Reid tells Republicans: President's jobs bill bus tour seems to be working. [...]
Read The Full Article:
Fox Business News brass tells staff: Stop trying to be like those yahoos at Fox News![...]
Read The Full Article:
And of course it's only going to get worse since there's no longer any stimulus money to help. USA Today:
The job cuts by city and county governments are helping offset modest private-sector employment gains, restraining broader job growth.
"They'll continue to be a drag on the overall (employment) numbers and the economy," says Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner.
Localities have chopped 535,000 positions since September 2008 to close massive budget deficits resulting largely from sharp declines in property tax receipts. That exceeds the 413,000 local government jobs cut from 1980 to 1983, the only other substantial downturn in local government employment, according to federal records that go back to 1955.
But there’s something special about student loans. Two things, in fact. If you default on your mortgage, the bank gets to take your house. Same thing with an auto loan. And if you can’t pay your credit card bill, you can discharge the debt in bankruptcy. But the lender can’t repossess your degree, and the 2005 bankruptcy bill made it impossible to discharge the debt. So if the labor market recovers in two or three years, we’re going to have a huge cohort of people who’ve been unemployed or underemployed and got delinquent on their loans put into a kind of debt peonage situation where modest increases in wages are clawed back by the need to repay all this old debt.
Fair enough, you might say, they did take out the loans. But the standard penalty for taking out a loan you can’t repay is that you declare bankruptcy and become a bad credit risk in the future. That’s not just a way of being nice, it’s a policy response to the fact that forward-looking and backward-looking penalties have different impacts. If past debt makes it harder for you to get a loan today, that has no impact on your incentives to work ? it just means you have to be thrifty. But if past debt makes it harder for you to increase your disposable income, it works like a tax that depresses workforce participation.
The AP reports on our Nobel prize-winning physicist Energy Secretary, Steven Chu:
The U.S. energy secretary says the debate about climate change reminds him of the old argument that smoking isn?t bad for you.
Steven Chu also urged greater investment in clean energy as he spoke Tuesday in Paris to an International Energy Agency meeting of energy ministers and industry leaders.
He says that because the evidence of climate change is growing more compelling and the price is oil is likely to rise, countries must turn to clean-energy production.
Chu criticized attempts to ?muddy the waters? on climate change science.
He said the debate in the U.S. reminds him of what he ?heard as a young person growing up about how cigarette smoking was not really bad for your health.?
This isn’t the first time Chu has made this argument. Last year he spelled it out in a little more detail that the AP does:
San Jose Mercury News: Are you worried that the political will to enact a national policy or somehow tax or price carbon emissions is gone now? If you look at recent polls, the number of Americans who believe that global warming is real and man-made is declining. The political trends are not in your favor.
Chu: Americans were believing because of sound bites, and now they?re disbelieving because of sound bites. One can honestly say that if we don?t do this, we will not be economically competitive. Ten and 20 years from now, the price of oil will likely be higher ?? this is not a stretch of the imagination. The debate for whether smoking causes lung cancer and emphysema was actually in the first decade among scientists, but they muddied the waters for 2½ more decades. Climate change, on a global scale, is a much bigger deal, and people are trying to muddy the waters, particularly people who think they might lose. Unfortunately, it?s easier to propagate fear than seeing a vision of prosperity.
In an op-ed today in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) expands upon how his energy policy fits into his jobs plan as part of his presidential campaign. Energy policy is at the center of the Republican race, he explains:
The United States is an energy-rich country living like an energy-poor country. We purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of energy from overseas while keeping many of our own energy resources locked up in the ground. Reversing this backward dynamic is a critical pathway to creating economic growth and jobs.
In Pennsylvania and neighboring states, we are seeing the tremendous benefits that domestic energy development can confer. Tapping the Marcellus shale deposits promises not only to supply clean and inexpensive energy to our country for the next century but also to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. [...]
[My plan] dramatically streamlines regulation so that government facilitates production instead of interfering. It opens up vast new swaths of territory, on- and off-shore, for development.
