Archive for the ‘ownership society’ Category

Miers and Bolten Going Down For Contempt

Thursday, February 14th, 2008


One of the nice things about Valentines Day is that you really get to show the love. Congress today showed President Bush exactly how much they love his tossing executive privilege around and at the Congress. President Bush has his executive privilege piled up so high around the nations capitol that it’s like a knick knack junk attack that people cherish and place up on the mantle, on top of the fridge, over the television, the back of the toilet, over the medicine cabinet, in the medicine cabinet, on top of the stereo, on the back of the headboard, all over the bedroom bureaus and on every flat surface in their home.

One of President Bush’s favorite EP’s is that not one soul past or present in service to the executive branch can be subpoenaed by the Congress no matter what laws were broken. Just for back up he made sure his Justice Department pick backed him up. Contempt of Congress only works if the Justice Department backs up the Congress, Bush pulled that chip off the poker table and put it firmly in his pocket. Snickered and winked at his opponents as he held a solid pair of deuces.

Today, Congress grabbed a trash bag to get rid of some of his knick knack EP’s and the first to go was Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolton for contempt of Congress. Over at the Washington Post they have more on it but read on afterward…

House Approves Contempt Citations Against Bolten, Miers

By Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2008; 4:57 PM

The House today approved contempt of Congress citations against White House Chief of Staff Joshua A. Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers for their refusal to cooperate with an investigation into the mass firings of U.S. attorneys and allegations that administration officials sought to politicize the Justice Department.

The House voted 223-32 in favor of the citations, the first against the executive branch since the Reagan administration. The vote came after a morning of tense partisan fights over procedural motions and bickering over parliamentary rules, capped by most House Republicans walking off the floor and refusing to vote. Republicans said the chamber should instead be approving a surveillance law passed by the Senate and supported by President Bush.

But Democrats said they were left with no choice but to engage in a constitutional showdown with Bush because he has refused for nearly a year to allow any current or former West Wing staff members to testify in the congressional inquiry. Citing executive privilege, the president has offered their testimony only if it is taken without transcripts and not under oath.

Snippet and here is the power punch!!!

Testifying at his confirmation hearings last October, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said that current and former White House officials who refused to testify in a congressional inquiry likely did so based on the Justice Department’s ruling that Bush’s assertion of executive privilege was proper. That meant the Justice Department could not now criminally charge someone for defying Congress based on its own prior legal advice, he said.

The resolutions approved by the House contain a second mechanism that, if Mukasey and Taylor refuse to impanel a grand jury, would allow the House general counsel to file a civil lawsuit in federal courts seeking a declaratory judgment against Bolten and Miers that would compel their congressional testimony. - Washington Post

Talk about a power punch! For the record this power punch was brought to you and the American people by one man that was fed up with all the corruption and cover up politics of Bush and Company.

Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida has been ticked off and leading this fight not just behind the scenes but right up front. This from the Super Congressman in my email box today…

Today, thanks in great part to your advocacy and persistence, the House of Representatives took a major, tangible step towards holding the Bush Administration accountable.

In a vote on the House floor, we acted to enforce the law and our Constitution, and hold former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten in Contempt of Congress. (Please click here to watch my speech on the House Floor calling for contempt.)

Bolten and Miers have ignored congressional subpoenas for nine months and thumbed their noses at Congress and the American people.

Executive privilege has never permitted officials to avoid appearing altogether when subpoenaed. This behavior is unprecedented and outrageous.

Now, these two renegade officials must face up to their blatant disregard of the law and constitution.

Our message of accountability for Bush/Cheney is finally resonating on Capitol Hill.
Judiciary Chairman John Conyers fought hard to bring this to a vote, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi herself took the floor to support contempt. - Congressman Robert Wexler Email to Papamoka

This is what justice is all about. Not raising a vigilante group of thugs but taking the steps necessary and legally to take on Bush and his King like political tactics. Time for the scales of justice to tilt a little back to the center. Thank you Congressman Wexler!

Papamoka

Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

Feel free to link to or borrow this post…

Housing Crisis: “Project Lifeline” Dead On Arrival

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

For homeowners facing rising interest rates, higher payments, and dwindling or nonexistent equity, the roll out of “Project Lifeline” seems little more than a “dying by inches” strategy. The plan’s 30-day freeze on foreclosures seems to be the equivalent of offering a band-aid to a patient in need of an organ transplant.

Project Lifeline is premised on the notion that granting homeowners a 30 day reprieve will lead them to contact their lender and provide some new financial information that will magically alter their grave situation such that the lender will forego the completion of foreclosure proceedings.

Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and four other U.S. lenders agreed with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to take new steps to help borrowers in danger of foreclosure stay in their homes.

Paulson and the banks offered a 30-day freeze on some foreclosures while loan modifications are considered. The Treasury chief, with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson, said today at a news conference in Washington that “Project Lifeline” would help stabilize communities disrupted by mortgage defaults.

“If someone is willing to make a call, to reach out, there’s a chance they can save their home,” Paulson said. “As our economy works through this difficult period, we will look for additional opportunities to try to avoid preventable foreclosures.”

In a statement, the banks said the program would start with a letter to homeowners more than 90 days delinquent on payments that lays out procedures for them to “pause” the foreclosure process. The homeowner has 10 days to respond to the notice and give additional financial information so the lender is able to weigh new payment options.

Having worked in commercial real estate through the Savings & Loan scandal of the late 80’s, my cynicism was piqued by the announcement of this plan. In truth, I suspect most delinquent homeowners with some mathematical potential to save their homes have already contacted their lender in the hopes of renegotiating. Those homeowners who haven’t spoken to their lender are apt to already know they lack the financial means to forestall foreclosure or to withstand the terms of a restructure that may provide some minimal relief. Further, most lenders already know what I’ve just stated.

So the unasked question remains, “What is this plan really intended to achieve?” I’ll posit two answers. First, the lenders participating in this plan are themselves in dire straits and the Bush administration, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development know as much. Given the desire to avoid expanding recessionary pressures, it behooves the government and these lenders to slow the flow of home foreclosures. More bad news on the precipice of a recession simply accelerates the speed with which the economy falls further into recession. Thus, the plan hopes to blunt the bad news.

Secondarily, banking disclosure provisions require lenders to account for bad loans and to maintain acceptable loss ratios to remain viable. Should these huge institutions fall short on these formulas, an injection of additional capital is frequently required. Absent the ability to meet these capital calls, these lenders face insolvency and regulatory intervention…the very events that preceded the S&L fiasco and the subsequent creation of the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC)…the entity charged with the management and administration of failed S&L’s, the bad loans they held, and the liquidation of the properties associated with those loans.

Given the huge amount of capital that has already been injected to stabilize the industry, I suspect the powers that be fear the impact of announcing even more stopgap capital infusions. If my hypothesis is correct, then my characterization of the situation as “death by inches” is certainly appropriate.

There’s no doubt the governments’ hands-off approach to regulatory oversight clearly enabled the industry’s careless and shortsighted practices. Truth be told, the government and the lending industry subsequently underestimated (or chose to bury their heads in the sand) the magnitude of the crisis. Too little has been done too late to solve the problems or to quell the growing consumer fears that hasten the trajectory of the recessionary spiral. Further half-measures to right the ship will only prolong the inevitable and heighten consumer mistrust.

A look into the pipeline simply indicates more bad news is on the way.

Federal Reserve officials project about 2 million homeowners face higher mortgage rates over the next two years as their loans reset higher. Economists at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. estimate foreclosures this year will be about 1 million more than average, a level that FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair has said “is just too high.” They average about 600,000 in a typical year.

“This [Project Lifeline] is good, but we’ve seen this over and over again,” said Kathleen Day, a spokeswoman for the Center for Responsible Lending in Washington. “The fact that they keep having to roll out subsequent rescue plans every few weeks underscores that each plan is inadequate.”

I’ll close with an observation relative to the 2008 election. George Bush’s pattern of ignoring the economic warnings and the opinions of his underlings…coupled with his new focus upon bolstering his “fiscal conservative” legacy…may serve to enhance the Democrats’ argument that voters can ill-afford the continuance of a Republican in the White House.

Each time the President asserts that the economy is sound and will soon weather the storm…and then has to backpedal…he risks placing his fellow Republicans in the unenviable position of asking voters to send them back to Washington smack-dab in the middle of an economic shitstorm.

Not only is Project Lifeline apt to be dead on arrival, the intransigent leader of the GOP may be unknowingly orchestrating his party’s death march…one stubborn George W. Bush inch at a time.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Do You Send Personal E-mails From Work? You’re Fired!

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Several weeks ago, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that employers could prohibit members of labor unions from using the company e-mail system for anything union-related.

This story barely made a blip on the news radar, since most people aren’t members of a labor union or planning to join one. This ruling only applies to those blue-collar shlubs who work with their hands. Who cares about them?

But now — uh oh! It seems this NLRB ruling might be expanded; it could be used against ALL employees. Some legal experts are saying that if an employer forbids use of company e-mail for labor unions, they’ll also have to forbid ALL non-work-related e-mails on company computers. You know, discrimination laws and all that. And now tens of millions of office workers are simultaneously thinking “Oh my God, this affects ME!”

Or to paraphrase that famous German quote: “When they came for the janitors I did nothing because I have a desk and a fancy job title…then when they came for me…”

As the name indicates, the National Labor Relations Board at one time actually defended workers against unfair labor practices. But that was then. Like every other agency in the Bush Administration, the NLRB is now stacked from top to bottom with incompetent cronies who hate everything the agency stands for.

In the same way that FEMA “helps” people whose homes have been devastated by a hurricane, the National Labor Relations Board “defends” workers who are being trampled by a powercrazed boss.

Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, said:

“The Bush labor board has consistently demonstrated hostility toward workers who want to unite for a voice in the workplace, so this latest brand of discrimination unfortunately comes as no surprise. We need a labor board that truly has an interest in the needs of working people, not one eager to assist those corporate interests bent on trying to intimidate or censor workers who want to form a union to improve their jobs and the services they provide. This ruling is another sad example of how the deck is stacked against workers in America.”

Some managers are using the tired argument that since they own the computer equipment, they can restrict how it’s used. Riiight. They also own the bathrooms, the cafeteria and vending machines and all of the chairs and desks. Oh, and the parking lot. They could have a field day.

Bush outlines his plan to kick start the economy

Friday, January 18th, 2008

As I sat and listened to the Idiot-in-Chief, I wondered if he actually believed what he said or just hopes to hell that we believe it.

He wants the tax cuts for the top one percent to be made permanent, but the ones he is outlining for the rest of America should only be a one-time deal.

Of course the following part really jacked my jaw: Folks at the extreme bottom of the economic rung shouldn’t get squat..because that is considered welfare.

Fark you Frat boy.

Here it is, what the Jackass-in-Chief wants and what lies and half-truths he spewed. Some lowlights:

The economic team reports that our economy has a solid foundation, but that there are areas of real concern. Our economy is still creating jobs, though at a reduced pace. Consumer spending is still growing, but the housing market is declining. Business investment and exports are still rising, but the cost of imported oil has increased.-Ok, the December report on how American’s spent their money showed it was in the toilet, the worst since 1991. The New York Times stated: Strong evidence is emerging that consumer spending, a bulwark against recession over the last year even as energy prices surged and the housing market sputtered, has begun to slow sharply at every level of the American economy, from the working class to the wealthy.

Sorry Bush, but your full of bat guano on that first point right out of the box. The way the government fixes it’s statistics on job growth have been crap for years. Too many variables that should be included in that statistic aren’t.

Wages are stagnant and good paying jobs disappear while the income of the top one percent of Americans that don’t actually work for a living and that love their stocks and hedge funds has continued to grow. To say we are growing and jobs are being created might be true..but what is the average wage of those ‘new’ jobs? The NYT article linked above shows how the lifestyles of average American’s has changed drastically:

One consequence is an upending of the traditional pattern, in which middle-aged children take in an elderly parent. As $15-an-hour factory jobs are replaced by $7- or $8-an-hour retail jobs, more men in their 30s and 40s are moving in with their parents or grandparents, said Cheryl Thiessen, the director of Jackson/Vinton Community Action, which runs medical, fuel and other aid programs in Jackson and Vinton Counties.

The Economic Policy Institute, EPI tells you and shows you graphs and charts on how wages have suffered for the working part of America:

With the release of today’s consumer price index for December—up 0.3% for the month and 4.1% for 2007—we can now examine how real hourly and weekly earnings did over the course of last year (comparing this December to last December).

As shown in Figure 1, both hourly and weekly earnings fell in 2007, a sharp reversal from the gains in 2006. After growing by about 2% in 2006, both hourly and weekly earnings fell, after adjusting for inflation, by about 1% last year.

More from The Shrub’s speechifying:Passing a new growth package is our most pressing economic priority. When that is done, Congress must turn to the most important economic priority for our country, and that’s making sure the tax relief that is now in place is not taken away. A source of uncertainty in our economy is that this tax relief is set to expire at the end of 2010. Unless Congress acts, the American people will face massive tax increases in less than three years. The marriage penalty will make a comeback; the child tax credit will be cut in half; the death tax will come back to life; and tax rates will go up on regular income, capital gains, and dividends. -Notice that he really wants to keep those on top of the foodchain safe, but not anyone else. God forbid their taxes go back up in the form of capital gains, dividends and the estate tax.

For the 99% of American’s that actually work for a living, their income isn’t growing like the income for the wealthy at the top of the economic food chain. From the latest data that is complete:

From 2003 to 2004, the average incomes of the bottom 99 percent of households grew by less than 3 percent, after adjusting for inflation. In contrast, the average incomes of the top one percent of households experienced a jump of more than 18 percent, after adjusting for inflation. (Census data show that real median income fell between 2003 and 2004. Average income is pulled up by gains at the top of the income spectrum; much of the 2.3 percent rise among the bottom 99 percent seems to largely reflects gains by households in the top decile of the income spectrum. In contrast, trends in median income capture the experience of households in the middle of the income spectrum.)

 

The top one percent of households (those with annual incomes above about $315,000 in 2004) garnered 53 percent of the income gains in 2004.(emphasis mine)

Sadly the reality is..it’s worse than that. The CBPP explained that the enormous gains at the top of the income foodchain caused a rise of income as a whole. But average income dropped between 2003 and 2004, and has not risen appreciably since then. In short, while the top one percent get richer, the middle class is shrinking, as economist Paul Krugman pointed out in a speech earlier this year:

By the time World War II was over, we had become the middle-class society that the baby boomers in this audience grew up in. We had become a much more equal society. That high degree of equality began to go away — depending on exactly which numbers you look at — during the late 70’s, maybe a little earlier than that. And at this point we’re basically back to pre-tax and transfer to the levels of inequality that we had in 1929.

What happened in 1929? The Stock Market crashed and burned.

The final blurb from our Frat Boy in the White House: In a vibrant economy, markets rise and decline. We cannot change that fundamental dynamic. As a matter of fact, eliminating risk altogether would also eliminate the innovation and productivity that drives the creation of jobs and wealth in America. Yet there are also times when swift and temporary actions can help ensure that inevitable market adjustments do not undermine the health of the broader economy. This is such a moment.

I don’t really want to call our Decider-in-Chief a delusional moron or better yet a lying sack of crap, but if that shoe fits… you hold him down and I will stick it on his foot, while I put the other one where the sun doesn’t shine, otherwise known as his behind.

Inside The Numbers: The Humpty Dumpty Economy?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

We may not be officially in the throes of a recession, but there is sufficient data to understand why voters are focusing their attention on the economy. While economics is thought to be a function of mathematical equations, the evidence suggests that math is driven by consumer sentiment. As such, the math can rarely predict a recession. Instead, as is often the case, understanding a recession frequently happens well after the fact.

I’ve been amused to watch economists offer their odds on the U.S. slipping into a recession. For example, over the last several months…as the numbers have worsened, former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, has revised his prediction a from one in three chance to a fifty-fifty likelihood we will see a recession. Greenspan isn’t alone in having altered his thinking…and I expect to see more of the same until such time as the math can capture the impact of rapidly expanding consumer pessimism.

Truth be told, December may well prove to have been the first month of a recession. In the constant barrage of numbers and statistics leading up to a recession, we occasionally receive data that captures the prevailing factors that are driving consumer doubts. Today, McClatchy News delivered a relevant snapshot.

McClatchy Graphic

WASHINGTON — New data from the Labor Department confirm what most middle-class Americans already know: Inflation is squeezing them.

As consumer inflation rose by 4.1 percent last year, the highest rate since 1990, the prices of basic essentials such as food, gasoline and health insurance climbed far more steeply, explaining why so many Americans are telling pollsters that the economy is their chief concern.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday that the price of food and beverages rose 4.8 percent. At the same time, real weekly earnings failed to keep pace, rising 0.9 percent for the year. In the simplest of terms, a dollar earned bought less.

This partly explains why the economy so frustrates Americans.

“The kinds of things you purchase every day are going up (in price),” said Gus Faucher, the director of macroeconomics at forecaster Moody’s Economy.com in West Chester, Pa. “People who are at the lower end of the income scale are going to feel that more.”

That brings me to another point. If tax cuts are the be all and end all that the GOP suggests them to be, then why is it that they fail to insulate the middle class from a downturn in the economy? The obvious answer is that aside from being a symbolic gesture to most Americans, the tax cuts are simply a drop in the bucket. At the same time, the lion’s share of these tax cuts serve to further line the pockets of those who least need insulating from a faltering economy.

Perhaps the prevailing economic fallacy is the contention that further tax cuts will stimulate the economy. This might be true if the cuts were directed to those most in need of money to spend…the same middle class that pushed the economy into recession based upon their astute ability to recognize that their money buys less.

Instead, the GOP argues that their top-heavy tax cuts will eventually be transformed into investments and jobs. Unfortunately, that strategy fully ignores the fact that people in the middle class need more money; not more jobs. If those who already have jobs…have jobs that won’t allow them to keep apace with inflation…then what benefit will they see from the creation of new jobs…especially when most investors and large corporations are looking to create more lower paying jobs in order to produce more wealth. Even worse, globalization often means that these tax cuts are put into foreign investments that do not create jobs for Americans.

Until such time as economic policy is geared to produce meaningful benefit for the middle class, the economy will remain unstable and vulnerable, the handouts to the wealthy will further concentrate wealth in the hands of fewer individuals, and negative consumer sentiment will more frequently send the country into recession.

Lastly, the unprecedented subprime lending crisis…coupled with the inevitable decline in home values…has the potential to indefinitely stymie consumer optimism. Once the undermining of this last bastion of middle class wealth is realized, I would argue that all economic equations would have been rendered useless. If this happens, the backbone of the U.S. economy may be…like the fabled Humpty Dumpty…beyond reconstruction.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

You’re Getting Mugged by American Corporations

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

If it seems like all of those hidden fees and surcharges are nickel-and-diming you to death — they are. Every time you turn around it’s $5 for this banking transaction, $10 added to your phone and cable bills for God knows what.

These hidden fees cost Americans $45 billion dollars a year. That’s roughly the same as the amount lost to Identity Theft each year. Unlike ID theft, these hidden fees are perfectly legal. After all, our legislators and regulatory agencies are fully owned and operated by the industries they’re supposedly “regulating.”

This $45 billion doesn’t include penalties or late fees; these are simply the hidden charges you automatically pay every time you purchase a product or use a service. These hidden fees cost the average American almost a thousand dollars a year. Ah heck, you weren’t planning to use that thousand for anything, were you?

These hidden surcharges also don’t include anything “extra” like vacations. This article is only based on the mundane everyday things you do: making phone calls, going to the bank, watching TV, using the Internet, saving for your retirement, buying groceries, etc. If you’re some sort of spendthrift who likes to take fancy vacations, you might be paying closer to $4,000 a year in hidden fees.

The author of this article says: “Sneaky fees peck away at us like a swarm of mosquitoes that ruin an otherwise beautiful summer evening. And like mosquitoes, an individual bite might seem trivial, barely more than a nuisance, but repeated bites can actually change the way you live. They chase you inside, make you build a screened porch, and in extreme cases make you sick.”

He uses the term “Gotcha Capitalism.” “Gotchas are everywhere you turn, now. They are a way of life for consumers. They are our economic system, one that has replaced our former system, the free market economy. Gotcha Capitalism — your personal finances, under siege. Mosquitoes might threaten your life with death by 1,000 bites; Gotcha Capitalism threatens your finances with death by a thousand fees.”

NO More Red State or Blue State

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

Following the election after Iowa is enlightening and educational to this Biden junkie. As much as I loved Joe Biden for President I am finding the Obama camp more to my liking without Joe in the race for President. Obama’s approach to the election is not about a divided America but a United America with a common purpose. Serving all Americans and what they need first.

There is no red state or blue state or division in his speeches and he reaches out in unity for all. That principal is something that people from all walks of life can vote for and believe in that Barack Obama and his message of change is what we need as a nation. From over at Liberal Values, Ron Chusid has this great video and read on Barack Obama’s victory in Iowa…

With about 98% of the vote in from the Iowa caucus, I project Barack Obama will be elected the next President of the United States.

Sure, a lot can still happen between now and November, but baring a major change it is difficult to see any other result. Edwards’ populism won’t sell in many states outside of Iowa, and having lost her aura of inevitability, support for Clinton is likely to hemorrhage. Dodd and Biden both withdrew, and Richardson performed too poorly to be a serious candidate. As for the general election, the record turnout of 227,000 in a state that went for George Bush is just one sign of the advantage the Democrats have. Some questioned the model used by The Des Moines Register that estimated 200,000 attendees but this number was greatly surpassed. By comparison, the turnout in 2004 was 125,000.

Not only did Obama win the caucus, he “won” in the post-caucus speeches. Clinton’s speech sounded like a speech of the Democratic Party past. John Edwards’ speech was the Dean scream put to words, showing yet again Edwards would never be elected president. Barack Obama gave the speech which would be expected not only by the leader of the Democratic Party, but by the president of all the people of the United States. The Republicans might be able to beat Hillary Clinton. I believe they would have beaten John Edwards. They will have a hard time beating Barack ObamaIn America we need to stand up for ourselves and vote for change simply because the Congress will not act if we do not send our elected candidates to speak for us. This is a time for great change in our nation and the only way it will happen is by voting for change. - Liberal Values

President Bush and his crew of political thugs have convinced the American people that there are two sides to every issue and if you are on the opposing opinion then you are anti-American. With us or against us mentality works in the school yard but not in the world we adults have to leave as a legacy to our children or grand children. Living under the cloak of perpetual Republican fear because the toughest kid on the block should never talk to the political leaders of other nations because they do not agree with us is isolationist and the fast track for our nations failure.

When the folks on the right side of the aisle talk about making your life just a little bit better they are talking about the top three to five percent of income earners. When Barack Obama talks about making your lives a little better he is talking to you and I that are struggling just to pay the mortgage or the rent and fill the gas tank of the family car. He is talking about the future and ending the tyranny of oil, the energy crisis that is crippling Americans at the pump or the oil heating tank in not just your home but your business. He is talking about change and change only comes from listening to inventors and people with innovative ideas that will cripple the domination and strangle hold that the oil industry and markets hold over Americans every single day. From that perspective, his love for our country and all of our people is genuine and unquestionable.

As for those that would question his patriotism or desire to end the war in Iraq he has a time line. Iraq is free, Iraq will have sixteen months to get its own house in order and our troops will be out. Much like Ronald Reagan let the Iranians know that he would not tolerate hostage takers as President, the result was freed hostages during his inauguration.

One thing is sure as we all live here in America and go about our lives is that the state of our nation is in trouble. The perception of America is no longer the defender of freedom. We are supposedly the police of the world and we can not be that for all nations. We as a nation need to put the Teddy Roosevelt big stick down and listen to the people of the world that used to be our friends. Selling fear is easy, selling the answers to overcome that fear is someone you need to listen to. We are not the ugly Americans but that is the perception around the world of our nation and of you. Can we change that? I don’t think we have a choice.

America is not just about Americans. We are the beacon of light to the world and many times we might get it wrong on world politics but we have the innate ability to prove that change is possible. When our nation is right, then we can all do amazing things for the world. When we are wrong and our President has a twenty eight percent popularity rating then we can and will initiate change by voting accordingly. We are not red states or blue states, we are Americans. If we want our government back then we need to stand up for change. It is that easy and that simple and Barack Obama is right!

Papamoka

Cross posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

Biggest lies of the year..part deux

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

I report..you decide..all of this is from FactCheck.org:

Rudy’s Adoption Deception

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani claimed adoptions went up 65 percent to 70 percent when he was mayor of New York City, when in fact adoptions at the end of his tenure were only 17 percent higher than at the start, and they were falling. His manipulation of official statistics was a classic case of using data selectively to create a false impression.

Levitating Numbers May 7, 2007

Rudy’s False Cancer Claim

Giuliani claimed in a radio ad that men suffering from prostate cancer have only a 44 percent survival rate under England’s system of “socialized medicine.” The true figure is 74.4 percent. Giuliani’s bogus statistic was the result of bad math by a campaign adviser with no particular expertise in cancer research. It was denounced by any number of cancer experts including one who called it “nonsense.” Giuliani stubbornly refused to admit his error, claiming the 44 percent figure is “absolutely accurate.” It isn’t.

A Bogus Cancer Statistic October 30, 2007

Bogus Cancer Stats, Again November 8, 2007

Rudy’s Inflated Cop Count

Giuliani falsely claimed that he grew New York City’s police force by 12,000 officers, but 7,100 of those he counted were already housing or transit police who were simply merged into the New York Police Department. The actual increase in the size of the city’s uniformed police officers was about 3,660, or about 10 percent, and the cost of hiring about 3,500 of them was partially covered by the federal government under President Bill Clinton.

Cop-Counting Cop-Out October 9, 2007

Rudy’s Bogus Crime Claim

A Giuliani TV ad falsely claimed New York City experienced “record crime … until Rudy.” In fact, the city recorded its highest rates of both violent crime and property crime years before he took office. The downward trend was well established before he was sworn in.

The Not-Quite Truth About NYC November 27, 2007

Rudy’s Tax-Cut Puffery

Giuliani constantly repeated that he “cut or eliminated 23 taxes” while mayor of New York City, but eight of those were initiated at the state level, with the mayor cheering from the sidelines. A ninth cut, one of the largest, was opposed by Giuliani in a five-month standoff with the City Council, until the mayor finally acquiesced. He can properly claim credit for initiating only 14 of the cuts.

Giuliani’s Tax Puffery July 27, 2007

Richardson’s Job Inflation

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson continually boasted of creating 80,000 jobs since becoming governor of New Mexico. But official figures showed a 68,100 gain when he first started making this inflated boast. He based his claim on a definition of “jobs” that includes unpaid workers in family businesses and freelancers who don’t draw a paycheck.

Richardson also claimed he “made New Mexico 6th in job growth,” when the state already ranked 6th for the 12-month period before he took office and later fell to 17th under Richardson’s stewardship.

Richardson’s Job Boast August 22, 2007

Richardson Flunks Math and Science

Richardson also claimed over and over that U.S. students rank 29th in the world in math and science. Not true. The two leading international assessments of student achievement rank U.S. students better in all cases, and in most cases much better, than Richardson claims. U.S. students do post mediocre scores compared with those of other industrial nations, but Richardson is using a fanciful number that paints too dark a picture.

Richardson Flunks Two Subjects September 12, 2007

Mitt’s Immigration Malarkey

An ad by Romney in New Hampshire claimed that his rival John McCain “voted to allow illegals to collect Social Security.” That’s untrue. Nobody who is in the country illegally could be paid any Social Security benefits under McCain’s immigration bill. What McCain and 10 other Senate Republicans voted against was an effort to strip illegal aliens of a right they currently have: to apply the taxes they paid and the time they worked while in the country illegally as credit toward future Social Security benefits if and when they become citizens or legal residents.

The same ad said one of the differences between the two candidates is that Romney “opposes amnesty” for illegal immigrants. But Romney himself once called McCain’s immigration bill “reasonable” and said it was “quite different” from amnesty. Indeed it was. The McCain bill would have required those here illegally to pay thousands of dollars in fines and fees to gain legal status.

In an earlier TV ad, Romney cast himself as tough on illegal immigration, saying “I authorized the [Massachusetts] State Police to enforce immigration laws.” He doesn’t mention that his order never took effect. It came in the closing days of his administration and was rescinded by his successor

More Mitt Malarkey December 28, 2007

Tough Guy on Immigration? November 9, 2007

Mitt’s Meth Miss

Yet another Romney ad attacked Huckabee in Iowa, claiming Romney “got tough on drugs like meth” in Massachusetts while Huckabee “reduced penalties for manufacturing methamphetamine” in Arkansas. But the legislation Romney supported never passed. Furthermore, convicted meth dealers face prison terms in Arkansas that are four times longer than those in Massachusetts, even after the reductions Huckabee supported. The reductions were drafted with help from Arkansas state prosecutors to ease prison overcrowding.

Romney on Huckabee II December 19, 2007

Mitt Mauls History

Romney claimed that Democratic President Clinton “began to dismantle the military,” but really it was Republican President George H.W. Bush who started making deep cuts in defense budgets years before Clinton took office.

More Mitt Missteps July 9, 2007

Hillary’s Trumped-up Troop Claim

In a TV ad for her presidential campaign, Sen. Hillary Clinton falsely claimed that members of the National Guard and military Reserve didn’t have health insurance until she and a GOP colleague took action. “You would think that after all the sacrifices and service of the National Guard and Reserve protecting our country, they would have had health insurance. But they didn’t.”

In fact, most of them did. All active-duty Guard and Reserve troops were covered by federal insurance long before she became a senator. Furthermore, four out of five non-active-duty guardsmen and reservists also were covered by their civilian employers or other sources. Clinton did help expand and enhance government health care coverage for reservists but can’t claim credit for creating coverage where none existed, as this ad implied.

Exaggerating Help for Troops December 20, 2007

Huckabee’s Tax Hooey

* Huckabee tried to duck charges of being a tax increaser by claiming an Arkansas gasoline tax hike passed after 80 percent of state voters approved it. But the referendum vote on highway repairs didn’t occur until after the tax was increased.

Huckabee also claimed repeatedly that he cut taxes “almost 94 times,” sliding by the fact that 21 other taxes were raised during his tenure, resulting in a net tax increase.

Huckabee’s Fiscal Record November 21, 2007

“FairTax” Falsehoods

Proponents of the so-called “FairTax,” prominently including Huckabee, claimed that a national sales tax of 23 percent could replace both the federal income tax and Social Security taxes, and eliminate the Internal Revenue Service.

In truth, the actual rate of the proposed tax would be 30 percent, when calculated the same way as state and local sales taxes. And it would have to be 34 percent to raise the same revenue as the taxes it would replace, according to a bipartisan presidential commission. The FairTax would, for example, raise the price of gasoline by roughly $1 per gallon at today’s prices and cause a $150,000 new home to cost at least $195,000 including the 30 percent tax.

And while the Internal Revenue Service might disappear, two new federal bureaucracies would be needed: one to administer the sales tax and another to keep track of sending out hundreds of billions of dollars in checks every year to compensate taxpayers for the regressive nature of sales taxes. The proposal calls for “prebates” to all taxpayers of all taxes paid on purchases up to the poverty level. That of course would require an IRS-like system to validate each person’s income and the amount of “prebate” they are due.

Unspinning the FairTax May 31, 2007

Edwards’ Empty Threat

Former Sen. John Edwards said, both in a TV ad and constantly on the campaign trail, that as president he’d tell Congress to act within six months to make sure all Americans have health insurance or “I’m going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you.” But he would have no such power. Lawmakers have health coverage granted by law, not by executive fiat.

Edwards’ Empty Threat November 13, 2007

McCain’s Supply-side Spin

McCain claimed the major tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 “dramatically increased revenues” and that tax cuts in general increase revenues. Not true. The Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury Department, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers and a former Bush administration economist all said that tax cuts lead to revenues that are lower than they otherwise would have been – even if they spur some economic growth.

Supply-side Spin June 11, 2007

McCain’s Impossible Energy Dream

McCain promised that if elected he’d set up a massive government program to develop alternate energy sources and “we will in five years become oil independent.” But the U.S. imports two-thirds of its oil, and dependence is growing. Experts we consulted said McCain’s five-year goal is an impossibility. “There’s just no way,” said Frank Verrastro, director of the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “You can’t institute technological change that quickly.” Studies assessing how to achieve energy independence set target dates ranging from 2025 to 2040.

Republicans Debate in Iowa December 12, 2007

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Biden’s Bogus Labor Boast

Sen. Joe Biden claimed during a Democratic forum to have a labor record equal to or better than all the candidates present that evening:

Biden: Look at our records. There’s no one on this stage, mainly because of my longevity, that has a better labor record than me.

Actually, all the candidates on the stage had a better lifetime labor record than Biden, as measured by the AFL-CIO’s ratings of Senate and House votes. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Edwards had the best ratings, tied at 97 percent for their congressional careers. Biden’s lifetime rating brought up the rear at 85 percent.

AFL-CIO Democratic Forum August 8, 2007

Democratic Hot Air on Medicare

Democrats made a false promise to senior citizens by claiming that they had a painless way to bring about lower prices on pharmaceuticals. Michigan Rep. John Dingell summed up his party’s empty promise during House debate on their bill, H.R. 4:

Dingell: This legislation is simple and common sense. It will deliver lower premiums to the seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers.

That claim was contradicted by a number of experts including the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the chief actuary of the Medicare system. Both said the bill wouldn’t bring the lower prices Democrats promised, because it wouldn’t have allowed the federal government to set up a “formulary” of approved medications for Medicare, such as the one the Veterans Administration uses to squeeze price concessions from drug companies for the drugs it covers. Formularies can be unpopular with patients if preferred drugs aren’t covered. The Democratic bill would require federal officials to negotiate while denying them any leverage. The bill passed the House but the Senate took no action.
Medicare Hot Air January 17, 2007

Bush Baloney on Children’s Health

President Bush falsely claimed that a proposal to expand the 10-year-old federal SCHIP program “would result in taking a program meant to help poor children and turning it into one that covers children in households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year.” That wasn’t true. Nothing in the proposal would have forced coverage for families earning $83,000 a year.

Actually, the Urban Institute estimated that 70 percent of children who would gain coverage under the bill that Bush attacked (and later vetoed) are in families earning half the $83,000 figure Bush used. One state, New York, had proposed (under current law) to allow families of four with incomes up to $82,600 a year to be eligible, but the administration successfully prevented that from happening.

Furthermore, the program wasn’t aimed at “poor” children as Bush claimed. Those in poverty generally are covered under Medicaid already. SCHIP was aimed at children in families without health coverage and with incomes that are above the poverty level.

Bush’s False Claims About Children’s Health Insurance September 21, 2007

Bush’s Iraqi Exaggerations

Bush played loose with the facts in an address address to the nation on Iraq. He said “36 nations … have troops on the ground in Iraq.” In fact, his own State Department put the number at 25. The White House later said the president was counting some nations that had troops in the country temporarily as part of a military exercise. Bush also said the city of Baqubah in Diyala province was “cleared.” But the Washington Post quoted a State Department official as saying the security situation there wasn’t stable at the time.

Operation Iraqi Gloss-Over September 14, 2007

Off-Base About Offshoring

An ad by a labor union PAC supporting Democratic presidential candidate Edwards in Iowa implied that the closing of a Maytag factory in the state and the loss of 1,800 jobs were due to “tax breaks to companies that move jobs offshore.” And it said Edwards would end such breaks. But the jobs didn’t move offshore. They were sent to Ohio. And eliminating the “tax breaks” in question probably wouldn’t do much to keep jobs in the U.S.

Not Working 4 Edwards December 19, 2007

“Lawsuit Abuse” Nonsense

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran a TV ad claiming that “lawsuit abuse” is costing “your family” $3,500 a year. But that figure came from a study estimating the cost of all suits, not just abusive ones. The author of the study called the chamber’s ad “misleading.”

A False Ad About ‘Lawsuit Abuse’ May 11, 2007

by Brooks Jackson, with the staff of FactCheck.org

So, there you have it..all the lies and bs from both sides of the aisle..it’s a doozy ain’t it?

BushCo buddies buying more media outlets

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Damn that librul media! They aren’t staying on top of buying up all the available tv stations. Rupert has sold off some of his television holdings to another rightwing equity firm, OakHill Partners. From the RawStory writeup:

Oak Hill Partners lead investor Robert M. Bass, a longtime associate of President Bush, is also the founder of the Ft. Worth, Texas-based Bass Brothers Enterprises. Oak Hill issued a statement announcing the stations would be jointly managed by a broadcast holding company, Local TV, that was created by Oak Hill for the purpose of purchasing 9 other television stations from The New York Times previously this year.

*snip*

News Corp. had originally intended to sell off nine of its US television stations; however Bass’s subsidiary, Local TV, could not purchase WHBQ-TV in Memphis, Tennessee as it had previously purchased CBS affiliate WREG-TV: “Federal Communications Commission rules allow market duopolies but only one of the two stations under a single owner can be among the market’s four top-rated stations there and there must be least eight unique station owners in the market once the duopoly is formed.”

I don’t want to hear about that liberal bias in the media. Not with these guys selling to each other to keep it in the ‘family’ as it were. With newspaper circulation dropping each quarter, television stations are vastly more important than print media as a form of news dissemination.

CEOs’ Salaries Subsidized by Taxpayers

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simultaneously 1) narrow the financial gap between CEOs and their lowest-paid employees, and 2) reduce your own tax burden. Well, now you CAN.

The Income Equity Act of 2007 would amend the Internal Revenue Code so that corporations will no longer get tax deductions when they pay “excessive compensation” to their top executives. If any employee is paid more than 25 times what the lowest-paid employee makes, the money beyond that 2500% mark would not be tax deductible.

So if a company’s lowest-paid worker makes $20,000 a year, and any other employee makes more than $500,000 a year, all of that person’s income beyond the $500,000 mark will NOT be tax deductible.

Fair enough? This bill is sure to bring out the usual conservative blubberings about “bootstraps” and “government meddling.” But there really isn’t any government interference involved here. If corporations want to pay their CEOs nine hundred quatrabazillion dollars a year, they still can. They just won’t be getting subsidized by YOUR tax dollars any more.

Conservatives should be in favor of a law like this, since they’re always blathering about “welfare” and “government giveaways.” But it’s become all too obvious in the past few years: Conservatives have nothing against government handouts. They only object when the money goes to needy people.

And besides, companies could continue to pay huge salaries to their top executives and still keep their tax deductions. All they’d have to do is — let’s go waaay out on a limb here — raise the pay of their lowest-paid workers. Riiight, that’ll happen.

If you’d like to start putting the brakes on our downward spiral into Third World status — where two percent of the population has most of the wealth — please click here. Ask your Representative to support the Income Equity Act (H.R. 3876).


Fish.Travel