The four Republicans who broke ranks and voted for same-sex marriage in the New York Senate have “sharply increased their fund-raising in the six months after the marriage bill passed, in many cases raising money from people they had never met,” the New York Times reports this morning. According to financial disclosures filed Tuesday night, State Sen. Roy J. McDonald raised “about $447,000 in the six months following the vote, about 27 times more than he had raised in the same period in 2009,” Stephen M. Saland took in $425,000, Mark Grisanti raised $325,000 in the six months after the vote and James Alesi “said more than half of his new donations came from same-sex marriage supporters.” Conservative groups like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) have pledged millions to unseat the Republicans and are still predicting defeat. ?All the money in the world isn?t going to buy them out of the fact that they?re about to lose an election,? said Brian Brown, the president of NOM. ?People are outraged by what they?ve done, and they are going to be held accountable,? he said. A majority of New Yorkers still support the state’s marriage equality law and a recent Sienna College poll found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who lobbied for the same-sex marriage bill — remains overwhelmingly popular among registered voters in New York, with a solid 73 percent approval rating.
Some states have introduced education standards requiring teachers to defend the denial of man-made global warming. A national watchdog group says it will start monitoring classrooms.
Cross-posted from ThinkProgress Green
Long a leader in the fight to defend the teaching of evolution in public schools, the National Center for Science Education now sees creationist-like tactics being used in the attack on climate education. A recent survey of science teachers found over half had encountered skepticism from parents, and a quarter dealt with climate-denying administrators. Climate deniers are increasingly sending hate mail to scientists and teachers. As the Los Angeles Times reports, state legislators are increasingly promoting climate denial in classrooms:
Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change. Tennessee and Oklahoma also have introduced legislation to give climate change skeptics a place in the classroom.
After decades in which climate denial was driven primarily by industrial polluters, much in the way the tobacco industry lied about the dangers of smoking, the climate fight is becoming more intensely personal and political. As extreme weather disasters rise and the effects of global warming become unmistakable in daily life, right-wing climate deniers are trying to subvert the obvious moral and ethical necessity of action, trying to tie their fossil-fueled denial to religious faith.
?We consider climate change a critical issue in our own mission to protect the integrity of science education,? said Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, NCSE?s executive director, announcing the new initiative. She discussed the parallels and differences between creationism and climate denial in a podcast with Steve Mirsky.
Mark McCaffrey, a climate and environmental education expert, has joined the NCSE as its new climate change programs and policy director. Mark is a co-author of the Essential Principles of Climate Literacy and co-founder of the Climate Literacy Network. Pacific Institute hydroclimatologist Peter Gleick, one of the leading climate communicatiors in the nation, has joined their board of directors.
NCSE?s stellar Josh Rosenau has more details as his blog, Thoughts From Kansas.
The GOP 2012 presidential candidates are headed to South Carolina for its Saturday primary largely in lockstep about economic policy. Across the board, the candidates have proposed tax plans that would give huge tax cuts to the already wealthy and blow a hole in the federal budget, while doing next to nothing for the middle class.
In South Carolina specifically, the candidates’ plans would give tens of thousands of dollars (or hundreds of thousands, depending on the plan) in tax breaks to the richest 1 percent of Americans. Citizens for Tax Justice broke down the plans by candidate and income percentage:
As the table shows, the smallest tax break for the richest 1 percent in South Carolina would be Mitt Romney’s, at about $69,000. Newt Gingrich wins the race for largest tax break for the 1 percent, at more than $212,000. In South Carolina, where the median income is about $43,000, the richest 1 percent have an average income of about $945,000.
Overall, the GOP candidates’ tax plans give tax breaks to the wealthy that are up to 270 times as large as those they deign to give to the middle class. Several of them, in fact, would raise taxes on many middle class families. Romney, for instance, would raise taxes on half of middle class families with children, due to his elimination of an expanded child tax credit implemented by President Obama.
The Obama administration has released a new report tracking the progress of states in building the health care exchanges that are part of the Affordable Care Act. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia “are on their way toward establishing their own Affordable Insurance Exchange,” the report notes and have received three rounds of grants from the federal government to set-up the new regulated marketplaces where small businesses and individuals will be able to compare and shop for comprehensive insurance beginning in 2014. States that fail to build their own exchanges will have to turn over their markets to the federal government.
