Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Are Finland’s Schools The World’s Best? #p2 #tcot

from http://www.disinfo.com/2011/08/why-are-finlands-schools-the-worlds-best/

Rick Perry: Why Social Security Is Not A Ponzi Scheme In One Venn Diagram #p2 #tcot

here http://front.moveon.org/why-social-security-is-not-a-ponzi-scheme-in-one-venn-diagram/

Audit shows 98% of federal funds earmarked to help uninsured haven't been spent #p2 #tcot

here http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/30/1011869/-Audit-shows-98-of-federal-funds-earmarked-to-help-uninsured-haventbeenspent?via=blog_1

theocrat Rick Perry's reading list: A how-to on converting Jews and Muslims to Christianity #p2 #tcot

from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/30/1011972/-Rick-Perrys-reading-list:-A-how-to-on-converting-Jews-and-Muslims-to-Christianity?via=blog_1

Rick Perry and his handlers would like you to know that he is currently reading some books, and therefore not dumb. Some people are questioning one of his choices, however:
[O]ne of the books the Texas governor says he's reading lately, Charles Stanley's Turning the Tide, sounds a bit extreme. Although it's described by Politico as "a Baptist pastor's how-to for Christian conservatives who want to change the country's direction," some choice excerpts from the actual words inside reveal "change the country's direction" to be something of a euphemism for "convert all Jews and Muslims because they are heathens."

As Mother Jones notes, the "tide" in the title is actually a "tsunami of death and depravity that we're running out of time to thwart." Then there's this, from Stanley: "Pray for God's protection against terrorism and ask that Muslims throughout the world will come to know Jesus as their Savior."

The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, who recently detailed Michele Bachmann's own penchant for batty religious writings, tweeted some additional excerpts from the Stanley book, including "pray that Jews worldwide will accept Him as their Savior," and, "May the people of Israel acknowledge their guilt, seek Your face, and accept Your Son -- the Messiah."

So it's essentially a book about how people of all creeds and religions should come together in harmony to worship Jesus Christ as their savior, and if they don't we're going to be buried beneath a sea of depravity and chaos and restaurants that are open on the wrong holidays.

I don't think this is going to hurt Perry in any way: It seems perfectly consistent with his positioning as Head Jesus Guy, the candidate who is most ostentatious in their public prayer and godbothering. The people that like Perry would very much like all the Jews and Muslims to be converted, and have no issues with believing that all those folks are not only going to hell, but dooming the rest of America as well. No doubt many of them even have bumper stickers to that effect.

Among the things that are not extreme these days: banning mosques because we don't trust Muslim Americans (see: Herman Cain), hanging around with people who still believe witchcraft is responsible for misfortunes (see: Sarah Palin), blaming earthquakes and hurricanes on God wanting to send abstract messages to people, but having atrocious aim (see: any number of supposedly serious national preacher-types), and wanting to bring about the Apocalypse, because dooming everyone else on the planet to trials and tribulations and mass destruction and flaming sky ponies is a small price to pay to prove once and for all to those bastards down the street that you really were one of God's chosen ones (ibid). Saying America is doomed if we don't convert all the Jews and Muslims to evangelical Christianity is pretty old-school stuff, all told.

There is a strong tendency to brush this sort of thing off; we've become so inured to religious intolerance, when it's coming from the evangelical Christian side of the fence, that it hardly ever seems worth pointing it out. But maybe we shouldn't be inured to it. It would be a dismal thing indeed, if we elevated religious bigotry on behalf of one particular sub-sect of one particular religion into being a prime duty of the presidency, and there is a large percentage of America that would like nothing less than that. I'm not really sure Rick Perry immersing himself in a good, thorough read of My Pet Heathen is what America needs.

Sean Hannity On Obama: 'I Don't Think He's That Smart' (VIDEO) - hannity is the fool and Bush WAS a moron #p2 #tcot

from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/30/sean-hannity-obama-smart_n_941629.html?ir=Politics&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

An enraged Sean Hannity reacted to a controversial Politico article about Rick Perry's intelligence by questioning President Obama's intelligence for almost eight minutes.

The Politico piece had a blunt title: "Is Rick Perry Dumb?" Writer Jonathan Martin spent nearly 1,800 words pondering the question, essentially concluding that, while Perry is not an "ideas man," he has a sharp and potent political mind and should not be underestimated. Hannity was incensed, though, seeing a clear case of liberal media bias.

