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Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 07:00 AM PDT

Welcome to America

by Lcohen

I am posting this moving first hand account of conditions facing refugee children detained by immigration authorities at the U.S. Border, on behalf of my colleague Melissa San Miguel. Our organization, The National Center for Youth Law is Co-Counsel in Flores v. Reno. The settlement in that case sets the conditions for the treatment of children in the custody of border and immigration authorities. The settlement calls on Federal authorities to treat “all minors with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.”  The agreement grants NCYL and our Co-Counsel, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, access to any facility where U.S. Immigration authorities are holding children.

Melissa's account begins below the fold.

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Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:18 AM PDT

This isn’t about Syria

by Lcohen

It’s about Iran. The bomb Syria crowd has been pretty open about this. And war opponents would be wise to pay more attention. Iran helps to explain why the Administration insists on going forward with a military action that is unlikely to make much of a difference in Syria itself (bear with me as I’m going to spend some time on context).

Iran is Key to Obama’s Case For Syria Strikes

“Iran is hoping you look the other way,” Secretary of State John Kerry bluntly told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. “Our inaction would surely give them a permission slip for them to at least misinterpret our intention if not to put it to the test.”...

“Our refusal to act would undermine the credibility of America’s other security commitments, including the president’s commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” testified Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel....

“Iran will view us as a paper tiger” if we don’t act, warned Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Doing nothing “would guarantee … an emboldened Iran,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.  “It will also send a message to the world that there is no red line that they should fear crossing. So Iran will move forward toward nuclear weapons.”

A lack of international action to the chemical attack in Syria would risk sending Iran the wrong message over its nuclear program, France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warned on Wednesday.
(more below the fold)
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Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 04:24 PM PDT

Austerity is Working!

by Lcohen

The President of European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso has written the leaders of the EU in advance of this week’s summit meeting. His message, stay the course on austerity.

“Steadfast implementation of reforms is beginning to deliver results in terms of current accounts and regaining competitiveness,”
Now those of you paying attention to increasing debt in Greece, Spain and Italy, along with 25%+ unemployment in the former two countries, or England on the verge of a triple dip recession may be planting your face in your palm in disbelief. But like Krugthulu, who thinks a focus on deficits is misplaced, you are missing the real point of austerity as the EC President helpfully explained highlighting two countries that have gone all in on austerity measures.
He said that structural overhauls were contributing to a rebalancing of the E.U. economy, particularly where governments had undertaken the measures as part of their bailout agreements.

Ireland and Portugal had reversed trends in terms of their unit labor costs, which were now more favorable than before compared to their trading partners, according to the charts that accompanied Mr. Barroso’s letter. By contrast, according to the charts, unit labor costs in countries like France and Italy still were higher compared to those of their trading partners.

You see there is nothing like 14 or 16% unemployment to convince those pesky workers to worker harder for less. And that my friends, is the basis for a healthy economy, if by a healthy economy you mean record corporate profits and a soaring stock market.
Discuss

Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 01:10 PM PST

Oh, the suffering!

by Lcohen

Contrary to popular misconception, the US Treasury Department did act to alleviate the hardships caused by the financial collapse of 2008. In the face of mass unemployment, millions of home foreclosures and tens of millions more underwater, record numbers of children in poverty and families on food stamps, the Treasury bypassed restrictions imposed by a heartless Congress.

The Treasury Department ignored its own guidelines on executive pay at firms that received taxpayer bailouts and last year approved compensation packages of more than $3 million for the senior ranks at General Motors, Ally Financial and American International Group, according to a watchdog report released Monday.

The report from the special inspector general for the Troubled Assets Relief Program said the government’s pay czar signed off on $6.2 million in raises for 18 employees at the three companies. The chief executive of a division of AIG received a $1 million raise, while an executive at GM’s troubled European unit was given a $100,000 raise. In one instance, an employee of Ally’s Residential Capital was awarded a $200,000 pay increase weeks before the subsidiary filed for bankruptcy.

Oh, the humanity. Secretary Geithner you will be missed!
Discuss

Liked a whipped dog trying to please its master, Democrats are always trying to prove their allegiance to the National Security State. There is no tag that inspires greater fear than being labeled weak on defense.  That’s why I’ve reluctantly concluded they can’t be trusted to run the Pentagon.

Democrats have gone to great lengths to show strength on national security from authorizing the use of military force in Iraq to our nearly endless commitment in Afghanistan. We have a defense budget that has nearly doubled since 2001 excluding the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Leon Panetta’s histrionics over the sequesters effect on military spending demonstrate what we can expect from a Democrat in the post.

