The Romney camp can't seem to help itself when it comes to selectively editing what are actually endorsements of its candidate.[...]
Read The Full Article:
New Mexico mayoral candidate: The exotic dancer filmed gyrating in my office was just a setup courtesy of my opponent. [...]
Read The Full Article:
Click here to view this media
A bill passed by Republicans in the Utah House of Representatives would effectively ban comprehensive education about human sexuality, forcing schools to teach abstinence or nothing at all.
In all, 45 Republicans voted for state Rep. Bill Wright's (R) HB363, with 11 Republicans joining the 17 Democrats who opposed it, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The bill forbids advocating for "the use of contraceptive methods or devices," sex outside marriage or homosexuality. It also restricts teaching about sexual intercourse or erotic behavior.
Public and charter schools would have the option of developing an abstinence-only curriculum or skipping the discussion of sexuality altogether.
"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," Wright said in defense of the bill. "Why don?t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?"
One opponent, state Rep. Carol Spackman Moss (D), called the measure "immoral."
"You cannot speak of abstinence without talking to students about methods of birth control that are not certain, about protecting oneself from [sexually transmitted diseases] and all the things that can happen in a negative sense to a young person who engages in sex," she explained. "It?s really immoral not to teach kids about what the consequences are."
The bill now moves forward for consideration by the Utah Senate.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the state that ranks number one in online porn consumption.
This post contains spoilers through the February 23 episode of Parks and Recreation.
I hate to say this, because I adore Parks and Recreation, but increasingly, it feels like it’s showing its seams a bit. While the show’s exploration of how Leslie’s campaign is making her grow up and recognizing her limitations, and it’s finally found a way to turn Chris into a real person beyond his goofy quirks, the depiction of Ann’s become thin and inconsistent to the point that I dread it when she comes on-screen. When this show was hitting its stride last season, it was doing really nice work across the character spectrum. And I’m not sure why it’s lost that touch now.
Let’s take the good stuff first. While I agree with some of you that the way the show exposed Leslie’s insecurities during the campaign earlier in the season could be a bit hit-or-miss, I thought this episode was note-perfect. Leslie’s insanely competent, but it would be unrealistic for her not to have a breaking point at all. And campaign work and agency work use very different parts of your brain. And working through that realization brought out the best in the Leslie-Ron relationship?and for once, let Ron be right. “There’s an old lollipop that’s been stuck to the back since Tuesday,” Ron tells Leslie when she first tries to put off the idea of taking a sabbatical. “Thats the style now, Ron,” Leslie protests lamely (but ever-adorably). But after Leslie’s messed up everything from the maintenance report, to her campaign signs, to Jerry’s birthday, Ron gives her a heart-to-heart. “I used to work in a sheet metal factory,” he explains. “But then, a job came along at the tannery. the hours were better and I would get paid. Also, I have a chance to work with leather before and after the cow, which had always been a dream of mine. I didn’t want to give up my sheet metal job, so I tried to do both jobs and finish middle school.”
I thought there was a wonderful and subtle gender role-reversal at work here. Leslie is normally more professionally ambitious than Ron, a fact that’s generally a factor of her belief in government and his libertarianism, though it could also be explained as an inversion of the ambitious-dude, personal-life-oriented-lady dynamic. But here, Ron is counseling Leslie to find something approaching work-life balance. And he doesn’t let her negotiate up even five hours on maintaining her Parks Department commitments. We normally see Ron getting swept along on the force of Leslie’s enthusiasm, but here, he’s absolutely correct about what Leslie needs to do.
Then, there was Chris’s love affair with Champion. Parks and Recreation has done something wonderful with Chris in heartbreak?it’s rare in romantic comedies, or really any medium, to see a guy who’s been built up to be this handsome and talented be presented as also this vulnerable and slightly weird. And the tiny detail that he took Champion’s obedience class in German is perfect: a completely normal thing to do with one decidedly off-kilter element that makes the whole scenario fresh and funny. Seeing Chris be wildly enthusiastic about something other than fitness or government is also utterly charming. “He is a wonderdog!” Chris declares of the dog that even Andy’s sunny view of the world can never quite elevate. “He’s a mutt. Half amazing, half terrific.” His joy is sort of transformative?Chris has brought April out of her perpetual sulk, and now, he’s turning Champion into a better dog because of his faith in him and willingness to invest time and money in this poor three-legged dog.
