HANNAH LEARNED her boy toy Adam is a lying sack, as well as an insensitive jerk. As her old boyfriend informs her, there is no HPV test recommended for men, and that’s direct from the CDC, girls.
Marnie gets hit on by cocksure artist Booth “I’m a man and I know how to do things” Jonathan, who claims to be scary because of his manly man-ness, and she gets so turned on she can’t wait to rush into a public bathroom to pleasure herself. This comes after Charlie shows up with a shaved head.
Jessa takes Carry’s “Sex and the City” sheer dress dramatics to new heights, then smokes pot with the dad of the kids she babysits.
Shoshanna tells Hannah that Jessa has HPV, too, and she says “all adventurous women do.” (psst…. They don’t.)
Shoshanna is also getting more comfortable with her shame of being a virgin, because she tells Hannah with a lot less drama. (Last week she admitted it for the first time to Marnie.)
Oh, and if you’ve ever been dumped by a gay boyfriend you’ll relate to Hannah even more.
But getting your bellyfat played with while you’re in bed with a skinny guy? Ugh.
After reviewing the Senate redistricting plan proposed by Sen. Merle Flowers (R - Southaven), I've got to say that it's not that bad of a map. In fact, by comparison, this makes the House map created by Rep. Bill Denny (R - Jackson) look even worse. The Flowers map shows that it is possible to redistrict the state without re-segregating it as Denny did.
Here are some notes:
If only more people could cut through the right-wing “protect the rich” talking points like Stephen King, we might actually have a strong middle class again.
This story is horrific if true. His crime? Smoking pot at home with some friends. NBC San Diego:
[H]e was placed in a cell for five days without any human contact and was not given food or drink. In his desperation, he said he was forced to drink his own urine....
After days of being ignored, Chong said he tried to take his own life by breaking the glass from his spectacles with his teeth and then carving ?Sorry mom,? on his wrists. He said nurses also found pieces of glass in his throat, which led him to believe he ingested the pieces purposefully.
He said when employees discovered him in the cell that they looked confused and nervous. A DEA employee rode with him to the hospital, where they paid for Chong?s visit.Jesus Christ. If this story is true, there should be congressional hearings on this and heads should roll. We get so concerned when some Secret Service agents have sex with a hooker, but when DEA agents torture and leave to die an American college student, what's the repercussion?
He spent three days in the intensive care unit at Sharp Hospital and his kidneys were close to failing.
The DEA has not apologized to Chong, said Iredale.
photo credit: Reuters
The anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death has spiked public interest in the foreign policy positions of President Obama and Mitt Romney -- particularly with regards to fighting terrorism and the war in Afghanistan. Over the last couple of days, I have done a number of shows across the networks -- but mostly have the clips from Current TV and MSNBC and want to post here (on next page).
I argue that Barack Obama deserves enormous credit (and political bragging rights) for the decision he made to send the Navy SEAL Team 6 in to get bin Laden. He would have owned the disaster had things gone badly. Mitt Romney's views -- or those he held previously criticizing the resources Obama was expending tracking down bin Laden -- are not shameful or unpresidential. Those views were held by some around the President; some felt the risks were just too high to invade Pakistan's territory and attack the secret bin Laden compound. President Obama overruled those on his team who conveyed their doubts.
The Bush/Cheney team took its eye off the bin Laden ball and turned attention and resources away from attacking bin Laden and al Qaeda and went after Saddam Hussein and later Iraqi insurgent forces instead. Al Qaeda metastasized globally during that period - and Obama's national security team which meets every morning with him has been working one by one through the key al Qaeda commanders and plot integrators and attacking them. The President has been at the helm of this process -- guided essentially by the work and focus of John Brennan, Denis McDonough, and NSC Advisor Tom Donilon.
Finally, Obama is connecting the anniversary of bin Laden's death to a pivot point in America's engagement with Afghanistan. In other words, America -- completing substantially its strategic goal of decimating al Qaeda -- is now framing the enstate of its presence in Afghanistan.
The strategic deal signed yesterday by Hamid Karzai and President Obama is binding but unspecific. Lots can go wrong with the vaguely constructed document which essentially promises that the United States will not abandon Afghanistan after combat troops fully end their mission in 2014. But the President achieved what he wanted which was to fasten Obama's death and the general collapse of the core al Qaeda movement to a strategic shift for the United States.
Presidents find it very hard to end wars -- but Obama seems well on his way to ending America's overextension in Afghanistan as he did in Iraq.
On the following page are some video clips of conversations I have had with Chris Jansing, Eliot Spitzer, Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell, Andrea Mitchell and Rachel Maddow on this arenas of bin Laden-related and US-Afghanistan issues.
The Atlantic's Steve Clemons discussing Obama vs Mitt Romney on Osama bin Laden raid.
Talking with The Atlantic's Steve Clemons on Osama bin Laden, presidential leadership, and the Obama-Romney tussle over who would make the tough calls.
[Oops -- Seems that Spitzer's team has not posted video though it was a good show. If someone finds, please send me embed code.]
Speaking to Krystal Ball, Steve Kornacki, and Steve Clemons on politicization of bin Laden raid.MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews (and Andrea Mitchell):
Chris Matthews talks with The Atlantic's Steve Clemons and NBC's Andrea Mitchell about Obama's performance rolling back al Qaeda network.
Rachel Maddow speaks with Atlantic editor at large Steve Clemons on President Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.
Chad Nance who is a freelance journalist in Winston-Salem and is covering the election here in NC, recorded the wife of NC Sen. Peter Brunstetter confirming that she believes that Amendment One's destiny is not only to save marriage, it apparently also[...]
Read The Full Article:
Edward Conard, a top donor to the super PAC backing Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, is writing a book that calls for more income inequality in the United States. Conard’s book, “Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You Know About The Economy Is Wrong,” takes various views that “aren’t shared by many analysts” or economists, the New York Times’ Adam Davidson notes.
But one of the economists that does, at least in part, share Conard’s views is working for the Romney campaign. Glenn Hubbard, an economist and top Romney economic adviser, takes Conard’s broad economic ideas “seriously,” the Times reports:
Glenn Hubbard, a prominent economist and one of Romney?s chief economic advisers, takes his ideas seriously. ?He doesn?t have the blinders of a model-based view of the world, which is an advantage and a disadvantage,? Hubbard told me.
That Hubbard takes Conard’s economic ideas seriously shouldn’t be surprising. Throughout the campaign, Romney has proposed many of the same failed economic policies this type of worldview promotes, focusing on tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations that he insists will boost growth for the middle and lower classes, even if they have failed to do so before.
Romney shares Conard’s “beliefs about innovation and growth and responsible risk-taking” only on a broad level, Hubbard told the Times. That should be disturbing, though, given that Conard was arguing for more income inequality precisely to promote innovation and growth. Romney himself has shrugged off discussions about income inequality, saying he is “not concerned with the very poor” and that the topic should only be discussed in “quiet rooms.”
As news broke that Richard Grenell — the openly-gay conservative foreign policy spokesperson hired by Mitt Romney — had resigned following pressure from right-wing activists, word came down that the House Republicans have intervened to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and related laws in McLaughlin v. United States, a challenge brought by eight gay and lesbian servicemembers, veterans and their spouses who allege they face discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.
That lawsuit claims that Maj. Shannon McLaughlin of the Massachusetts National Guard and her partner Casey are denied benefits that similarly situated opposite-sex couples enjoy as a result of the 1996 law, which ?violates constitutional equal protection guarantees,? ?the Tenth Amendment and constitutional principles of federalism.? DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples.
The House Republican leadership — in the form of the The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — agreed to defend the discriminatory treatment after Obama administration announced that it will not argue on behalf laws that prevent married same-sex couples from obtaining military benefits. Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner has more:
The move is similar to BLAG’s action in a similar case brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Cooper-Harris v. United States, in which equal veterans benefits are being sought. BLAG, which is controlled by the House Republican leadership, has intervened in several DOMA challenges to defend the 1996 law after the Obama administration stopped defending the federal definition of marriage in February 2011, when Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder concluded the law was unconstitutional.
In a statement today, SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis said, “Speaker Boehner’s request to defend this case in the wake of the ongoing harm done to military families by these discriminatory laws is reprehensible and callous.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office immediately condemned the action, noting, “The men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces risk their lives for the country they love and do not deserve to face prejudice, especially from our nation?s elected leaders, when they return home. Speaker Boehner should grant the request of Leader Pelosi and Whip Hoyer for a vote of the BLAG on the expanded DOMA defense efforts regarding veterans cases and allow the Committee on House Administration and the Ethics Committee to review any new contracts or additional expenditures of taxpayer funds.?
This is the 12th case in which Boehner has intervened and it comes as the head of his party fails to stand up to the anti-gay wing of the conservative movement.
President Obama, speaking last night from Kabul, told an American audience that the new Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by him and Afghan President Hamid Karzai will usher in a “future in which war ends, and a new chapter begins.” The speech acknowledged the sacrifices made in the decade long war in Afghanistan which has become increasingly unpopular in recent months and taken the lives of 1,957 Americans.
Obama, speaking from Bagram Air Base, said:
My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm?s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda.
The speech emphasized the growing responsibilities shouldered by Afghan Security Forces as 23,000 U.S. soldiers return home this summer. “Nearly half the Afghan people live in places where Afghan Security Forces are moving into the lead,” said the President.
U.S. and other foreign troops will continue to train, advise, assist and, as needed, fight alongside Afghan forces as the U.S. military shifts into a support role. “As we do, our troops will be coming home. [...] And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country,” said Obama.
The speech, while acknowledging the ongoing role to be played by U.S. forces in Afghanistan until 2014, also touched on the domestic challenges facing the U.S. and the toll of a nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan and eight year U.S. presence in Iraq, where the last U.S. troops departed on December 18:
As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew America. An America where our children live free from fear, and have the skills to claim their dreams. A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation.
Watch the full speech:
The Mitt Romney campaign issued a statement welcoming Obama’s comments from Afghanistan. “I am pleased that President Obama has returned to Afghanistan. Our troops and the American people deserve to hear from our President about what is at stake in this war,” said the statement. But former Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, who has since endorsed Romney, told CNN that Obama was putting “arbitrary deadlines” on the Afghan drawdown and that Romney would have “taken a different approach” and “feels it?s important to define the mission ahead in terms of strategic outcomes, not in terms of days or months on the calendar.”
by Daniel J. Weiss and Rebecca Leber
Together the big five oil companies?BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell?earned a combined $33.5 billion, or $368 million per day, during the first quarter of 2012.
Recall that these companies made a combined record profit of $137 billion in 2011, mostly due to high oil and gasoline prices. Their ongoing huge earnings mean that these companies do not need $24 billion for a decade’s worth of tax breaks, particularly since the three American companies pay relatively low effective federal tax rates.
Profits for Chevron continued to grow during the first quarter of 2012 compared to this time last year, while they fell slightly for Shell and ConocoPhillips. ExxonMobil and BP saw a decline in first-quarter profits mainly due to reduced oil production (both) and very low natural gas prices (Exxon).
Cumulatively, profits were 7 percent lower than the first quarter of 2011. And more than one-quarter of these profits were used to repurchase companies? stock. Meanwhile, CEO compensation grew by a whopping average of 55 percent.
Below we dig a little deeper into the big five?s latest earnings?including how they spent them?and explain why companies this profitable should not be receiving billions in tax breaks especially when this money could be spent on other national priorities.
High oil and gas prices boost Big Oil?s bottom line
High oil and gas prices greatly contributed to the big five?s first-quarter earnings. The most important contributor to high gasoline prices is high oil prices. The Energy Information Administration estimates that the cost of crude oil was two-thirds of the cost of a gallon of gas in March 2012.
During the first quarter of 2012 the average gasoline price rose by 63 cents per gallon, or 19 percent, according to the Energy Information Agency. West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices peaked at $109 per on February 24, but eventually declined to $103 per on March 30 ?the same as on January 3. Higher oil prices helped boost gasoline prices, as did closed refineries and other factors.
Also during the first quarter the Brent crude oil price in Europe grew by $12 per barrel, an 11 percent increase. The Brent price peaked at $128 per barrel on March 13 before closing at $123 on March 30. The uncertainty about a Persian Gulf oil supply disruption due to the confrontation with Iran contributed to the higher Brent price. High Brent prices affect Americans on the East Coast because this oil is imported and refined into gasoline there.
Balance sheets most companies would envy
While some of the big five companies saw declines in earnings compared to last year, all of the companies did very well in the first quarter and are still well in the black.
Chevron made 5 percent more in first-quarter earnings compared to 2011 even though its oil production dropped by nearly 5 percent compared to 2011. Chevron spent $1.3 billion repurchasing its stock, which was nearly 20 percent of its first-quarter profits. This practice enriches shareholders but it doesn?t add to oil supplies or investments in alternative fuels or other new technologies that would benefit drivers by providing substitutes for gasoline.
Chevron paid a 19 percent effective federal tax rate in 2011, much lower than the U.S. statutory corporate rate of 35 percent. Its CEO John Watson received $25 million in compensation last year, a 53 percent raise.
Shell?s earnings dropped by 1 percent. It was the only one of the big five oil companies to produce as much oil during this quarter compared to one year ago. Shell CEO Peter Voser?s compensation more than doubled in 2011 compared to 2010.
ConocoPhillips?s first-quarter 2012 profit was $100 million?or 3 percent?less than in 2011, which came to $2.9 billion. Reuters reports this is due to ?weak refining margins? and decreased output after a spill in China. The company spent 66 percent of its first-quarter profits?or $1.9 billion?buying back its own stock.
Conoco also spent $20.6 million on lobbying Congress in 2011, making it the sixth-largest overall spender in 2011 and the top lobbying oil and gas company. Conoco paid an 18 percent effective federal tax rate in 2011, and outgoing CEO James Mulva received a $27.7 million salary, a 55 percent jump in 2011.
ExxonMobil?s first-quarter profits declined by 11 percent compared to 2011. But it still made a whopping $9.5 billion, an average of nearly $104 million per day from January 1 to March 31, 2012. This is a balance sheet that most companies would envy. The New York Times notes that:
The company said that production of oil and oil equivalents decreased by more than 5 percent compared with the first quarter of 2011, although revenue rose because of higher oil prices.
Exxon spent $5.7 billion of these profits?or 60 percent?buying back its stock. The company paid a 13 percent effective federal tax rate in 2011, the lowest among the three largest domestic oil companies. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson?s 2011 salary was $34.9 million, a 20 percent raise from 2010.
Further, Exxon and its employees have already donated more than $1 million to federal candidates in the 2011-12 election cycle, making it the largest campaign funder in the oil industry. Republicans received 91 percent of these contributions.
BP reported a 19 percent decline in first quarter profits compared to one year ago. Its production of oil was 14 percent lower than 2011. Bloomberg reported that this decline occurred because the Gulf of Mexico blowout in 2010 forced the company to ?sell assets to raise cash?asset sales lowered production and refining weakened.? Despite the drop in profits, BP CEO Robert Dudley received a 300 percent salary increase to $6.8 million. This was the largest salary change among the big five CEOs.
These companies clearly don?t need $24 billion in tax breaks
Amid their very remunerative first quarter, these extremely profitable companies continue to pressure Congress to maintain their cherished tax breaks. ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute?Big Oil?s trade association loaded with well-heeled lobbyists?fervently opposed and helped defeat a bill to reduce Big Oil tax breaks despite earning another $33.5 billion in profits during the first quarter. They succeeded by convincing enough senators to vote against the bill to remove their tax breaks that the Senate was unable to muster a supermajority of 60 votes required for passage.
On March 29 the Senate voted down the Repeal Big Oil Subsidies Act, S. 2204, sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). It would have eliminated $24 billion in tax breaks over the coming decade for the big five companies while investing in clean energy technologies. This included an extension of the production tax credit for wind energy, which would save 37,000 jobs. The bill received a majority of votes, 51 to 47, but this was nine short of the votes required for passage.
These Big Oil subsidies, combined with a low effective federal tax rate, simply shift the tax burden on to the middle class. Martin A. Sullivan, a former Treasury Department economist, observes that ?when America?s most profitable companies pay less, the general public has to pay more.?
The big five oil companies continue to be spectacularly profitable, as their first-quarter 2012 earnings demonstrate. They earned $100 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. But instead of asking these companies to relinquish their billions of dollars in tax breaks, the House Republican leadership proposes to cut investments in women?s health programs to avoid the doubling of student loan interest rates.
This spending unfairness is the Big Oil equivalent of Warren Buffet?s secretary paying a higher tax rate than he does. Congress must enact a ?big oil fair share? rule so that the companies that made a combined $33.5 billion in profits in just three months no longer receive billions of dollars of tax breaks, too. This money could definitely be put to better use to assist every day Americans instead of further enriching gigantic oil companies.
Daniel J. Weiss is a Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy and Rebecca Leber is a Research Assistant for Think Progress at the Center for American Progress. This piece was originally published at the Center for American Progress.
Thanks to Noreen Nielsen, Energy Communications Director, Center for American Progress, Richard Caperton, Director of Clean Energy Investment, and Jackie Weidman, Special Assistant for the Energy Team.