This is Wikipedia:
More on the protest from the Washington Post. And more on why the bill stinks from Alexandra Petri at the Washington Post. (I'd be joining in the protest if I had any idea how to black out our site and not make it permanent.)
Apology is overdue to George W. Romney for my remembering him only as an unsophisticated man whose remarks about being ?brainwashed? in Vietnam cost him the 1968 GOP nomination.
In Rolling Stone, Rick Pearlstein summons up the elder Romney, with ancient videotape, to recall a time when some politicians still tried to tell the truth, even if it derailed their ambitions.
The lessons Mitt Romney drew from his father?s defeat were all the wrong ones.
Back then, George Romney was a successful auto manufacturer who campaigned against ?gas guzzlers,? became governor of Michigan and had the silver-fox good looks of a president (Does Mitt dye his hair?) but, in that pre-everyday-debate era, frustrated the press corps with a salesman?s genial naivete on issues.
A fellow Republican governor observed, ?Watching George Romney run for president is like watching a duck try to [George Carlin verb] a football.?
Yet Romney, as Pearlstein reminds us, had defied his Mormon church by leading a march for civil rights, advocated for them in the South in ?68 and, ?after America's worst riot broke out in Detroit under his watch, the governor said that America could respond with a crackdown...?but our system would become little better than a police state.?"
When the elder Romney turned against the Vietnam War (as the entire country was doing that year) with one unfortunate word, politicians and media jumped on him, and his frontrunner status was gone. Then LBJ stepped down, and we got Nixon, who prolonged the war for years, and gave us Watergate.
?Mitt learned at an impressionable age,? Pearlstein concludes, ?that in politics, authenticity kills. Heeding the lesson of his father's fall, he became a virtual parody of an inauthentic politician.?
George Romney made automobiles and gave back part of his salary and bonuses when he thought they were too high; Mitt has made only money, tons of it, and won?t say exactly how and how much.
George Romney and his wife supported Planned Parenthood; Mitt has flip-flopped into Right to Life.
George Romney was so much of a do-gooder that a critic described his political career as like ?sending a Salvation Army lass into the chorus at a burlesque house.? Mitt Romney seems right at home in today?s GOP whorehouse.
Political patrimony in our time keeps producing disappointing results: Romney is following the footprints of George W. Bush. As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo looms on the 2016 horizon, we can only hope that Democrats have stronger bloodlines.
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Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT?s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here?s what we?re reading this morning, but let us know what you?re checking out as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
- A group of religious leaders continues to call marriage equality a violation of their “religious freedom.”
- Mormon Church leaders in Minnesota all read a statement to members supporting the marriage discrimination statement.
- Why gay parents may be the best parents.
- Elmhurst College has found that asking prospective students about their sexual orientation and gender identity has been successful, with about 5 percent of applicants self-identifying as LGBT.
- The ACLU has some important tips for adjusting Facebook privacy settings.
- Uganda’s ambassador to the United States claims the “kill the gays” bill is “not being reconsidered,” citing only one member of Parliament pursuing the bill.
- Watch the official trailer for “8,” Dustin Lance Black’s play about the Proposition 8 trial.
- Rosie O’Donnell talked to Piers Morgan last night about the pervasive anti-gay rhetoric among Republican presidential candidates:
On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney distances himself from his signature health care law by highlighting the eight vetoes he made to the measure the day he signed it, and blaming Massachusetts Democrats for failing to keep costs under control and implement it correctly. As he explains in his book No Apology, “So I vetoed measures I felt were expensive or counterproductive, but there were overridden by the legislature.” He echoed this message on Fox News Sunday: “There are some features I didn’t like that the legislature put in place,” he said, referring to the employer mandate, and they essential health benefits provisions. “I vetoed it, they overrode it, that’s the nature of the legislative process.”
But as Sen. John McCain’s 2008 opposition book on Romney points out, the former Massachusetts governor felt satisfied with the law he ultimately signed. A June 7, 2006 Newsweek article quotes Romney as saying:
?The final legislation incorporates about 95 percent of my original proposal. So I think, overall, it is a major step forward. We will have health insurance for all our citizens without a government takeover and without new taxes required.?
Indeed, as Boston Globe reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman write in The Real Romney, the GOP candidate had been pleased with the final version of the law, telling reporters, ?We are where we?d hoped we?d be.? “This isn’t 100 percent of what anyone in this room wanted,” Romney said at the signing ceremony in April 2006. “But the differences between us are small.”
Romney explained that the law would be “a big part of the legacy I will have personally for my four years of service as governor.” “But,” he added, “I have no way of telling if it’s going to be a help or a hindrance down the road.”
