What could possibly go wrong? Crazy Joe Arpaio’s greatest idea yet!

Arpaio plans to use armed volunteer ‘posses’ to patrol local schools — Arpaio said his plan, which he hopes to put into effect next week, would have volunteers providing security at 50 schools that fall under his jurisdiction. According to the station, the group of about 3,000 members includes 300 to 400 allowed to carry weapons following 100 hours of training and background checks identical to the kind actual members of his department undergo. They also wear similar uniforms and drive Sheriff’s Department vehicles while on duty.

Sounds legit:

  1. Only 10-13% of his volunteers are “allowed” to carry guns after 100 hours of training — and background checks?
  2. 300-400 of these volunteer cop-wannabes get to dress up and drive department vehicles like real deputies while “on duty”?
  3. And they’ll all be “providing security” to 50 schools?

If I lived in Arpaio’s Crazytown, I’d be asking:

  • What kind of training? 100 hours is, like, two weeks worth.
  • What kind of background check?
  • Will the wannabes have powers of search and seizure? Powers of arrest?
  • Will the public be able to tell the difference between the wannabes’ uniforms and regular sheriff department uniforms?
  • What if the wannabes decide to be “on duty” away from a school zone with their uniform and car?
  • And most of all: what will Arpaio use the taxpayer funded posse of 300-400 trained, armed, and uniformed wannabes for — besides security at schools?

Breaking: Sheriff Joe Arpaio to begin raiding kindergartens

It’s a great relief to know that Sheriff Joe Arpaio will continue to protect American citizens from all the undocumented 6-year-olds.

The Arizona Clown Show: Ken Bennett explains why he won’t verify Mitt Romney’s birth records

News out of Arizona that should surprise exactly zero people. You wonder how long it took Bennett to come up with this painfully lame excuse:

Secretary of State Ken Bennett will not verify the birth records of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, at least not now – and possibly not ever – despite an earlier public commitment to do so.

Bennett said Thursday that he has received requests from Arizona residents to perform the same kind of verification through Michigan about Romney’s birth certificate as he did through Hawaii for President Obama. And he acknowledged he had agreed to make such a check if he got a request.

But Bennett is now saying he needs something else: an allegation by an Arizona law enforcement agency that there is a question about the veracity of a candidate’s claimed birth certificate.

More…

Morning Bunker Report: Tuesday 4.10.2012

————————————-WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STANDS FOR TODAY

Robertson tells man ‘you are the boss’ in marriage — Televangelist Pat Robertson once again added to his list of controversial statements Monday, telling a man that he is “the boss” of the family when a conflict arises between him and his wife over money given to church. On the latest episode of The 700 Club, Robertson responded to a male viewer’s letter about his wife demanding the couple not give more in tithes to their church because of their difficult financial situation. Tithes are the money Christians give from their income to their church as a religious obligation. “You know big man, you are the boss,” he said. “I know people don’t want to hear that, but you are the high priest of your family and you are the man of the house.” [...] Robertson added: “You need to push forward and your wife will come along. But if you’re vacillating and she pulls you back, you’re not much of a leader. You’re supposed to be a leader, you supposed to be the high priest. You supposed to intercede for your family before the Lord. And, as they say, ‘Man up.’”

Joe Arpaio Wonders If GOP Candidates Are In On Conspiracy To Hide Obama’s Birth Certificate — Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is disturbed that the Republican presidential candidates haven’t supported his quixotic effort to get to the bottom of President Obama’s birth certificate, and is begining to wonder if they’re part of the cover up. [...] APRAIO: I’ve had presidential candidates visit me in my office. I’ve talked to every one of them. … I don’t see anybody talking about this. I don’t see any senators talking about it. But when they mention me, they seem to forget my name. So isn’t that interesting? On both sides of the fence, they don’t want to talk about it. … How come everybody’s hiding this? [...] But Arpaio’s political star may have fallen along with his legal one. Arpaio is now on the verge of losing his badge thanks to accusations from the Department of Justice that his department systemically profiles based on race and has mishandled hundreds of sex crimes cases.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) argued yesterday that the female members in his caucus agree with him that the GOP’s “war on women” is just “a manufactured issue.” [...] “There is no issue. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe from Maine I think would be the first to say — and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska — ‘we don’t see any evidence of this.'” The Senate is out this week, but McConnell may way want to pay a little closer attention to what members of his caucus are actually saying. In this case, McConnell specifically mentioned five Republican senators — all of whom are women, and three of whom have raised serious concerns about what their party is up to. [...] McConnell seems comfortable speaking for all of these women, and ascribing beliefs to them. But if McConnell stopped telling us what these senators think and started listening to what they actually think, he might learn something important. [MaddowBlog]

