(Overpass Light Brigade)
What do you do if you're a governor just weeks away from a close election and widely reported government jobs numbers show that your state lost jobs last year, amounting to the worst jobs record in the country? If you're Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, you find some new numbers.
Walker is releasing Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages numbers for December 2010 to December 2011 six weeks ahead of time because by this measure, Wisconsin gained 23,321 jobs rather than having lost 33,900 jobs as the Current Employment Survey showed. While the Quarterly Census is generally considered more accurate than the Current Employment Survey, "states nearly always wait for the national release?or at least until the federal authorities review and revise the state data, a process meant to weed out mistakes that usually involve small changes."
More significantly, since Wisconsin alone is releasing its Quarterly Census numbers now, its results can't be compared to those of other states. Even with the turnaround from having lost jobs by one measure to having gained them by another, Wisconsin could still lag behind other states.
This about sums it up:
"It is, I think, stunning that Scott Walker has suddenly found 57,000 jobs and gone from negative to positive three weeks before an election," said Barrett campaign spokesman Phil Walzak. "The timing is enormously suspicious. . . . Clearly the governor is losing the argument on jobs with the people of Wisconsin, and he's now trotting out these new figures in an extremely unusual way."Walker is particularly lucky in that, if he can get Wisconsin voters to pay attention to these new numbers, he has a chance to claim success even though these numbers put him just 9 percent of the way toward meeting his four-year job creation target of 250,000. Without the earlier numbers showing overall job loss, a gain of just 23,321 would look weak in relation to what he promised.
There are plenty of books about the entitlement disaster in our future, but few come with the backing of an academic press. The Clash of Generations is an exception. Written by economist Larry Kotlikoff, one of the creators of generational accounting, and my good friend of long standing, Scott Burns, Clash shows what current policies have already done to young people, tells stories about how both parties have allowed it to happen, and offers actual policy solutions– for banking, taxes, healthcare, and Social Security.
But it’s way more than a "policy book." It also tells us … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: The Clash of Generations
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A strong majority of registered voters in New York want their legislature to legalize the use of medical marijuana in the state, according to a new poll by Siena College. Nearly twice as many voters support medical marijuana as oppose it. The new poll[...]
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No matter how you look at it, Mitt Romney is delusional (Darren Hauck/Reuters)First, check out this bizarre rant by Mitt Romney in which he claims that President Obama's policies reflect personal animosity towards President Clinton:
?It?s enough to make you wonder if maybe it was a personal beef with the Clintons,? said Romney. ?Probably, it runs much deeper than that.?Then compare President Clinton on his endorsement of President Obama...
?When you become President, your job is to explain where we are, say where you think we should go, have a strategy to get there, and execute it,? he began. ?By that standard, Barack Obama deserves to be reelected President of the United States. And I?m going to tell you the only reason we?re even meeting here. I mean, this is crazy ? he?s got an opponent who basically wants to do what they did before, on steroids [laughter] ? which will get you the same consequences you got before, on steroids [more laughter].? Clinton went on to endorse Obama?s ?forward-looking? plans for economic renewal, first outlined in the presidential campaign four years ago, which were derailed by the financial crash in September 2008, ?only seven weeks before the election.? Historically such collapses, noted Clinton, leave nations unable to achieve full economic recovery and job growth for as long as a decade ? so ?he?s beating the clock, not behind it.?...with President George W. Bush on his endorsement of Mitt Romney:
?I?m for Mitt Romney,? Bush told ABC News this morning as the doors of an elevator closed on him.And then compare President Obama thanking President Clinton for his strong endorsement...
Obama replied by lauding Clinton?s ?remarkable record? as president ? and especially his ability to persuade Democrats, ?at a time when, let?s face it, the Democratic Party was a little bit lost,? to ?refocus not on ideology, not on abstractions?but on where people live, what they?re going through day to day.?...with the Romney campaign's utter silence on President Bush's endorsement:
Romney's aides won't speak for the record about the campaign's plans ? if there are any ? for Bush.And now ask yourself this: how in hell could Mitt Romney have possibly said what said about Obama and Clinton with a straight face? Either he believes what said, in which case he is simply delusional in what he believes, or he was lying, in which case he is delusional for thinking that people would ever believe his lie. Either way he's delusional. And I'm not sure which is better.
Maybe we should ask the president's Secretary of State what she thinks about it?
A principled governor invoking ?state?s rights? to defy federal policy. Aggressive local officials overriding state decisions. A federal court angrily affirming its own power. An anguished dissent attacking a power-hungry Congress.
United States v. Pleau has all the elements of a great federalism battle (including, by the way, largely symbolic stakes). But don?t expect to see Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee?s ?state?s rights? stand hailed by Republican conservatives: Chafee is blocking the federal government in order to show his disapproval of the federal death penalty. The result, decided May 7 by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, is now in the Supreme Court?s in-basket. Pleau deals with important issues of policy, morality, and history. But because this is the United States, the language of the dispute is that of federalism?a pastime that Professors Edward L. Rubin and Malcolm Feeley once dubbed ?a national neurosis.?
The case began on September 20, 2010, when Jason Wayne Pleau, along with two companions, staked out a convenience store in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. They shadowed the manager, David D. Main, as he carried a bag of cash receipts to a branch of Citizens Bank. Outside the bank, Pleau confronted Main with a pistol. When the manager tried to sprint to safety, Pleau killed him.
The three were arrested soon after; Pleau was sent back to Rhode Island to begin serving time for parole violation. The other two were brought into federal court on charges of violating the Hobbs Act, which punishes robbery or extortion that ?obstructs, delays, or affects commerce.? Jose Anibal Santiago pleaded not guilty; Kelley Marie Lajoie cut a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
At this point the feds issued a ?detainer? for Pleau to the state authorities. ?Detainer? is an important term in this dispute, so don?t tune out: it means a ?request for temporary custody? issued under a statute called the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act. The statute is basically a domestic treaty among the 50 states and the federal government on how to handle situations where one prisoner faces charges in multiple places. Under the IADA, one state can ask another for temporary custody of the prisoner in order to clear up the charges. But the IADA places two conditions on the use of detainers; first, the state requesting custody has to agree to give the prisoner a trial within 180 days. Second, the governor of the state that has the prisoner has 30 days to decide whether to refuse to allow the prisoner to be moved.
Rhode Island?s Governor is Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican Senator turned Independent. When the detainer request hit his desk, he refused to allow the transfer. The federal charges against Pleau, he said, carried a possible penalty of death.
Prosecutors had made no decision about whether to seek the death penalty; federal courts have sentenced 61 defendants to death since 1989. Only three, including Timothy McVeigh, have been executed. But Rhode Island has no death penalty, and Chafee personally opposes capital punishment. He would not turn over a prisoner to face even a possible death sentence.
At this point, U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha tried a different approach. He obtained a federal writ called ?habeas corpus ad prosequendum,? an ancient form of request from one court to another to turn over a prisoner to stand trial in the court issuing the writ. Pleau opposed the move, and meanwhile offered to plead guilty to state bank robbery charges, with a sentence of life in prison but no execution. Rhode Island joined the case on Pleau?s side. The U.S. had filed a detainer, the state argued; now it is bound by the IADA. Last year, a panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. The United States, two of the judges reasoned, was a party to the agreement, and thus was bound by its terms. Once having sought a detainer, it could not now dodge its obligations to abide by the Act. (Had Neronha proceeded in reverse order?habeas first--the writ would probably have been valid, with no opportunity for Chafee to intervene.)
The panel split 2-1; Judge Michael Boudin, one of the federal bench?s brightest intellectual lights, bitterly dissented. He argued that the IADA was intended by Congress to limit the action of prosecutors, not to give up federal courts? pre-existing power to issue habeas writs. On May 7, the full Court held for the federal government. Boudin wrote this opinion, citing the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which makes the Constitution, federal statutes, and valid treaties ?the supreme law of the land,? superseding state law. ?State interposition to defeat federal authority,? he wrote tartly, ?vanished with the Civil War.?
The author of the original opinion, Judge Juan Torruella, wrote an impassioned dissent. The Supremacy Clause, he said, is ?the recurrent ?Big Brother? argument that is used by the federal government when it attempts to push its weight against the states.? It is also, he ... as framed by the majority, one of conflict between a federal law and Rhode Island's contrary position or preference,? he wrote. ?[T]he issue here is how two federal statutes interact, a determination in which the Supremacy Clause plays no part.?
Chafee has announced that Rhode Island will petition the Supreme Court to review the First Circuit?s decision. ?The State of Rhode Island must seek to protect both the strong states? rights issues at stake and the legitimacy of its longstanding public policy against the death penalty,? he said.
It?s hard to handicap a case that pits ?state?s rights? (which the Court sometimes loves and sometimes doesn?t) against the death penalty (which the Court pretty much supports when used against competent adults). But the Court may take the chance to clarify the status of the IADA.
Torruella?s background sheds light on his ?state?s rights? ire; a native of Puerto Rico, he was a judge in San Juan before being appointed to the Court of Appeals, and he is the author of a book on the Insular Cases, in which the Supreme Court held that Puerto Rican are U.S. citizens?but that they don?t have the same rights to self-government as ?real? U.S. citizens. Indeed, his highest-profile opinions have been concurrences and dissents in the long-running case of Igartúa v. United States, a series of challenges to the exclusion of Puerto Rico from representation in the House and in the electoral college. In one such opinion, Torruella wrote,
the federal courts continue to recognize the almost absolute power of Congress to unilaterally dictate the affairs of Puerto Rico and her people. So long as that is the case, the practicality of the matter is that Puerto Rico remains a colony with little prospect of exerting effective political pressure on the elected branches of government to take corrective action.
A properly framed decision changing this state of affairs, Torruella wrote, would be the equivalent of Puerto Rico?s Brown v. Board of Education.
Watch these deep, indeed transcendent, political issues swirl: Chafee?s principled opposition to state-imposed death; Boudin?s allegiance to the power of federal courts as the lynchpins of law; Torruella?s deep anger on behalf of those kept under colonial domination, with the blessings of the courts, for more than a century.
But the argument has actually been framed in terms of the decidedly strange idea of ?dual sovereignty,? in which the state and federal governments, like God the Father and God the Holy Ghost, somehow inhabit the same space under the same Constitution remaining one and yet mystically separate at the same time.
Is this truly a ?national neurosis,? or a constructive way for Americans to talk about transcendent issues?Senate Bill 1070, for example, gay marriage, or the death penalty?without tearing each other to pieces?
It having been proven (again, and again, and again) that President Obama is indeed a citizen of these United States of America, what's left of the 'birther' brigade has been getting busy inventing other alternate histories. But not everyone on the[...]
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This is a straight news piece, the fascinating story of what a really thorough investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995 actually turned up. Unfortunately, that investigation was performed by the authors of a new book on the subject, not by the feds.Bottom line ? what we think we know, we don't. The operation was far bigger than anyone realizes,...
The issues of housing policy and Wall Street criminality have not appeared at the top of the agenda in the Presidential campaign, certainly not among horse race journalists. But new polling shows that this is a major challenge for the President, who is[...]
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Crossroads GPS, a group backing Mitt Romney that is affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove, will spend $25 million this month on ads attacking President Obama on his spending record. The campaign will begin on Thursday with an $8 million ad buy that will run in 10 states.
The Obama administration announced yesterday that it would consider vetoing two bills put forth by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, both of which contain anti-gay provisions. In its one Statement of Administration Policy, the White House outlined numerous reasons it opposes the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains a military “license to bully” provision and restricts same-sex marriages or similar ceremonies from being held on military bases. The other Statement of Administration Policy addressed the Violence Against Women Act, from which House Republicans stripped all protections for minority groups:
H.R. 4970 retreats from this forward progress by failing to include several critical provisions that are part of the Senate-passed VAWA reauthorization bill. For instance, H.R. 4970 fails to provide for concurrent special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction by tribal authorities over non-Indians, and omits clarification of tribal courts’ full civil jurisdiction regarding certain protection orders over non-Indians. Given that three out of five Native American women experience domestic violence in their lifetime, these omissions in H.R. 4970 are unacceptable.
The bill also fails to include language that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT victims in VAWA grant programs. No sexual assault or domestic violence victim should be beaten, hurt, or killed because they could not access needed support, assistance, and protection. In addition, H.R. 4970 does not include important improvements to the Clery Act found in the Senate-passed bill that would address the high rates of dating violence and sexual assault experienced by young people in college and other higher education institutions. The bill also weakens critical new provisions in the Senate-passed bill that would improve safety for victims living in subsidized housing.
Last year, anti-gay provisions that House Republicans had added to the defense budget were dropped in conference. Hopefully VAWA can achieve similar agreement this year.