Friday, December 30, 2011

Last Call

This week's "Obama is DOOOOOOOOOOMED" article comes from CNN, where commentator Brad Chase accuses the President of ignoring the youth vote...and in turn, America's twenty-somethings will completely abandon the Democrats and stay home in 2012 unless the President tackles the student debt crisis.

The sobering reality:  just 55.3 percent of Americans between 16 and 29 have jobs.  And earlier this year, Americans’ student loan debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time ever.

Rather than develop a lasting initiative to help young unemployed Americans, the President launched “Greater Together” – a campaign tool that offers community forums rather than jobs.  Rather than provide a bailout to those crushed by the burden of educational loans, his student debt relief program was pathetic – only reducing interest rates by a measly 0.5 percent.

No wonder less than half of Americans 18-29 approve of Obama.

In other words, candidates in both parties are so busy buying off the Boomers that the broke-ass Millenials simply fail to count.  Chase goes on to say that student debt relief would go a long way in getting voters under 30 back into the big blue tent, along with jobs jobs jobs.

But here's the thing: the Democrats did just that with student loan relief bills in the House and Senate...which are still sitting in committee and have no chance of passage because Republicans immediately vowed to block the legislation in the Senate and have no intention of bringing the bill out of committee in the House.  And the Republicans happily killed the American Jobs Act.

And for this, Millenials should stay home and not vote, nor should they care about what happens because Washington's just going to screw them over anyway, right?

Let me ask you a question.  How does the youth vote staying home get more and better Democrats in Congress?  Answer:  it doesn't.  And the last time the Republicans had control of Congress and the White House?  They passed a law specifically designed to screw over Millenials on student debt, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which classified student loans specifically as debt that cannot be forgiven by bankruptcy and made it harder to declare bankruptcy anyway.

That's what Republicans did for the Millenials.

Now tell me again why attacking President Obama and staying home on Election Day is such a smart idea as far as getting this law fixed, guys.  I'm all ears.

The Reason Behind Mitt's Latest Dodge

Mitt Romney's run into more than a bit of trouble this week trying to dodge the issue of releasing his tax return, something pretty much every presidential hopeful has done during campaign season since Nixon.  He's even gotten his son Matt in on trying to change the subject guessed it...President Obama's "real" birth certificate.

Josh Marshall makes a pretty damned good educated guess as to why Mittens is jumping through any hoop he can find in order to prevent any squinting at his tax numbers:  It's because Romney would prove the Buffett Rule.

This is Romney’s problem. While we don’t know the specifics of Romney’s tax returns, we know enough about his finances and sources of incomes to know that he is the poster-boy for the Buffett Rule. As Romney likes to say, he’s unemployed. He doesn’t draw a salary. But he seems to still be making big big money off capital gains which are currently taxed at a very low rate. He doesn’t seem to have drawn a salary at any time recently. So he likely pays no payroll taxes. And that’s before you get into legal but aggressive tax-sheltering. It seems virtually impossible that Mitt Romney doesn’t pay the sort of effective tax rate that would make people’s eyes pop when compared to middle income and even relatively wealthy (by normal standards) people who pay considerably higher rates.

That might cause a little problem in any election year. But issues of income inequality and particularly tax policy are right at the top of the political agenda in 2012. And that dictates keeping those tax returns under wraps as long as possible. 

And Mitt's big issue, the plaid shirts, the hokey family stuff, the "unemployed" jibes at campaign stops, all are focused on selling him as an ordinary guy.  His tax return would all but annihilate that illusion, and it would be in a way that Romney couldn't equivocate about:  numbers don't lie (or at least, they sure had better not lie on a tax return for a presidential candidate.)

If America figures out that Mitt paid less of an effective tax rate than Americans who really are middle-class, salt of the earth types, then he's done.  Millionaire Mitt would get squashed in the realm of Occupy Wall Street, Inequalistan and Republicans fighting to empty the pockets of working Americans.  He knows it would be the final flip that he couldn't flop on, and he'd be on the record.

If Mitt was smart, this would have been the perfect Friday to dump this news on, just before a holiday weekend and the Village bound and determined to declare Mitt the winner no matter what happens in Iowa on Tuesday.  As it is, the longer he draws it out, the worse it's going to be when he finally has to do it.

Fire Walker Chronicles, Part 7

Looks like not only will Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker get his day in court to argue that the state's recall process is unconstitutional, but that Democrats will be locked out of the case, unable to present arguments to defend the recall.

A judge in Wisconsin has ruled that Democratic recall organizers cannot challenge a lawsuit brought by the state GOP against election officials — a suit that claims Gov. Scott Walker’s constitutional rights are being violated by the state’s petition review process.

This means that barring a hypothetical appeal, any continuing litigation in this matter will be conducted exclusively between the state GOP and the election board’s attorney, without the Dems themselves being able to participate and present legal arguments.

“I was a little surprised,” said Jeremy Levinson, the attorney for the recall committee, in an interview with TPM. “It’s the first time I can recall — let me rephrase — it’s the first time I’m aware of a recall-related lawsuit where only the official who is being targeted for recall gets to be a party, and the folks who are working to recall that official are shut out of the process.”

It does seem rather pointedly ridiculous that Walker's argument is that the burden of challenging recall signatures is "unconstitutional" abridgement of his rights, but being able to challenge that very argument in court is apparently completely unnecessary, and that the rights of the people of Wisconsin to exercise their free speech in a state-mandated recall process doesn't actually matter so much compared to being Governor.