And while Romney concedes in the Tribune-Review that Energy Development alone will not fix the economy, he fails to consider the dangers of expanding oil drilling or the risks associated with fracking, the process used to tap natural gas deposits in the Marcellus shale. But considering that Romney received energy policy guidance from pollution lobbyist Jeffrey Holmstead, his apologies to the industry are not surprising.
In May, ThinkProgress reported that Romney was seeking advice from Holmstead, a top industry lobbyist who worked to corrupt air pollution laws at the Environmental Protection Agency during the George W. Bush administration. He has a long history of lobbying for energy companies and ties to the Koch group Citizens for the Environment.
The policies Romney is pushing along with whom he has leaned on for advice only go to show that his loyalties lie with the energy companies rather than protecting the environment and health of Americans.
A Federal Voting Assistance report reveals that “an astonishing 120,000 active duty military personnel never received their requested absentee ballots in the 2010 election.” This failure left 29 percent of active duty military voters without a vote, up from 16 percent in 2008. Soldiers that year were more likely to vote, as the percentage of those voting increased from 24 percent in 2006 to 29 percent in 2010. With the passage of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act two years ago, ballots are supposed to be available 45 days prior to election day. The Federal Voting Assistance Program is aimed to help service members and their families as well as citizens living outside the U.S to vote.
Welcome to the first installment of the Pop Culture and the Death Penalty Project. Up next week, the 1999 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s The Green Mile.
One of the things that struck me most about the structure of Native Son is how perfectly circular it is. In the introduction to the novel in the edition I read, the prefacer described Bigger’s attempt to clean the rat out of his family’s apartment as a humiliation that sets the stage for his murder of Mary Dalton. But it also previews Bigger’s ultimate fate. The rat’s dash from the Thomas family skillets is the same briefly successful evasion that Bigger will experience from the police. Its death in a box is similar to Bigger’s own decline in a cell, though of course Bigger has an emotional revelation the rat is incapable of. And it inspires Bigger’s mother to speak almost prophetically of his own negation and ultimate fate. ?Bigger, sometimes I wonder why I birthed you,? she muses after he finally vanquishes the rat. ?Maybe you oughtn?t?ve. Maybe you ought to left me where I was…You?ll regret how you living some day. If you don?t stop running with that gang of yours and do right you?ll end up where you never thought you would. You think I don?t know what you boys is doing, but I do. And the gallows is at the end of the road you traveling, boy. Just remember that.? And he does. ?Bigger, did you think you?d ever come to this?? Mr. Max asks Bigger during the trial process. ?Well, to tell the truth, Mr. Max, it seems sort of natural-like, me being here facing that death chair,” Bigger tells him. “Now I come to think of it, it seems like something like this just had to be.?
But the inevitability of someone committing a crime is one discussion, and the question of whether that punishment is just or effective is entirely another. The main argument made by the prosecution in Bigger’s murder trial seems to be that it is an effective deterrent. ?Our experience here in Dixie with such depraved types of Negroes has shown that only the death penalty, inflicted in a public and dramatic manner, has any influence upon their peculiar mentality,” a source tells a Chicago newspaper for a story about Bigger’s trial. “Had that nigger Thomas lived in Mississippi and committed such a crime, no power under Heaven could have saved him from death at the hands of indignant citizens.” The prosecutor takes for granted that the death penalty will be a deterrent, telling the judge during sentencing that “Your Honor, millions are waiting for your word! They are waiting for you to tell them that jungle law does not prevail in this city! They want you to tell them that they need not sharpen their knives and load their guns to protect themselves. They are waiting, Your Honor, beyond that window! Give them your word so that they can, with calm hearts, plan for the future! Slay the dragon of doubt that causes a million hearts to pause tonight, a million hands to tremble as they lock their doors!”
There’s no question that, at various points in the novel, Bigger is afraid of death, and afraid, specifically, of the death penalty. That fear slackens somewhat when he believes he has his family and the Daltons fooled: “But at home at the breakfast table with his mother and sister and brother, seeing how blind they were; and overhearing Peggy and Mrs. Dalton talking in the kitchen, a new feeling had been born in him, a feeling that all but blotted out the fear of death.” When he’s going through his trial, he feels viscerally the horror of his death being made a symbol, though he has that realization only after her’s committed his crimes. Bigger reflects:
He felt that not only had they resolved to put him to death, but that they were determined to make his death mean more than a mere punishment; that they regarded him as a figment of that black world which they feared and were anxious to keep under control. The atmosphere of the crowd told him that they were going to use his death as a bloody symbol of fear to wave before the eyes of that black world…It was not to save his life that he had come out; he did not care what they did to him. They could place him in the electric chair right now, for all he cared. It was to save his pride that he had come. He did not want them to make sport of him. If they had killed him that night when they were dragging him down the steps, that would have been a deed born of their strength over him. But he felt they had no right to sit and watch him, to use him for whatever they wanted.
Plainly, the death penalty is not a deterrent. That’s an argument Mr. Max makes at trial, saying “Do you think that you can kill one of them?even if you killed one every day in the year?and make the others so full of fear that they would not kill? No! Such a foolish policy has never worked and never will. The more you kill, the more you deny and separate, the more will they seek another form and way of life, however blindly and unconsciously.” And it’s one that even the wildly racist coverage of Bigger’s trial acknowledges when it describes his demeanor in court as “indifferent to his fate, as though inquests, trials, and even the looming certainty of the electric chair held no terror for him.” The papers are wrong about what Bigger’s thinking and feeling, but not about the idea that the death penalty won’t keep people from committing crimes. When you feel all sorts of fears, the electric chair won’t always be chief among them.
But Mr. Max isn’t just aimed at getting to neutral on the death penalty’s efficacy. He argues not that it’s immoral, but that the death penalty causes a greater harm than any benefit it could possibly provide: it furthers the division of the country against itself:
The surest way to make certain that there will be more such murders is to kill this boy. In your rage and guilt, make thousands of other black men and women feel that the barriers are tighter and higher! Kill him and swell the tide of pent-up lava that will some day break loose, not in a single, blundering, accidental, individual crime, but in a wild cataract of emotion that will brook no control. The all-important thing for this Court to remember in deciding this boy?s fate is that, though his crime was accidental, the emotions that broke loose were already there; the thing to remember is that this boy?s way of life was a way of guilt; that his crime existed long before the murder of Mary Dalton; that the accidental nature of his crime took the guise of a sudden and violent rent in the veil behind which he lived, a rent which allowed his feelings of resentment and estrangement to leap forth and find objective and concrete form…The corpse is not dead! It still lives! It has made itself a home in the wild forest of our great cities, amid the rank and choking vegetation of slums! It has forgotten our language! In order to live it has sharpened its claws! It has grown hard and calloused! It has developed a capacity for hate and fury which we cannot understand! Its movements are unpredictable! By night it creeps from its lair and steals toward the settlements of civilization! And at the sight of a kind face it does not lie down upon its back and kick up its heels playfully to be tickled and stroked. No; it leaps to kill!
I think there’s some danger in making this utilitarian argument, because it leaves open the possibility that if we were to achieve racial equality and harmony, if our justice system worked perfectly, the death penalty might, perhaps, in the sweet by and by be permissible, a canker in the rose. It’s the same problem with basing the argument against the death penalty on the idea that we might execute an innocent person ? it leaves a space, however small and unlikely, for the death penalty to be permissible. That slim possibility may make those arguments appeal to a broader constituency. But I wonder, if we are to be total abolitionists, if those arguments need to be a starting point rather than a final word. We need, I think, to try to move public opinion towards a moral and total opposition, rather than a pragmatic (however moral) and almost-but-not-quite-total rejection.
Click here to view this media
Looks like Pat Buchanan finally made an appearance on a network where he belongs... over at Fox "News" with Sean Hannity where was making the rounds trying to sell his new book.
Pat Buchanan doesn't think "minorities are bad for the country." At least that's what he claimed last night on Fox News. In an interview with Sean Hannity to discuss his new book, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?, Buchanan expanded on part of the book's premise, that America is "disintegrating" because "white America is an endangered species." Though he claimed that minorities aren't "bad for the country," the America of 2041 Buchanan sketched is one that is bankrupt economically, confounded by crime and lawlessness, and where English is a second language.
Lots more there with analysis of the interview and Buchanan's long history of racism, so go read the rest.
Full transcript below the fold.
HANNITY: As we continue on "Hannity," and we continue with Patrick J. Buchanan, New York Times best-selling author, former presidential candidate, his new book is called, "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to the Year 2025?"
All right. When you write a chapter in abook called the end of white America and you write in that chapter, white America is an endangered species, and then you talk about the white population will begin to shrink with present birth rates, slowly disappear. You talk about Mexico moving north, et cetera, et cetera. You know what's coming next.
HANNITY: You know --
BUCHANAN: It's what comes before.
HANNITY: That's true. But I want you to explain it in your words because I think people will interpret it, Pat, is that oh, so white America is going so that means the end of America? You are saying that minorities are bad for the country.
BUCHANAN: No. Not at all. But the title is taken from the title of an article, cover article in Atlantic magazine, exactly, the end of white America. What does it mean for the -- about? What does it mean for the culture? And so, I looked at it from what does it mean for the United States of America when white Americans in 2041 become a minority in the country along with Asian Americans minority, African-Americans and Hispanic Americans. And you try to envisualize what's going to happen and America is going to look very much like California right now. And what does that mean? California is bankrupt. It's bond rating is the lowest of any place. Los Angeles, half the people there don't speak English in their own homes. Five million people.
And you've got all the problems of crimes. You've got a black-brown war among the underclass as one sheriff described, it in the prisons and in the gangs. And people are leaving California. And it's the old tax consumers are coming in. Now, these are not bad or evil people. Even the ones who are legal. They are coming to work many of them. They're coming for a better life. But the truth is they are bankrupting the state of California because of that divide you mentioned between taxpayers and tax consumers. And what happens when all of America is like that, when every American city is like LA? Who said -- David, what's his name from the New York Times"
HANNITY: Which one?
BUCHANAN: Columnist for the The New York Times?
HANNITY: One of your favorites, David Brooks.
BUCHANAN: Brooks. He said, you know, Tom Joad has given up. He went to California. John Judis, the new republic. He said, I don't think California is going to make it. Now, these are -- they're awful lot of liberals and others in there saying look, and what I'm saying is, look, what California is today America is in 2041 if we don't change course.
HANNITY: You -- really the two chapters together, the end of white America, demographic winter which you talk about ,people of European dissent are not only in a relative but real declining. Aging, dying, disappearing and you say, this is a big crisis of the west. Here is my question. We do break down. Now, people forget this. We break down demographically every poll. We break down every election demographically how African-Americans vote, white Americans vote. So, this is common.
HANNITY: I guess the issue or the argument that you are making though is, what? That the value system is different because 90 percent of African-Americans traditionally historically vote Democratic.
BUCHANAN: Ever since, '64, correct.
HANNITY: And the Hispanic vote goes what demographically?
BUCHANAN: It goes -- the Hispanic goes 60 to 70 percent Democratic. Asian-Americans which is a bit of a surprise, 60 to 70 percent. Africans- Americans, 90 to 95 percent. That's what Barack Obama got.
What I'm saying is, if that is half of the country, and Republicans will never win another election. And I mentioned California for this reason. Demographically what California is will tell you also what California is politically. Republic Party, Nixon and Reagan won California nine times, Nixon lost it once. Republican can't win California today. It's not because the people are evil. But they are democratic. They depend on government. They believe in government. And they vote for the party of government. And when Texas goes the same way and whites are a minority in Texas, when it becomes predominantly overwhelmingly Hispanic, it is going to become predominantly Democratic. That's the end of the Republican Party.
