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Wiley Miller | Why Bipartisanship is a Crock / GoComics.com

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Policy Lessons from Canada’s Deficit Slashing Days Are Limited

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  • Country’s Experience Shows Austerity Measures Didn’t Generate Growth
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  • Nobel LaureateKrugman: The Myths of Austerity
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  • Nobel Laureate Stiglitz: EU Austerity Is Wrong Bet
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Jordan Eizenga, Center for American Progress

Under Finance Minister Paul Martin, above, Canada's Liberal Party made large spending cuts in the 1990s in an effort to reduce Canada's deficit and bring down the debt.

Recent claims that 1990s Canadian fiscal policy should serve as a model for other countries trying to achieve stronger economic growth show a misunderstanding of what actually happened in Canada’s economy during that decade. The bottom line is that Canada’s budget cutting was appropriate under a unique set of circumstances, and in fact had little to do with the growth that ensued.

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In 1993, following a prolonged economic recession, Canada’s Liberal Party took over a federal government that had incurred historically high debt and deficit levels. Government debt was over 60 percent of gross domestic product, and deficits were running at 8 percent of GDP, more than twice the OECD average. Under Finance Minister Paul Martin’s helm the Liberal Party made large spending cuts in an effort to reduce the deficit and bring down the debt. Martin’s 1995 budget slashed departmental spending by 20 percent to cut the deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 1998. By 2000, government debt levels had dropped, the deficit was eliminated, and economic growth had increased.

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George Osborne, British chancellor of the exchequer, calls 1990s Canada a “striking example” of cuts leading back to prosperity and recently sought the advice of Mr. Martin. The British Government has even gone so far as to establish a Canadian-style “cuts committee” in which cabinet ministers must justify every dollar of expenditure to a panel of their colleagues.

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The Myths of Austerity, Paul Krugman, New York Times | NY

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  • The next time you hear serious-sounding people explaining the need for fiscal austerity, try to parse their argument. Almost surely, you’ll discover that what sounds like hardheaded realism actually rests on a foundation of fantasy, on the belief that invisible vigilantes will punish us if we’re bad and the confidence fairy will reward us if we’re good. And real-world policy — policy that will blight the lives of millions of working families — is being built on that foundation.
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  • This isn’t a recovery, in any sense that matters.
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Nobel Laureate Stiglitz Says EU Austerity Is Wrong Bet, Reuters, in Common Dreams

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  • 'If that (austerity) happens I think it is likely that the economic downturn will last far longer and human suffering will be all the greater,' he said.
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  • The Myths of Austerity
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Insanity Is Deja Vu All Over Again

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  • With the present so radically departing from our past, history has become a damning package of inconvenient truths.
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  • Building a Nation of Know-Nothings
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David Sirota, In These Times

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Out of all the famous quotations, few better describe this eerily familiar time than those attributed to George Santayana and Yogi Berra. The former, a philosopher, warned that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The latter, a baseball player, stumbled into prophecy by declaring, “It’s deja vu all over again.”

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As movies give us bad remakes of already bad productions (hello, Predators), television resuscitates ancient clowns (howdy, Dee Snider) and music revives pure schlock (I’m looking at you, Devo), we are now surrounded by the obvious mistakes of yesteryear. And it might be funny—it might be downright hilarious—if only this cycle didn’t infect the deadly serious stuff.

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Building a Nation of Know-Nothings, Timothy Egan, New York Times | NY
It’s not just that 46 percent of Republicans believe the lie that Obama is a Muslim, or that 27 percent in the party doubt that the president of the United States is a citizen. But fully half of them believe falsely that the big bailout of banks and insurance companies under TARP was enacted by Obama, and not by President Bush.

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"Hope-and-Change," A Hoax

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  • We believe that Obama’s rhetoric was a complete fabrication aimed at diverting real energy for change into a cul de sac of Democratic apologetics. It was, in short, a hoax.
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  • A post-9/11 betrayal endures
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Michael Rectenwald and Lori Price, Citizens for Legitimate Government

In our encounters on various social networking sites and political blogs, we consistently encounter the faithful remnants of the “hope-and-change” believers. To combat the onslaught of evidence and opinion that leads one to the conclusion that Obama is a fraud at best and represents a hoax at worst, they point to lists of his accomplishments and the ways he has delivered on his campaign promises. Such lists, we believe, are generally misrepresentations and fail to rise to the level of credibility. They are misleading because they represent minor deeds that might very well have been accomplished otherwise. We have characterized them as delivering on promises to “sharpen the pencils in the White House --mission accomplished.” There are some notable changes, but are they commensurate with Obama’s euphuistic campaign rhetoric? We think not. We believe that Obama’s rhetoric was a complete fabrication aimed at diverting real energy for change into a cul de sac of Democratic apologetics. It was, in short, a hoax.

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By “hoax” we mean that it represents a corporate takeover of the dissent that bubbled up in the country against the Bush administration, including his economic but mostly his imperialist agenda in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presenting Obama as a candidate of amorphous “hope-and-change,” the corporate sponsors of Obama intended to divert this dissent into acceptable (Democratic) channels. Some if not most of it had, indeed, arisen from Democratic channels, but the meaning of this dissent far exceeded anything that the Democratic Party represented either in its stated platform, or its actual practices, especially the consistent and over-riding support of the wars. The corporate and military backers of Obama bet on Obama’s oratorical skill and civil-rights-sounding rhetoric to effect a prestidigitation of incredible proportions. The intention of the magic was to fool tens of millions of voters, small-scale individual contributors, and campaigners into believing that Obama was the genuine article, that he represented change from the very policies and practices that had made Bush so virulently despised and vehemently opposed. These policies include first and foremost the war.

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A post-9/11 betrayal endures, Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times | CA

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  • President Obama and his administration have embraced the secrecy and usurpations of power that made possible the Bush-Cheney betrayal of American values
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  • A step backwards on privacy
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  • Court Dismisses a Case Asserting Torture by C.I.A.
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  • The Self-Inflicted Wounds of 9/11
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Fellow Americans' suspicions frustrate US Muslims

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There is no simple way for American Muslims to move forward.
Top 10 Myths About Islam

Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, in Washington Examiner | DC

Nine years of denouncing terrorism, of praying side-by-side with Jews and Christians, of insisting "I'm American, too." None of it could stop a season of hate against Muslims that made for an especially fraught Sept. 11. Now, Muslims are asking why their efforts to be accepted in the United States have been so easily thwarted.

"We have nothing to apologize for, we have nothing to fear, we have nothing to be ashamed of, we have nothing that we're guilty of — but we need to be out there and we need to express this," said Imam Mohammed Ibn Faqih in a sermon at the Islamic Institute of Orange County in Anaheim, Calif., the day before the 9/11 anniversary.

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Top 10 Myths About Islam, Huda, About.com

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  • Introduction to Islam
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  • The Right's Shameful Muslim-Bashing
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  • Five myths about mosques in this country
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Misconceptions Behind the Immigrant Scare

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  • A major independent study shows that the actual number of illegal immigrants in America is declining, sharply.
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  • A brief history of immigration
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  • Stop the Militarization of the DREAM Act!
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Scott Horton, Harper's

America, we are told by breathless voices on the political right, faces a horrible crisis from illegal immigrants, particularly from Mexico. These histrionics recently helped drive Arizona legislators and Governor Jan Brewer to enact SB 1070, under which the state’s law enforcement officers are authorized to stop anyone they suspect of being “foreign” and demand to see their documentation. But how sound are the premises of the fear campaign that drives this movement? As the New York Times reports, a major independent study shows that the actual number of illegal immigrants in America is declining, sharply:

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The number of illegal immigrants in the United States, after peaking at 12 million in 2007, fell to about 11.1 million in 2009, the first clear decline in two decades, according to a report published Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center. The reduction came primarily from decreases among illegal immigrants from Latin American countries other than Mexico, the report found. The number of Mexicans living in the United States without legal immigration status did not change significantly from 2007 to 2009. Some seven million Mexicans make up about 60 percent of all illegal immigrants, still by far the largest national group, the Pew Center said.

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A brief history of immigration, Frances Symes, Congress.org

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  • Fights over immigration law have been going on in the U.S. since the 1790s.
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  • Democrats unveil immigration proposal
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Stop the Militarization of the DREAM Act! Comite Anti-Militarizacion (CAMI), in Change.org
Comite Anti-Militarizacion (CAMI) supports higher education for all students both documented and undocumented; however, we denounce the military component of the DREAM Act. Unfortunately, this deadly component is strategically excluded from the debate by many Democrats and organizations who support the DREAM Act.

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'Plan B' For Afghanistan Aims To Spark Long Overdue Debate

The report's most important contribution is to lay out a "consensus view" that the current strategy in Afghanistan is not working; that it's actually making things worse; that it's not making us safer; that it's coming at a staggering and wildly disproportionate cost in blood and treasure; and that there needs to be an alternative approach.

Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

Nine long years into a war in Afghanistan that two out of three Americans no longer support, a group of disillusioned foreign policy experts is trying to kick-start an overdue national discussion about our goals in the region, and other ways that we might be able to achieve them.

Despite the growing opposition to the war outside the Beltway, there's been remarkably little serious debate about Afghan policy among those with the power to change it.

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A new report by the ad hoc Afghanistan Study Group, officially unveiled on Wednesday, aims to change all that.
Flatly declaring what has become increasingly obvious over time -- that our efforts in Afghanistan are not only failing, they are actually counterproductive -- the report provides something that some anti-war activists say has been sorely missing until now: A coherent alternative to the current approach.

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9 Shameless Warmongers Who Call Fox News Home

Some of the worst purveyors of misinformation about Iraq have been warmly embraced by Fox News.

Media Matters for America

During the run-up to the Iraq war, some of the worst purveyors of misinformation about Iraq had a home at Fox News, and their ranks have swelled considerably since then. Media Matters takes a look at the track record of wrong predictions and shoddy analysis about the war in Iraq by many of Fox News’ contributors and analysts.

1. Karl Rove White House Iraq Group was formed to “set [messaging] strategy” for going to war with Iraq. The Washington Post reported in 2003 (accessed via Nexis) that the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) was formed in August 2002 “to set strategy for each stage of the confrontation with Baghdad. A senior official who participated in its work called it ‘an internal working group, like many formed for priority issues, to make sure each part of the White House was fulfilling its responsibilities.’ ” Part of the WHIG’s mission, according to the Post, was to decide “what to demand of the United Nations in the president’s Sept. 12 [2002] address to the General Assembly, when to take the issue to Congress, and how to frame the conflict with Iraq in the midterm election campaign that began in earnest after Labor Day.” Rove was a regular participant in this group.

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