It seems that wunderkind writer Jonah Lehrer (who I probably shouldn't call a wunderkind since I'd never heard of him, but then again, when you've got three books under your belt at 30, and one's a best-seller, blog for the New Yorker, and have been published in the NYT, that's ain't nothing) is in trouble for, what most are calling, self-plagiarism.It's not really plagiarism at all, but...
The DCCC had hardly finished celebrating their win in Arizona-- holding Gabby Gifford's old seat with her ConservaDem former staffer Ron Barber-- when Barber was sworn in and was one of only 16 Democrats to join the GOP in voting to gut a whole slew of the EPA's most important regulations. Job well done, DCCC! The million dollars could have guaranteed the election of at least two progressives-- say, David Gill and Lee Rogers for example-- who are committed to progressive values and solutions. Or Carol Shea-Porter, the former New Hampshire congresswoman running against deranged teabagger Frank Guinta without any help whatsoever for the corrupt DC Democratic Establishment. Carol might as well be running as an independent... and polls show her winning in November. This week Carol explained to New Hampshire voters why the U.S. still needs what she referred to as "Richard Nixon's EPA."
What if the coal industry found coal in New Hampshire, blew the tops off some of our beloved mountains to get it cheaply, and then deposited the waste in our streams? Would you be outraged and expect the federal government to fine them? Sadly, the federal government would probably not fine the industry for either activity. In fact, they do blow the tops off mountains for coal in Appalachia, and they do dump the waste in streams-- both breaking the residents? hearts as they lose their lovely mountains and poisoning their air and water. The Residents support taking coal, they just don?t want industry to ruin the environment as they do it. The coal industry, however, has powerful lobbyists.
President Obama is working on a stream protection rule that would replace the one President Bush gutted. But our current House of Representatives is so influenced by special interest money that they actually held a hearing in West Virginia to protest restoring a buffer zone around the streams, and cynically called the hearing ?Jobs at Risk: Community Impacts of the Obama Administration?s Effort to rewrite the Stream Buffer Zone Rule.? Bo Webb, a member of Coal River Mountain Watch, told the Congressional Committee that ??a baby born in a mountaintop removal community has a 181 percent greater chance of a heart or lung birth defect? that, honorable committee members is staggering. If that does not get your attention, then you have sold your very heart and soul.?
This true story is awful enough, but there are many others from the most anti-environmental Congress in recent history. It wasn?t always this way. Republican President Richard Nixon and Congress addressed a host of environmental problems by creating rules of the road-- regulations-- and our country made a bipartisan commitment to clean up the air and water, to regulate toxic chemicals, and to address causes of acid rain and climate change. In 2010, Industries and the National Chamber of Commerce saw the opportunity to wiggle out of regulations by running attack ads against pro-environmental candidates and supporting tea party, anti-government candidates, to create an anti-environmental Congress. They succeeded. The House has voted more than 190 times to undermine environmental protection.
Here are some tidbits to show why this matters. Our NH asthma rates are among the highest in the country, because we are the ?tail pipe? for the country. University of Texas scientists found that almost half of the conventional brands of cold cuts and peanut butter in their local grocery stores have the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). As Dr. Arnold Schecter of the University of Texas School of Public Health, an author of the study, said, ?This is not good news.? The Environmental Protection Agency says HBCD is bad for marine life and can affect our hormones and reproduction. We have many other man-made chemicals in our food, air, land, and water, and we need regulations to protect people. The news on climate change has gotten worse also. Monitoring stations in the Arctic show that we have hit a new high for the heat-trapping gas, carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant. Pieter Tans, a senior NOAA scientist, called it ?depressing,? and indeed, it is. We ignore these signs at our peril.
Today, we count heavily on the EPA to regulate and protect. However, many representatives, including Frank Guinta, want to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, which was established in 1970 after President Nixon?s Advisory Council on Executive Organization advised him to create it. There have been relentless attacks on the EPA. The Republicans have voted to block the EPA?s ability to regulate toxic mercury and other toxins from power plants, incinerators, cement plants, and mining. They also have stopped action to address climate change, because, as Congressman Frank Guinta told the Raymond Tea Party, the federal government has no role to play in stopping global warming. They voted to cut funding for climate science. The Republicans voted to strip the EPA of authority to protect wetlands. The list goes on and on.
