The President Lawyers Up - President Trump has hired lawyer Marc Kasowitz as his personal lawyer in the on-going Trump-Russia probe. In itself, this is uncontroversial and unsurpri...
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With polls showing voters are most concerned about jobs, economic growth and the continuing foreclosure crisis, state governments have responded in their usual fashion: with anti-abortion bills and "personhood initiatives."
While the latter have failed in state after state, with voters probably realizing that recognizing a bunch of blastocyst persons would be hell on a state's unemployment rate, legislation mandating trans-vaginal ultrasound has been debated from Texas to Kentucky. Virginia is the latest to ride the sonogram emotional-extortion bandwagon, but not before one State Senator suggested that what's good for goose is good for the anus…
To protest a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) on Monday attached an amendment that would require men to have a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication.
"We need some gender equity here," she told HuffPost. "The Virginia senate is about to pass a bill that will require a woman to have totally unnecessary medical procedure at their cost and inconvenience. If we're going to do that to women, why not do that to men?"
The amendment failed on a 21-19 vote, while the underlying mandatory sonogram bill was adopted, but at least the bill's opponents got to say "Up yours" in the snarkiest way possible.
Grover Norquist, the Republican uber-activist, sat down with National Journal last week, and shared some thoughts on what he expects to see in Washington after the November elections. His use of the "I" word was rather striking.
NORQUIST: If the Republicans have the House, Senate, and the presidency, I'm told that they could do an early budget vote -- a reconciliation vote where you extend the Bush tax cuts out for a decade or five years.... And, if you have a Republican president to go with a Republican House and Senate, then they pass the [Paul] Ryan plan [on Medicare].
NJ: What if the Democrats still have control? What's your scenario then?
NORQUIST: Obama can sit there and let all the tax [cuts] lapse, and then the Republicans will have enough votes in the Senate in 2014 to impeach.
By all indications, Norquist wasn't kidding. From the perspective of this leading GOP powerbroker, presidential impeachment is on the table in 2014 unless Obama extends Bush-era tax cuts.
There are three larger angles to this to consider. The first is that Republicans, 14 years after an impeachment crusade against President Clinton, seem a little preoccupied with the subject. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) has raised the specter of Obama impeachment over DOMA; Fox News has brought up impeachment over immigration policy; Herman Cain wants to see the president impeached over the Affordable Care Act; and not too long ago, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said he likes the idea of impeaching Obama simply because "it would tie things up" in Washington for a while.
The second angle to keep in mind is that if GOP officials and their allies are serious about this, they might want to give additional thought to the meaning of the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors."
And third, Norquist's impeachment talk may seem ridiculous on its face -- and it is -- but that doesn't change the fact that this is a powerful figure in Republican politics. It was, after all, Norquist's anti-tax pledge that played a direct role in scuttling any possible super-committee agreement.
The point isn't that presidential impeachment is a serious idea; it clearly is not. Rather, the point is it's unsettling to have a major GOP insider, with considerable influence throughout the party, talking up nutty ideas like this.
As Ed Kilgore explained, "[W]hen it comes to taxes and the long-term drive to 'starve the beast' of the New Deal/Great Society legacy, Norquist still walks tall in the GOP. So when he lays out getting rid of Medicare as we know it, or a drive to impeach Barack Obama, as strong alternative possibilities for the years just ahead, we should probably pay attention." - Steve Benen
There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.
The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience. ...
"They've pulled off the trifecta of controversial topics," said Brian Nosek, a social and cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia who was not involved in the study. "When one selects intelligence, political ideology and racism and looks at any of the relationships between those three variables, it's bound to upset somebody."
Polling data and social and political science research do show that prejudice is more common in those who hold right-wing ideals that those of other political persuasions, Nosek told LiveScience.
"The unique contribution here is trying to make some progress on the most challenging aspect of this," Nosek said, referring to the new study. "It's not that a relationship like that exists, but why it exists."
Earlier studies have found links between low levels of education and higher levels of prejudice, Hodson said, so studying intelligence seemed a logical next step.
As suspected, low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood. But the factor that explained the relationship between these two variables was political: When researchers included social conservatism in the analysis, those ideologies accounted for much of the link between brains and bias.
People with lower cognitive abilities also had less contact with people of other races.
"This finding is consistent with recent research demonstrating that intergroup contact is mentally challenging and cognitively draining, and consistent with findings that contact reduces prejudice," said Hodson, who along with his colleagues published these results online Jan. 5 in the journal Psychological Science.
Hodson was quick to note that the despite the link found between low intelligence and social conservatism, the researchers aren't implying that all liberals are brilliant and all conservatives stupid. The research is a study of averages over large groups, he said. ...
