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If you're too young to remember Gilligan's Island don't worry. It doesn't matter and anyone who reads DWT already knows Mitt Romney was born into the 1% and has made himself an icon of that set. But the video above will give you a little idea about ole Thurston; too bad he wasn't named Willard. But this is a serious post and I'm going to stop clowning around... right now!
With the Euro-- if not the whole Eurozone-- circling the toilet, Obama, at least for domestic consumption, says "we're" not bailing their banksters out. We'll see who underwrites the IMF.
The annual meeting between U.S. and European Union officials came amid growing fears over the future of the euro. Experts say that without drastic action, the euro could be days away from collapsing, a scenario that could cause more financial damage to the already shaky American economy.
While Obama offered no specifics on how the U.S. may be willing to assist Europe, he said failing to resolve the continent's debt crisis could damage a U.S. economy saddled with slow growth and 9 percent unemployment.
"If Europe is contracting, or if Europe is having difficulties, then it's much more difficult for us to create good here jobs at home," Obama said at the conclusion of the day-long summit.
While Obama has offered support to his European peers, the U.S. believes the Europeans have the financial capacity to solve the debt crisis on their own.
Germany is the only country in Europe that can act to save the eurozone and the wider European Union from ?a crisis of apocalyptic proportions,? the Polish foreign minister warned on Monday in a passionate call for more drastic action to prevent the collapse of the European monetary union.
...Yet their calls were met by a stubborn insistence in Berlin that only EU treaty change to forge a ?stability union? in the eurozone would revive confidence in the markets.
Wolfgang Schäuble, German finance minister, rejected calls for the European Central Bank to act as a ?lender of last resort? in the eurozone, and for the introduction of jointly guaranteed eurozone bonds to relieve the pressure on the most debt-strapped members of the common currency such as Greece and Italy.
Germany was not big enough to support the rest of the eurozone on its own, Mr Schäuble told foreign correspondents in Berlin. The way to win back the confidence of the markets was to complete monetary union with a ?stability union? based on strict budget discipline enshrined in the treaties of the EU.
In a startling comment for a senior Polish minister, Mr Sikorski declared that the biggest threat to his nation?s security was not terrorism, or German tanks, or even Russian missiles, but ?the collapse of the eurozone."
?I demand of Germany that, for your own sake and for ours, you help it survive and prosper,? he said. ?You know full well that nobody else can do it. I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity. You have become Europe?s indispensable nation.?
Yet he backed Germany?s drive for deeper integration in the EU and the eurozone. The member states faced a stark choice between ?deeper integration or collapse,? he warned, challenging the UK government to support reform, or ?risk a partial dismantling? of the union. ?We would prefer you in, but if you cannot join, please allow us to forge ahead,? he said.
His call for the EU member states to decide whether they wanted to become ?a proper federation? is in line with the German government?s insistence that only much closer political integration is essential to underpin the existing rules of the eurozone.
An extreme and growing concentration of privatized wealth and power divides the world between the profligate and the desperate, intensifies competition for Earth's resources, undermines the legitimacy of our institutions [Europe's too-- big time], drives an unraveling of the social fabric of mutual trust and caring, and fuels the forces of terrorism, crime, and environmental destruction.
...As Wall Street exported its modernization plan to the world, the wealth gap widened almost everywhere. The export process began with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund [IMF] encouraging poor countries to fund their development with foreign borrowing. Local elites loved the access to cheap credit and the opportunity to skim off fees and bribes. Foreign contractors got lucrative contracts for large loan-funded projects. And big banks had new customers for loans. It was a win-win all around-- except for the poor who only got the bill.
After the borrowing countries were loaded up with loans far beyond their ability to repay, the World Bank and IMF stepped in as debt collectors and told them:Sorry, but since you can't repay, we are here to restructure your economies so we can get back the money you owe us. Eliminate social spending. Cut taxes on the rich to attract foreign investment. Sell your natural resources to foreign corporations. Privatize your public assets and services. Gear your agriculture and manufacturing to production for export to subsidize consumption in rich countries. [Of course they didn't use the term subsidize. They probably talked about comparative advantage.] And open your borders to foreign imports...
