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Last night

My interview with Russ Baker is here. More technical glitches than usual, but still interesting!

A call to courage

The ACLU issued a report today, entitled “A Call to Courage: Reclaiming our Liberties Ten Years After 9/11″, where they examine erosion of the rule of law and of our rights starting with the Bush administration, and continuing on with the Obama administration. But why do we hear so few critical voices today, those who were so loud during the Bush administration? The Young Turks ‘Ana Kasparian discusses.

Reality check

As I was saying to my friends the other day, we need to accept that for now, we’re living out the same storyline as the dying Soviet Union. The security apparatus, the bankers and the money people are running the show, and our focus should be on surviving underneath the radar. You’ll remember that the Soviets had a thoroughly corrupt system, and by the time things fell apart, the most successful citizens were operating mostly through a robust underground economy.

FEMA held hostage

Isn’t this great? All those suffering people can’t even get their own tax money back to help them recover, because the Republicans have already given it away in corporate tax cuts. I wonder when people will connect those dots:

The damage from Hurricane Irene is still being tallied, and wildfires are spreading across Texas. But Congress signaled Tuesday that it still cannot agree on how to get more money into the nearly depleted coffers of the beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Lawmakers are stuck in a dispute over how much additional funding FEMA should receive and whether that additional funding should be offset with cuts elsewhere.

Democratic senators on Tuesday proposed spending $6 billion to replenish the Disaster Relief Fund, the leading program used to reimburse local governments and individuals for disaster-related cleanup and repairs.

That’s $2.35 billion more than the GOP-held House included in a competing appropriations measure that passed in June.

That disparity feeds into the broader debate over whether the government can afford to boost spending on disasters without offsetting the funds with spending cuts elsewhere.

The House’s $3.65 billion for disaster relief eclipsed a springtime request from President Obama but was paired with matching cuts to other areas of FEMA and the scaling back of a program that provides loans to automakers that build energy-efficient cars.

Republicans said the cuts were necessary to prevent disaster relief from adding to the budget deficit.

Gibberish

Mitt Romney on jobs:

University of California professor Robert Reich appeared Tuesday night on MSNBC’s The Last Word to discuss Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s job plan. The 59-point plan calls for tax cuts, cuts in the federal workforce and rollbacks in environmental, health and banking rules. Romney called his plan “a job machine.”

“It’s kind of an odd idea, it’s like calling corporations people,” Reich said. “It’s not clear what these things are. Mitt Romney has the kind of odd idea — and it is a bizarre idea — that at a time when corporations are scoring record profits, at a time when you’ve got them sitting $2 trillion of cash they don’t even know what to do with, that somehow if you give them more tax cuts, and deregulate so you reduce their costs even further, they will then create jobs.

“They don’t create jobs now, he assumes, because their costs are too high and they’re not making enough money. The reality of course is just the opposite. Corporations are doing extremely well.”

Promises made

Size queens

Still trying for that grand bargain!

La la la, I can’t hear you

So the Democratic officials on the ground must be hearing a lot about the unemployment crisis, because it sounds like they’re going to try to communicate a sense of urgency to the president before he makes his Thursday speech:

The chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and of the three caucuses of black, Hispanic and Asian members of the House would like a word with President Obama before his Thursday jobs address.

In a Tuesday letter provided by a source, the leaders, who speak for a majority of House Dems, sought to make sure that Obama keeps his eye on the jobs crisis, which has disproportionately hit minority groups.

“With unemployment at 9.1% nationally– approaching 12% in the Hispanic community, 16.7% in the African American community and with Asian American and Pacific Islanders remaining unemployed for longer periods than any other group– we are in a national crisis. We have learned throughout American history that big, bold action is required to put people back to work and promote economic growth,” the chairs write.

“The chairs of the CBC, CAPAC, CPC, and CHC look forward to an opportunity to talk with you about proposals we would like you to consider before you address the nation this week.”

These guys have to be worried about getting reelected when the administration isn’t pursuing aggressive policies to help the unemployed. Personally, I don’t think Obama will pay much attention to them. If he decides not to even meet with them, it’s probably because the proposals are too weak to defend.

I’m hearing from Hill sources that he’s about to propose a package that won’t do much: $300 billion in tax cuts and federal spending with over half of that made up of continuing the payroll tax “holiday” that’s weakening Social Security, extending federal unemployment benefits, less than $50 billion for infrastructure, tax credits for hiring the unemployed, and extending the current provision that allows businesses to fully write-off new equipment in the first year. In other words, spending that will maintain the current economic situation without actually making it better.

Cough, cough

Five weeks of rain have worked their magic on the window AC unit, and now it’s got mold on the inside. The biggest clue is that after I turned on tonight, I couldn’t get to sleep because of coughing so hard. Now I read on the intertubes about how to take it apart and clean the damned thing, and frankly, it all sounds like a royal pain in the ass.

Even though I turned it off, the effects linger. I wish I could stop coughing long enough to sleep. Oh well!

The history of labor

Barely mentioned in high school textbooks – and when it is, it’s usually wrong.

Gee, I wonder how that happened.

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