Things that are not amazing or terrific? Ann’s relationship with Tom. Whether a couple cares about Ginuwine, or thread counts, or Paul Walker movies is totally irrelevant when there is absolutely no other plausible reason they would like each other as humans, much less date. This subplot is making me hate Ann, and like Leslie less for having her as a best friend. Especially because there are so many other things the show could be having Ann do. She is, after all, working in City Hall, a position that could put her in the way of valuable inside information for Leslie’s campaign. When the show isn’t doing campaign subplots, it could have the parks and public health departments work together. But the show has boxed Ann in, insisting that she’s totally incompetent when it comes to anything related to the campaign, marginalizing her jobs, and making her romantically pathetic. One of those choices could be a coincidence. Taken together, they feel like contempt.
One Tree Hill may be most famous as a television show that featured a dog eating a transplant heart. But off the set, some of its actors have decidedly sensible ideas. Sophia Bush is absolutely right on this one: “When we’re talking about the ’60s, when my best friend couldn’t drink out of the same water fountain as I can because his skin is a different color than me?Now, you’re talking about a different best friend of mine who can’t get married even though I could get married seven times in my life and he can’t do that because he is a different sexual orientation than me?! That’s absolutely a civil rights issue.” It’s always worth pointing out that opposition to marriage equality is a distraction from the real factors that are making marriage less attractive and less resilient.
At this very moment, Mitt Romney is holding an event at Ford Stadium which has failed to attract enough people to come even close to filling it up (in fact, you could fit Romney’s 1,200 person crowd in the 65,000-seat stadium 54 times over). His campaign scrambled to make the event look as full as possible, but largely failed. Photo via Byron York:
Meanwhile, during the same period in the campaign four years ago, President Obama held a rally at the massive XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut that attracted a few more people (the center is much smaller, with a capacity of about 16,000). A photo of the February 4th, 2008 rally via the blog Levers and Pulleys (click on image for full size version):
Two more Obama stadium rallies from February, 2008 via the Obama Flickr page. This one in Madison, Wisconsin on the 12th:
And Cincinnati, Ohio on the 25th:
A group of congressional Republicans defending the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will appeal this week’s District Court ruling against the law to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier this week, District Judge Jeffrey White, a George W. Bush appointee, found DOMA violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause because it denied benefits to gay and lesbian couples. Some justices on the Ninth Circuit have previously ruled that the law is unconstitutional, although those cases did not establish a binding precedent. The House of Representatives, led by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), is defending DOMA in court after the Obama administration said it no longer would. — Zachary Bernstein
Last week, on the three-year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e. the stimulus), the GOP went well out of its way to portray the plan as “an abject failure” that not only “failed to create the jobs that Americans were promised,” but also “made things worse.” But plenty of recent independent analyses have debunked that myth, including a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
According to CBO, between 300,000 and 2 million people who were employed in December owed their jobs to the stimulus. The Recovery Act’s impact on jobs peaked in 2010′s third quarter, when an estimated 3.6 million people were employed in jobs that were either saved or created by the Recovery Act. CBO also found that the stimulus:
– Raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 0.2 percent and 1.5 percent.
– Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.2 percentage points and 1.1 percentage points.
– Increased the number of people employed by between 0.3 million and 2.0 million.
– Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 0.4 million to 2.6 million. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers.)
The CBO also projects that in the first quarter of 2012, compared to what might have happened without ARRA intervention, CBO estimates the ARRA will raise the GDP by between 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent and will increase the number of people employed by between 0.2 million and 1.1. million.
The broad corporate tax reform plan released by the Obama administration this week included a provision for a minimum tax on corporate profits earned overseas, a rule aimed at preventing corporations from taking advantage of offshore tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. The U.S. loses billions of dollars a year in tax revenue because of corporations parking money in low- or no-tax countries.
Closing a loophole that could cost the U.S. $90 billion this year, however, isn’t popular among Republicans like Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. While Obama’s plan represents “a step forward,” it still double-taxes corporations who have to pay taxes both in the U.S. and in the country where foreign profits were earned, Camp claimed. Camp instead wants the U.S. to switch to a “territorial” tax system, in which companies wouldn’t pay any taxes on profits earned overseas, as he told NPR this morning:
CAMP: They don’t really address the territorial reforms that I think are so essential to make our companies competitive. [...] We tax them here and we tax them there. … This double taxation traps money overseas, and we think there?s about a trillion dollars that could be brought back to the U.S. and invested here — private money — that would really help get our economy going again. That’s a piece they didn’t include. … I hope we can develop into something that will do a better job making sure American companies that make profits overseas can bring those back and invest them in jobs for Americans.
