How do the polls say President Obama and Mitt Romney stack up on foreign policy? Here's your answer. [...]
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Rep. Mike Kelly says the new contraception mandate that came into effect today is like 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. [...]
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I can't say I have a good feeling about this. Why are they cooperating on this?
WASHINGTON ? The top Republican and Democrat on Capitol Hill have announced an agreement to keep the government running on autopilot for six months when the current budget year ends on Sept. 30.
The announcements by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP House Speaker John Boehner are aimed at averting any chance of a government shutdown this fall. The legislation will pass in September.
The deal would also lighten the crush of business in a post-election congressional session agenda that?s already overloaded.
?The speaker and I and the president have agreed that we?re going to fund the government for the next six months,? Reid said. ?It?ll provide stability for the coming months.?
The agreement would fund the government at levels called for by last summer?s budget and debt pact between Boehner and President Barack Obama.
While precise details will be ironed out over the August congressional recess, the deal embraces spending at a total annualized rate of $1.047 trillion for the day-to-day operations of Cabinet departments like the Pentagon and other federal agencies.
?We are encouraged that both sides have agreed to resolve this issue without delay,? White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. ?The President has made clear that it is essential that the legislation to fund the government adheres to the funding levels agreed to by both parties last year.?
That?s a retreat for Republicans, who had sought to cut $19 billion below the budget agreement reached last summer with President Barack Obama and shift $8 billion more from domestic agencies to the Pentagon. The alternative of risking a government shutdown just weeks before Election Day was an unacceptable alternative to GOP leaders who want to keep the spotlight off of Congress and on the presidential race in the weeks running up to Nov. 6.
Via Roll Call, Debbie Stabenow says other measures could be attached to the continuing resolution:
One possibility, she said, was to add disaster assistance for farmers to deal with the drought in the Midwest. ?It could be, if people agreed to it. A lot of things are expiring Sept. 30,? Stabenow said. She said the CR was unlikely to be completed until September.
However, sources today said House GOP leaders were thinking of moving a separate disaster aid measure this week, before adjourning for the August recess.
There?s been a growing consensus among lawmakers across the political spectrum that it would be best to delay the wrap-up of fiscal 2013 appropriations into the next session of Congress. Fiscal 2013 begins Oct. 1, making it critical that Congress clear a continuing resolution before Members of the House and about a third of the Senate head home to campaign in October.
Many members of the conservative House Republican Study Committee have said they would grudgingly support a CR set at the fiscal 2013 level agreed to in last year?s debt limit deal and also accept interim funding for implementing the 2010 health overhaul in exchange for delaying fiscal 2013 appropriations. Republicans are betting on gains in November that could enable them to push for deep spending cuts next year.
This also clears the deck for a Grand Bargain in the lame duck session. Stay tuned.
Maureen Dowd in the NYT:Obama gave four press conferences and plenty of individual interviews when he went abroad as a candidate. But when reporters traveling with Romney mutinied as Mitt left a wreath-laying at a war memorial in Pilsudski Square, pressing on the gaffes and on why they were being shut out, campaign spokesman Rick Gorka shot back crudely that the press should kiss a part of his...
In the wake of the tragic shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, CO earlier this month, the nation has been engaged in a dialogue about the best ways to prevent violent crime — including passing stricter gun control legislation, requiring more background checks for firearm purchases, and increasing mental illness reporting. However, one writer at Scientific American suggests that homicides in the U.S. actually stem from a very different kind of source: the nation’s high rates of income inequality.
Eric Michael Johnson cites a study conducted by Harvard?s Ichiro Kawachi that analyzed the homicide rates in each state and the District of Columbia. Kawachi found that as the gap between the rich and the poor rose, the rate of homicide rose along with it:
The results were unambiguous: when income inequality was higher, so was the rate of homicide. Income inequality alone explained 74% of the variance in murder rates and half of the aggravated assaults. However, social capital had an even stronger association and, by itself, accounted for 82% of homicides and 61% of assaults. Other factors such as unemployment, poverty, or number of high school graduates were only weakly associated and alcohol consumption had no connection to violent crime at all. A World Bank sponsored study subsequently confirmed these results on income inequality concluding that, worldwide, homicide and the unequal distribution of resources are inextricably tied.
Income inequality in the U.S. has been rapidly rising since 1979. And an uptick in violent crimes certainly isn’t the only documented negative effect of the widening gulf between the rich and the poor. Studies have already shown that economic disparity has caused a problematic education gap , put an outsized burden on the Social Security program, and stifled the political power of a downtrodden middle class.
Deadline reported yesterday morning that Showtime is considering a show from Ron Howard that would tell the story of Hernan Cortés, the Spanish conquistador who scuttled his own ships so he’d have no option to retreat and eventually took the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán by siege. It’s not a story without risks?without making this a contest of equals and a genuine clash of sophisticated civilizations, such a show could devolve into a dull celebration of imperialism. But done right, it’s the kind of project that could provide great roles for people of color, and for women, including La Malinche, a woman born on the border between the Mayan and Aztec Empires, sold as a slave, given to Cortés as a gift, and who became his interpreter in Mayan and Nahuatl, and eventually the mother of his child.
Showtime president David Nevins, asked about the project, offered an explanation that was more non-commital than Deadline’s report?but in certain significant ways, intriguing:
I think there?s a very interesting show to be done about that has genre elements, has elements of supernatural and horror, really frightening, gruesome stuff, which is about the sort of encounter between these two very different cultures but were in a premodern time where magic and mysticism, I think, is in the core in the core of the belief system of the Spanish Catholics and the Aztecs. And it?s a very advanced civilization in a lot of ways, the Aztec civilization, advanced mathematics and science, but also really brutal and violent. So I think it?s got a mix. And it?s a kind of a period show that no one has done. So I?m always looking for something that feels like fresh territory. One of the reasons I hate talking about it is because other people can get the idea. But I think it?s it?s loaded with potential.
If Nevins wants to do a period drama with genre elements, he might consider eliminating the conquistadors from the equation. Showtime could adapt Clare Bell’s The Jaguar Princess, a fantasy about Aztec client states that involves a woman who can shape shift into a great cat, which the network could pitch as a mashup of Game of Thrones‘ feudal politics and True Blood‘s sex and magic. I don’t think Gary Jennings Aztec novels, in which Catholic invaders misread the civilization they were determined to destroy by sword and cross, have ever been adapted, and they could be rich territory as well. Ultimately, I doubt Showtime would ever ditch the conquistadors?a show this expensive would probably think it needs a Sean Bean-like famous-but-not-too-expensive white guy as a hook for an audience. But it would be nice to see a show about native peoples in the Americas that has the guts to treat its invading European as a villain rather than a hero, and to turn Aztec characters into rich and complex anti-heroes.
Despite Mitt Romney insulting the British, demeaning the Palestinians, irritating Polish Solidarity, and ignoring the traveling press corps, Romney’s campaign and its Republican allies are hailing the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s recent trip abroad a smash hit. “I think it was a great success,” Romney adviser Stuart Stevens said.
However, the National Journal, reporting that GOPers say the bad trip isn’t that big of a deal, got some veteran Republican operatives on record acknowledging the obvious:
?It comes under the heading ?seemed like a good idea at the time,? ? assessed John Pitney, a former Republican National Committee aide and now a political-science professor at Claremont McKenna College. ?If the plan was to burnish his foreign-policy credentials and remind people of his leadership at the Winter Olympics, that was a very sensible idea on paper, but in practice it didn?t work out as the campaign had hoped.?
Republican strategist Ed Rogers, a former Reagan aide and a veteran of the Bush-Quayle campaign, awarded the trip a 4 on a scale of 10. “The question always is if you had to do all over again and get the exact same results, would you do it again?” he said. “Well, in this case, no. But it?s not that big of a deal.? [...]
Republican consultant John Feehery, a former House GOP aide, said that the problem boils down to the Romney campaign being unprepared for an unforgiving international spotlight. ?The media is throwing fastballs at Mitt Romney?s head and he?s got to do a better job at ducking them,? he said. ?What they didn?t anticipate was how hot the media glare was going to be. They wanted to go over there and not make any news and they ended up making some.?
When former Romney rival Rick Santorum, who endorsed the former Massachusetts governor back in May, was asked if Romney’s trip was a success this morning on CNN, he twice dodged the question. “I think the long-term take from this is one that we can go out and make the differentiation between, what a world under Mitt Romney and a Republican administration would be versus the tattered relationships that we have with some of our best and longest and strongest allies,” Santorum said.
Carter, who died at the hospital, was in the passenger seat of a pickup truck that was pulled over by police just before 10 pm, reports WREG. According to Officer Keith Baggett who was on the scene, Officer Ron Marsh found “some marijuana” and several new plastic baggies when he searched Carter. When they ran his information through dispatch, they found that he was wanted on a warrant in Mississippi, where he lived. The cops then handcuffed him, searched him again, and put him in the back of the patrol car. While Baggett searched the vehicle, he claims he heard “a loud thump with a metallic sound” on his trunk and saw Marsh motion to him.
The thumping noise, according to the cops, was Carter shooting himself in the head.
The police report attributed the death to a self-inflicted gunshot, though when the two officers opened the squad car door, they found Carter’s hands were still cuffed behind his back. The gun, they said, was somehow missed in both searches.
“Any given officer has missed something on a search, be it drugs, knife, razor blades, this instance it happened to be a gun,” Jonesboro Police Sergeant Lyle Waterworth said after the bizarre incident. The police believe that Chavez managed to pull out a hidden gun and shot himself in spite of the handcuffs.
Carter’s mother, Teresa, however, suspects foul play: “I think they killed him, my son wasn?t suicidal.”
According to Teresa, Carter called his girlfriend while he was pulled over to tell her he’d call her from jail. She also said her son was shot in his right temple, when he was left-handed.
The two officers involved are now on administrative leave until the investigation concludes.
Watch it, courtesy of WREG:
As of Wednesday, the postal service is in default on the mandate Congress has imposed on it to pay $5.5 billion a year to prefund retiree health benefits for the next 75 years. But never let it be said that Congress doesn't care about the postal service:
In the 18 months the 112th Congress has been sworn in, the House has introduced 60 bills to rename post offices. Thirty-eight have passed the House and 26 have become law. During those 18 months, the House has produced 151 laws, 17 percent of which have been to rename post offices, according to Congressional Democrats.Although on second thought:
Not a single bill has come to the House floor aimed at reforming a Postal Service, which is bleeding billions of dollars because of Congressional mandates.The problem is that, having created a crisis for the post office, most of the supposed fixes Congress has proposed for that crisis (which politicians of course don't admit to having created) don't address the real problems. They may slow the crisis, but they don't stop it. What the postal service needs, instead of inaction and bad action from Congress, is the freedom to succeed. It needs the ability to innovate, even if that means competing with the private sector?something Congress has repeatedly blocked. It needs to be strengthened by being allowed to offer more services, not weakened by reducing the services it now provides. And what our economy does not need is another wave of lost jobs.
Even if the House had acted on a postal service bill that did something other than rename post offices, that would not have happened under Republican leadership.
The US Postal Service will default on a $5.5 billion prepaid retiree health benefit payment today, and this will surely lead to calls for privatization or mass jobs cuts. But the default concerns the unusual way in which the USPS, unlike virtually any[...]
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