Friday, December 28, 2012
Thursday, December 27, 2012
The Wall Street Journal editorial board is dismissing right-wing calls for David Gregory's indictment as "entirely nonsensical," reflecting the widely-held belief that the investigation involving the "Meet The Press" is not a legitimate use of law enforcement's time.
On last Sunday's program, Gregory displayed what appeared to be a gun magazine while interviewing National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre. Police officials here in Washington, who have launched a probe into the incident, have since confirmed that doing so was a violation of the law, and that NBC News knew as much prior to the show. Gun rights advocates are, for lack of a better term, up in arms.
The Wall Street Journal, defending David Gregory. The mind wobbles.
This year, 2012, has been a watershed year in the rise of liberal politics. It's seen the re-election, on his own merits, of Barack Obama by a coalition of "minorities" (soon to be a majority), youth and women votes. The reasons are many, but they boil down to one: he's trustworthy.
The attempt by Republicans and the right-wing to tear up politics by making the very word so untrustworthy by the average American that they stay away from the polls in droves backfired badly in 2012. The big money infusions of superPACs, big corporations and rich donors like the Koch brothers failed miserably.
Indeed, it failed so badly that the 2010 election must be considered an outlier, albeit a repeatable one in 2014. State houses, gerrymandering, and local governments have been so co-opted by the grifting and bribery of big money that it will be next to impossible to move the House to the middle anytime soon, I'm afraid.
Unless the news cycle overtakes it. And here, too, things bode well for liberals.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
WEBSTER – An ex-con killed two firefighters with the same caliber and make military-style rifle used in the Connecticut school massacre after typing a note pledging to burn down his neighborhood and “do what I like doing best, killing people,” police said Tuesday as another body, believed to be the gunman’s missing sister, was found.
William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire before dawn Christmas Eve before taking a revolver, a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle to a sniper position outside, Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Thursday, December 20, 2012
House Speaker John Boehner has proposed Plan B, which would extend Bush-era tax cuts on income of up to $1 million. He described it as a fallback option to prevent a sweeping tax hike while negotiations continue on a broader plan.
GOP leaders also had planned to vote Thursday on President Barack Obama's long-standing proposal to return to the higher tax rates of the 1990s on income above $250,000 for families.
But Republicans decided to drop their plan to vote on extending tax breaks on incomes over $250,000. One GOP aide said that since the president has moved the threshold to $400,000, there is no point to that exercise.
What's astounding about this plan, even this minimally effective plan, is that Boener is having trouble rounding up enough votes to get it through his House. He's had to hand out lollipops to the children in his caucus, even to the point where the sequestration that both parties in both houses of Congress agreed to two years ago are up for modification.
You may read that as meaning the defense cuts are off the table.
Needless to say, President Obama has promised to veto this nonsense, although it's hard to see how you can get Republicans back to the table.
This all hinges on one date on the calendar, and you should mark it, should we go over the fiscal cliff: January 3.
That's the day most Americans who receive some form of monthly compensation from the United States -- Social Security, welfare, a salary -- can expect their next installment. Including many of the same asshats who are writing into their Teabagger Congresscritters telling them to stand firm on taxes.
It will be interesting to see what happens when those government-bought Hoverounds start to malfunction and there's no money to be found for fixing them. All those FOX News viewers stuck inside, can't even go to the corner for a pack of cigs and a 40, and of course, the HEAP money will be flatlined too, so no heat or hot water -- not that they shower, mind you -- no mail delivery so no pension checks or Victoria Secret catalogues to fap to, and then God forbid there's an actual disaster and they need help.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
After days of silence, the National Rifle Association released a statement Tuesday on the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., saying it will make "meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
In the release, the organization begins to explain its silence, saying: "Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting."
Now, this could be read as anything from pumping gobs of money into advocating more gun rights to finally making significant changes to its pro-gun manufacturing stances.
After all, isn't it the hardcore gun owners who are saying "If the teachers had been armed..." fully neglecting the fact that there have been mass killing on military bases where there are arms aplenty. If trained military officers and soldiers can't react quickly enough to a slaughter by automatic weaponry, how in the heck is a principal supposed to a) hear gun fire, b) recognize it as gun fire, c) run to the gun safe, d) open it while emotionally compromised, e) pull out a weapon, f) load it (because presumably you wouldn't want loaded weapons in a school, and g) run back down the hall and steady herself (since most principals are women) and shoot a gunman, all without sacrificing another student?
A "meaningful contribution" could be interpreted as to offer gun training to teachers for free, you see.
In thirty years, not one mass shooting has been stopped by a civilian with a gun, unless you count the killers who have shot themselves on the scene. Apocryphal stories abound of armed citizens staring down a gunman, but those sound more like bar-boasts than anything else and are not backed up by trials where evidence has been submitted.
The NRA is scheduled to hold a press conference in Washington, DC on Friday. That it has not decided to rub people's noses in it by holding an ad hoc convention in Hartford instead can be taken as a sign of progress.
Maybe, just maybe, its dawned on them that people matter more than guns.
Monday, December 17, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
Newark Mayor Cory Booker says he'll decide in two weeks whether he'll run for New Jersey governor or U.S. Senate.
Booker, a Democrat, said Monday on CNN that Chris Christie, a Republican who enjoys high approval ratings after Hurricane Sandy, is "vulnerable" in his re-election bid because of his stances on the environment and issues pertaining to women.
"Christie is vulnerable, as it should be, because there's a lot of issues in the state he's not falling in line with," Booker said on CNN's Starting Point program.
This 2013 race would pit Booker, an hugely popular mayor who would likely clean up in urban and ex-urban areas, particularly in northern New Jersey, against Christie's overwhelming popularity with white suburbanites and south Jerseyians.
Or, Booker can wait until 2014, and basically be annointed as replacement for Frank Lautenberg, who has already unretired once to serve in the US Senate, and will turn 89 before his seat comes up for election.
Or he can run for a third term as mayor of Newark, not something an ambitious and hard working politician would relish, I think.
You begin to see the problem, I think. If he runs in 2013 and beats Christie, this pretty much takes him off the table for the 2016 Presidential race, another office I suspect he aspires to. If he runs in 2013 and loses, no harm no foul, he can run in 2014 for Lautenberg's seat, and then marshall national forces for a run at the Presidency in 2020 or 2024, assuming Democrats run the table in yet another national election.
And if his eyes are on the biggest prize, he still might run for either of these offices on the assumption that all the attention he'd garner against the GOP's biggest fish....erm, no pun intended...would boost his standing for a slog through the 2016 primary season.
So he's cursed with options.
Friday, December 07, 2012
Thursday, December 06, 2012
Syrian forces have mixed chemical weapons and added them to bombs in preparation for possible use on President Bashar Assad’s own people, Fox News confirms.
A senior U.S. official told Fox News that bombs were loaded with components of sarin gas, a deadly nerve gas. Syrian forces have 60 days to use these bombs until the chemical mixture expires and has to be destroyed.
The nerve agent has been loaded into canisters in aerosol form that can be dropped from planes, Fox said. A Fox reporter spoke with Pentagon officials, who expressed grave concern. Sarin is capable of killing many people in a short time. There is no antidote.
Earlier, Fox reported that U.S. troops were deploying to the Syrian border for defensive purposes.
Any solution to the Syrian conflict that comes before sarin is deployed will be tricky, and the pressure to deploy sarin has been anted up as rebels continue to advance on Damascus.
Already, Russia has warned Turkey about meddling in the internal politics of Syria, a major arms purchaser from Russia. Those differences have been papered over in recent days, but the use of sarin gas would cast a whole new light on the tenuous agreement.
Russia has tried to place itself as a neutral observer, leaning towards Assad -- the "status quo" would probably be the code they'd use to indicate this predilection -- but it has blocked no less than three UN resolutions asking Assad to step down peacefully or to provide UN support to the rebels.
But Turkey has deployed Patriot missiles to its border with Syria, and ostensibly these could be used at US direction to shoot down planes suspected of carrying chemical weapons. Too, Turkey has a dog in the hunt, since winds do not respect borders.
An ad hoc, presumably emergency meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, has been arranged for this afternoon on the crisis. Perhaps Russia is reconsidering her position in support of Assad. Certainly, the chemical weapons -- which must be deployed by February 1 or thereabouts, else they'll lose potency -- raises the stakes for them.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
[...]Conservatives do not have economic ideas that are good for the middle class. Since the 1970s, wage gains have decoupled from productivity gains and the median family has therefore reaped a disproportionately small share of the benefits of growth. Conservatives are left without anything to say about this problem.
What can they say about it? I have a few ideas, though I don't think conservatives are likely to like any of them too much.
What does he talk about?
The redistribution of wealth. Go read that again, I'll wait.
Josh approaches this issue from a conservative slant, to be sure, and I could take issue with some of the details of his broadly outlined solutions like means-testing welfare programs (seems duplicative, for one thing), but on balance, he makes a strong case.
Lower taxes and smaller government *might* raise GDP. Certainly over the Bush administration, growth happened. It was anemic but measurable. That was with historically low taxes. Josh's point was that this concentrated wealth in the hands of the rich, while leaving scraps and crumbs for the rest of us.
No trickle down, in other words. Given that this is the single talking point any conservative can raise when talking about stimulating the economy, Barro is essentially pointing out that conservatives have nothing.
Couple that with the fact that the lion's share in the current government economic transfers programs have been in aid to the elderly, which are not means-tested or adjusted for other income, basically, it's giving more of your hard earned money to wealthier people in two separate scoops: original economic activity, plus benefits accrued from your taxes.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner proposed $2.2 trillion of spending cuts and new revenue that lack what President Barack Obama calls essential for a fiscal agreement: higher tax rates for top-earning Americans.
Boehner, an Ohio Republican, yesterday called it a “credible plan that deserves consideration by the White House.” The Obama administration promptly rejected the proposal, which would raise the Medicare eligibility age and slow Social Security cost-of-living increases.
[...] With the Republican blueprint, both parties now have their opening offers on the table. Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat, said the Republican plan signals “act two” in negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff. “There will be an act three undoubtedly, and hopefully the distance between the bid and ask is closed,” he said.
In fairness, at least one of the aspects noted above might make sense, in a perverse way: raising the Medicare eligibility age.
Look, people are going to have to work longer for a bunch of reasons (not least of which is the two major recessions that have triggered on the watch of President Bush, destroying 401(k)s), which means there is a good chance that they'll have private health insurance available to them under Obamacare. By delaying the port over to Medicare, the nation could save billions over time.
Of course, who relies on Medicare but the folks who weren't able to sock away shrinking wages for retirement.
Buried in the proposal is a signal that Republicans might consider a net hike in tax revenues (which I alluded to yesterday) but not a raise in rates. This would entail closing deductions like the home mortgage interest deduction (again, the hike would fall disproportionately on the middle class and destroy the housing market at a time it is already crippled, as it would discourage home buyers and deflate real estate prices, which fuel much of consumer spending.)
Monday, December 03, 2012
Friday, November 30, 2012
- Liquid water has been discovered extraterrestrially.
- Bill O'Reilly gets his ass kicked on climate change.
- You are evolution in action.
- Hey Mars! Show us your tits! Wait...what?