Other stories below: Valero Energy is working overtime to stop climate legislation; Sea Level rise poses big threat to Washington, DC
Global warming threatens China’s march to prosperity by cutting crops, shrinking rivers and unleashing more droughts and floods, says the government’s latest assessment of climate change, projecting big shifts in how the nation feeds itself.
The warnings are carried in the government’s “Second National Assessment Report on Climate Change,” which sums up advancing scientific knowledge about the consequences and costs of global warming for China — the world’s second biggest economy and the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution.
Global warming fed by greenhouse gases from industry, transport and shifting land-use poses a long-term threat to China’s prosperity, health and food output, says the report. With China’s economy likely to rival the United States’ in size in coming decades, that will trigger wider consequences.
“China faces extremely grim ecological and environmental conditions under the impact of continued global warming and changes to China’s regional environment,” says the 710-page report, officially published late last year but released for public sale only recently.
… Assuming no measures to counter global warming, grain output in the world’s most populous nation could fall from 5 to 20 percent by 2050, depending on whether a “fertilization effect” from more carbon dioxide in the air offsets losses, says the report.
But that possible fall can be held in check by improved crop choice and farming practices, as well as increased irrigation and fertilizer use.
China is the world’s biggest consumer of cereals and has increasingly turned to foreign suppliers of corn and soy beans.
The report was written by teams of scientists supervised by government officials, and follows up on a first assessment released in 2007. It does not set policy, but offers a basis of evidence and forecasts that will shape policy.
RISING COSTS OF GROWING FOOD
“Generally, the observed impacts of climate change on agriculture have been both positive and negative, but mainly negative,” Lin Erda, one of the chief authors of the report, told Reuters.
“But steadily, as the temperatures continue to rise, the negative consequences will be increasingly serious,” said Lin, an expert on climate change and farming at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
“For a certain length of time, people will be able to adapt, but costs of adaptation will rise, including for agriculture.”
Under different scenarios of greenhouse gas levels and their effects, by the end of this century China’s average atmospheric temperature will have risen by between 2.5 degrees and 4.6 degrees Celsius above the average for 1961-1990.
Water, either too much or too little, lies at the heart of how that warming could trip up China’s budding prosperity.
“Climate change will lead to severe imbalances in China’s water resources within each year and across the years. In most areas, precipitation will be increasingly concentrated in the summer and autumn rainy seasons, and floods and droughts will become increasingly frequent,” says the report.
“Without effective measures in response, by the latter part of the 21st century, climate change could still constitute a threat to our country’s food security,” it says.
Under one scenario of how global warming will affect water availability, by 2050 eight of mainland China’s 31 provinces and provincial-status cities could face severe water shortages — meaning less than 500 cubic meters per resident — and another 10 could face less dire chronic shortages.
“Since the 1950s, over 82 percent of glaciers have been in a state of retreat, and the pace has accelerated since the 1990s,” the report says of China’s glaciers in Tibet and nearby areas that feed major rivers.
The “new energy economy” got a boost last week when OCI Solar Power announced a move to our sunny city to manufacture solar components and produce up to 400 megawatts of solar power for CPS Energy. “San Antonio’s vision is to occupy a space right at the intersection of environmental stewardship and job creation,” said Mayor Julián Castro at a press conference behind La Villita Assembly Hall.
Castro and his predecessor, Phil Hardberger, have called for a bold push into the carbon-free economy to prepare South Texas for a future where global warming finally forces caps on greenhouse gas emissions. While local leaders try to stay a step ahead of the new energy game, San Antonio’s Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corporation are using political spending and litigation to lead an historic battle against state and federal policies that threaten the old energy establishment.
Global warming-related sea level rise constitutes a major threat to the nation?s capital, with the potential to inundate national monuments, museums, military bases, and parts of the Metro Rail system during the next several decades and beyond, according to a recent study published in the journal ?Risk Analysis.? The study helps localize a problem that is more typically discussed at the global level, and makes clear that public officials must make decisions in the near-term in order to minimize future losses.
Considering the city?s history, it should come as no surprise to learn that Washington, D.C. is vulnerable to sea level rise. The National Mall and Foggy Bottom were originally marshland, and the area between the Anacostia River and I-295 used to be open water. What is rather disturbing and less well known, though, is just how vulnerable D.C. is to even minor amounts of sea level rise, which according to some studies is virtually guaranteed as the amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to climb, temperatures rise, and mountain glaciers and ice caps melt.
This has been a winterless winter, a season that can?t make it past lunchtime without busting out in a springtime melody. Every time cold weather shows up, it catches a flight back north the next day. Snow this year is a thing of myth and legend.
