Submitted by Peter Haynes on Sat, 05/18/2013 - 9:18am.
From the "we knew that for years" department former Michigan state justices are taking an unprecedented step and criticizing current justices.
Maybe if judges would stop being political ideologues they would not be criticized?
Brian Dickerson: Ex-justices rule current Supreme Court guilty of partisanship
The last thing you want when you have made your way to the top position on your state’s highest court is for a bunch of your most distinguished predecessors to start suggesting — all at once, and very publicly — that you are making a hash of the job.
But that is precisely the circumstance in which Robert Young Jr. finds himself midway through his second two-year term as chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.
And another article saying what we knew about for years. Maybe we should just admit it and have an official sport - where people can legally kill each other, right?
Chris Hedges: Murder Is Our National Sport
We murder tens of thousands with our industrial killing machines in Afghanistan and Iraq. We murder thousands more from the skies over Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen with our pilotless drones. We murder each other with reckless abandon. And, as if we were not drenched in enough human blood, we murder prisoners—most of them poor people of color who have been locked up for more than a decade. The United States believes in regeneration through violence. We have carried out blood baths on foreign soil and on our own land for generations in the vain quest of a better world. And the worse it gets, the deeper our empire sinks under the weight of its own decay and depravity, the more we kill.
There are parts of the nation where the electorate, or at least the white electorate, routinely and knowingly puts murderers into political office. Murder is a sign of strength. Murder is a symbol of resolve. Murder means law and order. Murder keeps us safe. Strap the criminal into the gurney. Plunge the needles into veins. Haul away the corpse. It is our Christian duty.
We can all hope more Republicans will do as Mr. Pantoja has done and leave the GOP. If more and more do the GOP will become even more the party of old, racist, misogynistic white men than it is today.
RNC Director Of Hispanic Outreach Quits Party And Registers As A Democrat
When Republicans appointed Pablo Pantoja to State Director of Florida Hispanic Outreach for the Republican National Committee, they hoped he would be able to bridge the sizable gap that only expanded during the 2012 elections, when the state’s 4.3 million Hispanic voters supported Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a 20 percent margin.
But after months of inaction by Congressional Republicans on comprehensive immigration reform and stiff resistance by Republican-leaning groups like the Heritage Foundation, Pantoja has had enough; on Monday, he announced via email that he was leaving the party and registering as a Democrat:
Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic Party.
It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.
Totally in keeping with GOP business as usual the "party of 'no' " is trying it's hardest to whip up some scandals, regardless of facts.
It seems that Republicans are perfectly willing to damage the country in order to try to "make Obama fail."
When politicians want to turn scandals into metaphors, actual details of wrongdoing or incompetence no longer matter. In fact, the details of the troubles swirling around the White House this week are bluntly contradicting Republicans who want to combine them into a seamless narrative of tyrannical government on the rampage.
For Senator Mike Lee of Utah, these incidents proved that the federal budget has to be cut even more deeply. “We need to return it to a simpler, more manageable government,” he said, “because that’s the only way that we’re ever going to prevent things like this from happening.”
There are no “things like this,” beyond a coincidence of bad timing. But they do have one thing in common: when bound together and loudly denounced on cable television and in hearings, they serve to obscure the real damage that Republicans continue to do to the economy and the workings of government.
Submitted by Peter Haynes on Sat, 05/11/2013 - 8:48am.
The politics never stops. The GOP has seized on Bengazi and is determined to try to turn that into Watergate, despite all available facts. The house is voting on yet another attempt to overturn health care reform, for the 55th or 60th time. This congress will be known in history as the congress that took the same losing vote over and over - while letting the country be damaged around them. Nice legacy for an obstructionist Republican party, yes?
It seems that Karl Rove is just about as popular with Teabaggers and the far, far right as he is with liberals. Let's hope Rove has as much success with this project as he did with his Romney predictions on election night.
In Data We Trust
Rove and Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, have angered the right wing of the Republican Party, which views them as focused on marginalizing the Tea Party movement.
The burst of criticism among hard-core conservatives was incited by a Politico story headlined “Karl Rove-Linked Company Gets G.O.P. Data Deal.” The mere fact of Rove’s association with Boyce produced a strong negative reaction in the conservative blogosphere, reflecting the volatility of ideological tensions between the right and center factions of the Republican Party.
