WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—By easing tensions with Cuba and now Iran, President Obama is “recklessly squandering America’s precious supply of enemies,” the leader of a conservative think tank said on Tuesday.
“Our adversarial relationships with Cuba and Iran took years of frostiness and saber-rattling to maintain,” Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of the Washington-based Institute for Infinite Conflict, said. “Thanks to the President, decades of well-crafted hostility have been thrown out the window.”
According to Dorrinson, fears abound in conservative circles that the President might be “capriciously casting about for other powder kegs to defuse” during his remaining time in office.
“If his shameful record is any guide, he’ll probably try to disarm North Korea,” Dorrinson said. “That’s the doomsday scenario.”
Regardless of his future actions, Obama’s detente with Cuba and Iran will likely tarnish his legacy forever, Dorrinson said. “On this President’s watch, America lost two of its most enduring foes,” he said. “He’s going to have to live with that for the rest of his life.”
BY BRYCE COVERT – JUL 8, 2015
After Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla (D) announced last week that the territory can no longer pay the $72 billion it owes, many started reaching for explanations for what got the island there in the first place. And given that a country with much lower per capita income than the mainland United States has followed the federal minimum wage since 1987, a large number of pundits pointed to an excessively high minimum wage as a big culprit.
CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS/THINKPROGRESS
Much of this hubbub stems from a report released last week from Anne O. Kreuger, Ranjit Teja, and Andrew Wolfe for the Padilla administration, which cited, among many other factors, the minimum wage as a reason the country’s economy has lost competitiveness. “Employers are disinclined to hire workers because…the US federal minimum wage is very high relative to the local average,” they write. It amounts to 77 percent of per capita income there, compared to 28 percent in the mainland U.S. It was also mentioned in a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2014.
But according to an economist who studied the impact of increasing the territory’s minimum wage to the mainland U.S. minimum, while it likely isn’t helping, it can’t be blamed as a core cause of the current crisis.
CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS/THINKPROGRESS
“The timing of their problems does not have to do with the minimum wage,” Richard Freeman, the Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University, told ThinkProgress. “I don’t believe it’s done much positive but it certainly didn’t cause any of the current problems.” For example, its public debt has risen every year since 2000 and jumped from about 90 percent of GNP in 2010 to more than 100 percent in 2015. Yet the minimum wage hasn’t been increased since 2009.
Freeman and Alida J. Castillo-Freeman looked at the impact of Puerto Rico adopting the U.S. federal minimum wage in a study from 1992. “I thought that was going to be the great cause of massive job loss,” he said. Instead, they found that it reduced total employment on the island by 8 to 10 percent, mainly in low-wage jobs. That wasn’t as much as he had expected, and the losses were also concentrated in some industries that were already on the decline. “It’s dubious it would cause the problems today,” he said. An earlier paper from a different economist had found that the claim that the minimum wage increase had a big negative effect on employment “is surprisingly fragile.”
The biggest issue may be that Puerto Rico never really bounced back from the recession. “The island is one of the few places…that just has never recovered,” Freeman said. Its unemployment rate still stands above 12 percent. Its labor force fell significantly in the aftermath of the recession, while it has rebounded and continued to climb on the mainland. The job losses caused by the minimum wage increase, Freeman pointed out, “are nothing comparable to the job losses that they’ve had in this recession.”
CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS/THINKPROGRESS
The recession hit the country after it was already economically vulnerable. “The situation with Puerto Rico was the perfect storm,” said Maria Enchautegui, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. “So many things happening at the same time.” One big factor that she pointed to was the termination of section 936 in the tax code, which allowed businesses operating on the island to go tax-free. It not only enticed many to relocate there and open up jobs, but it then became a core part of how the Puerto Rican economy functioned.
CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS/THINKPROGRESS
When it was finally phased out in 2006, “That had a domino effect that spread through the whole economy,” she said. Manufacturing jobs in particular have disappeared, falling nearly 34 percent since 2006.
The tax treatment gave the island “the pretense of a healthy economy,” Freeman said. “And then the crash came in 2008, but they probably never were healthy.”
CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS/THINKPROGRESS
The island has also been hemorrhaging population. While it grew steadily for nearly two centuries, it began to decline for the first time in 2006, falling 2.2 percent between 2000 and 2012. Today, more people of Puerto Rican descent live on the mainland than on the island itself.
CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS/THINKPROGRESS
The report from Kreuger, Teja, and Wolfe points to other factors as well: the doubling of oil prices between 2005 and 2012 that hurt an island that imports oil for nearly all of its power generation, transportation costs that are at least twice as high as for neighboring islands, high electricity costs, a welfare system that provides more generous benefits for some than minimum wage income, and other local laws and regulations.
Given that many feel the minimum wage played a large part, however, there has been an emphasis on the need for Puerto Rico to reduce it as part of its reforms. Enchautegui thinks the best course would be to allow the territory to dictate its own wages, as it did before. “From there maybe we can decide whether it should be the same [as mainland U.S.] or not,” she said.
Freeman doesn’t think lowering the wage will do much good. “If I were looking for solutions for getting the economy out of its trouble, I wouldn’t be pushing the minimum wage,” he said. “This is an economy that does need lots of jobs created. But if you lower the minimum wage…there’s a small number of jobs you might create, but that’s not going to deal with this depression that they have.”
By: Sarah Jones – Friday, July, 10th, 2015
Donald Trump’s “solution” to ISIL sounds a lot like the Bush Cheney solution, but on steroids. His idea is to bomb “the hell” out of the oil fields in Iraq. “If I win, I would attack those oil sites that are controlled and owned — they are controlled by ISIS,” Trump said. “I wouldn’t send many troops because you won’t need ’em by the time I’m done.”
Trump Idea #1: Just bomb them all!!!! Sure ISIL doesn’t run most of them but whatev, just BOMB IT ALL.
Trump Idea #2: It won’t take a lot of troops to BOMB IT ALL, so it’s a real win in Trump’s book.
Then, Trump Idea #3: Trump will give contracts to Big Oil to clean up our mess after BOMBING THEM ALL. You know how good the oil companies are about cleaning up our messes.
Only retired Lt. Col. Rick Francona and Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, both CNN military analysts, were not very impressed.
You see, we have spent the last seven plus years training Iraqis to secure their country, shaping their security forces. They didn’t want us there in more than an advise and assist capacity. We agreed to that in a Status of Forces Agreement at the end of George W. Bush’s term in 2008.
Part of the reason ISIL got a foothold was due to the power vacuums we created after we invaded Iraq. These things seem hard for Republicans to grasp as they beat the drums of war incessantly, perhaps because they can’t fit on a bumper sticker and are not as easy as BOMB THEM ALL! To be fair, most of the war hawks have a lot more going on behind their beliefs than just BOMB THEM ALL. But in the end, it does come down to this belief in might making right.
Even though we can already see, and history should have taught us, that this is not true.
Trump’s self-identified solution to the complex problems of our time was called “troubling” by Hertling. You see, Iraqis believe they have a country so no, we can’t just drop some BOMBS and clean it up later.
Hertling told CNN that he has “remained apolitical throughout his military career but said Trump’s comments are “just troubling… You have to understand the issues a little bit better than just bombing things. This is very complex and there are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who believe they do have a country.”
The two analysts were also not impressed with Trump’s idea to destroy infrastructure and then just send in an oil company to fix it all. “We’ve made some huge mistakes in terms of just bombing things we think can just bring a nation to its knees,” Hertling told CNN. “It’s not the people you’re going against and yet those are the ones you’re going against the most when you’re talking about indiscriminate carpet-bombing.”
Yes, see, we did that already and it didn’t turn out so well. We killed a lot of innocent people. We are trying to come up with actual solutions to the Bush created mess we made in Iraq, rather than looking to double down on the same mistakes.
While the Iraqi government is seriously reliant on the United States and other countries in its fight against ISIS and as it strives to keep its country together, Iraq’s top leaders would do more than just object to U.S. bombing of oil fields in its country — a central part of the country’s economy and infrastructure.
Gee, ya think? If someone came in to the U.S. and started bombing our oil fields and the people and infrastructure around them because the Koch brothers are killing people, which they are, we would be pretty miffed.
This is a good example of what is at the core of the Republican Party’s current foreign policy “platform”. It’s pure, unadulterated ignorance, dressed up with a good heap of hubris. It’s George W Bush on steroids.
