Wednesday, October 10, 2007

GOP Pander-Bears/Ex-Bush Adviser Acknowledges Most Americans Don't Share Economic Gains/Return of the Blogging Heads

Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein, after watching yesterday's Republican presidential debate, slams the GOPers for crass and fact-free pandering on taxes. His piece starts:

To hear it from the Republican presidential hopefuls, the only way for the party to win back the trust of voters on economic issues is to start telling the truth.

Well, fellas, what are you waiting for?

Instead, for two hours yesterday, the nine white men who would be president were each peddling the Big Lie that the only way to ensure economic growth is by cutting all the taxes ever created -- and when you're finished with that, cutting them some more.

It was like stepping into a time travel machine (one that goes backward not forward) to hear the Republicans go on and on about the need to cut taxes. To listen to them, one could assume that if America cut all taxes, it would become a real economic powerhouse. They kept repeating the mantra that the economy only grows when taxes are cut (note: they never distinguish between different sort of taxes). But in the 1990s, Clinton raised taxes (slightly) on the well-to-do, and the economy boomed. Sure, the bubble eventually burst. But that usually happens after an expansion. The Bush gang would sure be delighted to have such a bubble these days.

Meanwhile, yesterday on NPR, Matthew Slaughter, who was a member of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers from 2005 to 2007, said, "The reality is the majority of Americans haven't had strong, sustained income growth in recent years." He was trying to explain why most Americans are suspicious of free trade. But one could also ask, does this mean the Bush tax cuts have not been a good deal for a majority of Americans? Bush keeps talking about how swell the economy is, but even one of his own advisers acknowledges the gains have not been shared by most.

WHAT? NO RUDY? This press release just in:

The Ohio Christian Alliance, in conjunction with and the Christian Alliance chapters of Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania will host a Presidential Candidate Forum web broadcast over the Internet at on Thursday, October 11, from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. EST. Presidential candidates participating in this forum are Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, former Ambassador Alan Keyes, and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. All Presidential candidates were invited to participate.

These Christian conservatives are not getting a lot of love from the GOP field. I wonder if they will ask Fred Thompson why he does not regularly attend church.

BACK TO THE FUTURE Trita Parsi, who heads the National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian-American outfit in the United States, writes,

According to Likud Leader Benyamin Netanyahu, it is 1938 and Iran is Germany. And of course, Ahmadinejad is Hitler, he goes on to imply. Bibi's analogy is very powerful and effective – yet false and tremendously dangerous. As I explain on the blog of Tony Karon (Time Magazine), not only is the analogy aimed at preventing diplomacy and making war with Iran inevitable, the ever so opportunistic Netanyahu played a remarkably different role only ten years ago when he ordered Israel to tone down its rhetoric on Iran and sought to quietly open up to Tehran....

PS. This episode in Israeli-Iranian relations is explained in even greater detail in "Treacherous Alliance - The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the U.S.".

That new book was written by Parsi, who, as a representative of Iranian-Americans, has opposed a U.S. attack on Iran.

BLOGGING HEADS ON THE MARCH. The latest edition of the Pinkerton & Corn show on is now up. Check out Jim Pinkerton's attack on the neocons of The Washington Post op-ed page and his nostalgic remembrances of Sputnik. (Pinkerton also disavows any family connection to the Pinkertons of union-busting fame.) We also discuss my new belief that Iowa is all-important for Barack Obama. (While it may be possible for Hillary Clinton to lose there and go on to win the nomination, Obama will have to beat Clinton there to have a chance.) We also discuss what it will take for reality on the ground in Iraq to have any impact on policy and politics in Washington. And I explain my decision to leave The Nation for Mother Jones. It's Must-Click TV.

Posted by David Corn at October 10, 2007 10:40 AM


David B. Benson said...

Capt --- Some religions are not homophobic. Quakers, for example.

capt said...

US Supreme Court Rejects El-Masri Case


The Supreme Court's decision -- and the judges' support for the administration's privileges when it comes to defending national security -- also raise the question to what extent such legal debates would actually be conducted differently under a new administration. Would the Democrats rely less on such instruments? Or would they not do so at all?

Jack Goldsmith, a high-ranking former employee at the US Department of Justice who has just caused a considerable stir by the disclosures in his book "The Terror Presidency," believes things would look much the same if the Democrats were to move into the White House: "What do you think would change?" he asks. "First they would see the risk scenarios and then they would be wary of changing too much. The eavesdropping, the interrogation methods -- all of that would remain."

As if to confirm his view, the Democrats made it clear on the day of the Supreme Court's decision that they will not oppose the extension, by several years, of the NSA's right to use controversial eavesdropping methods. Many Democrats openly admit they take this position partly for fear of being perceived as "soft on terrorism" prior to the upcoming presidential elections.

And so the practice of "renditions" that Khaled el-Masri and others were subjected to will likely not play a major role in US courts in the future either. The subject will at least take center stage in US cinemas, starting next week. That's when the eagerly awaited Hollywood film "Rendition," which stars Meryl Streep, opens. The film is about a US citizen of Egyptian descent who is abducted by the CIA while traveling home from South Africa. The film is loosely based on a true story.

It seems the most incredible stories are not always invented by Hollywood script writers after all.


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Sad but true - nothing will change much.


capt said...

Putin not bending to West over Iran

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin last night refused to bend to Western pressure over Iran, in the process embarrassing his guest and French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr Putin directly contradicted comments made by Mr Sarkozy after their dinner of the previous night that the Russian leader had not stuck to Russia's position that Iran was merely developing civil nuclear capacity.

Far from acknowledging a big shift towards Western efforts to dissuade Iran from building nuclear weapons, Mr Putin said last night he did not believe the Islamic republic was trying to build a nuclear bomb.

"We do not have information that Iran is trying to create a nuclear weapon. We operate on the principle that Iran does not have those plans," Mr Putin said after talks at the Kremlin with Mr Sarkozy, who was in Moscow seeking to ease tensions.

However, Mr Putin also said that Russia shared the West's desire for Iran's nuclear program, in which Russia is building the first civilian power station, to be "absolutely transparent".

The Kremlin leader's statement reaffirmed an East-West split over Iran. Moscow supports Tehran in rejecting accusations by Washington and in EU capitals that the country is hiding a secret bomb-making project behind its Russian-backed civilian atomic program.

Russia, which has veto power on the UN Security Council, has also been reluctant to back Western calls for tougher sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to halt sensitive nuclear activities.

The French President said last night that Mr Putin's readiness was "important".

"After that, there might be a difference in the analysis," Mr Sarkozy said.

But there was no sign of confirmation that Franco-Russian positions on the controversy had "moved closer", as Mr Sarkozy had indicated following his three-hour dinner with Mr Putin on Tuesday night at his dacha on the Moscow outskirts.

This was the first visit as president to Moscow for the new French leader, who stands out among Western leaders for his firm criticism of human rights in Mr Putin's Russia.

Mr Sarkozy earlier yesterday told students at Moscow's State Technical University that Russia must embrace political freedom.

"Build a democratic society in Russia and the world will be grateful," he said.

Mr Sarkozy was also due to meet with the leaders of the human rights organisation, Memorial.

However, speaking at his press conference with Mr Putin in the Kremlin, Mr Sarkozy avoided controversy, saying: "France does not want to give lessons to anyone."

On Kosovo, another issue dividing Russia and the Western powers, Mr Sarkozy appealed for European countries to remain united since "this is foremost a European issue". However, he said that it was important "that the discussion remains open with our Russian friends".

Russia has sided with Serbia in opposing French and other Western backing for independence in the ethnic-Albanian dominated province, which is administered by the UN.

Mr Sarkozy, who met Mr Putin for the first time at the Group of Eight summit in Germany in June, has worked to steer France closer to the US, but he stressed that this did not mean greater confrontation with Russia.

"Friendship between France and Russia is necessary for balance in the world," Mr Sarkozy told the students.

"I am a friend of the United States, but that does not mean a vassal. I have disagreements with the United States. The world cannot be ruled over by one power, even the main one."

As well as turning towards the US, Mr Sarkozy has moved fast to befriend Moscow's former subject states in east and central Europe - the countries his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, offended in 2003 at the time of the Iraq invasion. He has visited Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary, his father's homeland.

AFP, The Times


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At one point Bush looked at his Secretary of State and said (with a suitable Texas twang) “Powell, I looked into Putin’s eyes and I saw his soul” to which Powell replied: “Mr. President, I looked into President Putin’s eyes and I saw the KGB”.


capt said...

Russia defies Western pressure over Iran

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia defied Western pressure to toughen its stance over Iran's nuclear program on Wednesday, days before President Vladimir Putin has talks in Tehran and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Moscow.

Western powers suspect Iran wants to develop nuclear bombs and are pushing hard for a third round of international sanctions. Russia could use its veto powers in the United Nations Security Council to block such moves.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying it would be "irresponsible" to make any sudden moves on Iran until the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, had completed negotiations with Tehran.

After talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Moscow, Putin said he had no evidence Iran was trying to build a nuclear bomb. Iran says its atomic program is peaceful.

Putin said Moscow would cooperate on the issue within the U.N., apparently sticking to a Russian stance that rules out further sanctions in the near future and any punitive action against Iran outside the U.N. framework.

"Until the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) reports on what is going on in Iran, until we receive these answers, it would be irresponsible to make any sharp movements," Lavrov was quoted by RIA as saying.

"When we hear calls to use force against Iran, which has fallen foul of IAEA rules, then we question what this could lead to," Lavrov said.

Iran agreed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in August to explain the scope of its nuclear work. A senior IAEA official is in Tehran at present for talks.


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capt said...

GOP Lawyer Testifies about Rove Role in Siegelman Case

In an interview she gave under oath to House investigators, Republican lawyer Dana Jill Simpson expanded on her previous statement about Karl Rove's role in the prosecution of Gov. Don Siegelman (D-AL), implicating Rove in using the Justice Deparment to stymie Siegelman's campaigns in 2002 and again in 2005.

In the interview, first obtained by Time and released today by the committee, Simpson explains the context in which she knew what Alabama Republican operative William Canary meant on a campaign conference call in 2002 when he said "Karl" had gotten the Justice Department on Siegelman. Simpson told House investigators that the son of Gov. Bob Riley (R), Rob Riley, had told her about the conversations between Rove and Canary. From the transcript:

But I knew from conversations that I had had with Rob that Bill Canary was very connected to Karl Rove. Additionally, there was some talk -- and that's not in my affidavit -- about Karl had -- about Washington; that Karl had it taken care of in Washington.


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So now we know why Rove had to make a quick exit - he is likely in some very hot water here.


David B. Benson said...

Earth getting wetter and stickier

I've already noticed this and today especially so...

capt said...

Study: Kids Get Inadequate Health Care

As Washington debates children's health insurance, a startling study finds that kids who regularly see doctors get the right care less than half the time — whether it's preschool shots or chlamydia tests for teen girls.

The findings, from the first comprehensive look at children's health care quality, are particularly troubling because nearly all the 1,536 children in the nationwide study had insurance.

Eight-two percent were covered by private insurance. Three-quarters were white, and all lived in or near large or midsized cities.

Two experts called the findings "shocking." Others said minority children, those with more-restrictive government insurance, and the millions with no insurance at all certainly fare even worse.

They said the results highlight the importance of the debate over the proposed expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which Congress approved and President Bush vetoed. A vote to override the veto is set for next week.

The study, by the Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute and the nonprofit Rand Corp. research group, concludes that overall, doctors gave children the appropriate outpatient medical care only 47 percent of the time.

"They got an 'F'," said Dr. Joseph F. Hagan, a Burlington, Vt., pediatrician. Hagan co-edited the American Academy of Pediatrics' latest update to its children's health guidelines, due out later this month.

"It's sad, but I think it reflects some unpleasant realities about our current health care system or, I might say, non-system," Hagan said.

The compliance rate was even worse than that found in a study of adults: They got only 55 percent of recommended care.

The new research found children's doctors did best in providing the recommended care for acute medical problems — 68 percent. They scored just 53 percent for treating chronic conditions and 41 percent for preventive care.

"I was really taken aback by the results for preventive care," said Dr. Rita Mangione-Smith, lead investigator at the Seattle institute and an associate professor at the University of Washington. "It was really kind of distressing to me that there was some really basic stuff that we should be doing that's just not happening."

The study, based on a review of two years of medical records of children in 12 metropolitan areas, was reported in Thursday's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The data were collected from late 1998-2000. Experts said it's unlikely children's health care has improved since then.

The researchers found a huge variance in the rates at which doctors provided care recommended for the most common illnesses and for promoting health.

Kids got the right care 92 percent of the time for upper respiratory infections and 85 percent of the time for hay fever. But they got it only 48 percent of the time for urinary tract infections, 46 percent for asthma and 35 percent for adolescent preventive care.

For instance, only 15 percent of adolescents seen by a doctor got weighed annually. Yet about one-third of American children are overweight and many are developing high blood pressure and diabetes, setting themselves up for long-term health problems.

"There can be dire consequences for the children, for their families and for society as a whole," including death, when these easily managed conditions are not controlled, said Julia Paradise of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

She noted the proposed expansion of the SCHIP program was to include the first major initiative to measure and find ways to improve quality of care for children covered by that program and by Medicaid — low-income groups that generally have more health needs than others.

The study was funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Plainsboro, N.J., and the California HealthCare Foundation.

The researchers noted they had incomplete medical records for some children, no children from rural areas were included, and more than half the families asked to participate didn't respond.

Mangione-Smith and the other experts said they hope the new findings will lead to action to address the shortcomings. Hagan said doctors can do more to keep up with the latest care guidelines. But he said they can't solve all the problems, such as insurance plans that don't cover crucial screenings and the inadequate time pediatricians have to spend with each child.

Another big challenge, Mangione-Smith said, is to change pediatrician training, which now focuses on treating acute illnesses in a hospital.


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If we can spend billions of dollars we DO NOT have on an illegal war - we should at minimum cover the next generation so there will be enough survivors to pay the bill.


capt said...

New Thread