Utah Is on Track to End Homelessness by 2015 With This One Simple Idea
Biblical References on Capitalism
Modern Monetary Theory
New Economic Perspectives
The "Bankers' Cradle"
Our Refrigerator Door
Brent Budowsky: Obama endangers Dems
By Brent Budowsky - 03/12/14
...There are three domestic political requirements for any president. The first is running a presidential campaign. Obama excels at this and has brilliantly executed raising big money and launching negative attacks against a single opponent.
The second is working with Congress. Obama has failed on this front. He assumed office lacking relationships that are essential to governing, yet has refused to invest the time to build these relationships with congressional Democrats or Republicans.
The third requirement is creating a program, shaping a narrative and exciting the base to win midterm elections to enact that program. In 2010, Obama surrendered the national narrative to the Tea Party, while his staff insulted the Democratic base with condescending pejoratives such as “the professional left,” often for supporting policies he claimed to support, including the public option.
The president has described himself as a “Rorschach” inducing divergent voters to project their views onto him. This works well in presidential elections. But it is disastrous in midterm elections. The effect angers and energizes Republican voters while anesthetizing and depressing many Democratic voters, who then stay home for midterms.
How to Stop Violence
Mentally ill people aren’t killers. Angry people are.
By Laura L. Hayes
In the 1980s, around the time of the massive deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, I was working toward my degree in clinical psychology by training at a psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C. One sweet, diminutive, elderly patient sometimes wandered the halls. She had been committed to the hospital after she stabbed someone in a supermarket. She was what is sometimes referred to as a revolving-door patient: She was schizophrenic and heard frightening voices in her head, and when she became psychotic enough, she would be hospitalized, stabilized on medication, and then released back to the community. There she would soon go off her medication, become psychotic, be rehospitalized, stabilized again on medication, released, etc.
At her commitment hearing, she testified that she had become extremely upset in the grocery store before repeatedly stabbing the man in front of her in the checkout line. The hearing officer, aware of her history and sympathetic to this woman with such a sweet demeanor, asked helpfully if she had been hearing voices at the time. Yes, she replied, she had. “And what were the voices telling you?” the officer inquired supportively. She explained that the voices were telling her not to hurt the man, but he had gotten in the express checkout lane with more than 10 items, and that made her so mad that she couldn’t stop herself.
In addition to being a valuable cautionary tale about grocery etiquette, the story illustrates an important truth about violence and mental health: Violence is not a product of mental illness; violence is a product of anger. When we cannot modulate anger, it will control our behavior.
U.S. Secretly Created 'Cuban Twitter' To Undermine Communist Government
by ALBERTO ARCE and DESMOND BUTLER and JACK GILLUM
WASHINGTON (AP) — In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba's communist government.
McSpedon and his team of high-tech contractors had come in from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Washington and Denver. Their mission: to launch a messaging network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. To hide the network from the Cuban government, they would set up a byzantine system of front companies using a Cayman Islands bank account, and recruit unsuspecting executives who would not be told of the company's ties to the U.S. government.
McSpedon didn't work for the CIA. This was a program paid for and run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, best known for overseeing billions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid.
Full text of Putin’s speech on Crimea
The Russian president gave his reasons for the annexation of a region of Ukraine
March 18, 2014, The Kremlin, Moscow — PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Federation Council members, State Duma deputies, good afternoon. Representatives of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol are here among us, citizens of Russia, residents of Crimea and Sevastopol!
Dear friends, we have gathered here today in connection with an issue that is of vital, historic significance to all of us. A referendum was held in Crimea on March 16 in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms.
More than 82 percent of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96 percent of them spoke out in favor of reuniting with Russia. These numbers speak for themselves.
To understand the reason behind such a choice it is enough to know the history of Crimea and what Russia and Crimea have always meant for each other.
These 9 Maps Should Absolutely Outrage Southerners
by Emily Cohn
[Maps of America, The South, Maps, Poverty , Poverty in Canada, Access to Health Care, Obesity Rates, Obesity, Video, Obamacare, Maps of the South, Happy States, Business News ]
Look, there are lots of things to love about the South. It's clean and quiet. There's delicious food, good people and often amazing weather. But that's exactly why it makes us so sad to think about all the ways in which the region is struggling today.
First off, poverty rates are a lot higher in the South.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Calls For Constitutional Amendment To Prevent Partisan Gerrymandering
By Ian Millhiser
March 5, 2014
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has a new book out, in which he proposes six potential amendments to the Constitution — including one to prevent lawmakers from drawing legislative maps intended to entrench their own party in power:
"Districts represented by members of Congress, or by members of any state legislative body, shall be compact and composed of contiguous territory. The state shall have the burden of justifying any departures from this requirement by reference to neutral criteria such as natural, political, or historical boundaries or demographic changes. The interest in enhancing or preserving the political power of the party in control of the state government is not such a neutral criterion."
Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved
January 27, 2014
Millions of Americans do not have a bank account, or use costly services like payday loans and check cashing exchanges just to make ends meet. The entire underserved population comprises more than a quarter of all U.S. households — some 68 million adults. They are an economically diverse mix of working and middle class families, poor and unemployed people hurt by the recent economic crisis, young people, immigrants, and others who are trying to make it paycheck to paycheck. Together, they represent a huge market. In 2012, they spent about $89 billion just on interest and fees for alternative financial services.
Obama's Trauma Team
How an unlikely group of high-tech wizards revived Obama's troubled HealthCare.gov website
By Steven Brill Monday, Mar. 10, 2014
Last Oct. 17--more than two weeks after the launch of HealthCare.gov--White House chief of staff Denis McDonough came back from Baltimore rattled by what he had learned at the headquarters of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency in charge of the website.
McDonough and the President had convened almost daily meetings since the Oct. 1 launch of the website with those in charge--including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner and White House health-reform policy director Jeanne Lambrew. But they couldn't seem to get what McDonough calls "actionable intel" about how and why the website was failing in front of a national audience of stunned supporters, delirious Republican opponents and ravenous reporters.
"Those meetings drove the President crazy," says one White House senior adviser who was there. "Nobody could even tell us if the system was up as we were sitting there, except by taking out laptops and trying to go on it. For Denis, going to Baltimore was like leaving Washington and visiting a war zone."
America’s First President Was The Tea Party’s Worst Nightmare
By Ian Millhiser
February 17, 2014
Five years after General George Washington took command of a revolutionary army, he believed that the revolution was on the verge of collapse.
The Articles of Confederation, which bound the thirteen former British colonies together prior to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, were fundamentally flawed. Congress, under the Articles, could not directly tax individuals or legislate their actions. Delegates to Congress had little authority to exercise independent judgment, as they both owed their salaries to their state government and could be recalled “at any time.” Of particular frustration to General Washington, the Articles also gave Congress no real power to raise troops or to provide for them once they were assembled under Washington’s command. Congress could request recruits or money, but it was powerless if the states denied these requests.
“Unless Congress speaks in a more decisive tone,” Washington wrote in 1780, “unless they are vested with powers by the several States competent to the purposes of war . . . our Cause is lost.”
How Women Spiked Larry Summers
And Made Janet Yellen
The Most Powerful Person In The World
The writing was on the wall for Larry Summers. It was more than a year before he withdrew his name from consideration for chairmanship of the Federal Reserve, and the former Treasury secretary was up for the presidency of the World Bank.
In less than 24 hours, a brand new progressive women's group called Ultraviolet had collected more than 37,000 signatures demanding that President Barack Obama spike his former economic adviser and choose "a nominee who believes girls have the same potential as boys."
Obama named Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim for the position instead. The episode passed with little fanfare. But Summers' next run-in with the women's group and its allies would not go so quietly.
A Deadly Mix in Benghazi
By David D. Kirkpatrick
December 28, 2013
A boyish-looking American diplomat was meeting for the first time with the Islamist leaders of eastern Libya’s most formidable militias.
It was Sept. 9, 2012. Gathered on folding chairs in a banquet hall by the Mediterranean, the Libyans warned of rising threats against Americans from extremists in Benghazi. One militia leader, with a long beard and mismatched military fatigues, mentioned time in exile in Afghanistan. An American guard discreetly touched his gun.
“Since Benghazi isn’t safe, it is better for you to leave now,” Mohamed al-Gharabi, the leader of the Rafallah al-Sehati Brigade, later recalled telling the Americans. “I specifically told the Americans myself that we hoped that they would leave Benghazi as soon as possible.”
Yet as the militiamen snacked on Twinkie-style cakes with their American guests, they also gushed about their gratitude for President Obama’s support in their uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. They emphasized that they wanted to build a partnership with the United States, especially in the form of more investment. They specifically asked for Benghazi outlets of McDonald’s and KFC.
The diplomat, David McFarland, a former congressional aide who had never before met with a Libyan militia leader, left feeling agitated, according to colleagues. But the meeting did not shake his faith in the prospects for deeper involvement in Libya. Two days later, he summarized the meeting in a cable to Washington, describing a mixed message from the militia leaders.
Despite “growing problems with security,” he wrote, the fighters wanted the United States to become more engaged “by ‘pressuring’ American businesses to invest in Benghazi.”
The cable, dated Sept. 11, 2012, was sent over the name of Mr. McFarland’s boss, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Later that day, Mr. Stevens was dead, killed with three other Americans in Benghazi in the most significant attack on United States property in 11 years, since Sept. 11, 2001.
I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave
My brief, backbreaking, rage-inducing, low-paying, dildo-packing time inside the online-shipping machine.
—By Mac McClelland
March/April 2012 Issue
"Don't take anything that happens to you there personally," the woman at the local chamber of commerce says when I tell her that tomorrow I start working at Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide Inc. She winks at me. I stare at her for a second.
"What?" I ask. "Why, is somebody going to be mean to me or something?"
She smiles. "Oh, yeah." This town somewhere west of the Mississippi is not big; everyone knows someone or is someone who's worked for Amalgamated. "But look at it from their perspective. They need you to work as fast as possible to push out as much as they can as fast as they can. So they're gonna give you goals, and then you know what? If you make those goals, they're gonna increase the goals. But they'll be yelling at you all the time. It's like the military. They have to break you down so they can turn you into what they want you to be. So they're going to tell you, 'You're not good enough, you're not good enough, you're not good enough,' to make you work harder. Don't say, 'This is the best I can do.' Say, 'I'll try,' even if you know you can't do it. Because if you say, 'This is the best I can do,' they'll let you go. They hire and fire constantly, every day. You'll see people dropping all around you. But don't take it personally and break down or start crying when they yell at you."
Hillary's Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren
BY NOAM SCHEIBER
NOVEMBER 10, 2013
We’re three years from the next presidential election, and Hillary Clinton is, once again, the inevitable Democratic nominee. Congressional Republicans have spent months investigating her like she already resides in the White House. The New York Times has its own dedicated Clinton correspondent, whose job it is to chronicle everything from Hillary’s summer accommodations (“CLINTONS FIND A NEW PLACE TO VACATION IN THE HAMPTONS”) to her distinct style of buckraking (“IN CLINTON FUNDRAISING, EXPECT A FULL EMBRACE”). There is a feature-length Hillary biopic in the works, and a well-funded super PAC—“Ready for Hillary”—bent on easing her way into the race. And then there is Clinton herself, who sounds increasingly candidential. Since leaving the State Department, Clinton has already delivered meaty, headline-grabbing orations on voting rights and Syria.
Yet for all the astrophysical force of these developments, anyone who lived through 2008 knows that inevitable candidates have a way of becoming distinctly evitable. With the Clintons’ penchant for melodrama and their checkered cast of hangers-on—one shudders to consider the embarrassments that will attend the Terry McAuliffe administration in Virginia—Clinton-era nostalgia is always a news cycle away from curdling into Clinton fatigue. Sometimes, all it takes is a single issue and a fresh face to bring the bad memories flooding back.
The last time Clinton ran, of course, the issue was Iraq and the gleaming new mug was Barack Obama’s. This time the debate will be about the power of America’s wealthiest. And, far more than with foreign policy, which most Democrats agreed on by 2008, this disagreement will cut to the very core of the party: what it stands for and who it represents.
On one side is a majority of Democratic voters, who are angrier, more disaffected, and altogether more populist than they’ve been in years. They are more attuned to income inequality than before the Obama presidency and more supportive of Social Security and Medicare.1 They’ve grown fonder of regulation and more skeptical of big business.2 A recent Pew poll showed that voters under 30—who skew overwhelmingly Democratic—view socialism more favorably than capitalism. Above all, Democrats are increasingly hostile to Wall Street and believe the government should rein it in.
Tea Party shocker: Even right-wingers become liberals when they turn off Fox News
America's center is to the left, and even Tea Partyers are liberals when they turn off Rush and learn real facts
Friday, Nov 8, 2013
As the government shutdown neared its end, an NBC/Esquire poll appeared trying to promote the idea of “New American Center.” Salon’s own Alex Pareene skewered it rather mercilessly, for various good reasons, not least of which was how the whole enterprise came off: “It seems like marketing for NBC and Esquire — we represent the sensible (and probably affluent) center! Don’t be scared of our political content, advertisers!” Pareene wrote. But there was more: “[I]t is clearly very psychically important to the elite political media that a reasonable center exist. A common-sense, centrist middle is an essential, foundational myth of the nonpartisan press.
And yet, as James Fallows pointed out in “Breaking the News,” in 1996, today’s elite media also thrives on superficial coverage of controvery, which makes it complicit in generating the very extremism it simultaneous deplores, condemns and needs to hold at bay in order to legitimate itself.
With such a profoundly self-contradictory practice, it should not surprise us that the poll was even more misleading than Pareene described. Polarization in some sense is real — and yet also partial, misleading and embedded in consensus as well. Tea Partyers ranting “Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare!” may seem comical — but they also show just how broad a true consensus can be. In fact, they reflect two central (but routinely ignored) facts of American public opinion that have remained remarkably stable since the 1960s, despite all that’s changed since then:
1. It’s not just the center vs. the extremes; there is broad consensus across the boards on the basic contours of government spending priorities — the historically most important dimension of political opinion.
2. It’s just that the center is not where it’s supposed to be: It’s not somewhere in between the two parties, it’s well to the left of the Democrats in D.C.
Will GOP Rebel Justin Amash Bring Down the NSA
—and His Own Party?
The rising Republican star wants the government out of your data. And basically everything else.
By Tim Murphy
... [Michigan Rep. Justin] Amash and his colleagues are greeted as liberators at the Young Americans for Liberty Convention, one of the dozens of initiatives spawned by the 2008 presidential campaign of Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Every so often the crowd of twentysomethings breaks into chants of "End the Fed," or into a chorus of boos at the mention of establishment figures like Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, whose existence Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina invokes the way a Hogwarts first-year might hint at Lord Voldemort.
The event has the feel of a fraternity reunion. At one point, Mulvaney takes an "End the Fed" trucker hat from an audience member and places it atop the curls of his colleague Thomas Massie, a Tesla-driving mechanical engineer who last year came out of nowhere to win one of Kentucky's congressional seats. Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho finishes the night with a winding joke about Amash's support for legalizing prostitution. And like any good brotherhood, they even have an initiation ritual: As the forum ends, Amash walks over to Mulvaney to recognize him formally with a custom red-and-gold "liberty pin" reserved for his closest allies in the House. A voice cuts through the din as they exit the stage: "We love you, Justin!"
After a decade of aggressive expansion of the national security state, Amash, a Star Trek-tweeting, Justin Bieber-quoting amateur arborist from Grand Rapids, has emerged as an unlikely leader of the most serious rebellion against unchecked surveillance powers since 9/11. He's also become a driving force in the fight for the future of the libertarian movement long led by the retired Paul—and perhaps even for the soul of the deeply fractured GOP.
A Reporter at Large
The Shadow Commander
Qassem Suleimani is the Iranian operative who has been reshaping the Middle East. Now he’s directing Assad’s war in Syria.
by Dexter Filkins September 30, 2013
,,, Kneeling in the second row on the mosque’s carpeted floor was Major General Qassem Suleimani, the Quds Force’s leader: a small man of fifty-six, with silver hair, a close-cropped beard, and a look of intense self-containment. It was Suleimani who had sent Shateri, an old and trusted friend, to his death. As Revolutionary Guard commanders, he and Shateri belonged to a small fraternity formed during the Sacred Defense, the name given to the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988 and left as many as a million people dead. It was a catastrophic fight, but for Iran it was the beginning of a three-decade project to build a Shiite sphere of influence, stretching across Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. Along with its allies in Syria and Lebanon, Iran forms an Axis of Resistance, arrayed against the region’s dominant Sunni powers and the West. In Syria, the project hung in the balance, and Suleimani was mounting a desperate fight, even if the price of victory was a sectarian conflict that engulfed the region for years.
Suleimani took command of the Quds Force fifteen years ago, and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor, working as a power broker and as a military force: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned Suleimani for his role in supporting the Assad regime, and for abetting terrorism. And yet he has remained mostly invisible to the outside world, even as he runs agents and directs operations. “Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,” John Maguire, a former C.I.A. officer in Iraq, told me, “and no one’s ever heard of him.”
401(k) Plans Are Making Wealth Inequality Even Worse: Study
By Mark Gongloff
Posted: 09/03/2013 12:50 pm EDT
Not only is the typical 401(k) a lousy way for most people to save for retirement, it is also making wealth inequality worse, according to a new study.
You're probably aware that in recent decades 401(k) plans have risen to replace pension plans as the first line of retirement savings for millions of Americans. But most of the benefit of these plans, such as it is, has accrued to the wealthiest Americans, argues the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, using an armada of charts.
That means the poorest Americans are increasingly left to rely on Social Security as their primary source of retirement income at a time when many in Washington are trying to squeeze Social Security benefits.
Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 04:30 AM MDT
The conservative crackup:
How the Republican Party lost its mind
How a major, diverse political party became so dependent on the Tea Party's narrow range of strident voices
By Kim Messick
In a recent article, I argued that the Republican Party has been captured by a faction whose political psychology makes it highly intransigent and uninterested in compromise. That article focused on the roots of this psychology and how it shapes the Tea Party’s view of its place in American politics. It did not pursue the question of exactly how this capture took place — of how a major political party, once a broad coalition of diverse elements, came to be so dependent on a narrow range of strident voices. This is the question I propose to explore below.
In doing so, we should keep in mind three terms from political science (and much political journalism) — “realignment,” “polarization” and “gridlock.” These concepts are often bandied about as if their connections are obvious, even intuitive. Sometimes, indeed, a writer leaves the impression that they are virtually synonymous. I think this is mistaken, and that it keeps us from appreciating just how strange our present political moment really is.
Want to Annoy Republicans? Show Them This...
April 26, 2013 By Allen Clifton
Every once in a while I like to use what I call “fun facts to tick off Republicans.” Just a few facts that conservatives might argue with, yet can’t really counter without looking foolish.
I highly encourage all liberals to share this with their conservative friends. Then watch as they haplessly try and argue against each comment.
Texas' Looming Hispanic Shift Explained In 2 Charts
by Matt Stiles
July 08, 2013
NPR is taking a look at the demographic changes that could reshape the political landscape in Texas over the next decade — and what that could mean for the rest of the country.
Within a decade, Hispanics are projected to eclipse non-Hispanic whites as the largest race or ethnic group in Texas. It's a development that could someday shift the state's — or, given the size of Texas, even the nation's — politics.
The Real Republican Adversary? Population Density
November 19th, 2012
The 2012 election demonstrated what many people could have guessed: rural states voted for Romney while densely populated states voted for Obama.
Many have offered explanations — everything from the presence of top universities in cities, to the prevalence of immigrant and African American populations. Perhaps the Republicans should consider running a Hispanic or African American candidate in 2016; but will that really help? Is identity the issue, or is it more about values?
Or is something more basic at work? Studying election results county by county, a stunning pattern emerges.
Will Health-Care Law Beget Entrepreneurs?