Perhaps most important, conservatives attacked Bush and Rove for failing to control the growth of government, allowing federal red ink to increase exponentially: from a surplus of $86.4 billion in 2000, and a modest $32.4 billion deficit in 2001, to a $434.2 billion deficit in 2006 (and that was before the financial collapse of 2008).
In yet another installment of "they just can't help themselves..." another right-winger tries to explain how his simple prejudice really wasn't... We can all hope that this has inflicted serious, long lasting damage to the Heritage Foundation. The racism and elitism is not even particularly well hidden.
Heritage study co-author opposed letting in immigrants with low IQs
The Heritage Foundation made something of a splash with its study suggesting that immigration reform will cost the public trillions. Past work by one of its co-authors helps put that piece in context.
Make special note of the "low skilled" and "high skilled" dog-whistle phrases. Wow, just wow for Mr. Richwine.
Jason Richwine is relatively new to the think tank world. He received his PhD in public policy from Harvard in 2009, and joined Heritage after a brief stay at the American Enterprise Institute
Richwine’s dissertation asserts that there are deep-set differentials in intelligence between races. While it’s clear he thinks it is partly due to genetics — “the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ” — he argues the most important thing is that the differences in group IQs are persistent, for whatever reason. He writes, “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.”
That rhetorical strategy is reflected in Heritage’s current work on immigration. His and Rector’s report recommends greatly reducing “low-skilled” immigration and increasing “high-skilled” immigration
As more and more states now pass marriage equality laws it bears note about how the Mormon church initially hurt marriage equality - but helped in the long term. It is very satisfying to finally see big religion overreach and hurt themselves.
How the Mormons Ensured Victory for Gay Marriage
after a very long and demoralizing losing streak, supporters of marriage equality have recently experienced a string of victories so sudden and dramatic that it has their heads spinning. Just yesterday, the Minnesota House passed a bill that would make it the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage. The vote came while the ink was still drying on Delaware's landmark new marriage equality law, which followed on the heels—five days!—of a similar milestone in Rhode Island. Up until last November, supporters had tasted defeat on 33 state-level measures.
But there's one force, perhaps greater than any other, that shouldn't be underestimated: the Mormon church's political surrender on gay marriage.
But after the Mormon involvement in Prop. 8 was fully exposed, the backlash was severe—and apparently unexpected. The church became a target for public protests, and lost a considerable number of members who were unhappy with its involvement in a political issue that had caused individual LDS families a lot of grief. In the campaign's aftermath, a top church leader even apologized to gay church members for the pain they'd suffered.
This is not to say that the Mormons have had a change of heart about gay marriage. The church is still adamantly opposed to it. On April 6, during the LDS's annual conference, Boyd Packer, who is next in line to assume the church's top leadership post, warned, "We need to be careful of the tolerance trend trap, so that we do not get swallowed up in it.
Mormon Church Abandons Its Crusade Against Gay Marriage
And in news that affects every living thing on planet Earth, whether or not they believe in it, the planet's climate has just passed a very significant milestone. Climate change deniers are clinging to ever more twisted manipulations of statistics and cherry picked data, as the actual, factual evidence becomes more and more overwhelming. Climate deniers could well be ensuring difficulties and even deaths of many in future generations.
We Just Passed the Climate's "Grim Milestone"
Over the last couple weeks, scientists and environmentalists have been keeping a particularly close eye on the Hawaii-based monitoring station that tracks how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere, as the count tiptoed closer to a record-smashing 400 parts per million. Yesterday, we finally got there: The daily mean concentration was higher than at any time in human history, NOAA reported today.
Don't worry: The earth is not about to go up in a ball of flame. The 400 ppm mark is only a milestone, 50 ppm over what legendary NASA scientist James Hansen has since 1988 called the safe zone for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, and yet only halfway to what the IPCC predicts we'll reach by the end of the century.
Submitted by Peter Haynes on Sat, 05/04/2013 - 11:26am.
In some really sick news out of Kentucky... a five year old kid shot and killed his two year old sister, with a gun he was given as a present. They say this shooting was accidental, but I say it was inevitable. What kind of person gives a 22 rifle to a five year old as a present? People can't drive until they are 16, can't buy alcohol or tobacco until they are of age, but guns can be legally given to a 5 year old?
Five-year-old child kills sister with gun he received as a gift
Mr White also told the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper that the boy received the .22-calibre rifle – especially made for children – as a gift.
The shooting, while accidental, highlights a cultural divide in the US debate over gun control, which again became a major issue after 20 young children and six adults were shot dead at a Connecticut school in December.
