An Eostre shrine
[Stephen H Banks photo. Click the link. Buy his metaphysical mystery novel. It's a great read.]
Blogging to the highest common denominator
Exxon Mobil said it's investigating the cause and working with local authorities in clean-up efforts. The company added that the breach was in a pipeline that originates in Illinois and carries tar sands oil to the Texas Gulf Coast.There's 42 gallons in a barrel of oil. Considering how far the spill reached before they contained it, it's a safe bet we're talking thousands of barrels. Worse yet, according to this (unverified) video at least one homeowner had no idea the pipeline was so close to his home.
In 2009, Exxon modified the capacity of the Pegasus pipeline, increasing the capacity to transport Canadian tar sands oil by 50 percent, or about 30,000 barrels per day. In a 2012 report, Bloomberg News reported the pipeline daily capacity to be 96,000 barrels of oil per day.
One of the most surprising, and perhaps confounding, facts of charity in America is that the people who can least afford to give are the ones who donate the greatest percentage of their income. In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those with earnings in the top 20 percent—contributed on average 1.3 percent of their income to charity. By comparison, Americans at the base of the income pyramid—those in the bottom 20 percent—donated 3.2 percent of their income. The relative generosity of lower-income Americans is accentuated by the fact that, unlike middle-class and wealthy donors, most of them cannot take advantage of the charitable tax deduction, because they do not itemize deductions on their income-tax returns.It's not that rich don't donate at all, but they do it mainly for self-interested reasons. Like tax breaks. This is especially true of conservatives. Something that was made perfectly clear after the fiscal cliff farce of 2012 finally concluded and Ari Fleischer tweeted this threat.
Senate Bill 428, filed by Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, would cut the early voting period from two weeks to one and would eliminate same-day voter registration.You know for balance. And the Sunday voting ban has nothing to do with the long standing tradition of black churches "Souls to the Polls" voting drives. Of course not, it's all about the keeping the Sabbath holy.
House Bill 451, filed by Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, goes even further. In addition to cutting early voting and same-day registration, it would also outlaw early voting on Sunday and straight-ticket voting.
"I think Sundays just should be – some things you just shouldn't do on Sundays, so I am just opposed to voting on Sunday," Starnes said.However, you can bet you won't find him filing any bills to end Sunday retail sales or alcohol vending or holding NASCAR races and other sports events on a Sunday. Only voting by possible Democrats offends his God.
The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, taken together, will be the most expensive wars in US history - totaling somewhere between $4 to $6 trillion.Mother Jones created a set of cost charts about this as well. You'll notice the greatest cost driver is the interest. Never let them forget, the Bush administration borrowed a ton of money to pay for this folly.
A member of Moms Demand Action said that she felt unsettled by their presence and said that the organizers would have to think twice before holding another event, particularly one where children could be present.Seriously. Not that hard to imagine some idiot dropping a loaded gun that goes off and kills an innocent bystander. These are the people who should not be allowed to own guns at all. [video at the link]
There are record numbers of Americans on food stamps today because there are record numbers of Americans in poverty (records begin in 1959.)The jobs being created are minimum wage positions that often only offer part time hours. Minimum wage in this state is $7.25 and most of the jobs in that range won't give any one person more than 24 hours of work in a week. The price of everything from food, to fuel, to clothing to shelter has risen far faster than wages, which we already know have been basically flat for over a decade. Every private food bank is seeing an astronomical rise in clients who were formerly secure in the middle class.
As of 2011, there were 46.2 million men, women, and children living below the U.S. poverty line. There isn't much reason to believe that the last year of mediocre job growth has dented that number. And until it plunges, the food stamp rolls are going to stay full -- plain and simple.
The "secret Republican plan" really isn't much of a secret. Hell, it's not really much of a plan, either. McConnell's idea is apparently to have Republicans win a bunch of elections and then destroy the law through the reconciliation process so Democrats can't filibuster the GOP's anti-Obamacare crusade.They really thought they were going to sweep the elections in 2012. That they actually lost by a rather large margin doesn't really figure into their version of reality. As Mitch said:
That's roughly the same plan Republicans came up with last year, right before the electorate re-elected President Obama and expanded the Democratic majority in the Senate.
But as is the case with so many issues -- taxes, deficit reduction, Planned Parenthood, Paul Ryan's budget, etc. -- GOP officials are determined to pretend 2012 didn't happen and the will of the voters is irrelevant.
“We were prepared to do that had we had the votes to do it after the election. Well, the election didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” McConnell told National Journal in an interview. “The monstrosity has ... begun to be implemented and we’re not giving up the fight.” [...]This part of the plan is already happening. My idiot GOP Senator is tweeting this sort of anti-Obamacare propaganda daily. It could work over time I suppose, but for the moment, I'm seeing more pushback by liberals than support from the local cons in the responses. So there's that... [graphic via]
But, in the next two years, Republicans are looking to bring the issue back in a big way. And they’ll start by trying to brand the law as one that costs too much and is not working as promised.
19-year-old Boyan Slat has unveiled plans to create an Ocean Cleanup Array that could remove 7,250,000 tons of plastic waste from the world’s oceans. The device consists of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. Instead of moving through the ocean, the array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be separated from plankton, filtered and stored for recycling.[...]The process would make the patches visible. Hard to believe it could happen that fast but the kid is organized. He also started up The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-profit organization which is responsible for the development of his proposed technologies. Wish the nightly news would be investigating this instead of obsessing on the latest drama in the Amanda Knox case.
It is estimated that the clean-up process would take about five years, and it could greatly increase awareness about the world’s plastic garbage patches.
But even if MSNBC doesn’t surpass its main rival in the next year or the next five, Phil Griffin has managed an unprecedented feat. He has created a thriving and lucrative liberal TV business, the long-sought answer to Fox News and conservative talk radio. Above all a businessman, though, Griffin understands that people’s tastes change, so even now, at the height of MSNBC’s power, he’s talking about “evolving” the network. He wants it to become more of a lifestyle brand than a political hub. Which means that the biggest threat to MSNBC’s position as a liberal oasis may not be a newly invigorated CNN or Fox News; it may be the man who shaped the network into what it is today. [...]In other words, he wants MSNBC to "evolve" into the televised version of a tabloid in the supermarket checkout aisle. Which also appears to be the plan of his newly installed rival at CNN, Jeff Zucker. That sound you hear is the gurgling death rattle of hard news journalism, becoming just a little louder as the profession inches ever closer to its demise. [image via]
... “It’s a mistake for us to limit ourselves to news,” he says. He wants to build something he calls “the MSNBC lifestyle,” and so he’s spending a lot of time figuring out what works for Bravo and USA, two hugely lucrative cable properties also owned by Comcast. “We may find that they can teach us more about how to find our audience than CNN or NBC News can,” he says.
The Daily Beast has learned that federal investigators are now interviewing former Bachmann campaign staffers nationwide about alleged intentional campaign-finance violations. The investigators are working on behalf of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which probes reported improprieties by House members and their staffs and then can refer cases to the House Ethics Committee.Of course, despite the boatload of law suits currently on file against the Queen of Congressional Crazies, nothing is going to happen to her. A few of her cohorts may ultimately pay some legal price but she will just plead stupidity and ignorance. Who's going to argue with that? Besides, the woman is coated with more teflon than Ronald Reagan. She gets re-elected over and over again, despite this "honor."
Bachmann holds the distinction of having a higher percentage of statements analyzed by PolitiFact determined to be outright lies—or “Pants on Fire”—than any other politician, according to a survey by The Daily Beast.And only in John Boehner's Crackpot Congress could Bachmann also be a long standing member of the House Intelligence Committee. In a sane world she would have been involuntarily committed to a locked psyche ward years ago.
“We were really glad to hear that School Board is getting rid of them queers, The next thing is we need to get rid of all the niggers, the spics, the kikes and the wops.”
