You can access all the past editions of The Daily Planet on the green Category bar on the top of each page under the heading PlanetPOV.
There was both good news and bad news in the Social Security trustees’ report released last week. The bad news is that the program is projected to cost somewhat more in the latest report than in the 2010 report. As a result, its projected 75-year shortfall was increased by 0.3 percentage points of covered payroll from 1.92 percent to 2.22 percent. The year when it was first projected to face a shortfall was moved up a year from 2037 to 2036.
Unsurprisingly, the list is led by the tech and environmental sectors, which take up eight of the ten spots. There’s some good news for some of those in the top 10 dying industries. While wired telecom carriers dominated the dying list, voice over Internet protocol leads the list of thriving industries, illustrating the shift from one technology to another. Similarly, while newspaper publishers are among the dying industries, Internet publishers are counted with the thrivers.
Meanwhile, demographic shifts are also adding to the list of fastest-growing industries. Insurance-claims adjusters are in a growing sector as the Baby Boom generation ages. Unfortunately, a growing population also increases the need for prison guards, as correctional facilities make the list of thriving industries.
And so AT&T is pulling out the stops and seems to be indirectly approaching the press in search of some positive stories to help influence the legislature. (Maybe it’s in the air, given Facebook’s attempt to plant a story with the press about Google.) BNET received a PR agency pitch titled “Benefits of Highspeed Wireless — Thanks to the AT&T merger.”
According to Bill Murphy with Vice and Victory, a “digital consulting firm specializing in political media,” AT&T was not the client. Instead, the firm says it’s working on behalf of the Internet Innovation Alliance, which it characterized as a “broad-based coalition that supports universal broadband access for all Americans.”
Birds of a feather?
According to Common Cause, the IIA promotes broadband Internet policies and claims to include consumer advocate groups in its membership, but “no true consumer groups can be found anywhere in its membership list.” The organization lists the IIA as a telecom front group.”
The classification isn’t exactly accurate. The IIA membership list shows a number of special interest groups that supposedly come out on both sides of the net neutrality issue, according to The Hill. Some, such as Americans for Tax Reform and Citizens Against Government Waste, are conservative political partisans, but are clearly not front groups for the telecom industry. Neither is the United States Cattlemen’s Association.
That said, there’s no shortage of organizations associated with the IIA that have actively argued for deregulation of the telecom industry. For instance, there’s the Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership (it took the side of carriers in net neutrality debates) and the National Puerto Rican Coalition (AT&T is a sponsor of the group).
The White House is threatening to hold up final passage of three coveted free trade agreements unless lawmakers agree to expand retraining assistance for American workers who lose their jobs because of foreign competition.
The move comes as administration officials begin talks on Capitol Hill to finalize the agreements the White House reached to expand trade with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. President Barack Obama has said the deals are an integral part of his economic agenda, and the pacts have broad Republican support. […]
The assistance program was expanded two years ago as part of Obama’s stimulus package to include aid for more displaced workers, but the expansion expired in February. Labor unions and some key Democratic lawmakers have demanded the expansion as a condition for supporting the trade deals.
While Republicans have typically been supportive of the TAA program, several GOP lawmakers have expressed concerns that the level of spending under the 2009 expansion is no longer sustainable given the Capitol Hill negotiations on debt and deficit.
Administration officials said Monday they did not have an estimate for how much it would cost to renew the assistance program. Sperling said the administration is working with Congress on ways to fund the program so it doesn’t add to the deficit.
The White House and Republicans had appeared to have a breakthrough on trade earlier this month when the administration started informal talks with congressional staff on the three trade deals. The talks are the first step toward the final ratification process.
The administration wanted lawmakers to pass the South Korea deal, the largest of the three, first while it negotiated outstanding issues with Colombia and Panama. But Republicans demanded the White House send all three agreements together, threatening to block the confirmation of a new commerce secretary and any trade-related nominees if that didn’t happen.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said the administration’s decision to link the trade deals with the assistance program was “hugely disappointing.”
Email From Truthout:
[May 16th ] could very well go down in history as a turning point, as the US Treasury hits the debt ceiling, the US government’s legal borrowing limit.
There is a simple truth that is not discussed elsewhere in the media’s budget sideshow:
We’re borrowing that money from rich Americans and corporations – instead of taxing them like we used to. As of January, over 42 percent of our debt was owned by people and institutions in the United States!
The rich and powerful in the US are perfectly happy with deficit spending – they love lending money instead of actually having to pay taxes. By conveniently avoiding this fact, the media discussion can be full of bombast and political posturing between the two parties, without ever getting to the truth.
Republicans are one step closer to their economic-rapture wet-dream today, as the United States will have reached the national debt ceiling on Monday, May 16th.
WASHINGTON — The debt-laden US government’s credit card will hit its limit Monday, creating a cash crunch that puts the country’s credit standing at risk as politicians battle over its long-term deficit.
Reaching the $14.29 trillion ceiling set by Congress will not have an immediate impact on government finances, because the Treasury has found about ten weeks of wiggle-room in short-term adjustments and an unexpected April jump in tax revenues. […]
If nothing is done by about August 2, there is a chance the United States, which has always merited a top-grade credit rating, could do the unthinkable — default on its debt payments.
Even though we still have until August 2nd to raise the debt ceiling before complete hell breaks loose, I would be shocked if the market doesn’t display some signs of pessimism and anxiety today. After all, this congress doesn’t exactly instill one with a great deal of confidence.
You can bet the limited amount of time Timothy Geithner has bought us will not prevent Republicans from saying “look, we’re at the ceiling and nothing happen” though.
The Obama administration will begin to tap federal retiree programs to help fund operations after the government lost its ability Monday to borrow more money from the public, adding urgency to efforts in Washington to fashion a compromise over the debt. […]
The maneuver buys Geithner only a few months of time. If Congress does not vote by Aug. 2 to raise the debt limit, Geithner says the government is likely to default on some of its obligations, which he says would cause enormous economic harm and the suspension of government services, including the disbursal of Social Security funds. […]
“Everything should be on the table, except raising taxes,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Because raising taxes will hurt our economy and hurt our ability to create jobs in our country.”
