As we head toward summer, the Supreme Court considers the fate of tens of millions of Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. SCOTUS has placed great emphasis on this question--If the US government can mandate that individuals buy health[...]
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Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteThe Animated Bayeux TapestryThe Animated Bayeux Tapestry was created as a student project while at Goldsmiths College. Just as the historic original embroidary does, the animation depicts the lead up to to the[...]
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Mission Accomplitude. Heh.I'm no political strategist, but I'm pretty sure that if someone asks you whether or not your candidate's economic plans are the exact same ones as promulgated by George W. Bush, Worst President in Modern History, policies that went so badly awry as to help cause an economic catastrophe so bad that people are still arguing about what to call it (The Great Recession? The Long Recession? Depression 2: Financial Boogaloo?), a worldwide bloodletting that we will be digging ourselves back out of for the next 10 years or so, you probably should say no.
During an interview last week on The Fernando Espuelas Show, Alexandra Franceschi, Specialty Media Press Secretary of the Republican National Committee, said that the Republican party?s economic platform in 2012 is going to be the same as it was during the Bush years, ?just updated?:No! No, you don't say that! Yes, the policies are the same. Yes, the demand for tax cuts on rich people, and fewer regulations on businesses, and more aggressive pro-clusterfuck deregulation of Wall Street are all identical, but you're supposed to at least pretend you are not going to do the exact same thing that landed us up Poop Creek without a working septic pump.
FRANCESCHI: Well, it?s a message of being able to attain the American dream. It?s less government spending, which a Tarrance Group poll, came out last week actually, shows that the majority of Hispanics believe that less government spending is the way out of this deficit crisis. It?s lowering taxes so small businesses can grow and they can employ more people, because we understand that the private sector is the engine of the economy. It?s not the government. [...]
ESPUELAS: Now, how different is that concept from what were the policies of the Bush administration? And the reason I ask that is because there?s some analysis now that is being published talking about the Bush years being the slowest period of job creation since those statistics were created. Is this a different program or is this that program just updated?
FRANCESCHI: I think it?s that program, just updated.
Here's the thing: Nobody wants to go back to the Bush years. Not even Republicans want to go back to the Bush years, which is why you will hear Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or All The Rest talk about the Bush years approximately never, plus or minus one "when hell freezes over." There was no aspect of those years that wasn't a foul up of epic, can't-believe-you-could-even-fuck-up-that-bad proportions. The first rule of Republican Fight Club is that you do not talk about George W. Bush. You don't even talk about George H.W. Bush, because you still have to say "George" and "Bush." No, as far as campaigning Republicans go, you've got Ronald Reagan, then a whole lotta nothing happened for 20 years until Barack Obama showed up and was mean and stuff.
When you've got an actual press person for the RNC saying that the plan is to go back to the Bush economic program (he was "the CEO president," remember that?), I can only come to two conclusions. One: This person is off script, and badly. Two: The Republicans have learned absolutely nothing from the Bush failures. Not a damn thing.
I'm not sure how you can look around at the outcome of Bush's supposed economic policies and honestly say to yourself, "Yeah, that was great. We should do that again." Which part was it, exactly? The rampant financial corruption? The deficits? The no-jobs part? That recession-thingy that people still seem to be mentioning? Still, though, we're getting the nonsense about lowering taxes on rich people and stopping government from regulating stuff is going to make everything all better, and totally not do the thing it did that last time around. Or the time before that. Or any other time.
As bad as it is that the RNC has an actual press strategist who doesn't understand that Republicans still need to distance themselves from Bush policies, having a Republican Party that honestly, truly seems to think those same policies were the bee's knees is much worse. They really have learned nothing. They want a do-over?and we haven't even recovered from their last try at it yet.
Turns out Rep. Bill Denny (R - Jackson) wasn't the only one who authored an attempted murder bill this year. Sen. Will Longwitz (R - Madison) also offered one for consideration. I've written about why Longwitz's is a better approach over on the other blog: Sen. Will Longwitz's attempted murder bill.
This is quite adorable.
A new ad paid for by the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund was released on Saturday highlighting the fact that under Gov. Scott Walker's policies, the state of Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state. All of Wisconsin's neighbor states gained jobs -- as did 44 of 50 states overall -- yet Wisconsin lost 12,500 jobs during Walker's first year in office, three times as many jobs as second place Missouri lost. The ad highlights not only this record, but the other key things Walker did to cut jobs and aid his wealthy allies.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported:
Over the year, nonfarm employment increased in 44 states and the District of Columbia and decreased in 6 states?The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in Wisconsin (-0.5 percent), followed by Alaska, Mississippi, and Rhode Island (-0.3 percent each).
Walker also raised taxes on working families:
The 2011-2013 state budget that Walker signed (2011 AB 40) included a $56 million reduction in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) which will have the result of raising the tax burden on working families.
He also cut job-training funds and cut $1.5 billion in taxes for corporations:
Walker signed several bills, including the state budget that provided for tax breaks that take effect with the 2011-13 fiscal year. The net effect of those bills and the budget is to decrease expected state tax revenue by in the 2011-13 biennium by about $208 million.
The total ten-year cost of tax breaks passed in 2011 is $2.33 billion. [Legislative Fiscal Bureau, ?General Fund Taxes,? June 9, 2011]. The vast majority of these tax breaks ($1.575 billion) will benefit corporations.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin project that jobs will continue to leave the state, projecting that current policies will eliminate more than 20,000 additional jobs. Walker also canceled a planned high-speed rail line, scared off wind power investment in the state and cut unemployment insurance funds for working families temporarily hurt by the bad economy. All of these moves added to the job losses or pain felt by Wisconsin's working families.
I’m going to try to catch Think Like a Man this week, so I’ll be able to report back on whether this romantic comedy, which boasts a mostly-African American cast, is actually any good. But I am very, very curious to see how the coverage of it plays out over the next several weeks, and whether any projects get greenlit as a result. Think Like a Man was on track to make $33 million this weekend even though it only opened in 2,017 theaters, or $15,369 per theater. By contrast, uber-white The Vow, which starred Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, substantially bigger stars, opened with $41 million in 2,958 theaters, or $13,860 per theater.
So what’s the lesson going to be? Will it be that if you do the marketing right?a lot of the trailers were from the perspectives of the male characters rather than the women?men will turn out for romantic comedies? Apparently, audiences for Think Like a Man were 37 percent male. Will it be that romantic comedies with black stars can cross over? I haven’t found breakout data on the racial makeup of audiences, though the studio appears to be claiming that racial crossover is part of the movie’s success. Will it be that there’s pent-up desire for romantic comedies, or movies period, with black casts? That if you court black journalists, students at historically black colleges and universities, and similar outlets and constituencies, you’ll get exceedingly strong turnout for a movie that actually engages with the target audience rather than tokenizing it? Will it be that maybe it’s time to see if Michael Ealy and Romany Malco are viable romantic comedy stars? Hollywood was willing to do a fair amount of work with Tatum before he became both a box-office monster and started getting nice reviews from people who aren’t observant ladies like me. Maybe Ealy, Malco, and the other men in this movie have proved they’ve earned the same amount of patience?
I would be shocked if this was the movie that made the difference and made Hollywood wake up. But I’d like it to be really clear the lessons that they should take. No one should get to claim a passing grade because they burned all the copies of the test papers.
Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist has held most Republicans by the scruff of the neck during recent tax debates due to their having signed the ATR anti-tax pledge, which states that the signees will not vote for a tax increase any time, for any reason. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who received accolades from Norquist during his presidential run, is aiming to start a similar pledge in the Lone Star State:
Borrowing a page from anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist?s playbook, Perry said on Monday, ?Each and every member of the Legislature or anyone aspiring to become a member of the Legislature should sign on.? And right on the Governor?s website, individuals and lawmakers can sign on to the Compact: Yes, I stand with Governor Perry and I support his Texas Budget Compact. I want my state representatives in the Texas Legislature to sign on to Governor Perry’s Texas Budget Compact.
The compact calls for complete opposition to tax increases, as well as constitutional spending limits and restrictions on using the state’s Rainy Day Fund (which Perry previously plugged using federal money meant for education). While Perry isn’t personally tracking who signs his pledge, he said that outside organizations might.
Part of the compact calls for legislators to eschew budget gimmicks, even though Perry himself is quite fond of using such gimmicks to balance his budget. As Texas State Rep. Mike Villarreal said in a statement, “Governor Perry loves to talk about his principles in the abstract, but he doesn’t want to discuss the disabled kids who lose health services when he won’t close corporate tax loopholes, or the students crowded into full classrooms when he won’t touch the Rainy Day Fund.”
Fortunately, several lawmakers at the federal level have broken with Norquist and his anti-tax pledge. “I think anybody who doesn?t indicate their willingness to look at revenues ? expiration of tax loopholes, tax credits, increase in contribution to Social Security, which is a tax, and otherwise — would be disingenuous and irresponsible,” said GOP Rep. Timothy Johnson (IL).
While it's pretty safe to presume that more shoes will be dropping from the investigation, there's no reliable way to forecast when and from where these shoes might drop. The scandal itself has so many branches - from pay to play to illegal campaigning[...]
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Moderate Mitt reared his head on Monday afternoon to contradict his party. The Obama campaign was prepared to make this week all about House Republicans' refusal to extend lower interest rates on student loans, with Obama scheduled for campaign stops at college campuses Tuesday and Wednesday. But now they won't be able to paint Romney as the anti-student boogeyman. During his first media availability in more than a month, the presumptive Republican nominee called on Congress to extend the current interest rates. ?Particularly with the number of college graduates that can?t find work or can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,? he said.
Egads! This seems exactly like the scenario conservatives have feared all year. Now safely in the general-election cocoon, might Romney wildly deviate from right-wing dogma and betray the promises he made in the primaries? Not so much. Student loans were never a major concern for conservatives, receiving scant attention during the Republican primary, which let Romney coast by without catering to base instincts. The furthest he ever went in the primary was stating: "My best advice is find a great institution of higher learning, find one that has the right price, and shop around," while recommending ?serving the country? as a good way to offset some of the costs. In terms of Mitt Flops this one might not even crack the Top 25. When it comes to the issues near and dear to right-wingers, they have nothing to fear. Romney's emphatic statements on gay marriage, contraception, abortion, and taxes are all clearly aligned with far-right ideology. He'll duck toward the center on a few side issues, but etching away his past sketches won't be so easy on the issues that will drive the general election.
"I want to clean up the dirty water in which a lot of our kids are swimming. By that I'm not just talking about pollution, I'm talking about moral pollution. ? I want to make sure that every computer that goes into a home in the future has a button there or a place for the citizen, the parent, to be able to block all that pornography from their kids' internet screen."
?Mitt Romney in a 2007 speech unearthed by Buzzfeed
Three percent. That's the scant few who still expressed a favorable view of former presidential contender John Edwards as his trial began Monday.