Liberation's photo of John meeting then-candidateand now French President-elect, François Hollande last summer.France's conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy has lost to Socialist party leader François Hollande in today's national elections. Sarkozy did close the gap, but it wasn't enough. The pro-austerity craze in Europe took a serious blow with this result today. BBC...
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Sunday suggested that Democrats invented the contraception debate and the Republican Party was "more tolerant" on diverse opinions about a woman's right to choose.
Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Mitt Romney's possible vice presidential running mate if the Republican Party would "take this country back when it comes to gay rights, when it comes to birth control, when it comes to abortion?"
"On the issue of life, yes,'" Rubio agreed. "Although there is diversity in the Republican Party on the life issue. In essence, there are such a thing as pro-choice Republicans, there are very few pro-life Democrats that are certainly tolerated within the mainstream of the Democratic Party. I think that's important to point out. On that issue, I think there's actually more tolerance in the Republican Party."
While Rubio is right that there are pro-choice Republicans, there are more Democrats in Congress that are against abortion rights than there are Republicans who support them.
For example, ten Democrats voted with the Republican majority last year to strip Planned Parenthood of funding, while only seven Republicans voted against the measure.
The senator from Florida also said Republican opposition to mandating that all insurance plans cover contraception for women wasn't really about birth control.
"I don't know anything about a contraception debate," he insisted. "I do know about a religious liberties debate that we had in this country about whether the federal government should have the power to force a religious institution -- in this case, the Catholic Church -- to have to pay for something that the church teaches against. That's what that issue was about."
"I understand the president turned it into a contraception issue because it ties back to this strategy of this administration. He doesn't want to run on his record. So instead, they are constantly in search of some issue that they can divide the American people on."
Rubio added: "The president we have today is a typical Washington politician that's prone to hyperbole and divisiveness and false outrage. And I think it's very sad."
Just when you thought that the Washington Post could not go any further in bringing its readers off the wall statements from self-imagined great thinkers, it rises to the occasion. Today we have Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group, giving[...]
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This is a guest post from Eric M. Patashnik and Jeffery Jenkins. Patashnik is professor of public policy and politics in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. Jenkins is associate professor of politics and a faculty associate of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. They are the coeditors of Living Legislation: Durability, Change and the Politics of American Lawmaking.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in June. If Intrade is right, there is about a 60 percent chance that the individual mandate will be found unconstitutional. But suppose the smart money is wrong and the mandate is upheld. Will the Affordable Care Act then be completely secure?
Not necessarily. While a Supreme Court victory would be a huge legal victory for the Obama Administration, the main impact of the Court?s decision will be to shape the political ground on which the health reform struggle will continue.
One reason why the political fight over Obamacare may not end is because the law was passed narrowly, without a single Republican vote in either chamber. That?s a departure from how major social welfare legislation is usually enacted in the United States. The Social Security Act of 1935 was supported by strong majorities of Republicans in the House and Senate on final passage. The final votes on Medicare in 1965 were closer, but that law still won the support of a narrow majority of House Republicans and almost half the GOP Senators. To be sure, there were far more centrists in Congress during the New Deal and Great Society years?but this just underscores how difficult it is to enact and entrench sweeping social welfare legislation in an era of partisan polarization.
A second reason why the fight over health reform may continue is the program?s slow phase-in. The major insurance reforms, consumer subsidies, and Medicaid expansion don?t start until 2014. It may therefore take years for the legislation to build a reliable constituency.
Obamacare is hardly the first landmark law to undergo a long struggle for political acceptance following enactment. Today Social Security is dubbed the ?the third rail of American politics.? But the Social Security Act of 1935 was challenged in both court and at the ballot box. Even after FDR defeated Alf Landon (who had campaigned against the program) and the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of old-age insurance, Social Security struggled to gain legitimacy. The conservative resistance to Social Security persisted until President Dwight Eisenhower signaled his acceptance of the program.
Washington insiders are so occupied with getting laws passed that it is easy to forget that a law?s enactment is often only the opening move of a larger political drama. Sometimes laws generate durable legacies. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one such example. At other times laws are reversed or fade away. (See ?Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, humiliating repeal of?). Ultimately, what matters is not adding words to the statute books. What matters is solving national problems and changing how government operates, which usually requires laws to possess some measure of durability.
