I’ll be mostly off for the rest of the week, doing holiday and holiday-adjacent things with my family and friends. I hope you all are getting some time to rest up and recharge, and I’ll see you around for occasional posts (including a belated Boardwalk Empire open thread).
The irony of such a powerful crowd control weapon being available to buy on a consumer website is not lost on a group of reviewers, who have written comedic reviews of the product, praising it for being the best to repress students:
Lest you might be worried about the ramifications of selling brutal crowd control weapons on Amazon.com, the site does also offer pepper spray reliever (through an outside link to Sierra Post).
‘Family’ Leader Gives Gingrich’s Divorces A Pass | The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has joined Bob Vander Plaats and other social conservatives in downplaying the consequences of Newt Gingrich’s multiple divorces while regularly trumpeting that marriage equality undermines the family. In an appearance yesterday on Fox News’ Geraldo at Large, Perkins told Geraldo that Gingrich’s three divorces could be “problematic,” but they’re “known” and clearly not holding him back in the polls. Rather than addressing the integrity of Gingrich’s values, Perkins attacked Mitt Romney multiple times as being untrustworthy. Watch it:
(HT: Equality Matters)
During an appearance with Chris Matthews this afternoon, Perkins — who is very generously described as an “honest conservative” — seemed to walk back his statements, suggesting that some conservatives will object to Gingrich’s affairs:
170 Economists Sign Statement In Support Of Occupy Wall Street | Crooks and Liars’ Susie Madrak points out that Econ4.org has posted an open letter from economists in support of Occupy Wall Street. Now, 170 economists have signed it. The economists complain about the right-wing dominance of the economics profession and say they support a “vision of building an economy that works for the people, for the planet, and for the future“:
We are economists who oppose ideological cleansing in the economics profession. Equally we oppose political cleansing in the vital debate over the causes and consequences of our current economic crisis. We support the efforts of the Occupy Wall Street movement across the country and across the globe to liberate the economy from the short-term greed of the rich and powerful “one percent”.
We oppose cynical and perverse attempts to misuse our police officers and public servants to expel advocates of the public good from our public spaces. We extend our support to the vision of building an economy that works for the people, for the planet, and for the future, and we declare our solidarity with the Occupiers who are exercising our democratic right to demand economic and social justice.
Over 60 New York Solar Companies Say They Can Help Fox’s Bill O’Reilly Go Solar — Will He Live Up to His Word?
Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly likes to say he operates in a “no spin zone.” So when O’Reilly proclaimed recently that he wanted to install solar on his Long Island home, dozens of solar companies in New York took him at his word.
Speaking on his show to Alan Colmes last week, O’Reilly said he was ready to buy a solar system, but that he couldn’t find anyone in the area to do it: “There’s nowhere, no one,” he exclaimed.
Well, today, his predicament is solved. A group of 60 New York-based solar companies have signed an open letter to Mr. O’Reilly explaining that they’d be more than willing to help him make an investment in solar:
Despite Glenn Beck’s Slanders Of Israelis, Netanyahu Says He Is ‘Fearless In Defending Israel Against Slanders’
Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theories have made the right-wing commentator the darling of the Israeli right, even garnering him an invitation from Israeli parliamentarian Danny Danon to speak before the Knesset. That love-fest between Beck and the Israeli right reached new heights last night when, at a gala for an American Zionist group, right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Beck for “defending” Israel.
Netanyahu delivered taped comments to the crowd at the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) gala after Beck received the Miriam & Sheldon Adelson Defender of Israel Award from right-wing billionaire (and Netanyahu supporter) Sheldon Adelson. Netanyahu said:
I also want to congratulate Glenn Beck for winning the Miriam and Sheldon Adelson award, the Defender of Israel award. Glenn, you can be sure that if Sheldon and Miri Adelson put their name to something, it must stand for a lot. You stand for a lot. You’ve been fearless in defending Israel against the slanders that are hurled against it. You’ve done that with considerable personal cost but you’ve never backed off, you’ve never flinched, you’ve walked away. And I want to tell you how deeply we appreciate this stand of courage and integrity.
Watch the video:
All Israelis might not view Beck the way Netanyahu does. This summer, when Israel saw its largest protests ever in the name of social justice, Beck denounced the gathering. Despite 88 percent approval for the protests among Israelis, Beck, in a typically conspiracy-laced tirade, derided the prostesters a leftist-Islamist-Nazi plot to bring Israel down.
