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Thu Nov 11, 2010 at 09:18 AM PST

Email to Senator Kent Conrad

by Ben Brackley

So Senator Conrad, you think it's time to get serious about deficits and with one of your last votes in Congress you propose to extend all the 2001 tax cuts (the single largest contributor to our deficits over the last decade), including tax cuts on income over $250,000.  

I am all for shared sacrifice but not when hedge fund managers will continue to pay taxes at a 15% rate on $100 million incomes. Not when bailed-out large banks that would still be insolvent without changes in FASB Accounting practices will pay $144 billion of bonuses which will be taxed at lower rates than prevailed during the Reagan Administration and the 1990s boom.  

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Barney Frank is quoted in The Financial Times saying this today:

"The big banks didn’t win anything that they shouldn’t have won," said Mr Frank. "Anybody that is looking for a demonstration that when the public is engaged democracy works well . . . look at this bill."

What worries me is that Barney may actually believe this.  Politicians, like all people, take on some of the views of the people they hang out with.  And, as Chairman of the House Banking Committee in our structurally corrupt campaign finance system, Barney Frank hears from a lot of bank lobbyists. It is almost inevitable that Barney may develop some sympathies for some of the arguments of bank lobbyists.

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The Republicans have not won a Presidential election since 1928 without a Nixon or a Bush on the ticket.  

The predictive value of this interesting trivia is about the same as Hillary Clinton's claim today that no Democrat has won a Presidential election without winning the Ohio primary.  

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The New York Times op-ed page brought in reinforcements today for David Brooks. Lou Cannon tries to defend Reagan (and support David Brooks) without really confronting the arguments of Krugman and Herbert that Reagan made deliberate appeals to racists as part of the Republican Party's Southern Strategy.

Many younger readers may not remember Lou Cannon. Cannon gained fame and fortune in the 1980s as a political reporter covering Reagan for the L.A. Times in the 1980s mostly through frequent television appearances in which he softened Reagan's image for moderates and liberals while earning scoops from the Administration and later publishing a largely favorable biography -- a case of access journalism that many reporters have emulated since then.

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I'm not a fan of either Howie or Katie, but this item from Kurtz's column today is revealing about political pressures at NBC News in 2004.  Liberal media critics have long asserted that Jack Welch and other corporate executives at NBC sought to influence NBC News coverage to favor George Bush in 2000 and 2004.  Katie Couric provides a bit of confirmation


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According to Bush's infamous pronouncement on an aircraft carrier, major combat operations in Iraq ended on May 1, 2003.  The U.S. lost its first soldiers in Iraq on March 21, 2003.  In 43 days of major combat operations from March 21 to May 1, 2003, 140 American troops died.  The last 43 days have been significantly more deadly for our forces. From April 19 to May 31, 2007, 167 American troops have been killed in Iraq (and there will probably be additional deaths announced for today).


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 In an online chat at the Washington Post today, former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias stated his belief that "Ms. Lam, Mr. Bogden, Mr. McKay and me" were forced out in an attempt "to derail or interfere with on-going cases or investigations."  I don't think Iglesias has been so explicit before about his belief that Lam, McKay, Bogden and himself were fired illegally.  

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The first question to Washington Post reporter Lois Romano this morning was:

Crestwood, N.Y.: If you were in charge of the 2008 GOP Convention, at what time would you schedule George W. Bush's speech?

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I've been mystified over the last decade by how much the perceptions of "opinion-makers and followers" in Washington, D.C. differ from those of similar background outside the beltway.

I've come to believe that a lot can be explained by the effect of the Washington social network in shaping and legitimating opinions.  A shared consensus is seen as critical to maintaining a degree of social comity. Cartoonist Tom Toles seems to agree.  

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Scott Simon is the host of Weekend Saturday on NPR stations. Until his coverage of the Balkan wars, he claims he was a pacifist.  Like many newly converted, he seems to exercise his new faith in military solutions to moral dilemmas without much wisdom or judgment.  It was apparent from his Saturday morning broadcasts before the Iraq war that he supported the Iraq war and was dismissive of, and mischaracterized, opposition to the war.
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The Iraq War is unquestionably fanning the flames of terrorism, and there is nobody in the Intelligence community who disputes this.  So says the Washington Post's intelligence reporter.

There were many good reasons to oppose the war in Iraq.  One that seemed irrefutable at the time (except for flower-strewn fantasyland inhabitants) was that an invasion and occupation of Iraq would fan the flames of anti-American sentiment and terrorism.  No one who knows disputes this anymore.

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Last year, British occupied Basra was portrayed as one of the relative success stories of the occupation and a model for the rest of Iraq.  No longer. Washington Post reporter Anthony Shadid remarked in a chat earlier today that Iran has more influence in Basra and most of Southern Iraq than the U.S. or Britain, and that Basra has become one of the riskiest places in Iraq for journalists to work.  

Shadid Chat

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