Romney hopes to float above fray
Mitt Romney will skip a debate next month in Las Vegas sponsored by the Daily Caller and Americans for Tax Reform, POLITICO has learned.
While it will be held in a state Romney hopes to perform well in, the Nevada debate is not being carried by any national television outlet.
Martin notes that despite skipping next month's debate, Romney has committed to six debates through October, the first of which will take place in Iowa on August 11 and will be broadcast on Fox News.
By skipping the Nevada debate, Romney not only avoids appearing at a forum sponsored by anti-tax extremist Grover Norquist (who leads Americans for Tax Reform), but he also gives himself nearly two months before facing the possibility of needing to directly confront criticism from his rivals.
On paper, this strategy seems smart: run out the clock, and stay above the fray. But I'm not so sure it as smart as conventional wisdom might suggest. Primary voters are very sophisticated; things can change dramatically in the final few months of a campaign.
You may recall that Hillary Clinton enjoyed a healthy lead over her opponents at this point in 2007, and she, like Romney, pursued a front-runner strategy, avoiding conflict and trying to run out the clock. But what ended up happening is that when she finally faced attacks from her rivals, she was unable to recover before it was too late.
By any objective measure, Mitt Romney is the frontrunner, but yet we still don't know if he has a glass jaw. If he does, waiting until the fall to let his opponents take punches may prove to be a terrible decision, because it won't give him enough time to put things back together again. On the other hand, if Romney proves to be the greatest candidate ever, maybe he'll be able to brush off the late attacks and quickly wrap the nomination up. But I wouldn't bet on it.
I’ve been watching with amusement as all my intelligent friends with right-of-center views on economic policy get together in a group solidarity exercise of bashing Stephen Metcalf’s Slate article on Robert Nozick. And, certainly, the idea that you meaningfully advance the ball on an important issue of political philosophy in the course of an online article aimed at a popular audience is a bit odd. But I think the Metcalf bashers are obscuring a very important point, when the push back on Metcalf’s claim that Nozick repudiated libertarianism.
I think I can speak to this issue with some authority since I was enrolled in Nozick’s seminar on the Russian Revolution at the time of his death. And while it’s certainly true that late-Nozick self-identified as a libertarian, he no longer embraced the doctrine espoused in his famous work of political philosophy. This is, however, an important point! Julian Sanchez cites his own 2001 interviewinterview with Nozick as evidence against Metcalf, but I think it’s the reverse. Nozick says in the interview that the extent of his apostasy has been overstated, but he’s less “hardcore” than he was at the time of Anarchy, State, and Utopia. But when it comes to philosophical doctrine, the hardcoreness is all there is. By the time I was in his class, the kind of libertarian writers Nozick was assigning were Hayek, Friedman, and Von Mises. And though these guys are certainly libertarian in the ordinary language sense, there’s no philosophical gap between them and modern liberals. Keynes said he thought The Road To Serfdom features bunk economics, but “morally and philosophically, I find myself in agreement with virtually the whole of it.” Conversely, Milton Friedman has strongly anti-statist views about economics but on an ethical level always conceded the righteousness of income redistribution via a negative income tax, precisely the sort of policy whose philosophical underpinnings Anarchy, State, and Utopia was meant to undermine.
This is all just to say that while Nozick retained what you might call libertarian policy views and libertarian political group identification, he seemed to me to have abandoned distinctively libertarian philosophical commitments. Having read Anarchy, State, and Utopia before taking the class with Nozick, I came away from the seminar extremely impressed by Nozick’s intelligence but feeling a bit ripped off that my copy of ASU hadn’t come with a warning label: CORE DOCTRINES HAVE BEEN ABANDONED BY AUTHOR.
What’s more, I think Metcalf is right to try to elevate this inside baseball fact about political philosophy to a higher level of popular awareness. Hard-line metaphysically grounded accounts of property rights such as are to be found in ASU or the works of Ayn Rand have a fair degree of influence over popular political rhetoric in the United States. The fact that these kind of “harcore” views do such a poor job of withstanding scrutiny that the author of their most academically influential defense backed away from them is something people ought to be aware of. Plenty of work by self-identified libertarians holds up quite well, but it’s almost all work in economics or other empirical social sciences. The influential philosophical tradition is a broad liberal family that happily encompasses both Milton Friedman and Paul Krugman and lets them argue about how best to advance human welfare.
At DeSmogBlog, Chris Mooney debunks Politifact’s “false” rating of Jon Stewart’s claim that “every poll” shows Fox News viewers to be the “most consistently misinformed.” Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science, explains that all five studies done on the question find that watching Fox News and believing political misinformation — on the Iraq War, global warming, health care legislation, and other contentious political issues — are strongly correlated.
Tim Pawlenty has long criticized the individual mandate provision in the Affordable Care Act, a policy that’s designed to encourage healthier people to purchase coverage and one that he previously considered. Now, in an interview with Politico, Pawlenty is sharpening his attack against reform and speaking out against the exchanges — a central provision of President Obama’s health care law:
Pawlenty also expanded his attack to another key provision of the Affordable Care Act: the health insurance exchanges, new marketplaces meant to increase access to insurance and drive down costs. He called health exchanges ?utterly worthless,? noting that he?d rejected such a proposal during his tenure as Minnesota governor.
Pawlenty faced serious criticism after last week?s Republican debate, when he appeared uncomfortable when given a chance to stand by the term he?d coined the day before ? ?Obamneycare? ? to highlight the similarities between the federal health law and the Massachusetts reform Romney signed four years earlier.
But this argument is specious for two reasons. First, the structure of the exchanges are determined by the individual states, and it’s up to them to build a system that would allow customers to compare a reasonable number of comprehensive insurance choices. The exchanges have already succeeded in Massachusetts, where the coverage rate is approaching 100 percent and public support for the law is only increasingly. States like California are now building on the Massachusetts exchange model.
Secondly, Pawlenty actually advanced exchanges in Minnesota in 2007, arguing that the non-profit Minnesota Insurance Exchange could ?connect employers and workers with more affordable health coverage options.? ?If just two of your employees go out and buy insurance through the exchange, the benefits to the employer on a pre-tax basis ? because of their payments to Social Security and otherwise into the 125 plan ? more than cover the cost of setting up the plan,? Pawlenty explained at the time. The proposal was part of the governor’s “Healthy Connections” health care plan and he described the Exchange as a structure that “will create another option for employers who would like to provide health insurance as a benefit for their employees.” “All individual health insurance policies in Minnesota will be required to be purchased through the Exchange. Individuals will also be able to pay for coverage with pre-tax dollars. The products will continue to be regulated by the state,” a press release for the proposal read.
Our guest bloggers are Kellan Baker, LGBT health care analyst, and Mark Hines, LGBT communications project intern, at the Center for American Progress.
The Obama Administration recently released the National Prevention Strategy: American?s Plan for Better Health and Wellness. The Prevention Strategy is the first strategic health plan to focus specifically on prevention and wellness for all Americans.
According to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), a long-time champion of health and prevention issues, the strategy is an important step in changing America?s healthcare system from one that focuses on care for the sick to one that encourages Americans to actively work to stay healthy throughout their lives. The strategy specifically references the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population, and makes recommendations for making prevention services and community-oriented prevention efforts responsive to the needs of LGBT people and their families.
The strategy was developed by the National Prevention Council, which includes 17 Cabinet secretaries from across the federal government. The council?s charge is to address the social determinants of health by ensuring that every agency that might impact overall health is also actively involved in improving health. The makeup of the council reflects the fact that education, employment, the justice system, transportation systems, and other areas of major government activity all affect the health of Americans and their families.
Building on the example of Healthy People 2020, the strategy includes the LGBT population alongside other groups that have experienced discrimination based on race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, or disability. The strategy also repeatedly recognizes the lack of federally collected population-level data that includes survey respondents? sexual orientation and gender identity, and it calls on the federal government to collect these data in a routine and standardized way. These data would fundamentally transform our understanding of the health issues facing LGBT people and their families and improve our ability to tackle these issues.
The health statistics that we do know about the LGBT community speak to the importance of prevention and wellness for LGBT people. Harassment and discrimination against LGBT people in access to health care services and insurance coverage, relationship recognition, and employment contribute to health concerns, such as disproportionate rates of depression, tobacco use, and HIV/AIDS in LGBT communities. The strategy?s emphasis on issues such as smoking cessation, promoting mental health, preventing drug and alcohol abuse, and improving sexual and reproductive health are all key areas where interventions focused on the specific needs of LGBT people and their families could help significantly improve the health and wellbeing of LGBT Americans.
