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Use the recess appointment

I’m perfectly happy to call out the Obama administration when I think they deserve it, but this whole Susan Rice “controversy” is nothing but one in a long line of Republican faux outrages. What I find appalling is how this worthless, bootlicking American media helpfully blows this up and fans the flames when the Republican whack jobs roll out of their clown car:

WASHINGTON — Susan E. Rice may have hoped that paying a conciliatory call on three hostile Senate Republicans on Tuesday would smooth over a festering dispute about the deadly attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, and clear a roadblock to her nomination as secretary of state.


But the senators seemed anything but mollified, signaling instead that they would still oppose Ms. Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, if she is nominated by President Obama, even after she conceded errors in the account of the assault she gave on Sunday morning television programs shortly after it occurred in September.


Two of the Republicans, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, said they would seek to block Ms. Rice, who according to administration officials remains Mr. Obama’s preferred choice to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The third Republican, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said on Fox that he would be “very hard-pressed” to support Ms. Rice.


“Bottom line, I’m more disturbed than I was before,” Mr. Graham said after the tense, closed-door meeting.


The continued criticism of Ms. Rice, 48, a diplomat with close ties to Mr. Obama, deepens an already bitter and unusually personal feud between the White House and Republicans over Libya. Responding to a question about criticism of Ms. Rice at a news conference two weeks ago, Mr. Obama said, “If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.”

If Rice is who Obama wants as his Secretary of State, then he should make her a recess appointment and be done with it — you know, like Bush the elder did with Lawrence Eagleburger.

Well, looky here

Finally, going after the corporate bad guys!

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — An executive who ran several Massey Energy coal companies and worked closely with former CEO Don Blankenship faces criminal conspiracy charges and is cooperating with federal prosecutors, a sign that authorities may be targeting Blankenship himself in the fatal West Virginia blast that was the nation’s worst mine disaster in four decades.

Abortion

So having one doesn’t make you go crazy. But having a child when you don’t want it? Maybe.

Getting walloped

Californians told to prepare for their own big storms.

Pulling Grover’s strings

I wonder why Eric Holder doesn’t bring a RICO suit against Grover, Turd Blossom, and the Koch brothers? After all, you could make a reasonable case for extortion: Grover tells Republican officials to vote his way, or he will drown them in a primary challenge. It doesn’t seem like that’s how democracy is supposed to work. Lee Fang for The Nation:

Grover Norquist’s iron grip over much of the Republican Party is somewhat puzzling. Why should Senators and other lawmakers listen to a guy caught laundering money for Jack Abramoff?


But consider Norquist’s tax pledge and political power another way: that he’s just a proxy for the powerful interest groups that finance him. In the nineties, it was big tobacco that used Norquist’s tax pledge as a cover to lobby lawmakers against cigarette taxes (Norquist still uses an e-mail system donated to him by Altria to send out Tea Party action alerts against tobacco taxes).


Now, big PhRMA and other industry groups provide grants to Norquist while his foundation endorses other giveaways, like protectionist support against importing cheaper drugs from Canada and the classification of tax subsidies to refineries as “tax cuts” that must not be cut.


I took a look at the last available budget numbers for Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist’s group. Though they do not reveal their donors, we can cobble together much of Norquist’s donors using foundations and other nonprofits that donate money to him.


The disclosures show that only two billionaire-backed groups have provided over 66 percent of Norquist’s funding:

The Center to Protect Patients Rights donated $4,189,000 to Americans for Tax Reform in 2010, 34 percent of the group’s budget that year.

Crossroads GPS donated $4,000,000 to Americans for Tax Reform in 2010, 32.46 percent of the group’s budget that year.


The Center to Protect Patients Rights is the foundation used by the billionaire clique led by the Koch brothers to distribute grants to allied groups. In 2010, wealthy moguls like Steve Bechtel of Bechtel Corporation and Steve Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group met behind closed doors to help lend money to these types of efforts.