———————————————————–——PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

Obama will talk about taxes in Florida on Tuesday when he delivers a speech in support of the “Buffett Rule,” a measure to insure a 30 percent tax on income over $1 million earned by wealthy Americans. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to the battleground state of New Hampshire on Thursday also to discuss taxes. The Obama campaign sees the issue as a weak point for Romney, a former private equity executive and ex-governor of Massachusetts. “Middle class families are taking it on the chin right now and they don’t see others doing their fair share,” Wisconsin Democratic congresswoman Tammy Baldwin said in a conference call set up by the Obama campaign. On April 16, the Senate will take up the “Buffett Rule” although it is unlikely to be approved as Democrats lack the 60 votes needed to bring the issue to a full vote. [Reuters]

Dick Durbin, Senate Dem Leader, Hammers Romney Over Swiss Bank Account — Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) slammed presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney for using a Swiss bank account and refusing to release more years of tax returns. “When is the last time a presidential candidate had a Swiss bank? I think the answer is never,” Durbin said on a conference call organized by the Obama campaign. The number two Democrat in the Senate said he asked billionaire investor Warren Buffett if he’d ever owned an an account in the tax friendly nation.” “‘Nope,’” Durbin said, quoting Buffett , “‘there are plenty of good banks in the United States.’” Durbin said there are only two reasons to hold a Swiss bank account: “Number one, you believe the Swiss Franc is a stronger currency than the United States Dollar. And that apparently was the decision the Romney family made during the Bush presidency.” “And secondly, you want to hide something, you want to conceal something,” He said. “It is impossible for him to explain or defend owning a Swiss bank account.”

Rep. Baldwin calls for House to vote on ‘Buffett Rule’ tax for millionaires — Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) on Monday urged leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives to bring her legislation to the floor to enact the so-called Buffett Rule. [...] Republicans have condemned the proposed rule as class warfare and it is unlikely to pass in the GOP-led House of Representatives. Nearly all House Republicans have sworn to fight any and all tax increases. But Baldwin said the American people “deserve to know where their Representatives stand” on this “critical” issue. “Our current tax code has been influenced by powerful special interests and includes loopholes and special provisions that allow approximately a quarter of all millionaires to pay lower effective tax rates than millions of middle class families,” she explained. Approximately 94,500 millionaires pay a lower effective tax rate than millions of families earning less than $100,000, according to the Congressional Research Service (PDF). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced that the Senate will vote on the legislation on April 16, tax day.

NEA Wants $1.5 Trillion From Closed Corporate Tax Loopholes To Fund Popular Education Programs — The National Education Association is ramping up a public information campaign to build support for closing big corporate tax loopholes and directing the revenue toward key education initiatives. The push comes weeks after the Obama administration released a framework for corporate tax reforms that would be revenue neutral, suggesting a schism between the powerful union and the White House. But in a Monday interview, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel applauded Obama’s record on education and said his group’s push is meant to raise awareness of one of many ways to finance more federal investment in education. “One reason to look at corporate taxes is because it is so huge,” Van Roekel said, citing the Center for Tax Justice, which concludes (PDF) that closing seven specific corporate tax loopholes could raise nearly $1.5 trillion over 10 years. NEA proposes using the money to raise the maximum Pell grant award to cover half the average cost of public higher education, fund Title I spending on students from low-income families and other initiatives.