Now, I was very disappointed when President Obama didn’t name a Democrat to serve as Secretary of Defense in his first cabinet. And I had little patience for those who said that Bob Gates would be able to make positive changes that a Democrat couldn’t. But given the Democrat alternatives this time I figure Chuck Hagel has a better shot of moderating the discourse on Israel and Iran.

(continued)

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It doesn't make sense to ask everyone to sacrifice when the top 1 percent has captured 93 percent of the country's income growth as it did in 2010. It makes no sense to cut spending on everything when long-term deficits are driven by one thing -- our broken health care system. And it makes no sense to cut everything without being clear about what we need to build.
Bob Borosage has an important piece up at Huffpo to contextualize the way forward in fiscal negotiations.

Borosage argues that our focus needs to be on growing the economy. This is the most effective way to address the deficit. Conversely if you wreck the economy with austerity the deficit will grow.

(more below the fold)

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One of the least convincing arguments about the tax deal is that it is the opening move in the President’s long game. Given that the Republicans control the House and are likely to do so for the remainder of his term, and further that the President just used his final electoral mandate for these tax increases, this is far more likely the high water mark. Frankly, it takes an ahistorical notion of time (like the type that leads some commenters here at Dailykos to insist that restoring a small portion of the Bush tax cuts to 2001 levels represents the “highest tax levels in decades”) to see President Obama’s deal as part of a long game.

This is not to say that I think President Obama has betrayed us or that he is anything but a decent man trying to navigate a very difficult situation. But rather, as I’ll discuss later in this post, this is a continuation of the short game the President has played at each of the fiscal confrontations that has marked his Presidency.

To see what playing the long game really looks like, take look at the trajectory of the top marginal tax rate since its apex following World War II (h/t VisualizingEconomics.) This chart is pre-final deal.

Historical top marginal tax rates

The top rates only reveal a small portion of the Republican long game to reverse the New Deal and redistribute wealth upward. (More below the fold)

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Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 08:45 AM PST

We're All Republicans Now

by Lcohen

So we’re reduced to debating which tax cuts we are for.  “Oh no, I’m not for those bad tax cuts for the rich. I’m for those good tax cuts for the middle class”.

Certainly it is true that Democrats have historically embraced some tax cuts as a form Keynesian stimulus by targeting cuts to those at the bottom of income distribution, as they are most likely to spend it. But for months now we have been treated to endless stream of tax cutting proposals from our own side, very few of which actually target low income Americans.

The President’s “compromise” is a perfect case study of the phenomenon. Almost everyone is for the “middle class” tax cut. But did you know that this portion of the tax cut also disproportionately favors the rich. 60% of the savings in the President’s original proposal (including Estate tax changes – which would have decreased the rich’s share and EITC, Child care and tuition credit which increase the share for lower income groups) would have gone to the top 20% income group.

Under the compromise that rises to 70%.  

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Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 11:39 AM PST

Filibuster: Two can play this game

by Lcohen

If they want to hold the country hostage for $700 billion more in debt with an economic policy that's cost us jobs, I think we need to say no.

Don’t have 60 votes, how about 40?

Senator Debbie Stabenow made a compelling case on the Maddow show the other night for not extending the Bush tax cuts to the rich.  Now she and like minded Senators need to do the right thing and follow through with a threat to filibuster any bill other than the one already passed by the House as several other diarists have advocated.

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Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 11:26 AM PDT

What a waste: Maddow in Afghanistan

by Lcohen

I love Rachel Maddow, watch her show every day, best thing going in broadcast journalism, bar none. But this trip to Afghanistan is an embarrassment.

Now I’m thrilled by some of the eye-popping admissions she elicited from the official spokespeople the Pentagon so graciously cued up for her but do we really need her to go to Afghanistan to get the Washington line.  And, yes she delivered at the almost very, very end of the second show. But that’s like your typical New York Times story, the front page filled with the official lies, but if you hang in there for 60 column inches on the jump page at the bottom of A23 you’ll learn some important stuff.

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Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:28 AM PST

TIME OUT!

by Lcohen

Everybody take a breath. Let's get some perspective here. Yes, Massachusetts is a debacle but the Democrats still have a historically huge advantage in the Senate (16 because Liberdumb is definitely not with us) and a huge majority in the House. We still control the White House with a potentially great President.

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Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 09:05 AM PDT

Why Afghanistan is a lost cause

by Lcohen

With the health insurance reform fight occupying his attention, Pentagon brass have seized the opportunity to open a new front against President Obama.

The nation’s top military officer pushed back Tuesday against Democrats who oppose sending additional combat troops to Afghanistan, telling Congress that success would probably require more fighting forces, and certainly much more time.

That assessment by the officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stopped short of an explicit request for more troops. But it signals that the military intends to have a public voice in the evolving debate as many Democrats express reluctance to expand the war and President Obama weighs options.

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