CW: I submitted my New York Times eXaminer column late, so I'm not sure when it will be published. In the meantime, if you read Joe Nocera's column today, take it with a mountain of salt. I'll be getting back to you on that, sooner or later. ...
... Laurence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute explains to New York Times reporter/analysts why we are not "becoming an entitlement society."
President Obama's Weekly Address:
... The transcript is here.
Jason DeParle & Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage."
"Did the Stimulus Work?" Michael Linden of the Center for American Progress:
** Thomas Frank in a TruthOut interview: "... what is really spectacular is how [the 2008 financial meltdown] ... got processed through the right's upside-down machine and came out as the story of how power-hungry leftists tried to 'transform America' by force during a crisis: Rather than Hank Paulson and Co. bailing out their friends, it was Big Government trying to get its fingers around the throat of free enterprise.... Barack Obama had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take the financial oligarchy apart ... because that was what democracy requires -- and despite the right's perception of him as Robespierre reincarnated, he didn't do it."
"A Better Way to Buy Politicians." Lindsay Mark Lewis, a former DNC finance director, urges repeal of what's left of McCain-Feingold, which would put mega-donors' money under the control of the politicians they back & make politicians responsible for the ads they run. CW: maybe, but hardly a substantial improvement. ...
... CW: Besides, Andy Rosenthal inadvertently points out an advantage to keeping SuperPACS independent of candidates: "... under the law, broadcast stations cannot censor, edit or refuse ads by candidates for federal office.... But ... independent groups are not guaranteed the same access to airwaves as candidates for federal office. TV stations have every right to reject third-party ads." Rosenthal doesn't see TV stations turning down ad revenues, but he says they should "insist on edits for the sake of accuracy." ...
... Here's Annenberg's FlackCheck.org One thing you can do is click on "Stations" (upper left) to e-mail your local stations & urge them to stop running deceptive ads.
Michelle Dammon Loyalka, a journalist living in Beijing, in a New York Times op-ed: "... while China’s industrial subsidies, trade policies, undervalued currency and lack of enforcement for intellectual property rights all remain sticking points for the United States, there is at least one area in which the playing field seems to be slowly leveling: the cheap labor that has made China’s factories nearly unbeatable is not so cheap anymore." ...
... Reuters: "Foxconn Technology Group, the top maker of Apple Inc's iPhones and iPads whose factories are under scrutiny over labour practices, has raised wages of its Chinese workers by 16-25 percent from this month, the third rise since 2010."
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs in the Huffington Post: "One of the unshakable myths of the punditariat is that the federal government is going bankrupt because of entitlements spending, especially spending on Medicare and Medicaid.... The most frequently quoted forecast is that of the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO's long-term forecast assumes that health care costs will continue to rise steeply during the next 70 years, though at a diminishing rate.... [But] healthcare costs are already vastly over-priced now compared with what other countries pay for the same services.... New information technologies ... lower the costs of health-care delivery and administration.... Let's therefore fight the right-wing hysteria demanding immediate and harsh cuts in Medicaid and other health outlays." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. Since the post is in the HuffPo, I never would have found it. ...
... OMG! Even J. D. Kleinke of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute agrees: "... the growth rate of national health expenditures ... has been moderating since 2002." Of course he thinks the way forward is in the "free market" where everybody gets to shop for their own policies. He would. Because, you know, individual insurance consumers have so much power.
VatiLeaks! Boys in Beanies Behaving Badly. Elisabetta Povoledo of the New York Times: "... the Vatican has become embroiled in an embarrassing scandal in which a number of leaked documents have drawn back the curtains on the church’s inner workings. The internal church squabbling, predictably dubbed 'VatiLeaks' by the Italian news media, became public about three weeks ago with the disclosure on television and in newspapers of confidential letters written by a top Vatican official who had denounced alleged corruption and financial mismanagement in Vatican City."
Kathleen Hennessey & Christi Parsons of the Los Angeles Times: President Obama raised $6,000 a minute on his Western trip -- and criticism from Republicans & those inconvenienced by traffic congestion he caused.
Right Wing World
Viva America! Quote of the Day: This sounds like some third-world county governed by colonels in mirrored sunglasses in which he dictates, 'I, the supreme leader, dictate that something will be provided free when we know the cost of that will have to be borne by everybody else in society that's not getting the free good.' -- Karl Rove, on contraceptive coverage (pssst! somebody tell Bush's Brain that contraception saves both public & private money; in fact, insurance policies that don't cover contraception cost more than those that do)
Once again, Steve Benen lists Mitt Romney's five top lies of the week. It is astounding that it is possible, week after week, to find five or ten lies that a major candidate has made during any given week.
Protestants Are Not Christians. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic; sure, the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. -- Rick Santorum, in a 2008 speech at conservative Catholic Ave Maria University. More here -- this is really remarkable stuff ...
... Charles Blow: in Detroit, the city with the highest poverty rate in the U.S., "Rick Santorum praises income inequality." Blow writes a pretty good takedown of Santorum.
Gail Collins writes about Republicans -- including Santorum -- running afoul of residency requirements. "Rick Santorum’s political career was built on an upset victory against a Democratic House member who, Santorum claimed, had ... moved his family to the Washington suburbs. When Santorum moved his own family to the Washington suburbs, he claimed that promises he made when he was in the House didn’t count for the Senate."
Laura Strickler of CBS News: "Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson plans to give another $10 million to the outside group backing [Newt Gingrich]...."
Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: so they're not through voting in the Maine caucuses. Washington County is caucusing today, & since Romney beat Ron Paul by less than 200 votes last week, his victory could be overturned. "The party’s decision about how to count the vote has touched off a political storm and raised questions about the whole caucus system. Caucuses in other states have been plagued with problems this year, and doubts have been raised about their fairness and the ability of state parties to manage them." CW: Kinda turns the tables on Will Rogers' famous remark, "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." ...
... Tim Mak of Politico: "Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster has admitted that the state party made numerous clerical errors in counting the state’s caucus results — even omitting some votes because emails reporting tallies 'went to spam' in an email account. However, Webster insisted that the errors did not change the outcome."
AP: "A judge on Friday denied Gov. Scott Walker's request for a two-week extension to review recall petition signatures, saying the election is likely to proceed. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess' ruling was a victory for recall organizers who had said there was no good reason for another extension and that Walker's request was an attempt to delay the inevitable." Thanks to Kate M. for the link.
New York Times: "Egypt will begin criminal proceedings on Friday against 19 Americans and two dozen others in a politically charged investigation into the foreign financing of nonprofit groups that has plunged relations between the United States and Egypt to their lowest point in three decades, state news media reported Saturday."
New York Times: "... speaker after speaker at the funeral of Whitney Houston on Saturday afternoon kept coming back to her strong attachment to New Hope Baptist Church [of Newark, New Jersey], where her prodigious talents were first recognized and where the funeral was held."
Washington Post: "Two Supreme Court justices suggested Friday that the court reconsider its controversial 2010 decision that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending in elections. The suggestion came as the court blocked a Montana Supreme Court decision upholding a century-old ban on corporate campaign spending in the state.... In Friday’s order, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer said the upheaval in the world of campaign finance since the Citizens United decision does not bear out the majority opinion."
New York Times: "The full details of recent experiments that made a deadly will be published, probably within a few months, despite recommendations by the United States that some information be kept secret for fear that terrorists could use it to start epidemics."virus more contagious
Reuters: "An Egyptian court will start the trial on February 26 of activists from mostly American civil society groups accused of working illegally in Egypt, in a case which has strained U.S.-Egyptian ties. A judicial source told Reuters that the 43 accused, including around 20 Americans, would go on trial next Sunday, charged with working in the country without proper legal registration."
Reuters: "Syrian security forces fired live ammunition to break up a protest against President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus Saturday, killing at least one person, opposition activists said." ...
... New York Times Update: "Hundreds and hundreds of antigovernment protesters braved scattered gunfire from Syrian soldiers to march through a middle-class neighborhood in Damascus on Saturday, the biggest demonstration witnessed close to the heart of the capital since the country’s uprising started 11 months ago."
New York Times: "Pope Benedict XVI created 22 new cardinals on Saturday, including Timothy M. Dolan of New York, in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica rich in pageantry and resonant with ancient tradition."
New York Times: A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels the to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films. Local police and emergency services will also be freer to send up their own drones."
Washington Post: "A half-dozen members of the House Ethics Committee have recused themselves from the troubled investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and been replaced by a new team, a sign that the stalled probe is set to restart.... Kenneth Gross, an ethics attorney..., said the mass recusal appeared to be 'unprecedented' in a congressional investigation."
Reuters: "China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping on Friday swiped away fears that his country's economic growth could stumble, and turned to courting American companies, film-makers and governors hungry for a slice of that growth on the final day of his U.S. visit." ...
... Los Angeles Times: "Before catching a late-night flight to Europe, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping made one last stop in Los Angeles: Staples Center [to watch the fourth quarter of the Lakers game].... The Chinese delegation has been greeted with protests by Tibetans and other groups at virtually every stop of their five-day tour of the United States. The Lakers game was no different."
Houston Chronicle: "About 40 investors who lost savings in accounts with accused swindler R. Allen Stanford packed the courtroom where he's on trial Friday, noting the third anniversary of the government lawsuit that shut down his operations. To date, investors have recovered nothing."
Reuters: "Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is to be questioned next week by police investigating an alleged prostitution ring in Lille, northern France, a police source said."
Los Angeles Times: "Whitney Houston's funeral is invitation-only and attendance will be limited to family and friends, but Saturday's services are set to be seen around the world: They will stream online and be shown on a number of TV networks. Houston's funeral is slated to begin at 9 a.m. Pacific [12 noon ET] at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. -- the late pop titan's childhood church."