Nonetheless, there is reason to believe that strict right-wing ideology might appeal to those who have trouble grasping the complexity of the world.
"Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order," Hodson said, explaining why these beliefs might draw those with low intelligence. "Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice."
In another study, this one in the United States, Hodson and Busseri compared 254 people with the same amount of education but different levels of ability in abstract reasoning. They found that what applies to racism may also apply to homophobia. People who were poorer at abstract reasoning were more likely to exhibit prejudice against gays. As in the U.K. citizens, a lack of contact with gays and more acceptance of right-wing authoritarianism explained the link.
Rick Santorum's crusade against higher education continues. The presidential hopeful explained Wednesday that President Obama doesn't want all Americans to go to college simply because he's a snob. It's also because he wants them to be pushed into liberalism. Because that's what American colleges and universities do. "It's no wonder President Obama wants every kid to go to college," he said while campaigning in Florida. "The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination. If it was the other way around, the ACLU would be out there making sure there wasn't one penny of government dollars going to colleges and universities, right?"
Pythagorean theorem: 24 words
The Lord's Prayer: 66 words
Archimedes' Principle: 67 words
The Ten Commandments: 179 words
The Gettysburg Address: 286 words
The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
The US government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words
The wordy cabbage memo is often held up as a telling illustration of needless verbosity and prime example of the sort of pointless government spending everyone is in favor of seeing cut from the bone. It's a shame such an archetype is naught but pure invention, yet it appears it was never anything other than the product of someone's fertile imagination.
Versions of the showcased list have been around for at least a half a century, with earlier ones decrying a memo by the government of France specifying the price of duck eggs, a British one referring to "shell eggs," and an American one (from 1953) about fresh fruits. While not all accounts agree on the precise number of words used in the various religious and patriotic texts pointed to as effective models of brevity, the 26,911 words expended in the cabbage tome eerily remains almost constant. [Funny, huh?]
In 1977, Mobil Oil was fooled by this thing — it vectored the legend in its "Pipeline Pete" print advertisement as a bit of revealed truth. Mobil had found the item in a house organ published the year earlier by FMC Corporation, an agricultural concern in Chicago. That version went back to yet another publication that had found it printed on a card someone was carrying in his wallet.
A 1987 book (Pearls of Wisdom: A Book of Aphorisms) claimed an "EEC [European Economic Community] directive on the import of caramel and caramel products requires, apparently, no fewer than 26,911 words." Once again, someone was so charmed by a bit of authoritative-sounding apocrypha that he chose to pass it along as revealed truth. ...
(We note that a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture document from 1945 which details "Standards for the Grades of Cabbage" falls about 26,000 words short of being a 27,000-word memo.)
If a bureaucratic document is one that takes tens of thousands of words to describe how to do something in stultifying detail, here’s my revision of the document, taking out the fake cabbage claim and putting in reference to a document with which most of us are familiar:
All you Need to Know about Bureaucracy:
* Pythagorean theorem:………………………………………..24 words.* Lord’s prayer:…………………….…..……………………….66 words.* Archimedes’ Principle:………………………………………67 words.* 10 Commandments:……………………………………….179 words.* Gettysburg address:……………………………………… 286 words.* Declaration of Independence :…………………….1,300 words.* US Constitution with all 27 Amendments:…..7,818 words.* God’s Biblical instructions for building a place of worship and making sacrifices:…............. 18,672 words.
SORT OF PUTS THINGS INTO PROPER PERSPECTIVE, DOESN’T IT?????
Sources: King James Bible,
Exodus 23:14-19… 161 words
Exodus 25:1 to Exodus 31:11… 6201 words
Exodus 35:4 to Exodus 40:30… 4872 words
Leviticus 1:1 to Leviticus 10:15… 7438 words
She is 16, the daughter of a firefighter and a nurse, a self-proclaimed nerd who loves Harry Potter and Facebook. But Jessica Ahlquist is also an outspoken atheist who has incensed this heavily Roman Catholic city with a successful lawsuit to get a prayer removed from the wall of her high school auditorium, where it has hung for 49 years.
A federal judge ruled this month that the prayer’s presence at Cranston High School West was unconstitutional, concluding that it violated the principle of government neutrality in religion. In the weeks since, residents have crowded school board meetings to demand an appeal, Jessica has received online threats and the police have escorted her at school, and Cranston, a dense city of 80,000 just south of Providence, has throbbed with raw emotion.
State Representative Peter G. Palumbo, a Democrat from Cranston, called Jessica “an evil little thing” on a popular talk radio show. Three separate florists refused to deliver her roses sent from a national atheist group. The group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.
