Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will seek to offset federal aid to victims of a massive tornado that blasted through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday with cuts elsewhere in the budget.> more ... (0 comments)
Like I’ve said time and time before, our country’s quick descent into becoming a torture state had broad ramifications for our ability to later call out human rights abusers without being called hypocrites.
The United States is beset by violence, racism and torture and has no authority to condemn other governments’ human rights problems, China said on Sunday, countering U.S. criticism of Beijing’s crackdown.
The row between Beijing and Washington over human rights has intensified since China’s ruling Communist Party extended its clampdown on dissidents and rights activists, a move which has sparked an outcry from Washington and other Western governments.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is the most prominent of the activists to be detained by police or held in secretive custody in the latest crackdown.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday she was “deeply concerned” about it, and cited “negative trends” including Ai’s detention. [...]
“Stop the domineering behavior of exploiting human rights to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries,” it said, according to excerpts published by the official Xinhua news agency.
“The United States ignores its own severe human rights problems, ardently promoting its so-called ‘human rights diplomacy’, treating human rights as a political tool to vilify other countries and to advance its own strategic interests,” said a passage from the Chinese report.
It’s a hard time for pots trying to call the kettle black.
Remember our general disgust with Evan Bayh back in January when he decided to (surprise!) become a lobbyist after leaving Congress?
Well sir, it gets worse:
Today, the former senator who decried “strident partisanship” and “unyielding ideology” will be paid by a ridiculous cable news outlet that exists to spew “strident partisanship” and “unyielding ideology.”
Fox News officially announced on Monday afternoon that former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh is becoming a contributor to the network.
Michael Clemente, the network’s senior vice president for news, announced the move in a statement. He said that “Senator Bayh’s decades of experience in the political arena and his participation in key decisions in Washington will lend a valuable point of view to the entire Fox News lineup.”
“I’m pleased to offer analysis of public policy and politics to the millions of Americans who get their news from Fox,” Bayh said in the statement.
Howard Kurtz said it’s “good” for Fox News to hire “a prominent Democrat.” But that’s fundamentally at odds with what’s transpiring here — Fox News hires Democrats who can be reliably counted on to say unpleasant things about Democrats. Why do you think Doug Schoen is on Fox News all the time? Because of his charming smile or because he’s the “Democrat” who hates Democrats?
I realize that politics has always been a heaping portion of manure slathered onto a warm shit sandwich but did politicians ever try to do a better job of hiding their true nature as corrupt, duplicitous assholes? I mean, at least give it some effort!
When asked earlier this month about the job loss that would occur if the continuing resolution passed by House Republicans were actually implemented, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) replied “so be it.” “We’re broke. It’s time for us to get serious about how we’re spending the nation’s money,” he said. And Boehner is evidently not the only one who feels that budget cuts should be imposed with complete disregard for their effect on employment. In an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep today, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) was asked if budget cuts should still go forward, even if they would result in widespread job loss, and replied “yes”:INSKEEP: I want to ask something that a lot of people are confronting right now, as they deal with the federal deficit as well as state and local deficits that need to be closed. Are budget cuts — government budget cuts — worth it, even if they end up seriously costing a lot of jobs right now? DANIELS: The answer is yes.Last week, economists at Goldman Sachs estimated that the House Republicans’ continuing resolution would cause GDP to drop by 1.5 to 2 percent, which CAP economist Adam Hersh explained would translate into a one percentage point jump in the unemployment rate. Before that, the Economic Policy Institute found that the Republican plan would cause a loss of nearly one million jobs. As if we needed more evidence of the effect GOP spending policy could have on employment, Moody’s Analytics predicted today that the House Republican plan would cause the loss of 700,000 jobs:A Republican plan to sharply cut federal spending this year would destroy 700,000 jobs through 2012, according to an independent economic analysis set for release Monday…[Moody's Chief Economist Mark] Zandi, an architect of the 2009 stimulus package who has advised both political parties, predicts that the GOP package would reduce economic growth by 0.5 percentage points this year, and by 0.2 percentage points in 2012, resulting in 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of next year.Republicans rode into the House majority chanting “where are the jobs?” but multiple independent analyses have now found that the vision they have for the federal budget would make unemployment substantially worse.
Turns out Texas was the state that depended the most on [funds from the federal stimulus bill] to plug nearly 97% of its shortfall for fiscal 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Texas, which crafts a budget every two years, was facing a $6.6 billion shortfall for its 2010-2011 fiscal years. It plugged nearly all of that deficit with $6.4 billion in Recovery Act money, allowing it to leave its $9.1 billion rainy day fund untouched.Yep, you read that correctly. God-fearing, gun-loving Texas used eeee-vil stimulus funds to plug 97% of its 2010-2011 budget shortfall. All this after possible secessionist Governor Rick Perry when on a big whinefest in the national media about how Texas could take of itself, thank you very much:
When he made a show of rejecting some Recovery Act money, Perry said “this was pretty simple for us…We can take care of ourselves.” As The Wonk Room explained, in addition to filling nearly his entire budget gap with Recovery Act funds, Perry also used the Build America Bonds program — created as part of the Recovery Act — to fund billions of dollars in infrastructure projects. He also grandstanded against — and then promptly accepted — federal funding meant to prevent teacher layoffs.
To date, three federal judges have ruled on the question of whether recently passed health care legislation is constitutional. Two federal courts (one in Michigan and one in the Western District of Virginia) ruled that HCR (and the individual mandate included in it) is constitutional. Today, however, a conservative federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia (who was appointed by George W. Bush and hand-picked by ultra-wingnut Virginia Attorney-General Ken Cuccinelli to hear the case) took a “radical” view of the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause and ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
Definitions of Judicial Activism
Before I get into the relative merits of the various judges’ approaches from a legal perspective, let’s reflect for a moment on the two leading definitions of “judicial activism”:
Most Republicans generally consider judicial activism to mean “judicial rulings that we disagree with”.
Other people that pay attention to this stuff generally consider judicial activism to roughly mean “a decision by a court that ignores or misconstrues prior judicial precedent in order to overturn the will of the people (as expressed by legislation enacted by their elected representatives or otherwise) in order to reach an ideology-driven result.”
Let’s just say that I’m in the latter camp — and find today’s ruling to be a great example of judicial activism.
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Just another example of pulling the mask back on all the preening, self-righteous deficit peacocks strutting around Washington today:
WALLACE: We’re running out of time, so how are you going to pay $678 billion just on the tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year?
KYL: You should never raise taxes in order to cut taxes. Surely congress has the authority and it would be right, if we decide we want to cut taxes to spur the economy, not to have to raise taxes in order to offset those costs. You do need to offset the cost of increased spending. And that’s what republicans object to. But you should never have to offset cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.
- Gut government revenue (bonus points if you do it during two active wars costing upwards of $1 trillion)
- Increase deficit spending (and the national debt as a result)
- PROSPERITY! (oh, and we somehow pay down the debt too)
Update: And lest we forget how dramatically the Bush tax cuts factor into our current and future deficits, remember the chart on the left, which is based on estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
See that tiny little light blue bit? That’s the portion that represents the bailouts and stimulus.
The much larger taupe portions? That’s the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan in Iraq.
The Associated Press is, as always, hot on the trail of heinous, despicable acts of torture:
An American geologist held and tortured by China’s state security agents was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday for gathering data on the Chinese oil industry in a case that highlights the government’s use of vague secrets laws to restrict business information.Glenn Greenwald read the above and rightly called for the AP to apologize to China:
In pronouncing Xue Feng guilty of spying and collecting state secrets, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court said his actions “endangered our country’s national security.” . . . Agents from China’s internal security agency detained Xue in November 2007 and tortured him, stubbing lit cigarettes into his arms in the early days of his detention.
A few cigarette stubs into a forearm for a handful of days? That’s it? That’s “torture”? Not according to the official definition of that term adopted by the U.S. Government, as explained by John Yoo:Shame on you, AP. Everyone knows that countries around the world are now able to enhancedly interrogate people with impunity. Get with the modern paradigm already.
Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to torture (under U.S. law), it must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years.Placing a lit cigarette on someone’s arm is unquestionably painful, but clearly does not rise to the level of pain “accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” Moreover, any psychological harm would likely be fleeting, not of “significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years” — that’s at least as true as the psychological harm from being repeatedly strapped onto a board and drowned close to the point of death.
Given the standards of Good Journalism prevailing in the U.S. media, as taught to us just this weekend by high-level executives at the NYT and The Washington Post (and previously at NPR): what right does AP have to “take sides” in this dispute by substituting its own judgment about “torture” for the Chinese Government’s? Beyond that, given that the U.S. Government has officially adopted a definition of “torture” that plainly does not include a few cigarette stubs on an arm, shouldn’t that preclude any Good Journalist from using the term in this subjective and biased way? I hope AP will be apologizing to the Chinese shortly for its act of journalistic irresponsibility. It’s not the role of journalists to take sides this way.
(h/t John Cole, who is shrill)
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