If Donald Trump is good for one thing, it’s letting America know exactly how dangerous the modern day GOP really is. If that were his goal, we could tip our “Mission Accomplished” hats to him.
But the man really thinks he belongs in the White House, and not even the GOP can shut him up.
Jeb’s family is in the oil business. Jeb’s brother fabricated a war over oil. Jeb’s dad started a war over oil. Does anyone connect the dots? [Via teabonics-fb]
9TH JULY 2015
Oponents of Maine Gov. Paul LePage ® said that they were delighted this week after the governor and his staff misunderstood the veto process for nearly 20 bills, destining them to become law.
The Bangor Daily News reported on Wednesday that LePage had attempted to use a “pocket veto” maneuver to kill at least 19 bills. Under “Maine’s Path of Legislation” rules, a governor may effectively veto a bill by declining to sign it in a 10-day time frame after the bill has passed.
The catch is that the “pocket veto” only works if the Legislature has adjourned. Otherwise, the bill becomes law, according to the rules. And in this case, Maine’s Legislature is still in session.
“I can’t even process this right now, that this is his latest move,” House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D) told the Daily News on Monday. “It’s very clear, as far as the role the governor has, when it comes to bills — whether he signs them, not signs them or vetoes them. To hold them for an arbitrary period of time doesn’t really work. He can’t rewrite the rules.”
“We were expecting him to act on these last Thursday when he was hanging out with [Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie, but he seems to have gotten distracted by that,” McCabe added.
Included in the 19 or more bills is LD 369, which would permit asylum seekers to apply for assistance from the General Assembly. It was considered to be the most contentious bill of the legislative session.
LD 1013 seeks to prevent the shackling of pregnant women at Maine detention facilities, LD 1108 would ban electronic vaporizers in areas where traditional tobacco cigarettes are banned and LD 1185 would establish a municipal fund to support broadband development.
On Wednesday, the Daily News reported that the window for LePage to veto the bills had expired, “ensuring the bills become law.”
ACLU of Maine Legal Director Zach Heiden pointed out in a statement that the state Constitution was clear on the matter.
“The governor had 10 days to veto the bills, he did not veto them, and now the bills will become law. We do not have a government of one, and the governor cannot make up the rules as he goes along,” Heiden wrote.
Although most Republicans have reportedly had little to say about the botched vetoes, GOP consultant Lance Dutsoncalled the mistake a “substantial screw up.”
“Thanks to the gov’s screw up, asylum seekers will now receive GA [assistance]. Love to see the base’s reaction to this,” Dutson wrote on Twitter.
“Oops…knew I forgot something…”
“We were expecting him to act on these last Thursday when he was hanging out with…Chris Christie, but he seems to have gotten distracted by that,” McCabe added.
by Jim Hightower
When Mitt Romney’s campaign was investigating potential choices to be his 2012 running mate, they gave each prospect a fish-themed code name, such as Lake Fish, Filet-O-Fish, etc. Their name for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a tireless self-promoter known for his bloated ego, was Puffer Fish.
The Romneyites determined that the prima donna governor was wholly unqualified to be America’s vice president, but the rejection didn’t deflate Christie’s puffed-up self-esteem one dot, and he has continued to brag, bluster and bully his way into national politics. Having convinced at least himself that he’s the can-do, big-idea, forceful leader America needs, the Jersey guv is now offering to be our president and has become No. 14 on the Republican presidential dance card! How exciting is that?
Before accepting, however, you might check with one group of voters who are less than enchanted: the people of New Jersey. With a moribund economy, a state budget mess, a growing pension crisis, the state infrastructure crumbling and his own office caught in a web of scandals, Christie is not faring well with the homefolk, earning a sorry 30 percent approval rating, with most voters saying they dislike “everything about him.”
Nationwide, only Donnie Trump is rated lower than Christie by Republican primary voters. But he has found one friend — Maine Gov. Paul LePage has enthusiastically endorsed him! Problem is, LePage is even more insufferable and insolent than Christie, so arrogant and autocratic that he’s even alienated fellow Republicans in Maine and is now threatened with impeachment.
Still, if anything, the Puffer Fish’s ego is puffier than ever. Asked on Fox News why 65 percent of New Jersey voters say he’d make a poor president and shouldn’t run, the vainglorious governor actually said: “They want me to stay.
Don’t leave to run for president, because we want you to stay.”
It’s one thing for a politician to say that, but — far scarier — Christie is so out of touch with reality that he actually believes it!
The Big Man from New Jersey entered the race with all the chutzpah and hullaballoo that marked his five and a half years as governor of the Garden State, promising to be a truth-telling leader: “There is one thing you will know for sure,” he roared in his announcement speech. “I say what I mean and mean what I say.”
Swell, Chris… but when your campaign slogan is “Telling It Like It Is,” it would help if you were not infamous in your home state as a stunningly audacious, inveterate liar. Even the editor of Jersey’s largest newspaper felt a journalistic duty to warn America about Christie. “Don’t believe a word the man says,” the editor wrote, pointing not to a few fibs and fabrications, but a lengthy “catalog” of “over-the-top, hair-raising type of lies,” including these gems:
—Having assured public employees that their pensions were “sacred” to him, Christie then made cutting their pensions the centerpiece of his first term in office.
—This June, he bragged on national TV that a court had approved those pension cuts — but the court actually ruled them unconstitutional.
—At a recent South Carolina gun rights meeting, Christie crowed that “no new (gun laws) have been made since I’ve been governor,” when in fact he has enacted three gun-control measures.
—After he and his family racked up a $30,000 hotel bill during a luxurious weekend getaway at a Jordanian resort, paid for by the King of Jordan, Christie claimed the junket was not a violation of the state gift ban, for he and the king were personal friends — but he’d only met the king once at a political dinner.
Beware of Christie the compulsive liar. As the newspaper editor bluntly put it: “He’s a creep.”
To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com..
THURSDAY, JUL 2, 2015 10:58 AM +0100
A Hillary Clinton surrogate took the campaign’s first real shot at Bernie Sanders last week. But it ain’t working.
It’s been relatively easy so far for Senator Bernie Sanders, the candidate giving Hillary Clinton the most trouble so far on the road to the presidential primaries. But that’s because Clinton’s squad hasn’t deployed yet. Hillary’s got shooters. She rolls way deeper than Bernie, and one has to assume that a good-sized pocket of the Democratic Party establishment waits like a sleeper cell to be called on to attack Sanders if necessary.It’s a sign of Sanders’ success that one of Clinton’s hitters was set on the ascendant candidate last Thursday, with Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to test out some new talking points to address Sanders’ astounding crowds and climbing poll numbers. McCaskill went with the “acknowledge-then-conflate” maneuver. Sanders’ crowds are at times dwarfing those of any candidate in either party. This cannot be denied. So Team Clinton has to try to make that clear sign of success a liability.
“Well, you know, Rand Paul’s father got massive crowds, Ron Paul,” she said. “He got the same size crowds. Pat Buchanan got massive crowds. It’s not unusual for someone who has an extreme message to have a following.”
Ooooh, gotcha: Big crowds mean you’re an extremist. So the fewer people you have, the more reasonable you are. And, so, I guess if you stand at a podium before no one, just an empty field, and give a stump speech you’re the most reasonable and fringe-averse candidate ever to run for office.
Is this the best the Clinton team has right now? McCaskill endorsed Clinton for president more than two years ago, way back in 2013, but she apparently didn’t spend a whole lot of that time working on her potential talking points. It feels a little embarrassing as a tactic. Its fallacious, clumsy logic seems more suited for the YouTube comments section: You know who else got big crowds? Hitler.
McCaskill’s attack obviously wasn’t that crudely drawn, but it falls apart almost immediately when any scrutiny is offered on the trio she presents: Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, and Bernie Sanders. One of these is not like the others.
Sanders’ domestic economic platform, his campaign’s bread and butter, is mostly a return to mid-century, postwar policies, infused with social democratic ideas from places like Sweden, where social democrats gained a majority in parliament 75 years ago.