By EMILY MALTBY and ANGUS LOTEN
May 8, 2013
Thousands of would-be entrepreneurs are itching to start their own businesses, but many are shackled to their current employer by health-care benefits they don't think they could otherwise afford. Economists call this phenomenon "job lock," or "entrepreneurship lock."
But the pressure some Americans feel to cling to a corporate job chiefly for the health insurance could, conceivably, ease in coming years. Under provisions of the health-care law, new-business owners will be able to get coverage through public marketplaces, or "exchanges," beginning in October, for policies that will take effect starting in January.
If the law, known as the Affordable Care Act, is implemented as intended, these exchanges could let entrepreneurs buy insurance at reasonable rates, regardless of their health histories. That's far from a sure bet, however, given evidence that premiums for some people—particularly the young and healthy—could rise under the law.
The Obama administration has touted a boost for entrepreneurship as one of the health-care law's key benefits. The Kauffman-RAND Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy in Santa Monica, Calif., says the law could increase the number of new U.S. businesses by as much as 33% over several years.
Hospital Prices No Longer Secret As New Data Reveals Bewildering System, Staggering Cost Differences
When a patient arrives at Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey requiring treatment for the respiratory ailment known as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she faces an official price tag of $99,690.
Less than 30 miles away in the Bronx, N.Y., the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center charges only $7,044 for the same treatment, according to a massive federal database of national health care costs made public on Wednesday.
Americans have long become accustomed to bewilderment and anxiety when confronting health care bills. The new database underscores why, revealing the perplexing assortment of prices for medical care, with the details of bills seemingly untethered to any graspable principle.
Three New Facts About the Tea Party
April 29, 2013
The first large-scale political-science survey of Tea Party activists shows the movement isn't going anywhere—and the GOP had better brace itself.
For a movement that’s helped to reshape the Republican Party—and by extension, reshape American politics—we know shockingly little about the people who make up the Tea Party. While some in the GOP once hoped to co-opt the movement, it’s increasingly unclear which group—the Tea Party or establishment Republicans—is running the show. Politicians have largely relied on conjecture and assumption to determine the positions and priorities of Tea Party activists.
Until now. The results of the first political science survey of Tea Party activists show that the constituency isn’t going away any time soon—and Republicans hoping the activists will begin to moderate their stances should prepare for disappointment. Based out of the College of William and Mary, the report surveyed more than 11,000 members of FreedomWorks, one of the largest and most influential Tea Party groups. The political scientists also relied on a separate survey of registered voters through the YouGov firm to compare those who identified with the Tea Party movement to those Republicans who did not. (Disclosure: The political scientist leading the survey was my father, Ronald Rapoport, with whom I worked in writing this piece.)
Dollar Bills, Where They Move, And What It Shows About Idaho’s Ties To Other States
April 18, 2013
By Molly Messick
There’s a discussion we have from time to time in the Boise State Public Radio newsroom, about geography and how we cover the news. In many respects — politically, for example — Idaho has more in common with the Rocky Mountain States that lie to its east and south than it does with its neighbors to the west. On the other hand, a lot of transplants to the state come from Washington and California.
Bailed-Out Banks Used Billions Meant For Small Business Aid To Repay TARP Funds: Watchdog
WASHINGTON -- A government watchdog says that 137 community banks used $2.1 billion from a special fund aimed at boosting lending to small businesses to repay their bailouts from the financial crisis.
A report issued Tuesday by the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program says the bailed-out community banks didn't step up their loans to small business nearly as much as other small banks that weren't rescued. Some banks that used the small-business lending fund to repay bailouts didn't increase lending at all, while others increased loans to small business by 25 cents for every $1 from the fund.
Congress created the small-business lending fund in 2010 to encourage banks with less than $10 billion in assets to expand their lending to small businesses. At a time of economic distress, the aim was to help small businesses get capital that had become difficult for them to obtain. The loan program charged the community banks lower interest rates if they used the money for loans to small businesses.
David Stockman, Ex-Reagan Budget Director: George W. Bush's Policies Bankrupt The Country
A former adviser of Ronald Reagan has some choice words for George W. Bush.
David Stockman, Reagan’s budget director from 1981 to 1985, slammed Bush and his former boss in an op-ed in The New York Times Sunday. Stockman argued in the piece that Reagan’s view on the deficit “created a template for the Republicans’ utter abandonment of the balanced-budget policies of Calvin Coolidge.”
“(Reagan’s deficit policies) allowed George W. Bush to dive into the deep end, bankrupting the nation through two misbegotten and unfinanced wars, a giant expansion of Medicare and a tax-cutting spree for the wealthy that turned K Street lobbyists into the de facto office of national tax policy,” Stockman wrote.
Stockman, also a former Republican congressman from Michigan, resigned from Reagan’s administration in 1985 in protest over deficit spending. Bush and Reagan aren’t Stockman’s only targets in the piece; he attacks lawmakers, Federal Reserve and Treasury officials and Wall Street for a combination of easy money and deficit expanding policies that he argues will lead to another Wall Street bubble explosion in the near future.
Losing my religion for equality,,,
by Jimmy Carter
Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.
25 January 2013
I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.
,,,The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Cheating Our Children
Published: March 28, 2013
,,, And why are we shortchanging the future so dramatically and inexcusably? Blame the deficit scolds, who weep crocodile tears over the supposed burden of debt on the next generation, but whose constant inveighing against the risks of government borrowing, by undercutting political support for public investment and job creation, has done far more to cheat our children than deficits ever did.
Fiscal policy is, indeed, a moral issue, and we should be ashamed of what we’re doing to the next generation’s economic prospects. But our sin involves investing too little, not borrowing too much — and the deficit scolds, for all their claims to have our children’s interests at heart, are actually the bad guys in this story.
21 graphs that show America’s
health-care prices are ludicrous
Posted by Ezra Klein on March 26, 2013 at 12:40 pm
Every year, the International Federation of Health Plans — a global insurance trade association that includes more than 100 insurers in 25 countries — releases survey data showing the prices that insurers are actually paying for different drugs, devices, and medical services in different countries. And every year, the data is shocking.
The IFHP just released the data for 2012. And yes, once again, the numbers are shocking.
This is the fundamental fact of American health care: We pay much, much more than other countries do for the exact same things. For a detailed explanation of why, see this article. But this post isn’t about the why. It’s about the prices, and the graphs.
Justin Welby Installed as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury
BY TREVOR GRUNDY | CANTERBURY, England
(RNS) Justin Welby, the 57-year old former oil executive who quit the world of high finance in 1992 to become a priest, was enthroned Thursday (March 21) as the 105th archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans,,,
,,,Thursday’s ceremony marked the second major transfer of power this week, coming two days after Pope Francis was formally installed at the Vatican. The men sent greetings to each other.
The new archbishop smiled and occasionally laughed as he watched African Anglicans dance and sing. Another group from India read poetry and a Christian group from Burundi in central Africa blessed the new church leader. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the only woman to lead a national branch of the Anglican Communion, also attended.
Many in the British press speculated over the role of a woman, Archdeacon Sheila Watson, in formally installing Welby in the Canterbury throne. Cathedral spokesman Christopher Robinson said there’s no larger message to read into Watson’s role. “The Archdeacon of Canterbury has always fulfilled this part of the ceremony,” he said. “At this enthronement, the person involved simply happens to be a woman
Eye On Boise
Bedke: ‘Very, very significant property tax relief’ with Medicaid expansion, but no time to ‘vet’ this year'
Posted by Betsy March 22, 2013 5:35 p.m.
The House and Senate Health & Welfare committees heard rather stunning figures from state Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong and others this morning, including this one: A University of Idaho economist estimates that Idaho’s economy would get a $9.2 billion boost over the next 10 years if Idaho opted for Medicaid expansion this year. The state budget would save $649 million, county property taxpayers would save $478 million, and the new federal funds coming into the state would generate $614 million in new state tax revenues and economic activity. Subtract out program costs and the net savings to the state budget plus new revenues come to $699 million.
Published by Randy Stapilus, March 17, 2013
No one living in Idaho or in other states should be unaware how the cost of health care, and insurance for it, has ballooned in the last few decades, driving people into individual ruin and straining businesses and other organizations (and economic recovery). A brush with a hospital is flirtation with bankruptcy – and it has meant bankruptcy for many. That’s true even for the insured, who find their protections eroding each year. And the number of uninsured sits at about 16 percent of all people nationally, 18 percent in Idaho (21 percent among those 64 and younger). This is an enormous problem.
There is no one cause and no one answer. One tactic intended to help, one that makes use of a marketplace, is an insurance exchange: An organization allowing buyers of insurance to shop around, compare costs and benefits and get assistance, in a way they haven’t been able to. Such a plan was built into the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and in it states were given the option to set up exchanges.
That’s the background for House Bill 248, which would establish by the state of Idaho an exchange aimed at helping consumers of health insurance to locate and buy appropriate policies. Alternatively, the feds would establish one in Idaho. The bill passed 41-29, after more than seven hours of debate.
You might suppose that long debate, one of Idaho’s longest legislative debates in decades, would have centered on the problems and costs of health care and insurance. You would suppose wrong.
The bill’s stated “purpose and intent” begins, “It is the public policy of the state of Idaho to actively resist federal actions that would limit or override state sovereignty under the 10th amendment of the United States constitution. Through this legislation, the state of Idaho asserts its sovereignty %u2026”
Top 10 Conservative Myths!
Conservative Success is based on two things: You forgetting their sorry history, and swallowing down these whoppers!
The troubling things I learned when I re-reported Bob Woodward’s book on John Belushi.
By Tanner Colby|Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013
A little more than a week ago, during an interview with Politico, Bob Woodward came forward to claim he’d been threatened in an email by a “senior White House official” for daring to reveal certain details about the negotiations over the budget sequester. The White House responded by releasing the email exchange Woodward was referring to, which turned out to be nothing more than a cordial exchange between the reporter and Obama’s economic adviser, Gene Sperling, who was clearly implying nothing more than that Woodward would “regret” taking a position that would soon be shown to be false.
A rather trivial scandal, but the incident did manage to raise important questions about Woodward’s behavior. Was he cynically trumping up the administration’s “threat,” or does he just not know how to read an email? Pretty soon, those questions tipped over into the standard Beltway discussion that transpires anytime Woodward does anything. How accurate is his reporting? Does he deserve his legendary status?
I believe I can offer some interesting answers to those questions. Thirty-one years ago, on March 5, 1982, Saturday Night Live and Animal House star John Belushi died of a drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles—which, bear with me a moment, has more to do with the current coverage of the budget sequester than you might initially think.*
Census: Record 1 In 3 Counties Now Dying Off, Hit By Aging Population, Weakened Local Economies
By HOPE YEN 03/14/13
WASHINGTON — A record number of U.S. counties – more than 1 in 3 – are now dying off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economies that are spurring young adults to seek jobs and build families elsewhere.
New 2012 census estimates released Thursday highlight the population shifts as the U.S. encounters its most sluggish growth levels since the Great Depression.
The findings also reflect the increasing economic importance of foreign-born residents as the U.S. ponders an overhaul of a major 1965 federal immigration law. Without new immigrants, many metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and St. Louis would have posted flat or negative population growth in the last year.
"Immigrants are innovators, entrepreneurs, they're making things happen. They create jobs," said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, at an immigration conference in his state last week. Saying Michigan should be a top destination for legal immigrants to come and boost Detroit and other struggling areas, Snyder made a special appeal: "Please come here."
Read Time's article the "Bitter Pill" to get a fuller perspective on why your medical and insurance bills and so high.
Authoritarians at the Gate
"Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire." - Robert A. Heinlein
Dec 13, 2012
,,, In order to appreciate the implications of Hetherington and Weiler's findings, one must understand authoritarianism and authoritarians. So what are they?
Authoritarianism is a worldview: a core set of beliefs, personal ethics, personal value system and emotions. Psychologist Karen Stenner  describes authoritarianism this way:
In the end, then, authoritarianism is far more than a personal distaste for difference . . . It becomes a normative "worldview" about the social value of obedience and conformity (or freedom and difference), the prudent and just balance between group authority and individual autonomy (Duckitt, 1989), and the appropriate uses of (or limits on) that authority. This worldview induces both personal coercion of and bias against different others (racial and ethnic outgroups, political dissidents, moral "deviants") as well as political demands for authoritative constraints on their behavior. The latter will typically include legal discrimination against minorities and restrictions on immigration, limits on free speech and association, and the regulation of moral behavior, for example, via policies regarding school prayer, abortion, censorship, and homosexuality, and their punitive enforcement.And authoritarians:
Authoritarians prove to be relentlessly "sociotropic" boundary-maintainers, norm-enforcers, and cheerleaders for authority, whose classic defensive stances are activated by the experience or perception of threat to those boundaries, norms, and authorities. Those are the critical conditions to which authoritarians are eternally attentive. The perceived loss of those conditions—via disaffection with leaders, or divided public opinion—is the catalyst that activates these latent predispositions and provokes their increased manifestation in racial, political, and moral intolerance (and its corollary: punitiveness). This is the authoritarian’s classic "defensive arsenal," concerned with differentiating and defending "us", in conditions that appear to threaten "us", by excluding and discriminating against "them": racial and ethnic minorities, political dissidents, and moral "deviants." In conditions of normative threat, authoritarian fears are alleviated by defense of the collective "normative order": positive differentiation of the ingroup, devaluation of and discrimination against outgroups, obedience to authorities, conformity with rules and norms, and intolerance and punishment of those who fail to obey and conform.
Idaho's wages have stagnated for three decades. Here's why.
Idaho wages trail the rest of the country and one way out is to get more education.
Published: February 5, 2013
By Bill Roberts — firstname.lastname@example.org
For the past three decades, Idaho’s wages barely exceeded inflation. Getting into that pit took time; so will getting out.
In 1977, Idaho’s average wage was 88 percent of the national average.
Then, in the 1980s, the decline started. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the state’s average fell to 76 percent of the national average by 2010.
Today, despite decades of economic development efforts, Idahoans’ wages regularly show up near — or at — the bottom of 50-state wage rankings.
Who Needs to Win to Win?
Can a party rule by capturing most of the country but less than half of the people? We might be about to find out.
By Jonathan Chait Published Feb 3, 2013
In the immediate aftermath of last November’s election, the Republican Party, snapped suddenly out of the self-delusion of imminent victory promulgated by the Karl Roves and Dick Morrises of their party, came face-to-face with grim reality: Most of America hated them. And the Americans who didn’t hate them were dying off at a disconcerting pace. Something, nearly everybody both inside and outside the party agreed, would have to be done to rehabilitate the party brand. These were the choices: change, or continue to lose.
Since the New Year, though, a third possibility has emerged. What if Republicans don’t compromise with public opinion, but also don’t lose?
A glimpse of such a future came slowly into view in the weeks following the election, when Republican legislators in Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio floated, with varying levels of commitment, a plan to rig the Electoral College. Each of those states voted for Obama, yet Republicans controlled each of their state governments. The plan would entail allocating the electoral vote in each state not in a lump sum to the candidate who gets more votes, but piecemeal, to the winner of each congressional district.
The GOP’s electoral vote problem —
and 4 ways to fix it
Posted by Chris Cillizza on February 4, 2013
In our Monday newspaper column, we detailed Republicans’ mounting problems with the electoral map. The math is daunting: Over the past six elections – from 1992-2012 — the Republican presidential nominee has averaged 210 electoral votes while the Democratic nominee has averaged 327 electoral votes. The last time a Republican nominee got more than 300 electoral votes was 1988.
Given that reality and the changing demographic nature of the country, it seems apparent that Republicans need to re-think their approach to the map in 2016 and beyond. We outlined four ideas on how to do that in our piece.
The NRA vs. America
How the country’s biggest gun-rights group thwarts regulation and helps put military-grade weapons in the hands of killers
By Tim Dickinson
January 31, 2013 10:00 AM ET
Eleven days after the massacre, Wayne LaPierre – a lifelong political operative who had steadied the National Rifle Association through many crises – stood before an American flag and soberly addressed the nation about firearms and student safety: "We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America's schools, period," LaPierre said, carving out a "rare exception" for professional law enforcement. LaPierre even proposed making the mere mention of the word "guns" in schools a crime: "Such behavior in our schools should be prosecuted just as certainly as such behavior in our airports is prosecuted," LaPierre said.
This speech wasn't delivered in an alternate universe. The date was May 1st, 1999, at the NRA's national convention in Denver. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's rampage at Columbine High School in nearby Littleton, Colorado, had just killed 13 students and teachers, shocking the conscience of the nation.
Income Tax Could Be Eliminated By Many Republican-Controlled States
Posted: 01/13/2013 6:59 am EST
Thirty-seven of the 50 states now have single-party control of legislatures and governorships: 25 Republican, 12 Democratic. In those states, unlike Capitol Hill, partisan gridlock is not a big issue, making difficult projects such as tax reform easier.
In addition, new ideas look attractive in states that have suffered for years from high unemployment and tight revenue
"We have no choice but to make change," said Bob Rucho, a Republican state senator in solidly Republican North Carolina, who is leading a push in that state for major tax changes.
Rucho and other like-minded lawmakers have a plan to do away with all state individual and corporate income taxes. The plan would replace lost revenue with a new business license fee and a higher sales tax on goods and services not now taxed by the state, such as legal, accounting and spa services, and food.
In his inaugural address on Saturday, Republican North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory promised to work with business "as partners" to eliminate taxes and regulation that stifle growth.
The Militia Act of 1792, Passed May 8, 1792, providing federal standards for the organization of the Militia.
An ACT more effectually to provide for the National Defence, by establishing an Uniform Militia throughout the United States.
I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.
Quality Counts 2013 Education Rankings Come In:
Maryland First, South Dakota Last
Posted: 01/10/2013 6:25 pm EST
The report card takes into account almost every possible metric imaginable in American education, from school finance to environment to grades to equity. It looks at "Chance for Success," an index that takes into account the connections between school and positive life outcomes, looking at toddlers, kids, and adults. In the "Chance for Success" ratings, America scored a C-plus -- about one point less than last year. Massachusetts topped the "Chance for Success" rankings for the sixth year in a row, netting an A-minus. Nevada and New Mexico came in dead last, each netting D's. "States perform best on indicators associated with opportunities to acquire a solid foundation for learning during the early years," Hightower wrote. "However, the measures that capture participation and performance in formal schooling remain the driving force behind state rankings."
Quality Counts also looks at "transitions and alignment," a category that examines "efforts to better coordinate between K-12 schooling and other segments of the education pipeline," according to EdWeek. For the first time ever this year, one state -- Georgia -- got a perfect score in this realm.
School finance, such as school spending and distribution of resources, is another key component of the report. The U.S. earned a C on average, with 24 states scoring between C-minus and C-plus. The duds in this category were Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Utah, which all got D's or lower.
Sen. Mike Crapo pleads guilty
to drunken driving charge
By SCOTT WONG | 1/4/13 11:04 AM EST
Sen. Mike Crapo pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge in Virginia on Friday, agreeing to have his license suspended for one year, take alcohol awareness classes and pay a $250 fine.
A 180-day jail sentence for the Idaho Republican has been suspended on the condition of good behavior.
Speaking to reporters, Crapo expressed contrition for his actions and apologized to his constituents. Reading a prepared statement, he said he had occasionally had alcoholic drinks in his Washington, D.C., apartment in recent months as a way to relieving stress, even though his religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, strictly prohibits alcohol consumption.
Crapo acknowledged that he had consumed vodka mixed with tonic water, but disputed reports that said he had taken vodka shots. And he said it was the first time he had gotten behind the wheel after drinking.
“It was a poor choice to use alcohol to relieve stress, and was at odds with my personally held and religious beliefs, ” Crapo said outside the Alexandria General District Court. “However, on the night of Saturday, Dec. 22, I made an even worse decision: to go out for a drive and get out of my apartment and try to wind down.”
Fridgedoor Archives from 2012 and before
Everyone has someplace special, like their refrigerator door, a bulletin board, or such, where they post those 'unique' items they encounter on the web or in the media from time to time. This is our 'refrigerator door' and these are our findings.
Two Minutes - #Our March