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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Listing Demands, Assad Uses Crisis to His Advantage

Published: September 12, 2013

WASHINGTON — Not long ago, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria seemed a remote and embattled figure, with the United States threatening airstrikes and other Arab leaders denouncing him for having used chemical weapons against his own people.

Yet in recent days, he appears, paradoxically, to have turned the crisis to his advantage, making clear to a global television audience that he aims to use President Obama’s own “red line” against him.

In exchange for relinquishing his chemical arsenal, Mr. Assad said Thursday, he will require that the United States stop arming the Syrian opposition — a demand that might seem wishful from the leader of a devastated country where civil war has left 100,000 dead, two million living as refugees and large swaths of territory beyond his control.

Mr. Assad outlined his demands on Thursday, telling a Russian TV interviewer that the arms-control proposal floated by his patron in Moscow would not be finalized until “we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists.”



How the Koch Bros. Secretly Fund Anti-Choice Efforts

Using a "secret bank," the Koch Bros. gave $8.2 million to a virulently anti-LGBT committee that lobbied for strict abortion laws in Texas and pushes regulations designed to force clinics to close their doors.

The billionaire Koch brothers like to pretend they have no interest in opposing abortion, contraception or LGBTQ rights. So why did their secret organization give millions to a lobbying group that does?

To hear the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch tell it, they’re all about business; they don’t give a whit about those messy, so-called “social issues” like abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage. The billions they dump into the political coffers of the right, they’ll tell you, are to further what they call “free enterprise” (translate: killing unions and regulations on business) and, more generally, “freedom” (by which they generally mean freedom from things they don’t like, such as regulations and unions).

But a blockbuster report published Thursday by Politico reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei shows otherwise. How else to explain why Freedom Partners, a shadowy group that Politico refers to as the “Kochs’ secret bank” gave $8.2 million to the virulently anti-LGBT, anti-abortion Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC), which lobbies for such bills as the recently passed law in Texas that will effectively ban all abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, and includes unnecessary and onerous regulations on abortion clinics that are designed to compel many to close their doors.

At the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, David Koch told Politico’s Ken Vogel that he disagreed with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s opposition to same-sex marriage. Yet that didn’t stop his Freedom Partners organization from showering the CWALAC with his millions

- See more at: http://thecontributor.com/civil-rights/how-koch-bros-secretely-fund-anti-choice-efforts

Deficit Falls To Lowest Level Since 2008, Discrediting Argument For More Cuts


New Treasury Department figures confirm what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected in the spring: the budget deficit for fiscal year 2013 will be dramatically lower than it was the past four years. The government recorded a $148 billion deficit in August, 22.5 percent smaller than in the same month of 2012, and is on track to total a $642 billion annual deficit when the fiscal year ends on September 30.
Days before the Treasury Department release on August revenue and spending, the CBO updated its statistics on the ratio of debt to gross domestic product. A spring report had projected debt-to-GDP ratios of 76 percent in 2014, 71 percent in 2018, and 74 percent in 2023, but the CBO now says the ratio will fall below 70 percent in 2017 and stay there for four years. Debt-to-GDP is now expected to be 71 percent in 2023 – a difference of about $500 billion in a nearly $17 trillion economy.

These figures reinforce a key point in the argument for resetting the fiscal policy debate: Congress can afford to invest in job creation right now. While Republicans remain committed to the idea of austerity (without being able to pass specific appropriations bills that adhere to the abstract cuts imposed by sequestration), falling deficits and debt levels undercut their argument.

Meanwhile, Congress has already enacted $2.4 trillion worth of austerity measures in the past two years, nearly all of it in the form of spending cuts. Those policies have helped push deficits to their current lows. The fiscal austerity that has helped drive the deficit down has also undermined economic growth, not just in 2013 but for years to come. Cuts to education programs, safety nets, infrastructure investments, and research programs will actually cost the country far more down the road than they save today. The falling deficits and lowered debt-to-GDP projections give the country room to enact targeted spending measures that would kick the economy into the sort of higher gear it needs to bring unemployment back down to pre-recession levels.



Friday TOON Roundup 3 -The Rest



N. Korea





Friday TOON Roundup 2 - The war we don't want

Friday TOON Roundup 1 -Putin on the brakes

A Brilliant Mess


After a staggering display of mush, muddle and miscues by the world’s lone superpower, a rogue nation appears ready to give up the chemical weapons it supposedly never had. Without a shot’s being fired. This, of course, is a miserable failure in the eyes of the gaseous class, amateur hour in real time, because, well — it wasn’t planned.

How you can you have 10 days that shook the world when it was never gamed out, move by move, by the pedigreed cardinals of geopolitical intrigue? The answer is in the very thing that my colleague-for-a-day, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, decried in his self-serving opinion piece on Thursday — American exceptionalism.

It was little noticed, but President Obama made a point of highlighting the special burden of “the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.” He used those words twice — once in deciding to give Congress a say on striking Syria, and again in the Tuesday night speech pleading his case.

That democracy, in all its messy, inconsistent, incoherent cacophony, was there for the world to watch in the September standoff. Some of it was pigs-fly-thrilling — hard-right conservatives joining voices with peacenik libs. Some of it was comic — John McCain playing poker on his cellphone while Congress mulled a military strike. Much of it was appalling. This what happens when you let 535 elected representatives have an actual role in foreign policy.


Texas GOP Candidate’s Top Adviser Tweets That Wendy Davis ‘Too Stupid To Be Governor’

A month ago, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), who is seeking to succeed Rick Perry as governor, came under fire for tweeting to thank a supporter for a sexist attack on a potential Democratic opponent. Now, his top political adviser has stepped into the same quagmire, tweeting that State Senator Wendy Davis (D) is “too stupid to be governor.”

Dave Carney, who ran Perry’s Texas campaigns from 1998 to 2012, is now Abbott’s top strategist. In 2010, he earned the ire of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palln (R) for calling one of the proposed details of the primary debate “just retarded.”

Thursday, Carney tweeted an article from a conservative Texas blog. The piece in question cheered the results of Tuesday’s Colorado recall elections and was called “Total Recall in CO (and why Wendy Davis is too Stupid to be Governor)” — a title included verbatim in his tweet.



Obama to nominate Summers as Fed chief: Nikkei

Source: Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama will name former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Japan's Nikkei newspaper said on Friday.

The newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, said in its original Japanese version that Obama was "in the final stages" and moving toward naming Summers.

The English-language version said the president "is set to" name Summers as early as late next week.

Asked about the story, a White House spokeswoman said Obama had not made his decision about the Fed job.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/13/us-usa-fed-summers-report-idUSBRE98C06120130913?irpc=932

Ted Cruz’s war on the GOP accelerates

Texas senator is the inheritor of the Jesse Helms scorched-earth legacy -- and leading his party's ongoing collapse

If you’ve been reading this space, you know that the Republican Party has a huge mess on its hands thanks to the right’s kamikaze-like Obamacare strategy.

While that mess spread in the House yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was busy giving the Heritage Foundation’s annual Helms lecture, named in honor of the unrepentant racist Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who left Congress in 2003 and died in 2008.

“The willingness to say all those crazy things is a rare, rare characteristic in this town, and you know what? It’s every bit as true now as it was then,” Cruz said. “We need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”

These two facts might seem disconnected, but they’re actually tightly linked. The latter is a symptom of the same problem that caused the former.

If you think there’s no connection between the fact that Ted Cruz admires Jesse Helms, and that Cruz is also waging war against the GOP establishment from the right, you don’t know much about Ted Cruz or Jesse Helms.


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