Friday, July 30, 2010

Teabagging libertarianism and Christianity don't mix

Hey you Tea Partiers and libertarians, what's more important, your politics or your God? Because your God doesn't like your politics. He said so. (Oops, wrong Jesus.) So you can have one or the other.

Wrote Gushee: "[Christian traditions] understand that we were made by our Creator not just to claim rights for ourselves but to serve one another, and that a society governed by raw libertarian individualism cannot be the best we can do. Today's libertarian resurgence is at best an uneasy fit with Christian principles."

By Dr. David P. Gushee
July 29, 2010 | Huffington Post

ADL is a sham that supports bigotry when convenient

The Anti-Defamation League says that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all," but let's face it, it's just an arm of Israel's conservative Likud party trying to influence U.S. politics, and if their aims require bigotry, then they're all for bigotry.

The Likud is anti-American because it does not support our ideals of religious freedom, free speech, and free association. They are a pernicious influence on our policy debates. They want to turn us into them: a nation that discriminates against and ghettoizes Muslims, and as a result, is in a permanent state of war.

BTW, the "Ground Zero Mosque" is actually not "at" Ground Zero, it's several blocks away around a corner. You can't see it from Ground Zero; and you can't see Ground Zero from the site of the mosque -- which is not really a mosque but a cultural center where people can pray if they want to. If we give in to the ADL and those who argue for discriminating against Muslims, then bin Laden has won. He will have un-made America.

By David Weiner
July 30, 2010 | Huffington Post

Obama tougher on immigration enforcement than Dubya

But he still gets no respect from conservatives. It just goes to show they're not rational.

He's attacking the demand side of the problem by doing careful (boring) audits of businesses, which is the solution I've been preaching all along, instead of the Sheriff Joe-type Gestapo tactics that are red meat for anger-addicted FOX News viewers.

"Ultimately, if the demand for undocumented workers falls, the incentive for people to come here illegally will decline as well," Obama said.

By Scott Horsley
July 28, 2010 | All Things Considered, NPR

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sanders: Estate tax on super-rich lowers deficit, prevents hereditary oligarchy

By Bernie Sanders
July 22, 2010 | The Nation

The American people are hurting. As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, homes, life savings and their ability to get a higher education. Today, some 22 percent of our children live in poverty, and millions more have become dependent on food stamps for their food.

And while the Great Wall Street Recession has devastated the middle class, the truth is that working families have been experiencing a decline for decades. During the Bush years alone, from 2000-2008, median family income dropped by nearly $2,200 and millions lost their health insurance. Today, because of stagnating wages and higher costs for basic necessities, the average two-wage-earner family has less disposable income than a one-wage-earner family did a generation ago. The average American today is underpaid, overworked and stressed out as to what the future will bring for his or her children. For many, the American dream has become a nightmare.

But, not everybody is hurting. While the middle class disappears and poverty increases the wealthiest people in our country are not only doing extremely well, they are using their wealth and political power to protect and expand their very privileged status at the expense of everyone else. This upper-crust of extremely wealthy families are hell-bent on destroying the democratic vision of a strong middle-class which has made the United States the envy of the world. In its place they are determined to create an oligarchy in which a small number of families control the economic and political life of our country.

The 400 richest families in America, who saw their wealth increase by some $400 billion during the Bush years, have now accumulated $1.27 trillion in wealth. Four hundred families! During the last fifteen years, while these enormously rich people became much richer their effective tax rates were slashed almost in half. While the highest-paid 400 Americans had an average income of $345 million in 2007, as a result of Bush tax policy they now pay an effective tax rate of 16.6 percent, the lowest on record.

Last year, the top twenty-five hedge fund managers made a combined $25 billion but because of tax policy their lobbyists helped write, they pay a lower effective tax rate than many teachers, nurses and police officers. As a result of tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and elsewhere, the wealthy and large corporations are evading some $100 billion a year in U.S. taxes. Warren Buffett, one of the richest people on earth, has often commented that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary.

But it's not just wealthy individuals who grotesquely manipulate the system for their benefit. It's the multinational corporations they own and control. In 2009, Exxon Mobil, the most profitable corporation in history made $19 billion in profits and not only paid no federal income tax—they actually received a $156 million refund from the government. In 2005, one out of every four large corporations in the United States paid no federal income taxes while earning $1.1 trillion in revenue.

But, perhaps the most outrageous tax break given to multi-millionaires and billionaires happened this January when the estate tax, established in 1916, was repealed for one year as a result of President Bush's 2001 tax legislation. This tax applies only to the wealthiest three-tenths of 1 percent of our population.

This is what Teddy Roosevelt, a leading proponent of the estate tax, said in 1910. "The absence of effective state, and, especially, national restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise.… Therefore, I believe in a…graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate." And that's what we've had for the last ninety-five years—until 2010.

Today, not content with huge tax breaks on their income; not content with massive corporate tax loopholes; not content with trade laws enabling them to outsource the jobs of millions of American workers to low-wage countries and not content with tax havens around the world, the ruling elite and their lobbyists are working feverishly to either eliminate the estate tax or substantially lower it. If they are successful at wiping out the estate tax, as they came close to doing in 2006 with every Republican but two voting to do, it would increase the national debt by over $1 trillion during a ten-year period. At a time when we already have a $13 trillion debt, enormous unmet needs and the highest level of wealth inequality in the industrialized world, it is simply obscene to provide more tax breaks to multi-millionaires and billionaires.

That is why I have introduced the Responsible Estate Tax Act (S.3533). This legislation would raise $318 billion over the next decade by establishing a graduated inheritance tax on estates over $3.5 million retroactive to this year. This bill ensures that the wealthiest 0.3 percent of Americans pays their fair share of estate taxes, while making sure that 99.7 percent of Americans never have to pay a dime when they lose a loved one. It also makes certain that the overwhelming majority of family farmers and small businesses never have to pay an estate tax.

This legislation must be passed because, with a $13 trillion national debt and huge unmet needs, we cannot afford more tax breaks for millionaire and billionaire families. But even more importantly, it must be passed because the United States must not become an oligarchy in which a handful of wealthy and powerful families control the destiny of our nation. Too many people, from the inception of this country, have struggled and died to maintain our democratic vision. We owe it to them and to our children to maintain it.

Virtual hotties threaten U.S. national security

We hottie-deprived American men have long been vulnerable to the old KGB honey-pot tactic of using beautiful females as spies; but nowadays we're such socially atomized losers and hi-tech nerds that made-up hot chick profiles on social networks can pry those state secrets loose from us just as well as real babes. Real Anna Chapmans, sadly, are becoming obsolete. Ah, the good ole days!

