The Maine Secretary of State has confirmed that enough signatures have been verified to allow a ballot initiative legalizing same-sex marriage to proceed this year. The necessary threshold was 57,277 signatures, but LGBT activists collected 85,216 verified signatures. This will officially be the first referendum that will ask voters to affirm marriage equality, rather than ban it.
In a speech today on energy policy at the University of Miami, President Barack Obama went off his prepared remarks to note that young people — including his daughters — seem to care more than his generation does about the fate of the planet:
Anybody who tells you that we can drill our way out of this problem doesn’t know what they’re talking about or just isn’t telling you the truth. Young people especially understand this, because, you know, it’s interesting. When I talk to Malia and Sasha — you guys are so much more aware of conserving our resources and thinking about the planet.
The president’s speech forcefully rejected the Republican idea that the solution to all of the world’s ills — including rising gas prices — is to drill, baby, drill. However, not once did Obama directly recognize the reality of climate change. The past burning of hundreds of billions of tons of fossil fuels is already degrading the safety of our planet for human civilization. To keep Obama’s own promise of limiting total warming to no more than 2°C, about 80 percent of proved fossil-fuel reserves will have to remain in the ground.
It’s no secret that the nation’s biggest banks have been trying to kill off the Volcker rule, the regulation named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker that is meant to rein in the banks’ riskiest trading. The banks, with the help of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), watered the rule down before it even became law, and have been heavily lobbying to make it even weaker ever since.
And according to Bloomberg News, the banks even ginned up foreign outrage against the rule, by first pushing regulators to include stricter restrictions on trading by foreign firms, and then getting foreign governments to oppose the rule because of those restrictions:
U.S. banks pushed regulators to widen proposed restrictions on trading and hedge-fund ownership by foreign firms, then encouraged governments around the world to complain about the rule?s reach.
The two-pronged lobbying strategy resulted in foreign officials joining U.S. lenders to push back against the Volcker rule, named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker and incorporated in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.
?The criticism of foreign governments on behalf of their banks is helping U.S. banks fight the rule,? said Anat Admati, a professor of finance at Stanford University. ?It also muddies the water, shifting the debate away from the main issue, which is reducing the risks banks impose on the economy.?
So the banks pushed for the rule to affect foreign firms more than it had, and then pushed foreign governments complain about the effect the rule would have on their banks. It’s a brilliant strategy to turn the focus away from the banks own malfeasance and to generate an ally where there hadn’t previously been one.
As ProPublica’s Jesse Eisenger noted, when it comes to the Volcker rule, “bank lobbyists with complicit regulators and legislators took a simple concept and bloated it into a 530-page monstrosity of hopeless complexity and vagueness.” And there’s no denying the need for a rule to prevent the sort of trading that the Volcker rule is supposed to prevent. As Donald van Deventer wrote in American Banker, “I can name at least four institutions that effectively ‘went under’ and required taxpayer support because of proprietary trading gone bad: Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Royal Bank of Scotland.”
The Volcker rule will undeniably hurt profits at the nation’s biggest banks. But that’s a feature of the rule, not a bug. As Reuters’ Felix Salmon put it, “These institutions should get smaller. These institutions should be less profitable. There?s no reason to believe that when that happens, the economy as a whole will suffer.” But in order to preserve their ability to gamble their way into oblivion the banks are doing everything that they can, including manipulating foreign governments into pressing for a less secure American financial system.
At a town hall meeting this week, Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) told constituents that in order to get the House GOP’s budget through the Senate, he would have to shoot a couple senators. According to audio obtained by TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro, Sullivan told the audience that he supported the GOP budget, drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) last year, but “other than me going over there with a gun and holding it to their head and maybe killing a couple of them, I don?t think they?re going to listen unless they get beat.” Sullivan’s spokesperson later apologized, offering “sincere apologies to anyone he offended and for using a poor choice of words to make his point.” Listen to the audio:
During last night’s Republican debate, rival candidate Mitt Romney attacked former Sen. Rick Santorum for endorsing pro-choice Republican (later turned Democrat) Sen. Arlen Specter over the more conservative primary challenger Pat Toomey. Santorum defended the endorsement claiming that he effectively traded the endorsement for a promise on judicial confirmations:
We had a conversation. He asked me to support him. I said “Will you support the President’s nominees?” We had a 51-49 majority in the senate. He said “I’ll support the President’s nominees, as chairman.”
Watch the exchange:
In an interview with radio host Michael Smerconish, Specter denied these allegations, stating that Santorum “is not correct. I made no commitment to him about supporting judges.” According to Specter:
That would have been the wrong thing to do. As chairman of that committee, I supported Roberts and Alito because I thought they were qualified for the jobs, but I made no deal. … There was no conversation where I made any commitment to him with respect to supporting any judges who hadn’t been nominated and whom I didn’t know about. I just didn’t do that and wouldn’t do that.
Given Specter’s long history of support for Republican Supreme Court nominees not named Bork and the two senators’ long record of mutual electoral support, Santorum’s accusations seem dubious at best.
Good grief! Take a few days off to tie up some medical loose ends and what do I see when I get back? The idiot wing of the GOP attacking... of all things... the girl scouts? Come ON people... how stupid do these moronic attacks against common sense have to be before even the dumbest and most ignorant among you realize your flipping buttons are being pushed by political whores who'll kiss your ass in public to get your meager little votes and then laugh their own asses off at you in private for being gullible enough to fall for anything they stick in front of you?
And why... of all the organizations they could have picked for this spectacular display of ignorance... did they pick the Girl Scouts? Is anyone really stupid enough to believe that the Girl Scouts of America actually promotes "abortion, paganism and homosexual lifestyles" as part of its official agenda.? Or... MORE likely... is the organization simply being trashed for not openly denouncing these positions loudly enough to suit the screechers among the ranks of ignorant southern males doing 99% of the screeching? Or... MOST likely... is this just another carefully manipulated facet of the attack on women in general that has always been an important plank in the radical Republican platform but because this four year election cycle... that started the very day we elected a black man to the White House... has already gone on long enough to exhaust the supply of the merely ridiculous thereby requiring the GOP to start flinging the sublimely so?
The kind of ignorance that allows one to come to the conclusion the the GSA is somehow a threat to the "American" way of life is not the kind of ignorance that can be blamed on a lack of information. Ignorant rednecks have exactly the same access to information and educational materials the rest of us have. Nor can it be traced to some form of disability, either physical or mental that would prevent these people from assimilating and processing this information in the same manner the rest of us do.
While recent studies have shown that a majority of the members of the more radically right sectors of the GOP and the Conservative movement in general may have lower levels of intelligence (as measured by traditional methods) and even some small differences in physical brain structure than their counterparts on the left, the differences... while they might affect the rapidity with which one is able to grasp the significance of the facts and figures being presented... would not seem to indicate a total inability to to do so at all.
So one is left with the conclusion that the ignorance so proudly displayed during days since the majority imposed a black president on the residents Neoconfederate States of America... the old Dixiecrat states... is the result of a wanton refusal of the right to acknowledge any and all considerations that do not actively and wholeheartedly support the existing preconceived agenda of the white male Christian power structure in this country.
Which simply means that any organization that promotes equality for women... no matter how innocuous or apolitical it might be... is a target. Not even necessarily because it might in some manner promote actual opposition to that WMCPS agenda but because it fails to fall in line and actually PROMOTE it and I'm guessing that the Girl Scout kerfuffle isn't going to be the last example of manufactured self righteous indignation coming from the right over the next eight months.
I'm just surprised James O'Keefe hasn't been busted (so far) wearing a green dress and a beret, attempting to infiltrate neighborhood Brownie meetings in the DC area. I guess Breitbart has been having an off week or something.
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If you saw the debate last night, you saw Ron Paul join forces with Mitt Romney to relentlessly attack Rick Santorum. Paul's most recent ad (above), as well, focuses on Santorum, giving Romney a free pass.
So what's he thinking? It's not as if a Santorum supporter would mosey on over to Paul. Paul has maxed out his support, and no implosion at this point will be worth a damn to him. So why so surrender his attacks on Romney to focus on Paul, both in paid media, and at last night's debat -- a tactic so transparent, that NBC's political chief Chuck Todd rhetorically asked, "Just what has Romney promised Ron Paul"?
This might have something to do with it.
Paul?s name has swirled as a possible pick that would give Romney points with the Tea Party. When asked directly what he would say if Romney made the offer, Paul tried to punt.Thin gruel, perhaps, but it's getting lots of attention today. And it sure would explain Ron's sudden singular obsession with Santorum.
?I don?t know if I can answer that question, but I can say it would be an honor to be considered,? he said.
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Utah, which hasn't really made it into the 21st century anyway, seems determined to roll itself further back. Just like the Republican party. In Utah's case, they're even taking a page from the GOP's presidential candidates, determining that the best way to protect our children from nasty things like sex is through ignorance.
A bill to allow Utah schools to drop sex education classes ? and prohibit instruction in the use of contraception in those that keep the courses ? moved significantly closer to becoming law Wednesday. The House passed HB363 by a 45-28 vote after a late-afternoon debate that centered largely on lawmakers? differing definitions of morality.Goodness knows we don't want anyone, particularly those of the female persuasion, getting away with sex. Which is almost exactly what we heard from the GOP candidates in Wednesday's debate when asked if they supported birth control:
"We?ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest," said bill sponsor Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden. "Why don?t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?"
SANTORUM: What we're seeing is a problem in our culture with respect to children being raised by children, children being raised out of wedlock, and the impact on society economically, the impact on society with respect to drug use and all?a host of other things when children have children. [...]We certainly know from centuries of history that keeping children ignorant and telling them to just not do that nasty thing, but not actually telling them what that nasty thing is, is the most effective means of preventing teen pregnancy.
ROMNEY: John, you know, I think as Rick has just said, this isn't an argument about contraceptives, this is a discussion about, are we going to have a nation which preserves the foundation of the nation, which is the family, or are we not? And Rick is absolutely right. [...]
And when we have programs that say we're going to teach abstinence in schools, the liberals go crazy and try and stop us from doing that. We have to have a president who's willing to say that the best opportunity an individual can give to their unborn child is an opportunity to be born in a home with a mother and a father. [...]
For all the concerned hair-pulling by the GOP establishment, this is the fight the rank-and-file of the GOP wants to have in 2012.