In this edition: a sharp-elbowed debate about the efficacy of forecasting presidential elections.
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I thought it was cold in February.
A friend was on the capitol square this week; felt cold in the wind though it was just in the 20s.
Friend was getting recall signatures, laughed about the weather and said, "Labor of love."
One million signatures seems realistic. Fond du Lac County, Dodge County, up North, everywhere people know what Scott Walker is and are ready to boot him out of office.
And the grassroots is doing what is needed; building a Party of the people.
By the way, a good piece at: Walker admits Union Money the reason for Attacking Collective Bargaining.
Exactly what State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said on Fox in March.
Thursday evening Vermont's Independent Senator Bernie Sanders told Al Sharpton that his hope is that "the Democrats this time stand tall and that they defend working families in this country and that they say 'sorry, enough is enough; the wealthy are going to have to pay more in taxes and if you guys are not prepared to do that, we're going to go to the American people and expose you for what you are'." The Democrats? The conflicted paralyzed party filled with nearly as many corporate shills and whores as the GOP? The Democratic Party that elects Steny Hoyer, John Kerry, and Max Baucus to leadership positions and spends all its campaign money trying to reelect arch conservatives like Ben Nelson to the Senate and Jim Matheson to the House? That Democratic Party? Good luck, Bernie. My guess is that the only reason some of these clowns haven't just joined the GOP outright is because their corporate masters want them in the Democratic Party so they have a foot in that door too! "Democratic Party stand tall for working families?" Ha, ha, ha. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison may be able to get the Progressive Caucus to stand tall for working families-- unless Steny puts his foot down-- but the Democratic Party? I don't think so.
Friday's Wall Street Journal sketched out the problem in terms of the Bush tax cuts for the very rich, the economy-wrecking, job-destroying tax cuts Obama and the Democrats-- with Hamlet-like reluctance-- agreed to extend once already. They're due to expire and the Republicans' number one goal is to "force" the Democrats to agree to extend them again. Many Democrats, of course, are happy to do so-- more than happy-- but THE Democrats have to make it appear that they're against extending them.
Days away from a deadline, Congress's deficit-reduction supercommittee is stymied, stumped in large part by one of Washington's seemingly unsolvable problems: What to do with the Bush-era tax cuts?
Republicans are digging in against any agreement that does not extend current income-tax rates, which are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.
Democrats want them extended only for lower- and middle-income Americans, holding out for higher rates on families with taxable income over $250,000 a year. If any agreement is to be reached on cutting the deficit by next Wednesday's deadline, this impasse must be resolved.
At least publicly, ...
As the powerful supercommittee nears its Thanksgiving deadline, I hope (but doubt) that Republicans will listen to the American people and support deficit reduction in a fair and responsible way. I hope (but doubt) that Democrats will not again capitulate just for the sake of an agreement-- but that?s been the pattern.
Increasing taxes on the wealthy is overwhelmingly supported by Democrats and independents. A majority of Republicans and people in the tea party movement also support taxing millionaires to help bring down deficits. Even many millionaires say they should be paying higher taxes.
At a time when many successful corporations pay nothing in federal income taxes, there is also widespread support for closing corporate tax loopholes. Taking a hard look at mushrooming defense spending also enjoys widespread support.
For much too long, the Washington agenda has been set by powerful corporate interests and a right wing that do not represent the needs and aspirations of most Americans. For too long, Democrats have gone along with Republican demands and caved in to these powerful special interests.
The American people have had it. The Occupy Wall Street movement is growing. A virtual popular uprising forced Bank of America to drop an unpopular $5 monthly debit-card fee. On Election Day this month, in Ohio and many other states, voters said no to right-wing extremism and corporate greed.
The American people are clear. They do not want Democrats to reach another ?grand bargain? with representatives of the rich and powerful that eviscerates the most successful and popular social programs in the history of this country. They want Democrats to stand up for the 99 percent, not the 1 percent.
There is reason for concern. In December-- when Democrats controlled the Senate, the House and the White House-- Congress and President Barack Obama not only extended Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthy but gave new breaks to heirs of the super-rich.
In April-- with a Democrat in the White House and Democrats still in the majority in the Senate-- Republicans threatened to shut down the government and delay the processing of new Social Security benefits unless their demands were met. Democrats went along with $78 billion in cuts from the president?s budget request.
In August, in an outrageous display of unprincipled gamesmanship, Republicans put the United States on the brink of bankruptcy. Instead of invoking clear 14th Amendment powers to honor our nation?s debts, the president and most Democrats agreed to a $2.5 trillion deficit-reduction package.
That?s how we got to where we are today.
This time, if the president and Democrats on the supercommittee go along with cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the three pillars of the New Deal and the Great Society, and permanently extend the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent, voters will shake their heads in disbelief. They will arrive at the reasonably valid conclusion that there are no significant differences between the two parties controlled by corporate interests.
This is a pivotal moment in U.S. history. The rich and large corporations are doing phenomenally well while the middle class is collapsing and poverty is increasing. Now is the time to answer the question that Woody Guthrie poignantly asked: ?Which side are you on??
The Democrats must answer boldly that they are on the side of working families and the middle class and that they will fight to protect their interests.
What if the supercommittee ends in stalemate? Across-the-board, automatic cuts are set to kick in. That so-called sequestration wouldn?t start, however, until 2013. That would make 2012 one of the most important election years in modern U.S. history.
If Democrats stand with ordinary Americans and make it clear that they are prepared to take on the wealthy and the powerful, they could win both houses of Congress. They could give Obama a fresh infusion of boldness as he enters a second term in the White House.
FX dinos on ice are hilarious and cute. But on the distant ice-rink world of Europa, scientists are pouring over images and finding the Jovian moon is swaddled in frozen over oceans that breathe, at least a little, and that's one of the things I wrote about this week:
The core of Europa could well be hot enough that it resembles a less energetic version of Io. Europa could harbor a paradise for the same kinds of hardy, extremophile bacteria that support deep-sea communities on earth, similar to the way their evolutionary cousins, the chloroplasts, support living communities above.As always the Bad astronomer has more including some great images of the alien arctic, along with some cool hi res video of mighty Jupiter itself, and a psychedelic storm on Saturn for good measure.
Provided further, That $100,000,000 of the funds provided for commercial spaceflight activities shall only be available after the NASA Administrator certifies to the Committees on Appropriations, in writing, that NASA has published the required notifications of NASA contract actions implementing the acquisition strategy for the heavy lift launch vehicle system ...
If you want to save and expand American jobs, Mr. President, stop signing job-killing "trade" agreements.
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.November 19 is the 323rd day of the year (324th in leap[...]
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Here?s another way to look at the defeat of the Balanced Budget Amendment in the House this afternoon. Progressives often think that Dems always cower in fear or cave to Republicans in the face of GOP attacks painting them as Big Spending Liberals, but here?s a case where Dems stood their ground and did the right thing.
The failed vote shows that a lot has changed since 1995, the last time such a vote was held. The current crop of Democrats is much more willing to oppose GOP initiatives than they were then...
For liberals who have become convinced that Dems always cave, it?s worth noting that here?s a case where Democrats really did give in to a foolish idea 16 years ago, but successfully resisted it now.
Some of this is just the nature of primaries, in which audiences applaud for purity. But there are other factors. Over the past few decades, the GOP has become a more conservative party. The development of self-consciously conservative media ? on radio, cable and the Internet ? has provided a welcome alternative to the bias of the mainstream media. It has also simplified many public debates into a contest of ideological teams ? a tendency shared by self-consciously liberal media. Candidates, pundits and voters are called to join one side or the other, doing nothing that will give comfort to the enemy. But ideological conformity easily becomes cultural isolation ? the development of assumptions, language and views disconnected from the broad middle of American life.Count on any self-reflection by conservatives like Gerson and David Frum, however mild, to be jeered by their peers. Instead of thought, we get 9-9-9.
NY Times Room for Debate:
Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and now Herman Cain ? all caught in an embarrassing moment when their memory failed them or their knowledge was limited.Behind the numbers:
The federal government requires applicants for certain civil service jobs to take a written exam. The same holds true for the foreign service. And to become a U.S. citizen you have to pass a civics test. Why do we not require a similar exam for individuals who seek election to office?
Americans support compromise, but on what?NY Times:
With the congressional ?supercommittee? struggling to reach an agreement to tame the debt by next week?s deadline, a heavy majority of the public still believes that mixing spending cuts with tax increases is the best approach, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday. Nearly two in three Americans say they want lawmakers who share their views to ?compromise, even if they strike a deal you disagree with,? compared with fewer than three in 10 who want them to stick to their principles even if no progress is made.?
Asked about specific deficit-cutting provisions for the supercommittee, a McClatchy-Marist poll released Thursday finds, 81 percent of voters say members should not include major cuts in Social Security and Medicare, and 59 percent oppose higher taxes on business. A bare majority opposes major cuts in defense spending (51 percent), but fully two-thirds support including tax hikes on higher-income Americans in a deal.
Older, Suburban and Struggling, ?Near Poor? Startle the CensusQuantifying what American feels.
When the Census Bureau this month released a new measure of poverty, meant to better count disposable income, it began altering the portrait of national need. Perhaps the most startling differences between the old measure and the new involves data the government has not yet published, showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September. All told, that places 100 million people ? one in three Americans ? either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it.
Is America exceptional among nations? Are we, as a country and a people and a culture, set apart and better than others? Are we, indeed, the ?shining city upon a hill? that Ronald Reagan described? Are we ?chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world? as George W. Bush said?But don't worry. Republicans will run on it.
This year, for the first time, most Americans did not say yes.
According to a report issued on Thursday by the Pew Research Center?s Global Attitudes Project, when Americans were asked if they agreed with the statement ?our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to others,? only 49 percent agreed. That?s down from 60 percent in 2002, the first time that Pew asked the question.
The headline on Democratic strategist Paul Begala?s recent Newsweek essay dodged subtlety: ?The Stupid Party.?
?Republicans used to admire intelligence. But now they?re dumbing themselves down,? was the subhead.
Democrats couldn?t agree more. And quietly, many Republicans share the sentiment. They just can?t seem to stop themselves.
Why Republicans are giving Newt Gingrich yet another try-out in their quest to decide who to settle for. Where does Occupy go after the eviction. And why the Roberts Supreme Court may give a big win to "ObamaCare."
Or you can simply listen below.
We all have our traditions, many of which we are quite inflexible about (in our house, my father had to carve the turkey, there never was any turkey carving training for the young ones, this was serious work). And yet as I look back over the years, I'm[...]
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