the Republican Party these days.

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