Ah! The Ides of March and today’s political men with that lean and hungry look are upon us! Let’s check out what Eric Cantor, Bobby Jindal and Paul Ryan are up to. All of them have that creepy angular look that makes my skin crawl. I always wonder if their supporters are as odd looking and grinch-like?
Ryan “looks with such ferret and such fiery eyes” and is trying to ride the same old budget that the voters soundly rejected in November.
Ryan’s budget is a retread of his previous offerings, the same ideas that were rejected by voters in the 2012 election. Like the old Bourbon kings, he has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Once more he doubles down on the failed ideas of the past, and once more he brazenly seeks credit for making hard choices while refusing to tell us what those choices are. The cowardice and lack of candor reflect just how unpopular these ideas are.
The basic strategy is the same; the only new packaging is the pretense of balancing the budget in 10 years. Ryan does that by adopting the $600 billion in “fiscal cliff” taxes that Republicans voted against, the Medicare tax hikes that were part of the Obamacare that Ryan proposes to repeal, and, most brazenly, the infamous $716 billion in “Medicare cuts” that Ryan and Romney and legions of Republicans have railed against over the last two election cycles.
Ryan’s basic strategy is unchanged. He would lower rates on income and corporate taxes. He does this despite studies showing that lowering rates over the last decades have produced more inequality, but not more growth. With the top 1 percent capturing a staggering 121 percent of the income growth coming out of the Great Recession, and corporate profits at record highs as a percentage of the economy, Ryan still argues that if they just had more money, they would start investing here at home.
The lower tax rates, Ryan claims, will be paid for by closing loopholes and eliminating “tax expenditures” — only he reveals none of those that he would close. Studies show millionaires could give up all their tax deductions and still pocket a big tax break from the Ryan plan. By definition, middle class families will end up paying more — and will face the loss of tax deductions for mortgages, for employer-based health care, for state and local taxes and more. No wonder Ryan doesn’t want to reveal what’s behind the curtain.
Ryan then calls for cutting $4.6 trillion in spending over 10 years from projected levels. $2.5 trillion of that comes from repealing Obamacare and gutting Medicaid. That will leave, according to estimates of the Urban League and the Congressional Budget Office, 40 to 50 million more poor and middle-income Americans uninsured, even as the wealthy and multinationals pocket their tax breaks. In addition, Ryan promises to dismember Medicare 10 years from now, turning it into a voucher that will push more and more costs on seniors over time.
Ryan would cancel the “sequestration cuts” for the military over the next decade while cutting even more from domestic services. All domestic services — education, border patrol, workplace safety, food and drug monitoring, research and development, Head Start, infant nutrition, etc. — would be cut to levels not seen in modern times. Naturally, Ryan does not identify what would be cut.
His budget is expected to pass the House yet again even though there is no chance in the Senate and no chance that “Obamacare” will be repealed. Yet, he’s consistent which is more than we can say about Eric Cantor recently. You know Cantoe. ” Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort s if he mock’d himself and scorn’d his spirit that could be moved to smile at any thing.”
Cantor seems newly pained by his reputation as an ideological roadblock. In Virginia, his favorable rating is twenty-seven per cent, a fact that makes a statewide run for office in the near future a dim prospect. Cantor explained why he argued at the retreat against using the debt ceiling as political leverage. He had been hearing from donors on Wall Street and in the business community about the potential impact on the markets. “Most people would say incurring debt at this point is allowing money for bills that you already incurred,” he said. “It’s to pay the bills.” Eight days earlier, at a press conference, Obama had made the same argument.
Besides, there were better fights to come. Conceding the debt-ceiling vote was a simple way for House Republicans to prevent the U.S. government from going into default, which would be disastrous for the economy here and abroad. It also meant they could save their leverage for the coming fight over the automatic spending cuts in the sequester. “We’re not trying to sit here and just obstruct,” Cantor said. “We’re trying to solve the problem, and we’ve been put in this position, I guess, perception-wise, that all we want to do is obstruct. So this is an attempt for us to get on firmer ground.”
To win over the right, House leaders promised three things. They would demand that the Democratic-controlled Senate write a formal budget, which Senate Democrats have avoided doing for several years; if the senators didn’t pass a budget, they wouldn’t get paid. Second, they promised conservatives that the cuts in the sequester would be kept intact or replaced with something equivalent. The final promise was far more daunting: Paul Ryan would write a budget that balanced within ten years. “Big goal,” Cantor said, and he sounded relieved that it wouldn’t be his job; Ryan’s last budget, which included severe spending cuts, didn’t promise to come into balance until the late twenty-thirties. “People were concerned that it took too long to balance,” Ryan said. To make the budget balance in a decade, the level of cuts will have to be extreme. Cantor may have led his colleagues out of the debt-ceiling canyon only to get them trapped in another one.
I pointed out that, because the fiscal-cliff deal included more than six hundred billion dollars in higher taxes over the next ten years, Ryan’s job might be a little easier. Cantor flashed a mischievous grin. “Irony!” he said.
Jan Moller with the Louisiana Budget Project said he fears a financial blow to the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
“At a bare minimum, a tax overhaul should not be an excuse to make the state’s poorest citizens pay more, and they would suffer the most from the governor’s proposal to raise sales taxes,” Moller said in a prepared statement.
Barfield said something will be proposed to offset any increase for low- and lower-middle-classes.
“They would be in no worse position than they are today,” Barfield said.
Barfield said the administration wants to encourage job creation and economic growth, which help elevate the poor.
One has to wonder how the national ambitions of these men jibe with voters given their agendas benefit very few people. I suppose the idea is to appease the big donors and hope that every one else just votes based on name recognition and glossy mailers. Still, Jindal’s popularity sits at 37%. As mentioned above, Cantor’s popularity sits at 27%. Ryan’s last poll was the election.
“This is the start of a new story of physics,” said Tony Weidberg, Oxford University physicist and a collaborator on the Atlas experiment.
“Physics has changed since July the 4th – the vague question we had before was to see if there was anything there,” he told BBC News.
“Now we’ve got more precise questions: is this particle a Higgs boson, and if so, is it one compatible with the Standard Model?”
The results reported at the conference – based on the entire data sets from 2011 and 2012 – much more strongly suggest that the new particle’s “spin” is zero – consistent with any of the theoretical varieties of Higgs.
“The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson, though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is,” said CMS spokesperson Joe Incandela.
As is often the case in particle physics, a fuller analysis of data will be required to establish beyond doubt that the particle is a Higgs of any kind. But Dr Weidberg said that even these early hints were compelling.
“This is very exciting because if the spin-zero determination is confirmed, it would be the first elementary particle to have zero spin,” he said.
“So this is really different to anything we have seen before.”
Even more data will be required to explore the question of more “exotic” Higgs particles.
This HuffPo article suggest that there will even be fewer Americans for those Republicans to fool in the future as religion in America hits new low!!
The number of Americans who claim to have no religious affiliation is the highest it has ever been since data on the subject started being collected in the 1930s, new research has found.
Sociologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University analyzed results from the General Social Survey and found that the number of people who do not consider themselves part of an organized religion has jumped dramatically in recent years.
Back in the 1930s and 1940s, the number of “nones” — those who said they were religiously unaffiliated — hovered around 5 percent, Claude Fischer, one of the researchers with UC Berkeley, told The Huffington Post. That number had risen to only 8 percent by 1990.
But since then, the number of people who don’t consider themselves part of a religion has increased to 20 percent.
No wonder Republicans want to tank public education. I’d say there’s a bit of intelligent life left here!
The verdict is in: Mars’s Gale Crater was habitable in its distant past, perhaps during the same period in which microbial life was establishing itself on Earth between 3 billion and 4 billion years ago.
That is the conclusion scientists have reached after NASA‘s Mars rover Curiosity analyzed the first sample ever culled from deep in a rock on another planet. Curiosity used a first-of-its-kind drill to extract the sample.
Now, only seven months into its mission – a period set aside primarily for testing the rover’s various instruments – Curiosity has already given researchers the answer to the broad, basic question they set out to answer: Did Mars ever host environments suitable for life?
The issue of habitability is “in the bag,” said John Grotzinger, a planetary geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., and the mission’s lead scientist, during a press briefing announcing the results on Tuesday.
The minerals in the tiny, gray, ground-rock sample exposed by Curiosity’s drill speak of abundant standing water, conditions neither too acidic or too alkaline for life, and the minerals that would have provided a ready energy source for microbes, if any had been there.
Wonder what Pat Robertson will say about this?
and what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I’ve been a little out of the loop recently since I have a friend here to visit. So, I’m going to start with a Happy 65th Birthday wish to Bernadette Peters because I saw her in concert last night. She’s 59 in this youtube but she wore the same dress and did this song. I was shocked!! shocked! to hear that she told us that it was her first time!!!
It was a night of Broadway songs and overtures with the Louisiana Symphony Orchestra.
So, the House passed the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act which is finally on its way to the President for his signature.
After months of delay, GOP leaders allowed the bill to come to the floor only after a Republican substitute version of the legislation — set up as an amendment to the Senate’s bipartisan bill — failed, 166-257. The House amendment was expected to fail, but allowed members to vote for a version of VAWA while not supporting the Senate bill.
Still, House leaders were under pressure from members of their own party to pass the Senate version without any changes. Nineteen House Republicans sent a letter to Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner urging them to pass a bipartisan version of VAWA.
This is the third time Boehner has allowed a bill to pass with a majority of Democratic votes.
Democrats for the most part were united in their opposition to the House version, arguing it stripped out important protections for LGBT and Native American women. Sixty Republicans joined them in opposition. Only two Democrats, Dan Lipinski of Illinois and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, supported the House version.
In the last Congress, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) played a critical role in blocking reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. In this Congress, Cantor was so eager to get VAWA passage over with, he told House Republicans yesterday to either clear the way for the already passed Senate version or risk causing a “civil war” within the party.
It’s Friday, March 1, and that means the federal government has crossed the much-hyped and dreaded deadline for the fiscal reductions known as the “sequester.”
The members of Congress who for voted for the Budget Control Act – and the budget cuts contained within – and President Barack Obama who signed it into law on Aug. 2, 2011, may not have believed the day would arrive, but now it has.
But today is only the beginning of the beginning.
For one thing, Obama must sign an order formally starting the “sequester” or spending reductions – which according to a new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office – would amount to $42 billion in the current fiscal year.
And White House aides have indicated that the president is not likely to put pen to paper on that order until after he meets with congressional leaders, a meeting slated for Friday morning.
Once Obama signs the order to start the spending cuts, any furloughs of federal workers could not begin at least for another 30 days due to federal regulations and to collective bargaining agreements which the government has with the unions that represent roughly half of the federal workforce.
I guess Transvaginal Ultrasounds are fine as long as your representative doesn’t feel it’s all that relevant for him.
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) declined to take a position last week during a town hall meeting on whether transvaginal ultrasounds should be mandatory for women seeking abortions, saying he has never heard of the practice and couldn’t weigh in on it because “I haven’t had one.”
Ultrasound requirements are a top priority for anti-abortion advocates in Wisconsin and other states. Similar legislation in past years has landed Republicans in political hot water, and this time around many GOP leaders are distancing themselves from proposed ultrasound requirements.
Duffy has described himself as “100 percent prolife without exceptions” (though he also said “To qualify, I believe that if we have the life of a mother as an issue, the mother’s life takes priority, but we must make every effort to save the life of the child.”) Asked about one of the main goals for the pro-life movement, however, Duffy said he had not heard of transvaginal ultrasounds at all.
A Democratic operative recorded Duffy’s exchange with the questioner at a Feb. 21 townhall meeting in Spooner, Wisc. Through his congressional office, Duffy declined to comment or clarify his views on mandated ultrasounds.
