Category Archives: politics

As Rick Santorum Secured Earmarks, 2006 Donations Flowed In – NYTimes.com

As Rick Santorum Secured Earmarks, 2006 Donations Flowed In – NYTimes.com.

Donors Gave as Santorum Won Earmarks

The announcements flowed out of Rick Santorum’s Senate office: a $3.5 million federal grant to Piasecki Aircraft to help it test a new helicopter propeller technology; another $3.5 million to JLG Industries to bolster its bid to build all-terrain forklifts for the military; $1.4 million to Medico Industries to upgrade equipment for its munitions work.

Each of the news releases represented an earmark or, in some cases, multiple ones — the practice by which members of Congress set aside money in federal spending bills for what critics often denounce as pet projects back home.

[…]

But an examination of Mr. Santorum’s earmark record sheds light on another aspect of his political personality, one that is at odds with the reformer image he has tried to convey on the trail: his prowess as a Washington insider.

A review of some of his earmarks, viewed alongside his political donations, suggests that the river of federal money Mr. Santorum helped direct to Pennsylvania paid off handsomely in the form of campaign cash.

[…]

In just one piece of legislation, the defense appropriations bill for the 2006 fiscal year, Mr. Santorum helped secure $124 million in federal financing for 54 earmarks, according to a tally by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group. In that year’s election cycle, Mr. Santorum’s Senate campaign committee and his “leadership PAC” took in more than $200,000 in contributions from people associated with the companies that benefited or their lobbyists, an analysis of campaign finance records by The New York Times shows.

[…]

Read the full article here: The New York Times

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Filed under (big) business, campaign contributions, corruptopn, elections, ethics (in politics), lobbying, politicians, politics, politics, politics & business, USA

America for sale: How a private-equity firm would flip the United States to China. – Slate Magazine

America for sale: How a private-equity firm would flip the United States to China. – Slate Magazine.

Fire Congress, Dump Mississippi and Alaska

How a private-equity firm would refurbish the United States for quick resale to China.

Like many large corporations, America is going through a painful transition as it reaches maturity. Growth has stagnated, expenses have soared, and shareholders are getting antsy. While emerging markets offer potential, competitors are rapidly eating away at the United States’ market share. Analysts are bearish, with many believing the country is on the decline. Is it time for a leveraged buyout?

Probably not. Still, it’s a fun thought experiment: What sort of changes and cost-cutting measures would a firm like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital impose if it wanted to buy the country at a discount and refurbish it for a quick, profitable sale to, say, China?

Though the United States carries a $15 trillion debt load, if you look past its bloated budget and shaky governance, the country has some valuable assets. America has vast real estate holdings, a productive workforce, reliable cash flows, and a globally recognized brand name. An aggressive private-equity outfit, though, would find a lot to cut and a lot of people to fire. Here’s a 10-point plan to get the country shipshape.

[…]

Read the full article here: Slate Magazine

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Filed under (big) business, Constitution, dysfunction, economy, government, Judicial System, politics, society, USA

Is the U.S. Still a ‘Land of Opportunity’? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

Is the U.S. Still a ‘Land of Opportunity’? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

Room for Debate Home

Updated January 8, 2012 9:02 PM

Is the U.S. Still a ‘Land of Opportunity’?

There is a growing consensus that it is harder to move up the economic ladder in the United States than in many other places, like Canada. Should more Americans consider leaving the U.S. to get ahead? Or can the U.S. make changes to be more of a “land of opportunity”?

[…]

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America’s Unlevel Field – NYTimes.com

America’s Unlevel Field – NYTimes.com.

Op-Ed Columnist

America’s Unlevel Field

Last month President Obama gave a speech invoking the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt on behalf of progressive ideals — and Republicans were not happy. Mitt Romney, in particular, insisted that where Roosevelt believed that “government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities,” Mr. Obama believes that “government should create equal outcomes,” that we should have a society where “everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk.”

[…]

Let’s talk for a minute about the actual state of the playing field.

Americans are much more likely than citizens of other nations to believe that they live in a meritocracy. But this self-image is a fantasy: as a report in The Times last week pointed out, America actually stands out as the advanced country in which it matters most who your parents were, the country in which those born on one of society’s lower rungs have the least chance of climbing to the top or even to the middle.

[…]

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Michelle Obama’s Evolution as First Lady – NYTimes.com

Michelle Obama’s Evolution as First Lady – NYTimes.com.

Michelle Obama and the Evolution of a First Lady

Michelle Obama was privately fuming, not only at the president’s team, but also at her husband.

In the days after the Democrats lost Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat in January 2010, Barack Obama was even-keeled as usual in meetings, refusing to dwell on the failure or lash out at his staff. The first lady, however, could not fathom how the White House had allowed the crucial seat, needed to help pass the president’s health care legislation and the rest of his agenda, to slip away, several current and former aides said.