HANNITY: What do you say to those people saying there is Pat Buchanan? Well, no, no. What do you say to them, they say, why don't you break it down along belief system rather than racial lines?
BUCHANAN: Well, I agree, I mean, I'll tell you why many African- Americans vote Democratic is because, you know, the federal government stopped, ended slavery, it ended segregation, it supported civil rights, supports affirmative action. But the Feds did that and they tend to believe in the federal government as a good, powerful positive institution, it's on our side. And Hannity and Buchanan and these guys are constantly knocking it, and that's why we are against them. So, that's an understandable position. But what I'm saying is it is a realistic statement to say that that's going to be the future as well.
HANNITY: Right. Because I look at the value system of many of my friends from all backgrounds. Diverse backgrounds, and they think as I do.
BUCHANAN: One quick point on that.
HANNITY: Go ahead.
BUCHANAN: Seventy percent of African-Americans in California voted for Proposition 8 to outlaw gay marriage. Five percent voted for John McCain. So, you are right, the value system in many cases, the African-Americans are the most churched people in America but politically, in politics, trumps values in many places.
HANNITY: Politically can different demographic groups move over to limited government, to lower taxes?
BUCHANAN: Now you are talking. That's why I say, you have a moratorium on immigration. Take all the immigrants that came in, the Jews, the Irish, the Italians, the Pols. They all voted Democratic. So we shut off immigration in 1924.
By the 1950s, they were moving and when we talked Nixon, we're working, Nixon said, we're going to get an Italian on the Supreme Court, they are ready to break our way. Because these are folks, their kids came up. They're doing well, they got kids in school and they're saying, we are paying taxes. Wait a minute, our taxes are going up. Maybe we ought to take a look at this other party.
But you need time for folks to move out of that poverty and move up into the middle class. Once they move into the middle class into the taxpayer category, Sean, they are available.
HANNITY: All right. Pat Buchanan. Listen, when you're under fire later this week we'll have you back.
HANNITY: All right. Which I'm predicting.
Jon Huntsman has an odd op-ed on the theme “‘Too Big to Fail’ Is Simply Too Big”.
One would expect an op-ed on that theme to involve a proposal to take some of today’s banks and split them up or shrink them. Instead he says:
There is more than one fix. The best would be to eliminate Dodd-Frank’s backstop. Congress should explore reforms now being considered by the U.K. to make the unwinding of its biggest banks less risky for the broader economy. It could impose a fee on banks whose size exceeds a certain percentage of the GDP to cover the cost they would impose on taxpayers in a bailout, thus eliminating the implicit subsidy of their too-big-to-fail status. Congress could also implement tax reform that eliminates the deduction for interest payments that gives a preference to debt over equity, thus ending subsidies for excess leverage.
There are four ideas here. The first is to repeal Dodd-Frank’s proposed mechanism for resolution of large banks. The second is to do what Dodd-Frank’s proposed mechanism for resolution of large banks does. The third was proposed by the Obama administration and killed by the Senate and would only moderately discourage bank consolidation, not eliminate the need to do something when large financial institutions fail. The fourth is a good idea, but would penalize lenders of all sizes and has nothing to do with the ostensible topic at hand.
This is, I think, part of the problem with conservative discourse being so dominated by jeremiads against mythical Obama administration initiatives. What Huntsman wants to do, in essence, is repeal a made up provision of Dodd-Frank in order to replace it with what Dodd-Frank already does, add on something the administration already proposed adding on, and then do an unrelated tax reform. But he insists that he thinks Dodd-Frank is a “tragically” inappropriate response to the financial crisis. So am I supposed to think he wants to modify it in a minor way on the tax sad, or that he wants to drastically alter this misguided legislation? There’s no way to infer from this op-ed what it is Huntsman is saying he wants to do, which is especially problematic because contrary to myth politicians rarely lie about which initiatives they’ll pursue in office. Paying attention to policy proposals is normally a great way to figure out what’s happening. But the proposals need to be grounded in some kind of reality-tracking account of what the status quo is.