Washington, D.C. is about to get deluged by what is apparently an actual phenomenon: extremely heavy snow and thunder, known as thundersnow. And of course, someone’s written a song about thundersnow. Pop culture encompasses all things!
Okay, there’s a bit of false advertising in the title of this post. Yes, there’s new Robyn here, but she’s just singing the chorus on a pretty sweet song by I Blame Coco, also known as Sting’s daughter:
I’m kind of digging that “It’s the Milgram device all over again” line.
But really, the song is making me wonder when we’re going to get a new Robyn album. She’s had a great run of guest appearances, whether mixing it up with Snoop Dogg or absolutely killing the vocals on “The Girl and the Robot” (which has one of my favorite videos of the year). But it’s been 2005 since she released Robyn on her own label, Konichiwa Records. That record is one of the defining CDs of my early twenties. The bravado on “Curriculum Vitae” is a fairly precise match for my sense of humor, and for the kind of self-presentation I wanted to have when I was graduating from college. ”Bum Like You” and “Be Mine” were the opposite heads of a coin that encapsulated my feelings during a tough transition period. And “Handle Me” is a great, slightly overaggressive anthem to independence of all kinds. But we’re coming up on five years now. I want more from her–and I want it to be entirely her creative vision, not in collaboration with anyone else. Robyn is too unique, and too fascinating, to deny us herself for this long.
Something I feel I should point out even though it probably won’t convince anyone, is that a lot of the criticisms being made of a health care bill with no public option and no Medicare buy-in are equally true of a bill with a Medicare buy-in.
I think the idea of letting people 55-64 buy in to Medicare is a great idea. I think it’s better if you drop it to 50 or 45 or 35 or 15. But 55 would be a good start. But obviously a buy-in for the 55-64 demographic doesn’t do anything for people aged 54 and lower. So if it’s really a monumental injustice to enact an individual mandate to purchase subsidized private health insurance on a regulated exchange, then including a Medicare buy-in for people 55-64 doesn’t actually resolve the injustice. Like, at all. On any level. So while I think it makes a ton of sense to be pissed off at Joe Lieberman for getting this very good idea killed, if you think the basic mandate/regulate/subsidize structure is a bad idea then it would have been a bad idea either way and you really don’t have much right to be pissed at Lieberman.
Since the Obama administration came into office, Republicans have been hypocritically trying to pin it with responsibility for long-term budget deficits, despite the fact that it was the GOP that turned a surplus into record deficits while setting the economy up for a crash (necessitating deficit spending as a response).
But writing on The Hill’s Congress Blog, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) took this to a new level, claiming that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e. the economic stimulus package) is somehow responsible for our long-term deficits:
The deficits created by the stimulus are not only unsustainable in the long-term, but have grown so large they threaten economic stability today. As the big-government approach has predictably let Americans down, it’s time for a new approach. That’s why, working with my Republican colleagues, I have introduced a pair of measures that would pull the plug on the ill-fated stimulus.
Economic stimulus is, by definition, short-term, so Price’s notion really makes no sense. But if Price is honestly interested in where the long-term deficits come from, he should take a look at this report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). CBPP wrote that “some commentators blame recent legislation — the stimulus bill and the financial rescues — for today’s record deficits. But those costs pale next to other policies enacted since 2001 that have swollen the deficit,” including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Bush tax cuts (which are the largest culprit). Here’s a nice chart that CBPP prepared:
Notice how little of the 2012-2019 deficits are due to the stimulus. Price wasn’t around to vote on the Bush tax cuts or the wars, but would he have exhibited such concern about deficits then?
And since we’re on the subject, the stimulus isn’t even primarily responsible for this year’s increase in spending. As Michael Linden pointed out, only 18 percent of the spending increase from 2008 to 2009 is due to the stimulus. The rest is mostly TARP, the rescues of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and increased spending on unemployment benefits and entitlements. Again, the report comes complete with a handy chart (at right).
As Steve Benen wrote, “this isn’t just about pointing fingers for self-satisfaction or partisan vanity. It’s important for the public to realize who’s responsible, in large part because it’s important for the public to weigh policymakers’ credibility. If GOP lawmakers embraced policies that are almost entirely responsible for the deficit those same lawmakers are now complaining about, it’s a relevant detail.” And maybe The Hill should start fact-checking these pieces before publishing them.
Following TP report, Sarah Palin is booted from her scheduled speech at a Canadian hospital fundraiser.
Last week, it was revealed that Sarah Palin had been booked to deliver a $200,000 speech at a hospital fundraiser in Canada. ThinkProgress was the first to report that the event seemed odd given the fact that the hospital — which offers the same advanced directive service that Palin derided as “death panels” — is part of a “socialist” health care system Palin abhors. Now, the Toronto Sun reports that Palin has “been given the boot” and will no longer appear at the fundraiser for St. Peter’s hospital. Jeff Valletine, the vice president of communications for Hamilton Health Sciences, said that he had received a backlash for inviting Palin:
“Individually I’m a bit surprised by the magnitude of the reaction but I’m not too surprised. Sarah Palin is a strong personality who brings out lots of opinions from lots of folks, so that’s to be expected.”