Almost every element of the ?structural adjustment? worked to the favor of global corporations.
Eventually the Wall Street players realized they could use multilateral trade agreements to circumvent democracy and restructure everyone's economy at the same time. It worked brilliantly.
I've cast my memory back as far as I can, and I cannot recall a major politician of either party who causes so many members of his party to spit (metaphorically, one hopes) at the simple mention of his name. And this is not a recent phenomenon. One of the few insights worthy of anyone's time in that horrible Game Change book was the fact that, by the end of the 2008 presidential cycle, all of the other Republican candidates had come to despise Willard. (John McCain was apoplectic on the subject, even by McCain's standards, which are considerable.) This now has seemed to transfer itself to the Republican electorate in general. Nobody likes this guy. To hell with drinking a beer with him. If they'd got stuck in a bar with Willard, the only way they'd drink hemlock with the man is if he let them go first.
On the surface, this elemental loathing seems disproportionate, even if you take into account how much of the GOP's Jesus-jammin' base distrusts the extended coven into which Romney was born. As governor of Massachusetts, Willard was relatively unobjectionable. He wasn't as much fun as Bill Weld and his amber-colored liquids, or Paul Cellucci and his love of the track, to name only two of his immediate elected Republican predecessors. But nobody much minded him, especially when he sort of gave up on the job midway through his one term. Now, it is true that Willard is something of a foof who spends all his time falling a few yards short of sincerity. He speaks a form of trust-fund English that can be off-putting. He is as utterly unprincipled as a politician can be, and he's about as trustworthy as a puff adder. None of these are an automatic disqualification for a presidential candidate. Even taken together, they add up to little more than Newt Gingrich with a silver spoon in his jowls. There has to be something more at work here.
As I've said, I've thought long and hard about this. Obviously, people in one party can work up a good hate for candidates in the other party. But, as far as hating one of their own the way so many Republicans hate Willard, and in the way they hate him, I can't come up with a relevant parallel. Bill Clinton was pretty slick, and some Democrats distrusted him for it, but, when Newt and the impeachers made a federal case out of Clinton's penis, Democrats largely rallied around it, and him. There was a lot of anger aimed at George H.W. Bush, when he helped save the economy by going back on his 1988 acceptance speech, thereby making Peggy Noonan out to be a liar, but I never got the sense that it was as personal as the anger at Romney is. (The elder Bush, it should be noted, was sufficiently patrician to make Romney sound like a member of P-Funk, but I digress.) Republicans didn't like Nixon much, but then, it should be said, nobody really did, which was half the problem. (Dislike was the white noise of Richard Nixon's entire life.) A lot of Democrats really, really hated LBJ, but it took an entire bloody war to do that. All Romney's done is change his position on a whole host of issues, and talk like the guy who's come to repossess the family farm.
On average Romney's favorability with primary voters was 54/25 in these 13 places at the begininng of the year. Now it's only 50/35. His problem is partially that his positives have gone down but more than that it's that as his name recognition has increased, most folks moving off the fence have gone into the negative column.
What's most remarkable about the decline in Romney's popularity is how uniform it's been-- he's less popular now than he was at the start of the year in all 13 places where there are polls to compare. And in 11 out of the 13 places that decline in his net favorability has been at least 14 points-- the only places with more modest declines are Maine and North Carolina.
This is why as Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry and Herman Cain have risen and fallen Romney hasn't seen any increase in his support-- GOP voters just simply aren't warming up to him at all-- in fact they're going in the other direction.
Cain has done more than enough to get a good gig at Fox and big bucks on the Republican speaking circuit.
Online sales yesterday hit a new record for “Cyber Monday,” the Monday following Thanksgiving when online retailers have, in recent years, been boosting their efforts to take a larger chunk of the post-Thanksgiving shopping binge. According to data from Corelogic, online sales yesterday were up 33 percent over 2010, and more than $1 billion in merchandise was sold. The average online order value was $198.26.
