Cliff Schecter notes that Congress is actually holding hearings on gun control legislation this week:
Congress began to look into how we can take some common-sense steps to curb the sales of firearms to criminals those mentally unfit for firearms ownership. The Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held hearings on the Fix Gun Checks Act ? a product of a nationwide, grassroots campaign led by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (for whom I consult) and Omar Samaha, whose sister was murdered at Virginia Tech in 2007.
The hearings, highlighted by a pilgrimage to Capitol Hill by over 50 survivors of massacres at Virginia Tech, Tucson, Columbine and other tragedies across the country, marked the first time since these terrible incidents occurred that Congress has taken the time to seriously consider how we can better keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and mentally ill individuals.
Will it pass? The NRA has still got a death grip on Congress, but it's also hard to ignore the reasonable voices of so many people left bereft by gun loopholes.
I never thought the OccupyWallStreet/99% Movement could actually lead to revolution... until this morning when I watched the sickening video above. Those are our kids, the best of our kids, being pepper sprayed like roaches by that slob with the mustache. Combine it with the self-entitled and willfully ignorant attitude from this grotesquely corrupt-- but never arrested or punished-- congressman at a public hearing and the response from the American citizen... and you see the breaking point is getting closer and closer.
When Alaska crook Don Young attacked distinguished history professor Dr. Douglas Brinkley's work as "garbage" and called him "Dr. Rice," Brinkley reminded him that he works at Rice University and that his name is Brinkley. Young, who is clearly senile, flipped out. "I can call you whatever I want to if you sit in that chair. You be quiet," he hissed. Professor Brinkley wasn't intimidated by the foolish old congressman. "You don?t own me. I pay your salary. You work for me."
The good professor's statement clashes with the divine right attitude-- fueled more by raw cash this time around than anything else-- that is now 100% prevalent among conservatives. The cop in Davis doesn't work for us anymore than does Don Young. They work for the 1% and their job is the same: holding down the 99%.
That's why Krugman was right the other day when he said the SuperCommittee would fail-- and that we're lucky it will fail. The 1% want it all-- everything-- and they believe that that is their right. The institutions of the state are in their hands-- whether the pepper-spraying cop in Davis, the corrupt, reactionary congressman from Alaska, the SuperCommittee or, for that matter, the entire Inside the Beltway set up and that of most of the states. It's now just a matter of time before people won't take it any more.
A House Democratic leader said a U.S. deficit-cutting agreement can?t include the extension of Bush-era tax cuts, while an influential Republican said his House colleagues won?t back a deal calling for new tax revenue.
The disagreement underscores the crux of the problem facing a congressional panel seeking to meet a Nov. 23 deadline to trim at least $1.2 trillion from the deficit over the next decade.
Representative Jim Jordan, head of the Republican Study Committee, which pushes for deeper spending cuts, said any deficit-cutting proposal that includes a tax increase is unlikely to clear a majority of the House?s Republicans.
Representative James Clyburn, a Democratic member of the supercommittee, said if Republicans demand an extension of the tax cuts won by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 the chances of an agreement are dim.
?It would be difficult? to win passage of a supercommittee plan that includes more taxes, said Jordan, of Ohio, on Bloomberg Television?s ?Political Capital with Al Hunt,? airing this weekend.
?If it?s a net tax increase, this is the most fundamental principle within the Republican Party,? Jordan said. ?This is a sacred trust I think we as Republicans have with voters.?
But more broadly, Ryan?s paper tries to create a false choice between reducing income inequality, encouraging economic mobility and accelerating growth. Toward the end, Ryan actually says the debate over inequality breaks down into two groups:
1. Is the problem simply that some households make more than others, in which case policymakers should be focused on closing this income gap by any means at their disposal, indifferent as to whether government policies aimed to close relative inequality result in lower absolute levels of income?
2. Or is the problem that incomes for households in the middle- and lower-quintiles are not rising fast enough, in which case policymakers should focus first and foremost on creating the conditions for income growth and job creation?
If there actually is anyone out there who believes we should be focused on closing the income gap no matter the cost to growth, I?ve never met them. Conversely, there actually are people who focus on what they think to be pro-growth policies without heed to the income gap. People like, say, Paul Ryan.
In 2010, the Tax Policy Center released a detailed analysis of the tax provisions in Ryan?s Roadmap for America. If you were in the top 1 percent, they found, Ryan?s plan would save you $350,000 a year. If you were in the middle of the income distribution, it would cost you $152 a year. And if you were in the bottom 20 percent, it would cost you $393 a year. That would undoubtedly increase inequality.
And there?s good evidence that increasing inequality is, ultimately, bad for growth. Over at the International Monetary Fund, Andrew Berg and Jonathan Ostry recently published a paper looking at the relationship between inequality and growth across the world. In a sense, they were testing Ryan?s proposition exactly. ?Some dismiss inequality and focus instead on overall growth-- arguing, in effect, that a rising tide lifts all boats,? they write.
Berg and Ostry found that ?high ?growth spells? were much more likely to end in countries with less equal income distributions.? Moreover, ?the effect is large .?.?. closing, say, half the inequality gap between Latin America and emerging Asia would more than double the expected duration of a ?growth spell.??? And it was robust: ?Inequality seemed to make a big difference almost no matter what other variables were in the model or exactly how we defined a ?growth spell.???
Ryan also plumps for his Medicare reforms as a solution to inequality. As you?ll remember, his budget proposes converting Medicare into a voucher system where seniors would be given a check and sent into a regulated private market to purchase insurance. The plan saves money because the check would grow at the rate of inflation, while health-care costs often increase three times faster than inflation, so, quite quickly, the check would cover only a small portion of an individual senior?s costs.
For rich seniors, this wouldn?t much matter. They could easily afford the cost of private insurance. For middle-income seniors, or lower-income seniors, it would be a disaster. Ryan offers them some subsidies, but not nearly enough. The cost of coverage would quickly outpace the resources many of them have to pay for it.
I mention this because Ryan?s paper emphasizes the difference between ?absolute? and ?relative? inequality. ?A century ago,? Ryan writes, ?the average American lived a life that was dramatically different, in terms of what he or she could experience and obtain, from an elite like Rockefeller. In many important respects, the difference between ultra-elites and average Americans is less pronounced today.?
But that difference is less pronounced in large part because of programs like Medicare, which ensure that poor and middle-class seniors have access to health care of similar quality to that of richer seniors. So where Ryan?s analysis suggests the need to means-test Medicare and control health-care costs to ease inequality, the core of his health-care plan, the very plan he touts in the conclusion to his paper, would dramatically increase absolute health-care inequality for seniors.
So it?s good that Ryan has started thinking hard about inequality. But it would be better if he thought harder about what policy could do to address it, or at least to avoid making it dramatically worse.
The faculty association at the UC Davis has called on Chancellor Katehi to resign after university police pepper-sprayed students, in the face, for staging a peaceful sit-in.
The university chancellor is either not in control of the situation, and should resign, or she approves of what can only be described as gratuitous violence against kids staging a peaceful sit in, and she should resign. This isn't leadership. It's thuggery. And it has no place in this country. Cops aren't permitted to pepper spray students in the face for simply staging a peaceful sit-in. You arrest them if you have to, but you don't pepper spray them for just sitting there.
Background on the story here.
Man, the lies just keep coming from the UC Davis police:
"There was no way out of that circle," Spicuzza said. "They were cutting the officers off from their support. It's a very volatile situation."The cops claim they were "surrounded" by angry preppy students holding up cells phones taking pictures, so in order to stop this supposedly angry mob that had encircled them, the cops instead bent down and shot pepper-spray into the faces of an entirely different group of students who were just sitting on the ground peacefully and looking at their feet.
Maybe Republicans will debate whether
this is an authentic historical document
(Spoiler alert: it's not)
Oh look. The non-Mormon Republican candidates are having themselves a little "forum" (read: hatefest) on family values:
The forum?s goal is to allow Iowans an opportunity to further vet the candidates on matters related to the family. ?This is not a debate,? said Bob Vander Plaats, President and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER. ?Our purpose is simply to learn about their worldviews and to listen to their hearts on key family issues. The discussion will allow us to see a more personal side of the candidates.?
Interestingly, neither Mitt Romney nor Jon Huntsman will be participating in this discussion. Maybe Mormons aren't welcome? Or maybe they both think that spending two hours thumping their Bibles and getting their hate on isn't the best use of a Saturday evening.
And of course we know that "key family issues" is really just a polite way of saying "stuff we hate 'cause we think the Bible tell us to." No doubt they'll discuss why contraception is bad and abortion is worse and how the
Kardashians gays are ruining marriage and Jesus was a dinosaur-ridin', gun-totin', Muslim-hatin' capitalist who was all about tax cuts for the rich. And if we're really lucky, maybe Rick "NSFW" Santorum will regale us with tales of why sex for pleasure is icky.
And which brilliant theologian will be leading this heartfelt discussion?
?We are thrilled that Frank Luntz has agreed to team up with us for the forum,? said Vander Plaats. ?We believe his unique style, audience participation, and expertise in communication will drive the discussion in a direction unlike any other forum or debate.?
Oh goody. Frank Luntz, Republican spinmeister and bullshit artist, will be leading this discussion with his "unique style." How thrilling!
If you're jonesing for some good ol' fashioned Republican pandering and have nothing better to do, you can watch the live stream or just listen to the audio stream for the whole riveting two hours?or as long as you can stomach it.
Police dressed in riot gear approached the peaceful group of students and began attacking them with peppy spray, forcing them to cover their faces. Many of them falled over. “What is wrong with you?” demanded one student. “You’re supposed to protect us!” yelled another. Watch it:
Professor Nathan Brown, who is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University, has written an open letter calling on Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to resign in response to the incident. “I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis,” it reads. ?You are not.?
Earlier this week, retired Philadelphia Police Chief Ray Lewis was arrested at Occupy Wall Street. Lewis traveled to New York City to protest the heavy-handed behavior of the New York City Police Department. Here’s a picture of Lewis being arrested;
"I'm smart enough, and doggone it..." (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
For over a month, I have wondered on the Weekend Digest if and when Newt Gingrich would get his turn as the shooting star in the Republican presidential sweepstakes. That claim was made, honestly, primarily in jest. Little did we know how prophetic that would be.
With Herman Cain's numbers finally heading on a downward trajectory (and polls to that effect being released exactly one day after I made the "Cain is still a leading pick for the nomination" case on Sunday Kos), it looks like the former Speaker of the House is the next in line to be the "Anti-Romney."
He led in not one, but two, national primary polls this week, though his general election numbers still find him trailing Barack Obama in all surveys conducted to date. Will this be the start of the march to a nomination, or will he be the next Republican to wilt under the hot lights that accompany the frontrunner's status?
Somewhere, Rick Santorum eagerly awaits his turn at the front of the line.
There are also lots of Senate numbers to peruse, as well as campaign goings-on galore, particularly on the redistricting front.
All that (and more!) in this edition of the Daily Kos Elections Weekend Digest.
One might note that the high point of American power (absolute as opposed to relative, after the collapse of the USSR) coincides with peak of oil production in the US, and that the sudden rise in American pathologies coincides fairly closely with the oil[...]
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