One of the most prominent grievances of those protesters in the 99 percent movement is America’s growing income inequality. The level of income inequality in the U.S. is currently the worst it has been since the Great Depression; over the last three decades, “the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of households have risen only slightly, on average, while the incomes of the top 1 percent have soared.” Since 1979, “the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled.”
During last night’s GOP presidential primary debate, the candidates were asked by the Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty for their thoughts on this troubling trend. Instead of pointing to the true culprits — growing financialization of the economy, excessive executive compensation, dropping rates of unionization, tax cuts for the wealthy, and stagnant wages — Gov. Rick Perry (TX) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA) blamed, respectively, President Obama and single mothers:
TUMULTY: Governor Perry, over the last 30 years, the income of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans has grown by more than 300 percent, and yet we have more people living in poverty in this country than at any time in the last 50 years. Is this acceptable? And what would you do to close that gap?
PERRY: The reason we have that many people living in poverty is because we have got a president of the United States who is a job- killer. That’s what’s wrong with this country today. You have a president who does not understand how to create wealth. He has over-taxed, over-regulated the small-business men and women to the point where they are laying off people. Two-and-half million Americans are out there who have lost their jobs. We have got 14 million without work. This president, I will suggest to you, is the biggest deterrent to getting this country back on track, and we have to do everything we can to replace Barack Obama in 2012.
ROSE: OK. But we are almost out of time. I want to give you a chance, and then we have to go the final questions.
SANTORUM: There is more to it than that. And I agree with Rick, what he said, but the biggest problem with poverty in America, and we don’t talk about here, because it’s an economic discussion — and that is the break down of the American family. You want to look at the poverty rate among families that have two — that have a husband and wife working in them? It’s 5 percent today. A family that’s headed by one person? It’s 30 percent today…We need to have a policy that supports families, that encourages marriage that has fathers take responsibility for their children. You can’t have limited government — you can’t have a wealthy society if the family breaks down, that basic unit of society.
Perry never did get around to explaining how a teenage Barack Obama was responsible for starting a growth in income inequality in the 1970s. A study released last week shows that severe income inequality actually hinders economic growth, while “making an economy?s income distribution 10 percent more equitable prolongs its typical growth spell by 50 percent.?
The Pinellas County School Board in Tampa Bay, Florida voted to reject funds for an educational program affiliated with the Boy Scouts on Tuesday, “citing discrimination against gay youth by the organization”:
“This board has a chance to send a strong message to the Boy Scouts,” said Board Member Linda Lerner during the meeting. Lerner has asked the board to split from the program for the past 10 years. “I was pleasantly surprised, and I believe that it is so good for our district for our educators, students, and citizens, gay and straight,” said Lerner.
“Learning for Life” is a character education program in schools. It teaches students values like respect, responsibility, honesty and fairness.
Watch a local news segment on the story:
The Boy Scouts prohibit atheists, agnostics, and ?avowed? homosexual people from leadership roles. In 2004, the organization adopted the following policy statement: ?Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting?s values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.?
Welcome to Clean Start, ThinkProgress Green?s morning round-up of the latest in climate and clean energy. Here is what we?re reading. What are you?
Video: New Zealand fears the stricken Rena container ship, which has been oiling the coast, will break up. [Guardian]
Australia’s lower house of parliament has narrowly passed a bill for a controversial carbon tax. [BBC]
Thailand?s worst floods in more than 50 years have reached levels that threaten to overwhelm barriers protecting Bangkok, said Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na- Ranong, who urged residents in the capital to be prepared. [Businessweek]
Four dolphin carcasses have been found washed up in Alabama this week, bringing the number lost since the BP oil spill to more than 400. [AL.com]
The winners of the 2011 Zerofootprint Re-Skinning Awards were announced at the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, showcasing excellence in holistic retrofitting projects from around the world. [Greenbuild]
Food prices are expected to soar substantially with energy tied closer to agriculture and extreme weather events becoming more common, a U.N. report found. [UPI]
HP, Intel, Sony are among the 21 electronics companies, industry groups and NGOs that have joined a U.S. government-led effort to create a reputable supply chain for conflict-free minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [Greenbiz]
Mercury levels have dropped about 20 percent in the Great Lakes in recent decades but remain dangerously high and are getting worse in some places, scientists said in a report released Tuesday. [WSJ]
In an effort to prove electric cars will work ? are “normal” ? even in the smaller cities of middle America, Mitsubishi Motors is flooding the city of Normal, Ill., with up to 1,000 of its coming “i” electric cars. [USA Today]
Conservatives argue that the Pentagon’s new policy of permitting chaplains to perform same-sex marriages on military bases undermines federal law and have threatened to “oppose passage of the annual defense authorization bill unless language is included that prohibits military chaplains from performing same-sex unions.” But the chaplains disagree, telling ABC News that the new rules won’t have any impact on their daily lives. ?The Pentagon can issue a policy change concerning the performance of same-gender ceremonies by chaplains. However, the Pentagon doesn?t generate religion as such,? says Gary Pollitt, a spokesman for the Military Chaplains Association, which represents 1,600 current and retired military chaplains. ?A military chaplain conducts religious ceremonies and rites in keeping with the canons [or beliefs, doctrine, policies] of the religious faith group that endorses that chaplain. Each faith group defines the parameters for religious rites and the clergyperson?s individual discretion [if any] with those rites,” he said. Indeed, numerous religious denominations allow its ministers to perform same-sex marriages or bless same-sex unions.
