10 Companies That Pay Little to No Tax!

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Friday, February 17th, 2012 by rick |
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10 Incredible churches infograph…

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Friday, January 27th, 2012 by rick |
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Alberto Gonzales Can’t Find a Job, Whines

Alberto Gonzlaes has decided to write a book. It will consist of several hundred blank pages, as he simply doesn’t recall much of what he did during his tenure in the Bush Administration. What is pitiful is that Gonzales compares himself to victims of the War on Terror, because the Senate picked on him, I suppose. Shameful and pitiful.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Republicans have been unable or unwilling to protect their own, and have not found a nice, cushy job for amnesiac and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Poor Alberto Gonzales. He’s whining to the Wall Street Journal about his treatment on Captial Hill and et cetera, and has now decided to write a tell all book. (OK, the jokes about how he could possibly write a book if he “can’t recall” are cheap, if accurate.) Gonzales, famous for tracking down John Ashcroft in order to justify violating the constitution with the NSA domestic surveillance program, is now whining because, as a lawyer charged with knowing the law, he’s got a track record of not recalling how he violated the constitution. But the whiney complaints are good reading, at least when in a Wall Street Journal blog:

Mr. Gonzales has been portrayed by critics both as unqualified for his position and instrumental in laying the groundwork for the administration’s “war on terror.” He was pilloried by Congress in a manner not usually directed toward cabinet officials.

“What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?” he said during an interview Tuesday, offering his most extensive comments since leaving government.

During a lunch meeting two blocks from the White House, where he served under his longtime friend, President George W. Bush, Mr. Gonzales said that “for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror.”

This is pretty much the most clueless statement I can imagine. The treatment Gonzales received concerned the program of politicizing the department he was in charge of, the Department of Justice. It came after a string of answers which showed Gonzales either didn’t know at all what was happening in his own DOJ, or was purposely misleading Senators with a string of “I do not recall” answers. Gonzales now doesn’t just fail to recall, he fails to understand the enormity of his incometencies. Look for no responsibility taken in this book.

Worse here is that Gonzales compares himself to the real victims in the War on Terror, the men and women who died on 9/11, the soldiers who died because of Bush’s policies, the tens of thousands of Iraqi dead. . . those are victims of the “War on Terror.” Mr. Gonzales is at worst complicit in some of those deaths in that he helped justify some ugly policies. At best, Gonzales is merely a bumbling incompetent, and thus his is not a tragic story. Tragedy requires one fall from great heights, after all, and while Gonzales’ role in the Bush Administration was a high-ranking one, it was still a role in the failed and incompetent Bush Administration.

The interview with the WSJ is a bit pitiful and self-serving, of course. Gonzales is a Republican, after all. Here’s another excerpt:

Among other things, Mr. Gonzales said Tuesday that he didn’t play a central role in drafting the widely criticized legal opinions that allowed the Central Intelligence Agency to use aggressive interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects and expanded the president’s power to hold “unlawful combatants” and terrorism suspects indefinitely. He also said he told the truth to Congress about a classified eavesdropping program authorized by the president, and admitted to making mistakes in handling the U.S. attorney firings while maintaining that he made the right decisions. He says that while he bears responsibility as former Attorney General that “doesn’t absolve other individuals of responsibility.”

Mr. Gonzales, 53 years old, doesn’t have a publisher for his book. He said he is writing it if only “for my sons, so at least they know the story.”

This last bit seems a bit poignant. Gonzales gives excuses about his behavior concerning the NSA program and the torture policies of the Bush Administration, and then cops a little responsibility about the US Attorney scandal. I’m surprised he admits to anything, really. This guy is universally considered a liar and an incompetent, after all. But it is poignant because it appears Gonzales knows that the only ones he can convince about his good name and reputation are his own sons. How far he has fallen.

Let’s not let Alberto Gonzales off the hook, though. He was a lawyer with a degree from Harvard when he was hired by President Bush. He’d worked for Bush in Texas, so likely knew what he was getting himself in for. There are no excuses for the damage he did to our constitution, and while Alberto Gonzales’ sons may indeed believe his accounts, it is unlikely anyone else will. I’m just wondering where the man finds a publisher who will touch the book.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Uncategorized

Tim Pawlenty is This Year’s Katherine Harris?

Katherine Harris changed the election in 2000, bigtime, and it looks like Tim Pawlenty is going to do the same this year in the race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. At the very least, Pawlenty will keep from sanctioning Franken’s victory. Are all Republicans against democratic voting, or is it just those lusting for power?

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It is beginning to look like it is so. The Senate Race in Minnesota is very tight, and there’s not many of us who are ready to call it, though some media outlets are calling the race for Al Franken. So, what’s going to happen? It is beginning to look lke Tim Pawlenty. the Republican in the mix, is going to gum up the works. Here’s a bit from The Hill:

Still, even if Franken ends the Canvassing Board period with a lead, it is unlikely he would be appointed on an interim basis. Senate rules stipulate a governor must provide the upper chamber with a certificate of election, something Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has voiced reluctance about.

Pawlenty’s office told the Star Tribune that the governor only has the power to fill a permanent vacancy, not a temporary one caused by such a close election.

Hey, this is a chance for Pawlenty to earn his Republican cred, isn’t it, to step in and prevent a democratic victory. I’m not giving an opinion on who won or losty here, though I’m sure that America will be better off with Norm coleman on the sidelines. Still, Pawlenty digging his nose in is likely, if he wants to be seen as a frntrunner in 2012. That’s what Republicans like, after all, a man who will nudge an election, regardless of the outcome.

Can someone do me a photoshp of Pawlenty and Harris? That would be sweet, wouldn’t it?

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Uncategorized

It’s Not Just the Torture – Dig Deeper

There is much gnashing of teeth today in the blogosphere over the release of a Senate report on the genesis and potentially criminal conduct of Bush administration torture policies. But don’t just follow the shiny torture object – look deeper – the most egregious crime was using torture as a tool to establish a false connection between al Qaida and Saddam Hussein.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

SparkyThe explosive results of a Senate investigation on the genesis and conduct of Bush administration torture policies were released yesterday. The report sheds a lot of light into the official decision making process to engage in interrogation techniques that very clearly cross the line to torture. In fact, the report (and analysis of the report here, here, here, and here) lays out what appears to be a compelling case for immediately convening a war crimes tribunal. Yet President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, responding to questions this past Sunday regarding the release last week of CIA torture memos, very forcefully reiterated that the administration will not pursue prosecution of former Bush administration officials and advisers who designed and/or approved the torture programs and techniques.

Most of the punditry this morning is orbiting around the torture aspects of the congressional report. But there is a subtext to the report outside of the decision to torture that demands further exploration: the Bush administration’s single-minded focus, post-9/11, to take down Saddam Hussein. While the decision to torture is certainly prosecutable, in terms of real impact, using torture to falsely make a tenuous al-Qaida connection to Saddam (and therefore justify the invasion of Iraq) is at least as egregious in scope. While hundreds, or possibly even a few thousands, of alleged “bad guys” may have been tortured by the CIA and other agencies in order to extract intel, and yes, a few might have even died in the process, untold hundreds of thousands have died or been permanently maimed during the prosecution of a war based on a mountain of lies.

In his 2004 book, Against All Enemies, Richard Clarke gave us the first glimpse into the beginnings of building this public narrative of lies and justifications for Iraq, in this exchange with George W. Bush on September 12, 2001:

“…see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred…”

“Absolutely [Mr. President], we will look…again.” I was trying to be more respectful, more responsive. “But, you know, we have looked several times for state sponsorship of al Qaeda, and not found any real linkages to Iraq. Iran plays a little, as does Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, Yemen.”

“Look into Iraq, Saddam,” the President said testily, and left us…

In August, 2006, an inquiry by the Inspector General of the Army interviewed Major Paul Burney, MD, a psychiatrist who was assigned to oversee the detainee interrogation program at Guantanamo Bay in 2002. Dr. Burney testified (page 41 of the report):

(U) At the time, there was a view by some at GTMO that interrogation operations had not yielded the anticipated intelligence,290 MAJ. Burney testified to the Army IG regarding interrogations:

[T]his is my opinion, even though they were giving information and some of it was useful, while we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between AI Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful in establishing a link between AI Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link … there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.291

(Perhaps it would be useful to investigate who the “frustrated people” were – I suspect that the names Cheney and Rumsfeld might pop up in such an investigation.)

Though it takes awhile for the report to establish a timeline for approval and implementation of torture techniques, it’s clear that the ball was rolling in late 2001, when involvement by the Department of Defense’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) was requested by the DoD’s Office of General Counsel. JRPA manages training for U.S. military personnel on resisting torture techniques. And the agency was now being requested to develop an interrogation process for detainees captured by U.S. personnel in Afghanistan in late 2001.


Here are a couple of reasons: 1) Detainees weren’t giving up any actionable information on al Qaida. 2) Detainees weren’t giving up (or making up) information that would further establish the connection between al Qaida leadership and the government of Saddam Hussein.

It did not matter that personnel assigned to JRPA characterized torture techniques as essentially useless in extracting actionable information. Very early on, JRPA was clear that using torture never resulted in extracting useful information beyond what the torturee thought interrogators wanted to hear, whether or not there was any truth to the information.

The bottom line: the whole game was initially constructed to make the linkage between bin Laden and Saddam, because U.S. intelligence could not, in the aftermath of 9/11/01, make the connection. The development of Bush administration policies on torture had very little to do with actually preventing another attack on U.S. soil.

It was always about Saddam, from the very beginning. Maybe that’s where prosecutions should lead.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

I’m now Twitterized

I suppose it is time to join the Twitter revolution. Tweets abound. Heck, I’ve even got an animated cell of Tweety in my child’s bedroom. Follow me, wouldya?

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I’ve done so under my old nom de blog, SpinDentist. You can add me here.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Uncategorized

Why They Didn’t Use Snakes on Abu Zubaydah

I’m just saying, how do you find the time to bring in caterpillars, much less the evil and effective snakes as an enhanced interrogation technique when you are busy waterboarding the guy 83 times in one month. Abu Zubaydah got off easy – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed got the waterboard 183 times in one month.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

We saw the memo outlining authorized methods of enhanced interrogation under the Bush Administration. When I say they used insects on Abu Zubaydah, I wondered as an aside why they didn’t use snakes. Hey, if Indiana Jones hates snakes, even Chuck Norris would hate snakes, right? Well, now we know. They were too busy waterboarding Abu Zubaydah to deal with snakes. They waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times in one month, which doesn’t come near the 183 times they waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in one month. Emptywheel at Firedoglake has the links to the CIA memos where this is detailed.

Man, that’s a lot of waterboarding. I’d hate to have to pay that water bill. And I’d hate to have to be the one to figure out the gibberish that crap produced. As to defending the practice, only a Rush Limbaugh could even try, and as head of the Republican Party he surely will.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Uncategorized

Kudlow’s America: Some Eat Steak, The Rest Eat Cake

Larry Kudlow has a recipe for steak. Unfortunately, it’s a meal most won’t enjoy. Instead, the vast majority are relegated to eating cake and trying to keep up with the accelerating pace on the proverbial hamster wheel.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

If there were ever to be a way to demonstrate the unedited and unadulterated mind set of the GOP elite, Larry Kudlow succeeds in presenting it in an article he titles, Put Some Steak On The Plate. Kudlow, while offering his take on yesterdays GOP debate, is kind enough to also insert his not so subtle thesis for a Republican victory in 2008 and therefore the means to insure that he and his cronies have the idyllic “steak” placed squarely upon their plates.

Last night’s GOP debate featured strong, pro-growth, supply-side policies from the four major candidates – Rudy, Romney, McCain, and Thompson. [...]

This is all good. But let me remind folks that yesterday I suggested that Republicans were put on this planet to cut spending and taxes. And the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In other words, we need specifics. In other words, where’s the beef?

OK, I don’t begrudge Kudlow his ideology…he’s entitled to support whichever economic strategy he prefers. Further, I probably agree with the notion of prudent spending and reasonable taxation. Unfortunately, once Kudlow spells out the details by which he would pursue his stated objectives, our differences become more evident and his self-serving and less than palatable bias begins to emerge.

The Republican party needs to re-brand itself as the fiscal-disciplinarian party. GOP candidates must get specific about which departments and program clusters they’re going to curtail. The sooner the better. The burden is on their backs to reestablish credibility.

And while the Democrats are making hay with middle-class anxieties over taxes, health care, tuition, etc., Republicans need to launch an aggressive middle-class tax offensive.

For example, we don’t need six income-tax brackets. Here’s a thought: Take the 33 percent bracket that starts at $188,450 and get rid of it. Ditto for the 28 percent bracket at $123,700 and the 25 percent bracket at $61,300. Get rid of them. Collapse it all down into one simple 15 percent tax bracket. Then figure out what kind of spending cuts are necessary to finance it.

Let’s look at Kudlow’s two fundamental objectives. First, the revision of the tax structure advances a disproportionate boon to those making the most money (33 percent to 15 percent)…a goal consistent with his supply-side, pro-growth agenda…albeit one which is premised upon the belief that giving money back to the wealthy will facilitate reinvestment into the economy to better “float the boat”. While that is true to a point, it would simultaneously consolidates larger amounts of wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people…a move which further shrinks the middle class by pushing a small percentage of individuals upward and a much larger number downward.

Second, the reduction of spending immediately calls entitlements into question despite the fact that Kudlow states his own reservation with the cutting of Social Security benefits…a reservation I contend isn’t motivated by a concern for those who may be hurt but rather a measured calculation that the same can be achieved with far less repercussions than an open endorsement of such a plan. His motives and his modus operandi are revealed when he contrasts his “recipe” with that of the Democrats. Here’s how his strategy works. I contend the formula is little more than the classic carrot on a stick approach whereby the tax cuts must first be offered as the enticement (the means to procure votes) which then delivers the authority to enact the desired spending cuts.

As the bad news is disseminated (we have to pay for these tax cuts), the notion of self-interest leads a majority of voters to oppose cutting essential services while endorsing the reduction of money spent on programs perceived as “government handouts”. In other words, the underlying premise is that hard working individuals (defined as those who make enough money to receive the tax cuts) should be rewarded and those who don’t carry their own weight (defined as those receiving government assistance) should be penalized.

The end result is more of the same. In order to succeed, both spouses are compelled to work harder in order to make ends meet. Those on the top rung (the powerful) reinforce the merits of their message by offering the reward (a tax cut)…a reward they frame as needing to be extracted from those at the lowest rung on the ladder. As such, the focus is removed from those who benefited the most from the tax cuts (themselves) and they succeed in being portraying as the champions of the hard working middle class while vilifying those who have the least.

The ire of those caught in the hamster wheel has been masterfully directed downward. Thus the dangling vegetable is obediently chased in hopes it will lead to the quintessential prize…steak. Consequently, one either embraces the equation or one tumbles further down the ladder in shame…deserving of little more than reproach…and cake.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Daniel DiRito |
Category: Uncategorized

Let’s Play! Name this GOP Entitlement Syndrome!

Following the example they have set in Coleman v. Franken, of filing endless appeals, Jim Tedisco in the NY-20 special election is going further, declaring victory with fewer votes than his opponent Scott Murphy. There’s a GOP Entitlement Syndrome developing, and the CDC should be called in. Democracy as we know it is at risk.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Trailing Democrat Scott Murphy in the vote count in the special Congressional election in District 20 in New York, Republican Jim Tedisco has asked the court to declare him the winner. Yes, it boggles the mind, but he’s a Republican, so he feels entitled. Heck, Tedisco felt entitled to challenge the election results before election day was even over, so this reach for an entutlement should surprise us no at all. From the Register-Star in New York:

20th Congressional District candidate Republican Jim Tedisco submitted a petition to the Dutchess County Supreme Court Thursday asking the judge to declare him the winner of the extremely close special election race, despite the numbers currently being in favor of his opponent, Democrat Scott Murphy.

According to The Associated Press, Murphy leads Tedisco by 178 votes district wide – 79,452 to 79,274. The only ballots that have not been counted are those challenged by each candidate’s lawyers, and while Tedisco’s office has said the challenges are roughly evenly split between the two camps, Columbia County lawyers for Murphy have only challenged 22 ballots, while Tedisco’s have challenged 258.

Tedisco is also asking the court to authorize recanvasing of all machine ballots to acquire the “proper” tallies. He would like them to reassess the validity of absentee votes already counted, and keep ballots challenged by Tedisco unopened. County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Virginia Martin said this new development could result in the election taking quite a bit more time to be decided. She would not venture a guess on how long it will be before the 20th District has a representative in congress.

Beyond that we desperately need a name for the Republican Entitlement Syndrome that seemingly dictates that Americans are not allowed to have deomcratically elected representatives until the Republicans get all their legal whining out of the way, it is time to recognize this as the biggest feature of the Republican strategy going forward. No plans for the nation’s future, no cures for economic problems, and no coherent leadership. They are offering us sex-crazed teabagging parties, a dose of “Just Say No” to everything not proposed by Republicans, and withholding democratic representation through childlike legal fits.

Let’s get a name for this trend. I’ll start off. How about “Just Say No to Democracy?” It fits with their other stances, no?

They are also writing about this development at DKos.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Uncategorized

Tweetin’ and Twitterin’

An early adopter goes public…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

I’ve been signed up with twitter almost since the beginning of tweeting, but never really used it much. It kind of impresses me as the web equivalent of crack, but what does a geezer know about these things? All the kewl kidz are doing it.

Anyway, if you use twitter, and feel like cyberstalking All Spin Zone, you can follow ASZ at http://twitter.com/allspinzone.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized
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