While this may be good news for retailers, it’s bad news for state budgets. As Matthew Gardner of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy noted yesterday, many online retailers are able to use a tax loophole to avoid collecting sales taxes, depriving states of badly needed revenue:
The National Retail Federation predicts this holiday season, 36 percent of all purchases will be made online. But too many of these purchases will be tax-free, due to an unfortunate loophole allowing e-retailers to shirk their role in helping states collect sales taxes — which cost states $10 billion last year alone, according to researchers at the University of Tennessee.
More tax-free sales mean fewer tax dollars for states — not to mention the consumer dollars that won’t circulate in our local economies because the current system rewards online shopping with out-of-state businesses.
The Supreme Court has ruled that retailers only have to collect sales tax in states where they have a physical presence. That ruling was handed down in 1992, before the rise of e-retailers, yet has allowed companies like Amazon.com to undercut competitors by not collecting sales tax. When lawmakers attempt, as many have, to close this loophole and force Amazon to collect sales tax, it has threatened to simply leave those states.
According to the latest Fiscal Survey of States by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers, state budgets have improved slightly since the beginning of the Great Recession, but states “still face a dire fiscal situation.” The revenue generated from online sales could certainly help, but a pernicious tax loophole with no public policy purpose is depriving states of those dollars, forcing them to cut ever deeper into programs upon which people depend.
The Tennessee Tea Party demonstrated yesterday that it has no reservations taking “bold” stands on social issues. Responding to the announcement that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) would not seek reelection, the organization tweeted the following:
“Good riddance you perverted sodomite POS!! fb.me/1emMURmJa“
The Tea Party has long claimed to not take sides on social issues, and LGBT issues have been absent from Tea Party-organized presidential debates. Nevertheless, some tea party groups have made their anti-LGBT stances quite vocal: opposing same-sex marriage, defending ex-gay therapy, and supporting the repeal of a California law that makes education LGBT-inclusive.
The Tennessee Tea Party’s own mission statement speaks to the financial accountability of government, and its “Core Objectives” make little reference to social issues.
President Obama has been criticized heavily for not doing enough to stand up to the vicious blitz on climate science. He’s also being attacked aggressively on the right for using his presidential powers to act on environmental issues outside of Congress.
So where does he stand? For those who’ve seen the words “climate change” disappear almost entirely from the President’s lips, he’s been a huge disappointment ? even a failure, as Climate Progress editor Joe Romm wrote after the collapse of a comprehensive climate bill. And moving into this week’s climate talks in Durban, the lack of action in the U.S. has substantially reduced the country’s credibility.
But Carol Browner, Obama’s former “Climate Czar” who worked within the Administration to get a climate bill passed, believes the President’s record will be judged on his full range of initiatives, including what he’s been able to do outside of the deeply-dysfunctional Congress.
In an interview on the Climate Progress podcast, Browner shares her perspective on Obama’s environmental record. She points to initiatives like greenhouse gas standards for cars, power plants and oil refineries; clean energy investments from the Recovery Act; and mercury standards from power plants ? all being developed during a time of deep hostility to any sort of environmental regulation.
“I would encourage, and I have encouraged my friends in the environmental community to look at the President?s record from day one…. If you look across the two and half/three years of the President?s tenure, what you see is a very, very strong commitment to both environmental protections, and investments in clean energy, and the regulations to create the market opportunities for investments in clean energy technologies.”
Browner was also the longest-serving Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, staying with the Clinton Administration under both terms. So she’s experienced first hand the attacks on environmental regulations, particularly during times of economic stress.
In this podcast, we’ll talk to Browner about why economic progress and strong environmental standards are not mutually exclusive. She’ll also describe why she’s optimistic about the future of clean energy in the U.S., even with a growing political movement to discredit the sector.
Our podcast is now on iTunes. Just go to iTunes and search for Climate Progress, and you can subscribe for free. Any time we upload a new episode to our feed, it will download straight to you.
In the wake of NATO’s attack on Pakistani troops this week, Pakistan’s military spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas said in an interview today with France24 that he doesn’t “really know” if Pakistan will end its cooperation with Atlantic Alliance. Abbas said his country’s military leadership “is deciding” how to proceed but added he does not think the relationship will be cut off completely. Watch at 2:49:
“What may I help you with?” So begins Siri — the unique voice-activated assistant of the iPhone 4s that promises to deliver accurate and tailored answers for your every need. Unless you’re a woman in search of health services like birth control, emergency contraception, abortion, or even mammogram tests. Then the interactive search wizard draws a blank.
As RH Reality Check notes today, Siri “appears to have a blind spot” when asked a few simple, even standard reproductive health questions like “Where can I go to get an abortion?” or “Where can I go for birth control?”:
Q: I am pregnant and do not want to be. Where can I go to get an abortion?
?I?m really sorry about this, but I can?t take any requests right now. Please try again in a little while.?
?Sorry, [my name], I can?t look for places in Tanzania.?
?I don?t see any abortion clinics. Sorry about that.?
Q: I had unprotected sex. Where can I go for emergency contraception?
?Sorry, I couldn?t find any adult retail stores.? This was repeated every time.
Q: I need birth control. Where can I go for birth control?
?I didn?t find any birth control clinics.? [This was repeated every time I asked about birth control, all three times. This is also the answer given when I asked, ?What is birth control??]
When ThinkProgress tried to independently verify Siri’s results on these questions, the responses were largely consistent with what other users reported. Searching for “abortion clinics near me” in D.C. yielded only two results — one “crisis pregnancy center” 24 miles away and another 74 miles away, in Pennsylvania. There are several clinics much closer that offer actual abortion services. Siri offered no results for “where can I find birth control?” or “women’s health clinic,” but she would locate Planned Parenthood centers if asked directly. More disturbingly, Siri would not respond to pleas for help for sexual assault or rape clinics, and services for emergency contraception.
As ThinkProgress has reported, CPC’s that claim to help women in need are actually established by anti-abortion activists with the sole objective of shaming women out of having abortions. Despite receiving federal and state funding, they have a history of preying on and misleading pregnant women seeking abortions and giving them false medical information.
Siri’s unhelpful and sometimes misleading answers to pressing health questions stand in stark contrast to her prompt and accurate responses to inquiries about nearby escort services. Despite the fact that prostitution is illegal, Siri obligingly located Charming Cherries escort service just a few blocks away.
This is not to say that the Siri software is specifically programmed to ignore relevant information. Siri utilizes the Wolfram Alpha answer-engine “that answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from structured data, rather than providing a list of documents or web pages” like Google and other search engines do. It is unclear whether the Wolfram Alpha and other services Siri relies on is selectively choosing information or are not programmed to “understand” such basic questions.
Either way, identifying the location of a basic women’s health clinic should not be too complicated for a search engine. If Siri is programmed to be somewhat of a feminist, perhaps Apple can ensure that Siri devotes more time to answering a woman’s pressing public health questions and less time to escort services and the best burrito in town.
Apple, Inc. did not return ThinkProgress’s request for comment.
Earlier this month, a Boston judge granted a restraining order preventing Boston police from raiding the Occupy Boston encampment. Included among this restraining order was an order to “refrain from any police action which would remove the individuals, tents, and personal belonging of the Occupy Boston protesters from Dewey Square.”
Boston police appear to have violated this order during a raid last night. Police entered the Occupy boston encampment and seized a wooden pallet from the protesters and removed it. Watch a video of one protester explaining what happened and showing a picture of the seizure:
The stay on police actions was not supposed to end until Dec. 1, and it is unclear what the city of Boston will do now that the police appear to have violated a court order.
See the photograph of police taking away the pallet in clearer form here.
Few candidates in modern American history have shown deeper contempt for the Constitution than GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich. He began his campaign with an appeal to tentherism — the radical belief that most of the last 100 years violates the Constitution. Gingrich believes that he can simply ignore court decisions that he disagrees with, and he promised a campaign of intimidation against judges who don’t share his views. More recently, Gingrich proposed an unconstitutional plan to require all recipients of federal aid to submit to drug tests.
So it should come as little surprise that Gingrich has stumbled onto yet another policy proposal — this one on immigration — that completely ignores a potential president’s obligation to respect the Constitution:
Gingrich also said he will push to withhold federal funds from “sanctuary cities,” or places that openly don’t monitor residents for undocumented workers.
“We should have every state enforcing the law and, in fact, I would propose cutting off all federal funds to any city that declares itself a ‘sanctuary city,’ ” he said.
Cutting off all federal funds to a city for refusing to implement a particular immigration policy is not constitutional. Although the federal government has broad authority to offer money to state or local governments if those states agree to comply with certain conditions, this power is not limitless.
In its landmark decision in South Dakota v. Dole, the Supreme Court explained that “conditions on federal grants might be illegitimate if they are unrelated ‘to the federal interest in particular national projects or programs.’” In other words, the government cannot threaten to take away funding because a local government refuses to comply with some requirement that has nothing to do with the purpose of the funding itself. If Congress wants to take away Medicaid funding from states that don’t maintain safe hospitals, that is acceptable because hospital safety is directly related to providing adequate health care under Medicaid. But if Congress tried to take away Medicaid funds unless a state required children to wear school uniforms, that would be unconstitutional because Medicaid has nothing to do with what children wear to school.
While there are likely some federal grants that are sufficiently related to immigration that Congress could pass a law stripping those funds from localities that refuse to step up immigration enforcement, a blanket removal of all federal funds almost certainly violates the Constitution. Indeed, if Gingrich has even a passing familiarity with the law governing federal grants, he probably recognized this fact immediately.
It is deeply ironic that the man who began his campaign by professing his undying love for states rights would happily run roughshod over that position to score cheap points against immigrants. Tenthers have long complained that states should be completely free to defy conditions on federal grants and keep the funding anyway — indeed, this is one of the very claims that dozens of Republican officials are pushing in their Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Ultimately, however, Gingrich has made it perfectly clear that he doesn’t really care if his proposal is constitutional or not. If the courts strike it down, he thinks he can just ignore them.
Darcy Burner hobnobs with the crowd at Netroots Nation 2011Darcy Burner has been a Daily Kos all-star for how long? At least since 2006, when she first ran for Congress in a swingy Bellevue-area district. She came up just a couple of points shy, done in, in large part, by a vindictive local newspaper printing lies about her on election eve.
She gave that same district another shot in 2008, but again came up painfully short. (In fact, in an otherwise awesome night, her loss and the passage of Prop h8 in California were the two biggest downers.)
This is a whole new cycle, with whole new maps. Darcy now lives in WA-01, which is a solid (D) district (or will be, once the state's redistricting commission finalizes its draft plans). Whoever wins the Democratic primary should have smooth sailing in the general. And the primary will be crowded?a new district, no incumbent, and lots of ambitious Democrats (including several conservadems) eager for the promotion.
This site's unofficial motto used to be "more and better Democrats", but we've gradually evolved it to "better Democrats". The reasons why are obvious. And post-redistricting, there's no better place to have an impact electing better Democrats than in these open primaries?particularly when the seat is safe in the general.
And if there are better Democrats than Darcy, I don't know them.
As way of background, here's something I wrote back in 2008, in the wake of a terrible tragedy (the burning down of her home):
Darcy is a huge netroots sensation because she is truly one of us -- a former Microsoft exec who is a geek at heart, and someone who has been with us on the war and FISA since she first started running in 2005. Some politicians can put up a facade or say the right things for the right audience, but there's no faking it when you've just run out of your burning house, seeing all your worldly possessions go up in flames as you frantically try to ensure your family is safe.
Look at the shirt she was wearing:
(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)
For the non-technical among us, that's HTML for "end war".
Darcy is truly one of us. I could say she's a friend, but she's not. She's family. That's why I'm thrilled to see her fighting the good fight again, and why I'm proud to add her to our 2012 Orange to Blue fundraising list.