These are my links for July 26th through July 27th:
US economic growth slowed to 1.5 pct. rate in Q2- The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.5 percent from April through June, as Americans cut back sharply on spending. The slowdown in growth adds to worries that the economy could be stalling three years after the recession ended.The Commerce Department also said Friday that the economy grew a little better than previously thought in the January-March quarter. It raised its estimate to a 2 percent rate, up from 1.9 percent.Growth at or below 2 percent isn’t enough to lower the unemployment rate, which was 8.2 percent last month. And most economists don’t expect growth to pick up much in the second half of the year. Europe’s financial crisis and a looming budget crisis in the U.S. are expected to slow business investment further.Stock futures rose slightly after the report was released. Some economists had thought the estimate would be lower.
Still, the lackluster economy is raising pressure on President Barack Obama in his re-election fight with Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
California GOP faces money woes- November election, the California Republican Party is so awash in red ink that its board has approved laying off staff and vacating the party’s main headquarters in Sacramento, The Chronicle has learned.The crisis emerged after state party officials, facing an $850,000 shortfall in late June, fell behind in rent, phone bills, payments to Internet vendors and printers, and worried they would have to cut employees’ health care insurance payments, according to several Republican sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.Since then, party officials have reportedly negotiated down the debt, but campaign finance reports to be released Tuesday are expected to show the California GOP to be at least $450,000 in the red, multiple sources said.
The Chicken Inquisition – Rahm Emanuel has been many things in life — ballet dancer, investment banker, congressman, White House chief of staff, now mayor of Chicago — and he apparently wishes to add another title to his curriculum vitae: Grand Inquisitor. He has denounced the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A and endorsed a Chicago alderman’s plan to block construction of a new outlet because the company’s executives do not share his politics. This is a gross abuse of power: Imagine if the mayor of Provo, Utah, had tried to punish a business for supporting same-sex marriage — the Left would demand his resignation, etc. The powers of government are not to be used for parochial political ends. Even in Chicago.
Four Little Words – Why the Obama Campaign is so worried- What’s the difference between a calm and cool Barack Obama, and a rattled and worried Barack Obama? Four words, it turns out.”You didn’t build that” is swelling to such heights that it has the president somewhere unprecedented: on defense. Mr. Obama has felt compelled—for the first time in this campaign—to cut an ad in which he directly responds to the criticisms of his now-infamous speech, complaining his opponents took his words “out of context.”
‘You didn’t build that’ remarks won’t change Obama’s strategy- The Obama campaign has no plans to change the president’s style on the stump in the wake of his “you didn’t build that” remark, which Republicans have seized upon in recent days to argue the president is out of touch on the economy.Obama made the impromptu remark during a Virginia campaign address earlier this month when he was speaking without a teleprompter, referring occasionally to a binder of notes on his podium. The Hill reported last week that Obama would rely on the teleprompter less so that he could be more spontaneous and interact with his supporters at campaign appearances instead of reading from two glass panes.
Mitt Romney’s Olympics comments trigger response from Cameron, British press- British Prime Minister David Cameron and England’s famously tough media tweaked Mitt Romney Thursday after the presumptive Republican presidential nominee suggested that London might not be ready for its Olympic moment.“It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out,” said Romney, who ran the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. “There are a few things that were disconcerting: the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”Those comments prompted a quick rebuke from Cameron. “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world,” Cameron told reporters after visiting the venues where the 2012 Summer Olympics will begin Friday. “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere” — an apparent reference to Salt Lake City.
Google+ traffic soars: 66 percent increase in nine months- Traffic analytics site ComScore has revealed a large increase in visits to Google+. According to ComScore, the number of unique visitors to the social network has increased by 66 percent over the last nine months, with an estimated 110.7 million international visitors in June. In the US, traffic increased from 15.2 million to 27.7 million visitors over the same period. While the stats aren’t official, they do align with figures released by other traffic analysts earlier this month.ComScore also detailed Facebook’s US figures from November through to June, noting a drop from 166 million to 159.8 million over the period. PR consultant Morten Myrstad, who shared the figures, appropriately, on Google+, points out that although Facebook’s lead has dropped slightly, the unique visitor numbers don’t take into account how long users spend on the site, or return visits.
