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Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes that the Republicans seem determined to dig themselves a deeper hole in his Makers, Takers, Fakers:

Meanwhile, back in Louisiana Mr. Jindal is pushing a plan to eliminate the state’s income tax, which falls most heavily on the affluent, and make up for the lost revenue by raising sales taxes, which fall much more heavily on the poor and the middle class. The result would be big gains for the top 1 percent, substantial losses for the bottom 60 percent. Similar plans are being pushed by a number of other Republican governors as well.

Like the new acknowledgment that the perception of being the party of the rich is a problem, this represents a departure for the G.O.P.—but in the opposite direction. In the past, Republicans would justify tax cuts for the rich either by claiming that they would pay for themselves or by claiming that they could make up for lost revenue by cutting wasteful spending. But what we’re seeing now is open, explicit reverse Robin Hoodism: taking from ordinary families and giving to the rich. That is, even as Republicans look for a way to sound more sympathetic and less extreme, their actual policies are taking another sharp right turn.

John Nichols at The Nation offers Three Strategies to Block the Gerrymandering of the Electoral College:
Under at least one scenario entertained by Priebus and his minions, Romney’s 5 million–vote loss of the popular vote nationally still would not have prevented him from assuming the presidency.

Impossible? Hardly. Because of gerrymandering and the concentration of Democratic votes in urban areas and college towns, a 1.4-million vote majority for Democrats in congressional races nationwide in 2012 was converted into Republican control of the US House and gridlocked government.

So can Priebus be stopped? It’s possible. But democracy advocates need to move fast, and smart.

Noam Scheiber at the radically redesigned The New Republic says Tim Geithner was A Good Hire—Who Stayed About Three and a Half Years Too Long.

[For more punditry, including a take on a different drone war, please keep reading below the fold.]

E.J. Dionne Jr. sounds like Paul Krugman, but from the pages of the Washington Post in The urgency of growth:

The moment’s highest priority should be speeding economic growth and ending the waste, human and economic, left by the Great Recession. But you would never know this because the conversation in our nation’s capital is being held hostage by a ludicrous cycle of phony fiscal deadlines driven by a misplaced belief that the only thing we have to fear is the budget deficit.

Let’s call a halt to this madness. If we don’t move the economy to a better place, none of the fiscal projections will matter. The economic downturn ballooned the deficit. Growth will move the numbers in the right direction.

James K. Galbraith at Alternet writes about a different drone war than the one the United Nations is investigating in Is This the End for the Deficit Drones?
The drones are in groups with names like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Campaign to Fix the Debt. They drone on, and on, about the calamities that await unless we cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

That the goal of the deficit drones is to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has been plain for years to anyone who looks at where the money comes from. It comes largely from Peter G. Peterson, a billionaire former secretary of Commerce under Nixon, who is Captain Ahab to Social Security's Moby Dick. And when one trick, such as privatization, falls flat, his minions always have another, whether it's raising the retirement age or changing the COLA. But a cut by any other name is still, and always, just a cut.

Jessica Valenti at The Nation writes Why Ending the Ban on Women in Combat Is Good for All Women:
One of the most common arguments, however, is that the chance of women being raped is just too high. In a 2007 Washington Post piece, Kathleen Parker wrote, “What kind of man, one shudders to wonder, is willing to allow his country’s women to be raped and tortured by men of enemy nations?” Setting aside the disconcerting possessive language, how is it ethical (or logical) to ban women from spaces in which someone else might commit violence against them? Rape on college campuses is at epidemic proportions, yet no one suggests that we ban women from universities. Or perhaps we should create a law that prevents women from marrying men—after all, there’s a chance they might end up with an abusive husband. It’s for their own protection! This particular argument also largely ignores the shockingly high rate of sexual assault within the military. It’s not always the “enemy” women in the military have to be afraid of.
The Editorial Board of the Austin American Statesman writes
Another Pentagon survey estimated that only 13.5 percent of sexual assaults are reported each year. The actual number of sexual assaults in the military — 241,000 women serve in a force of 1.6 million — may be closer to 19,000.[...]

As it did 65 years ago with racial integration and recently with the end of don’t ask, don’t tell, the military will adjust quickly to the change. We’re confident we will soon forget that banning women from combat was ever an issue.

Ending what justifiably has been called an “epidemic” of sexual assault might prove a more difficult task for the military. Promising changes have been made; more must be made. The only enemies women in the military should have to face are on the battlefield, not in the barracks

Sadhbh Walshe at The Guardian asks Is miscarriage murder? States that put fetal rights ahead of a mother's say so:
This week, just in time for the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) released a study (pdf) on the "criminalization of pregnancy", as reported last week by the Guardian's Karen McVeigh. It details hundreds of cases of women who were arrested, forced to undergo medical procedures, and held in jails, prisons, or mental institutions.

These arrests and detentions were made possible by the relentless quest to undo Roe v Wade and restrict access to legal abortions. But there is a bigger issue, according to NAPW's executive director Lynn Paltrow:

"We are no longer just talking about [attacks on] reproductive rights, but whether, in the guise of trying to end just abortion rights, we are going to remove pregnant women from the community of constitutional persons."
Jim Wallis at The Blog makes a A Call for a New Social Covenant:
We should discuss social covenants many contexts, and the results will vary from place to place. But they should all include shared principles and features -- a value basis for new agreements, an emphasis on jobs that offer fair rewards for hard work and real contributions to society, security for financial assets and savings, a serious commitment to reduce inequality between the top and the bottom of society, stewardship of the environment, an awareness of future generations' needs, a stable and accountable financial sector and the strengthening of both opportunity and social mobility.
Rebecca Burns at In These Times writes about a terrible trend in ‘Zero-tolerance’ and ‘tough-on-crime’ policies put students in a school-to-prison pipeline:
Metal detectors and uniformed security guards greet students each day at Orr Academy on Chicago’s West Side. “My high school seemed like its own personal prison,” Edward Ward, a 2011 Orr graduate, told the Senate Judiciary Committee during his testimony in December 2012. He recalled how a police processing center was even set up to book students on school grounds.

Ward’s testimony was part of a historic congressional hearing on the school-to-prison pipeline. With more than 3 million students suspended or expelled each year, U.S. schools are “increasingly a gateway to the criminal justice system,” according to Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who convened the hearing.

Activists warn that this trend is exacerbating the racial disparities that already permeate the prison system. A 2010 study from Indiana University found that, compared with their white peers, black male middle-school students are three times more likely to be suspended, and black female students, four times.

The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times urges lawmakers to ignore the National Rifle Association and Stem the flow of guns to Mexico:
The U.S. has sent nearly $2 billion in aid to Mexico since 2007, much of that as part of the Merida Initiative, a counter-narcotics program designed to provide aid and equipment for that country's drug war. Yet that assistance has been undermined by lax U.S. gun laws, which allow members of the drug cartels and their associates to buy weapons here and smuggle them across the border. At least 68,000 of the firearms seized in Mexico between 2007 and 2011 — and probably quite a lot more — came from the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Coming next: Gestation crates for women. (22+ / 0-)

    You can predict where a society is going by how it treats its farm animals.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:37:07 AM PST

  •  good morning! (20+ / 0-)

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:38:15 AM PST

  •  You said it, Bush Bites (7+ / 0-)

    Good morning!  Thanks for the roundup, Meteor Blades!  If I can slip and slide outside on the icy path to the newspaper box to pick up The WaPo, I'll read E.J.'s column.  

    I'll be sure to read the article in The Guardian, too, thanks for the tip.  Republic of Gilead, anyone?

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:40:18 AM PST

  •  Growth...the GOP's Achilles Heel..they got nuthin. (8+ / 0-)
    •  no they don't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      they've got close enough to 50% of the votes to keep enough of them in office to really screw things up.

      people need to understand that most of the voters who vote republican AGREE with republican policies.

      we have a voter problem.

      big badda boom : GRB 090423

      by squarewheel on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 07:52:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How could they possibly agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Amber6541, weinerschnauzer

        with Republican policy, when that party makes such strenuous efforts to hide that policy from the public?

        I'd guess half or fewer of Republican voters do so from self identification rather than agreement with (or even knowledge of) the people and policies they support with their votes.

        Many people still don't realize their parent's Republican party has been hijacked by people who are, to put not too fine a point on it, members of an apocalyptic cult.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 10:11:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The party fades (8+ / 0-)

    How can a political party have a future when its core agenda is as distasteful and hostile to a growing majority of the electorate as that of the GOP? They have boxed themselves into a shrinking segment of the population, becoming a regionalized and generally rural party with little appeal to anyone of the moderate persuasion. Most indicative of the Republicans' withering is their refusal to treat the largest minority population in the United States -- Hispanics -- as anything close to legitimate Americans or citizens, and in their outrageous rhetoric on immigration. Their idea that one or two brown faces (see; Rubio, Marco) will soothe the Hispanic masses is ludicrous and another sign of their racial insensitivity.  -  progressive

  •  Thanks, especially for the Nichols article (8+ / 0-)

    When the Republicans are crying "poor pitiful us" as Priebus and Jindal are doing, you know it's a smokescreen and we have to be even more vigilant if  we want to stop the subversion of American politics by these people.

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall (h/t cooper888)

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 05:03:50 AM PST

  •  Moving the tax burden (9+ / 0-)

    onto labor and off capital is supposedly good economics these days.
      Adam Smith and David Ricardo would disagree.

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 05:11:28 AM PST

    •  Proposed also in N. Carolina (7+ / 0-)

      The only way this makes sense politically is that people think it's radically anti-tax to eliminate personal income tax AND corporate income tax (becuz Jobz), not understanding how there will still be taxes, and they will now fall on everything people buy, and the RATES WILL INCREASE. Here they want to tax food, too.

      It's as regressive as it gets.

      You get what you deserve, even if you don't deserve it (Issan Dorsey, Zen teacher)

      by kayak58 on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 05:22:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is the Fair Tax (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gjohnsit, kayak58, tb mare

        nonsense in a new suit.  

        Everyone! Arms akimbo!

        by tobendaro on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 05:29:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  And in Kansas (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kayak58, squarewheel

        Brownback has a new teabagger legislature and so far, besides slashing business taxes to zero, then deciding not to roll back the "temporary" sales tax hike, we have also heard that Brownback wants to end the mortgage interest deduction and the property tax deduction, and slashed education funding so deeply that a judge has ordered him to restore the cuts.
        Since he believes that all these tax cuts will magically grow state revenues, he has ignored the fact that all these tax cuts will put us in a $2 billion hole by 2018.
        And there's more!

        Brownback’s plan eliminated a food tax break for low-income Kansans and other tax credits that benefit children and the poor, all to give the wealthiest Kansans more than $20,000 per year in tax breaks. Taxes on the poorest residents will go up nearly $150 a year, according to the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy.

        The plan is likely to cause cuts to education and other social services that help the poor, even though Brownback and the Republicans who voted for it insist it will actually stimulate the economy and drive job growth. That is unlikely though, as another study published this week found that high-income tax cuts don’t stimulate the economy.

        “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

        by skohayes on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:51:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  GOP-Massaging the Message Misogynistic-ally nt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vatexia, tb mare, skohayes, a2nite

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 05:19:10 AM PST

  •  Finally saw 'Lincoln' last night...very good movie (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vatexia, a2nite

    and enlightening. Lots have changed since that time and lots have remained the same.

  •  It's important to note that as long as we have (6+ / 0-)

    a district based system, control of the House isn't always going to line up with the popular vote.

    That wouldn't be a big deal, if the Democrats won by 1% of the popular vote but the Republicans still had, say, 5-6 more seats.  We could shrug and say that's just part of how things shake out sometimes even if the game is fair.

    A 32 seat win for the Party that lost is just obscene.

    "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

    by JesseCW on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 05:55:01 AM PST

    •  We could be more confident in the shaking (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if those five to six more seats were narrow wins or losses in competitive districts. But districts gerrymandered to provide a permanent win to the controlling party, combined with lock-step legislative voting, is not more palatable at five or six seats than thirty two.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 10:21:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Better Late Than Never (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib, weinerschnauzer

    Good to see Dionne sounding like Krugman.  Krugman has said that he feels he has more influence as a columnist then he would if he took a job in the executive branch.  I don't know. His advice has been ignored for 4 years.