"The question of intelligence is one the mainstream media never bothered to ask about President Obama," he said. He then brought on Tucker Carlson and Democratic cable news mainstay Steve McMahon on to discuss just that.

"If he's such a genius he would have not lost two and a half million jobs," Hannity began. He then ran through a series of gaffes Obama has made over the years before settling on his favorite one: the president pronouncing the word "corpsman" as "corpseman."

"What's a navy corpseman?" Hannity mockingly asked. "He read it three times in one speech, he doesn't know what a corpsman is! Genius that he is!"

McMahon started to say, "The conversation we should be having," but he was cut off by Hannity. "I want to know!" he shouted. "That's my conversation."

Hannity also said he would like to read Obama's Harvard and Columbia theses, and see his grades. But he kept returning to that "corpsman" issue.

"He read his teleprompter three times and he doesn't know 'corpsman'!" he said to McMahon at one point. "And he's the commander in chief and you don't have the courage to admit it!"

Eventually, Hannity just started repeating the word "corpsman" over and over again. "Every liberal's a genius that drives the economy into a ditch," he concluded. "...I don't think he's that smart."


IRS: Seven tax tips for recently married taxpayers

from http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/ncadvertiser/new-canaan-columns/101926-irs-seven-tax-tips-for-recently-married-taxpayers.html

With the summer wedding season still in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service advises the soon-to-be married and the just married to review their changing tax status.

If you recently got married or are planning a wedding, the last thing on your mind is taxes. However, there are some important steps you need to take to avoid stress at tax time.

Here are seven tips for newlyweds:

1. Notify the Social Security Administration. Report any name change to the Social Security Administration so your name and Social Security number will match when you file your next tax return. File a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, at your local SSA office. The form is available on Social Security Administration's Web site at ssa.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at local offices.

2. Notify the IRS if you move. If you have a new address you should notify the IRS by sending Form 8822, Change of Address. You may download Form 8822 from IRS.gov or order it by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

3. Notify the U.S. Postal Service.You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service when you move so it can forward any IRS correspondence or refunds.

4. Notify your employer. Report any name and address changes to your employer(s) to make sure you receive your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, after the end of the year.

5. Check your withholding. If both you and your spouse work, your combined income may place you in a higher tax bracket. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator available on irs.gov to assist you in determining the correct amount of withholding needed for your new filing status. The IRS Withholding Calculator will give you the information you need to complete a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. You can fill it out and print it online and then give the form to your employer(s) so they withhold the correct amount from your pay.

6. Select the right tax form. Choosing the right individual income tax form can help save money. Newly married taxpayers may find that they now have enough deductions to itemize on their tax returns. Itemized deductions must be claimed on a Form 1040, not a 1040A or 1040EZ.

7. Choose the best filing status. A person's marital status on Dec. 31 determines whether the person is considered married for that year. Generally, the tax law allows married couples to choose to file their federal income tax return either jointly or separately in any given year. Figuring the tax both ways can determine which filing status will result in the lowest tax, but usually filing jointly is more beneficial.


For more information about changing your name, address and income tax withholding visit irs.gov. IRS forms and publications can be obtained fromirs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

@Twitter hires former top FCC aide

here http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/62241.html

Cantor: no emergency disaster relief without cuts #p2 #tcot @gop thanks for caring the rest of the world thinks @gop are assholes

from http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_08/cantor_no_emergency_disaster_r031861.php

I'm well aware of the political norms that say it's wrong to question the motives of those you disagree with. We're not supposed to make disagreements personal, and we're not supposed to accuse officials of being bad people.

I'll bite my tongue, then, and just say that the Republican approach to disaster relief is morally reprehensible.


If you can't watch clips online, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on Fox News this morning to confirm what he and his office have been saying all along: Republicans won't allow emergency aid in the wake of Hurricane Irene unless Democrats meet GOP demands: dollar-for-dollar spending cuts elsewhere.

In the interview, the dimwitted Majority Leader tried to make this sound like common sense — instead of an unprecedented move. Remember, no modern Congress, regardless of which party was in the majority, has ever demanded offsets in response to American natural disaster, not even Tom DeLay's.

Cantor also said House Republicans have "already" dealt with this by approving $1 billion in disaster aid in May, paying for it by cutting funds for a renewable energy program. Whether the Majority Leader understands what he's saying or not is unclear, but the costs associated with the weekend's hurricane will far exceed $1 billion.

Let's also not lose sight of the larger context here. As far as Eric Cantor is concerned, launching wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do not need to be paid for. Tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires do not need to be paid for. Bailing out Wall Street does not need to be paid for. But when American communities are struck by a natural disaster, all of a sudden, House Republicans discover a new standard: if Democrats want to help affected areas, the GOP has some demands that must be met.

And in case this story isn't quite mind-numbing enough, also note that FEMAhas been forced to temporarily suspend "some payments to rebuild roads, schools and other structures destroyed during spring tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., and Southern states and other recent natural disasters" in order to respond to Hurricane Irene.

That this is happening in the wealthiest nation in the world, simply because the Republican Party has been taken over by charlatans and fools, is a national disgrace.

For all of our differences over party, ideology, and creed, we know that when disaster strikes and our neighbors face a genuine emergency, America responds. We don't ask what's in it for us; we don't weigh the political considerations; we don't pause to ponder the larger ideological implications.

We act. It's who we are; it's what we do.

Or it was, right up until Americans elected a radicalized House majority.

Alabama immigration law blocked until Sept. 29 while federal judge weighs case #p2 #tcot

from http://blog.al.com/breaking/2011/08/alabama_immigration_law_blocked.html

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn has decided to block Alabama's new immigration law for a month to give herself more time to rule on whether parts or all of the far-reaching laware constitutional.

It was set to go into effect Sept. 1.

The court announced the one-month preliminary injunction at 1:30 p.m. today and said the temporary stay is not based on the merits of the law. The injunction would be lifted prior to Sept. 29 if Blackburn issues her ruling in the case.

The U.S. Department of Justice, an array of civil rights groups and theleaders of Alabama's Catholic, Episcopal and United Methodist churches have all sued to block the law, which offers a host of criminal and civil penalties for illegal immigrants and those who harbor, transport, rent to, employ and enter contracts with them. At a hearing last week in Birmingham, the plaintiffs argued that Blackburn should issue an injunction blocking its implementation.

The Alabama Legislature this spring passed what officials have called the strongest immigration law in the country. Gov. Robert Bentley signed the bill into law in June and has consistently spoken in its defense.

Bentley released a statement saying he looked forward to Blackburn's ruling on the merits of the case, as did Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston.

"Judge Blackburn clearly understands the complexity of this issue and we are encouraged by her willingness to carefully examine all aspects of the case prior to ruling," Marsh said in a statement.

Updated at 2:49 p.m. to include reaction from Gov. Bentley and legislative leaders.

video: if Bush tax cuts were to create jobs why has unemployment increased @gop @tcot #p2 @AnthonyCumia gop rep can't answer

from http://blog.buzzflash.com/node/12975


One of the traditional America values that used to be revered as a sign of our national character was common sense.

But no longer. Most of the right-wing slogans and sound bites are based on promoting economic policy that has proven not to work. This is the opposite of common sense: it's doing what repeatedly hasn't shown results and insisting that it will magically be effective the next time around.

GOP Congressman Randy Hultgren of Illinois was confronted with common sense about the Bush tax cuts at a summer recess town hall meeting. Indeed, a constituent asked Hultgren why - if the Bush tax cuts helped create jobs, as the GOP argues - the unemployment rate has gone up around 3 percentage points since they were enacted? Hultgren was flummoxed.

He couldn't answer the question and fumbled his way into talking about "the stimulus" instead of the ineffectiveness of excessive tax cuts for the wealthy. Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks featured a video of the encounter and remarked that Hultgren was "stone cold busted." Uygur noted that we've lost a million jobs over the last ten years.

The constituent also pointed out that the nonwealthy end up paying more in additional government taxes (to cover the interest on the debt, but one could add that additional flat, local and state taxes are borne by the middle and working class), while the rich just get richer.

You can add to that the common sense and prima facie reality that if the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy were repealed, it would go a long way toward reducing the national deficit with which the GOP and the Tea Party are so obsessed.

Exxon Forms Rosneft Alliance for Arctic Reserves, Gulf of Mexico;Russians to drill oil fields of Texas plains and Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean

HERE http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-30/exxon-wins-russian-arctic-access-in-deal-opening-gulf-of-mexico-to-rosneft.html

Economic Update: Your Weekly Dose of Revolutionary Economics (Audio) #P2 #TCOT

A revolutionary take on a massive set of problems: Capitalism's failings and today's global economic crisis.

Every Saturday, Economics Professor Richard D. Wolff and guests discuss the current state of the economy, both locally and globally in relation to the economic crisis. They focus on wages, jobs, taxes, and debts - and on interest rates, prices, and profits. The goal is to explain why certain economic changes are happening and other changes get postponed or blocked and they will explore alternative ways to organize enterprises, markets, and government policies.

The show is for people who want to understand and change not only their own financial situation but also the larger economy we all depend on.

This project is made possible because of a partnership between Truthout, Professor Wolff and 99.5 FM WBAI, New York City's Pacifica radio station.

LINK TO AUDIO: http://www.truth-out.org/economic-update-your-weekly-dose-revolutionary-economics/1310498361


Eight Reasons Why Raising the Medicare Age Is the Worst Presidential "Bargain" Since 1854 #P2 #TCOT

HERE http://www.truth-out.org/raising-medicare-age-8-reasons-its-worst-presidential-bargain-1854/1314710511

@gop @EricCantor Eric Cantor Won't Support Hurricane Disaster Funding Without Massive Cuts to First Responders @AnthonyCumia #P2 #TCOT

FROM http://www.truth-out.org/eric-cantor-wont-support-hurricane-disaster-funding-without-massive-cuts-first-responders/1314726273

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, FEMA is quickly running out of money. Specifically, FEMA's crucial "disaster-relief fund, used to reimburse local governments and individuals for the costs of cleanup and repairs, is running dangerously low." Already payments for some projects are being delayed. Early estimates suggest that damage from Irene could exceed $10 billion.

Eric Cantor and the House GOP leadership appear to agree that more funds are needed, but won't help until President Obama and the Senate agree to more budget cuts. Yesterday on Fox News, Cantor made clear that he would not support any additional funding unless matched with "savings elsewhere."

What cuts, specifically, does Eric Cantor want in exchange for disaster relief funds? On Fox, Cantor said he supported $1 billion in disaster relief funding as part of the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, which contains massive cuts to FEMA and first responders.

In July, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) detailed the problems with the legislation championed by Cantor:

The House bill slashes funding for grants to equip and train first responders by 40 percent. This is on top of the 19 percent cut in FY 2011. The House defense appropriations bill provides $12.8 billion to train and equip troops and police in Afghanistan — yet the House provides only $2 billion for first responders here at home.

Their proposal also slashes the Federal Emergency Management Agency's operations by 6 percent at a time when the agency has never been busier. Does it really make sense to pay for response and reconstruction costs from past disasters by reducing our capacity to prepare for future disasters?

Cantor's insistence on budget cuts to off-set any expenditures is a recent phenomenon. During the Bush administration, Cantor supported the Bush tax cuts, the Iraq war, and raising the debt limit (five times) without a penny in spending cuts.

The Endless, Pointless Debate on Jobs and Tax Cuts #p2 #tcot

from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2011/08/30/guest-post-the-endless-pointless-debate-on-jobs-and-tax-cuts/

At the start of his first term in 2001 George Bush initiated a series of tax breaks that would go on to play a key role in expanding the national deficit. Since they were first enacted, the tax cuts have cost the government approximately $2 trillion in revenues.

Republicans and other conservatives claimed the tax cuts to wealthy individuals and large corporations were necessary to help job creators to encourage growth and lower unemployment. Of course, not everyone agreed and many Democrats were quick to counter the argument with a few of their own. They say that tax breaks for the rich stop the redistribution of wealth and hinder job creation.

Neither party offered any justification for their position instead merely expecting us to read between the lines and form our own conclusions off of vague innuendos. So, if we are to find rhyme or reason with either argument, we must find it ourselves…

The Republican Argument

Republicans want us to believe tax breaks encourage the wealthy and large corporations to spend more, grow GDP and expand their businesses.

The Democrat Argument

Democrats seem to believe ending tax breaks to the elite will help redistribute the wealth. Government can spend more on infrastructure and create more jobs in the process.

An Impartial Opinion

Both party's arguments are clearly biased and flawed. Republicans call for extended tax breaks as a thinly disguised argument for protecting their privileged constituents. Meanwhile, Democratic fiscal policy has proven wasteful and equally ineffective in creating jobs.

The Flaws In The Republican Tax Cut Argument

There are a couple of holes in the Republican's call for tax breaks. First, they assume tax breaks will encourage Corporations and the wealthy to spend more, but research data from Moodys suggests rich Americans save most of their tax breaks. In the second quarter of 2001, the savings rate among wealthy Americans was negative 2 percent. In the first quarter of 2002, the savings rate was 2.8 percent.

The same flaw holds true for large corporations. Last year, corporations saved more money than in any year since the Federal Reserve started keeping records almost 50 years ago. They saved 26% more of their cash in 2010 than in the year before. They have been reluctant to hire new employees on concerns of a global slowdown in economic growth.

The tax breaks have clearly been a futile effort to inspire job growth. Most likely, supporters of tax cuts have known this all along. From 2001 to 2006, only about 2.8 million jobs were created. Much of this growth was due to additional government spending, which the government somehow managed even with the tax breaks. The period from 2000-2008 was the slowest year for job growth since the depression.

If anything, this points out that tax breaks curtail job growth. Opponents to the tax breaks would argue that we could cut taxes and job growth would follow. However, there are many other factors that limited job growth up to 2008. The tax breaks are probably not to blame, but they clearly didn't jumpstart the jobs rally we were all hoping for.

Digging a little deeper, the job growth that would be inspired by cutting taxes would be miniscule at best.

The Flaws In The Democrat Tax Rise Argument

Any job growth from raising taxes would be the result of short-term government projects and stimulus spending. The results of the last stimulus package were less than impressive. According to the White House's Council of Economic Advisors, the stimulus package cost taxpayers $278,000 per job created or saved.

Most of the jobs created by the stimulus package were temporary positions. The purpose of these jobs was to create an opportunity for employees to get by until the economy improved. The real unemployment rate is now over 16%. Even President Obama has admitted that the 'shovel ready jobs' created in the stimulus plan weren't "as shovel ready as we expected."

According to a poll from Pew Research Center last year, nearly two thirds of Americans felt the stimulus package failed to create jobs. Most Americans would probably be hesitant to watch additional tax dollars wasted on a second stimulus plan.

Keeping The Real Goal In Site

The rival parties will no doubt continue to waste their time arguing on tax policy, this is, however, an endeavour that offers no benefit to jobseekers. In the mean time, hopefully, enough politicians from both sides will work on a real solution on job creation.

Kalen Smith writes about financial affairs and budgeting at www.MoneyFile.net, a personal finance blog in the saving and financial advice sector.

Michele Bachmann jokes that God sent hurricane, earthquake #p2 #tcot


@gop After Irene, FEMA facing a disaster of its own — funding - wont fund feme unless other cuts are made


weather balloon Rush @Limbaugh exposes the government-manufactured heat index conspiracy - colbert report #p2 #tcot

here http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/394240/august-09-2011/heatsteria?xrs=synd_facebook

asshole: Bachmann suggests drilling in the Everglades, 'responsibly' #p2 #tcot plutocrat / theocrat anything you wont shill for a buck?

from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/29/1011700/-Bachmann-suggests-drilling-in-the-Everglades,-responsibly?via=blog_1

Talking to the Associated Press Sunday, for one brief instant Michele Bachmann almost sounded reasonable about energy needs, saying:
The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness.

Then she kept talking:

Whether that is in the Everglades or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region or whether that is in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is. But, of course, it needs to be done responsibly. If we can't responsibly access energy in the Everglades, then we shouldn't do it.

To Bachmann, then, American resourcefulness doesn't mean developing new forms of energy or becoming a world leader in existing clean energy technologies that can be accessed here. It certainly doesn't mean finding ways to cut our energy use. No, resourcefulness means doing the same thing we've been doing—drilling for oil—just in more places. Just, you know, responsibly. Whatever that means to Michele Bachmann.

Let's settle this right here and now: We can't responsibly access energy in the Everglades.

There are a few things to stress on that front. Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones points out:

"No one wants to hurt or contaminate the earth," [Bachmann] continued. "We don't want to harm our water, our ecosystems or the air. That is a minimum bar." But Bachmann wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. So it's not entirely clear who would be charged with ensuring that we are protecting the environment in our bid to drill in the Everglades and any other part of the US.


Jerry Karnas, communications director for the Everglades Foundation, says that drilling in the Everglades wouldn't even be economically viable, as there really isn't oil within Everglades proper and the little oil available in surrounding areas is of a very low quality.

"As time has worn on, the Everglades has begun to encompass other areas, including Big Cypress Preserve," says Karnas. "In 1972, there were some historic mineral rights retained by the Barron Collier family, and today, it is nothing more than a very, very small operation where the company drills for meager amounts of oil that are of a very low quality."

It's a delicate balance, going for the hard-right vote while seeming "serious" to the traditional media. Apparently suggesting "responsible" drilling for oil in a place where there's basically no oil and no way to drill responsibly is the balance Bachmann is comfortable with.