In a delicious irony Sen Ayotte of New Hampshire is facing the exact backlash she feared if she voter FOR the gun bill. Her constituents were overwhelmingly in favor of background checks - yet she voted as per her NRA money donations. This is not right and is not what the country was founded upon, let's hope New Hampshire voters remember when Ms. Ayotte is up for election.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte becomes focus of gun-control groups after voting against background checks
WARREN, N.H. — The contentious political fight over gun control moved into the White Mountains of New Hampshire on Tuesday as gun-control activists began to focus on Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) as a prime target in their effort to revive their push for stricter gun laws.
Ayotte was a key, high-profile vote against the bipartisan plan to expand the national gun background-check program, which failed in the Senate two weeks ago despite overwhelming public support and extensive efforts by the White House. The failure was widely seen as a triumph for the National Rifle Association.
Ayotte was the only senator from the Northeast to vote no on the measure, which emerged as the latest barometer of the ideological and partisan divide that has gripped Washington in recent years. Even in New Hampshire, where there is a long tradition of support for gun rights, one poll this year showed that almost 95 percent of New Hampshire residents support background checks. “Almost nine in ten (88%) of New Hampshire adults strongly favor this proposal, 6% favor it somewhat, and only 5% oppose it. Even 83% of gun owners favor this proposal,” according to a WMUR Granite State Poll conducted in February.
The anger has boiled over onto the Granite State’s editorial pages, with several publishers marveling at the sharply worded critiques of Ayotte’s vote.
“In the name of terrorists and violent criminals, I would like to thank you for your vote protecting their rights to purchase guns without background checks,” a woman from Milford, N.H., wrote in a letter to the editor of the Cabinet Press newspaper. “After all, the gun manufacturers making billions on the incredible sales of guns and the N.R.A. leadership who profit from this must be protected at all cost,” added the woman, who concluded by saying: “Thanks, Kelly, sleep well.”
The GOP problem with minorities and women continues. The same narrow minded thinking that nominated Romney still thinks that it is all an image and message problem. Well, guess what? It is much more than that and some Republicans are beginning to realize just that.
The GOP Doesn't Need Hispanic Outreach—It Needs a Hispanic Takeover
The debate over an immigration-reform bill has given us a glimpse into the emerging war within the Republican Party. On one side are those sensitive to the party's demographics problem, who support a compromise. On the other are those who continue to oppose any bill that includes tens of thousands of work visas and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.
Since Mitt Romney's defeat in November, Republicans have worried about how to woo Latino voters. In a postmortem analysis of the election, the RNC concluded that the Republican Party needed to be more "inclusive and welcoming." Many conservatives looked nostalgically back to 2004, when more than 40 percent of Latinos voted for George W. Bush, compared to Romney's 27 percent. They believe that Latinos are naturally conservative, and are sure to line up in the 'R' column if the party can just fix its image with them.
Latino conservatives are plotting a takeover of the party, setting the stage for the next major realignment of Republican politics.
Despite Republicans best efforts to hurt Obama (and the Country) the economy continues to improve, slowly but steadily. Once more - just imagine how much better off everyone would be if the GOP had governed in good faith instead of actively trying top "make Obama fail" ?
Unemployment Rate Hits a 4-Year Low, But Don't Get Too Excited
In April, American employers added 165,000 jobs, more than forecasters had projected, bumping the unemployment rate down from 7.6 to 7.5 percent. As my colleague Kevin Drum points out, "[A]bout 90,000 of those jobs were needed just to keep up with population growth, so net job growth clocked in at 75,000."
Friday's BLS report also revised up by 114,000 the jobs numbers for the prior two months, bringing average job growth for the last three months to 212,000. The news sent stocks soaring Friday morning.
Economist Dean Baker, cofounder of the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research, cautions against too much enthusiasm. "[T]he growth reported for April was unbalanced with 34,000, more than a fifth of the total, coming from employment services," he wrote in a statement Friday. "There was also a disturbing decline in the length of the average workweek of 0.2 hours…That is equal to the largest drop since the recovery back began in 2009. In short, this report is at best a mixed picture."
Submitted by Peter Haynes on Sat, 04/27/2013 - 9:37am.
What if we never run out of oil? Sound like a good idea, right? The truth is that it could be or it could be an unprecented disaster. This article is a long read, but well worth it.
What If We Never Run Out of Oil?
For a long time, companies collected oil and discarded the methane that burbled up with it, often by burning the gas in a cinematic flare atop special derricks, or even simply dumping it into the atmosphere. People did use natural gas for energy—gaslights have existed since the days of Jane Austen—but transporting it was costly.
economic growth and energy use have marched in lockstep for generations. Between 1900 and 2000, global energy consumption rose roughly 17-fold, the University of Manitoba environmental scientist Vaclav Smil has calculated, while economic output rose 16-fold—“as close a link as one may find in the unruly realm of economic affairs.”
Far from being infinite, Laherrère said, petroleum supplies are finite by definition. The Earth contains only so many hydrocarbon molecules that can be extracted by human effort. “Once we have used up the easy oil, new types of cheap energy will not appear by magic. We will keep drilling for oil, and it will not be easy to get. Look at the enormously expensive equipment they use now only to keep up production.”
The sort of rapid energy transition we need has never occurred before. At the same time, one should note that no physical law says these transitions must be slow. Societies have changed rapidly, even when it cost a lot of money. Nobody can predict the future
And now something that has been painfully obvious to nearly everyone, except the GOP... Raidcal right-wing talk radio is damaging to EVERYONE, including the GOP. Long live right-wing radio...
Secret Tape: Top GOP Consultant Luntz Calls Limbaugh "Problematic"
Frank Luntz, the media-friendly Republican consultant and word wiz, told a group of college students this week that Rush Limbaugh and right-wing talk radio are "problematic" for the GOP and partly responsible for the stark polarization within the nation's political discourse. He only dared to speak so candidly about Limbaugh and other conservative hosts off the record. A secretly recorded video, though, captured Luntz's remark.
Who's my Rubio fan here? We talked about it. He's getting destroyed! By Mark Levin, by Rush Limbaugh, and a few others. He's trying to find a legitimate, long-term effective solution to immigration that isn't the traditional Republican approach, and talk radio is killing him.
There is more bad news for workers. The latest figures show that worker pay has stagnated for most and declined for lower paid workers. Of course the rich have increased their wealth by double-digit gains for many years in a row now. When will enough be enough? 1% "own" 85% of everything and still want more? How does this happen?
Median Pay in U.S. Is Stagnant, but Low-Paid Workers Lose
THE median pay of American workers has stagnated in recent years, but that is not true for all workers. When adjusted for inflation, the wages of low-paid workers have declined. But the wages for better-paid workers have grown significantly more rapidly than inflation.
The national median wage in the first quarter of this year was $827 a week. In 2013 dollars, the median wage 13 years before was $819, so the increase is about 1 percent. The figures include all workers over the age of 25.
The department said that to reach the 90th percentile — that is, to earn more money than 90 percent of those with jobs — a person needed to earn $1,909 a week. That figure was nearly 9 percent higher than in early 1980.
To reach the 10th percentile — earning less money than 90 percent of those with jobs — required an income of $387 a week. After adjusting for inflation, that figure is down 3 percent from 2000.
When founded the US was supposed to be a form of a Republic, a Representative Democracy. But the question these days is - just who is being represented? It seems to me that the rich and corporations with money are represented far beyond their percentages, while most people are ignored. Surely this is not what the founders had in mind?
What the Public Really Thinks About Guns
Newtown changed the debate. The Newtown shooting had a greater impact on public opinion about guns than any other event in the past two decades—and led to a clear rise in public support for stronger gun laws. In particular, three aspects about public opinion in the wake of Newtown are notable:
- Near unanimous support for universal background checks and clear majority support for high-capacity magazine and assault-weapons bans
- Almost as much support for stronger gun laws among gun owners as among the general public
- A large gender gap in views on guns and violence
- There is an emerging consensus on guns among the American public. Most Americans agree that handguns should not be banned, that more needs to be done to keep guns away from dangerous people, and that military-style weapons don’t belong on the streets.
Submitted by Peter Haynes on Sat, 04/20/2013 - 8:59am.
By now we have heard all about the Boston bombing, which has killed several and injured many. The second suspect has been captured after a massive manhunt.
This week also brought us small government and less regulation Texas, where a fertilizer plant blew up killing at least 14 workers. No doubt the owners will get a nice tax write off for the damage to the plant.
If it seems like the system is stacked against the worker and, as Leona Helmsley said, the "little people" - well, it is. The tax system is heavily stacked to benefit the rich. Not to worry though, if the Republicans keep cutting the education budget the poor will not be able to get an eduction to understand these studies...
