Nothing has catalyzed religious conservatives in recent years quite like idea of “religious liberty,” and the notion that the expansion of LGBT and women’s rights will somehow infringe upon that freedom. It has been at the core of the National Organization for Marriage’s agenda against same-sex marriage, and in the 2009 confidential memos released this week, the anti-gay group proudly celebrates its success with this messaging. If marriage equality advances, NOM sees religious liberty as a way to “protect” conservatives from having to recognize same-sex couples:
Although these religious liberty protections are in some ways more narrow than one might desire (focusing primarily on religious institutions, to the exclusions of individual professionals and business owners), they nonetheless mark a turning point of sorts in the gay marriage debate. Three of the four states to have passed a same-sex marriage bill this spring, did so only after the inclusion of real, substantive religious liberty protections, validating NOM’s frequently expressed concerns for the religious liberty of traditional faith groups if same-sex marriage is adopted without specific protection.
This is NOM engaging in post hoc spin, because in the same memo, NOM admits that this “religious liberty” rhetoric is manufactured ? a gimmick the organization hopes to deploy in Europe:
We have learned how to make the coercive pressures on religious people and institutions an issue in the United States. We will use this knowledge to raise the profile of government attacks on the liberties of religious people and institutions in Europe, both for internal domestic consumption in Europe and to halt the movement towards gay marriage worldwide. Our goal is to problematize the oppression of Christians and other traditional faith communities in the European mind.
The most important takeaway from these memos is that NOM’s strategy has very little to do with actually making a case against same-sex marriage. The concept of “religious liberty,” like all of NOM’s tactics, is just another scare tactic designed to alienate constituencies and stigmatize gays, lesbians, and bisexuals:
In his first inaugural address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asserted his firm belief that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself ? nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” At the end of the day, NOM is nothing more than an insidious fear factory. No doubt, the dark hour of inequality will end in victory when “met with that understanding and support of the people themselves.”
The New York Times’ Brian Stelter breaks the news that Current TV has let go Keith Olbermann, and will replace him starting tonight with Eliot Spitzer, denying Olbermann to give a send-off or special comment to his viewers. Spitzer, like Olbermann, also had experience at MSNBC, where he appeared as a guest anchor. Olbermann had been suspended by MSNBC for violating its rules on campaign contributions, an event that soured his relationship with the network, before his departure from MSNBC opened the door to his deal with Current. He was at one point a high-profile acquisition for the network, founded by former Vice President Al Gore to provide a more progressive take on the news. But his ratings fell and his relationship with Current quickly foundered.
In an open letter to Current viewers, Gore and co-founder Joel Hyatt wrote “We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before. Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.? Olbermann had complained about technical issues on his set and squabbled with the network over his role in its coverage of the Republican primary, though he ultimately agreed to anchor those segments.
In a series of Tweets after that letter was released, Olbermann sharply criticized Current’s leadership and said that he would sue the network, writing:
I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV. Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.
It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently. To understand Mr. Hyatt?s ?values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty,? I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee?s name was Clarence B. Cain. http://nyti.ms/HueZsa
In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.
Supporters of Anchorage Proposition 5 have expressed outrage at an offensive cartoon ads opponents have been using to gin up opposition to the passage of the measure, which would protect LGBT people from discrimination in Anchorage. The most[...]
Read The Full Article:
Tom BarrettGreat news: Democrats have landed their strongest candidate to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
In a Friday email to supporters, Barrett, who has twice run unsuccessfully for governor, announced that he will be making a third bid for the state's highest office as part of the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker.Polling (including recent surveys from PPP and Marquette) have consistently shown Barrett putting up the best numbers against Walker among all possible Democratic candidates. However, Barrett likely won't have the primary to himself. Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk has been running since January, and a lot of labor unions favor her candidacy, so I would expect her to stay in the race.
Walker defeated Barrett by 52%-47% in 2010.
"We need to bring our state back." Barrett wrote in the note. "Wisconsin needs a governor who is focused on jobs, not ideology; a leader committed to bringing our state together and healing political wounds, not pitting people against each other and catering to the special interests.
