House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have taken every opportunity to tout the work that the GOP has done on jobs. From carrying around cards that lists the “more than 30 jobs bills” to bringing it up in every press conference or campaign ad, Republicans have been keen to publicize their jobs package in light of accusations that they are “do-nothing obstructionists.” However, expert economists who have analyzed the jobs package now say that the package has no meaningful impact on job creation.
In interviews conducted by The Huffington Post, five senior economists, including Gary Burtless, Mark Zandi, Carl Riccadonna, Joel Prakken, and Jesse Rothstein, have indicated that the GOP jobs package would accomplish nothing positive and would go so far as to even potentially damage the economy. According to Gary Burtless, a senior economist at Brookings, the notion that the Republican proposals might boost jobs is absurd and laughable:
A lot of these things are laughable in terms of a jobs plan that would produce noticeable improvements across the country in the availability of employment in the next four or five years. Even in the long run, if they have any effect at all, it would be extremely marginal, relative to the jobs deficit we currently have.
The economists interviewed agreed more with environmental advocates, who argued that the GOP proposals were more likely to kill people than create jobs, than they did with Republican claims that the bills would lead to job creation. Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, was concerned with the ramifications of environmental deregulation which would offset any new jobs — “If you increase employment but you have a lot more sick people, you have to ask yourself, ‘What’s the trade-off?’”
GOP antics were not lost on the senior economists. Each expert clearly expressed that they felt the Republican jobs plan remains much more a political maneuver than any earnest effort to combat unemployment. Carl Riccadonna, senior economist at Deutsche Bank, indicated that “jobs are a second- or third-order effect, not the main priority.” According to Jesse Rothstein, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, the jobs package is purely political fodder: “It’s game playing to try to pretend like they’re doing something,” he told HuffPo. “It’s silly season, and so they know they have to put up something that has the label ‘job creation’ on it, whether or not it would work.”
There are a handful of Members of Congress are trying to build momentum for greater federal gun regulation. Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Diana Degette (D-CO), as well as Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) held a press conference today on the topic, saying they aren’t afraid to stand up to the National Rifle Association. But, for the most part, Democrats and Republicans alike, especially those in leadership, have kept their lips sealed.
Some say now is not the time for gun legislation — that the country is still grieving — but with the violence guns can cause on the front of the public’s mind, maybe it’s the best time to start a conversation. Here are five ideas for legislation Congress could enact to help limit gun violence:
1. Regulate ammunition sales. “Everything that the [Colorado theater shooting] suspect did was legal,” says Andy Pelosi of States United to Prevent Gun Violence, “Which is scary, that you can acquire that type of firepower. I think we need to take a hard look at ammunition sales.” Currently, criminals can legally get their hands on high-capacity gun magazines and armor-piercing bullets over the Internet. Such ammunition is not needed for hunting, and unnecessary for nearly any exercise in self defense. In fact, as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out, those bullets are most dangerous for police officers. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has committed to reintroducing legislation that would regulate such ammunition clips.
2. Increase mental illness reporting. After the horrible shooting at Virginia Tech, the state changed the structure of reporting mentally ill patients to the gun registry, including those who seek outpatient mental health services instead of just those who have been committed. Just four years out from when the law was passed, the number of mentally ill people who are blocked from obtaining a firearm in Virginia doubled. Other states haven’t been so vigilant. In fact, many states are incredibly slow to report even those mentally ill people who check in for inpatient services.
3. Background checks, every time. Gun law advocates know that the shooting in Colorado isn’t an isolated incident. Pelosi told ThinkProgress that “30 people are killed a day from guns, and many of those are purchased illegally.” Mayor Bloomberg has called on legislators to close loopholes regarding background checks, especially at gun shows. The gun show loophole and private sale loophole allow people to circumvent the regular requirements to check on the mental health and criminal record of gun purchasers. Only 17 states have such laws in effect (Colorado is one — they closed the loophole by ballot initiative in 2000), but Congress has taken no federal action to follow suit.
4. Restrict mail-order sales, step-up reporting. From 1968 until 1986, ammunition was regulated, and the mail order sale of bullets was illegal. Then, the NRA lobbied to have the law changed. When the Mcclure Volkmer Act passed, mail order sales were legalized, record-keeping requirements were repealed, and ammunition was deregulated. That was before the Internet age anonymous online ordering. Now, someone can purchase 6,000 rounds of ammunition in just a “few keystrokes.” The alleged gunman in Colorado never came face-to-face with a salesman when he bought his bullets and ballistic gear. However, a gun range owner described a “bizarre” encounter over the phone with the suspect that prompted the man to bar him from using the gun range. In the age of Internet anonymity, there are less opportunities for someone to monitor erratic behavior or sense ulterior motives.
5. Ban assault weapons. The alleged gunman in the Aurora theater used a gun that, until 2004, was illegal. That’s when Congress allowed the assault weapons ban to expire, opening the market up for powerful weapons. Assault weapons are too powerful to use for hunting exercises, and it’s hard to imagine a self-defense situation that would warrant such a powerful firearm, the civilian equivalent to the military’s M-16. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has called on her colleagues to reinstall this ban.
Left to their own devices, people with severe mental troubles who want to hurt others will usually find a way to do so. The government will never be able to prevent every incident, every place in the country from happening every time. But there are certainly ways that the government is able to limit the loss of life, help the troubled perpetrators, and ensure that psychopaths cannot have absolute free reign — all without taking away the right of an average, sane citizen to own a firearm.
“The vast majority of Americans, including those who are members of the NRA, support common-sense safety reforms like background checks for all gun purchasers,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) today. “After Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Ft. Hood, and Tucson surely American is ready to have a conversation about how we can reduce the number of gun deaths in our nation.”
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-3 that high school graduations held in a church violate the constitution. The case concerned graduations held in Elmbrook Church, a non-denominational evangelical church in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
A panel of the 7th Circuit ruled last year that holding graduations in the church was not unconstitutional but the full court disagreed, ruling that the symbols present in the church, including a large cross, amounted to a government endorsement of a particular religion.
“The same risk that children … will perceive the state as endorsing a set of religious beliefs is present both when exposure to a pervasively religious environment occurs in the classroom and when government summons students to an offsite location for important ceremonial events,” Judge Joel Flaum wrote for the majority.
The ruling marks a far-reaching victory for the organization Americans for the Separation of Church and State, which filed a lawsuit three years ago alleging the ceremonies were unconstitutional.
“The decision makes clear to public schools that it’s not appropriate to hold graduation ceremonies in venues festooned with religious symbols,” the group’s executive director, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, said in a statement.
While a parent was the first one to object to the Elmbrook School District’s decision to move graduations to the church, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State all also objected. Americans for Separation of Church and State filed a federal suit against the district in 2009.
The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause forbids the government from establishing an official national religion and prohibits favoring one religion over another or over non-religion. The school district is considering appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Rep. Chris MurphySix years ago, we defeated Joe Lieberman in a Democratic primary in Connecticut because of his support for the war in Iraq. It was a watershed movement for us as a movement, and for the Democratic Party?which realized that it could safely oppose the Iraq War, and it rode that opposition to big victories that November.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to finish off Lieberman that November, and his reelection as independent in a three-way contest allowed him to continue watering down the Democratic agenda and otherwise being a thorn on our side.
But last year, with other Democrats demurring, Rep. Chris Murphy stepped up and promised to finish off what we started in 2006. Not long afterward, Lieberman announced his retirement.
We are almost done with our task. Sure, Lieberman can now take his Fox News schtick into retirement, but we now need to replace him with a true progressive Democrat, we need need to make sure that Chris Murphy becomes the next U.S. senator from Connecticut.
As we talk of upgrading the Senate, few seats present a clearer opportunity.
Chris Murphy first won his seat in Congress in 2006 by defeating a 24-year Republican incumbent with an anti-war message. In fact, Murphy's grassroots campaign defeated the best-financed Republican in America. In Congress, he hasn't backed down on key issues like the public option, even when his fellow Democrats were running for cover. It's one reason he survived a fierce challenge during the Citizens United-fueled Republican wave of 2010.
If we are going to build progressive power, we need to make sure that a real Democrat like Chris Murphy replaces Joe Lieberman in the Senate, where he can bolster Sens. Sherrod Brown, Barbara Boxer, Al Franken, Sheldon Whitehouse, Ben Cardin, Bernie Sanders and others in the chamber's progressive wing.
That's why I'm proud to add Chris Murphy to our Orange to Blue fundraising effort. And lest anyone think that this is a gimme race in indigo Blue Connecticut, we can't be complacent. Murphy will face off in the general against Linda McMahon (who we saw a lot of in 2010). And just like last cycle, she's spending tens of millions trying to buy her way into the Senate.
Let’s get one thing straight. Eddie Robinson has the most wins in college football. Something has been really bugging me lately. Since the NCAA has punished Penn State and took 111 wins from Joe Paterno I have been listening as talking heads talk about how Bobby Bowden now has the most wins in college football. [...]
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Besides pledging his unconditional support to the government of Israel and reiterating his willingness to use force against Iran, Mitt Romney didn?t actually offer foreign policy ideas in his speech this afternoon to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
What he did do, however, was denounce President Obama?s foreign policy in the strongest terms possible. In particular, he attacked the administration?s opposition to missile defense, its willingness to accommodate and work with Russia?which he has deemed our ?number one geopolitical foe??its unwillingness to take a belligerent stance towards Venezuela, and its refusal to intervene in uprisings across the Middle East, from the 2009 Green protests in Iran to the recent events in Egypt and Syria. He promised to take a hard stance against China, and presented Obama as an avatar for American decline and weakness:
I will not surrender America?s leadership in the world. We must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might.
