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? VA-Gov: Public Policy Polling has a very early look at the 2013 gubernatorial race in Virginia, where Democrats would actually start off with a big advantage?but only if Sen. Mark Warner were to try to reclaim the governor's mansion, which he held from 2002 to 2006. Here are the results (4/26-29, Virginia voters, MoE: ±3.8%, no trendlines):
Mark Warner (D): 53In case you are unfamiliar with the other players, Terry McAuliffe is a former DNC chair and also an unsuccessful 2009 candidate for the Democratic nomination; Tom Perriello is a former one-term congressman who represented VA-05; Bill Bolling is the state's current lieutenant governor and "establishment" choice; Ken Cuccinelli is Virginia's attorney general and a favorite among movement conservatives; and Tareq Salahi is that rich d-bag who is most famous for crashing a White House state dinner with his wife in 2009.
Ken Cuccinelli (R): 33
Mark Warner (D): 53
Bill Bolling (R): 32
Mark Warner (D): 58
Tareq Salahi (R): 19
Terry McAuliffe (D): 41
Ken Cuccinelli (R): 36
Terry McAuliffe (D): 34
Bill Bolling (R): 36
Terry McAuliffe (D): 43
Tareq Salahi (R): 18
Tom Perriello (D): 39
Ken Cuccinelli (R): 36
Tom Perriello (D): 34
Bill Bolling (R): 35
Tom Perriello (D): 44
Tareq Salahi (R): 20
PPP also tested the GOP primary (MoE: ±4.9%):
Ken Cuccinelli (R): 51This is actually good news for Democrats, since Bolling performs better against our lesser-known candidates (McAuliffe and Perriello) than the more polarizing Cuccinelli. Of course, that could change over the next year-and-a-half, but for now, I'll take it. (And man must Bolling be regretting his decision to defer to Bob McDonnell in the gubernatorial race in 2009. He figured he'd have a clean shot in 2013 by "waiting his turn," but Cuccinelli's ambition has completely ruined those plans.)
Bill Bolling (R): 23
Tareq Salahi (R): 4
BAGNews Notes - why is Ann Romney wearing Ed Hardy? (that costs a grand):
FDL - no water gun for you at GOP convention, but a concealed handgun? Sure!
Sadly, No! - abandon morality, all ye who read National Review;
Taegan Goddard - Romney-backer Bachmann said yesterday that Obama can't win;
The Political Carnival - Mittens no habla Español.
blogenfreude blogs at stinque.com and still can't quite buy into Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.
A variety of links to articles/interviews/speeches on current issues that may be of interest.[...]
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Visual source: Newseum
Michael Schear at The New York Times on the new GOP slogan:
Remember ?Hope and Change? from Barack Obama?s 2008 campaign? The Republican Party is hoping to make you to think ?Hype and Blame.? [...]So their entire messaging strategy is to construct a narrative of "hype and blame" by...blaming all of the world's problem's on President Obama. Jay Bookman at The Atlanta Journal Constitution adds:
The Republicans will begin selling bumper stickers with the ?Hype & Blame? phrase as part of their campaign.
Republicans hope to make ?Hype & Blame? as ubiquitous as ?Hope & Change.?
?Obama has no record to run on so he?s out on the trail resorting to the same tactics he campaigned against in 2008,? Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for Republican National Committee, said Wednesday night. ?He has a litany of broken promises so what does he do? Lay blame, make excuses, run on gimmicks and engage in divisive politics. Four years later we know the candidate of ?Hope and Change? is now ?Hype and Blame.??
Among Republicans, the fact that the divisiveness is almost entirely their own creation doesn?t faze them in the least. Like a spouse abuser who blames his violence on his victim, the Republican Party hopes to blame the whole mess all on Obama.Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine:
The truth is, Obama infuriates the Republicans simply by waking up as president each morning. Under the rubric of ?taking our country back,? they have challenged his status as an American, they have impugned his faith and they have even questioned his loyalty and patriotism. From the very beginning, they have pursued a conscious strategy of refusing to compromise in any way whatsoever, to the point that they have purged any in their own camp who dare to even suggest such a course. (See Lugar, Richard) [...]
Even [after compromising and taking the Republican position on healthcare], it took Obama a while to come to the realization that no matter what he did, there would be no compromise. The only thing that his opponents wanted from him was his surrender and then his disappearance. That was their price for ?unity,? and now they want to blame him for refusing to pay it.
Police officers and firefighters are a tricky occupational category for Republicans. Culturally, they are allies ? working class, mostly male, and beloved symbols of American values. Economically, though, they are government workers, which has always put their interests in tension with those of the GOP, and especially so in recent years, as Republicans have increasingly held up government workers as a kind of parasitic class.
Last night Mitt Romney was strolling across one side of this tricky line and slipped to the other. [...]
Romney?s position is that these fine public servants are luxuriating in excessive pay, a fact that, unlike swelling income inequality, constitutes a major source of unfairness in American life. (?We will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve,? he said last week.)
This is actually a policy flashpoint between the two parties. Public employment has cratered in recent years, with public sector jobs continuing to decline even as private sector jobs rebound, exerting a continued drag on the sluggish recovery. Obama?s position is that the federal government ought to provide aid to state governments to rehire some of the laid-off teachers, cops, and firefighters. Republicans oppose this. Romney seems to have forgotten that the firefighters he came face-to-face with are one category of Americans whose economic pain he?s supposed to be in favor of.
Dick Polman at The Philadelphia Inquirer on the Republican attacks on any mention of the killing of bin Laden:
The Romney people would be well advised to brush up on the history of their own party. Consider, for instance, the election of 1900. William McKinley?s bid for a second term featured an end-zone dance about the Spanish-American War. McKinley?s top surrogate was his running mate, war hero Theodore Roosevelt, who told voters: ?We drew the sword and waged the most righteous and brilliantly successful foreign war that this generation has seen.?The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson asks "why?" on Afghanistan:
But why go back 112 years? I don?t recall any of Obama?s critics complaining in May 2003, when George W. Bush donned a flight suit and strutted around the deck of an aircraft carrier with a banner emblazoned ?Mission Accomplished.?
Everyone knew that ceremony was being choreographed for Bush?s reelection bid. The White House hired an ex-ABC News producer to advise on production values. The carrier was directed to shift positions several times to ensure that an expanse of water, rather than the nearby California coastline, would serve as the backdrop when Bush?s plane landed. And his remarks, noting the end of ?major combat operations in Iraq,? were delayed until the cameras could frame him against the golden sunset, at what?s known in Hollywood as ?the magic hour.?
The Taliban government was deposed and routed. Al-Qaeda was first dislodged and then decimated, with ?over 20 of their top 30 leaders? killed, according to the president. Osama bin Laden was tracked to his lair in Pakistan, shot dead and buried at sea. To the extent that al-Qaeda still poses a threat, it comes from affiliate organizations in places such as Yemen and from the spread of poisonous jihadist ideology. Al-Qaeda?s once-extensive training camps in Afghanistan have long been obliterated, and the group?s presence in the country is minimal.Speaking of foreign policy, Jonathan Capehart looks at Romney's response to plight of a Chinese activist and also the treatment of his openly gay (former) foreign policy spokesperson:
That smells like victory to me. Yet 94 American troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan so far in 2012, U.S. forces will still be engaged in combat until the end of 2014, and we are committed to an extraordinary ? and expensive ? level of involvement there until 2024. Why?
Of the U.S. troops who died this year as a result of hostile fire ? as opposed to accidents, illnesses or suicide ? at least one of every seven was killed not by the Taliban but by ostensibly friendly Afghan security forces.
Seeming to fight for Chen was a messy move for Romney. But what it lacked in long-term thinking it made up for in short-term benefit. For it shifted the day?s conversation away from Romney?s unwillingness to fight for Richard Grenell.
Grenell was supposed to be the national security and foreign policy spokesperson for the Romney presidential campaign. Grenell was a longtime spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and then an alternative representative to the Security Council under President George W. Bush; his credentials for the Romney job were indeed impeccable. He also is openly gay. And that didn?t sit too well with some vocal social conservatives such as Bryan Fischer.
After Grenell announced his resignation, the story moved quickly from the role of social conservatives in his departure to the inability or unwillingness of Romney to defend a qualified aide brought on to hone his foreign policy message against Obama. Romney had to have known about Grenell?s reputation for sharp elbows and a sharp tongue. He of course knew that Grenell is openly gay. He should have known that social conservatives were going to go after him. As Ruth Marcus writes, ?Given the predictable, disgusting backlash to Grenell?s hiring, how could the campaign have no plan to deal with it other than shove Grenell into the background ? the closet? ? until the furor died down?? The absence of independence and leadership from Romney made it impossible for Grenell to stay.
