So professional kvetcher Erick Erickson has a new project up called "We are the 53%" that purports to speak on behalf of the 53 percent of Americans who pay federal income tax. As per usual with these sorts of things, Erickson fails to note that while many Americans pay no federal income tax, they do pay payroll taxes, state income taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes... well you get the idea. But for professional propagandists such as Erickson, only federal income taxes count as Real Taxes because... well, who the hell knows at this point? Payroll taxes pay for Social Security and Medicare, which are two of the biggest items in the budget, while federal income taxes pay for the military, which you'd think Erickson would be happy to fund.
But anyway! As is his wont, Erickson has posted his own comical self-pity pic bemoaning the fact that he "works" three "jobs" (presumably as an Internet gasbag at RedState, as a radio gasbag on his talk radio show and a TV gasbag on CNN) and is thus one of the Randian Supermen who is supporting all the unwashed losers protesting Wall Street.
This type of weapons-grade st00pid demands a response, of course. And as someone who does in fact pay federal income taxes I've decided to make myself the de facto spokesperson for the 53 percent Who Hate the .000000001 percent that is Erick Erickson.
Of course, I do not have the final say in all this. I encourage all of my fellow federal income tax payers to post similar messages to Erickson. We can make a collage out of 'em if you want. We could even get out own Tumblr: "We Are the 100 Percent Who Think Erick Erickson is a Tool." Revolution, baby. Revolution.
Gilad Shalit, the Israeli Defense Forces soldier who has been under the control of Hamas since 2006, may be freed in a prisoner exchange deal, according to multiple officials.[...]
Read The Full Article:
Surprise, surprise. The GOP candidates, House members and Senators are all out of touch with their own.
More than half of Republicans say wealthier Americans should pay more in taxes to bring down the federal budget deficit.
Fifty-three percent of self-identified Republicans back an increase in taxes on households making more than $250,000, a sentiment at odds with the party?s presidential candidates, who will meet tonight in a Bloomberg-Washington Post-sponsored debate focused on economic issues.
More than two-thirds of all Americans back higher taxes on the rich and even larger numbers think Medicare and Social Security benefits should be left alone, according to a Bloomberg-Washington Post national poll conducted Oct. 6-9.
The next debate may have to carry fact-check subtitles but, to get the flavor of this one, the Caucus blog parses some of the more flagrant examples of Truthiness.
My favorite is Newt Gingrich?s inversion of an advisory on prostate tests for men from a policy that could save lives and needless suffering into an example of Sarah Palin?s death panels, which was named ?The Lie of the Year? in 2009 by an award-winning fact check site.
But how to choose? Practically everything out of Michele Bachmann?s mouth was so goofily untrue that there could have been a running translation: ?If it rains frogs tomorrow, it?s Obama?s fault, and I voted against it.? She even bragged about refusing to raise the debt ceiling, which could have brought down the government, but we did learn that she is a tax lawyer with a lot of foster children.
When a reporter suggested that actual numbers showed that his 999 plan wouldn?t work, Herman Cain breezily told her the figures were wrong. He wouldn?t name his secret economic advisers, but his sly smile suggested that he might be working on an 888 special for the primary season.
Rick Perry continued to look like one of those old Polaroid pictures from which the developing strip has been removed too soon, answering every question with a reference to an energy plan he will be unveiling some time or other and fading away before our eyes.
By contrast, Mitt Romney looked presidential, sort of, but created a sound bite for an Obama commercial by damning the Detroit bailout, which could lose him Michigan, where he grew up.
This long-running GOP game show may have finally jumped the shark, but at least last night?s installment was carried by a channel that all but the most dedicated viewers couldn?t find.
Read The Full Article:
The ridiculous thing about these Republican debates is that you keep needing to wade through this vast field of candidates who are essentially doing book tours in order to hear the actual presidential candidates debate. Rick Santorum is not going to be a major party presidential nominee. Nor will Herman Cain. Michele Bachmann had a brief moment when it kinda sorta maybe looked like she could possibly break through, but she didn’t. The actual choice Republicans are making at the moment is whether Rick Perry or Mitt Romney will run against Barack Obama. This is an interesting question, and I for one would like to see the relevant information presented rather than a lot of nonsense from pizza salesmen and Newt Gingrich.