No wonder that the GOP filed the lawsuit in their home turf of Waukesha County to get a friendly judge, in this case a former GOP State Senator.  The case will proceed forward next week with that same judge hearing Walker's arguments and the motion to dismiss the case on January 5th.  Meanwhile Walker and his allies are pushing to win the battle of public opinion, having already spent over a million bucks in ads fighting the recall petition in just the last six weeks.

We'll see how that goes.

Breaking Celebrity Gossip: Russell Brand Files For Divorce

Russell Brand is filing for divorce from Katy Perry, TMZ just broke the story.

I'm a Katy Perry fan because I admire her honest and down to earth approach to her lifestyle.  I think she has a long career ahead of her once she breaks free of Teenage Dream and all that comes with it.  Brand... well, he has no talent.  He plays the same schmuck over and over which makes me think he isn't acting at all, and to blindisde your spouse with a divorce announcement through TMZ is just plain chicken.  As of right now, that seems to be the story.

Maybe old Russ will have a new reason to show his skanky smirk in photos.  He was clearly the non-talent of the marriage and I hope Katy leaves him broke and depressed.  Hey, there's always Arthur: On The Rocks to look forward to, right?

Best And Worst Video of 2011

My favorite is short, sweet and hilarious.

... and now we have the worst.

In "Republican Wisdom" this old lady shows us exactly why we must never vote for the GOP.  It's a bit dated, the Herman Cain reference is hilarious.

Legalizing Marijuana: You're Doing It Right (Finally)

According to the Huffington Post, Colorado has become the third state to ask the DEA to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule II drug.  This means it could be prescribed, but would be controlled by the same methods used to regulate morphine and other powerful painkillers.

Regardless of what one might think about recreational marijuana use, the reality is it has some medical applications.  I have known two men from two completely different backgrounds benefit from marijuana during their final weeks battling cancer.  It helped them eat, it raised their spirits a little, and there was no harm done to them whatsoever.  Marijuana does have medical benefits, and a little work could make it to patients could enjoy the benefits without the risk of smoking it.  Right now it is classified as Schedule I, which means it has no medical use, no positive effects.  That is incorrect.

Sixteen states have legalized marijuana and are fighting the sudden decision to enforce laws that have been on the books and ignored.  Rhode Island and Washington have started calling for reclassification.  It would make sense to hear it out and get a new understanding.  In a perfect world, both sides would speak truthfully and let the DEA come to a logical and scientific ruling.  In reality there will be a mess, and any decisions will be appealed and stalled while the losing side refuses to acknowledge their loss.  Giving the dying any relief at all is good enough for me, but any attempt to rob us of the chance to openly debate and explore is unfair and unethical.

Was it right for the states to operate in opposition of federal law?  No.  Calling for an evaluation based on new evidence is fair and ethically sound.  They deserve our support.

Rick Rolling The Country

Rick Santorum has a frothily exciting plan to solve poverty:  get hitched and graduate, poor people!

“Do you know if you do two things in your life — if you do two things in your life, you’re guaranteed never to be in poverty in this country? What two things, that if you do, will guarantee that you will not be in poverty in America?” he asked the crowd.

Number one, graduate from high school. Number two, get married. Before you have children,” he said. “If you do those two things, you will be successful economically. What does that mean to a society if everybody did that? What that would mean is that poverty would be no more. If you want to have a strong economy, there are two basic things we can do.”

I'm sure that's news to the millions of married working poor in this 2004 study and these latest figures showing that some 8-10% of married couples with kids are in fact below the poverty line.

Sure, you're more likely to be in poverty in a one-income family headed by a single mother.  But the notion that a high-school diploma and marriage prevents poverty completely as Santorum claims is pretty ludicrous.  The real issue with poverty is jobs and education, and Republicans are pretty keen on cutting the social net in order to "force" people to take jobs, like cutting medicine will force people to stop being sick.

And yes, there are people with advanced degrees on food stamps. It happens.  How does Santorum explain that away?  Also, he's completely against same-sex marriage, which would increase the number of married couples in the country.

He's Rick rolling voters.

Mutual Admiration Society

Once again, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton top Gallup's most admired list in 2011.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama continue to be named by Americans as the Most Admired Woman and Most Admired Man living today in any part of the world. Clinton has been the Most Admired Woman each of the last 10 years, and Obama has been the Most Admired Man four years in a row. Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, and Condoleezza Rice round out the top five Most Admired women, while the top five Most Admired men also include George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Billy Graham, and Warren Buffett.

Most Admired Woman, 2011
Most Admired Man, 2011

President Obama wins by a pretty big margin there, as does Hillary Clinton. And it's really saying something that Mitt Romney is nowhere near that list, while Newt, The Donald, Moose Lady and the Bachmanniac are.  I'm betting if you take a look back at this list the year before each Presidential election, you'd find some pretty embarrassing people on that list.

It also has to really piss off the wingers that this is year number 20 Hillary Clinton is on the list, now officially passing Nancy Reagan's 19 times in the top 10.  The Reverend Billy Graham has been on this list a staggering 55 times now...but has never finished first.

Number 11 this year for the men?  Tim Tebow.  Mitt is 13 behind The Dalai Lama.  McCain, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, John Kerry, and Chinese Premier Liu Xiaobo all down the list too.

For the ladies, Angelina Joile is 11, followed by Princess Kate.  Gabby Giffords is 15, and Nancy Pelosi edges out Nancy Reagan at 21 and 22, respectively.  Somehow, J-Lo is 17, but I blame that damn Fiat commercial.

Oh, and this is the first year Michelle Obama has edged out Sarah Palin since the two of them appeared on the list in 2008.  Palin was in the double digits the last three years.  Oops.


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