A year after floating the idea, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa made a big move Thursday by releasing a draft contempt resolution against Attorney General Eric Holder, claiming the Justice Department hasn't cooperated with his congressional investigation into the flawed ATF operation known as "Fast and Furious."
But several experts in congressional contempt proceedings told TPM that Issa's move is mostly a problem of political perception for Holder. Legal consequences, should the House pass the contempt resolution, would take years to sort out.
Issa's draft contempt resolution contends that the Justice Department hasn't cooperated fully with the investigation, arguing its been slow to turn over documents, that the committee requested via subpoena, on the operation that let guns "walk" into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
DOJ responded to Issa's draft resolution with a strongly worded letter from Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who wrote that DOJ officials "continue to believe that efforts to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution have not been fully exhausted."
Issa's committee, Cole wrote, "has not taken sufficient steps to define the categories of documents it deems essential to its review of Fast and Furious and its decision to issue a draft contempt citation appears to express a preference for confrontation over resolution."
Congress has pursued contempt resolutions against members of the executive branch in the past, but they aren't common. Most recently, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee in 2008 began contempt proceedings against Bush administration officials Karl Rove and Harriet Miers.
"It's pretty rare to have executive branch officers to be held in contempt of Congress," law professor Josh Chafetz told TPM. "Usually these kind of disputes wind up getting settled through negotiations before it ever comes to a contempt citation."
Stan Brand told TPM that Holder really shouldn't be worried because of how cumbersome the contempt process can get, describing contempt proceedings as "mostly for show" and a "circus event." The House would have to vote before it pursued civil remedies in court.
"I can't really take it seriously because as you know for the last 30 years the Justice Department -- both Republicans and Democrats -- has taken the position that you can't enforce the contempt statute against members of the executive branch who assert privilege or some other defense to the subpoenas," Brand said.
"I wouldn't be [worried] if I were advising the Attorney General, I'd say read the precedents and go about your business. Don't worry about it, it'll be 2014 before this gets resolved," Brand said.
Chafetz, who described himself as a "big partisan for congressional power," said DOJ should turn over more information but believes the issue will be settled via negotiation rather than in court.
"My general sense is that the executive owes Congress quite a lot of information, especially here where you have the executive engaging in highly questionable tactics," Chafetz said. "Here you have government officials saying 'well we know they're running guns but we're going to sit back and see what happens' -- there may be good reasons for that, there may not, but it certainly falls well within Congress' oversight to be able to ask 'what were you thinking?'"
Former Clinton-era Justice Department official Robert Raben believes Issa is more interested in grabbing headlines than leading a legitimate inquiry.
"Chairman Issa appears to be in the tradition of Congressman Burton, which is aggression and volume over facts," Raben told TPM. "It feels like from what I observe, there's a lot more conversation that can occur between the committee and the Department before you really get to a point where you say someone is in contempt of Congress for not complying."
Raben said that Issa's announcement of his intention to pursue a contempt resolution at the NRA convention showed it was about partisanship.
"This is, in my opinion from observing it for years, 400 percent politics, 5 percent legitimate oversight interested in protecting the well-functioning of the Department of Justice," Raben said. "I've been watching him for three years and he is unnaturally hostile and aggressive towards this Attorney General."
Chafetz said partisan motivations aren't necessarily a bad thing.
"Politics has always played a major role in these things, and I think rightly so," Chafetz said. "Part of what we want Congress in its oversight function to do is to have incentives to keep tabs on the executive branch, and partisan politics is a good incentive."
Australia made the decision to hitch onto China years ago and so far, the ride has been mostly good. As the economy in China expanded, so did the economy in Australia. Raw materials helped feed the demand in China and the money kept rolling in.
The downside to this approach is that China has its own bubble and when that slows, so does Australia. Then you have a credit issue that is tied to the heavy commodity trading with China. Add to this the problem of overvalued housing and you have what many believe is a painful bubble on the verge of bursting.
It was a good ride, but all bubbles eventually pop. More on the future of the Australian economy via CNBC:
Australia is headed for the ?mother of all hard landings,? according to Société Générale strategist Albert Edwards, who says the country?s ?credit bubble? could burst if China?s economy suffers a sharp slowdown.
?(In Australia) We see a credit bubble built on a commodity bull market based on a much bigger Chinese credit bubble,? Edwards said in a report. ?Of all the bubbles I have seen over the last 30 years in this industry, this one is even more obvious.?
Edwards reiterated his case for a hard landing for the mainland economy, pointing to the official Purchasing Mangers Index (PMI) of 53.3 last month, which he says is ?the worst? April reading in years.
I don't think art is propaganda;
it should be something that liberates the soul,
provokes the imagination and encourages people
to go further. It celebrates humanity
instead of manipulating it.
Born May 4, 1958
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The case against John Yoo, the Bush administration, Justice Department attorney who crafted the "torture memos", was thrown out of the ninth Circuit Court. In my opinion, this deserves more discussion. From Balkinization: The Ninth Circuit today reversed the district court?s ruling in Padilla v. Yoo, ordering that former ?enemy combatant? Jose Padilla?s civil damages
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If you're a state hellbent on turning corrections over to the for-profit prison industry, what do you do when an annual survey shows that private jails are often more expensive than the old fashioned public variety? Especially if, by law, the state may contract for private prisons only if they prove to be less expensive? Simple, just eliminate that pesky study.
Buried in the $8.6 billion budget proposal passed at the state Capitol this week is a plan to "eliminate the requirement for a quality and cost review of private prison contracts." It means there would no longer be an annual review of how private prisons operate. CBS5.comThe corrections industry in Arizona is enjoying a good ride. They've been held harmless in the last two state budgets, while education, healthcare, and every other public service has been cut off at the knees. Along with its budget, the corrections cartel's political power has increased. Tucson Citizen's Cell-Out AZ has lotsa dirt, like raiding mortgage settlement funds for prisons. The industry's biggest legislative win, of course, was SB 1070, which the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) helped craft and pass, alongside ALEC. It's not like the incarceration industry has a financial interest or anything, since SB 1070, if implemented as written, would provide them a heckuva lot more customers.
One might ask why the legislature ended an annual review of private prisons, less than two years after three inmates escaped from the Kingman facility run by Management & Training Corporation (MTC). A nationwide manhunt ended in their capture, but not before the men, two of whom were convicted killers, hijacked an Oklahoma couple's car and trailer in New Mexico, shot them at a rest stop and burned their bodies in the trailer. Immediately after this tragedy, there were loud calls to clean up the crappy security at Kingman -- and all prisons statewide. This Arizona Republic story, titled "Arizona Prison Oversight Lacking for Private Facilities," was typical:
[The three convicts] took advantage of lax security and faulty alarms to escape on July 30, 2010, from the Kingman prison, run by Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah. The men cut their way out using tools McCluskey's cousin and fiancee, Casslyn Welch, had tossed over the fence. Arizona RepublicAnd a followup study revealed tons of problems at Kingman (the state and MTC are currently in court over payment). But rather than push for more oversight, which is what the public wanted, this week the legislature voted to eliminate the one annual review that tells the Arizona Department of Corrections, and the elected officials responsible for the agency's funding, how effectively prisons are operating. House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (and here that Dem "Minority" is real minor) has gotta be spittin' chili:
"It's insanity, that's the only way to describe this, removing the ability for the state to do a cost and quality analysis of the private prison contracts that are being funded by taxpayer dollars makes absolutely no sense whatever." CBS5.comEliminating the study was the
What other state agency can simply eliminate oversight, reviews, and evaluations if they don't like the outcome? Schools? I think not. I bet most teachers would love to spend less time reporting so they'd have more time for preparation and teaching.
In case you didn't already know it, you'll be shocked to hear that Governor Brewer's Chief of Staff, Paul Senseman, is a former lobbyist for the Corrections Corporation of America. Oh, his wife currently lobbies for CCA. Then there's Chuck Coughlin, the Governor's chief advisor. His consulting firm also represents CCA. And they all like Jan Brewer, contributing $60,000 to her 2010 campaign. You'd have to say that was a good investment.
I think because Kentucky's tax reform commission has been appointed by a Democratic (supposedly) governor, a lot of people assume its recommendations will lean toward the side of lessening the burden on the poor and working class and increasing the burden on the rich.