Initially I thought the lack of mano-a-mano debates was helping Perry, since Romney was clearly the superior debater but Perry could kind of hide behind all the other nutters and muddy the waters. But now that Romney seems to have the upper hand against Perry, it’s the reverse. Perry would really benefit from a high-risk, high-reward opportunity to reset the narrative about his skills as a candidate. Based on what we’ve seen so far, even people who prefer Perry on the merits must be worried that he’s too shaky to be a reliable standard-bearer against the incumbent.
Meanwhile, on the issues, nobody said “Slovakia.” There was this weird exchange about whether or not Romney would support a new bailout if, hypothetically, the European situation were to cause some unspecified insolvency of American banks. But why not ask a question about the actual situation? Should the president be phoning up Slovak parliamentarians?
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney doubled down on his pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act during last night’s Republican presidential debate, pledging to eliminate the entire law through the reconciliation process, a special procedure that allows the Senate to bypass the filibuster and pass spending bills with 51, instead of 60 votes. After relying on the process to pass President Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, Republicans attacked Democrats’ efforts to pass a small bill of health care “fixes” in 2010 by claiming that it undermined the democratic system, but have now had another change of heart.
“We have to repeal Obamacare and I will do that on day two with a reconciliation bill because, as you know, it was passed through reconciliation, 51 votes, we can get rid of it with 51 votes,” Romney claimed at last night’s event. “We have to get rid of Obamacare and return to the states the responsibility.” Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum immediately challenged Romney’s proposal, correctly noting that the rules of the reconciliation process would exclude key provisions of the law like the individual mandate and exchanges that don’t directly affect spending:
HUNTSMAN: It’s disingenuous to — to just say that you can — you can waive it all away. The mandate will be in place. The IRS is already planning on 19,500 new employees to administer that mandate. That will stay, and that’s the ruinous part of — of Obamacare. And that — Mitt, your plan is not going to do anything.
ROMNEY: I said we had to repeal it. Did you miss that?
HUNTSMAN: No. It doesn’t — it doesn’t repeal the mandate.
ROMNEY: No, no, I said I’m going to repeal it through reconciliation.
SANTORUM: Through reconciliation, you can repeal the taxes, you can repeal the spending, and therefore, the mandate has no teeth, because there’s no tax penalty if you don’t enforce it.
Romney seemed unaware of the technicalities of reconciliation and unfamiliar with its history in health care reform. Democrats passed the House and Senate versions of the Affordable Care Act through regular order in late 2009, but didn’t have the votes to approve a merged bill after losing Ted Kennedy’s seat to Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-MA). As a result, the House agreed to pass the Senate version after assurances from Harry Reid that the Senate would use the reconciliation process to make small spending changes to the bill sought by House Democrats.
Republicans described the process as a “convoluted legislative charade? and claimed that it is ?an extraordinary and unprecedented abuse? that is “not good democracy.”
In fact, even Romney directly criticized the process he’s now endorsing. During a television swoop on the day of the Massachusetts special election — Jan. 19, 2010 — Romney accused Democrats of “playing fast and loose in Washington.” “[T]here’s kind of a neo-monarchy, if you will, where they don’t have to listen to the American people, they know what’s better for the American people than the people know themselves, and they’re going to push through their health-care plan and their cap-and-trade plan and their spending plan,” Romney said during an appearance on Fox & Friends. After Brown’s victory, Romney told Sean Hannity, “Well, I’d be surprised if the Democrats have already been talking what they would do if Scott Brown became elected, how they would get their health care through despite the will of the people. If they play the kind of shenanigans you described I think it’s going to show the kind of arrogance which has lead to Scott Brown’s victory tonight, in part.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) got into only more trouble after his poor performance at last night’s GOP presidential debate when he told a local ABC affiliate that the American Revolution took place two hundred years before it did. Asked about states’ rights during a post-debate visit to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Dartmouth College, Perry said:
?Our Founding Fathers never meant for Washington, D.C. to be the fount of all wisdom. As a matter of fact they were very much afraid if that because they?d just had this experience with this far-away government that had centralized thought process and planning and what have you, and then it was actually the reason that we fought the revolution in the 16th century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown if you will,? Perry said.
Other Big Stories Below: Pakistan Floods Show Asia’s Vulnerability to Climate Change; Insiders Say Obama Will OK Keystone Pipeline Soon; China’s Wind Market to Reach 158 GW by 2016
The Australian government’s goal of implementing a carbon tax passed its toughest test today as the lower house of Parliament overwhelmingly approved a package of bills that institutes a phased-in carbon tax, to be followed by a carbon-trading system.The 18 bills now go to the Senate, where the law is all but assured of passage in mid-November.
According to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the system will reduce Australia’s carbon emissions by 159 million tons by 2020. Australia is the largest per-capita carbon polluter, with an economy deeply dependent on coal.
The first phase of the law will tax carbon at $22.90 a ton beginning in the middle of next year. The surcharge will rise modestly until mid-2015, when the carbon-trading system will take effect. Other bills call for a national emissions caps, exempting farming and other agricultural sectors.
The tax will not extend to the price of gas for consumers, although rail, shipping and large trucking businesses will pay the tax indirectly on fuels such as diesel.
Australia?s biggest carbon emitters — power companies, mining companies and industrial manufacturers — immediately attacked the legislation, and the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, vowed a ?pledge in blood? to repeal the law should he become prime minister.
The Australian law would go well beyond what the California Air Resources Board is considering. The board voted in August to reaffirm its cap-and-trade plan, which put the nation’s first state carbon-trading program back on track.
JR: Some good political analysis here:
TONY Abbott may have made a “pledge in blood” to repeal the carbon laws passed yesterday but it is a promise that he will struggle to uphold in the face of significant barriers.He may be hoping to make these changes history but instead they threaten to be historic, regardless of personal views about carbon pricing and global warming.
With only half of the Senate up for re-election in two years, the odds of the upper house agreeing to reverse the tax this side of 2015 seem remote.
And by then the tax will be integrated into a world emissions trading system and businesses and householders alike will all be accustomed to paying for carbon emissions.
That means that the current partial business opposition to the tax which later morphs into an emissions trading scheme could melt away, particularly if the impact is smaller than the most vocal critics fear and is masked by more significant pricing factors such as swings in the Australian dollar.
That has been the experience in New Zealand, which, unlike Australia, applied its carbon tax to petrol, with the carbon price changes quickly becoming secondary to movements in the currency and oil prices.
It is more than a year since the devastating July and August 2010 floods in Pakistan that affected about 20 million people and killed an estimated 2,000. Many believe that the disaster was partially fuelled by global warming, and that there is a real danger that Pakistan, and the Indian subcontinent in general, could become the focus of much more regular catastrophic flooding.
Indeed, right now Pakistan is again experiencing massive flooding. The UN asserts that, already, more than 5.5 million people have been affected and almost 4300 are officially reported dead, 100 of them children.
Last year?s calamity, in particular, highlights the vulnerability of much of Asia to climate change, and has helped elevate this into one of the most important and pressing political and social issues in the region. Indeed, an increasingly prevailing view is that the impact of climate change could be worse in the region than all previous social, health and conflict disasters of the past.
Despite intense lobbying from environmentalists and opposition from many in President Obama?s own party, virtually all National Journal Energy and Environment Insiders say that Obama?s State Department will approve a controversial 1,700-mile pipeline project to bring carbon-heavy tar-sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Environmental groups have been working in Congress and the courts to delay or block a decision, citing environmental concerns and, more recently, questions about the impartiality of some State Department officials.
But more than 70 percent of Insiders said they think the State Department will approve the Keystone XL project by year?s end. Another 21 percent said the administration would approve the project eventually, just not by the end of this year. Only 9 percent of those responding think the project will not get final administration approval. Because the project crosses international boundaries, the State Department is tasked with determining whether building the pipeline is in the national interest.
China outpaced the US and emerged as the biggest market for wind power capacity in 2010. China has approximately 44.7 GW of installed wind farm capacity and intends to reach 230 GW by 2020.
Various factors are expected to drive the wind epower market in China. Government backing and generation-based incentives for renewable energy sources, rising electricity demand, and Clean Development Mechanism support from the UN all are expected to boost China’s wind market.
China outpaced the US and emerged as the biggest market for wind power capacity in 2010. China has approximately 44.7 GW of installed wind farm capacity and intends to reach 230 GW by 2020.
Wind turbine blades are mostly made of composites because of the excellent mechanical properties and ease of designing. Composites consumption in the Chinese wind market was approximately 488 million pounds in 2010. Lucintel estimates that composites consumption is will reach 542 million pounds by 2016.
A newly released report says mercury levels in the Great Lakes region generally have dropped over the past four decades, although concentrations in some fish and bird species have increased more recently.
The report was being released Tuesday at a news conference in Detroit. It sums up the findings of 35 recently completed scientific papers.
Scientists credit reduced air emissions in the Great Lakes region and nationwide for the drop in mercury levels in the lakes.