To her, the loss was more evidence of what she had been saying for a long time: Mr. Obama’s advisers were too insular and not strategic enough. She cherished the idea of her husband as a transformational figure, but thanks in part to the health care deals the administration had cut, many voters were beginning to view him as an ordinary politician.

The first lady never confronted the advisers directly — that was not her way — but they found out about her displeasure from the president. “She feels as if our rudder isn’t set right,” Mr. Obama confided, according to aides.

[…]

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Oedipus Rex Complex – NYTimes.com

Oedipus Rex Complex – NYTimes.com.

Oedipus Rex Complex

DES MOINES

American politics bristles with Oedipal drama.

Sons struggling to live up to fathers. Sons striving to outdo fathers. Sons scheming to avenge fathers. Sons burning to one-up fathers. Sons yearning to impress fathers who vanished early on. Sons leaning on fathers. Sons using fathers as reverse-play books.

[…]

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So Much Fun. So Irrelevant. – NYTimes.com

So Much Fun. So Irrelevant. – NYTimes.com.

So Much Fun. So Irrelevant.

Two things have struck me about the Republican presidential candidate debates leading up to the Iowa caucuses. One is how entertaining they were. The other is how disconnected they were from the biggest trends shaping the job market of the 21st century. What if the 2012 campaign were actually about the world in which we’re living and how we adapt to it? What would the candidates be talking about?

[…]

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Filed under caucuses/primaries, elections, Iowa, politics, USA

In Praise of Iowa – NYTimes.com

In Praise of Iowa – NYTimes.com.

January 4, 2012, 12:58 am

In Praise of Iowa

It’s easy to complain about the Iowa caucuses – easy and completely justifiable. Iowa’s caucus-goers have given us the presidency of Jimmy Carter, lent credibility to Pat Robertson’s political ambitions and created a permanent constituency for ethanol subsidies among Democrats and Republicans alike. As friendly and civic-minded as Iowans may be, there’s no reason why a low-turnout contest in a small, rural state should play such an outsize role in every presidential nominating process.

But in the wake of Tuesday night’s Romney-Santorum photo finish and Ron Paul’s strong third-place showing, it must be said that this time around Iowans have discharged their responsibility impressively. Presented with the weakest presidential field of any major party in a generation, they made the best of a bad situation, punching the three most deserving tickets without handing any of them a decisive victory.

[…]

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Whatever happened to neoconservatism? – Telegraph Blogs

Whatever happened to neoconservatism? – Telegraph Blogs.

Ed West

Ed West is a journalist and social commentator who specialises in politics, religion and low culture. He is @edwestonline on Twitter.

Whatever happened to neoconservatism?

By Last updated: January 2nd, 2012

In yesterday’s Observer Nick Cohen made an admirably un-crowd-pleasing call for intervention in Syria, citing my colleague Michael Weiss’s proposal for helping opposition forces in that country. He wrote:

Intervention to stop a regional war carries vast risks. But we should be honest about the consequences of acquiescing to Assad. A failed state and nest for terrorism will sit on the edge of the Mediterranean. Foreign mercenaries and Alawite paramilitaries will continue to massacre a largely defenceless population and the conflict may spread into Iraq, Israel, Turkey and Jordan. As the news that escapes the control of the Syrian censors reminds us every day, those who say we should do nothing also have blood on their hands.

I can just imagine the reaction of many readers choking over their [insert unmanly, organic foodstuff popular in N16 here]: “Neoconservatism!”

It’s rather funny that in the popular imagination, and in the adolescent protest movement, neoconservatives are characterised as these evil, warmongering, American imperialists, who sit around in smoky rooms with a map of the Middle East with little oil field figurines, and a hotline to Jerusalem.

[…]

The opposite is in fact true. As the very title suggests, neoconservatives are not conservatives as such but liberals who have fallen out with other liberals because they think non-Europeans should be held up to the same standards as everyone else; alongside Christopher Hitchens, the impeccably liberal Cohen was the finest British writer to advocate the removal of Saddam Hussein on the very decent grounds that he was an evil, sadistic mass-murderer who continued to cause misery for millions. Neocons take the Holocaust mantra “never again” seriously, whereas most on the Left mean “never again by whites”. They are the good guys, and just want the Arab world to be more like them; wealthy, free and slightly less weird about the opposite sex.

[…]

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Obama to Target Congress in 2012 Re-election Campaign – NYTimes.com

Obama to Target Congress in 2012 Re-election Campaign – NYTimes.com.

Obama to Turn Up Attacks on Congress in Campaign

HONOLULU — President Obama is heading into his re-election campaign with plans to step up his offensive against an unpopular Congress, concluding that he cannot pass any major legislation in 2012 because of Republican hostility toward his agenda.

[…]

However the White House chooses to frame Mr. Obama’s strategy, it amounts to a wholesale makeover of the young senator who won the presidency in 2008 by promising to change the culture of Washington, rise above the partisan fray and seek compromises.

After three years in office, Mr. Obama is gambling on a go-it-alone approach.

[…]

Read the full article here: The New York Times

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