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ThinkProgress filed this report from Des Moines, IA.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) first stop in Iowa – the state that will hold the first caucus in the 2012 presidential primary – came to a sudden end Friday afternoon when a fire alarm went off, causing Romney to urge attendees to evacuate the building.
Romney had finished his speech and was taking questions from the event’s moderator when a fire alarm went off in the Historical Building in downtown Des Moines, IA. The moderator had been questioning Romney on his lack of visits to Iowa and whether he, as a moderate former governor from a traditionally Democratic state could win a caucus dominated by social conservatives. Fortunately for Romney, he wasn’t able to answer:
ROMNEY: I believe in following safety first, so I would. … This is going to keep on going. … You know, discretion is the better part of valor, so I think we ought to be very careful and very carefully go outside.
Romney promised attendees that he wasn’t attempting to get out of answering their questions, and with that, the building was evacuated. The crowd and a pack of national media members followed Romney outside, where he spoke with attendees and autographed pictures.
At least one Iowan wasn’t thrilled that Romney was cutting his first appearance in Iowa short. A woman approached Romney outside the event and asked why he had decided to announce his presidential intentions in New Hampshire — which he will reportedly do on June 2 — as opposed to in Iowa. She also criticized Romney for not prioritizing the Iowa caucus. “It’s an insult to Iowa,” she said.
Romney finished second to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucus during his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination, collecting 25 percent of the vote. Romney is currently the front-runner in several national polls, but he hasn’t seemed to make Iowa a priority this time around. This was his first visit to the state in seven months, when he campaigned for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R).
Allright, as previously noted there’s going to be no new content here on the celebrated Matthew Yglesias blog until Tuesday morning when you’ll see an All New Redesign of not just this blog, but the entire (and growing) ThinkProgress family of hypertext products:
Enjoy Memorial Day. I’ll be in New York not blogging. It occurs to me that it’s probably been eight years since I’ve gone that long without writing a post, so there’s some chance of maniacal tweeting or something.
The United States of America is, by global or historical standards, an extremely wealthy society. Under the circumstances, I often think it’s helpful to try to refocus political debates a bit away from fixation on wealth/income/GDP and talk about concrete specific national problems. Annie Lowrey’s article on the myriad ills (obesity, stress, insomnia, back pain, anxiety, loneliness, etc.) associated with long commutes is an excellent example. Any given individual can usually improve his commute by getting richer. If you take the bus to work, you can buy a car instead. You can move to a better location. Whatever. But it’s hard to see how a 10 percent increase in per capita GDP is going to translate into better commutes across the board. The speed of car commuting, at this point, is limited by the presence of other cars on the road not by technological impediments to making cars go faster.
But just because we can’t improve commuting by getting richer doesn’t mean we can’t improve commuting! It means we have to improve policy in other regards. Specifically congestion pricing and better housing policy could easily put more people within walking distance of their jobs, increase the number of people with access to high-quality rail transit, and speed up automobile and bus commutes.
Yesterday, presidential candidate and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) praised the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a law passed by Arizona in 2007 that allows the state to either suspend or revoke the business licenses of state employers who knowingly or intentionally employ undocumented immigrants. “I applaud the United States Supreme Court in upholding Arizona’s right to do what the Federal government has failed to do and confront the problem of illegal immigration,” Pawlenty said. Curiously, Pawlenty also decided to go after Obama for breaking a campaign promise he made to address immigration:
President Obama broke his promise to address illegal immigration, leaving states and businesses in an untenable situation. As governor, I took aggressive steps towards better enforcement of illegal immigration, but ultimately we need a President who will be serious about fixing America’s immigration system.
Yet, perhaps Pawlenty forgot the specifics of Obama’s promise. In speech before the League of United Latin American Citizens in 2008, Obama pledged to make immigration “a top priority in my first year as President – not only because we have an obligation to secure our borders and get control of who comes in and out of our country…but because we have to finally bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.” He told Univision anchor Jorge Ramos that he would reintroduce comprehensive immigration reform that puts undocumented immigrants on a path to legalization and creates a workable legal immigration system.
Clearly, that never happened, and a handful of Democratic lawmakers and immigration advocates are seeking to hold Obama accountable to his promises in an effort to alleviate some of the suffering in immigrant communities. Yet, for Pawlenty to start calling Obama out for failing to push through immigration reform without also holding his own party responsible comes off as pure political pandering.
Let’s revisit some of the reasons why immigration reform has failed to be introduced over the past three years. Obama always made clear that immigration reform stood in a line with health care reform, energy legislation, and financial regulatory changes and that at least a few Republicans are needed to pass a bill. Republicans responded by dragging out and attempting to block almost every single piece of legislation that Democrats put before them. After an unnecessarily long and nasty health care debate in 2009, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — the only Republican planning on co-sponsoring an immigration bill — pulled out, saying the “well has been poisoned.” Bipartisanship on immigration fizzled, and Republicans in Congress shifted their focus to things like ramping up deportations and overturning the 14th amendment to deny the American-born children of undocumented immigrants citizenship.
