Much of the response to the Penn State scandal seems to come from a sense that actors with some control over the governance and judgement of Penn State ought to be taking some sort of action. As my colleague Travis Waldron has pointed out, the harsh fines, bans, and vacated wins the NCAA imposed on Penn State’s football program seemed more like an attempt to make up for the organization’s own burnishing of Joe Paterno’s legacy than a response that would have a meaningful impact on the conditions that allowed Jerry Sandusky continued access to Penn State facilities and the legitimacy his Penn State connections conferred upon him. The decision to remove Joe Paterno’s statue was not the result of a long-considered process, but an immediate need to act. And at first glimpse, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s warning to Penn State that its accreditation could be in danger might seem like a similarly punitive action. But the questions the Commission needs to ask are reasonable ones, and working them through with Penn State could help that community and the general public learn more about the university’s future.
Accredited colleges need to be financially stable and in compliance with government requirements, and it’s reasonable that the Commission would want to be reassured of Penn State’s ability to meet those requirements. The NCAA fines alone come to almost half the $136.3 million in gifts to the university in fiscal 2011. Then, there’s the inevitable civil suits against Penn State, which is one of several schools not considered part of Pennsylvania’s state government, and thus covered by sovereign immunity, which would protect it from being sued. It looks like Penn State will try to offer compensation to Sandusky’s victims, but we’re a long way from knowing whether those victims will want to go to court instead, whether any of them would participate in a compensation fund, and what either the compensation or the damages handed down by a jury would look like, though it’s likely to be an extremely expensive process.
Penn State isn’t broke?it had $4.6 billion in revenue in fiscal 2011, and as of last September, the university’s endowment stood at $1.83 billion. But it’s not unreasonable for the Commission to inquire?especially given that Penn State’s insurer, the Pennsylvania Manufacturer’s Association, is trying to deny the university coverage on the grounds that Penn State concealed the risk Sandusky posed to the institution?how Penn State plans to assume the costs of the scandal. If Penn State dips into its endowment to compensate victims, how will that lost potential for income affect programs and staffing? If giving rates slow, whether because alums are horrified at what their university let take place, or because, as inexplicable as it may be to outsiders, loyalists believe the university treated Joe Paterno unfairly, what is the university’s long-term financial plan?
Beyond the question of finances, Pennsylvania state law requires “Licensees who are staff members of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, and who, in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school facility or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse.” And the Clery Act requires universities to report sexual assaults (and other kinds of violence) on campus if they want their students to be able to use federal financial aid and can fine schools heavily if they fail to comply?the Education Department is investigating Penn State for violations of the Act. Given the failure of Penn State officials to abide by their state and federal obligations in the Sandusky case, and the fact that abiding by government requirements is one of the things universities need to do to remain accredited, it’s reasonable for the Commission to want to see a plan for how Penn State plans to make sure the law is obeyed in the future, and even to interrogate the integrity of the university’s reporting in assault cases that don’t involve the football program.
What would be unfair is for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to pull Penn State’s accreditation simply because it feels the need to do something, punishing current students by making their degrees worthless. But if it moves forward with the clear goal of preserving what makes Penn State a good school and incentivizing Penn State to become a safer place with a healthier culture, an inquiry into whether the university is meeting the standards for accreditation could play a useful role in Penn State’s reconstitution of itself in the wake of this terrible blot on the school’s collective character and history.
Likely due to the lingering effects of the Great Recession, America’s total fertility rate has fallen below the level necessary to keep the population stable. As the Economist noted, “in 2011 America?s fertility rate was below replacement level and below that of some large European countries. The American rate is now 1.9 and falling. France?s is 2.0 and stable. The rate in England is 2.0 and rising slightly.”
Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS (an affiliate of the super PAC American Crossroads) and the Koch brothers’ Americans For Prosperity have spent more on TV ads than every super PAC combined, according to a ProPublica analysis of CMAG data. Unlike super PACs, these groups do not have to disclose donors. That has allowed a handful of billionaires — like Sheldon Adelson and the Kochs — to funnel unknown funding for attack ads through outside groups.
In November, Californians will vote on Proposition 37, a requirement to label genetically engineered foods, a prospect the pesticide and processed food industries are not happy about. According to an analysis of campaign finance reports by Right To Know, an advocacy group promoting the ballot initiative, chemical and processed food companies recently contributed nearly $10 million to “No on 37,” which describes itself as “a coalition of family farmers, grocers, small businesses, and food producers” against food labeling.