Arkansas became the eighth state Thursday to enact a near-ban on abortions starting in the 20th week of pregnancy, and by next week it could outlaw most procedures from the 12th week onward, which would give it the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.
The Republican-led Senate voted 19-14 along party lines to override Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto of a bill barring most abortions starting in the 20th week of pregnancy that was based on the disputed notion that a fetus can feel pain by that point. The Arkansas House voted to override the veto Wednesday. A simple majority was needed in each chamber.
That law, which took effect immediately but which will likely be challenged in court, includes exemptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Senate President Michael Lamoureux, R-Russellville, voted to override the veto, but later told reporters he wasn’t sure the new law would survive a constitutional challenge.
“If it was an easy answer, then people wouldn’t be raising that subject,” he said after the vote.
After overriding the veto, the Senate voted 26-8 in support of a separate measure that would outlaw most abortions starting in the 12th week of pregnancy. In addition to the exemptions for rape, incest and the mother’s life, it would allow abortions when lethal fetal conditions are detected.
The proposed 12-week ban, which would ban abortions from the point when a fetus’ heartbeat can generally be detected through an abdominal ultrasound, would give Arkansas the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, said Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Yes, the religious extremists in this country have taken over a number of state legislatures. Look for more violations of your civil rights–except the right to arm yourself with a nuclear bomb–in a state near your.
So, I’m going to make this short this morning . What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Following on Dakinikat’s post about the bitter old white men who can’t handle four more years with a black president, I recommend you read a scary article by J.M. Berger at Foreign Policy on “Why white nationalists are thrilled with Obama’s victory.” Several white supremacist leaders are quoted in the piece; I’ll just give you a couple of examples.
Kevin MacDonald, a professor of psychology whose anti-Semitic writings make him a favorite of Neo-Nazis, penned a pro-secession piece for a prominent white identity site, The Occidental Observer, that might finally get him fired from California State University, where he inexplicably still works.
White males constituted only 34% of the electorate and this will continue to decline. It’s no accident that stocks of gun companies soared after the election, even though the stock market as a whole took a dive. What we have here is a situation in which around 70% of traditional American White men (correcting for the overly inclusive White’ category used by the media) are now pretty much officially disenfranchised in a country where they see themselves as the founding population. That’s a lot of angry White men….
It may take a while for this 70% to wake up to the reality that they are politically impotent. But it will happen. Separatist movements in the many states that are deeply red are certainly a possibility. … Is there any other realistic alternative? Apart from futile violence against the Leviathan, do White men really have any other choice?
The concept of a wake-up call articulated by MacDonald was widely echoed in posts on white nationalist blogs and forums. Some thought it would come sooner, others thought it might come later, but many agreed the writing was on the wall.
Then there’s John Derbyshire, who was fired from National Review earlier this year.
When you look at the overall picture, however, we are still fighting the Civil War. That is to say, the contest was mainly between two huge groups of white people who don’t much like each other, with the colored folk playing a marginal role. That’s how it was in the War Between the States, and that’s how it still is today.
He went on to suggest whites will ultimately have no choice but to unite as a race-based voting bloc. The current problem, Derbyshire explained, was that “Republicans are white, sure enough, but whites are not Republican.”
Berger concludes that when these groups finally realize that history and demographics are leaving them behind, they will have no choice but to turn to violence. I just hope the Secret Service and FBI are aware of and ready to deal with this threat from the right.
Disgraced General David Petraeus will testify before Congress on Benghazi today “behind closed doors,” according to the Washington Post.
He is likely to be asked — both by reporters on his way in and by lawmakers — about any possible intelligence breaches involving his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Law enforcement officials said Broadwell is the woman with whom the retired general has acknowledged having an affair….
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday that Petraeus has agreed to testify. After his sudden resignation, acting CIA Director Michael Morell had been tapped to appear in Petreaus’s place.
“Gen. Petraeus is willing to come before the committee and the details will be worked out,” Feinstein said.
Noam Scheiber has an interesting and thoughtful piece about the relationship between Paula Broadstone and David Petraeus: Paula Broadwell, a Hanger-On in King Petraeus’s Court. According to Scheiber, the people around Petraeus could not understand how Broadwell managed to get so close to this supposedly “intellectual” general.
Petraeus wasn’t just the Army’s most famous general. He was the military’s best-known and most accomplished intellectual. If he wanted an official biography, he could have had his pick of dozens of scholars and writers. “My gosh, if you are going to have someone interview everyone who has ever touched you in your life, choose someone who has written a biography or at least a history book,” Peter Mansoor, one of the general’s top aides, told The Washington Post.
Scheiber describes Petraeus as the “ultimate meritocrat–with his Ph.D. from Princeton and his reputation as a “brainiac.”
[T]he term “meritocracy”—a bit like its cousin, “the best and the brightest”—wasn’t actually intended to be complimentary. It entered the lexicon through a book, “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” by the British social thinker Michael Young, who imagined a dystopian world in which a small group of highly educated elites controls society. The meritocrats persuade themselves that, unlike the ruling classes that came before them, they are uniquely deserving of power because they earned it rather than inherited it. (And they have the SAT scores to prove it, by God!) And yet, over time, they somehow manage to become just as inbred, self-serving, and corrupt.
Over time, Petraeus went through that same transformation, surrounding himself with
…growing hoards of groupies who descended on his command posts, including conservative think-tankers from Washington, for whom he arranged office space and aircraft….Paula Broadwell, it turns out, was the kind of hanger-on whose arrival heralds a meritocracy in decline. Outwardly, she checked all the right sociological boxes: High school valedictorian, all-state basketball player, West Point alum, Harvard master’s degree. But, up close, she could be remarkably shallow. “There was no room for a conversation of shortcomings of the Petraeus theology. She wasn’t a reporter. She struck me as an acolyte,” a wonk who met her told the Post. “I was underwhelmed….
What Broadwell excelled at instead was leveraging credentials to impress fellow achievers. She didn’t stop at her own. When my friend met her, she was fond of pointing out that her husband was no mere radiologist but a special breed known as an “interventional radiologist.” (She would draw out the word “interventional” for emphasis.) Later, she would boast about hanging out with the glitterati on the panel-discussion circuit—“Heading 2 @AspenInstitute 4 the Security Forum tomorrow! Panel (media & terrorism) followed by a 1v1 run with Lance Armstrong,” she recently tweeted, according to the Times. She was a kind of successful-person trophy collector who made no apologies for her ambitions. (My friend remembers the Facebook appeal in which she asked, “Can anyone introduce me to Lance Armstrong?”)
It’s a fascinating article, and an antidote to all the trashy coverage of the Petraeus-Broadwell scandal in much of the corporate media.
Rosa Brooks has written another serious article on the Petraeus affair at Foreign Policy: Sex and the Modern Soldier. Brooks asks:
Does the U.S. military have an adultery problem? A woman problem? A generic, all-purpose craziness, sleaze, and corruption problem? A public-image problem?
Answering these questions in order, I can offer a definitive “sort of,” “kind of, “maybe,” and “very possibly.”
The article is too long and detailed to sum up quickly, but here’s an excerpt from the section on the military’s “woman problem.”
The military remains plagued by allegations of sexual harassment and assault, and a number of studies by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs have concluded that women in the military face higher rates of sexual assault than do civilian women. Here again, no big surprise: The military remains an overwhelmingly male — and overwhelmingly macho — institution. Women are outnumbered and often rendered nearly invisible in a culture in which nearly all senior officers are male.
This extends to the home front, as well. In certain ways, the informal culture of military officers resembles the 1950s more than the 21st century. Military life isn’t just hard on marriage — it’s also hard on the careers of the (mostly female) civilian spouses of military personnel. Rising up the career ladder isn’t easy when you move from one military base to another every few years. One military friend of mine recalls a general telling junior officers — in a recent lecture at an official Army command training event — that they should actively discourage their wives from pursuing careers, because career women would be less supportive and flexible military wives. And though official publications now speak of officers’ “spouses” rather than “wives,” the military still produces etiquette guides for spouses, with a rather gendered focus on appropriate forms of address at social functions and the proper pouring of tea and coffee.
Yuck. Read all about it at the link.
Last link on the Petraeus clusterfu&ck: The NYT has learned the name of the mystery FBI agent who sent shirtless photos to Jill Kelley and disrupted the investigation by contacting Rep. Eric Cantor.
The F.B.I. agent who spurred the investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director is a “hard-charging” veteran who helped investigate the foiled millennium terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.
The agent, Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, is also described by former colleagues as relentless in his pursuit of what he sees as wrongdoing, which appears to describe his role in the F.B.I. investigation involving Mr. Petraeus. Suspecting that the case involved serious security issues and was being stalled, possibly for political reasons — a suspicion his superiors say was unjustified — he took his concerns to Congressional Republicans.
“Fred is a passionate kind of guy,” one former colleague said. “He’s kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he’d be a bulldog.”
Humphries says that the shirtless photos were sent to Jill Kelley long before the Petraeus investigation and were simply a “joke.”
I know everyone has probably heard already about how Mitt Romney spoke to donors yesterday on a conference call and insulted women, African Americans, Latinos, and young people by claiming that these groups voted to reelect Barack Obama because he <a showered them with “gifts” during his first term. But I can’t help including it, because it’s so typical of the cluelessness that Romney and his supporters showed throughout his campaign. Here’s how the NYT Caucus Blog reported on the call:
In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”
“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.” ….
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”
Breathtaking, isn’t it? This man really needs to go away and never be heard from again. I certainly hope Obama won’t consult him on anything, including what the weather is like outside his window. Goodbye, Mitt. Please don’t ever come back.
Finally, this one is for JJ. Check out this article at Mother Jones: Top Georgia GOP Lawmakers Host Briefing on Secret Obama Mind-Control Plot.
President Obama is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as “Delphi” to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship in which suburbanites will be forcibly relocated to cities. That’s according to a four-hour briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.
On October 11, at a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus convened by the body’s majority leader, Chip Rogers, a tea party activist told Republican lawmakers that Obama was mounting this most diabolical conspiracy. The event—captured on tape by a member of the Athens-based watchdog Better Georgia (who was removed from the room after 52 minutes)—had been billed as an information session on Agenda 21, a nonbinding UN agreement that commits member nations to promote sustainable development. In the eyes of conservative activists, Agenda 21 is a nefarious plot that includes forcibly relocating non-urban-dwellers and prescribing mandatory contraception as a means of curbing population growth. The invitation to the Georgia state Senate event noted the presentation would explain: “How pleasant sounding names are fostering a Socialist plan to change the way we live, eat, learn, and communicate to ‘save the earth.’”
There’s much much more insanity at the link.
Now what’s on your reading and blogging list for today?
UPDATE: Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act, Including Individual Mandate!
Since today is going to be a mostly serious news day, I’ll begin with a silly story. A new survey by the National Geographic Channel found that 65% of Americans think President Obama is more qualified to handle an invasion from outer space than Mitt Romney.
And lest you are tempted to dismiss this poll as pure silliness, the study also found that 36 percent of Americans think UFOs exist, while another 48 percent aren’t sure. Which means that at least some of the respondents judging the presidential candidates’ alien-fighting abilities may see it as a plausible scenario. (According to the poll, 79 percent also say the federal government has been hiding information about UFOs from the public – which may actually say more about the public’s overall distrust of government than its views on aliens.)
UFO = Unidentified Flying Object. Of course UFOs exist. Haven’t we all seen things in the sky that we didn’t recognize? Whether these objects are of extraterrestrial origin would have been a better question. Now the ones who want to “befriend” a visiting alien–those people have got to be looney tunes. But this story isn’t as silly as I originally thought, since it’s obviously just an ad for the National Geographic Channel.
And now the real news. Today will be a big day for politics junkies. Will the House go through their idiotic plan to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress? Will Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy decide to vote to keep the current Supreme Court from going down in history as a laughingstock?