By Adrian Chen
July 25, 2010 |

Military Nerds Put Our Nation at Risk By Befriending Hot Girls on Facebook

Nerds never change. If they get a friend request from a hot girl on a social-networking site, they'll always accept. Even if they happen to be military or intelligence personnel. One security expert proved this with an experiment.

According to Computerworld, security consultant Thomas Ryan created a fake hottie Navy cyberthreat analyst named "Robin Sage." He gave her an MIT degree and a flirty mien, then set out to befriend 300 people working in the military, intelligence agencies, and security companies. What he found will surprise no one:

Despite some patently obvious red flags — such as noting that the 25-year-old Sage had worked professionally for 10 years — the scheme worked. The connections to Sage, who was depicted as a real-life Abby Scuito, a fictional character in CBS's NCIS television series, were established in less than a month.

Many friends freely shared personal information and photos, invited the fictional threat analyst to conferences and asked her to review documents. Some "friends" at major companies, including Google and Lockheed Martin, even expressed interest in hiring her, he noted.

So, basically the same techniques used to market nude webcam sites to horny nerds will work to extract state secrets from them. We're doomed.

Pitt: 'Dog-whistle politics' incite violence

I'm glad Pitt can hear the "dog whistles" like I can. The right wing is clearly inciting some nut job to take up arms and kill our lawfully elected President. Train your ears and listen up!

By William Rivers Pitt
July 23, 2010 | t r u t h o u t


Dismiss it too easily or too quickly, however, and you'll miss the dog whistle buried in the message. I hadn't heard of the term "dog whistle" until I saw a disturbing post on the web forum DemocraticUnderground, but the term perfectly describes the phenomenon. Wikipedia describes the term thusly:

Dog-whistle politics, also known as the use of code words, is a type of political campaigning or speechmaking employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has a different or more specific meaning for a targeted subgroup of the audience. The term is an analogy to dog whistles built in such a way that humans cannot hear them due to their high frequency, but dogs can.

The DU post referring to a "dog whistle" was highlighting a recent broadcast of Pat Robertson's "700 Club." During this particular broadcast, author Eric Metaxas was being interviewed about his new biography of attempted Adolf Hitler assassin Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Metaxas' book paints Bonhoeffer as a prophet of God who was doing holy work through his plot to kill Hitler. Bonhoeffer, a trained theologian who resisted the Nazis based on his Christian faith, has been a revered figure in many religious circles ever since his death, so a book calling him a holy prophet isn't wildly out of line on its face.

But here's the thing. During the interview, descriptions of fascism and tyranny were used extensively. Again, given that the topic dealt with Hitler and Nazi Germany, the use of this language isn't immediately improper...except when it's in the context of the kind of rhetoric used by Pat Robertson, Fox News and bloggers like Andrew Breitbart to describe President Obama. The interview basically stated that it is the holy work of any good Christian to assassinate a fascist tyrant, and given the serial ways these right-wing media people have used those exact terms to describe the president, it is a pretty short leap to realize the "700 Club" was essentially sending the message that whoever puts a bullet in Obama will be considered a saint on the level of Bonhoeffer.

Germany has a better way

What anemic America can learn from Europe's export-happy engine and largest social democracy.

By Jeremy Gantz
July 23, 2010 | AlterNet

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ratigan: 'Banksters' rediscover ideology on unemployment

Ratigan shows once again that there is not a clear left-right, liberal-conservative divide on the issue of banks, no matter what your favorite radio or cable jock tells you. Some solutions are simply common sense and in the common interest.

It's not ideology -- it's hypocrisy -- that is causing so many Congressmen who voted for the TARP bailouts to vote against extending unemployment benefits to 2.5 million erstwhile employed Americans. The arguments to sell TARP we now know were bogus. By contrast, unemployment insurance is not smoke and mirrors. Yes, the benefits extension will have a 2% effect on this year's deficit, but in the short-term there is nothing else to keep this economy going right now. The whole "unemployment insurance makes people lazy" argument is a stretch: estimates vary that it has an effect from 0.4 to 1.5 percentage points on unemployment. Unemployment insurance is the surest and fastest form of economic stimulus which the government can provide (see CBO report pps. 26-27).

Beyond economics, it's just the right thing to do to help out formerly hard-working people who can't find a job. There were more than 150 unemployed workers for every new private-sector job created in June. What's an honest unemployed person to do? This is a crisis and extreme measures are called for. Helping citizens get through times like this is why government exists.

Banksters Revealed Again!
By Dylan Ratigan
July 20, 2010 | Huffington Post

Doc Holliday said, "My hypocrisy knows no bounds" in the movie Tombstone. The same apparently is true for our current crop of Bankster Politicians, many of whom today voted against extending unemployment benefits even after they voted in 2008 for a bank bailout.
Yes, these Corporate Communists not only voted for billion dollar bailouts for companies that were about to fail due to their own terrible decisions, but then subsequently have done nothing to prevent the ongoing and future theft. By destroying this very tenet of capitalism -- that the losers actually lose so that new ideas, people, companies can become winners -- they have now crippled our economy and kept millions out of work.

Now when faced with giving a pittance of support to many of the same people tossed from employment by their cronyism, they have all of a sudden found ideology. Of course, considering that many of these Bankster Politicians are going to lose their jobs for this, they will try to make excuses like the following:

Unemployment needs to be paid for out of current spending!
And for some reason the bank bailouts did not? But even letting bygones be bygones, I have a suggestion -- let's use clawbacks to pay for unemployment, considering this financial crisis (a) was caused by these people and (b) is why there are no jobs.

But unemployment pays people not to work!
Well, bailing out these banks is even worse -- it's the government literally paying people ungodly sums to destroy our country. Like I've said before, there's a reason why banking is an unpaid job in Monopoly -- it is basically a utility rendered unprofitable by modern technology. These bailed-out banks are dangerous casinos gambling with the well-being of America, and America is losing.
Mind you, I don't even agree with the current unemployment program in this country. I believe people should have to volunteer for a non-profit for 10-20 hours a week to qualify for unemployment. However, our vote-loving politicians like to keep their jobs by giving future generation's money away for nothing in return.

TARP was to keep people working!
Really? Well then it's done a terrible job of keeping people working, because unemployment is actually getting worse. The only place it's actually saved "us" is in the imaginary crony-ist utopia of those who benefited. Their jobs plan is a lucky few of you cleaning the pools built with their $145 billion in 2010 bonuses.

TARP was just a loan and has been paid back, with interest!
I suggest you all familiarize yourselves with THE BIG TARP LIE... and make sure the politicians and media that continue to spout it become familiar as well.

But I was lied to about TARP!
Then do your job. Those people who lied to you were often under oath. They should be investigated and put in jail if found guilty.

So without further ado, I present to you the list of today's Banksters -- those who voted "Yes" for Bankster billions and "No" for their victims. Please check to see if your Senator is on the list:

Lamar Alexander [B-TN]
Robert Bennett [B-UT]
Christopher Bond [B-MO]
Richard Burr [B-NC]
Saxby Chambliss [B-GA]
Thomas Coburn [B-OK]
Bob Corker [B-TN]
John Cornyn [B-TX]
John Ensign [B-NV]
Lindsey Graham [B-SC]
Charles Grassley [B-IA]
Judd Gregg [B-NH]
Orrin Hatch [B-UT]
Kay Hutchison [B-TX]
John Isakson [B-GA]
Jon Kyl [B-AZ]
Richard Lugar [B-IN]
John McCain [B-AZ]
Mitch McConnell [B-KY]
Lisa Murkowski [B-AK]
Ben Nelson [B-NE]
John Thune [B-SD]
George Voinovich [B-OH]

Friday, July 16, 2010

Where your income tax really goes

OK, you fiscally responsible teabaggers, tell us where to cut. But don't you dare touch defense!

Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes FY 2009

Total Outlays (Federal Funds): $2,650 billion
MILITARY: 54% and $1,449 billion
NON-MILITARY: 46% and $1,210 billion

FY2009 federal piechart


Current military" includes Dept. of Defense ($653 billion), the military portion from other departments ($150 billion), and an additional $162 billion to supplement the Budget's misleading and vast underestimate of only $38 billion for the "war on terror." "Past military" represents veterans' benefits plus 80% of the interest on the debt.*

The Government Deception

The pie chart below is the government view of the budget. This is a distortion of how our income tax dollars are spent because it includes Trust Funds (e.g., Social Security), and the expenses of past military spending are not distinguished from nonmilitary spending. For a more accurate representation of how your Federal income tax dollar is really spent, see the large chart (top).

the government's deceptive pie chart

Source: Congressional Budget Office for FY2008

These figures are from an analysis of detailed tables in the "Analytical Perspectives" book of the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2009. The figures are federal funds, which do not include trust funds — such as Social Security — that are raised and spent separately from income taxes. What you pay (or don't pay) by April 15, 2008, goes to the federal funds portion of the budget. The government practice of combining trust and federal funds began during the Vietnam War, thus making the human needs portion of the budget seem larger and the military portion smaller.

*Analysts differ on how much of the debt stems from the military; other groups estimate 50% to 60%. We use 80% because we believe if there had been no military spending most (if not all) of the national debt would have been eliminated. For further explanation, please see box at bottom of page.

Are We Safe Yet?

Cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars
(billions of dollars)
spending on war
source: For 2001 to 2008 from Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation,; for 2009, the Budget includes $70 billion in "allowances" for GWOT; WRL estimates an additional $130 billion will be authorized for spending in 2009 and subsequent years, making the total authorized $200 billion. This graph shows Budget Authority, while the pie on the front is Outlays.
Military spending: U.S. vs. World

U.S. Military Spending vs. The World

U.S. military spending – Dept. of Defense plus nuclear weapons (in $billions) – is equal to the military spending of the next 15 countries combined.

These numbers show military expenditures for each country. Some say that U.S. military spending will naturally be higher because it has the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any country. The United States accounts for 47 percent of the world's total military spending, however the U.S.'s share of the world's GDP is about 21 percent. Also note that of the top 15 countries shown, at least 12 are considered allies of the U.S. The U.S. outspends Iran and North Korea by a ratio of 72 to one.

Source: Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation,; our graph uses a more comparable figure of $515 from actual 2006 U.S. military spending

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Polls: Americans say continue unemployment benefits

So teabaggers/extremely conservative Republicans are in the minority on the issue of unemployment benefits, just like they are on many issues. But he who shouts the loudest and acts the craziest gets what he wants. Start getting mad, liberals!

Voters Say To Hell With Deficit Reduction, Help The Unemployed
By Arthur Delaney
July 14, 2010 | Huffington Post

Fifty-two percent of voters told CBS that Congress should extend unemployment benefits "even if it means increasing the budget deficit," including 35 percent of Republicans. Sixty-two percent of registered voters told ABC Congress should extend benefits despite concerns that doing so "adds too much to the federal budget deficit."

In a Bloomberg survey, 70 percent of voters said reducing unemployment is more important than reducing the deficit. But only 47 percent said Congress should reauthorize extended benefits, which in some states provided the unemployed with up to 99 weeks of checks.
A poll commissioned by the National Employment Law Project in June found that 74 percent of voters think helping the unemployed is more important than reducing the deficit.

The poll results suggest that most voters agree with economist Mark Zandi, a former adviser to Sen. John McCain, who has argued that helping the unemployed is more important than deficit reduction in the short-term, and that nickel-and-diming the unemployed now could jeopardize the economic recovery.

Democrats, including Reid, have said several times in recent weeks that jeopardizing the recovery seems to be exactly what the GOP is trying to do. "It wouldn't do their electoral prospects any harm for there to be more economic misery in America before the election, let's put it that way," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fish getting high on our pee

I wonder if some fish became more dangerous when addicted to drugs, just like some people do? What if a junkie Jaws could smell when a swimmer was taking Prozac and decided to get an oral dose? Or, wouldn't it be sad if the easiest way to catch fish became pissing in an estuary?

Monday, July 12, 2010

U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan make peace, not war - DTWF?!?

Read this story if you have any doubt that we'll ever be successful in Afghanistan.

Pinheads like Rush Limbaugh criticize the rules of engagement in Afghanistan, as if our troops were allowed to blow everybody to smithereens, then we would "win." Well, maybe. Sort of. If everybody in Afghanistan were dead, that might be considered a victory of sorts.

But that's not going to happen. Meanwhile the Taliban doesn't care about being loved like we do. They'll settle for being feared. Americans don't roll that way.

The truth is that nobody in the U.S. wants to understand what's happening in Afghanistan. It's easier for them to think that the reason we're still there is that pussy-footing liberals constrain the rules of engagement, or refuse to take the fight to the Taliban.

The truth, as this article points out, is that U.S. soldiers probably wouldn't recognize a Taliban soldier until one was shooting at him. We can't trust the people whom we're trying to help at all, because the Taliban has already gotten to them. We're no match for the Taliban when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of primitive Islamic goat herders. Let's face it. Because the Taliban are primitive Islamic goat herders. And they don't care about being liked.

What the hell can we offer a dirt farmer or a goat herder that won't turn to dust in a year or two? And we're too nice & American to threaten him. That in a nutshell is why we're losing and we'll continue to lose.

By Heidi Vogt
July 11, 2010 | AP

Senate GOP leader: NO to unemployment benefits, YES to tax cuts for rich

$34 billion for unemployment benefits -- no way! $678 billion in tax cuts for the rich -- no problem!

And you guys think this November is going to be a cinch for Republicans? Not if Dems simply point out which party is trying to screw the Little Guy sideways.

By Sam Stein
July 12, 2010 | Huffington Post

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Frank and Ron Paul: Cut Pentagon by $1 trillion

Why haven't the Tea Parties picked up Ron Paul's banner? He was teabagging before it was hip and cool. Is it their ignorance? Are they afraid of accusations they don't "support our troops?" Or is that they're not against Big Government, per se, just against a government that spends on butter instead of guns?

Whatever the reason, the teabaggers can't be taken seriously on fiscal responsibility until they face the issues of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the hundreds of U.S. military garrisons circling the globe. Moreover, their intentions will be suspect until they start crying just as loudly to cut defense spending as they do to cut spending on health care, unemployment benefits, alternative energies, and other federal stimulus measures. In other words, until they stop acting exactly like Republicans.

For more on the Frank-Paul "odd couple" and just how badly we need to cut military spending check out NPR's interview with Barney Frank yesterday.

By Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Ron Paul
July 6, 2010 | Huffington Post

As members of opposing political parties, we disagree on a number of important issues. But we must not allow honest disagreement over some issues to interfere with our ability to work together when we do agree.

By far the single most important of these is our current initiative to include substantial reductions in the projected level of American military spending as part of future deficit reduction efforts. For decades, the subject of military expenditures has been glaringly absent from public debate. Yet the Pentagon budget for 2010 is $693 billion -- more than all other discretionary spending programs combined. Even subtracting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military spending still amounts to over 42% of total spending.

It is irrefutably clear to us that if we do not make substantial cuts in the projected levels of Pentagon spending, we will do substantial damage to our economy and dramatically reduce our quality of life.

We are not talking about cutting the money needed to supply American troops in the field. Once we send our men and women into battle, even in cases where we may have opposed going to war, we have an obligation to make sure that our servicemembers have everything they need. And we are not talking about cutting essential funds for combating terrorism; we must do everything possible to prevent any recurrence of the mass murder of Americans that took place on September 11, 2001.

Immediately after World War II, with much of the world devastated and the Soviet Union becoming increasingly aggressive, America took on the responsibility of protecting virtually every country that asked for it. Sixty-five years later, we continue to play that role long after there is any justification for it, and currently American military spending makes up approximately 44% of all such expenditures worldwide. The nations of Western Europe now collectively have greater resources at their command than we do, yet they continue to depend overwhelmingly on American taxpayers to provide for their defense. According to a recent article in the New York Times, "Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism. Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella."

When our democratic allies are menaced by larger, hostile powers, there is a strong argument to be made for supporting them. But the notion that American taxpayers get some benefit from extending our military might worldwide is deeply flawed. And the idea that as a superpower it is our duty to maintain stability by intervening in civil disorders virtually anywhere in the world often generates anger directed at us and may in the end do more harm than good.

We believe that the time has come for a much quicker withdrawal from Iraq than the President has proposed. We both voted against that war, but even for those who voted for it, there can be no justification for spending over $700 billion dollars of American taxpayers' money on direct military spending in Iraq since the war began, not including the massive, estimated long-term costs of the war. We have essentially taken on a referee role in a civil war, even mediating electoral disputes.

In order to create a systematic approach to reducing military spending, we have convened a Sustainable Defense Task Force consisting of experts on military expenditures that span the ideological spectrum. The task force has produced a detailed report with specific recommendations for cutting Pentagon spending by approximately $1 trillion over a ten year period. It calls for eliminating certain Cold War weapons and scaling back our commitments overseas. Even with these changes, the United States would still be immeasurably stronger than any nation with which we might be engaged, and the plan will in fact enhance our security rather than diminish it.

We are currently working to enlist the support of other members of Congress for our initiative. Along with our colleagues Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Walter Jones, we have addressed a letter to the President's National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which he has convened to develop concrete recommendations for reducing the budget deficit. We will make it clear to leaders of both parties that substantial reductions in military spending must be included in any future deficit reduction package. We pledge to oppose any proposal that fails to do so.

In the short term, rebuilding our economy and creating jobs will remain our nation's top priority. But it is essential that we begin to address the issue of excessive military spending in order to ensure prosperity in the future. We may not agree on what to do with the estimated $1 trillion in savings, but we do agree that nothing either of us cares deeply about will be possible if we do not begin to face this issue now.

Gov's to Obama: Brother, can you spare a dime?

One of my teabagger friends forwarded me yet another right-wing hoax story about 35 or 38 state governors (I don't remember how many) suing the federal gov't for overstepping its authority.

In fact, the state governors are begging with hat in hand for more stimulus help from Uncle Sam, because states are expected to have $300 billion in budget shortfalls between the 2009 and 2012, despite their slashed spending and tax hikes.

Oddly enough, China, Britain, and Saudi Arabia are not lining up to buy state and municipal long-term bonds at 3% interest. So that leaves only one source of money to pay America's teachers, police, firemen and civil servants, and improve crumbling infrastructure.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gen. Casey let slip the truth: Another 10 years at war

"In a follow-up statement to CBS News, a spokesperson for Gen. Casey, Lt. Col. Rich Spjegel, said that 'General Casey was speaking of the types of conflict we will be fighting for a decade or so. He did not, nor did he intend to, imply that we would be fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan for 10 more years.'"

No, I think that's exactly what "a decade or so" means, General Casey. Way to CYA.

Anyway, how can anyone possibly believe that Islamist-sponsored terrorism will just disappear after 10 years no matter what we do?!? So his "types of conflict" clarification is a horrible revelation in its own right, because logically it can only mean we'll be fighting and occupying other countries besides Afghanistan and Iraq!

