The GOP presidential candidates reiterated their opposition to same-sex marriage during Thursday’s debate in Ames, Iowa, even as the majority of Americans now support marriage equality and 11.4 percent of the population lives in a state that recognizes the unions of gay and lesbian couples. The contenders sparred over the role of the federal government in regulating marriage, while former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman distinguished himself for his support of civil unions and greater LGBT equality:
MITT ROMNEY: Marriage is a status. It’s not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state and as a result, our marriage status relationship should be constant across the country. I believe we should have a federal amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.
JON HUNTSMAN: I also believe in civil unions, because I believe this nation can do a better job when it comes to equality and I believe we can do a better job when it comes to reciprocal beneficiary rights rights.
RON PAUL: I think marriages should be between a single man and a single woman and that the federal government shouldn’t be involved.
RICK SANTORUM: It sounds to me like Rep. Paul would say that polygamous marriages are okay.
MICHELE BACHMANN: I support the federal marriage amendment…and as president I would not nominate activist judges who would legislate from the bench.
-Donna Summer: In the single best moment of the debate, Herman Cain cribs from the disco diva’s “The Power of One,” previously best known for its association with Pokemon cartoons, in his closing statement:
Runner up is Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, who had his admonition that “with great power comes great responsibility” repurposed by Tim Pawlenty, who given his filleting by Michele Bachmann, might have been better to opt for his own disco anthem and declare “I Will Survive.”
-Mickey Mouse, now firmly associated with Newt Gingrich, things people want other people to think are silly and unsubstantive.
-Supervillains. Herman Cain shot down the idea of an alligator-filled moat as a means of border protection, disappointing those of us who basically want to live in an America that is the equivalent of Doctor Doom’s Latvernian castle.
A note, because of debate coverage, some recaps may be a bit slow tomorrow.
The main takeaway from tonight’s debate in Ames, Iowa is that Tim Pawlenty doesn’t have what it takes to perform on the presidential campaign trail. Michele Bachmann chose for some reason to orient her campaign around slamming him, and he looked intimidated and scared, while drawing no blood against anyone else. On the surface, the winner would seem to me to be Mitt Romney. He “looks presidential” compared to the others. He also clearly has some ability to discuss public policy. He suggested that increased immigration by high-skill workers would be a good idea (it would be!) and had a possibly intriguing idea about transforming the Unemployment Insurance system. He even managed to derive a semi-plausible federalist defense of his Massachusetts health care initiative. He badly outclassed Pawlenty, and the other people on the stage don’t seem serious.
If what was on the stage was the whole thing, then that would be the verdict: Romney wins. But at this point we’re really all waiting for Texas Governor Rick Perry. It just continues to be the case that Romney seems like he can’t win. A Mormon? The apostle of the individual mandate? A former pro-choicer? In this cycle? Really? On paper, Romney should be very beatable by a credible candidate and Perry is a very credible candidate.
But what Pawlenty’s been reminding us these past few months is that you can’t win an election on paper. As Republicans think about who they want to serve as their standard-bearer, obviously they don’t want someone Barack Obama will run circles around. Pawlenty looks like someone who’d get clobbered. Will Perry? You can’t tell unless he actually gets in the arena. If he gets in and he’s gone, then Romney’s got a big problem. If he doesn’t get in, or if he gets in and looks weak, then you have Romney vs Bachmann in a battle of two candidates who seemingly can’t win. And yet someone has to win!
According to new research from MIT, the most recent global climate report fails to capture trends in Arctic sea-ice thinning and drift, and in some cases substantially underestimates these trends….
After comparing IPCC models with actual data, [lead author Pierre] Rampal and his collaborators concluded that the forecasts were significantly off: Arctic sea ice is thinning, on average, four times faster than the models say, and it’s drifting twice as quickly.
I’m technically on vacation, so I don’t have time to respond to every misleading claim or inadequate study.
But it’s very safe to say that two-dimensional analyses of sea ice trends — ones that don’t model ice thickness and hence ice volume — are going to miss crucial feedbacks and dynamic changes. That is the central point of this new MIT study, which will be stunning only to those who don’t follow either this blog or the recent scientific literature.
Recent statements that we are seeing an “Arctic Death Spiral” focused on volume. In the words of National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) director Mark Serreze, who is most associated with that phrase:
Serreze (9/10): “There are claims coming from some communities that the Arctic sea ice is recovering, is getting thicker again. That’s simply not the case. It’s continuing down in a death spiral. Every bit of evidence we have says the ice is thinning. That means there’s less energy needed to melt it out than there used to be.”
Serreze (7/11): “The extent [of the ice cover] is going down, but it is also thinning. So a weather pattern that formerly would melt some ice, now gets rid of much more. There will be ups and downs, but we are on track to see an ice-free summer by 2030. It is an overall downward spiral.“
This new study, “IPCC climate models do not capture Arctic sea ice drift acceleration: Consequences in terms of projected sea ice thinning and decline,” (subs. req’d) adds to our understanding of how the two-dimensional models go astray. Here’s an extended excerpt from the news release:
The question was about RomneyCare, but Rick Santorum — who has emphasized his opposition to same-sex marriage in the weeks leading up to tonight’s debate — turned it to an attack against ex-gay clinic owner Michele Bachmann for not being anti-gay enough. Santorum argued that states should not have the right to “redefine” marriage and called for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Bachmann has previously said that the issue should be left to the states. Watch it:
Santorum has one of the worst records on LGBT issues — he opposes civil unions, marriage equality, or any other kind of legal recognition of same-sex couples. He would also reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Over the last several days, he claimed that marriage is like a napkin, water, and tea — but unlike paper towels, beer, or basketballs.
10:56: In closing, Herman Cain cites a “poet’s” lyrics that “Life can be a challenge / life can seem impossible.” The poet? Apparently, it was disco singer Donna Summer’s song “The Power of One,” featured in Pokemon: The Movie 2000.
Meanwhile, Tim Pawlenty riffs on Spider-Man, saying “With great blessing comes great responsibility.”
10:55: Huntsman and Cain both would not reinstate President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law.
10:46: Newt Gingrich calls for “going back as Reagan did, to sound money.” As we’ve tried to tell Gingrich before, in fact inflation was considerably higher during the Reagan era than it is today.
10:45: Herman Cain on the charge that companies will not use the money from a tax break he favors for creating jobs: “So what?” In the next sentence, he says, “that’s what I’m about, jobs.”
10:42: Huntsman attacks the “EPA regulatory reign of terror.” In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency saved the lives of over 160,000 Americans.
10:42: Bachmann says that raising the debt ceiling was a “blank check” for Obama. Politifact rightly rated this claim “false.”
10:39: Romney calls for less spending on anti-poverty programs and unemployment programs. He said that he would not extend unemployment benefits for those currently out of work. 44 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or more.
10:36: Santorum says allowing a raped woman to receive an abortion would “put her through another trauma,” so we should force her to carry her rapist’s child for nine months instead.
10:34: Rep. Paul seems unaware that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution bans slavery.
10:33: “I support civil unions,” Huntsman said. “I believe our nation can do better a job with equality.” Huntsman has one of the most liberal positions when it comes to LGBT equality: he would allow states to legalize marriage, came out in favor of civil unions in 2006, and favors reciprocal beneficiary rights for same-sex couples. His campaign has even reached out to LGBT groups in Utah.
10:31: Romney: Marriage should be decided at the federal level. So much for that 10th amendment. He has the exact opposite argument when it comes to health care reform.
10:29: Crowd booing Byron York for asking Bachmann if she would be submissive to her husband as president. Bachmann says that she interprets “submissive” to mean respect. That’s not what that word means to anyone else in the world.
10:26: Gingrich on loyalty tests for American Muslims, advocates “not just for Muslims, but for everybody!” Says “there is nothing illegitimate about making sure Americans remain loyal to the U.S.”
10:21: Santorum now says Iran is under a “mullahcracy.” Finally stands up for the gays, criticizing Muslim countries that “trample the rights of gays.”
10:15: Santorum defends his foreign policy chops: “Iran is not Iceland!” Bizarrely claims Iran has killed more Americans in Afghanistan than the “Afghanistanis” have.
10:15: Paul calls for ending embargo on Cuba.
10:12: Paul says CIA tells him there’s no evidence Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.
10:10: Huntsman says he “absolutely” consider cyber hacking from China an act of war. Says hacking of private individuals is “beyond the pale.” Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch disagrees.
10:07: Newt continues his war on former Fox News colleagues, is now taking moderator Bret Baier to task for a “gotcha question” about his views on Libya and where he stands now.
10:06: Mitt Romney has given Afghanistan two years to take over security for its country.
10:07: Fox News chyron flashes — 85 percent of Fox poll respondents say we should withdraw from Afghanistan.
10:04: Pawlenty hits Barack Obama for supporting an Afghanistan withdrawal timetable faster than that recommended by either “General Petraeus” or “General Mullen.” He may have been thinking of Admiral Mike Mullen of the US Navy, Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff. Admittedly Minnesota is landlocked.
10:01: Debate comes back from commercial. No one knows where Bachmann is.
9:59: Santorum has one of the worst records on LGBT issues — he opposes civil unions, marriage equality, or any other kind of legal recognition of same-sex couples. He would also reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
9:57 Santorum scores with first gay-bashing of the night, taking a hit at Bachmann for saying that marriage should be left to the states. He generally attacks federalist themes from his fellow candidates “there are things the states can’t do,” cites Lincoln as an authority and appears to compare state-initiated marriage equality and Mitt Romney’s universal health care plan to slavery. “Does that mean that the state has the right to impose polygamy? To pass sterilization? No! We are a country based on morals.”
9:56: Romney likes to say that his health reform law was tailored for Massachusetts. But soon after he signed it into law, Romney was arguing that it should serve as a model for the nation.
9:55: “I will not rest until we have a filibuster-proof Senate,” Bachmann said, demonstrating that her focus is directed at politics, not policy.
9:52: Pawlenty is right. Obama did pattern parts of his health care law after the reform Romney enacted in 2006. Here is a table of the similarities.
9:51: Chris Wallace gives Pawlenty another chance to attack Romney after he passed up the opportunity in the first debate to hammer on “Obamneycare“. Pawlenty: “How could I give up this opportunity?”
9:49: All candidates just raised their hands to say they would walk away from a deal that was 10 to 1 cuts to revenue increases.
9:47: Santorum says his opposition to new revenue is due to “the facts.” The fact is that revenue is at a 60 year low.
9:45: Looks like Pawlenty learned his mistake from the last debate when he failed to defend ‘ObamneyCare.’ He is really going hard after Bachmann tonight.
9:45: Santorum raises his hand to complain that he “hasn’t had a chance to say a whole lot.” Finally gets to answer a question.
9:40: Pawlenty says his tax on cigarettes, or “health impact fee,” to balance his budget does not mean you have to raise taxes to balance a budget. He says he regrets his cigarette fee.
9:40: “I don’t believe in raising taxes,” Romney said. Yet in a 2004 presentation to Standard & Poor’s, his administration touted tax hikes as a reason that Massachusetts should get its credit rating raised to AA.
9:36: Romney claims to exalt physics PhDs…but doesn’t believe the American Physical Society‘s dire warning on global warming.
9:35: Herman Cain says that a combination of “high fences and wide open doors” is the principle the country was founded on. In fact, immigration into the United States was completely unlimited until the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Immigration from Latin America was unrestricted until the second half of the 20th century.
9:35: Asked about whether he is serious about building a moat, filling it with alligators, and surrounding it with an electric fence as a means of securing the border, Herman Cain says “America’s got to learn how to take a joke.”
9:33: Chris Wallace wonders if Jon Huntsman Jr. is “running for president in the wrong party” because he supported a cap and trade system in Utah. In that case, Romney, Pawlenty, and Gingrich are also running in the wrong party.
9:33: Teaser: Cain knows what the three problems in Afghanistan are, and he will tell you what they are. Maybe later.
9:33: Cain chides Wallace, tells him he never said that Americans have the right to ban mosques in their community. Except he did — to Wallace.
9:32: Wallace responds, if you think questions about your record are “Mickey Mouse,” I’m sorry. Gingrich replies, “there’s too much attention paid by the press corps to campaign minutia.”
9:31: Former Fox contributor Newt Gingrich goes to war against former Fox colleague Chris Wallace: “I took seriously Brett’s injunction to put away the talking points. So I wish you would put away the gotcha questions.”
9:30: Memo to Pawlenty: Here’s Obama’s plan on Medicare and Medicaid reform. You can deliver that dinner to our offices at the Center for American Progress.
9:20 Bachmann says she “fought cap and trade” by introducing legislation to reverse lightbulb efficiency laws, which has nothing to do with a cap-and-trade system, other than both originally being Republicanideas.
9:18: Pawlenty fires back — notes that Bachmann has a record of false statements (see ie, pants on fire awards). Pawlenty on Bachmann: “She says she has a titanium spine; it’s not her spine that we’re worried about but her record.”
9:18: Bachmann responds to Pawlenty: You supported Cap & Trade and the individual mandate. “You sound a lot like Barack Obama.”
9:17: Pawlenty wants people to look at his record in Minnesota. Like one-third of his budget relying on the 2009 Recovery Act?
9:16: Santorum says that the U.S. economy has grown at faster than five percent a year for ten years. It hasn’t.
9:15: VOTER PANDER ALERT — Pawlenty says he’ll offer a prize to anyone who can find President Obama’s plan on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reform. If they find his plan, “I’ll come to your house and cook you dinner.” Or mow your lawn. He told Romney that he would be limited to one acre of lawn mowing. Romney’s response? “That’s just fine.”
9:13: Huntsman told us to look at his record as governor to see how he would act as president. But during his tenure, the state’s uninsured rate remained steady at 11 percent, even though he had promised to halve that number in half.
9:12 Newt Gingrich rings in with first mention of Ronald Reagan at debate. Says Reagan’s 1981 tax cut led to seven years of growth. Unsurprisingly, he failed to mention Reagan’s 1982 tax increase.
9:10: In case you were wondering, CNN’s Piers Morgan is countering Fox’s debate programming with an exclusive hour-long interview with actor Jeff Bridges.
9:09: Ron Paul: “If we have to cut, we can’t be so determined that we can’t cut one nickel out of the militarism around the world.”
9:08: Ron Paul getting fired up about not dumping debt on the people and explaining his plan to fix the U.S. economy. Baier asks if he can get his plan through a divided Congress. Paul says yes because he’d have to since we’re likely to still have a divided Congress.
9:07: Romney says he wouldn’t raise the debt ceiling without first rewriting the Constitution to make it impossible to fund Social Security, Medicare and the military at the same time.
9:06: Romney says “capitalism is about people, not just capital” a funny observation for someone who earlier today said that corporations are people.
9:05: Baier already asking Romney about the “Mittness” protection program to question his leadership and why he was not vocal on the debt ceiling debate. Romney responds: “I’m not going to eat Barack Obama’s dog food.”
9:04: Romney, contra Bachmann, declines to say how long it will take him to turn the economy around.
9:02: Admonition from host Bret Baier: “Put aside the talking points. … Level with the American people, speak from the heart.” Bachmann, the first responder, opens with a talking point: “Barack Obama, you will be a one-term president!”
9:01: Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) appeared to receive the loudest applause from the audience during the introductions.
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Gingrich In 2004: Don’t Cut U.N. Funding; Gingrich In 2011: Cut U.N. Funding |
Newt Gingrich is upset the Palestinians are seeking statehood recognition at the United Nations. In an op-ed on Human Events today, Gingrich even went so far to say that “Western countries” voting in favor “would also strengthen terrorists’ belief that their commitment to violence.” And in order to prevent such a move, Gingrich proposes that the United States cut off nearly $8 billion in yearly funding to the U.N. But as UN Dispatch’s Mark Leon Goldberg points out, in 2004, Gingrich co-chaired the United States Institute of Peace study group on U.N. reform with George Mitchell. And what did this study group propose? As Goldberg notes, “a smart, balanced approach that did away with 1990s vintage threats of withholding UN funding in exchange for USA-mandated reforms.” “I can’t help think that the Gingrich of 2004 would be appalled at the reasoning of 2011 Gingrich,” says Goldberg.