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Tax-dodging corporate liars

By Odd Man Out
What a surprise. It seems those those CEOs from Business Roundtable who met behind closed doors with Barack Obama Tuesday and with “blue dog” Democrats on Capitol Hill yesterday were much more interested in pushing for lower corporate tax rates than in discussing job creation. The CEOs argued that Congress “tax reform” shouldn’t be delayed until after the November elections. One of them, quoted in Roll Call, repeated an oft-heard complaint about corporate tax rates in America:

Procter & Gamble’s president and CEO Bob McDonald, who chairs the Roundtable’s tax and fiscal policy committee, said that the country’s corporate tax rate will become the highest in the world when Japan lowers its rate three weeks from now. The Obama administration recently released its own proposal for lowering the corporate tax rate from about 35 percent to about 28 percent. The CEOs said they support lowering it to about 25 percent.

McDonald is a liar, and Roll Call should have said so — politely, of course — by citing, as Salon did in November, the results of a study conducted by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. More here.

By Odd Man Out
See, it’s not your imagination. Quality of life for poor Americans really is declining in a big way, and in a hurry.

Sex & drugs & Rick Santorum

By Odd Man Out
Any fiction writer who made up a character as bigoted and predictable as Rick Santorum would probably be accused of jumping the shark, but reality is stranger than fiction. Richard Reeves quoting the candidate:

“Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. They prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom.”

By Odd Man Out
Earlier this week, Benjamin Netanyahu stormed through Washington beating the drum for war with Iran, to thunderous applause by AIPAC members and Congressional neo-cons. President Obama appeared to strike a moderate pose on the issue, but it’s anybody’s guess whether Israel will pull the trigger in the near future:

The greatest danger the United States (and any peace-loving person in the Middle East) currently faces is that [Ehud] Barak and Prime Minister Netanyahu will spring an October surprise (or a surprise in any month between now and the first Tuesday of November) in the form of an armed attack on Iran….

President Obama’s attempt to handle this problem was reflected in his speech on Sunday to the AIPAC conference. He and his speechwriters pushed back as much as it was politically safe to do. In addition to recounting the ample evidence that “when the chips are down, I have Israel’s back” and recalling how his administration has mustered far more international pressure on Iran than his predecessor did, Mr. Obama spoke favorably and optimistically about diplomacy, rightly observed that there is “too much loose talk of war,” and talked about nuclear weapons as distinct from mere nuclear-weapons capability.

But staying with what is politically safe still leaves an unsquared circle. The president said more than enough about the unacceptability of an Iranian nuclear weapon to set the stage for Netanyahu to demand later that the United States do whatever it takes to prevent such a weapon.

In the nearer term, the president’s comments about how “no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of” Iran and reference to “Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs” sound almost like an invitation to Netanyahu to launch a war…

The next domino

Matt Taibbi:

Last year, there was an uproar when Bank of America announced a plan to slap customers with a monthly $5 fee for debit card usage. The bank eventually backed off that plan when the public and some politicians cried foul.


Now it seems the company is going to try to put a new package on the same crappy idea and sell it again. This time, the plan is to add charges that range from $6 to $25 a month. From an MSNBC report:


Pilot programs in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts are experimenting with charging $6 to $9 a month for what’s called an “Essentials” account. Other account options being tested in those states carry monthly charges of $9, $12, $15 and $25, but give customers opportunities to avoid the payments by maintaining minimum balances, using a credit card or taking a mortgage with Bank of America, according to an internal memo cited by the [Wall Street] Journal.


It’s a very bad sign that a bank is in a desperate cash crunch when it tries repeatedly to gouge its customers. David Trainer, an analyst for Market Watch, a WSJ publication, wrote that the new fees are a sign of series trouble at BAC. He writes:


In my opinion, there are four actions taken by financial services that signal the company is headed to serious trouble.

1. Management shake-up and major layoffs – lots of layoffs over the past year

2. Exploiting accounting rules to boost earnings – SFAS 159

3. Drawing down reserves to boost earnings: to the tune of $13.3 billion in 2011 and 2012

4. Bilking customers with new fees: tried it before and trying it again

Bank of America has taken all four steps. Bilking customers with new fees is a desperate measure of last resort because it requires exploiting the one asset the bank has left, namely its customers.

Travel as equals

Joseph Arthur:

Solar storm

I wonder if it’ll screw things up:

Airlines and energy suppliers are on alert as the largest solar storm in five years heads toward Earth, threatening to disrupt flights and power lines.

The eruption on the surface of the sun, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), has led to a “massive amount of solar particles heading towards Earth”, which are due to hit the planet between 6am and 10am on Thursday morning, a Met Office spokesman said. But he added that the phenomenon was likely to go unnoticed by most.

The forecaster has advised airlines that they may reroute planes from near the polar regions where the radiation caused by the storm is likely to be most intense, while energy suppliers have been warned that the National Grid could also be affected.

Solar storms can also cause communication problems, such as radio blackouts, as well as affecting satellites, disrupting oil pipelines and making global positioning systems (GPS) less accurate.

“It should arrive some time tomorrow morning and last through tomorrow,” the Met Office spokesman added. “In terms of what that means from the public’s point of view, there’s an increased chance of aurora borealis or Northern Lights being seen if conditions are right and the skies are clear.”

Oh my love

Jock Lennon:

Will you still love me tomorrow

The Shirelles:

Be my baby

John Lennon, produced by Phil Spector:

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