Monday, November 29, 2010

'Empire Strikes Back' Director Irvin Kershner Dies #starwars really sad to hear


© Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

He was 87 when he passed away in his Paris home.

Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner died at his home in Paris after suffering from illness, his goddaughter Adriana Santini confirmed to the AFP Monday. He was 87.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, he lamented that he should have directed one of the Star Wars prequels.

He also directed Sean Connery as James Bond in 1983's Never Say Never Again and Peter Weller in 1990's Robocop II.

He was born in Philadelphia in 1923, and trained as a musician and in photography before creating documentaries and moving into feature films.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

DHS Seizes Domain Names

Following on the heels of this week's domain seizure of a large hiphop file-sharing links forum, it's clear today that the U.S. Government has been very busy. Without any need for COICA, ICE has just seized the domain of a BitTorrent meta-search engine along with those belonging to other music linking sites and several others which appear to be connected to physical counterfeit goods.

While complex, it's still possible for U.S. authorities and copyright groups to point at a fully-fledged BitTorrent site with a tracker and say "that's an infringing site." When one looks at a site which hosts torrents but operates no tracker, the finger pointing becomes quite a bit more difficult.

When a site has no tracker, carries no torrents, lists no copyright works unless someone searches for them and responds just like Google, accusing it of infringement becomes somewhat of a minefield - unless you're ICE Homeland Security Investigations that is.

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Former Republican Sen. Warns GOP May ‘Have Gone So Far Overboard That We Are Beyond Redemption’ #p2


Fox News Reposts an Article from The Onion Slamming President Obama and Doesn't Tell Their Readers It's a Joke #p2


Cat Food Chair Alan Simpson Thinks I'm Greedy and Stupid #p2 #tcot #gop


Alan Simpson is feeling a little besieged these days. It seems people aren't taking too kindly to his proposals to cut a chunk out of their Social Security benefits, and they're saying so.

But Simpson said that while every interest group that testified before his committee agreed that the mounting federal debt is a national tragedy, they would then talk about why government funding to their area of interest shouldn't be touched.

"We had the greatest generation -- I think this is the greediest generation," he said.

All this hubbub isn't a surprise to Simpson, given how politically polarized the country is these days.
"You don't want to listen to the right and the left -- the extremes," he said. "You don't want to listen to Keith Olbermann and Rush Babe [Limbaugh] and Rachel Minnow [sic] or whatever that is, and Glenn Beck. They're entertainers. They couldn't govern their way out of a paper sack -- from the right or the left. But they get paid a lot of money from you and advertisers -- thirty, fifty million a year -- to work you over and get you juiced up with emotion, fear, guilt, and racism. Emotion, fear, guilt, and racism.

"Time to go for facts. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion, but nobody's entitled to their own facts," Simpson said, paraphrasing former U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Oh, how right he is. Facts are important. One really important fact that seems to be overlooked in his crusade against Social Security is this one: Social Security isn't contributing to the national debt or deficit. Yet he insists on making it part of the discussion.

Here's another fact: Simpson, at age 79, received his Social Security benefits right on schedule at age 65. He also received his government pension at age 65. Both of those were financed by contributions the Baby Boomer generation made through their work which boosted the economy. Without our contributions, his generation wouldn't have enjoyed their retirement years in relatively good health with a decent financial safety net.

More facts: People Simpson's age working in the private sector were more likely to be covered by a pension plan in their early working years and later by 401(k) plans. They were also more likely to remain with one employer for a longer period of time, allowing them to accumulate a decent pension before they reached age 65. All of that was done on the taxpayers' dime. Pension contributions are deductible by corporations; 401k contributions in the early years were exempt from ALL taxes (later that changed to exemption from income tax only), and funds are accumulated on a tax-free basis.

In plain terms, the Greatest Generation's comfortable retirement has been bought and paid for by those members of the generation Simpson describes as "selfish", and his generation enjoys a far more comfortable retirement than we can expect to receive.

Meanwhile, that so-called "selfish" generation is the one now most likely to have lost significant portions of their 401(k) savings to the market crash, lost their homes or a large portion of their home's value, lost their jobs and are not likely to be employed any time soon. When employers have the option to hire younger, less experienced workers who will work for less money and cost less in benefit dollars, they exercise it, leaving older workers (and particularly women) out in the cold.

Selfishness is as selfishness does, Mr. Simpson. We've paid for you without complaint. Now it's time to step up and really identify who is selfish. Start with the companies listed on the Dow Jones index and work from there.

Former Bush official: GOP ‘beyond redemption’ #p2 #gop #tcot

A former US senator and ambassador to the UN under President George W. Bush says the increasingly radical and uncompromising tone of the GOP is a sign the party is now "beyond redemption."

John C. Danforth made the comment while discussing a possible tea party challenge to Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a long-serving moderate whose stances against some major GOP positions have reportedly made him the target of Republican ideologues.

"If Dick Lugar, having served five terms in the US Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption," Danforth said, as quoted in the New York Times.

Lugar has found himself at odds with many Republicans over his support for the START nuclear missile treaty with Russia, as well as his support for the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrant youth who complete an education program and stay out of legal trouble.

A day after the mid-term elections this month, Red State's Erick Ericksson added Lugar to a list of Republican senators who are ripe for a tea party challenge in 2012.

In an effort to win Republican support, the Obama administration has cast the START treaty as a continuation of the work President Ronald Reagan carried out in the 1980s, with the signing of a number of arms treaties with the Soviet Union. But Republicans on the Hill have balked at supporting the treaty, a move some say is designed to prevent President Obama from scoring a foreign policy victory.

Last week, Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, attacked his fellow Republicans over the treaty, saying they were stalling on the issue because they didn't want to commit to a position.

"Every senator has an obligation in the national security interest to take a stand, to do his or her duty. Maybe people would prefer not to do his or her duty right now," he said, as quoted at Foreign Policy. "Sometimes when you prefer not to vote, you attempt to find reasons not to vote."

Danforth's remark to the Times is not the first time the former Missouri senator, who served from 1976 to 1995, has gone up against the Republican grassroots. In a 2005 New York Times commentary, he criticized the GOP for "transform[ing] our party into the political arm of conservative Christians."

The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.

When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country.

Danforth served as President George W. Bush's ambassador to the United Nations from 2004 to 2005. Reflecting on the potential tea party threat to Lugar, he told the Times, "I'm glad Lugar's there and I'm not."

His remarks to the Times were flagged by Alex Seitz-Wald at ThinkProgress.

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'The Washington Hillbillies': Taiwan video satire wonders what our next Palin reality show will be #p2 #tcot @sarahpalinusa


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This video, produced by Taiwan's NMA (Next Media TV, is good for more than a laugh. It also makes you realize what an international laughingstock Palin's continuing high profile makes of the American political scene generally.