Chicago Alderman: I Will Deny Business Permit Because “There Are Consequences for [Its Owner’s] Statements and Beliefs,” and They Should Include Denial- This is just appalling. A government official thinks that the proper “consequence” for a business owner’s “statements and beliefs” is the denial of the ability to do business. Because he’s “sure the majority of” his constituents find the owner’s “comments and attitudes repugnant,” it’s just fine for him to use the coercive power of the government to block the business from opening up a store. His “belief in equality is resolute,” and that apparently justifies him discriminating against businesspeople for exercising their First Amendment rights to speak out. They “should really reconsider [their] platform on gay issues,” or else the government of Chicago will exclude them from the alderman’s ward.As I noted before, such a viewpoint-based denial of a business permit is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. But that doesn’t seem to bother Alderman Moreno, because his “principles” seem to demand this sort of unconstitutional behavior. As I said, just appalling.
These are my links for July 19th through July 23rd:
California King – Majority whip Kevin McCarthy wants to make sure the GOP will keep control of the House- California has not gone Republican since perestroika, and Representative Kevin McCarthy acknowledges that Mitt Romney is unlikely to end the losing streak. But McCarthy, the House’s easygoing majority whip, would like to pick up a few congressional seats on the Left Coast.So for the past year, the conservative from California’s Central Valley has mentored a slew of Golden State contenders, many of whom he has known for decades. “It’s like the Blues Brothers,” McCarthy chuckles. “We are putting the band back together.”McCarthy, the former Republican leader of the state assembly, has quietly recruited and advised several of his former Sacramento colleagues, such as state senators Tony Strickland and Doug LaMalfa, who are now mounting House campaigns in toss-up districts.McCarthy’s push, however, is more than a pet project; it is a critical part of securing the Republicans’ House majority. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, has underscored that the “road to the majority runs through California.”
Poll Watch: Majority of voters blame President Obama for bad economy- Two-thirds of likely voters say the weak economy is Washington’s fault, and more blame President Obama than anybody else, according to a new poll for The Hill.It found that 66 percent believe paltry job growth and slow economic recovery is the result of bad policy. Thirty-four percent say Obama is the most to blame, followed by 23 percent who say Congress is the culprit. Twenty percent point the finger at Wall Street, and 18 percent cite former President George W. Bush.The results highlight the reelection challenge Obama faces amid dissatisfaction with his first-term performance on the economy.The poll, conducted for The Hill by Pulse Opinion Research, found 53 percent of voters say Obama has taken the wrong actions and has slowed the economy down. Forty-two percent said he has taken the right actions to revive the economy, while six percent said they were not sure.
Obama has argued throughout the presidential campaign that his policies have made the economy better. He says recovery is taking a long time because he inherited such deep economic trouble upon taking office in 2009.
The Medicaid Albatross- It’s no secret that the states are in as much budget trouble as the federal government. Doubters should read a new report from a group headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch. By this account, states face four insistent forces: pension underfunding of at least $1 trillion; rapidly rising Medicaid spending; possible cuts in federal aid that provides $1 in $3 of state spending; and weak growth of tax revenues that, in 2011, remained 7 percent below their pre-recession peak.What looms are higher state taxes and reduced services, affecting schools, police, parks, prisons, public universities, roads and social services. Up to a point, cuts may not do much damage; every government has waste. But we are rapidly passing this point.
Crovitz: Who Really Invented the Internet?- A telling moment in the presidential race came recently when Barack Obama said: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” He justified elevating bureaucrats over entrepreneurs by referring to bridges and roads, adding: “The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all companies could make money off the Internet.”It’s an urban legend that the government launched the Internet. The myth is that the Pentagon created the Internet to keep its communications lines up even in a nuclear strike. The truth is a more interesting story about how innovation happens—and about how hard it is to build successful technology companies even once the government gets out of the way.For many technologists, the idea of the Internet traces to Vannevar Bush, the presidential science adviser during World War II who oversaw the development of radar and the Manhattan Project. In a 1946 article in The Atlantic titled “As We May Think,” Bush defined an ambitious peacetime goal for technologists: Build what he called a “memex” through which “wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.”
CDC: Whooping cough rising at alarming rate in US- The U.S. appears headed for its worst year for whooping cough in more than five decades, with the number of cases rising at an epidemic rate that experts say may reflect a problem with the effectiveness of the vaccine.Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported so far – more than twice the number seen at this point last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. At this pace, the number for the entire year will be the highest since 1959, when 40,000 illnesses were reported.
YouTube Decides Obama Singing Al Green Is Fair Use; Restores All The Videos- Earlier this week, we wrote about BMG issuing a takedown to YouTube over a Mitt Romney advertisement that used a clip of President Obama singing one line of an Al Green song. As we noted at the time, this seemed like a clear fair use case. Also, people pointed out that it was clearly an attempt to stifle speech since BMG only went after the Romney commercial, and not the original clips of Obama singing. Realizing this, BMG then also issued takedowns for those videos. If YouTube wanted to retain its DMCA safe harbor provisions, it is supposed to keep those videos down for 10 days and then it could (but does not need to) restore them. However, Google has jumped the gun and restored the videos already (you can see it here), saying that the company made a determination that the content does not violate copyright laws.At this point, the ball is back in BMG’s court. Technically, it can now file a lawsuit against the uploaders of the video if it wants (so, the Romney campaign, the Associated Press and others). Also, it could potentially try to go after Google itself, claiming that the safe harbors no longer apply due to the early reposting. Of course, one would hope that BMG realizes that pursuing any of these strategies would lead to ridicule and, quite possibly, a court issued rebuke for wasting their time with a bogus copyright claim. Unfortunately, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, when it comes to copyright claims, many copyright holders fail to recognize this kind of likely outcome ahead of time.
Bay Area Drivers Could Be Tracked By GPS, Taxed Per Mile Driven- Bay Area drivers could one day be tracked using a GPS-like device in their cars and taxed per miles driven – a scenario which is part of a proposed long-range study aimed at finding ways to reduce traffic and pollution, while also raising revenues.Members of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments are scheduled to vote on Thursday on whether or not to authorize a study of the proposal. Under the plan, drivers would have to install trackers in their vehicle and officials would tax drivers for every mile they travel.
USDA partnering with Mexico to boost food stamp rolls- The Mexican government has been working with the United States Department of Agriculture to increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.USDA has an agreement with Mexico to promote American food assistance programs, including food stamps, among Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals and migrant communities in America.“USDA and the government of Mexico have entered into a partnership to help educate eligible Mexican nationals living in the United States about available nutrition assistance,” the USDA explains in a brief paragraph on their “Reaching Low-Income Hispanics With Nutrition Assistance” web page. “Mexico will help disseminate this information through its embassy and network of approximately 50 consular offices.”
Ann’s first tweet came just moments after Democratic strategist and DNC adviser Hilary Rosen lobbed an insult at Ann Romney, suggesting that the 64-year-old mother of five and grandmother of 16 had never held a job.
“Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” said Rosen, who was being interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper about the “war on women.”
And then, just like that, a familiar name popped up on Twitter: @AnnDRomney.
“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work,” Ann tweeted.
The Romney campaign confirmed to ABC News that the account belongs to Ann Romney.
The tweet came just as husband Mitt wrapped up a second day of campaigning that all but entirely focused on the “war against women,” packing events with female business leaders and accusing the Obama administration’s economic policies of hurting women.
“I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly. Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a tweet.
Top Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod also tweeted his disapproval: “Also Disappointed in Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. They were inappropriate and offensive.”
The reaction on Twitter from high level politicos was instant and virtually unanimous: Rosen had gone too far.
Rosen’s comment also prompted Ann Romney herself to make her twitter debut.
“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys,” Romney tweeted. “Believe me, it was hard work.”
Rosen, also a CNN political contributor and a working mother, made her comments on CNN’s “AC360.”
“What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country, saying, ‘Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.’ Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” Rosen said.
Hilary Rosen: Ann Romney and Working Moms – My Twitter feed was on fire after an appearance last night on CNN’s AC360, where I said that I thought it was wrong for Mitt Romney to be using his wife as his guide to women’s economic struggles when she “had never worked a day in her life.” Oh my, you should read the tweets and the hate mail I got after that. The accusations were flying. I don’t know what it means to be a mom (I have 2 children). I obviously don’t value the work that a mother does and how hard it is (the hardest job I have ever had); and I absolutely hate anyone who doesn’t have the same views as I do (hate is a strong word).
Spare me the faux anger from the right who view the issue of women’s rights and advancement as a way to score political points. When it comes to supporting policies that would actually help women, their silence has been deafening. I don’t need lectures from the RNC on supporting women and fighting to increase opportunities for women; I’ve been doing it my whole career. If they want to attack me and distract the public’s attention away from their nominee’s woeful record, it just demonstrates how much they just don’t get it.
Why did Reagan give those speeches? Contrary to Obama’s suggestion that he was specifically arguing for a new tax provision aimed at the superwealthy, Reagan was barnstorming the country in an effort to reduce taxes for all Americans, mainly by cutting rates, simplifying the tax system and eliminating tax shelters that allowed some people to avoid paying any taxes at all.
In other words, Reagan was pushing for a tax cut for everyone, not just an increase on a few. (The highest tax bracket at the time was 50 percent.) He even wanted to cut the tax rate on capital gains from 20 percent to 17.5 percent.
This Will Be The Highest Stakes Poker Game In History – A never-before-seen $1 million buy-in tournament at the World Series of Poker this year will generate the richest top prize in poker history at more than $12 million —and potentially more if additional players get in.
Series officials planned to announce Thursday that 30 players are committed to participate in the Big One for One Drop starting July 1 in Las Vegas
Google+ gets major redesign with simpler UI and more customization – Google announced this morning that Google+ is set to receive a massive redesign over the next few days that will make it easier to use and much more intuitive. The company has been innovating quickly with its social network, and this is just another example of their commitment to the platform.
For starters, the main page has seen a complete overhaul. Rather than your tabs bring up top as well as along the side, you’ll get icons along the left panel. These are also customizable, so if you don’t want the Games icon, you can simply move it. There are also quick actions that you can access for each icon by hovering over them.
Posting photos and videos is getting an upgrade as well. Larger content will appear in your Stream now whether you’re sharing it yourself or viewing pictures from your friends. Google is adding a feature that they’re calling ‘cards’, which are streams of conversations that you can join. There will also be an activity drawer to highlight important content.
Great news: Subprime lending escalating again – Hey, who’s up for the hair of the dog that nearly destroyed the American financial system in 2008? The good news is that the sudden increase in subprime lending hasn’t hit the mortgage market yet. The bad news is that it’s hitting just about everywhere else:
But as financial institutions recover from the losses on loans made to troubled borrowers, some of the largest lenders to the less than creditworthy, including Capital One and GM Financial, are trying to woo them back, while HSBC and JPMorgan Chase are among those tiptoeing again into subprime lending.
Credit card lenders gave out 1.1 million new cards to borrowers with damaged credit in December, up 12.3 percent from the same month a year earlier, according to Equifax’s credit trends report released in March. These borrowers accounted for 23 percent of new auto loans in the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 17 percent in the same period of 2009, Experian, a credit scoring firm, said.
Consumer advocates and lawyers worry that the financial institutions are again preying on the most vulnerable and least financially sophisticated borrowers, who are often willing to take out credit at any cost.
These are my links for April 5th through April 6th:
The big March jobs miss — and why the real unemployment rate sure ain’t 8.2% – Swing and a miss. A big miss. A really big miss. U.S. employers added just 120,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. That’s the smallest increase since October. Economists polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm employment to increase by 203,000. And as economist Robert Brusca points out, “The strong amazing run in household jobs came to a crashing halt as employment in that survey fell by 31,000 after rising by 42,000 last month and 847,000 the month before that.”
Then there’s the unemployment rate, which dipped to 8.2% from 8.3% the month before. That extends the longest streak of 8%-plus unemployment since the Great Depression. The U.S. economy hasn’t been below 8% unemployment since Obama took office in January 2009. And back in May 2007, unemployment was just 4.4%. (And keep in mind that average hourly wages are up just 2.1% over past year. But inflation up 2.9% (2.2% core). American workers are losing ground.) As Barclays Capital puts it: “Overall, the report had an undeniably weak tone and will raise doubts about the strength of the labor market. Given that the report reflects only one month of data and some of the underlying cyclical sectors registered payroll gains, we do not view it as conclusively signaling a shift to a lower trend rate of employment growth.”
Bynes black BMW struck the rear right quarter panel of a black and white sheriff’s radio car while trying to pass on the right as the police car attempted a right turn from Robertson Boulevard onto Santa Monica Boulevard, authorities said.
Following an investigation on scene, the 26-year-old actress – known for her roles in the move “What a Girl Wants” and the TV series “What I Like About You” – was then arrested on suspicion of a DUI and was booked on $5,000 bail, authorities said.
Facebook comes in with a 58 percent favorable rating. Upstart Twitter has yet to make a similar impact among technology companies. About a third hold favorable ratings of Twitter, with just as many unfavorable ratings and holding no opinion of the company.
Google, the eponymous search engine company that just released a video about “Google Goggles,” is in a particularly enviable position. More than half — 53 percent — have strongly favorable ratings of the company. Just 9 percent feel unfavorably.
Apple, the world’s most valuable company, is considerably lower than Google on the intensity scale, with 37 percent having “strongly favorable” impressions.
TAPPER: And that’s not comparable to what Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke?
MAHER: To compare that to Rush is ridiculous – he went after a
civilian about very specific behavior, that was a lie, speaking for a
party that has systematically gone after women’s rights all year, on
the public airwaves. I used a rude word about a public figure who
gives as good as she gets, who’s called people “terrorist” and
“unAmerican.” Sarah Barracuda. The First Amendment was specifically
designed for citizens to insult politicians. Libel laws were written
to protect law students speaking out on political issues from getting
called whores by Oxycontin addicts.
TAPPER: What about all the clips of you saying rather “edgy” things –
offensive to many people, no doubt – from your show on HBO, “Real
MAHER: Of course if you take out of context over 10 years snippets
inside comedy bits you can make anyone look bad – and sometimes, I
have been! Not perfect, but not misogyny. In general, this is an
obvious right wing attempt to dredge up some old shit about me to
deflect from their self-inflicted problems. They are the kings of
And through it all, I have defended Rush’s right to stay on the air!
Not what he said, that was disgusting – but the right to not disappear
because people who don’t even listen to you don’t like what you said.
That really bothers me. I never hear Rush Limbaugh unless a guy in the
next truck at a stop light has it on; it would be arrogant for me to
say “he has to disappear” and deprive the people who do listen to him
of what they like. We all have different tastes and different
opinions, that’s America.
Why Ron Paul May Cut a Deal With Mitt Romney – For Ron Paul, victory is finally in sight. No, not a swearing-in ceremony next January 20, or even a single statewide win. Halfway through the primary season, Paul has won only a preference poll in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and he is running dead last in delegates among the four GOP candidates for President. He has spent a lot, if not always wisely: the $31.55 he has dropped per vote (more than even Mitt Romney) is a sum that might shock even a Democrat.
But winning the presidency was never Paul’s foremost goal, and as he nears the end of his last presidential crusade, he has one more chance to promote his ideas. The Republican race is a muddled mess. Even after his southern losses, only Romney has a real shot at amassing the 1,144 delegates required to wrap up the nomination, and he would then face the task of unifying the GOP’s warring factions. Which is why Paul’s campaign has sent discreet signals to Camp Romney that the keys to Paul’s shop can be had for the right price.
They include Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, media mogul Fred Eychaner, Pfizer executive Sally Susman, Stoneyfield Farms president and CEO Gary Hirschberg, and Microsoft executives Suzi Levine and John Frank. Several have each raised more than half a million dollars for 2012, according to estimates provided by Obama’s campaign.
His writings showed clearly that the latter was the path he chose. His previous writings had been those of a sensible man saying sensible things about civil rights issues that he understood from his years of experience as an attorney. But now he wrote all sorts of incoherent speculations and pronouncements, the main drift of which was that white people were the cause of black people’s problems.
Bell even said that he took it as his mission to say things to annoy white people. Perhaps he thought that was better than being insignificant in his academic setting. But it was in fact far worse, because the real damage was to impressionable young blacks who took him seriously, including one who went on to become President of the United States.
The Tea Party has drowned – The Tea Party is over. In the way of parties that end, there are still people around. Those who remain search for a return of the old energy and make unconvincing demonstrations of people having a good time. But the central focus, the excitement, the purpose of the thing is dissipating. That is because the bad stuff that its members and boosters put out — lies, slanders, paranoia, ignorance — is losing what grip it had over the minds of people with minds. What’s left, though, is something else, which will not go away: the identification of moral choices blurred and contemporary indifferences ignored.
GRAPH: The escalating cost of Obamacare – So I’ve created the updated graph below. Notice how low the numbers are in the 2010 to 2013 time period and how they quickly soar. All the spending to the right of the black line wasn’t reflected in the CBO’s estimate for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) at the time of passage.