Female Democratic officeholders take the lead in opposing the Blunt amendment and combatting Limbaugh.Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is catching hell from women back home over voting for the Blunt amendment and now says she regrets her vote. And[...]
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It's not so much that I agree with Paul Pillar's conclusions regarding a nuclear-capable Iran, but that he lays out the proper, rational framework for how to analyze the problem -- an approach completely at odds with most of the irrational conventional[...]
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Republican presidential Rick Santorum is advising President Barack Obama not to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans because "higher-income people don't have to pay taxes if they don't want to."
"Once we defeat Barack Obama this economy will start turning around," the former Pennsylvania senator told a crowd in Miamisburg, Ohio. "Because you'll know you have someone in there who's going to unshackle businesses, reduce rates, not increase them. The president's promised increased taxes if he's re-elected."
"All he wants to do to solve the deficit problem is increase taxes on people, particularly higher-income people," Santorum continued. "You see, that sounds very populist. Go after the 1 percent. It's interesting because the British just did this. They went after the 1 percent in Britain. They dramatically increased taxes on the highest-income Brits. And guess what? It failed."
"What happened? Well, higher-income people don't have to pay taxes if they don't want to because they can move their money somewhere else, they can move their investments. They can stop investing. They can stop working. They don't need to work. They're higher-income people."
DeAnne Julius, the former chairwoman of Chatham House in London, has explained that Britain's 50 percent marginal tax rate on high-income earners should not be compared to 35 percent rate imposed on wealthiest Americans, who can take advantage of loopholes in the U.S. tax system.
"[R]elative to other countries, the U.K.'s 50 percent tax rate for high earners is uncompetitive, while the U.S. top rate of 35 percent is still highly competitive," Julius wrote in an October 2011 op-ed for The New York Times.
"These factors led 20 British economists to warn that the 50 percent top tax rate is doing lasting damage to the British economy and is unlikely to raise much if any additional revenue," she added. "However, these factors do not apply to the United States, where the current tax regime allows many high earners to escape paying even their proportional share of taxes and where both average and marginal tax rates are low by international standards."
Attorney General Eric Holder helpfully explained when the government can kill you without a trial, in a speech last night at Northwestern University. He didn't take questions, because he was so crystal clear about it.[...]
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I worry about the overdiagnosis of ADHD, particularly for children (mainly boys) who are younger than most of their peers in the classroom. This video helps me realize I am worrying for a good reason. The video cites a study showing that children born in December (the youngest in their class) were 48% more likely to be put on medication for ADHD.
This will be the first of several posts ? the start of a series ? mapping out what I personally consider reasonable and unreasonable positions on the re-election of Barack Obama. Three things to note:
? My goal is to help head off the intra-left tribal wars that marred the last campaign. We do not need a repeat, in my opinion.
? I don't expect everyone who reads these posts to agree with all positions. Many positions will be mutually exclusive. But let's be smart about who we disagree with, and on what grounds. It's not just the position, it's the reason, that characterizes the reasoner.
? I think the 2012 presidential campaign is probably over, so the Left Wars may be moot in any case. As soon as Romney secures the field, Movement Conservative Billionaires will likely see greater leverage in putting their big-money buys (sorry, campaign donations) into House and Senate races. If so, watch for a monumental flood, as presidential Super PAC dollars are freed up to overwhelm democracy in legislative contests. Goal: House & Senate in 2012.
Bottom line ? Even if the presidential race is closely contested, not everyone who disagrees with you is evil, a bot-like beast. Only some of them are. Your humble correspondent (moi) would like to help you figure out who you should comfortably disagree with, and who you shouldn't. (I know: "Mommy, that man didn't say whom.")
So much for the meta; now the substance. There are a bunch of groups in the "Can't vote for Obama" camp; and a bunch in the "Must vote for Obama" camp. This post considers one group in one camp only. Other camps will get their due shortly.
Group 1 No ? Crossing lines of conscience
Group 1 in the "Can't vote for Obama" crowd ? no matter the other reasons for pulling that trigger ? are those whose lines of conscience have been crossed.
I aim this at the people who say, "But President Santorum would take marching orders from Koch Bros Central." That's true; President Santorum would rule from Wichita (via its Wisconsin field office).
But there are those whose consciences are so offended (that's a war crimes link) that they cannot let themselves do one good thing for the perpetrator. Not one.
Unlike phony "consciences", these genuine cries of integrity must be honored, in my view, even if you tactically disagreed. You can fight a war, in other words, and still respect the Quakers.
Case in point, consider this cri de c?ur from the writer Masaccio, addressed to Rufus Gifford, Obama Campaign Finance Director, who has been inundating our author with Hamburger-Today form letters. Masaccio finally writes back (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):
Rufus ?Can you see where this is headed? Because Masaccio has a real-life background in securities fraud prosecution, he launches immediately into one of my favorite topics ? Barack Obama, banking prosecutions, and the rule of law. After a sharp and brutal rundown of the banking crisis' history, Masaccio dryly notes:
You and I have been carrying on an e-mail correspondence for some time now. You ask for money to help re-elect President Obama and hold out the possibility I might be selected to have dinner with the President. I e-mail back politely declining, usually with a brief explanation. ... [Then] Last Sunday, I got an e-mail noting that I haven?t donated, and asking me to answer a couple of questions about why. ...
[So] Let?s be clear. This isn?t 2008.
1. I won?t give any money.
2. I won?t make phone calls or travel to another state at my expense on election day to help out.
3. I haven?t decided how or whether to vote this November.*
Here?s the polite explanation. ...
Once we realized that legislators from both both parties in Congress were in bed with banksters and their sleazy lobbyists, it was hard to imagine decent legislation.(About the last, by the way, I beg to differ.)
But I absolutely expected Obama to enforce the law. He didn?t. ... That?s a failure I can?t accept.
So, you see, I?d make a lousy dinner companion. ...
by Diane Bailey, reposted from NRDC’s Switchboard
For many who are trying to take good care of their health, a study released late last week reaffirming that diesel exhaust can cause lung cancer, may be a major blow to their efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle. That?s because the study found an up to seven fold elevated risk of lung cancer — a disease typically associated with smokers — among miners who don?t smoke. The findings also relate to ordinary people who live in areas with high levels of diesel particulate matter (PM). Millions of people in the US have the equivalent of a smoking habit, whether they want to or not, because they live close to busy freeways or in other areas with extremely high diesel PM levels.
Scores of studies have shown that diesel exhaust, a sooty mix of toxic air pollutants, smog forming gases and tiny particulates, is dangerous. It was recognized by the State of California as a carcinogen over a decade ago, and fortunately many laws and programs are in place to reduce diesel pollution. However, even in California where there is a whole suite of diesel clean-up measures from low sulfur diesel fuel to retrofits and early retirements for trucks and equipment, thousands of people continue to die from exposure to diesel PM each year while these measures phase in over the next few decades. Diesel engines are sturdy, lasting decades with older models polluting a hundred-fold more particulate pollution than modern replacements.
The study by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) evaluates diesel exposures and lung cancer risks among more than 12,000 miners and provides a rigorous analysis, adding weight to the already large vault of evidence that exposure to diesel PM can cause cancer.
No wonder a lobby group representing mining interests worked so hard to delay and obstruct the findings of the study since 1996. The study finds that among heavily exposed miners who typically work underground, the risk of dying from lung cancer was roughly three times greater than for other miners working on the surface. That risk jumps to a seven fold increase of lung cancer for miners who do not smoke. The findings are consistent with previous large studies of truck drivers and rail workers that have found nearly a doubling of lung cancer risk among long-term workers in these relatively high diesel exposure occupations.
In addition to concern for the many workers who are exposed to high levels of diesel exhaust, the miners? study shows that urban populations, as well as those living in close proximity to major diesel emissions sources – like freeways, rail yards, and ports – may face significantly elevated risks for lung cancer. There is a strong and consistent relation between exposure to diesel exhaust and increased risk of dying of lung cancer- the higher and longer the exposure to diesel PM, the greater the cancer risk.
Environmental exposure to average diesel PM levels found in many large cities like Los Angeles and New York City over a lifetime approximates the cumulative exposures experienced by the ?low exposure? miners group, which had a fifty percent increased lung cancer risk in the miners? study.
High diesel PM exposures close the gap between lung cancer risks among smokers and non-smokers. Among workers in the lowest diesel exposure group of the miners? study, heavy smokers of at least two packs per day had a risk of lung cancer 27 times that of nonsmokers (after 15 years), whereas heavy smokers in the highest mining exposure group had only 2.5 times the risk of nonsmokers (after 15 years).
So for those who live in areas with high diesel pollution levels, how do they quit the smoking habit that they didn?t choose to have? It will take an investment in clean, new diesel equipment and retirement of old smoking vehicles. Tell policymakers that you want the diesel vehicles around you to quit smoking.
Diane Bailey is a Senior Scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. This piece was originally published at NRDC’s Switchboard.
In a Washington Post op-ed this weekend, conservative columnist George Will wrote that both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum don?t stand a chance of beating President Obama in a general election contest. Conservatives, therefore, should ?turn their energies to a goal much more attainable than, and not much less important than, electing Romney or Santorum president. It is the goal of retaining control of the House and winning control of the Senate.?