“You know even them Catholics, they are wrong as baby eaters. We need to clear them people out and have good, white, God fearing Christians and everybody else needs to be put to death for their abominations. We’ll keep Lincoln County white and right. Thank you. "
“We have seen FOX suddenly get very loud about Benghazi after the 1st boycott, but conservatives are conservative because they are not stupid,” the website reads.And actually, I guess they're not entirely imbeciles. Another guy had this to say:
“The more I research into Fox—I saw that they donate more to Democratic candidates than conservative or Republican candidates—I was like holy cow! Maybe they are just trying to snatch our pockets. Maybe they are just talking the talk, because it sure doesn’t look like they are walking the walk.”This apparently is their second boycott and they're just certain that they scared the bejeebers out of the Fox the first time, so this one is going to work even better. Besides, they have such reasonable demands.
Among the demands the protesters have is that Fox News “be the right-wing CBS News: to break stories, to break information, and to do what news organizations have always done with such stories: break politicians,” that the network have at least one segment on Benghazi every night on two of its prime-time shows; that Fox similarly devote investigative resources to discovering the truth of Obama’s birth certificate; and that the network cease striving to be “fair and balanced.”Meanwhile, these stalwart guardians of conservative values are going to the real news sources, Breitbart, Drudge and Glenn Beck. Because it's not real news if it disagrees with their world view. Surprisingly, Fox declined comment.
Leaning in isn’t really an option for women like Marie and me, because frankly, it’s not even that easy to get someone to take our calls. In a world where newly minted JDs can’t get jobs, and college graduates are willing to take extended unpaid internships, very few employers have an interest in a 50-something-year-old woman who has been out of the workforce for 15 years and would now like a paying job. Hiring managers, facing a wave of thousands of well-qualified candidates, are going to toss out ones that try to substitute PTA executive board skills for work experience (and that’s assuming the resume even makes it through the computer algorithms that select a handful to be perused by a real person). Reading Sandberg’s prescriptions — get a mentor, don’t ever exclude options, lose your shyness and be assertive, negotiate like a man, marry a man willing to change diapers — I feel like I’m listening to a well-meaning yet clueless relative.The author of that piece will be okay no matter what happens, but for millons of women of lesser social standing, the desperate trade-off is between abject poverty and part time, minimum wage jobs in the service industry. Their economic security will never recover and even the employment they can find won't pay all the bills.
Women over 55 are generally ignored if they don’t have good jobs, lots of money, social standing, or powerful husbands. While this so-called “invisibility” problem has been well documented (just google “invisibility older women” and you’ll find a host of articles and blogs), today’s world seems fixated on youth, good looks and viral fame. Older women generally don’t elicit a second glance – we seem to have a sell by date and after that we’re pretty disposable – and to me, that lack of interest coupled with a resume that might have some blank spots, spells trouble if you’re trying to lean in.
“I never thought that I would be struggling as much as I have this year,” said Horton, whose already-stretched income dropped abruptly when her hours were cut at the disability services agency where she works.The article doesn't say, but one can assume that agency almost surely depends on government grants to operate. The current mania to slash spending, mainly perpetrated by Beltway overlords who themselves enjoy income security, leads to this sort of downsizing. Which in turn leads to further economic contraction, which will lead to more downsizing in the private sector.
On policy, it wasn't just their ranking of budget deficits as the biggest concern that put wealthy respondents out of step with other Americans. They were also much less likely to favor raising taxes on high-income people, instead advocating that entitlement programs like Social Security and healthcare be cut to balance the budget.Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it buys power and that's apparently good enough for those who wallow in self-delusion, smugly convinced they're self-made millionaires. To be sure there are exceptions, known to me personally, but generally, money kills compassion. There isn't even the barest modicum of empathy in these priorites. [graphic via]
While the wealthy favored more government spending on infrastructure, scientific research and aid to education, they leaned toward cutting nearly everything else. Even with education, they opposed things that most Americans favor, including spending to ensure that all children have access to good-quality public schools, expanding government programs to ensure that everyone who wants to go to college can do so, and investing more in worker retraining and education.
The wealthy opposed — while most Americans favor — instituting a system of national health insurance, raising the minimum wage to above poverty levels, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit and providing a "decent standard of living" for the unemployed. They were also against the federal government helping with or providing jobs for those who cannot find private employment.
Unlike most Americans, wealthy respondents opposed increased regulation of large corporations and raising the "cap" that exempts income above $113,700 from the FICA payroll tax. And unlike most Americans, they oppose relying heavily on corporate taxes to raise revenue and oppose taxing the rich to redistribute wealth.
The House gave final approval Thursday, in a bipartisan 318 to 109 vote, to a continuing funding resolution that outlines spending through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. It assures that the government will stay open when the current funding measure expires March 27. The House vote came a day after the Senate approved the bill. It now goes to President Obama for his signature, ending a relatively smooth and drama-free process for a Congress that has repeatedly deadlocked on spending issues. But it only covers the next six months.Haven't seen a breakdown on the vote but feel safe in assuming most of the 109 nays were Republicans indebted to a largely crackpot con base.
Just this morning, House Republicans passed this year’s version of Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which — if implemented — would defund the Affordable Care Act, slash tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, slash spending on social programs, and radically restructure the nation’s retirement programs. The measure won support from the vast majority of House Republicans, passing with 221 votes, with all Democrats in opposition.Ten Republicans joined House Democrats in opposing the Ryan budget measure.
Six of the 10 said the Wisconsin Republican’s budget didn’t cut spending fast enough, while four said it cut spending too steeply or in the wrong areas.Meanwhile, the effects of the sequester cuts are trickling out into the states and cities like toxic fracking waste seeping into the water table, slowly eroding vital public services. Sadly not seeing much BigMedia reminders that this is happening because the GOP refused to raise an extra dime's worth of revenue from the investor class -- a/k/a the only people who benefited from the recovery so far.
The other four are in more vulnerable districts, where those lawmakers could conceivably lose to a strong Democratic challenger.
Americans widely support each of three job creation proposals, including offering tax breaks to businesses that create jobs in the U.S. and a program that would put people to work on urgent infrastructure repair projects. Support for these programs is only slightly lower in a variant of the question that asks respondents if they are in favor of spending government money to pay for the programs.Greg breaks out the figures:
* 72 percent support a “federal government program that would spend government money to put people to work on urgent infrastructure repairs.” This is also backed by 71 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans.So why does the polling always show deificit concern in the abstract you ask? It's all that other spending that's wasteful.
* 72 percent support a “federal jobs creation law that would spend government money for a program designed to create more than 1 million new jobs.” This is backed by 69 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans.
More than two-thirds of Americans think the budget deficit is largely a result of waste and fraud? But wait! It's all explained by a deeper dive into the poll results:It has always been so. Voters like spending when the money goes to their priorities. I believe this is called "enlightened self-interest" by conservatives and glibertarians. An old liberal like me calls it selfishness and quite often greed. Doesn't help that we have an entire political/corporate/media system dedicated to promoting that mindset as an appropriate definition of morality.
A more detailed look at which programs were named by Democrats and by Republicans suggests that for many, waste is indeed defined as "money spent on some government program I don't like."
The eventual Republican candidate will square off in the May 7 general election against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert. She won the Democratic primary for the seat, handily defeating perennial candidate Ben Frasier.Her bro has already announced he's willing to risk his comedy career to help her. Shaping up to be a fun contest. Something to look forward to in the future. [photo via]
Feinstein's bill would impose a ban on the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of semi-automatic weapons with military-style features. Her measure was one of four bills approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee over the last two weeks.You're not just fighting the NRA here, it's a battle against the entire gun industry lobby. I do think they should try to add it as an amendment though and require a roll call so every single one of the bought off Senators has to go on record with a yes or no vote. No, not holding the breath for it.
The three other gun control bills approved by Judiciary are: a measure requiring universal background checks, a measure aimed at increasing security at schools, and a bill cracking down on the illegal trafficking and straw purchasing of firearms.Not that keen on the school security thing. Figuring it's about as effective a protection as TSA at the airport. That one will probably pass though, because the parents need some security theater. And if we can come out of this with the background checks and cracking down on straw purchases, it would be big win. I'm be happy to get that much myself. [graphic via]
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - More than a dozen car bombs and suicide blasts tore through Shi'ite Muslim districts in the Iraqi capital Baghdad and other areas on Tuesday, killing nearly 60 people on the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.Ten long years of horror for the Iraqi people and nothing has really changed. I almost couldn't bear to look at the historic photo galleries at Time and Reuters, especially knowing they only cover a few pages in that long sad story.
Sunni Islamist insurgents linked to al Qaeda are regaining ground in Iraq, invigorated by the war next door in Syria and have stepped up attacks on Shi'ite targets in an attempt to provoke a wider sectarian confrontation.
RETRO-ACTIVISM and HOMELAND INSECURITYThat night, after work, I spent hours on a bar stool explaining to drunken Republicans why the invasion was such a big mistake. I didn't change any minds. I didn't stop the war. But I tried. My conscience is clear. So there's that. [photo via]
There was an anti-war demonstration in my town yesterday. I had a perfect view from my second floor office window. There were at least 400 people and fully half of them took over the major intersection downtown. Some of them lay down on the pavement in a *die-in* and the rest formed a circle to protect them from the oncoming law enforcement. In the end 42 police officers arrived to arrest about 30 people, including two elderly women in wheelchairs. The remaining protesters chanted from the four street corners.
"Tell me what democracy looks like" rises from one corner to the beat of the Revolutionary Drum Corps.
"This is what democracy looks like" thunders back from the other three.
The crowd was deliciously mixed. The American Friends crowd has been demonstrating on that corner every Saturday since the US imposed sanctions on Iraq so many years ago. The college kids were also to be expected but the number of high school and even middle school kids was more suprising. The crowd swelled however with those who would not usually be there. Families with young children and old activists from the 60s who have, over the years, become respected business owners downtown. The latter poured out of the adjoining establishments, along with their employees, to reinforce the numbers. I met my own boss on the corner. He gave me a NO WAR pin someone had just handed to him.
We all stood there shivering in an increasingly chill wind for another 20 minutes in this moment of spontaneous consensus. Those who had not planned to be there stood mostly silent, looking as bemused as I felt, pondering our own role if this is indeed what democracy looks like, now.
For myself, I found it heartening to see the positive energy of the crowd and the planning of the organizers. It was a non-violent action in the name of peace. There was no vandalism and the only blood was of the fake sort that the *dead* had painted on their tshirts. I was not the only one in the 60s contingent who remarked on how the scene evoked memories of our own demonstrations.
However, as my photographer friend remarked, "It's the cool thing to do right now". He's been covering a lot of the protests and notes they are growing. The question in my mind is whether that energy will translate to the ballot box. It's clear they are willing to march, but are they willing to vote? Will they take the time to get politically involved outside of what one has to admit is at least partly a fun social event? I hope so because there are a lot more wars going on right now than just Iraq.
Support for gay marriage reached a new high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, marking a dramatic change in public attitudes on the subject across the past decade. Fifty-eight percent of Americans now say it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to wed.In 2004 same gender marriage was one of the biggest wedge issues. Social conservatives showed up in droves to make it illegal in their states. Arguably, it was this single wedge issue that pushed George Bush over the top in 2004 and allowed him inflict four more miserable years of his administration on us.
That number has grown sharply in ABC News/Washington Post polls, from a low of 32 percent in a 2004 survey of registered voters, advancing to a narrow majority for the first time only two years ago, and now up again to a significant majority for the first time.
Thirty-two members of Congress dispensed more than $2 million in campaign funds to pay relatives' salaries during the 2012 election cycle, a USA TODAY analysis of the most recent campaign records shows.It's entirely possible that some of these family members are well qualified to do the work. Equally possible, that many of them aren't doing much of anything to draw those paychecks. The system invites cheating. On the bright side at least they're just fleecing the rubes who donate to them and not using the taxpayers' money to do it.
Lawmakers have hired their children, spouses, aunts, parents and in-laws as consultants, accountants and record keepers, the examination shows. In some cases, multiple members of the family joined the payroll.
"What Rand was doing last week brought back a lot of memories of the early part of my career,” McConnell, 71, said yesterday in a telephone interview, recalling a 1994 filibuster he led that derailed campaign finance legislation. ...For instance, McConnell has voted for Rand's cockamamie budget plan more than once. Not like there was any danger it would pass but good optics for the rubes back home. Which brings us to Mitch McConnell's biggest fear.
Paul’s alliance with McConnell gives him access to wealthy donors who are usually essential to mounting a national campaign. ...
Five days after he praised Paul’s filibuster, McConnell e- mailed supporters urging them to donate to his Senate re- election campaign and to sign a petition declaring that they too “stand with Rand and Mitch.” ...
“We don’t agree on every issue but we agree on a lot of issues,” McConnell said. ...
If the local Tea Party groups recruit a primary challenger, Paul said he will stand by his Washington colleague. “I am supporting Senator McConnell,” he said.Rand's tea party creds are his strength in this ungodly pact. The true 'Murkins are unlikely to be pleased. Will be interesting to see how this bit of palace intrique plays out in real time.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) believes Senate Republicans would be open to increasing revenue through tax reform as part of a “grand bargain” to reduce the deficit.By "true entitlement reform" Republicans mean transforming Medicare and Social Security into something that has no resemblance to programs as we know them now. And by "arranging our tax system so that we have economic growth" Corker means, perhaps closing loopholes in order to further lower the tax contributions of the super wealthy. Maybe to zero. Zero would be good for them.
Chris, I think Republicans — if they saw true entitlement reform — would be glad to look at tax reform that generates additional revenues. And that doesn’t mean increasing rates, that means closing loopholes. That also means arranging our tax system so that we have economic growth. And I think we’ve been saying that from day one.
Said Boehner: "The president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people. We're not going to get very far. The president got his tax hikes on January 1. The talk about raising revenue is over. It's time to deal with the spending problem."More interesting, is this admission our hapless Speaker made on the Sunday bobblehead show.
“We do not have an immediate debt crisis – but we all know that we have one looming,” he said. “And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re going to go bankrupt.” [via}Too bad Republicans couldn't muster the same concern about the looming disaster of climate change. They're perfectly willing to roll the dice on destroying the planet by ignoring that. And this was a curious aside in Boehner's interview.
Boehner reiterated his trust in the president, despite a relationship defined by legislative deals that have fallen apart.Can only assume Boehner believes the base doesn't watch the bobbleheads to admit that out loud. Feel rather certain he'll be wailing about Obama dealing in bad faith and moving goalposts and such the next time he's forced to try to bring something to the floor -- and fails -- because he has no control of the crackpot caucus.
“Absolutely, there’s no issue,” he said.
Ultra-secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech, a federal judge in California ruled in a decision released Friday.Not sure it's entirely fair to call it "the Obama administration’s surveillance practices." Obama's White House didn't invent the damn practice, but it's true Obama admin is still using it, albeit about half as much as the Bush administration. Furthermore Obama's DOJ is the one defending this case under the rather frightening premise that merely challenging the NSLs is breaking the odious law. So thrilled to see this ruling.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered the government to stop issuing so-called NSLs across the board, in a stunning defeat for the Obama administration’s surveillance practices. She also ordered the government to cease enforcing the gag provision in any other cases. However, she stayed her order for 90 days to give the government a chance to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“We are very pleased that the Court recognized the fatal constitutional shortcomings of the NSL statute,” said Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed a challenge to NSLs on behalf of an unknown telecom that received an NSL in 2011. “The government’s gags have truncated the public debate on these controversial surveillance tools. Our client looks forward to the day when it can publicly discuss its experience.”
“My bill will require the Office of Management and Budget to submit a plan to Congress that implements the President’s cuts without harming our civilian employee’s ability to keep pace with their demands and provide for their families,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX). “In the district I represent, the civilian employees of Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (NASCC) could be furloughed for up to 22 days. Our local airport towers in Corpus Christi and Victoria might also face extreme cuts. Those reductions in force are unacceptable.”Catch that? "The President’s cuts." Obviously implying Obama is picking and choosing to punish GOP districts with the sequester and the same thing isn't happening in Democratic districts. The base will believe it because they don't get real news, they watch Fox. Neither will they find out Blake's bill is a sham solely designed to reinforce the fiction they're being singled out.
Portman, an Ohio Republican, made the stunning revelation just a week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on a 1996 federal law asserting that gay marriage is not legal, a measure that Portman co-sponsored as a member of the U.S. House.This, of course, unleashed a tsunami of snark on the intertoobz. Me, I'm not willing to give the man any huge huzzahs for coming out as it were because I agree the timing is just a little too convenient. Also, it's not exactly a full-throated endorsement for equal marriage rights:
But like former President Bill Clinton, who signed the law, Portman now wants Congress to invalidate the law’s declaration that marriage is between a man and a woman. Instead, Portman said he would prefer that it be left to the states to decide the definition of marriage.Sure leaving it up to the states now run by crackpot conservatives is going to be a big game changer.
The cuts to the court system from sequestration are “simply unsustainable,” Justice Anthony Kennedy warned Thursday.Maybe our Honorable Justices didn't get the memo. According to a duly elected Oklahoma Congressman, (who was probably helped by dark money enabled by the Citizen's United decision), SCOTUS doesn't get to decide what's constitutional anymore.
The judicial branch is subject to a 5 percent cut under sequestration. The Supreme Court and lower courts throughout the country wouldn't be able to carry out their duties if those cuts stay in place for more than a few months, Kennedy said.
"If it's for any long term, it will be inconsistent with the constitutional obligation of the Congress to fund the courts," Kennedy said.
Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, asked if Obama and Republicans agreed on some entitlement reforms (specifically, means-testing for Medicare and reducing annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security), why couldn’t those things be done now? The president said he would agree to those reforms only if Republicans agreed to raise tax revenues by closing loopholes, because we have to ask “everybody to sacrifice.”Wrong answer Mr. President. Adding to my earlier post, this is why Obama's numbers are slipping. Yes, everybody needs to share the sacrifice but the working class has already sacrificed more than enough for the last five years. They don't want Obama to kiss the crackpots' ass for some dismal grand bargain, they want him to kick their ass.
Senate Democratic leaders have engaged in preliminary discussions about how to address Republican procedural obstruction, according to a senior Democratic aide, reflecting an awareness that key administration and judicial vacancies might never be filled, and that a watered-down rules reform deal the parties struck early this Congress has failed.That 20/20 hindsight and five bucks will get you a latte at Starbucks. They're never going to get 60 votes to change it through regular order now, so we're stuck with this dysfunction until the next session. One can only hope that next year, should Dems be lucky enough to keep their hold on the chamber, they'll do a better job on reforms. If GOPers recapture the gavel, it's a pretty safe bet they won't be afraid to just eliminate it altogether so they can ramrod their agenda through without any impediments. [photo via]
“The general agreement was that Republicans would only filibuster nominees in the case of extraordinary circumstances, and once again Republicans are expanding the definition of that term to make it entirely meaningless,” the aide said.
To summarize: People say they agree with the GOP about spending cuts in the abstract. But when you get specific, solid majorities disapprove of the sequester cuts and think they’ll harm the economy — rejecting the conservative argument about the relationship between the economy and spending cuts. Solid majorities oppose replacing the sequester cuts with cuts to major social programs the poor and elderly rely upon — rejecting the conservative argument about the safety net. (In fairness, Obama is also prepared to cut entitlement benefits as part of a grand bargain, but more judiciously.) Solid majorities support asking for more revenues from the rich, rather than cutting social programs, to replace the cuts — rejecting the conservative argument about taxes.Bold is mine and let's review that sentence again. "In fairness, Obama is also prepared to cut entitlement benefits as part of a grand bargain, but more judiciously."