Despite these strengths, the strategy could have been more inclusive of LGBT people. For example, the strategy fails to recognize important work that has already been done on researching LGBT health issues, particularly the recent Institute of Medicine Report documenting LGBT health disparities. This report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding, documents the importance of prevention for LGBT people from all backgrounds and at all stages of their lives.
The strategy should also have been more specific in its recommendations on LGBT data collection. For example, the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality should formally list the LGBT population as a health disparity population, and national health surveys such as the National Health Interview Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System must include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity if the prevention needs of the LGBT population are to be effectively met.
Dr. Jeff Levi, chair of the Advisory Group to the National Prevention Council, emphasized that the advisory group will focus on implementing the strategy and holding the council accountable to the plan that the strategy lays out. LGBT advocacy organizations should also engage in this process to ensure that the allocation of resources, such as those through the Community Transformation Grant (CTG) program that offers community-based organizations the ability to comprehensively tackle disparities in their communities, are inclusive of the needs of LGBT people. A focus on prevention holds tremendous transformative potential for the American health care system, and inclusive implementation of the strategy will help make sure that a fundamental part of LGBT equality — access to high-quality and culturally competent health services — is firmly established across America.
In an email to supporters this morning, presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) tried to revive his troubled campaign by delving into monetary policy. “In a speech this morning in Atlanta,” he wrote, “I called for the repeal of the Dodd-Frank legislation and dramatic reforms in the operation of the Federal Reserve, starting with a full-scale audit of its activities.” Gingrich might be interested to learn that the Dodd-Frank legislation he wants to repeal already mandates an audit of Federal Reserve activities as well as featuring important governance changes to reduce privately owned banks’ influence over monetary policy.
But beyond the contradictory premise to audit the Fed while repealing Fed-auditing legislation, Gingrich also dove deep into the current conservative fad for inflation hysteria, tight money, and higher unemployment:
At a time when a dollar today only has 76% of the value it did 10 years ago, it’s vital that Congress return the Federal Reserve to a sole focus on its original mandate — protect the value of the dollar — in order to protect every American from the hidden tax of inflation.
It’s true that the dollar’s value has declined substantially over the past 10 years. Gingrich might have noted that all of the net decline happened during George W Bush’s presidency. But this has little to do with the actions of the Federal Reserve, and much to do with America’s large trade deficit with China and with oil exporting countries. A further decline in the value of the dollar would boost America’s net exports and create jobs. So would the sort of measures to curb America’s oil consumption that drilling has observed, the intention of the Fed’s 1913 founders was precisely “to channel credit preferentially to productive uses” and certainly not to further entrench the interests of the rentier class of high-income bank executives.
“We’re estimating that we are avoiding $3 billion of retrofits for a 33-year-old coal plant,” said CPS Chief Executive Doyle Beneby. “We’ve chosen to invest those dollars today in clean sources that are affordable.”
(Chart source: Calpine with data from Energy Velocity and M.J Bradley & Associates)
A municipal utility in Texas said this week that it plans to shut down an 871-MW coal plant within the next 7 years to avoid spending $3 billion for pollution controls. The Deely plant, operated by CPS Energy, has been running for more than 30 years ? making it a candidate for environmental upgrades to comply with pending federal standards for mercury and air toxics.
Rather than invest in a new coal plant, however, the company plans on making up for the production loss by investing in 780 MW of energy efficiency capacity and 1,500 MW of renewable energy, including 44 MW of contracts from solar PV plants. Sierra Club issued a statement this week celebrating the planned closure, saying that solar ?will replace that dirty electricity and bring clean energy jobs to Texas.?
Sort of. From a Reuters story:
The utility on Monday also announced a 25-year agreement to purchase 200 megawatts of power from the Summit Texas Clean Energy coal-fired plant under development near Odessa.
Construction is expected to begin by early 2012 on Summit’s 400-megawatt integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant which is designed to capture 90 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions.
Beneby said CPS will replace the Deely output with electricity from the Summit plant, along with additional renewable power and the potential purchase of an existing gas-fired power plant.
The announced closure of the two-unit CPS Energy plant marks the 189th and 190th generators that are set to be retired in the coming years. Recently AEP said it may close up to 6 GW of coal plants and replace those plants with natural gas. These planned retirements mark a major turn-over for the generation mix in the U.S., which is transitioning old coal plants out of the mix and bringing in new natural gas and renewable resources. But how much of that will be new coal?
