John wrote about the seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's recent troubles with rumors of doping. As he said, I love cycling and I've been following professional cycling since the days of the greatest US cycling champion, Greg LeMond. For years I argued with the French locals who suggested that Armstrong was doping and I used to believe that he was unique and innocent and that the...
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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Sunday repeatedly refused to say if he would dismantle a recently-announced Obama administration policy that allows certain young undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.
During an interview on CBS, host Bob Schieffer asked the candidate if he would repeal the order.
"Well, let's step back and look at the issue," Romney replied. "First of all, we have to secure the border. We need to have an employment verification system to make sure those that are working here in this country are here legally. And then with regards to these kids that were brought in by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so that they know what their status is."
"But would you repealed this?" Schieffer pressed.
"Well, it would be overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution with legislation that creates law that relates to these individuals such that they no what their setting is going to be," Romney explained.
"I don't want keep on about this, but just to make sure I understand, would you leave this in place while you work out a long-term solution or would you just repeal it?" the CBS host asked again.
"We'll look at that setting as we reach that," Romney insisted. "My anticipation is that I would come into office and say, we need to get this done on a long-term basis, not this kind of stopgap measure. What the president did is he should have worked on this years ago. If he felt seriously about this he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, but he didn't."
The Brookings Institution, often described as a liberal-leaning think tank, has severed its relationship with Diane Ravitch, one of the most important education scholars in the country and an outspoken critic of Mitt Romney's education policy proposals. In fact, Brookings has not been liberal-leaning for a long time, if it ever truly was; rather, it's a voice of the Beltway establishment, and that increasingly means it's right-leaning. But that's a crucial point, since reporters are clearly sometimes checking the "get liberal opinion" box in their research by quoting Brookings experts. The Ravitch affair demonstrates how wrong that is.
Education policy one of the areas in which establishment Democrats have most embraced right-wing positions, but Brookings' director of education policy takes it a step beyond that. Grover (Russ) Whitehurst is an education adviser to Mitt Romney, and Ravitch is wondering if there's a connection between Whitehurst's relationship with Romney and Brookings dumping her.
Ravitch writes that she had been affiliated with Brookings in one way or another since 1993, for the last seven years as an unpaid senior fellow. Two years ago, when her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education was released, she contacted Whitehurst about setting up an event at Brookings to discuss the book. Quite unusually,
...he said that I would have to rent the auditorium and pay a variety of expenses, which would amount to thousands of dollars. I decided not to accept this expensive offer, and I soon received a request from Rick Hess to present my book at the American Enterprise Institute.The very conservative AEI not only did not charge Ravitch to hold the event, it paid her travel expenses and held a panel discussion. The book became a bestseller, and Ravitch has continued to be a prominent voice in education policy debates. However, she writes, "I was never invited to take part in any panels or public events at Brookings."
A Brookings spokesperson claims, in response, that the decision was made before Ravitch's criticisms of Romney, that she was one of three fellows terminated, and that "in each case, the fellows had little contact with the program and were not involved in programmatic activities. Their scholarly views had no bearing in the decision." Pressed on the "little contact and not involved" part by the Wall Street Journal's Christopher Shea, noting that Ravitch says she was not invited to be involved in Brookings activities, the spokesperson continued:
Then on June 5 came the email from Russ Whitehurst informing me that I would be terminated as a non-resident senior fellow because I was inactive. Understand that it is impossible to be active at Brookings if you are never invited to participate in any of its forums.
My first thought was that Russ might be responding to my blog lacerating Mitt Romney?s education plan in the New York Review of Books. It went online that very morning, about four hours before I got Russ?s email. Russ is an adviser to the Romney campaign on education issues. Would he react that quickly? Then I remembered that I had written two other pieces critical of Romney on my own blog, the first appearing on May 25.
We?re not commenting much beyond the statement.So, Romney adviser Russ Whitehurst runs the education program at Brookings. When Diane Ravitch reached out to him about doing a book event, his way of identifying the necessary funding was to tell her she'd have to pay to do the event. Instead, a conservative think tank did so. Then he didn't invite her to participate in Brookings activities. Then she was terminated for not participating.
But I would add that programmatic activities with our nonresident senior fellows typically arise in one of two ways: we invite them to participate in research, events and scholarly pursuits in which they can offer expertise and can contribute in substantive ways, and, secondly, nonresident scholars approach Brookings with their own ideas. If it?s the latter, it?s up to the program or center director to agree to pursue and to identify the necessary funding.
It's entirely possible that Brookings is telling the truth and the decision to drop Ravitch had been made a month or more before she began actively criticizing Mitt Romney's education policies. But that doesn't mean that the policy positions that led Whitehurst to join the Romney campaign didn't figure in the decision. It's not like Ravitch's criticism of Romney was the first hint that she and Whitehurst were in disagreement on education policy. While Ravitch was an early proponent of testing and test-based accountability in education, she has since looked at the evidence that the programs she once championed are failing and has changed her mind, becoming an aggressive critic of test-driven education. Whitehurst, on the other hand, has had no such transformation since his days working for George W. Bush. Excluding her so that he could ultimately boot her is just as plausible on the grounds of general policy disagreement as it is over a specific candidate.
Ultimately, the point goes beyond Diane Ravitch and Russ Whitehurst. Brookings is too often used in the media to present a liberal-leaning viewpoint. In fact it's just about always a voice of establishment centrism, but if its deeply conservative education policy director can effectively exclude a top scholar with a longstanding affiliation with Brookings and policy views sharply opposing his own, that's taking a big step still further to the right. If that orientation isn't broadly recognized, then Brookings' reputation itself becomes a force pushing the debate rightward.
Back in early May we mentioned that not all the news from North Carolina was bad, and we were proved right. Blue America endorsed Patsy Keever has been finishing up her last term in the State House by waging some serious progressive fights. It's her last term because she's taking on Patrick McHenry, North Carolina's most pernicious and reactionary Member of Congress in a new district that's far more swingy than the deep red one that's been reelecting him again and again.
Because of the legislative session, she hasn't been campaigning since the landslide primary win (58-26%) over the conservative Democrat Steve Israel recruited against her, but she's hardly been wasting her time in Raleigh. She and fellow progressive, Congressman Brad Miller, took on right-wing class war brawler Paul Ryan while he stumped for Romney in North Carolina. As Ryan was pushing his plan to cut taxes for the top 1% and strip the Medicare guarantee from seniors, Patsy was blasting his ludicrous plans to the press. She pointed out that "Ryan?s proposed budget would significantly shrink the safety net for our seniors by sharply reducing Medicare. This could increase expenses for seniors by as much as $6,400 per year.?
Patsy was also quick to point out that the Romney-Ryan budget would ?grant America?s wealthiest citizens at least $265,000 each in tax cuts while raising taxes on the middle class.? People who have followed Patsy's career know she's a proud, independent-minded Democrat who talks common sense, not DC mumbo-jumbo. She's very clear that she's running to represent the people of Buncombe, Polk, Rutherford, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, Catawba counties and not the corrupt DC Establishment of either Washington party. I wouldn't expect to find someone who speaks her mind and represents the middle class as forthrightly as Patsy to wind up on any preferred lists of corrupt political hacks and lobbyist-driven politicians in DC. She's eager to come right out and say that if we grant more tax cuts for the wealthiest, then Congress is going to raise taxes on the middle class. McHenry and other career politicians of both parties have been doing just that-- and Patsy want to stop it... now!
She also stood up to fracking in North Carolina. As Republicans and pro-fracking Democrats-- you know the kind-- were kowtowing to the natural gas industry, Patsy was fighting for more impact studies. To no one's surprise, the frackers won. At least Patsy and fellow environmentalists won ?an improved version of the original, but still moves ahead more quickly and with less study than many of us would like.? State regulations need to be drawn up before fracking starts, and the legislature has to grant final approval before drilling starts.
Now as the NC Legislature is finishing up, she is leading the charge in the Move To Amend campaign in the NC State House by proposing a resolution urging Congress to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizen?s United. In an email to supporters Patsy wrote:
Can you believe that Karl Rove and GOP front organizations plan to spend more than $1 billion during this year?s election to advance their extreme agenda? Just last week we saw the power of unlimited corporate cash in Wisconsin?s recall election in which the Democratic candidate for governor was outspent by a whopping 10 to 1 margin.
That?s why eleven of my fellow North Carolina state legislators and I have proposed a resolution calling on Congress to ban unlimited corporate cash in elections. However, the Republican leadership in Raleigh is ignoring our resolution and refusing to even debate it.
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Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday accused President Barack Obama of essentially breaking his oath office by refusing to "faithfully execute" U.S. laws.
Article II of the U.S. Constitution requires each president to recite the following oath before taking office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
During an interview on CNN, host Candy Crowley asked Santorum to respond to an Obama administration policy that would halt the deportations of certain young undocumented immigrants.
"You need to hammer the president on this now habitual abuse of power, saying that he's not going to defend the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA]," the former candidate explained. "You know, 'I'm not even going to go to the Supreme Court and stand up for the law that, you know, I'm charged as the chief executive to do.' So you're seeing a pattern where the president says, 'I'm going to pick and choose what laws I'm going to enforce, what laws I'm going to stand up and fight for in court.' That is not the job of the president."
"There's a difference between saying, 'I don't like the law, I wish the law were different, but I'm the president. My job is to faithfully execute.' And he has not faithfully executed," Santorum added.
As for Mitt Romney's position on immigration, the former Pennsylvania senator said that the Republican presidential candidate was trying to "walk a line as not to sound like he's hostile to Latinos."
Liars & Outliers explores some of the deeper principles on which social health depends. The subtitle of the book conveys the main theme: ?Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive.? It is a systematic assessment of the conditions that allow[...]
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Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, 1955Wikipedia-(I)n this novel corporate lawyers... have gained a stranglehold on the world. Business Law is an extremely lucrative career, while Criminal Law pays enough to afford some of the luxuries of life but not[...]
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The United States has more than 25 million people unemployed, underemployed, or out of the labor force altogether because of the weak economy. Investors are willing to make long-term loans to the country at 1.5 percent interest. The idea that the[...]
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Rodney King passed away today. Most of us who saw that horrific video believe that he got a 21 year rain check from the Grim Reaper. He should have died that night. In a way it is only fitting that the man who begged for us to get along has died. Because, in America, any hope of us getting along has pretty much died as well.Black and white Americans are actually getting along less now. It?s as if the beating caught on tape, and the riots that subsequently followed, divided the country even more. (Of course O.J. didn't help)Before his ass whopping, thanks to Los Angeles?s most notorious street gang at the time, most Americans didn?t know that this was how big city police departments handled their crime problems. (Thank you George Holliday) This was before camera phones and You Tube exploded on the scene. Even now, with so many eyes watching, the po po will still administer their own brand of justicebefore a Judge or jury has a chance to. Still, some Americans saw the tape and thought that he (King) got what he deserved. -The folks who sat on the first jury clearly did. - Those same Americans are angrier now than they ever were before. They see America as going to the lawless, and, to them, more not less Rodney King style ass whippings are needed. "Let them burn their cities, they are already going to hell in a hand basket. They can't be any worse than they are now" . It's a shame to see King die so young. He seems to have been getting his life together and had recently written a book which I promised myself that I would read one day. It's funny, but when folks in the hood struggle from addiction it is totally different from folks in suburbia. There are no fancy treatment centers or 24/7 hot- lines for them. Police officers won't call your parents and tell them to come and get you because you are acting funny. In the hood they will shoot you first and ask questions later. Or, if you are driving a Hyundai at a high rate of speed, they will track you down and beat you like a dog. It's ironic that Rodney King died in his own swimming pool some 21 years after getting a violent beat down that should have killed him before our eyes. It's still too early to tell what caused King's death, but I think that we all know what caused the death of the peace and harmony that he hoped for.