Conservatives such as Bill Kristol and Ramesh Ponnuru wrote pieces rejecting Will?s argument. Unwilling to simply register his own friendly disagreement, Donald Trump trashed Will in more colorful terms, calling him a ?fool? and a ?hack? on Fox & Friends yesterday.
This morning on CNBC, Trump — who has endorsed Mitt Romney for president and is a high-profile surrogate for the campaign — took his animus against Will to a more distasteful level, mocking his personal appearance:
I think George Will is a loser. ? He actually spoke for me at Mar-A-Lago a long time ago, I was very unimpressed. ? You take away his little round spectacles and his cute little greasy haircut, and I think he probably realizes he?s not a very smart guy.
CNBC host Joe Kernen light-heartedly quipped, ?You sure it?s good idea to be making fun of someone else?s hair?? ?Well, I have a beautiful crop of hair,? Trump responded, reassuring the audience, ?It?s actually not a comb-over.? Watch it:
– In a White House meeting yesterday, President Obama urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give diplomacy and economic sanctions a chance to work before resorting to military against Iran’s nuclear program. Netanyahu reportedly assured Obama that Israel has not made any decision on attacking Iran.
– Iran announced today that it will allow U.N. nuclear investigators to visit the Parchin military complex where inspectors had previous been refused access.
– Election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticized Vladimir Putin’s overwhelming victory in Russia’s recently presidential election saying he faced no real competition and unfairly benefited from lavish government spending on his behalf.
– Tens of thousands of opposition activists protested in Moscow and St. Petersburg yesterday contesting Putin’s election. Police cracked down on the Moscow rally in Pushkin square, arresting hundreds.
– Executive branch reviews of evidence against al-Qaeda leaders before they are targeted for killing meets the constitution’s “due process” requirement and American citizenship doesn’t protect individuals from being killed, said Attorney General Eric Holder in a speech delivered yesterday at Northwestern University Law School.
– China’s special envoy to Syria is expected to press Syrian authorities to impose a cease-fire but Beijing remains opposed to any foreign intervention against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
– House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) call to intervene militarily in Syria might not be a good idea. “My heart agrees with him, but my head says no,” she said.
– A new report from the Director of National Intelligence found that far fewer detainees released from Guantanamo Bay rejoined terrorist activities than previously reported.
Voters in 11 states head to the polls today for biggest round of Republican presidential primaries thus far. Super Tuesday could help cement Mitt Romney’s claim to the nomination, but it “has come at a palpable price for November,” the The Atlantic notes, as Romney has lost support among white working-class voters, a key demographic he needs to win against President Obama, if he’s the nominee.
Key Republicans in Congress are renewing their focus on maintaining control of the House and picking up a majority in the Senate, and in the process may be giving up on their hopes of retaking the White House. Amid rebounding polls favoring the President, conservative icons Dick Armey and George Will have argued in recent days that Congress, not the White House, should be Republicans? top priority.
According to leading economists, the U.S. economy is improving. An AP survey of leading experts predicts faster growth and lower unemployment than estimates from just two months ago, with unemployment expected to fall to 8 percent by Election Day in November.
Minority students face harsher punishments, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Education. The study found that African-American students are three times and likely to be suspended or expelled as white students.
Despite constant criticism from the Republican presidential field, the public is siding heavily with President Obama on his decision to issue an apology for accidental burning of Quarans in Afghanistan. According to a new Reuters poll, 56 percent of Americans agree with the president?s decision, while just 23 percent of the public disagrees.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for air strikes in Syria to defend civilians facing a brutal crackdown from the government yesterday. “The president must state unequivocally that under no circumstances will Assad be allowed to finish what he has started,” he said on the Senate floor.
Newt Gingrich said Israel should not give the U.S. advance warning if it decides to attack Iran over its nuclear weapons program because the Obama administration can’t be trusted to keep the information secret. ?If I were the Israelis, I wouldn’t give this administration one minute’s notice, because someone will leak it,? he said on Fox News’ Hannity.
Attorney General Eric Holder asserted in a speech on Monday that it is lawful for the government to kill American citizens if officials declare them to be operational leaders of Al Qaeda who are planning attacks on the U.S. and capturing them alive is not feasible. “In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force,” Holder said.
Mother Jones’ Andew Kroll reports that in 1993, when Republicans were fighting Democrats’ efforts to reform healthcare, Rick Santorum called for greater government involvement in healthcare, saying that Republicans were “wrong” in wanting to let the marketplace decide health care costs.
And finally: Education cuts have been so severe in Alabama that a cheeky Democrat introduced a resolution in the House to mock Republican rhetoric on schools. It jokes that large class sizes help students “make more friend,” and touted that Alabama children will soon stop “learning useless skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic that are completely unessential in today’s economy.”