Friday, July 23, 2010

Beach back to normal after jellyfish incident

RYE (AP) – Staff at a New Hampshire state park where a dead jellyfish broke apart and stung about 100 swimmers have stocked up on vinegar to ease the pain of future stings – but they don’t expect another calamity.

The giant Lion’s Mane jellyfish broke into pieces Wednesday when staff at Wallis Sands State Beach attempted to remove the gelatinous blob from the water, sending barbed tentacles into the tide. Nine children were treated for stings at a local hospital.

Beach manager Ken Loughlin said his staff raced to a nearby store to buy vinegar, which eases the burning sensation of the stings, while triaging the affected swimmers on Wednesday. He said once the crisis was over they bought four more gallons of vinegar.

Portsmouth General Hospital spokeswoman Christine Galli said the nine children treated at the hospital, ranging in age from 5-10, were bathed in vinegar and given antihistamines and anti-inflammatory medication.

Marine biologists say the jellyfish washed into shallow waters only because it was dead. Lion’s Mane jellyfish prefer the colder, deeper waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean. They average 80 pounds, with tentacles that can grow as long as 150 feet. The jellyfish that washed up at Wallis Sands was estimated to weigh about 50 pounds.

“Usually when they’re washed up on the beach it’s an isolated incident involving a single fish,” said biologist Renee Zobel of the marine fisheries division of the Fish and Game Department.

Loughlin said people were back in the water Thursday and “everything is right back to normal.”

“I’m not anticipating this happening again,” Loughlin said. “I was born and brought up here and I’ve never seen anything like this. We had little jellyfish we would play with. This was a total surprise, but it really was an aberration.”

Five of the children who were taken to the hospital were at the beach on an outing from Camp Foster, run by the Boys and Girls Club of Manchester. Gary Frost, executive director of the club, was at the emergency room when the five were released.

“The swelling had subsided, the pain had subsided,” Frost said Thursday. “They were in good spirits.”

New Jersey Bear Hunt Approved

Seth Victor

New Jersey has been talking about reinstating a bear hunt for some time, and it received final approval on Wednesday. The effort to curb the bear population is not dissimilar to other attempts to kill large mammals. The difference is that while ranchers have been a major supporter of wolf hunts under the questionable guise of livestock protection, the New Jersey bear hunt is backed both by recreational hunters and suburbanites. Questioning hunting is a whole separate debate. It’s the suburbanites that are really troubling. People saunter in, knock down a forest or field, and put up energy demanding houses. Somewhere between trying to get the sewer system to handle the sudden over-population of toilets and naming the neighborhood after what used to be there, a bear gets into a trash can, and suddenly the whole thing is the bear’s problem.

Now there will be six days of reckoning in December for the local bruins in northwest New Jersey (originally reports stated that the area would be north of I-78 and west of I-287. Now it seems the hunt will be north of I-80.). The hunt has been approved and supported by Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, even while state biologists predict that the hunt would not actual curb the bear population. The expected birth rate for New Jersey black bears is around 400 cubs, while the last two hunts in 2003 and 2005 yielded 328 kills and 298 kills, respectively.

Just to recap: Approximately 300 bears will be killed in an effort that officials already know will likely not achieve its desired result. Mr. Martin backed the decision saying, “This science and fact-based policy recognizes that hunting is an important bear management tool in combination with non-lethal controls of problem bears, public education on coexisting with bears and enforcement of laws to reduce conflicts between bears and people.” Scientific and fact-based as it may be, the Humane Society believes there are other options, and the Bear Education Resource Group is suing the New Jersey Fish and Game Council on a claim that the council conducted private conferences which violated the Open Public Meeting Act, requiring the council to allow members of the public to attend its meetings.

It will be interesting to see if any injunction is actually ordered, or if the hunt will face the same protest next year. I’m left wondering if at times there shouldn’t be a few more limitations or prerequisites on our inalienable right to travel and takeover where ever we please. Maybe it’s just in our nature to try and push out every other species, but I like to think we can rise above that tendency. As New Jersey residents are overtaking 8,000-10,000 acres of land every year in black bears’ natural territory, if we want bears to survive in any meaningful way, we need to be better and promote non-lethal ways to coexist.

Newark Goes Toilet Paper-Free to Balance the Budget

Newark Goes Toilet Paper-Free to  Balance the BudgetSaddled with municipal debt, Newark Mayor Cory Booker proposes $600 million in budget cuts, including cutting funds for the purchase of toilet paper. "Call me Mr. Scrooge if you want, but there will be no Christmas decorations," Booker added.

It's official: The recession has ruined Christmas. (Or, the part of Christmas that hinges on twinkling lights in public squares and whatnot.) Booker also proposes shutting down all city pools and laying off as many as 350 police and firefighters. When cities go broke: A sad tale of parched pavement, dirty bottoms, and unemployment. [MyFoxNY, image via Maria Dryfhout/Shutterstock]

Send an email to Maureen O'Connor, the author of this post, at

Once a Leader, U.S. Lags in College Degrees

In perhaps yet another sign that the USA is in decline other than perhaps militarily, the New York Times reports that growing gap between the rate at which college degrees are being completed in the United States compared to other countries threatens to undermine American economic competitiveness. I suspect the Bible thumpers and far right demagogues secretly welcome this trend inasmuch as it requires an ignorant populace to further religious fundamentalism and to provide a fertile atmosphere for loonies like Sarah Palin and other darlings of the GOP base. Sadly, far too few people seem to care. The USA is squandering billions and billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan even as the nation's infrastructure crumbles, millions of citizens go without preventive medical care and college becomes less affordable for more and more students. Yet the self-anointed super patriots continue to delude themselves in believing that the USA is better than every other nation. I'm sorry, but something is seriously f*cked up with this picture. Here are highlights from this disturbing story:
The United States used to lead the world in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees. Now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations.
“The growing education deficit is no less a threat to our nation’s long-term well-being than the current fiscal crisis,” Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board, warned at a meeting on Capitol Hill of education leaders and policy makers, where he released a report detailing the problem and recommending how to fix it. “To improve our college completion rates, we must think ‘P-16’ and improve education from preschool through higher education.” While access to college has been the major concern in recent decades, over the last year, college completion, too, has become a leading item on the national agenda.
Canada now leads the world in educational attainment, with about 56 percent of its young adults having earned at least associate’s degrees in 2007, compared with only 40 percent of those in the United States. (The United States’ rate has since risen slightly.)
While almost 70 percent of high school graduates in the United States enroll in college within two years of graduating, only about 57 percent of students who enroll in a bachelor’s degree program graduate within six years, and fewer than 25 percent of students who begin at a community college graduate with an associate’s degree within three years.
The problem is even worse for low-income students and minorities: only 30 percent of African-Americans ages 25-34, and less than 20 percent of Latinos in that age group, have an associate’s degree or higher.
The group’s first five recommendations all concern K-12 education, calling for more state-financed preschool programs, better high school and middle school college counseling, dropout prevention programs, an alignment with international curricular standards and improved teacher quality. College costs were also implicated, with recommendations for more need-based financial aid, and further efforts to keep college affordable.

I suspect teaching creationism as science is not something found in international curricular standards. More and more, the rest of the world must be laughing at the USA. What's ironic is that the Christianists whine about too much emphasis on self-esteem in our schools, and yet the nation suffers from that same problem: too much self-esteem with no basis to support it.

Ford Earns $2.6-Billion Profit in Second Quarter; Predicts Stronger 2011

By Michelle Krebs
Ford Logo - 196.JPGFord reported a second-quarter profit of $2.6 billion -- its best performance since the first quarter of 2004. Ford said the quarter, with results higher than analysts had estimated, sets the stage for an even better 2011 as each business unit, including North American automotive operations, showied a significant improvement.

"We delivered a very strong second quarter and first half of 2010 and are ahead of where we thought we would be despite the still-challenging business conditions," said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally in a statement issued Friday morning.

