July 30th, 2010

movies | Impish Fräulein2

ONTD_Political's PotD: July 29, 2010.

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona asked an appeals court Thursday to lift a judge's order blocking most of the state's immigration law as the city of Phoenix filled with protesters, including about 50 who were arrested for confronting officers in riot gear. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer called U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton's Wednesday decision halting the law "a bump in the road," and the state appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thursday. Outside the state Capitol, hundreds of protesters began marching at dawn, gathering in front of the federal courthouse where Bolton issued her ruling on Wednesday. They marched on to the office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has made a crackdown on illegal immigration one of his signature issues. At least 32 demonstrators were arrested after blocking the entrance and beating on the large steel doors leading to the Maricopa County jail in downtown Phoenix. Sheriff's deputies in riot gear opened the doors and waded out into the crowd, hauling off those who didn't move.
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Source: Arizona's immigration enforcement law SB 1070 | The Frame | SacBee.com
I feel like I know her
  • maclyn

US Senator continues to be perplexed by tiny countries doing things wihthout US approval

 US Senate Lockerbie bomber inquiry 'may visit UK'

The US senator, who is to chair a rescheduled congressional inquiry into the Lockerbie bomber release, has said he may send investigators to Britain.

In an interview for the BBC's Newsnight programme, Senator Robert Menendez said he wanted to take up offers from some witnesses to be questioned in the UK. Scots Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and former UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw refused to testify in the US.
BP's outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward also declined to appear. Mr Menendez has rescheduled the hearing for September and issued fresh invitations to all potential witnesses.

Oil questions

The senator told Newsnight: "In addition to making a request for them to come to the hearings, we will be sending individuals... to Great Britain and Scotland to interview the individuals and to ask questions and get a thorough understanding of how they came to their decisions."
Also speaking on the programme, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said he was happy to offer a visiting US senator "the courtesy of a meeting". But he said there was "no way on Earth" Scottish ministers would formally give evidence to a committee hearing of a foreign legislature, even if it was held in the UK. "It's a point of principle that you're not responsible to the committee of another parliament," he said.

"I don't think there is a recorded case in history of a serving American secretary going to another jurisdiction to give evidence to a committee of another parliament. That applies to the Chilcot Committee, it applies to coroners' inquests in England, it applies to extraordinary rendition and all the other controversies the US has been involved in. "You shouldn't ask other people to do things that your own government would never dream of," he said.

The proposed Senate hearing focuses on whether BP oil deals influenced the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.
Megrahi is the only man to have been convicted of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 on 21 December 1988.
The flight, from London to New York, exploded over Lockerbie in south west Scotland killing all 259 people on board, along with 11 people on the ground. Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison in August 2009 on compassionate grounds having been told he had three months to live but is still alive almost a year later.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill rejected moving Megrahi as part of a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA). It has been alleged BP pressed for an agreement in order to help secure an offshore deal with Libya. BP has confirmed it did press for a PTA because it was aware that a delay might have "negative consequences" for UK commercial interests. However, it has said it did not express a view about the specific form of the agreement which was a matter for the UK and Libyan governments. At the time Megrahi was the only Libyan prisoner in the UK.

The UK government said the release was a matter for the Scottish government and Scottish ministers have said they had had no representations from BP on the matter. The US Senate foreign relations committee had wanted to hold an inquiry on Capitol Hill this week but postponed it until September as none of the key witnesses it wanted to call agreed to attend.

Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-10810315

And I may stick a boot in your entitled, ignorant arse.

Yahoo Finance: Middle Class is Shrinking; Here are Stats

The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats to Prove it

Posted Jul 15, 2010 02:25pm EDT by Michael Snyder in Recession

From The Business Insider

Editor's note: Michael Snyder is editor of theeconomiccollapseblog.com

The 22 statistics detailed here prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.

So why are we witnessing such fundamental changes? Well, the globalism and "free trade" that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects.

It turns out that they didn't tell us that the "global economy" would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough.

Here are the statistics to prove it:

• 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.

• 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

• 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

• 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.

• A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.

• 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

• Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.

• Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

• For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

• In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

• As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

• The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

• Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

• In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.

• The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

• In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

• More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.

• or the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

• This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

• Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.

• Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

• The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.

Giant Sucking Sound

The reality is that no matter how smart, how strong, how educated or how hard working American workers are, they just cannot compete with people who are desperate to put in 10 to 12 hour days at less than a dollar an hour on the other side of the world. After all, what corporation in their right mind is going to pay an American worker 10 times more (plus benefits) to do the same job? The world is fundamentally changing. Wealth and power are rapidly becoming concentrated at the top and the big global corporations are making massive amounts of money. Meanwhile, the American middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence as U.S. workers are slowly being merged into the new "global" labor pool.

What do most Americans have to offer in the marketplace other than their labor? Not much. The truth is that most Americans are absolutely dependent on someone else giving them a job. But today, U.S. workers are "less attractive" than ever. Compared to the rest of the world, American workers are extremely expensive, and the government keeps passing more rules and regulations seemingly on a monthly basis that makes it even more difficult to conduct business in the United States.

So corporations are moving operations out of the U.S. at breathtaking speed. Since the U.S. government does not penalize them for doing so, there really is no incentive for them to stay.

What has developed is a situation where the people at the top are doing quite well, while most Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to make it. There are now about six unemployed Americans for every new job opening in the United States, and the number of "chronically unemployed" is absolutely soaring. There simply are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.

Many of those who are able to get jobs are finding that they are making less money than they used to. In fact, an increasingly large percentage of Americans are working at low wage retail and service jobs.

But you can't raise a family on what you make flipping burgers at McDonald's or on what you bring in from greeting customers down at the local Wal-Mart.

The truth is that the middle class in America is dying -- and once it is gone it will be incredibly difficult to rebuild.

SOURCE: http://yhoo.it/cxVHyD

Unemployment extension 101: how health care is affected

Congress excluded a subsidy for 'COBRA' from the unemployment-benefits extension. As of June 1, thousands of unemployed face higher insurance costs.

Unemployment extension: People wait in line to enter the City University of New York (CUNY) Big Apple job fair in New York, in this April 23 file photo. As of June 1, thousands of unemployed workers face higher insurance costs. [Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/File]

When President Obama signed the six month federal extension of unemployment insurance, one item not included was an extension of the subsidy for health insurance for newly laid-off workers.

That means that as of June 1, thousands of workers are either paying out most of their unemployment checks for health coverage under “COBRA,” or just not getting covered.

COBRA, which is administered by the Department of Labor, allows for unemployed individuals to continue to get group health insurance from their former employer who had been subsidizing their coverage. But, they must pay the whole cost of the insurance, plus a 2 percent administrative fee, making the insurance expensive.

Advocates for the unemployed say Congress’ decision not to help out those who have lost their employer-subsidized health care is forcing families to put off getting health care if they need it, and is putting even greater pressure on emergency room facilities. Opponents say the benefits extension is expensive if not paid for, and it doesn't fix the underlying problem – getting people a stable source of health-care insurance.

the rest @ csmonitor
franklin sherman

‘Worst Bush-era policies’ becoming the ‘new normal’: ACLU

From the point of view of civil libertarians, the Obama administration has been an exercise in frustration, with every hopeful sign followed by failures to live up to its own promises.

The ACLU has just issued a report (pdf), titled "Establishing a New Normal: National Security, Civil Liberties, and Human Rights Under the Obama Administration," which focuses on this pattern of inconsistency.

"The administration has displayed a decidedly mixed record," explains ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romaro, "resulting, on a range of issues, in the very real danger that the Obama administration will institutionalize some of the most troublesome policies of the previous administration -- in essence, creating a troubling 'new normal.'"

As summarized in a press release announcing the report, "President Obama has made great strides in some areas, such as his auspicious first steps to categorically prohibit torture, outlaw the CIA's use of secret overseas detention sites and release the Bush administration's torture memos, but he has failed to eliminate some of the worst policies put in place by President Bush, such as military commissions and indefinite detention. He has also expanded the Bush administration's 'targeted killing' program."

The report is divided into seven sections covering transparency, torture and accountability, detention, targeted killing, military commissions, speech and surveillance, and watch lists. The most striking areas of the report, however, are those which focus not on torture or secret prisons but on less-publicized recent actions by the Obama administration.

The transparency section, for example, emphasizes that the program of "targeted killing" of suspected terrorists has been "shrouded in secrecy," and that despite a FOIA request by the ACLU, "the CIA has refused even to confirm or deny whether it has records about the program."

It also points out that rather than living up to Obama's promise as a candidate that he would make sure whistleblowers got protection, "the administration has been prosecuting them."

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McMahon Campaign Hits Grimm For Taking "Jewish Money"

Mike Grimm, a G.O.P challenger for Mike McMahon's Congressional seat, took in over $200,000 in his last filing.

But in an effort to show that Grimm lacks support among voters in the district, which covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, the McMahon campaign compiled a list of Jewish donors to Grimm and provided it to The Politicker.