The theoretical concept of encouraging insurers to compete on a level playing field within a new regulated market was originally developed by the Heritage Foundation in the 1990s and later embraced in Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care reform law. As the administration’s report notes, it’s also gaining momentum in some right-leaning states, many of which are also suing over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act:
– Nevada: The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange was authorized through bipartisan legislation passed unanimously by both chambers of the Nevada Legislature and signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval (R) on June 16, 2011. [...] Its seven-member board was appointed on September 23, 2011 and met for the first time on October 26, 2011.
– Alabama: Governor Robert Bentley (R), a physician, issued an Executive Order that created the Alabama Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission on June 2, 2011. [...] Alabama received an Exchange establishment grant of $8.6 million on November 29 from HHS. The State also is participating in a technical assistance program run by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The legislature, which meets in February, is expected to take up legislation to establish an Exchange.
– Mississippi: The State created a Mississippi Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission in 2010, and used its $1 million planning grant to fund research and outreach. On April 26, 2011, then-Governor Haley Barbour (R) signed a law that allowed the Study Commission to continue its work through 2011. [...] After legislation authorizing an Exchange failed to pass, the State determined in October 2011 that the previously authorized non-profit high-risk pool association could broaden its mission to run the State?s Exchange.
– Michigan: On September 14, 2011, Governor Rick Snyder (R) announced his intent to create a State-based Exchange called MIHealth Marketplace. [...] The Senate passed bi-partisan exchange legislation in November, however the House failed to act. On November 29, the State was awarded $9.8 million to establish its Exchange and is seeking the legislature?s authority to spend the funds
— Pennsylvania: On November 23, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett (R) announced his commitment to establishing a State-based Exchange. [...] Pennsylvania used the majority of its Exchange planning grant to award a contract to a consulting firm to conduct extensive background research. This resulted in a comprehensive analysis of Exchange governance models, business operations, structure, plan management and financial management.
Federal regulators have also been eager to allow states additional flexibility in forming the exchanges. States can choose to share responsibilities with the federal government and use their establishment grants “to test their systems for their Exchanges that start later than 2014.”
BP projects a stark future of civilization-threatening climate change, with increasing carbon pollution at least to 2030. This morning, BP released the Energy Outlook 2030 report, its forecast for global energy consumption and climate pollution, projecting that coal, oil, and natural gas use continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
The net result is a projected increase in global emissions of 28% by 2030. This leaves the world well above the required emissions path to stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases at the level recommended by scientists (around 450 ppm).
“This is our view of the most likely outcome for world energy supply and demand to 2030,” CEO Bob Dudley writes in the introduction. “It is not necessarily the energy world we at BP wish to see.”
Rep. Henry Waxman, with Energy and Commerce staff (Molly Riley/Reuters)
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is also a key Democrat on the conference committee organized to come up with deal on the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance, and Medicare "doc fix" extensions. He says that the bill House Republicans insisted on in December is not going to cut it, Brian Beutler reports.
?We want to extend the middle class tax cut, we want to extend unemployment insurance, and we want to keep our promise to Medicare beneficiaries that we?re going to pay for their doctors, so they can have access to their physicians,? Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) told me in a brief interview off the House floor Tuesday. ?But I?m not going to support something to pay for that by cutting Medicare or cutting the middle class. We can reach an agreement on these things, but the Republicans are going to have to move.? [...]
?This is a Republican controlled Congress,? Waxman said. ?They control the House and they really control the Senate as well, because the Senate can?t move unless they get 60 votes. So they have to decide: do they want to extend these three, tax cuts, and unemployment, and doctors fees, or do they want to let them go down. And if they?re going to insist that we pay for them in an unfair way, I don?t think they have the votes to pass it.?
It's the same dilemma that gripped House Speaker John Boehner in December: he can't be in charge of the party that is responsible for a middle class tax hike (not to mention an end to unemployment benefits and a 27 percent cut to doctors' Medicare reimbursements). That's the message he got from Senate Republicans and a good chunk of his own caucus. He's caught between them and the bomb-throwers who just want to blow everything all to hell to prevent what they perceive as a win for President Obama.
As Waxman says, the onus is on Republicans to find a path that Democrats will also support. Of course, Waxman is going to have to keep reminding the negotiating team of Democrats?led by Sen. Max Baucus?of that before they start offering up the farm.
New Hampshire, First in the Nation:
More than 500 New Hampshire Democrats arrived in Concord last week to chose delegates to represent them at this year's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, set for the week of Sept. 3. Of the 18 delegates elected this morning, 13 will be first time delegates to the national convention.
Here's a list of the lucky delegates:
First Congressional District
Second Congressional District
Watching the Republican presidential primaries leaves me feeling kind of sorry for the candidates. In their attempts to appeal to minority voters, they?re like a group of Dungeons and Dragons buddies decorating their basement in hopes that the cheerleaders will show up. I?ve got news for you guys: You may get cheered on for telling poor people to shape up and calling Barack Obama the "food-stamp president" at GOP debates, but you?re sorely out of touch with the rest of us.
The 2010 census showed that nonwhites accounted for the majority of growth in this country in the past ten years. Fifty major American cities would be on the decline if it weren?t for Latino and Asian growth, and whites are the minorities in four states. Yet the current crop of Republican nominees consists of five white guys who seem unable to relate to Americans living in a fundamentally different society.
The race and gender of these candidates wouldn?t be such an issue if their platforms also weren't so offensive. Their legislative proposals seem tailored to an ever-shrinking base of religiously conservative, white voters. Republicans more broadly seem little aware that pandering to this group will cost them generations of nonwhite voters.
Take, for starters, Mitt Romney, who is a shoo-in for the nomination after his primary win in New Hampshire. In South Carolina, he's been campaigning with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach by his side. Kobach helped draft the infamous Arizona law SB 1070, which requires local law enforcement to detain people suspected of being illegal immigrants?and use racial profiling. Kobach is also credited as the primary author of Alabama HB 56, which is described as an even "tougher" anti-immigration measure than SB 1070. Since Alabama passed HB 56, thousands of workers have fled the state, leaving crops to rot on the vine and causing hundreds of Latino children to be yanked out of school by their parents for fear that educators, who are required under the new law to inspect students? immigration status, will turn them in.
Romney has accepted Kobach?s support even though his own father was born in Mexico to American immigrants who were fleeing religious persecution. You'd think Romney were ashamed of it: On the campaign trail, the candidate spoke about his father being born in Mexico at only his last stop in New Hampshire, previously shying away from the impression that his family?s past could make him soft on immigration.
?He comes from a story of such persecution,? Mexican Mormon Julian Le Baron told Univision. ?For him to now be persecuting immigrants, to me, is very offensive.?
That?s exactly the kind of lack of human empathy that many minorities perceive from the Republican candidates who oppose immigration reform.
?I think [Romney?s] sticking to his message that he doesn?t support illegal immigration [and] that he supports legal immigration,? said Erika Andiola, a 24-year-old DREAM Act student who spoke to Univision at Romney?s last New Hampshire appearance. ?But the thing is that he mentioned that he supports a way for us to come to this country to get opportunities?that this is a country of opportunities. [The DREAM Act] would give thousands of undocumented students in this country opportunity. We?re not looking for anything for free.?
Following Mitt Romney in New Hampshire was Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who came in second with 22.9 percent of the vote. Though most analysts agree that Romney is going to get the Republican nomination, Paul?s libertarian message resonates with Americans who have become more and more economically disenfranchised. Despite Paul?s more progressive stances on foreign military intervention and the war on drugs, his record on race relations is awful. Not only does Paul think that the Civil Rights Act was a bad idea; he vehemently opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants and wants to amend the Constitution to remove birthright citizenship.
Then there are Paul?s racist newsletters. Since about 1978, he has published a newsletter that has contained prejudiced remarks about blacks, Jews, and gays. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic describes the newsletters as ?a level of bigotry that would be exceptionally difficult for a longtime public figure to hide.? An investigation by the libertarian magazine Reason found that someone else most likely served as the ghostwriter on Paul?s newsletters, but if Paul didn?t know what was being written in the newsletters, he at least knew they were generating more than $1 million a year.
At best, Paul is a shoddy accountant who lends his name to questionable ventures and, at worst, he?s a bigoted conspiracy theorist. In either case, he?s hardly the person to lead the country during such a large demographic and cultural shift.
The remaining Republican candidates will likely be out of the race soon, but they?ve shown plenty of insensitivity of their own. There?s Newt Gingrich?s plan to go to the NAACP convention and encourage blacks to demand paychecks instead of food stamps. In Iowa, Rick Santorum invented a new race, the "blah people," after insisting he didn?t say, ?I don?t want to make black people?s lives better by giving them somebody else's money.?
What all of these candidates have in common is an inability to relate to me as a person of color, a woman, and someone who is part of the new majority. Until Republicans show an interest in appreciating "America for America," they?ll remain the party of "no."
There's a very good TBogg post on ___ that he wrote and FDL would have run this a.m., but if Congress passes legislation that allows the internet to be censored and sites like ours to be shut down arbitrarily by unaccountable government or corporations,[...]
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