South Carlina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, the GOP gubernatorial hopeful of poor people are like "stray animals" infamy, says the real problem with immigration is "flat-out lazy" American workers who would rather kick back on welfare than take the jobs that brought the immigrants to this country.
As part of his argument, Bauer posed the rhetorical question: "Why do we have so many vacancies [for job openings]?" But as The State (via Ben Smith) points out, South Carolina has a 12.2 percent unemployment rate. That's not because people are lazy -- it's because the economy has been in recession thanks to the Republican policies of the Bush presidency. And now that the job situation is weak, the growth in undocumented immigrants has slowed.
If there's any laziness going on, it's not on the part of American workers: it's coming from American politicians (particularly in the GOP), who have time after time thwarted efforts to reform immigration policies.
(And I also posted here.)
A new Gallup Poll just out finds Obama's fifth quarterly poll score (Jan. 20-April 19) to be 48.8% job approval, down from his fourth quarter approval of 50.8%. Carter was 48% and Reagan 46.3%.
The average fifth quarterly score since Gallup began tracking it in 1945 is 54%.
One very slim sign of hope for Obama comes from a new ABC News poll that finds a few people believe the economy is getting even worse, now 30% versus a recent 36%. Alas, 92% still think the economy under Obama is in bad shape.
Here's something that would really annoy the current White House crowd if it paid attention to public opinion polls, which of course it doesn't, being so focused on doing what's right for the American people. But by far the best fifth-quarter presidential job approval in modern history was George W. Bush's 79.5%.
Hmmm, I?m having a bit of a problem with that recollection?
The State of the Union speech given by George W. Bush Tuesday night was among the most menacing and belligerent in American history. The US president outlined a program of limitless and perpetual warfare, on every continent, and against any regime that stands in the way of the rapacious American ruling class.And for anyone out there who thinks that this is merely recent history, read this and consider that it could be a case of the proverbial chickens coming home to roost.
From a military standpoint, the network of bases and access rights which the US has established since September 11 resembles more and more a noose tightening around China: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, the Philippines, and now the saber-rattling on the Korean peninsula.
As the British daily the Guardian noted Wednesday, ?Every twist in the war on terrorism seems to leave a new Pentagon outpost in the Asia-Pacific region, from the former USSR to the Philippines. One of the lasting consequences of the war could be what amounts to a military encirclement of China.? The newspaper cited the Pentagon?s Quadrennial Defense Review which, without naming China, warned of the danger that ?a military competitor with a formidable resource base will emerge in the region,? and called for a policy that ?places a premium on securing additional access and infrastructure agreements.?
The scale of US military ambitions is demonstrated by the gargantuan increase in the Pentagon budget that Bush proposed, a staggering $48 billion, an increase larger than the total military budget of any other country. And his call for every American to sacrifice two years in public service clearly suggests the logic of this program of unbridled militarism?the restoration of compulsory military service for the new generation of American youth.And in February 2002, "Old Europe," as Rummy once called it, decided to ?push back? (here)?
Bush's domestic policy centers on internal repression, building up the police and military at home. While the ?war on terrorism? is the pretext, the real purpose is to prepare to deal with massive social upheavals through the use of force. A government installed, not by a vote of the people, but by a 5-4 majority on the US Supreme Court, the Bush administration more and more rests on the army and the police and dispenses with the trappings of democracy.
PARIS, France -- A senior French government minister has attacked the U.S. approach to fighting terrorism as "simplistic."And in response the following year (to this and the fact that the French chose not to go along with Dubya?s Not-So-Excellent Iraq Adventure), two of our august members of Congress concocted this nonsense (including Bob Ney, who was eventually convicted in the Jack Abramoff scandal).
Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine told France Inter radio on Wednesday: "We are friends of the United States, we are friends of that people and we will remain so.
"But we are threatened today by a new simplism which consists in reducing everything to the war on terrorism.
"That is their approach, but we cannot accept that idea. You have got to tackle the root causes, the situations, poverty, injustice."
Vedrine said the U.S. was showing signs of acting "unilaterally, without consulting others, taking decisions based on its own view of the world and its own interests ... refusing any multilateral negotiation that could limit their decision-making, sovereignty and freedom of action."