But primary polls have also shown Barrett in the driver's seat: Marquette had him up 36-29 over Falk, while PPP saw a much wider 45-18 edge for Barrett. Regardless, unless some sort of deal is brokered (would Falk drop down to the Lt. Gov. spot? I doubt it), Democrats will likely face a hard-fought primary. And that makes this race a real challenge, because primary day is little over a month away (May 8), and the general is very soon thereafter (June 5). Still, Barrett's entry is welcome news and if he wins the nomination, he gives us our best shot of defeating Walker.
Less than a year after he returned to television with an equity stake in the broadcaster, Keith Olbermann has flamed out again. He has been terminated by Current TV, effective immediately. His 8pm flagship show will be replaced starting tonight by[...]
Read The Full Article:
Giving post-mortems on the question of health care at the Supreme Court is premature, and as law professor David Cole writes, you can find as much evidence for upholding Obamacare in the text of the arguments as you can evidence for tossing it[...]
Read The Full Article:
The right-wing media remains desperate to obscure the fact that the Affordable Care Act lowers the deficit. In the latest iteration of the claim, Eric Bolling teamed up with Fox's "brain room" to inflate the cost of the health care reform law to a whopping $4 trillion.
CBO: Health Care Reform Lowers The Deficit By More Than $100 Billion. In March 2011, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation issued a joint report finding that "[o]n net, CBO and JCT's latest comprehensive estimate is that the effects of the two laws on direct spending and revenues related to health care will reduce federal deficits by $210 billion over the 2012-2021 period." The CBO subsequently determined that the Obama administration's decision to indefinitely suspend implementation of the portion of the Affordable Care Act that enacted the CLASS Act lowered the deficit savings of the Affordable Care Act by $83 billion. [Congressional Budget Office, 3/30/11, 10/31/11]
Bolling: Because The IRS Cannot Throw You In Jail For Refusing To Buy Insurance Or Pay The Penalty, The Affordable Care Act May Really Cost $3 Or $4 Trillion. From the March 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
BOLLING: I spent the better part of a full day looking through this, and I found something in the health care law, in the Obamacare law, dealing with -- specifically dealing with enforcement. Brian, if you don't pay your taxes, what happens? The IRS comes after you, right?
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Eventually.
BOLLING: They take you to court, eventually they take you to court, they can even garnish your wages, they can put a lien on your home, a tax lien on your property. Fast forward, the IRS will be the enforcement agent to Obamacare written in the bill. What happens if you don't buy health insurance either on the individual level or your company on a corporate level, you don't buy health insurance?
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): You pay the fine.
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): You pay the penalty.
BOLLING: Well, you get assessed a fine, tax, penalty, whatever it is. What if you say, Steve, go jump in the river, IRS. I'm not paying the penalty either?
KILMEADE: Same thing.
BOLLING: Wrong. Nothing. Specifically, if I may --
DOOCY: So this is a mandate with no teeth?
KILMEADE: You're not going to sing another song, are you?
BOLLING: No, I'm going to read this. Waiver of -- this is section 1501, subsection (g)(2)(a), waiver of criminal penalties in the case of any failure by taxpayer to timely pay the penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure and the secretary shall not file a notice of lien with respect to property and respect --
DOOCY: Well, politically though, they couldn't pass a bill where you go to prison.
BOLLING: Here's the -- well, they could give it -- they could give the IRS the same teeth to enforce tax law that they do Obamacare. Here's the point, though. Forget what this means. What it means to the taxpayer, it means, the CBO intially told us it was be $938 billion, the Obamacare. They recently upped it to $1.76 trillion. If this is true and if we're reading it right and I spent a lot of time with lawyers, with the brain room, with the accountants --
CARLSON: How dare you read the bill?
