My column in today's New York Times eXaminer, commenting on Bill Keller's New York Times column, asks the question, "Are Hate Crimes Worse than Other Crimes?" Most of you probably won't agree with my answer, but, hey, that's why they're called "opinions." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.
** Paul Krugman: "... on Thursday Republicans in the House of Representatives passed what was surely the most fraudulent budget in American history.... The trouble with the budget devised by Paul Ryan ... isn’t just its almost inconceivably cruel priorities, the way it slashes taxes for corporations and the rich while drastically cutting food and medical aid to the needy. Even aside from all that, the Ryan budget purports to reduce the deficit — but the alleged deficit reduction depends on the completely unsupported assertion that trillions of dollars in revenue can be found by closing tax loopholes."
** E. J. Dionne: "Right before our eyes, American conservatism is becoming something very different from what it once was. Yet this transformation is happening by stealth because moderates are too afraid to acknowledge what all their senses tell them."
Jeff Toobin, who was the principal alarmist -- "a train wreck" -- about the Supremes' questioning of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, now writes his commentary in the New Yorker: "Acts of Congress, like the health-care law, are presumed to be constitutional, and it is—or should be—a grave and unusual step for unelected, unaccountable, life-tenured judges to overrule the work of the democratically elected branches of government.... The awesome, and final, powers of the Justices are best exercised sparingly and with restraint. Their normal burdens of interpreting laws are heavy enough. No one expects the Justices to be making health-care policy any more than we expect them to be picking Presidents, which, it may be remembered, is not exactly their strength, either." Read the whole post.
Dan Barry, et al., of the New York Times write an extensive report on the killing of Trayvon Martin. If you've missed some of the particulars, this will bring you up-to-date.
Keith Laing of The Hill: "Transportation advocates are losing hope for passage of a highway bill before the election following Congress's decision this week to pass another short-term funding extension. Instead of approving the multi-year transportation bill that passed the Senate, lawmakers adopted a temporary extension of legislation that already funds road and transit projects. The short-term measure, signed Friday by President Obama, extends federal transportation funding until June 30." ...
... Brad Plumer of the Washington Post: "... a growing number of states — from California to Florida — have been bringing in private capital to bankroll their transportation needs. But is privatizing infrastructure really such a good idea?" Plumer reviews the pros & cons.
Susan Page of USA Today: "President Obama has opened the first significant lead of the 2012 campaign in the nation's dozen top battleground states, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, boosted by a huge shift of women to his side.... Obama leads Republican front-runner Mitt Romney 51%-42% among registered voters just a month after the president had trailed him by two percentage points. The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney's support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group." ...
... Steve Kornacki of Salon: "This may be a case of history repeating itself. The last Democratic president to stand for reelection, Bill Clinton in 1996, owed his reelection to a massive and decisive gender gap.... But, as with Obama, his presidency provoked relentless, culturally-fueled conservative opposition that had particular resonance with white male voters, especially in the South and rural areas. The 'angry white male' phenomenon was key to the GOP’s 1994 midterm landslide...."
Ylan Mui of the Washington Post: "The burden of paying for college is wreaking havoc on the finances of an unexpected demographic: senior citizens. New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old."
CW: I missed Glenn Greenwald's column on Saturday, but he makes an important point: as far as the media are concerned, all terrorism is Muslim, and in many quarters it's quite all right to make remarks or "jokes" about Muslims of a kind that no one would make about other ethnic groups.
Right Wing World
In a USA Today op-ed, Rick Santorum whacks President Obama and Mitt Romney for ObamaRomneyCare, which, as you know, "will take away your freedoms." CW: I'm too lazy to unpack the ldisinformation & misstatements in the op-ed. Here, PolitiFact takes care of the first misstatement.
Phil Rockstroh in TruthOut helps explain why poor white conservative men are totally screwed up. He uses as an example his old friend Vince: "... as the day-to-day humiliations exacted by the corporate state continue to inflict deeper, more emotionally debilitating wounds, the more Vince reacts like a wounded animal … lashing out at all but those who bestow him with the palliative of rightwing demagogic lies that distort the source of his suffering by means of directing his rage at a host of scapegoats i.e., phantom socialists (and, of course, their OWS dirty hippie dupes) whose, schemes, he insists, have denied him his rightful place among the serried ranks of capitalism's legion of winners." Read the whole thing. I think it helps explain the some of what Chris Mooney observed about The Republican Brain in the piece I linked in the Commentariat two days ago." Thanks to my friend Kate M. for the link.
[Romney] started this campaign in the aftermath of that tea party victory in 2010 when all the people on the far right of the Republican party actually believed a majority of the voters had embraced the specific things they were saying. So it created a horrible dilemma for Romney. And the poor man who got in trouble for the Etch-a-Sketch remark. That’s like the saying, ‘There is nothing more damaging in politics than telling the truth.’ I mean, the truth is, that’s what he’s gotta do. -- Bill Clinton ...
... CW: I skipped this New York Times op-ed by David Javerbaum because I am sick of reading about Mitt Romney, but the article is pretty good. Jeverbaum explains Romney's movable policy positions in terms of quantum physics (I guess -- I don't really speak quantum physics). ...
... More Bouncing Protons. Tamara Keith of NPR: Romney used to be pretty sensible about conserving energy; he isn't anymore. With audio. ...
... Greg Sargent: "... the Obama-allied Priorities USA Action is going up with a new ad in seven swing states hitting back hard at a spot being run by an outside conservative group attacking the President over high gas prices":
Washington Post: Martha Johnson, "the chief of the General Services Administration, is resigning and two of her top deputies have been fired amid reports of excessive spending at a training conference at a luxury hotel that featured a mindreader, a clown and a comedian.... Four GSA employees who organized the four-day conference have been placed on adminstrative leave pending further action. The resignations come as the agency’s inspector general prepares to release a scathing report on the training conference, held at a luxury hotel outside Las Vegas in October 2010."
ABC News: "A gunman who opened fire at Oikos University, a Christian school in Oakland, Calif., this morning, killing at least seven people and wounding three others, may be in custody, police said." The college focuses on teaching nursing; the suspect is a former student.
AP: "In the thick of political contests in both the United States and Mexico, [President] Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon traded unusually direct claims about the cause and effect of the drug violence that has consumed a swath of northeastern Mexico."
ABC News: "Immigration & Customs Enforcement [ICE] said today it arrested 3,168 criminal aliens and fugitives in a six-day nationwide sweep in every state including Puerto Rico and The District of Colombia. The operation dubbed 'Cross-Check' included more than 2,834 individuals who had prior criminal convictions. ICE officials noted that 50 gang members and 149 convicted sex offenders were nabbed. Although ICE has run similar operations..., ICE Director John Morton said this was the largest to date."
New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials who must consider not only the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs but also public health and information about gang affiliations."
ABC News: "Former President Bill Clinton said ... the killing of Trayvon Martin should cause a re-thinking of the 'Stand Your Ground' law." With video.
New York Times: a new study of twins shows that "While sequencing the entire DNA of individuals is proving fantastically useful in understanding diseases and finding new treatments, it is not a method that will, for the most part, predict a person’s medical future."
Guardian: "Satellite images of a North Korean rocket launch site show a mobile radar trailer and rows of what appear to be empty fuel and oxidiser tanks, evidence of ramped-up preparation for what Washington calls a cover for a long-range missile test. An analysis of images that the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies gave to Associated Press on Monday shows Pyongyang 'has undertaken more extensive preparations for its planned April rocket launch than previously understood'. The images were taken on Wednesday."
AP: "A major donor to President Barack Obama has been accused of defrauding a businessman and impersonating a bank official.... The New York donor, Abake Assongba, and her husband contributed more than $50,000 to Obama's re-election effort this year, federal records show. But Assongba is also fending off a civil court case in Florida, where she's accused of thieving more than $650,000 to help build a multimillion-dollar home in the state — a charge her husband denies."
AP: "A Pakistani court on Monday convicted Osama bin Laden's three widows and two of his daughters of illegally entering and living in the country and sentenced them to 45 days in prison, with credit for time served, their lawyer said.The five women have been in detention since last May...."
Guardian: "Bashar al-Assad has been warned to implement a UN-backed peace plan to end more than a year of violence in Syria, amid growing scepticism at the lack of international resolve to tackle the bloodiest crisis of the Arab spring. Hillary Clinton ... issued the threat at a conference of the Friends of the Syrian people in Istanbul on Sunday, but there was little evidence of coherent international action if he does not comply."
Guardian: "Aung San Suu Kyi has hailed 'the beginning of a new era' in Burma's politics after her party claimed a spectacular 43 out of 44 parliamentary seats in Sunday's historic byelection. Speaking to thousands of red-clad supporters outside the headquarters of her opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), the Nobel laureate called the election 'a triumph of the people' and said: 'We hope this will be the beginning of a new era.'"
AP: The Census Bureau will release its 1940 records today; 21 million Americans whose personal data appear in the records are still living, raising privacy issues.
AP: "A credit card processor says that a recent data breach may affect less than 1.5 million cards in North America. Visa and Mastercard announced Friday that they had notified users of the potential for identity theft and illicit charges because of the breach. The card processor, Global Payments put a number on those who could be affected late Sunday."