Beck also launched an attack last year on liberal billionaire George Soros. Michelle Goldberg of the Daily Beast called the episode of Beck’s now-defunct Fox News Show “a symphony of anti-Semitic dog-whistles.” The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) chided Beck’s remarks as “horrific.” Later, the ADL also criticized Beck for comparing Reform Judaism to radical Islam, this time eliciting an apology from the radio host.
The Los Angeles Times also rounded up some of Beck’s contrversial statements about Jews:
He has several times had to fend off allegations of anti-Semitism. Last year he appeared to endorse the notion that Jews killed Jesus Christ; his list of the world’s nine most “dangerous” people includes eight Jews…
An official from the liberal Israeli organization Peace Now told the paper: “If this is the only kind of friend Israel’s government can find around the world, that’s a very poor sign.”
Our guest blogger is Sarah Ayres, a research associate at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
By now we have all heard the latest in the months-long debate over reducing the nation’s deficit — barring a last-minute miracle, the congressional super committee tasked with finding at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction will fail to come to an agreement. Cue handwringing by pundits lamenting the inability of both Democrats and Republicans to compromise.
The notion that both sides share in the blame is an easy line for commentators to repeat, but it isn’t true. Time and time again, the only thing preventing an agreement on long-term deficit reduction has been the Republicans’ absolute refusal to consider any tax increases on high-income households as part of the solution. Michael Linden and I created a timeline of major events in the past six months of deficit talks:
February 14, 2011: President Barack Obama submits budget for 2012 with about $2 trillion in deficit reduction, half of which come from spending cuts.
April 15, 2011: House passes Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget, which includes $5.8 trillion in spending cuts along with tax cuts for the richest Americans.
May 5, 2011: Vice President Joe Biden begins debt talks.
May 11, 2011: Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says he will not raise debt limit without spending cuts that match how much the limit is raised.
June 23, 2011: Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) walks away from debt ceiling talks with Biden after refusing to consider any tax increases. The administration had offered $2.4 trillion in spending cuts for $400 billion in taxes, an 83:17 split.
July 7, 2011: Obama and Boehner begin debt-ceiling negotiations.
July 9, 2011: Boehner walks away from Obama’s “grand bargain”: $4 trillion in debt reduction comprised of $1 trillion in revenue and $3 trillion in spending cuts, including entitlement reforms.
July 19, 2011: The Gang of Six proposes a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan, including $2 trillion in revenue.
July 22, 2011: Again, Boehner walks away from negotiations after Obama offers $1.2 trillion in revenues and $1.6 trillion in spending cuts, including entitlements.
July 31, 2011: Debt ceiling agreement is reached, cutting $1 trillion in spending immediately and establishing the super committee to reduce deficits by at least an additional $1.2 trillion.
October 26, 2011: Democrats first super committee offer is $3 trillion in deficit reduction comprised of about $1.3 trillion in revenues and $1.7 trillion in spending cuts, including cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Republicans immediately reject it. Republicans’ first super committee offer is $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction, which includes no new tax revenues.
November 8, 2011: Republicans’ second super committee offer is $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. It does include $300 billion in new tax revenue, but in exchange for extending the Bush tax cuts and lowering the top tax rate. The plan would ultimately cut taxes for the wealthy and raise them for everyone else.
November 10, 2011: Democrats’ second offer is $2.3 trillion in deficit reduction, consisting of $1.3 trillion in spending cuts and $1 trillion in revenue. The revenue would be split between $350 billion in concrete measures and $650 billion in future tax reform. Republicans reject it.
November 11, 2011: Democrats agree to Republicans’ top lines including just $400 billion in revenues and $875 billion in spending cuts, but refuse to accept the GOP’s tax cut for the rich. Republicans reject it and make their final offer: $640 billion in spending cuts and $3 billion in revenues.
What this timeline shows is just how much Democrats have been willing to bend, only to have Republicans reject very generous offers. Back in June, Democrats reportedly offered a mere $400 billion in tax increases as part of a $2.4 trillion deficit reduction package — a 83:17 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. Republicans said no.
And they haven’t budged an inch since then, stubbornly insisting that any deficit reduction package consist entirely of spending cuts. Even after Democrats on the super committee agreed to the Republican top line of $400 billion in revenues, Republicans refused to make a deal.
Looking at all the offers rejected by Republicans, it comes as no surprise that the super committee will not reach a deal. By rejecting any mix of spending cuts and tax increases, Republicans ensured that there would be no agreement a deficit reduction package.
Report: Bullying By Text Message Now More Prevalent | Researchers reported today that a growing number of school children are being bullied via text message. Out of 1,100 middle school and high school students surveyed in 2008, 24 percent said they have been “harassed” — through vicious rumors, rude or mean comments, or threats — by texting, which is up from 14 percent in a survey of the same children in 2007. Internet Solutions for Kids, Inc. researchers “suggest that attention needs to be paid to kids’ text-messaging world” but that parents need not “become distressed or take kids cellphones away.”
GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney isn’t exactly known for his consistency on women’s health issues. He’s spent much of his time running away from his pro-choice record as governor of Massachusetts, and frequently panders to social conservatives by flirting with extreme legislation like the recently defeated “personhood” amendment in Mississippi.
In an interview today with the Nashua Telegraph, Romney doubled down on his position of having no position at all. When asked to clarify his stance on abortion and redefining personhood, Romney made the laughable claim, “I’ve had the same position since I faced this issue as governor”:
ROMNEY: I’ve had the same position since I faced this issue as governor. As you know when I campaigned I said I wouldn’t change the law, which effectively meant pro-choice legislation would be kept in place. But then when a bill came to my desk to expand, if you will, the killing of human life, embryos, I vetoed that…We in Massachusetts had provision that said life begins at conception that did not prevent contraceptives or in vitro fertilization but it did protect the life of an unborn child. For instance, in the instance of cloning or for stem cell research. And I came out very squarely on the side of life.
Romney effectively avoids taking a position on extreme modern incarnations of personhood legislation by simply noting that Massachusetts had a different sort of life-at-conception legislation that did not criminalize contraception.
When asked about his position on personhood legislation last month, Romney once again studiously avoided addressing the stickier side of the issue — whether he supports hormonal contraception (like birth control pills) that can also prevent eggs from being implanted, which many conservatives think is tantamount to abortion. Romney has also been less-than-straight about his pro-states’ rights approach to abortion. Although he claimed that “I would like to see the Supreme Court return this right to the states,” he has recently pledged to push for federal abortion restrictions.
The publicity-shy friend turned out to be Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate magnate and a major contributor to conservative causes. Mr. Crow stepped in to finance the multimillion-dollar purchase and restoration of the cannery, featuring a museum about the culture and history of Pin Point that has become a pet project of Justice Thomas’s.
The project throws a spotlight on an unusual, and ethically sensitive, friendship that appears to be markedly different from those of other justices on the nation’s highest court.
The two men met in the mid-1990s, a few years after Justice Thomas joined the court. Since then, Mr. Crow has done many favors for the justice and his wife, Virginia, helping finance a Savannah library project dedicated to Justice Thomas, presenting him with a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass and reportedly providing $500,000 for Ms. Thomas to start a Tea Party-related group. They have also spent time together at gatherings of prominent Republicans and businesspeople at Mr. Crow’s Adirondacks estate and his camp in East Texas.
In the annals of Thomas’s loose relationship with judicial ethics, Thomas and Crow’s involvement with this museum is a fairly minor incident. The many personal gifts Thomas accepted from wealthy benefactors, including Crow, are much more disturbing. Beyond the Bible Crow gave Thomas — which is valued at $19,000 — and the half-million in start-up funds Crow provided Thomas’s wife, Thomas also accepted a $15,000 gift from a corporate-aligned think tank that occasionally files briefs in Thomas’s very Court.
This kind of gift-taking is obviously quite rare on the Supreme Court, but it is not exactly unprecedented. Forty years ago, Justice Abe Fortas accepted $15,000 to teach a series of seminars — funded by the leaders of frequent corporate litigants including the vice president of Phillip Morris — and he accepted a $20,000 retainer from a stock speculator who was eventually convicted of numerous securities violations. This gifting scandal, which is remarkably similar to the scandal Thomas is currently embroiled in, forced Fortas to resign from the bench in disgrace.
Significantly, Fortas’s gift-taking scandal was met by outrage across the ideological divide. Fortas was a liberal justice, but many of the clearest calls for his resignation came from progressives such as Sen. (and future Vice President) Walter Mondale (D-MN) and Brown v. Board of Education author Chief Justice Earl Warren.
Today, however, Thomas’s many ethical tangles earn, in the words of Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT), “deafening silence from Republicans.” As it turns out, congressional Republicans are too busy dreaming up fake ethical scandals to try to rig important Supreme Court decisions to pay attention to the very real ethical scandals facing their judicial ally.