A letter signed by at least 18 right-wing Republicans urges House Speaker John Boehner to bring up a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at the low sequester level when money expires on Jan. 15. This could subvert a budget agreement being negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to mitigate some of the painful sequester cuts. Without an agreement, the result will be another GOP government shutdown.
The sequester orders 2014 spending at $967 billion — hardline conservatives don’t want to spend a penny more than that. Ryan and Murray are close to a deal that raises spending to about $1 trillion. Democrats roundly oppose sequester spending levels and many Republicans, especially defense hawks, want to ease the cuts because they believe they’re unsustainable and damaging to national security. House Republican leaders support the Ryan-Murray framework but are often at the mercy of their right flank.
Progressives are not happy with the emerging Ryan-Murray budget deal either. It would cut off emergency unemployment insurance and it won’t close any tax loopholes. The deal may also cut some $20 billion from federal employee pensions.
House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) released his own budget proposal (PDF) Thursday.
Born Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in Transkei, South Africa, the civil rights activist would become the linchpin in South Africans’ move to end the country’s notorious apartheid regime. The impact of his efforts — to reconcile generosity with pragmatism and to find the common ground between humanity’s higher values and his own aspiration to power, as journalist John Carlin once described them — would ultimately reach well beyond South Africa’s borders, and earn him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
If you haven’t read it, I recommend the book Mandela’s Way.
h/t DSWright on FDL
Remember that massive NSA complex being built in Utah? It requires 1.7 million gallons of water a day to keep the servers housing all your stolen data cool. Cut off the water and watch the surveillance state buckle, or at least that’s the thought.
The OffNow Coalition proposes “The 4th Amendment Protection Act,” state-level legislation that would cut off support for NSA’s unconstitutional warrantless surveillance of Americans.
“Contracts to engage in illegal activity are not valid contracts. They aren’t upheld in court. Anyone making a blanket claim that NSA is acting legally is just plain nuts. So the Utah legislature can do something about the water in Bluffdale”
The American Prospect has a lengthy and somewhat scary article about homeschooling. Much of it is quotable and it’s a fascinating look inside America’s Christian subculture.
As of October, Homeschoolers Anonymous had published nearly 200 personal accounts and attracted more than 600,000 page views. For those outside the homeschooling movement, and for many inside it, the stories are revelatory and often shocking. The milder ones detail the haphazard education received from parents who, with little state oversight, prioritize obedience and religious training over learning. Some focus on women living under strict patriarchal regimes. Others chronicle appalling abuse that lasted for years.
It’s well worth a read.
Maxwell Strachan, HuffPo:
Congress effectively pulled money out of the hands of 47 million struggling Americans last month when it allowed massive cuts to the country’s food stamp program to go through without a hitch.
This was a callous decision. If you’re struggling to remember why, look no further than this chart from a new report by the Brookings Institution-affiliated Hamilton Project:
William Galston, Wall Street Journal:
The food-stamp program’s costs have soared since 2000, and especially since 2007. Here’s why.
First, there are many more poor people than there were at the end of the Clinton administration. Since 2000, the number of individuals in poverty has risen to 46.5 million from 31.6 million—to 15% of the total population from 11.3%. During the same period, the number of households with annual incomes under $25,000 rose to 30.2 million (24.7% of total households) from 21.9 million (21.2%).
Critics complain that beneficiaries and costs have continued to rise, even though the Great Recession officially ended in 2009. They’re right, but the number of poor people and low-income households has continued to rise as well.
According to the Census Bureau, there are 2.9 million more poor individuals today than in 2009, and three million more households with incomes under $25,000. The economic recovery, such as it is, has not yet reached low-income Americans.
Seriously, I sometimes think humanity is doomed and then I say no, that’s wrong then I read stories like this one and think maybe humanity should be doomed. The video of the big guy throwing people around to get a deal are enough to make me lose faith in humanity.
Don’t even get me started on the lunatic crowd at Macy’s in New York.
Fortunately there’s always Damn You Autocorrect to restore my faith.
Outgoing Utah Attorney General John Swallow is one of those politicians who attract investigations in swarms.
There was the federal investigation, which fizzled. There’s the probe going on in the Utah House of Representatives. A couple of district attorneys in Utah are digging around, too. And then there’s the investigation conducted on behalf of Utah’s lieutenant governor’s office, which culminated in a report released last week.
The report found probable cause that Swallow committed multiple violations of state law by failing to disclose ties to several business entities. It could have led to Swallow being removed from office, had he not announced his resignation the day before it was released. And it goes in the win column for Alliance for a Better Utah, the small advocacy group that in March filed the initial complaint about Swallow with the lieutenant governor’s office.
Across the country, there are groups — advocacy groups, watchdog groups, ethics groups, political groups — that file complaints about officials, office holders, and government agencies. Often nothing happens. The Swallow saga in Utah is a rare example of a complaint making good. And while Swallow has insisted that his decision to resign was not influenced by the report from the lieutenant governor’s office, his opponents think otherwise.
“I have no doubt that Swallow knew [what the report would find],” Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah, told TPM in an interview this week. “Because the timing of that is not just suspect, it’s just not possible for him to have done that. When only a few months prior he said, ‘I will never resign, I’ve never done anything wrong.’ … He was planning on sticking this out, I really think he thought he was going to skate by.”
Something to be thankful for.
Of course, Republicans also called for AG Swallow to resign. For example, blogger Holly Richardson has been on this theme all year.
Alliance for a Better Utah
The DNC has a nifty website full of actual facts in case the right-wingers at your family Thanksgiving get-together start repeating stuff they heard on Faux News Channel.
Matt Damon gives Howard Zinn’s take on civil disobedience
Rocky Anderson talks about the Trans Pacific Partnership:
Update: More information:
Since it was revived in 2005, Doctor Who has been a consistent hit for BBC and BBC America.
The show’s 50th anniversary special is tomorrow, so in honor of it, here is my season by season reviews of the revived series – I’m not up to tackling the 26 seasons and hundreds of episodes from the classic series. Read the rest of this entry »