The report comes about a month before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to release tougher rules for emissions from coal-fired power plants, a leading source of mercury.
But despite the drop-off, the report says mercury pollution exceed thresholds for posing health risks to humans and the environment in many areas, especially inland waterways.
– Vice President Biden blasted the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington as “an outrageous act,” telling CBS’s The Early Show, “It’s critically important that we unite the world in the isolation of and dealing with the Iranians.”
– The alleged Iran-backed plot was out of character for the Iranian elite military unit accused of leading the effort. One expert said the modus operandi was “unprecedented,” while a former Treasury official suspected the alleged tactical shift came because of “desperation.”
– In the deal with Hamas to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shallit, the Israeli government reportedly will not release Marwan Barghouti — who is sometimes referred to as “the Palestinian Nelson Mandela” — or Ahmed Saadat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
– The top Israeli general in Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon, warned publicly against the U.S. and others cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority there: ?Reducing the Palestinians? ability to pay [salaries] decreases security. American aid is relevant to this issue.?
– Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Congress the State Department cannot withstand deep budget cuts, saying, “Well, they wanted us to keep doing what we were expected to do in Iraq, doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and, oh by the way, what you?re trying to do in Yemen, what you?re trying to do in Somalia, what you?re trying to do in Sudan, etc., etc., [...] But we don?t want to give you as much money, so you just keeping doing that.?
– Western forces in Afghanistan said attacks by Taliban insurgents decreased for the first time since the war started ten years ago, with violence down in 17 of the last 22 weeks compared to last year, according to the International Security Assistance Force.
– The United Nations reported that opium production surged 61 percent this year in Afghanistan. The U.N. also found that for the first time since 2007 an increase in the territory used for poppy cultivation, which increased 7 percent.
– The Senate passed a bill to threaten China with higher tariffs on Chinese products in retaliation for Beijing’s chronic undervaluing of their currency but the bill is unlikely to pass the House.
The Obama administration is hoping to “unite the world” against Iran after it foiled a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States. “It’s critically important that we unite the world in the isolation of and dealing with the Iranians,” Vice President Biden said on CBS today, saying the U.S. would press for increased sanctions against the country.
The Senate blocked President Obama’s jobs plan Tuesday night, with 40 senators voting against ending cloture. Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (NE) and Jon Tester (MT), who are up for reelection, voted with Republicans against the bill because, Nelson stated, “it represents billions of dollars in new spending and more taxes.”
Five health and environmental groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its rejection of a proposed stricter standard for ozone pollution, a proposal President Obama rejected last month. The rejection was “illegal and irresponsible,” said the groups, adding, “Instead of protecting people’s lungs as the law requires, this administration based its decision on politics, leaving tens of thousands of Americans at risk of sickness and suffering.”
Presidential candidate Herman Cain claimed liberals in the black community are “racist” for questioning his political ambitions as a conservative. “A lot of these liberal, leftist folk in this country, that are black, they’re more racist than the white people that they’re claiming to be racist,” he said in a radio interview yesterday with Neal Boortz.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) backed off earlier comments decrying the Occupy Wall Street protesters as a mob. “What I said then was I am most concerned about elected leaders that condone the divisiveness of pitting Americans against Americans,” Cantor told reporters when asked about his earlier comments.
“Austerity continues to be a major failure” in the United Kingdom, where unemployment reached a 15-year high after more than a year of fierce spending cuts, according to new employment data released this week. Unemployment rose half a percent, and one of every five Britons ages 16 to 24 is out of work, the most since records began in 1992.
Efforts to prevent a debt crisis from engulfing Europe faced a setback yesterday when Slovakia’s Parliament voted to reject a European bailout. The divided vote brought down the governing coalition, who failed to muster the necessary support to approve an expansion of the euro rescue fund.
The Wall Street Journal reports that economists are close to approving a professional code of ethics after being stung by criticism of ethical lapses that contributed to the financial crisis in 2008. Economists eager to sell their expertise have become susceptible to overlooking risk for the sake of lucrative consulting fees, but their bias generally isn’t known. Motivated by the scathing documentary “Inside Job” about the economic meltdown, The American Economic Association decided last January to consider creating ethical guidelines for its membership.
And finally: First Lady Michelle Obama is hoping to break a a wold record on jumping jacks, leading 400 kids from schools in the DC area in breaking the Guinness Book of World Records record for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period. More than 20,425 jumpers are needed to break the record. The effort is part of her “Let’s move” fitness campaign for American school children.