In a White House press briefing, Bush's counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters that (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) was arrested in February 2002, and "at that point, the other members of the cell" (later arrested) "believed that the West Coast plot (to fly a plane into the Library Tower) has been canceled, was not going forward" [italics mine]. A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, "In 2002, we broke up [italics mine] a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast." These two statements make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got?an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush's characterization of it as a "disrupted plot" was "ludicrous"?that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn't captured until March 2003.However, that of course didn?t stop Dubya, as part of the drip-drip-drip of Terra! Terra! Terra! news to hopefully win allies as well as elections, from releasing these supposedly ?new details? in February 2006, noted here, suspiciously during a congressional midterm election year (the ?Bank Tower? is the proper name, even though former President Nutball incorrectly referred to the structure as the ?Liberty Tower?).
"September 11 really underscores the need to look at a full range of flexible options," noted David Smith, an author of a recent report by the National Institute for Public Policy supporting such a view (namely, that we?ve supposedly ?marginalized? nukes in the name of deterrence). "We don't believe that the current arsenal of the United States is persuasively deterrent to all comers." Advocates favor recalibrating nuclear weapons as part of an effort to strengthen deterrence and assure more effective results if such weapons are unleashed against a new range of post-Soviet targets. These new nukes, for example, would be smaller than the silo-busters in favor during the Cold War, and they would be fashioned to hit non-conventional targets located in depots underground or in caves. The Pentagon's Nuclear Posture Review leaked in early March 2002 confirmed the interest of the Bush administration in such new capabilities.Of course, this type of weapon had nothing to do with 9/11 (thank God), and Dubya?s request to fund new nukes was defeated in 2005 by a Republican congress, as noted here (and this tells us what Dubya?s sane successor has done by contrast).
Sen. John McCain's office was the stage for a sit in by five members of the Phoenix-based group HERO. The activists were demanding the Arizona Senator back a repeal of the US military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.[...]
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Wilbert Rideau who once offered "Conversations with the Dead" has been in the news a few times over the years. This week on CBS Sunday Morning he was back in the news and sounding so much better. "My name is Wilbert Rideau. And I guess the best way to[...]
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How can we fail them? How can a nation that relies on its miners not do everything in its power to protect them? How can we let anyone in this country put their lives at risk by simply showing up to work; by simply pursuing the American Dream?
- President Barack Obama, 4/25/2010
With those words, President Obama delivered a promise to the surviving families of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion: Your loved ones won't have died for nothing.
And with those words, the Massey Energy board of directors closed their ranks around teabagger Don Blankenship, beginning their own PR campaign to keep the government small, out of their mines, and out of their profit margins.
In a news conference in Charleston, company officials also pointed a finger back at the federal regulators who had repeatedly cited them for safety violations before an explosion killed 29 miners at Upper Big Branch on April 5.
They said that the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration had indirectly caused a reduction of fresh air getting to an area deep inside the mine by requiring the company to use a "complicated" ventilation plan that Massey engineers resisted.
Ventilation will be a critical issue in the investigation into the explosion. Experts believe that the blast may have been triggered by a buildup of gases such as methane, or flammable coal dust, inside the mine.
Mine ventilation systems are designed to take toxic or explosive materials out and bring fresh air in for miners to breathe.
The Massey officials, including chief executive Don Blankenship, said they still did not know what triggered the explosion. They released new data showing that, in the minutes before the blast, foremen deep inside the mine had reported finding very low or nonexistent levels of methane.
I'm still struggling to understand the logic they twisted to blame regulations on mine ventilation into a cause for methane buildup. More from their press conference:
On the dispute with federal regulators over regulation, the company said that MSHA inspectors had demanded changes "that made the ventilation in this area significantly more complex." As a result, "the volume of fresh air [getting to the area where coal was being mined] . . . was significantly reduced."
The company said that its engineers resisted making the changes, and even shut down production at the mine for two days, before eventually agreeing.
But when a reporter pressed Suboleski for details about the dispute, he demurred.
"I'm going to get us mired down in things," he said, adding that it would be easier to explain with a map of the mine, and more time. "It did make ventilation more complex . . . in some ways more difficult." (read more...)
And so it begins. There will be spin, counterspin, assaults on the union and assaults on our common sense. Is it any wonder that West Virginians don't place much hope in the idea that safety reforms will actually happen?
crayola tea party tea patiers tea baggers.[...]
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I'm avoiding the overwhelming desire to make a very cheap joke. From Greg Sargent:
Lindsey Graham, as you know, professed himself shocked and angry by the news that Democrats intend to move on immigration reform, prompting him to abruptly yank his support for climate change, potentially killing it.