As the Sierra Club wrote, ?We are not talking about a slight difference in opinion. We are talking about handing our government over to extremists who deny the existence of climate change, who want to get rid of safeguards protecting our land, water and species from destructive drilling and mining, and who want to outright abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.? This deserves a serious conversation before we all go to the polls in November.
When Mitt Romney outlined his ideas about immigration policy at a Latino conference in Florida, he endorsed removing the cap on visas for the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents. This measure would allow the more than 300,000 people who are waiting for a family-sponsored green card to skip the years-long wait for a visa under a Romney presidency. “We will exempt from caps the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents. And we will eliminate other forms of bureaucratic red tape that keep families from being together,” he told the crowd at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference.
This is not a new idea — Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ) has championed this provision as part of a broader comprehensive immigration reform bill. But, as Menendez pointed out in a statement after Romney’s speech, Republicans have “failed to endorse” the idea of allowing more family visas. “I?ve reached out to Republicans to help me fix our legal immigration system but unfortunately to date, Republicans continue to oppose reforms to our family immigration system,” Menendez said.
Indeed, no Republican co-sponsored Menendez’s immigration proposal that would expand the number of family visas. And when the senator’s office has reached out to Republicans to compromise on the provision Romney mentioned, Republicans rejected the olive branch, a staff member told ThinkProgress.
ThinkProgress reached out to Republicans on the House and Senate Judiciary committees to see if they would support Romney’s proposal. In response, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) said in a statement Romney is “right to recognize that immigration reform needs to be geared towards bolstering our economy and job creation,” but did not comment on the GOP candidate’s visa expansion proposal.
As an Associated Press fact check of Romney’s speech points out, Romney would need Congress’ help to expand the limit if he were president. But after failing to support legislative attempts to increase the limit, it’s unlikely Republicans will jump on board now simply because Romney has suggested it.
The Washington Post reported today that Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mitt Romney headed for 15 years, invested extensively in companies that moved jobs overseas to low-wage countries like China. The practice contradicts the rhetoric of candidate Romney, who since announcing his presidential ambitions, has criticized government policies that have led to jobs, particularly those in manufacturing, moving offshore.
Rather than dispute the substance of the article, the Romney campaign has responded to the Post piece by parsing words, claiming that the story is “fundamentally flawed” for not differentiating between the technical definitions of “outsourcing” and “offshoring”:
?This is a fundamentally flawed story that does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring nor versus work done overseas to support U.S. exports. Mitt Romney spent 25 years in the real world economy so he understands why jobs come and they go,? Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. ?As president, he will implement policies that make it easier and more attractive for companies to create jobs here at home. President Obama’s attacks on profit and job creators make it less attractive to create jobs in the U.S.?
Technically, the campaign is correct. The official definition of outsourcing is pushing activities outside of the company that could have been performed in-house. A company can outsource, while keeping the activity domestic. Offshoring is the practice of sending jobs overseas.
However, outsourcing is commonly used to describe the practice of moving jobs to foreign countries. But just to be clear, ThinkProgress has changed the text of the Post article so that the proper technical terms are used:
While Bain was not the largest player in the
outsourcingoffshoring field, the private equity firm was involved early on, at a time when the departure of jobs from the United States was beginning to accelerate and new companies were emerging as handmaidens to this outflow of employment.
Bain played several roles in helping these
outsourcingoffshoring companies, such as investing venture capital so they could grow and providing management and strategic business advice as they navigated this rapidly developing field. [...]
According to a news release issued by Modus Media in 1997, its expansion of
outsourcingoffshoring services took place in close consultation with Bain. Terry Leahy, Modus?s chairman and chief executive, was quoted in the release as saying he would be ?working closely with Bain on strategic expansion.? At the time, three Bain directors sat on the corporate board of Modus.
This simply doesn’t change the fact that Bain, under Romney, invested in companies whose sole purpose was to move jobs to other countries, directly countering the narrative that Romney has been trying to set.
When anti-gay conservatives were defending California’s Proposition 8 in court two years ago, they were counting on David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values to be their star witness opposing same-sex marriage. This greatly backfired, and not just because Blankenhorn admitted that the children of same-sex couples would be better off if their parents could marry. In his ruling, Judge Vaughan Walker dismissed Blankenhorn’s “expertise” as “inadmissible opinion testimony” that is “unreliable and entitled to essentially no weight.”
While it’s true that Blankenhorn lacked the proper academic credentials to qualify as an expert, his ineffective testimony may also have reflected his own lack of commitment to opposing same-sex marriage. In April, he spoke out against Amendment One, North Carolina’s constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships, and now, in a New York Times op-ed, he has come out wholly in favor of marriage equality:
For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don?t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one?s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness. [...]
So my intention is to try something new. Instead of fighting gay marriage, I?d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same. For example, once we accept gay marriage, might we also agree that getting married before having children is a vital cultural value that all of us should do more to embrace? Can we agree that, for all lovers who want their love to last, marriage is preferable to cohabitation? Can we discuss whether both gays and straight people should think twice before denying children born through artificial reproductive technology the right to know and be known by their biological parents?
Will this strategy work? I don?t know. But I hope to find out.
It’s unfortunate that Blankenhorn still clings to some of his unfounded beliefs about parenting and that he does not yet fully appreciate how marriage equality supports the children of same-sex couples. Nevertheless, his courageous admission of a changed heart and mind should be commended. Like so many before him, Blankenhorn met same-sex couples, learned about their experiences, and realized that his point of view was visibly hurting people. He allowed new information to change his mind. Hopefully his new strategy will convince other social conservatives to do the same.
As world leaders arrived for the Rio+20 Earth Summit earlier this week, the skies began to darken over Rio de Janeiro — a sign of how attendees were feeling after negotiators presented a watered-down document on Tuesday night outlining global sustainability aspirations.
When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Rio early this morning, she arrived amidst a torrential rainstorm that soaked the streets of the city. And that’s about how many people were feeling as the conference neared a close today: a little soaked.
In an effort to break the clouds and show that the U.S. has done something other than commit to weak aspirational goals, Clinton was in Rio today to announce a new U.S. initiative to leverage private financing for clean energy projects in Africa. The partnership, which includes the State Department, the Overseas Private Investment Corp., and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, will provide $20 million in grants to business owners in Africa to help leverage hundreds of millions in private financing.
“This initiative is part of an across the board push to make clean energy and energy security cornerstones of our foreign policy,” said Clinton, speaking at a side event before her speech to the full conference.
Clinton then highlighted other key initiatives supported by the U.S., including a partnership with Brazil on developing sustainable cities, an international program to stop deforestation, and $2 billion in commitments to the UN’s Sustainable Energy For All program.
While environmental groups have been very critical of the formal negotiated outcome in Rio, the announcement from Clinton received some cautious praise.
“This is a positive step for leveraging scarce resources to deliver clean energy access for the poor. I’m more than happy to see Secretary Clinton putting her weight behind these kinds of initiatives,” said Justin Guay, head of the Sierra Club’s international program.
Some of the public and private commitments made in Rio are older and have been re-packaged for the summit, making groups watching the pledges skeptical. But this is a new program, said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“This will help unleash the large potential for renewable energy that exists in Africa. This proves that renewable energy is ready in all continents as it expands OPIC investment into a continent in desperate need of renewable energy to help address energy poverty and the growing energy needs in key African countries,” said Schmidt.
After leaving the side event, Clinton moved to the plenary where she addressed the entire summit and again highlighted “targeted action” supported by the U.S. in an attempt to weave a positive message. She made no mention of the sense of disappointment about the negotiated text coming out of the conference.
But others were more blunt about the overall outcome.
“Opportunities to bring together political leaders in this context happen so rarely, this summit is correctly perceived as a missed opportunity,” said Manish Bapna, executive vice president of the World Resources Institute, speaking about the official document coming out of Rio.
Bapna said he was excited to see new initiatives coming out of Rio like the one announced by Clinton today. But he lamented that the official document from the summit has “few deadlines, few numbers, with very little that is truly concrete.”
Stephen Lacey is reporting from Rio this week. For a full wrap up of the conference, stay tuned to Climate Progress.
With the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act only days away, I have tried to play out all the potential ways the Court could rule and what they would mean on a purely political level this election. As best as I can tell any Court decision is[...]
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Mitt Romney wants to bring jobs to America. Of course, he's going to have to make America
more like China first. (Larry Downing/Reuters)Under Mitt Romney, business executive, Bain Capital invested in companies that move jobs overseas for other companies. Romney's time in business is the big rationale for his presidential candidacy?he claims he knows all about job creation because of his time at Bain. But according to Mitt Romney, presidential candidate, "My job is to bring jobs back to America" and "With the right policies and the right leadership, we can see a resurgence in American manufacturing."
Romney has also criticized President Obama for not being tougher on China's currency manipulation and other illegal trade practices. But that's not the approach he took at Bain. Companies Bain invested in and ran had plants in China.
Romney's claim that his business experience of moving jobs overseas is the reason he's qualified to be president and have the job of bringing jobs back to America is actually less contradictory than it might initially seem. If you pay attention to what Romney is saying past the quotable "My job is to bring jobs back to America" lines, he's saying the jobs would come back because he'd make the U.S. into China. What he's talking about when he promises to bring jobs back to America is weakening safety and environmental protections, lowering corporate taxes, keeping workers from organizing for better pay and working conditions.
If Romney can accomplish all that, his time at Bain certainly does qualify him to exploit the giant new pool of low-wage, poorly protected workers that would result.
(Joshua Lott/Reuters)By now, I suspect you may have already read about the Washington Post's explosive new story about the extent to which Mitt Romney's Bain Capital "invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India." This might be good news for John McCain, but it's definitely not good news for Romney, which is why I'm so tickled by his response:
"This is a fundamentally flawed story that does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring nor versus work done overseas to support U.S. exports. Mitt Romney spent 25 years in the real world economy so he understands why jobs come and they go," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. "As president, he will implement policies that make it easier and more attractive for companies to create jobs here at home. President Obama's attacks on profit and job creators make it less attractive to create jobs in the U.S."Oh, that's priceless. Mitt Romney wasn't one of those evil offshore-ers?he was just a perfectly fine and dandy outsourcer! Totally different! A well-supported argument that I'm sure will drive a stake through the this dastardly hatchet job, right? Politico's Alexander Burns:
That?s the extent of the Romney campaign?s on-record response.Or... not. And in any event, Romney can feebly attempt to dance the polka on the head of this very tiny pin, but he's still wrong, because the WaPo's extensively-researched piece includes plenty of examples of American jobs being shipped overseas, like this one:
Bain?s foray into outsourcing began in 1993 when the private equity firm took a stake in Corporate Software Inc., or CSI, after helping to finance a $93 million buyout of the firm. CSI, which catered to technology companies like Microsoft, provided a range of services including outsourcing of customer support. Initially, CSI employed U.S. workers to provide these services but by the mid-1990s was setting up call centers outside the country.Dance faster, Mitt! Dance!
The above spot from Obama for America focusing on "Romney economics" is one of fived campaign ads in the Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney sweepstakes that have begun airing in a handful of battleground states this week and will continue until the end of the month. Total cost: about $22.4 million.
Chris Good at ABC has guesstimated that that ad and another from Obama for America will cost about $3.3 million to air. It's a guess because, as a traditional campaign organization, OFA only makes monthly disclosures regarding donations and spending. The ad will air in nine states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
In addition to the spot focusing on the Republican nominee as a corporate raider and job outsourcer, OFA will be running this spot saying that Romney as governor ?raised taxes and fees on everyone else? who wasn?t rich. A list of 24 fees and taxes, to be exact.
The other ads are coming from on Super PAC and two 501(c)4 nonprofit outfits.
? Restore Our Future: The pro-Mitt-Romney Super PAC is required to report each election-related expense to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 48 hours of making it. Its ad focuses on unemployment and attacks Obama?s comment that the ?private sector is doing fine.? The buy is for $7.6 million in nine states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
? Americans for Prosperity: As a 501(c)4 group, this David and Charles Koch-affiliated operation is less regulated. It's also running a "private sector is doing fine" ad. Like other groups of its type, AFP can take unlimited donations from nearly any source?corporate or individual?and is under no requirement to report the names of its donors, only the amounts and some other information to the IRS. It also has to tell the FEC soon after it spends money. To keep its tax-exempt status, less than half of its money must be spent telling voters to support or oppose a specific candidate. Issue ads that simply mention a candidate don't count. The buy is for $5.5 million in six states: Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
? Concerned Women for America: The 501(c)4 nonprofit launched an ad attacking Obama?s health-reform law. Alice Stewart, the group's spokeswoman, was Rick Santorum?s spokeswoman when he was running in the GOP primary. The buy is for $6 million. The ad is appearing in six states: Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin.