It's no secret that the campaign of Newt Gingrich is in serious trouble. Since his thrashing by "Wall Street Willie" Romney in the Florida primary, Gingrich has gone on to lose badly in Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, and Maine (he wasn't on the Missouri ballot). He has also dropped sharply in all the nationwide polls. Clearly, something must be done to turn this around or Gingrich will soon be too far behind to even have a hope of catching up.
The one bright spot remaining for Gingrich is in his home state of Georgia. A new Mason-Dixon Poll in Georgia shows Gingrich still leads all of his competitors there. here are the current numbers:
Santorum's support may be undercounted, since part of the poll was conducted before he scored huge victories in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri (and many people thought he was already out of the race). But even if the above numbers hold up and Gingrich is able to win Georgia on Super Tuesday (March 6th), that is not going to be enough. Gingrich needs to win more delegates on Super Tuesday than Georgia has to offer.
And Gingrich thinks he has come up with an idea that will propel him back into the race. Todd J. Gillman of The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Gingrich has assembled a conservative "dream team" to campaign on his behalf. This "dream team" (pictured above) is composed of Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Chuck Norris, Fred Thompson, Michael Reagan, Kellyanne Conway, Linda Upmeyer, and J.C. Watts.
If this is the best he can come up with, we may well be witnessing the dying whimpers of the Gingrich campaign. None of these losers have shown they have the ability to swing even a small amount of voters, let alone perform the miracle that would be necessary to revive the Gingrich campaign.
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Political Cartoon is by Rick McKee in The Augusta Chronicle.
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The picture above is of State Representative Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth). Rep. Burnam is one of the most progressive legislators in Texas -- if not the most progressive. For several legislative sessions, he has fought for fairness and justice for all Texans -- and one of the issues he has fought for is a fairer tax system.
Currently, Texas has one of the most regressive tax systems of any state, relying mostly on a state sales tax, property taxes, and various licensing fees to fill the state coffers. This means the poor and most workers pay a significant percentage of their total income in taxes, while the rich (who can better afford to pay taxes) pay only a microscopic portion of their income in taxes. It's not fair, but it's what the Republicans want -- and they control all statewide offices and huge majorities in both houses of the legislature. And these Republicans think protecting the rich from taxation is much more important than tax fairness.
They demonstrated this in the last legislative session by drastically slashing education funds (even though Texas already had the lowest per pupil funding for schools of any state in the nation). They also slashed funds for programs that help the elderly, children, the poor, and cut services for other programs that help ordinary Texans. And what they couldn't cover by cutting services, they shoved on down the road to the next legislative session -- especially funds for Medicaid and education. When the next legislature meets in early 2013, they will face a budget shortfall of at least $17 billion -- and that could grow even larger.
Rep. Burnam thinks enough is enough. We must stop kicking our bills down the road and pay them -- and adequately fund education and other services needed by the citizens of Texas. And to do that he is once again proposing a state income tax. His proposal would only tax Texans making $100,000 a year or more. In the last session, Burnam proposed the tax for everyone making more than $1,000,000, so the $100,000 quoted in this article may be a misprint. But even if it's $100,000, that is less than 20% of the Texas population, meaning more than 80% of the state population would not be affected by Burnam's proposal.
Rep. Burnam says, "This is the fairest tax because right now the wealthiest 1 percent are not paying their fair share. That's why we're in this hole. The only way to finance the state's needs is a fair tax, and the income tax is the solution."
It won't happen of course. Just the thought of taxing the rich makes Republican legislators go screaming into the night. I doubt if Burnam's proposal will even make it out of committee. But it's still a good idea. It's time for the rich to start paying some taxes in Texas. They've had a free ride (on the back's of workers) for far too long.
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Political Cartoon is by Bruce Plante in Tulsa World.
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Whitney Houston - Yes Jesus Loves Me[...]
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Somewhere on this planet an American commando is carrying out a mission. Now, say that 70 times and you're done... for the day. Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret force within the U.S. military is undertaking operations in a majority of the world's countries. ...Turse's article was published at the beginning of August 2011.
While it's well known that U.S. Special Operations forces are deployed in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, and it's increasingly apparent that such units operate in murkier conflict zones like Yemen and Somalia, the full extent of their worldwide war has remained deeply in the shadows.
Last year, Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post reported that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in 75 countries, up from 60 at the end of the Bush presidency. By the end of this year, U.S. Special Operations Command [SOCOM] spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me, that number will likely reach 120. "We do a lot of traveling -- a lot more than Afghanistan or Iraq," he said recently. This global presence -- in about 60% of the world's nations and far larger than previously acknowledged -- provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world.
SOCOM represents something new in the military. Whereas the late scholar of militarism Chalmers Johnson used to refer to the CIA as "the president's private army," today JSOC performs that role, acting as the chief executive's private assassination squad, and its parent, SOCOM, functions as a new Pentagon power-elite, a secret military within the military possessing domestic power and global reach.
In 120 countries across the globe, troops from Special Operations Command carry out their secret war of high-profile assassinations, low-level targeted killings, capture/kidnap operations, kick-down-the-door night raids, joint operations with foreign forces, and training missions with indigenous partners as part of a shadowy conflict unknown to most Americans. Once "special" for being small, lean, outsider outfits, today they are special for their power, access, influence, and aura.
As the United States turns increasingly to Special Operations forces to confront developing threats scattered around the world, the nation?s top Special Operations officer, a member of the Navy Seals who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, is seeking new authority to move his forces faster and outside of normal Pentagon deployment channels.I'm sure you find all this tremendously reassuring. How good to know that Special Operations forces are used more and more frequently "to confront developing threats." What constitutes a "developing threat"? What are the factors involved? Who evaluates the available information and judges the severity of the threat?
The officer, Adm. William H. McRaven, who leads the Special Operations Command, is pushing for a larger role for his elite units who have traditionally operated in the dark corners of American foreign policy. The plan would give him more autonomy to position his forces and their war-fighting equipment where intelligence and global events indicate they are most needed.
It would also allow the Special Operations forces to expand their presence in regions where they have not operated in large numbers for the past decade, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
While President Obama and his Pentagon?s leadership have increasingly made Special Operations forces their military tool of choice, similar plans in the past have foundered because of opposition from regional commanders and the State Department. The military?s regional combatant commanders have feared a decrease of their authority, and some ambassadors in crisis zones have voiced concerns that commandos may carry out missions that are perceived to tread on a host country?s sovereignty, like the rift in ties with Pakistan after the Bin Laden raid.Don't you adore the fact that this collection of murderers and assassins exhibit the same petty squabbles over influence and power as are found in the moth-eaten bureaucracy of any pathetically rotten company you care to name? "No, no, you can't kill that guy! He's mine!" Or: "Wait a second, you miserable bastard. I'm the one who gets to order the destruction of those villages!" It's a magnificently edifying spectacle, it most surely is.
[T]his is the view of the ruling class: "America is God. God's Will be done."Believe it.
What they want is dominion over the world. They intend to have it. In pursuit of this aim, as they believe the necessity arises, they will destroy anyone and anything that stands in their way. To describe their behavior as insane is to miss the much more critical point, and to minimize the far greater danger. They know exactly what they're doing. They're hoping that you do not. To date, far too many people oblige them.
Don't help them in their pursuit of brutality, oppression, murder and vast destruction. I state again: they know exactly what they're doing. Be sure you judge them accordingly.
Tuesday Blue America will be officially endorsing Rob Zerban for Congress-- looks like I let the cat out of the bag-- and he'll be our special Valentine's Day live guest over at C&L (1pm, CST). When I spoke to him earlier today I reminded him that to the Netroots and to progressive activists outside of the district, Paul Ryan is known to be one of the most extreme and dangerous members of the conservative movement. This view is shared by many in Wisconsin, of course, including in the First Congressional District, but there is a still a great deal of work to be done convincing undecided and independents. I wanted to know what Rob is doing to make sure voters in Janesville, Kenosha, Racine, the southern Milwaukee 'burbs and even Waukesha get that. He says "there are 3 main factors why people are energized about this race and fed up with Ryan-- Ryan's ideas, his behavior, and the movement in Wisconsin. My campaign is focusing on harnessing these opportunities, drawing clear contrasts, and delivering that message to voters." When I asked for details, they came out like a gusher:
The privatization of Medicare and Social Security is an awful idea. Let?s start there. That is something the vast majority of people understand in this district, and across the nation. Supporters of Paul Ryan?s plans have admitted it does not save money. These proposals open these programs to huge risk and cuts, and are clearly just a ploy to take money away from seniors and put it into the hands of Wall Street and private health insurance companies. (Of course, these are the same special interests funding Ryan?s political career).
Paul Ryan?s agenda is not just cuts and privatization, but also wasteful spending on big tax cuts for the wealthy. Everyone is furious that Mitt Romney is paying only 13.9% on his millions while many in the middle class are paying tax rates in the 30%s. I point out to people that Paul Ryan makes this possible. He has pushed for every tax cut for millionaires and billionaires possible including the Bush tax cuts, capital gains, carried interest, and many other loopholes. Ryan wants to protect these loopholes for Mitt Romney instead of funding our students, seniors, and economic recovery efforts.
Paul Ryan likes to sell himself as a big thinker similar to the way Newt Gingrich has done. I realized early on that his grandiose and self-promoting plans, including the Path to Prosperity, are little more than the reheated and repackaged extremism of past eras.
The second problem many Wisconsinites have with Ryan is his behavior. He is cavorting with the ultra-wealthy at every opportunity and only occasionally returns to the district. His ?listening sessions? with constituents compromise of him delivering a PowerPoint presentation on topics including why students don?t need Pell Grants and why seniors programs should be privatized. He routinely kicks out anyone who disagrees with him. He behaves like people?s boss- not their representative. In my opinion, he acts like someone who does not feel he owes his district or his constituents any consideration. He is a man with a philosophy and everyone else can take his way or the highway. This makes people mad!
The third and final factor I think is playing a big role in why people are so energized is the movement in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is the epicenter of the movement by the middle class to stand up for themselves and for their futures. The Recall effort of the Governor is an inspiring grassroots effort to get rid of someone who has stepped far outside of the lines to attack the middle class. The crushing and coordinated political attack on working families that happened in Wisconsin was outrageous. The attack was orchestrated by outside money networks and secret coalitions, including the Koch Brothers and ALEC, which allowed for radical legislation to be quickly rammed through Wisconsin state government. It was clear to everyone that our legislators and Governor were acting as puppets for outside interests and had little understanding what they were doing.
This all-out assault on the middle class woke a lot of people up. We saw great things in Madison. The Recall has also spread to my district and had a great impact. Formerly Republican-leaning areas of the district, including Waukesha County, had record participation in the Recall.
In short, things have changed here in Wisconsin! People have woken up and blue collar retirees are remembering just how unacceptable the Republican agenda is. Seniors and students are realizing the deep cuts Ryan is ramming through will hurt them and will force many in the middle class to fall into poverty.
It doesn?t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows! Paul Ryan has the wrong ideas for America and we just need to keep promoting the simple truth.
To understand the failure of both the free market and the US political system one need only look at the fishing industry.
Everyone agrees that that the Maine cod fishery has been severely over-fished and is on the brink of total collapse. The logical policy would be to call a halt to all fishing of cod until the the stocks have returned to a sustainable level. Instead the administration proposes the highest quota that can be plausibly be described as sustainable, the industry protests the proposed cuts as 'devastating', the overfishing continues and a few years later the sustainable catch is lower still.
Here is how the New York Times reports the proposed cuts:
?It?s going to be hard to preserve the industry at those low numbers, and that?s something that concerns us a great deal,? said Sam Rauch, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration?s fisheries arm, who led the meeting of fishermen, scientists and regulators.However hard it might be to preserve the industry with lower quotas it is going to be a lot harder to preserve the industry by fishing cod to extinction like the dodo and the passenger pigeon.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a year, after which no one will ever eat fish again.Privatization is frequently mooted as the solution to 'government' failure. As if converting the common fishing grounds into private property by government decree was not a government intervention. It might work, but experience in Iceland suggests not.
The wonders that await: An artist's depiction of the surface of Pluto with its over sized moon Charon and our distant sun holding vigil above, courtesy of the European Southern Observatory.The White House released its proposed 2013 budget for NASA and it's about what I posted here over the weekend. There is no love for Mars:
[P]lanetary exploration has gotten creamed. Its budget overall drops from $1.5 billion to $1.2, a very deep cut that doesn?t just threaten but destroys near-future Mars exploration as well as future big grand missions to the outer planets in the tradition of Voyager, Cassini, and others. ... For the cost of less than a single day on the War on Terror, we could have a robust and far-reaching program to explore Mars, look for signs of life on another planet, increase our overall science knowledge, and inspire a future generation of kids.On a more positive note, the President proposed adequate funding, over $800 million or about two days in Iraq and Afghanistan, to jump start America's nascent Newspace capabilities. The idea being companies like SpaceX will be able to provide launch services for U.S. astronauts much sooner than the proposed Space Launch System and for millions less than our only other viable option right now: Russian rockets.
Sadly, in the past, the GOP dominated House has pared down WH proposals for the latter for two reasons: One, anything Obama proposes is bad, even if it used to be a heartfelt conservative idea. Second, mostly conservative lawmakers representing traditional aerospace and related constituencies in Huntsville, Houston, and Florida's spacecoast, prefer funding Big Gubmint programs relying on aerospace defense companies paid under that good old-fashioned, sweet, cost-plus arrangement.