“Nobody asks if you’re a Republican or a Democrat when they come to bring you the sandbags,” Harris-Perry says, and disasters show how we as a people “need to work together in communities and as a government frankly.”
National emergencies, such as the flooding in Mississippi, can reveal political inequalities… Harris-Perry explains that a community’s ability to ride out a disaster depends on whether there are homes for people to go to, whether people earn living wages and have access to health care.
I am so proud of each and every one of you. You made it – and not just through high school. You made it past Principal Kiner. I can tell she is not messing around. I’ve only been in Memphis a couple of hours, but I’m pretty sure I’d do whatever she told me to do. […]
Last but not least, I want to recognize all the people who helped you reach this milestone: the parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, friends and neighbors who have loved you and stood behind you every step of the way. And I want to acknowledge the devoted teachers and administrators of Booker T. Washington who believed in you, who kept the heat on you, and who have never treated teaching as a job – but as a calling. […]
This isn’t just an issue for me. I’m standing here as President is because of the education I received. My father left my family when I was two years old. And I was raised by a single mom who struggled at times to provide for me and my sister. But my mother and my grandparents pushed me to excel in school. And they kept pushing me, especially on those rare occasions where I’d slack off or get into trouble. I’m sure no one here’s ever done something like that.
I’m lucky they kept pushing. I’m lucky my teachers kept pushing. Because education made all the difference in my life. And it’s going to make an even greater difference in your lives – not just for your own success, but for our country’s success. We live in a new world. Believe or not, when you’re looking to get a job, you’re not just competing against people in Nashville or Atlanta, but in places like Beijing and Mumbai. That’s some tough competition. And you need to be prepared for it. As a country, we need all of our young people to be ready – to earn those high school diplomas, to earn those college diplomas, to get certified in a trade or profession.
Through education, you can also better yourselves in other ways. You learn how to learn – how to think critically and find solutions to unexpected challenges. I remember we used to ask our teachers, “When am I going to need algebra?” Well, you may not have to solve for x to get a good job or be a good parent. That’s true. But you will need to think through tough problems. You will need to think on your feet. So, math teachers, you can tell your students that the President says they need algebra.
Education also teaches you the value of discipline – that the greatest rewards come not from instant gratification, but from sustained effort and hard work. It’s a lesson that’s especially important today, in a culture that prizes flash over substance, that tells us the goal in life is to be entertained, that says you can be famous just for being famous.
Finally, with the right education, both at home and at school, you can learn how to be a better human being. For when you read a great story or learn about an important person in history, it helps you imagine what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes, to know their struggles. The success of our economy will depend on your skills, but the success of our community will depend on your ability to follow the Golden Rule – to treat others as you would like to be treated. We’ve seen how important this is even in the past few weeks, as communities in Memphis and across the South have banded together to deal with flood waters and to help each other in the aftermath of terrible tornadoes and storms.
All of these qualities – empathy, discipline, the capacity to solve problems and think critically – these skills don’t just change how the world sees us.
Feel like you’re being robbed every time you fill the gas tank? Not sure who to blame? Try Wall Street.
That’s not the conventional explanation, but it’s the one the facts point to. Usually analysts say today’s high prices stem simply from “supply and demand.” They mean demand for oil and gas is rising and supplies aren’t keeping up, so people bid up their price. But global and U.S. supplies are plentiful and demand is stable, so that’s not it.
Then the analysts say it’s because the market’s afraid Middle East turmoil will interrupt oil supplies, so nervous buyers are bidding up prices to ensure they lock in a contract for oil now, just in case it’s scarce later. There’s probably some truth to that, but after five months of turmoil, there’s been no significant impact on Middle East oil supplies, even as prices have see-sawed, so that’s not credible either.
Here’s what’s credible: Some 70 percent of contracts for future oil delivery are now bought by financial speculators — largely big investment banks and hedge funds — who never take control of the oil. They just flip the contract for a quick profit.
“CLIMATE CHANGE is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”
So says — in response to a request from Congress — the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, the country’s preeminent institution chartered to provide scientific advice to lawmakers.
In a report titled “America’s Climate Choices,” a panel of scientific and policy experts also concludes that the risks of inaction far outweigh the risks or disadvantages of action. And the most sensible and urgently needed action, the panel says, is to put a rising price on carbon emissions, by means of a tax or cap-and-trade system. That would encourage innovation, research and a gradual shift away from the use of energy sources (oil, gas and coal) that are endangering the world.
None of this should come as a surprise. None of this is news. But it is newsworthy, sadly, because the Republican Party, and therefore the U.S. government, have moved so far from reality and responsibility in their approach to climate change.
Bee populations around the world are in massive decline, with scientists blaming it on a lack of genetic diversity, urbanization, and increased pesticide use. Now, Swiss scientists have discovered a surprising new culprit that doesn’t seem so nefarious from here: our cell phones.
The researchers conducted 83 different experiments in which cell phones were placed inside bee hives, and the bees’ reactions were recorded under different circumstances. When a phone made or received a call, the bees would increase their noise levels by more than ten times, clearly being disturbed by the rays from the device. The phone then led the insects to flee the hive in a state of disarray and fly to their deaths. And if they didn’t die when leaving the hive, they often would never return if there were cell phone rays nearby, contributing to abandoned hives and colony collapse disorder.
The solutions to this problem remain to be seen. What we know is that bees are in rapid decline, and that this decline is a massive threat to global food supplies and biodiversity. Technology has given us the cell phone, which is so ingrained in our society that one feels lost without it. Can it create a fix to this bee decline, or will bees continue to fall away into extinction? For now, turn your phone off next time you encounter a hive. Even better, start an urban bee colony!
Americans waste food — quite a bit of it. This includes the bites we leave on our plates at dinner, the stuff we let rot in our fridges and the crops that never even reach the grocery store. All together, we waste as much as half the food produced in the United States, even as up to 49 million Americans don’t have consistent access to adequate, healthy food.
It’s a national and a personal problem. A 2004 study by the University of Arizona found that most households throw out 14 percent of the food they buy; that adds up to $43 billion worth of food going to waste each year. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as much as $60 billion in food from restaurants, stores, food processors and farms is never eaten, either.
Thirty-four million tons of these “leftovers” enter our waste stream each year — accounting for 14 percent of all municipal waste, according to the EPA. This is costly for the planet, since all of that food ends up decomposing in landfills and producing methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming.
We could avoid waste in the fields by encouraging farmers to allow volunteers to glean vegetables for food pantries and soup kitchens. We should also urge grocers and food-service providers to find ways to reduce waste where possible and donate what can’t be saved.
Most consumers could also use more education about food refrigeration and storage to better understand how long a fresh product will last and whether its life can be extended in the freezer. (I particularly love StillTasty.com, a cheat-sheet for deciding what to eat and what to toss.)
You are what you eat — and what you don’t eat, for that matter. We need to start paying attention to the food we leave behind, too.
My Water’s On Fire Tonight
“Democrats have a plan to ensure older Americans have access to affordable, high quality care — it’s called Medicare and it currently serves more than 46 million Americans.”
David Foster, the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, gave a presentation at the American Enterprise Institute today to confirm a disturbing fact. The date at which the Medicare Part A trust fund runs out is closer than we thought. It’s due to come in 2024 — last year, it had been due to come in 2029.
I asked Foster what the effect of the Affordable Care Act was on this. After all, it reduces Medicare spending by $500 billion.
“Under current law,” he said, “including the Affordable Care Act, we’re estimating that the trust fund would be exhausted in 2024. In the absence of the savings under the Affordable Care Act, a corresponding date of exhaustion would be 2016. So the Affordable Care Act, in the new projection, postpones the exhaustion by eight years. That’s down from 12 years in last year’s projection.”
For several years now, insurance companies have been “purging” small business accounts they no longer consider profitable enough or that their underwriters believe pose too much risk. I became familiar with“purging” (yes, that’s the actual word insurance executives use internally) toward the end of my career as an industry PR man.
Virtually unknown outside of a few executive suites until I disclosed it in testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in June 2009, the practice is most prevalent at the big, for-profit insurance companies — the ones that are under the gun to
meet investors’ profit expectations every three months. Along with “rescinding” (cancelling) the policies of individuals who become seriously ill, purging small businesses that employ workers who get sick is a tried-and-true way of meeting Wall Street’s expectations.
All it takes is one illness or accident among employees at a small business to prompt an insurance company to hike the next year’s premiums so high that the employer has to cut benefits, shop for another carrier or stop offering coverage altogether, leaving all their workers — and their dependents — uninsured.
Insurer’s Purging Strategy: Intentionally Unrealistic Rate Increases
The purging of less-profitable accounts through intentionally unrealistic rate increases helps explain why the number of small businesses offering coverage to their employees has been declining for several years and why the number of Americans without coverage reached a record high of nearly 51 million last year. According to the National Small Business Association, the number of small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees fell from 61 percent in 1993 to 38 percent in 2009.
Though billed as an effort to revamp his widely criticized budget, Ryan avoided describing his health care plans in specific detail, eschewing even the friendly terms he and other Republicans have used to explain it since he first unveiled it earlier this year. Instead, Ryan reframed the entitlement cuts in his budget as “strengthen[ing] welfare for those who need it,” and accused Democrats who have attacked his budget as engaging in class warfare.
The House budget would phase out the existing Medicare program and replace it with a new program to provide future retirees with private insurance subsidies, which would shrink in value over time relative to steeply rising health care costs. This stands in contrast to the fairly broad consensus among Democrats that health care costs are best reined in by altering provider incentives and placing some restrictions on government-financed health care services, while allowing Medicare to remain a single-payer program for all beneficiaries.
Ryan characterized this distinction differently.
“If I could sum up that disagreement in a couple of sentences, I would say this: Our plan is to give seniors the power to deny business to inefficient providers. Their plan is to give government the power to deny care to seniors,” he said, according to prepared remarks.
MUST SEE– Eli Pariser TED Talk: Google, FaceBook, Yahoo, HP all EDIT our searches (9 mins)
Major U.S. newspapers have increasingly shifted their attention away from coverage of unemployment in recent months while greatly intensifying their focus on the deficit, a National Journal analysis shows.
The analysis — based on a measure of how often the words “unemployment” and “deficit” appear in major publications — portrays a dramatically shifting landscape of coverage over the past two years, as the debate over how to fix the federal deficit has risen to prominence and the question of how to handle still-high unemployment has faded from the media’s consciousness.
National Journal compiled counts of articles that mention one of the words in their headline or first sentences in the five largest newspapers in the country by print circulation — a group that consists of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post. The data was taken over a period of roughly two years from April 15, 2009, to May 15, 2011, using LexisNexis, a news information service. The numbers exclude mentions that also used the words Europe(an) and Greece or Greek in an effort to focus solely on the domestic debate, though even with those included, the trend was not materially different.
Mentions of unemployment have been dwindling since they spiked to 154 in the month ending August 15, 2010; over the month ending Sunday, there were 63. Deficit mentions, meanwhile, surged up to 261 in the month ending December 15, 2010, when the leaders of President Obama’s deficit commission released their final report. Mentions of the deficit remained higher after the commission’s work wrapped up and as House Republicans and then the White House unveiled dueling proposals. In the month ending Sunday, there were 201 mentions.
From Senator Harry Reid:
Philadelphia Daily News: We Should Cut The Deficit By Ending Giveaways To Oil Companies, Not by Ending Medicare. “These companies are swimming in profits. The big five who were questioned in Washington yesterday booked $36 billion in profits just for the past quarter. Yet, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson whined that taking away subsidies would mean fewer explorations and less production, leading to higher prices at the pump. This was curious. First they tell us they can’t control an international market that sets oil prices. So why would losing a tax break that adds about 2 percent to their annual profits have an instant impact on pump prices?” LINK
Jackson Clarion Ledger: Oil Profits: Tax Breaks Raise Ire. “Meanwhile, in 2006, Exxon Mobil Corp. posted record profits for any U.S. company in history – $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter and $36.13 billion for the year. In 2008, it broke its own record with $11.68 billion in the second quarter. Then, did it again with $14.83 billion in the third quarter. The other oil companies profited immensely, as well. What goes up … stays up? And U.S. taxpayers are adding to the companies’ profits? While tea party Republicans attack middle-class tax breaks and the social safety net for the elderly, the sick and the poor? And want more tax breaks for the rich? That’s fiscal responsibility?” LINK
Las Vegas Sun: Who Needs Subsidies? “Republicans are taking the oil companies’ view. They say the bill wouldn’t lower the prices at the pump, but if that’s true, what’s the point of giving the subsidies? The Republicans also complain that the Democrats are trying to raise taxes, but Democrats just want them to pay their fair share. … The fact is the oil industry can and should pay more. Congress should pass the bill. It’s disgusting that Republicans are letting the oil companies gorge themselves while average Americans get stuck with the bill.” LINK
Louisville Courier Journal Editorial: Big Oil’s Breaks. “Late last month, ExxonMobil announced it had made almost $11 billion in the first few months of 2011, an improvement of about 70 percent over the same time last year. Ditto Shell: more than $6 billion net income in the first quarter, 22 percent higher than in the same quarter last year. So why, some may ask, haven’t the tax breaks given to big oil companies — some of those sweeteners in place since the 1920s — become part of the scything operation as congressional deficit hawks go after Planned Parenthood, Medicare and whole executive departments in their zeal to cut spending?” LINK
Miami Herald: On Tax Fairness And Loopholes. “In a scene reminiscent of the congressional hearing where tobacco company executives innocently denied that nicotine is addictive, oil company executives solemnly told Congress last week that their exorbitant profits are no big deal. One even suggested that closing big oil’s tax loopholes is somehow ‘un-American.’ Tell that to Americans struggling to make ends meet as they cope with $4-a-gallon gasoline and the economy gets hit with a sudden inflationary spike because of rising fuel prices. Meanwhile, oil companies report record earnings. To top it off BP acknowledges that taxpayers, in effect, are being asked to pick up part of the cost for BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.” LINK
Wall Street Journal: Big ‘Un-American’ Oil. “The five oil companies bagged more than $35 billion in profits in the first quarter, noted Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the committee chairman. That puts them on track for record profits of more than $100 billion this year. Eliminating some tax deductions, by contrast, aims to raise about $2 billion a year. And this has got Mr. Mulva hurling the ‘un-American’ bomb? Maybe Mr. Mulva should work on being a better American.” LINK
San Jose Mercury News: Oil Industry Reaping Benefits On Massive Campaign Contributions. “In the first quarter of 2011, the five largest multinational oil companies made nearly $36 billion in profits; they need taxpayer support like Warren Buffett needs welfare. Subsidies of this magnitude should be reserved for industries that serve a compelling national interest but are not yet profitable. And yet Senate Republicans who say debt and deficits are their top priority want to continue funneling taxpayer dollars to companies piling up massive profits, even as Congress cuts funding for food stamps and schools.” LINK
Lakeland Ledger: Big Oil Companies: Tax Breaks Not Needed. “On April 28, Exxon, Mobil and Shell reported ‘huge increases in their first-quarter profit … helped by higher oil prices and earnings from refining,’ reported The New York Times. In other words, while Americans are paying more at the pump to feed big oil’s profit margins, they continue to hand some of the most profitable companies in the world something like $4 billion a year in tax subsidies. Speaker Boehner had it right the first time when he said big oil companies don’t need those tax breaks. Obama has challenged Congress to side with the taxpayers against the oil lobby. The only question is, whose side is Congress on?” LINK
Longview Daily News: Big Oil Can Survive Without Federal Assistance. “There’s no doubt that earnings and profits are high. The six largest American oil companies returned profits of an aggregate $80 billion in 2010 and are well ahead of that schedule for 2011, with Exxon’s first-quarter profits exceeding $10.6 billion. At the same time, this immensely profitable industry remains entrenched at the front of the government welfare line, collecting an estimated $5 billion per year in outright government subsidies and tax abatements and perhaps another $3 or $4 billion in other special favors and considerations on the federal and state levels.” LINK
Santa Fe New Mexican: Ending Oil Subsidies Makes Fiscal Sense. “Republicans striking fiscally responsible poses are focusing on that ogre known as the federal debt. Forget that their party, and their party’s president, spun us from surplus to deficit in the course of eight years; they must cut spending — and keep financial burdens on the middle and lower classes. Well, looked at properly, the oil-business subsidies amount to spending — so here’s your chance, elephants, to take a nice bite out of it .” LINK
Cape Cod Times: End Oil Subsidies. “The sticker shock we are feeling at the gasoline pumps is a serious drag on efforts to restart the sputtering economy. With U.S. gas prices averaging more than $4 per gallon — and considerably more in many places on the Cape and Islands — filling the tank is tipping $50 or more. … At a time when the most basic human service programs are being slashed and Americans are pinching every penny, it is extremely difficult to see the logic in continuing the subsidies for an industry that is demonstrating it clearly doesn’t need the support.” LINK
Joplin Globe: Another Place To Cut Spending. “When we pay our monthly bills at home, we follow a budget and spend only what we bring in. So when our budgets get lean and we have to cut back, we look at unnecessary spending. Maybe that means we buy hamburger instead of steak. We get generic items instead of name-brand items. The federal government has a chance to cut $2 billion annually for the next decade by rescinding government subsidies to the five largest oil companies in the world, according to a bill sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon and Shell reported profits of $32 billion in the first quarter alone. So we support McCaskill’s idea to get those subsidies back.” LINK
San Francisco Chronicle: Big Oil’s Money Gusher. “ExxonMobil’s first-quarter earnings of $10.7 billion are up 69 percent from last year. Other oil companies are also scoring record gains. The five biggest oil companies together report more than $35 billion in profits. This gusher is an embarrassment for an industry seeking to keep its $4 billion annual tax subsidy from the U.S. government. It’s especially embarrassing at a time when Americans are paying $4 a gallon or more at the pump.” LINK
Houston Chronicle: Let’s Cut Off The Subsidies To Profitable Oil Companies. “These subsidies cannot be defended. With the evidence against them piling up and oil companies reporting huge profits, the tide finally may be turning against the subsidies. Let’s hope that as momentum builds to end giveaways to big oil, it will be the beginning of an energy policy that relies less on an industry that rakes in huge profits while it takes from Americans on their tax returns and at the pump.” LINK
Bill Clinton doesn’t like all the misinformation and rumors floating on the Internet. And he thinks the United Nations or the U.S. government should create an agency to do something about it.
“It would be a legitimate thing to do,” Clinton said in an interview airing Friday on CNBC.
The agency, Clinton said, would “have to be totally transparent about where the money came from” and would have to be “independent” because “if it’s a government agency in a traditional sense, it would have no credibility whatever, particularly with a lot of the people who are most active on the internet.”
“Let’s say the U.S. did it, it would have to be an independent federal agency that no president could countermand or anything else because people wouldn’t think you were just censoring the news and giving a different falsehood out,” Clinton said.
“That is, it would be like, I don’t know, National Public Radio or BBC or something like that, except it would have to be really independent and they would not express opinions, and their mandate would be narrowly confined to identifying relevant factual errors” he said. “And also, they would also have to have citations so that they could be checked in case they made a mistake. Somebody needs to be doing it, and maybe it’s a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money.”
Interviewed alongside the CEO of a cybersecurity company, Clinton also said he did not expect lasting impact from the documents disclosed by WikiLeaks showing employees of the State Department — run by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — assessing world leaders.
“I don’t believe there’s any long-lasting impact on our relationships. People know that we didn’t leak this on purpose. People know that the secretary of state and her top team, they had nothing to do with this,” Clinton said. The diplomats whose cables were made public “were just giving their impressions” of what they saw on the ground in countries around the world.
At the same time, though, political figures in other countries “will be careful what they say to America’s representatives around the world for a while because they’ll have bad memories of the, you know, the leaked memo,” he said.
Stressing the dangers of putting some information online, Clinton said that he and his wife keep hard copies of their living wills that can’t be tampered with.
“It’s not like it’s that big or important, but it’s important to me, whatever I have to give to my family and whatever else I want to support,” he said. “I’d be appalled to think somebody could fool with it.”
He added: “I do have a physical copy in one place, and I think that’s important. So I think, you know, one of the things we may have to think about is whether our backstops and a lot of things are old-fashioned. Maybe snail mail, maybe more couriers.”
News Corporation’s board of directors has adopted a policy to annually disclose all the company’s political donations. The media giant — which owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and 20th Century Fox — made the move quietly on April 12, but it was reported this weekend by the Associated Press. In a statement, the company founded and controlled by Rupert Murdoch said it would make the disclosures on its website.
“News Corporation will post on its web site all corporate political contributions made in the 2011 calendar year by January 16, 2012,” the statement said. “As part of instituting this policy, News Corporation intends to provide transitional disclosure on its web site of all corporate political contributions made from January 2011 through June 2011 by July 15, 2011.”
News Corp. attracted media attention during the 2010 election for two large donations: one to the Republican Governors Association and another to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The New York Times reports that the company’s decision may have been spurred by shareholders who raised concerns at a meeting in October. An executive of one of those shareholders told the Associated Press her foundation was concerned about the value of the donations.
…including a new Web site publishing their town hall schedules, in hopes of producing more scenes of Republicans getting an earful from angry constituents.
[ This was only page 1 of 9.]
It isn’t just Florida – the Koch Brothers control many universities, and may own the next Sec’y of Commerce
Koch brothers under attack by leftwing film-maker
Author: The Observer 2011/05/15
Even for the Lincoln Centre it was an unusual show, and an unscheduled one. [+]
Clemson Sells Out to the Koch Foundation
Author: Daily Kos 2011/05/14
The disturbing news that Florida State University sold out its faculty spots to [+]
6 Universities With Far-Right Academic Centers Funded by Koch Industries
Author: AlterNet 2011/05/13
Yesterday, ThinkProgress highlighted reports from the St. Petersburg Times and [+]
Protest Movement Starts ‘Rebranding’ Billionaire Koch Brothers
Author: Forbes – Brendan Coffey 2011/05/12
Director Robert Greenwald s opening gambit in what he pledges will be a [+]
David H. Koch Theatre ‘rebranded’ to ‘The Tea Party’s Wallet’
Author: The Raw Story 2011/05/12
A crowd of around 500 protesters added the caption “I m the Tea Party s wallet” [+]
Koch Fueling Far Right Academic Centers At Universities Across The Country
Author: Thing Progress – Lee Fang 2011/05/11
Yesterday, ThinkProgress highlighted reports from the St. Petersburg Times and [+]
David Koch Won’t Answer How Many Homes He Owns
Author: Huffington Post – Robert Greenwald 2011/05/11
Koch Bros. Now Buying Academic Support
Author: care2.com 2011/05/11
Billionaire Charles Koch’s efforts at shaping public policy have come under [+]
Koch Brother Buys Professors At Public University to Spread Free Market Propaganda — Is Public Education the Kochs’ Next Front
Author: AlterNet 2011/05/10
Usually, when billionaires or millionaires give a large sum of money to a [+]
Billionaire’s role in hiring decisions at Florida State University raises questions
Author: St. Petersburg Times 2011/05/10
A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has [+]
Judge rules against Koch Industries in media hoax
Author: Forbes.com 2011/05/09
A federal judge on Monday sided with environmental pranksters behind a media [+]
Texas GOP Rams Koch-Backed ‘Loser Pays’ Bill Through House, Making It Harder To Sue Corporations
Author: ThinkProgress 2011/05/09
As ThinkProgress has reported, brothers Charles and David Koch and their [+]
West Virginia Congressman Wants EPA To Stop Monitoring Toxic Waste
Author: desmogblog.com – Farron Cousins 2011/05/07
Republican Representative David McKinley from West Virginia has proposed a bill [+]
David Koch ‘Hardcore socialist’ Obama is ‘scary to me’
Author: The Raw Story 2011/05/05
Oil baron David Koch has made it clear he is no fan of President Barack Obama, [+]
Koch is neutral, not with Mitt Romney
Author: POLITICO.com – Maggie Haberman 2011/05/05
Billionaire David Koch’s public proclamation that he’s uncommitted in the 2012 [+]
Liberal Group’s Video Campaign Assails Koch Brothers
Author: NYTimes.com 2011/05/05
The liberal guerrilla video group Brave New Foundation on Wednesday began what [+]
Tags: koch brothers, liberal attack
Koch Brothers Exposed
Author: kochbrothersexposed.com 2011/05/05
Koch Brothers Exposed is a multi-media multi-platform creative campaign to [+]
Tea Party Billionaire David Koch Disses Donald Trump As Motivated By Publicity, Not Qualified
Author: ThinkProgress 2011/05/03
Speaking with the New York Daily News at a party on Saturday night, [+]
Donald Trump doesn’t have support of billionaire David Koch – money-wise – as presidential candidate
Author: nydailynews.com 2011/05/03
Billionaire David Koch has donated tens of millions of dollars to conservative [+]
Republicans are unhappy with their field of presidential candidates and yearn for someone who will come along to save them. But here’s what the GOP doesn’t want to confront: its problem lies not in its candidates but in itself.
The candidates appear much smaller than they are because the party’s primary voters and core interest groups insist upon cutting them down to size. To win a Republican nomination, a candidate has to move right, recant absolutely any past position that violates the current conservative catechism and never dare to speak the truth that solving our deficit problem will require new revenue — a.k.a. taxes.
This looks to me like different pieces of the same strategy. Here’s my read of it. In the narrow analysis, Texas is a deeply Republican state. Obama lost it by a dozen points in 2008. It can’t possibly help him win in 2012. If he does win the state, which could conceivably happen only in some kind of blowout scenario, he’d easily have enough electoral votes elsewhere to win.
However, there is long-term potential in Texas. The Latino population there is as large a proportion as in California, but it’s heavily demobilized. A concerted campaign to register Latino voters could eventually change the dynamic. The catch is that you have to be willing to spend $20 million or so in order to register them — a huge investment that is hard to justify short term. But Obama might have enough money in 2012 to spare for a long-term investment. And a high-profile Latino Senate candidate like Sanchez could lure a lot of previously unregistered Latinos. The only way to make this work is to create an energizing atmosphere for Latinos.
What’s more, Obama does need to mobilize the Latino vote in general, especially in states like Colorado, New Mexico, and Florida. That’s where the immigration push comes in. Obama failed to pass immigration legislation because a coalition of Republicans and red state Democrats killed it. Because the bills never had a high profile vote, though, it looked a lot like Obama simply didn’t care. That’s why Democrats are making a high profile push now.
President Barack Obama and his allies in two big industrial unions appear poised to make the auto bailout — begun under President George W. Bush in 2008 — a central issue of the 2012 campaign.
With General Motors back on its feet — it announced $2 billion in new investments at 18 GM plants Tuesday — and losses from the government’s intervention shaping up to be minimal, Democrats hope to punish Republican presidential candidates for their early opposition. The party is building the groundwork for that argument in the key swing states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, and using it to target the blue collar voters whose allegiance Obama has struggled to retain.
With the battle for the House seat in New York’s 26th district coming down to the wire, don’t miss Philip Rucker’s on-scene account of Chuck Schumer campaigning there over the weekend and telling voters that the GOP candidate would dismantle Medicare — an early taste of what we’ll be seeing in 2012.
This is why the battle for this seat — which will be settled on May 24th — is seen by both sides as having such high stakes: It will help establish the playbooks for the Congressional elections next year.
Herb Kohl’s retirement means Dems have to defend five open Senate seats and a total of 23 seats overall, while Republicans will only have to defend 10 seats. The GOP needs all of four seats to take back the Senate.
If a populist candidate like Sarah Palin won in Iowa and Mr. Romney finished a strong second, that might not be so bad for him: he’d have a good opportunity to recover in New Hampshire, eventually setting up a conservative-versus-moderate “play-off” in the later states. But if Mr. Romney were to be overtaken in Iowa by a candidate like Tim Pawlenty or Mitch Daniels — someone who had a plausible chance of winning in New Hampshire as well — he’d be in a great deal of trouble.
With Mike Huckabee out of the presidential race, Ramesh Ponnuru points out that Mitt Romney’s political interests “now align well with those of one other possible candidate: Michele Bachmann. Both of them have an interest in seeing her do as well as possible.”
“Like Bob Dole in 1996 or John McCain in 2008, Romney is an establishment-oriented candidate with serious vulnerabilities on his right flank. To get the nomination, he needs (as they needed) to prevent the emergence of a single candidate to his right. So Dole made a tactical alliance with Pat Buchanan in Lousiana, helping to eject from the race the one candidate who could theoretically have denied him the nomination by consolidating voters to his right: Phil Gramm. McCain made a tactical alliance with Mike Huckabee against the candidate against whom both of them were competing and whom both of them hated: Romney.”
“The candidate who could play the Buchanan/Huckabee role this time is Michele Bachmann. Like her ’96 and ’08 counterparts, she cannot win the nomination but can prevent anyone to the establishment candidate’s right from getting it either.”
I think they’re a horrible idea for a variety of reasons, though I do think honestly administered poll tests (not that they would be) wouldn’t necessarily have all that big of an impact on the racial distribution of people who could actually vote.
I think that’s wrong. It’s important to return to Gingrich’s exact words:
I always say that to become an American citizen, immigrants ought to have to learn American history. But maybe we should also have a voting standard that says to vote, as a native born American, you should have to learn American history. You realize how many of our high school graduates because of the decay of the educational system, couldn’t pass a citizenship test.
What he’s saying here is that he wants to implement a test that woud be difficult enough for some non-trivial share of the American public to be disqualified, specifically the graduates of low-performing high schools. And it’s no secret that African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionately concentrated in said schools. And, indeed, the 2006 History NAEP shows significantly lower scores for blacks and Hispanics. […]
Now I suspect that part of the racial politics here is that Gingrich wants me to point this out so that he can go snigger about how liberals now admit that black people are dumb. But the reality is that it’s just as Gingrich said in his talk—we have a lot of problems with poorly performing schools in the United States. It’s also true that African-American and Latino kids disproportionately attend those schools. And that means that if you apply a test-based criteria for citizenship, you’re going to get many fewer voters from non-white households. This would be a great way of dealing with the medium-term demographic challenges facing the part of white people, but it’s also repugnant.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), the year before his re-election bid, has been having some trouble lately. He fell for an Internet hoax on a photo of bin Laden; he leaked word of his upcoming visit to Afghanistan and then whined about it; and Boston’s conservative paper characterized Brown as “Dan Quayle in a barn coat.”
But things are likely to get a little worse before they get better.
Brown announced his intent to vote for the [House Republican budget] plan publicly Friday in front of state business leaders in Georgetown, Mass.
“The leaders will bring forward (Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s) budget, and I will vote for it, and it will fail,” Brown said, according to the Newburyport Daily News. “Then the president will bring forward his budget, and it will fail. It will be great fodder for the commercials.”
In the past weeks, too, Brown has strongly suggested he likes the GOP approach. Late last month, a tracker for the state Democratic party filmed Brown at a meeting in Westminster, Mass., praising House Republicans laying down a marker in the budget fight.
“Finally we had congressman Ryan come forth with a budget proposal, thank God, because we haven’t had one in a couple years and that now has forced the debate and forced the President actually to come forth with his budget proposal,” Brown said.
So, Newt Gingrich says the House GOP plan is “radical change” and “too big a jump” for Americans, while Scott Brown sees the same plan, says “thank God,” and vows to vote for it.
Are Massachusetts voters aware of this?
Keep in mind, we’re talking about a right-wing budget agenda that, among other things, ends Medicare, cuts taxes on millionaires, eliminates safeguards on Wall Street, and guts funding on everything from food stamps to infrastructure to education.
Brown could easily oppose this — his centrist GOP colleague, Susan Collins, already has — but he’s nevertheless defending it.
Also note, just two months ago, Brown, an alleged moderate, also voted for the House Republican budget for the current fiscal year, which, among other things, cut funding on medical research, job training, health care, and homeland security.
Scott Brown does realize that Massachusetts isn’t Mississippi, doesn’t he?
“Dan Quayle in a barn coat” is looking more and more apt all the time.
Aha. Paul Ryan is whining about people playing the class warfare card. That, folks, is the sound of desperation.
Actually, for the most part critics of his plan haven’t focused on the distributional issues so much as on the nonsense he’s talking; they’ve been playing the arithmetic card, not the class warfare card. But yes, the Ryan plan does impose huge sacrifice on the poor and the middle class, while cutting taxes on the rich and corporations.
And this is, of course, the game conservatives have played over and over again since Reagan. Without exception, their policy proposals call for sacrifice on the part of most people, but lavish tax cuts on high incomes — and when you point this out, they yell “class warfare”.
Again, the big problem with the Ryan plan isn’t the unfairness — although there’s plenty of that. It’s the fact that the plan is a fraud.
Rumors about the nature of the counseling offered by Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus Bachmann, to troubled teens have percolated for years. But now, they seem to be on the verge of gaining a national audience.
Via Ken Avidor at Dump Bachmann, we find this bit of news from Truth Wins Out, a leading gay-rights activist group with a national focus:
A national magazine reporter is looking for people who have been treated by Marcus Bachmann, the husband of Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn). Marcus has allegedly performed reparative therapy to “cure homosexuals in Minnesota.
If you have suffered at the hands of this quack or feel he has “helped” you, please contact me ASAP at [email protected]
Bachmann is someone who scares the bejeezus out of people like John Boehner and Eric Cantor. It’s in their best interests to see her gone, but in such a way that they themselves aren’t connected to her political demise as even the suspicion that they helped do her in will doom them with her numerous and financially-generous backers. They would be more than happy to let a liberal group like Truth Wins Out take the credit and suffer the pipe bombings over this. But they can’t trust that Truth Wins Out can take her out without a little assistance, which would help explain GOP operative Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller going after her with both barrels over her Frank Vennes connection.
The new Politico poll finds that despite widespread disapproval of Obama’s handling of the economy, he is being insulated from that disapproval by general impressions of his competence and leadership qualities.
Fifty-two percent of those surveyed approve of Obama’s handling of his job, up 7 percentage points from the most recent Battleground Poll, conducted in October. Additionally, 72 percent approve of Obama personally, up 7 percentage points since October.
The president’s strong approval ratings are buttressed by the 59 percent who said they will either “definitely” vote for the president or “consider” reelecting him. Thirty-eight percent “definitely will not” vote for the president’s reelection — giving Obama a higher ceiling of support than his Republican rivals would hope to see.
The numbers on national security (55%-34%), and basic values (51%-38%) are particularly damning, as it’s the Republican Party which traditionally runs on national security and values.
With voters already clearly favoring President Obama over the Republicans in those areas, that means he can spend the majority of his time campaigning focused on issues where his lead isn’t as solid.
Republicans, on the other hand, have to long way to go to convince voters that they are good for, well, anything.
Voting 8-1, the justices reversed a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling that threw out the evidence gathered when officers entered Hollis King’s apartment. […]
The court said there was no violation of King’s constitutional rights because the police acted reasonably. Only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented. […]
In her dissent, Ginsburg said her colleagues were giving police an easy way to routinely avoid getting warrants in drug cases.
“Police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, never mind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant,” she said.
The case concerned exceptions to the Fourth Amendment requirement that police need a warrant to enter a home.
The issue was whether warrantless entry was justified after the officers’ knock on the door triggered a reaction inside that sounded like the destruction of evidence.
An odd set of facts led to Monday’s ruling.
Workers, activists and other volunteers are making fast progress in collecting the 231,000 signatures needed to put the repeal of S.B. 5 on the Ohio ballot this November. S.B. 5, pushed by Gov. John Kasich (R), eliminates the rights of 350,000 public employees to bargain for middle-class jobs.
The 35,000 member Ohio Civil Service Employees Association/AFSCME (OCSEA/AFSCME) set a goal of gathering 60,000 voters’ signature. In a mere two weeks, OCSEA canvassers have collected more than 20,000 signatures to “Kill the Bill.” (See photo.) Similar efforts are under way through the Buckeye State to hit the signature threshold by the June 30 deadline.
In Cleveland over the weekend, some 150 people came together at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church for an S.B. 5 repeal town hall meeting with faith and political allies, including members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus and Wisconsin state Sen. Lena Taylor (D).
Taylor fought against Gov. Scott Walker’s bill that, like S.B. 5, also eliminates collective bargaining for public service workers. She told the crowd that both Walker and Kasich “have declared war” on public employees.
This is not a Wisconsin fight. This is not an Ohio fight. This is a fight for everybody.
AND IN OTHER NEWS…
Roseanne Barr was a sitcom star, a creator and a product, the agitator and the abused, a domestic goddess and a feminist pioneer. That was twenty years ago. But as far as she’s concerned, not much has changed.
During the recent and overly publicized breakdown of Charlie Sheen, I was repeatedly contacted by the media and asked to comment, as it was assumed that I know a thing or two about starring on a sitcom, fighting with producers, nasty divorces, public meltdowns, and bombing through a live comedytour. I have, however, never smoked crack or taken too many drugs, unless you count alcohol as a drug (I don’t). But I do know what it’s like to be seized by bipolar thoughts that make one spout wise about Tiger Blood and brag about winning when one is actually losing.
It’s hard to tell whether one is winning or, in fact, losing once one starts to think of oneself as a commodity, or a product, or a character, or a voice for the downtrodden. It’s called losing perspective. Fame’s a bitch. It’s hard to handle and drives you nuts. Yes, it’s true that your sense of entitlement grows exponentially with every perk until it becomes too stupendous a weight to walk around under, but it’s a cutthroat business, show, and without the perks, plain ol’ fame and fortune just ain’t worth the trouble. […]
The end of my addiction to fame happened at the exact moment Roseanne dropped out of the top ten, in the seventh of our nine seasons. It was mysteriously instantaneous! I clearly remember that blackest of days, when I had my office call the Palm restaurant for reservations on a Saturday night, at the last second as per usual. My assistant, Hilary, who is still working for me, said—while clutching the phone to her chest with a look of horror, a look I can recall now as though it were only yesterday: “The Palm said they are full!” Knowing what that really meant sent me over the edge. It was a gut shot with a sawed-off scattershot, buckshot-loaded pellet gun. I made Hil call the Palm back, disguise her voice, and say she was calling from the offices of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Instantly, Hil was given the big 10-4 by the Palm management team. I became enraged, and though she was uncomfortable doing it (Hil is a professional woman), I forced her to call back at 7:55 and cancel the 8:00 reservation, saying that Roseanne—who had joined Tom and Nicole’s party of seven—had persuaded them to join her at Denny’s on Sunset Boulevard.
The feeling of being used all those years just because I was in the top ten—not for my money or even my gluttony—was sobering indeed. I vowed that I would make a complete change top to bottom and rid myself of the desires that had laid me low. (I also stopped eating meat for a year, out of bitterness and mourning for the Palm’s bone-in rib-eye steaks.) As inevitably happens to all stars, I could not look myself in the mirror for one more second. My dependence on empty flattery, without which I feared I would evaporate, masked a deeper addiction to the bizarro world of fame. I had sold my time and company at deflated prices just for the thrill of reserving the best tables at the best restaurants at the very last minute with a phone call to the maître d’—or the owner himself, whose friendship I coddled just to ensure premium access to the aforementioned, unbelievably good smoked-salmon pizza.
On April 6, Glenn Beck announced that his Fox News would be ending. The New York Times reported that Fox News saw “the refusal of hundreds Fox advertisers” to place ads on Beck as an issue in that influenced their parting of ways.
Today, NewsCorpWatch, a project of Media Matters for America, released a financial analysis of Glenn Beck’s advertiser losses. The featured charts illustrate two points: 1) that the number of paid advertisements running on Glenn Beck’s program dramatically declined after advertisers began boycotting his show; and 2) that key advertisements running on his show cost an estimated three to six times less than they did on other comparable Fox News programs.
This analysis also demonstrates that a sustained market effort will help deliver desperately needed accountability for Fox News’ history of deliberate misinformation, political machinations and reckless vitriol.
The number of paid advertisements on Glenn Beck’s Fox News show dramatically declined once advertisers began boycotting it in August 2009.
Sustained pressure on advertisers ensured that Beck’s show never recovered. Consequently, Glenn Beck’s show consistently fell short of other comparable Fox News shows as well as shows of direct competitors.
Tell Advertisers To Stop Sponsoring Fox news
- For too long Fox News has smeared, attacked, distorted and deliberately misinformed with impunity.The time for accountability is now. It’s time for advertisers to drop Fox until Fox becomes a responsible news network.Please sign the letter to sponsors urging them to stop financially supporting the Fox News political operation.
Protest fatigue? Not in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin protests have inspired similar demonstrations in states across the country, including state Capitol confrontations in Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and, most recently, California and New York.
Yet, the energy in Wisconsin remains unmistakable, and unrelenting.
Three months to the day after the first large demonstration against Walker’s proposal, tens of thousands of Wisconsinites returned to the great square around the state Capitol and to town and village squares across the state to declare: “This Fight is NOT Over!”
“We’ve stopped Governor Walker’s plan to take away workers rights for three months — but he is not done. He has expanded his attack to seniors, college students, local schools and more. And he is still intent on ending collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin,” went the message from the Wisconsin unions and their allies — along with the “This Fight is NOT Over!” battlecry.
Saturday’s mass rally in Madison and other demonstrations came at a time when the Republican-controlled state legislature is weighing Walker’s budget proposal, which seeks to cut more than $1.5 billion from education and local services, while restructuring state government to take power away from elected school boards and local governments.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.”
~ Muhammad Ali