Republican state representative Frederick Ladd Wintle is in custody today after allegedly threatening to shoot a photographer with the Maine Morning Sentinel in the parking lot of a Dunkin Donuts in Waterville. The representative from Garland, Maine, approached the photographer, Michael Seamans, in a deranged manner and then pointed a gun at him at point-blank range, according to the Portland Press Herald:
In what police termed a “bizarre” series of events, Wintle allegedly started talking to Seamans about the infant that died this week at Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter on Ticonic Street and said he was looking for the mother’s drug dealer.
News reports made no mention of drugs involved in the infant’s death and did not reveal the family.
He then pulled a .22-caliber handgun out of his pants’ waistband and pointed it at Seamans in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot, located on Kennedy Memorial Drive.
Police confirmed that Seamans was “an innocent bystander” who did nothing to provoke Wintle. The two men reportedly had never met before. Wintle seems to be something of an amateur historian, and has “penned a series of stories about his miss-spent youth and family, faith, and heritage.” In what appears to be Wintle’s website promoting his writing, his biography suggests an interest in hunting, saying he “was born on opening day of deer hunting season October 21, 1952.”
Very smart take from Mark Schmitt on the implications of a plan that promises to cut the 54-and-under crowd off from Medicare:
If there was ever going to be a generational war in this country, that high school class of ’74 would be its Mason-Dixon line. It’s the moment when Bill Clinton’s promise—“if you work hard and play by the rules you’ll get ahead”—began to lose its value. Today’s seniors and near-seniors spent much of their working lives in that postwar world, with their incomes rising, investments gaining, their health increasingly secure, and their retirements predictable. Everyone 55 and younger spent his or her entire working life in an economy where all those trends had stalled or reversed. To borrow former White House economist Jared Bernstein’s phrase, it was the “You’re On Your Own” economy. Finally, those 55-year-olds are spending several of what should be their peak earning years, years when they should be salting away money in their 401(k)s and IRAs, in a period of deep recession and very slow recovery.
The Ryan plan, in other words, delivers to the older generation exactly what they’ve had all their lives—secure and predictable benefits—and to the next generation, more of what they’ve known—insecurity and risk. It’s hardly the first generational fight the GOP has started. The previous one was just last fall, when they campaigned for Medicare, and against the $500 billion in cuts (mostly by getting rid of the overgenerous subsidies to private insurers in an experimental program) passed as part of the Affordable Care Act. With an off-year electorate that was overwhelmingly older, they could put all their bets on the older side, knowing that seniors would see little benefit from the Affordable Care Act and were naturally worried about any change to the health system they enjoyed.
Last week, President Obama said that “a lasting peace” between the Israelis and the Palestinians “will involve two states” and that “the borders of Israel and Palestine be based on the 1967 lines.” The American right has since accused Obama of selling out Israel despite the fact that the idea Obama proposed isn’t really all that controversial. Mitt Romney said the President threw Israel “under the bus,” while others like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said the President “betrayed” Israel and that “Obama’s call for 1967 borders will cause chaos, division & more aggression in Middle East & put Israel at further risk.” Yet Israel’s opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, reportedly backs Obama’s rhetoric, and she chastised Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu for coming out against the Obama administration:
Tzipi Livni, leader of Israel’s opposition Kadima party, also backed Mr Obama’s two-state solution and accused Mr Netanyahu of putting Israel at risk in order to save his right-wing coalition.
“The prime minister has violated relations between Israel and the United States,” she said, speaking after Mr Obama’s speech but before the Oval Office meeting. “He has endangered the security of Israel and its power of deterrence.”
Two weeks ago, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) marked “a new era for education in Indiana” when he signed into law one of the most expansive school voucher laws in the country, opening up a huge fund of tax dollars for private schools. A few days later, the Wisconsin state Assembly vastly expanded school vouchers, freeing up tax dollars even for private religious schools. GOP legislators in the Pennsylvania Senate say they have the votes to pass a sweeping voucher bill of their own. And on Capitol Hill, House Republicans successfully revived Washington, D.C.’s voucher system after it was killed off two years ago.
