There’s nothing too exciting going on right now so I’m going to link to a few interesting things that showed up the last few days. I suppose every one’s focused on the Olympics and the last of their summer vacations.
Four reasons: An astonishing number of people work at low-wage jobs. Plus, many more households are headed now by a single parent, making it difficult for them to earn a living income from the jobs that are typically available. The near disappearance of cash assistance for low-income mothers and children — i.e., welfare — in much of the country plays a contributing role, too. And persistent issues of race and gender mean higher poverty among minorities and families headed by single mothers.
The first thing needed if we’re to get people out of poverty is more jobs that pay decent wages. There aren’t enough of these in our current economy. The need for good jobs extends far beyond the current crisis; we’ll need a full-employment policy and a bigger investment in 21st-century education and skill development strategies if we’re to have any hope of breaking out of the current economic malaise.
This isn’t a problem specific to the current moment. We’ve been drowning in a flood of low-wage jobs for the last 40 years. Most of the income of people in poverty comes from work. According to the most recent data available from the Census Bureau, 104 million people — a third of the population — have annual incomes below twice the poverty line, less than $38,000 for a family of three. They struggle to make ends meet every month.
Half the jobs in the nation pay less than $34,000 a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. A quarter pay below the poverty line for a family of four, less than $23,000 annually. Families that can send another adult to work have done better, but single mothers (and fathers) don’t have that option. Poverty among families with children headed by single mothers exceeds 40 percent.
Wages for those who work on jobs in the bottom half have been stuck since 1973, increasing just 7 percent.
GOP strategists within and outside the Romney campaign insist that the former Massachusetts governor still has plenty of time to acquaint the American people with his softer side, and that, given all the problems the country faces, personality will not be the deciding factor this election year.
Those assumptions show in Romney’s advertising. The standard playbook for challengers is to launch their campaigns with a round of biographical ads. Romney’s first spots after securing the nomination focused on what he would do on “Day One” of his presidency.
“Personal qualities are taking a back seat,” Newhouse said. “What voters are asking us is, ‘What’s he going to do? How is he going to be different? How is he going to lead us out of this mess?’ ”
Sounding a bit like a sympathetic psychotherapist, a recent Republican National Committee ad acknowledged Americans’ affection for Obama and offered them permission to move on.
“He tried. You tried,” the announcer said. “It’s okay to make a change.”
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has tried to take advantage of a void that Romney has created by his failure thus far to fill in the picture of himself.
It has pounded him with ads that depict him as heartless, privileged and secretive. In an exercise of jujitsu, Obama’s attacks focus on the very aspect of Romney’s résumé that he has highlighted as his greatest strength: his business career.
“Who has owned the Mitt Romney biography? It’s been the Obama campaign that has defined Mitt Romney,” said Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican strategist who helped run GOP nominee John McCain’s campaign in 2008. “A lot of criticism people make is that Mitt Romney hasn’t revealed a lot of himself in terms of who he is.”
Two Democratic lawmakers on Monday will announce new legislation to regulate the online and mail-order sale of ammunition.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (N.Y.) said the new law would make the sale of ammunition “safer for law-abiding Americans who are sick and tired of the ease with which criminals can now anonymously stockpile for mass murder,” in a statement released Saturday.
The lawmakers cite the recent movie massacre in Aurora, Colo. for spurring their bill.
“The shooter who killed 12 and injured 58 in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater this month had purchased over 6,000 rounds of ammunition anonymously on the Internet shortly before going on his killing spree, according to law enforcement officials,” the statement reads. “The shooter used a civilian version of the military’s M-16 rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, a shotgun and two .40-caliber semi-automatic handguns commonly used by police officers.”
Lautenberg and McCarthy, who will unveil their new proposal at New York’s City Hall say they intend to “make it harder for criminals to anonymously stockpile ammunition through the Internet.”
Lautenberg and McCarthy are two high profile advocates of gun control legislation, but they face an uphill struggle in Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that he does not intend to bring gun control legislation to the floor and President Obama has been reluctant to press lawmakers to act on the issue in an election year.
Democratic senators though have offered an amendment to the cybersecurity bill that would limit the purchase of high capacity magazines by some consumers. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) defended it last Thursday as a “reasonable” gun control measure.
A quick recap of the purge story thus far: The Florida secretary of state, who oversees elections and is appointed by the governor, initially drafted a list of some 180,000 potential illegal voters based on the state driver’s license database. Some legal immigrants can get driver’s licenses in the state, including those on student or work visas and those in the process of naturalization; the state sought to match those names with the names of voters.
The secretary’s office whittled that list down to about 2,600 names that it considered most suspect and sent those to the respective county supervisors to check. Right away, problems began to crop up. In Broward County, for example, one of the voters who got a letter telling him he’d have to prove his citizenship to continue voting was 91-year-old Bill Internicola, a Brooklyn-born World War II veteran living in a retirement community who’d been voting in Florida for 18 years. But the effort also did turn up more than 100 noncitizens who’d been illegally registered to vote.
The secretary of state’s office maintains that it always realized the driver’s license list was insufficient for the purpose of vetting voter registrations. Instead, it began asking the feds for access to a database — the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements system, known as SAVE — used to check the eligibility of applicants for federal benefits. When the Department of Justice sued Florida to stop the initial purge effort, Florida sued back to force the Department of Homeland Security to let it use the SAVE database.
Earlier this month, a resolution was reached when Homeland Security agreed to give the secretary of state’s office access to the SAVE database. At the moment, the secretary’s office is working with Homeland Security on the terms of the agreement, with hopes of signing a memorandum in the coming days, according to Chris Cate, the spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
“We’re going to use the SAVE database to verify information we’ve received indicating someone is a noncitizen,” Cate said. “If we receive information that someone on the voter rolls is a noncitizen, we’ll use the SAVE database to validate whether or not that’s true, and then we’ll provide that information to the [county election] supervisors to complete the statutory removal process.”
Cate said a new list of potential noncitizen voters would be created from the most current information contained in the driver’s license database. The main problem with the initial driver’s license list, he said, was that it captured people who had become naturalized citizens since they last renewed their licenses. But running the names through the SAVE database, which is updated through the last 72 hours, will keep those people from being purged, he said.
For now, though, this process is still hypothetical, and the purge is in limbo.
Evidently the Big Dawg will play a big role at the DNC convention in September. I guess all is forgiven.
President Bill Clinton will play a prominent role at the Democratic National convention this summer, several Obama campaign and party officials say.
The former president will formally nominate President Barack Obama for re-election. And he will use a prime-time speech to argue that Obama has the strongest economic vision for the country’s future, the officials say.
Clinton will speak on Sept. 5. That means both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will speak on Sept. 6, the final night of the convention, before a crowd of about 70,000 people at an outdoor stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
Interestingly enough, Dubya will be a no show at the RNC convention. Here’s some one I wish we could have arrested and hear less from. Dick Cheney calls Palin’s pick as VP a “mistake”. Ya think?
Cheney would not comment on what he told Romney and Myers, but he was harsh in his assessment of McCain’s decision to pick Palin.
“That one,” Cheney said, “I don’t think was well handled.”
“The test to get on that small list has to be, ‘Is this person capable of being president of the United States?’”
Cheney believes Sarah Palin failed that test.
“I like Governor Palin. I’ve met her. I know her. She – attractive candidate. But based on her background, she’d only been governor for, what, two years. I don’t think she passed that test…of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.”
Okay, that’s about all the political news I can stomach for the day.
We went over a million views on the WordPress counter yesterday in case you missed the mention yesterday. What’s on your reading and blogging list?
Wall Street Royal Jamie Dimon deigned to appear before a Senate Committee yesterday, and the Senators mostly sucked up to him. I’m surprised they didn’t ask if he needed a pillow for his chair. MSNBC: Senate treats JPMorgan CEO Dimon with kid gloves
Dimon was expected to receive a frosty reception in his first congressional appearance since he announced the bank sustained a trading loss some analysts now estimate is at least $3 billion. It was a massive loss for the nation’s biggest financial institution.
Instead, Dimon, who has won praise for bringing JPMorgan (JPM) through the financial crisis relatively unscathed, was treated cordially by most of members of the Senate Banking Committee. They peppered him with questions about regulation and risky practices at the bank, but did not press him to give an update on the losses resulting from the trade. JPMorgan is expected to give an update to shareholders when it reports its second-quarter earnings July 13.
“I think it was a pretty favorable day,” David Konrad, a Keefe, Bruyette & Woods banking analyst, told CNBC. Konrad said he was surprised that the questioning of Dimon by lawmakers was so “professional.”
Excuse me, “professional” for a Senator would have been sending this man to the woodshed. NPR’s Marketplace called the treatment of Dimon “a wake for Dodd-Frank.”
Yahoo has named the winner of the “Most Tepid Endorsement of Mitt Romney” contest: it’s a bumper sticker that reads “At least he’s not a communist.”
Until recently, it appeared that no one could unseat Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels as the champion of the tepid Romney endorsement. Since Yahoo News started conducting reader polls on the politicians who supported Mitt Romney in the least enthusiastic terms, Daniels has defeated original champ George Pataki and defended the crown against Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and George W. Bush. (The former president came the closest to unseating Daniels.)
We thought the book was closed on the tepid endorsement bracket until Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody spotted a bumper sticker at last weekend’s regional CPAC conference in Chicago bearing these words of praise: “At least he’s not a communist.”
You can read the other tepid endorsements at the link.
First Romney made fun of Obama for wanting to help cities and states pay for cops, teachers, and firefighters. Then he went on Fox News and said it was a “strange accusation” for anyone to say he didn’t want to hire teachers and first responders.
After an extended skewering of President Obama for a gaffe about the private sector last week, ending with the charge that it was proof the president was “out of touch” Romney was asked by Fox and Friends’ Brian Kilmeade for his response to Obama saying it was Romney who was clueless (Romney’s comment comes at about the 1:40 mark) :
[BRIAN] KILMEADE: He says that you’re out of touch. He says you want to cut firefighters and teachers, that you don’t understand what’s going on in these communities. What do you say to that, Governor?
ROMNEY: Well, that’s a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So, obviously that’s completely absurd.
But of course the federal government does subsidize states and they often use the money to pay for these public employees. In fact, the reason so many teachers, firefighters and cops are getting laid off now is because stimulus money has run out.
Yesterday Greg Sargent pointed out that Romney’s plan would indeed cut billions from cops, firefighters and teachers
Yesterday Mitt Romney claimed that it was “ completely absurd” of the Obama campaign to argue that he favors cutbacks in cops, firefighters and teachers. “The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen,” Romney said, adding that they were paid by states and localities.
What’s getting lost in the back and forth here is that Romney’s actual economic plan would, in fact, cut billions of dollars in federal money that goes to cops, firefighters, and teachers — perhaps more than $10 billion a year, in fact.
This is the conclusion of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which analyzed Romney’s plan through the prism of the debate over public workers at my request.
As Michael McAuliff reported yesterday, despite Romney’s claim, the federal government does give billions of dollars to states and localities through programs like Title 1, the COPS program, FEMA and others — which pay for first responders and teachers.
This is amazing. Romney finally broke down and decided to talk to a media source that isn’t Fox News! He will be on Face The Nation on Sunday morning.
A full year into his presidential campaign, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will venture out of his Fox comfort zone this Sunday to make his first appearance on a rival network’s political talk show.
Romney has been interviewed several times on ”Fox News Sunday” this campaign cycle, but has declined repeated invitations to appear on any of the other Sunday shows, occasionally drawing scorn from veteran anchors accustomed to interviewing presidential candidates.
Let’s hope Shieffer asks a few tough questions. One thing Shieffer will probably ask about is Romney’s choice of Vice President. One of the leading contenders, Marco Rubio, announced yesterday that he supports the illegal Florida voter purge.
“How can you argue against a state identifying people who are not rightfully on the voter rolls?” he said at a Bloomberg event, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Rubio’s comments put him in line with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) who on Tuesday declared the debate on the merits of the purge “over,” because the probe had supposedly turned up more than 50 non-citizen voters who had cast ballots.
The Department of Justice didn’t agree. Later Tuesday, it announced it was launching a federal lawsuit against Florida over complaints that the purge was taking place within 90 days of its August 14 primary election, as well as over its alleged violation of a voting rights law meant to prevent states from suppressing voters.
That might not help Romney win over Latino voters.
John Avlon has a piece at CNN on Jeb Bush and other “moderate” Republicans who are starting to fight back against Grover Norquist:
This is what happens when politics starts looking like a cult: Jeb Bush gets attacked for being a traitor to the conservative cause.
The former Florida governor has been speaking with the freedom of someone not running for office, saying that both his father and Ronald Reagan would have had a hard time in today’s hard-right GOP and questioning the wisdom of Grover Norquist’s absolutist anti-tax pledge.
That set off a fascinating public fight between Bush and Norquist, two faces of competing factions within Republican Party. It is the latest evidence of a growing GOP backlash against the ideological straitjacket Norquist has attempted to impose on governing in the United States.
And Jeb is not alone.
As it turns out, Norquist has reason to be concerned. It’s not just Jeb Bush. A growing number of Republicans are rejecting his pledge. Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom Coburn called the pledge’s effective veto of deficit reduction plans “ridiculous” when talking with Erin Burnett on “OutFront.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday declared his independence from the pledge, saying, “We’re so far in debt, that if you don’t give up some ideological ground, the country sinks.”
Add to those voices seven other Republican U.S. senators — from Maine’s Susan Collins to Iowa’s Chuck Grassley to Wyoming’s John Barrasso — and 11 Republican House members, ranging from centrist New Yorker Richard Hanna to tea party Floridian Allen West.
In pedophile news, Jerry Sandusky had another bad day in court yesterday with three victims testifying that he manipulated and threatened them into putting up with his sick sexual behavior.
The trio of young men who testified against Jerry Sandusky on the third day of his sexual-abuse trial couldn’t have been more different in personality and temperament. Yet each of their testimonies was sexually graphic and disturbing—and midway through the prosecution’s fast-tracked arguments, a clear pattern has emerged in their allegations.
I’m not going to quote all of the sordid details–there are too many of them anyway. You can read it all at the link. I’ll just give you one excerpt that shows what Sandusky is all about:
Then, the witness told the jury of a time he visited the Sandusky home.
“We were in the basement. We were wrestling,” he said in a monotone frequently heard from abuse victims who have had to tell their stories multiple times. “The defendant pinned me to the floor, pulled down my gym shorts, and started to perform oral sex on me.” Asked by prosecutor Joe McGettigan what his reaction was at the time, the witness said, “I freaked out.”
“Did he ever say anything to you about it?” McGettigan asked.
“He told me if I ever told anyone I’d never see my family again,” the young man replied. “Later he apologized and said he didn’t mean it, that he loved me.”
I hope Sandusky goes to prison for life, and I want to see prosecutions of his enablers at Penn State. It’s an outrage that he was allowed to go on abusing children for years after many at the school knew about his behavior.
And then there’s the Catholic Church: U.S. Catholics still suspect priests sexually abuse children: Report
The National Review Board said that, a decade after the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a child protection charter, there has been a “striking improvement” in the way the Church deals with the abuse of minors by clergy.
“Children are safer now because of the creation of safe environments, and action has been taken to permanently remove offenders from ministry,” said the report, released as the Conference began its annual spring meeting in Atlanta.
But it acknowledged: “Despite solid evidence (to the contrary), many of the faithful believe that sexual abuse by clergy is occurring at high levels and is still being covered up by bishops.”
Well, what did they expect? I’m certainly not surprised. In fact I’d be surprised if there aren’t still pedophile priests abusing children.
I’ll end with the strange story of “Forest Boy.”
Berlin police on Wednesday released photos an English-speaking teenage boy who wandered into the city nine months ago saying he had been living for the last five years in the forest with his father.
Police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said all attempts to identify the boy since he emerged in the German capital on Sept. 5 have been unsuccessful, and they are now hoping the release of his photo may produce some leads.
“We have checked his DNA against all missing person reports, sent the data to Interpol so that they could check it internationally, but unfortunately without any success,” Neuendorf said.
The boy has told authorities his father called him “Ray” and that he was born June 20, 1994, but claims not to know his last name or where he’s from.
He said his mother, Doreen, died in a car accident when he was 12 and after that he and his father, Ryan, took to the forest. He said they wandered using maps and a compass, staying in tents or caves overnight.
He told authorities that after his father died in August, 2011, he buried him in the forest and then walked five days north before ending up in Berlin, and showed up at city hall.
As of last night, the identity of the boy was still a mystery even after release of the photos.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Today the U.S. Justice Department and Governor Rick Scott of Florida announced dueling lawsuits over the Florida voter purge. The Miami Sun-Sentinel:
Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday that the state is suing the Obama administration over its refusal to share a Homeland Security database that Scott says Florida needs to adequately clear its voting rolls of any non-citizens who wrongly registered to vote.
“We want to have fair, honest elections in our state, and so we’ve been put in the position that we have to sue to get it,” he told Fox News in an interview just prior to the Department of State announcing it had filed the suit.
But in a letter that seemed certain to intensify the battle between the Scott administration and Washington, the U.S. Department of Justice demanded that Florida halt efforts to purge its voters rolls – telling the state to “immediately cease this unlawful conduct” – and said it was suing the state.
“It appears that the State of Florida is unwilling to conform its behavior to the requirements of federal law,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, adding that he had authorized “the initiation of an enforcement action against Florida in federal court.”
The Homeland Security list the Scott wants lists only people with green cards and naturalized citizens. The state has already admitted that the list is inappropriate for the purpose of identifying eligible voters. I suppose Scott wants it so he can make life a living hell for Florida immigrants.
Florida election supervisors have already told Scott that they won’t execute his plan, because it appears that he simply wants to get rid of eligible voters who are likely to vote Democratic.
The ACLU has also sued Florida to stop the illegal voter purge.
The ACLU of Florida says the state’s attempt to remove ineligible voters from the rolls violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was designed to protect minority groups from voter discrimination. Their claims mirror those made by the U.S. Department of Justice, which earlier this month ordered Florida to cease its controversial program.
“The illegal program to purge eligible voters uses inaccurate information to remove eligible citizens from the voter rolls,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of ACLUFL, in a statement when the suit was filed Friday. “It seems that Governor Scott and his Secretary of State cannot speak without hiding what they mean in political spin. They mislead Floridians by calling their illegal list purge ‘protecting citizen’s voting rights.’ This is precisely why Congress has re-enacted, and why we continue to need, the Voting Rights Act – to prevent state officials from interfering with the constitutional rights of minorities. We now look to the courts to stop the Scott administration from assaulting democracy by denying American citizens the right to vote.”
The ACLUFL is joined by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL) and the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in the suit.
If Rick Scott doesn’t like being told what to based on Federal law, perhaps he should get together with Texas Governor Rick Perry and secede from the union.