I don’t mean to push this Bloggingheads episode at you guys too much, but Latoya was so, so good breaking down the reasons Monique refused to play the Academy’s campaign games, and why it matters. For the backstory behind Monique’s win for Best Supporting Actress, check at least this excerpt out:
Must see Naomi Oreskes talk on Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscure the Truth about Climate Change.
Naomi Oreskes’ upcoming book, Merchants of Doubt, explains “the troubling story of how a cadre of influential scientists have clouded public understanding of scientific facts to advance a political and economic agenda.”
The prolific UC San Diego professor discusses the history of both our understanding of human-caused global warming and the anti-science disinformation campaign in this terrific talk from last week:
There are a lot of charter schools in Harlem and they’re a very popular option for Harlem parents, so many local residents were involved in advocacy for the New York State Legislature to allow more charters to open. The local state senator, however, has become a charter opponent. And his stated reason for opposition is mighty odd:
But Mr. Perkins’s stance on charters has turned him into something of a polarizing figure himself. He says he opposes an increase in charter schools, even though many of his constituents seem to want more of them, because he believes they have allowed the mayor and the schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, to abdicate their responsibility to improve Harlem’s regular elementary schools, which have shrunk as more parents have chosen charters.
“If there are people fleeing from something, it is cause for alarm,” he said in an interview in his office. Using an analogy he favors when talking about charter schools, he said: “That should tell you there is a fire, and those who are responsible should find out what is causing that fire, not just create a new place for those who flee and leave the rest inside to burn there.”
It’s of course true that it would be strange to ignore an ongoing fire in favor of simply creating new places for people to flee to. But by the same token, it would be strange to refuse to accommodate people who’ve fled a burning building on the grounds that you need to put the fire out.
The world of education politics often seems oddly dominated by the presupposition that doing one thing somehow precludes you from doing anything else. New York’s relative stinginess about letting charter schools open has created a very high quality pool of charters. You almost certainly couldn’t increase the number of charters to a high enough level to accommodate everyone while maintaining the standard of quality. So as Perkins says, it’s crucial to work on improving the city’s “regular” public schools. But there’s no reason to think that creating some new opportunities for people to open charters in any way prevents improvements in the regular city schools from happening.
If anything, the existence of a modest degree of competition from charter operators can help motivate the officials in charge of the main NYC public schools to think hard about making the schools they’re running more appealing. In the suburbs of a large metropolitan area, you basically have parallel public school systems competing against each other—if Town A’s schools perform much better than Town B’s, then that makes Town A more attractive and its property values go up. Which gives officials in both towns incentives to try to deliver a reasonable standard of educational services. Lower income urban families typically don’t have that range of options in terms of where they want to live, but having charters operate in parallel with other schools creates something of the same effect.
It’s nothing new to learn that there are quality-control problems at the Washington Post op-ed page, but Kevin Carey’s demolishing of Lamar Alexander’s op-ed on SAFRA is really something to behold. If the Post feels that it has an obligation to print any op-ed that any Senator is willing to sign his name to, irrespective of accuracy, then I suppose that’s fine. But Senator-signed op-eds should come with some kind of warning label, then. Something like “I, Fred Hiatt, because I like making a mockery of the idea of ethical journalism, make it my practice to run op-eds by Senators whether or not they’re riddled with factual errors and deliberate efforts to mislead the audience.”
Meanwhile, I take it that if Lamar Alexander had something false he wanted to tell people about the SAT—like if he wanted to say it was bad test-taking strategy to guess randomly even if you’re able to narrow it down to two options—that Kaplan wouldn’t let him write that in one of their test prep books. Their feeling, as I understand it, is that if they expect people to pay money for test prep books then the information in the books had better be reliable and not just reflect something or other some powerful person happened to want to say..
There’s a great graphic in today’s NYT summing up the past uses of the budget reconciliation process and making it clear that pretty much everything Republican Senators have said on the subject is a lie.
James Cameron: “We need to mobilize like we did during World War II” to fight global warming. The threat to our country and children is “that severe.”
I’m very interested in your thoughts on Avatar.
Here are mine on the must-see movie — but flawed eco-pic — and the controversies surrounding it:
[Mild spoiler alert, I suppose, but then if you can't figure out how this movie is going to end, well, you have led a very sheltered life.]
This morning, during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned House Democrats that they will be held accountable for voting for the “special deals” in the Senate bill even if they eliminate those provisions in reconciliation. “Every election this fall will be a referendum on this bill,” McConnell said:
As everyone understands, if the House passes the Senate bill, it goes straight to the President for signature. So all of this discussion about the second bill, the reconciliation bill is really kind of irrelevant. If the House passes the Senate bill that goes to the President for a signature, that means that every single member of the House who would have voted for this, would have voted for the kickback, the purchase, the Gatorade, all of that, the Medicare cuts.
McConnell’s comments are part of an orchestrated Republican effort to “scare House Democrats against voting for the health care plan, arguing that there’s no guarantee that the Senate approves a reconciliation package.” On CNBC, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) mused that “once they pass the great big bill, I wouldn’t be surprised if the White House didn’t care if reconciliation passed. I mean, why would they?” In an interview on Fred Thompson’s radio show, Gregg also suggested that reconciliation was “almost irrelevant.”
Republicans have said that they will try to delay the reconciliation process by overwhelming the senate with amendments and invoking “the Byrd rule to ask the parliamentarian to strip individual provisions.” Still, Republicans are uncertain that this strategy will succeed. “There will be a lot of Democrats who will vote against it. Whether there will be 11 Democrats who will vote against it is not clear,” McConnell admitted last week.
Reps Mike Pence and Jeb Hensarling have a “plan” to reduce government spending by writing a constitutional amendment that would restrict spending to 20 percent of GDP.
Daniel Gross decided to follow this idea up with a bit of reporting:
I e-mailed Mary Vought, press secretary of the House Republican Conference, to see if Reps. Pence and Hensarling had any specific ideas of what to cut. The answer: not really. “That’s not what the Spending Limit Amendment is about,” she e-mailed back. The congressmen do have ideas to reform spending, but the real issue is to focus on the process. “Talking about savings in the budget before we have even decided how much the savings need to be is putting the cart before the horse.”
I don’t have much of a settled view about Jeb Hensarling, but we’re seeing here again that Mike Pence is a stone-cold idiot. In terms of carts and horses, this is just bizarre. The appropriate level of overall government spending should be determined by adding up the level of specific spending on worthwhile things. Programs that are ineffective, or whose impact is small relative to the impact of the taxes needed to pay for them, should be cut or eliminated. Programs that are good should be maintained or expanded. Settling on an arbitrary number first and then making unspecified cuts to reach the target is ridiculous.
With President Obama endorsing the use of the budget reconciliation process in the Senate to finish health care reform, Republicans have flown into overdrive to discredit the simple majority procedural tool. Use of reconciliation would be “ripping a piece of the fabric of America off,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) on Saturday.
On CBS News’ Face The Nation today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) declared that use of reconciliation “would be catastrophic.” Sensitive to charges of hypocrisy over the fact that Republicans have pushed legislation through the reconciliation process more often than Democrats have, Graham claimed that every time the GOP used reconciliation the bills “received bipartisan support”:
GRAHAM: Well, reconciliation will be used to clean up the Senate bill to make House members happy. House members are going to vote for the Senate bill and they hate it. And the Senate and the president saying, OK, we’re going to change what you don’t like.
And when it comes to the Republicans, you all don’t matter anymore. You just need a simple majority. So reconciliation will empower a bill that was very partisan. We’ve had reconciliation votes, but all of them had received bipartisan support. The least was 12 when we did reconciliation with tax cuts.
Graham’s claim that “the least” amount of Democratic votes a GOP reconciliation bill received “was 12″ is flat out false. As The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky has detailed, during the Bush presidency, the Republican-controlled Senate passed three reconciliation bills with three or less Democratic votes. The 2003 Bush tax cuts were supported by only two Democrats and needed Vice President Dick Cheney’s tie-breaking vote to pass:
|Vote Count||Bipartisan support?
College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007*
|79-12-9||Yes, although all 12 voting against it were Republicans|
|Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005*||54-44-2||3 Democrats (Nelson (D-NE), Nelson (D-FL), Pryor (D-AR)) voted for it|
|Deficit Reduction Act of 2005*||52-47||2 Democrats (Landrieu (D-LA) and Nelson (D-NE))|
|Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003*||50-50||2 Democrats (Nelson (D-NE) and Miller (D-GA)) voted for it|
|Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001*||58-33-2-7||Yes|
|Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000*||60-34-5||Yes|
|Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999*||50-49||Yes, 3 Democrats (Breaux (D-LA), Landrieu (D-LA), Torricelli (D-NJ)) voted for it|
|Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997||92-8||Yes|
|Balanced Budget Act of 1997*||85-15||Yes|
|Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act*||74-24-2||Yes|
|Balanced Budget Act of 1995*||52-47||Yes|
|Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993||49-49-2||No|
|Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990*||54-46||Yes|
|Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989*||87-7-6||Yes|
In 2005, Graham voted for two of the reconciliation bills that passed with three or fewer Democratic votes, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 and the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.
Transcript: Read more
Mitt Romney continued to praise Massachusetts’ health care reforms this Sunday, telling Fox News Sundays’ Chris Wallace, “I think our plan is working well. And perhaps the best thing I can say about it, it’s saving lives. It is the ultimate pro-life effort,” Romney said, “people who otherwise could have lost their lives are now able to get the kind of care they deserve”:
ROMNEY: One of the members of my administration told me two days ago, after she left our administration, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. And that had she not been in Massachusetts, she would not have been able to receive the insurance that she needed and the specialist care that has now saved her life. That is the biggest reason for helping people get insurance.
Romney also highlighted his support for the individual health insurance mandate and described the Massachusetts reform as “the ultimate conservative plan.” “We said people have to take responsibility for getting insurance if they can afford it or paying their own way. No more free riders.” Watch it:
Indeed, Massachusetts enjoys the lowest uninsurance rate in the country and requires insurance issuers to offer comprehensive benefits to their beneficiaries. Uninsured residents below 300% of the federal poverty level can participate in the state-subsidized Commonwealth Care program where members get health services by enrolling in health plans which cover a comprehensive package of benefits like “doctor’s visits, surgery, radiology and lab” and abortion services — a procedure Romney says he now opposes.
Moreover, when Wallace hinted that Romney’s support for the Massachusetts plan could also apply to the very similar Senate health care bill, Romney explained that unlike the Senate bill, his plan did little to control costs or cut Medicare spending. “A big difference. state plan versus a federal plan. No new taxes, unlike his plan. No cut in medicare, unlike his plan and no controls over insurance premiums, price controls, cost controls like his plan,” he said.
For a chart comparing the similarities between the Senate and Massachusetts health care reform plans, click here.