This rapid expansion of voucher programs — which undermine and undercut public education by funnelling taxpayer money to private schools — is remarkable. After all, vouchers have been unpopular with the American public. Between 1966 and 2000, vouchers were put up for a vote in states 25 times, and voters rejected the program 24 of those times.
Yet if one looks behind the curtain — at the foundations, non-profits, Political Action Committees (PAC) — into the workings of the voucher movement, it’s apparent why it has gained strength in recent years. A tight-knit group of right-wing millionaires and billionaires, bankers, industrialists, lobby shops, and hardcore ideologues has been plotting this war on public education, quietly setting up front group after front group to promote the idea that the only way to save public education is to destroy it — disguising their movement with the innocent-sounding moniker of “school choice.”
ThinkProgress has prepared this report to expose this network and give Americans the knowledge they need to fight back against this assault on the nation’s public schools. Here are some of the top millionaires and their organizations waging war on our education system: Read more
At a press conference last week, someone asked Chris Christie for his views on evolution vs. creationism. “That’s none of your business,” the New Jersey governor barked in response.
Weisberg moves on quickly to other things, just using this as an illustrative example. But it’s worth highlighting the fact that it absolutely is our business whether or not Chris Christie believes in evolution. This isn’t like asking whether Christie’s secretly a Rangers fan or something. Christie oversees education policy for the state of New Jersey and they teach biology in New Jersey schools. You can look up the state’s life science curriculum standards if you scroll down a bit here (it’s section 5.3) and it involves evolution. And rightly so! Does Christie stand by that, or doesn’t he?
This week is National Police Week, an annual week of commemoration for the nation’s police officers that began in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy signed “a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day.”
To mark this week’s celebration of those who protect and serve, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) attended multiple events throughout his district this week, praising his district’s police officers. These events were posted on Youtube. Watch a ThinkProgress compilation of West’s remarks before his district’s police officers:
There is certainly nothing wrong with West praising his district’s police officers, especially during a week where the country is thanking those who risk their lives to keep us safe and secure.
However, West’s gracious words for the nation’s police forces do not reflect his votes in Congress. West was a supporter of the GOP continuing resolution and budget plans, which cut $600 million to the long-standing Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which channels federal dollars to local police forces across the country. If the cuts had passed into law, the GOP would have been “essentially killing the program.”
Numerous police officers in West’s district have been recipient of COPS grants. The program’s website shows that one city he represents, Hollywood, Florida, received $1,885,038 in grants for six officers:
The killing of Osama bin Laden was a just and necessary undertaking; just because he had the blood of thousands of innocents on his hands, and necessary because his continued escape from justice was an inspiration to others to try to follow in his footsteps. But it should not be occasion for joy. The Talmud tells the story of angels dancing and singing as the waters of the Red Sea close over the heads of the Egyptian troops after the Israelites have safely crossed over, only to be rebuked by their God: “How dare you dance and sing as my children drown in the sea?”
[Geoffrey] Robertson attributes the murder to “America’s obsessive belief in capital punishment—alone among advanced nations—[which] is reflected in its rejoicing at the manner of bin Laden’s demise.” For example, Nation columnist Eric Alterman writes that “The killing of Osama bin Laden was a just and necessary undertaking.”
Eric “It Should Not Be Occasion For Joy” Alterman now counts as an “example” of “rejoicing at the manner of bin Laden’s demise”? How so?
For the record, my view is that Alterman is too generous to the Obama administration here. Killing Osama bin Laden was a perfectly legal and valid course of action under US and domestic law, but the option of asking US forces to put themselves at risk for the sake of taking bin Laden alive seems to have existed. I don’t think the government was under a legal obligation to pursue that option, but the decision not to pursue it was a policy choice and not a forced move.
On Monday, the United States officially hit its debt limit, meaning that the government is no longer legally able to borrow. However, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has tools at his disposal to delay the U.S. defaulting on its obligations until about August 2.
House Republicans, for months, have been saying that they are willing to raise the debt ceiling, with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) admitting that failure to do so would be “irresponsible,” while House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that not raising the debt ceiling is “unworkable.” But Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) this week let the cat out of the bag, outright calling for the U.S. to default. “By defaulting on the debt, in the short and long term, it could benefit us to go through a period of crisis that forces politicians to make decisions” on major policies that affect the budget,” he said.
Actually allowing the U.S. to default on its debt would have widespread consequences for the U.S. and world economies, including potentially pushing the U.S. back into a recession or, in the words of Princeton Professor Alan Blinder, “reignit[ing] the world financial crisis.” And as the Wall Street Journal noted today, failure to raise the debt ceiling would force draconian spending cuts that would wipe out all of the anticipated 2011 economic growth in just 95 days:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has warned that if the debt limit isn’t increased by August 2, the government will no longer be able to spend more than it collects in revenue. That means it will have to cut spending by about 35%, probably choosing among such items as payments to contractors, soldiers’ salaries, social security and Medicare. On average, the cuts would amount to about $3.8 billion a day, according to our own estimates based on projections from the Congressional Budget Office. At that rate, over a period of only 95 days, the cuts would add up to 2.9% of gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation. That’s just enough to negate all the economic growth forecasters expect in 2011.
Back in 1983, conservative icon Ronald Reagan warned of “incalculable damage” if the debt ceiling were not raised. Today’s Republicans would do well to take heed.
More than a year later, such outlandish rhetoric continues unabated.
This week, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) met with constituents for a town hall meeting in Astatula, FL. During the event, a constituent asked Webster about how repealing health reform would affect citizens like her who have cancer (or other preexisting conditions) and found it next to impossible to get insurance in the private market. Webster agreed with the constituent that – despite his voting to strip such protections in January – preexisting conditions ought to be covered by insurance. However, Webster then went on to tell the audience that unless the health reform law, which covers preexisting conditions, is repealed, “we won’t have a country” anymore:
CONSTITUENT: All the years that your party has had to work on this, you still don’t have an answer for people like me, if I have a cancer recurrence before I’m eligible for Medicare, what’s your answer for people like me? You’ve been working on it year after year after year, and you never have an answer. I’m sorry, but it’s unacceptable to find out that there’s a clinic someplace that serves primary care to Medicare or Medicaid patients, when I want to know who serves cancer care to people with preexisting conditions who are uninsurable in a private marketplace because they’re interested in profits.
WEBSTER: Thank you for that question and I’ll answer it. Here’s how I’ll answer you first. I got to Congress here. [Points to January 2011] [...] I’ve told you, first of all, that I believe there is a need to have preexisting conditions covered. I’ve said that. So I’m not trying to eliminate that at all, and that would be the answer to your question. All I’m saying is, left to the community and the states and having partnerships will free us from this. [Points to debt chart] We can’t afford it. We can either do it on borrowed money and run our country into the ground and then no one gets coverage because we won’t have a country.
Still, Webster isn’t the only one predicting dire consequences for our country as a result of health reform. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) surmised that “a lot of people are going to die,” while Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) recently said that if you believe in a right to health care, “you believe in slavery.” Last year, then-House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) even called the law “Armageddon” that will “ruin our country.”
Listening to such over-the-top rhetoric, one can certainly be forgiven for believing that the rapture is indeed nigh.
European Union economic policy often seems to proceed largely on the basis of national stereotypes, so as a reality check it’s always worth looking at Ye Old Chart of hours worked:
The high-savings, high-exports Dutch and Germans do the least work of any OECD economy. Italians are so much harder working than northern Europeans that they leave Anglophones and even the Japanese in the dust.