The file, labeled "Grimm Jewish Money Q2," for the second quarter fundraising period, shows a list of over 80 names, a half-dozen of which in fact do hail from Staten Island, and a handful of others that list Brooklyn as home.

"Where is Grimm's money coming from," said Jennifer Nelson, McMahon's campaign spokeman. "There is a lot of Jewish money, a lot of money from people in Florida and Manhattan, retirees."

As a point of comparison, the campaign also provided in-district and out-of-district fundraising totals from McMahon and Grimm's G.O.P primary opponent, Michael Allegretti. However, they did not provide an out-of-district campaign filing from Grimm, but only a file of Jewish donors to him.

Nelson said that the list was compiled by the campaign's finance director, Debra Solomon and that she did not know exactly how the finance team knew who was Jewish and who was not.

"She herself is Jewish so she knows a lot of people in that community," Nelson said.

Nelson stressed that the point of compiling the list was not to show that Grimm had a lot of Jewish support, but that he had little support in the district.

"I don't think ethnicity matters. When people look at who is funding his campaign it's not people who have a direct vested interest [in the district.]"

The campaign also wanted to point out that Grimm benefited greatly from his endorsement by Rudy Giuliani, and made a separate column to denote donors who have to the former mayor's presidential or Senate campaigns. Only five appear to have done so.

Grimm recently went to a religious service led by Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, a Kabbalahist who is known as a rabbi to the rich and famous. Several of his followers, including Haim Revah, whose company owns the Lipstick Building and Ilan Bracha of Prudential Douglas Elliman, donated to Grimm.

McMahon meanwhile has been trying to make his own in-roads into the Jewish community. A source said that he is scheduled to meet next week with several major Jewish donors.

Reached by phone, Grimm, who is part-Italian, part-German, said he was proud of his Jewish support and said he was disturbed to hear that the McMahon campaign compiled a separate list of his Jewish donors.

"The fact that a U.S. Congressman would separate out any group by religion or even by ethnicity is nothing short of outrageous," he said. "This goes beyond politics."


Oh, those whacky Democrats!

An Arizona Morgue Grows Crowded

TUCSON — Dr. Bruce Parks unzips a white body bag on a steel gurney and gingerly lifts out a human skull and mandible, turning them over in his hands and examining the few teeth still in their sockets.

Dr. Bruce Parks, the chief medical examiner for Pima County, looked over an unidentified skull.

The body bag, coated with dust, also contains a broken pelvis, a femur and a few smaller bones found in the desert in June, along with a pair of white sneakers.

“These are people who are probably not going to be identified,” said Dr. Parks, the chief medical examiner for Pima County. There are eight other body bags crowded on the gurney.

The Pima County morgue is running out of space as the number of Latin American immigrants found dead in the deserts around Tucson has soared this year during a heat wave.

The rise in deaths comes as Arizona is embroiled in a bitter legal battle over a new law intended to discourage illegal immigrants from settling here by making it a state crime for them to live or seek work.

But the law has not kept the immigrants from trying to cross hundreds of miles of desert on foot in record-breaking heat.
The bodies of 57 border crossers have been brought in during July so far, putting it on track to be the worst month for such deaths in the last five years.

Since the first of the year, more than 150 people suspected of being illegal immigrants have been found dead, well above the 107 discovered during the same period in each of the last two years.
The sudden spike in deaths has overwhelmed investigators and pathologists at the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office. Two weeks ago, Dr. Parks was forced to bring in a refrigerated truck to store the remains of two dozen people because the building’s two units were full.


New York Times has the entire article

Absolutely heartbreaking and infuriating. I really don't know what else to say.
franklin sherman

White House Seeks Easier FBI Access To Internet Records, Blocks Oversight Attempt...

...Just As FBI Caught Cheating On Exam To Stop Abuse

We're still at a loss to explain why there's been so little outrage over the fact that the FBI got a total free pass for its massive abuse in getting phone records. As you may recall, reports came out about how the FBI regularly abused the official process for obtaining phone records, avoiding any of the required oversight, but right before that info came out the White House issued a ruling saying that it was okay for the FBI to break the law. That's not how things are supposed to work.

And, it appears that since there was no outrage over all of this, the White House keeps pushing further. Three new articles highlight what a travesty this has become. First, the White House wants to quietly make it easier for the FBI to demand internet log file information without a judge's approval." Just as I finished reading that, I saw Julian Sanchez's new writeup about how the White House blocked and killed a proposal to give the GAO power to review US intelligence agencies. The GAO is the one government operation that seems to actually focus on doing what's right, rather than what's politically expedient. Sanchez notes that, beyond the sterling reputation of the GAO, it's also ready, willing and able to handle this kind of oversight:

The GAO has the capacity Congress lacks: as of last year, the office had 199 staffers cleared at the top-secret level, with 96 holding still more rarefied "sensitive compartmented information" clearances. And those cleared staff have a proven record of working to oversee highly classified Defense Department programs without generating leaks. Gen. Clapper, the prospective DNI, has testified that the GAO "held our feet to the fire" at the Pentagon with thorough analysis and constructive criticism.

Unlike the inspectors general at the various agencies--which also do vital oversight work--the GAO is directly answerable to Congress, not to the executive branch. And while it's in a position to take a broad, pangovernmental view, the GAO also hosts analysts with highly specialized economic and management expertise the IG offices lack. Unleashing GAO would be the first step in discovering what the Post couldn't: whether the billions we're pouring into building a surveillance and national security state are really making us safer.

Oh, and just to make this all more comically depressing, just as I finished reading both of these stories, I saw a story about a new investigation into reports that FBI agents were caught cheating on an exam, which was designed to get them to stop abusing surveillance tools. Yes, you read that right. After all the reports of abuse of surveillance tools, the FBI set up a series of tests to train FBI agents how to properly go about surveillance without breaking the law... and a bunch of FBI agents allegedly cheated on the test that's supposed to stop them from "cheating" on the law. And, not just a few. From the quotes, it sounds like this cheating was "widespread." But, of course, it might not matter, since the requirements for surveillance are being lowered, oversight is being blocked, and apparently the White House is willing to retroactively "legalize" any illegal surveillance anyway.

Obama, you need to stop lying SOME day.

Spock/DIAF by angel_elf_icons
  • lidane

Miserable Old Cow Phyllis Schlafly: All Unmarried Women Are On Welfare

Yes, you read that right. If you're a woman and aren't married, you're clearly on welfare:


Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly took aim at "unmarried women" at a recent fundraiser and in an interview with TPM, saying that they overwhelmingly support President Obama and are all on welfare. Democrats aim to exploit the comments to pressure the more than 60 Republican candidates who have earned Schlafly's endorsement.

"Unmarried women, 70% of unmarried women, voted for Obama, and this is because when you kick your husband out, you've got to have big brother government to be your provider," said Schlafly, president of Eagle Forum and infamous for her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment.

A liberal organization recorded the Schlafly comments at a Troy, Michigan fundraiser Saturday for a Republican congressional candidate, the Detroit Free Press reported. In an interview with TPM this afternoon Schlafly stood by her comments and said Obama is trying to boost welfare rolls to help with his reelection and to help Democrats.

"Yes I said that. It's true, too. All welfare goes to unmarried moms," Schlafly told TPM. "They are trying to line up their constituency for Obama and Democrats against Republican candidates."

She also told me she doesn't care if Republicans are targeted over her comments since she thinks they are truthful.

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ADL Refudiates Ground Zero Mosque

Anti-Defamation League Comes Out Against Ground Zero Mosque

The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization whose programs "counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry," has released a statement excoriating plans to build an Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero.

"Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong," the statement reads.

"But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain unnecessarily and that is not right," it says.

The ADL recommends the city "would be better served if an alternative location could be found."

Conservatives, including Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, have been frothing over the plans for the mosque, calling it an insult to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The 5 Myths of Social Security


This ended up in my email yesterday from MoveOn.org.....what I think is important to note is that they aren't just making assertions with nothing to back them up.  Each of their points has references to the relevant backup material (with footnotes located at the bottom) , which lends it a lot more credence to my mind.

Thought it might be of interest to some here.

Rumors of Social Security's demise are greatly exaggerated. But some powerful people keep spreading lies about the program to scare people into accepting benefit cuts. Can you check out this list of Social Security myths and share it with your friends, family and coworkers?

Myth: Social Security is going broke.

Reality: There is no Social Security crisis. By 2023, Social Security will have a $4.6 trillion surplus (yes, trillion with a 'T'). It can pay out all scheduled benefits for the next quarter-century with no changes whatsoever.1 After 2037, it'll still be able to pay out 75% of scheduled benefits--and again, that's without any changes. The program started preparing for the Baby Boomers retirement decades ago.2 Anyone who insists Social Security is broke probably wants to break it themselves.

Myth: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer.