BOLLING: Listen to me. This could be double. This could be a $3 trillion bill, a $4 trillion bill. Because people will specifically say, if I don't have to pay and I'm not -- the extent of the enforcement's harassing phone calls. If that's all I have to deal with, there's going to be a section of population that doesn't pay, and people who do pay are going to pick up the tab for people who don't. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/29/12, emphasis added]
Bolling's Falsehood: "Nothing" Happens To You If You Don't Buy Health Insurance And Then Don't Pay The Penalty. When asked what would happen if you didn't buy insurance and then didn't pay the penalty assessed to people who don't buy insurance, Bolling answered: "Nothing." In fact, the penalty will be assessed against any refund or tax credit that a taxpayer would otherwise receive. From the Joint Committee on Taxation:
Specifically, the filing of notices of liens and levies otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. In addition, the statute waives criminal penalties for non-compliance with the requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage. However, the authority to offset refunds or credits is not limited by this provision. [Joint Committee on Taxation, 3/21/10]
Bolling's Falsehood: CBO Has Not Taken Into Account The Effect Of The Enforcement Mechanism For The Individual Mandate. Bolling claimed that, after having "spent a lot of time with lawyers, with the [Fox] brain room, with the accountants," if the effect of people saying "I don't have to pay" were truly taken into account, the CBO estimate of the cost of the bill "could be double. This could be a $3 trillion bill, a $4 trillion bill." Actually, the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation have already taken this into account and have estimated that "collections from those penalties will be about $4 billion per year." From an April 2010 CBO report:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have estimated that about 21 million nonelderly residents will be uninsured in 2016, but the majority of them will not be subject to the penalty. Unauthorized immigrants, for example, are exempted from the mandate to obtain health insurance. Others will be subject to the mandate but exempted from the penalty -- for example, because they will have income low enough that they are not required to file an income tax return, because they are members of Indian tribes, or because the premium they would have to pay would exceed a specified share of their income (initially 8 percent in 2014 and indexed over time). CBO and JCT estimate that between 13 million and 14 million of the uninsured in 2016 will qualify for one or more of those exemptions.
Of the remaining 7 million to 8 million uninsured, some individuals will be granted exemptions from the penalty because of hardship, and others will be exempted from the mandate on the basis of their religious beliefs. Among the uninsured who do not obtain an exemption, many will voluntarily report on their tax returns that they are uninsured and pay the amount owed. However, other individuals will try to avoid making payments. Therefore, the estimates presented here account for likely compliance rates, as well as the ability of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to administer and collect the penalty. After accounting for all of those factors, CBO and JCT estimate that about 4 million people will pay a penalty because they will be uninsured in 2016 (a figure that includes uninsured dependents who have the penalty paid on their behalf).
CBO and JCT estimate that total collections from those penalties will be about $4 billion per year over the 2017-2019 period. [CBO, 4/30/10]
Bolling's Falsehood: The CBO Has Already Increased The Estimate For The Affordable Care Act To $1.7 Trillion. Bolling claimed that "CBO intially told us it was be $938 billion, Obamacare. They recently upped it to $1.76 trillion." In fact, Bolling was referring to just the gross cost of the insurance coverage provision, not the entire bill. In addition, in the report to which Bolling is referring, the CBO estimated that the insurance coverage provisions will cost "just under $1.1 trillion," less than previously estimated. [Media Matters, 3/16/12]
The House Republican Policy Committee, for instance, put out a statement claiming that "the new CBO projection estimates that the law will cost $1.76 trillion over 10 years -- well above the $940 billion Democrats originally claimed."
This claim, that the CBO's 2012 estimate suggests Obamacare will cost twice as much as originally projected when the bill was passed in 2010, has been widely trumpeted, by some rather doggedly, as another Obamacare failure, but unfortunately, it's entirely dishonest accounting, as a range of liberal bloggers have pointed out. [National Review Online, 3/20/12]
For Years, Right-Wing Media Outlets Have Pushed The Falsehood That The Affordable Care Act Will Cost The Government A Fortune. Examples of conservative media making false claims about the costs of the Affordable Care Act include:
Your Bloguero has been busy. He went to town and secured not only his own financial future, but his membership in the (almost) 1%. Yes, your Bloguero joined the teaming, unwashed masses at the Mega Zillions machine. But there is one pertinent exception[...]
Read The Full Article:
You're psyched to listen to our mashup of the funniest moments from the Supreme Court oral arguments on the health care case. [...]
Read The Full Article: