2012 GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich — who has surged to the front of the polls — released a tax plan that calls for an optional 15 percent personal income tax and the complete elimination of investment taxes. As we’ve been reporting, the plan would blow a huge hole in the federal budget, causing perpetual trillion dollar deficits even assuming that Gingrich was able to get spending down to new, completely unreasonable lows for the modern era.
Most of the cost of the plan goes to lavishing tax breaks on the very wealthiest Americans. In fact, half of the benefit of Gingrich’s plan goes to the richest one percent of Americans, giving them more in tax cuts than the other 99 percent combined. Millionaires would receive a tax cut of more than $600,000 every year compared to current law.
And those are hardly the only facts about Gingrich’s plan that are worth mentioning. Center for American Progress Director of Tax and Budget Policy Michael Linden and Director of Fiscal Reform Seth Hanlon have put together ten charts highlighting the absurdity of Gingrich’s proposals. Here are a couple:
See the rest of the charts here.
In a surprise move, Paul Ryan found a Democratic partner to propose a new Medicare plan that does not fully privatize it, but instead keeps fee-for-service Medicare as an option alongside a premium support plan. This is the same proposal that the[...]
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DES MOINES, IOWA?Leaders of Iowa's religious right gathered here Wednesday night in an attempt to recalibrate the presidential race to focus on the social issues. A full crowd packed into the ornate Hoyt Sherman Place theater for the world premiere for Gift of Life, a pro-life film produced by Citizens United and narrated by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. The film was full of CGIed fetuses, heart-rending stories of adults whose parents had considered abortion, and Huckabee strolling on a beach wearing a blazer as children built sandcastles in the background.
The crowd sat enraptured throughout the movie, but the four Republican candidates who spoke before the film were the real draw. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum all happily stepped on stage to caunt their pro-life credentials; Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Jon Huntsman turned down the invitation.
Each of the candidates in attendance used the opportunity to make outlandish claims and commitments on how they would roll back abortion rights if elected president. Bachmann, who spoke first, managed to criticize Barack Obama for one of the few policies where the two seem to have the same position: Plan B. The Obama administration recently overruled the FDA's recommendation to make the emergency contraceptive available over the counter. Like many liberals, Bachmann thought Obama's move was disingenuous, intended only to score political points among moderates for next year's election. "Even he knew this was one step too far," she said, "too far for now, before his re-election. If he is re-elected ? we know within a nanosecond Plan B would be available on the grocery store aisles."
Newly minted Iowa frontrunner Newt Gingrich promised a busy first day in office if he reached the White House. If elected, Gingrich said he would immediately sign two executive orders: one reinstituting Ronald Reagan's "Mexico City policy," which banned foreign aid directed at family planning, and one bringing back George W Bush's "conscience policy" that would allow medical practitioners to refuse to provide treatments and medications if doing so goes against their religious beliefs. Gingrich also said he would send a bill to Congress demanding that Planned Parenthood be defunded, a frequent line of attack against the nation's largest provider of reproductive services.
An all-star cast of Iowa's social conservative movement took to the stage before the presidential candidates, including popular drive-time talk host Jan Mickelson, Iowa Right to Life's Executive Director Jenifer Bowen, and Tea Party kingpin Bob Vander Plaats. They seemed bereaved that social issues have not taken a more prominent place in the national debate, and insisted that they were still the most important issues for the people of Iowa. "People are starting to link that the economy and the family are joined," Vander Plaats told me after the event. "If you want to have limited government you better have strong families. If you want to have a vibrant economy, you better have strong families."
But that's not what I heard as I filtered through the theater. While everyone I spoke with considered himself or herself pro-life and many said they could never vote for a pro-choice candidate, they understood why social issues haven't received the same prominence in this year's nomination contest. "Obviously people's pocketbooks are going to drive a lot of elections, that's pretty typical," said Jeff Newell, a contractor and self-described independent from Des Moines who has not decided which candidate he will vote for in the caucus?except he's ruled out voting for Romney and Paul. "A lot of times in politics we hear a lot of things, but they don't mean a lot of things," he said. "Cynical, but it's true. Abortion has been a political football for 30 years now."
That view isn't confined to the theater last night. Polls consistently show that Iowans are less concerned with social issues than the economy. A CBS poll from last week found that 71 percent of likely caucus voters say they would judge the candidates based on their positions on economic matters. Only 14 percent listed social issues.
Randy and Debbie Simpson, owners of an upholstery business from rural Warren County just south of Des Moines, are divided about whom to vote come January. Randy likes Bachmann because she "understands family"; Debbie like because of his proposal to make being in Congress a part-time job and the fact that "more traditionally a man is a leader, even though I'm a woman." Both agreed that their candidate must be pro-life, but they said they wouldn't all that surprised that the economy ruled the day in the national debate. "I think the current president has caused such turmoil, kept things in a ruckus that it forces people to think of all the economic issues, the jobs and all that," Debbie said.
Throughout the event, I kept thinking of the old feminist mantra: "the personal is political." Activists use the phrase to encourage women to view the trouble in their personal lives as tied to a larger political system. But on Wednesday, everybody seemingly had a personal story to relay on the evils of abortion. Iowa Right to Life's Bowen told the tale of her own unplanned conception to teenage parents, whom she gleefully noted have now been married for nearly 40 years. Taking a lighter tone, Vander Plaats told of learning that he was an unplanned pregnancy. "We didn't want Bob either," Vander Plaats' mother told his sister after she became pregnant unexpectedly. "Now what would life be without him?" The crowd chimed in with a chorus of "amens" at various points when Vander Plaats iterated that we're all made "special in the image of God." For her part, Bachmann offered a description of a miscarriage and the doctor handing her the dead child after the fact. Bachmann, Santorum, and Perry were clearly at ease discussing the role their faith and pro-life stances play in personal terms. "For me it's not something political, it's all of life," Bachmann said. Gingrich hit all the right notes, laying out a coldly reasoned argument that personhood could be extended through the 14th Amendment. Yet he lacks the same emoting and personal connection that's the favored styling among Iowa's social conservatives.
Politics, meet Entertainment .... or something like that ...
SEPARATED at BIRTH - the Politico reporter Maggie Haberman and the star of '30 Rock' and "Weekend Update", Tina Fey.
Help ease the strain ... and stop in for a look at news items outside the headlines, in the arts and sciences; foreign news that generates little notice in the US media and ....well, just plain whimsy.....
ART NOTES - a photography exhibit by Annie Leibovitz entitled Pilgrimage - without (most unusual for this noted portrait photographer) any people in it ...
..... is at Hamiltons Gallery in London, England through January 20th.
TV NOTES - the Guardian newspaper takes a look at several noted TV therapists - with many of them fixtures on US television.
CULTURAL NOTES - the blogger Kevin Drum cited this essay from Vanity Fair - about how you could distinguish a film set in 1972 from 1952 easily (via the automobiles, hairstyles, lack of hat-wearing) and also a film from 1992 vs. 1972 (from automobiles, hairstyles, music, etc.) .... but approaching 2012, you'd be hard-pressed to distinguish a new film from a 1992 film (except in subtle ways).
MONDAY's CHILD is Tommaso the Cat - the world's richest kitteh, after the death of his 94-year-old mistress last month.
TIME MARCHES ON - The United Kingdom's defense secretary Philip Hammond said that women sailors will be finally able to serve on Royal Navy submarines (beginning in 2013).
SEPARATED at BIRTH - Canadian musician Avril Lavigne and film star Kristen Stewart (from the "Twilight" saga).
CONGRATULATIONS - for his work in rescuing more than 1,400 children from drug gangs in Rio de Janeiro in the past three years, the Dutchman Nanko van Buuren has been awarded the Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship, which he will receive from Princess Noor of Jordan in February.
ART NOTES - the first US exhibition by the Australian artists Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro is at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC to March 11th.
OF NOTE - with Barack Obama as the 44th president, an interesting note about our 10th president John Tyler. He lived from 1790-1862, with one term as president from 1841-1845. But because he had a son (named Lyon Tyler) when he was 63 (in 1853) ... and Lyon had a son (named Harrison Ruffin Tyler) when he was 75 (in 1928) ... someone who was president two decades before Abraham Lincoln .... has a grandson who is still alive .... and is only age 83.
TUESDAY's CHILD is Daniel the Cat - who was previously featured in this space, since the shelter which this Wisconsin polydactyl kitteh resides was facing an unacceptable rent increase. Basing their fundraising on his twenty-six toes: the Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center says it now has enough funding to relocate.
IT's WORTH REMEMBERING a 2010 extended profile of Newt Gingrich in Esquire magazine (when he told his second wife Marianne he wanted a divorce):
He'd just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he'd given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values.
The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, "How do you give that speech and do what you're doing?"
"It doesn't matter what I do," he answered. "People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live."
NAUTICAL NOTES - the British-built boat that co-starred with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in the 1951 film The African Queen is to be restored and will sail again.
SEPARATED at BIRTH - the jailed Tyco Int'l CEO Dennis Kozlowski and Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer.
AS SOMEONE who has been an Antarctic exploration enthusiast since childhood, it's worth noting that yesterday is the 100th anniversary of the date that Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole.
ART NOTES - the first museum exhibition to examine the role photography played in the development of Conceptual Art from 1964-1977 is at the Art Institute of Chicago to March 11th.
YUK for today - the Guardian's "In Praise Of" editorial series tips its hat to nonsense lyrics - such as Little Richard's "Awopbopaloobop alopbamboom!" - but also pondering the lyrics of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" by asking, "Why is Israel captive ... and who's paying a ransom?"
EVEN THOUGH former premier Silvio Berlusconi is gone: the word condom is still taboo on Italian state broadcaster RAI and the ministry of health - even on World AIDS Day, commemorated December 1st by various programs on Radio 1.
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is a 2-month-old California kitteh that wedged himself in a scrap piece of drainage pipe - who was rescued by firefighters using the Jaws of Life, expected to recover in a week and who will be then be up for adoption.
THIS PAST JANUARY the Illinois-based pharmaceutical company Hospira stopped making a key ingredient in the lethal injection cocktail used by several US states to execute death-row inmates - now, a new EU regulation set to go into effect at the end of this week will prohibit the export of some barbituric acids unless a special permit has been issued.
ART NOTES - landscapes by Bob Stuth-Wade in an exhibition entitled Landforms are at the Grace Museum in Abilene, Texas to February 18th.
POLITICAL NOTES - in the city of Berlin, Germany: its newly sworn-in Justice and Consumer Affairs Minister Michael Braun was forced to step down (after only eleven days) following revelations about his previous job, inadequately assessing sub-standard real estate properties for clients.
MUSIC NOTES - The vibraphonist and six-time Grammy award winner Gary Burton will instruct an intensive, 12-week music improvisation course (via the Berklee College of Music's online extension school) beginning in January.
THURSDAY's CHILD is Skippy the Cat - a Welsh kitteh who went missing for nearly three years before being located last year due to his microchip.
SPAIN's ROYAL FAMILY has blocked the king's (scandal-prone) son-in-law - the Duke of Palma - from representing the crown while a police investigation into alleged fraud and misuse of public funds continues.
FILM NOTES - a black comedy by Chilean director Pablo Larraínnow is being filmed to commemorate the 1988 campaign to vote down a plebiscite that would have extended the regime of General Augusto Pinochet for another eight years (in which the 'No' vote carried nearly 60% of the total) and will star Mexican actor Gael García Bernal (who played Che Guevara in the "Motorcycle Diaries" film).
SEPARATED at BIRTH - two European film stars: Englishwoman Helena Bonham Carter and the Spaniard Elena Anaya ("Van Helsing", "Talk to Her").
THE OTHER DAY some 560 cinemas (including at least one in all 50 American states) broadcast a high-def live showing of New York City Ballet's production of the classic ballet The Nutcracker - which is so much part of the Christmas season (and to the survival of ballet companies nationwide) that there is a jazz version, and 33 productions feature live horses.
FRIDAY's CHILD is Asimov the Cat - who rules-the-roost at Seek Books in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.
......and finally, for a song of the week ............... in this space I have profiled music stars, plus some who may not be household names but whose work you likely are familiar with. Today: someone who should have been a rock star (but isn't) is the English guitarist/vocalist Terry Reid - due to critical decisions, a sense of loyalty, some very bad luck and a quirky style that sees him today as a minor player. But he is one who has had fame (even being recommended to Atlantic Records by Aretha Franklin), was a sideman on many famous musicians' recordings ... and still performs today.
Born in 1949 about 65 miles north of London, he left school at age 15 to join Peter Jay's Jaywalkers. In 1966, the group had enough success to be the opening act for the Rolling Stones at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall. At that time he became friends with Graham Nash of The Hollies, who helped the Jaywalkers get a contract. They had a minor hit in 1967 with "The Hand Don't Fit the Glove" (presaging Johnnie Cochrane?) but the band split not long after, and Terry was signed by Mickie Most - the noted UK record producer.
And while Most was an able producer, thus began a tension between the two: as Terry Reid saw himself as a hard rock guitarist (which was now becoming a major force) while Most wanted him to become a blue-eyed soul protagonist. But not at first, as his 1968 first album Bang, Bang showed both sides: rockers like "Summertime Blues" and "Season of the Witch" along with Cher's "Bang Bang". This album, interestingly, was not released in the UK but did manage to dent the Top 200 in the US. Mickey Most was then managing both Donovan and the Jeff Beck Group, and so you hear not only cover versions of songs they did, but also production work that was reminiscent of their sound. from that album: The Hollies recorded a cover version of his song "No Expression" as did Crosby, Stills & Nash (re-titled as "Horses Through a Rainstorm").
His 1969 next album Move Over for Terry Reid for example, had a cover version of the Donovan song "Superlungs My Supergirl" - and 'Superlungs' became Terry Reid's nickname, as he did have a strong voice with quite a bit of soul in it.
His touring was beginning to pay-off - as he had been the opening act for (a) Cream on their final US tour in 1968, (b) Jethro Tull and Fleetwood Mac on the UK tours in early 1969 and most notably (c) the famous Rolling Stones tour of the US in 1969 (although he mercifully was not at the infamous Altamont concert in December of 1969). He was receiving excellent album reviews, some pick-up in record sales and even better concert reviews.
And it was here that his career began to turn, because other musicians saw his value. A prominent guitarist asked him in 1968 to join his band, which was initially dubbed the New Yardbirds as it was rising from the ashes of that band in 1968. Terry Reid turned him down, as he had not only committed to the tour with Cream, but was becoming more confident about his solo career and loyal to Mickie Most.
But Terry Reid did offer the guitarist some advice, suggesting two members of a group that had been his opening act a year earlier. Well, Jimmy Page took that advice and brought Robert Plant and John Bonham into his new band that took the name Led Zeppelin - as Robert Plant once remarked, "He should have had my life".
If that wasn't enough: he was soon afterwards asked to replace Rod Evans as the singer in an up-and-coming band ... but once again decided to remain on the Stones tour (not wanting to upset Keith Richards) .... and this time it was Ian Gillan who was chosen to join Deep Purple in 1969. As one reviewer wrote decades later, "perhaps he's too much in thrall to music to perform the manipulations necessary to become a star".
Then in December of 1969, he and manager Mickie Most had-it-out over how his career should go (with Most holding out for a singer/songwriter style, and Reid wanting to rock out). They eventually became embroiled in litigation and during a most fertile music period, Terry Reid sat out a year in California, waiting for his contract to end (other than a performance at the famed 1970 Isle of Wight Festival).
This caused some of his bandmates to go their separate ways, including David Lindley (later to star with Jackson Browne) and Michael Giles (the drummer in King Crimson during the "Crimson King" days). But it was not until 1973 that he released his fourth album - by which time he had become forgotten, so the expression "Who Is Terry Reid?" became a tag-line. He had some original songs such as "Rich Kid's Blues" (later a hit for Marianne Faithfull) and "Speak Now" (later recorded by Cheap Trick) .... but nothing clicked for him.
He did release some other 1970's albums but none seemed to take off - and in the 1980's he left the road to become a session musician. And given his reputation for singing and guitar playing, he got calls from Don Henley, UFO, Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt.
He returned to recording in 1991 with The Driver - and toured for parts of the 1990's with former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor.
In this past decade, he has been touring under his own name for the first time in over twenty years, playing in the UK for the first time in nearly that long. One reviewer felt his nickname "Superlungs" was still appropriate and raves over his version of Brian Wilson's "Don't Worry Baby" - and has been garnering his best reviews in some time.
Terry Reid is age sixty-two, has both a two disc ...
... as well as a one disc compilation album of his work ...
... and has worked with bands such as Alabama 3 - whose song "Woke Up this Morning" was the theme song for the "Sopranos" television show.
In a touch I always appreciate: in 2009, he appeared at his old bandleader's club in Yarmouth, England - and he and Peter Jay performed together for the first time in years.
And in 2011, he performed at Britain's major Glastonbury Festival this past summer - forty years after the festival premiered. If there is any fairness in this world: he ought to at least have the 15 minutes of fame that he deserved.
Of all of his work, it's a 1976 song entitled Seed of Memory which is my favorite. A more contemplative song that still gets to feature his voice and guitar, it was used in the 2005 film The Devil's Rejects (directed by Rob Zombie).
And at this link you can hear it.
Brave dreams that are kindled from ashes
Rise out over all the battle below
Spread wings over all that he passes
So his life can stay immortal to his country
All the shades of green that fall beneath this tree
So let the winds of change
That rearrange the country
Let it also sow a seed of memory
Marlena in the cool satin sashes
Spread dreams over the battle below
Bring love with a song as she passes
So his life can stay immortal to the country
And let every man aware of being free
When she talks of times
When wine is handed to me
From a face that walked out of a memory
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The holidays are never the best time to make predictions about the future of the labor market based on unemployment benefits claims. Seasonality of the data makes it tough to get a really good read. But today's sharp drop in first-time unemployment claims is nevertheless good news. Together with other recent positive news, it's a sign of a possible real breakthrough on the jobs front.
The question now is whether the trend will hold into the new year. Problems in Europe and the slowdown of the Asian economies could have a large impact. Whatever the case, the numbers here need to be looked at against the backdrop of millions who are still out of work and who have exhausted their benefits if they had any to begin with.
The Department of Labor reported the first-time applications for unemployment benefits fell 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, the lowest level since May 2008 early in the Great Recession. The four-week running average, which flattens volatility in the weekly figures, fell to 387,750.
While the four-week average of continuing claims in the regular program also fell slightly, the total number of people claiming benefits in the regular and extended benefits programs for the week ending Nov. 26 was 7.4 million, an increase of 874,670 from the previous week.
In the past, 400,000 first-time claims each week was considered by many to be the "tipping point" for job growth after a recession. That is, once the number of first-time claims reached the 400,000 mark, it was a sign that the economy would start generating jobs again instead of shedding them. But job growth actually began climbing, albeit modestly, well before first-time claims fell to that level. Now, some economists say 350,000 is the level at which sustained job growth begins. But, in fact, making bets on this moving target is a crap-shoot. Nobody knows.
Jawbone has introduced the UP bracelet, a good-looking product that makes it simple to monitor your daily exercise activity and even your sleep.It should be a hit with those of us who are into the Quantified Self movement, which involves recording and analyzing your daily fitness routine, diet, sleep patterns and general sense of well-being.If [...]
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When the LA Youth Justice Coalition planned a community action project that involved cleaning an abandoned former Hyde Park Library, as well as hold workshops and distribute food within the community, they probably weren't prepared for the LAPD to threaten them with arrest while helicopters hovered above.
What should have been a warm 'n' fuzzy cleanup of the abandoned Hyde Park Library in South L.A. this morning went awry when responding LAPD officers reportedly mistook the Youth Justice Coalition for a faction of Occupy L.A.
Given the post-raid tension between cops and occupiers, the case of mistaken identity didn't bode well for the Inglewood youth group. "Despite the fact that this library has been abandoned since 2004, LAPD is here telling young people they have no right to access..."
... Tweeted blogger Maegan Ortiz. And she soon added: "Commander Green LAPD is giving young people at abandonded library 30 minutes to leave or be arrested with 5k bail."
Sound familiar? LAPD Officer Sara Faden told KPCC radio that cops believed the coalition planned to "occupy the building for demonstration purposes."
After problems arose with the police, negotiations were attempted but ended up with all of the coalition members giving up and leaving.
Hopefully the LAPD hasn't completely soured the children on community service actions altogether. We need more people who don''t solve all problems with weapons.
And how much money are you getting from the SOPA lobby, Mel Watt?[...]
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We wrote yesterday about how GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has twice during his campaign, including just a few days ago, used the phrase "Keep America American," and how this is an old Ku Klux Klan slogan from the early 1900s (the NYT picked up the story as well).
Since MSNBC's multiple on-air apologies last night for daring to even mention this story, even though it's true, we've uncovered someone else who likes this phrase a lot: MSNBC's own Pat Buchanan, who used the phrase repeatedly during his failed run for the presidency in 2000.
From "Buchanan Ad," AP, October 20, 2000:
Lifting a page from former Gov. Pete Wilson's playbook, Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan is airing a new TV ad warning that illegal immigration is ruining the country.
The announcer contends that Democratic candidate Al Gore and GOP nominee George W. Bush would do nothing to stem the tide of illegal immigrants.
"One candidate will do whatever it takes to keep America America - Pat Buchanan," the ad says.A Pat Buchanan campaign slogan about dark people. Yeah, nothing racist about that.