It’s unclear how Pawlenty would have handled all of this differently. He has avoided articulating any firm stance on immigration, other than stating the obvious: The immigration system “we currently have is broken” and that “the system needs to be legal and reasonable and orderly and that is not what we have now.”
His party’s platform on the issue though is pretty clear. The GOP’s Pledge to America makes no mention of immigration reform. Instead, it promises to secure the border, block the DREAM Act, and endorse Arizona’s approach to illegal immigration.
“IF WE ALLOW GAY MARRIAGE NEXT THING U KNOW PEOPLE WILL BE MARRYING GOLD FISH’ – Rick Santorum UO contributed $13,000 to this mans campaign”tweeted Cyrus, mocking Santorum for some earlier remarks regarding gay marriage.
She also wrote about Urban Outfitters and Santorum: “Not only do they steal from artists but every time you give them money you help finance a campaign against gay equality.”
It may not be the best news for Santorum, who is expected to launch his campaign next week since Cyrus has over a million Twitter followers. Fortunately for him, however, most are probably too young to vote.
I think we should take the Miley Cyrus demographic more seriously than that. Celebrities risk alienating fans if they wade into partisan politics. But Cyrus knows perfectly well that among her core audience of young people, combatting anti-gay bigotry isn’t a divisive issue. For younger Americans, it’s just common sense. Whether or not her fans are able to vote in the 2012 election, they’ll be voting in 2014 or 2016 or 2018 and so forth for decades. And the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of politicians out there right now amassing a record on LGBT equity that horrifies the younger generation. That’s a big deal.
Three months after voting to eliminate funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) now says he’s outraged that the EPA isn’t doing more to protect the health of residents in his district. Barletta is insisting that the agency pay special attention to an area in Pittson, PA, after one resident alleged that a tunnel near a Superfund site gave him cancer. The EPA held an open house and information session to address the concerns of residents in the area, but said it did not plan to conduct further testing. This outraged Barletta, who called their decision “unacceptable”:
On Wednesday, Barletta sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson asking the agency to perform additional testing in the Carroll/Mill Street neighborhood.[...]“Frankly, this is unacceptable. The EPA’s own Web site indicates that one of the agency’s primary reasons for existence is to ensure that ‘all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.’”[...]
“I was surprised to hear an EPA official basically tell the residents of the Carroll/Mill neighborhood that they would not conduct soil and water testing to find answers. It is absolutely the EPA’s job, and I’m going to make sure that job is done. The residents are scared, and they deserve answers and peace of mind.”
That’s an ironic position for Barletta, considering how often he’s tried to prevent the EPA from doing its job. In February, Barletta voted with the rest of the Republican-controlled House for an amendment that slashed funding for the EPA. Republicans were retaliating against the agency for its efforts to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), one of the authors of the amendment, said, “The era of EPA overstepping its authority by imposing over-burdensome and unnecessary regulations at the expense of American businesses is over.”
Barletta’s vote to gut funding for the EPA flew in the face of popular opinion in his own district. A survey by Public Policy Polling found that 70 percent of voters in Barletta’s 11th Congressional District opposed Barletta’s vote to block the EPA from setting limits for carbon dioxide pollution. Those opposed included 58 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans. Voters also opposed Barletta’s votes to “prevent the EPA from reducing arsenic, mercury and other toxic pollution from cement kilns, or from collecting any data about carbon and other pollutants.”
It’s pretty audacious to attack an agency for not doing enough mere months after attacking them for doing too much. Barletta should hope his constituents have short memories and forget his attempts to stop the EPA from upholding health standards that Republicans insisted were a “burden” to business.
Our guest blogger is Annabel Hogg, Special Assistant to the Domestic Policy team working with the Education, Health, and Women’s Rights departments.
The Tea Party movement has begun a disturbing new initiative to rewrite constitutional history in American classrooms.
The Georgia-based Tea Party Patriots group plans to “celebrate” our constitution’s anniversary on September 17 by pushing schools to incorporate lessons from the Idaho-based National Center for Constitutional Studies. This particular organization believes that the constitution was “divinely inspired.” Bill Norton, the leader of the Tea Party Patriot’s “Adopt a School” program, gives seminars around the country for the NCCS.
Glen Beck has praised the center’s founder, W. Cleon Skousen (b. 1913-d. 2006), who in the past made outrageous claims about American slave children being freer than white non-slave children and once called Jamestown’s original settlers “communists.”
“It’s indoctrination, not education. They’re so far from the mainstream of constitutional thought that they are completely indefensible,” said Doug Kendall, director of the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington, D.C.
This is not the first time conservatives have tried to rewrite history. The notoriously conservative Texas Board of Education has tried to downplay the role of American Indians in American history in addition to trying to distort the history of the civil rights movement. It also attempted to amend the Texas curriculum to say that the civil rights movement created “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities.
Even elected officials such as vocal Tea Party Caucus founder Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) seem to think that it’s OK rewrite American history. While speaking to an anti-tax group in Iowa, Bachmann said the founding fathers ended slavery despite the fact that several were slave owners and that slavery was not abolished until after the American Civil War.
At time when studies show our nation’s children are already struggling in social studies, it is irresponsible to present classrooms with recognized misinformation. There are better ways to help students grasp a deeper analysis of historical events – for example, the movement toward Common Core Standards represents a serious effort to encourage critical thinking from students.
We cannot let our history be rewritten along partisan lines. It will come at the cost of our nation’s children understanding of their country’s past. In the end, the actions of Tea Party activists show that they are seeking to distort the very same document they claim to be protecting.
Republicans have spent this week trying to downplay the notion that Democrat Kath Hochul’s upset victory in this week’s special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District was a referendum on the Medicare-ending Republican budget. First, they blamed Tea Party candidate Jack Davis for splitting the conservative vote, but as The New York Times’ Nate Silver, Slate’s Dave Wiegel, and others noted, the math shows it’s highly unlikely that Republican Jane Corwin would have won even without Davis.
With the Davis-as-spoiler talking point debunked, the new conservative argument seems to be that Corwin was an inferior candidate, so her loss speaks more about Corwin than about Medicare. “Jane Corwin was not a good candidate,” wrote Erick Erickson, editor of the influential Tea Party blog Red State. “Certainly the Democrats made Paul Ryan’s medicare plan an issue, and certainly it was not hugely popular. But to say that is why Corwin was defeated is spin devoid of fact.”
Speaking carefully, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin that Corwin “allowed her opponent to define her.” He dismissed the idea that the vote was a referendum on the GOP Medicare plan as “noise being created by some partisan journalists and Democrats.”
Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West (R-FL) had even harsher words for Corwin on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal yesterday, saying she was inferior even to former Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY), who resigned in disgrace following his Craigslist sex scandal:
WEST: I think Chris Lee won that election back in November with I think more than 70 percent. So if you look at a candidate who could not inspire people to come out and just get 52 to 53 percent, I think that’s more of a reflection of the candidate. … I know a lot of people are trying to demagogue and say this is a referendum on Paul Ryan the quote unquote Medicare issue…but I think you have to look at the candidate.
Jane Corwin is the only endorsed Tea Party candidate and the only candidate who will stand up to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and their out-of-control spending agenda. Our national debt is out of control. And it’s simple — we need Jane Corwin to be a part of the majority in the House of Representatives to bring fiscal discipline back to Washington, D.C.
Blaming Corwin won’t change the fact that polling indicated the GOP Medicare plan was voters’ single most important issue in choosing a candidate to support. The plan’s author, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), even tacitly endorsed this idea, re-posting a Washington Post article on his PAC’s website with the headline “N.Y. Race is a Referendum on GOP Medicare Plan.”
The election confirmed what numerous polls had already shown — Americans don’t want to privatize Medicare and will take that conviction to the voting booth.
The trailer for Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, the sitcom based on Chelsea Handler’s memoir, did not immediately grab me, if only because a combination of treating DUIs as if they’re hilarious, mocking butch lesbians, and really unsubtle parodies of evangelical Christians is not precisely in my comedic wheelhouse:
I get that Bridesmaids has opened the doors for lady-raunch comedy, and I’m glad for that, think it’s important, even. But there’s a difference between capturing how conversations and relationships between adult women actually work, and claiming that you’re putting something authentic on-screen just because your character behaves badly. There’s collecting a bunch of obnoxious mannerisms, sticking them in a mini-skirt and calling them a character, and creating a character who can be off-putting but is fully realized, whose less attractive characteristics stem from experience rather than a bumbling id.
All of that said, this Cathy Horyn profile of Handler is a nice explication of the ways in which the comedian herself is the latter rather than the former, someone who is consistently tough and impatient. And the news that Roseanne Barr is in talks to join the show as the main character’s aunt is a nice bit of comic history continuity (also, it suggests that obnoxiousness is a family trait on the show). Handler’s coming in to her sitcom with a lot more industry power than Barr did at the beginning of Roseanne, and I’ll be curious to see what she does with the fact that NBC probably needs her as Bob Greenblatt tries to turn the network around more than Handler needs NBC.