Crossroads GPS is the undisclosed group run by Karl Rove. The only known donors are folks like Paul Singer, the “vulture” hedge fund king who benefits enormously from tax strategies like the carried interest loophole. Norquist’s pledge largely benefits billionaires like Singer and Schwarzman, who pay almost nothing in payroll taxes and likely pay a lower rate than their secretaries.

Walmart

Alan Grayson: The largest recipient of public aid in the country.

Carl Jung, genius!

Talk about projection! No wonder conservatives hate public education. It makes it so damn easy to see what they’re up to when you know how to do simple arithmetic. Imagine having the audacity to say Social Security is too generous when you’re pillaging your own employee pension fund. They’re pretty consistent that way! With Pete Peterson behind them, all they have to do is show up and say their lines, and in exchange, Peterson will fund ALEC’s legislative wish list. Corporate synergy!

WASHINGTON — A group of high-profile corporate CEOs are lobbying Capitol Hill this week to put Social Security and Medicare cuts at the forefront of deficit reduction negotiations. Their own retirement funds, however, are secure: The coalition includes 54 CEOs who have amassed combined pension assets of more than $649 million from their companies’ executive retirement plans, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, titled “A Pension Deficit Disorder: The Massive CEO Retirement Funds and Underfunded Worker Pensions at Firms Pushing Social Security Cuts.”


The CEOs’ employees are much less secure in their retirement than the CEOs. According to the report, less than 60 percent of the 71 public companies offer pension plans for their employees. Of the 41 companies that do, 39 of them haven’t contributed enough to their workers’ pension funds to enable the plans to pay out their anticipated obligations. Among the companies with employee pension funds in the red, these deficits exceed $100 billion.


The CEOs are among 71 chief executives of publicly traded companies who belong to the Fiscal Leadership Council of the influential Campaign to Fix the Debt, a group which has raised more than $60 million to lobby for a debt deal driven by cuts to “entitlements.” The coalition will meet Wednesday morning with congressional leaders, according to sources familiar with the group’s lobbying activities. The group, funded in part by former private equity magnate Peter G. Peterson’s foundation, has pledged to push for austerity during the lame duck congressional session, and beyond. Peterson has spent nearly half a billion dollars in recent years pushing his austerity agenda.


As the debate heats up over whether to cut Medicare, Social Security or Medicaid in order to maintain federal spending and corporate tax breaks, companies with well-compensated CEOs who preside over underfunded employee pension funds invite a new round of questions about the motives, and methods, of the CEOs pressuring Congress and the White House to cut programs for the middle class.

Yes, I think you could question their motives!

The companies in arrears on their pension funds include defense giant Boeing, which paid CEO Jim McNerney $23 million last year; Honeywell, where CEO Dave Cote earned more than $55 million in compensation in 2011; and AT&T, which docked CEO Randall Stephenson’s pay by $2 million last year after he orchestrated a failed takeover of T-Mobile. The $2 million penalty meant that Stephenson made only $22 million total that year, as opposed to the $24 million he would otherwise have been paid.


Boeing, Honeywell, and AT&T represent just three of the dozen companies who are cited in the IPS report as having CEOs with individual retirement assets totaling more than $20 million each, despite the fact that their companies have underfunded pension funds for their employees.


If each of these 12 CEOs were to convert his retirement accounts into annuities at age 65, the report shows each would receive a monthly check for at least $110,000 for life. By contrast, the average montly Social Security payment was $1,237 in October. Still, the CEOs argue that Social Security benefits are too generous.

Bradley Manning

Some days, the psychological pain of learning the things our country does in our name is just too much.

Lunar eclipse this morning

At 9:46 a.m. and should be visible along the East Coast, weather permitting. And of course, lunar eclipses are interesting in ways other than astronomical.

“A gift for fiction.” I like that!

Superstar

Delaney and Bonnie with Clapton:

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