These are my links for January 23rd through January 24th:
Feinstein, Conn. Senators Set To Propose Assault Weapons Ban – Connecticut’s two U.S. senators are joining forces with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other key senators, proposing a retooled federal ban on assault weapons in the wake of the deadly Newtown school shooting.Sen. Richard Blumenthal told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the proposed legislation, to be unveiled Thursday in Washington, D.C., will more narrowly define what’s considered an assault weapon under a resurrected ban. The bill, he said, will also prohibit high-capacity magazines, limiting them to a capacity of up to nine rounds of ammunition.Blumenthal said the legislation is “one of the most significant” bills to be introduced following the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It also marks the first bill that Blumenthal and Sen. Chris Murphy have worked on together as senators.
Why Democrats Should Fear Filibuster Reform – The latest word out of the Senate is that if Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t accede to changes in the filibuster rules over the next few days, Harry Reid will invoke the so-called “nuclear option” and change the rules with 51 votes. The most likely outcome would be outlawing the filibuster on motions to proceed, thereby forcing senators to take to the floor to filibuster bills, “Mr. Smith”-style.This move, and the overwhelming progressive enthusiam for it, are head-scratchers. Over the short-to-medium term (and no one can really see beyond that), the filibuster probably helps the Democrats more than it helps the Republicans. Before going any further, let me make clear that the following argument is couched purely in terms of political advantage and ability to move the agenda. I think there’s a lot to be said for what we might call the small-“c” conservative arguments for the filibuster: requiring 60 votes creates the need for some sort of consensus before legislation moves through, and the chances of a destabilizing period of time where parties trade majorities and implement wildly divergent agendas willy-nilly are greatly diminished. In that sense, the filibuster helps the entire country, and both parties should be pleased with it.
Whole Foods’ CEO Mackey Is Right — ObamaCare Is Like Fascism – In 2009, when Whole Foods CEO John Mackey in a Wall Street Journal op-ed compared the health care “public option” then under consideration by Congress to socialism — a nationalized economic system wherein the government owns the means of production — hardly anyone batted an eyelash.Sure, at the time, the left-wing site Daily Kos called for a boycott. And a Facebook group at the time managed to find a couple hundred users angry about the characterization. Whole Foods set up a special forum for customers to express their views on the op-ed.But it was hardly the response Whole Foods got when on Jan. 16 in an NPR interview, Mackey was asked a follow-up question on what he thought about the current law.After all, the “public option” was never adopted. What came afterward, now known in popular vernacular as ObamaCare, was a mishmash of mandates, regulations and price controls — but fell short of an outright nationalization of the insurance industry.
That was when Mackey used the F-word. No, not that one. The other one.
If you want bigger government, you need to side with big business – The media too often see Washington battles as Big Business vs Big Government. This is usually not the case. Often it’s Big Business & Big Government vs. Small Business.Brookings scholar and Clinton, Gore, Mondale advisor William Galston wrote a piece today telling liberals that they need to side with Big Business over small business if they really want to increase the government’s role in the economy. Writing in The New Republic, Galston writes:The Obama administration will need to recognize the fervent opposition of small businesses to its priorities, while taking advantage of large corporations’ willingness to cooperate.Galston is exactly correct about the alignment of interests. Big Business tends to do well when government intervenes. Small business dies.
GOP Plots Path Back to Powers – With President Obama’s second inauguration still ringing in their ears, Republican national party leaders are hunkering down for three days of soul-searching.The presidential election was the toughest, but not the last indignity. Congressional Republicans were backed into a corner during the negotiations to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff and forced to accept tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans. Still seeking leverage, GOP leaders are backing off a showdown over the debt ceiling. At Monday’s swearing-in, President Obama stuck it to the opposition party by laying out an unapologetically liberal agenda for the next four years.The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll pegged the Republican Party’s unfavorable rating at 49%, its highest point since 2008. The most obvious hurdle will be improving the party’s image among minorities, women and young voters, who comprise a growing share of the electorate and rejected Republican nominee Mitt Romney as out of date and out of touch.
Rush Limbaugh was right about Obama – There should have been something for everyone in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address. For liberals, a full-throated call to arms. For conservatives, vindication.Obama settled once and for all the debate over his place on the political spectrum and his political designs. He’s an unabashed liberal determined to shift our politics and our country irrevocably to the left. In other words, Obama’s foes — if you put aside the birthers and sundry other lunatics — always had him pegged correctly.
Continue ReadingIf you listened to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, you got a better appreciation of Obama’s core than by reading the president’s friends and sophisticated interpreters, for whom he was either a moderate or a puzzle yet to be fully worked out.
The GOP Gets Fiscally Tough – House Republicans appear to have gotten some of their mojo back. GOP leaders say they will insist that automatic spending cuts (the “sequester”) scheduled to begin on March 1 will be made and that the House will adopt a budget resolution that would lead to a balanced budget within ten years without raising any more taxes. Just a few months ago, they were singing a different, less fiscally tough tune.On Wednesday, the House suspended the limit on the nation’s debt ceiling. That gives Republican lawmakers nearly four months to sort out what they will demand in exchange for raising it and puts that potentially market-spooking debate off until after budget battles over the scheduled sequester cuts and the expiration on March 27 of a continuing resolution to fund the government. Republicans view the political terrain on those issues as more favorable than that of any confrontation with President Obama and Harry Reid’s Senate over further spending cuts.
John Boehner: Obama wants to ‘annihilate’ GOP – President Barack Obama is aiming to “annihilate” the GOP during the president’s second term, House Speaker John Boehner says.“And given what we heard yesterday about the President’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans,” Boehner (R-Ohio) said at a gathering of the Republican-oriented Ripon Society on Tuesday, a day after President Barack Obama’s second Inaugural address. “So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this Administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal — to just shove us into the dustbin of history.”
Panetta to lift ban on women in combat – Women in all branches of the military soon will have unprecedented opportunities to serve on the front lines of the nation’s wars.Leon Panetta, in one of his last acts as President Obama’s defense secretary, is preparing to announce the policy change, which would open hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta’s decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.
Why Benghazi Hasn’t Brought Down Hillary Clinton–and Won’t – It’s not that Clinton is blameless for the Benghazi disaster. The attack in Libya cost the lives of four Americans, including a beloved ambassador. It wrecked the aspirations of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who withdrew from consideration as secretary of State. It probably wrecked the aspirations of the president, who seemed like he wanted to nominate Rice. But even if it was Clinton’s State Department that was unprepared, the word “Benghazi” is unlikely to chase the 65-year-old into her next life of books, high-end speeches, public service, needed rest, grandmotherhood (should she be so lucky), and perhaps another run for president.Why is Hillary so invincible now? She prevailed on Benghazi by having taken so many bullets that she became bulletproof, like her husband. At a certain point you’re like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, just letting them bounce off you. Perhaps if Clinton wasn’t on her way out of office, the debacle might have damaged her more. She’s also mastered the art of damage control.
Will the Democratic Party survive Obama? – Republicans currently control the governors mansion and legislatures of 25 states representing 53 percent of the American population. The Democratic Party enjoys similar control of just 13 states representing just 27 percent of the population. With Obama out of the picture, it is hard to see how Democrats can add to those numbers.
Sen. Durbin: Democrats lack votes to pass talking filibuster reform – Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), a leading liberal, said Wednesday Democrats do not have enough votes to implement the talking-filibuster reform.He said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has suggested a package of more modest reforms to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). They include proposals to eliminate filibusters on motions to proceed to new business and to speed the process for sending legislation to conference negotiations with the House.
These are my links for November 19th through November 20th:
California, Home of the Destitute– Today, California is the most spectacular failure of our time. Its government is broke. Productive citizens have been fleeing for some years now, selling their homes at inflated prices (until recently) and moving to Colorado, Arizona, Texas and even Minnesota, like one of my neighbors. The results of California’s improvident liberalism have been tragically easy to predict: absurd public sector wage and benefit packages, a declining tax base, surging welfare enrollment, falling economic production, ever-increasing deficits. Soon, California politicians will be looking to less glamorous states for bailout money. Things have now devolved to the point where California leads the nation in poverty:The Golden State’s poverty rate is a whopping 23.5 percent – higher than the District of Columbia, at 23.2 percent, and even Florida, and 19.5 percent.This is based on the federal government’s new poverty measure, and California suffered a bit because of its high cost of living, but that is a minor point–by any measure, California is number one in destitution. The cause is obvious: liberal Democrats have held unimpeded sway in California, just as they have in Detroit, Illinois, Miami, the District, and so on. Everywhere, the results have been similar. Where liberal policies are implemented, productive citizens fade away and poverty follows.
Cows Flee California Seeking a Better Economic Climate– It’s not just millionaires and billionaires who are fleeing the economic madness in California. Even cows are starting to depart for greener pastures. That’s right, 400 bovine refugees shuffled off to Kansas just this month, with more expected to follow as over 100 dairy farms in California close their doors.Why are cows voting with their hooves?
Opinion: President Obama won, but Obamacare didn’t – Carrie Lukas – POLITICO.com– During the campaign, President Barack Obama minimized discussion of his first term’s most consequential new law: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or what’s commonly referred to as Obamacare.That was no accident. Undoubtedly, the campaign knew that Obamacare is, as it always has been, deeply unpopular with the American people. In fact, Obamacare epitomizes the public’s greatest concerns about this administration: the massive expansion of government and failure to deliver a new era of post-partisanship to Washington, since the law was jammed through using a party line vote and every available legislative trick. Bringing up health care risked stirring the passions that fueled the tea party’s rise and the Democrats’ defeat in 2010.Yet, research conducted by the polling company, inc./WomanTrend for Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) shows that health care was an important concern for Americans on Election Day. The president was reelected in spite of voters’ lingering distaste for Obamacare, and the health care issue will remain a critical issue for voters moving forward.Just a quarter, or 26 percent of those surveyed by the polling company on Election Day supported implementing Obamacare completely. Even less than half (48 percent) of self-identified Democrats want full implementation, suggesting that the health care law remains a liability, even within the president’s party.Forty-three percent of voters surveyed want Congress to either “just repeal the law” (30 percent) or move toward repeal, while pursuing other measures – including defunding, amending, and blocking – to prevent its implementation (13 percent). Another quarter (23 percent) favor amending the law, rather than full repeal.
Report: Paula Broadwell’s threat to Jill Kelley – Paula Broadwell allegedly threatened to make Jill Kelley “go away,” the New York Daily News reported Tuesday, in the latest twist in a sex scandal that has ensnared top U.S. national security officials.
Broadwell, the ex-mistress of retired Gen. David Petraeus — who stepped down from his post as head of the CIA over his extramarital affair with her — allegedly sent threatening emails to Kelley, a Tampa socialite who is reportedly a friend of Petraeus’s.
Oklahoma is latest to reject state-based health exchange– Add Oklahoma to the list of Republican-led states that won’t implement the key feature of President Obama’s healthcare law.Gov. Mary Fallin said Monday that she won’t set up a state-based insurance exchange — a new portal where people who don’t get insurance through their employers can shop for coverage, often with help from a federal subsidy.”It does not benefit Oklahoma taxpayers to actively support and fund a new government program that will ultimately be under the control of the federal government, that is opposed by a clear majority of Oklahomans, and that will further the implementation of a law that threatens to erode both the quality of American healthcare and the fiscal stability of the nation,” Fallin said in a statement.Republican governors are under pressure from conservatives not to set up their own exchanges. It’s seen as the best chance to stand in the way of the Affordable Care Act now that Obama’s reelection has protected the law from legislative repeal.
4 California men allegedly supported Taliban– Jihadist social media postings helped lead to the arrest and charging of four Los Angeles area men, who were allegedly on their way to Afghanistan to train with the Taliban and join al Qaeda, federal officials said.They were also plotting to kill American soldiers and bomb government installations, according to a joint statement Monday by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles.One of the men, a U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, encouraged two of the others to embrace violent Islamic doctrine by introducing them online to radical teachings, including those of deceased U.S.-born al-Qaeda imam Anwar al-Awlaki.The three exposed their connection to each other and their radical leanings explicitly on Facebook for over a year. And one of them detailed his intentions to participate in jihad in an online chat with an FBI employee.Another man was recruited at a later point to join the other three in their training.
Tax loopholes alone can’t solve fiscal cliff– Raise revenues and reform the Tax Code? Easy — just eliminate all the tax loopholes, right?Good luck with that.“Eliminating loopholes” sounds a lot better than “raising rates”: The tax rate is what I pay, and a loophole is what the other guy gets.But the biggest loopholes in the U.S. Tax Code — generally referred to as tax expenditures — aren’t just the tricks of the trade for millionaires with offshore bank accounts. For the vast majority of Americans, they’re just how things work: You don’t pay taxes on your health insurance or Medicare benefits; you contribute tax-free to your 401(k); and your mortgage interest pushes down your tax bill each year.And even if you dump the biggest of the set, these tax perks don’t even come close to closing the deficit. At best, the top 10 would pull in an extra $834 billion a year, according to Joint Committee on Taxation figures. Considering the hole lawmakers are trying to fill is several trillion dollars large, it’s clear they wouldn’t even come close
Red-State Senate Democrats May Be Hard to Corral on Cliff– Senate Democrats, optimistic about prospects for a deficit-reduction deal, may have to contend with wariness from seven members who face 2014 re-election campaigns in states Mitt Romney won Nov. 6.Some of those seven Democrats, including North Carolina’s Kay Hagan and Louisiana ’s Mary Landrieu, say they aren’t ready to commit to President Barack Obama’s proposals for boosting tax revenue. Instead, Hagan isn’t ruling out support for extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for top earners. Landrieu said she opposes eliminating tax breaks for oil companies.Possible Democratic defections heighten the need for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to woo Republican support for a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff — $607 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to begin taking effect in January. Lame-duck Republican Senators Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Richard Lugar of Indiana are potential candidates.
Portman and Cruz plan to focus on fundraising, recruitment for NRSC– The new vice chairmen of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) have unusually specific tasks heading into 2014: fundraising and recruitment.Both elements are crucial to a successful election cycle, and the early, precise focus by newly elected Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) demonstrates a shake-up in committee structure meant to avoid the losses that plagued Republicans in 2012.Moran has tasked Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (R-Texas) with grassroots and Hispanic outreach. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has been given the goal of energizing donors fatigued from an election in which they saw a disappointing return on their investments.The trio has met at least twice since the announcement of new NRSC leadership last Wednesday, and a senior Moran aide said the three will continue to meet and discuss plans for 2014 over the phone until they all return to the Senate in January.
Boehner tightens grip on GOP rank and file ahead of deficit talks– Speaker John Boehner is tightening his grip on the House Republican Conference weeks before an anticipated vote on a deficit deal.The Ohio Republican has smoothed over differences with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), expanded his powers on the panel that doles out plum committee assignments, shot down a challenge to his earmark moratorium and worked behind the scenes to ensure that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) would win her leadership contest.All of Boehner’s moves are aimed at shoring up his influence over the GOP conference, which in turn maximizes the Speaker’s leverage with President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Is Rush Limbaugh’s Country Gone?– William Bennett, conservative stalwart, television commentator and secretary of education under President Reagan, complained on the CNN Web site that Democrats have been successful in settingthe parameters and focus of the national and political dialogue as predominantly about gender, race, ethnicity and class. This is the paradigm, the template through which many Americans, probably a majority, more or less view the world, our country, and the election. It is a divisive strategy and Democrats have targeted and exploited those divides. How else can we explain that more young people now favor socialism to capitalism?In fact, the 2011 Pew Research Center poll Bennett cites demonstrates that in many respects conservatives are right to be worried:Not only does a plurality (49-43) of young people hold a favorable view of socialism — and, by a tiny margin (47-46), a negative view of capitalism — so do liberal Democrats, who view socialism positively by a solid 59-33; and African Americans, 55-36. Hispanics are modestly opposed, 49-44, to socialism, but they hold decisively negative attitudes toward capitalism, 55-32.
The GOP Consultant Class Blames Me– RUSH: Couple of sound bites. First, Mike Murphy. He is a Republican consultant. He was on Meet the Press yesterday, and among other things, he said this.MURPHY: The biggest problem that Romney had was the Republican primary. That’s what’s driving the Republican brand right now to a disaster, and we’ve got to get, kind of, a party view of America that’s not right out of Rush Limbaugh’s dream journal.RUSH: You gotta get a view of the Republican Party that is not right out of my dream journal. What, folks, did I or any of you have to do with the Republican primary? Did not Murphy get the candidate he wanted? All these consultants, do you realize they get rich no matter who wins or loses? Little-known secret. They get rich no matter who wins or loses. But the Republican primary, as far as he’s concerned there were too many conservatives in it saying too many stupid things.We need to get rid of conservatism, is what is he’s saying. We need to get rid of all these people shouting stupid conservative stuff, and that’s where it happened at the primary, and that’s where Romney lost the election because of all the conservatives branding the party. Romney was not able to recover from that. Steve Schmidt. He’s back. He can’t let go of me. This is University of Delaware panel discussion last Wednesday.
Hostess mediation: Judge delays hearing to allow Hostess, unions to work out issues– Hostess Brands Inc. agreed in court on Monday to enter private mediation with its lenders and leaders of a striking union to try to avert the liquidation of the maker of Twinkies snack cakes and Wonder Bread.Hostess, its lenders and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) agreed to mediation at the urging of Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain of the Southern District of New York, who advised against a more expensive, public hearing regarding the company’s liquidation.”My desire to do this is prompted primarily by the potential loss of over 18,000 jobs as well as my belief that there is a possibility to resolve this matter,” Drain said.The 82-year-old Hostess was seeking permission to liquidate its business, claiming that its operations have been crippled by a bakers strike and that winding down is the best way to preserve its dwindling cash.
California officials release results of first cap-and-trade auction– The California Air Resources Board today released the results of the state’s inaugural cap-and-trade auction.The auction took place on Wednesday.Cap-and-trade is a system designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California. Under the system, businesses including refineries, power plants and large factories will be capped at 90 percent of current emissions. Those businesses must then buy credits at auction or on the open market in order to be allowed to continue to produce at current levels.Businesses could also meet their regulatory burdens by lowering emissions.Cap-and-trade goes into effect in 2013.The newly-released report on the auction shows businesses purchased all 23.1 million emissions credits that were up for bid.
The settlement price for accepted bids in the auction was $10.09.
CARB has estimated that a $10 price for emissions allowances could add 10 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline.
Another Victory for Challengers of HHS Mandate – The HHS contraceptive mandate suffered another loss last Friday—its third loss in the four decisions that have addressed the merits of the claim that the HHS mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In a thorough opinion in Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, Judge Reggie B. Walton of the federal district court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction that bars the federal government from penalizing a publishing house for its religiously based refusal to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives that also operate as abortifacients.
Exercise Gains Momentum as Psychiatric Treatment– The benefits of exercise in nearly every aspect of physical health are well known, but evidence in recent years suggests a unique effect on some psychiatric disorders, prompting mental health clinicians to rethink treatment strategies and to consider the possibility of exercise not just in therapy but as therapy.”Above and beyond the standard benefits of exercise in healthy living and general well-being, there is strong evidence demonstrating the ability of exercise to in fact treat mental illness and have significant benefits on a neurotrophic, neurobiologic basis,” Douglas Noordsy, MD, told delegates attending Psych Congress 2012: US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress.Some of the strongest evidence is seen in depression, where psychiatric benefits from exercise have been shown in some cases to match those achieved with pharmacologic interventions and to persist to prevent remission in the long term.
Asian American voters go heavily for Obama in California– Latino voters are credited with helping swing the vote for Barack Obama, but the rapidly growing Asian American electorate supported the incumbent by an even broader margin. According to Edison Research’s exit polls, 73 percent of Asian Americans nationwide voted for Obama, while 71 percent of Latinos did so. In California, 79 percent of Asian Americans favored Obama.In 1992, 31 percent of Asian Americans preferred the Democratic nominee, but that number has grown in each subsequent election since. The Asian American population, meanwhile, has increased 32 percent over the past decade alone.While they represented just 3.4 percent of the national vote, Asian Americans accounted for 11 percent of the California vote, according to Edison Research. Voter registration tallies show Orange County Asian American voters running nearly 5 points greater than the statewide share, according to Political Data.By 2050, Asian Americans will account for 10 percent of the nation’s voters and at least 20 percent of the state’s voters, according to Taeku Lee, a UC Berkeley political scientist and co-author of the National Asian American Survey.
Orlando Health eliminates 400 jobs through layoffs and attrition– For the first time in its nearly 100-year history, Orlando Health is reducing its workforce by up to 400 positions starting immediately, hospital officials announced this morning.The elimination of 300 to 400 jobs will occur in two phases, and represents a 2- to 3-percent decrease in the system’s 16,000 employees, said Orlando Health spokeswoman Kena Lewis. The reductions affect all departments and all eight of its hospitals, including Orlando Regional Medical Center and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.The first wave of employees affected by the “labor expense reduction” portion of the initiative received their notices Friday, said Lewis. The next wave of downsizing will happen after the first of the year.
McClintock: Election will bring pain to CA– Abraham Lincoln said that if the voters get their backsides too close to the fire, they’ll just have to sit on the blisters for a while. After the Nov. 6 election, Californians have some very nasty blisters to sit on.However, after pain, enlightenment usually comes. If not, California pharmacies will be selling out of salve.
Austin company creates app that helped Obama campaign– Political experts say the just-completed presidential race involved more spending by both sides on information technology than ever before.Some of that spending was on applications for mobile devices as a way to reach out to both supporters and volunteers.That is why a small Austin digital design firm, Thirteen23, found itself working furiously from May through July to create the app the Obama campaign wanted.The Obama campaign had worked with Square Inc., a mobile payments company, on an app that could let supporters contribute to the campaign over their smartphones. When the campaign wanted a bigger, more elaborate app, Square referred them to Thirteen23, which it had previously done work with.The 11-person Austin firm hadn’t done political projects before, but executive director Doug Cook said it liked the challenge of creating a vital two-way online communication link between the campaign and its supporters and volunteers.While some campaigns had already used smartphone apps to push out information to supporters, this application was seen as something far more complex.
“We said, if we are going to build an app, lets make tools that make people effective. Lets give volunteers tools that they can use,” said Ryan Hovenweep, the firm’s creative director.
The app would provide localized information about campaign events to supporters. But it also gave volunteer workers the tools to canvass potential voters house to house and to report back their findings to the campaign’s computers.
“With a smartphone in hand, you can go talk to people and get information,” Hovenweep said. “With the app, they are immediately taking the information from the ground and putting it back into the campaign database.”
With a tight deadline and the order to create an useful, complex app for volunteers, the company threw itself into the project in May and delivered software to the Obama campaign in July. The Obama campaign released the first version of software, for iPhone users, at the end of July. The Android version was delivered a few weeks later.
Comments Off on The Morning Flap: November 20, 2012
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.
These are my links for March 12th through March 13th:
Protests, attacks hit Afghanistan in wake of massacre – Thousands of people took to the streets in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday to protest the killing of 16 civilians by a U.S. soldier, burning an effigy of Barack Obama and calling for the killer to be tried in Afghanistan.
Demonstrators in the city of Jalalabad chanted “Death to America — Death to Obama” and blocked the main highway to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported.
“Jihad (holy war) is the only way to get the invading Americans out of Afghanistan,” one banner read, according to the newspaper.
Specter also claims that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did not uphold his promise to grant him seniority accrued over 28 years of service in the Senate as a Republican.
California’s Greek Tragedy – WSJ.com – Long a harbinger of national trends and an incubator of innovation, cash-strapped California eagerly awaits a temporary revenue surge from Facebook IPO stock options and capital gains. Meanwhile, Stockton may soon become the state’s largest city to go bust. Call it the agony and ecstasy of contemporary California.
California’s rising standards of living and outstanding public schools and universities once attracted millions seeking upward economic mobility. But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California’s population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.
California’s economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. The unemployment rate, at 10.9%, is higher than every other state except Nevada and Rhode Island. With 12% of America’s population, California has one third of the nation’s welfare recipients.
The words come from Bill Maher. The HBO comedian was tweeting his disapproval of the campaign to deprive Rush Limbaugh of his sponsors. Especially distressing for Mr. Maher is that the campaign continues even though Mr. Limbaugh has apologized for his rude remarks about the Georgetown Law student who had testified before Congress on behalf of the contraceptive mandate.
Mr. Maher’s “defense,” of course, may have more to do with self-defense. For in the midst of the ritual denunciations of Mr. Limbaugh, it has emerged that liberals—Mr. Maher included—have long called conservative women things far more vulgar. That has led to embarrassing explanations of why Mr. Maher gets a pass, and whether the super PAC backing President Obama should return the million dollars that Mr. Maher has donated.
Republican Donors in Limbo – The extended Republican presidential primary has left many GOP donors paralyzed — unsure of whether to invest in the upcoming battle against President Barack Obama or focus on Congressional races.
Party insiders increasingly believe that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will win the nomination, a development that would likely open the donor spigot for the general election. But a victory by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) or ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) would probably have the opposite effect. A GOP money machine skeptical of the party’s White House prospects would likely spend instead on House and Senate races as the best hope for a November gain.
Red meat is blamed for one in 10 early deaths – Small quantities of processed meat such as bacon, sausages or salami can increase the likelihood of dying by a fifth, researchers from Harvard School of Medicine found. Eating steak increases the risk of dying by 12%.
The study found that cutting the amount of red meat in peoples’ diets to 1.5 ounces (42 grams) a day, equivalent to one large steak a week, could prevent almost one in 10 early deaths in men and one in 13 in women.
The scientists said that the government’s current advice that people should eat no more than 2.5 ounces (70 grams) a day, around around the level the average Briton already consumes, was “generous”.
Dr Frank Hu, co-author of the study, said: “Given the growing evidence that even modest amounts of red meat is associated with increased risk of chronic disease and premature death, 2.5 ounces (70 grams) per day seems generous. The bottom line is that we should make red meat only an occassional rather than regular part of our diet.”
Red meat often contains high amounts of saturated fat, while bacon and salami contain large amounts of salt. Replacing red meat with poultry, fish or vegetables, whole grains and other healthy foods cut the risk of dying by up to one fifth, the study found.
Steve Schmidt: Putting Palin on the ticket taught me there are worse things than losing – Via Mediaite, Exhibit A in why John Podhoretz’s review of “Game Change” is titled “Back Stab.” Actually, scratch that; this is Exhibit Z. Schmidt’s getting more attention for it now because the movie’s getting attention but he’s been dumping on Palin publicly for more than two years and privately for who knows how long. (Leaks from unnamed staffers began less than a week after election day and Palin allies inside the campaign warned weeks earlier that they were coming.) This is his job now, I think — doing sporadic cable-news cameos as some sort of RINO Dr. Frankenstein who created a grassroots monster and has to atone by killing it. Michael Goldfarb, who left the Weekly Standard to join the McCain campaign’s communications team, has had enough:
Back Stab – Sarah Palin as portrayed by her disloyal staff. – Nicolle Wallace was the onetime consultant to CBS News and media aide to George W. Bush who was assigned to work with Sarah Palin after the Alaska governor was chosen as John McCain’s running mate. It was Wallace who assured the McCain campaign that her dear friend Katie Couric, a committed liberal with a history of interviewing Republicans and conservatives in a quietly nasty way, was the right journalist to conduct a major early interview with the extremely conservative vice-presidential nominee.
Palin has only herself to blame for how horribly she came off, but as she was the most hotly sought-after interview in the world at the time, the McCain campaign could have picked and chosen and been cleverly calculating about which journalist would win the prize. Wallace was responsible for one of the great blunders in political advance work of modern media history.
Now, imagine you’re making a movie about the Palin story, one that demonstrates a modicum of sympathy for Sarah Palin’s excoriation at the hands of the media. (I know, I’m talking crazy, but go with me here.) In such a movie, Nicolle Wallace’s catastrophic guidance could have been portrayed in several ways. It could have been played as a simple goof, a wrongheaded political calculation. Or as an example of a kind of golly-gee naïveté, with Wallace being snowed by a seductive Couric. Or as a careerist move killing two birds with one stone, with Wallace seeking to stay in the good graces of her former colleague Couric despite several years of working for Republicans.
Other loyal McCain staffers I’ve spoken to have had the same reaction. While a few senior aides from the McCain campaign collaborated with the authors of Game Change and painted a picture of John McCain and Sarah Palin as so craven or ill-informed or incompetent that no handler could have gotten them elected, the reality is that John McCain was the better man and would have made a better president.
We lost that campaign partly because of events beyond our control, and partly as a result of bad counsel given by the same people who are apparently so flatteringly portrayed in this movie. John McCain deserved better than to be betrayed by his own top aides, and true to form he has honorably stuck by Gov. Palin even as she’s been smeared in the press over and over again by the same self-serving former staffers. I only hope that the Romney campaign takes notice of what’s happened here.
Halperin and Heilemann have gotten a $5 million contract to do the same thing to Romney that they did to McCain, and they will no doubt be looking for Romney aides the same way a con artist searches for his mark – seeking the emotionally vulnerable, the weak, the insecure, the ones who value the approval of MSNBC analysts more than the respect of their own campaign staff. Unfortunately, every Republican campaign has them – and given the opportunity Halperin and Heilemann are certain to reoffend.
Center-right leaders, Bush alums form religious conscience group – A collection of prominent center-right leaders, including multiple top Bush administration officials, have founded a new advocacy group to advocate for measures exempting religious organizations from federal rules governing contraception coverage, POLITICO has learned.
Among those involved in planning the group are former presidential adviser Mary Matalin, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, former RNC Chairman and Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, former Rep. Bill Paxon, former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn and New York Rabbi Meir Yaakov Soloveichik.
Their 501(c)4 organization, Conscience Cause, is aimed at “stopping the implementation of a Department of Health and Human Services regulation which would compel people and organizations to pay for drugs and services that violate their faith,” according to a statement shared with POLITICO.
Both Nicholson and Flynn are former ambassadors to the Vatican; Flynn is the lone Democrat in the group, though he has endorsed Mitt Romney for president.
The Ventura County Community College District board is set to vote on the letter Tuesday..
“We’re trying to specifically respond to their concerns, to show them what we’re doing,” said board President Stephen Blum. “We realize we can’t just tell them what we’re going to do. We have to do what we say we’re going to do. I see this as one of our first steps.”
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges put the three campuses on probation last month, citing problems on the board. The commission noted one trustee’s “disruptive and inappropriate behavior.” Although he is not named in the letter, that trustee is Art Hernandez, who represents Oxnard.
Gawker more acceptable than conservative talk radio for advertisers? – Given all the attacks on advertisers who advertise on the Rush Limbaugh show or other conservative talk radio shows, one has to wonder why the companies below — who are highlighted on Gawker Media’s advertising page — do not apply such standards of civility and civil discourse to Gawker Media?
Of particular interest was Ford Motor Company, which was included in a list of companies which allegedly had instructed Premier Networks not to run its ads on conservative talk radio for fear of controversy. I have e-mailed Ford both to confirm it will not advertise on conservative talk radio and that it advertises on Gawker Media sites, but have not heard back.
At the end of the day, the point is not that advertisers should quite Gawker, it’s that there is a complete double standard. Sexualized, unapologetic attacks on conservative women simply are part of the accepted landscape.
Chiang, who manages the state’s cash, said the shortfall was likely due to a spike in tax refunds going out earlier than expected in February. Income tax receipts were 5.7 percent, or $99.9 million, below the Department of Finance’s projection.
Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers are anxiously awaiting tax receipts from March and April, two significant revenue months as taxpayers file their returns. The Democratic governor has proposed a budget to close a $9.2 billion deficit, but the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has suggested that Brown’s estimates are overly optimistic and that the deficit is likely higher than that figure.
Though lawmakers have begun to review Brown’s budget in committee, they do not plan to take significant steps on the plan until late spring, closer to the June 15 deadline. Democratic leaders have said they want to see what tax revenues will be like in March and April before deciding how much to cut and where.
The infographic below, created by Online MBA, breaks down the demographics, including education level, income, age and gender of social media users, along with other miscellaneous facts.
Some sites’ users are more demographically alike than others. One thing is the same for most social sites — college students, or those who have completed some college, represent the majority on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Digg and Reddit. Among Facebook users, 57% have completed some college, and 24% have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Although, people 45 and older make up 46% of Facebook users.
Social media sites are also seeing a gender split — women use social media more than men. More women are on Facebook and Twitter. About 57% of Facebook and 59% of Twitter users are women.
Women gravitate toward Pinterest and young, techie men hang out on Google+. Pinterest has the heaviest gender imbalance — 82% of users are women, who pin crafts, gift ideas, hobbies, interior design and fashion. On the other spectrum, Google+ is dominated by men (71%) and early adopters, engineers and developers. About 50% of Google+ users are 24 or younger.
LinkedIn reports an even ratio of men and women — 49% over age 45 — who use the site to connect with other business professionals.
Most people use social media to stay in touch with friends and family, and more are doing so while on the go. About 200 million Facebook users check their Timelines from their mobile devices every day.
Justice Dept opposes Texas voter ID law – The Justice Department’s civil rights division on Monday objected to a new photo ID requirement for voters in Texas because many Hispanic voters lack state-issued identification.
Texas is the second state in recent months to become embroiled in a court battle with the Justice Department over photo ID requirements for voters.
The Justice Department said Texas officials failed to show that the newly enacted law has neither a discriminatory purpose nor effect.
The department had been reviewing the law since last year and discussing the matter with state officials. In January, Texas officials sued U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, seeking a court judgment that the state’s recently enacted voter ID law was not discriminatory in purpose or effect.
These are my links for March 8th through March 9th:
Limbaugh attack boomerangs on the White House – Perhaps the left carried on a little too long and a little too loudly regarding Rush Limbaugh’s nasty language about Sandra Fluke. Conservative activist Penny Nance, executive director of Concerned Women for America, has sent a letter to the White House chief of staff demanding President Obama’s super PAC live up to the same standard Democrats have articulated for Republicans and Rush Limbaugh.
Apple at center of e-book price-fixing allegations – The Justice Department has threatened to sue Apple and major publishers in a high-profile case that could reshape the digital-books market, driving down prices but also potentially shifting market power from publishers to e-commerce giant Amazon.
The government warned Apple and five major book companies that it intends to file a lawsuit accusing them of colluding to boost the prices of e-books, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources. Several of the publishers are already in talks to settle the matter, although those discussions appear to be at an early and uncertain stage, the Journal reported.
The publishers in question include Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan and HarperCollins Publishers.
Now Limbaugh is returning the favor – and the split between the Sacramento retailer and the controversial radio host appears to be permanent.
Limbaugh on Thursday rejected Sleep Train’s offer to resume advertising on his national radio show and rehire Limbaugh as a paid spokesman. Limbaugh’s spokesman said the conservative commentator would no longer carry Sleep Train’s ads “in the future.”
Sleep Train stopped advertising on the show last Friday, becoming one of the first sponsors to drop Limbaugh. The company’s decision came two days after Limbaugh called a Georgetown University law student a “slut” and a “prostitute” over her stance on health insurance coverage for contraception.
Limbaugh apologized to the student over the weekend.
Sleep Train’s decision was especially noteworthy because Limbaugh and Sleep Train chief executive Dale Carlsen have known each other since the 1980s, when Sleep Train was a small company and Limbaugh was an on-air personality at Sacramento’s KFBK (1530 AM).
Kucinich May Still Run from Washington – Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who just lost his re-election bid in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, did not close the door to running for Congress in a new district — in a new state, CBS News reports.
He said “there’s new possibilities that are being born at this moment.”
Should he decide to run again, Washingtion state’s “most appealing choices for a Kucinich run could be the first and sixth congressional districts which lack incumbents because of the retirements of Democratic Reps. Jay Inslee and Norm Dicks.”
Pro-Obama PAC Won’t Give Back Maher’s Money – Current and former White House aides on Thursday rejected demands by a conservative group that a Super PAC supporting President Obama refund a $1 million check from comedian and talk show host Bill Maher because of coarse comments he’s made about Sarah Palin and other Republican women.
While Obama earlier this week denounced similar comments that radio talk show host made about a college student, Sandra Fluke, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the president is not going to get involved in the Maher battle.
Romney Really Might Not Have the Delegates by June – The Republican primary has revealed distinct geographic tendencies. Mitt Romney is dominant in New England and in the West. Newt Gingrich has run well in the Deep South, while Rick Santorum has done well in caucus states, the Great Plains, and the peripheral South (it remains to be seen whether his support has bled into Gingrich’s strength in the Deep South). That leaves the Midwest as a battleground between Romney and Santorum.
While Romney had a good night on Super Tuesday, the truth is that he did nothing to alter the basic regional nature of his support. He won handily in New England and the West, essentially tied in the Midwest, and ran poorly in the South.
For the first time, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is putting a timeframe on his decision whether to enter the race.
He’s running for re-election as mayor but will he also jump into a possible recall race for governor?
He’s not answering that question yet, but now, for the first time, the mayor is indicating when he might make up his mind.
With an election for mayor less than four weeks away, Barrett continued to deflect any questions about a possible run for governor.
“I am certainly considering running for governor, but I haven’t made a decision quite honestly,” Barrett said.
Barrett spoke at a forum sponsored by Wispolitics.com, and afterward, 12 News reporter Kent Wainscott asked him whether Milwaukee voters deserved to know whether he plans to enter a likely governor’s recall race.
“I don’t know what the future holds, and that’s why I didn’t deny that this is something that I’m thinking about, because I am thinking about it, and I think the voters know that,” Barrett said.
GOP strategist: Appeal to Latino voters is party’s ‘great challenge’ – Republican Party strategist Whit Ayres says a new Fox News poll showing a strong preference for Democrats among Latino voters underscores what he called “the great challenge of the Republican Party going forward” – doing better with non-white voters, especially Latinos and Asians.
David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior campaign strategist, is scheduled to appear on Bill Maher’s late-night talk show within the next few weeks, according to Kelley Carville, an HBO spokesman.
As the controversy over Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke continued, a former Obama White House official today joined Republicans in pointing out that Maher, who recently donated $1 million to a pro-Obama super PAC, has a history of his misogynistic slurs.
Last year, he was rebuked by the National Organization for Women for calling Sarah Palin a “dumb tw*t.”
“palin is right to point out that bill maher has said some pretty disgusting things about women, comedian or not. they are rush like,” Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of President Obama’s Council on Economic Advisors, and currently a professor at the University of Chicago, tweeted.
After Obama spoke with Fluke, the Georgetown University Law Student called a “slut” and “prostitute” by Limbaugh, Palin challenged Priorities USA to return Maher’s donation.
“Pres. Obama says he called Sandra Fluke because of his daughters. For the sake of everyone’s daughter, why doesn’t his super PAC return the $1 million he got from a rabid misogynist?,” Palin wrote Tuesday on her Facebook page.
The 56-42 vote staves off an election-year rebuke of Obama, but will give political ammunition to backers of TransCanada Corp.’s plan to build a pipeline connecting Alberta’s massive tar sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.
Despite Obama’s efforts, 11 Democrats brushed off Obama on the vote and sided with Republicans.
The 11 Democratic defections were Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Bob Casey (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Jim Webb (Va.).
No Republicans voted against the measure, and 60 votes were needed to move forward.
Bill Bennett: A lesson in how to turn the tables – Bill Bennett had this to say on CNN about the Rush Limbaugh hypocrisy fest: “My question is whether the president will give back the million dollars Bill Maher gave him. I don’t know how he’s going to explain that to Sasha and Malia, when that guy uses language that would make Rush blush.”
The comment is, in a word, perfect. The gentle tone of irony contrasts with the left’s hyperventilating. The matter-of-fact assertion highlights how the left’s “outrage” is reserved for political opponents’ entertainers. And his gentle rebuke to the president — who chose to drag his daughters into a phony political gambit — is the frosting on the well- baked cake.
Notice, in fact, how it is now the representative of the left who wants to move on? The Obama spinners have got as much mileage out of Limbaugh as they can, and if the conversation is now going to turn to their side, well then, for heaven’s sake, it’s time to turn the page! Or, as Dave Weigel put it in reference to David Axelrod’s inanity (“If Romney couldn’t stand up to “the most strident voices in your party, how can he stand up to Ahmadinejad?”): “Axelrod has no case. He’s a nomad flogging a camel to get one last mile out of it after it’s already crossed half the Gobi with no water.”
Carbonite shoots its business model in the foot – The decline in the price of Carbonite stock since it announced it was dropping its longstanding advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show is not the real story of the damage done to Carbonite.
The price of Carbonite stock has been dropping since October for reasons unrelated to this controversy, although it did fall off a small cliff this week.
The real problem for Carbonite and its shareholders is that in leaving behind 15 million Rush listeners, Carbonite has shot its business model in the foot.