Obama announces opposition to Minnesota same sex marriage ban — “While the President does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples,” Kristin Sosanie, Obama’s Minnesota Communications Director, said in a statement. “That’s what the Minnesota ballot initiative would do – it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and that’s why the President does not support it.” The statement is nearly identical to another statement by the Obama campaign regarding efforts in the New Hampshire legislature to repeal the state’s same sex marriage law. That effort ended unsuccessfully in late March. [...] “The amendment does not represent the values Minnesotans hold dear – that marriage is about love and commitment, and that freedom means freedom for everyone,” Minnesotans United for All Families said in a statement. “We’re happy that President Obama and Minnesotans from all walks of life see this amendment for what it is – a government exclusion to a group of people simply because of who they are.”

(3/21) Wednesday morning’s 6 semi-interesting things

1) PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

  • The White House issued this statement responding to the House Republican budget released today by Rep. Paul RyanThe House budget once again fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility.  It would shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers.  What’s worse is that all of these tax breaks would be paid for by undermining Medicare and the very things we need to grow our economy and the middle class – things like education, basic research, and new sources of energy. And instead of strengthening Medicare, the House budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning the guarantee of retirement security into a voucher that will shift higher and higher costs to seniors over time.
  • Dems To GOP: No Cover From Us On Medicare Privatization Plan – When House Republicans unveil[ed] their 2012 budget on Tuesday, they are expected to include a Medicare privatization plan endorsed by one Democrat — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). That, Republicans will claim, proves their controversial overhaul proposal has bipartisan support. Leading Democrats say they won’t let the GOP get away with it. “We don’t see a difference in principle between the original Ryan plan and the so-called Wyden-Ryan plan,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) a party surrogate on health care issues, told reporters on a conference call Monday morning. “It’s equally bad or only marginally different but still would end Medicare as we know it.”

2) THE 2012 GOP PRIMARY

  • Voter Turnout Extremely Low For Illinois Primary – Turnout for Tuesday’s Illinois primary in Chicago was a meager 24 percent, officials said. It was the lowest turnout for a presidential primary in the past 70 years. Election officials said a lack of contested races was behind the lackluster activity at the polls. “It’s very, very disappointing,” said Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. “I think what it indicates is that a lack of a contest on the Democratic side at the top of the ticket really did cause our voters not to be engaged in this election.”
  • Romney wins Illinois primary, gears up for Louisiana – With 99% of precincts reporting, Romney led former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum by a 47%-to-35% margin. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was running third at 9%, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 8%. With the victory, Romney was poised to win at least 41 of the 54 delegates up for grabs in the state, giving him a total of 562, according to CNN’s estimate. Santorum is second with 249, Gingrich third with 137 and Paul last with 69. A total of 1,144 delegates are needed to clinch the GOP nomination. Louisiana will hold its primary on Saturday.
  • Do You Favor Phasing Out Medicare? - Not sure this is going to get the level of attention it deserves or that most political reporters will call it what it is: Paul Ryan today unveiled the new House Budget, which doubles down on Ryan’s previously announced plan to end Medicare as a source of guaranteed health care benefits for the elderly. It’ll still be called Medicare, but it will be Medicare in name only. We’ve covered this ad nauseam, but it hasn’t really penetrated elite consciousness, let alone broader public awareness. (Incredibly obtuse fact-checking on the issue has compounded the problem.) But here we sit less than eight months before the election, with Republicans firmly and irrevocably on record as planning to dismantle Medicare. No guaranteed benefits. Period. End of sentence. [...] No candidate for federal office should be able to dodge this question. It’s that simple.