To expand a little bit on yesterday’s Slovakia happenings, I think much of the original reporting on this was somewhat confused and the parliamentary no vote isn’t necessarily that consequential. To see why, let’s step back and remember what we’re talking about. The leaders of the big Eurozone states decided that they want to expand something called the European Financial Stabilization Fund in order to be able to backstop Portugal and Ireland in the event of a possible Greek default. This requires the unanimous approval of the Eurozone parliaments, which includes Slovakia. All of them except Slovakia already agreed, and yesterday Slovakia said no.
But ? and here’s the tricky part ? the EFSF expansion actually seems to have majority support in the Slovak parliament.
To understand what’s happening here, you need to look back at the outcome of the 2010 elections. Then-incumbent Prime Minister Robert Fico led the social democratic Smer party to capture the largest number of seats. But a coalition of four substantially smaller center-right parties collectively had a majority in parliament and used it to form a governing coalition. Slovakia’s Prime Minister Iveta Radi?ová supports the EFSF expansion, as does her Slovak Democratic and Christian Union party and two of its three coalition partners. The problem is that one of the three coalition partners doesn’t support the EFSF expansion and Smer doesn’t want to bail the prime minister out by delivering the votes she needs to pass the bill. But they’re not determined to kill the bill either, they just want to use it as leverage. It’d be as if Nancy Pelosi withheld Democratic votes from the TARP legislation unless Bush and Boehner agreed to make some separate concessions on taxes and SCHIP.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in a statement yesterday that Iraq has officially requested at least 5,000 U.S. troops — or “trainers” — to stay in Iraq past the year-end total withdrawal deadline. “We have agreed to retain more than 5,000 American trainers, without giving them immunity,” Talabani said. “We have sent them our agreement to retain this number and are awaiting their response: yes or no.” McClatchy notes that Talabani’s remark was significant because it “seemed intended to clarify that, at least from an Iraqi perspective, negotiations were over, and the U.S. was expected merely either to agree to stay on or decline to do so.” “If the Americans do not agree to leave behind the trainers without immunity, then we have three choices: to ask for trainers of the (weapons) manufacturing companies, to seek the assistance of NATO or to send members of the Iraqi armed forces to train abroad,” Talabani said.
Last week, former Speaker Newt Gingrich revealed that, if elected president, he would simply ignore Supreme Court decisions he disagrees with and intimidate judges into towing his line through subpoenas and targeted removals from office. According to conservative attorney Bruce Fein, a former associate deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan, this intimidation scheme isn’t just unconstitutional — it is so flagrantly unconstitutional that it would justify removing Gingrich from office:
One of the indictments against King George III in the Declaration of Independence was making judges “dependent on his will alone.” In the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison, Chief Justice John Marshall explained that judicial review was the difference between a government of laws and a government of men. The 1805 acquittal by the United States Senate of Associate Justice Samuel Chase accused by the House of Representatives of impeachable offenses because of judicial rulings favorable to the Federalist Party established the time-honored principle that federal judges are not accountable to any other branch for their judicial opinions.
Gingrich unwittingly is proposing to overthrow the Constitution that he would be pledged to uphold and defend if elected to the presidency. Attempting to subvert the Constitution, however, it an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor justifying removal of the President from office.
Gingrich, of course, knows more than anyone about what it is like to impeach the president. Unlike Gingrich’s politically motivated impeachment of President Clinton, however, impeaching presidents who wage an illegal and authoritarian campaign against another branch of government is exactly what the framers intended a president to be removed for.
Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteIf you can't beat them then try to hijack their cause.Can OWS be turned into a Democratic Party movement?by Glenn GreenwaldWhen I first wrote in defense of the Occupy Wall Street protests a couple of weeks ago, I[...]
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I wasn't sure which aspect of Cantor's comments, made at the Values Voter Summit in Washington DC, was more troubling: the hypocritical dissing of Occupy Wall Street protesters in language that could very well apply to the Tea Party, or the more general pooh-poohing of street protest in the age of Citizens United. When you have a Supreme Court that considers unfettered corporate cash to be "free speech" every bit as much as a protest sign scrawled with a Sharpie on a piece of torn cardboard, ordinary Americans are up against some tough competition in the political expression department. Maybe we could funnel money to fly-by-night front groups like the big boys if only we had decent-paying jobs. Until then, Mr. Cantor, I suppose we'll just have to be uncivilized.
On a purely artistic note, this was my first time drawing Cantor's bony skull-face. I knew this day was coming, and I'm pretty happy with how it came out. He and Rudy Giuliani should have a skull-face face-off. Not sure how that would work exactly, but I'd rather not think about it too hard.
David Dayen's News Roundup: Occupy arrests, super committee stuck, terrorism or entrapment? The shrimp are missing, so lets drill more; Pizza man's tax plan, Leon wants more money for wars, and much more.[...]
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