Clooney: Obama’s Chances Are Good, But Don’t Get Cocky - Actor George Clooney on Sunday said that President Barack Obama was likely to be re-elected, but cautioned liberals not to get cocky “because you will always lose.” In an interview with NBC’s David Gregory, Clooney explained that the president has “always looked good to be re-elected.” “I happen to believe that Democrats are just very poor in general at explaining what it is when they accomplish something,” the longtime activist remarked. “If I was a Republican, if Obama was a Republican, I would be selling all of the, you know, he saved the auto industry, he got Osama bin Laden, he passed the health care bill that nobody could pass. If that was a Republican issue, I would be able to sell his presidency as a very successful one. But Democrats are bad at that. We like to pick each other apart. That’s our thing.” “The worst thing you could do is in any way feel safe or cocky because you will always lose,” he warned. Clooney added that unlike his good friend Matt Damon, he was not disappointed in Obama “in the least.”
2) THE 2012 GOP PRIMARY
Scrambling Santorum lashes out at Romney in pivotal state of Illinois - Santorum, in a television interview on Monday morning, made a series of pointed remarks about Romney that almost certainly rule him out of consideration as Romney’s vice-presidential running-mate. Speaking on CBS, Santorum claimed Romney “is someone who doesn’t have a core. He has been on both sides of almost every single issue in the past 10 years”. That is a damning accusation for a politician, one that the Democrats could happily use as an ad in the fall.
Santorum ‘does not care’ about the unemployment rate -“I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be. Doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. It’s something more foundational that’s going on. We have one nominee who says he wants to run the economy. What kind of conservative says that the president runs the economy? What conservative says I’m the guy, because of my economic experience, that can create jobs? I don’t know. We conservatives generally think that government doesn’t create jobs. That what government does is create an atmosphere for jobs to be created in the private sector.”
Rick Santorum’s Secret Service Code Name in No Way Shows Messianic Self-Regard - Thought we were done with Rick Santorum, did you? Well SO DID WE! Then GQ had to go discover his Secret Service code name, which is Petrus, as in Rock, as in Peter, as in “And on this rock I shall build my Church,” which in no way, shape or form could be construed as JESUS FUCKING CHRIST THE MESSIANIC BALLS ON THAT GUY!
Romney looks to win big in Illinois Republican primary - “Mitt Romney is headed for a blowout victory in Illinois,” Public Policy Polling said Monday in releasing a survey that showed Romney with a 15-point lead over Santorum, up from a 9-point lead in a Rasmussen poll released Friday. The former Massachusetts governor also has a commanding lead in the all-important delegate count as he seeks to be the Republican contender to take on Democrat Obama in the November 6 vote. [...] Romney’s campaign has spent millions flooding the Illinois airwaves with negative ads calling Santorum an “economic lightweight” and “Washington insider” with a voting record that belies the principles he espouses on the campaign trail.
Romney “connects” with “people” in Springfield IL - ”These pancakes are something else, I’ll tell ya,” said Romney, standing in the dining room of Charlie Parker’s Diner in Springfield admiring the dish known as a “Charlie’s Famous Giant Pancake.” “These pancakes are about as large as my win in Puerto Rico last night, I must admit. The margin is just about as good. I’m looking forward to getting one of these pancakes. Can I get one of these on the way out? Not the super big one, I can’t fit that in the vehicle, all right,” Romney joked. “The car’s only a Chevy SUV.”
3) THE 21st CENTURY REPUBLICAN (TEA)PARTY
Sheriff Arpaio refuses to drop ‘birther’ investigation of Obama - “President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate released by the White House on April 27, 2011, is suspected to be a computer-generated forgery, not a scan of an original 1961 paper document as represented by the White House when the long-form birth certificate was made public,” the sheriff said at a press conference. But his widely-reported investigation had little impact. “The media all came to make fun of me,” Arpaio told The Arizona Republic. “I’m a little concerned that all of their questions were zeroed in on credibility and that this has been rehashed. They didn’t even ask about the proof of the case. They didn’t ask about the facts that we had.” Many of the so-called “birthers” believe there is persuasive evidence that Obama was born in Kenya in 1961 and that his birth certificate was faked in order to make him eligible for the presidency.
Hunter DK: “…The main thing Sheriff Joe has proven (and he keeps proving it again and again, for some reason) is that the people of Mariposa County, Arizona are outright morons. That’s really the only reason I can possibly think of for why this clown still continues to hold office, despite federal investigations, a crime rate that has gone up, celebrity ride-alongs gone bad and “investigations” whose only apparent purpose is to repeatedly humiliate all involved. He seems to be bad at every single part of his job except the self-promotion part, and yet he still keeps going strong, so at least the rest of us will have an ongoing source of dark comedy…”
Do you think Barack Obama is a Christian or a Muslim, or are you not sure?
Not sure: 37 Do you think Barack Obama was born in the United States, or not?
Was born in U.S.: 36
Not born in U.S.: 36
Not sure: 28 Do you believe in evolution, or not?
Believe in evolution: 41
Do not: 43
Not sure: 16
4) REPUBLICAN WAR ON WOMEN
Idaho Senate votes to require pre-abortion ultrasound- (Reuters) – The Idaho Senate on Monday approved a measure requiring women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound before ending a pregnancy, joining a number of states passing ultrasound measures to discourage abortions. The bill now heads to the state House of Representatives, where it was expected to pass.
Romney Holds The Line: No Free Birth Control- ”If you’re looking for free stuff, if you’re looking for free stuff that you don’t have to pay for, go vote for the other guy, because that what he’s all about,” Romney retorted, making an economic case against government handouts. “The idea of borrowing a trillion dollars more than we take in is not just bad economics, it’s immoral. I’m not gonna do it, and I’m not gonna make a promise we can’t deliver.” “Where do you suggest that the millions of women who receive their health services, such as mammograms and HPV vaccines, go?” she asked. “Well, they could go wherever they would like to go. This is a free society,” Romney said. “But here’s what I say — the federal government should not tax these people to pay for Planned Parenthood.” //Aaaaand HERE is where one would naturally turn to the “free handouts” to the wealthiest one percent in Romeny’s own “tax plan” which would actually cut his own taxes by half.
5) REPUBLICAN WAR ON THE 99% / PROTECTING THE ONE PERCENT
Republicans to unveil their budget blueprint - [House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's] latest budget poses a risk for Republicans in an election year as it again includes proposed reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, the popular but costly health insurance programs for the elderly and the poor. It would transform Medicare from a traditional fee-for-service health care system for seniors into a voucher system giving them money to purchase insurance on the private market. The Ryan plan would mark “the end of Medicare as we know it,” Representative Janice Schakowsky, a Democrat, told reporters. “Some estimates are it would cost seniors out of pocket some $6,000″ per person per year more than current costs, she added.
All 3 Missouri GOP Senate Candidates Stumped When Asked To Identify The Minimum Wage - Three Missouri Republicans running to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in November were asked during a radio debate on KMOX what the federal minimum wage is and whether they would vote to increase it. None of the three knew what the minimum wage [was], but all knew that they would vote against increasing it, regardless. The candidates’ explanations for not wanting to raise the minimum wage ranged from nonsensical (Brunner said his business gave “better than the minimum benefits”) to extreme, with Akin calling for scrapping the minimum wage altogether. “I don’t think the government should be setting prices on wages in any way shape or form,” said Akin. Steelman was opposed to raising the minimum wage because she “think[s] it’s high enough as it is.” [...] Perhaps explaining their ignorance of the current minimum wage is the fact that none of the three candidates personally live anywhere near it.
Spring Arrives with Equinox Tuesday, Earliest in More Than a Century- Across much of the United States, this has been an unusually mild winter, especially for those living east of the Mississippi. Not a few people have noted that spring seems to have come early this year. Of course, in a meteorological sense that could be true, but in 2012 it will also be true in an astronomical sense as well, because this year spring will make its earliest arrival since the late 19th century: 1896, to be exact.
GOOD IDEAS: Brits to See How Taxes Are Spent- LONDON—Every British taxpayer is to receive a personal statement detailing exactly how their taxes are being spent as part of the government’s drive to make the tax system easier to understand and more transparent.Treasury chief George Osborne is expected to announce in tomorrow’s budget that Britain’s 20 million taxpayers will receive the annual statements from 2014. [...] The statements will set out how much income tax and National Insurance—workers’ contribution toward the state-funded health system—each taxpayer contributes. It will also break down the main areas of spending on public services and how much of the taxpayer’s contribution goes on each.