Exhibit A: the vaunted commission has acquired a team of business-side consultants who are highly unlikely to be lift-all-boats Keynesians.
Governor Steve Beshear today announced the selection of a consultant team to assist his 23-member tax reform commission in studying how to better align the state's tax code.
The Governor's Office has awarded the contract for the Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform to a three-person of Dr. William Hoyt and Michael Childress, from the University of Kentucky, and Dr. William Fox, of the University of Tennessee.
"These consultants bring a wealth of expertise to the commission's goal of improving our tax code with the principles of fairness, business competitiveness and a 21st Century economy," Gov. Beshear said. "Dr. Hoyt and Mr. Childress have remarkable track records in this area, and Dr. Fox is another premiere expert with a broad range of knowledge on this subject."
Dr. Hoyt is the director of the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration at UK, and Childress is with the Center for Business and Economic Research at UK's Gatton College of Business and Economics. Dr. Fox is a professor in the department of economics at the University of Tennessee and the director of the university's Center for Business and Economic Research. He has served as a consultant on finance, taxation, and economic development in a number of states and developing countries.
Exhibit B: What really happens when states in this fuck-you-if-you-aren't-rich age start "reforming" taxes.
If there's any red state "laboratory of democracy" where lunatic Republican economic theories get turned into applied legislation, it's Kansas. If you want to know what Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and the rest of the GOP Young Guns have up their sleeves for where you live, the Sunflower State is America's early warning system, and the state's working poor just got flattened by a fiscal EF5. Salon's Andrew Leonard:Last week, Kansas House and Senate negotiators agreed on a new tax plan that will sharply cut income taxes for wealthy state residents while at the same time raising taxes on the poor. The result, predictably, will be a shortfall in state revenue that will undoubtedly force additional cuts to state services.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provides the analysis, but you don't have to trust the left-leaning think tank for the spin. A newly formed group of retired Kansas Republican legislators are also declaring that enough is enough. The bottom line is this: If you're wealthy enough and smart enough to structure your business affairs correctly, you can avoid both corporate taxes and income taxes. But if you're poor, you will have to choose between whether you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or a state-funded rebate on sales taxes charged on groceries. One or the other! Not both! Because if there is a tax loophole that favors working-class Americans, we'd better close it!
The details are different, but the basic outline is similar to the ideas codified in Paul Ryan's Mitt-Romney-endorsed budget: we'll pay for tax cuts for the wealthy by cutting services that help the poor. Mitt Romney might not be as conservative as Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, but when the bills passed by a GOP-controlled legislature start arriving on his desk, his response will be identical: he'll sign it.
Meanwhile, the state plans to cut the top tax rate on the wealthy from 6.45% to 4.9%, and eliminate corporate taxes completely by 2017. Also, the state plans to repeal a "majority" of itemized deductions. And yes, most residents would have to then choose between the earned income tax credit or the grocery refund...and not get both. The bottom line: business owners in the state would get a massive tax break,while workers would have to pick up most of the tab. Kansas schools would also became dangerously underfunded, and the tax break that Kansas residents would have gotten on food by eliminating sales taxes on groceries has mysteriously vanished from the GOP tax plan.
Tornado alley indeed, except this one's ripping through the pocketbooks of Kansas working class citizens. Pay attention, because these tax games are coming to a red state legislation and a GOP congress near you...
The commission is scheduled to hold several more meetings throughout the state this year. These meetings are scheduled in Frankfort, Paducah, Bowling Green, Louisville, Covington, Prestonsburg and Lexington. A complete list of dates and times is available on the website. Citizens can offer comments through online forms or request to make presentations at the upcoming commission meetings.
Fortunately, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is on the case.
Blue Ribbon Tax Commission Webinar - May 23 - In January, Governor Beshear announced a Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform. The Commission will be hosting public meetings on taxes from May through August. Join KFTC on May 23 at 7 p.m. for a webinar to learn a little bit about how we're impacted by Kentucky's current budget landscape, our best opportunities to more forward, and to workshop statements to deliver at public meetings.
Blue Ribbon Tax Commission Public Meeting - May 29 - The first public meeting of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Tax Commission will be held on May 29 at 6 p.m. at the Tilghman High School Auditorium in Paducah. We hope to have some KFTC representation at this meeting to share our values and vision with the Commission. If you are able to attend this public meeting, please email our Economic Justice Organizer, Jessica.