Archive for the ‘Obama Adminstration’ Category

By JC

“[U.S. intelligence] officials made clear they were relying in part on social media postings and videos.”

How comforting. Foreign policy developed via Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube postings! 

Well, who didn’t see the inevitable backpedalling by everybody who was pushing direct Russian involvement in the downing of MH 17? I guess that would be everybody who jumped on the Obama/Kerry/MSM propaganda bandwagon.

A few snippets from today’s AP story (yes, I’ll quote the AP so as not to cause many of you to run away in disgust at the mention of RT).

“Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.”

Hmmm… and all of the $5b that Vicki Nuland said we invested in Ukraine didn’t have anything to do with it? Or with the millions that NED paid to “social clubs and political organizations” to help the “revolution” didn’t? How about the VP’s son joining the board of a Ukrainian oil & gas company along with John Kerry’s bundler (whose financial partners include the ex-deputy CIA director) and the ex-Polish president that hid our secret rendition (torture) prisons from the world? Any of that help with “creating the conditions” that could result in a civilian air catastrophe?

“…the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.”

Well, I suppose that the Sun will print a retraction to it’s “Putin’s Missile” edition (not).

“… [U.S. intelligence] officials said they did not know who fired the missile.” 

Sure didn’t stop all the innuendo and accusations. Nor will this little acknowledgement take back all the propaganda that was generated after the catastrophe pointing to Russians and federalists.

“In terms of who fired the missile, ‘we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” one official said, adding at another point, “There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here.'”

A Perry Mason moment? Who are these guys trying to kid? Just say that you don’t know jack shit, and be done with it. Ya gotta be over 50 to even get the reference to Perry Mason. How about we have a special prosecutor moment: to look into our violations of international law with our meddlings in the world?

“The officials made clear they were relying in part on social media postings and videos made public in recent days by the Ukrainian government, even though they have not been able to authenticate all of it. For example, they cited a video of a missile launcher said to have been crossing the Russian border after the launch, appearing to be missing a missile.

But later, under questioning, the officials acknowledged they had not yet verified that the video was exactly what it purported to be.”

Yep, pure propaganda at work. And all of the MSM in the west bought it: hook, line and sinker. I would say that all of the propaganda was exactly what it was intended to be: the demonization of Russia and Putin.

When our public policy and statements on international disasters rely upon unverified social media and YouTube clips to respond with clumsy propaganda, who knows when the next shoe drops, what will happen. Let’s hope that the next time opportunity presents itself that our President doesn’t fumble “the football!”

Idiots.

Advertisements

by Pete Talbot

I shrugged it off the first few times I heard it or saw it in print, “government picking winners and losers.”

Now it’s everywhere: Republican debates, news stories, op-ed columns and even comments here at 4&20.

It’s directed at Democrats, for the most part, from President Obama (health care, Solyndra) to Missoula’s City Council (Play Ball Missoula).

The irony is that all parties, in all areas of government, from city councils to state legislatures to Congress and the President, have picked winners and losers.

They’ve subsidized railroads and airlines, oil and coal, highways and electrical distribution systems, NASA, mining and agriculture, baseball, basketball and football teams … it’s a long list.

Winners and losers are chosen by the powers that be all the time. There are no-bid defense department contracts for Halliburton, Raytheon and Blackwater. There are tax code revisions that pick winners and losers. There are decisions on food stamps, Social Security and Medicaid that have winners and losers.

It’s a cool sounding mantra, this “government picking winners and losers,” no doubt generated at some Karl Rove or libertarian think tank using focus groups and polling, and distributed to key leaders in right-wing politics, whence it trickles down.

There are no doubt abuses in this system. But the idea that every aspect of American life should be subject to the invisible hand of the free market is unrealistic and anachronistic. And the Republican cry of “crony capitalism” is about as hypocritical as it gets. The art of crony capitalism has been a mainstay of the Republican Party.

It’s dishonest to call all government spending “socialist” and lay the blame at the feet of Democrats. Picking winners and losers has been going on since the founding fathers and is as American as apple pie.

It just depends on who’s doing the giving and getting the rewards that gets the teeth gnashing and pundits whining.

By JC

Ok, if you pay attention to politics at all, you know that: 1) anything Obama supports publicly will be met with a big “NO” from the right; 2) the economy is in the tank, and there is no meaningful job growth happening; and 3) next week the President is giving another speech on jobs. And there’s a web full of speculation and commentary about it (276,000 search returns for “obama jobs speech” as of this writing!).

So let the armchair politickin’ begin. Consider this an open thread. Here are the rules:

  • What should Obama say?
  • What do you think he will say?
  • What do you see as politicly viable jobs proposals?
  • Do presidential speeches have any value, and if so, what ?
  • Place no blame and no personal attacks. It gets this debate nowhere.

If this feels like a PoliSci 101 first day of class essay/debate exercise, it sort of is — it is very similar to one I heard of this week, as college opened. Have fun!

By CFS

A favorite theory of mine about the fall of the Roman Empire states that centrifugal force (outward) eventually became too much for the centripetal forces (inward) to counteract in the whirling machine that was Roman society.  The costs of holding the Empire together became too much for the benefits of Empire to overcome and slowly portions of the Empire were abandoned, forgotten, or fell away from a lack of resources or will to keep hold of certain possessions.

I bring this up because I wonder… I wonder how far along America is down this road once trodden by Rome.

For almost a thousand years, Rome was the shinning city atop seven hills in whose direction her neighbors cast their glare with envy. Rome – at the founding of the Republic – was a revolutionary idea, an idea that  Romans delivered to the world at the tip of the sword, the base of a road, through amazing organizational skills, and a promise.  The promise that no matter how low a station a person might occupy on their birth to this world the rewards of Roman citizenship could be within one’s grasp.  Citizenship was a symbol,  not even a Roman freedman bowed to a foreign king.  A foreign king might have immense power, but was not the equal of even the lowest Roman.

The idea of Rome, more so than her machinery, was the true glue to which divergent cultures, when coming into contact with Rome, could not escape its inward pull.  The benefits from such technological innovations as voting, legal representation,  logistics, and roads helped a great deal.  But still, the idea that with every conquest, ever glory, every extension of Roman roads another mile from the heart of Empire would result in the improvement of the human condition was the true essence of Rome’s might. For centuries these forces helped the Romans to build perhaps the greatest empire in our short-lived history.

However, centrifugal forces eventually ate into the benefits that Rome could provide, and once the cost/benefit swung away from favoring Rome, her hegemonic status wavered and slowly fell.  Pressure from maintaining a standing army responsible for 1,930,511 sq mi, limits of state bureaucracy, the end of conquest as economic policy, public works that were not maintained and allowed to fall into disrepair, and many other factors put pressure on the state’s ability to maintain a machinery of such immense scope.  The greatest centrifugal force was perhaps the eventual establishment of the principate, an institution by its very definition originally put in place as a stop-gap measure against forces pulling the Empire apart.

Circumstances arose within the last century of the Republic that threatened to tear Roman power and society apart.  The accumulation of so much power  and wealth in the hands of so few had led to a wild escalation in a fanciful game known as politics.  To control Rome was to control the world and bestowed upon the ruling faction the ability to completely wipe out one’s political opponents.  Of course this happened multiple times and it was only through the principate that a cap on deadly political ambitions could be placed.  The principate worked as directed for some time, but eventually became the object of concerted and prolonged power-struggles.  Resources were pulled from investing in Rome’s future and protecting her holdings to fighting civil wars for control of the state machinery.

To bring this back to more modern times, we, like Rome, have found ourselves with an accidental Empire, and we, like Rome, find ourselves with an increasingly hectic political theater more interested in fighting over power than with investing in the future of our country.  And as Congress and the Senate become ever more dysfunctional we are blessed with an increasingly insular Presidency in the process of gathering an ever greater amount of power within its institutional walls.  And our greatest strength, that American sheen that draws people around the world to American ideals is starting to tarnish.

Maybe the stench of decay is especially pungent at the moment and the cliff on which we look over a precipitously steep drop to the jagged rocks below, but whatever the situation, it sure feels as if the Chevy V-8 is only clunking along on 2 cylinders.

BCFS

Just ignore anything thing that comes out of a politician’s mouth when discussing oil prices, whether that politician may be President Obama or Denny “I do believe I fell off my horse” Rehberg.  For that matter you can also ignore Faux News’ claim that financial speculation is the key culprit of high oil prices because the reality is that the main driver behind oil prices is a lack of sufficient supply.

The Oil Drum has a great analysis (which continues in the comments) up at their site that comes to this very conclusion.  It’s a long, and a very technical post, but well worth the read.

The basic problem the world is facing in the short-term is that the great oil exporters aren’t so great anymore.  You see, the major exporters have been massively developing their countries over the last 20 years trying to diversify their economies away from a dependence on oil exports.  This has strangely had the reverse effect of making their economies more reliant on oil.

In 2005 total world exports were 40.8 million barrels per day (mbpd) as compared with 35.7 mbpd in 2009, a  12.5% decline in only a matter of 4 years.  While data might not be available for 2010, the news only gets worse.  Both Russia and China have instituted export restrictions so as to support their domestic economies.  This will lead to a further reduction in total oil exports.  The news out of Russia, being the world’s second largest oil producer, does not bode well for the oil importing countries of the world.  Add in the fact that Saudi Arabian oil production peaked in 2005 and Russia peaked in 2007.  No country can replace these two producers and so the decline in world exports will continue and with it prices at the gas station here in America will continue to rise.

Two additional variables complicate the situation.  The first is political.  Already the Arab Spring is effecting oil exports coming out of the Middle East.  But on-top of the unrest directly leading to reductions in oil production regimes that are desperate to hold on to their power are already starting to spend oil revenue on social programs with the aim to buy the silence of their populace.  That leaves less money to invest in future oil production and will lead to an otherwise faster decline in production.

The second, is the economic principle of diminishing returns on investment.  This is an economic fact that was drilled into my head in economics class.  Usually, this principle is couched in the terms of labor vs. capital.  Each additional laborer produces a certain amount of profit, add too many workers and that rate of return decrease and will eventually go negative.  Same with capital.

Energy markets are subject to the same principle but in a slightly different manner.  The principle here is “energy returned on energy invested” (EROEI).  Back in the day when oil was first discovered, the EROEI was in the range of 30-50, meaning for every unit of energy expended in production, 30-50 units of energy were actually produced.  Now however, we are down to the point of extracting oil at an EROEI under 10, with tar sands right about 5.  So we are reaching the point of having to expend a lot more energy and money to get just a little bit of energy in return.

Now, You can take this principle and expand it a bit further.  Lets take for example infrastructure investment, in this case our national highway network.  Because this type of investment is public, the return on investment would be the total economic activity spurred by said investment, ranging from the construction jobs created directly from the investment to the development of real estate on former farmland and the sale of cars that fill up said highways.

Between 2004 and 2008 23,300 miles of additional roadway were built in America.  Now the first 23,300 miles that were built in the system way back under Truman contributed much more to the economic prosperity of our country than the last 23,300 miles.  Why is that?  It’s because of all that previous investment.  Not only is that last 23,300 miles a marginal amount at this point compared with all that previous investment,  but all those thousands of miles already built require a lot of investment each and every year just to maintain.  All the maintenance required to keep up that old investment takes away from the ability of a nation to invest in new infrastructure.

This same phenomenon is occurring in places like Saudi Arabia.  Once you’ve gotten to all the easy oil, you have to spend an increasing amount of money just to tread water.  From The Oil Drum:  Saudi Arabian oil officials met with Halliburton to discuss plans to boost their oil-directed rig count by roughly 30%.

According to a Saudi oil official interviewed by Reuters, the investment in new drilling rigs “is not to expand capacity. It’s to sustain current capacity on new fields and old fields that have been bottled up.” (1) This news on its own should be troubling as it infers that the Kingdom is facing significant declines on currently producing fields. Even more troubling is the recent statement by another senior Saudi oil official that the Kingdom “expects oil production to hold steady at an average of 8.7 million barrels per day to 2015.”

Increasing investment by 30% just to stay barely above water.

Drill-Baby-Drill!

Sen. Jon Tester supports anti-immigrant policies and impedes immigration reform.

A guest post by Helena Immigration Attorney, Shahid Haque-Hausrath, posted by Jamee Greer

Jon Tester (D-MT) is facing a tough run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, but he just keeps giving progressives more reasons not to vote for him. His track record on immigration issues has been abysmal, as I’ve written about before. Make no mistake about it — Tester is probably the worst Democrat in the Senate on the issue of immigration, and he is one of the most vocal. The way he talks about the issue, you would think Montana wasn’t one of the states with the least number of immigrants in the whole country.

Despite outrage over his despicable vote against the DREAM Act, Tester hasn’t decided to leave immigration policy to states that actually have a dog in the fight. You won’t see him bragging about his DREAM Act vote, mind you — after all, Daily Kos famously called him an “asshole” for that reprehensible vote, and he doesn’t want to rekindle the ire of the netroots crowd. However, he has continued to make his anti-immigrant positions a core part of his campaign, jumping at every opportunity to link immigration to national security concerns. For instance, when a college in California was found to be enrolling foreign students without proper accreditation, Tester quickly issued a press release noting that “several of the terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, had entered the country using student visas.”

Recently, Jon Tester put up two web pages on the issue of immigration that are so ignorant you would think Tester locked anti-immigrant zealots Mark Krikorian and John Tanton in a room with a bottle of whiskey and posted whatever they came up with.

In fact, these two immigration pages are so wrong-headed that they require some analysis and interpretation to fully make sense of them. One web page outlines his unsophisticated view of the immigration issue in four paragraphs. His other page lists his immigration “accomplishments.” (By accomplishments, Tester seems to mean ways he has screwed immigrants and wasted federal money.) I’ll review both of the pages together.

Jon’s position on immigration is simple: people who wish to immigrate to the United States must follow the rules, and we must enforce them. That’s why Jon opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

During his first year as Senator, Jon helped put a stop to a bill that would have granted amnesty to illegal immigrants living in the United States.

Jon voted in 2007 to defeat the Immigration Reform Bill, telling his colleagues, “We don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.”

Where do we start? Polls have consistently shown that the people think our immigration system is broken and want some form of immigration reform. The last time our immigration laws were substantively changed was in 1996, and almost everyone agrees that those changes were ineffective — in fact, they created more problems than they solved. People are frustrated by the federal government’s failure to act, and don’t believe that “enforcement only” solutions are going to work. As a result of the federal government’s inertia, states like Arizona, Utah, and Georgia have begun to enact their own immigration policies, which raise significant constitutional concerns including due process violations and racial profiling. While I strongly oppose state level enforcement of immigration laws, and I believe that these state laws are misguided, it is difficult to fault the states for at least trying to take action when the federal government will not.

Yet, Jon Tester considers it an “accomplishment” that he has ignored the will of the public and done absolutely nothing to fix our immigration system. In fact, he is proud that he helped derail immigration reform in 2007, and has continued to sabotage efforts to reform our immigration laws. It’s nice that he sets the bar so low for himself, but the rest of the country is expecting a little more.

Tester refuses to acknowledge that our system needs to be fixed, stating “we don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.” The problem, of course, is that our system is broken and we need to reform our laws in order to more effectively enforce them. Current immigration reform proposals aim to increase enforcement on the border and interior of the country, but recognize that in order to curb undocumented immigration we also need to fix some of our laws that are creating the problems in the first place. For instance, our laws include huge gaps in coverage, where many family members have no reasonable opportunity to immigrate legally to the United States. Among other things, reform proposals would open new paths to family-based immigration that were causing needless undocumented immigration.

Tester remains willfully obtuse in his opposition to so-called “amnesty” for immigrants who lack lawful status. “Amnesty” means a general pardon for an offense against the state, but Tester uses the term “amnesty” to refer to any changes in the law that would create a path to legalization — even if the path is strenuous and imposes a strict set of requirements. He even used the term amnesty to refer to the DREAM Act, which would have created a seven (or more) year path towards citizenship for men and women who serve our country in the military or go to college. There is no “amnesty” on the table, and there hasn’t been for years. Instead, what is being proposed is a way for immigrants who are already here to earn their way back into lawful status by paying fines, back taxes (if they haven’t already been paying like most immigrants), and potentially even community service. After all, even Newt Gingrich understands that it is not realistic to deport all of the 11 million people who are here without status.

Finally, comprehensive immigration reform won’t be expensive, as Tester states, but will actually increase wages for all workers and improve our economy. Time and again, it has been proven that spending money on border security alone, without any other changes to our laws, is untenable and ineffective. Nevertheless, Tester has chosen to advocate these “enforcement only” solutions.

Instead [of immigration reform], Jon has focused his energy on boosting security along America’s borders, particularly our northern border with Canada. From his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.

That same year, Jon introduced and passed into law a measure requiring the Homeland Security Department to report on weaknesses along the northern border and develop a plan for improving northern border security.

So let me get this straight: Instead of working for immigration reform to help the entire country, Tester is pushing for huge government expenditures to protect us from Canada? It is foolish to tout Canadian border security as an alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, because it is clear that the risks from an unmonitored northern border have almost nothing to do with the larger immigration problems our country is facing.

While the GAO issued a report stating that Department of Homeland Security needs to work better with other agencies and partners along the northern border, the GAO didn’t endorse Tester’s crusade to spare no expense to “secure” the border. Indeed, the GAO previously pushed back on claims about insecurity on the northern border.

Nevertheless, Tester is so eager to appear strong on immigration enforcement that he managed to get an appropriation for military grade radars on the Canadian border. He also wants to expand the use of unmanned drones (and they are already being used in some areas). Those radars and drones would have come in handy last year, when I helped a Canadian kid who got lost and accidentally drove his ATV across the border.

As George Ochenski put it: “For most Montanans, the border with Canada has never been and likely will never be seen as a threat. After all, the U.S. and Canada share the longest border on the continent, and it has been our ally in world wars as well as regional conflicts. It’s also our largest trading partner and our closest, largest and most secure source of oil. Treating Canada as some variant of Pakistan’s border is, in a word, insulting to both Montanans and our Canadian friends.”

Jon was the only Senate Democrat to put his name on legislation pumping new resources into border protection for new technology and new border patrol officers. Jon cosponsored the measure after securing a pledge that a certain percentage of those new resources would be spent along the northern border.

Here’s a tip for Tester’s staffers: When you’re the only Democrat to put your name on a piece of legislation, its probably nothing to brag about. The bill that Tester is referring to is actually a corollary to one that was introduced by his opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT). Jon Tester partnered up with Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-AZ), among other Republicans, to co-sponsor a $3 million amendment. This bill also funded construction of the fence along the Mexican border — a project that has been abandoned and condemned as a tremendous failure and waste of billions in taxpayer dollars.

And from his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.

One of Tester’s “critical upgrades” was a $15 million dollar renovation to the border station in Whitetail, MT, which was reported to get about five crossings a day and no commercial traffic. After facing criticism for needless spending, Tester and Max Baucus reduced the appropriation to only $8.5 million. Meanwhile, Canadian officials closed the road leading to this border station, rendering the whole project useless. This embarrassing episode didn’t make Tester’s list of accomplishments.

Of course, even though he votes against any legislation that isn’t directed purely towards deporting immigrants, Tester wouldn’t want you to get the impression that he is against immigration:

Jon knows that legal immigrants, like his grandparents, helped build America into what it is today. But he also believes that no one is above the law.

In public statements and constituent letters, Tester is constantly stating that his grandparents “waited in line” and followed the rules, implying that new immigrants should be expected to follow the same process. However, it appears that Tester’s ancestors entered the country in 1916 — before our current immigration system even existed. At that time, our immigration policy was comparable to an “open border” policy. Years later, quotas were enacted to limit immigration and more stringent criteria for entry were developed. It was not until 1965 that the current Immigration and Nationality Act was enacted, with its very limited methods for gaining permanent residence in the U.S.

There is no question that Jon Tester’s ancestors faced a dramatically different immigration system than those who are immigrating today. Tester and other enforcement advocates often evoke the image of a “line” that immigrants must simply wait in. However, the truth is that for most immigrants, there is no “line.” Tester’s own grandparents may not have been able to enter the country under our current immigration scheme.

Jon Tester seems intent on mimicking Rehberg in many ways, including sharing his anti-immigrant views.

Jon Tester’s vocal anti-immigrant positions have placed Montana progressives in a difficult position. Contrary to the attacks of those who want to silence any opposition to Tester’s bad policies, none of us are excited about the prospect of his opponent, Dennis Rehberg, being elected to the Senate. Indeed, Rehberg’s stance on immigration is no better than Tester’s. However, Tester’s ignorant views on immigration are also making it impossible for us to lend him our vote.

Tester’s positions on immigration are not gaining him support with Republicans, but they are causing a split among Democrats. The best thing for Jon Tester to do is distance himself from the issue of immigration, because each time he opens his mouth, he brings many progressives closer to sending a difficult message: The progressive movement cannot tolerate a Democrat who has an anti-immigrant agenda, regardless of the consequences.

Shahid Haque-Hausrath blogs about local immigration issues at Border Crossing Law Blog.

By CFS

This come from an AP story featured in the Missoulian today:

The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA’s so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.

“We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day,” said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.

Get the full article here: http://tinyurl.com/4223ltt

So fuck it… Let’s shred the constitution as long as it makes us feel safe and gives us petrol prices below $4 per gallon.

And if these black sites and torture are so successful, why didn’t we capture Osama and send him somewhere to be interigated?

By JC

Chris Hedges weighed in today with some sobering commentary about bin Laden’s death:

“We responded exactly as these terrorist organizations wanted us to respond. They wanted us to speak the language of violence. What were the explosions that hit the World Trade Center, huge explosions and death above a city skyline? It was straight out of Hollywood. When Robert McNamara in 1965 began the massive bombing campaign of North Vietnam, he did it because he said he wanted to “send a message” to the North Vietnamese—a message that left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead.

These groups learned to speak the language we taught them. And our response was to speak in kind. The language of violence, the language of occupation—the occupation of the Middle East, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—has been the best recruiting tool al-Qaida has been handed. If it is correct that Osama bin Laden is dead, then it will spiral upwards with acts of suicidal vengeance. And I expect most probably on American soil. The tragedy of the Middle East is one where we proved incapable of communicating in any other language than the brute and brutal force of empire.

And empire finally, as Thucydides understood, is a disease. As Thucydides wrote, the tyranny that the Athenian empire imposed on others it finally imposed on itself. The disease of empire, according to Thucydides, would finally kill Athenian democracy. And the disease of empire, the disease of nationalism … these of course are mirrored in the anarchic violence of these groups, but one that locks us in a kind of frightening death spiral. So while I certainly fear al-Qaida, I know it’s intentions. I know how it works. I spent months of my life reconstructing every step Mohamed Atta took. While I don’t in any way minimize their danger, I despair. I despair that we as a country, as Nietzsche understood, have become a monster that we are attempting to fight.”

By CFS

In a sad flashback to the Bush era, it appears that an Obama Administration official, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, is under pressure to resign over comments he recently made regarding the Libyan uprising.  While giving his testimony to a congressional hearing regarding the situation in Libya Clapper commented that Gaddafi’s, “regime will prevail,” in the longer term because of its superior firepower.  Republican Senator Lindsey Graham immediately called for the Director’s resignation saying that, “his comments will make the situation more difficult for those opposing Gadhafi.”

Now… I don’t enjoy defending the intelligence community given human rights violations, extraordinary rendition, and blowback caused by their interference in other country’s sovereign affairs.  But Clapper hits the nail directly on the head with his assessment of what is happening in Libya.  The longer that Gaddafi has to re-consolidate his power, assault the rebels in the eastern half of the country, and practice realpolitik the more likely it is that he and his sons, will come out of this triumphant.

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Unemployment benefits expired for millions of Americans at 12 a.m. Wednesday morning while congress debates whether to spend $56.4 billion for the near 10% of Americans that are unemployed or $700 billion in tax cuts for the top 2% of Americans?

Each week, more millions will be added to that number of people that will have no source of income. Think about what that’s doing for the economy.

I’m of the mindset that President Obama has already compromised on the tax issue by saying he’s willing to extend the expiring Bush tax cuts to ninety eight percent of Americans. It shows some sensible restraint with regards to deficit spending. At a time when our government can’t afford to expend money without great assurance that virtually 100% of it returns back into the economy, keeping more money in the hands of ninety eight percent of Americans is a smart thing to do.

GOP Senators, on the other hand, have said that they are going to filibuster the current tax cut proposal to hold out for tax cuts for America’s richest 2% even though it is going to increase the deficit. They won’t talk START treaty, they won’t talk unemployment benefits.

Baucus, for his part, is once again sitting high. He’s the Democrat’s representative in the Group of Six put together by Obama.

Yeah…..

Baucus has also brought a bill to the floor last night that will extend unemployment benefits for one more year.

So I got a little panicky….

….but I’m breathing a bit of a sigh of relief tonight – because Baucus’ bill is the product of the Gang of Six, and it extends tax cuts to 98% of Americans. It extends Making Work Pay credit, the research and development credit, and lower tax rates on investment income.

Sure sounds like compromise to me.

If Obama or if any of our representation in Washington thinks that extending $700 billion in tax cuts for the top 2% wage earners in America is a “deal” well, they have the wrong idea of how to cut a deal. The current proposal includes tax cuts for businesses and investment income. It extends cuts to 98% of America. What’s to grump about?

Rabble Rouser Republicans like Boehner, McConnell and Cantor have, for the most part, toned down their rhetoric (although they were reluctant to do so as they were doing so):

One can’t help but to see how much the Sun Tan Man seemed to love the limelight, with Cantor a close close second. Yet we have yet to see offer of a compromise.

Big Swede likes videos. I don’t know how to capture this one (but a friend-of-4&20 has offered to work on it), but I hope he (and those folks up in Washington) can see this video from NBC’s KECI Missoula. What would they tell this man if they were standing there?

What will they tell 10% of America?

Would Boehner stand there with his my way or the highway and tell that Montanan that he’s without any income in the middle of winter? 3 weeks before Christmas?

I dare him.

~~~~~
(Big Swede? I don’t know why you can’t post under your Big Swede name. I can’t figure it out, but it isn’t because of any setting here.)

Baucus Tasked to Work Out “Compromise” on Extending Tax Cuts for the Rich

By JC

Thanks to Big Swede Ingy, we have the theme for the upcoming battle over the Bush tax cuts. If you need a primer on this fight, you haven’t been paying attention, but I’ll start off this end-of-the-year debate with a nice little video that BoldProgressives.org just put out to put some pressure on President Obama to do the right thing.

We’re gearing up to have an old fashioned political donnybrook over the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. We’ll get to see the right wing’s avarice in full force–as so eloquently snarked by Big Ingy–while they forget all about their opposition to deficit spending when it comes to protecting their wealth and increasing income disparity, and push their greedy self-interest in an all out class warfare battle.

And President Obama, who so adamantly campaigned to let the tax cuts for the rich expire, is on the cusp of caving in, his administration hurling itself to the right to accommodate the latest meme that only a Reagan Democrat in the White House can get the people’s business done.

Yesterday, President Obama tasked his underlings to “work out a compromise:”

“Faced with a tough decision to make on the expiring Bush tax cuts, Congress and the White House did Tuesday what they do best: They passed the buck.

With the resolution to a fight Washington has known was coming for 10 years still hanging in the balance, a small group of legislators will meet with top executive-branch officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew, sometime this week — perhaps as early as Wednesday — to hammer out a deal.

The lawmakers slated to attend include Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)…”

Max Baucus??? President Obama didn’t learn anything by handing over his Health Insurance Reform to Baucus, so now he’s going to hand over this issue to another Reagan Democrat millionaire to find a compromise?

Mr. President, your future rests with how you proceed. If you break your campaign promise to let the tax cuts for the rich expire, particularly when your opponent has already signaled his surrender, you do not deserve to have the support of the progressive base that put you into office. If you sign a bill that extends those tax cuts, even temporarily, you have signaled the end of your presidency, as the disaffection of your progressive base will solidify against you, assuring either your defeat in ’12, or the rise of a third party candidate that either will succeed, or that could throw the election to the republican and Sarah Palin.

It almost seems as if you don’t care if the country has a republican president and Congress in 2 years. Maybe you don’t…

By Duganz

Tuesday October 12, 2010 should have been one of the single greatest days in the history of American Civil Rights: The end of Clinton’s idiotic “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and the freedom of brave soldiers to be able to serve openly as gay and lesbian.

But, the Democrats are in power, so we get this:

The Pentagon said Wednesday it had not issued written guidance on a judge’s order throwing out the ban, and commanders in the field said they did not know how to proceed on sensitive questions like pursuing existing investigations against gay service members.

You don’t know how to proceed with an order to stop? You stop. You just stop. You stop when ordered to stop. It’s easy. Think, Was I ordered to stop throwing people out of the Armed Forces due to their sexual preference? If the answer is yes you stop throwing people out of the Armed Services due to their sexual preference.

But maybe there’s a reason behind the confusion…

The Justice Department worked into the night Wednesday on its response to the judge’s ruling but gave no indication when there would be an announcement. Its first move may be to seek a stay, or temporary freeze, of the order. If that request is rejected, the department probably would turn to the federal appeals court in California.

Obama’s Justice Department is going to appeal a court case that called a dumb law unconstitutional, because… why? The Obama administration consistently says it is against DADT. Before the Federal Government got around to giving all people rights, the federal courts did. Even the most ignorant of people (I’m looking at you “Creation Scientists”) have heard of Brown v. Board of Education. Brown ended segregation in schools. After that decision in 1954 private groups, civil groups, and the government were able to erode the damages done by moronic Southern Racists.

So why not instead of fighting the courts, embracing that other branch given power under our Republic’s Constitution, and then point at Republicans and say, “Make your move, oh Great Defenders of our Constitution.” The paradox would make Christine O’Donnell’s head explode.

Alas, because of the weak-to-non-existent spine of the Democrats we get this in a statement from anti-DADT group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

The law still has a chance of being repealed in the lame duck session of Congress. Service members must proceed safely and should not come out at this time.

Lack of leadership from the Democrats has put fear into the hearts of those fighting for freedom. And, ironically, the reason that Democrats aren’t leading on this issue is fear––fear of not getting re-elected.

But here’s the skinny: there is right, and there is wrong. It is RIGHT to stand up for gay Americans and their rights. It is WRONG to think of one’s own self-interest as far as getting more power. It is WRONG to allow 13,000 servicemembers to be discharged because of your lack of guts. (It is also wrong, just saying, to ignore an order from a judge Mr. President.) Even though most Senate Democrats (Not the ones from Arkansas) voted to repeal DADT, few are talking about it in their re-election campaigns.

So now we’re stuck with a President who despite being against a law, wants to appeal a Federal Court’s decision, and a Congress–House and Senate–that can’t get its act together enough to pass the smallest of Civil Rights legislation.

And again, as I’ve said here before, it is within President Obama’s power to end DADT on his own… Just like the judicial branch has the power to end DADT… and the Legislative has the power to end DADT (but doesn’t cause they are myopic wastebags)…

By Duganz

This AP story today about an upcoming Rolling Stone interview with President Barack Obama has left me with lots of questions, and a substantial need to dedicate time to introspection.

On President Obama’s end, he’s mad as hell about perceived apathy on the left. He is tired of progressives being down about what he sees as success––the left being comprised of glass-half-empty types.

“People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,” Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and “if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

In President Obama’s view, the more time we spend complaining about  what we see as his failures (ones he does not see), the more time we’re not watching Republicans.

But we are watching, and it’s scary as hell when we see people clapping for Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin. The Right is gaining power and enthusiasm and will probably take out a good deal of Democrats in the upcoming elections. It’s defeating, and scary, but it’s reality.

So yeah, we are mad  because we all worked hard, gave money, and voted in 2008 to change America for the better. And to see that these people are gaining power instead of being left in the dust of their flat Earth ways, it’s desheartening.

However, do not doubt how serious we are about changing America.

We are serious when we say we want equal rights for our gay friends and family members.

We are serious when we say we want an end to perpetual war.

We are serious when we say we want affordable healthcare for all.

We are serious when we say we want change.

It’s been two years, and these wants are not yet met. Our hopes are as of yet unfulfilled.

In the interview Obama says that change is hard, and I cannot agree more. Change is difficult, and hard, and we’re not a society that likes to wait. Of course some are mad, and anger breeds apathy. But those apathetic people don’t need to be admonished publicly for their malaise, they need to be brought back into the fold with actions and not just promises. It would be nice to see President Obama come clean and say that things aren’t moving as steadily as they should with Democratic control, or condemn regressives within the Democratic establishment who are just as damaging as Republicans.

We cannot live on insistence of success, we need to feel the results by seeing our friends married, our families back from war, our sick well, and our world a better place.

I believe I was right to vote for Barack Obama, and maybe this is his attempt at recreating Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech (but in a more successful way).

The thing to remember is: I am not your enemy, Mr. President. CarFreeStpdty is not your enemy (seriously… so don’t clandestinely assassinate him). The Left got you into office because we saw you as our chance. Those “HOPE” stickers weren’t passed out with apathy, but with honest hope and desire for change. And we saw it embodied within you.

Don’t blame us for being upset that you’re not holding up your end of the bargain.

by jhwygirl

With Social Security celebrating its 75th anniversary, people here in Missoula have the opportunity to participate in a community forum designed to bring a myriad of state and community leaders – and the general public – together to discuss the issues facing Social Security.

On Monday, at 10:30 a.m. in city council chambers, located at 140 W. Pine Street, Mayor John Engen will join with former U.S. Senator John Melcher and U.S. Representative Pat Williams to lead a panel discussion on Social Security, along with a list of numerous community leaders, including:

State Senator Dave Wanzenried
Mike Mayer, Summit Independent Living
Paul Meyer, Western Montana Rehabilitation
Jack Chambers, Opportunity Resources
Susan Kohler, Missoula Aging Services
Mark Anderlik, Missoula Central Labor Council and
Cris Volinkaty, Child Development Center

The format will be a panel discussion with plenty of opportunity afterwards for a question and answer period to the panel participants.

I’m hoping to be able to make it, but my schedule is pretty tight – but the attendees on the tentative list are impressive and I know that organizers have been working to bring in those with conservative viewpoints.

Dave Budge, are you reading?

Because I doubt I’ll be able to make it, I really hope MCAT is able to cover it. It’s an important issue and as the Obama Administration begins the discussion to look for solutions, it’s important for communities around the U.S. to be involved in offering their viewpoints and suggestions.

For a primer on what Social Security means for Montana, read this report, titled Social Security Works for Montana.

by jhwygirl

Immigration is all the rage on morning talk shows, which I didn’t miss (thankfully) this week because the marathoners (God Bless ’em) have been running on by since somewhere around 6:45 this morning.

Aside from what I think is completely misdirected energy by anyone wanting every illegal immigrant rounded up and deported…I’m wonder why these so-called reformers (rounding up and deporting everyone isn’t reform) are making this Obama’s issue – and why Obama is kowtowing to it.

Maybe we should have gotten better health care reform. Maybe we should be getting better finance reform.

Just off the top of my head, you know?

I hit this a little in this weekend’s open thread, and I think that the Take Our Jobs campaign from the UFW is ingenious.

How many real jobs are immigrants taking from Americans? Jobs that Americans want? Jobs that Americans can actually do? I mean – how much do you want to pay for a head of lettuce? $5? $7? How would that work for everyone?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away the federal government swooped into a little tourist town that garners an estimated 75,000 people a day stopping on by – sleeping, eating, drinking and doing the general thing that tourists do when they are on vacation. And the federal government rounded up all the undocumented workers (the dishwashers, the prep cooks, the housekeepers, the sanitation personnel). They separated families, leaving children without parents – in some cases, both – in other cases a father or a mother.

In this galaxy there were plenty of jobs to go around – and the while the undocumented workers were happy to be doing the general grunt work cleaning up of these 75,000 tourists each day (along with the 6,000 or so residents who were well paid for the better jobs such as line cooks, clerks, maintenance and general administration for the USFS, and the state and local government jobs), this round up by the federal government put the economy is a real lurch.

It left hotel owners with no one to clean rooms – see, the owners and the Americans had the cushy jobs of supervising these undocumented workers. It left the restaurateurs with no one to wash the dishes or mop up the restaurant.

What happen to the tourists? Their $175-a-night rooms weren’t ready even at 8:00 at night. It took hours during peak dining times to get food because pots and pans and plates and silverware weren’t getting cleaned fast enough. Owners and their legal employees had to work all through the night to get half-assed work done.

What else did they do? What else could they do – they put out a call for other galaxy residents to take on second and third jobs. They had to get through tourist season, after all. It’s when their money is made.

What did this American do? I helped. At a cost, of course – I mean, who in the hell wants to work two jobs when my first job was paying me plenty and I lived in such a galaxy that was attractive enough for 75,000 tourists a day to stop by? I wanted to enjoy that too – but I was sympathetic to the pains of my fellow galaxy residents….and I did what other Americans were doing. I gave up some of my precious time off in this attractive oasis and went to work. For a price.

What was I worth, with the owners in such a lurch? In the hotels I was worth $60 an hour. Cash, because they didn’t have the time to document my work. In many ways it was worth it to just walk in the door whenever I wanted (if I wanted) and work for however long I wanted and have them gratefully pay me that kind of money. Three hours and I had $180 in my pocket but I couldn’t head to the Cowboy Bar to spend it because they didn’t have enough staff and service sucked?

Moral: Profit went down for those owners. Americans don’t work cheap. Tourists will only pay so much for a hotel room, and they’ll only pay so much for a meal. When service sucks, tourists tip less. Waiters, waitresses and everyone who shared in these tips made less, but had to work more. Americans don’t like to work back-breaking jobs and they don’t like to work a second or a third like a lot of those undocumented immigrants were more than happy to do. If they do do those back-breaking kind of jobs, they want a lot of money.

~~~~~~
The Obama Administration is now having the Immigration and Customs Service “sweep” companies that hire undocumented workers and having them all fired. They aren’t being deported, and this has the so-called reformers mad.

George Bush Jr. could have done this. He didn’t. He also could have done this and deported them. He didn’t.

Yet Obama is evil because he’s not doing anything about illegal immigration.

Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer is lying – yep, I’m using the L word – and the WaPo’s is justifiably calling her out on it. Crime is down in Arizona, and there are more border guards then ever before.

When people talk about “wedge issues” this is one if I ever saw one. Sen. Tester periodically puts out a whine for more border guards to protect our northern border – much of which is just vast waterless grass and badland coulee rutted landscape – just to keep himself on the Montana conservative credibility range.

So now Obama isn’t doing anything. Or enough. With the whole budget deficit and everyone so concerned with the mounting deficit, now the “reformers’ want to whine about not busing all these illegal immigrants across the border?

Undocumented workers aren’t taking our jobs. They are, though, costing Americans a lot of money – in increased border patrols, forensic accounting of farms to find ’em, and soon – if these “reformers” don’t shut up – buses back to Mexico or Canada or wherever they came from.

Oh – and $7 lettuce.

by JC

run over

Simon Johnson has an interesting piece over at The Baseline Scenario: “Does The Obama Administration Even Want To Win In November?” Johnson is, as some of you may remember, the author of The Atlantic article “the Quiet Coup” where he lays out the case for crony capitalism having taken control of our country.

In this piece, he dishes out some information about how Obama administration officials have already conceded losing the House to the Republicans this fall, and believe that will help him get reelected in 2012, and give the Democrats an opportunity to recapture the House.

Increasingly, senior administration officials shrug when you mention the November mid-term elections. “We did all we could,” and “it’s not our fault” is the line; their point being that if jobs (miraculously at this point) come back quickly, the Democrats have a fighting chance – but not otherwise…

But ever so quietly, you get the impression the Obama team itself is not so very unhappy – they know the jobs will come back by 2012, they feel that Republican control of the House will just energize the Democratic base, and no one will be able to blame the White House for getting nothing done from 2010 on…

The Obama team – both political and economic wings – seems to feel that their base has nowhere else to go, and all they need to do is drift towards the right in a moderately confused fashion to assure re-election for the president.

Jimmy Carter had the same sort of idea.

And of course, that gave rise to Reaganomics. This time it could be Palinomics.

I guess once you squander your first mandate, try, try again?

by jhwygirl

The U.S. has 57,000 troops in Afghanistan, and we’re going to add 30,000 more – many of which will be deployed by Christmas – all for an estimated 100 al Qaeda?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be working on al Qaeda – Lord knows I’ve long made the distinction between the war in Iraq (which I didn’t support) and the war in Afghanistan (which I saw with some purpose) – but they’re down to 100 guys holed up on the border? Considerably neutralized already, lacking buildings or bases?

Obviously, the good news that Americans should feel at least good about in Afghanistan is that the al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country. No bases. No buildings to launch attacks on either us or our allies.

Now the problem is, the next step in this is the sanctuaries across the border. But I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling.

That, from Obama’s national security adviser and NATO’s former supreme allied commander in Europe, General James Jones.

A thousand Army Rangers can’t take care of that? Or even 2,000? What about the Marines?

Oh, how government loves the war machine. One big ole’ stimulus package, wrapped up under the guise of patriotism and democracy.

And speaking of democracy – I can’t help but wonder how committed the newly re-elected President Karzai is to democracy. It’s one thing to finish the job, it’s a whole other thing to make pals with someone who doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends – or at least enough to get him elected fair-and-square.

Human rights? Women’s rights? Shouldn’t we expect those things from democracies?

This sure is starting to look like some other country’s war to me. Either that or, like I said, those 100 al Qaeda holed up there in those caves must be some real badasses.

Meh.

by jhwygirl

Montana Agriculture Department has issued the state’s first industrial hemp production license – the first since approving it into law in 2001.

Federal Law requires a special permit to grow hemp.

Laura Murphy, who works for a Bozeman medical marijuana business, plans to lease some land near Ennis and grow the crop. She has no intent of obtaining the federal permit.

Interestingly, last week the Obama administration announced a new no-prosecute policy towards medical marijuana in states where medical marijuana has been made legal.

Clearly there are some significant distinctions between hemp and medical marijuana. Hemp has thousands of beneficial uses – medical marijuana, on the other hand, is a waste if you don’t put it up in smoke, so to speak.

It’s an interesting case on state’s rights, though – Montana even reaffirmed its committment towards industrialized hemp this past legislative session when it passed a joint resolution urging congress to legalized the production of hemp.

Both of those bills, btw – the 2001 law and the 2009 resolution – had overwhelming support in both the house and the senate.

Will the Obama administration take the same hand with hemp as it plans with medical marijuana?

I also ponder the parallels of this issue another 2009 legislative session law, Rep. Joel Boniek’s HB246, a bill to exempt Montana-made firearms and ammunition from commerce clause.

Disclosure: I am not fan of Rep. Joel Boniek.

Now – aside from the sheer lunacy of a state writing into law (or a legislator voting for, or a governor signing into law) a bill that is simply titled “AN ACT EXEMPTING FROM FEDERAL REGULATION UNDER THE COMMERCE CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES A FIREARM, A FIREARM ACCESSORY, OR AMMUNITION MANUFACTURED AND RETAINED IN MONTANA; AND PROVIDING AN APPLICABILITY DATE,” the bill was intended to directly challenge state’s rights via the every powerful-and-easy-to-scare-up-tons-of-both-press-and-cash on media magnet: Guns.

Exempting from federal regulation? Under the Constitution of the United States? Really? How do you take an oath of office to uphold the laws of Montana and the United States….oh, never mind.

2001’s hemp law, on the other hand, took the approach of not only legislating an affirmative defense for anyone who obtains the state’s hemp-growing license, it requires the state to petition the federal government for a change or waiver.

As the Missoulian article points out, the state did apply in 2002 to the feds for recognition of the (then new) state law. Montana was denied. The Ag Department is currently considering whether to reapply now that they have issued a license – but points out it will administer the law.

Maybe our delegation should step in here and ask for a statement from the Administration regarding hemp production? Given it not only had overwhelming support, that support in Montana has been long and was just recently reaffirmed.

by jhwygirl

Missoulian Michael Punke was nominated by the Obama administration for U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

Punke has worked on trade issues for Senator Max Baucus and has held previous trade positions under the Clinton administration.

Sen. Tester lauded the appointment of Punke, saying “I’m proud of this nomination because Michael is one of us. He’s a hard-working Montanan who understands the needs of working folks, small businesses and family farms and ranches. Michael’s expertise will do a lot of good for our country and for the future of trade.”

Punke’s an an accomplish novelist too, having written two non-fiction novels Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917 and Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West, which was just released in paperback on September 1st.

He’s also the author of The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, which is based on actual historical events.




  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Miles on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    success rate for In… on Thirty years ago ARCO killed A…
    Warrior for the Lord on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Linda Kelley-Miller on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Dan on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Former Prosecutor Se… on Former Chief Deputy County Att…
    JediPeaceFrog on Montana AG Tim Fox and US Rep.…
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,670,113 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,738 other followers

  • June 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Oct    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    30  
  • Categories