At a forum this past Monday, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) fielded questions from his constituents about health care reform. As ThinkProgress first reported, Cantor told a woman whose relative was diagnosed with cancer and could not get care to get “an existing government program” or turn to charity. Today, radio and television host Ed Schultz told listeners that after featuring video of the incident on his show, he received an e-mail from a “PR flack” in Cantor’s office chiding him for going after the congressman. In response, Schultz asked his listeners today to e-mail Cantor’s office and ask him to come on his show, offering him the whole hour to debate him on health care:
SCHULTZ: Call Cantor’s office or e-mail him and ask him if he’ll go head-to-head with me for a full hour on the Ed show. A full hour. I’ll give him a full hour! To explain what the Republican plan is or is she just left to die? [...]
Come on, Cantor. Don’t hide behind your press secretary. Let’s get it on.
Germany is known for both its innovative engineering and its sausages, so the technical leap could seem almost inevitable. But it was the high hurdles put up by the city’s bureaucracy that fathered the invention of these unusual contraptions that are now as much a part of the city’s sights as the television tower in Alexanderplatz or the cathedral, outside of which Grillwalkers also hock their sausages.
After losing his job in hotel management in 1997, Bertram Rohloff wanted to open a stand to sell sandwiches but found he could not get the necessary permits to set up shop. So instead he envisaged an evolution in food-preparation technology, a step beyond the rolling hot-dog cart, because without the necessary permits, neither the grill nor the sausages could touch the ground.
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times—people ought to pay more attention to the regulations local government imposes on them and their city. Regulation can be necessary to protect the environment or public health, but routine business licensing is often mostly just about protecting incumbents from competition.
Editor’s note: The Wonk Room is reporting from the Clinton Global Initiative conference this week. This is ourfourthpost.
Echoing the comments made by former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis took to the Clinton Global Initiative stage today to talk about America’s need — and apparent inability — to make enough investments in human capital. She pointed towards the Obama administration’s commitment to community colleges, which she called the “rapid, ready-response institutions” of America, but said that the real problem is tuition at four-year colleges:
The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of young people, young adults, that don’t have the financial ability to enter into a four-year university or, say, a tailored program that could take them even out of poverty. The President just recently talked about making an investment, $12 billion, in community colleges. And community colleges are kind of the rapid, ready-response institutions that allow for a broader group of people to enter into, say, very specified business training that they need. [...]
That’s one step in the right direction, but we need to also continue that and allow for four-year universities to make their tuition more available so that more people can go…I think we miss the boat if we don’t really talk about trying to spread that wealth, that educational opportunity.
The ever-increasing cost of tuition at higher education institutions is a serious problem, with a serious detriment of ideas for how to deal with it. In addition to the average debt load of $23,186 that today’s typical student borrower accrues, the National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey shows that 47 percent of full-time students are now working more than 20 hours a week (which is the recommended maximum), a number which goes above 50 percent for most underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.
The government can increase student aid each and every year, but it won’t mean much unless the rate of increase in tuition can be reined in, as it makes little sense to have aid simply spiral out of control alongside tuition. And in the end, our future economic competitiveness depends on us finding solutions to these problems.
Heard mention of the Beatles getting their start in Hamburg which reminded me of Backbeat which I recall having been a pretty solid movie. Among other things noteworthy for the trick of having assembled a group of nineties alt-rockers to serve as a Beatles cover band except they’re playing songs the Beatles didn’t actually write. Here’s their “Money”.
In an interview with Katie Couric, Fox News pundit Glenn Beck said John McCain would have been a worse president for this country than Barack Obama. As ThinkProgress reported, Beck’s comments generated an angry response from right-wing radio host Mark Levin, who called Beck “mindless,” “incoherent,” and “pathetic.”
Yesterday on his Fox News show, Beck responded to Levin’s criticisms. “I’m getting all kinds of heat from conservatives,” he said. “No, I shouldn’t say conservatives. I think I’m getting heat from Republicans.” After ripping Republicans and Democrats for being essentially “the same thing,” Beck justified his earlier comments about McCain by saying the country would not be witnessing tea party protests if he were president:
BECK: If John McCain were in office, you might hear some complaints about cap-and-trade here and there, but a march on Washington? I don’t think so. Fat chance! … At least now we’ve been tossed into the boiling water and we’re awake.
Right-wing radio host Mark Levin immediately fired back with another attack on Beck, whom Levin calls “the 5 pm’er” (because Beck’s Fox show airs at 5 pm). “I’m told the 5 pm’er said today that if John McCain were president, would there be marching in the street?,” Levin began. “I thought to myself, are you not aware of even recent history that the entire Reagan revolution rose up against the RINOs [Republicans in name only]?”
Levin quickly escalated the tone of his criticism against Beck. “Have you no sense of your own history?” he said, addressing Beck. “This is why you refuse to consider yourself a conservative! Still searching around in the dark, in the shadows, trying to figure out who you are and who we should be. Some of us know who we are and what we must be! And we also know where we must go!” Then Levin took a personal jab at Beck:
LEVIN: If you’re not going to be politically sensible and have a strategy and have an end-game, you’ll keep winding up on weekly magazines, you’ll keep making a lot of money, but in the end you won’t make a difference.
Many on the right are worried about Beck’s ascendancy. Peter Wehner, a former political adviser to President Bush, recently wrote that Beck is “harmful to the conservative movement” because he’s “erratic,” “bizarre,” and is too interested in “conspiracy theories.” Rush Limbaugh recently suggested to Politico that Beck’s role in promoting the 9/12 protest was “cheap and disingenuous.” And MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said conservatives need to call out Beck’s “hatred.”
Bafumi, Erikson, and Wlezien’s analysis doesn’t go back before 300 days before the election, but if we take the liberty of extrapolating . . . The current state of the generic polls gives the Democrats .412/(.412+.377) = 52% of the two-party vote. Going to the graph, we see, first, that 52% for the Democrats is near historic lows (comparable to 1946, 1994, and 1998) and that the expected Democratic vote–given that their party holds the White House–is around -3%, or a 53-47 popular vote win for the Republicans.
Looked at this way, Democrats had better hope the economic situation starts improving (in the sense of conditions actually improving, rather than rate of change looking better) and that improvement starts lifting their fortunes. Alternatively, an optimistic congressional Democrat could try to take solace in the extreme unpopularity of the GOP. But I actually wouldn’t count on that. The electorate’s first choice may be for the Democrats to lose seats without John Boehner becoming Speaker, but individual voters have no way to ensure that their preferences are aggregated that way.
In his speech to the United Nations yesterday, President Obama said that “more progress is needed” in working towards “a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world.” As part of his message, Obama said “we continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel.” On Fox News today, former UN ambassador John Bolton mocked Obama’s “incitement” line, saying “it’s not incitement the Israelis are worried about, it’s rocket attacks.” Watch it:
Bolton’s claim, which he used to support his belief that Obama’s speech was “as negative, or more, as anything any American president has said,” is disingenuous at best. He neglected to mention that moments later in his speech, Obama explicitly condemned Palestinian rocket attacks:
We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It is paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the night. It is paid by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own. These are God’s children. And after all of the politics and all of the posturing, this is about the right of every human being to live with dignity and security.
As Matt Duss notes, Bolton also attacked Obama for employing the same language on the Israeli-Palestinian solution that his old boss — President Bush — used.
I was initially very excited that the train from Frankfurt to Hamburg featured wifi, but it turned out to be super-unreliable. The real good news about Deutsche Bahn trains is that you can buy Franziskaner beer, my favorite German offering from the Saloon on U Street:
And while Diet Coke may be more expensive in Germany, Franziskaner is definitely cheaper.
A wall of dust stretched from northern Queensland to the southern tip of eastern Australia on the morning of September 23, 2009, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image [see amazing photo below]. The dust is thick enough that the land beneath it is not visible. The storm, the worst in 70 years, led to canceled or delayed flights, traffic problems, and health issues, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News. The concentration of particles in the air reached 15,000 micrograms per cubic meter in New South Wales during the storm, said ABC News. A normal day sees a particle concentration 10-20 micrograms per cubic meter.
Watts also points out a bright side: “dust headed to sea has an unappreciated benefit – it will fertilize the ocean with its mineral rich dust.” Yes, the record drought wipes out land-based crops, and we’re in the process of poisoning the oceans for millennia, but hey, a massive Dust Bowl may create “some interesting blooms of sea life in the weeks to come.”
Strong winds blew the dust from the interior to more populated regions along the coast. In this image, the dust rises in plumes from point sources and concentrates in a wall along the front of the storm. The large image shows that some of the point sources are agricultural fields, recognizable by their rectangular shape. Australia has suffered from a multiple-year drought, and much of the dust is coming from fields that have not been planted because of the drought, said ABC News.
Here’s the amazing satellite picture of the Wall of Dust [click to enlarge]:
Editor’s note: The Wonk Room is reporting from the Clinton Global Initiative conference this week. This is ourthird post.
Earlier this year, the American Society for Civil Engineers roundly panned America’s disintegrating infrastructure, giving it an overall D grade and estimating that “it would take a $2.2 trillion investment…over the next five years to bring it into a state of good repair.” One of today’s discussions at the Clinton Global Initiative focused on how to develop infrastructure in both the U.S. and the rest of the world, and the role that government plays in such development.
The thing about infrastructure is that it’s a systems problem, and by a systems problem I mean you have to align technology, government policy, capital markets, execution skills — all have to be aligned to make it happen. And the government is a central part in how that goes, both in terms of the U.S., but also in terms of any country in the world.
Energy in this country, if we want to have a clean energy future, the investments are basically 40, 30, 20 year investments…I think, one of the key roles the government has to play is what are the standards? How should the capital markets work? How do you risk-share some of the key technology evolutions? And so, if you want to have effective infrastructure, you really do have to have a good public-private partnership.
In Immelt’s world, the government would set the standards, and then let the private sector loose to achieve them, or, as in China, lay out five-year plans for infrastructure development. This is a distinctly different take from most of the rest of the business community, which recoils from standards, aided by conservatives who claim that if we just “let the free market work,” everything will take care of itself.
Of course, Immelt must see a way for GE to come out ahead under such a policy, but that doesn’t mean that his viewpoint doesn’t make sense. Smart standards, regulation, and a cohesive policy from the government would make energy investment — and infrastructure development as a whole — much less scattershot and much more effective.