The White House warned congressional Republicans yesterday that unless they agreed to abide by the budget deal they agreed to last summer, President Obama will not sign any appropriations bills, setting the stage for a government shutdown just ahead of the fall elections.
Mitt Romney, who four years ago said he wasn’t even familiar with the Violence Against Women Act, now supports it and “hopes it can be reauthorized without turning it into a political football,” according to a spokeswoman.
In his Wall Street Journal op-ed, Karl Rove concedes ?there’s evidence that people want to tax the rich more heavily.? Nevertheless, he argues Republicans shouldn?t support the Buffett Rule and can ?win this argument? by asserting ?now is not the time to be raising taxes, especially on job creators.?
Yonas Fikre, an American Muslim, asserted that he was tortured in a United Arab Emirates jail cell at the behest of the FBI. Fikre is the ?third Muslim man from Portland to publicly say he was detained while traveling abroad and questioned about Portland’s Masjid as-Sabr mosque.? Fikre says he was instructed by his captors not to tell anyone he was beaten, or “hell would break loose.”
Top U.S. defense and civilian officials condemned photos taken of Army personnel posing with body parts of dead Afghans — “the latest in a string of revelations concerning wartime abuses that have strained ties between the U.S. and Afghanistan.” The Pentagon tried to dissuade the Los Angeles Times from publishing the photos, saying it could put troops in greater danger.
The CIA is seeking permission to broadly expand their mission authority in Yemen and open the door to additional drone strikes against unidentified targets simply engaged in patterns of suspicious behavior, reports the Washington Post.
A new CNN poll finds Republican voters unsure of who they want Mitt Romney to pick as his running mate, should he win the nomination, with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leading a crowded pack.
Police arrested three more people in the ongoing hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspapers, this time targeting the royal editor of The Sun and two others.
And finally: Demonstrating little confidence in Mitt Romney’s 2012 candidacy, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) says he will consider another presidential run in 2016. ?2016 is way down the road,” he said, but added that he’ll give a potential bid “a good examination.” Of course, if Romney wins this year, he’ll be up for reelection in 2016.
Yum! Brands, the owner of fast food brands KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut told Color of Change that they will no longer support the American Legislative Exchange Council, the right-wing front group that, until recently, was a driving force behind state voter suppression and “stand your ground” gun laws. Yum!’s decision means a dozen corporations (plus the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) have now dropped the conservative group:
“Now we know that Yum! Brands has joined the 11 other companies that have announced in recent weeks that they’re no longer members of ALEC. These companies are McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mars Inc., Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Intuit, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Reed Elsevier (owner of LexisNexis and publisher of science and health information), American Traffic Solutions and Arizona Public Service.
“We want to thank these companies for making the right decision, and we want to thank ColorOfChange members and our partners. We continue to call on all major corporations to stop funding ALEC given its involvement in voter suppression. Our members and allied groups are prepared to hold accountable companies that continue to associate themselves with an organization that has attacked voting rights, causing irreparable damage nationwide.”
Yum!’s decision to remove ALEC from the Colonel’s Special Recipe is particularly significant because it shows that the group remains toxic even after it announced earlier this week that it would shut down its “Public Safety and Elections task force,” which led ALEC’s efforts on voter disenfranchisement and guns. Even without a task force devoted to promoting firearms and hindering democracy, ALEC remains committed to a regressive economic agenda that includes union-busting, repealing the minimum wage, and, of course, cutting taxes on the very rich.
The loss of Yum! is also a significant loss for ALEC because the fast food giant held an important leadership role within the conservative group. YUM! co-chaired ALEC?s Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee which, among other things, fought to repeal laws guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers.
As Current TV heads into what is likely to be protracted litigation with Keith Olbermann, who it hired away from MSNBC to be its star anchor and News Director, the network needs some good news. But I’m not sure that the announcement that Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will be doing a weekly interview show on Current is exactly the proof the network needs to regain its momentum and to rebuke Olbermann’s charges that Current is a tin pot imitation of a serious news channel.
There’s nothing objectionable about Newsom in theory. But he’s hardly a national political figure, and he has no experience whatsoever as a journalist. Current has tried to sell former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to viewers in part by suggesting that her political experience means she can call out talking points and hypocrisy when she sees them. But Newsom’s job at Current will involve doing interviews rather than delivering opinion pieces, which makes his credentials seem even slimmer.
Beyond that, Newsom is a sitting public official in California. The two tranches of people Current’s release said he’d be interviewing are from Silicon Valley and Hollywood, key constituencies for the administration Newsom is a part of. It’s highly unlikely that Newsom will ask anything close to a tough question of someone who is a potential donor, or who makes a substantial contribution to California’s tax base. Current officials spend a lot of time arguing that their network, unlike MSNBC, will speak truth to power. But hiring Newsom feels a lot more like Current becoming an adjunct of an administration, providing a politician who’d awfully like to have a national profile with a platform where he can burnish his media credentials and make nice with the people whose money could launch him on to greater stardom.
What does Current get out of this? If they’ve tired of the combative model that Olbermann and Cenk Uygur represent, he could be a transition towards something gentler, and more Hollywood oriented. If they’re trying to assemble assets to make the network more attractive to someone in a sale, Newsom seems more like the contents of a junk drawer than a major asset. And it doesn’t precisely make Current look committed to the principles it’s articulated as the network’s main selling point to viewers.
(White House photo, Rebecca Cook/Reuters)New York Times/CBS (PDF). Registered voters. April 13-17. ±3%.
Which do you think is the best way to promote economic growth in the U.S.? 1. Lower taxes on individuals and businesses, and pay for those tax cuts by spending on some government services and programs, or 2. Spend more on education and the nation?s infrastructure, and raise taxes on wealthy individuals and businesses to pay for that spending.I know the top line horserace numbers in this poll were tied?46 apiece?but as Greg Sargent argues, these numbers are more important because they show that President Obama's progressive vision of government trumps Mitt Romney's trickle-down philosophy. And they aren't a fluke, either. According to the poll, voters clearly believe government should be doing more, not less, to strengthen the economy and the middle-class:
Lower taxes, cut spending: 37
Spend more, raise taxes: 56
Do you think the government should be doing more to help improve the financial situation of middle class Americans, should it be doing less, or do you think the government is doing the right amount to help improve the financial situation of middle class Americans?Compare that last question to Mitt Romney's "let it hit bottom" foreclosure plan and you can see how out of touch he is. Of course, there's always the possibility that voters could be saying they want more government, but when it comes time to actually paying for it, they flip-flop. But even on that front, President Obama is on stronger ground than Mitt Romney:
Do more: 67
Do less: 15
Doing right amount: 14
In general, do you think the government should be doing more to help the housing market improve, should it be doing less, or is the government doing the right amount?
Do you feel you pay more than your fair share in federal income taxes, less than your fair share, or is the amount you pay about right?Those numbers suggest a plan that raised taxes on everybody would find resistance, but that's not what President Obama has pushed for. And there's broad support for raising taxes on top earners, which is what Obama has been advocating.
More than fair: 36
Less than fair: 2
About right: 58
What about upper-income Americans? Do you feel upper-income people pay more than their fair share in federal income taxes, less than their fair share, or is the amount they pay about right?
More than fair: 11
Less than fair: 57
About right: 24
So if this poll shows Obama is on the right side of the issues on a substantive basis, why is he then tied with Mitt Romney in the same poll? Perhaps the answer is that contrary to conventional wisdom, President Obama is the one would benefit from this campaign being about economic ideas, while Mitt Romney is the one who benefits from trivia and distraction.
I think Republicans have real vulnerabilities in this fight, which will play out over several months. John Boehner has no room to maneuver. He clearly cannot pass a budget or even a continuing resolution with his preferred cuts. And if he gives in to[...]
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Apple presides over a global technology empire, but the economic landscapes it shapes around the world are strangely uneven. With its hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide, Apple?s manufacturing partner Foxconn works very differently in two[...]
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We can marvel over Bo?s downfall. We can go on about how China?s leadership refuses to countenance rising political stars who challenge its clubby world. We can engage in whodunit fantasies about the wife and the dead businessman. But more than anything, this tale shows how an antiquated political system imperils a nation?s future. – Bloomberg News
Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party chief in Chongqing, was once seen as a high-flyer tipped for top office. But he has been sacked and his wife is being investigated in connection with the death of a British businessman. – Bo Xilai scandal: Timeline (from the BBC)
The police chief Wang Lijun is afraid of Communist Party boss Bo Xilai, who he’s investigating, so he flees to the American consulate in Chengdu, near Chongqing, then is talked to into leaving consulate, only to be whisked away, with China officials telling the tale that Wang is getting “holiday-style medical treatment,” but he’s actually being held against his will, though no one seems to know where.
In mid-March Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao throws Bo Xilai under the bus in public signaling Beijing is coming for him.
Now a second Politburo member, the security boss Zhou Yongkang who was seen as Bo’s ally, is under scrutiny, with the AP reporting this development is only widening the scandal and confirming chaos inside China’s Communist party ruling elite.
Oh, and did I forget to mention it’s because of allegations that a British businessman was poisoned by the wife of Mr. Bo who is, now was, the leading Communist Party rising star, because he was going to expose her efforts to move her cash around, something that is considered an almost treasonous no-no in China? Meanwhile, the family of the deceased Brit denies there was anything amiss before his death.
That’s just for starters.
If you haven’t been following this tawdry China thriller threatening to expose the Communist Party there drip by dishy drip you need to catch up before the film gets made.
Leading characters being the now deceased Neil Heywood, along with Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai, and an orderly, as well as their spoiled son Bo Guagua, who’s had fancy upper crust schooling, even if his father’s salary couldn’t cover the bills.
All hell broke loose when Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai was arrested for Neil Heywood’s murder recently. Bo’s power was growing politically, as has been his wealth over years, which threatened Beijing, so there’s all sorts of rumors about a frame up, as well as the goal being to neuter Bo’s rise.
That they’ve done.
The Politburo simultaneously suspended Bo Xilai, whose father was a founder of the Chinese Communist party, from the Central Committee for “serious discipline violations.” According to reports, the power couple known as the “Kennedy’s of China” haven’t been seen since mid-March.
From the UK Telegraph, from April 10:
The statement also said that the crime had been brought to light by Wang Lijun, the former police chief in the city.
Mr Wang fled from Chongqing to the US Consulate in neighbouring Chengdu earlier this year, apparently in fear for his safety.
While inside the US consulate, he accused Mrs Gu of poisoning Heywood, prompting the Foreign Office to urge the Chinese authorities to reopen the case.
According to the New York Times, Mr Wang provided American diplomats with “a technical police file” on Heywood’s death, as well as divulging a “trove of knowledge on the contest for power among the Chinese leadership”.
China’s political dirty laundry being aired in public is humiliating, but that it’s tied to a murder is explosive. It also makes for tremendous international dirt, made richer by gossip, innuendo and accusations of the Chinese political 1% wanting to get rid of someone who threatened them.
But the scandal – China’s biggest in years – comes ahead of a leadership change in Beijing due to get under way in October. Some suspect that the party are using legal procedures as a pretext for a purge, our correspondent says. In political cases – such as this one – it is the Communist Party and not the courts that makes the decisions, our correspondent adds.
Britain, meanwhile, has called on China to carry out a full investigation free of interference.
Prime Minister David Cameron raised the case with Chinese politburo member Li Changchun on Tuesday when they met at Downing Street, offering “any necessary assistance” to help China investigate the death.
Here’s the link you need to customize the avatar that accompanies your comment below my columns. You’ll need your login and password for WordPress.
I’ve been asked this a lot lately via email, so thought I’d post the link.