Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday Mashup (1/25/11)

  • If former Speaker Nance Pelosi were going to sit next to anybody at the SOTU tonight, it should be Boehner, since he’s now the speaker (here…if anybody, Cantor should sit with Steny Hoyer, who was majority leader before him – and no, I can’t believe I care about this either).

  • Also, TPM Muckraker tells us the following (here – I was wondering what that guttural lowlife James O’Keefe has been up to, and I think I have my answer)…

    In the course of five days this month, eight Planned Parenthood clinics in five states and D.C. reported getting the same visit: A man said he needed treatment for a sexually transmitted disease and then, once alone with a staff member, implied that he ran an interstate sex trafficking ring that involves minors and illegal immigrants.

    The Planned Parenthood Federation of America thinks that the visits, which happened between Jan. 11 and 15, are part of a James O'Keefe-style "sting." But the group called in the FBI anyway.

    "These multi-state visits from men claiming to be engaged in sex trafficking of minors may be a hoax," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last week. "However, if the representations made by this man are true," she wrote, they indicate violations of several sex trafficking, prostitution and child sex laws.

    A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood would not reveal the identity of the man, or men, who visited the clinics. The group does, however, suspect he has ties to Live Action, the pro-life, anti-Planned Parenthood group run by O'Keefe associate Lila Rose.
    And don’t hold your breath waiting for a congressional resolution to get passed honoring Planned Parenthood for its vigilance as quickly as the one denouncing ACORN over a similar stunt even though they didn’t give Giles and O’Keefe any money, and one of ACORN’s offices called the California State Police in response (and the Mike Johanns amendment that denied funding ACORN was ruled to be “blatantly unconstitutional” here).

  • Next, this story tells us the following…

    In early 2009, the Obama administration tried limiting charitable tax deductions to pay for health-care reform, reducing the deduction from 35 cents to 28 cents per dollar for couples with more than $250,000 in income. Even though the measure would have raised billions in crucial revenue over the next 10 years, both Democrats and Republicans slammed it.

    Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, was among those who opposed President Obama’s proposal to reduce the deduction for wealthiest donors. “[C]omparatively small but abundant charitable institutions are providing services that some politicians feel rightfully belong to the federal government,” he wrote in 2009. “By diminishing churches and charities, the administration fulfills a self-preserving objective of consolidating federal power by creating more taxpayer-funded programs to provide the services churches and charities are currently providing.”
    Oh yes, Baby Newton Leroy, please note how much Obama has “diminish(ed) churches and charities,” here (and from the Murdoch Street Journal, no less – I swear, Gingrich can say anything and still be taken seriously)…

    President Barack Obama's willingness to keep Bush-era policies on government-backed religious charities opposed by many liberals is helping to woo traditionally Republican evangelical leaders who can influence key blocs of voters.

    The approach, according to conservative leaders and liberal critics alike, is part of a broader strategy by Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats to regain credibility with centrist and conservative voters who tend to be more religious and have supported the GOP in recent polls and elections.

    Mr. Obama has left in place a contentious Bush policy permitting charities that receive federal aid to hire employees based on their religious beliefs—a policy that civil-liberties groups consider unconstitutional and that candidate Obama had criticized.
    Besides, as noted here…

    Estimates of how much the charitable deduction costs the government are sketchy. The one most policy makers rely on is calculated by Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, which estimates that the government will lose roughly $237 billion to the deduction from 2009 to 2013.

    In the 2009 proposal, the Obama administration suggested that taxpayers earning more than $250,000 could make charitable deductions at a reduced rate of 28 percent, from the current rate of 35 percent.

    That proposal would have used the taxes generated by lowering the rate of reduction to support the health care overhaul, and it died amid much hue and cry from the nonprofit sector.
    Remember the funds this reduction would have generated the next time you hear the Repugs carping about lowering the deficit by privatizing Social Security (which doesn’t, in fact, contribute to the deficit at all…Medicare does, however, and they’re after that also of course, now that they've got their stinking tax cuts).

  • Update: Same old same old from Newt here...

  • Further, this tells us the following from clownhall.com…

    Newly empowered Republican lawmakers are taking their first shots at the United Nations, depicting it as bloated and ineffective as they seek to cut U.S. funding for the world body.

    On Tuesday, a House of Representatives panel aired criticisms of the U.N. at a briefing expected to prescribe congressional action.

    Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, is seeking cuts and has introduced a bill intended to pressure the United Nations to change the way it operates and to make dues voluntary. She also is promising investigations into possible corruption and mismanagement.
    This was entirely predictable, of course, as well as Ros-Lehtinen’s umbrage over the U.S. being called a “deadbeat” nation when it came to back payment of dues here, even though such a description was entirely accurate (as noted here, though, when the grownups were in charge of the 111th Congress, they made sure this country paid its current dues and any that were in arrears).

