LEHMAN: I think the biggest concern when I talk to my former counterparts and current military leaders in — among our allies in Europe and the Pacific is, the theme that they — I keep hearing from them is, Why is the United States under Obama abdicating leadership or keeping stability in the world? … And they see our abdication of leadership in for instance dealing with the pirates. We were not in a leadership position and that’s opened up a very attractive opportunity for the Russians and even the Chinese have two ships out there.
Listen to the clip:
Absent in Lehman’s argument of course is the fact that, according to data released just this week, sea piracy worldwide has declined 28 percent in the first quarter of the year and, as the AP reported, “attacks fell sharply in Somalia’s waters thanks to international naval patrols.” And which country has a “large” naval presence there? The United States.
“When the Obama administration came to office the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia was snowballing out of control,” Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro said recently at an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress, “through the collective effort of the United States, the international community, and the private sector, we are now seeing signs of clear progress.” Shapiro continued:
The numbers clearly demonstrate this. In 2011, the number of successful pirate attacks fell by nearly half. As a result, there has been a significant drop in the numbers of ships and crew held hostage. In January 2011, pirates held 31 ships and 710 hostages. In early March of 2012 pirates held eight ships and 213 hostages ? a roughly 70 percent decline. This is still way too many, but it is clear advances are being made.
“The Obama administration has pursued a strategy that seeks to leverage all elements of U.S. power” to combat piracy, Shapiro added, which comprises an integrated multi-dimensional approach that includes diplomatic engagement, expanding security at sea, preventing attacks and debilitating piracy networks.
Also absent from Lehman’s argument? Obama’s order in 2009 for a successful Navy SEALS operation to take out pirates holding an American ship captain hostage, nor his most recent order for U.S. special ops forces to rescue an American and a Danish hostages from pirate-affiliate kidnappers.
After pouring more than $8.4 million into bogus energy attack ads since November, the oil industry front group Americans For Prosperity announced yet another major ad buy of $6.1 million in eight states.
The latest ad is based on a set of mistruths about green jobs that have been widely debunked.
In the ad, AFP explains that “billions of taxpayer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries,” and uses four examples that supposedly prove that Obama’s clean energy stimulus created foreign jobs instead of domestic ones.
All four examples are either mostly or completely false.
1. The ad claims that $1.2 billion is being used to create solar jobs in Mexico. This point was completely made up by a random conservative blogger and has been repeatedly called out as a lie. This $1.2 billion loan guarantee was issued for a large, first-of-its-kind solar plant in California being developed by NRG. However, the blogger falsely wrote that the money was being used to create manufacturing jobs in Mexico.
In reality, the jobs created in Mexico had absolutely nothing to do with the loan guarantee. The only connection to Mexico was that some of the solar panels would be coming from a manufacturing plant located there. And even though the source of the panels had nothing to do with the decision to issue the loan guarantee, the company providing the panels, SunPower, explained that most of the panels were coming from America anyway:
2. The ad claims that a loan guarantee for an electric vehicle manufacturer went to jobs in Finland. This is also a made up story pushed by Fox News and conservative bloggers. In fact, all of the money used through the loan guarantee went toward building a U.S. manufacturing facility.
There were some jobs created in Finland during final assembly of the vehicles, but that was announced up front in 2009 when the loan guarantee was issued. According to the Department of Energy, all of the money set aside for Fisker’s next-generation vehicle manufacturing was issued for American operations.
3. The ad claims that tens of millions of dollars went toward building traffic lights in China. This is another murky claim that doesn’t hold up. In 2010, because of the lack of domestic manufacturing, the Department of Energy allowed some LED lighting technologies for stimulus projects to be sourced from overseas companies:
Federal agencies may waive the ?buy American? requirement if they determine that a needed item is not available from domestic sources in sufficient quantities, that it would inconsistent with the public interest to comply, or that the cost is unreasonable.
The agency says that all of the investments made for lighting projects followed the Buy America requirements established in the stimulus package. To make the spin worse, the ad implies that the stimulus money went to install traffic lights within China. That is totally false.
4. The ad claims that $2.3 billion in clean energy stimulus incentives went to overseas firms. This figure is based on a 2010 Washington Times piece borrowing from an investigative story from American University that found stimulus dollars going to foreign companies developing projects within the U.S. The piece raised questions about how many jobs were being created overseas to build the technologies being deployed in the U.S.
After publishing that piece, investigative reporter Russ Choma told FactCheck.org that the numbers showed more jobs being created in the U.S.:
It should be noted there were no farms that we could find that used turbines entirely built in China, so we can?t say for sure how much of this stimulus money went to create jobs in China. Some money definitely did, but it is safe to say more money went to creating jobs in the U.S. and Europe.
This latest ad brings the total amount spent by pro-fossil fuel groups to more than $24 million in just the first few months of 2012, based on a ThinkProgress analysis.
Jobs in green goods and services accounted for 3.1 million jobs in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, a study found that every dollar put into clean energy creates three-times as many jobs as investing in fossil fuels.
Watch AFP’s ad:
With a vote of 23-12, the Colorado Senate just approved final passage of the Civil Unions Act, with three Republicans voting in favor of the bill. Though an overwhelming majority of Coloradans support civil unions, the legislation still faces hurdles in the Republican-controlled House.
Somebody needs to ask Mitt Romney - and every repug candidate out there - why he has so little faith in the U.S. Justice System to handle Guantanamo's pathetic losers.
In 2009, the Obama administration announced that it would try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) and 4 other co-conspirators in civilian courts in New York City, but the right wing and obstructionists in Congress launched a fearmongering campaign to prevent this from happening. "There is not going to be a trial in New York, I guarantee it," then House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said at the time. "There is no appetite for the trials in Congress." Attorney General Eric Holder eventually acquiesced to the pressure and sent the case back to the Pentagon. A military commission trial is set for Guantanamo Bay next month.
But a high-profile terrorism trial is currently taking place in Brooklyn without much fanfare. Authorities arrested three men in 2009 and 2010 accused of plotting to blow up targets on the New York City subway system. While two of the suspects have already pleaded guilty, the trial of the third, Adis Medunjanin, who was arrested in January 2010, began last week. This time though, the right-wing isn't saying much, NPR reports:"It's rather ironic that this case has attracted so little attention," says Matthew Waxman, a law professor at Columbia University who used to work on detainee affairs for the Bush administration. "This trial has been an occasion for a convention of terrorism suspects." [...]
What makes the Brooklyn trial of Medunjanin particularly unusual, Waxman of Columbia University says, is the sheer number of convicted terrorists who have shown up in court. He says the testimony, and the way the trial is unfolding, is proof that the criminal justice system can handle terrorism cases - and tough cases with classified material don't need to be sent to military commissions at Guantanamo.
"In the past, the idea of prosecuting terrorists here in New York has generated huge outcry," he says. "But this high-profile trial is going on right here."
Indeed, the New York Times reported last week that federal officials said the plot was "one of the most serious threats to the United States since the Sept. 11 attacks."
Remember how those massive budget cuts in the Romney/Ryan plan fall primarily on poor Americans? The Center for American Progress has a new report detailing how those cuts in turn will affect children.
Let the children go hungry, say Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Because those millionaires need their tax breaks. And the Pentagon has to have a bigger budget, whether it wants it or not.
The Republican Party is fond of telling voters that their goal is to expand the economic pie, and as the size of the pie grows, there will be more for everyone, no redistribution required. But when you get down to their actual policies, there are two[...]
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Rep. Heath Schuler goes buh bye.If there was a silver lining to the 2010 midterm elections, it was that Democratic losses were disproportionately born by the corporatist Blue Dog Caucus.
The Blue Dogs began the 2010 cycle with 54 members (out of 257 Democrats in the House). Of the 63 Democratic losses in 2010, 29 of them came from seats held by Blue Dogs, or 46 percent.
That left 25 Blue Dogs. Reps. Jane Harman and Gabrielle Gifford resigned mid-term, bringing their numbers down to 23. But they picked up North Carolina Rep. Larry Kissell and someone else, not sure who, since their numbers are back to 25.
However, both Pennsylvania Reps. Jason Altmire and Tim Holden lost primaries this week. Rep. Joe Donnelly is quitting to run for Senate. And Reps. Dan Boren, Dennis Cardoza, Mike Ross and Heath Shuler are all retiring at the end of this term.
Let's look at party loyalty scores of the current lot, bolding those who are retiring or are already defeated:
Six of the caucus' 10 biggest assholes are gone. The most endangered of the remaining lot are at the top of this list (Matheson, Barrow, McIntyre). So not only will we have a Blue Dog caucus in the teens, but the remaining members will be mostly (though not entirely) unobjectionable.
If most of the remaining Blue Dogs vote with the party most of the time and aren't the kind to publicly punch hippies, then we'll have a much more cohesive and effective House Democratic caucus in 2013.
Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 68 to 31. The bill had reached 61 cosponsors, including eight Republicans, well before the vote; the further Republican votes have to be seen as a tribute to the effectiveness of the campaign Democrats waged in favor of the bill, including its protections for undocumented immigrant, LGBT, and Native American victims of abuse. Republicans tried and failed to remove those protections, and whined extensively about the politicization of the law as a result of their failure.
The House has yet to take up a VAWA reauthorization, but Republicans there are standing against those expanded protections for groups of people they don't like.
Rep. Willie Perkins: This has been a closed process. The Republicans are being hypocrites by looking to pass a plan that had less transparency than last year's map. The only standard this map meets is that it doesn't violate "one man, one vote."