Jebus these people just have no shame. Republican water carrier and toe-sucker Dick Morris goes after the Obama administration for not regulating the oil industry and cleaning up the Bush stink at the MMS in time to prevent this disaster we've got in the Gulf.
It's actually pretty pitiful that I find myself agreeing with him that better regulation should have been in place on the oil industry, but I don't ever remember hearing Dick Morris being some champion of regulation before this huge disaster and it's not like this is the first time this has happened. Now that things have turned into a huge clusterf**k Dick Morris and Sean Hannity have decided they're some great champions of government regulation.
What happened to the free market here guys? What happened to that evil "gubmit" putting its foot down on industry and slowing economic growth because of the horrible burdens being regulated would place on them? What happened to singing the songs of your favorite Fox News pundit Sarah Drill-Baby-Drill-Drill-Here-Drill-Now half term governor?
Sorry Dick but you can't have it both ways. And the same goes for you Hannity. You want your free market, here it is. Neither of you cared one iota for government regulation of the oil industry until you wanted government to come in and fix their mess. These two remind me of petulant children who demand their parents fix their toys after they throw them to the ground and want to know why they're broken.
I don't like what's going on with this gusher in the Gulf and we've been being lied to about how large it is from day one by everyone. BP has been completely inadequate with addressing the clean up or containment. Thad Allen looks like he's playing cover for BP instead of actually caring whether we get that oil out of the water but I would imagine it's also well over his pay grade to be bringing in tankers to suck the oil up.
That said Dick Morris and Sean Hannity need to STFU until they decide that maybe the free market and industries run wild are not the answers to everything and quit championing that when they screw up their losses should be socialized and the government has to fix it after they privatized the profits.
I don't mean to dismiss articles like this out of hand, but it seems to be the same things we heard 40 years ago about the evils of television (or, the idiot box, as mom used to call it). In the early 70s, my brother and I used to go through the TV Guide and plot out of our tv watching for the week, lest we miss anything. I'm not going to argue that I came out totally normal, but still... I just sometimes wonder if all this concern about the time we spend online isn't time we'd have spent doing something equally useless. Not to mention, for all the talk of people staying up too late to be online, when I do that, I'm often reading tomorrow's NYT, researching dog training, or searching for things I need to buy. That's hardly wasted time, and hardly akin to an alcoholic's drinking impeding on his workday.
Everybody hates public housing, except the low-income people who live there and the people on the long waiting lists to get in.
Now, after years of neglect, the Obama Administration wants to save public housing for future generations. It has a plan to inject billions of dollars into the developments to make long-deferred repairs.
But a few liberal Congressmembers,advocacy groups, and left-wing academics view the proposal with skepticism, worried that it is really a scheme to "privatize" the government-run housing projects and lead to rising rents, evictions, and perhaps the elimination of scarce affordable housing.
A recent memo written by some radical urban studies professors makes it seem like Obama wants to hand public housing over to Goldman Sachs or turn the low-income projects into luxury housing. And separately, in an article for Huffington Post, George Lakoff, the well-known UC-Berkeley linguistics professor, warns that the Obama administration is trying to "privatize all public housing in America" and "give conservatives a victory they could not have anticipated." It is, Lakoff wrote, evidence of Obama's "move to the right."
The critics raise some important concerns, but their attacks on the Obama administration's motives and objectives are misguided. By doing so, they are playing into the hands of most Republicans, who would like nothing more than to destroy public housing, which to them is a symbol of "big government" and an excessive "welfare state" for the poor. The liberal critics - including some tenants groups, anti-poverty lawyers, and academics -- need to stop the scare tactics and figure out how to seize this rare opportunity to take advantage of having a president who actually wants to preserve public housing for the long term.
As the National Low-Income Housing Coalition stated in its Congressional testimony: "Private resources could be public housing's savior or its greatest enemy." What's important is how the White House and Congress shape the legislation. Recent experience with big banks, the oil industry, the coal mines, the insurance companies, and other sectors suggests that government has to be more than a just a neutral watchdog when it comes to business. The progressive agenda is for government to establish tough rules and regulations, and enforce them with adequate inspectors and penalties, to make corporations behave responsibly.
Even since it began in the Depression as part of the New Deal, public housing has been a political orphan. The nation's economic collapse provided reformers with a political opening to push their then-radical idea that the federal government should subsidize "social housing" and help create a noncommercial sector free from profit and speculation. They envisioned that public housing would be for the middle-class as well as the poor. They pushed for well-designed, mixed-income, government-subsidized housing projects, sponsored by unions, church groups, other non-profit organizations, and government agencies.
During its first few years, the New Deal built a few model developments that reflected this vision, described by historian Gail Radford in her book, Modern Housing for America. They included day care centers and playgrounds, involved residents in cultural and educational activities, and were physically attractive enough so that middle-class families wanted to live there.
But the reformers were soon outmaneuvered by the real estate industry. The industry -- worried that well-designed and affordable government-sponsored housing would compete with the private sector for middle-class consumers -- warned about the specter of "socialism." After World War Two, recognizing the pent-up demand for housing and fearing competition from public housing, the industry mobilized a major campaign against the program. Especially with the federal housing act of 1949, the industry sabotaged the program by pressuring Congress to restrict its funding, give local governments discretion over whether and where to locate developments, and limit it to the very poor. Senators from the South made sure that local governments had the authority to keep public housing racially segregated.
With limited budgets, many projects were poorly constructed and/or badly designed - ugly warehouses for the poor - stigmatizing "government housing" as housing of last resort. The local housing authorities - at the time owned by local governments but whose boards were dominated by business and real estate representatives -- often sited public housing developments in areas without adequate stores, transportation, or schools, and isolated from middle-class neighborhoods, contributing to the concentration of poor people in cities.
In other words, the problems we now associate with public housing were not inevitable. They were due to political choices made in Congress and at the local level.
Even so, the best-kept secret about public housing is that it actually provides decent, affordable housing for many people. Properly run, it remains one of the best options for housing the poor. Vincent Lane, former chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), remembers when public housing was new. In the 1950s, Lane's family moved from the South to a cold-water flat opposite the CHA's Wentworth Gardens public housing development. The CHA project boasted broad playgrounds, heat, hot water, and basketball courts. "I envied the kids in public housing," Lane recalls. "The best housing in the community was Wentworth Gardens."
In many places, this is still true. There are also probably more than 500,000 families on the waiting lists of the nation's 3,060 local housing authorities. In many cities, it takes between two and five years -- and sometimes longer -- to get off the waiting list and into public housing. Public housing developments are often better - and certainly more affordable -- than apartments available to the poor in the private housing market, which is why the waiting lists continue to swell.
Despite the popular stereotypes, a decade ago high-rises accounted for only one-quarter of public housing buildings. Many of those high-rise projects have been demolished in the past two decades. As a result, most public housing developments today are garden apartments, low-rise walk-ups, and single-family homes or townhouses. But the high-rise projects, most of them in the largest cities, accounted for many of the most problematic developments and cast a giant shadow on the whole program.
Right-wing politicians have long used misleading stereotypes about public housing to attack the very idea of government activism. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration wanted to sell off public housing and eliminate the federal government's commitment to house the poor. During his 1996 campaign, for example, Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole said that public housing was "one of the last bastions of socialism in the world", calling local housing authorizes "landlords of misery." More recently, after the Katrina hurricane, Congressman Richard Baker (R-LA) was overheard telling lobbyists, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
Years of opposition to public housing - from the real estate industry and conservatives -- meant that very little of it actually was built. Public housing represents less than one percent of the nation's overall housing stock and only about one-third of government-subsidized housing for the poor. (The Section 8 housing voucher program -- a kind of food stamp program for housing -- is larger in terms of the number of families served, but most low-income families get no federal housing subsidy of any kind).
Most of today's public housing developments were constructed in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, before the Nixon administration and Congress ended construction of new projects in 1973.
Since then, Congress has failed to provide adequate funding to maintain and repair these developments. Today there are roughly 1.2 million public housing apartments that house about 2.3 million low-income people. Although many of its residents work, they are among the nation's poorest citizens. The average annual income for a public housing household in the United States is $13,414. Without public housing - for which they pay 30% of their incomes, with the federal government paying the rest - they would inevitably be living in awful substandard slums, or paying half or more of their income just to keep a roof over their heads, or find themselves homeless.
Previous administrations have had little use for public housing and the poor people who live there. In the past 15 years alone, about 200,000 units have been torn down, forcing the tenants to find housing in the private market, where affordable apartments are extremely hard to find. Only about 50,000 of those units have been - or are planned to be - replaced. After years of neglect, the nation's remaining public housing projects now need $20 billion to $30 billion of critical repairs, such as new roofs, heating systems, window, and energy-efficient appliances. The federal government subsidizes tenants' rents, but that isn't enough to pay for decades of deferred maintenance.
The best solution would be for Congress so imply allocate the funding for a one-time infusion of long-neglected repairs. But because there are so few people who live in public housing, and because they are not well organized, Congress has little incentive to do so. (Last year's stimulus bill include $4 billion for public housing capital improvements, but that was a one-time emergency measure).
So HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who has spent his career improving housing for the poor, has proposed that local housing authorities be permitted to borrow money from private lenders to help fill the funding gap. Officially, his proposal is called the Preservation, Enhancement, and Transforming Rental Assistance Act, or PETRA. Under the plan, HUD would allow local housing authorities to raise rents to market levels, in order to attract private investors. HUD would then fill in the gap between what low-income tenants can afford and the rents. Tenants will continue to pay only 30% of their income for rent.
The Obama administration has asked for $290M for the first year of the PETRA program, which would attract enough private mortgage loans to repair about 200,000 to 300,000 units. This, however, is simply a downpayment. To leverage the $25 billion in private funds to upgrade the entire public housing stock, Congress needs to allocate a total of $800 million to $1.6 billion a year.
Some tenant groups and their allies worry that, if PETRA passes, private lenders will care more about the bottom line than about tenants' needs, and put their lives, and their housing, at risk. It is, wrote the group of urban studies academics, "the latest attempt to remove safety nets" from the poor. They worry, too, that private investors might be careless stewards of this valuable housing resource. As one public housing tenant activist testified to Congress in May: "Make no mistake, the private market's only motivation here is profit and let us not forget that this is the same private market that just crashed our economy, took billions in taxpayer funded bailouts, and aren't fixing the messing they created."
Given public housing's history, these concerns are understandable. But given the political and fiscal realities, what's needed is a way to allow local housing authorities to borrow private funding while maintaining ownership and control of the developments, and protecting the rights of current and future tenants to decent, affordable, well-maintained housing.
Secretary Donovan needs to do a better job than he did in recent testimony before Congress to address the concerns raised by tenants and their supporters, including Congressmembers Barney Frank and Maxine Waters. For example:
Let's put this debate over public housing in perspective. Last year, the federal government provided American homeowners with $110 billion in tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes. In principle, using tax breaks to help working and middle class families buy and keep their homes is a good idea. But about one-third of this tax subsidy - over $33 billion - goes to the wealthiest 2.6% of taxpayers with incomes over $200,000. That annual government subsidy for the richest homeowners could, on its own, pay for the one-time repair of every deteriorating public housing development in the country. Congress has the money to fix public housing, but it lacks the political will.
Unfortunately, the Obama White House and progressive Democrats in Congress cannot simply snap their fingers and usher in a new wave of progressive legislation. We saw this during the health care debate, where reform advocates met enormous resistance from the drug companies, insurance industry, and their allies in Congress - both Republicans and moderate Democrats. As a result, progressives who wanted a single-payer system, and liberals who wanted a robust "public option," all had to compromise in order to win the landmark legislation that Obama signed in March, expanding coverage for over 30 million Americans and improving existing coverage for many more. Progressives know that this bill is not the end of health care reform, but a foundation on which to build in the future.
In one way or another, health care reform affected a majority of all Americans. In contrast, public housing has very little direct impact on most Americans. It is not very high on the nation's political radar, certainly far below other housing issues, like the epidemic of foreclosures facing families and communities across the county.
So having a President, a HUD Secretary, and Congress that wants to invest their political capital - as well as real money - in public housing is a rare moment. This may be the last chance for public housing advocates to make a difference, because many of the projects have already reached, or will soon reach, the tipping point when they are beyond repair.
Challenging the Obama administration to clarify and improve its PETRA plan is a good strategy. But they should be pushing for what the radical Michael Harrington called the "left wing of the possible." This is no time for progressive housing activists and advocates to waste time on finger-pointing, name-calling, and fear-mongering, or confusing most Republicans' disdain for the poor and public housing with Obama's willingness to find solutions that will preserve public housing for America's neediest families.
We just deployed some code that should fix the Dashboard issues you've been experiencing. If you're still seeing a blank Dashboard, please let me know.
Yesterday, a Florida Muslim leader named Joshua Evans was at the center of an anthrax scare, when he received a “tissue stuffed inside with white powder” in the mail. Officials had him go to the hospital for testing, although it was eventually determined that the materials were not a “biological threat.” Still, Evans said that the intent was clearly malicious: “Someone does not wrap a tissue up with powder in it and stuff an envelope and send it to you with good intentions.” Evans used to be a Christian minister before converting to Islam, and he now often attracts controversy for criticizing his former religion. Watch a local news report on the incident:
What is disturbing about this incident is that it is the third high-profile anti-Islamic incident in the Jacksonville, FL area in recent months. As ThinkProgress reported in April, when University of North Florida professor and Fulbright scholar Parvez Ahmed went before the city council for confirmation to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission, he had to answer irrelevant questions “about gay marriage, God, Islam and prayer in public places.” Another councilman mocked him for being Muslim and requested that he “say a prayer to your God” during a public hearing.
Last month, someone set off a pipe bomb at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. Although dozens of people were inside, no one was injured. The attack came just a few hours before Ahmed was to attend his first Human Rights Commission meeting. Both Ahmed and Evans worship at that mosque.
ThinkProgress spoke to Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesman Ibrahim Hooper about any possible connection between the three incidents. “I think it’s related to the overall rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in our society, unfortunately,” said Hooper. “You get a tiny minority taking extremist rhetoric and turning it into violent actions.” CAIR is also calling for federal officials to “investigate the [Evans] incident as a possible hate crime.” On Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Jacksonville pipe bomb incident was a “top concern” for the Justice Department, which was treating it as a hate crime. (HT: Spencer Ackerman)
The Deepwater Horizon is not the only well leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the last month.
A nearby drilling rig, the Ocean Saratoga, has been leaking since at least April 30, according to a federal document.
While the leak is decidedly smaller than the Deepwater Horizon spill, a 10-mile-long slick emanating from the Ocean Saratoga is visible from space in multiple images gathered by Skytruth.org, which monitors environmental problems using satellites.
Federal officials did not immediately respond when asked about the size of the leak, how long it had been flowing, or whether it was possible to plug it.
Skytruth first reported the leak on its website on May 15. Federal officials mentioned it in the May 1 trajectory map for the Deepwater Horizon spill, stating that oil from the Ocean Saratoga spill might also be washing ashore in Louisiana.
SkyTruth, the organization that uses satellite imagery to monitor spills in the Gulf, argues that this new leak demonstrates the urgent need to have an ongoing program to monitor drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico using satellite imagery made available to the public.
Fourth-grade teacher Jarretta Hamilton was newly married and expecting a baby when she went to speak with her supervisors in April of last year.
But the administrators at Southland Christian School in St. Cloud parried her query about maternity leave with a query of their own: When did she conceive?
After Hamilton admitted that the child had been conceived about three weeks before her February 20, 2009, wedding, the school fired her.
She's now suing.
"She wants compensation for the loss of the job and she's seeking compensatory damages for emotional distress," said her attorney, Edward Gay.
In the complaint, which asks for a trial by jury, Hamilton alleges that her termination was based on the fact of her pregnancy - and that the school offended her by disclosing the information about when she conceived to other school staffers and the parents of students Hamilton taught during the 2008-2009 school year.
Hamilton did not authorize the school to reveal that information, according to the complaint.
She also tried to keep the matter from getting to this point, Gay said. She filed discrimination charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations, but has since exhausted her options.
A July 20, 2009, letter signed by school administrator Julie Ennis explains why the school's administrators thought they had to fire Hamilton:
"Jarretta was asked not to return because of a moral issue that was disregarded, namely fornication, sex outside of marriage," the letter read. "The employment application, which she filled out, clearly states that as a leader before our students we require all teachers to maintain and communicate the values and purpose of our school."
The letter declares that sex outside of marriage is immoral and that other pregnant teachers have been able to remain employed with the school because they conceived within marriage.
"We request that Jarretta withdraw her complaint and consider the testimony of the Lord," the letter read in closing.
Southland Christian School could not be reached for comment.
Problems cropping up in Garland County:
The mess that Garland County Election Commission made has come to full flower. A voting rights activist reports long lines and parking problems at the two — count 'em, two — polling places that the Commission decided to open for runoff voting. It closed 40 other polls to save money despite the fact that every voter in the county, where some 12,000 voted in the first primary, has three statewide races to consider.
There's one poll in Hot Springs, at the election commission, and one in Hot Springs Village (beyond the community's access gates). If it's a close election and Bill Halter loses, somebody is going to howl, givenBlanche Lincoln's poor showing in Garland in the first primary. She got only about 40 percent of the vote.
Those in line by 7:30 still may be able to vote. One question, however, may be what constitutes a line. Confident that Commission Chairman Charles Tapp and Co. will have a good answer?
Doesn't help that it's hot. Doesn't help that cops needed because of traffic difficulties have been diverted by amanhunt for a prisoner who escaped en route to a Hot Springs court appearance today.
And election officials couldn't have anticipated this, could they?
The polls are open for hours still, so get over to this diary and learn how you can help with last-minute GOTV efforts.
For those of you who will be joining Marcy, bmaz and me for Closing Arguments of Perry v Schwarzenegger next Wednesday, June 16th, here's the schedule for orations. These times are all PDT (FDL) time.[...]
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As you know, when the U.S. House passed its version of the ?Jobs Bill? prior to the Memorial Day district work period, they stripped from the bill the extension of the temporary FMAP increase through June 30, 2011. The Senate is now poised to take up its ?Jobs Bill,? and their bill does include an FMAP extension of six months. However, we need to ensure that this critical hospital provision remains in the Senate version, and is accepted by the House when they take up the Senate bill.
Reinforce the message to the SC Delegation of the critical need for the FMAP extension! Please take the following steps:
This is a huge issue for us in South Carolina; the FY 2010-11 State Appropriations Bill passed by the General Assembly last week and currently before the Governor allocates $213 million in FMAP funding for health care services. If this extension does not pass, this state budget, being propped up with this one time money will be decimated and the impact will be felt by our hospitals and the citizens across South Carolina.