They must think that we're frigging nuts to even allow someone like this the kind of political ascendancy she's achieved. And you know what? They're right.

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Next Up: a "Flat Tax" for the Rich #p2

The Endless Thanksgiving

The danger the United States faces today is that the government debt crisis scheduled to hit Congress next spring (when Republicans are threatening to vote against raising the federal debt limit as the government deficit soars) will provide an opportunity for the wealthy to give a coup de grace on what is left of progressive taxation in this country. A flat tax on wage income and consumer sales would "free" the rentiers from taxes on their property.

All governments have to levy taxes - that is, they have to tax somebody. Naturally, the super-rich would like this tax to be shifted off their shoulders onto those who have to work for a living. In diametric opposition to Adam Smith and other putative "founding fathers" of "free market" neoliberalism, the super-rich want to shift taxes off "free lunch" economic rent - off interest, dividends, rents and capital gains - onto wage-earners.

This tax shift already has been underway for the past thirty years. It has doubled the proportion of the returns to wealth (interest, dividends, rents and capital gains) enjoyed by the wealthiest 1 per cent, from a reported one-third in 1979 to an estimated two-thirds of the U.S. total today.

This regressive tax shift off wealth onto wage earners has occurred in three ways. The largest and most egregious was the Greenspan Commission's ploy of moving the cost of Social Security and Medicare out of the general budget (where it would have to be financed by taxpayers in the higher brackets) onto the bottom of the scale in 1982.

Instead of being treated as "entitlements" paid by the highest tax brackets, it is treated as "user fees" by employees with a cut-off (currently about $102,000) for higher-income earners. The pre-saved "Social Security fund" was invested in Treasury bills and then lent to the government - enabling it to cut taxes on the higher brackets. "Social Security and Medicare" became a euphemism for giving the government enough "forced saving" of labor so that the Treasury could cut taxes on the higher income and wealth brackets.

This First Great Republican Tax increase was folded into a reduction in tax rates across the board - above all on the highest tax brackets. This has been ongoing since 1981. The 1981 tax "reform" also gave an accelerated depreciation allowance to absentee property owners, permitting them to pretend that their real estate was losing value even as it was soaring in market price. The effect of this "fictitious property accounting" was to free the real estate industry as a whole from having to pay income tax. (The loophole was not available to homeowners!) The rental income thus "freed" was available to be paid to banks as interest.

Meanwhile, at the state and local level, governments have scaled back property taxes and replaced them with income taxes and sales taxes. These taxes fall mainly on wages and on consumer goods, not financial and property income.

The trick has been for Republicans (and "Blue Dog" Democrats) to pose as "tax cutters" rather than tax shifters. Many wage earners now pay more in FICA paycheck withholding and other taxes cited above than they do in income tax. These changes over the past thirty years have reversed the 20th century's tendency toward progressive taxation with a regressive tax system.

The 2000 Republican presidential primaries saw Steve Forbes run on a plank that would be the capstone of this tax shift off wealth: a "flat tax," one that would do away with taxing the wealthy more than blue-collar labor. Mr. Forbes was laughed out of the presidential primaries for proposing this flat tax. It was promoted as being "tax simplification." The problem was that it is so "simple" that it falls only on employees and their employers as a wage tax.

The details are much more regressive than seem at first glance. The flat tax actually would tax wage earners much more steeply than the wealthy, whose income it would largely exempt! The flat tax is supposed to fall on employment, not returns to wealth. Employees and their employers would pay the tax, as they pay today's 12.4 per cent FICA paycheck withholding, but the flat tax would not be levied on financial and property income.

The flat tax is supposed to be accompanied by a European-style regressive value-added tax (VAT). By taxing "value," it essentially falls on labor - as in "the labor theory of value." The tax does not fall on "empty" pricing in excess of value - what the classical economists termed "economic rent," that element of price (and income) that has no counterpart in actual cost of production (ultimately reducible to labor) but is a pure free lunch: land rent, monopoly rent, interest and other financial fees, and insurance premiums. This economic rent is the major return to wealth. It is grounded in the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector.

The effect of untaxing the FIRE sector is twofold. First, it increases the power of wealth, privilege, monopoly rights and property over living labor - including the power of hereditary wealth over the living. Second, it helps "post-industrialize" the economy, creating a "service" economy. A service economy is mainly a FIRE-sector economy.

Can a regressive flat-tax be pushed through U.S. Congress?

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CNN Breaking News U.S., South Korea have begun navy exercises that North Korea calls provocative

-- U.S., South Korea have begun navy exercises that North Korea calls provocative, a South Korea military source says.

One CNN Center Atlanta, GA 30303
(c) & (r) 2010 Cable News Network

Friday, November 26, 2010

Doctor Charged With Inside Trading Relating to Clinical Drug Trial Has Bail Set at 3 Million #p2


Deja Vu All Over Again. Ireland Takes The Hit For Bankers' Reckless Policies While Citizens Face Massive Austerity Cuts


It's very depressing to see what passes for sane economic policy in Ireland. In negotiating with the same financial terrorists who got them into this mess, Ireland is only asking for more of the same. I'm still baffled, and not just about Ireland: Just how did these financial "experts" manage to make the rest of us responsible for the reckless judgment (and likely fraud like that of the Anglo-Irish Bank) of those involved with these high-flying banks? Paul Krugman points out just how crazy it all is:

Before the bank bust, Ireland had little public debt. But with taxpayers suddenly on the hook for gigantic bank losses, even as revenues plunged, the nation's creditworthiness was put in doubt. So Ireland tried to reassure the markets with a harsh program of spending cuts.

Step back for a minute and think about that. These debts were incurred, not to pay for public programs, but by private wheeler-dealers seeking nothing but their own profit. Yet ordinary Irish citizens are now bearing the burden of those debts.

Or to be more accurate, they're bearing a burden much larger than the debt — because those spending cuts have caused a severe recession so that in addition to taking on the banks' debts, the Irish are suffering from plunging incomes and high unemployment.

But there is no alternative, say the serious people: all of this is necessary to restore confidence.

[...] In early 2009, a joke was making the rounds: "What's the difference between Iceland and Ireland? Answer: One letter and about six months." This was supposed to be gallows humor. No matter how bad the Irish situation, it couldn't be compared with the utter disaster that was Iceland.

But at this point Iceland seems, if anything, to be doing better than its near-namesake. Its economic slump was no deeper than Ireland's, its job losses were less severe and it seems better positioned for recovery. In fact, investors now appear to consider Iceland's debt safer than Ireland's. How is that possible?