    Further (as noted from the link)...

    The U.S. assessed contributions to the UN’s peacekeeping operations are funded through the State Department’s Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA) account. For any mission, which must be approved by the U.S. in the Security Council, other countries pay almost 75% of the costs.
    Also, I’m sure I R-L was none too pleased with the Universal Periodic Review this country received from the Human Rights Council; in response, we produced the following here (of course, Bushco could have merely sneered and insulted the council, but thankfully, our prior ruling cabal is long gone)...

    In August, the U.S. released a 20 page self-audit of its human rights record reflecting in large part its nationwide consultations on such topics as post-Katrina recovery, housing discrimination, racial profiling, hate crimes, and disparities in access to quality health care. While addressing shortcomings, the government's report also positively noted rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, underscored the lasting legacy of the civil rights movement, and applauded more recent achievements such as health care reform and President Barack Obama's signing of several key civil rights bills into law.

    "We are pleased that three of our key legislative achievements were highlighted by the Delegation: the adoption of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010," said Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

    Nevertheless, the U.S. faced criticism for failing to ratify a number of human rights treaties — particularly the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) — for lacking a national human rights institution, for not shutting down Guantanamo Bay, and for its continued use of the death penalty.
    Well, it was nice to have our U.N. dues paid for however brief a moment, because I’m sure that, now that the bad-tempered children are making a fuss in Congress since their return to power, we’ll be in arrears again in no time.

  • Finally, of all of the pre-State of the Union idiocy (notwithstanding the whole “who sits with who” thing), I think this takes the cake as they say (mentioned it last night already I know)…

    Leading conservative voices have already gone on the record rejecting Obama’s calls for renewed investment before he has even delivered the address. Republicans have made it clear they view any government spending as unnecessary, and they believe Obama’s calls for “investment” are simply a conspiracy to increase federal spending:

    – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “When you hear — and with all due respect to our Democratic friends — anytime they want to spend they call it ‘investment,’ so I think you’ll hear the president talk about investing a lot on Tuesday night. We’ve got a huge spending problem here.” [Fox News Sunday, 1/23/11]

    – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): “When [Obama] talks about investing — I think even someone from the White House this week had said that this is going to be a cut and invest White House. We want to cut and grow, because when we hear invest from anyone in Washington, to me that means more spending.” [Meet the Press, 1/23/11]
    (By the way, I’m going to ignore the Hillbilly Heroin addict on this since he’s never held elected office.)

    You want to know what the individuals who are supposedly admired by this bunch thought of investment? First, I give you none other than The Sainted Ronnie R here (our corporate media is already warming up for the Reaganalia due to commence on February 6th)…

    We've taken the time to consult closely with other governments in the region, both sponsors and beneficiaries, to ask them what they need and what they think will work. And we've labored long to develop an economic program that integrates trade, aid, and investment—a program that represents a long-term commitment to the countries of the Caribbean and Central America.

    At the Cancun summit last October, I presented a fresh view of a development which stressed more than aid and government intervention. As I pointed out then, nearly all of the countries that have succeeded in their development over the past 30 years have done so on the strength of market-oriented policies and vigorous participation in the international economy. Aid must be complemented by trade and investment.

    Exports from the area will receive duty-free treatment for 12 years. Thus, new investors will be able to enter the market knowing that their products will receive duty-free treatment for at least the pay-off lifetime of their investments.

    Secondly, to further attract investment, I will ask the Congress to provide significant tax incentives for investment in the Caribbean Basin. We also stand ready to negotiate bilateral investment treaties with interested Basin countries.
    Next, I give you Poppy Bush from the 1992 State of the Union Address (here)…

    We must encourage investment. We must make it easier for people to invest money and make new products, new industries, and new jobs.
    And his son (here)…

    Saudi Arabia has joined the World Trade Organization. Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, and Morocco have signed free trade agreements with the United States. Your nations are attracting more foreign investment. Oil accounts for much of the economic growth here. But the nations of the Middle East are now investing in their people, and building infrastructure, and opening the door to foreign trade and investment. America supports you in these efforts. We believe that trade and investment is the key to the future of hope and opportunity.
    (Telling that Number 43 was so interested in doing this for the Saudis but not for us; also, don’t worry, I know what’s really going on here – when it comes to actual investment for real, it’s baaad when a Democrat does it, but as always, IOKIYAR.)

    McConnell and Cantor should note that, with their latest outburst, Former President Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History looks more mature than they do.

    And if that isn’t an insult, I don’t know what is.
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