Eric Holder Witchhunt
On the Holder issue, I think the House probably will call the vote, especially since some Democrats are planning to vote for the contempt resolution because they’re scared of the NRA.
Cognitively challenged Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown today called on Holder to resign.
“He can’t effectively serve the president,” Brown said last night on “NightSide” with Dan Rea — in a one-man debate after Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren chose to sit the event out.
Going at Holder on the eve of an expected contempt of Congress vote tomorrow, Brown said, “For the best interest of the country, I think he should step down and resign. He’s lost the confidence of the American people. Certainly he’s lost the confidence of Congress. He misled Congress. They have a right to know.”
That quote is from the ultra-conservative Boston Herald, so I’ll interpret for you. The “debate” referred to in the article was an appearance on a conservative radio talk show that Brown proposed as an alternative to the public debate that would have been sponsored by U. Mass. Boston and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
The announcement came shortly after representatives of Vicki Kennedy said she would not agree to Brown’s demand that she remain neutral in the race, in exchange for the senator’s participation in a late September debate she had proposed be hosted by the University of Massachusetts Boston and Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
Barnett had said Monday that Brown would participate only if Kennedy, president of the board at the Kennedy Institute, not endorse in the race and that MSNBC not be the broadcast sponsor of the debate.
Instead of “debating” with Scott Brown on a rinky-dink local conservative radio talk show, Elizabeth Warren appeared on Rachel Maddow’s national cable show last night.
Scott Brown and Darrell Issa are both complete idiots, IMNSHO.
The SCOTUS Decision on Health Care
I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the Roberts and Kennedy will both vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act. I think, based on what they did with Arizona’s immigration law, that Roberts and Kennedy will also vote to uphold “Obamacare.”
When this happens, Antonin Scalia may freak out completely and embarrass himself even more than he did after the Arizona decision. And then perhaps his friends and colleagues will sit him down and suggest that he retire and get his own radio talk show.
At Slate, Judge Richard Posner harshly criticized Scalia’s behavior as political.
The nation is in the midst of a hard-fought presidential election campaign; the outcome is in doubt. Illegal immigration is a campaign issue. It wouldn’t surprise me if Justice Scalia’s opinion were quoted in campaign ads.
Would Chief Justice Roberts be proud of his Court if that happened?
House progressives say they will introduce a single-payer plan if the law is struck down.
The last thing House progressives want is for the Supreme Court to strike down President Barack Obama’s health care law. But if the high court rules Thursday that some or all of the law is unconstitutional, progressives are ready to renew their push for the model of health care they wanted all along: the single-payer option.
“It’s easy to see it’s a good idea,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Huffington Post. “It’s the cheapest way to cover everybody.”
Ellison said all 75 members of the caucus have already signed onto a bill by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to create a single-payer, publicly financed, privately delivered universal health care program. The proposal would essentially build on and expand Medicare, under which all Americans would be guaranteed access to health care regardless of an ability to pay or pre-existing health conditions.
Now, now. We don’t want to give Scalia a conniption fit, do we? He would be more likely to agree with libertarian economics blogger Tyler Cowan who thinks the wealthy naturally will have better health care and poor people should just die if they can’t afford health insurance.
A rejection of health care egalitarianism, namely a recognition that the wealthy will purchase more and better health care than the poor. Trying to equalize health care consumption hurts the poor, since most feasible policies to do this take away cash from the poor, either directly or through the operation of tax incidence. We need to accept the principle that sometimes poor people will die just because they are poor. Some of you don’t like the sound of that, but we already let the wealthy enjoy all sorts of other goods — most importantly status — which lengthen their lives and which the poor enjoy to a much lesser degree. We shouldn’t screw up our health care institutions by being determined to fight inegalitarian principles for one very select set of factors which determine health care outcomes.
The health care decision should come out around 10AM, and I’ll update this post when the news breaks.
Mitt Romney Report
I know everyone is just dying to know what Mitt Romney is up to. Well yesterday he had quite a hissy fit about the Washington Post article on how he pioneered outsourcing when he was at Bain Capital. He actually sent some of his representatives to the Post to demand a retraction! As you might imagine, the Post wasn’t intimidated.