Funding from pesticide and seed companies now tops $7 million, with the biggest contributions from Dupont Pioneer, Bayer Cropscience and BASF Plant Science. Genetically engineered crops are designed to be resistant to toxic pesticides and herbicides patented by these companies. But the resistant seeds have spurred the growth of “superweeds,” which require even more herbicide. In 2008, GE crop acres required over 26 percent more pounds of herbicides per acre than acres planted to conventional varieties. It’s not just the weeds that are mutating — “superinsects” are also starting to become a serious problem. Chemical companies profit enormously from this GE arms race, which gives farmers little choice but to buy bigger, more poisonous batches of pesticides and new strains of seeds engineered to withstand them.
Besides the chemical industry, companies including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle USA, General Mills and ConAgra are pouring money into defeating the labeling requirement. If California passes the measure, these companies’ profits could suffer from a warning label driving consumers away. Proposition 37 could also take the GMO-labeling movement national, which has so far stalled in 20 states in spite of support from 91 percent of Americans. The Food and Drug Administration has said labels are unnecessary because GE foods have not been shown to be harmful. Many other countries, including Japan, Australia, China and the European Union, already require labels on GE food.
Second in a series examining how anti-LGBT Senate candidates have worked to hurt the cause of equality.
With his primary win last Tuesday, nine-term former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) will be the Republican nominee against incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D). Unlike the incumbent, who has had a solid record in support of equality, Hoekstra has consistently worked to oppose the LGBT community on every major issue.
Over 18 years in Congress, his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for Michigan governor, and this Senate race:
1. Hoekstra actively pushed anti-LGBT bills. At least nine times, he signed on as a co-sponsor of anti-equality measures including the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, a proposal to amend the U.S. constitution to prevent states from voluntarily recognizing same-sex unions, and a radical proposal to take away the right of same-sex couples to challenge discriminatory laws in state or federal courts.
2. Hoekstra backed an effort to restrict same-sex adoption. In 1999, he voted in favor of an amendment adding a rider to the District of Columbia Appropriations Act that would have prohibited “any funding for the joint adoption of a child between individuals who are not related by blood or marriage.”
3. Hoekstra has been a virtual zero on LGBT rights. He earned a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, voting against LGBT equality 100 percent of the time, in the 104th, 106th, 107th, 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses. In the 111th Congress, he earned just a 10 percent score after voting against one anti-gay procedural motion.
4. Hoekstra has not even practiced non-discrimination personally. In addition to voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, he refused to even adopt a non-discrimination policy against LGBT discrimination for employees in his own Congressional office. He also voted for an amendment in 1998 that would have effectively nullified President Clinton’s executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal civilian workforce.
5. Hoekstra proudly boasts of awards he received from a designated hate group. His Senate campaign site highlights that he voted 93 percent of the time with the Family Research Council (FRC). His 2010 gubernatorial campaign site biography page noted that he received both the “Family, Faith and Freedom Award” and “True Blue Award” from the organization. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FRC as a hate group for its record of “false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science.”
6. Hoekstra has proudly promoted his anti-LGBT backers. In this Senate campaign, he said “I could not be prouder to announce the endorsement of Rick Santorum. This is a major endorsement and shows that our campaign continues to build momentum.” In his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Hoekstra ran an ad in which Focus on the Family Founder and anti-LGBT activist James Dobson praises him for supporting “traditional marriage.”
Listen to the Dobson endorsement ad:
Hoekstra has often attacked judicial rulings in favor of LGBT equality as “egregious judicial activism,” finding it inexplicable that courts could rule in favor of equal protection when he “firmly” believes marriage “is uniquely and essentially the union of one man and one woman.”
Hoekstra’s record is not just one of opposing LGBT rights, but one of actively seeking to take them away. His election to the U.S. Senate would be a huge threat to LGBT people and families.
Joe GarciaIt's primary day in Florida and the sleazy tactics of Rep. David Rivera to keep Joe Garcia out of the general election in District 26 haven't abated. You might remember the story of the fake Democrat in the primary who has been sending out masses of mailers using exactly the same attacks against Garcia as Rivera. Justin Lamar Sternad is the guy's name, though he's running using just the "Lamar" part of his name. He's a hotel night manager, and it's where the money is coming from to send out these attacks that's got local media intrigued.
Here's the math: He has raised $11,262 (nearly all from himself) and spent $10,440 to qualify in his quixotic bid for congressional office, despite having no public record of political engagement or political contacts.
That leaves about $822, according to his most recent campaign finance report. That's not enough cash to spend on mailers (considering that he has reported spending campaign cash on phones and postage) So far, he has sent at least six pieces out in the Key West-to-Kendall District 26 race.
How does he afford all this?
"Kiss my 'lily-white' ass," Sternad said by email.
So, basically Joe Garcia is running against Rivera twice, in the primary and in the general, since he's expected to win this primary against his one serious opponent, newcomer Gloria Romero Roses. Rivera is intent on poisoning the well now against Garcia, probably both in the hopes of knocking him out now, and in smearing him for the general election.
This is going to be a dirty one.
Since hypocrisy comes as naturally as breathing to most Republican members of Congress, leaving the press and many voters numb to it, the mismatch between Paul Ryan's stated policy stances and his actions and personal history is unlikely to draw much attention. That mismatch is pretty breathtaking, too. Ryan has, of course, described Social Security as a Ponzi scheme despite having paid for college using Social Security survivors benefits. But here's a funny twist on Ryan's enthusiastic participation in the "you did build that" line Republicans are pushing so hard. See, what President Obama said was "Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you?ve got a business?you didn?t build that. Somebody else made that happen."
Actually, it turns out that Ryan's family construction firm (founded by his great-grandfather, now owned by his cousins) got big building roads. For the government.
At the turn of the century, Ryan Inc. turned to road building. A subsidiary family corporation, Ryan Incorporated Southern, states on its Web site, ?The Ryan workload from 1910 until the rural interstate Highway System was completed 60 years later [and] was mostly Highway construction.? The $119 billion spent by the federal government on the Interstate Highway System was, by one account, ?the largest public works program since the Pyramids.? [...]To be fair, that's Ryan's family, not him. But his only private-sector work experience beyond things like waiting tables and selling bologna (for Oscar Mayer) was gained working for the family firm, so he doesn't seem to disapprove too strongly. And this is all him:
A current search of Defense Department contracts suggests that ?Ryan Incorporated Central? has had at least 22 defense contracts with the federal government since 1996, including one from 1996 worth $5.6 million.
Mr. Anti-Spending secured millions in earmarks for his home state of Wisconsin, including, among other things, $3.3 million for highway projects. And Ryan voted to preserve $40 billion in special subsidies for big oil, an industry in which, it so happens, Ryan and his wife hold ownership stakes.But nothing to see here. Republicans have convinced the media to judge people as "fiscal conservatives" based solely on how badly they'll treat poor and middle-class people, and Ryan would treat those people very badly indeed, so no amount of earmarks or personal profit will strip him of that label in the press. What the millions of Americans he would victimize think is another matter.
After Wi. Supreme Court Justice tried to strangle another Justice, the state judicial commission filed an ethics complaint against him to be decided by his fellow justices. But Prosser came up with an idea to getall four of the conservative justices on[...]
Read The Full Article:
Joe Biden, earlier today, talking about Republicans and Mitt Romney's vow to "unchain" the big Wall Street banks:
Look at what they value, and look at their budget and what they're proposing. Romney wants to let the?he said in the first hundred days?he's gonna let the big banks once again write their own rules. "Unchain!" Wall Street. [Boos] They gonna put y'all back in chains. [Laughter, applause]According to the Romney campaign, that up there is a "new low" in politics. No, they're sure of it. They're in total hissyfit mode, and making sure every pundit they know knows just how many fainting couches Mitt Romney had to personally buy his staff just to get them through the day. It's all right to speculate whether the president is or is not actually a Muslim who is secretly in league with terrorists, or to schedule a campaign event with the rich guy who says he's pretty damn sure the suspiciously black president wasn't even born in this country, thanks to super-amazing evidence he feels no need to share with anyone else. It's all right for Allen West to call opponents "members of the Communist Party" or for Michele Bachmann to demand investigations as to which ethnic people may or may not be terrorist sympathizers. It's all right to tell senior citizens that a plan to expand Medicare includes something called "death panels." It's perfectly fine to put out entire ad campaigns based on clipped footage to make someone appear to say something they didn't, or to claim that the very, very suspiciously black president is trying to make sure people on welfare never have to work when the actual program is explicitly supposed to do the opposite, and which you yourself endorsed wholeheartedly until the unbelievably suspiciously black president did the same damn thing. Going back a few years, it's all right to suggest that the current president's child is a "dog," or to send out tittering questions about how your white opponent has a suspiciously black kid, or to say meh, let's just fuck all national security laws entirely because we've got this really juicy story on how our momentary political thorn-in-the-side's wife actually works as an agent for the CIA.
But this? No, this is the "new low" in politics. None of the rest of that stuff can possibly compare. Mitt himself has explicitly declined to chastise the Bachmanns or the Trumps of the world, because it's just not his place, he says. Nope. Just this.
12:34 PM PT: While team Romney is accusing Biden of using a racial "code word", here's Mitt Romney himself, in his USA Today editorial from last December, demanding that we "remove the shackles of government." Discuss.
Grover Norquist, the anti-tax zealot, has become an ally in the fight to cut the military budget. He criticized the two day-old Romney/Ryan ticket yesterday, for the fact that they would increase defense spending.[...]
Read The Full Article: