Friday Reads

Good Morning!

It is definitely the silly season!  You can tell that an election count down is nearing in the District.  A judge of Chinese descent was successfully blocked by Republican Senators  and Ben NelSOB for sounding like a communist.  Did we go back to the McCarthy era and I missed it?

Six years ago, Ninth Circuit judicial nominee Goodwin Liu published an op-ed in which he made the utterly banal point that a conservative interest group used the terms “free enterprise,”‘ “private ownership of property,” and “limited government”  as “code words for an ideological agenda hostile to environmental, workplace, and consumer protections.” In a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, however, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) somehow managed to interpret this op-ed as proof that Liu wants to turn America into “Communist-run China”:

GRASSLEY: Does [Liu] think we’re the communist-run China? That the government runs everything? That it’s a better place when they put online every week a coal-fired plant to pollute the air, put more carbon dioxide into the air then we do in the United States, and where children are dying because food is poisoned, and consumers aren’t protected, and where every miner in the China coal mines is in jeopardy of losing their lives? That’s how out of place this guy is when he talks about “free enterprise,” “private ownership of property,” and “limited government” being something somehow bad, but if you get government more involved, like they do in China, it’s somehow a better place.

Republicans appear to be pulling out all the bells and dogwhistles for this one. This is the first time a judicial nominee has been blocked since 2005.

Liu also drew Republican ire over his criticism of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in testimony when the conservative judge was nominated to the court.

“His outrageous attack on Judge Alito convinced me that Goodwin Liu is an ideologue,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said before Thursday’s vote. “His statement showed he has nothing but disdain for those who disagree with him. Goodwin Liu should run for elected office, not serve as a judge.”

Imagine that!  Some one with an opinion!  Does that mean a person isn’t capable of honest judgement?

Obama gave a speech yesterday at the State Department indicating support for the Arab Spring and suggesting that a dialogue between Israel and Palestine is possible but must meet certain ground rules.  One of these is controversial because it breaks with a speech given by President Bush that more or less accepted the reality of some Israel colonies in the occupied territories.  That is that the negotiations be based on the 1967  agreement which would reverse Israeli colonization of territories that occurred after the agreement.  Israel has already rejected the idea.

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear:  a viable Palestine, a secure Israel.  The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.  We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.  The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat.  Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security.  The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.  And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations.  Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met.  I’m aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain:  the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees.  But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Obama also made it clear that Hamas’ failure to recognize the state of Israel was a huge problem.

Now, let me say this:  Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table.  In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel:  How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?  And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.  Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.

The President said that US commitment to Israel is unshakeable but the status quo is unsustainable.  The Israeli/Palestinian situation continues to the most vexing problem on the planet.  If you’re going to venture an opinion, be aware that the topic creates such tension that its discussion is actually banned on many blogs.  I’d prefer not to relive past experience myself but I thought it needed mentioning.

Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute says “We’re not broke nor will we be”.  It seems more and more economists are fighting back on the weird suggestion that a country with a huge economy, rich people, and tons of assets can’t invest in its own future because it’s broke.  Here’s the link to the briefing paper.  This is good explanation of why we are not Greece and will not go down the Greek Road.  There are tons of nifty graphs so go check it out!!

Despite the rhetoric, it is clear that “we” as a nation are not broke. While the recession has led to job loss and shrinking incomes in recent years, the economy has produced substantial gains in average incomes and wealth over the last three decades, and economists agree that we can expect comparable growth over the next three decades as well. Between 1980 and 2010, income per capita grew 66.4%, and wealth per capita grew 73.2%. Over the next 30 years, per capita income is projected to grow by a comparable 60.6%. In other words, “we” are much richer as a nation than we used to be and can expect those riches to rise substantially in the future. So who is the we in the “we’re broke” mantra? The recession has certainly been a rough patch of road for many families, but the output produced by corporations in the private sector has already recovered to pre-recession levels, and these firms’ profi ts were 21.7% higher overall, driven largely by the 60% jump in pre-tax profi ts enjoyed by fi rms in the fi nancial sector.

Here’s why we can actually afford to invest in America and Americans!

Despite the fact that average incomes have increased substantially over the past 30 years, the federal government is currently running a projected defi cit of 9.8% of gross domestic product. As noted above, many use the deficit to support the “we’re broke” theme. But how can that be the case? How can the country have much more income, collectively, onwhich to draw, yet all levels of government are “broke” and unable to aff ord anything?

The answer is that revenue has declined substantially due to the recession and due to the Bush-era tax cuts. The Congressional Budget Offi ce projects federal revenues will be just 14.8% of GDP in the fi scal year ending September 30, 2011—by far the lowest revenue intake relative to GDP since 1951. In contrast, federal revenues totaled over 18% of GDP at the end of the last recovery (fi scal year 2007) and were roughly 20% at the end of the 1990s recovery. A largepart of the revenue shortfall can be attributed to legislated changes in taxes under George W. Bush, which lowered the revenue share by 2.1%.

As the economy recovers, the defi cit will fall as unemployment declines, as incomes and associated revenues increase, and as recession-sensitive expenditures automatically decline (expenditures for food stamps, unemployment benefits, Medicaid and other programs rise with the economic distress in a recession and fade as unemployment declines). This expected decrease in the defi cit is refl ected in CBO projections showing the defi cit declining from 9.8% of GDP in 2011 to just 3.0% in fi scal year 2015. Some of this decline can be attributed to the assumed expiration of the Bush tax cuts extended in 2010 and the inheritance tax change in 2010 (plus the R&D, ethanol, and fi rst-year depreciation tax breaks), which would total 2.9 percentage points of GDP that year. Even so, that still leaves the defi cit falling by 4.0 percentage points due to the recovery.

Texas officially joins the war on women by mandating sonograms before terminations.  This is just more harassment and costs to women seeking to exercise their constitutional rights to privacy and self-determination.  Ridiculous!

Texas Governor Rick Perry Thursday signed into law a measure requiring women seeking an abortion in the state to first get a sonogram.

Texas is one of several U.S. states with strong Republican legislative majorities proposing new restrictions on abortion this year. The Republican governor had designated the bill as an emergency legislative priority, putting it on a fast track.

Under the law, women will have to wait 24 hours after the sonogram before having an abortion, though the waiting time is two hours for those who live more than 100 miles from an abortion provider.

So, like I said, it’s the silly season which means there’s plenty of news out there that’s bound to upset people!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


46 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    I want to be the first to wish all my Sky Dancer writers the best of luck for tomorrow.

    Not sure where you will be after the Rapture takes place but I expect to be lunching with my “new best friends” back in the Kumbaya tent and wishing Michele Bachmann the best of luck in 2012.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Ha Ha…I guess I will have to find me some “Ascension” body spray cause without it this little heathen is going nowhere.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I’m playing it safe.

        Dragged out my old rosary beads, scapula, prayer book and holy pictures just in case.

        Kind of like having my “birth certificate” handy when facing the skeptics.

        Truth be told, I have no shame.

      • paper doll says:

        Truth be told, I have no shame.

        and that’s a good thing…what has shame ever done for one? lol!

      • dakinikat says:

        pourmecoffee pourmecoffee
        by ktumulty
        If you feel like you’ll ascend, remember to set up your out-of-office reply before you leave work today

    • Branjor says:

      I’m going to a Rapture looting party.

    • janicen says:

      LOL, Pat! “…Dragged out my old rosary beads, scapula, prayer book and holy pictures just in case…”

      You left the “r” off of scapular. (I was raised Catholic and still have mine somewhere) I’m sure you meant that rather than your shoulder blade!

      I’m sorry, I’m just punchy. I’ve been giggling all day about this. I’m streaming KZOK radio from Seattle. They’re taking rapture requests and playing a bunch of end of the world songs. I’m going back to cleaning out my refrigerator because I know I’m not going anywhere!

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    Morning Dak, great post.I found these two links this morning. You mentioned Texas and the sonogram crap, well in Indiana it seems there was an error in the wording of the bill.

    Check out this letter to the editor of the Indy Star:

    Abortion bill imposes cruelty on women | The Indianapolis Star | indystar.com

    House Enrolled Act 1210 does much more than cut off public funding of Planned Parenthood. A copy of the legislation posted on the state’s website contains a telling error. It states that “the age of the woman who is aborted” shall be included in forms designed to monitor all abortions in Indiana.

    If you didn’t believe in Freudian slips, this may change your mind. The bill is touted as protecting “unborn” life. The slip reveals a different ideological purpose. The bill aims to abort women as free persons. “Abortion shall in all instances be a criminal act,” the bill declares, except when a physician approves it for medical reasons. Women in Indiana are stripped of all choice in matters of abortion. Doctors are given full control over the termination of pregnancies. The bill is unconstitutional because it goes beyond the rights of states outlined in Roe v. Wade.

    Read the letter at the link…

    And this one:

    Mississippi River flooding: Residents build homemade dams to saves houses | Mail Online

    The pictures of the houses surrounded by water are amazing. But observe the obvious differences between the big wealthy homes and the smaller “poorer” homes.

    The homemade levee in the trailer park didn’t cut it.

    Then scroll down to the comments. Some idiot “Doug” in Orlando really said some nasty things about New Orleans and Katrina. What gets me is that there are over 281 approvals for what this ass says…and no dislikes. Check it out.

    In Mississippi, a red state, people did what they had to do to deal with the crisis. This is what America should be about. In heavily Democratic New Orleans, people just sat around waiting for someone else to deal with the problem. When it wasn’t handled to their satisfaction, they blamed Bush. This is exactly the kind of helpless attitude that their Democrat masters like to see. “You can’t take care of yourselves, so vote for us, and we’ll take care of you.”

    – Doug, Orlando, USA, 20/5/2011 4:58
    Click to rate Rating 281

    • paper doll says:

      Where to even start….of course post storm problems in NO would dwarf many times over those found in more rural areas of Miss….somehow that point is always missed in these false comparisons.

      • dakinikat says:

        The one big difference is that the corps yearly tells the folks in the spillway flood zone that they’re in a spillway flood zone and could be in peril. They promised us functional levees and flood walls and didn’t deliver them. The flooding came from faulty levee construction and maintenance.

    • Allison says:

      Whoa – Doug!!! All you need to do is google hurricane response to find a few facts about what happened after Katrina. Here’s a start:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_government_response_to_Hurricane_Katrina

      Hint: it had to do with politics alright. MS got a disproportionate share of federal funds and Haley Barbour proceeded to run the poor folks off the coast and give the money to high-rolling developers.

      Of course Doug – sitting in Florida – would know all about what happened from teevee. May Karma visit him soon.

      • madamab says:

        Let’s hope Doug is one of the ones Raptured tomorrow. I’m looking forward to being Left Behind.

      • dakinikat says:

        Also there’s the fact that it wasn’t the Hurricane that flooded New Orleans. It was the faulty levees built and maintained by the corps that failed. We trusted the levees the Corps built.

  3. paper doll says:

    Great round up! We still don’t know who they expect to pay for those sonograms….but I can guess

    Square Rage moving West!

    Protestors occupy city squares in Spain after mass demonstrations Sunday

    http://tinyurl.com/3t5nvdu

    …The financial crisis shaking Spain drives the ruling class to further social cuts, to resolve its crisis on the backs of working people. In particular, the Socialist Workers Party government of José Luis Zapatero may apply for a bailout like those imposed on Greece, Ireland and Portugal….

    • Fannie says:

      What are they going to do, imprison you if you don’t have a sonogram? Inquring minds want to know.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Congress won’t do anything about jobs, but they made short work of extending the Patriot Act so they can keep spying on us in our unemployed misery.

    They want the emergency laws ended in the Middle East, but extended here at home.

  5. madamab says:

    Ugh, as though Obama has a clue what to do about I/P. I’d say with that statement he basically pissed all the players off (although that’s easy to do, I admit).

    I just wish he’d STFU and let Hillary take over. There are very few I’d trust to handle that situation, but she is one of them.

    • dakinikat says:

      There was a lot of criticism to that effect. They said his Arab Spring speech was tepid and ignored Saudi Arabia and wasn’t strong enough on Syria. The specificity of the statement on I/P didn’t make any one happy there either. I wonder if the state department vetted that speech at all.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      This is interesting:

      CBS Edits Obama Speech to Stir Israel Controversy | Crooks and Liars

      Reporting a story titled “Obama’s Israeli, Palestinian Surprise,” CBS’ Reid removed words from the President’s mouth to alter the meaning of the consistent U.S. position on the peace process:

      President Obama spent most of his speech talking about the Arab Spring uprisings, but he saved his biggest surprise for the Middle East peace process. [START OBAMA CLIP] “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines.” [END OBAMA CLIP] But by using the borders that existed in 1967 before the Six Day War as the starting point for negotiations, the President is taking the Palestinian side on a key issue.

      Another story on the CBS News web site similarly claimed Obama’s address “marked a shift in U.S. policy and represents a victory of sorts for Palestinian leaders ahead of delicate, upcoming negotiations with the Israelis.”

      Sadly for CBS, President Obama did no such thing. Instead, in his speech Obama offered an unremarkable summary of the path forward:

      “So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”

      Unremarkable, that is, because policymakers from past administrations Democratic and Republican alike have been saying pretty much the same thing for years. As ThinkProgress noted, that was the same two-state formula during the Clinton administration.

  6. Beata says:

    “Mitch Daniels’ Fatal Mistake – Defunding Planned Parenthood”

    http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/

    • paper doll says:

      Really true. He could have thrown them a bone and pretended he was a kinder, gentler social service slashing GOP governor…. but noooo

  7. dakinikat says:

    Even many Republicans underestimate the centrality of evangelical voters in the GOP’s nominating process. In 2008, self-identified evangelical Christians constituted 44 percent of all Republican presidential primary voters, according to a cumulative analysis of state exit polls by former ABC polling director Gary Langer. Candidates who rely almost entirely on evangelicals—such as Huckabee, Gary Bauer in 2000, and televangelist Pat Robertson in 1988—have never come close to winning the GOP nomination. But evangelicals are plentiful enough that any candidate whom they deem completely unacceptable faces a formidable obstacle—and not only in the Deep South, where they are most heavily concentrated.

    Evangelical Christians represented a majority of 2008 GOP primary voters in 11 of the 29 states in which exit polls were conducted. In Iowa and South Carolina, two states that along with more-secular New Hampshire have proved decisive in Republican nomination contests since 1980, evangelicals provided exactly 60 percent of the vote. In 10 other states, including many outside the Deep South, evangelicals represented between one-third and 46 percent of the vote.

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/romney-s-evangelical-problem-20110519?page=1

  8. dakinikat says:

    Dog-Whistle Politics: You Talking to ME?
    Gingrich, Obama, and Cornel West practice the art of speaking in code.

    This is by Gwen Ifill

  9. Minkoff Minx says:

    Yglesias » Culture Of Harassment At The IMF

    “It’s sort of like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’; the rules are more like guidelines,” said Carmen M. Reinhart, a prominent female economist who served as the I.M.F.’s deputy director for research from 2001 to 2003. “That sets the stage, I think, for more risk-taking.”

    I’m not actually sure how that relates to Pirates of the Caribbean, but apparently an internal review conducted in 2008 concluded that “the absence of public ethics scandals seems to be more a consequence of luck than good planning and action.” But that’s not good luck in the sense of thanks to our good luck nothing bad is happening. It’s more like good luck in the sense of lucky for us, nobody’s coming forward and making a fuss.
    […]
    More gross stories at the link if you can stomach it.

  10. The Rock says:

    Good Morning Dak! Great round up (so complete!) I forgot the rapture was tomorrow! I need to do laundry. Can’t leave dirty draws behind….

    Alot has been made of Hillary’s stance on Israel since the bestest speech ever yesterday. Happily, the MSM isn’t tying her hands to it. Enough prominent people and groups are coming out against Obumble’s ME stance. It is clear to the US (for what seems to be the first time) that this is HIS strategy and no one else’s….

    And look, those kids that believed in hope and change seem to be singing a different tune now.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/dailycaller/20110520/pl_dailycaller/recentcollegegradssouronobamasurveyssay;_ylt=Ase0UH_am0IDPFioAHCKdJSyFz4D;_ylu=X3oDMTNtaDU5ajA0BGFzc2V0A2RhaWx5Y2FsbGVyLzIwMTEwNTIwL3JlY2VudGNvbGxlZ2VncmFkc3NvdXJvbm9iYW1hc3VydmV5c3NheQRwb3MDMTUE

    Maybe in 2012 when they are working at McD’s, they will realize that hope is NOT change.

    This headline should read ‘Pakistan thumbs it’s nose at the Obama administration’
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/world/asia/20pakistan.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss

    Good Morning all!!

    Hillary 2012

  11. The Rock says:

    This one is for you Dak. How important are the vacant positions?

    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/05/18/at-a-time-of-needed-financial-overhaul-a-leadership-vacuum/

    What I was say above about Hillary. Maybe 3 months ago, the MSM would have tried to tie her to this as HER policy….
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/world/middleeast/20policy.html?_r=1&hp

    Hillary 2012

  12. paper doll says:

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but to me it’s very clever of Obama to say that…it means there is no chance for any ME progress….because he began with the biggest non starter he could . It immediately stops in any progress being made , or even being attempted and keeps the status quo … what many on both sides want and here. It’s having your cake and eating too.