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Archive for December 6, 2010

Jimmy Carter Calls Congressional Republicans ‘Completely Irresponsible’

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment
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The Day the Dollar Died

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Keith Olbermann Democrats cave on taxes

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Washington’s Blog – No, The Big Banks Have Not “Paid Back” Government Bailouts and Subsidies

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From Washington’s Blog:

No, The Big Banks Have Not “Paid Back” Government Bailouts and Subsidies

The big banks claim that they have paid back all of the bailout money they received, and that the taxpayers have actually made money on the bailouts.

However, as Barry Ritholtz notes:

Pro Publica has been maintaining a list of bailout recipients, updating the amount lent versus what was repaid.

So far, 938 Recipients have had $607,822,512,238 dollars committed to them, with $553,918,968,267 disbursed. Of that $554b disbursed, less than half — $220,782,546,084 — has been returned.

Whenever you hear pronunciations of how much money the TARP is making, check back and look at this list. It shows the TARP is deeply underwater.

Moreover, as I pointed out in May, the big banks have received enormous windfall profits from guaranteed spreads on interest rates:

Bloomberg notes:

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Washington’s Blog – Does Bernanke Look Like a Man Who is Confident About the State of the Economy and the Prospects for Recovery?

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From Washington’s Blog:

Does Bernanke Look Like a Man Who is Confident About the State of the Economy and the Prospects for Recovery?

There is a lot to say about Bernanke’s comments on 60 Minutes today.

Bernanke’s statement that unemployment is the biggest impediment to economic recovery is ironic, given that Bernanke’s policies have increased unemployment. See this and this.

Harry Blodget notes that Bernanke implied that inequality is destroying America. Tyler Durden hones in on Bernanke’s statements that the economic recovery may not be self-sustaining, and that the Fed may buy even more bonds. Daily Bail picks on Bernanke’s claim that the Fed is not printing money.

There are certainly a lot of interesting things to say about Bernanke’s words.

But I think the real story is how nervous Bernanke appears.

Listen to his voice, and watch his lips quaver:

Ignore his words … does this look like a man who is confident about the state of the economy and the prospects for recovery?

Does this sound like a man who is sure that history will judge his actions kindly?

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Firedoglake – 159,000 Jobs Lost: The Price of NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From Firedoglake:

159,000 Jobs Lost: The Price of NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade December 4, 2010

US Chamber Watch: NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade Supporters Are “Outsourcers All” December 4, 2010

Linda Sanchez: Obama’s NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade Deal Will Send Jobs Overseas December 4, 2010

Obama Takes Credit For Bush’s NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade Deal He Once Opposed December 6, 2010

Sherrod Brown: Obama’s NAFTA-Style Korea Trade Deal A “Dangerous Mistake” December 4, 2010

AFL-CIO Legislative Meeting Explodes Over Obama’s NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade Deal December 6, 2010

By: Jane Hamsher Monday December 6, 2010 10:17 am

It’s been over 48 hours and the only union response on Obama’s NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade agreement has been a thumbs up from Bob King and the UAW.

But the thundering silence from the other unions is not indicative of what’s going on behind the scenes. At the AFL-CIO’s weekly Monday morning legislative meeting, the UAW tried to sell the deal to their fellow unions in the federation.

The unanimous disapproval from all the other unions was summed up in a 10 minute invective by Matt McKinnon, the Political Director of the Machinists, who said:

  • UAW President Bob King threw every other union under the bus, and did not even bother to call his fellow AFL-CIO union presidents who are most affected and involved in the trade debate before announcing to the world their shameful, betraying position (no doubt why Leo Gerard took a jab at King over the weekend).
  • It takes a fat load of nerve for the UAW to be asking others to abandon their long time positions just because the UAW went “yellow belly flip flop”
  • The UAW got nothing it wanted, and the auto provisions they got in exchange for their support are “worth a bucket of warm spit”
  • The deal will be the demise of not only UAW, but the 35% “rule of origin” provisions will be the China duty-free death knell for all US manufacturing – unless the other unions do the work to kill it. Such provisions require that only 35% of products coming into the US duty free be of Korean origin — the rest can come from parts made in China.
  • The deal replicates everything in NAFTA that they have all opposed forever
  • It’s vicious slap in the face by the White House – they do NOTHING to help labor, and then they do THIS?
  • It’s a suicide mission for the 2012 election

There was not one AFL-CIO union at the meeting who did not vigorously oppose the deal.  But they have all remained silent so far, giving the White House three free days to whip support for the bill as if the UAW position represents them all.

Everyone is waiting to hear what Leo Gerard of the Steelworkers has to say.  In the meantime, those of us who are out here alone trying to define the trade deal for what it is become low hanging fruit for the Chamber — and with the phalanx of paid trolls they’ve had across the internet, it was only a matter of time before this kind of personal slime started rolling out from anti-labor astroturf operations.

Which is to be expected when you cross the Chamber of Commerce, but for the record, my relationship with Andy Stern didn’t end over the public option, one of Andy’s enemies just made that up — a crook who isn’t fit to shine Andy’s shoes.  Andy and I are still friends, and I congratulated him last week on voting against the Catfood Commission’s recommendations.  His was by far the best plan, and it was the right thing to do.

In the mean time Sherrod Brown, Mike Michaud, Linda Sanchez, US Chamber Watch, Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen and the Sierra Club have all been stars, working overtime this weekend to push back against the Chamber-generated propaganda.  But we can’t carry this kind of heavy lift alone.  Every hour that goes by, the narrative of the deal’s “glorious achievement” gets locked in, and it will be harder and harder to move people once they’ve already committed to support it.  All the while, those out in front of the opposition become sitting ducks for the Chamber’s formidable resources.

It’s clear from what happened this morning that that UAW intends to try to block a tough AFL-CIO opposition to the deal, and demand that the federation sit it out.

Everyone is waiting on you, Leo.  It’s time to do the right thing and oppose this deal for being the piece of shit you well know it to be — and call for the war against this and all such trade deals that everyone who cares about American jobs is ready and willing to fight.

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Briefing: Tina Gerhardt on the Cancun Climate Summit

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

John Nichols – If Obama Will Not Fight for Fair Taxes and Fiscal Stability, What Will He Fight For?

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From The Nation:

The CIA: A Law Unto Itself

The latest WikiLeaks dump has revealed that the CIA is conducting criminal operations. And no one seems to care.

Eric Alterman

Strategic Reset: Movements React to Midterm Losses

November’s elections were a wake up call for movements around labor, the environment, immigration and education. Did activists tether themselves too closely to Democrats? What should they do now? A Nation special package.

The Editors

On WikiLeaks and Government Secrecy

Reflecting on the controversy over the publication of classified cables, a former Foreign Service officer calls for a more open diplomacy.

Jordan Stancil

Obama Caves on Tax Cuts, Endorses ‘Bush-McCain Philosophy’

Ari Berman

By flip-flopping on a key campaign pledge to end tax cuts for the wealthy, Obama will only embolden Republicans and deflate an already restless Democratic base.

The Breakdown: Will States Lead on Single-Payer Healthcare Reform?

Christopher Hayes

The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein joins Chris Hayes to discuss whether a new bipartisan proposal in the Senate could pave the way for states to adopt single-payer healthcare systems.

The Maximalist: On Vasily Grossman

Jochen Hellbeck

Vasily Grossman’s Everything Flows is a searching and humane investigation of the totalitarian condition.

If Obama Will Not Fight for Fair Taxes and Fiscal Stability, What Will He Fight For?

by John Nichols

When Barack Obama walked out of last week’s meeting with Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and started talking about developing a “productive” working relationship with Republican congressional leaders who have sworn the political equivalent of a blood oath to destroy his presidency, it was clear that the president planned to abandon his many years of advocacy for ending Bush-era tax breaks for millionaires.

Now, with the  lame-duck session of a Congress still entirely controlled by Democrats races toward a earlier-than-expected conclusion, the deal is being cut.

Obama’s representatives-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House budget director Jack Lew-have reportedly entered the final stages of a negotiation with the Republican team of  Arizona Senator Jon Kyl and Michigan Congressman Dave Camp to extend all Bush tax cuts for for at least two years.

In return, federal unemployment benefits will be extended for up to one year.

The only remaining sticking point has to do with the question of whether to offer a small tax credit for working Americans-the “Make Work Pay” provision-and a tax credit for students, both of which were developed as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package. Remarkably, Republican negotiators who are going to the mat to defend $140 billion in tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans are objecting to maintaining $70 million in tax credits for the other 98 percent.

This negotiation is not headed toward a compromise. It is headed toward a complete capitulation.

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Ralph Nader – Institutional Insanity

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From Nader.Org

In The Public Interest
Institutional Insanity
By Ralph Nader 12/6/10

If there was a mental health hospital for institutions the Republican Party and its top leaders would be admissible as clinically insane. Their bizarre wackopedia seems to contain no discernible boundaries. Repeatedly, these corporate supplicants oppose any measure, any regulation, any legislation that will directly help workers, consumers, the environment, small taxpayers and even investor-shareholders.

There are some exceptions. Since these Republican politicians eat, some did vote for the long-delayed food safety bill last week so that e-coli does not enter their intestines to disrupt the drivel drooling from their daily repertoire.

The Republicans get away with countless absurdities for at least two reasons. One is that their nominal opponents are the spineless, clueless, gutless Democrats (with a few notable exceptions) who present themselves as uncertain waverers, dialing for the same corporate dollars as the Republicans chase. The other is the political reporters who dwell on questions directed toward tactics and horseraces that the dimmest of Republicans can handle easily.

Take the evasive next Speaker of the House, Ohio Republican John Boehner. I’ve lost count of the times he said the recent health care law would “kill jobs in America, ruin the best health care system in the world, and bankrupt our country.” I don’t recall one reporter asking him to be specific on these claims. Instead, the questions focused on Capitol Hill timing and tactics.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, makes similar declarations such as: “I’ve said over and over again, you don’t raise taxes in a recession.” Really? Of all previous presidents, only Only George W. Bush did not raise taxes but actually reduced them in wartime. But don’t expect a reporter to ask McConnell whether he thinks the children and grandchildren should be sent the bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Or if he thinks repealing the Bush tax cuts on the rich would help reduce the deficit.

How many times have you heard the Republicans demand cutting the national deficit? Probably as often as they did nothing when George W. Bush piled up trillions of dollars in red ink. Now that Obama is president, they rarely get specific about just how they are going to do this, other than jumping on Medicare (where corporate fraud is indeed rampant and untreated by them) or social security which is solvent for another 30 years.

For most Republicans, it is never about cutting the bloated military budget—ridden with corporate crime and fraud and burdened with massive redundancies that keep the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about deep in profitable government contracts.

Nor do the Republicans go after the corporate welfare budget—the hundreds of billions of dollars per year of subsidies, giveaways and handouts to domestic and even foreign corporations. Except for Ron Paul and a very few others, that is. (See: http://www.taxpayers.org and http://www.goodjobsfirst.org)

Another assertion made in this year’s mid-term elections by Republican candidates for Congress all over the country is that: “Government does not create jobs, only the private sector does.” Let’s see. Government not only creates jobs, taxpayers have paid trillions of dollars for research, development and tax credits that are given over to build entire industries. These include the semi-conductor, computer, aerospace, pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and containerization industries, to name a few.

The Pentagon created the job-producing Internet, for example. When the government funds public works or expands the armed forces, millions of jobs are created.

Will there be one reporter who challenges this Republican nonsense, often expressed in press interviews on cell phones while driving on highways in cars with seat belts and air bags either based on taxpayer-funded research, directly paid for, or regulated into being through the government?

Mute Democrats and mindless reporters make insane Republicans possible. Bringing these cruel descendants of Lincoln’s Party down their ladder of generalities is to become concrete, to give substantiating examples that will either show that they have no clothes or that they prefer mink.

The American people deserve to have reporters ask one question again and again: “Senator, Representative, Governor, President, would you be specific, give examples and cite your sources for your general assertions?”

For instance, especially Republicans regularly roar their demand for “tort reform.” A reporter could ask for clarification such as: “Sir, do you mean by ‘tort reform’ giving more access to the courts to millions of excluded Americans who get nothing for injuries and illnesses recklessly caused by manufacturers, hospitals, and other wrongdoers, or do you mean further restricting the law designed to afford these people compensation for their harms? (See: http://www.centerjd.org)

The same demand for concreteness can be directed to the dittoheads who cry out against “over-regulation.” Where? Over Wall Street? For health and safety requirements that are either weak when issued, technically obsolete or rarely enforced? (See: http://www.progressivereform.org)

Bringing these well-greased pontificators down their abstraction ladder to where people live, work, overpay, bleed and suffer is a major step forward so the sovereignty of the people can begin exercising itself.

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War in Context – 06 Dec 2010

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From War in Context:

New York Times plays down Saudi role in promoting terrorism

Posted: 06 Dec 2010 11:55 AM PST

“WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists,” declares The Guardian, reporting on the US State Department’s concerns about the Kingdom’s role in funding al Qaeda and other militant organizations. The New York Times opts for the bland, “Cash Flow to Terrorists Evades U.S. Efforts,” with a subhead, “Arab Allies Resist U.S. Moves […]

Julian Assange and the power of asymmetric fear

Posted: 06 Dec 2010 09:18 AM PST

Israel on Iran: So wrong for so long

Posted: 06 Dec 2010 08:03 AM PST

Justin Elliot looks back at Israel’s repeated predictions that Iran would soon acquire nuclear weapons. Officials at the U.S. Department of State, we learned from the secret cables released by WikiLeaks last week, have serious questions about the accuracy — and sincerity — of Israeli predictions about when Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon. As one […]

Alfred McCoy: taking down America

Posted: 05 Dec 2010 06:34 PM PST

Reprinted with permission of TomDispatch.com Trying to play down the significance of an ongoing Wikileaks dump of more than 250,000 State Department documents, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently offered the following bit of Washington wisdom: “The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like […]

Biggest threat to Iraq comes from closest US ally — Saudi Arabia

Posted: 05 Dec 2010 01:00 PM PST

The Guardian reports: Iraqi government officials see Saudi Arabia, not Iran, as the biggest threat to the integrity and cohesion of their fledgling democratic state, leaked US state department cables reveal. The Iraqi concerns, analyzed in a dispatch sent from the US embassy in Baghdad by then ambassador Christopher Hill in September 2009, represent a fundamental divergence […]

Al-Qaida is the least of impoverished Yemen’s problems

Posted: 05 Dec 2010 12:45 PM PST

Ian Black writes: It is hard to know where to start when looking at unhappy Yemen’s many problems – but one thing is certain: the threat of resurgent al-Qaida terrorism that so preoccupies the US and other western countries is not its biggest one. The poorest country in the Arab world, Yemen is running out of oil […]

Odious NGO Monitor smears Electronic Intifada, tries to cut funding

Posted: 05 Dec 2010 12:31 PM PST

At Mondoweiss, Cecilie Surasky writes: NGO Monitor was captured perfectly in The Forward by liberal jewish thinker Leonard Fine who said it was “an organization that believes that the best way to defend Israel is to condemn anyone who criticizes it.” But now, no longer satisfied with its McCarthyite efforts to not just condemn, but actually […]

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Bill Maher: These People Love Truth, They Just Hate Facts

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Economist’s View – Stiglitz: Alternatives to Austerity

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From Economist’s View:

Stiglitz: Alternatives to Austerity

Joseph Stiglitz proposes a deficit reduction package that “boosts efficiency, bolsters growth, and reduces inequality,” but it has little chance of being enacted because it goes against “corporate and other special interests that have come to dominate America’s policymaking”:

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Inside Job: New Documentary Exposes How ‘Banksters’ Continue To Steal Our Money

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment
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Economist’s View – Paul Krugman: Let’s Not Make a Deal

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Economist’s View:

Paul Krugman: Let’s Not Make a Deal

Democrats should not give in to demands to extend the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers:

Let’s Not Make a Deal. by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Back in 2001, former President George W. Bush pulled a fast one. He wanted to enact an irresponsible tax cut, largely for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. But there were Senate rules in place designed to prevent that kind of irresponsibility. So Mr. Bush evaded the rules by making the tax cut temporary, with the whole thing scheduled to expire on the last day of 2010.

The plan, of course, was to come back later and make the thing permanent, never mind the impact on the deficit. But that never happened. And so here we are, with 2010 almost over and nothing resolved.

Democrats have tried to push a compromise: let tax cuts for the wealthy expire, but extend tax cuts for the middle class. Republicans, however, are having none of it. … It’s all or nothing, they say: all the Bush tax cuts must be extended. What should Democrats do?

The answer is that they should just say no…, saying no, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule, is the lesser of two evils.

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Senator Bernie Sanders – A Real Jaw Dropper at the Federal Reserve

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From The Huffington Post:

A Real Jaw Dropper at the Federal Reserve

By Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

At a Senate Budget Committee hearing in 2009, I asked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to tell the American people the names of the financial institutions that received an unprecedented backdoor bailout from the Federal Reserve, how much they received, and the exact terms of this assistance. He refused. A year and a half later, as a result of an amendment that I was able to include in the Wall Street reform bill, we have begun to lift the veil of secrecy at the Fed, and the American people now have this information.

It is unfortunate that it took this long, and it is a shame that the biggest banks in America and Mr. Bernanke fought to keep this secret from the American public every step of the way. But, the details on this bailout are now on the Federal Reserve’s website, and this is a major victory for the American taxpayer and for transparency in government.

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AMERICAblog – Interview with Charles Ferguson, director of ‘Inside Job’

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From AMERICAblog:

Interview with Charles Ferguson, director of ‘Inside Job’

by Chris in Paris on 12/05/2010 05:08:00 PM

If you haven’t had a chance yet to see Inside Job, really make the effort to see the film. We went to see it last night and while it was in a smallish room, the seats were pretty full. Inside Job was very well done and in my opinion, does a brilliant job of putting the pieces together from the economic crisis. What’s frustrating is that both parties (as I’ve said many times) are part of the problem. Even more frustrating is the same old path to nowhere that President Obama has followed with these people. I expected much better from him but when he chose Geithner and Summers, it was immediately clear to me that this administration would not break with the past, but churn out more of the same. That was and is highly depressing since this was supposed to be about change.

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