  •  It's rather easy... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to say "I would have 'told' Madison to go with the popular vote", as if it hadn't occurred to him to do so. But how would you get the smaller states in the union then?

    In a parliamentary system, nobody gets to cast a direct vote for anything higher than the representative of their own riding. And unlike our system, only in one riding does the name of the person who will eventually run the government actually appear by name on the ballot. It's essentially a federation of ridings. The US is (so far) much better, a federation at least of sovereign states, actual incorporated entities, rather than arbitrary congressional districts.

    What Preibus want sto do is deplorable, but that doesn't mean the existing systems should be changed.

    "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

    by JackND on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 07:22:55 AM PST

    •  Today's gerrymandered districts aren't arbitrary? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'd agree with you if not for the extreme gerrymandering allowed by today's laws and courts, which plays such a large role in the current Congressional right's craziness and intransigence because of the preponderance of safe Republican districts in which it's not just unnecessary to appeal to moderates but often downright dangerous.

      •  they... (0+ / 0-)

        are, which is why this change would be horrible. Bit state borders aren't arbitrary...they are functioning governments. I'm speaking to the attempt to go to popular vote, which is no more workable now than in Madison's time. A popular vote presidential election means the country can be ignored except for a few huge urban areas. No matter how you run a presidential election, there are constitiuencies that will get the royal shaft. At least in the current system, swing states are a decent cross-section of American life.

        I'd actually like the congressional district apportionment idea if...

        [1] All 50 states used it, and

        [2] All congressional districts were drawn in a nonpartisan fashion. A computer program that used census tract data to construct equally populated congressional districts that are required to have the smallest possible perimeter. have you ever compared a map of Canada's ridings to a map of America's districts?

        "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

        by JackND on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 10:38:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  A bit oversimplified in that explanation. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      No, nobody gets to cast a vote for the prime minister and the heads of ministries other than those in the eventual prime minister's riding and, by happenstance, in the ridings of those made ministers in the new cabinet.

      The big difference, and it is critical, is that those officials serve only as long as they can hold the confidence of a majority of all the other representatives of ridings. If they fail—at any time—to do that they are out and even more "democratic," there are new elections outside the normal periodic elections in which the people get to speak again.

      The voters are not stuck for a set term of years regardless of discontent. Further, in that system, the emotional "flag" like attachment of the public is not all wrapped up in one person so political removal is much less traumatic than in systems where the Head of State and political head reside in one human body. The ole U.K. can politically lop off political "heads" with no hint of regicide. Here we sometimes get confused and, even where impeachment and conviction may be well warranted, it is an unnecessarily traumatic event.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 08:01:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, that's... (0+ / 0-)

        a difference problem with an entirely different fix. That's the excuse often used to describe the reason why Scott Walker survived his recall. But I'm hardpressed to buy that the loss of Scott Walker from the governor's mansion would have been traumatic.

        "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

        by JackND on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 10:43:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have not really heard of the "Head of State" (0+ / 0-)

          problem in our governor issues. I personally have never lived in a state in which the governor has the kind of near worship some give The Queen or The President, an almost visceral feeling some have for the flag. I'd be interested in seeing some detail on Walker getting a big boost from such a thing.

          Certainly some people are hesitant to "embarrass their state," but despite lingering Civil War era state loyalties post WW II and the external threats of the Cold War led to most of that being lodged in the nation. Thus it seems governors lost a lot of that HoS allegiance.

          I knew some Republicans, ones that did not like Clinton at all, who were in almost anxiety mode because of that amalgamation of an opposing political leader and the symbology of The President. I knew a few Democrats, considering "The Shrub" a disgrace who also expressed intense dislike of the use of that term as "disrespectful to the nation" and such. I personally have never experienced that reaction when a governor's performance was being discussed.

          It is a real issue in comparing the systems. Prime ministers are much more politically expendable than our presidents as a result of the individual having political power not having the ultimate pomp and ceremony of HoS. The PM in Commons is subject to some pretty disrespectful stuff cloaked in "respect" while the Queen is not. A more clear eyed separation of political leadership from national pride is something I often find desirable.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 12:33:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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