Tuesday has been typical of Winter 2012 here: Chilly and damp in the morning, but Frisbee weather by mid-afternoon. The calendar insists, implausibly, that it is Jan. 17.
This is the heart of meteorological winter, experts claim. The coldest period in the Washington area is from Jan. 12 to Jan. 23, according to the National Climatic Data Center?s 30-year ?climate normals.?
But abnormality is apparently this year?s normal: The National Weather Service?s outlook shows more of the same snowless weather through the rest of January.
Insurance companies don?t care if you believe in climate change or not: Your premiums are going up anyhow.
NPR reported Monday that home insurance premiums are going up across the board in response to the record number of tornadoes, floods, fires, blizzards and other heavy weather that hit the country in 2011.
The piece features insurance executives at major firms such as Allstate and State Farm saying they are raising rates as much as 10%.
The president of the Insurance Information Institute, a New York-based industry association, says the weather caused about $35 billion of insured damages last year in the U.S. in events that caused a total of $70 billion in economic losses.
Writing new regulations that will require cars and trucks to have significantly higher fuel economy by 2025 prompted years of fighting among automakers, environmentalists, regulators and consumer groups.
But now that the standards have been proposed, nearly everyone involved in the process is on board with the results, as a public hearing held Tuesday in Detroit showed.
More than 90 people who spoke throughout the day asserted that the stricter fuel economy requirements would create jobs, reduce oil consumption, create cleaner air and save drivers money, all while helping automakers increase their profits.
?We?re celebrating something that has taken a long time to reach,? said Representative John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who helped quash previous efforts to impose higher mileage standards. ?There appears to be no significant opposition amongst responsible persons.?
Welcome to ThinkProgress Economy?s morning link roundup. This is what we?re reading. Have you seen any interesting news? Let us know in the comments section. You can also follow ThinkProgress Economy on Twitter.
I’ve enjoyed SyFy’s weird-things-happening-in-the-world-we-think-we-know shows like Eureka and Warehouse 13, but I sort of thought TNT and Fox stole a bit of a match on the network with shows like Falling Skies and Terra Nova that were based further in the future and did more to posit alternative societies. So I’m excited to hear about Deliverance, SyFy’s upcoming program set in “a world where humans and aliens live together on a planet ravished by decades of war.” Apparently, it’s kind of a western, with a human sheriff and mayor trying to keep peace between the human and alien populations of the former St. Louis.
My boredom with alien invasion stories is well-documented, so this is a nice variation, and the first pop culture product of its ilk since District 9, really. Cowboys and Aliens foundered in part, I think, because it didn’t have a clear sense for who or what its alien invaders were meant to represent. An old-school Western with aliens standing in for George Hearst and his minions, a kind of sci-fi Deadwood would have been sort of amazing, but Cowboys and Aliens was not that thing. The fact that humans are in charge of governance in Deliverance suggests that humans are somewhat more powerful than aliens, but I do think you could do something interesting where aliens are the more powerful constituency without being tyrannical or enslaving humanity. And a situation where aliens and humans are close to parity or co-dependent could be a really useful tool for exploring our attitudes towards immigrants or to coalition-building across constituencies. Stories are better when they know what their metaphors are for specifically, rather than standing in for a Random Big Bad Thing.
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Mitt Romney probably pays a lower percentage of Federal income tax than you do. At a press conference today, Romney said that the effective rate he's been paying is "probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything."
Mitt makes out like a bandit because capital gains are only taxed at 15 percent, whereas ordinary folks who earn above $35,000 are taxed at 25 percent (the rate gradually goes up to 35 percent above that). He also scored big because nonproductive game-players like Bain Capital take most of their fees as a percentage of the money they invest -- which is also taxed at 15 percent!
Then there are all the other tax breaks for millionaires, which is why 1,470 households made more than a million dollars and yet paid nothing -- zero, zip, nada -- in Federal income tax in 2009.
Sure, these tax breaks benefit Mitt. And they help the people he cares most about. (Some of those "people" are corporations ...) But they're hurting everyone else. Before we cut Social Security to reduce the deficit (to which it doesn't contribute), let's see what would have happened if Mitt had paid his fair share of taxes.
Romney's worth $250 million. Let's see: What would Mitt Romney's proper tax contribution on that money -- just Mitt's, nobody else's -- have provided for the nation that has given him so much?
Taxing Romney under the same rules most of us follow would have put something in the neighborhoode of $61 million more into the US Treasury2. $61 million could:
Restore the $2 million that Republicans cut from the Minority Business Development Agency -- 25 times over. Why are we subsidizing Bain Capital and not people who can help lift their communities out of poverty? (And unlike the Bain Capitals of this world, they create jobs.)