"We remain on track to deliver solid profits and positive automotive operating-related cash flow for 2010, and we expect even better financial results in 2011," he added. Ford said by the end of 2011, it expects to have more cash than debt. Ford's huge debtload has been seen as its major challenge for the future.

The company ended the second quarter with automotive debt of $27.3 billion, having paid down $7 billion in the quarter. Ford said it made a $3.8 billion payment to the UAW-run fund for retiree health care and a $3 billion repayment on its revolving credit. The debt reduction will save Ford more than $470 million in annualized interest, the automaker said.

For the first half, Ford earned $4.7 billion in the year's first six months, its largest first-half profit since 1998 and its fifth consecutive profitable quarter, according to Bloomberg News' records.
Ford, however, warned its second half will not be as strong due to lower production volumes, plant shutdowns and costs related to product launches. The automaker launches the all-important next-generation Ford Explorer this fall. The SUV-turned-crossover makes its public debut Monday with a big splash at Ford's world headquarters, the air show in Oshkosh, Wis., and with Ford executives fanning out across the country to promote the new Explorer.
The Explorer launch will be followed by the debut of the next version of the also-significant Ford Focus. In June, the Ford Fiesta went on sale.

Mulally said in a conference call with media and analysts that Ford has "tightened the reins" on its forecast for the U.S. market. Ford expects full-year vehicle sales in the U.S. to come in between 11.5 million to 12 million vehicles, with Ford taking a higher share of that total in 2010.
Highlights from Ford's earnings statement show:
- Ford's second-quarter results improved $338 million from the 2009 second quarter. Pre-tax operating profit totaled $2.9 billion for a $3.5-billion year-over-year improvement and a $932 million improvement from first quarter 2010.

- Ford's automotive operations posted a second quarter pre-tax operating profit of $2.1 billion, a $3.2 billion improvement from second quarter 2009 and $872 million improvement from first quarter 2010.

- Each automotive operation reported a profit and showed improvement from a year ago. Ford North America reported second quarter pre-tax operating profit of $1.9 billion, a
$2.8 billion improvement from second quarter 2009 and $645 million improvement from first quarter 2010.

- Revenue totaled $31.3 billion, up $4.5 billion from second quarter 2009. Excluding Volvo, which is in the process of being sold to Chinese automaker Geely, the revenue increase was $7.4 billion, or over 30 percent from a year ago.

The OFFS Awards: Senator and Concern Troll Jim Webb

Democratic Senator Jim Webb has penned quite the piece for the Wall Street Journal. Titled "Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege," it's all about how poopy-doopy it is that diversity programs have helped Latin@ and Asian and recent African immigrants who "did not suffer discrimination from our government," but don't help poor white southerners, most of whom, even "at the height of slavery," had, according to "eminent black historian John Hope Franklin... 'neither slaves nor an immediate economic interest in the maintenance of slavery'." Webb must have forgotten to mention that many of them supported the Confederacy nonetheless.

There are a very lot of dishonest things in this article. Things like:
A recent NORC Social Survey of white adults born after World War II showed that in the years 1980-2000, only 18.4% of white Baptists and 21.8% of Irish Protestants—the principal ethnic group that settled the South—had obtained college degrees, compared to a national average of 30.1%, a Jewish average of 73.3%, and an average among those of Chinese and Indian descent of 61.9%.
Those numbers are functionally meaningless without any context about the typical standard of living for, say, a straight, cis, able-bodied, white male Baptist born in 1950 who never went to college versus the typical standard of living for, say, a straight, cis, able-bodied Jewish woman born in 1950 who got a college degree. Anyone want to wager a guess on who was likely to make more money?

Webb might argue that comparing men and women isn't fair, which underscores one of other deceptions in his argument: This isn't about white people; it's about privileged white men.

Because the "special government programs" that promote diversity about which he's complaining were designed to help women and/or gay women and men and/or people with disabilities and/or trans women and men. Lots of the "white people" about whom he's writing qualify for, and have been aided by, "special government programs."

You'd think someone who complains about whites being "treated as a fungible monolith" might acknowledge that reality.

Of course, that does significantly undermine his race-baiting argument that white people are being treated unfairly. Ahem.

It's truly embarrassing that a sitting Democratic Senator would write such an appalling piece for national publication. Or for publication in the Poopsburg Daily Cageliner, for that matter.

Then again, this guy was almost Obama's vice-president, despite being an unabashed misogynist. So I guess we oughtn't be too surprised that he's now spending his taxpayer-funded time penning garbagetorials that mask "what about the white menz?!" whinging behind an exhortation to get beyond racial identity politics.

Reversing (all) the Bush tax cuts

Conservative Democrats are wondering whether it makes sense to raise taxes on high-income households next year. You recall that the Bush tax cuts are due to expire in 2011. The administration wants to extend them for most Americans, but not for those making more than $250,000.
This week, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate budget committee, joined fellow Democrats Evan Bayh of Indiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska in saying that the tax cut expiration for high-income earners should be delayed in the light of the weak economic recovery.
Tim Geithner is unimpressed. He has affirmed the administration’s preference to let taxes on high incomes go back up, and said a wider reform was planned. A wider reform would certainly be good — the system needs it desperately — though one wonders what a Republican-controlled House would make of the idea.
Meanwhile I’m still hoping that Martin Feldstein’s proposal — extend all the tax cuts for 2011 and 2012, then reverse all of them the following year — might catch on. This would not supply all of the needed short-term stimulus or all of the needed long-term  tightening, but the sign is right in both cases.
To agree to this, Obama would have to break his promise not to raise taxes on the middle class (sooner or later he will have to break it anyway). Congressional Democrats would have to let high earners off the hook for two more years (they could concentrate on the idea that if the Bush tax cuts were so reckless and irresponsible, there is much to be said for cancelling them all). Republicans would have to drop their idiotic opposition to any and all tax increases under any and all circumstances.
It’s a tall order, in other words. Sad if politics rules out such a simple and sensible idea.

JournoList: A Disgrace to American Journalism

Posted by Frank Ross
 One of the nastiest episodes in American journalism occurred in the immediate aftermath of John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate during the 2008 election. It was a potential game-changer and, for a moment, it rocked the leftist media back on its heels. Who can ever forget Andrea Mitchell’s gaping-fish-out-of-water reaction to Palin’s electrifying acceptance speech? For one brief, horrible moment, the Marxist Media saw its dream of a People’s Republic dying, shot through the heart by the moose-hunting mom from Nowhere, Alaska.
palin at convention
Soon enough, though, the counter-attack began… almost as if it was co-ordinated.  And you know what? It was! From the Daily Caller:
In the hours after Sen. John McCain announced his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate in the last presidential race, members of an online forum called Journolist struggled to make sense of the pick. Many of them were liberal reporters, and in some cases their comments reflected a journalist’s instinct to figure out the meaning of a story.
Joe Conason, JournoList member
Joe Conason, JournoList member

But in many other exchanges, the Journolisters clearly had another, more partisan goal in mind: to formulate the most effective talking points in order to defeat Palin and McCain and help elect Barack Obama president. The tone was more campaign headquarters than newsroom.
Jeffrey Toobin, JournoList member
The burgeoning scandal has exposed the dark heart of the left wing of American journalism: no longer content to simply observe (if indeed they ever were), the Youngish Turks of the JournoList — green, smart-ass reporters and columnists like Ezra Klein and Dave Weigel who never should have been hired by major media outlets like the Washington Post in the first place — have overreached to a breathtaking extent, and in so doing have exposed the entire sham edifice: the MSM as a Potemkin Village of bitter, angry, ugly partisanship.
Caller editor Tucker Carlson gets at the enormity of what Klein et al. have wrought in this summing up, in which he appears to announce the end of the series of excerpts — for now at least:
Anyone on Journolist who claims we quoted him “out of context” can reveal the context himself. Every member of Journolist received new threads from the group every day, most of which are likely still sitting in Gmail accounts all over Washington and New York. So feel free to try to prove your allegations, or else stop making them.
One final note: Editing this series has been something of a depressing experience for me. I’ve been in journalism my entire adult life, and have often defended it against fellow conservatives who claim the news business is fundamentally corrupt. It’s harder to make that defense now. It will be easier when honest (and, yes, liberal) journalists denounce what happened on Journolist as wrong.
Katha Pollitt, JournoList member
Well, no one around here is holding his breath. Despite Ezra Klein’s published vow of silence re his brainchild — “There’s not a lot to be done about it, and I won’t be trying to answer every story, or explain every thread. I actually expect this to be my final public comment on the subject” — the story is still far, far from over.
Stay tuned.

Obama Says Vilsack Jumped The Gun On Sherrod

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “jumped the gun” when he decided to dismiss employee Shirley Sherrod from her job at the department amid accusations of racism.
Obama tells ABC News in an interview that Vilsack acted in part because the current media climate requires everyone to scramble when something goes up on YouTube or a blog.
Vilsack acted after portions of a speech Sherrod had given were posted on a conservative website. The administration changed course and apologized after the full speech was made available and told a different story.
Obama personally apologized to Sherrod on Thursday and appealed to her to return to work at the department.
By Associated Press

Tropical storm threat in Gulf : Ships evacuated

gulf-of-mexico1 Gulf of Mexico, July 23, 2010: Dozens of ships in the Gulf of Mexico have been ordered to leave the site of the BP oil spill by the US government as Tropical Storm Bonnie gathers pace.
Incident commander Admiral Thad Allen said the well would remain capped while ships evacuated the Gulf. Drilling on a relief well has been suspended for up to two weeks.
Bonnie is the second named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, with wind speeds of 40mph (65km/h), the US National Hurricane Center says.
Forecasters say the edge of the tropical storm could reach the spill area by early on Saturday.
It has already caused flooding in Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and is moving north-west over the Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Many of the boats and drilling rigs responding to the oil spill were preparing to move to safety from Thursday night, said Adm Allen.
“This includes the rig drilling the relief well that will ultimately kill the well, as well as other vessels needed for containment,” he said.
The operation to permanently block the well would be delayed, but “the safety of individuals at the well site is our highest concern,” Adm Allen said.
Vessels were being positioned in a way that would allow crews “to promptly re-start oil mitigation efforts as soon as the storm passes,” he added.
A “packer”, a plug used during storms, has been placed in the relief well to stabilise it while workers leave the site.
Earlier on Thursday, Adm Allen said increasing confidence in the security of a new cap placed on the leaking well had convinced scientists it would be safe to leave the capped well unmonitored for several days.

Darth Vader Robbed a Bank!

Say it ain’t so!! The Empire must be victims of the economy in a very big way. At about 11:30am this morning, Darth Vader robbed a branch of Chase bank on Long Island. He was brandishing a gun… why the hell he didn’t use one of his more awesome weapons, I’ll never figure out. The poor teller had no choice but to turn over an as-yet undisclosed amount of cash before Vader fled the scene.
Eyewitnesses claim that he was wearing a pair of cargo pants underneath his cloak. Seriously? There’s no way he’d wear something such as that. They must need to have their eyes checked. I could see him with some black jeans, perhaps, but cargo pants? No matter what he was wearing, it doesn’t change the fact that I will never look at one of my Vader action figures in quite the same way again.

Morning Brief: International court validates Kosovo declaration of independence

Posted By David Kenner

Top story: The International Court of Justice ruled yesterday that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in February 2008 did not violate international law. The ruling, which will likely pave the way for other countries to recognize Kosovo's statehood, was hailed as a victory by the country's ethnic Albanian majority. Kosovar Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni said the decision marked a "great day for Kosovo," and called on the government of Serbia, which Kosovo had split away from, to open diplomatic relations with his government.

The court's decision, however, was written in the most cautious way possible, in an attempt to avoid encouraging other separatist movements from seeking statehood. The court refrained from concluding that that the state of Kosovo was legal under international law. That determination, its ruling implied, would only be determined by the recognition of other countries throughout the world. 69 countries, including the United States and a majority of European Union nations, currently recognize Kosovo.
Countries that face the threat of secessionist movements had been particularly vocal in their opposition to Kosovar independence. Russia, China, and Spain all presented arguments at the Hague last December opposing Kosovo's case before the court. China, which faces separatist movements in Tibet and among the Uighur population in its province of Xinjiang, felt so strongly about the case that it made its first oral pleading to the court since the 1960s.

Pakistan army chief's term extended: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilana announced that Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's term as the head of the army would be extended another three years. Gilani praised Kayani's record in battling Taliban forces that have threatened to destabilize Pakistan, saying that the general "has successfully led us in this war, and his staying on is in our best interests." Kayani had been scheduled to retire in November, at the end of a three year stint at the head of the army.

BP Oil Disaster Could Cost Gulf Economy $22.7 Billion

BY Ariel Schwartz
There may no longer be oil seeping into the ocean off Louisiana's coast, but the damage is done. And the cleanup process will be expensive, lengthy, and detrimental to the Gulf economy, according to a report (PDF) from Oxford Economics.
The report, released this week, offers some eye-opening statistics: The effects of the oil disaster on tourism to the Gulf Coast will last up to three years and cost the area $22.7 billion. Most of the losses will fall on Florida's shoulders, but Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama will also feel the disaster's effect on tourism for a long time to come.
But the situation isn't without hope. According to Oxford, the disaster's impact could be reduced by $7.5 billion if a $500 million emergency fund is put in place. Oxford explains in the report:
Separate research by Oxford has determined a range of tourism marketing ROI for various destination campaigns over the past decade. This analysis showed that some of the most effective campaigns were conducted after a crisis. This was observed in campaigns both for Canada after SARS and for Alaska after the Exxon Valdez spill....we found tourism marketing campaigns to yield a return of $5 to $64 in visitor spending for every dollar spent on marketing.
The U.S. Travel Association--the nonprofit that represents the country's travel industry--also released a 10-point "Roadmap to Recovery" (PDF), in response to Oxford's report. Among the suggestions: business meal tax deductions, an employee retention tax credit, and a reversal of the "state of emergency" declaration (The USTA thinks it has too negative of a connotation).
All good ideas, and they could certainly give a boost to the Gulf Coast's economy. The problem is, though, that no one really knows what the long-term environmental impact of this disaster will be--and the scope of that impact will directly affect the tourism recovery process. Not that we're knocking the recovery plan--it's a much-needed start.

Paul Krugman: Addicted to Bush

Just say no:
Addicted to Bush, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: For a couple of years, it was the love that dared not speak his name. In 2008, Republican candidates hardly ever mentioned the president still sitting in the White House. ...
The truth, however, is that the only problem Republicans ever had with George W. Bush was his low approval rating. They always loved his policies and his governing style — and they want them back. In recent weeks, G.O.P. leaders have come out for a complete return to the Bush agenda, including tax breaks for the rich and financial deregulation. They’ve even resurrected the plan to cut future Social Security benefits.
But they have a problem: how can they embrace President Bush’s policies, given his record? ... What’s a Republican to do? You know the answer. There’s now a concerted effort under way to rehabilitate Mr. Bush’s image on at least three fronts: the economy, the deficit and the war.
On the economy: Last week Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, declared that “there’s no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue, because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy.” ...
I guess it depends on the meaning of the word “vibrant.” The actual record of the Bush years was (i) two and half years of declining employment, followed by (ii) four and a half years of modest job growth, at a pace significantly below the eight-year average under Bill Clinton, followed by (iii) a year of economic catastrophe. In 2007, at the height of the “Bush boom,” such as it was, median household income, adjusted for inflation, was still lower than it had been in 2000.
But the Bush apologists hope that you won’t remember all that. And they also have a theory ... that President Obama, though not yet in office or even elected, caused the 2008 slump. You see, people were worried in advance about his future policies, and that’s what caused the economy to tank. Seriously.
On the deficit: Republicans are now claiming that ... the deficit is Mr. Obama’s fault. “The last year of the Bush administration,” said Mr. McConnell recently, “the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product was 3.2 percent, well within the range ... most economists think is manageable. A year and a half later, it’s almost 10 percent.”
But that 3.2 percent figure, it turns out, is for fiscal 2008 — which wasn’t the last year of the Bush administration, because it ended in September of 2008. In other words, it ended just as the failure of Lehman Brothers — on Mr. Bush’s watch — ... caused the deficit to soar: By the first quarter of 2009 ... federal borrowing had already reached almost 9 percent of G.D.P. To some of us, this says that the economic crisis that began under Mr. Bush is responsible for the great bulk of our current deficit. But the Republican Party is having none of it.
Finally, on the war: ...Karl Rove now claims that his biggest mistake was letting Democrats get away with the “shameful” claim that the Bush administration hyped the case for invading Iraq. Let the whitewashing begin!
Again, Republicans aren’t trying to rescue George W. Bush’s reputation for sentimental reasons; they’re trying to clear the way for a return to Bush policies. And this carries a message for anyone hoping that the next time Republicans are in power, they’ll behave differently. If you believe that they’ve learned something — say, about fiscal prudence or the importance of effective regulation — you’re kidding yourself. You might as well face it: they’re addicted to Bush.

Breaking: Rangel to be charged with new ethics violations

Posted by James Richardson A House ethics committee has launched an investigation into New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel for undisclosed ethics violations, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Rangel, who resigned from his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee in March following a formal admonishment for two corporately-underwritten Caribbean junkets, will appear next week before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Composed of four Republicans and four Democrats, the panel will consider if sufficient evidence exists to prove the allegations against 20-term legislator.

The adjudicatory subcommittee was last impaneled six years ago, when it was called upon to handle the case of Democratic Congressman Jim Traficant, who served seven years on bribery and racketeering-related charges.

In the same way that Republican ethics violations loomed large in the 2006 midterm elections that saw the House of Representatives change hands, Rangel’s ethics misdeeds threaten to undermine Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pledge to run the “most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in History.”
But for now, the specific nature of charges against Rangel remain unknown — and will likely remain as such until next Thursday when he makes his case to the ethics panel. In the meantime, a list–that is, unfortunately, in no way comprehensive–of the 80-year-old lawmaker’s ethics lapses:
  • Violating New York state and city zoning laws, Rep. Rangel rented in 2008 several rent-stabilized Harlem apartments and used one for a base of operations for his reelection effort.
  • Days later it was revealed Rangel had used congressional letterhead to solicit funds for his personal foundation, the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service.
  • The following month, in August of 2008, the New York Post reported that Rangel had failed to disclose income from renting his beachfront villa on a Dominican Republic resort. In total, Rangel failed to disclose $75,000 in rental income since 1988. Rangel secured a seven-year fixed rate loan at 10.5 % for the property, but two years later the interest on the loan, which was awarded by a company for which the congressman was an early investor, was waived. Rangel paid $10,800 in back-taxes for his 2004, 2005 and 2006 tax returns for the unreported rental income.
  • Rangel violated House rules and failed to report income to the IRS when he left his 1972 Mercedes in a House parking lot for several years without registering the car. The car, without license plates and covered by a tarp, occupied a space for several years valued a $290 per month.
  • In November 2008, the Post’s muckrakers discovered that Rangel had improperly received a “homestead” tax exemption on a property he owned in Washington, D.C., while occupying his four rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.
  • Rangel secured tax benefits for a company whose chief executive he was courting as a donor for his private foundation.
  • And most recently, a House panel admonished the scandal-plagued congressman for wrongly accepting reimbursements for two Caribbean trips in 2007 and 2008.