Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

US Senate Narrowly Approves Debate on Controversial Jobless Aid Bill

00 Politics. Merry Christmas... There's No Room at the Inn. 02.01.13

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On Tuesday, the US Senate narrowly approved debate on a temporary extension of unemployment insurance benefits (UIBs) to over one million jobless Americans, giving some unexpected momentum in the new year to the Democrats and the Obama administration. The vote to approve debate was 60-37. With six Republicans and all present Democrats backing the move to begin formal debate on the bill, supporters reached the 60 votes required to advance it with no room to spare. The measure, sponsored by Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jack Reed (D-RI), would retroactively restore federal aid payments to about 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans that expired at the end of last year. Previously, that aid kicked in after state benefits expired, after about 26 weeks in most states.

Five Republicans joined Heller to support moving forward on the legislation… Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Dan Coats of Indiana, and Rob Portman of Ohio. Those lawmakers… who said they want leaders to find a way to offset the cost of the federal benefits… mightn’t support final passage of the bill. However, their support Tuesday kept the legislation alive, despite last-minute doubts that the procedural vote would pass. Senator Harry Reid told reporters after the vote, “It was in the balance until the last minute”. If the final bill does pass the Senate, it’s not clear that the GOP-led House would take it up. House Republican leaders painted the current proposal as fiscally irresponsible. In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that any extension of the program must be paid for and contain House-backed job creation plans, saying, “One month ago, I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits shouldn’t only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan”.

Senate opponents of the measure said that they never intended that the emergency aid programme, first enacted during the height of the economic recession, be permanent, and that spending cuts elsewhere in the budget should offset the aid. In a statement, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), said, “Spending 6.5 billion USD (216 billion Roubles. 7.03 billion CAD. 7.28 billion AUD. 4.8 billion Euros. 4 billion UK Pounds) in three months without trying to find ways to pay for it or improve the underlying policy is irresponsible and takes us in the wrong direction”. Earlier Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed paying for the insurance extension by delaying a key mandate in the president’s health care law, a major Republican aim, and a clear non-starter with Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Reid immediately rejected that proposal as a mere “guise to obstruct”.

Outside rightwing groups like the political arm of the Heritage Foundation and the anti-tax Club for Growth had also urged a “no” vote on Monday’s procedural measure, calling the extension proposal fiscally irresponsible. Supporters… including the White House… argued that the abrupt end to the benefits on 28 December plunged long-term jobless into further desperation and would hurt the American economy if it’s not reversed by a retroactive extension. Senator Reid said, “This investment in our fellow Americans is one of the most effective ways to spark and sustain an economic recovery”. He accused Republicans who opposed the legislation of “callously turned their backs on the long-term unemployed”. US President Obama planned to speak about the unemployment insurance extension shortly after the Senate vote. He’s sure to paint the GOP as out of touch with Americans concerned about income inequality and the plight of the working poor, issues that Democrats believe would mobilise their political base in 2014 and beyond.

7 January 2014

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_01_07/US-Senate-narrowly-votes-to-advance-controversial-jobless-aid-bill-0634/

Editor’s Note:

There are three simple things that the Congress can do to get the money to fund UIB extensions:

  • Abolish the Bush tax cuts for all those making over 1 million USD (33.2 million Roubles. 1.08 million CAD. 1.12 million AUD. 736,000 Euros. 610,000 UK Pounds) a year from whatever source (earned, corporate, or capital gains)
  • Tax capital gains at the same rate as earned income
  • Remove the cap on FICA taxes (and extend them to capital gains earnings)

This won’t happen. The Republican Party has become the willing running dog of the rich… the so-called “conservative” movement is just a bunch of political hacks in the pay of the American oligarchs (through campaign contributions unleashed by the immoral and basically-illegal Citizens United decision… corporations AREN’T people, and anyone who says such is a loon). In short, the GOP has become a criminal organisation in objective terms… as it advocates policies that were illegal prior to 1980. Those regulations and laws were in place to prevent another Great Depression. What was the result of this Republican slide into criminality? The Great Recession, that’s what. Note well that the rich REFUSE to help those hurt by their rapacious policies. Indeed, they want to stamp on those hurt by their greed even more. Such policies are evil… and no Christian or decent person can support them, and it doesn’t matter how “pro-life” the Republican Party is. The GOP’s pro-life stance is hypocritical and empty… their intent to protect the rich and stamp on the poor to do so is all too real and all too heartfelt.