Replace the $30 million that Congressional Republicans voted to cut from National Oceanographic and Aeronautics Administration (NOAA) for "Flood and Coastal Emergencies." Those storms cost our economy an average of $11.4 billion every year, which is nearly four hundred times the amount they cut from this fund. There'd be $31 million left over.
Replace most of the $74 million Republicans cut from the FBI.
Provide one year of health care for 7,700 Americans at US costs of $7,694 per person (for 2009). (If the US had one of the "socialized" systems that all other developed countries do, it would provide health care costs for more than 14,000 people.3)
What if the top tax rate was 70 percent, as it was under Reagan at one point? Then Mitt would have contributed another $137 million to his nation. It's morning again in America!
And that's just Mitt.
Now let's widen our field of vision a little. The top 25 hedge fund managers in the US made $22 billion in 2010. As we wrote earlier, eliminating these tax breaks would add as much as $44 billion to our bottom line in the next ten years. Or to put it another way:
Ending cushy breaks for these 25 billionaires could also reduce the deficit by as much as $44 billion. Paging all deficit hawks!
In 2008 the taxable income of everyone earning above $100,000 was $3.4 trillion. If we concentrate our tax reform on the upper end of that spectrum -- the Romneys, not the folks in the $100-$400 thousand range -- we know that every percentage point in increased collection comes out to another $34 billion per year. That ain't chicken feed.
The Point-Oh-One Percent Solution
Mitt Romney isn't the candidate of the 1 percent. He's the candidate of the 0.01 percent. The 1 percent category begins four or five hundred thousand per year in income. They're what's called "the little people" in Romney circles.
Is all this talk "envy," as Romney suggests? Not at all, unless we "envy" the people who take our things without paying for them. ("I wish I had a nice car like that ... Hey, that's my car!")
People like Romney became wealthy thanks to our government's laws, its favoritism, and its tax-paid efforts to educate the population, build our infrastructure, and preserve the peace. They're exploiting the system without paying their fair share. It's time for that to end.
 As Pat Garafolo observes, that could mean he's paying about 14 percent, the rate that Citizens for Tax Justice has estimated for him. Or he could be paying 17.5 percent, which is what the Congressional Budget Office says our wealthiest families are paying in combined income and payroll taxes.
 I'm assuming that Romney paid an effective rate on 15 percent on income of $250 million, and then comparing that to a top marginal tax rate of 39.5 percent. The top rate's been both higher and (as it is currently) lower during the course of Romney's career. As for the $250 million, his total earnings undoubtedly came out to a different figure. But presumably he's earned at least that much, making it useful for illustrative purposes.
 US health care costs as pct of GDP/average OECD costs as pct of GDP * US cost per capita.
Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteThis is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.Find the past "On This Day in History" here.January 18 is the 18th day of the year in the Gregorian[...]
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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE?
Breakfast with Al
I have to say, I never thought I'd get to spend some time with the great liberal titan, Al Franken. Oops, I mean?Senator Al Franken. So I'm thrilled that he carved out a few minutes this morning to answer a few questions about the Senate's PIPA bill, of which he's a co-sponsor. So let's go live to the pocket of the entertainment industry, where Senator Franken is just finishing up breakfast:
Cheers and Jeers: Senator Franken, thank you for joining us this morning!
Senator Franken: Erflbrfl, Blill.
Okay, we're having a bit of a problem understanding you, but let me ask this: you say on your web site that "The Internet has become an indispensable source of information and exchange of ideas. In a world of constant innovation, people must have access to its resources." How do you square this comment with your opposition to a free and open internet based on your support for PIPA? You have nothing about PIPA on your web site, so I'm curious.
Mmfllmff. Mooglemph hocksahblocth.
I'm sorry, Senator, but apparently being in the entertainment industry's pocket is interfering with our ability to communicate. But we hope you'll drop by Daily Kos sometime real soon and have a dialogue with us about it.
And maybe you can explain this passage from your 2005 book, The Truth (with jokes), in which you predicted what life would be like under Democrats in the future:"Now the game had changed. Government was finally aligned with the special-est interest of all: the people. And the people got what they wanted and needed. This sent a message to the special interests: You're not so damn special anymore. Get over yourselves."
Enjoy the rest of your day, Al, and I hope we can catch up soon. Because you're a helluva senator and a really nice guy, but this PIPA thing is not settling well. Bye for now!
I hope today's blackout sends a signal to all the Democrats supporting these bills: you're PIPAssing and SOPAssing us off.
Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]