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Courts have previously ruled in favor of the Klan and other hate groups
This isn't the first time a local KKK chapter has wanted access to the Adopt a Highway program, getting their name on a spiffy little sign on the side of the road acknowledging their civic-mindedness, but the smarmy rhetoric is a bit nauseating:
?All we wanna do is adopt a highway,? said April Chambers, secretary of the North Georgia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. ?We're not doing it for publicity. We're doing it to keep the mountains beautiful. People throwing trash out on the side of the road ... that ain't right." [...]Sure, just a good ol' collection of people getting together to pick up litter and talk about how happy they are to be white. All that nasty stuff, the entire history of the name, the patently terrorist acts, that's all in the past. Stop judging us! That's so bigoted!
"We do not hate anyone,? said Frank Ancona, the imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. ?The true Ku Klux Klan is an organization that is looking out for the interests of the white race. It is a fraternal organization, and we do good works.?
The Georgia Department of Transportation has rejected the group's application, citing public safety and other concerns, but past court decisions have tended to lean in the other direction (see pic, above). As always, the larger free speech argument is whether government nondiscrimination requires government to be nondiscriminatory towards discriminatory groups, which is very zen, but as sympathetic as I usually am to free speech arguments I'm not sure I see a large, existential problem in government rejecting government-backed promotion of obviously incendiary speech. And the name, Ku Klux Klan, is itself incendiary. It will be incendiary for the next 200 years, and there's not much Frank Ancona is going to be able to do about that.
Could a group called, say, Georgia Men for Pedophilia get access to a sign? A group called Atlanta Loves Hitler? What about a group whose official name was merely a series of blistering, top-notch swears? There would obviously seem to be a point where a name that was incendiary, intimidating, vulgar or exploitative on its face would be denied access to public programs simply because the negative public consequences of promoting it would outweigh the positive benefits of enrollment. The only question is where to draw the line, but the Klan, due to that whole history of race-based murders, intimidation and domestic terrorism, would seem to reasonably fit the category. Sorry, fellas, but that whole "having a long history of race-based terrorism" thing doesn't just go away because you say it should. Much like Nazi, I would argue that the name itself has been elevated to a status akin to vulgarity.
The same group of people can, if they were truly dedicated towards cleaning up litter, call themselves literally almost anything but the Ku Klux Klan and skirt the controversy. They're not, of course, because the advertisement value of that one little sign is more important to them.
Ah, you might say, but what one person may think of as controversial might not be controversial to anyone else! Should the word "Mormon" be prohibited from government signage, because some subset of people think of the group as nasty cultists? Heaven help us all if a Muslim group wants to clean up litter, incurring the wrath of terrified bigots everywhere!
I think the distinction, however, must be made between denying access to a controversial phrase or name (that is, the pure text), and denying access to a controversial group (that is, the people). The government interest in this case would seemingly apply almost entirely to the literal text involved. A group of virulent racists who called themselves Americans for Happy Puppies would be able to get approval for their road sign far more easily than the same group calling themselves the Ku Klux Klan, because the Ku Klux Klan as a name has been engraved in history as incendiary. The same would apply to a group called "Let's all Shit on Hitler"?regardless of the actual intention of the group, the vulgarity of the name would supersede any supposed free speech requirements for government to promote it via roadside sign.
Now, if Americans for Happy Puppies then went out and made a name for themselves as notorious domestic terrorists, thus strongly tainting that string of words in the public mind as well, the situation changes again, and you soon won't be able to put that on a government sign either. As more concrete example, you might have been able to name your little litter-control group al Qaeda 40 years ago without difficulty, but there's considerably less chance you would be able to do the same today.
This is a point people love to argue on, citing slippery slope arguments, gray areas and the like. All true enough. There are many, many aspects of law and policy that come down to individual judgments about individual circumstances. My own argument is that the very name Klan has commonplace public implications above and beyond the persons and groups currently seeking to use that name, and that those implications legitimately override any requirement that the government sponsor or promote that speech. Your mileage may vary.