Last month, Canadian comedian Mary Walsh asked her about Canadian health care, to which Palin responded, “Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.” According to the Sun, Palin will instead give a speech to a local children’s charity.
There is unquestionably both a cranky mood in public opinion, and a populist distrust of government efficacy right now. But I find it striking how willing many in the press and in politics are to give credence to surface-level claims by the “tea party” movement and others that the public wants to see less spending in Washington. As Bruce Bartlett observes, when you ask people which areas of government activity they want to see spending cuts in, all they can come up with is foreign aid:
Common sense indicates that if conservative opponents of health care reform are spending tons of time on the Senate floor lambasting Democrats for cutting Medicare that even right-wing Americans don’t actually want to see less spending. And that’s what you see in these poll results.
Rep. Jim Campbell, a veteran Republican state legislator in Maine, has announced he’s leaving the party over its inability to solve his state’s and the nation’s broken health care system. In a statement, Campbell expresses frustration with the party, saying he wants to “send a message” to Republicans in Washington to stop blocking health care reform for “partisan gain”:
This move has been a long time coming for me. I have been very frustrated with the Republican Party in Maine, and nationally, for their failure to address the health care crisis in a meaningful way. Nobody has all the answers, but the Republican Party has none when it comes to health care reform.
This move is about the working people and our seniors who need action. I became a Republican because I believed the party stood for something. I hope to send a message to the Republican Party – and the Democratic Party – that enough is enough; it is time to stop blocking progress in the hope of partisan gain.
Republicans have been brazenly using parliamentary tricks to slow down the health care bill in attempt to kill it before the Democrats’ self-imposed Christmas deadline. In October, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who himself left the GOP, ripped his former party as “a party of obstructionism.”
Advocates Threaten Greyhound Boycott Over Company’s Involvement In ‘Discriminatory’ Border Patrol Raids
Immigrant rights advocates are threatening to call for a nationwide boycott of Greyhound Lines, Inc. if the bus company continues to allow the Border Patrol to conduct immigration checks of riders. The activists allege that Greyhound “closely cooperates with the U.S. Border Patrol to target Latino riders.” Border Patrol officials started ramping up “surprise inspections” on domestic trains, buses and ferries back in 2008. Though the agency denies racial profiling allegations, witnesses’ testimonies suggest otherwise.
Emilio Amaya, executive director of the San Bernardino Community Services Center points out that such practices also make for bad business:
“Private businesses have the right to ask Border Patrol agents not to conduct operations on their property…if these transportation companies do not take measures to protect their passengers, who are being faced with racial profiling and deportation on the way to visit family for the holidays, they will lose the trust and business of one of their most faithful customer bases, the Latino community.”
Greyhound spokeswoman Abby Wambaugh defended the inspections in 2008 stating that “Greyhound is under no obligation to inform customers of law-enforcement activities at any time.” Now, Greyhound is claiming that the accusations are news to them:
“Greyhound only recently became aware of these practices. We plan on reaching out to (immigration) officials for further information. Greyhound seeks to balance the lawful and reasonable activities of law enforcement with the dignity and privacy of our valued customers.”
Curiously, this isn’t the first time Greyhound has invited claims of discrimination. Back in 2005, the company had a “Transportation of Illegal Aliens” policy warning employees that they could be arrested or fired for selling bus tickets to anyone they knew or believed was an undocumented immigrant. At the time, Greyhound spokeswoman Kim Plaskett denied the policy was discriminatory and insisted that employees are trained not to engage in racial profiling.
Michael Wolff’s lengthy defense of Chuck Schumer calling a flight attendant a “bitch” is a staggering exercise in cluelessness and point-missing. He doesn’t even use the word “bitch,” instead obliquely referring to the use of “a mild epithet concerning the flight attendant who asked him (politely perhaps, but more likely peremptorily) to stop using his cell phone.”
The discussion which ensues is interesting and somewhat plausible, though I ultimately find it unconvincing. But by eliding the term “bitch” he manages to completely avoid the subject of sexism, which I think is at the core of the complaint here. But the term is a pure contentless gender-slur. It’s like you’re saying “I disagree with what you’re doing and also you’re a woman which is a bad thing to be!!!!!!!!”
Even if a woman is doing something legitimately bad, it’s no more appropriate to insult her with that term than it is to break out a racial slur just because a guy you have a legitimate beef with happens to be black. That’s the issue here.
Public Opinion Stunner: WashPost-ABC Poll Finds Strong Support for Global Warming Reductions Despite Relentless Big Oil and Anti-Science Attacks
This is a guest post by CAP’s Daniel J. Weiss.
Today’s new Washington Post-ABC News Poll demonstrates yet again that the American people want action to “regulate the release of greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming.” Respondents supported this statement by more than two to one (65 percent favor, 29 percent oppose). This poll was conducted December 10-13, at the height of the trumped up brouhaha over stolen emails from a British climate research institution. These findings are consistent with the Associated Press-Stanford University poll released on Tuesday.
The WP-ABC poll found that three of five Americans would support reductions in greenhouse gas pollution even it “raised your monthly expenses by 10 dollars a month.” And 55 percent would still support reductions if it “raised your monthly energy expenses by 25 dollars a month.”
These are amazing results during the worst recession in 70 years: