Let's get something straight: we did not have a housing "bubble", in the usual sense of the word. The mainstream narrative of crazed, greedy, irresponsible homeowner-wannabes driving prices unsustainably high, causing the still ongoing crash is wrong.[...]
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While The Green Miles consumes politics like a grizzly bear consumes salmon, my girlfriend is a normal human being who pays attention to politics only occasionally. When one day she asked why I don't like Mitt Romney, I didn't want to come off as only hating Romney because he's on the Red Team and I'm on the Blue Team. So here's what I said.
First, the substance, which is pretty straightforward. Romney would raise taxes on the poor, slash taxes on the wealthy, do nothing for the middle class, and dramatically increase the national debt - and claims that would magically create jobs, an underpants gnome scheme if there ever was one. On energy, Romney's plan would be Bush-Cheney on steroids, giving even more control to polluting oil & coal companies and making even lower investments in clean energy. from the poor to give to the rich.
What's harder to convey is just how much Romney & his campaign are built on lies. Steve Benen has been chronicling how often Romney lies and the list runs into the double digits every single week - lies about himself, lies about his past positions, lies about President Obama. "At this point, the pattern here is obvious, and it?s clearly not an accident," wrote Greg Sargent. "And Romney and his team will remain secure in the knowledge that most of the media will politely look the other way as the Big Lies keep flowing, and will continue to treat them as just part of the game."
Rachel Maddow recently went in-depth on Romney's lies and how they define his candidacy (if you don't want to watch the Etch A Sketch intro, skip ahead to 6:25):
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Demographic change in Harlem has turned a historically black congressional district into one where black politicians have to actually compete for votes. As The New York Times reports, some members of the city?s black political establishment are unhappy about this:
[W]hoever wins this year, some black civic leaders worry that a black candidate would not be a lock to win the seat whenever Mr. Rangel leaves office.
"It certainly jeopardizes the future of this great tradition,? Mr. Paterson said, ?not only for the greater Harlem community, but for all of the many around the country who look to that venue for leadership on key issues.?
As someone who would prefer to see more African Americans in elected seats outside of the House of Representatives, I can?t say that I see this as a bad thing. Yes, when it comes to running for statewide office, there are still the disadvantages associated with representing a small, liberal district. But black politicians who have to compete for votes in diverse areas are black politicians with the political skills to compete outside of predominantly African American areas. And while competition isn?t great for the political establishment, it could?in the end?do more to further black interests and black representation than the super safe alternative.
It looks like, once again, Planned Parenthood is the target of a hidden-camera, actor-with-fake-questions sting operation. This time, instead of the good old pimps-n-hos routine, it's sex-selective abortion:
According to Planned Parenthood spokesperson Chloe Cooney, clinics in at least 11 states have reported two dozen or more "hoax visits" over the past several weeks, in which a woman walks into a clinic, claims to be pregnant and asks a particular pattern of provocative questions about sex-selective abortions, such as how soon she can find out the gender of the fetus, by what means and whether she can schedule an abortion if she's having a girl.Subtle! The anti-choice crowd's big new thing is that, in the words of National Right to Life president Carol Tobias, "the real war on women" is that "roughly half" of abortions "are performed on unborn girls." Since roughly half of pregnancies are girls, that makes a general sort of statistical sense, though since the vast, overwhelming majority of abortions are performed long before sex can be determined, it's absolutely beside the point when it comes to a war on women. But that claim is the new shiny toy of the right's attempts to distract us from the very real war on women they're waging, so coming up with a video suggesting that Planned Parenthood staff would advocate specifically aborting girls is just the sort of thing they'd think would be a major victory.
The best bet is that this sting attempt is the work of Live Action, this sort of thing being that group's raison d'etre. However:
Kate Bryan, a spokesperson for Live Action, would not confirm whether the group was behind the newest Planned Parenthood sting. "As you can understand, Live Action does not comment on any investigations until after public release," she said.Translation: As you can understand, Live Action will not comment on this until we've established whether our footage will allow us to edit together a sufficiently misleading video. If so, we'll release that sucker far and wide. If not, we'll never admit it was us.
Even though Planned Parenthood has blown the whistle before any misleading videos can be released, and even though the media should have learned by now exactly how full of lies videos from Live Action and other James O'Keefe imitators are, Planned Parenthood needs our help fighting off this kind of attack. Click here to donate to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund on Act Blue.
The Justice Department's star witness in the case against former presidential candidate John Edwards has complicated the prosecution of the North Carolina Democrat by reaching out to other witnesses in the case in a violation of the law.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles said that Young called three other witnesses in the last two weeks and that Edwards' legal team could mention the phone calls but not use the phrase "witness tampering," according to the Associated Press.
Young is expected to testify that Edwards was involved in the plot to use money from two donors to support Edwards mistress Rielle Hunter and the their daughter. Young had claimed paternity of Edwards' daughter in the midst of the scandal.
The defense team has also been banned from mentioning that a one night stand that Young had with another one of the witnesses back in 2007.
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Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman on Monday blasted the media and insisted he was taken out of context he after compared the Republican Party to the Communist Party of China.
Speaking at the 92nd Street Y in New York on Sunday, Huntsman recalled that he had been disinvited to a Republican fundraiser in Florida because he called for "some sort of third party movement," according to Buzzfeed.
"This is what they do in China on party matters if you talk off script," President Barack Obama's former ambassador to China explained.
Huntsman told MSNBC on Monday that his comments had been taken out of context because there was a lack of "responsibility in media."
"You get these blogs out there, you know, Bottom-feeder, Buzzsaw, Buzzfeed, whatever they are, and they take a sentence out of context and it becomes a headline and pretty soon mainstream newspapers pick up on that," he told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. "Give me a break."
"Last time I was on the show, I basically talked about a duopoly, and if the Republican Party doesn't go big and go bold and go visionary during a time of need, you know, you're likely going to have an alternative voice or a separate angle of attack that's going to knock it down. That's just the way the free market of politics works."
Huntsman continued: "Shortly thereafter, I was disinvited from a Republican fundraising event, [at] which I was to be a guest speaker. And so as we were talking about that last night, I said you know, if you're not on script and you get knocked out of an event like that -- the parties are supposed to be big tent, you're supposed to bring in all ideas. And I thought for a moment about what they do in China if you're off script, the party. They knock you out. We shouldn't be doing that here."
Mitt Romney goes severe.
This must be what Mitt Romney meant when he called himself "severely conservative": He'd slash budgets beyond the tea party's wildest dreams. While there's not an actual formal budget out of the Romney campaign, HuffPo's Andrew Taylor reviewed campaign documents and Romney's statements to get a fuller, bleak, picture of the Romney budget.
First and foremost, defense spending would be increased, while non-defense programs would incur "larger cuts than those called for in the tightfisted GOP budget that the House passed last month." More severe than Ryan? Yes, more severe than Ryan. He would cut $500 billion overall in his target year, 2016. He'd increase defense spending by $100 billion, so to make up that, and to prevent any Social Security and Medicare cuts to current beneficiaries (that's how he tries to protect himself from senior voters, putting cuts off to the next bunch), here's what would get slashed:
Like House Republicans, Romney promises to transform Medicaid into block grants for states and shed federal supervision of it. He would cap the program's annual growth to inflation plus a percentage point. His campaign says the approach would unshackle states to innovate and, by the end of a decade, cut costs by more than $200 billion a year.Ryan's budget would cut off as many as 27 million people?many of them children?from the program in the next decade. Romney's cuts are deeper.
Romney promises to immediately cut them by 5 percent. But they would have to be cut more than 20 percent to meet his overall budget goals, assuming veterans' health care is exempted. It's almost unthinkable that lawmakers would go along with cuts of such magnitude for air traffic control and food inspection or to agencies like NASA, the FBI, Border Patrol and the Centers for Disease Control.Republican lobbyist Jim Dyer says of cuts this drastic, "It's just not sustainable."
"There's good reason why Ryan's budget and the Romney budget don't have details," said Jim Horney, a budget analyst with the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy priorities think tank. "If people knew what it would actually have to be done to accomplish what they're saying should be done, it's hard to imagine there would be widespread support for it."
For any pundit out there who really thinks Romney is a moderate at heart, look at the budget he's proposing. It's to the right of the Ryan budget, where you run out of adjectives to describe the degree of extreme severity.
By Sarah Margon
The President outlined a number of important initiatives geared toward creating a more cohesive and effective government-wide strategy to combat atrocities. Some of these initiatives have been underway for some time — including the creation of the first-ever White House position dedicated to preventing and addressing war crimes and atrocities or the visa-ban issued to ensure human rights abusers do not enter the United States.
One of the newer initiatives the President announced today was the formal establishment of the Atrocities Prevention Board, or APB, created under the 2010 Presidential Study Directive which declared mass atrocities and genocide to be a ?core national security interest and core moral responsibility.? The APB, comprised of senior government officials across nearly a dozen government agencies, will meet regularly to help identify and address atrocity threats. It will also help manage the governmental bureaucracy — and recommend any necessary changes ?- to ensure a more effective and cohesive response. With its inaugural meeting later today, the APB emphasizes the centrality of atrocities prevention within President Obama’s foreign policy agenda.
Another notable new initiative is an executive order that authorizes sanctions and visa bans against those who commit or facilitate grave human rights abuses through information technology. For now this executive order is specifically related to the ongoing brutality in Syria and Iran but there is great potential for expansion, particularly because these sanctions target not just governments but companies who enable such abuse.
Taken together, these initiatives are long-overdue and welcomed tools. Of course, there is no ?one size fits all? model for preventing atrocities, particularly given different actors that are involved and varying methods employed to commit such abuse. As Obama spoke today, the situation in Syria continues to devolve rapidly and clashes between Sudan and South Sudan are escalating.
To ensure these policies have teeth and are around long after Obama leaves office, the administration needs to do a few key things, some of which have been highlighted for action under the APB. First, the explicit integration of genocide prevention with long-term conflict prevention, especially in light of the 2010 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, or QDDR, which elevated civilian protection and conflict prevention within the State Department and at USAID. While there are differences between the two, the nature of today’s conflicts means close coordination can help avoid interagency tensions and ensure that specific policies complement each other.
In addition, robust support for wider governance and rule of law programs ?- such as effective judicial and security sector reform ?- will be essential to help protect civilians over the long term as they mitigate the potential for atrocities and abuses to occur. A 2011 groundbreaking World Bank report on conflict, security and development noted that “strengthening legitimate institutions and governance to provide citizen security, justice, and jobs is crucial to break cycles of violence.” Currently our programs in this area are so weak they often undermine development and democracy promotion agendas.
Finally, expanded training for diplomats and development experts deployed to conflict or conflict prone environments can contribute significantly to defusing crises. The 2011 Failed States Index noted that 35 countries merit ?alert? classification — the highest level of vulnerability for collapse or conflict. As a joint CAP-Humanity United report noted, ensuring that government officials have the right training and skill sets may be only one piece of the puzzle but it is long overdue and can help guide smart policy making, whether on the ground or back in Washington.
Years of underinvestment in civilian tools have hindered the U.S. government?s ability to help prevent atrocities around the globe. By harnessing the power of multiple agencies and working closely with Congress to employ a full range of tools, the President can now accelerate his commitment to a more coherent and comprehensive response. A worthy goal, to say the least.
Our guest blogger is Karla Walter, a Senior Policy Analyst with the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
The Senate is expected to vote tomorrow on whether to block a commonsense rule that creates a standard process for union elections and gives workers a fairer way of choosing whether to form a union. Unions boost incomes for all middle-class households — union and nonunion alike — so this vote is an attack not just on workers who would like to join a union, but on the entire middle class.
The new rule is needed because there is currently no limit on employers? or unions? ability to demand a pre-election hearing on most any issue, which can be used to delay an election. Workers who want a union too often give up due to these delays. According to research by John-Paul Ferguson of Stanford Business School, 35 percent of the time that workers file a petition for an election, the election does not end up happening.
The National Labor Relations Board issued the rule last winter. Now, Senate Republicans and their conservative allies are bending the facts on what the rule does to suit their argument.
Katherine Lugar of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which petitioned the Senate for a vote on the rule, claims that it will have a ?dramatic effect on American businesses? ability to grow jobs.? But the idea that workers? rights and the NLRB are causing our economic problems is absurd. Unions are a shrinking factor in the economy, and when they were at their strongest, the U.S. economy was at its strongest. Moreover, the NLRB has been around for more than 75 years, during which the United States experienced tremendous investment and job growth.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), the main sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution 36 to block the union elections rule, is claiming it will ?force employees to make the critical decision about whether or not to form a union in as little as seven to 10 days.? But this is just plain wrong. The rule does not specify a time frame for elections, but rather it helps ensure that workers who want a union election get one by addressing roadblocks that commonly are thrown up when the NLRB attempts to set up an election.
Enzi?s inaccurate claims don?t stop there. He also asserts that employers will be required to turn over workers? email addresses and phone numbers to union organizers under the new rule. This is generally a good idea that allows organizers to communicate using modern technology, but it?s not a requirement of the final rule. A draft version of the regulations did consider these provisions, but the National Labor Relations Board did not include them.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has released a new report based on its epic study of transgender discrimination that focuses entirely on people who identify as genderqueer or are otherwise gender non-conforming. Simply because these individuals do not identity as specifically men or women, they face incredibly high rates of unemployment (76 percent), physical assault (32 percent), harassment by law enforcement (31 percent), and less frequent access to healthcare (36 percent).