CBO Begins Drum Beat For Higher Taxes

From the Congressional Budget Office’s Director’s Blog:

Long-Term Budget Outlook

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Recently, the federal government has been recording the largest budget deficits, as a share of the economy, since the end of World War II. As a result of those deficits, the amount of federal debt held by the public has surged. At the end of 2008, that debt equaled 40 percent of the nation’s annual economic output (as measured by gross domestic product, or GDP), a little above the 40-year average of 36 percent. Since then, large budget deficits have caused debt held by the public to shoot upward; CBO projects that federal debt will reach 62 percent of GDP by the end of this year—the highest percentage since shortly after World War II.



Only 13K New Private Sector Jobs In May

From the the payroll people at ADP (via a pdf file):

June 2010 National Employment Report

Published on Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nonfarm private employment increased 13,000 from May to June 2010 on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the ADP National Employment Report®. The estimated change in employment from April to May 2010 was revised up slightly, from the previously reported increase of 55,000 to an increase of 57,000.

June’s rise in private employment was the fifth consecutive monthly gain. However, over these five months the increases have averaged a modest 34,000. Recent ADP Report data suggest that, following steady improvement through April, private employment may have decelerated heading into the summer. The slow pace of improvement from February through June is consistent with other publicly available data, including a pause in the decline of initial unemployment claims that occurred during the winter months.



Spies Won’t Re-Set US-Russian Relations

From a relieved Agence France-Pressee (AFP):

Russia, US try to limit spy scandal damage

by Stuart Williams Stuart Williams

June 30, 2010

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia and the United States sought Wednesday to cool a heated scandal sparked by the arrest of 11 suspected Kremlin spies, amid fears the Cold War-style furore [sic] could harm improving ties.

A cautious White House made no move to condemn Russia after the arrests, prompting the Russian foreign ministry to say it expected the scandal would not hurt relations that have seen a significant revival over the last months

What a relief. We were so worried that the Obama administration might take Russia’s aggressive and extensive espionage effort the wrong way.

After all, this effort was obviously meant to be a further sign from Russia of their respect and regard for their close friend, the United States.



Holder In Kabul – To Discuss Corruption

From an irony-proof Associated Press:

Top US prosecutor in Kabul to discuss corruption


June 30, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in the Afghan capital to talk with officials about improving the justice system and fighting corruption Wednesday

In Afghanistan? Doesn’t justice, like charity, begin at home? Or has Mr. Holder gone over there to get pointers on how to do corruption better?

Corruption and an ineffectual court system have undermined public trust in President Hamid Karzai’s government.

Thankfully, we don’t have such problems. In fact, trust in our government is at an all time high.

The Obama administration and other donor nations, who need Karzai to be perceived as a credible partner, are pushing him to clean up bribery, graft and corruption.



Chavez To Nationalize Eleven US Oil Rigs

From a cheering Agence France-Pressee (AFP):

Venezuela govt to nationalize 11 US-owned oil rigs

Wed Jun 30, 2010

CARACAS (AFP) – Venezuela’s legislature has voted to nationalize 11 oil rigs owned by the US firm Helmerich & Payne.

The rigs, located in Monagas, Anzoategui and Zulia states, will be taken over by state oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the official news agency AVN said.

PDVSA had asked the legislature controlled by supporters of leftist [sic] President Hugo Chavez to take over the rigs after the US firm declined to negotiate a new service contract, unlike 32 other foreign firms

We suspect it’s more likely that Mr. Chavez is more worried Mr. Obama’s moratorium will apply to these rigs, and he wants to keep them from being taken out of production.



Obama Called SEIU Boss About Sen Seat

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Tom Balanoff: Obama called day before election about Jarrett appointment

By Sarah Ostman
June 29, 2010

Top union leader Thomas Balanoff said he was at dinner the night before the November Presidential election when he got a call that was blocked.

So he didn’t take it.

Later he listened to his messages: "I walked outside, listened to it and it was from President Obama," Balanoff said.

"Tom, this is Barack, give me a call," the soon-to-be President-Elect said on the message.

After Balanoff sent word through an Obama aide to call him back, Obama returned his call later that night.

"Tom, i [sic] want to talk to you with regard to the Senate seat," Obama told him.

Balanoff said Obama said he had two criteria: someone who was good for the citizens of Illinois and could be elected in 2010.



Obama Grants McChrystal 4-Star Pension

From relieved Reuters:

Obama to guarantee McChrystal a 4-star pension

Tue Jun 29, 2010

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will guarantee former Afghanistan commander General Stanley McChrystal a four-star pension despite firing him last week over comments disparaging civilian leaders.

McChrystal was sacked about a year after receiving his fourth star — half the time normally necessary to qualify for a four-star general’s retirement income of $12,475 per month, before taxes, according to Pentagon estimates based on his 34 years of service.

"We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that he, somebody who has served the country as ably as he has, can retire at a four-star level," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

It was unclear whether Obama might need to issue a waiver.



Stark Ridicules Border Security Advocates

From Fox News:

Rep. Stark Mocks Border Security Advocates: Who Are You Going to Kill Today?

June 29, 2010

A California congressman known for edgy sarcasm mocked an opponent of illegal immigration during a town hall meeting last week, asking, "Who are you going to kill today?" before the constituent, a self-identified Minuteman, posed his question.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., no stranger to controversy, mocked the idea that the borders are not secure when asked about the federal government’s lack of activity on border security.

"We can’t get enough Minutemen armed. We’d like to get all the Minutemen armed so they can stop shooting people here," Stark said.

Eventually, members of the audience urged Stark to offer a serious answer.

"If you knew anything about our borders, you would know that’s not the case.



Kagan Backpedals On ‘Openness’ Pledge

A change of tune so blatant that even New York Times has to take notice:

Kagan Says Openness at Hearings Is Inappropriate


June 29, 2010

WASHINGTON — At the opening of questioning in her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Solicitor General Elena Kagan quickly backpedaled from her past call for nominees to speak more openly about their constitutional views.

Under questioning by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, Ms. Kagan said she thought it would be inappropriate for her to talk about how she might rule only on pending cases or “cases that might come before the court in the future” — as well as to answer questions that were “veiled” efforts to get at such issues of current or future controversy.



China Companies Rent White Foreigners

From a company that would never stoop to tokenism, CNN:

Chinese companies ‘rent’ white foreigners

By Lara Farrar, for CNN
June 29, 2010

Beijing, China (CNN) — In China, white people can be rented.

For a day, a weekend, a week, up to even a month or two, Chinese companies are willing to pay high prices for fair-faced foreigners to join them as fake employees or business partners.

Some call it "White Guy Window Dressing." To others, it’s known as the "White Guy in a Tie" events, "The Token White Guy Gig," or, simply, a "Face Job."

And it is, essentially, all about the age-old Chinese concept of face. To have a few foreigners hanging around means a company has prestige, money and the increasingly crucial connections — real or not — to businesses abroad

Last year, Jonathan Zatkin, an American actor who lives in Beijing, posed as the vice president of an Italian jewelry company that had, allegedly, been in a partnership with a Chinese jewelry chain for a decade.



Obama Acolyte Demands More ‘Stimulus’

Yet another salvo from the vaunted editorial pages of the New York Times:

Wrong Track Distress


June 28, 2010

It’s getting harder and harder for most Americans, looking honestly at the state of the nation, to see the glass as half full. And that’s why the public opinion polls contain nothing but bad news for Barack Obama and the Democrats.

The oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, the war in Afghanistan and, above all, the continuing epidemic of joblessness have pushed the nation into a funk. All the crowing in the world about the administration’s legislative accomplishments — last year’s stimulus package, this year’s health care reform, etc. — is not enough to lift the gloom.

Given that Mr.



AP: Ten Russians Accused Of ‘Snooping’

From a bemused Associated Press:

In this courtroom sketch, Anna Chapman, left, Vicky Pelaez, second from left, the defendant known as "Richard Murphy", center, the defendant known as "Cynthia Murphy", second from right, and the defendant known as "Juan Lazaro" are seen in Manhattan federal court in New York, Monday, June 28, 2010.

NY case alleges Russian snooping by 10 agents

By Tom Hays And Pete Yost, Associated Press Writers

June 29, 2010

NEW YORK – Behind the scenes, they were known as "illegals" — short for illegal Russian agents — and were believed to have fake back stories known as "legends."

U.S. authorities say they sometimes worked in pairs and pretended to be married so they could blend into American society as the couple next door.



Red Tape Keeps Oil Skimmers from Gulf

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Red tape keeps prized oil-fighting skimmers from Gulf, coastline

Monday, June 28, 2010

Just weeks after the oil spill crisis began to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, the French foreign minister volunteered a fleet of oil skimming boats from a French company, Ecoceane. A month later, in early June, Ecoceane Chief Executive Eric Vial met with BP and Coast Guard officials to present the idea…

But after that meeting, weeks went by with little contact as oil continued gushing into the Gulf. A frustrated Vial was able to get around the bureacracy [sic] last week only when his company sold nine of the oil collection boats to a private contractor in Florida, who could then put the boats to work.



Govs Slam Obama’s National Guard Plans

From an unfazed Associated Press:

524 Guard soldiers headed to Arizona-Mexico border


June 28, 2010

PHOENIX — The Texas and Arizona governors criticized the Obama administration’s border security plans Monday, saying not enough National Guard troops are being deployed to their states.

"What we heard wasn’t anything what we hoped to hear," Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer told reporters after a 90-minue [sic] briefing by federal officials sent by President Barack Obama.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican like Brewer, said the deployment to his state was "insufficient to meet the needs of securing the Texas-Mexico border."

A White House statement said plans to deploy 1,200 additional National Guard soldiers along the U.S.-Mexico border would "complement the unprecedented resources and additional efforts already devoted by this administration to securing the Southwest border."

“Unprecedented.” Yes, that is a White House statement.



Dems To Follow WV Law For Byrd’s Seat

From The Hill:

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin

Appointment will fill Byrd’s seat until Nov. 2012 special election

By Shane D’Aprile – 06/28/10

The person West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) appoints to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat will serve until a special election is held in November 2012.

On Nov. 6, 2012, West Virginians will vote in two elections: one to fill out the remainder of Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) term and one to elect someone to fill Byrd’s seat, which expires in January 2013.

How peculiar.

The winner of the special election will hold office for five weeks — until Jan. 3, 2013. The winner of the general election will take office for the 113th Congress.

A candidate can run in both elections, according to the West Virginia secretary of state’s office.



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