Part of the answer is that Iceland let foreign lenders to its runaway banks pay the price of their poor judgment, rather than putting its own taxpayers on the line to guarantee bad private debts. As the International Monetary Fund notes — approvingly! — "private sector bankruptcies have led to a marked decline in external debt." Meanwhile, Iceland helped avoid a financial panic in part by imposing temporary capital controls — that is, by limiting the ability of residents to pull funds out of the country.

And Iceland has also benefited from the fact that, unlike Ireland, it still has its own currency; devaluation of the krona, which has made Iceland's exports more competitive, has been an important factor in limiting the depth of Iceland's slump.

None of these heterodox options are available to Ireland, say the wise heads. Ireland, they say, must continue to inflict pain on its citizens — because to do anything else would fatally undermine confidence.

But Ireland is now in its third year of austerity, and confidence just keeps draining away. And you have to wonder what it will take for serious people to realize that punishing the populace for the bankers' sins is worse than a crime; it's a mistake.

Krugman is being polite here. If you'll remember, back in March, Iceland's voters caused an international uproar by telling the bankers to kiss their arses over a proposed bailout deal.

And unlike other countries, Iceland actually arrested their bankers for fraudulent loans.

Connect the dots. Maybe holding bankers accountable is good for the economy!

Apple Pulls Anti-Gay App from iTunes #p2


next WikiLeaks dump is about to reveal to the world what the United States really thinks of the world leaders it pretends to like #p2


Who could have anticipated?

The next WikiLeaks dump is about to reveal to the world what the United States really thinks of the world leaders it pretends to like and the degree to which it overlooks corruption among friends (it sounds like the reports will include confirmation that Hamid Karzai is corrupt, among other things).

Knowing that it's coming adds just a bit of irony to the publication of excerpts from a German document liberated to refute some claims Bush made in his memoir.

Among other things, the document describes the Germans warning the US–in February 2003–of just how badly the Iraq war would turn out.

According to the notes — all in German — the meeting amounted to 90 minutes of verbal blows, which primarily stemmed from Rice's "relatively rigorous and uncompromising" defense of the US position. The same notes indicate that [German foreign minister envoy Klaus] Scharioth didn't budge an inch toward Washington, either. In retrospect, though, they document a high point in German diplomatic history, because the objections and predictions put forward by Berlin on that Tuesday have turned out to be legitimate and correct.

The crux of the German argument was that the political costs of a war in Iraq would be "higher than (the) political returns." While Rice predicted that Iraq would take advantage of the "opportunities for reconstruction" like the ones Germany enjoyed after 1945, the delegation from Berlin countered that the rapid establishment of a democracy in Baghdad was "not (to be) expected."

The Germans also predicted that the real beneficiary of a war in Iraq would actually be Iran, and that a US-led attack would further complicate efforts to reach a solution in the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Likewise, they prophesized that going to war would precipitate a "terrorist backlash." Scharioth stressed that it was important "to win over the hearts and minds of the Muslim elite and youths," according to the notes, and that this was "not to be achieved" by going to war. He also added that doing so would greatly increase the danger of prompting an "influx to Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism."

I'm particularly interested in the warnings that this would empower Iran. It was definitely predictable that the war would strengthen Iran. But it always seemed as if the Bush Administration never even considered that possibility.

Well, at least Condi was warned.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

idiot: @sarahpalinusa Palin Slams Michelle Obama Again, This Time For Anti-Obesity Campaign

[you are a petulant chump, Palin. I suppose Nancy Reagan was wrong to stick her blue blood nose in it with"just say no"? How dare she tell me what I can and cannot do? You're a moron and your followers are idiots. How in the hell can you have a problem with the 1st lady wanting kids to get healthier? Stick to educating yourself on foreign policy so you can tell the difference between North and South Korea.]


WASHINGTON -- An appearance by Sarah Palin on Laura Ingraham's radio show Wednesday morning drew a bit of pre-Thanksgiving buzz for a swipe she took at Barbara Bush for suggesting that the 2008 vice president nominee would be best served in 2012 by staying in Alaska.

"I don't think the majority of Americans want to put up with the blue-bloods -- and I want to say it will all due respect because I love the Bushes -- the blue bloods who want to pick and choose their winners instead of allowing competition," said the former Alaska Governor.

But it was another swipe at another first lady that stood out in a notably charged interview. For the second time this week, Palin threw jabs at Michelle Obama (the first instance came with the publication of Palin's book), this time calling her campaign to improve child nutrition another instance of a philosophical devotion to big government.

I think she has got a different worldview and she is not hesitant at all to share what her worldview is. And I will take heat again for saying it on your show Laura but she encapsulated what her view of America is, I believe, unless she has evolved and things have changed in the last two years, but she said it on the campaign trail twice that it was the first time that she had been proud of her country when finally people were paying attention to Barack Obama. I think that's appalling. We can think of this infinite number of reasons to be proud of American exceptionalism and it baffles me that anybody would have that view and then allow that view to bleed over into policy.

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@sarahpalinusa you are a fucking moron: Palin: ‘Obviously, We’ve Got To Stand With Our North Korean Allies’ #p2 #tcot #gop


In recent days, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has hinted in her clearest language yet that she is seriously considering a run for the presidency in 2012. Many observers have argued that Palin could never win because of her embarrassing lack of expertise, knowledge, or interest in foreign policy. Her appearance on Fox News host Glenn Beck's radio show today, captured by Oliver Willis, suggests they may be right:

CO-HOST: How would you handle a situation like the one that just developed in North Korea? [...]

PALIN: But obviously, we've got to stand with our North Korean allies. We're bound to by treaty –

CO-HOST: South Korean.

PALIN: Eh, Yeah. And we're also bound by prudence to stand with our South Korean allies, yes.

Listen here:

Palin misspoke, but this was hardly the first time. While malapropisms can and should be forgiven for frequent public speakers, it's worth remem

Florida Woman Dies After Medicaid Program Outsourced To Private Insurers Denies Her Liver Transplant #p2 #tcot #gop


One of the most destructive practices of private health insurance companies is the practice of denying care to customers for frivolous reasons. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services started including denial rates on its information section about health insurance companies on, in an effort to inform the public about this practice by the industry.

It was this practice of frivolous denials that ended up costing Jacksonville, Florida woman Alisa Wilson her life. For months, Wilson, her family, and the surrounding community had been pleading with her HMO to approve coverage for a liver transplant. Although Wilson was enrolled in the state's Medicaid program, she was not guaranteed care because she was "forced to join a private plan as part of a Gov. Jeb Bush-era experimental overhaul of the program," meaning she had to deal with a private, for-profit insurance company to get her care, not a government agency accountable to the public.

Bush's overhaul made "Florida the first state to allow private companies, not the state, to decide the scope and extent of services to the elderly, the disabled and the poor, half of them children," the New York Times reported in 2005, as the move was being considered. "[N]o one is proposing changes as far-reaching and fundamental as" Bush, the Times noted.

After "scores of e-mails and…the help of a Florida state legislator," the HMO, Sunshine State Health, finally gave in and approved coverage for Wilson two weeks ago. Yet her health was too severe for surgery by then. On Friday evening, Wilson passed away:

Alisa Wilson, 37, died Friday at 8:50 p.m. after a lengthy battle with an undisclosed liver disease, said her father, Eric Wilson. "Her liver was gone," Wilson said. "There was no more left. She needed that transplant two weeks ago."

About a week and a half ago, attorneys working on Wilson's behalf said the insurance obstacles had been worked out. By then, however, her health was too shaky to risk going under the knife. "If they did it months ago, my daughter would be alive now," her father said.

Representatives for Sunshine State and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which manages Florida's Medicaid program, said they couldn't speak to the specifics of the case, citing privacy laws.

Unfortunately, it has become increasingly common for states to outsource their Medicaid programs to be administered by private health insurance companies that have little accountability to the public compared to public programs like Medicare. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation report found that "All states except Alaska and Wyoming have some portion of their Medicaid population enrolled in managed care" — where Medicaid pays out to private organizations like Managed Care Organizations that contract with HMO's — and "managed care is the dominant care delivery system in most state Medicaid programs. Forty-six states and DC have more than half their enrollees in managed care; in 20 of these states, over 80% of the Medicaid population is enrolled in some form of managed care."

While the recently passed health care law is doing much to curb some of the worst abuses of the health insurance industry, one of the best ways to help people avoid these practices of the private health insurers is to offer them an alternative like a Medicare-style public health insurance option. As a part of her deficit reduction plan, Rep. Jan Schawkowsky (D-IL) proposed a robust public health insurance plan that would be offered to Americans. Not only would it operate cheaper and not committ the same abuses as the private insurance industry, it could cut the deficit by as much as $10 billion during its first year of implementation alone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Illinois Food Pantries, Food Banks and Soup Kitchens - pass on if you know someone who could use help #p2 #tcot #gop


Local Elmhurst Teen and Miss Cook County to feed homeless on Thanksgiving Morning

While many other Pageant Queens will be out waiving to the crowd this Thanksgiving morning, Miss Cook County, Imani Josey along with Elmhurst teen, Katie Freitag, will be spending their Thanksgiving helping to feed over 500 homeless families at A Safe Haven Foundation in Chicago.

Miss Cook County is an official preliminary to Miss Illinois and Miss America. Elmhurst resident and York High School graduate, Katie Freitag helps produce the annual Miss Cook County and Miss Western Suburbs pageants. The winners will go on to compete at Miss Illinois. The Miss Illinois Scholarship Association is a duly-accredited state preliminary scholarship association in the Miss America Organization – the world's largest provider of scholarship and cash assistance to young women.

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information on Operation Care Package "Let No Hero Be Forgotten" please re-tweet! Hate the war but Love the troops #p2 #tcot #gop


Operation Care Package "Let No Hero Be Forgotten" is the motto of Operation Care Package, whose members are on a Christmas mission to get support and care packages full of gifts, goodies and needed items to men and women serving our country this holiday. Everyone who is put on the mailing list, no matter where they are from or what branch of service, is sent a package. Every package has at least one letter of support letting the service member know how thankful Americans are for their service. Packages also contain socks, snacks, hygiene items and a wrapped gift. The goal is to reach at least 8,000 to 10,000 troops this holiday. Visit the Web site at to see how you can help. The group also is collecting donations to place wreaths on veterans' graves. Donations can be mailed to Operation Care Package, 611 Wilcox St., Joliet, IL 60435. Information: E-mail Debbie Smothers at

Boehner Pessimistic That He'll Be Able To Do Much To Solve Unemployment #p2 @gopleader #gop #tcot


Over at Slate, Dave Weigel flags this tweet from incoming House Speaker John Boehner, in which he seems to be awfully pessimistic about the prospects that the House GOP, under his leadership, will be able to do much to help the unemployed.

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'America By Heart,' New Sarah Palin Book: What You Need To Know #p2 @saraupalinusa #tcot #gop


Sarah Palin's new book, "America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag" hits the shelves Tuesday, in an event that is sure to enliven an otherwise slow political week.

The release of her book marks the start of a whirlwind book tour for the former Alaska Governor, a bus trip that will bring Palin to key cities in the South, Southwest and Midwest. Notably absent from that list are key liberal bastions, areas where the former vice presidential candidate and potential 2012 contender would more likely be subjected to protest.

The book is just the latest in an ongoing effort by Palin to take the media by storm, an action that many see as a preparation for an impending run for president. Palin's reality TV show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska" launched earlier this month on TLC to huge viewership numbers. She's also a regular face on the Fox News network, though she recently opened up to the New York Times, and has filmed an interview with ABC News that will air next month.

Needless to say, many believe that the release of a new book, particularly at this time, is a clear sign that she is steeling herself for a shot at President Obama in 2012. Advance looks at her book show that the "mama grizzly" devotes portions of her text to criticizing Obama and his agenda.

But that's not all she writes about. Take a look of some other key excerpts below and vote on the best.

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As the holidays approach, more American kitchen tables will be empty than at any time in recent memory #p2 #gop #tcot

Hungry For Help - from think progress

Special Note: The Progress Report will be temporarily suspended starting tomorrow and will return on Monday. We wish everyone a happy and safe holidays!

As the holidays approach, more American kitchen tables will be empty than at any time in recent memory. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report saying that "food insecurity" rates are the highest they've been since the government began keeping track. Food pantries across the country, meanwhile, are struggling to meet escalating demands for their services, while key safety net measures that could keep homes headed and food on the table, like unemployment insurance and food stamps, are imperiled by Republican obstruction in Congress. Worse, many conservatives and too many in the mainstream media don't seem to take this crisis seriously -- meaning that more families are likely to be left out in the cold.

As one might expect, tough economic times have created dire situations for many American families, literally keeping many from putting food on the table. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, last year 14.7 percent of American families were "food insecure," meaning they had trouble feeding one or more family members because of a lack of financial means. This was the highest rate of food insecurity since the USDA began collecting statistics 15 years ago. This means that 50.2 million people lived in food insecure households, including 17.2 million children. According to USDA research, 12.2 million adults and 5.4 million children lived in households with drastic food insecurity. Children's Health Watch notes that in households with very young children, the rate of food insecurity rose last year to 25.4 percent, from 24.5 percent, meaning an additional 483,000 children under the age of six lived in food insecure households in 2009. Less than half of the affected families -- 43 percent -- were below the federal poverty line, meaning lack of food isn't a problem limited to the very poor. Black and Latino households, and households headed by single mothers, were disproportionately affected by food insecurity, with rates almost double the national average. At this time of year, many families turn to food pantries -- in fact, the largest rise in food pantry use was over the last two years -- and the pantries are struggling to keep up with demand. "Last month there wasn't a moment when people weren't waiting in line at least three to four deep to get food. It was non-stop for the entire three hours we were open," said one food pantry worker in Marietta, OH. "There have been a lot of laid-off workers, and for the last couple of years we've been seeing some situations where two families live in the same house."