“I was amazed,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the foundation, which is based in Wisconsin and has given Jessica $13,000 from support and scholarship funds. “We haven’t seen a case like this in a long time, with this level of revilement and ostracism and stigmatizing.”
According to the Justice’s decision “The purpose of the prayer banner was clearly religious in nature,” and that “No amount of debate can make the school Prayer anything other than a prayer, and a Christian one at that.”
Ahlquist was at the meeting and said she would "definitely" do what she did again, even if she has been getting frightening threats.
"A lot of people are saying that they hope I get beat up," she told [ABC News' affiliate] WLNE. "That they would hurt me physically in school if they could. It is hurtful. It kind of disturbed me. It's mostly hurtful when it comes from students in the school."
If the prayer were a problem, students would be cowed and fearful, and would not be complaining. A student is complaining, therefore she isn’t fearful, therefore it’s not a problem.
That’s some catch, that Catch-22.
Does she empathize in any way with members of her community who want the prayer to stay?
“I’ve never been asked this before,” she said. A pause, and then: “It’s almost like making a child get a shot even though they don’t want to. It’s for their own good. I feel like they might see it as a very negative thing right now, but I’m defending their Constitution, too.”
One thing to keep in mind whenever a presidential candidate suggests that some issue is best handled at the state or local level is the fact that this relegates lawmaking to state and local legislators and absolutely nothing about the history of governments suggests that is a good idea. Our "laboratories of democracy" are basically 50 self-contained arguments against federalism.
Take New Hampshire, which in some populist conceit has decided that every dozen residents need their own severely under-resourced and under-paid state legislator, who will somehow remain "close to the people." Of course, the natural conclusion of "citizen legislatures" isn't home-spun wisdom and incorruptibility, insomuch as a bunch of part-time real-estate agents throwing monkey feces at a wall and calling the result a "House Bill."
The latest in the New Hampshire legislature's attempt to beclown their state as the Arizona of New England is House Bill 1581, which would stand up to lobbyists from Big Battered Spouse and prevent police officers from making an arrest in a domestic violence case without first getting a warrant unless the officer witnessed the crime. The Concord Monitor explains…
An officer is called to a home where she sees clear evidence that an assault has occurred. The furniture is overturned, the children are sobbing, and the face of the woman of the house is bruised and bleeding. It's obvious who the assailant was, but the officer arrived after the assault occurred. It's a small department, and no one else on the force is available to keep the peace until the officer finds a judge or justice of the peace to issue a warrant. The officer leaves, and the abuser renews his attack with even more ferocity, punishing his victim for having called for help.
... The legislative mastermind behind H.B. 1581 is Republican Representative Dan Itse, whose own political philosophy he explains in ways only a guest on the Glenn Beck and Alex Jones Shows can…
Today our nation, though still the freest in the world, is in danger of sliding into tyranny. The reason is best explained in the prelude to the movie "Fellowship of the Ring." The elf queen Galadriel is giving a discourse on the history of the ring, and man's lust for power over other men. Near the conclusion she states "…and some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend, legend became myth…"
Naturally, Itse's conclusion is that Galadriel should shut her elf queen mouth and go back to making him a Lembas bread sandwich.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Buzzfeed reporter McKay Coppins asked an anonymous Mitt Romney adviser tonight if he’s worried about the South Carolina primary results. "Oh God, no," he sneered. "I mean, to face Newt Gingrich?"
The man has a point. Newt Gingrich? Tubby, philandering (and note that the most famous philandering pols, unlike Newt, generally have the compensating trait of physical attractiveness) has-been, unelectable, distrusted by conservatives Newt Gingrich?
But if you turn the same thought around, it leaves you wondering: How can Romney be in a dogfight with this guy?
My view all along has been that any remotely plausible candidate could beat Mitt Romney. My current view is that there are no remotely plausible candidates, which leaves us with Newt. So we have the immovable object meeting the irresistible force, except the exact opposite. Like almost everybody outside Gingrich's immediate family, I had already written him off twice. But he really seems okay. If some really crazy rich conservatives decide to write him some seven- or eight-figure checks, who knows? - Jonathan Chait
Mitt Romney unveiled a novel solution for illegal immigration during Tuesday night's GOP debate, saying that he'd rely on "self-deportation" to reduce the number of unauthorized immigrants in the US. ...
