The President's Weekly Address. The transcript is here:
I've posted an Open Thread for comments on Off Times Square.
Today is to be an international day of protest. To find out if there are any organized protests in your area, go to the Daily Kos page OccupyWallStreetEvents.com ...
... ** Linette Lopez of the Business Insider: Occupy Wall Street protesters are in the initial stages of planning a national convention to be held July 4, 2012. Lopez writes, "... if this is carried out, Occupy Wall Street could shift the course of American politics at its highest levels." CW: Read the details. They're pretty interesting.
... Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "... the primary challenge of opposing the 50-headed hydra of Wall Street corruption ... is that it's extremely difficult to explain the crimes of the modern financial elite in a simple visual. The essence of this particular sort of oligarchic power is its complexity and day-to-day invisibility: Its worst crimes, from bribery and insider trading and market manipulation, to backroom dominance of government and the usurping of the regulatory structure from within, simply can't be seen by the public or put on TV." Taibbi offers some policy suggestions that are consistent with the protests. ...
... Timmy Geithner pretends to get with the program. You can see how uneasy the subject makes him:
... Apparently Baron von Bloomberg has an evolving story of why he decided not to close Zuccotti Park. The propertyowners, Brookfield, are not confirming the Mayor's story that unnamed "city officials" threatened them with retaliation if they closed down the park for cleaning. David Nir of Daily Kos reports. ...
On the off chance they were intending to arrest him for injuring the captain's fist with his jaw, I strongly suggest that you decide not to add insult to injury and avoid such a retaliatory move. -- Attorney Ron Kuby, whose client Felix Rivera-Pitre was videotaped being punched by a white-shirted NYPD officer, in a letter to the NYPD & Manhattan DA ...
... Here's the video, via the New York Observer, which has another video here of a police officer on a motorscooter rolling over a protester's leg. As Drew Grant of the Observer writes, "not for the ... faint of heart."
Greg Sargent: Republican Senators, having unanimously killed President Obama's jobs bill, which according to a Moody's estimate would have created 1.9 million jobs, have come up with their own so-called "jobs bill." Sen. Rand Paul has claimed, without providing evidence or any details, that the GOP bill would create 5 million jobs. Sometime. But according to a Moody's analyst, the GOP bill "could hurt the economy in the near term. 'Putting the emphasis on balancing the budget now is likely to push the economy back into recession.'” (Emphasis added.)
Whose Program Is This Anyway? Ryan Reilly of TPM: "As House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) continues to try to pin the flawed 'gun walking' tactic employed in Operation Fast and Furious on the Obama administration, it's becoming increasingly clear that problems with ATF's Phoenix division date back at least into the Bush era. TPM has obtained the documents relating to another Bush-era ATF operation ... which deployed the 'gun walking' tactic.... In fact, ATF officials wrote in 2007 that the gun walking tactic had 'full approval' of the U.S. Attorney's Office being run by an interim Bush appointee and that the U.S. Embassy in Mexico was 'fully on-board.' ... Issa's investigators have had the documents and emails on the 2007 case for months, but he hasn't said anything much about them." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.
Joe Nocera has been reading Since Yesterday, "by Frederick Lewis Allen, a popular historian of the 1930s and 1940s. Published in 1940, it turned out to be a shrewd, concise, wonderfully written account of America in the ’30s." The similarities between then and now are striking. CW: I read Since Yesterday as a young teen to find out what had come before me; needless to say, it's an easy read.
Andrew Zajac of Bloomberg News: "About 25 percent of millionaires in the U.S. pay federal taxes at lower effective rates than a significant portion of middle-income taxpayers, according to a legislative analysis. Preferential treatment of investment income and the reduced impact of payroll taxes on high earners lets about 94,500 millionaires pay taxes at a lower rate than 10.4 million 'moderate-income taxpayers,' representing about 10 percent of those making less than $100,000 a year...."
CREDO: "On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to let women die by passing a bill that would make it legal for hospitals to refuse to perform a life-saving abortion on a woman as an emergency procedure. In response to that vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) sent out a fundraising email asking supporters to donate to help protect the health of women. But three out of fifteen of the DCCC's top candidates who would receive that money voted [for the bill]." To tell the DCCC to "either stop fundraising off attacks on women's health or stop fundraising for anti-choice Democrats," you can sign CREDO's petition (which unfortunately will put you on CREDO's mailing list forever).
Here's a serious tearjerker. Thanks to a reader for the link:
Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times: "The [Japanese] government’s failure to act quickly [to contain the failed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant], a growing chorus of scientists say, may be exposing many more people than originally believed to potentially harmful radiation. It is also part of a pattern: Japan’s leaders have continually insisted that the fallout from Fukushima will not spread far, or pose a health threat to residents, or contaminate the food chain. And officials have repeatedly been proved wrong by independent experts and citizens’ groups that conduct testing on their own."
Right Wing World *
Karen Garcia: "The Republican cavalcade of lunatics ... have served their purpose by deflecting attention away from what passes for government in Washington. Liberal pundits in general and MSNBC in particular have used their public arenas to shoot fish in a barrel every single day to save them the trouble of thinking, and to make the failure that is Obama look good.... The inconvenient truth is that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are mirror images of each other. Each panders to his supposed base. Each is a right-of-center fiscal conservative. Their insurance company giveaway health plans are identical."
Hey, Herman Cain Has a "Buffett Rule," too. Zach Roth of Yahoo! News: "If the '9-9-9' tax plan promoted by Herman Cain, a leading Republican presidential candidate, had been the law of the land last year, Warren Buffett would very likely have paid no income taxes, according to an analysis prepared for Yahoo News and The Lookout by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. At most, Buffett would have paid taxes on just 1 percent of his income."
Steve Kornacki of Salon makes a pretty good case for how crazy the right has become in the "Obama Era." Using Rush Limbaugh as a barometer, Kornacki notes that Rushbo "practically endorsed" Mitt Romney in 2008 at a time when Romney was touting RomneyCare; now Rush derides Romney daily. Kornacki writes,
It’s not that hard to imagine an alternate universe in which Romney somehow won the White House in 2008, then muscled through a national version of his Massachusetts law — with Republican support. But it was Obama who won, and when he tried to do the same thing, virtually every Republican in America accused him of destroying capitalism.
Not Ready to Be First Lady. Dan Gilgoff of CNN gives us a two-fer. (1) Anita Perry -- wife of Rick -- blames President Obama for her son's having to quit his job to work on the Perry campaign. According to Mom there,
My son had to resign his job because of federal regulations that Washington has put on us. He resigned his job two weeks ago because he can't go out and campaign with his father because of SEC regulations.... My son lost his job because of this administration. ...
... (2) She says the media & Rick's opponents have been "brutalizing" him "because of his faith." Here, Mrs. P was apparently referring to those who questioned or condemned the governor for refusing to disavow remarks of Pastor Robert Jeffress, a Perry friend & supporter, in which Jeffress called Mormonism -- Mitt Romney's faith -- a non-Christian cult. ...
... CW: So it's Obama's fault the Perry boy has to follow slightly ethical standards when he changes jobs (isn't the Perry campaign paying the kid?), and it's the media's fault that Perry won't stand up to religious intolerance. This woman, who is a nurse, needs a doctor. My non-professional diagnosis: severe persecution complex.
... Oh, wait. There's more. Jacob Bernstein of the Daily Beast: "Mrs. Perry is also fending off claims from people who say that her own career amounts to a series of conflicts of interests, in which she and the folks she works with benefit from her association with the governor. Since 2003, Mrs. Perry has worked for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA), where she’s raised roughly $1.5 million as a $60,000-a-year contract employee.... A report in the Austin American-Statesman noted that a significant portion of Mrs. Perry’s salary at TAASA comes indirectly from the governor’s 'political donors, state contractors, and companies that do business with the state or have issues before the legislature.' Indeed, of 37 major donors to the organization, the paper reported, only three have 'no ties to the governor or state business.'”
... Then again, maybe we shouldn't fault Perry & Jeffress ...
CW: the AP reported that "the United States is ... sending about 100 U.S. troops to central Africa to [act as advisers] ... against a guerrilla group accused of horrific atrocities. Here is the President's letter to Congressional leaders. (Also linked in today's Ledes.) ...
... AND here is Rush Limbaugh's "news" report on the development. The headline: "Obama Invades Uganda, Targets Christians." And you wonder why wingers don't know WTF is going on? Is this satire or is Rush a living self-parody or is he genuinely insane or what?
* Is a diversion from Right Wingish World, which is, well, real.
CW: America's Worst Governor, Con'd. The Demise of the 7-7-7 Plan. Michael Bender of the St. Pete Times: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, campaigned on a promise "to create 700,000 jobs in seven years beyond estimates for job growth over the same span. State economists last year predicted Florida would add 1 million jobs in that time." During the campaign, he also urged Floridians to "hold him accountable." However, after backtracking several times on his job-grown promise, Scott now says he "could argue" he doesn't have to create any jobs. "I just have to make sure we don't lose jobs."
AP: "The U.S. is abandoning plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq past a year-end withdrawal deadline, The Associated Press has learned. The decision to pull out fully by January will effectively end more than eight years of U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, despite ongoing concerns about its security forces and the potential for instability." ...
... Politico Update: "The Obama administration is knocking down a report that all but a small security force will be pulled from Iraq by the end of the year, saying instead that discussions are still ongoing."
AP: "An American drone strike in southern Yemen has killed seven al-Qaida-linked militants, including the media chief for the group's Yemeni branch and the son of a prominent U.S.-born cleric slain in a similar attack last month, government officials and tribal elders said Saturday. In the capital, meanwhile, forces loyal to embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh opened fire on tens of thousands of protesters, killing at least nine and wounding scores, according to medical officials and witnesses."
Occupy Wall Street moves uptown to Times Square for the biggest U.S. demonstration yet:
... And speaking of Times Square, no word yet from, um, the Times on the demonstration right next door.
AP: Occupy Wall Street "supporters in Sydney, Australia, on Saturday waved signs such as 'you can't eat money.' About 200 people in Tokyo joined the global protests, and Philippine supporters in Manila marched on the U.S. Embassy to express support for Occupy Wall Street and to denounce 'U.S. imperialism' and U.S.-led wars and aggression." ...
... NBC News Update: "Italian police fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters after some smashed shop and bank windows, torched cars and hurled bottles.... A small group of violent protesters broke away from the main demonstration in the Italian capital.... The ANSA news agency said some protesters trashed offices of the Defense Ministry and of a labor agency, smashing windows with clubs, throwing paper bombs and firecrackers and setting cars on fire. Most of the violence took place near the Colosseum." NEW. Al Jazeera story here, with video. ...
... AP Update: "Thousands of demonstrators protesting corporate greed filled Times Square on Saturday night, mixing with gawkers, Broadway showgoers, tourists and police to create a chaotic scene in the midst of Manhattan."
... ** The Guardian is liveblogging world events.
... NEW. The New York Daily News has a good liveblog of events in New York City. Police arrested about 20 protesters at a Citibank branch on La Guardia Place (near Washington Square Park).
... Firedoglake: In Cleveland, Ohio, after Occupy Cleveland obtained a city permit to erect small tents, individual members of the police force provided tents to the protesters.
AP: "The United States is venturing into one of Africa's bloodiest conflicts, sending about 100 U.S. troops to central Africa to support a years-long fight against a guerrilla group accused of horrific atrocities. The Obama administration said the troops will advise, not engage in combat, unless forced to defend themselves.... The first of the troops arrived in Uganda on Wednesday, the White House said, and others will be sent to South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo." ...
... Update: the text of the President's letter to Congressional leaders is here.
NEW. NBC News: "The number of donors who raise big money for President Barack Obama jumped in the last three months as he builds a war chest for what will likely be the costliest presidential election ever. At least forty-one people have raised at least half a million dollars for the president, compared to 27 in Obama's first report, according to an analysis of campaign data released Friday. The big donors [are] known as 'bundlers.' ..."
New York Times: "The Obama administration announced Friday that it was scrapping a long-term care insurance program created by the new health care law because it was too costly and would not work. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said she had concluded that premiums would be so high that few healthy people would sign up. The program, which was intended for people with chronic illnesses or severe disabilities, was known as Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, or Class."
Reuters: "A Long Island man was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday after admitting to stealing more than $195 million from thousands of investors in the course of a five-year, $400-million Ponzi scheme. Nicholas Cosmo, 40, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley to repay $179 million to more than 4,000 investors who thought they were investing in short-term commercial bridge loans through Cosmo's two Long Island-based companies, Agape World Inc and Agape Merchant Advance."
Guardian: "The prime minister lost his first Conservative cabinet minister on Friday when Liam Fox [the Defence Secretary] folded under the pressure of relentless revelations about a close friend and the access he gained to the heart of government."