Friday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’m going to start out with an economics link today because I really get mad when partisan politics pushes an agenda that puts ignorance ahead of unbiased studies.  This is a prime example of why I no longer trust a single Republican to do what’s best for our country.  Congress asked for a study from the CRS –a nonpartisan, highly respected research source for Congress–on the relationship between high tax rates for high incomes and economic activity. It didn’t produce the results sought by Republicans so they squashed it.  I’ve shared a lot of studies over our years together that show the same thing including one a few weeks ago.  This is just one study showing that taxing rich people really doesn’t hurt the economy.   This just makes me want to scream.

The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording.

The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.

But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”

Republicans did not say whether they had asked the research service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, to take the report out of circulation, but they were clear that they protested its tone and findings.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Mr. McConnell and other senators “raised concerns about the methodology and other flaws.” Mr. Stewart added that people outside of Congress had also criticized the study and that officials at the research service “decided, on their own, to pull the study pending further review.”

Senate Republican aides said they had protested both the tone of the report and its findings. Aides to Mr. McConnell presented a bill of particulars to the research service that included objections to the use of the term “Bush tax cuts” and the report’s reference to “tax cuts for the rich,” which Republicans contended was politically freighted.

They also protested on economic grounds, saying that the author, Thomas L. Hungerford, was looking for a macroeconomic response to tax cuts within the first year of the policy change without sufficiently taking into account the time lag of economic policies. Further, they complained that his analysis had not taken into account other policies affecting growth, such as the Federal Reserve’s decisions on interest rates.

“There were a lot of problems with the report from a real, legitimate economic analysis perspective,” said Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee’s Republicans. “We relayed them to C.R.S. It was a good discussion. We have a good, constructive relationship with them. Then it was pulled.”

The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical.

This is just one of a series of topics important to our future where we can depend on Republicans to ignore data, theory, and scientific evidence.  The worst ones come within the hard sciences like those dealing with in utero fetal development and climate change but this is just more of the same.  They want their ideology and have no regard for empirical evidence found through scientific research that shows just how wrong they really are.  More evidence that Republicans are insidious.

So, it’s Friday and we’re going to entertain my weird obsession of learning about people through graves and grave goods yet again.  Here’s my secret treasure trove of links and how Hurricane Sandy has exposed an interesting grave site. 

Superstorm Sandy  shut down Archaeology News for two days, and uprooted a tree in New Haven, Connecticut, that revealed a human skeleton. Authorities think the burial dates from the colonial era, when the site was used as a cemetery. The tree was planted in 1909 to commemorate the 100thanniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

In the 1950s, a skeleton with metal spikes  through its shoulders, heart, and ankles was found in central England, but a report on the discovery has just been made available. The burial dates to between 550 and 700 A.D. Such treatment of the dead was considered to be appropriate for individuals thought to be capable of returning to life and causing problems for the living. Scholars are no longer sure where this particular rare burial is located. “Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the punishment of being buried in water-logged ground, face down, decapitated, staked or otherwise was reserved for thieves, murderers, or traitors or later for those deviants who did not conform to society’s rules: adulterers, disrupters of the peace, the unpious or oath breaker. Which of these the Southwell deviant was we will never know,” said archaeologist Matthew Beresford.

Guess we’ll have to wait to see what they think about this newest find.

So, I think we need a little more female representation, experience and wisdom in our government so I’m so happy to see that Tammy Baldwin is ahead in Wisconsin and will play a key role in what goes on in the Senate in the upcoming Congress.  She’s been targeted by the worst of the worst and is running against Tommy Thompson who is a Republican favorite son.

New polls show Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin’s vacant U.S. Senate seat, with a four-point lead over her Republican challenger, former governor Tommy Thompson, in a race which may determine control of the Senate and had previously been considered a lock for Republicans. If Baldwin is elected she would likely follow in the footsteps of Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold and be one of the more independent and progressive members of the U.S. Senate.

Outside groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity are spending millions on ads tagging Baldwin as “too liberal” for Wisconsin, and a variety of Democratic groups have criticized Thompson for his work at a lobbying firm with ties to outsourcing, helping make the state’s close Senate race the second-most expensive for outside money in the country and themost expensive in state history. The intensity of the race has also made it exceptionally negative , underscoring how close the race has become and its national importance.