In recent years, political scientists have gained insight into why some laws and programs are vulnerable to amendment or outright repeal. One key factor is the impact of election results on the partisan composition of Congress. Christopher Berry and William Howell of the University of Chicago and Barry Burden of the University of Wisconsin have shown that programs are susceptible to termination, spending cuts, and other changes when the Congress that inherits them differs in partisan terms from the Congress that created them. The Affordable Care Act was passed under unified Democratic control but (in part due to the opposition that health reform sparked) the Democrats lost their House majority in the 2010 midterms. If President Obama wins reelection, Republicans in Congress might decide that the American public has blessed the bill and throw in the towel, but it is just as likely that rearguard conservative attacks on the program will continue. Outright repeal likely won?t occur even if Mitt Romney is elected president because Senate Democrats will be able to defend the law through the filibuster. But if Republicans win the White House and both chambers in the November elections, they may use the budget reconciliation process (which requires only 51 votes in the Senate) to strip out the measure?s funding.
The vulnerability of a law is also associated with the level of support that it had at enactment. Forrest Maltzman of George Washington University and Charles Shipan of University of Michigan have found that the greater the roll call opposition when a bill is passed, the more likely the law is to be amended by a subsequent Congress. A closely contested roll call vote (such as on Obamacare) not only indicates an initial lack of broad support but also makes it easier for opponents to say ?we told you so? when problems emerge during the law?s implementation.
On the other side of the scale are factors that serve to promote a law?s durability. The most important is the inertia built into the structure of American political institutions. Once a law is passed, it becomes the new status quo ante, and people who want to amend or repeal the law have to overcome the barriers to legislative action. But a negative Supreme Court decision would reverse this situation. If the mandate is found unconstitutional, President Obama (if reelected) will need Congress to adopt a legislative fix to ensure that the program is workable. Conservatives will then be able to unravel the core of the law simply by blocking new legislation.
Another factor that can promote a law?s sustainability is the reactions it generates among key constituencies. It would be risky for conservatives to applaud the law?s collapse if Obamacare were overwhelmingly popular?but it isn?t. Public opinion about the law remains divided. The fact that the major new benefits contained in the legislation (with some key exceptions such as the provision allowing young adults under 26 to stay on their parents? health insurance) won?t begin for two more years means that for most Americans health reform remains only an abstraction. Unlike beloved programs such as Social Security, Obamacare hasn?t yet been woven into the fabric of people?s lives or caused citizens and firms to make plans on the expectation that the program will continue. There certainly will be pressure on Republicans to address the health care system?s glaring cost and access problems if the mandate is tossed out (especially if the insurance reforms unravel too) but President Obama will be in a far weaker bargaining position after a Supreme Court defeat than he would have been if the legislation?s benefits had been front-loaded and better targeted at the majority of Americans who already have reasonable coverage.
In sum, how the Supreme Court rules will be a key factor in the Affordable Care Act?s political fate?but the partisan and ideological struggle over health reform is likely to continue under any scenario.
Krugman: Romney would govern like Paul Ryan![...]
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Not a big surprise. But exit polls reported in Switzerland and Belgium say Socialist Franciois Hollande has defeated French President Nicolas Sarkozy. If confirmed, I believe Hollande would only be the second Socialist President of France under the[...]
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I'm not sure if we'll ever find out -- because the insider accounts are at least as likely to be spun as not. But I'm curious whether today's remarks by Joe Biden on marriage equality are another example of Biden's off-the-cuff indiscipline or something[...]
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?Individual choice and responsibility have been eroded by our over-reaching government. A woman’s right to choose is no exception. The decision to end a pregnancy is one of the most difficult a woman can face. I believe that choice is hers alone to make.? – Gary Johnson
LIBERTARIAN GARY JOHNSON won his party’s nomination this weekend. He’s a lot more consistent when it comes to Libertarian principles than Ron Paul, whose philosophy falls apart on women’s individual freedoms, because Paul thinks freedom is just for men, like most Republicans and even some Democrats.
Johnson’s vice presidential running mate is Judge Jim Gray, who speaks about the drug war in the video below [h/t reason]. Gray makes more sense than the Democrats and Republicans combined on this subject. “Regulate it, control it, tax it,” says Judge Gray, also talking about “the Holland effect.”
Republican voters are too ignorant about the drug war to begin to grasp his points, with Democrats too afraid they won’t be centrist enough to win if they actually propose a solution.
Johnson lashed out at the intolerance of Republicans, which the recent disgrace of Mitt Romney’s handling of Richard Grenell highlights perfectly.
“I believe the majority of americans are fiscally responsible and socially tolerant,” Johnson told BuzzFeed in a phone interview. “I believe the majority of Americans could care less about whether or not there is a gay individual working in the Romney campaign.” Romney’s newly hired foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell was openly gay, a fact that raised the ire of social conservatives, whose reaction resulted in Grenell’s leaving the campaign. “It speaks volumes to the intolerance that continues to be present in the Republican Party,” Johnson said. He said he doesn’t attach that intolerance to the majority of Republicans but to “the activists driving that agenda.” – Buzzfeed
How many state ballots they can get on and whether they can compete remains their biggest challenge, but that’s the case for anyone outside Democrats and Republicans. The other reality is most people still can’t get out of the either-or choice to give an outsider a chance.
This is where the media comes in.
Traditional and new media, including and cable networks, need to open the playing field to other parties, covering Johnson and others, but that will only happen if people demand it. Debates should expand to also include Gary Johnson, but again, the American people would have to show an interest, which can’t happen if they don’t get press, which is where social media and the web comes in. It’s the first step in challenging the current political landscape that’s going to take a very long time to change.
Ron Paul voters could consider Johnson, because his platform is Paulesque, but also includes the principle that women deserve to be as free as men.
What a 21st century concept.
Just got this from a Biden spokesperson: "The Vice President was saying what the President has said previously ? that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights. That?s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges...
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In or about 1929, a state senator from the great state of Tennessee introduced a bill devoted to protecting the citizenry from the fearful menace known as the bogeyman. The bill contained no precise details of how to spot a bogeyman, or what to do if you encountered one, but was peppered with suppositions as to what actions by the populace might attract bogeymen, what legislative philosophies could be considered as aiding and abetting bogeymen, and which of his fellow senators might be bogeymen, based primarily on his own suspicions of what a bogeyman agenda would entail. Also, I just made all of that up. If there is one thing Fox News has taught us in this glittering new millennium, it is that making something up is just as noble as saying something true, so long as it all sounds good in the end.
Sadly, we are indeed now at the point where states are creating new legislation premised entirely from conspiracy theories. To wit:
A final legislative vote is expected Monday on a bill that would outlaw government support of any of the 27 principles contained in the 1992 United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, also sometimes referred to as Agenda 21. [...]Agenda 21, for those of you not versed in the more ridiculous extremes of wingnuttery, is a conspiracy theory blaming a forced environmental agenda imposed by the United Nations for everything from proposed bike paths in Colorado to manatee-friendly powerboat speed limits in certain Florida waterways. It supposes the United Nations to have absolute power over such things, which is quite possibly the most flattering conspiracy theory the United Nations has ever been suspected of, and supposes that all world governments are in secret cahoots to bring this militant agenda to fruition. According to the tea party version, humans are going to become a subservient species (presumably because the United Nations and/or all world governments are secretly staffed by marmots or some other nonhuman group bent on our destruction). That the means of our destruction consists of providing humans with more bike paths and slower powerboats seems to suggest a plot that is inefficient at best, however, leading once again to the prime dilemma of all such conspiracy theories: how the conspirators can be so all-powerful, and yet so very incompetent, at the same time.
At a March 15 hearing on the bill, [State Sen. Judy Burges] said an executive order signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993 started the implementation of Agenda 21 after the Senate refused to pass a treaty ratifying it.
"Any way you want to describe it, Agenda 21 is a direct attack on the middle class and working poor" through "social engineering of our citizens" in "every aspect" of their lives," she told the hearing.
This, then, is what has the crackpot state of Arizona in the latest tizzy. The notion that the president of the United States is a secret Muslim Kenyan who is not really an American after all satisfied them for a while. Their own politicians essentially declaring the state a lawless hellhole thanks to illegal immigrants chopping off people's heads in the more imaginary parts of the Arizona desert was titillating, since all good conspiracy theorists love imagining themselves as facing imminent and horrifying dangers around every turn and behind every weedy shrub. But even those have their limits, and besides: the one thing conspiracy theorists the world over all have in common is an astonishing ability to multitask. A person who finds one conspiracy theory soon finds another, and then 10, and then 20, all connected by the lynchpin of batshit implausibility, all presumably proven by the sinisterness of nobody else being able to find a speck of corroboration anywhere.
(Continued below the fold.)