Yesterday, Obama for America, President Obama’s official re-election campaign committee, filed suit against Ohio officials in federal court arguing that Ohio’s new limits on early voting are unconstitutional. The suit names two Republicans, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted, and seeks a court order invalidating recent statutes that change the last day of early voting.
The new limits on early voting create a disparity between two groups of Ohio voters. The last day of early voting for families of armed forces members and civilians overseas is the Monday before an election, while the last day for all other voters is the Friday before an election. November’s Presidential election will be held on a Tuesday.
?This lawsuit, at bottom, seeks to treat all Ohio citizens equally under the law,? Donald McTigue, general counsel for the Obama campaign in Ohio, said today on a conference call with reporters after the complaint was filed in federal court in Columbus, the state capital. [...]
The state?s early-voting laws were enacted after the presidential election in 2004, when long lines and broken equipment forced voters to wait as long as seven hours to cast their ballots, according to an Obama campaign press statement released today.
With Monday-deadline early voting in place for the 2008 presidential election, about 30 percent of voters took advantage of it, according to the campaign.
The different deadlines for early voting were instituted when the Republican-controlled legislature tried to undercut a state referendum that would have repealed HB 194, a controversial law that curtailed voting rights in the state. The law originally changed the last day of early voting for all voters to the Friday before an election, along with eliminating the requirement that poll workers direct voters to the proper precinct, and making it harder to vote absentee. When it appeared that the referendum was gaining steam, the legislature repealed some parts of the law in an attempt to subvert Ohio citizens’ constitutional right to referendum. The repeal eliminated the change in early voting, but, because the limit on early voting for everyone but families of armed forces members and civilians overseas had been duplicated in another bill, resulted in two different deadlines.
Yesterday, House Republicans unveiled their proposed budget for the Departments of Labor, Health, and Human Services. One of its provisions “terminates” the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which was created under President Reagan to research which health care treatments are actually effective and hence which ones can be used to save the most lives, research that:
AHRQ is also critical to addressing our health care spending crisis. The increasing cost of treatment is driving rising health care costs, which makes understanding what treatments can be used most effectively and cheaply in any given case critical to reigning in rising costs. Researching precisely that question is AHRQ’s bread-and-butter, which is why Lisa Simpson, President and CEO of AcademyHealth, calls the House bill “a devastating attack on health research funding at a time when this work is most critically needed” as AHRQ is “the very agency tasked with generating the evidence necessary to build a higher-quality, higher-value health care system for the American people.”
While Mitt Romney continues to ignore calls to release his tax returns, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) is preparing to make sure future presidential candidates cannot duck their financial past.
Levin wants to amend the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to require presidential candidates to make public 10 years of tax returns and disclose overseas accounts. In a press release, Levin directly ties his proposal to Romney:
The stunning lack of transparency from someone in pursuit of the highest office in the country highlights the need to change the law to require fuller disclosure. For decades, presidential candidates have voluntarily provided a thorough accounting of their tax returns and finances, as they should. But we clearly cannot continue to rely solely on the willingness of a candidate to disclose fully what the public has a right to know about the candidate?s financial record.
Besides requiring candidates to release 10 years of tax returns, the legislation would also require the disclosure of the locations, value, and purpose of all offshore accounts, any compensatory arrangements with companies or individuals, investments or holdings, and other assets and activities of any entity in which the candidate has a controlling interest.
Along with public figures including Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and the National Review, 61 percent of independents want Romney to release 12 years of tax returns — the number his father, George Romney, released when he ran for president.
Cheney, 71, said defense spending is ?not a spigot you can turn on and turn off, that you need to keep money flowing in a predictable way so you can plan for the next war,? Graham said after the Senate Republicans? weekly luncheon. They heard from the former vice president, who was President George H.W. Bush?s defense secretary from 1989 to 1993.
There’s absolutely no evidence that suggests the U.S. won’t be able to plan for or fight any wars should the military spending cuts sequester take effect. As the CBO reported this week, cutting military spending by $500 billion over the next ten years, as the sequester mandates, will still allow the Pentagon to spend as much money as it did in 2006. And at the time, the United States spent more on its military than any country in the world many times over and was engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Cheney is worried about the U.S. not being able to fight/start a war. It’s also a bit concerning that he’s openly predicting a “next” one. Indeed, he lobbied hard in the waning days of the Bush administration for an attack on Iran and presumably he thinks he’ll get another shot at it should Mitt Romney win the White House.
by Graham Readfearn, via DeSmogBlog
Anyone who places stock in safeguarding the current and future climate (and for that matter anyone who doesn’t) should prepare themselves for the risk that very soon, climate science deniers, contrarians and skeptics will be running the show in Australia.