Reality: This is red-herring to trick you into agreeing to benefit cuts. Retirees are living about the same amount of time as they were in the 1930s. The reason average life expectancy is higher is mostly because many fewer people die as children than did 70 years ago.3 What's more, what gains there have been are distributed very unevenly--since 1972, life expectancy increased by 6.5 years for workers in the top half of the income brackets, but by less than 2 years for those in the bottom half.4 But those intent on cutting Social Security love this argument because raising the retirement age is the same as an across-the-board benefit cut.

Myth: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security.

Reality: Social Security doesn't need to be fixed. But if we want to strengthen it, here's a better way: Make the rich pay their fair share. If the very rich paid taxes on all of their income, Social Security would be sustainable for decades to come.5 Right now, high earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,000 of their income.6 But conservatives insist benefit cuts are the only way because they want to protect the super-rich from paying their fair share.

Myth: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs

Reality: Not even close to true. The Social Security Trust Fund isn't full of IOUs, it's full of U.S. Treasury Bonds. And those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.7 The reason Social Security holds only treasury bonds is the same reason many Americans do: The federal government has never missed a single interest payment on its debts. President Bush wanted to put Social Security funds in the stock market--which would have been disastrous--but luckily, he failed. So the trillions of dollars in the Social Security Trust Fund, which are separate from the regular budget, are as safe as can be.

Myth: Social Security adds to the deficit

Reality: It's not just wrong -- it's impossible! By law, Social Security funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can't add one penny to the deficit.1


1."To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security" New Deal 2.0, June 14, 2010

2. "The Straight Facts on Social Security" Economic Opportunity Institute, September 2009

3. "Social Security and the Age of Retirement"Center for Economic and Policy Research, June 2010

4. "More on raising the retirement age" Ezra Klein, Washington Post, July 8, 2010

5. "Social Security is sustainable" Economic and Policy Institute, May 27, 2010

6. "Maximum wage contribution and the amount for a credit in 2010." Social Security Administration, April 23, 2010

7. "Trust Fund FAQs" Social Security Administration, February 18, 2010

8. "To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security" New Deal 2.0, June 14, 2010



Battle Looming Over Bush Tax Cuts -- Will Your Tax Bill Go Up?

To extend or not extend the Bush tax cuts? That question is at the heart of the debate between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers line up to let the tax cuts expire, make them permanent, or do a little mix and match.

Most Republicans, who have traditionally advocated for lower taxes, say that letting Bush's tax cuts expire amounts to a tax increase -- the last thing a country should do in the middle of a recession. Democrats counter that with the federal deficit at a record high, the country cannot afford to take more money out of the treasury, especially to finance lower taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

The most likely scenario is one President Barack Obama and most Democrats in Congress prefer -- keeping the current income tax rates for lower- and-middle-income earners, but raising the rate for the wealthiest Americans -- namely individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making $250,000 or more. Many of the other cuts would remain under this scenario.

But Congress must act soon to prevent any of the Bush tax cuts from ending and there's no guarantee it will pass a bill before next year's expiration date. To help you understand what's at stake, we've put together a Bush Tax Cut Primer below.

But first, a little background.

In June 2001, Congress passed a large package of tax cuts that President George W. Bush pitched on the presidential campaign trail. Not only did the legislation reduce income taxes for nearly all Americans, it sent $300 or $600 rebate checks to every taxpayer. The legislation also phased out the estate tax, reduced the "marriage penalty" for couples filing jointly, increased the threshold for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), and raised the child tax credit that parents could claim on their annual returns.

The most unusual aspect of the 2001 package was that the cuts were temporary, with some reductions phasing in as late as 2006, and all of them expiring by the end of 2010. Not only did the bill stipulate that some of the cuts would be good for only a year or two, it also left the task of ending or extending tax relief to whomever followed Bush in the White House.

Despite the $1.35 trillion price tag, which some Democrats complained was too expensive, Bush and Congress would go on to pass five more tax-cut packages over the next seven years, with the biggest breaks coming in 2003. In that bill, Congress trimmed taxes on capital gains and dividends; accelerated most of the 2001 cuts that were scheduled to be phased in; temporarily erased the "marriage penalty" for couples filing jointly; again increased the child tax credit; and made another AMT fix. That price tag in 2003: $330 billion.

Subsequent years saw more fixes to the AMT and extensions for the marriage penalty break, capital gains and dividend cuts, and other targeted measures, which were all originally short-term fixes. All together, the Bush tax cuts cost just north of $2 trillion.

Unless Congress acts this year, all of the tax cuts mentioned above will expire as the legislation originally called for. Here's what that would look like:

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"Not only did the legislation reduce income taxes for nearly all Americans, it sent $300 or $600 rebate checks to every taxpayer."

Just FYI, I recall quite vividly that I had to repay that so-called "rebate" the following year on my tax return.   Reminds me of that episode of The West Wing where Charlie had the President helping him do his taxes and he found out he actually owed money rather than getting a refund because of the exact same situation.  So, as Charlie put it, it was a "loan" and not a rebate.

I like this article, because it really outlines the actual items and who it will effect rather than whitewashing the Bush Tax Cuts as being the same across the board to everyone.   I think this is the kind of message that needs to be talked about.....what are the specifics, and how do they affect you?

comedy | Rudy Huxtable

Shenanigans Friday: July 30, 2010.

"We have to do a better job of helping those individuals who get those jobs in the media, education and the presidency [understand] their LOLstory." --ShirLOL Sherrod

Please exploit these resources:
  • macro blanks: browse by ALBUMS
  • macro blanks: browse by TAGS
  • ROFLBOT (for your caption needs)

MOAR Picture Sources:

by perfectisafault

Sandoval Isn't Afraid of AZ Law; His Kids "Don't Look Hispanic"! But He Never Said That.

In a newspaper column critical of Republican Nevada gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval, Univision news director Adriana Arevalo dropped this bombshell:

It wasn’t long ago that [Sandoval] said in an interview on Univision that he vehemently supported Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. In reference to the same law, he was asked how he would feel if he his children were stopped in the street and asked for their papers. He answered, with a note of pride in his voice, "my children don’t look Hispanic."

The thing is, Univision never aired video of Sandoval saying that. So, when Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston asked Sandoval about that comment, Sandoval twice denied ever saying it. Which makes sense, because Sandoval is running to be "the first Hispanic governor in the history of Nevada," according to one of his Latino-targeting TV commercials.

The problem is, Sandoval did say it. And while they won't release the video, Univision has confirmed that it has it.

Sandoval denied (twice) making the comments during an interview with "Face to Face" this week. But the comments are on videotape, I have confirmed. Univision, however, is declining to release the tape, claiming (as most media organizations would) that it is work product.

Whoops! Well, incredibly insensitive comments about racial profiling followed by lies about those comments happen.

Source isn't racist, it has PoC friends!


Hopefully more will happen to rip the teeth out of this bill.
nobody / travis

Recent scenes from Afghanistan

This past month, much of the attention focused on Afghanistan centered on the release of thousands of classified documents from the war effort by WikiLeaks. While the consensus appears to be that nothing significantly new was revealed by the release, the picture painted by the documents remains rather bleak. NATO and the United States now have 143,000 troops in Afghanistan, set to peak at 150,000 in coming weeks as they take a counter-insurgency offensive into the insurgents' southern strongholds. Taliban control remains difficult to dislodge, and once removed from an area, Taliban forces often return once larger forces leave a region, especially in rural areas where local government presence remains small. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan.
trigger warning: some photos are disturbing

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But it was The Magical Witch Octopus Fault! Damn You Paul!

North Korean football team shamed in six-hour public inquiry over World Cup

North Korea's football team has been shamed in a six-hour public inquisition and the team's coach has been accused of "betraying" the reclusive leader's heir apparent following their failure at the World Cup, according to reports.

The entire squad was forced onto a stage at the People's Palace of Culture and subjected to criticism from Pak Myong-chol, the sports minister, as 400 government officials, students and journalists watched.

The players were subjected to a "grand debate" on July 2 because they failed in their "ideological struggle" to succeed in South Africa, Radio Free Asia and South Korean media reported.

The team's coach, Kim Jong-hun, was reportedly forced to become a builder and has been expelled from the Workers' Party of Korea.

The coach was punished for "betraying" Kim Jong-un - one of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il's sons and heir apparent.

The country, in its first World Cup since 1966, lost all three group games – including a 7-0 defeat to Portugal.

The broadcast of live games had been banned to avoid national embarrassment, but after the spirited 2-1 defeat to Brazil, state television made the Portugal game its first live sports broadcast ever.

Following ideological criticism, the players were then allegedly forced to blame the coach for their defeats.

Only two players avoided the inquisition - Japanese-born Jong Tae-se and An Yong-hak, who flew straight to Japan after the tournament.

However, media in South Korea said the players got off lightly by North Korean standards.

"In the past, North Korean athletes and coaches who performed badly were sent to prison camps," a South Korean intelligence source told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

Gay hate preacher Stephen Green to air views in Channel 4 documentary

Stephen Green, the director of anti-gay lobby group Christian Voice, will air his homophobic views in a short Channel 4 programme on Monday.

Mr Green is notorious for his remarks on homosexuality and recently accused gay rugby star Gareth Thomas of "promoting sodomy to children" for supporting LGBT History Month.

He will appear in 4thought, which is screened at 7.55pm every day on the channel. The five-minute films have weekly themes, with this week's being homosexuality and religion.

According to promotional materials, the seven speakers shown this week will offer "radically different perspectives on homosexuality and sin", including advocating the belief that God can cure homosexuality.

Mr Green is expected to quote from the Bible's Book of Revelations to support his belief that God is against homosexuality. He will also argue that there has been a "homosexualisation" of British society and that gay people are destructive.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman confirmed that Mr Green was being given a platform.

When asked whether racist views would be given similar airtime, she said he would share his programme with a pro-gay Christian cleric.

In a later comment, the channel said: "Homosexuality is the theme of next week’s films because it has become a major battle ground for the world religions – for many it is seen as a sin in the Bible, the Koran and the Torah.

"4thought offers seven radically different perspectives on this subject. The aim of these films is provide an insight into why homosexuality is such a divisive issue in some of the world’s major faiths whilst also featuring personal reflections from individuals who have reconciled their sexuality with their faith.

"These 4thought films air less than a month after a Dispatches investigation into the persecution of gay people in African countries by Sorious Samura."

Mr Green's segment will be followed by one with the Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, of the Metropolitan Community Church, who believes that those who use the Bible to condemn homosexuality are hypocritical as they should also advocate the stoning of adulterers.

Others in this week's series will be a gay Hindu who believes his religion is compatible with his sexuality, a preacher who says God helped him overcome being gay and an Imam who says the Koran is evidence that men and women were created to be heterosexual.

Source: Pink News

What do you think? Should Channel 4 be giving Green and these other religious nutters a platform?

My opinion: no. Freedom of speech doesn't come into it (it's just TV, not speech in general), and for them to give Green et al. an unchallenged platform to spout their bigotry and hatred (even if done in the name of ~balance~, as it appears they are doing by having a pro-gay person following them - ignoring of course that gay rights aren't an issue where "balance" is appropriate in the first place - a white supremacist wouldn't get this treatment I'm sure) just seems like another attempt to be the ~edgy~ channel, like the time they got Ahmedinejad to do the alternative Christmas speech. They used to do a great job pushing boundaries (until the mid-90s or so), but now it's just pathetic.
Professor Chaos

Sarah Palin Knocks Obama's View Appearance

Earlier today, prolific (and creative!) Twitterer Sarah Palin tweeted about Barack Obama’s appearance on The View yesterday. Not surprisingly, she was unimpressed with the president’s hot topics, writing “President w/no time to visit porous US/Mexican border to offer help to those risking life to secure us,but lotso’ time to chat on The View? I’m headed to border in near future… let’s see how quickly his travel schedule will allow that border visit after all.” (Interesting gambit, turning it back on immigration. And here I thought she’d call out Obama for Snooki-gate.)

My friends and I often talk about celebrities whose Twitter privileges should be revoked. But when it comes to politicians — for the most part, at least — I think they all should be effectively banned from tweeting. Twitter’s just too flip a medium and the bad grammar just looks…undignified. That’s all well and good for my favorite celebs, but I don’t want to see it from people who may or may not want to lead the free world. Should Sarah Palin just resist the urge from now on? I mean, she won’t. But should she?


Take it away folks......

Damn These Activist Judges, They are Ruining Our Country!!

Florida Judge Throws Out Anti-Health Care Reform Ballot Measure Because Of ‘Manifestly Misleading’ Language

Last month, The Hill reported that Republicans in a number of states across the country were putting anti-health care reform measures on the ballot for the mid-term elections this year in order to bolster conservative voter turnout. “What we’re trying to do is give voters an added reason to show up to the polls,” said one South Carolina GOP official.

The GOP-led legislature in Florida put forward a measure to be included on this year’s ballot that would “prohibit the state from participating in any health insurance exchange that compels people to buy insurance.” But yesterday, Circuit Court Judge James Shelfer (who was appointed to a lower court by GOP Gov. Jeb Bush and elevated by current Gov. Charlie Crist) ordered that the proposed constitutional amendment be removed from the November ballot, calling the wording of the measure “manifestly misleading”:
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Threats flood into Arizona judge’s office after SB-1070 ruling.

In a long-awaited decision, federal district court judge Susan Bolton blocked several key provisions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law Wednesday. Since preliminary injunction, reports Arizona’s U.S. Marshal David Gonzales, Bolton has been “inundated” “with hundreds of threats” at her court offices:

“She has been inundated,” said U.S. Marshal David Gonzales, indicating his agents are taking some seriously. “About 99.9 percent of the inappropriate comments are people venting. They are exercising their First Amendment rights and a lot of it is perverted. But it’s that 0.1 percent that goes over the line that we are taking extra seriously.”

Bolton is not the only official facing hostility following Wednesday’s ruling. Yesterday, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) was forced to close his district office in Yuma, AZ, after “finding a window shattered and a bullet inside.” In April, when SB-1070 was signed into law, Grijalva — an outspoken opponent of the legislation — closed two district offices after death threats to his staff.

Judge who ruled on Arizona law is well versed in immigration cases

The federal judge who blocked key aspects of Arizona's new immigration law was so well regarded across the political spectrum that she was nominated to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, who tapped her on the recommendation of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), one of Congress's most conservative senators.

This week, however, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton became one of the nation's most divisive figures, after halting much of Arizona's high-profile effort to identify and deport illegal immigrants.

Hate mail and threats flowed into her court offices, according to news reports. Conservative bloggers decried her "activist" leanings and accused her of falling in with the American Civil Liberties Union, a prominent challenger of the law and a favorite target of the right. And Kyl, who during Bolton's nomination hearings in 2000 lauded her expertise and fairness, did not conceal his disappointment.

"I really thought that she would uphold most of the law and allow Arizona to try to do its best to enforce the law to the extent that the federal government wasn't doing so," he said on the Fox News program "Happening Now."
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Njena Reddd Foxxx

(no subject)

BBC sports presenter resented tone of Sunday Times' critic AA Gill's review of her new show Britain by Bike and his editor's defence

The BBC presenter Clare Balding is embroiled in a furious row over a newspaper columnist's "homophobic" remarks about her sexuality. The 39-year-old sports journalist has lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission following a review of her new programme, Britain by Bike, written by the Sunday Times's TV critic, AA Gill.

Balding, who is gay, complained to the newspaper's editor, John Witherow, about the tone of the article. But, she said, she was then even more horrified by his response.Collapse )

Sorry about the source thing mods, but it's not letting me select any tags =/

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/30/clare-balding-lesbian-complaint-gill

If Britain decides to ban the burqa I might just start wearing one

There's too much harping on about respect and banning. What about the huge gulf of toleration in the middle?

Tattoos and burqas are all the rage. One in five of us now has a tattoo and there are enough burqas around to invoke talk of banning them. Some people, presumably, sport both – but they're difficult to identify without causing an embarrassing scuffle. Especially if the person under the burqa turns out to be a woman.

Nothing good has come out of the tiresome burqa-banning debate, other than a timely reminder that the French aren't really to be trusted. Most of the time they're OK – quite like us, relatively affluent, but not so as to make us feel bitter, the kind of people you'd happily share a school run with. But, every so often, they'll do something a bit mental – have a revolution, nearly elect Le Pen, capitulate in the face of an evil empire whose armies they outnumber, ban the burqa from public places. It's always a bit of a shock, an undermining of confidence, like noticing that your accountant has a tattoo.

Damian Green, the immigration minister, deftly dismissed calls for a burqa ban as "rather un-British". I imagine he was hoping that this would cause a sort of feedback loop in the minds of xenophobes: "Hate not British! Burqa not British! Hate burqa! Ban burqa! Banning not British! Hate banning! Ban banning! Ban burqa! Ban burqa banning! Does not compute!"

I certainly prefer that argument to his colleague Caroline Spelman's view. She thinks burqas are "empowering". That's only true in the sense that a ban would be massively disempowering and colossally violate the rights of free-born citizens. It would, in fact, be the only thing that would persuade me to wear one myself, in the spirit of Guillaume Morand, a Swiss businessman who last year responded to his country's outlawing of minarets by defiantly erecting one over his shoe shop.

Governments and legislatures shouldn't tell people what they can and can't wear. By doing so, they would, in every sense, be taking a massive liberty. As long as people aren't wearing crotchless jeans outside primary schools or deely boppers with attached sparklers on petrol station forecourts, we've all got the right to wear exactly what the hell we like and I can barely believe that we're having this debate.

But we are. Stupid people are thinking about an issue that doesn't need to be thought about and a YouGov survey says 67% of us want full-face veils outlawed. Just when I thought my estimation of humanity couldn't fall any further, I discover that two-thirds of my fellow countrymen are, or at least were for the duration of taking a survey, morons. I'm so glad the Conservatives are committed to local referenda.

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Source: David Mitchell @ The Guardian