This is very simple: if you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your President. You have that President today.
Romney?s substantive problem is that his preferred outcomes would have involved significant American interventions across the globe, in countries ambivalent about or hostile to the United States. Romney?s promise to disregard the minimal caution of the Obama administration?which has been quite interventionist?is essentially a promise to embroil the U.S. in a greater number of costly conflicts. Romney is promising to repeat the performance of George W. Bush?s first term, which is a recipe for disaster.
As for his political problem, this speech might appeal to the Republican base?which still craves a belligerent foreign policy?but it?s absolutely alienating to the large bulk of the public, which doesn?t have an appetite for increased military spending or further intervention. Moreover, the public broadly supports Obama?s foreign policy decisions. In a May poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, 51 percent of Americans said they approved of Obama on foreign policy. Likewise, in a poll from the Associated Press, 64 percent and 53 percent said they approved of Obama?s handling of terrorism and Afghanistan, respectively. Moreover, the idea that Obama is ?weak? just doesn?t ring true to most Americans, given the killing of both Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi.
The simple fact is that Romney has little to gain from highlighting foreign policy. His experience is nonexistent, and his belligerence?including his opposition to withdrawal from Iraq last year?leaves him open to a plethora of attacks from the Obama campaign. Put another way, the more Romney focuses on foreign policy, the more he puts himself in a position for Obama to question his fitness as a potential commander-in-chief.
Mitt has the magical power to delete anything he considers inconvenient, even retroactivelySo yesterday we learned that despite Mitt Romney's pledge to run the most transparent Olympic Games in history, the archival records of the 2002 Winter Olympics are either under lock and key at the University of Utah's Marriott Library or have been completely destroyed. Now the Boston Globe reports:
But some who worked with Romney describe a close-to-the-vest chief executive unwilling to share so much as a budget with a state board responsible for spending oversight. Archivists now say most key records about the Games? internal workings were destroyed under the supervision of a staffer shortly after the flame was extinguished at Olympic Cauldron Park, after Romney had returned to Massachusetts.But don't worry, Mitt Romney had nothing to do with that, because according to the campaign, he no longer worked at the Olympics:
?Transparency? There was none with [the Salt Lake Organizing Committee] when he was there,? said Kenneth Bullock, a committee member who represented the Utah League of Cities and Towns. ?Their transparency became a black hole. It was nonexistent.?
According to Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul, ?Mitt Romney resigned from SLOC in early 2002 to run for governor of Massachusetts and was not involved in the decision-making regarding the final disposition of records.?Well isn't that convenient ... Romney isn't to blame because he'd retired. Retroactively, no doubt. Is there nothing that he'll take responsibility for?
The Critical Metals Report: Investors need to identify profitable projects in this space. What does it take to produce rare earth elements (REEs) at a healthy profit?
Alex Knox: Above all, a project . . . → Read More: Three Steps to Rare Earth Mining Success: Alex Knox
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You know that guy who is on that morning cartoon show, Fox & Friends? Not Doocy, the other one ? the guy with the little squinty eyes and the drive-in theater screen forehead? Yeah, that guy ? Well this morning they let him do an interview all by[...]
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Chick-Fil-A accuses Henson Company of making unsafe toys.This photo was posted by Wipe Out Homophobia on Facebook group with the caption:
WHAT A COINCIDENCE !!!!!!The sign explains to Chick-Fil-A customers that a Muppet giveaway toy is no longer available because there were "safety issues." It reads:
We apologize for any inconvenience but as of 7/19/12 Chick-Fil-A has voluntarily recalled all of the Jim Henson's Creature Shop Puppet Kids Meal toys due to a possible safety issue.Wipe Out Homophobia's caption is an ironic commentary that this is not, in fact, what is really going on. On July 20, the Henson Company publicly announced they were severing their ties to Chick-Fil-A in protest of their political activism on the issue of LGBT rights. This includes not only President Dan Cathy's incendiary rhetoric, but over $3,000,000 dollars in donations to groups on Southern Poverty Law Center's hate groups list.
The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD. (http://www.glaad.org/)It's one thing to see a "Christian" company misleading their customers with lies.
It's quite another than they are libeling the products of the Henson Company as being unsafe for children to play with. It seems to me it be quite damaging to Henson's business to acquire a reputation for creating toys that have "safety issues."
Am I right?
Update: Sources tell me that this photo is from the Willow Bend store located in Texas. Reportedly "safety problems" was the explanation servers were given to explain to parents why the toys would no longer be available.