All the polls suggest that a Liberal-led coalition will sweep to power at next year’s Federal election in Australia – the world’s biggest exporter of coal and on track to be the biggest exporter of liquified natural gas.
Current Liberal leader Tony Abbott, if we care to remember, once described climate change as “crap“. Views shared among Abbott’s parliamentary coalition ranks are that climate science is a “leftist fad” and a “work of fiction”.
The Liberal-National Party’s new Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his environment minister Andrew Powell are currently presiding over a massive boom in coal and gas projects. Both have said they’re unable to accept the evidence of human-caused climate change, going against the scientific findings of the country’s main science agency the CSIRO and the country’s Bureau of Meteorology, plus every major science academy on the planet.
Instead the Newmans and Abbotts of this world would rather stake the future of their constituents, our economies, our food supplies and our coastlines on the ideologically-blinkered pseudo-science of narrow vested interests and free market fundamentalists.
The latest snapshot on this inglorious race to the bottom came last week during the Queensland LNP state conference with a motion proposed by the Noosa LNP member Richard Pearson.
Pearson’s motion called on the state’s education minister John-Paul Langbroek to ?remove environmental propaganda material, in particular post-normal science about ?climate change?, from the curriculum and as adjunct material at exam time?. The motion was passed with party members overwhelmingly in favor.
LNP state representative Glen Elmes recently thanked Pearson in parliament for helping him win his Noosa seat at the state election earlier this year (perhaps those visits to Noosa by fake climate experts Christopher Monckton and Professor Bob Carter have rubbed off on the Sunshine Coast community).
As reported on Brisbane Times, Pearson said: ?Few people understand that the so called science of climate change is really what can be defined as ‘post-normal’ science,? before apparently arguing that climate change went beyond traditional understanding of science based on experimentation and falsifiable theories.
To Pearson and others, the experiments of John Tyndall in 1859 which established the warming properties of what we now know to be greenhouse gases just didn’t happen. Not in existence either, are the reams of scientific papers over many decades which have attempted but failed to falsify the “theory” that burning fossil fuels is causing the world’s average temperature to rise, the oceans to become more acidic, the sea levels to rise and the ice at the poles to melt.
Also not in existence is last week’s study by almost 400 scientists (they’re everywhere) which showed that greenhouse gas emissions were increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events.
So far, Premier Newman has clarified that while Pearson’s motion has been passed by the party, this doesn’t mean it will be adopted by the parliamentary group which he leads.
“We will always do the right thing by Queenslanders ahead of the LNP”, he said, forgetting that just a few weeks ago he told Queenslanders the state was actually “in the coal business”.
Regardless, reaction to the motion has been damning. Anna-Maria Arabia, the chief executive of Science & Technology Australia, which represents almost 70,000 scientists and technology experts in Australia, described it as “extremely harmful”.
The secretary of the Queensland Teachers’ Union Kevin Bates told The Australian that it was important schools taught children to have an “open mind” (but presumably not so open that your brain falls out). “Our greatest concern is that this is a government that is going to interfere in the education process,” he said.
One blogging research scientist wrote that the motion was “preparing our children for future ridicule“.
Helping in this process is the Institute for Public Affairs, which has been sending out a discredited book on climate change to Australian schools. The book How To Get Expelled From School, written by Professor Ian Plimer, a member of the board of two of Gina Rinehart’s mining companies, was launched by former Prime Minister John Howard.
At the launch, Professor Plimer said “one of the aims of this book is to maintain the rage, because we have an election coming”. Clearly, Professor Plimer sees his book as a political tool.
While consistently claiming that school children are being brainwashed by climate change “propaganda”, those who push this line rarely (if ever) produce any actual evidence. Pearson didn’t define what he meant by “propaganda” or “post normal science”.
Plimer’s genuine piece of propaganda was described by the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, which analyzed his book, as “misleading” and based on “inaccurate or selective interpretation of the science”.
It should not be forgotten that Tony Abbott isn’t afraid of pushing his own misinformed climate dogma on young schoolkids when given the chance.
In 2010, the Catholic Jesuit told a class of five and six year-olds in Adelaide: “OK, so the climate has changed over the eons and we know from history, at the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth the climate was considerably warmer than it is now.”
Nobody should be surprised that conservative politicians are unable to accept climate change science. A survey of political representatives at local, state and federal level carried out in late 2009 found that acceptance of climate change science was divided along political lines.
The University of Queensland survey found only about one third of Liberal/National politicians accepted the world was warming because of human activity. This compared to nine out of ten Labor politicians and practically all Greens.
Then there’s the “conservative white male effect” discovered by scientists (yes, them again) in the US linking the described demographic to the denial of human-caused climate change.
The Australian conservative political movement’s lurch towards the denial of human-caused climate science is like a mirror-image of the same enlightenment-crushing ideas of many US Republicans.
None of the recent candidates for the Republican presidential nomination (excusing possibly John Huntsman) were able to publicly back climate change science, with some reverting to scepticism after previously accepting the issue.
Also in common with the US, is the existence of Tea Party-style “grassroots” activism in Australia helped along by free market think tanks that claim regulating greenhouse gas emissions is an attack on our freedom.
But rather than have an honest debate about a policy response to a real world risk, they sink to trying to discredit climate science while telling the public that carbon dioxide from burning coal is just “food for plants”.
Earlier this week the climate skeptic organization the Galileo Movement, founded by two retired Noosa (is there something in the water there?) businessmen, tweeted a link to a document written by Viv Forbes claiming coal was not dirty and CO2 was plant food. No mention anywhere in the document that Forbes is a director of Stanmore Coal.
Galileo’s patron is Sydney radio host Alan Jones, who recently told a crowd that climate science was “witchcraft” and a ”hoax”.
Our descent into the deluded world of pseudo-science occupied by astrology, creationism, crystal healing and homeopathy is almost complete. It’s a place where progress dies and business-as-usual thrives.
Graham Readfearn is an independent journalist based in Queensland, Australia, with 15 years experience as a reporter and writer on newspapers, magazines, radio and online. This piece was originally published at DeSmogBlog and was reprinted with permission.
I know you'll be shocked by this but in 1994 Mitt Romney thought it was a good thing to disclose tax returns. Etch-A-Sketch example #34747339
From Think Progress:
But in 1994, Romney vigorously called for then Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to release his tax returns, in order to prove that he had “nothing to hide”:
With the tax-filing deadline looming, Republican Senate candidate Mitt Romney yesterday challenged Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to disclose his state and federal taxes to prove he has ‘nothing to hide,’ but another GOP rival, John R. Lakian, called Romney’s move ‘bush league’ ‘It’s time the biggest-taxing senator in Washington shows the people of Massachusetts how much he pays in taxes,” said Romney, a business consultant from Belmont. Romney said he would disclose his own state and federal taxes for the last three years ‘on the very day that Kennedy turns over his taxes for public scrutiny.’ [Boston Globe, 4/19/94]
Eight years later, during his successful gubernatorial campaign, Romney played the same game, calling for his Democratic opponent to release her husband’s tax returns, even when he hadn’t released his own:
At the moment, however, Mr. Romney is trying to have it both ways. On April 16, he lambasted his most likely Democratic foe, Shannon O’Brien who discloses her tax return for filing separately from her husband who does not. The husband is Emmett Hayes, a former state representative and until recently a Beacon Hill lobbyist. One of Mr. Hayes’s clients was Enron. Mr. Romney is in high dudgeon that Ms. O’Brien hasn’t released Mr. Hayes’s tax forms with her own. ‘Her hands aren’t clean!’ he says…If Romney & Healey, who are candidates, won’t release their tax forms, they have no business demanding that Mr. Hayes, who isn’t a candidate, do so. [Editorial, Providence Journal Bulletin, 5/9/02]
Dean Baker has a generally positive story out about the proposal in San Bernardino County, California to use eminent domain to condemn, write down and return to the owner underwater mortgages. Alternatively, in LA officials are going after the slumlords[...]
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RNC finds one Republican who doesn't think Romney should release his tax returns....[...]
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Senate Democrats are standing strong on letting the Bush tax cuts expire, and coming back in the new year to extend the tax cuts on income under $250,000. According to the Pew Research Center, they've got a leg up on the political argument.
The American people see higher taxes on the wealthy as important for both helping the economy, and helping create fairness.
By two-to-one (44% to 22%), the public says that raising taxes on incomes above $250,00o would help the economy rather than hurt it, while 24% say this would not make a difference. Moreover, an identical percentage (44%) says a tax increase on higher incomes would make the tax system more fair, while just 21% say it would make the system less fair.A majority of Democrats, of course, support the tax increase, but a healthy plurality of independents agree that it would make the economy stronger and make the tax system more fair. Only hard-core Republicans who are millionaires or think they're going to be someday are resisting the idea.
Standing tough on letting the tax cuts expire is just a no-brainer for Democrats. It takes a potential hostage in the end-of-the-year "fiscal cliff" negotiations away from Republicans, preventing a potentially disastrous grand bargain. It allows Congress to do what it does best?nothing. And they've got the public squarely behind them. Win-win.
David Taintor has a great piece on how Obama's "you didn't build it" line bubbled up on right-wing blogs, went through the Fox spin cycle, and became a major line of attack from Mitt Romney himself....[...]
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