A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent
About 6 in 10 of us believe that the tax system is unfair — and they’re right: put simply, the very rich don’t pay their fair share. The richest 400 individual taxpayers, with an average income of more than $200 million, pay less than 20 percent of their income in taxes — far lower than mere millionaires, who pay about 25 percent of their income in taxes, and about the same as those earning a mere $200,000 to $500,000. And in 2009, 116 of the top 400 earners — almost a third — paid less than 15 percent of their income in taxes.
What should shock and outrage us is that as the top 1 percent has grown extremely rich, the effective tax rates they pay have markedly decreased.
Most of the Western world has experienced an increase in inequality in recent decades, though not as much as the United States has. But among most economists there is a general understanding that a country with excessive inequality can’t function well; many countries have used their tax codes to help “correct” the market’s distribution of wealth and income.
And yet another entry from the "they just can't help themselves" department. Another old, white republican male referred to all women as "vaginas." How do these guys get elected and reelected?
New Hampshire Lawmaker Calls All Women ‘Vaginas’
New Hampshire State Rep. Peter Hansen (R) sparked a firestorm in the state house after he sent a recent email to an internal house listserv that referred to women as “vaginas.”
There were two critical ingredients missing in the illustrious stories purporting to demonstrate the practical side of retreat. Not that retreat may not be possible mind you. What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and vagina’s [sic] of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims.
Despite the backlash from all sides, Hansen has barely apologized. In an another email responding to the outcry, Hansen wrote, “Having a fairly well educated mind I do not need self appointed wardens to A: try to put words in my mouth for political gain and B: Turn a well founded strategy in communication into an insulting accusation, and finally if you find the noun vagina insulting or in some way offensive then perhaps a better exercise might be for you to re-examine your psyche.”
The leading study that American conservatives and other leading right-wingers have quoted Ad nauseam has just been discredited and contradicted - by a student. New conservative motto: "Facts? We don't need no stinkin' facts!"
Holy Coding Error, Batman
The intellectual edifice of austerity economics rests largely on two academic papers that were seized on by policy makers, without ever having been properly vetted, because they said what the Very Serious People wanted to hear.
The other paper, which has had immense influence — largely because in the VSP world it is taken to have established a definitive result — was Reinhart/Rogoff on the negative effects of debt on growth. Very quickly, everyone “knew” that terrible things happen when debt passes 90 percent of GDP.
But even I never dreamed that a large part of the alleged result might reflect nothing more profound than bad arithmetic.
But it seems that this is just what happened. Fix all that, say Herndon et al., and the result apparently melts away.
According to the review paper, R-R mysteriously excluded data on some high-debt countries with decent growth immediately after World War II, which would have greatly weakened their result;
If true, this is embarrassing and worse for R-R. But the really guilty parties here are all the people who seized on a disputed research result, knowing nothing about the research, because it said what they wanted to hear.
So I guess all that holding back, lowering of the stimulus and obstruction by the GOP, in the name of austerity, was just what we thought it was - damaging, ideological bullshit.
The story below is not really political, but I find it interesting. It presents analysis of data, some of it "new" data, in a different way. Somehow I believe this guy and Nate Silver would get along well.
A 'Whom Do You Hang With?' Map Of America
Look at the center of this map, at the little red dot that marks Kansas City. Technically, Kansas City is at the edge of Missouri, but here on this map it's in the upper middle section of a bigger space with strong blue borders. We don't have a name for this bigger space yet, but soon we will.
Have you ever heard of "Where's George" Dirk hadn't.
It's a website that tracks the movement of dollar bills. Thousands of people participate. All you do is take a bill out of your wallet, type the denomination, serial number, the date and your zip code onto the Where's George? site, and then, with a pen or a stamp, deface the bill with the words "WheresGeorge.com." After which (and this is key), you spend it.
Since dollar bills pass between people, Dennis suggested why not us the "Where's George?" data to get a sense of where people go, and, just as interesting, where they don't go?
That's what Dirk did. After checking 1,033,095 reports (describing the movement of 464,670 bills), he came up with this map. In the Seattle area, for example, his team found that over two weeks, only 7.8 percent of the bills moved more than 500 miles away. Most of the money stayed close. More interestingly, Dirk's team began to notice virtual borders, lines that the money rarely crossed.
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