This is the right-wing's answer to the question of how you deport 11 million unauthorized immigrants: You don't. You force them to "deport themselves." Although immigration reform advocates would prefer a solution that involves a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already here, Romney and his top immigration advisers believe they can remove millions of people through heavy-handed enforcement that makes life for unauthorized immigrants intolerable. This approach is notable for its complete lack of discretion and flexibility. Unauthorized immigrant parents with citizen children who need to go to school? Americans who are married to an undocumented immigrant who needs medical treatment? "Self-deportation" hits them all with the same mailed fist.
We can see how this concept has been applied in states like Arizona and Alabama, where local authorities have been empowered to act as enforcers of immigration law. Alabama takes the choke point theory even more seriously than Arizona—everything from enrolling in school to seeking health treatment has been turned into a so-called choke point. The moral, social, and economic consequences of the strategy are secondary to inflicting enough suffering on unauthorized immigrants in order to force them out of the country. ...
Alabama's immigration law has actually been such a disaster that the state is trying to figure out a way to repeal parts of the law. But make no mistake, when Romney is discussing "self-deportation," he's talking about creating a United States where parents are afraid to register their kids for school or get them immunized because they might be asked for proof of citizenship. He's talking about the type of country where local police can demand your immigration status based on mere suspicion that you don't belong around here. "Self-deportation" is just a cleaner, less cruel-sounding way of endorsing harsh, coercive government polices in order to make life for unauthorized immigrants so unbearable that they have no choice but to find some way to leave. The human cost of such an approach, let alone what it might do to American society, is viewed as a price worth paying.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Indecision 2012 - I Know What You Did Last Quarter|
The nation is still recovering from a crushing recession that sent unemployment hovering above nine percent for two straight years. The president, mindful of soaring deficits, is pushing bold action to shore up the nation's balance sheet. Cloaking himself in the language of class warfare, he calls on a hostile Congress to end wasteful tax breaks for the rich. "We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share," he thunders to a crowd in Georgia. Such tax loopholes, he adds, "sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary – and that's crazy."
Preacherlike, the president draws the crowd into a call-and-response. "Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver," he demands, "or less?"
The crowd, sounding every bit like the protesters from Occupy Wall Street, roars back: "MORE!"
The year was 1985. The president was Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Today's Republican Party may revere Reagan as the patron saint of low taxation. But the party of Reagan – which understood that higher taxes on the rich are sometimes required to cure ruinous deficits – is dead and gone. Instead, the modern GOP has undergone a radical transformation, reorganizing itself around a grotesque proposition: that the wealthy should grow wealthier still, whatever the consequences for the rest of us. ...
The staggering economic inequality that has led Americans across the country to take to the streets in protest is no accident. It has been fueled to a large extent by the GOP's all-out war on behalf of the rich. Since Republicans rededicated themselves to slashing taxes for the wealthy in 1997, the average annual income of the 400 richest Americans has more than tripled, to $345 million – while their share of the tax burden has plunged by 40 percent. Today, a billionaire in the top 400 pays less than 17 percent of his income in taxes – five percentage points less than a bus driver earning $26,000 a year. - Tim Dickinson
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Indecision 2012 - The Gingrich Who Stole South Carolina|
"You're not a small-business owner. Your 'small business' involved selling access to the insides of Washington!
You're not a Washington insider? You, the former Speaker of the House and Freddie Mac-consulting millionaire, are the Washington insider. When Washington gets its prostate checked, it tickles you!"
One reason 2011 was milder than recent years was the La Nina cooling of the central Pacific Ocean. La Ninas occur every few years and generally cause global temperatures to drop, but this was the warmest La Nina year on record.
Let's get clarification from the values upholders over at Fox News…
Here's what one interested in making America stronger can reasonably conclude—psychologically—from Mr. Gingrich's behavior during his three marriages:
1) Three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with him.
2) Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married.
3) One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible.
Conclusion: When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we'll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we'll want to let him go after one.
You got that? The issue isn't that Newt Gingrich "broke his marriage vows" or "led a life of lies/hypocrisy." It's that women–with their superior insight–recognized the inherent goodness of Newt Gingrich, his raw intelligence, his ability to last for hours whenever there was a premise to be challenged.
The real shock here is that Fox News suddenly thinks that women's opinions are important, especially when one of them is lacking in the looks department.
4) Two women—Mr. Gingrich’s first two wives—have sat down with him while he delivered to them incredibly painful truths: that he no longer loved them as he did before, that he had fallen in love with other women and that he needed to follow his heart, despite the great price he would pay financially and the risk he would be taking with his reputation.
Conclusion: I can only hope Mr. Gingrich will be as direct and unsparing with the Congress, the American people and our allies. If this nation must now move with conviction in the direction of its heart, Newt Gingrich is obviously no stranger to that journey.