General Motors and Walgreens have left the infectious conservative idea pusher ALEC. Is this a cause for rejoicing? This week's Absurdity Today covers ALEC, Mitt and his travels, and some sensitive topics too.
Absurdity Today is an independent political news parody hosted by satirist and professor of media ethics, Julianna Forlano.
Most of the political oxygen today, at least on the polling front, has been sucked up by that trio of CBS/Quinnipiac polls in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. And, sure, three fresh polls showing Obama leading by 6-11 points in three absolutely pivotal states certainly qualifies as big news.
The equally big news, however, is that those same CBS/Q polls also had great news for Democrats eager to hang onto the U.S. Senate. Couple them with some pretty decent polling on the House level, as well, and it was a pretty darned good day to be a Democrat, at least on the horserace/data front.
On to the numbers:
PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (47-45)DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (47-44)
NATIONAL (YouGov): Romney d. Obama (46-44)
CONNECTICUT (PPP): Obama d. Romney (51-43)
FLORIDA (CBS/Quinnipiac): Obama d. Romney (51-45)
OHIO (CBS/Quinnipiac): Obama d. Romney (50-44)
PENNSYLVANIA (Quinnipiac): Obama d. Romney (53-42)
AZ-01 (North Star Opinion Research for Paton): Ann Kirkpatrick (D) 46, Jonathan Paton (R) 43A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump ...
AZ-02 (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Barber): Rep. Ron Barber (D) 53, Martha McSally (R) 40
AZ-02?D (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Barber): Ron Barber 77, Martha McSally 13
CA-09 (Lake Research Partners for McNerney): Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) 49, Ricky Gill (R) 33
FL-SEN (CBS/Quinnipiac): Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 47, Connie Mack IV (R) 40
FL-SEN (PPP): Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 45, Connie Mack IV (R) 43; Nelson 45, Mike McCallister (R) 40; Nelson 46, Dave Weldon (R) 39
FL-SEN?R (PPP): Connie Mack IV 47, Dave Weldon 14, Mike McCallister 10, "Someone Else" 6
MI-SEN (Foster McCollum White/Baydoun): Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) 53, Pete Hoekstra (R) 43; Stabenow 51, Clark Durant (R) 43
MI-SEN?R (Foster McCollum White/Baydoun): Pete Hoekstra 40, Clark Durant 24, "Another Candidate" 15
MO-SEN (Rasmussen): John Brunner (R) 49, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) 43; Sarah Steelman (R) 49, McCaskill 43; Todd Akin (R) 47, McCaskill 44
MO-SEN?R (Internal poll, as reported by Dave Catanese): John Brunner 29, Todd Akin 27, Sarah Steelman 25
OH-SEN (CBS/Quinnipiac): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 51, Josh Mandel (R) 39
OH-16 (GBA Strategies for Sutton): Rep. Betty Sutton (D) 42, Rep. Jim Renacci (R) 40, Jeffrey Blevins (Lib) 12
PA-SEN (CBS/Quinnipiac): Sen. Bob Casey (D) 55, Tom Smith (R) 37
WI-SEN?R (PPP): Eric Hovde 28, Mark Neumann 25, Tommy Thompson 25, Jeff Fitzgerald 13
The Senate hearing on climate science this Wednesday, unsurprisingly enough, appears to have changed little with respect to the politics of climate change on Capitol Hill. Indeed, a significant portion of the discussion was dominated by debate over Dr. John Christy’s particular brand of denialism, a well-trod debate.
Nonetheless, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) was more than surprised when informed by Senator Barbara Boxer that roughly 98 percent of climate scientists, contra Christy, accepted that anthropogenic warming was real and serious — he was outraged:
Sessions: Madam Chairman, I am offended by that, I’m offended by that — I didn’t say anything about the scientists. I said the data shows [sic] it is not warming to the degree that a lot of people predicted, not close to that much…
Boxer: The conclusion that you’re coming to is shared by 1-2 percent of the scientists. You shouldn’t be offended by that. That’s the fact.
Sessions: I don’t believe that’s correct.
Senator Sessions may want to look over this study, which surveyed the publications of 1,372 climate scientists and vindicated Senator Boxer’s view of their conclusions. For that matter, so should Senator James Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the committee who had previously dismissed the study’s findings as irrelevant to the debate on climate change. Though Sessions and Inhofe were the most outspoken Republicans at the hearing, their views are mostly shared by their colleagues on the Environment and Public Works committee.
While these denialists debated the Committee’s Democrats on the role of climate change in fueling the current devastating drought, the best available science suggested that the current troubles are some of the earliest signs of a “dust-bowlification” of the United States as a consequence of global warming.
As ThinkProgress has reported, several American sports franchises are looking for taxpayer dollars in order to finance new stadiums or renovate existing ones. But the example set by Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals should act as a warning to the cities thinking of acceding to those demands.
According to Sports Radio 810 WHB, the Royals ownership has been spending taxpayer money earmarked for stadium renovations on, among other things, employee salaries, cable tv, and telephone bills. Just 9 percent of the money given to the team has actually been used on its stadium.
Adding insult the injury, the owners even paid some of their payroll tax bill with the subsidies meant for stadium improvements, so “the team literally collected taxpayer money to pay their own taxes“:
The Kansas City Royals have requested nearly $17 million of taxpayer money the past five years from the Kauffman Stadium repair and upkeep fund but spent only 9% of the money received on actual repairs and maintenance to the stadium, according to documents obtained by Sports Radio 810 WHB.
The Royals have received at least $12.7 million from taxpayers that was approved by the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority as part of the RMMO provision of the team’s lease with the county and spent it on full and part time employee salaries, security, cable tv, first aid, utilities, telephones and even payroll taxes. By using the money for payroll taxes, the team literally collected taxpayer money to pay their own taxes.
Owners of sports franchises often claim that stadiums are good investments for taxpayers, but the evidence makes the opposite case. As ThinkProgress’ Travis Waldron noted, “the stadiums rarely pay for themselves, leaving local economies engulfed in debt while teams come back asking for even newer stadiums before the current facilities are paid off.”
And the Royals aren’t the only Kansas City team using taxpayer dollars to fund general operations. The Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League have received $9 million for stadium maintenance and repairs, but have used just 6 percent on the stadium, with the rest going towards management and operations.
MItt Romney policy director Lanhee ChenMitt Romney has been calling the Tax Policy Center's demolition of his tax proposal biased. His complaint in a nutshell: You liberals don't take into account the flurry of economic growth that will take place if only we chop taxes. Lanhee Chen, Romney's policy director, wasn't specific in his gripes about the center's claims that the proposal?a rich guy's wet dream the candidate dares to call tax "reform"?would increase taxes for 95 percent of Americans:
?The study analyzes only half of Governor Romney?s tax program, ignoring the reforms that would make America?s corporations more competitive by moving from the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world to one that is comparable to our trading partners. And the study ignores the positive benefits to economic growth from both the corporate tax plan and the deficit reduction called for in the Romney plan. These glaring gaps invalidate the report?s conclusions.?Chen also argues that you can't expect objectivity from a study drafted by a former member of the Obama economic team. But he doesn't point out, as Benjy Sarlin does, that another author of the study was part of George H. W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers.
Romney's proposal, which would make a 20 percent across the board income-tax cut supposedly paid for by eliminating deductions, has never had specifics attached to it. And that made it tough for the Tax Policy Center to decide what its impact would be. So it created a best-case scenario favorable to Romney. Even then, however, its analysis showed the beneficiaries would be the top 5 percent of the population. Everybody else would see their after-tax income fall.
Chen says, however, that because study didn't include a proposed cut in the corporate tax that will supposedly usher in an economic boom. There are believers and skeptics on that score. The biggest problem comes from analyses not of Romney's future plans but of what has happened in the recent past, namely the Bush tax cuts. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, as explained in Romney's new tax cuts would work just like the Bush tax cuts: Enhance economic inequality, found that over a nine-year period those cuts poured the bulk of the benefits into the coffers of the already wealthy.
That upward skew generated no boom. As you may have noticed.
Today, while most right-thinking Americans are demonstrating their love for Jesus and their hate of homos by eating deep-fried diabetes sandwiches at Chick-fil-A, normal Americans who are more concerned with what is going on in their own pants are[...]
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(Think Progress)Actual congressperson Steve King, defending his stop-picking-on-dogfighters stance once again:
What I've said is that we need to respect humans more than we do animals. Whenever we start elevating animals up to, to above that of humans, we've crossed a moral line. For example, if there's a sexual predator out there who has impregnated a young girl, say a 13 year old girl, and it happens in America more times than you and I like to think, that sexual predator can pick that girl off the playground at the middle school and haul her across the state line and force her to get an abortion to eradicate the evidence of his crime, and bring her back and drop her off at the swing set, and that's not against the law in the United States of America. I have told Wayne Pacelle and the people who believe we should focus all of our efforts on the, on anything they can bring that limits activity around animals, that we need to respect and revere human life first, animal life second.That is the most convoluted, crazy-ass rationale for blocking animal cruelty laws I have ever heard. Because sexual predators and 13-year-old girls and forced abortions, screw all of you and your anti-dogfighting, factory-farm-minimal-standards-having laws. What a jackass. (I also like how the offensive part is not supposed to be the sexual predator part, but specter-of-abortion-at-gunpoint part, because apparently if it were just child rape Steve King wouldn't give a crap.)
Seriously, now, just how many times is Steve King going to defend his stop-regulating-animal-torture stances? Apparently, it will be as long as it takes in order to get it through to people that he really, really doesn't like laws against animal torture: According to him, they "elevate" animals above humans, and so fighting against laws preventing such torture is the "moral" thing to do because abortion, dammit. The sociopathic dimwit might couch it in an argument that anti-animal-torture laws are a waste of his precious, precious legislatin' time, but that hardly squares with his efforts to spend even more legislative time trying to undo existing anti-torture laws, then bragging about it.
For those of you with no interest in seeing Steve King blather on in his usual confessions-of-a-serial-killer rhetorical style and so want to skip the video up there, I understand. I have already had about as much as I can take from this congressional bum-boil. The short version:
"Hi, I'm Steve King. Because you haven't made abortion illegal, I'm gonna kill this dog. Grr. Tea Party."
Who is shining us on about Bush tax cuts?The screw-the-middle-class impacts of the presumptive GOP nominee's tax plans have been getting plenty of negative attention Wednesday, here, from the president and various bloggy and social media alcoves of the internet. For those of us outside the golden circle, what Mitt Romney has planned amounts to just more of the same old, same old that has been driving income and wealth inequality for the past three-plus decades. It's made crystal clear by a study from the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.
But in addition to the deconstruction of Romney's income tax plans, the center's data provided grist for another study this week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. What it shows in detail, no surprise to anybody who has been paying even cursory attention, is that Bush tax cuts have provided immense benefits to the highest-income households over the past nine years. And a lot of damage to the federal budget and to the populace as a whole as the tax system became much less progressive.
Among the details as evaluated by Chye-Ching Huang and Nate Frentz at the CBPP (all dollars inflation-adjusted to 2012):
? Higher income people didn't just get a better deal in absolute dollars; that was to be expected. Proportionately they did better as well. "For example, in 2010, the year in which all of the Bush income and estate tax cuts were fully phased in, they increased the after-tax income of people making over $1 million by more than 7.3 percent, but increased the after-tax income of the middle 20 percent of households by just 2.8 percent."
? The average annual tax cut of people making over $1 million during the period 2004-2012 was $110,000, more than twice the median household income.
? The cuts raised the average after-tax income of the top 1 percent of households by 6.7 percent (or $66,618), of the top 20 percent of households by 4.6 percent (or $7,860), of the middle 20 percent by 2.8 percent (or $1,039), and of the bottom 20 percent by just 1.0 percent (or $99).
These skewed cuts were introduced at time, in 2001, when Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, was saying that government surpluses would lead to the United States paying down its debt too fast, a supposed danger that should be met by cutting taxes. How did that work out? The surpluses are long gone and, the authors explain:
Americans across the country may be forced to sacrifice in various ways, from paying more for college to facing higher-out-of-pocket health costs, with potential consequences for some Americans with modest incomes in terms of access to higher education and to health care services. Needed investments to infrastructure are likely to be shorted, as well. Basic health and scientific research may be squeezed.It's not may be. All of this is happening right now.
Mitt Romney and other Republicans' prescription for dealing with the problems caused, at least in part, by these previous cuts? Why, more of the same, of course.
Some Democrats will no doubt argue that we should meet the Republicans halfway on new cuts for the wealthy. That is exactly the wrong approach, the approach that has been going on since Ronald Reagan was the front man for the oligarchs. Time to stop giving breaks to the upper tier based on the repeatedly disproven theory that this will trickle down.
Want to know just how crazy the culture war over the fast food chain Chick-fil-A has gotten in recent days? It wasn't quite Chick-fil-A meets OJ. But it was close.
For a decent chunk of the Wednesday lunch hour in Arizona, local television station KTVK dispatched a helicopter to broadcast live shots of conservatives lining up outside of Phoenix-area Chick-fil-A franchise locations to support the company's stance against gay marriage.
The station streamed the footage online and told its Twitter followers to "watch LIVE." Just like with a high speed car chase, the eternal staple of local television news, a viewer could hear the high hum of the chopper and occasional radio dispatches from the pilot telling the station where the aircraft was headed next. On the ground, customers waved up at the chopper. Some showed off handmade signs of support for the chain.
But KTVK wasn't the only one going wild for what former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared as national "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." TV stations throughout the U.S. clamored to cover the battle between social conservatives and backers of gay rights, who have taken their respective battle stances over comments by the chain's president saying he supports marriage only between a man and a woman.
Louisville, Ky., station WHAS also sent a helicopter to film the lines outside multiple locations in the area. "Apparently Chick-fil-A was the most popular lunch spot in Kentuckiana," a WHAS anchor said during an afternoon newscast. "And believe us, folks, that's an understatement."
FOX News, where Huckabee hosts a show on Saturdays, also got in on the action, showing its own helicopter footage of Chick-fil-A locations in an unidentified city somewhere in the U.S.
On the ground in Pennsylvania, Slate reporter Dave Weigel, who was covering the state's voter ID hearings, noted on his Twitter account the wall-to-wall coverage he witnessed.
"Not one but two local TV crews at Chick-fil-A right now," Weigel wrote. "They were not at the #PAVoterID hearing today. But that was a 15 minute drive..."
Here's some footage from KTVK's livestream that TPM's Clayton Ashley captured on Wednesday afternoon: