If someone understands you to say that you're opposed to gay marriage "because the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to uh, reproduce," this is not how to correct the record. [...]
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Yesterday we learned that Mitt Romney's openly-gay foreign policy spokesman, Ric Grenell, was stepping down in the face of withering criticism from the religious right. We also learned that Romney had, oddly, refused to let the spokesman do any work for a good two weeks while the scandal brewed. Nor did Romney do anything during that time to help shore up his embattled employee who was being attacked simply for his sexual orientation.
Today, former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer spoke out, publicly questioned why Mitt Romney seemed to have benched his own spokesman in the face of the anti-gay criticism.
I have to give a number of people credit for this story. First off, Greg Sargent at the Washington Post who did a great job getting Fleischer's input, which is important. Second, Greg's conservative counterpart at the Post, Jennifer Rubin, who also did a great job breaking this story yesterday, and confirming that Romney seemed to be the one caving to the anti-gay pressure. It's nice to see straight, and/or conservative, bloggers dogging a story important to our community. (And I even have to give Fleischer credit for taking on the GOP candidate over an apparent anti-gay slight.)
Howie, I am listening to you on Nicole?s Monday show and cannot tell you how amazing you are. I love your passion, you intelligence, and all that you say and do.
I have a request. I vote out of Santa Monica but live up in xxx, and have tried to read about an alternative to Henry Waxman, my congressman, but nothing on Google. I just feel that he hasn?t done all I expect him to do. Dropping the ball on the Bush Impeachment and other things. Would like to vote for someone else, just to show my anger and frustration. I plan to vote for the ex Salt Lake mayor, at the moment, for president. I want Obama to know this and maybe he will somehow hear someone like me?s anger and frustration. I may end up voting for Obama, but not now. Do you have any name(s) for me? Would very much appreciate it.
Howie, I hope you sleep well every night, knowing what a very special person you are. We need to clone you. F Debbie Wasserman. What a piece of shit. Waxman, Wasserman/Shultz make me ashamed to be a Jew. Howie Klein MAKES ME PROUD to be a MOT.
With Deep Respect.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
Chris Christie may be fat, but he ain?t Santa Claus. In fact, he seems unable to decide if he is New Jersey?s governor or its caporegime, and it may be a comment on the coarsening of American discourse that his brash rudeness is often taken for charm. In February, while discussing New Jersey?s newly amended income-tax law, which allows the rich to pay less (proportionally) than the middle class, Christie was asked about Warren Buffett?s observation that he paid less federal income taxes than his personal secretary, and that wasn?t fair. ?He should just write a check and shut up,? Christie responded, with his typical verve. ?I?m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he?s got the ability to write a check-- go ahead and write it.?
Heard it all before. At a rally in Florida (to support collective bargaining and to express the socialist view that firing teachers with experience was sort of a bad idea), I pointed out that I was paying taxes of roughly 28 percent on my income. My question was, ?How come I?m not paying 50?? The governor of New Jersey did not respond to this radical idea, possibly being too busy at the all-you-can-eat cheese buffet at Applebee?s in Jersey City, but plenty of other people of the Christie persuasion did.
Cut a check and shut up, they said.
If you want to pay more, pay more, they said.
Tired of hearing about it, they said.
Tough shit for you guys, because I?m not tired of talking about it. I?ve known rich people, and why not, since I?m one of them? The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing ?Disco Inferno? than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar. It?s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn?t go far enough.
What charitable 1 percenters can?t do is assume responsibility-- America?s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can?t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny. That kind of salvation does not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Ballmer saying, ?OK, I?ll write a $2 million bonus check to the IRS.? That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.
And hey, why don?t we get real about this? Most rich folks paying 28 percent taxes do not give out another 28 percent of their income to charity. Most rich folks like to keep their dough. They don?t strip their bank accounts and investment portfolios. They keep them and then pass them on to their children, their children?s children. And what they do give away is-- like the monies my wife and I donate-- totally at their own discretion. That?s the rich-guy philosophy in a nutshell: don?t tell us how to use our money; we?ll tell you.
The Koch brothers are right-wing creepazoids, but they?re giving right-wing creepazoids. Here?s an example: 68 million fine American dollars to Deerfield Academy. Which is great for Deerfield Academy. But it won?t do squat for cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, where food fish are now showing up with black lesions. It won?t pay for stronger regulations to keep BP (or some other bunch of dipshit oil drillers) from doing it again. It won?t repair the levees surrounding New Orleans. It won?t improve education in Mississippi or Alabama. But what the hell-- them li?l crackers ain?t never going to go to Deerfield Academy anyway. Fuck ?em if they can?t take a joke.
Here?s another crock of fresh bullshit delivered by the right wing of the Republican Party (which has become, so far as I can see, the only wing of the Republican Party): the richer rich people get, the more jobs they create. Really? I have a total payroll of about 60 people, most of them working for the two radio stations I own in Bangor, Maine. If I hit the movie jackpot-- as I have, from time to time-- and own a piece of a film that grosses $200 million, what am I going to do with it? Buy another radio station? I don?t think so, since I?m losing my shirt on the ones I own already. But suppose I did, and hired on an additional dozen folks. Good for them. Whoopee-ding for the rest of the economy.
...I guess some of this mad right-wing love comes from the idea that in America, anyone can become a Rich Guy if he just works hard and saves his pennies. Mitt Romney has said, in effect, ?I?m rich and I don?t apologize for it.? Nobody wants you to, Mitt. What some of us want-- those who aren?t blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money-- is for you to acknowledge that you couldn?t have made it in America without America. That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it?s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. Not fair? It?s un-fucking-American is what it is. I don?t want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share. That our civics classes never taught us that being American means that-- sorry, kiddies-- you?re on your own. That those who have received much must be obligated to pay-- not to give, not to ?cut a check and shut up,? in Governor Christie?s words, but to pay-- in the same proportion. That?s called stepping up and not whining about it. That?s called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn?t cost their beloved rich folks any money.
This has to happen if America is to remain strong and true to its ideals. It?s a practical necessity and a moral imperative. Last year during the Occupy movement, the conservatives who oppose tax equality saw the first real ripples of discontent. Their response was either Marie Antoinette (?Let them eat cake?) or Ebenezer Scrooge (?Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses??). Short-sighted, gentlemen. Very short-sighted. If this situation isn?t fairly addressed, last year?s protests will just be the beginning. Scrooge changed his tune after the ghosts visited him. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, lost her head.
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Jonah Goldberg went on Piers Morgan Monday night to promote his latest "nanny-boo-boo liberals!" book, and belched up a favorite right-wing canard.
MORGAN: I'm curious what you're thinking what (inaudible).
GOLDBERG: I would put it [the Bin Laden raid] at -- I don't know, $50 million, $40 million.
MORGAN: Wow. That's cheap in the Republican world?
GOLDBERG: That's cheap in comparison to what the cost of the war on terror is.
MORGAN: No wonder the country got into the mess it did.
GOLDBERG: I suppose that that's supposed to be a really telling point. I'm not quite sure how it is.
MORGAN: I'm just saying the Republican administration obviously led to a huge financial collapse. You wouldn't dispute that.
GOLDBERG: I would and I would also say Barack Obama has spent much, much, much, much more money than the Republicans.
MORGAN: Would you dispute that after eight years of Republican administration the country went into a huge economic collapse?
GOLDBERG: No, but that's a timeline question.
Don't you just love that last bit where Jonah shrugs off Bush/Cheney's presiding over the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression as "a timeline question"? The party of
personal responsibility blaming everyone else strikes again!
But Jonah is, of course, totally, hilariously, absolutely wrong about this supposed spending binge under Obama.
First, as of 2011, Bush's policies had cost the country over $5T, compared to Obama's $1T.
You want to look at growth in government spending? Obama's lower than George W. Bush and Reagan.
What about government purchases of goods and services? Yep, they've collapsed under Obama.
Government employees? A record decline under Obama.
"Obama's record spending spree is bankrupting the nation" is yet another Big Lie right-wingers like Goldberg -- who incidentally was a cheerleader for Bush/Cheney while they were turning record surpluses into record deficits -- are telling about Obama. It's a lie Mitt Romney will tell during the campaign.
And it's a lie that the media will probably them get away with.
The wife of a prominent North Carolina state senator and supporter of Amendment 1 — a proposed ballot initiative that would outlaw same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships in the state — claimed earlier this week that her husband advocated for the measure to protect the “Caucasian” race.
Jodie Brunstetter, the wife of North Carolina state Sen. Peter Brunstetter, made the remarks “outside the early voting site at the Forsyth County Government Center in downtown Winston-Salem” while speaking to voters, Chad Nance, a Winston-Salem freelance journalist, reports. Nance heard about Jodie’s comments from an African-American poll worker who allegedly overheard Brunstetter say, “The reason my husband wrote Amendment 1 was because the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to uh, reproduce.?
Asked to clarify her statement, Brunstetter reluctantly confirmed that she did in fact use the phrase ?Caucasian?:
BRUNSTETTER: [P]eople who founded the United states wrote a Constitution and it has been what has preserved this society. And we were just talking about lots of different things which the gentleman was turning around.
NANCE: You didn’t tell that one lady that it was to preserve the Caucasian race, because they were becoming a minority? That’s what an old lady down the block told us.
BRUNSTETTER: No, no.
NANCE: You didn’t say that? She’s lying?
BRUNSTETTER: No. It’s just that same sex marriages are not having children. [...]
NANCE: You didn’t say anything about Caucasians?
BRUNSTETTER: I probably said the word.
NANCE: In reference to….? You didn’t tell her anything about Caucasians? …
BRUNSTETTER: Right now I am a little confused myself because there has been confusion here today about this amendment, where it is very simple. The opponents are saying things that are not true and so there has been a lot of conversation going back and forth…. Right now I have some heat stroke going on. I’m not quite sure now. Because there has been lots of confusion.
NANCE: So you did or did not say anything about Caucasians?
BRUNSTETTER: If I did it wasn’t anything race related.
Responding to his wife’s comments, Sen. Brunstetter told ThinkProgress, “I know my wife does not think like that,” but admitted that “She got very flustered (she is not a political person) and then someone came up to her and started shooting questions at her. She noticed later that there was someone video taping without her knowledge.”
“My wife is one of the sweetest, most genuine people you will ever meet,” he added. “Her convictions on the marriage amendment are spiritual in nature, not racial. The individual in question had been quite abusive and intimidating. The Amendment is not racially motivated, is quite simple and straightforward and, in fact, is widely supported in many areas of the African American community.”
Jodie told the Winston-Salem Journal, “I seriously don’t remember.” “There was quite a bit of conversation ? the reasons for the amendment is for there to be marriage between a man and a woman and it does not matter what race.”
Amendment 1, which goes to a vote on May 8, has already divided the African American community between leaders who argue that the Bible prohibits homosexual behavior and those who maintain that religious interpretations should not influence civil laws. The comments by Mrs. Brunstetter will likely interject more racial division into the debate.
For ThinkProgress’ full coverage of Amendment 1, click here.
In 2008, Convicted terrorist Jose Padilla sued former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo for writing controversial Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos justifying the use of torture. The suit said Yoo’s memos, which were signed by OLC head Jay Bybee, provided the legal justifications for what the suit said was Padilla?s unconstitutional confinement and ?gross physical and psychological abuse.?
Today, the 9th Circuit Court, of which Jay Bybee is a member, ruled that Yoo is protected from the lawsuit, claiming that the law defining torture and the treatment of enemy combatants was unsettled when Yoo wrote the memos:
We therefore hold that Yoo must be granted qualified immunity, and accordingly reverse the decision of the district court.
As we explain below, we reach this conclusion for two reasons. First, although during Yoo?s tenure at OLC the constitutional rights of convicted prisoners and persons subject to ordinary criminal process were, in many respects, clearly established, it was not ?beyond debate? at that time that Padilla ? who was not a convicted prisoner or criminal defendant, but a suspected terrorist designated an enemy combatant and confined to military detention by order of the President ? was entitled to the same constitutional protections as an ordinary convicted prisoner or accused criminal. Id. Second, although it has been clearly established for decades that torture of an American citizen violates the Constitution, and we assume without deciding that Padilla?s alleged treatment rose to the level of torture, that such treatment was torture was not clearly established in 2001-03.
Running down the list of torture memos Bybee signed, Marcy Wheeler writes of the 9th Circuit’s decision, “Oh good. We don?t have to question the competence of anyone on the 9th Circuit now, given that the 9th Circuit has judged that it was not beyond debate that Inquisition torture methods were torture when now-9th Circuit judges were signing off on claims they weren?t.”
On Tuesday, the New York Assembly voted 136-3 to pass a bill that creates privately funded scholarships to help the children of undocumented immigrants. The measure is seen as the first step toward passing a state DREAM Act in New York, which has never passed the state Assembly or Senate. Now, it heads to the GOP-controlled state Senate, where its future is uncertain. The legislation would set up the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — or DREAM — Fund Commission to solicit donations, and advocates praised it as a strong first step to help immigrant children. “Hopefully one day we are going to have the DREAM Act but this is the first step that we are making,” said 16-year-old Katherine Tabares, who hopes to study environmental engineering in college.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) proposed a tax plan in January that he said would make the state’s tax code “fairer, flatter, simpler” by lowering tax rates for all Kansans. As ThinkProgress noted at the time, Brownback’s plan actually cut taxes for the state’s top 1 percent while raising them on the lower and middle classes.
Facing criticism from policy analysts and lawmakers, Brownback’s plan hung up in the state legislature, where lawmakers have been working to hammer out a compromise plan. Now, however, a group of 50 former Republican lawmakers is calling on Brownback to abandon the plan because it would blow a massive hole in the state budget, jeopardizing schools, roads, and other important programs, the Lawrence Journal-World reports:
Traditional Republicans for Common Sense said the tax bill, if enacted, would put the state in a budget hole that would result in cuts to essential services, such as schools, roads, and nursing home care. The group said it would also lead to increases in local property taxes.
?I think Kansas taxpayers need to be asking where the governor would make these cuts,? said Rochelle Chronister, former assistant majority leader in the House, and former chair of the Kansas Republican Party.
?More importantly, we need to be asking what cuts of this magnitude might look like for working families, retirees and Kansas children,” Chronister, of Neodesha, said.
Original analysis of Brownback’s plan found that it would cost the state $900 million by 2018. A new analysis, released recently, said it would cost only $160 million by 2018, though that plan is based on growth projections in state sales tax revenues that are largely unrealistic.
Brownback has not said how he would make up the lost revenue, instead adhering to the false Republican orthodoxy that the tax cuts wouldn’t affect the budget because they would create jobs and boost economic growth.
by Adam James
The myth is that solar energy has achieved little despite huge subsidies. The reality is that solar has achieved a great deal despite relatively low subsidies.
A new report from the Baker Center for Public Policy just released a fabulous new analysis comparing incentives for solar with historical incentives for fossil fuels, including this chart:
The report, commissioned by the solar industry’s trade group, has a number of interesting conclusions:
These arguments are even more persuasive in light of the recent paper from McKinsey showing how dramatically the market for solar photovoltaics will grow in the coming decade. Taken together, these analyses show that we are clearly reaching the dawn of a new age for solar.
Let’s explore some of the most important takeaways from the Baker Center report:
Solar has not received a disproportionate amount of Federal Subsidies
Critics often claim that solar is unfairly subsidized. The Baker Center report squashes this claim with some nuanced analysis on the necessity and purpose of subsidies:
?Diffusion of solar energy technology in the energy markets is consistent with the less-than-smooth paths that many American industries have traveled as they entered the mainstream of commerce.?
No energy technology goes from laboratory to market overnight. As the report puts it, innovators and early adopters only constitute 16 percent of total technology adoption. Then there is a ?chasm? before mainstream adoption by the remaining 84 percent. What subsidies do, in bridging this chasm, is ensure that while ?not all companies that enter the market early flourish ? the industry itself can succeed.? Federal incentives have classically supported new energy resources during the average 30-year period between early adoption and full technology adoption.
The Baker Center found that ?federal investment in solar technologies has been modest in a long-term historical context relative to other energy technologies.? As the above diagram shows, solar has not only received far less total subsidization, but it is receiving it at the point where technologies are supposed to be receiving support:
Incentives are working
How do we tell if incentives are working? The Baker Center rightly argues that the basic purpose of subsidization is to bring a technology across the “chasm” and into mainstream adoption. This being the case, the best policies are stable and long-term, giving investors strong policy signals that build confidence in the technology. As their findings show, the incredible growth rate in solar capacity over the last few years (see below) all took place while the federal investment tax credit and state renewable energy standards were in place. Tack on falling prices for PV, and you get a 77 percent growth rate in the period over the last five years. This growth is spurring more innovation in manufacturing and deployment, helping push solar PV toward grid parity at a rapid rate.
Growth in Solar PV will create jobs
Did I say jobs? I meant hundreds of thousands of jobs. The report finds that between 200,000 and 430,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs will come from the solar industry in 2020. A recent solar jobs census found that there are already 100,000 Americans working in the sector. The connection is clear: more demand and lower costs are accelerating employment in the installation, maintenance and manufacturing of solar PV.
According to this report, solar gives you more bang for your buck ? providing ?more jobs per megawatt-hour than any other energy industry.?
There are also implications for global competitiveness. In 2010, the United States was a net exporter of solar PV to China, with a $1.9 billion trade surplus. If we can keep our stake in the global PV market, we will create an additional 67,000 jobs by 2030 through increased exports.
Solar’s impact on the energy mix will depend on what kind of support the industry gets during this critical period. For the optimist, the report outlines a ?Solar Grand Plan? projecting the technology could ?provide 35 percent of total U.S needs by 2050 and 90 percent by 2100.? According to the below estimates, there are 3.9 million terawatt-hours of recoverable solar resources available through a combined set of compressed air storage and solar generation technologies.
The potential for solar is enormous in the U.S. But it’s not theoretical anymore. Solar PV is rapidly gaining market traction today ? creating jobs, providing local economic value, and doing so with government support consistent with every other energy technology throughout history.
Adam James is a special assistant for energy policy at the Center for American Progress.
Catholic bishops have loudly opposed the Obama administration’s plan to expand contraception access, despite the fact that a majority of Catholics disagree with the church’s position. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan even has claimed that expanding access to birth control would spread “secularism.” But in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Jansing, Dolan conceded that conceded that most Catholics reject the Church’s prohibition on birth control and likely support the administration’s compromise:
CHRIS JANSING (MSNBC HOST): Do you think Catholics will vote on the birth control issue, for example?
DOLAN: No, I don’t think they’d do that. [...] You are right, and many people are right, when they say bishops, I don’t know if you’ve got your people with you on the specific issue of contraception.
Watch the MSNBC interview here starting at 2:30:
A recent Gallup poll shows that Catholics are not turning away from President Obama because of the contraception debate. Even though the Catholic Church has attacked the Obama administration, Obama has a six-point lead over Mitt Romney, who opposes the contraception regulation, among Catholic voters.