Another race that is exciting is in Illinois where Tammy Duckworth will most likely take down Joe Walsh who is one of the worst of the worst Tea Baggers.  However, tons of big money is flooding into the race so we need to show Tammy all of our love and support.

Though the latest polls say U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh is likely to lose to Democrat Tammy Duckworth next week, key members of Chicago’s corporate community and a couple of huge super PACs are coming to his aid, leading to a furious exchange of verbiage over whether at least the spirit of the law has been broken.

The corporate cash comes from the Exelon Corp. PAC, the Hospira Inc. PAC and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer John Carpenter, each of whom donated $2,500 to Mr. Walsh’s campaign committee in reports filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this week.

There’s nothing particularly controversial in those donations, though some Republicans say privately that the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

But much bigger cash — and a much larger flap — has arisen over a late $1 million “independent” expenditure on Mr. Walsh’s behalf by the Missouri-based Now or Never super PAC.

If you’ll recall, Now or Never spent $2 million and said it was “seriously considering” dropping in another $2.5 million here, but then said it changed its mind. But last night, the group sent reporters an email saying it had changed its mind again and decided to spend another $1 million on anti-Duckworth TV ads.

“This is a resource and opportunity-based reversal,” Now or Never spokesman Tyler Harber emailed me. Recent negative reports about Ms. Duckworth “presented us with an opportunity to deliver an effective closing message.”

But Mr. Harber didn’t respond when I asked him who paid for the late blitz. That’s pertinent because earlier this year, Now or Never had been getting the vast bulk of its funding from another group, Americans for Limited Government, which does not disclose its funding. And the Duckworth campaign says ALG Chairman Howard Rich and his wife both have donated to Mr. Walsh’s personal campaign committee in the last year, raising questions of whether the ALG/Now or Never spending truly is uncoordinated, as the law requires.

Please send the Tammys some money!!  Donations to Tammy Baldwin can be sent here.  Donations to Tammy Duckworth can be sent here.

The CSM has an interesting article up on Penn State’s former President–Spanier– who was indicted for a variety of things related to Sandusky’s horrible, serial, long term acts of  child sexual assault.  I find this an interesting set of law suits given similar actions by Bishops and others from Catholic Archdioceses all over the country and the hierarchy of the Boy Scouts. Both organizations have engaged in similar patterns of behavior when confronted with the sexual assault of young boys on their watch and have not been confronted with the same tough legal retributions.  Schultz here refers to a now retired VP who is yet to be charged.  Hasn’t there been evidence of prior knowledge and cover-up in other institutions?  Why can’t we protect our children and decrease the incidence of sexual predators in our society?

Schultz kept a file about the 1998 and 2001 incidents involving Sandusky at his campus office and told staff members never to look in the file, Kelly said.

It was removed from the office on the day charges against Sandusky were announced and delivered to Schultz’s home.

The file’s existence, along with other information relevant to the grand jury investigation, was not disclosed until after Spanier was fired and trustees ordered full cooperation with the probe, she said.

Unbelievable.

I’m going to end with a thought from a female Buddha since I’ve just about had it with male energy after reading that article.  She’s an emanation of female wisdom and wow, do we need some of that today.

‎”When you arrive at the extinction of reality, there is nothing but the spontaneity of pure potential. There is no other way to dance in the sky.”

- Yeshe Tsogyal (757–817)

Anyway, those things have been on my reads list.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I have a potpourri of great reads for you this morning, so let’s get started.

First up, people in the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy have barely begun to recover. CBS News/AP report that: The scale of post-Sandy challenge in NY, NJ is unprecedented.

Two major airports reopened and the New York Stock Exchange got back to business Wednesday, while across the river in New Jersey, National Guardsmen rushed to feed and rescue flood victims two days aftersuperstorm Sandy struck.

For the first time since the storm slammed the Northeast, killing at least 63 people and inflicting billions of dollars in damage, brilliant sunshine washed over the nation’s largest city — a striking sight after days of gray skies, rain and wind. The light gave officials and residents a true glimpse of destruction on a scale that the region has never seen before.

At the stock exchange, running on generator power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders on the floor. Trading resumed after the first two-day weather shutdown since the Blizzard of 1888.

New York’s subway system was still down, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said parts of it will begin running again on Thursday. And he said some commuter rail service between the city and its suburbs would resume on Wednesday afternoon.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie and his new BFF Barack Obama toured the devastation. From The New York Times: An Unlikely Political Pair, United by a Disaster.

President Obama toured the storm-tossed boardwalks of New Jersey’s ravaged coastline on Wednesday, in a vivid display of big-government muscle and bipartisan harmony that confronted Mitt Romney with a vexing challenge just as he returned to the campaign trail in Florida.

The scene of Mr. Obama greeting his onetime political antagonist Gov. Chris Christie in Atlantic City was a striking departure from what has become an increasingly bitter campaign, marked by sharp divisions between Mr. Romney’s more limited view of the federal role and Mr. Obama’s more expansive vision. The president placed a hand on Mr. Christie’s back and guided him to Marine One, where the two men shared a grim flight over shattered sea walls, burning houses and a submerged roller coaster.

Speaking to storm victims at a community center in the hard-hit town of Brigantine, Mr. Obama said, “We are going to be here for the long haul.” Mr. Christie thanked the president for his visit, saying, “It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey.”

The tableau of bipartisan cooperation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s highly visible role in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, has put Mr. Romney in an awkward position…

As for Mitt Romney, he was getting hammered by the media in Ohio for two ads in which he falsely implied that Chrysler and GM were planning to ship American jobs to China. It looks to me as if Romney has given up the ghost in Ohio, because he headed to Florida yesterday, where a new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading by one point.

And last night the NYT editorial board slammed Romney for “cross[ing] a red line.”

When General Motors tells a presidential campaign that it is engaging in “cynical campaign politics at its worst,” that’s a pretty good signal that the campaign has crossed a red line and ought to pull back. Not Mitt Romney’s campaign. Having broadcast an outrageously deceitful ad attacking the auto bailout, the campaign ignored the howls from carmakers and came back with more.

Mr. Romney apparently plans to end his race as he began it: playing lowest-common-denominator politics, saying anything necessary to achieve power and blithely deceiving voters desperate for clarity and truth.

I think Romney may have finally sunk his campaign with those lying ads about the auto bailout. I wonder if that has contributed to polls that show Obama widening his leads in Michigan and Wisconsin?

In the Nebraska Senate Race, Bob Kerrey has been moving up in the polls, and last night Omaha.com broke some exciting news that could put him over the top: Chuck Hagel to endorse Bob Kerrey.

A spokesman with Kerrey’s campaign says Hagel – a former Nebraska U.S. Senator and a Republican – will back Kerrey in his race against Republican Deb Fischer.

Hagel’s endorsement comes as polls have shown the race between Kerrey and Fischer tightening down the home stretch.

Hagel’s backing could go a long way with independents. And, it clearly underscores Kerrey’s contention that he is the person in the race who can win Republican and Democratic support.

If Kerry, Claire McCaskill, Tammy Baldwin, and Elizabeth Warren, and perhaps Joe Donnelly can win their races, the Democrats should at least hold their majority in the Senate.

In Massachusetts, Liz Warren began making her final arguments.

As both Massachusetts Senate candidates deliver their final messages to voters, Warren is drawing on one major advantage she has in the state: demographics. According to the Secretary of State, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Massachusetts by a more than a three to one margin. As the race remains close, Warren and her supporters are using a partisan argument to rally the Democratic base, and encourage activists to turn out the vote on Warren’s behalf. Elect Brown, Warren and her supporters argue, and Republicans will control the U.S. Senate.

Introducing Warren to a crowd of volunteers and activists at Warren’s Haverhill field office on Wednesday, Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said he came from a Halloween party. “Everyone was dressed up in really scary costumes, so I was going to dress up as (Republican Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” he said, to laughter. “Because can you think of anything scarier than (Republican House Speaker) John Boehner in the House of Representatives or Mitch McConnell in the Senate?”

“There’s only one vote that counts and that’s the vote about which party is going to control the United States Senate,” Fiorentini continued. “We know which way Scott Brown is going to vote.”

Warren also released a great new ad that may serve as a closing argument: For All Our Families.

Right now in Indiana Joe Donnelly is leading Richard Mourdock by 7 percentage points.

I’ll end with a couple of powerful long reads.

From Truthout: What Does Romney’s Campaign of Lies Say About Our Country? Here’s the first paragraph:

Last week Mitt Romney delivered possibly the most dishonest presidential campaign speech in American history. It contains lie after lie, distortion after distortion, and trick after trick. The fact that a person capable of giving such a speech has reached this level suggests that it may be too late to salvage the country. Our institutions may be corrupted beyond repair.

Please check it out.

At Alternet, Matthew Fleisher writes: Why I Infiltrated One of the Most Secretive and Powerful Republican Organizations in the Country. This one is really long, but well worth reading. Here’s the teaser:

The Lincoln Club is the real deal. And if they have their way, Citizens United is just the beginning of their political ambitions for the country.

That’s it for me. I hope you found something to your liking. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Let’s Hear It For the Girls’ Triple Play

We’ve all been following Elizabeth Warren’s bid for the Senate seat in Massachusetts with giddy expectations. And the landscape looks very promising with Warren gaining substantial contributions from small donors, comprised primarily of women and middle-to-low income voters.  No particular surprise.  For moderate to liberal women, she speaks their language regarding equity, education, health care and basic fairness.  For moderate to low-income voters, she is a champion for economic justice and cleaning up a corrupt system stacked against those left behind economically.  She is a woman of the moment and has put Scott Brown and his Wall Street backers into a political scramble.  Brown is reportedly polling below 50%–not a good statistic this far out.

But in addition to Warren, we have a couple of other very attractive female candidates running for the House and Senate in 2012.

One candidate I recently read about is Wenona Benally Baldenegro, a Native American running for the 1st Congressional District in Arizona.  Ms. Baldenegro, having grown up on the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona., is intimately familiar with the challenges of poverty and low expectations.  She has said quite clearly that current Republican policy would balance the Federal budget on the backs of the middle-class, working class and elderly.  Baldenegro is a role model for all Americans.  Despite her modest beginnings, she is well credentialed, holding a law degree from Harvard as well as a Masters from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy’s  School of Government.  If successful in her 2012 bid, she would replace Tea Party darling, Representative Paul Gosar, who recently suggested opening the Grand Canyon for uranium extraction.

Having been to the Grand Canyon [I can still recall the absolute awe experienced], I’ll say without qualification that this is exactly what we don’t need—another national treasure looted for its resources.  Think BP’s hit job on the Gulf of Mexico.  Or off-shore [because corporate greed and irresponsibility has no boundaries], TEPCO’s response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Enough is enough!

If elected, Ms. Baldenegro would be the first Native American to represent Arizona in DC and the first Native American woman ever to serve in the US Congress.

She’s definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Another promising candidate is Tammy Baldwin [Rep D-Wis], who will be running for Wisconsin’s open senate seat, a spot put into play by sitting Democratic Senator Herb Kohl’s scheduled retirement.  Ms. Baldwin has been a vocal champion of the Wisconsin fight with Governor Scott Walker, his draconian measures against union employees, the shameless tax giveaways as well as the bitter war Walker has stoked against the state’s working class in general.  Baldwin’s announcement early last month made clear that her focus would be on: Wall Street reform, US withdrawal from Afghanistan and economic justice for America’s working class.

Sounds like a winning combo!

Baldwin, holding a law degree from the University of Wisconsin, has served as a US Representative since 1999.  It’s interesting to note that she voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq [her vote’s actually on record unlike the present occupant of the WH] and she co-sponsored a bill calling for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney.  Later, she proposed another bill to impeach Alberto Gonzales.  She’s been a strong defender of women’s health and reproductive rights and has supported measures to strengthen the laws against sexual violence and violence against women.

She also happens to be openly gay, the first openly gay non-incumbent elected to the House of Representatives and the first woman elected to Congress from Wisconsin.

Btw, if Elizabeth Warren wins the 2012 race, she will be the first woman to represent Massachusetts in the US Senate.

Three women–smart, attractive, progressive.  All three candidates hold law degrees, interesting backgrounds and a desire to serve the public, particularly the besieged middle and working-class.  All three will attempt to break ground with a surprising series of ‘firsts.’ We should recall that women represent 51% of the population but are sorely under-represented in the halls of power.

We’ve come a long way but . . . obviously not far enough.

That being said, let’s hear it for the girls and their gutsy triple play!