But back in March, Graham told Obama that he wanted immigration reform to move this year, in order to dissuade the President from moving forward on health care reform. In a March 11 statement on his Senate Web site, Graham described a private meeting with the President on the issue this way.
The Supreme Court of the United States today agreed to hear the State of California's appeal in Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, concerning a state law which banned the sale or rental of violent video games to children.
California’s law defines a violent video game as one which depicts "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being" and also matches either of the boxes below:
(1) a reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find that it appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors; (2) it is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors, and; (3) it causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
Or the game:
Enables the player to virtually inflict serious injury upon images of human beings or characters with substantially human characteristics in a manner which is especially heinous, cruel, or depraved in that it involves torture or serious physical abuse to the victim.
Factors determining whether that latter definition has been met "include infliction of gratuitous violence upon the victim beyond that necessary to commit the killing, needless mutilation of the victim’s body, and helplessness of the victim.” The law required any such game imported into or distributed in California to “be labeled with a solid white ‘18’ outlined in black" to appear on the front of the package and be “no less than 2 inches by 2 inches” in size. Persons selling or renting these games to minors would be subject to up to a $1000 civil penalty.
The law has never been enforced, having been blocked by courts since its signing in 2005. Last February, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down the law (including Judges Alex Kozinski and short-listed Sidney Thomas, a significant ideological spread), rejecting California's efforts to expand the definition of obscenity-from-which-minors-can-be-protected from sexual content into violent content as well, then determining that this law was not the least restrictive means available to protect the state's proffered interest in protecting minors. Among other things, the panel noted that the nature of the harm was not an imminent one:
Throughout this litigation, the parties have disagreed as to what extent Brandenburg v. Ohio applies to this case. The dispute stems from the fact that one of the compelling interests advanced by the Legislature is the prevention of “violent, aggressive, and antisocial behavior.” One of the Legislature’s findings was that “[e]xposing minors to depictions of violence in video games . . . makes those minors more likely . . . to exhibit violent antisocial or aggressive behavior.” However, “[t]he government may not prohibit speech because it increases the chance an unlawful act will be committed ‘at some indefinite future time.’” It “may suppress speech for advocating the use of force or a violation of law only if ‘such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.’”
Nor could California prove that this legislation was narrowly tailored to meet the harms it was trying to thwart:
Whether the State’s interest in preventing psychological or neurological harm to minors is legally compelling depends on the evidence the State proffers of the effect of video games on minors. Although the Legislature is entitled to some deference, the courts are required to review whether the Legislature has drawn reasonable inferences from the evidence presented. Here, the State relies on a number of studies in support of its argument that there is substantial evidence of a causal effect between minors playing violent video games and actual psychological harm....
[Reviews the studies, and concludes:]
Nearly all of the research is based on correlation, not evidence of causation, and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology as they relate to the State’s claimed interest. None of the research establishes or suggests a causal link between minors playing violent video games and actual psychological or neurological harm, and inferences to that effect would not be reasonable. In fact, some of the studies caution against inferring causation. Although we do not require the State to demonstrate a “scientific certainty,” the State must come forward with more than it has. As a result, the State has not met its burden to demonstrate a compelling interest.
And less restrictive means remain available:
[T]he State argues that the ESRB rating system, a voluntary system without the force of law or civil penalty, is not a less-restrictive alternative means of furthering the Legislature’s purported compelling interest. Acknowledging that the industry has implemented new enforcement mechanisms, the State nevertheless argues that the ESRB does not adequately prevent minors from purchasing M-rated games.... the State does not acknowledge the possibility that an enhanced education campaign about the ESRB rating system directed at retailers and parents would help achieve government
interests.... The State appears to be singularly focused on the “most effective” way to further its goal, instead of the “least restrictive means,” and has not shown why the less-restrictive means would be ineffective.
In the wake of last week's 8-1 decision striking down the federal statute banning depictions of animal cruelty, it's a bit surprising for the Court to have taken up a similar case in which the lower court likely rendered the correct decision (and on which the Courts of Appeals are united). At the same time, however, we know this Court isn't a big fan of minor's free speech rights, and there may be some reticence about the extent to which the Ninth Circuit overruled California's elected officials on its factual findings.
The case will be argued sometime this fall.
As the oil spill continues unabated from the collapsed riser pipe left behind the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, the politicians begin their inevitable tepid response. Mary Landrieu scuttles for cover.[...]
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