Figures from a 2010 National Energy Technology Laboratory report show that the future of new coal plants is uncertain in the U.S.
(Chart Source: NETL with data from Ventyx)
What will fill in the gap? The contracts from CPS Energy are likely a good indicator of how that gap will be filled: Some efficiency, a mix of renewables, a good amount of natural gas, and, potentially, some cleaner coal electricity from new plants (if they get built.) According to data from the solar industry, the dropping costs of solar PV make the resource competitive with new coal plants that will be built over the next 8 years. These are solar PV plants in areas with high solar resources, not everywhere in the country. If that’s the case, solar and other renewables will likely make up a larger portion of new contracts.
So how much of that will be natural gas? Probably a lot. Independent power producers like Calpine that are invested heavily in natural gas say the resource can easily take the place of new coal. With coal prices rising due to increased exports to China and a glut of shale gas keeping natural keeping natural gas prices low, coal plants are looking like the least attractive option.
Many people in the renewables business are concerned that low natural gas prices will push renewable energy out of the market. But as the above figures show, an increased build-out of natural gas plants will raise the price, making renewable energy more competitive with natural gas plants. As Analyst Sam Jaffe of IDC Energy Insights told Climate Progress in a recent story, an increase in natural gas “should be welcomed” by the renewable energy industry:
If a lot of new NG power plants arrive, then the price will go up, thereby making RE more competitive with NG. Meanwhile, the construction of those new NG plants will cause old coal plants to shut down. RE has a lot of trouble competing with old coal plants that have already been paid for. In five to ten years time, RE will easily compete with NG plants. In the meantime, we?re spewing less carbon for every kWh produced by gas (as opposed to coal).
I’ve written before that I’ve got some level of sympathy for the folks whose job it is to fit our entertainment into ratings systems. It’s essentially impossible to both assign ratings that are responsive to community values and that avoid ratings creep ? whether it’s standards language or the increasing acceptance of gay people and gay relationships (not to mention interracial ones), we can’t reconcile movie ratings across the whole time the medium’s existed, and ditto for television, music, and video games.
But I am intrigued by the concept of a universal ratings system, which GamePolitics says research indicates parents want:
The research, which gathered the responses of 2,300 adults from three different surveys found that most parents were generally satisfied with ratings related to television, movies, video games, music, and handheld devices. Nevertheless, a majority of surveyed felt there should be some sort of universal rating system for all media, including web sites, music CDs, and games played on handheld devices. Some parents also said that the differences in the ratings systems for different types of media were often inconsistent and confusing, though most complained about television ratings that didn’t properly convey what kinds of content a given program contained.
Given that I believe that parents should exercise discretion and make informed decisions about what their children are consuming, I’m all in favor of a system that gives them more detailed information in exchange for folks to stop calling for things to be censored. Obviously, different media forms have different dimensions, and a universal ratings system would have to account for that ? if being the person who carries out an act in a video game adds intensity points to the rating, does that mean the identical murder in, say, Grand Theft Auto, would carry a higher rating than that murder portrayed on a small screen and with no interactivity on The Wire? Consistency has multiple dimensions. I also wonder how it would work ? would raters catch assignments from all the different pools of media? And would we stick to a letter system, or have a more detailed description of what each piece of content contains?
This would be difficult to design and coordinate: there are a lot of factors to consider, and a lot of organizations to wrangle. But I think it’s a reasonable intriguing concept, and it merits some consideration. I’d love to know what the video game designers in comments think of this.
With the market posting weaker results in recent weeks, an increasing number of stocks are sinking further and further away from their 52-week highs. Finding which stocks deserve to be sold off and which are just victims of a tough market can be a challenge. That's why it pays to follow the moves of officers and executives at publicly-traded companies, known as "insiders."
These individuals possess an inside knowledge of their company that the rest of us simply don't have. And when their company's stock experiences a major sell-off, insiders are pretty good at knowing if the selling is warranted or it's simply the victim of investor panic. These insiders will then give the stock a vote . . . → Read More: Insiders Think These Two Stocks are Headed for a Rebound
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Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteHas Barack Obama over-stepped his constitutional authority by continuing to participate in the Libya NATO action without congressional consent? Like George W. Bush ignoring the law banning water boarding as[...]
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