IGNORING THE ISSUE: As is too often the case, many prominent conservatives are less than concerned with the plight of working families struggling during these hard economic times. Radio host Rush Limbaugh took up the USDA report, but couldn't quite figure out what "food insecurity" actually was. He hypothesized that "food insecurity is what causes obesity," because "if you eat too much to deal with your food insecurity, then you get fat." He then mocked the idea of "fighting off hunger," saying that "you can actually see go inside Publix or any grocery store, you can see them walk down the aisles, they reach for something and then they don't. It's an amazing thing to watch, people fighting off hunger." If conservatives aren't demeaning this crisis, they're ignoring it. Fox News did not mention the USDA's report at all and did not tell viewers that food insecurity rates were higher than ever. Though Glenn Beck does like to tell his fans to save and stockpile food, as he did this month, it's for made-up reasons involving an imminent government collapse. Sadly, though, this inattention wasn't limited to the conservative Fox News. A Nexis search of cable news networks revealed only four mentions of "food insecurity" following the USDA report, compared with, for example, 53 mentions of "royal wedding."

POLICY STRUGGLES: The inattention to food insecurity in the public discourse has predictably lead to lagging action to address the issue in Washington. Unemployment insurance and federal food assistance have proved to work when it comes to addressing poverty. As the Center for American Progress notes, unemployment insurance pulled 3.3 million people --  including 1 million children -- out of poverty in 2009 alone. This is more people than the entire population of the Chicago metropolitan area. Food stamps alone lifted 2.4 million children out of "deep poverty," which is greater than the number of children living in Los Angeles County. These programs are not only morally responsible, but also benefit the economy. CAP Senior Fellow Joel Berg estimates that hunger costs the economy $126 billion annually. Businesses will also be hurt if these programs aren't extended, creating further economic instability --  CAP's Heather Boushey and Jordan Eizenga explain that unemployment insurance and food stamps are helping the economy recover from the recession. House Republicans cruelly blocked a continuation of unemployment insurance this week, however. The Senate actually cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food stamps, by $2 billion in 2013 in order to pay for improved school lunches. And while the Senate did finally extend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) this week, it blocked TANF's Emergency Contingency Fund, a successful jobs program that has created more than 250,000 subsidized jobs for low-income workers through grants to states. This type of cruel inaction will leave more families staring at empty holiday tables in the coming months. Rush Limbaugh will surely be eating well, however.


"North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire on Tuesday after dozens of shells fired from the North struck a South Korean island," the greatest outbreak of violence between the two countries since the 1950s. A North Korean news agency said that "South had started the fight when it 'recklessly fired into our sea area.'"

U.S. and Afghan officials say a man they believed to have been a senior Taliban commander who was involved in high-level peace talks for months was actually an impostor . The man was apparently impersonating Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, a major Taliban figure. "It's not him," said one Western diplomat. "And we gave him a lot of money."

In letters sent yesterday to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve, GOP Reps. Spencer Bachus (AL) and Judy Biggert (IL) demanded an investigation into the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created under Wall Street regulatory reform. The letters "are the strongest signals yet" that new House GOP majority "plans to use its oversight powers to hobble elements of the Obama agenda."

Sharpening his attacks on the DREAM Act, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is circulating a white paper claiming that the bill amounts to "amnesty" for millions "including certain criminal aliens." Noting the "rigorous and lengthy process" for legalization in the bill, the White House responded that it's "about accountability, not amnesty" and that the GOP "can't keep kicking the can down the road."

"A majority of Americans want the Congress to keep the new health care law or actually expand it , despite Republican claims that they have a mandate from the people to kill it," a new McClatchy-Marist poll found. "At the same time, the survey showed that a majority of voters side with the Democrats" on preferring to extend the Bush tax cuts for only those making less than $250,000.

Iran's parliament revealed it " planned to impeach President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but refrained under orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exposing a deepening division within the regime." Conservative newspapers in Iran reported that lawmakers have also launched a petition to start a debate about Ahmadinejad's impeachment. Four prominent lawmakers accused the president of violating the law.

WikiLeaks reports that its next release of secret documents will be seven-times larger than the Iraq war logs . Yesterday on twitter, the site said there has been "intense pressure over it for months" but later said, "The coming months will see a new world, where global history is redefined."

"A lack of preparedness, a dearth of research and insufficient investment hindered the response to the giant Gulf of Mexico oil spill this summer, according to two draft reports by the staff of the presidential oil spill commission ." Federal agencies "consistently spent less than they were authorized to spend on improving cleanup technology," while the report chided BP for a "failure to anticipate" the disaster.

And finally: Judges on Dancing With the Stars consistently give Bristol Palin "among the lowest marks," yet she gets plenty of votes, leading many experts to suspect the work of Tea Party hackers . "The campaign apparently includes exploitation of a loophole in ABC's e-mail voting feature. The loophole is explained as a technicality in the system that allows voters to register an infinite number of email addresses and vote, vote, vote. The e-mail addresses are never validated, such as what happens when you sign up for a Facebook."

Monday, November 22, 2010


Media Matters for America

Will right wing accuse pope of advocating "what Hitler did" on healthcare?

Pope Benedict XVI's declaration that "health justice should be among the priorities of governments and international institutions" places the pontiff firmly in opposition to many right-wing media figures who have compared state health care to "fascists of the 20's and 30's," "raping the pocketbooks of the rich to give to the poor," and to "what Hitler did."

Pope: "Health justice should be among the priorities of governments and international institutions"

Benedict XVI: "Health justice should be among the priorities of government and international institutions"; it's important to "establish a true distributive justice that guarantees to all ... adequate care." In a November 15 message from the Vatican to the 25th international conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry in Rome -- the topic of which was "For Equitable and Human Health Care in the Light of the Encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate' " -- Pope Benedict XVI declared that "[i]mportant also in the field of health, integral part of each one's existence and of the common good, is to establish a true distributive justice that guarantees to all, on the basis of objective needs, adequate care." He also said that "for the Christian community...the care of the human being is central, because of his transcendent dignity and inalienable rights." Indeed, the pope went on to claim that "it is necessary to work with greater commitment at all levels so that the right to health is rendered effective" (emphasis added). Finally, the pope asserted that "[h]ealth justice should be among the priorities of governments and international institutions." 

Right-wing commentators insist there is no right to health care, government involvement with health care leads to dictatorship

Beck has repeatedly said that "social justice" is at the core of Nazism and Communism. As Media Matters has documented, Beck has a long history of claiming that ideas about "social justice" such as those given in the Pope's message are "a perversion of the Gospel" and "not what Jesus meant." He's also said, among other things "what I would call socialist or communist, they'll call just social justice or progressive," and "Marxist code words" like "social justice" have "infiltrated" churches.

Beck: "[U]nless Jesus comes down," opens "a clinic and heal[s]" us "himself, there cannot be a right to health care." On the August 13, 2009, edition of his radio show, Glenn Beck asked "Who is the one that gives us rights? A universal health care system? We have a right to health care? Really? God doesn't give health care. Man provides health care. So how can it be a right? If you are endowed by your creator with certain inalienable rights, how can a God-given right be health care? Unless Jesus comes down and starts to open up a clinic and heal us himself, there cannot be a right to health care - because the rights come from God." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 3/2/10]

Beck found it "shocking and horrifying" Sen. Harkin wants health care to be a "right." On the January 10 edition of his Fox News show, Beck played a clip of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) saying of the Senate's passage of the health care reform bill that it turns health care from a "privilege" into "an inalienable right of every single American citizen." Beck responded to this by saying, "This is the most shocking and horrifying video; please pass this on to your friends. There it is. Let me take this a step at a time because you need to understand what Congress has just said through Senator Harkin. ... Health care is not an inalienable right or an unalienable right. It's neither." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 1/10/10]

Beck: "It's good old socialism ... raping the pocketbooks of the rich to give to the poor." On the July 21, 2009, edition of his Fox News program, Beck asked a rhetorical question about whether health reform was socialism. He responded to himself by saying "Yup. It's good old socialism. You know, pretty much raping the pocketbooks of the rich to give to the poor. I think that's socialism."

Beck: Obama's taken "the first step towards socialization: total government control of our health care system. In a segment where Beck "tak[es] on Barack Obama's impossible challenge to find some evidence of socialism in his policies," Beck declared that "yes, he has taken the first step towards socialization. Total government control of our health care system. ... And you know, controlling the entire health care industry, it's only one-sixth, don't worry about that." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 4/6/10]

Limbaugh: Health reform is like Italian fascists, Soviet Union, North Korea. On the August 10, 2009, edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh, in reference to White House criticism of comparisons between their health care plan and socialism, declared that "socialism is socialism, as I say. If you want me to, I'll go back and give you the fascists of the '20s and '30s. You don't like Nazi Germany? I'll give you Mussolini's Italy. Or I can give you the Soviet Union any time in the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Whatever you want, I can give you -- I can give you the North Koreans today. Socialism is Socialism, wherever it is and whatever you call it."

Limbaugh: Lenin is "the father of the concept of national health care" On the July 15 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh asked, "Who is the -- the father of the concept of national health care? Who's the father?" He went on to declare that "it was Vladimir Lenin," adding, "All you need to know about government run health care was that Vladimir Lenin had the brainchild." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/15/10]

Limbaugh: Bismarck a "lefty," government-run health care laid groundwork for Nazis. On the August 10, 2009, edition of his radio show, Limbaugh provided viewers with his own version of modern German history: "You want to know what happened in Germany? I'll tell you what happened in Germany. Bismarck socialized medicine in the late 19th century. In typical lefty fashion, he called it 'anti-socialist legislation.' ... The Weimar Republic naturally squeezed out any notion of health care as a private matter. This is what statists and totalitarians do. Everything seemed hunky-dory until post-World War I economic downturns, when doctors, who were now partners with the state rather than servants of their patients -- doctors started rationing available health care based on the state's cost-benefit analysis. ... What this did was lay the groundwork for Hitler's National Socialism ... all in the name of doing good. All in the name of some confused right to good health that people have." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 08/19/10]

Limbaugh: Health care is "the way totalitarian systems seek to cement their power. On the December 8, 2009, edition of his Premiere Radio Networks program, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh said "...[i]t's all about the Federal government controlling every aspect of every human being's life in this country. That's what this bill is about. With health care and costs as the mechanism to achieve that goal. This is the way totalitarian systems seek to cement their power. They've all tried it with health care. The Nazis did it. Long before the Holocaust. We hear about the great health care in Cuba, do we not?" [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/08/09]

Bulls & Bears: "Are we really just one step closer to United Socialist States of America?" On the July 18, 2009, edition of Fox News' Bulls & Bears, host Brenda Buttner falsely claimed that businesses "will see an 8 percent tax hike" if they don't "sign on to government-run health care," then asked, "Are we really just one step closer to United Socialist States of America?" She later asked a guest, "So we're using this term loosely, but really, are we turning into the USSA?" [Fox News' Bulls & Bears, 7/18/09]

Quinn compares health care reform to "what Hitler did." Discussing cuts in the British health system and their implications for American health care, Jim Quinn said, "Socialism always runs out of other people's money eventually, and the only way to save the system, since you don't have the money, is to cut back and ration service. This isn't rocket science folks. It's only rocket science if you graduated from Ivy league schools. They can't figure it out. 'Looking at these kinds of particularly worries me about how far they disadvantage the elderly and the vulnerable.'" Raising his voice, Quinn went on to say "you mean the dead wood in society? You mean the people that you'd like to get rid of? Excuse me, but this is what Hitler did. This is what Hitler did." [Clear Channel's The War Room with Quinn & Rose, 7/27/10]

Thomas: "Great horrors don't begin in gas chambers." In his November 24, 2009, syndicated column, Cal Thomas opined: "The '60s crowd ... is about to impose on this country a declaration of dependence in the form of government-run health insurance and treatment." As the piece progresses, the rhetoric gets more colorful. Thomas says that health reform "is about liberal Democrats realizing their decades-old dream of complete control of our lives." He went on to claim that "[g]reat horrors don't begin in gas chambers, killing fields or forced famines. They begin when there is a philosophical shift in a nation's leadership about the value of a human life....the consequences of government seizure of one-sixth of our economy and government's ability to decide how we run our lives (it won't stop with health care) are foreseen." The piece finishes with "Welcome to the U.S.S.A., the United Socialist States of America."

Fox graphic equated health reform with socialism. On-screen text on Fox & Friends read: "Healthcare Overhaul: No support for socialism. Man quits AARP over healthcare reform." [Fox & Friends, 7/30/09]

Hannity: Is "this very hour" when America turned "completely towards socialism?" Reporting on the night of the final health reform vote in the House on the March 21 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity asked, "Are we going to look back on this very hour in American history, this hour. Are we going to look at this as the moment where America went down the path towards completely towards socialism?"

O'Reilly: The left "is trying to create a huge federal apparatus that will promote income redistribution and 'social justice.' " In reference to health reform, Bill O'Reilly wrote in his syndicated July 16, 2009, column that "[t]he far left is trying to create a huge federal apparatus that will promote income redistribution and 'social justice.' Also, the left sees a major opportunity to knock out Judeo-Christain traditions, replacing them with a secular philosophy."

RedState: Health reform is like the bombing of Pearl Harbor. A November 25, 2009, post on told the story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The post went on to say that "the American people are staring at an attack on our nation. ... This attack is coming from within. The Obama/Reid/Pelosi healthcare bill -- in its various forms -- is an assault on the American way of life and an affront to all the generations before us who fought to preserve and protect our cherished freedoms. Why? Because the bill will eliminate your God-given ability to care for your family according to YOUR wishes and YOUR conscience."

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News Alert: Irish Prime Minister to Dissolve Government After Budget Is Enacted - so much for the Celtic Tiger

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Mon, November 22, 2010 -- 3:56 PM ET

Irish Prime Minister to Dissolve Government After Budget Is Enacted

Brian Cowen, the embattled prime minister of Ireland, said on
Monday that he would dissolve his government and hold a new
election once a new national budget is enacted. He is
scheduled to present a proposed budget on Dec. 7.

Mr. Cowen turned aside mounting pressure to resign
immediately over the country's worsening financial crisis,
its stagnating economy and the sharp cuts in public spending
and payrolls that are likely to be in the new budget.

The continued survival of Mr. Cowen's coalition government
with its narrow majority in the Dail, the Irish parliament,
was threatened by the reluctance of independent and Green
Party members to back an austerity budget. A financial rescue
package from other European nations, which Mr. Cowen's
government agreed over the weekend to accept after resisting
the idea for weeks, drew criticism as well, and a major
credit-rating agency, Moody's, said on Monday that it may
soon downgrade Ireland's rating by several notches.

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Beck's upcoming "It's a Wonderful Life" stunt being promoted with lies @glennbeck #p2 #tcot #gop

Media Matters for America

Beck's upcoming "It's a Wonderful Life" stunt being promoted with lies

Promoting an upcoming special that he claims will highlight a town in Ohio that is "fighting to be Bedford Falls," Glenn Beck falsely claimed that officials in that city have not received "any money from the government." In fact, the city and surrounding county have received more than $6 million dollars from the 2009 stimulus bill. 

Beck to highlight town that "hasn't taken any money from the government"

Beck: Wilmington, Ohio, is "fighting to be Bedford Falls, not Pottersville."  On the November 19 broadcast of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck described Wilmington as "a city fighting to be Bedford Falls, not Pottersville." He said, "I personally plan to roll up my sleeves and help," adding, "I'm going to do a show there. I invite you to come. I'll give you more information." From the November 19 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck

BECK: Wilmington is a city fighting to be Bedford Falls, not Pottersville.

And I personally plan to roll up my sleeves and help. If they will have us, I'm going to pay a visit next month, and I'm going to do the show from that little street, and I'm going to ask all the folks in nearby Dayton and Columbus and Cincinnati and Cleveland, or wherever else you might be, to join me -- kind of a mini 8.28.

It's not going to be extravagant. It's not going to be big. I'm going to do a show in actually one local theater that last year they did a show in -- because they do it every year. They do a show about the history of their town, and the furnace went out. And people came, but they were sitting in jackets. But they still came.

I'm going to do a show there. I invite you to come. I'll give you more information. [Glenn Beck, 11/19/10]

Beck: Wilmington "hasn't taken any money from the government." In explaining his decision to hold an event in Wilmington, Ohio, Beck and co-host Pat Gray marveled that the town is "such an amazing place" and that despite being "ground zero of joblessness," the "town hasn't taken any money from the government." From the November 22 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:  

BECK: This is such an amazing place. They have - this is, this is what CBS calls ground zero of joblessness, ground zero of the recession.

GRAY: Because DHL was located there, right?

BECK: Yes.

GRAY: And they left.

BECK: And they left. So it's a town of 12,000, and when DHL left they shed 9,500 jobs. A town of 12,000 losing 9,500 jobs. Can you even begin to imagine what that does to this town?

It went from the Number 1 most up and coming city, and a city everybody wants to live in, to ground zero. And this town hasn't taken any money from the government. They don't want any money from the government.

And they are pulling together. Thirty-four churches are all pulling together to help. [The Glenn Beck Program, 11/22/10] 

Beck promises to "highlight" Wilmington's self reliance: "I think this town is going to help the rest of the country." From Beck's November 22 radio show:  

BECK: The soup kitchen there is struggling so hard, the soup kitchen now has lines all the way around the block. And the guys, they won't take any money from the state or the feds. They don't want any money. And I asked them why.

Because God will provide. God is our father. He loves us. And if we have faith, he will provide. We don't need it from the government.

And so they go in every morning and they put their hands on the shelves to say their morning prayers, and they're like, "Lord, help us fill these shelves. Please, Lord, show us the way. Help us fill these shelves."

This is a town that we're going, and I'm not going to help. I'm not going there to -- because I feel sorry for this little town in Ohio. I'm going there because I think this town needs to be highlighted. I think this town is going to help the rest of the country, not the other way around.

We're not going there to help them. We're going there because they'll help us.

City of Wilmington, Clinton County have received more than $6 million in stimulus funds City of Wilmington and its agencies have received at least $2.6 million from stimulus.  According to recipient reports posted at as of November 22, the following grants have been awarded to Wilmington City agencies under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA):

 wilmingtonstimulus Clinton County and its agencies have received over $4 million from the stimulus. According to recipient reports posted at as of November 22, the following grants have been awarded to Clinton County, which includes The City of Wilmington, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:


Clinton County part of $3.6 million stimulus award for home weatherization. From an August 6, 2009, Wilmington News Journal article: 

Thanks to federal stimulus dollars, Clinton and Clark counties have $3.6 million of home weatherization funds available for their residents instead of an $800,000 base sum for the assistance program.

The funds were allocated for two counties because Clinton County Community Action has operated the home weatherization program in Clark County since 1987. It's projected that the $3.6 million will be enough to weatherize 428 homes in the two counties, according to Dean Knapp, director of Clinton County Community Action.

Weatherization funds are available to both home owners and renters. [Wilmington News Journal, 8/6/09

City of Wilmington received $661,993 in stimulus grants for energy efficiency and conservation. According to the Ohio Department of Development, the City of Wilmington has received two awards under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Energy and Conservation Block Grant Programs:

  • City of Wilmington (Renewable Energy Technologies) - $352,600 for the installation of a 58.3 kilowatt solar electric system at their waste water treatment facility.
  • City of Wilmington (Methane Gas Reduction) - $309,393 for the installation of a 43 kilowatt electric generator and associated piping that can collect methane gas from the city landfill. The electricity generated will be used to power the city wastewater treatment plant. [Ohio Department of Development, ARRA Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program Awards]

Clinton County received $340,175 in stimulus grants for energy efficiency and conservation. According to the Ohio Department of Development, has received a grant for $340,176 under the ARRA's Conservation Block Grant Programs:

Energize Clinton County: Grants integral to "attracting future green investment to Clinton County." In a release announcing the grants, officials with Energize Clinton County stated: 

It is difficult to overstate how important these grants are for attracting future green investment to Clinton County. With these projects, the community will have an opportunity to take a great leap forward in building the technical and economic expertise required to spur green development. The community will also be able to tangibly demonstrate its commitment to green development, and more importantly, its ability to facilitate investment through local leadership.

We would like to especially thank Mayor Raizk and Laura Curliss from the City of Wilmington; Mike Curry, Dave Stewart and Randy Riley, our Clinton County Commissioners; Mark Brooker, the Clinton County Economic Development Directory; and Chris Schock, Director of the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission. None of this would have been possible without their support, their energy, and their vision for bringing innovation to Clinton County. We'd also like to thank the State of Ohio, Gov. Strickland, Brewster Rhodes, and Ohio Department of Development for their continued support of Clinton County. If you run into one of these public officials, we encourage you to congratulate them and express your appreciation for their commitment and support. [Energize Clinton County, 3/24/10

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Glenn Beck

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Rep.-Elect Allen West: In D.C. ‘You Don’t See People Getting Laid Off’ And ‘You Don’t See Anyone Suffering’ #p2 #gop #tcot


Yesterday, Rep.-elect Allen West (R-FL), who has risen to national prominence amid controversy over his disparaging views of Islam, progressives, and multiculturalism, appeared on Meet the Press. In the process of explaining why we should permanently extend the Bush tax breaks for millionaires – a move that would add $830 billion to the deficit over the next ten years alone – West made some curious comments about the economic situation in his new home of Washington, D.C. After noting that unemployment is as high as 13 percent in his Florida district and foreclosures are skyrocketing, West claimed that "you don't see people getting laid off" and "you don't see anyone suffering" in our nation's capital:

GREGORY: The — Congressman, the — on the issue of tax cuts, do you buy the president's argument, "Look, let's extend those Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class first, then we can come back and do the upper earners, or at least have that conversation"?

WEST: No. I think that we need to extend those tax cuts permanently across the board. Look, I come from a — an area down in South Florida where unemployment is at 13 percent, foreclosures are absolutely high. We are seeing closed upon closed storefronts. But yet, when you walk around here in Washington, D.C., you don't see people getting laid off, you don't see, you know, anyone suffering, you don't see the foreclosures.

Watch it:

West's comments display an unfortunate lack of awareness of the economic hardships that many D.C. residents experience. Unemployment is low for the upper crust of Washington, including those who populate the halls of Congress — just 4.2 percent for those with a college degree, according to a study by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.

However, working-class residents have acutely felt the pain of the economic recession. In Ward 8, which lies just south of Capitol Hill, the unemployment rate topped 28 percent last year, "one of the highest in the nation." West's comments about foreclosures are equally misguided, as local blog DCist shows with a video of residents lining up around the block and crowding into the Convention Center to receive free home loan counseling.

It is extraordinarily easy for congressmen like West to arrive in Washington, ingratiate themselves in lobbyist luncheons and the cocktail circuit, and assume that economic hardship somehow passed over our nation's capital. As a result, it is no surprise that West would argue for permanent tax breaks for billionaires while — in the very same breath — denying the existence of poor people in D.C.

Thankfully, West will not chair the House subcommittee that oversees Washington, D.C. That role is filled by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), a man who believes that giving D.C. governing autonomy and voting rights is unconstitutional.

Feds Preparing Charges In Massive Insider Trading Case #p2

I'm not in love with the capitalist system, especially the steroid-bloated version of the past 30 years. But if we're going to have capitalism, the only way it can work for small investors is if we have access to accurate information about the risks. In a system rife with insider-trading, small investors don't have a ghost of a chance, so I hope this investigation ends with some high-profile indictments and convictions:

Federal authorities, capping a three-year investigation, are preparing insider-trading charges that could ensnare consultants, investment bankers, hedge-fund and mutual-fund traders, and analysts across the nation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The criminal and civil probes, which authorities say could eclipse the impact on the financial industry of any previous such investigation, are examining whether multiple insider-trading rings reaped illegal profits totaling tens of millions of dollars, the people say. Some charges could be brought before year-end, they say.

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Wi-Fi Radiation Is Killing Trees, New Study Finds


Economic History Shows Clearly That Tax Cuts for Rich Hurt the Economy


Tax cuts for the wealthy function to reduce economic growth in two specific ways:

First, they amplify the tendency of income and wealth to concentrate in a small segment of the population. Throughout the entire period of Republican rule, all of the economic growth was siphoned off to the top two percent. Real wages stagnated, and continued growth in the Gross Domestic Product was fueled -- for a time -- by an expanding credit bubble that ultimately burst.

The problem is that to be sustained over time, economic growth must be widely shared. Otherwise, demand for new products and services stagnates; there is no incentive for businesses to invest, and economic growth itself stalls.

Fundamentally, economic growth is about the development of processes and technologies that increase productivity. But these do not occur when wealth is concentrated and labor prices are cheap. They occur when new growth is shared and wages are high.

A high-wage economy leads to major long-term economic dividends because:

  • It incentivizes companies to invest in higher-productivity technologies that increase overall productivity and provide real economic growth.
  • It creates customers with spending power to drive economic growth. There is a natural tendency of market economies to use low-cost labor and increase profits. That's good for each company's bottom line, but it kills off the goose that lays the golden egg by reducing the buying power of its ultimate customers -- the people who work for all the companies in the economy combined.

Cutting taxes for the wealthy simply transfers more and more wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people and helps fuel an economic imbalance that causes an economy to stall.

Second, tax cuts for the rich starve the public sector of funds that are necessary to assure long-term growth. Tax-cut activist Grover Norquist was quite explicit when he championed the Bush tax cuts that he intended to deprive government of resources so it could be "drowned in a bathtub."

Historically, tax cuts for the rich have been used -- quite intentionally -- to create deficits that make it politically difficult for government to do three things that are critical to sustaining growth over the long run:

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