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Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister of Russia under Boris Yeltsin, was shot dead on the streets of Moscow Friday night.

Press reports say he was shot at least four times from a passing car while crossing a bridge in central Moscow, near the Kremlin. As many as seven shots may have been fired.

Nemtsov is a long-time opposition figure and was jailed several times for opposing Vladimir Putin. He told CNN's Anthony Bourdain that he feared Putin would have him killed.

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Fri Feb 27, 2015 at 07:52 AM PST

Supply side economics is snake oil

by tmaertens

The last two elections produced an unusual natural experiment involving Minnesota and Wisconsin, two states with similar histories, cultures and ethnic makeup. For purposes of comparison, Minnesota’s projected debt in 2010 was $5 billion — a “going-away present” from Tim Pawlenty — and Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion.

In 2010, Wisconsin elected a Republican governor, Scott Walker, and Republican majorities in the Legislature, who followed the supply-side bible by reducing taxes on business and on the wealthiest. Walker also cut spending, including a 15 percent cut in education funding, and reduced tax credits for those on the bottom end of the earnings scale. More recently, he proposed cutting $300 million more from the University of Wisconsin system, 13 percent of its total funding.

Walker then attacked the collective bargaining rights of civil service unions with Act 10, crippling the unions, reducing the pay of public workers by 8 to 10 percent, and polarizing the electorate. He rejected federal money for rail transportation and Medicaid, and refused to establish a state health insurance exchange, despite the fact the federal government would have covered all health insurance and Medicaid costs for three years.

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The BBC reported recently that jihadist attacks killed more than 5,000 people just during the month of November. ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Taliban were the deadliest of the radical Islamist groups, carrying out mass murders, bombing schools, churches and mosques, and gunning down students, but 60 other Islamist groups across the Middle East and Africa support those policies.

They are the source of most suicide bombers — at least 3,500 in the last three decades, according to the Institute for National Security Studies.

It is therefore no surprise that the National Counterterrorism Center’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists and the Department of State’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists are all radical Islamists.

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Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 06:44 PM PDT

The Real Republican Platform

by tmaertens

Trickle down a myth to justify tax cuts
by TMaertens, 10/29/14

The Wall Street Journal editorial board lamented recently that the Republican Party doesn’t have a platform going into the mid-term elections.

But they do have a platform.  
They oppose the Ex-Im Bank; they also:
--Oppose Medicare and Medicaid;
--Oppose Social Security;
--Oppose abortion;  
--Oppose birth control (see the Blunt amendment);  
--Oppose voting rights, for non-white people anyway;
--Oppose the Affordable Care Act;
--Oppose the Common Core;
--Oppose the teaching of evolution;  
--Oppose food stamps;  
--Oppose unemployment compensation;
--Oppose same sex marriage;
--Oppose environmental rules and action on global warming;
--Oppose the United Nations; and
--Oppose anything they can label communism, socialism, or progressive.

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Mon Sep 29, 2014 at 08:48 AM PDT

Scorched earth politics

by tmaertens

An August Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll demonstrates the extent of Americans’ lost optimism.

When asked if “life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us,” 76 percent said no, and only 21 percent agreed. That was the worst the poll ever recorded; in 2001, 49 percent were confident and 43 percent not.

The pessimism extended across the political spectrum, regardless of wealth, gender, race, region, age and ideology.

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Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 12:14 PM PDT

What you haven't read about Benghazi

by tmaertens

On April 18, 1983, a suicide truck bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killing sixty-three people including 17 Americans; on Oct. 23, 1983, a second suicide bomber struck in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. Marines. The congressional investigation ordered by Speaker “Tip” O’Neill recommended major security improvements.

Eighteen months later, on Sept. 20, 1984, a third attack occurred in Beirut, killing 24 people at the U.S. Embassy.

It turned out that the security measures Congress directed had not been completed. Ronald Reagan’s explanation was a version of, well, stuff happens: “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.”

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Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 05:36 AM PDT

Bomb First, Think Later

by tmaertens

---- — Even before the attack of 9/11, Osama bin Laden explained his goal to the British journalist Robert Fisk: “I pray to God that he will permit us to turn the United States into a shadow of itself,” he said.

He hoped to provoke the U.S. into bombing or invading Muslim land which would radicalize moderate Muslims and unite the umma in a jihad against the “universal enemy.” This would bleed America and drain its military resources, making it too weak to oppress poor people.

The ill-conceived U.S invasion of Iraq played right into his hands. Does anyone think there are fewer terrorists in the world because of that invasion?

U.S. forces routed al Qaeda from Afghanistan in just weeks, but we are still there twelve years later, reprising Soviet mistakes from the past.

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Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 06:25 PM PDT

Too Stupid to Vote?

by tmaertens

Everyone knows Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

House Republicans have voted 40 times to abolish Obamacare, despite the certain knowledge that the Senate will reject such a bill.

That’s one reason this is the most detested congress in the history of polling, which PPP reported this year is more unpopular than colonoscopies (by 58-31 percent) and root canals (65-32 percent).

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Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 10:57 AM PDT

Mister Grand Theft Auto

by tmaertens

Before he took over as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Congressman Darrell Issa said he would conduct “seven hearings a week” to investigate the Obama administration because -- as he told Rush Limbaugh -- Barack Obama “has been one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.”

Issa knows something about corruption. According to the New Yorker, he was investigated three different times for stealing cars, leading to two indictments for grand theft.

He was also investigated for arson/insurance fraud, prompting David Plouffe to call him “Mister Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler.”

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Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:06 AM PDT

Happy Talk about the Torture Regime

by tmaertens

— The recent dedication of George W. Bush’s presidential library has brought the historical revisionists out in force. They hope to replicate the success of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which recast an amiable airhead — a guy who depended on an astrologer to make decisions, who offered to ally with the USSR against invaders from Mars, and who said trees create pollution — as a mythic president.

Karl Rove set the tone: “I’d put (Bush) up there” with “George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, FDR,” he said at the dedication.

Bush’s chief of staff, Andy Card, joined the charade, too, claiming that Bush “probably has the best track record of any modern president in terms of fiscal discipline.” Except of course that he didn’t pay for his wars and tax cuts, turning a projected $5 trillion surplus into a $5 trillion deficit.

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Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 04:25 PM PDT

War on terror was Trojan Horse

by tmaertens

On May 23, the president announced that the state of perpetual warfare that began after 9/11 will come to an end.

He was referring to the (Permanent) Global War on Terror (and Muslims) instituted by Dick Cheney and the Neocons, who used 9/11 to implement their plan to make the Middle East safe for Israel.

The Neocons believed they could emulate the Roman Empire without the Romans’ mistakes. Seriously.

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Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:20 AM PDT

Republicans natter about "I" word

by tmaertens

Mitt Romney first politicized the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, only hours after the event, by claiming the president sympathized with terrorists.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., called Benghazi the “most egregious cover-up in American history” and predicted that Obama will soon be facing impeachment calls. Similar views were expressed by Michele Bachmann and by Mike Huckabee, who asserted that “this president will not fill out his full term.”

A PPP poll found that 41 percent of Republicans, echoing the Fox News/talk radio frenzy, think Benghazi is the biggest political scandal in history.

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