Under current law, companies can defer taxation on profits earned overseas until they return the money to the U.S. Under the territorial system Camp wants, however, companies would never pay U.S. taxes on overseas profits. As Citizens for Tax Justice explained, this would obviously increase the incentive to shift profits overseas and to hide money in tax havens. “We should be able to agree that our tax system should not favor investment and job creation offshore over investment and job creation in the U.S,” CTJ noted. “Our current system does exactly that, and a territorial system could actually increase this bias in the tax code.”
The minimum tax on overseas profits, in contrast, would help shut down the tax havens that shield companies from American taxes and end one of the nation’s biggest tax expenditures. As the Center for American Progress’ Seth Hanlon has noted, corporate tax dodging through tax havens increases the tax burden on individuals and domestic businesses, worsens the country’s fiscal situation, and actually spurs overseas job creation. A minimum tax, in contrast, would combat this abuse without harming American economic competitiveness.
Yesterday, a George W. Bush appointed judge declared unconstitutional a Washington state law that, among other things, requires pharmacies to dispense birth control and emergency contraception. While it’s not impossible that the law should be blocked on very narrow grounds, Judge Ronald Leighton’s opinion overreaches in ways that could undermine many efforts to protect women’s health and potentially render religious objectors immune to the rule of law.
This lawsuit was brought by pharmacies and pharmacists who objected to dispensing emergency contraception on religious grounds. Yet, as conservative Justice Antonin Scalia explained in a Supreme Court opinion more than twenty years ago, a law does not suddenly become unconstitutional because someone raises a religious objection to it. Scalia explained that ?the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a ?valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).?? In other words, so long as a law does not single out people of faith for inferior treatment, they have to follow they same laws as everyone else.
Leighton, however, suggests that a law must also exempt religious objectors if it also contains exemptions that are unrelated to religion:
[A] pharmacy can decline to stock a drug for a host of secular reasons: because the drug falls outside the pharmacies? chosen business niche (i.e, it is a pediatric, diabetic, or fertility pharmacy); the drug has a short shelf life; the drug is expensive; the drug requires specialized training or equipment; the drug requires compounding; the drug is difficult to store; the drug requires the pharmacy to monitor the patient or register with the manufacturer; the drug has an additional paperwork burden; or simply that the pharmacy has a contract with the supplier of a competing drug. … A pharmacy is permitted to refuse to stock oxycodone because it fears robbery, but the same pharmacy cannot refuse to stock Plan B because it objects on religious grounds. Why are these reasons treated differently under the rules? Both pharmacies refuse and refer, both refusals inhibit patient access, yet the secular refusal is permitted and the religious refusal is not.
If were actually true that a law is unconstitutional because it contains some exemptions but none for religious objectors, than the entire federal tax code is unconstitutional. Federal law allows people to exempt themselves from part of their tax burden if they pay mortgage interest or donate to Planned Parenthood or have a child, but not if they have a religious objection to paying taxes. Indeed, even something as simple as basic traffic laws could be unconstitutional because the state allows emergency vehicles to drive over the speed limit but does not permit people who have religious objections to driving slowly to ignore traffic laws.
The tone of the opinion leaves little doubt where Leighton’s personal sympathies lie. At one point, he spends seven pages suggesting that the Washington law violates a doctrine known as “substantive due process.” It’s probably not a coincidence that this doctrine, which is widely panned by conservatives, also formed the backbone of Roe v. Wade. Indeed, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Leighton included these rather unconvincing seven pages a part of a subtle dig at Roe‘s defenders — especially because he claims that a law protecting emergency contraception could “compel medical providers to participate in taking a life.”
Towards the end of his opinion, Leighton does touch upon a plausible reason to rule against the law. He presents evidence that Washington did not require Catholic pharmacies to comply with its contraceptive access rule, but it did require persons with other religious objections. If this is actually true than Washington did violate the Constitution because giving special treatment to the members of one faith is unconstitutional. Leighton’s conclusion, however, is somewhat doubtful as the state offered the perfectly plausible explanation that it only enforces the law when someone files a complaint, and no complaints were ever filed against Catholic pharmacies.
In other words, Leighton took a case that, at worst, could have been decided on the narrow grounds that Washington might treat Catholic pharmacies differently than others, and blew it up into a sweeping attempt to give religious objectors sweeping immunity to the law. If the Supreme Court should someday follow his lead, it could give anyone sweeping power to immunize themselves from the law simply by objecting to it on religious grounds.