TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
David Cameron is cutting funds to the disabled;
That kind of move really is rather ballsy
Although it's an odd way to honor the memory
Of his son, Ivan, who had cerebral palsy.
This is the add environmental group 350.org wanted transit riders to see as they made their way through the greater Boston area. They thought that it was important for Boston voters to know that their Senator Scott Brown -- despite a bewildering amount of doublespeak -- had voted against giving the EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
But curiously in the age of Citizens United attack ads, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority found the ad a little too political for its taste:
350.org was given very little information regarding the rejection. I am informed that they simply received the following email, from the contractor that handles advertising for the T:
From: Titan 360
Date: Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 5:05 AM
Unfortunately, the MBTA did not approve of this creative due to its political stance, and we will not be able to install the campaign.
Sorry for the long wait and inconvenience. We will issue our own internal paperwork to cancel the contract.
Obviously, there is nothing indecent about the ad. Some riders may disagree with 350.org?s point of view, but so what? Do we really want the MBTA ? a government agency ? deciding which viewpoints are suitable for advertising, and which aren?t?
You know, if the MTBA simply rejected any and all advertisement that is political or controversial in nature, it might be understandable. But look at what did pass muster with MTBA's editorial board:
[A]s you may recall, the rapture was supposed to happen on May 21, according to a rather extreme interpretation of certain biblical writings by a guy who also happened to have a lot of money. He plastered ads announcing the event all over the country, including on MBTA buses. But when it turned out that ? surprise! ? Family Radio also harbors certain anti-gay sentiments, the T?s general manager came out with a series of muddled responses, first saying that the T took down the ad because of Family Radio?s views, and then later claiming that the ads actually came down because the campaign expired, but that ?content of future ads to undergo more scrutiny.?
I'm sure that the MTBA got some complaints over those Family Radio ads, and it may be that which has caused them to be more careful about the kind of ads they will allow. But given sheer number of astroturf groups that will not hesitate to pile on Democratic candidates as we near the election, I think there needs to be a fairly consistent application of the eidtorial guidelines.
Robert Reich is a former Clinton Administration Secretary of labor. He has been writing constantly in his blog about the risks of a new recession setting in and the steps the President could take but doesn't.
Doesn?t the White House get it? The President has to have a bold jobs plan, with specifics. Why not exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes for the next year? Why not a new WPA for the long-term unemployed, and a Civilian Conservation Corps for the legions of young jobless Americans? Why not allow people to declare bankruptcy on their primary residences, and thereby reorganize their mortgage debt?Why doesn't Obama do what President Roosevelt did? Reich says it's because Obama sold himself to the big banks and Wall Street in order to raise the money and support for his 2008 presidential bid. And now Obama is loathe to propose anything that would upset the rich.
Today, the New York Assembly passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage by a vote of 80-63. Though the Assembly has passed such a bill twice before, this is the first time expectations are high that the Senate will pass it as well. After four hours of conferencing today, the Senate will resume discussion tomorrow about bringing the bill to a vote. As of this post, equality has 31 of the 32 Senate votes it needs to pass.
While virtually nobody will be surprised by the conclusions, a study published by Brown University economists Brian Knight and Nathan Schiff has quantified something long debated in electoral circles, the undue influence granted to states with early primaries.
For those scoring at home, voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire exert roughly five times as much influence on the outcome of presidential nominations as their cohorts in later states:
"Evidence that early voters have a disproportionate influence over the selection of candidates violates 'one person-one vote' -- a democratic ideal on which our nation is based."
Knight and Schiff developed a statistical model that examines how daily polling data responds to returns from presidential primaries. In the model, candidates can benefit from momentum effects when their performance in early states exceeds expectations.
We have seen examples of this in the past two presidential nomination contests. In 2004, it was John Kerry who emerged from the pack, built largely on his surprisingly wide victory in the Iowa caucuses. In 2008, it was John McCain's return from obscurity in New Hampshire, coupled with subsequent victories in the January contests in South Carolina and Florida, that propelled him to the GOP nod.
Iowa and New Hampshire's prominent role in the process has been long debated. The inclusion of Nevada and South Carolina in the earliest tier of Democratic nomination contests of 2008 was predicated, in part, on the fact that the nomination was disproportionately being steered by two states absent constituencies vital to Democratic party fortunes (union voters, Latino voters, African-American voters).
The Brown University economists posited, in fact, that if Iowa and New Hampshire had not been in their traditional leadoff roles in 2004, John Edwards might have actually wrested the nomination away from John Kerry.
The problem, of course, are the competing interests at play here. While Iowa and New Hampshire may not necessarily be microcosms of America, they do allow for candidates to audition in front of engaged voters, and in markets small enough to be competitive without the mother of all warchests. While a national primary (or, at a minimum, a series of regional contests) might move closer to the "one man, one vote" principle that we so prize, it might also concede the nomination to only those candidates with bankbooks that can handle the demands of such a multifaceted campaign effort.
Still, a more organized structure might be necessary, to prevent the kind of front-loading that we saw in 2008. States do not only have a political interest in running an early contest to be relevant in the presidential sweepstakes: in 2009, a NC State University study found that states that hold early contests, provided they pick the eventual winner, found themselves rewarded with increased federal funding, relative to other states.
Must be nice to have an almost unlimited number of bigoted rubes willing to open their wallets whenever h8 comes calling. Case in point: Charles Cooper, losing lead attorney guiding the ProtectMarriage consiglieres to defeat at every single stage of the[...]
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Those of you who read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River. It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts[...]
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A survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses released Tuesday showed small businesses are less optimistic about the direction of the economy. The release marked the third decline in as many months of the Index of Small Business Optimism, a survey that has been run every month since 1986. The index for May was 90.9. It had hit bottom at 85.2 in December 2009 and since then had been on the rise, hitting 94.5 in February, before beginning its three-month drop.
The NFIB's measurement of the metric everyone is watching, the jobs market, contained yet more discouraging news. Some details:
? There was no significant job creation on ?Main Street?, at least among NFIB?s 350,000 member firms. Twelve percent (seasonally adjusted) reported unfilled job openings, down 2 points and a clear signal that unemployment rates are headed up. Over the next three months, 13 percent plan to increase employment (down 3 points from April) and 8 percent plan to reduce their workforce (up 2 points), yielding a seasonally adjusted net negative 1 percent of owners planning to create new jobs, a very poor reading. ...
? For small firms, the average employment change was +0.01 employees (per firm) over the past three months, or virtually zero.
? Only 5% of the owners view the current period as a good time to expand; of those who view it as a bad time to expand, 71% of those blame the weak economy, and 14% cite political uncertainty. The net percent of owners expecting better business conditions in six months was a negative 5%, 15 percentage points lower than January. ...
The question being raised among economists and business analysts is whether the slowdown will be temporary or is a harbinger of a longer term problem. While most have reduced their earlier forecasts for overall growth in gross domestic product and job creation in 2011, optimists, which includes Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, still believe the situation will improve in the second half of the year as gas prices fall and disruptions in the manufacturing supply flow caused by the tsunami in Japan are corrected.
There was some other Tuesday news to back up the viewpoint that the slowdown is temporary. While retail sales fell in May, as predicted, the drop was less than expected, which gave the stock market a boost. But today there was more bad news about manufacturing and industrial production, another drop in builder confidence and rise in core inflation. The news sent the stock market into an early tumble that ended in a skid on news about the economic situation in Greece.
Pessimists believe the slowdown is not temporary and that the continuing downward spiral in housing prices, the end of the Federal Reserve's "quantitative easing" at the end of June, the rapidly dwindling effects of the 28-month-old stimulus package and the deteriorating situation in Greece, Ireland and Spain likely will combine to extend the economy's weakness into 2012.
As reported on Pam's House Blend, die-hard homophobic NYS Sen. Ruben Díaz Sr. received an unexpected grilling -- actual follow-up questions! -- from NY1 Noticias anchor Juan Manuel Benitez
As some of you may recall, I'm heading out this evening to the Municipal Art Society's "Crossing Newtown Creek" walking tour, and I was afraid I was going to have to leave an "events pending" report on the down-to-the-wire showdown in the Republican-controlled State Senate on a bill finally submitted by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo which would legalize same-sex marriage in New York State. Governor Cuomo has been saying all along that he would not press a bill that wasn't assure of passage, and there should face no serious obstacles in the Democratic-controlled State Assembly.
As of this morning, with two Senate Republicans having announced that they would vote yes and all but one Democrat, the intractable Ruben Díaz Sr. (about whom more in a moment, and by the way not to be confused with his eminently reasonable son, Bronx Borough President Ruben Díaz Jr.), supposedly on board, supporters were one vote shy of the 32 needed for passage, with a clump of still-undecideds still officially undecided. With the session drawing to a close, and consideration-time requirements making it more and more difficult to introduce new legislation in the Senate, it seemed as if crunch time was upon us. The additional legislative wrinkle is that the actual head count may not even matter, since Senate Republicans don't have to let the thing come to a floor vote if they don't want to.
THE NYS CONSERVATIVE PARTY CUDGEL
One thing to remember is that Senate Republicans are under notice from Michael Long, chairman of the NYS Conservative Party, whose cross-endorsement is all but essential to any state Republican's electoral hopes, that any Republican who breaks ranks on same-sex marriage will not only not be supported but will be actively opposed by his party.
BREAKING: NYS Senate Punts on Marriage Equality for Today
Majority Leader Dean Skelos says discussions will continue Thursday
Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 2:51 PM EDT
BY SIMON GARRON-CAINE AND PAUL SCHINDLER
The New York State Senate Republican majority conference emerged from a closed-door meeting today having failed to reach agreement on whether to allow a floor debate and vote on Governor Andrew Cuomo's marriage equality bill.
"We have reached no conclusion," Dean Skelos, the Long Island Republican who is the majority leader, told reporters as he came out of the meeting. "Members have asked me to keep these discussions in confidence, and we will conference again on it tomorrow."
Greg Ball, the Putnam County Republican who has for weeks raised concerns about the need for religious exemptions, continued talking about that issue as he left the room.
Earlier in the day, Ball released a letter spelling out requirements for language he would need to see in the bill in order to support it. One of those requirements is that religious organizations be exempt from providing services to which they object on religious grounds -- a demand that would seem to go well beyond the carve-outs already existing in New York law that Cuomo incorporated into his marriage equality program bill. . . .
As a Cuban-born native Spanish-speaker, I consume media in both English and Spanish. Time and again I have seen how bilingual and bicultural politicians, religious leaders and other public figures make outrageously defamatory and inaccurate statements against the LGBT community in Spanish media that they would never get away with making in English-language broadcast and print interviews. Much of the time, the interviewer allows them to make whatever outlandish and homophobic or transphobic claims about us without any follow-up questions or challenge of any sort. Not so with Juan Manuel Benitez's 21-minute interview of Sen. Díaz.
Benitez repeatedly challenged Díaz's antigay statements, demanded facts to back up his extreme claims, and ended up performing one of the most thorough, cringe-worthy journalistic grilling of a gay rights opponent I have ever seen, in any language.
Benitez: I don't know if you have read the bill, but the bill specifically excludes churches and deals only with civil marriage, which is performed by civil authorities. It deals with civil marriage and not religious marriage.
Sen. Díaz: One of the other senators just said that he would prefer if they would include -- so that specifically it would be clear -- that it would not force ministers and churches . . .
Benitez: And if the bill included that more specific language -- that the churches would be excluded and there would be no problem with discrimination by churches - would that mean that you would vote in favor of civil marriage equality?
Sen. Díaz: For me, no, I would vote no because [ . . ..] it is against nature . . . and it just should not exist.
It's interesting to note that he's not exactly moving over to the Democrats. From the SacBee:
The latest incident in a string of tawdry, race-based actions was the promotion of a racist cartoon by elected Orange County Republican Party Central Committee member Marilyn Davenport. The cartoon depicted President Barack Obama and his parents as chimpanzees, while simultaneously implying that the president is not a legitimate American, but rather an African-born interloper.
While the Orange County GOP chairman and a number of other committee members were quick to condemn the image and Davenport, what's disturbing is the incredible number of people who continue to defend Davenport's actions as well as the cartoon itself.
Had this been an isolated event, it could be set aside as a mere aberration. However, when placed in the context of similar offenses by the same self-identified tea party-conservative Republicans, there emerges a disturbing pattern of extreme intolerance.
What does any of this have to do with public policy or conservative values? Here is a man who excelled academically at the finest schools in the world, has a wonderful in-tact family, worked hard and rose to become president of the United States. Yet in spite of his accomplishments, the president is still labeled an illegitimate, socialist, African witch doctor and has his face superimposed on a chimpanzee.
If this can be done to a black man who is the leader of the free world, how long will it be before fellow Republicans insert my face on a chimpanzee?