Orthodox people should watch the Unholy Trinity… Bilirakis, Issa, and Amash… watch ‘em all vote against UIB extension in the House. None call it evil, none call it satanic, none call it godless… but it is, and in spades. It’s time for REAL Orthodox Christians to oppose these jerks and their konvertsy supporters. Don’t forget that Orthodox people were in the forefront of the labour movement. Some of us haven’t forgotten that (and I’m not alone… the Obama bumper stickers outnumbered the GOP ones by a huge margin at St T’s on Memorial Day)…

BMD

 

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Thursday, 17 October 2013

US Government Shutdown Ends… Tea Party Mortally Wounded

00 US government shutdown. political cartoon 4. 17.10.13

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On Wednesday, the US Senate, racing to avert a government default, passed legislation raising the Treasury Department‘s borrowing authority and sent the measure to the House of Representatives for final passage. In addition, the legislation would end a partial government shutdown by providing new funds for federal agencies closed since 1 October. This deal ended a political crisis that partially shut down the federal government and brought the world’s biggest economy to the edge of a debt default that could’ve threatened financial calamity. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives would take up the measure later on Wednesday after Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) dropped efforts to link the spending measure to changes in US President Obama‘s healthcare law.

However, the deal offers only a temporary fix; it doesn’t resolve the fundamental issues of spending and deficits that divide Republicans and Democrats. It funds the government until 15 January, and it raises the debt ceiling until 7 February, so Americans face the possibility of another government shutdown early next year. The stock market surged on news of the deal, nearing an all-time high. The stand-off between Republicans and the White House over funding the government forced the temporary lay-off of hundreds of thousands of federal workers from 1 October, and it created concern that crisis-driven politics was the “new normal” in Washington.

On Wednesday, US Senator John McCain (R-AZ), whose fellow Republicans triggered the crisis with demands that the federal government defund President Obama’s signature healthcare reforms, said the deal marked the “end of an agonising odyssey” for Americans, noting, “It’s one of the most shameful chapters I’ve seen in the years I’ve spent in the Senate”. Repeatedly, McCain warned Republicans not to link their demands for changes to the ACA to the debt limit or to the government spending bill. The measure passed in the Senate with an 81-18 vote, and observed expected the House to follow suit, clearing the way for Obama to sign it into law no later than Thursday, when the Treasury said it’d hit the 16.7 trillion USD (536 billion Roubles. 17.3 billion CAD. 17.5 billion AUD. 12.4 billion Euros. 10.5 billion UK Pounds) debt ceiling.

Fully reopening the government should take several days. Essential functions like defence and air traffic control continued, but national parks and agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency remained largely closed. Although the deal would only extend US government borrowing authority until 7 February, the Treasury Department would have tools to extend its borrowing capacity temporarily beyond that date if Congress failed to act early next year. The agreement includes some income verification procedures for those seeking subsidies under the healthcare law, but Republicans surrendered on their attempts to include other changes, including the elimination of a medical device tax.

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On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama sought to heal the wounds of the debt ceiling and government shutdown showdown, warning that Washington must stop governing by crisis. In a short statement after the Senate voted to back a compromise deal and before the House of Representatives did likewise, Obama said that American leaders needed to “earn back” the trust of the American people after the crisis.

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On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama said that he’d sign legislation to reopen the US government and avert a debt default as soon as it reaches the White House. Speaking after the Senate voted to end the fiscal impasse, but before the House of Representatives took a vote, Obama said that the government would reopen immediately after he signs the bill, ending a 16-day shutdown, saying, “We can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people”.

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00 US government shutdown. political cartoon 3. 17.10.13

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Late on Wednesday, VOR correspondent Roman Mamonov reported that the US House of Representatives passed legislation to avoid a damaging default on government debt and to reopen federal agencies shuttered when funding ran out on 1 October. The House vote came hours after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill. Earlier on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama said that he’d promptly sign the bill into law.

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VOR American correspondent Roman Mamonov reported that the Office of Management and Budget said that federal workers should plan to return to work on Thursday morning. US President Barack Obama ordered all federal employees to return to work on Thursday after Congress passed a bill extending the nation’s borrowing authority and ending a two-week government shutdown. OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell said, “Now that the bill passed the US Senate and the House of Representatives, the President plans to sign it tonight and employees should expect to return to work in the morning”.

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The US House of Representatives passed a Senate-approved deal to lift the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown after 16 days. Finally, it approved an eleventh-hour deal to end a partial government shutdown and pull the world’s biggest economy back from the brink of a historic debt default that could’ve threatened financial calamity. The White House said that US President Obama would sign the bill Wednesday night, and Obama vowed to begin reopening the government immediately. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said, “Employees should expect to return to work in the morning”. However, it only offered a temporary fix and it doesn’t resolve the fundamental issues of spending and deficits that divide Republicans and Democrats. It funds the government until 15 January, and raises the debt ceiling until 7 February, so Americans face the possibility of another government shutdown early next year. When the US Congress approved the deal to raise the 16.7 trillion USD American debt ceiling, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said, “The global economy dodged a potential catastrophe”. After the deal passed, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, “It’s one of the most shameful chapters I’ve seen in the years I’ve spent in the Senate”.

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Early on Thursday, the White House said that US President Barack Obama signed legislation that ended a US government shutdown and raised the US debt ceiling.  The US Congress passed a bill to reopen the government and raise the federal debt limit, with hours to spare before the nation risked default. The Democratic-controlled Senate’s bipartisan compromise won approval by 81 votes to 18. Then, the deal passed 285-144 in the House of Representatives, whose Republican leadership begrudgingly agreed to support the measure. It came hours before the deadline to raise the 16.7 trillion USD debt limit. Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a separate statement that the government would try to get back to full operating status as smoothly as possible, saying, “This was a particularly challenging time for Federal employees, and I want to thank our Nation’s dedicated civil servants for their continued commitment to serving the American people”. in a directive to federal agencies Burwell said that most employees furloughed for the past two weeks are expected back to work Thursday.

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00 US government shutdown. political cartoon 1. 17.10.13

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Business Insider reported that Standard & Poor’s said that the shutdown took 24 billion USD out of the US economy and cut 0.6% off of yearly fourth quarter GDP growth. In a press release, S&P wrote, “If people are afraid that the government policy brinkmanship will resurface again, and with it the risk of another shutdown, or worse, they’ll remain afraid to open up their chequebooks. That points to another Humbug holiday season”. S&P noted that any resolution would be temporary, with an early 2014 timeframe for the next set of Washington deadlines, saying, “The short turnaround for politicians to negotiate some sort of lasting deal will likely weigh on consumer confidence, especially, amongst government workers that were furloughed”.

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Cops ejected Dianne Reidy, a US House of Representatives stenographer, from the House session after she acted strangely. The House was voting over a decision concerning the financial crisis when Dianne suddenly came up to the Speaker’s Chair and said, “Praise be to God Jesus Christ!” Then, she started to say something about America not being “one nation under God” because its constitution was “written by Freemasons”. The presiding officer, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, banged the gravel in an attempt to restore order, but Reidy continued to shout similar pompous nonsense, full of quotes from the Bible. The cops came in and took away the stenographer. When they removed her from the floor, she screamed, “You can’t serve two masters!” According to Ros-Lehtinen, “Reidy came up to the podium area beneath where I was standing and asked me if the microphones were on. I said that I didn’t know. I assumed that perhaps I was chatting too much to the helpful parliamentarians around me. Then, she suddenly faced the front and said words like ‘Thus spoke the Lord’ and ‘This isn’t the Lord’s work’. I hammered to get control and hush her up. She said something about the devil. It was sudden, confusing, and heartbreaking. She’s normally a gentle soul”. After a police interrogation, cops will take Ms Reidy to a local hospital for mental health tests. At present, there’s no criminal case pending against her.

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From federal workers to local businesses to tourists, many people breathed a sigh of relief over the shutdown’s end. Some are happy the shutdown’s ending; others have mixed emotions. On Wednesday night, furloughed EPA employee Steve Hopkins said, “It’s relief yes, but it’s a lot higher concern than I had before”. Hopkins said that his concern stems from the fact that the deal only funds the government through 15 January.

17 October 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_17/US-Senate-passes-legislation-to-avert-default-fund-government-and-raise-debt-limit-ceiling-6822/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_17/Obama-says-Washington-must-regain-trust-of-Americans-5820/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_17/Obama-says-will-sign-bill-immediately-to-reopen-government-lift-debt-ceiling-0994/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_17/US-House-passes-bill-to-reopen-govt-increase-debt-limit-3575/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_17/US-government-employees-to-return-to-work-on-Thursday-9752/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_17/US-shutdown-ends-House-joins-Senate-in-passing-deal-to-avoid-default-bill-goes-to-Obama-3803/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_17/Obama-signs-legislation-to-end-government-shutdown-raise-US-debt-limit-7279/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_17/US-shutdown-took-24-billion-out-of-the-economy-S-P-8861/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_17/US-Congress-members-shocked-with-stenographers-bizarre-protest-0349/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_17/Americans-have-mixed-feelings-over-shutdown-end-7242/

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00 US government shutdown. political cartoon 2. 17.10.13

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Editor’s Note:

All House Democrats voted for the bill, but only 87 Republicans did so, meaning that 2/3 of the GOP representatives remain intransigent. They’ve tied themselves to the terrorism of the Tea Party, an American Taliban if there ever was such. The Republican Party has become the creature of sectarian nutters and fatcat greedsters. They’ve become Young Earth Creationists and Mammon worshippers, all at once, and, often enough, both are combined in one person. Real Christians have nothing in common with such loons.

The stupidity of Tea Party Republicans was on display for the whole world to see, naked and unashamed. You see, Senate Republicans face the entire state electorate; they’re not in blatantly-gerrymandered districts as most Southern representatives are. Ergo, they wanted a deal, and wanted one before any real kafuffle occurred, before the shit hit the fan. This deal shows that the Republican Party is scared shitless. Note well that the Prez gave the TPers NOTHING. NADA. NICHEVO. That’s all folks! The Tea Party is so feckless and daft that it’s playing right into Obama’s hands, and they refuse to see it because of their racism, belief in their make-believe world instead of the real word, and lack of judgement. The wisest course for the GOP would be to fund the government through the 2014 election, to let all the commotion die down. However, in their fervent chowderheaded imprudence, they want to keep the issue alive before the election. This is exactly what Obama wants, and the Tea Party is dense enough to give it to him, gratis.

The TPers are much like some of the old Russian Whites. You see, before the Revolution, things were perfect and hunky-dory. The peasants were all deferential to their betters and Imperial Russia was getting better and better all the time. Of course, things weren’t like that at all. Red October occurred for very real reasons. It wasn’t a stab in the back by “Jewish Bolshevik thugs” (yes, I’ve heard such rot, mostly from people attached to the Jordanville gang). Just as the old Russian Whites refuse to acknowledge their greed and guilt, the TPers are the same. They expect us to continue subsidising their Affluent Effluent lifestyles, to have less and less, as they take more and more. Marx was right when he said, “Capital has no homeland”… that is, capitalists are unpatriotic SOBs. Look at Willy Romney, draft dodger and tax evader, yet GOP candidate for US President. It tells you much about the Republican Party in general and the Tea Party in particular. Remember, shitbirds of a feather flock together. Never forget, unsat is unsat, and there’s no way of putting it right, save for voting the bastards out. The American people realise that now. The Tea Party’s dead… thank God…

BMD

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Senate Solons Announce Deal to End US Shutdown

00 Mike Luckovich. Axis of Evil. 2013. 16.10.13

Axis of Evil 2013

Mike Luckovich

2013

We’ve seen what the Tea Party haters want to do. As a professing Christian, I’m disgusted at how they wrap themselves up in pseudo-Christian vesture. Christ didn’t come to earth to empower the rich (“It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”)… after all, the powers-that-be did crucify him, didn’t they (and the religious authorities of the time applauded his death)?

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A Republican Senator said that lawmakers in Washington reached an agreement that’d reopen the government and save the country from default. US Senate leaders intend to announce their deal to reopen the government and raise the country’s debt limit when the Senate convenes at noon EDT (1600 GMT) on Wednesday, a senior aide said. An aide said that the first vote would occur in the Republican-led House of Representatives, where observers expect it to pass, mostly with Democratic votes. Then, the measure would go to the Senate for final congressional approval, which would clear the way for US President Barack Obama to sign it into law. A deal would keep the government open through at least 15 January, and raise the debt ceiling through 7 February.

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US Senate leaders announced a deal to re-open the government and raise the country’s debt limit on the 16th day of the US federal government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), leader of the upper chamber’s Republican minority, declared the agreement on the floor of the Senate. Speaking from the Senate floor, Reid said that the agreement called for reopening the federal government with a temporary budget until 15 January, and it extends US government borrowing authority until 7 February. Reportedly, Senate leaders were close to an agreement since Monday. An effort Tuesday by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to put forward an alternative plan stalled when he was unable to gain the support of his own Republican Party, which holds a majority in the lower chamber.

The American stock market rallied on the news of a possible agreement to end the crisis before Thursday, when the US Treasury said it could be at risk of default on government obligations if Congress didn’t raise the 16.7 trillion USD (536 billion Roubles. 17.3 billion CAD. 17.5 billion AUD. 12.4 billion Euros. 10.5 billion UK Pounds) debt limit. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.2 per cent. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 1.3 per cent around 12.45 EDT (20.45 MSK. 17.45 UTC. 09.45 PDT. 03.45 17 October AEDT)

16 October 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_16/US-Senate-leaders-confirm-deal-to-end-govt-shutdown-prevent-default-7926/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_16/Senate-leaders-reach-deal-to-avoid-default-end-shutdown-sources-7119/

Editor’s Note:

The Tea Party is DEAD. Mind you, the extremists will still win in districts with a majority of white sectarians… that’s the new “base” of the Republican Party. It’s time for Orthodox Christians to disassociate ourselves, both as individuals and as “Church”, from all evangelical organisations (including so-called “Pro-Life” groups). We don’t agree with their “religion”, we don’t agree with their goofy take on science, we don’t agree with their heretical notions of the “Prosperity Gospel”, and we don’t agree with their conceptions of the state. Most of all, we don’t agree with their lunatic opium dream of American Exceptionalism… which leads to dangerous, puffed-up, and jumped up projects. We should leave them be… we shouldn’t attack them gratuitously, but we should leave them to their oddbod notions!

However, the Tea Party IS dead. Yet, we shouldn’t relax our vigilance… the Right isn’t dead… only the most feral group amongst them is. There be dragons out there WORSE than the Tea Party and Grover Norquist are… and they’re NOT dead.

BMD

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

31 August 2011. Conservatism, or, the Tea Party… Which Do You Prefer?

TR… a TRUE conservative… and he was friends with John Muir, too (oh, dear… get the smelling salts… Whiteford and JP just fainted)…

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The great corporations, which we have grown to speak of rather loosely as trusts, are the creatures of the State, and the State not only has the right to control them, but it is duty bound to control them wherever the need of such control is shown.

Theodore Roosevelt

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Recently, a friend sent me this one:

The USGS has determined that the epicentre of the Virginia earthquake was in a graveyard just outside of DC. The cause appears to be our Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves.

That’s not only a “funny”… it’s morbidly true. Eric Cantor claimed that “cutting taxes and easing regulations” would bring in a New Age of Sweetness and Light. (see: http://news.yahoo.com/gop-jobs-plan-104000591.html). Here’s the deal… you can follow TR or you can follow Eric Cantor. The first made it clear that business had to heed government; the latter makes it clear that government should suck up to the corporations and toady to their rapacious bosses. The first was in sync with the Founding Fathers… Eric Cantor isn’t. Why aren’t responsible and sane Republicans speaking up? The Iron Chancellor put it this way:

Courage on the battlefield is common enough, but you’ll often find that quite respectable people lack civil courage.

Otto von B nailed that one to the wall (he was also the Father of Single-Payer Healthcare and Extended UI Benefits, for your info)! If responsible Republicans continue their silence towards the Tea Party, the Rightwing Media Machine, and Talk Radio, one has to assume that they agree with them, deep down. Stand up or shut up, I say. It’s what I do… I practise what I preach…

BMD

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