In CIA case, Justice to probe death of 2 detainees (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2011-05-2008

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AP – The Justice Department inquiry into CIA interrogations of terrorist detainees has led to a full criminal investigation into the deaths of two people while they were in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday.

Senate to work next week on debt limit impasse (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2011-05-2008

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President Barack Obama gestures during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)AP – The Senate abandoned plans for a July 4 break as time dwindled for lawmakers to strike a compromise on avoiding a government default and reducing mammoth federal deficits. In a challenge to President Barack Obama, the chamber’s top Republican invited him to the Capitol to discuss the impasse with GOP lawmakers.

Beat the GOP, not the FEC deadline: donate to the Wisconsin recall elections

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2011-05-2008

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Capitol entrance, Madison, WI,

Police bar protesters from entering Wisconsin state Capitol on March 1. Photo by Natasha Chart

Today is the last day of the second fundraising quarter in 2011. Hundreds of federal candidates are racing to fill their campaign coffers so that they can boast as large a total as possible in their next FEC disclosure report. The idea is that the larger their fundraising total, the more seriously they will be taken by party higher-ups, the better coverage they will receive from political reporters, and the more fear they will put into electoral challengers both real and potential.

Due to the political ramifications of these fundraising totals, today’s frenzied quest for donations is undeniably an important event. However, it’s also very abstract and insidery. Candidate fundraising totals are completely disconnected from the reality of the lives of the voters who will, eventually, determine the fate of the political careers of these candidates. No swing voter is out there thinking, “Well, I haven’t gotten a raise in three years, but I’m voting for the guy who had a huge Q2 FEC haul.”

Contributing to the Wisconsin recall elections is very different. For one thing, the recall elections are happening this summer, rather than in 2012. Further, there is nothing abstract about it. The Republican budget went into effect yesterday, causing tens of thousands of Wisconsinites to lose their collective bargaining rights. Teachers are already being laid off too, including several hundred just in Milwaukee.

Right now, fundraising in Wisconsin is not a contest over favorable coverage from beltway rags, scaring candidates out of campaigns, or other insider positioning for 2012. Instead, contributions to Democratic recall candidates in Wisconsin will go directly into what is already the end-stage of biggest electoral fight—and arguably political fight—of the year.

Goal Thermometer

As I wrote yesterday, it’s a fight that can prove a determined, people-powered movement can defeat the wave of austerity conservative politicians are pushing at the behest of billionaires and big corporations.

You have probably been bombarded with fundraising requests today, but I humbly ask that you contribute to each of the Democratic candidates in the recall elections on top of what you have already given. When you do, you will be joining with nearly 18,000 of your fellow Kossacks in one of the most remarkable grassroots fights this country has seen in a long while.

Please contribute to each of the Democratic candidates in the Wisconsin recall elections. The FEC deadline is important, but right now what’s happening in Wisconsin is much more so.


Obama fundraising, policies do delicate dance (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2011-05-2008

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President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, June 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)AP – Even as President Barack Obama’s re-election effort is powering toward an impressive early fundraising haul, campaign officials are trying to reassure donors who have concerns about a range of policy decisions and pace of change during Obama’s first term.

Senate GOP blocks hearing on free trade bills (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2011-05-2008

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Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, center, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 30, 2011, to charge the Obama Administration of political tactics that undermine pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. From left are: Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo.; Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Ariz.; Hatch; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)AP – Senate action on three stalled free trade agreements was cut short Thursday when Republicans refused to participate, objecting to linking the deals to renewal of a program that retrains workers hurt by foreign trade.

FEC rejects boost to super PACs (Politico)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2011-05-2008

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Politico – They strike down a proposal that would have further empowered some independent political groups.

Bachmann says miscarriage shaped family priorities (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2011-05-2008

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Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., waves to supporters before making her formal announcement to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Monday, June 27, 2011, in Waterloo, Iowa.  Bachmann, who was born in Waterloo, will continue her announcement tour this week with stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)AP – Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman seeking the Republican presidential nomination, said Wednesday that a “devastating” miscarriage led her to become a foster parent to 23 children.

Tens of thousands of state and local layoffs expected in months ahead

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2011-05-2008

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As  previously noted, one reason economic recovery has been pinched is because state and local governments are laying off a large number of employees, with no end in sight. In fact, the 2012 fiscal year, which for many governments begins Saturday, may see the biggest cuts so far.

The impact goes well beyond the laid-off employees and their families. In some places, the school year has been shortened and class sizes increased, fire-fighting capability reduced, police forces cut back and library hours eliminated. Tens of thousands of additional layoffs are expected to exacerbate these cutbacks.

Michael Leachman, Erica Williams and Nicholas Johnson at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities point out that these troubles are likely to continue even though 20 states have reported that their tax collections have modestly improved since they put together their budgets. The problem is that the hole created by the recession is the deepest on record. In the first quarter of 2011, state revenues were 9 percent below their pre-recession peak and, with the relief provided by the Obama administration ended as of Friday, shortfalls are going to continue for some time. There are available measures to ease the pain, keep more people working, and more services operating, but that’s not what’s typically happening:

Because states still face these very large budget gaps, their best strategy will remain a balanced combination of modest spending cuts, new revenue measures to strengthen the revenue recovery, and (in a few states) utilization of remaining reserves. Instead, most states that have enacted budgets so far relied almost entirely on cuts to close their shortfalls—making the cuts they imposed deeper than necessary and impeding the economic recovery.

Only a few states raised revenue to help resolve their fiscal year 2012 budget shortfalls. Hawaii, for example, raised over 0 million in new tax revenue over the biennium by limiting tax exemptions for businesses and by eliminating the standard deduction and capping itemized deductions for higher-income individuals, among other actions. Illinois lawmakers enacted personal and corporate income tax increases to help address the state’s budget shortfalls for the current and upcoming year.

A few states made their problems worse by cutting taxes. Georgia, for example, enacted nearly 0 million in tax cuts, including million to allow top income earners to claim unlimited itemized deductions on their income taxes. And Arizona reduced the corporate income tax rate and commercial property taxes, costing the state million in fiscal year 2012, or 4 percent of the state’s 2012 budget shortfall.

The federal response to this? Deficit reduction through slashing discretionary spending, which would deepen cuts at the state and local level and further slow down economic recovery. With the recession officially over the past 24 months, for many Americans the worst is yet to come.


Gingrich opposes Afghan drawdown two weeks after calling for ‘rapid’ pullout

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2011-05-2008

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Newt Gingrich

Follow the flip-flopping Newt
 

Newt Gingrich last night:

I think we are drifting to a very, very dangerous situation. None of the generals recommended the speed of the drawdown the president wants. We are beginning to lose in the region. … And if you watch what is happening there’s a steady drift from the United States at a time when the president is signaling his desire to get out as fast as he can and potentially faster than the generals think is safe.

Newt Gingrich two weeks ago:

I think that we need to think fundamentally about reassessing our entire strategy in the region. I think that we should say to the generals we would like to figure out how to get out as rapid as possible with the safety of the troops involved. And we had better find new and very different strategies because this is too big a problem for us to deal with the American ground forces in direct combat.

I guess now it’s clear why Newt Gingrich has had so many wives. At least to him, statements on foreign policy carry about as much weight as the words “I do.”


Bloomberg: Geithner mulling departure after debt ceiling deal

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2011-05-2008

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As the deadline to raise the U.S. debt limit creeps nearer, Bloomberg is reporting that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is mulling a departure from the administration after a deficit deal between Congress and the White House is forged.