Obama’s Spending Record: More Conservative Than Reagan’s - This is the kind of reality that makes Sean Hannity’s head explodes. So far, the GOP candidates have been running against a fictional president with a fictional record. Obama didn’t campaign to increase government spending, but inheriting what was in the final quarter of 2008 an annulaized contraction of 9 percent of GDP, he opted for a stimulus. That accounts for much of the spending. I know we are supposed – along with Fox News – to have total amnesia about the spending record of George W. Bush, wh had nothing like the recession Obama inherited to counter. But there it is. Along with the fact that of the last seven presidents, the top three are all Republicans…
Obama Plans Big Effort to Build Support Among Women - On Monday, mailings will go out to one million women in more than a dozen battleground states in three separate versions for mothers, young women and older women, campaign and party officials said. [...] The campaign’s effort to rally women around the health care law had been long planned, to coincide with the second anniversary of Mr. Obama signing it on March 23, campaign officials said. But the effort has gained intensity, they added, because of recent controversies over contraception, abortion and education in Washington and in state capitals that have energized people in the campaign’s far-flung field offices who are essential to putting any national strategy into action.
Sen. Daniel Akaka: Congress should stop targeting federal employees- Hard-working federal employees are being squeezed by Congress again, as some of my colleagues attempt to attach an extension of the pay freeze to pending highway funding bills. This comes after Congress last month effectively cut the pay of new employees by forcing them to pay more toward their pensions — permanently — to offset the costs of just 10 months of unemployment. I strongly oppose this new habit of picking the pockets of America’s dedicated middle-class public servants. [...] CBO’s report said that workers without college degrees were paid higher average wages in the federal government than in the private sector, but noted that workers with college degrees — the bulk of the federal workforce — were paid about the same, and workers with graduate or professional degrees were paid significantly less. Averaged across all categories, federal workers were paid 2 percent more. However, the report was flawed. CBO relied on limited survey data of self-reported wages and occupations, and some federal contractors inaccurately reported that they are federal employees. CBO did not account for complexity or other aspects of jobs, instead using broad occupational categories. As Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry pointed out, we should pay the federal forklift operator transporting nuclear-tipped torpedoes more than the private-sector forklift operator moving boxes… [graph via: thebottom99percent.com]
2) THE 2012 GOP PRIMARY
After Santorum tells Puerto Ricans to speak English… Mitt Romney Wins Puerto Rico Primary - Late Sunday night, with 61 percent of the Puerto Rican votes counted, Romney had 83 percent of them. He won all 20 delegates to the national convention at stake because he prevailed with more than 50 percent of the vote. That padded his comfortable lead over Santorum in the race to amass the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Romney announced the Puerto Rico win at the Illinois rally and told the crowd, “I intend to become our nominee and I intend to get Latino voters to vote for a Republican and take back the White House.” The Santorum campaign accused Romney of pandering. “Mitt Romney says he supports English as the official language of America while on the mainland, but then says Puerto Ricans don’t have to learn English while he’s on Puerto Rico,” Santorum communications director Hogan Gidley said in a press release.
Santorum: Obama ‘exposing children’ to risk from porn - In an undated statement on his official website, the former Pennsylvania senator asserted that “America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography” because Obama’s Justice Department was favoring “pornographers over children.” “Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships,” the statement says. “It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.” “Current federal ‘obscenity’ laws prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier,” the statement continues, adding that these laws should be “vigorously enforced.”
LGF: Santorum also accused President Obama of being an “appeaser of evil.” This is very sick stuff; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such twisted counter-factual arguments in a presidential campaign.
McCain: GOP needs ‘to get off’ contraception issue - McCain appeared once again on NBC’s Meet The Press (for a record 64th time) and told host David Gregory that the GOP needed to “get off” the issue and “fix the perception” their party currently has with women. “I think we have to fix that,” McCain said. “I think that there is a perception out there, because of the way that this whole contraception issue played out. We need to get off of that issue, in my view. I think we ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives, and make that clear, and get back on to what the American people really care about: jobs and the economy.”
Tennessee Bill May Expose Identities Of Women Seeking Abortions - Tennessee lawmakers will consider a controversial measure on Wednesday that could intimidate women seeking abortions by requiring that the names of doctors who perform the procedures be published online. The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, said at an initial hearing on the bill earlier this month that the reporting requirement writes into law a form that the Department of Health already asks providers to fill out whenever they perform an abortion. “The Department of Health already collects all of the data, but they don’t publish it,” he said. “All we’re asking is that the data they already collect be made public.”
5) HEALTHCARE REFORM
Paul Krugman: Hurray for Health Reform - Can such a system work? It’s already working! Massachusetts enacted a very similar reform six years ago — yes, while Mitt Romney was governor. Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who played a key role in developing both the local and the national reforms (and has published an illustrated guide to reform) has surveyed the results — and finds that Romneycare is working pretty much as advertised. The number of people without insurance has dropped sharply, the quality of care hasn’t suffered, and the program’s cost has been very close to initial projections. Oh, and the budgetary cost per newly insured resident of Massachusetts was actually lower than the projected cost per American insured by the Affordable Care Act. Given this evidence, what’s a virulent opponent of reform to do? The answer is, make stuff up. We all know how the act’s proposal that Medicare evaluate medical procedures for effectiveness became, in the fevered imagination of the right, an evil plan to create death panels. And rest assured, this lie will be back in force once the general election campaign is in full swing. For now, however, most of the disinformation involves claims about costs…
U.S. Tells States How to Expand Medicaid in Health Law- The Obama administration on Friday told states how to enroll millions more low-income Americans into Medicaid under the health-care overhaul, 10 days before the Supreme Court begins considering a challenge to the law. The regulations, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, detail the scheduled expansion of Medicaid to cover a larger batch of low earners in 2014, when much of the health-care law is set to take effect. ‘Medicaid will look and feel like a very different program by 2015,’ said Cindy Mann, a top official at the agency charged with overseeing the changes. The Medicaid expansion is part of the broader case brought by opponents of Democrats’ 2010 health-care law that the Supreme Court will begin hearing March 26. To reduce the number of uninsured Americans, the law calls for adding 17 million or more additional people to the Medicaid program in the next decade.
6) PROTECTING THE WEALTH OF THE ONE PERCENT: GOP WAR ON THE 99%
Marginal Tax Rates and Wishful Thinking - At least since Calvin Coolidge, politicians have trumpeted the supply-side benefits of cutting marginal income tax rates. Lower rates will unleash economic growth and the cuts will largely pay for themselves — or so it’s often said. Yet careful studies find little evidence of such effects. Perhaps it’s time to reform tax policy based on facts, not worn-out assumptions…History shows that marginal federal income tax rates have varied widely…If you can find a consistent relationship between these fluctuations and sustained economic performance, you’re more creative than I am. Growth was indeed slower in the 1970s than in the ’60s, and tax rates were higher in the ’70s. But growth was stronger in the 1990s than in the 2000s, despite noticeably higher rates in the ’90s…If moderate increases in marginal rates wouldn’t much affect behavior, a mix of rate increases and cuts in tax expenditures might be a sensible path. [...] Finally, income inequality has surged in recent decades. Raising marginal rates on the wealthy is a straightforward, effective way to counter this trend, while helping to solve our looming deficit problem. Given the strong evidence that the incentive effects of marginal rates are small, opponents of such a move will need a new argument. Invoking the myth of terrible supply-side consequences just won’t cut it.
AFL-CIO calls for birth control access, immigration reform and overturning Citizens United - Broad statements on Fixing What is Wrong with Our Economy and Organizing and Growth sketch out a vision for the economy and for unions. To “fix what is wrong with our economy,” What we need now is an economic program as serious and far-reaching as the problem President Obama has correctly diagnosed. We must start by shifting the focus of U.S. economic policy from one of maximizing the competitiveness and profitability of corporations that happen to maintain headquarters somewhere on U.S. territory to one of maximizing the competitiveness and prosperity of the human beings who live and work in America. The AFL-CIO proposes massive “productive public investment” in education, energy, transportation, manufacturing, infrastructure and more, all paid for by letting the Bush tax cuts expire and imposing new or increased taxes on capital gains, financial speculation and income greater than $1 million. Related, we have to rein in the financial sector and expand and support manufacturing. Additionally, “it is essential that we tackle the problems of wage stagnation and economic inequality,” by increasing and indexing the minimum wage and reforming labor law, among other things.
Today in labor history, March 19, 1917: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Adamson Act, a federal law that established an 8-hour workday, with overtime pay, for interstate railway workers. Congress passed the law in 1916 to avert a nationwide rail strike. [via: todayinlaborhistory]