So anyway, at the start of 2010 the U.S. had already spent $1.075 trillion on Iraq and Afghanistan. $708 billion of that has been spent in Iraq since 2003. But with Iraq lately getting fewer troops and resources than Afghanistan, in America's next decade at war look for that ratio to flip-flop. Keeping one U.S. soldier in Afghanistan costs from $500,000 to $1 million per year, estimates vary. U.S. troops numbers are expected to "peak" this year in Afghanistan at 98,000, but we all know how that song and dance goes. Petraeus or another general will tell us next year that we'll be thiiiis close to "winning" if we'll just commit to another troop surge. But let's kid ourselves and pretend we'll draw down to 50,000 in both countries:

100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq x $500,000 per year x 10 years = $500 billion. Throw in another $200 million for training and equipping Afghan and Iraqi police, plus another $50 billion for diplomatic and development costs = $750 billion.

This estimate doesn't include the cost of medical insurance and lifetime disability for wounded troops, which could jack the cost well into the $ trillions.

All you fiscally conservative Repugs and teabaggers can thank me in advance for opening your eyes to the cost of running two occupations. Now I'm sure you'll do the right thing and call up your Congressmen and threaten to to un-elect them if they keep voting for war appropriations, right? Because it's all about the dollars & cents, right? We can't afford to keep taxing & spending, right? Right. I'm glad we're all on the same page.

By Christine Delargy
July 9, 2010 | CBS News

Sirota: High taxes = high revenue = high growth

Maybe that's not what your TV or radio jock taught you, but that's what a study of American history will teach you. There's no getting around it.

Taibbi: Newzbabe reveals why we know nothing about Afghan snafu

Here's another entry in the Lib'rul Media file... in the same cabinet with the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot files.

By Matt Taibbi
June 28, 2010 | Rolling Stone


Lara Logan, come on down! You're the next guest on Hysterical Backstabbing Jealous Hackfest 2010!

I thought I'd seen everything when I read David Brooks saying out loud in a New York Times column that reporters should sit on damaging comments to save their sources from their own idiocy. But now we get CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slamming our own Michael Hastings on CNN's "Reliable Sources" program, agreeing that the Rolling Stone reporter violated an "unspoken agreement" that journalists are not supposed to "embarrass [the troops] by reporting insults and banter."

Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn't mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan. Here's CBS's chief foreign correspondent saying out loud on TV that when the man running a war that's killing thousands of young men and women every year steps on his own dick in front of a journalist, that journalist is supposed to eat the story so as not to embarrass the flag. And the part that really gets me is Logan bitching about how Hastings was dishonest to use human warmth and charm to build up enough of a rapport with his sources that they felt comfortable running their mouths off in front of him. According to Logan, that's sneaky — and journalists aren't supposed to be sneaky:

"What I find is the most telling thing about what Michael Hastings said in your interview is that he talked about his manner as pretending to build an illusion of trust and, you know, he's laid out there what his game is… That is exactly the kind of damaging type of attitude that makes it difficult for reporters who are genuine about what they do, who don't — I don't go around in my personal life pretending to be one thing and then being something else. I mean, I find it egregious that anyone would do that in their professional life."

When I first heard her say that, I thought to myself, "That has to be a joke. It's sarcasm, right?" But then I went back and replayed the clip – no sarcasm! She meant it! If I'm hearing Logan correctly, what Hastings is supposed to have done in that situation is interrupt these drunken assholes and say, "Excuse me, fellas, I know we're all having fun and all, but you're saying things that may not be in your best interest! As a reporter, it is my duty to inform you that you may end up looking like insubordinate douche bags in front of two million Rolling Stone readers if you don't shut your mouths this very instant!" I mean, where did Logan go to journalism school – the Burson-Marsteller agency?

But Logan goes even further that that. See, according to Logan, not only are reporters not supposed to disclose their agendas to sources at all times, but in the case of covering the military, one isn't even supposed to have an agenda that might upset the brass! Why? Because there is an "element of trust" that you're supposed to have when you hang around the likes of a McChrystal. You cover a war commander, he's got to be able to trust that you're not going to embarrass him. Otherwise, how can he possibly feel confident that the right message will get out?

True, the Pentagon does have perhaps the single largest public relations apparatus on earth – spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department – but is that really enough to ensure positive coverage in a society armed with a constitutionally-guaranteed free press?

And true, most of the major TV outlets are completely in the bag for the Pentagon, with two of them (NBC/GE and Logan's own CBS, until recently owned by Westinghouse, one of the world's largest nuclear weapons manufacturers) having operated for years as leaders in both the broadcast media and weapons-making businesses.

But is that enough to guarantee a level playing field? Can a general really feel safe that Americans will get the right message when the only tools he has at his disposal are a $5 billion P.R. budget and the near-total acquiescence of all the major media companies, some of whom happen to be the Pentagon's biggest contractors?

Does the fact that the country is basically barred from seeing dead bodies on TV, or the fact that an embedded reporter in a war zone literally cannot take a shit without a military attaché at his side (I'm not joking: while embedded at Camp Liberty in Iraq, I had to be escorted from my bunk to the latrine) really provide the working general with the security and peace of mind he needs to do his job effectively?

Apparently not, according to Lara Logan. Apparently in addition to all of this, reporters must also help out these poor public relations underdogs in the Pentagon by adhering to an "unspoken agreement" not to embarrass the brass, should they tilt back a few and jam their feet into their own mouths in front of a reporter holding a microphone in front of their faces.

Then there's the part that made me really furious: Logan hinting that Hastings lied about the damaging material being on the record:

"Michael Hastings, if you believe him, says that there were no ground rules laid out. And, I mean, that just doesn't really make a lot of sense to me… I mean, I know these people. They never let their guard down like that. To me, something doesn't add up here. I just — I don't believe it."

I think the real meaning of that above quote is made clear in conjunction with this one: "There are very good beat reporters who have been covering these wars for years, year after year. Michael Hastings appeared in Baghdad fairly late on the scene, and he was there for a significant period of time. He has his credentials, but he's not the only one. There are a lot of very good reporters out there. And to be fair to the military, if they believe that a piece is balanced, they will let you back."

Let me just say one thing quickly: I don't know Michael Hastings. I've never met him and he's not a friend of mine. If he cut me off in a line in an airport, I'd probably claw his eyes out like I would with anyone else. And if you think I'm being loyal to him because he works for Rolling Stone, well – let's just say my co-workers at the Stone would laugh pretty hard at that idea.

But when I read this diatribe from Logan, I felt like I'd known Hastings my whole life. Because brother, I have been there, when some would-be "reputable" journalist who's just been severely ass-whipped by a relative no-name freelancer on an enormous story fights back by going on television and, without any evidence at all, accusing the guy who beat him of cheating. That's happened to me so often, I've come to expect it. If there's a lower form of life on the planet earth than a "reputable" journalist protecting his territory, I haven't seen it.

As to this whole "unspoken agreement" business: the reason Lara Logan thinks this is because she's like pretty much every other "reputable" journalist in this country, in that she suffers from a profound confusion about who she's supposed to be working for. I know this from my years covering presidential campaigns, where the same dynamic applies. Hey, assholes: you do not work for the people you're covering! Jesus, is this concept that fucking hard? On the campaign trail, I watch reporters nod solemnly as they hear about the hundreds of millions of dollars candidates X and Y and Z collect from the likes of Citigroup and Raytheon and Archer Daniels Midland, and it blows my mind that they never seem to connect the dots and grasp where all that money is going. The answer, you idiots, is that it's buying advertising! People like George Bush, John McCain, Barack Obama, and General McChrystal for that matter, they can afford to buy their own P.R. — and they do, in ways both honest and dishonest, visible and invisible.

They don't need your help, and you're giving it to them anyway, because you just want to be part of the club so so badly. Disgustingly, that's really what it comes down to. Most of these reporters just want to be inside the ropeline so badly, they want to be able to say they had that beer with Hillary Clinton in a bowling alley in Scranton or whatever, that it colors their whole worldview. God forbid some important person think you're not playing for the right team!

Meanwhile, the people who don't have the resources to find out the truth and get it out in front of the public's eyes, your readers/viewers, you're supposed to be working for them — and they're not getting your help. What the hell are we doing in Afghanistan? Is it worth all the bloodshed and the hatred? Who are the people running this thing, what is their agenda, and is that agenda the same thing we voted for? By the severely unlikely virtue of a drunken accident we get a tiny glimpse of an answer to some of these vital questions, but instead of cheering this as a great break for our profession, a waytago moment, one so-called reputable journalist after another lines up to protest the leak and attack the reporter for doing his job. God, do you all suck!

Another Repug begging for a bullet in Obama's head

Tancredo is a loser and a nobody but still a hero to many in the far-right GOP and Tea Parties because of his anti-immigrant stance.

Now he's getting into the act like other extremist losers Limbaugh and Gingrich, just begging some gun nut to draw the "obvious" conclusion about what needs to be done to neutralize

"The greatest threat to the United States today, the greatest threat to our liberty, the greatest threat to the Constitution of the United States, the greatest threat to our way of life; everything we believe in. The greatest threat to the country that was put together by our founding fathers is the man that's sitting in the White House today."

Think I'm exaggerating? Come on. Every red-blooded American knows what the USA does when faced with a threat: we kick its ass. And Obama is allegedly the greatest threat America has ever faced.

By Ethan Axelrod
July 8, 2010 | Huffington Post

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rich defaulters: They're 'strategic;' you're still 'irresponsible'

The rich are America's biggest mortgage defaulters. They're sure as hell not falling for Freddie Mac's moralizing. See, they're not being "irresponsible" and "damaging their communities" like you peons are when you sadly walk away from the biggest investment in your life, they're being "strategic" and "ruthless." See the difference? No? Well, maybe that's why you're poor and they're rich.

Hey, if America's rich supermen think it's morally OK to do, then you can too. Think like a tycoon and walk away from your underwater home!

Biggest Defaulters on Mortgages Are the Rich
By David Streitfeld
July 8, 2010 | New York Times


Thursday, July 8, 2010

In U.S., peace just isn't taken seriously

Yeah, it's just a damn shame that talking about peace these days -- at least in Washington and the major media -- is regarded as pitiful naivete.

And not just peace, but our ignoring all the weapons that we sell to war-torn countries -- America is the world's largest arms exporter by a wide margin.

Real conservatives ought to be appalled, as Ron Paul is appalled, at America's empire of hundreds of military bases around the globe. As Engelhardt points out (again):

"This wasn't always the case. The early Republic that the most hawkish conservatives love to cite was a land whose leaders looked with suspicion on the very idea of a standing army. They would have viewed our hundreds of global garrisons, our vast network of spies, agents, Special Forces teams, surveillance operatives, interrogators, rent-a-guns, and mercenary corporations -- as well as our staggering Pentagon budget and the constant future-war gaming and planning that accompanies it -- with genuine horror."

July 7, 2010 | AlterNet

The following is an excerpt from The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's by Tom Engelhardt (Haymarket, 2010).

Reich: Parallels of 1929 and 2008

Reich has written a long op-ed but the excerpts below were the most interesting to me.

Our economy can't thrive when the richest 1% get an ever larger share of the nation's income and wealth, and everyone else's share shrinks.

By Robert Reich
July 7, 2010 | The Nation


Each of America's two biggest economic crashes occurred in the year immediately following these twin peaks—in 1929 and 2008. This is no mere coincidence. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don't have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing. America's median wage, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged for decades. Between 2000 and 2007 it actually dropped. Under these circumstances the only way the middle class can boost its purchasing power is to borrow, as it did with gusto. As housing prices rose, Americans turned their homes into ATMs. But such borrowing has its limits. When the debt bubble finally burst, vast numbers of people couldn't pay their bills, and banks couldn't collect.


A second parallel links 1929 with 2008: when earnings accumulate at the top, people at the top invest their wealth in whatever assets seem most likely to attract other big investors. This causes the prices of certain assets—commodities, stocks, dot-coms or real estate—to become wildly inflated. Such speculative bubbles eventually burst, leaving behind mountains of near-worthless collateral.

The crash of 2008 didn't turn into another Great Depression because the government learned the importance of flooding the market with cash, thereby temporarily rescuing some stranded consumers and most big bankers. But the financial rescue didn't change the economy's underlying structure. Median wages are continuing their downward slide, and those at the top continue to rake in the lion's share of income. That's why the middle class still doesn't have the purchasing power it needs to reboot the economy, and why the so-called recovery will be so tepid—maybe even leading to a double dip. It's also why America will be vulnerable to even larger speculative booms and deeper busts in the years to come.

Reuters ed.'s feeling a little gay, er, merry?

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BHO's socialist export & trade liberalization drive

There goes comrade Barack again, trying to destroy capitalism and turn America socialist.

Can't you all see he hates our way of life?!

UPDATE (07.09.2010): Robert Reich said that if all countries follow America's lead it could cause a return to Smoot-Hawley, trade wars, and protectionism. And who has enough money to buy our stuff anyway, especially if American consumers aren't buying theirs?

Expanding Exports To Stimulate The Economy
By Scott Horsley
July 7, 2010 | All Things Considered, NPR


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tea-formers: Repugs in disguise

But not a very good disguise.

I made it clear months ago that Tea Partiers were just Republicans playing dress-up and trying to re-brand themselves, but here is a major media blogger agreeing with me, citing polling evidence that is obvious to anybody who has actually interacted with teabaggers, who are the same Republicans they've always known.

But don't forget about my theory on why the Tea Party was astroturfed into existence in the first place: to distract Republicans from realizing that real financial and banking reform were necessary, and instead to convince them to blame the intended cure (fiscal stimulus) for causing the disease (risky lending, big banks' toxic debt, and the Wall Street-engineered bi-partisan bailouts).

(I think I stole my theory from somebody else but I can't remember from whom.)

Is the "tea party" just a wing of the Republican party? AP Photo

By Chris Cillizza
July 6, 2010 | Washington Post's The Fix blog

The scads of media coverage about the burgeoning "tea party" effort has focused heavily on the idea that those who identify themselves as part of the movement are political free agents -- dismissive of both parties and Washington in general.

New data out of Gallup suggests that premise isn't right, as nearly seven in 10 tea party supporters describe themselves as "conservative Republicans."

All told, nearly 80 percent of tea party supporters describe themselves as Republicans, while 15 percent say they are Democrats and just six percent are, in their own minds, "pure independents."

The numbers between tea party supporters and conservative Republicans also track closely on other measures, including the image ratings of President Obama. Fifteen percent of tea party backers have a favorable view of the president, while 11 percent of conservative Republicans say the same. Those numbers are strikingly dissimilar from the poll of all Americans -- 53 percent of whom view Obama favorably.

Asked whether they would support a generic Republican or a generic Democrat for Congress this fall, 80 percent of tea party supporters chose the GOP candidate, while 15 percent opted for the Democrat. While the loyalty of tea party supporters to Republican candidates is lower than that of self-identified "conservative Republicans" -- 95 percent of whom back the GOP candidate in the generic ballot -- it is still heavily weighted toward candidates of a certain ideological proclivity.

"Their similar ideological makeup and views suggest that the Tea Party movement is more a rebranding of core Republicanism than a new or distinct entity on the American political scene," Gallup Poll director Frank Newport wrote in an analysis of the results, which were culled from national surveys conducted in March, May and June.

The Gallup findings generally affirm findings by Resurgent Republic, a conglomerate of GOP polling firms, in five states over the past weeks.

"This is a group that is organically more Republican," said GOP pollster Glen Bolger, who conducted several focus groups of tea party backers. "They have turned the page on Obama."

The Gallup data, when combined with the Resurgent Republic findings, suggests that the constant comparisons between today's tea party voter and the supporters of Ross Perot in the early 1990s are simply wrong.

The Post's Dan Balz debunked that comparison several months ago. Wrote Balz:

"The Perot voters were a disparate group, ideologically diverse, with generally secular views. The tea party movement is far more cohesive. If anything, it is simply an adjunct of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, even if many of its supporters say they hold no particular allegiance for the GOP and are critical of party leadership."

That final point is the most important one when it comes to assessing the tea party's influence in the midterm elections. As victories by Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada show, the tea party crowd doesn't take its marching orders from the national Republican leadership.

But, in the fall campaign, when faced with a choice not between two Republicans but between a Republican and a Democrat, the Gallup data seem to suggest that the tea party crowd will opt for the GOP candidates in large numbers.

Why? Because they are, at heart, Republicans -- only by a different name at the moment. Or, as, Newport puts it: "Republican leaders who worry about the Tea Party's impact on their races may in fact (and more simply) be defined as largely worrying about their party's core base."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Born on the 4th of July, killed on May 27th

What a fucking waste. Jacob Leicht deserves our deepest respect and admiration, but jeez, what was it all for?

I realize it's too painful for his family to think their son died in vain. But I'm going to say it: he died in vain.

That truth does not diminish his service, his courage, or his sacrifice. In fact, it is an indictment against all of us. We let this happen to him when it was totally unnecessary. In fact we told him it was necessary to go out there and fight and die for us. And he believed us. The good man that he was, he believed us and he went out there and did it. He fought in Afghanistan and was wounded and nearly died, had 18 surgeries, then came back again and died 1 month after returning to combat.

Our self-absorbed, scared shitless, me-first country does not deserve the sacrifices of brave, selfless men like Jacob Leicht. And Afghanistan sure as hell didn't deserve to witness his last breath.

Tea Party Unity convention moves back date due to lack of interest

Posted by Raven
June 26, 2010 | Raven Brooks

A small piece hit CNN's blog today stating that the National Tea Party Unity convention was moving from its set date of July 15-17 to October 2010. The reasons given by the organizing committee include:

  • "it would more advantageous to hold the convention in the middle of October just prior to the November elections."
  • "The heat in Las Vegas in July is keeping many who would like to participate from attending."
  • "We have also received numerous emails from people who were forced to decide between family vacations and attending the convention."

CNN's piece basically served as publication of their statement without applying any critical analysis to it. There are some basic questions you should be asking here that don't even require you to be a veteran event organizer.

To make the point bluntly their stated reasons for moving the convention are bullshit, and CNN buried the real reason this is happening in the story which was "moving back the date allows other Tea Party groups to attend the convention." In other words they're two weeks from their event and they've got no attendees and no interest in it.

This should be a juicy media story about the staying power of the Tea Party movement. Are they going to keep it going or does the excitement fizzle out at some point? That's pretty much the first question I'd be asking if I were a reporter covering the Tea Party and this crossed my desk.

But just to drive my point home let me talk a little bit about what would be involved moving an event like this. It'd be a Herculean task that you wouldn't try simply because you wanted to influence the elections or deal with some attendees complaining about the Vegas heat (when they'd likely rarely leave the hotel anyway). The only reason you'd take this sort of extraordinary action two weeks out is if your event was in imminent danger of completely failing due to lack of attendance and media attention.


I've thought for a while that most of this Tea Party stuff was nothing more than puffed up astroturf and this pretty much proves it. Without conservative donors spending $100,000 to get Sarah Palin to attend or Fox News dedicating tens of hours of coverage to promote events you're not left with a whole lot. There's no real movement there, no real organizing being done.

That's the story we should be hearing in the media, but you're not going to hear it. At least not for a little while longer. But the boomlet of the Tea Party is on its way out, it's just a matter of time before that becomes conventional wisdom.

Without tax breaks, it's not worth Big Oil's time to drill in U.S.

See, you can't fool the free market. And the free market says it's just not profitable for Big Oil companies to go after U.S. oil and pay all those darn taxes. If they didn't get approximately $4 billion annually in tax subsidies and credits, well, they just couldn't afford to hire Americans to get at all that hard-to-get oil. They'd pack up and go someplace else. Because, you know, there's oil in abundance everywhere and they're really just doing us a favor by extracting our oil and employing our workers. We should be thanking them!

"Jack N. Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, warns that any cut in subsidies will cost jobs.

"'These companies evaluate costs, risks and opportunities across the globe,' he said. 'So if the U.S. makes changes in the tax code that discourage drilling in gulf waters, they will go elsewhere and take their jobs with them.'"

Oh, no! Wait! Don't go! Um, here, take all your money back, just please keep on drilling and doing us a favor!

Seriously though, how stupid do these guys think we are? The nerve!

By David Kocieniewski
July 3, 2010 | New York Times

Economist: Slower growth & more frequent recessions

It's all doom & gloom. This economist is saying there is no policy that will help us grow the economy faster; and we're destined for more frequent recessions.

Host Guy Raz talks to economist Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, about worrying new economic data. Housing sales fell 30 percent in May to the lowest level on record, and markets are faltering on fears of a renewed recession.

July 3, 2010 | All Things Considered, NPR

GUY RAZ, host: Now if all that sounded grim, there's more. Science are pointing to a long period of slow growth and recurring recessions. That's the somber conclusion of economist Lakshman Achuthan and most of his economic predictions have been correct.

Achuthan is the managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute and he joins me from New York. Welcome.

Mr. LAKSHMAN ACHUTHAN (Managing Director, Economic Cycle Research Institute): Thank you.

RAZ: This week, you released a report saying that the global industrial downturn is now just underway. I thought the worst days were supposed to be behind us. But you're saying it's just underway.

Mr. ACHUTHAN: Well, yes. I mean, what goes up must come down. We did have a nice acceleration out of the depths of the recession last year. But now, along with the U.S. economy, the global economy in terms of growth rates is turning back down. And we're doing it in a fairly synchronized manner. Pretty much every country around the world is going to see its growth rates start to throttle back.

RAZ: Is this the much feared double-dip recession?

Mr. ACHUTHAN: Well, not exactly. What's happening now is some downshifting after a year of positive growth. Now, it would be a huge problem if we not only downshifted, but we actually slipped into reverse, meaning like a brand new recession next year when the jobs market, for example, here has only just begun to recover.

But when we look at our leading indicators that we maintain to monitor what's going on with the business cycle, this slow down is basically a done deal no matter what anyone says or tries to do about it.

RAZ: What do you mean it's a done deal?

Mr. ACHUTHAN: Well, it's essentially not something that any type of policy action or luck is going to reverse. Once you see the drivers of the economy that these leading indicators are measuring, once they collectively begin to ease economic activity itself, jobs growth, industrial production, sales and so on, all ease in its wake. And so when we see profits growth or money growth or inventory issues or confidence start to collectively throttle back, then actual production, actual jobs growth, actual sales and income also throttle back.

So right here at the middle of 2010, it may be pretty much as good as it gets in terms - not only of U.S. growth, but also global growth.

RAZ: So if the global industrial downturn is now underway once again and we're going to enter a, let's say, a six to eight-month period of a slowdown, you're not ruling out the possibility of a double-dip recession?

Mr. ACHUTHAN: No. You know, double-dip is kind of a pseudo-technical word. You know, we have had a real recovery in a technical sense. We've had a year of growth. So it would probably be a new recession if there was a new recession on the horizon. But it's not yet baked in the cake. The risks have certainly risen.

And the bigger concern, beyond what may happen in 2011, which is maybe like 50-50 chance of a new recession, the bigger concern is that in the coming decade, we are almost sure to see more frequent recessions than we've been used to at any time since the early 1980s. And that brings with it a huge host of problems.

RAZ: Explain why.

Mr. ACHUTHAN: Well, the business cycle is more volatile, more like booms and busts, combined with lower altitude, weaker and weaker trend growth. Ever since the 1970s, the pace of economic expansion in the U.S. has been stair-stepping down, getting weaker and weaker. And the last expansion was the weakest expansion since World War II on every single count of how strong an expansion can be.

So if you have low altitude and high turbulence, you end up crashing more frequently. And the problem with that, okay, it sounds bad, but the literal problems are that every time there's a recession, the unemployment rate goes back up. So we have unemployment, it's down from the peak last October at 10.1 percent to now nine and a half percent. But nine and a half percent is really high.

RAZ: Mm-hmm.

Mr. ACHUTHAN: And if we have a new recession anywhere near - with unemployment anywhere near these levels, it goes to new highs again and you have chronically high unemployment. The other problem is the markets can never really take off. You're always scared of a new recession.

RAZ: Lakshman, a lot of really smart economists in this country say we need another economic stimulus to sustain the recovery. Do you agree?

Mr. ACHUTHAN: It would be too late. See, the leading indicators are already turning down. So let's say, today, we debate a new stimulus package to sustain the upturn that we've enjoyed for the last year. In a best case scenario in a few months, they may agree on something.

And I think I'm being optimistic. And then it might take another quarter or two for whatever they agreed on to actually hopefully impact the economy. And really that's being highly optimistic.

The business cycle doesn't wait for any of that. By that time, we're talking about 2011 and I don't know where our leading indicators are going. It's quite possible that by then, they've already foretold of the new recession. This has been the problem with policy that it's essentially reactive; it's not in front of the business cycle.

RAZ: So, I mean, the bottom line here is that we should be bracing ourselves for a long period of economic malaise.

Mr. ACHUTHAN: Yeah, near-term what is virtually guaranteed is the slowdown that's baked in the cake. Growth will not improve from here. It will start to ease back off. There is a rising risk of a new recession just beyond the horizon, perhaps in 2011. And that's your near-term forecast.

Separately, when we look at the backdrop of the business cycle for the coming decade, it virtually dictates more frequent recessions than most people can remember. The last time we had frequent recessions in this country was from the late '60s until the early '80s. And, you know, you can kind of recall back what it felt like. We survived it, but there were a lot of ups and downs. And it was a little difficult to (unintelligible).

RAZ: That's quite sobering news from Lakshman Achuthan. He's the managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute. He joined me from New York. Lakshman, thanks so much.

Mr. ACHUTHAN: Thank you.