What Sanders proposes is not new, and it’s not particularly radical. It’s just radical-seeming given our decades-long turn toward hyper-capitalism and neoliberalism (which happened to a large degree under President Bill Clinton). The Swedish “socialism” that Sanders favors is capitalism with boundaries. Sweden, with a population less than that of North Carolina, has birthed an impressive list of global companies under its “extreme” “socialism”: Volvo, IKEA, Spotify, Saab, H&M, Skype, Ericsson, AstraZeneca, and many more. Terrifying! So extreme!
Now compare that to the worldview of Ron Paul, who’s been proffering something that’s never been tried before, the marketization of virtually everything and the evaporation of the State to little more than a police and judicial apparatus to enforce contracts. Paul says that Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are all unconstitutional and should be abolished. The Civil Rights Act, too. Speaking of civil rights, he had a special hatred of Martin Luther King for years until, one assumes, he had to temper his King hatred for the spotlight he was stepping into in the 2000s. Paul has shown himself to be a pretty thoroughly racist politician who’s prone to conspiracy theories, even trutherism.
Pat Buchanan is a Christian white nationalist. Try doing a “Pat Buchanan” Google search andnothitting racist, anti-semiticinsanity. In the wake of the Emanuel AME terrorist attack in Charleston, Buchanan penned a column in which he defended the surviving symbol of the Confederacy, the slave-owning rebels’ battle flag, writing that “the battle flag is not so much a symbol of hatred as it is an object of hatred, a target of hatred.”
That’s because Buchanan is really, really into the whole white persecution thing. In his defense of the Confederate flag, he calls the national clamor for its removal in South Carolina a “cultural lynch mob.” White folks are the ones really being besieged, says Buchanan, subject to all that virulent “reverse racism” and losing our country to black and brown folks. (In that way, his rhetoric is sometimes scarcely distinguishable from that of Dylann Roof, who spoke from the same white-man-as-besieged lexicon and whose racist flag Buchanan leapt out to defend.)
McCaskill boasts of what she describes as a perfectly centrist position in the Senate. During her 2012 reelection campaign, she said she was “proud of being ranked the most moderate senator,” number 50 on the ideological spectrum in the hundred-person body. In her desperate attempt to convince Missourians during her 2012 reelection campaign that she was conservative enough against Todd “legitimate rape” Akin, McCaskill ran a television ad with the crafty slogan, “right in the middle is right for Missouri,” a phrase which employs the word “right” twice.
BY ESTHER YU-HSI LEE POSTED ON JULY 1, 2015
The retail clothing giant Macy’s became the latest company to cut ties with 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, following his campaign launch speech in which he claimed that some Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug dealers.
In its announcement on Wednesday, Macy’s made a strong statement in support of immigrants — saying that “respect for the dignity of all people is a cornerstone of our culture” and that Trump’s remarks “are inconsistent with Macy’s values” and that his “disparaging characterizations” aren’t an accurate portrayal of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and Latinos.
“Macy’s is a company that stands for diversity and inclusion,” a statement released to CNN reads. “We have no tolerance for discrimination in any form. We welcome customers, and respect for the dignity of all people is a cornerstone of our culture. We are disappointed and distressed by recent remarks about immigrants from Mexico. We do not believe the disparaging characterizations portray an accurate picture of the many Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Latinos who have made so many valuable contributions to the success of our nation.”
“In light of statements made by Donald Trump, which are inconsistent with Macy’s values, we have decided to discontinue our business relationship with Mr. Trump and will phase-out the Trump menswear collection, which has been sold at Macy’s since 2004,” the company concluded.
There was already momentum for Macy’s to end its business relationship with Trump. Over 700,000 people have signed a longstanding moveon.org petition for the company to cut ties with Trump, a petition that gained steam after his nativist remarks. The petition was initially created in the wake of Trump’s involvement in questioning the president’s birth certificate and his stance on climate change, KTLA reported.
Macy’s move to sever its decade-long tie with Trump comes after Univision and NBC canceled their business partnerships with Trump, saying the NBC reality show “Celebrity Apprentice” will no longer support him as host. Mexican billionaire Carlos Slims’ Ora TV has also ended a projectwith the real estate mogul. And in the fallout of Trump’s statement, Miss Mexico has declined to be in the Miss Universe pageant.
In response to the upheaval, Trump stated on Wednesday that “clearly NBC and Macy’s support illegal immigration, which is totally detrimental to the fabric of our once great country.”