Good grief! They even gave a Power Point presentation! What a bunch of crybabies. And on Hardball today, Howard Fineman reported that Romney campaign staffers complained to him that Obama has been running lots of negative ads against Romney. Hey Mitt, politics ain’t beanbag.
From today’s Washington Post: Mitt Romney shifts focus from Post article on Bain to health-care law.
On the eve of the Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s health-care law, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney predicted Wednesday that “they’re not sleeping real well at the White House tonight.”
He said that the court’s decision is a constitutional one, but that “one thing we already know, however, we already know it’s bad policy and it’s gotta go.”
Romney’s comments marked a shift in focus after several days in which his campaign sought to deflect attacks from the Obama campaign over the role that Bain Capital, his former firm, played in the overseas outsourcing trend that accelerated in the 1990s.
Obama, Vice President Biden and top campaign operatives have seized on a Washington Post article published Friday that said Bain Capital invested in companies that specialized in moving work overseas. The Obama team released tough ads in the swing states of Iowa, Ohio and Virginia on the subject.
Romney tried to “work the refs,” but he forgot that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Now he’s irritated the Washington Post. Not real smart, Mitt. Yesterday, even Rush Limbaugh dissed the Republican candidate.
Colorado Wildfires (and More Mitt)
The wildfires in Colorado are really getting out of control.
Firefighters struggled on Wednesday to beat back a fiercely aggressive wildfire raging at the edge of Colorado Springs that has forced at least 35,000 people from their homes and was nipping at the edges of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The so-called Waldo Canyon Fire, fanned by gusting winds, has gutted an unknown number of homes on the wooded fringes of Colorado’s second-most populous city and prompted more evacuations as flames roared out of control for a fifth day.
President Barack Obama plans to pay a visit to the area on Friday to view the damage, the White House said.
The blaze flared Tuesday night with sudden ferocity and quickly overran fire containment lines, invading the northwestern corner of the city. But officials have declined to characterize the extent of property damage there….
The blaze left an orange hue over Colorado Springs, and a smoky haze hung in the air, so thick in places that the giant, roiling pall of smoke that continued to billow into the sky over the city was obscured from the ground.
Local TV station channel 9 news provides a summary of fires in many different locations. It’s really shocking how widespread they are. Yesterday the fires threatened the Air Force Academy, and many residents there were evacuated.
Voters who live in Colorado and other states where there are disasters like fires, mudslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, should be aware that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney opposes federal disaster relief and would probably eliminate FEMA if he were elected. He thinks natural disasters should be handled by individual states. From one of the debates last year:
Here’s a transcript:
KING: Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…
KING: Including disaster relief, though?
ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.
Because “our kids” will have a great future if they go through an earthquake or other horrible disaster and there’s no federal help for the state they live in to recover. Brilliant!
That’s about it for me. I’ll just leave you with this bit of good news: Eric Cantor may be in trouble
New polling from Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, one of the more reliably conservative districts in the country, shows surprising vulnerabilities for Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, especially on the issue of women’s health.
In the poll from from Harrison Hickman obtained exclusively by ThinkProgress, voters say they would support a pro-choice candidate over a candidate who is pro-life by an unexpectedly large margin, 68 percent to 23 percent. The finding comes after intense media coverage of efforts by state Republicans to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds prior to obtaining an abortion, a procedure described by critics as “state-sponsored rape.” The resulting backlash from women in Virginia forced Governor Bob McDonnell (R) and his allies at the statehouse to moderate their efforts.
Eric Cantor has a 100% rating from the National Right To Life Committee.
asked about Cantor specifically, voters disapprove of his handling of government spending, health care and reigning in the budget deficit, three key issues that Cantor and House Republicans have campaigned heavily on since 2008.
While Cantor is not among Republicans who are considered at risk by political prognosticators, 43 percent of voters would replace Cantor compared to just 41 percent who would reelect him.
So…..what’s on your reading and blogging list today?