3) THE 21st CENTURY REPUBLICAN (TEA)PARTY

  • Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) Reaffirms That He’s A Birther - When asked about the issue on Capitol Hill today, Stearns told reporters, “I am, shall we say, looking at all the evidence.” He called for credence to be given to birth certificate investigations, saying, “I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say.” The Hill has more: [...] Asked Tuesday if he thinks the birth certificate is legitimate, Stearns cited an inquiry by an Arizona sheriff – an apparent reference to Arpaio – and noted he believed there is “another investigation” as well. “I think we are just going to hold in abeyance a final decision until we hear, you know, some of these people seem to have legitimate concerns, so I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say,” Stearns said.
  • Rep. Walter Jones: America Borrowing From ‘Uncle Chang’ To Fund Afghanistan War – Republican Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) in a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan on Tuesday let loose a rather remarkable short-hand reference to America’s financial relationship with China, calling the country “Uncle Chang.” In a question to the Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, Jones said, “What is the event that the administration and General Allen, you sir, are going to be candid with the United States Congress and more important than the Congress, the American people as we spend $10 billion a month that we can’t pay for, the Chinese, Uncle Chang, is lending us the money we are spending in Afghanistan.”
  • Man throws fire bomb at Democratic state senator Wendy Davis’ office in Texas – At least two fire bombs were thrown at the Fort Worth office of state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) on Tuesday night, according to the Star Telegram. Davis was not in her office at the time, but some staff members were present. They used a fire extinguisher to put out the small blaze. No one was injured in the attack, but the lawmaker’s office was damaged by the fire. “It’s unfortunate when things like this happen in the public arena,” she said. “It reminds us of how important it is for us to remain very civil in our discourse and to work not to foment this kind of anger in our community as we discuss things that are challenges that we all face and care about.” || ABLIt’s unclear yet whether or not the firebombing of Senator Davis’s office is connected to her advocacy for women’s health and pro-Planned Parenthood stance, but it sure feels that way to me and to the pro-choice women in Texas.

4) REPUBLICAN WAR ON WOMEN

  • Karen Santorum Promises Rick Will ‘Do Nothing’ On Contraception – Appearing on Piers Morgan last night, Rick Santorum’s wife, Karen, tried to address concerns that her husband is “anti-woman,” noting that when she went on a book tour several years ago, he supported her by staying home “changing diapers and making meals and cleaning the kitchen.” She went on to promise women that, if her husband was elected, they would have “nothing to fear” when it comes to the issue of contraception: KAREN SANTORUM: It makes me really sad that the media tries to do that to him. They try to make it look like he is something that he’s not. Rick is a great guy, he’s completely supportive of women, he’s surrounded by a lot of very strong women, and I think women have nothing to fear. When it comes to contraceptives, he will do nothing on that issue. [image: irealizenothing]
  • Arizona Rep. Terri Proud (R-WTF): Women Should Be Forced to Watch an Abortion Before Having One – This is just getting out of hand: “Personally I’d like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a “surgical procedure”. If it’s not a life it shouldn’t matter, if it doesn’t harm a woman then she shouldn’t care, and don’t we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway? We demand it everywhere else. Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain – I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living – I will be voting YES.”
  • Alaska Rep. Alan Dick (R-Dick): Women Need Paternal Permission for An Abortion - [I]f you’re not fully convinced yet that Alaska is the next front in the GOP’s war on women, you just have to listen to State Rep. Alan Dick. He said that he doesn’t believe that when a woman is pregnant, it’s really “her pregnancy.” As a matter of fact, he would advocate for criminalizing women who have an abortion without the permission via written signature from the man who impregnated her. He stated, “If I thought that the man’s signature was required… required, in order for a woman to have an abortion, I’d have a little more peace about it…” [...] no word on what women who become pregnant as a result of rape are supposed to do in Dick’s perfect world. Maybe women should carry waiver forms on them at all times. You know—just in case.

5) REPUBLICAN WAR ON THE 99% / PROTECTING THE ONE PERCENT

  • Paul Ryan’s budget: Should the poor pay for deficit reduction? – Here’s the basic outline of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget in one sentence: Ryan’s budget funds trillions of dollars in tax cuts, defense spending and deficit reduction by cutting deeply into health-care programs and income supports for the poor. At the end of his initial release, Ryan posts a table comparing his budget to the president’s budget. The single largest difference is in the tax section: Ryan raises $2 trillion less in revenue than the White House does. In the president’s budget, those revenues come mostly from increasing taxes on the wealthy. [image: savagemike]
  • Paul Ryan’s budget hurts the poor – After recalling his family’s immigration from Ireland generations ago, and his belief in the virtue of people who “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” Ryan warned that a generous safety net “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.” How very kind: To protect poor Americans from being demeaned, Ryan is cutting their anti-poverty programs and using the proceeds to give the wealthiest Americans a six-figure tax cut.

6) MISC

  • Earthquake in Mexico: Powerful, destructive but not deadly – As of early Wednesday, there were still no reports of deaths from Tuesday’s magnitude-7.4 quake centered near the border between the southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, even after 10 aftershocks. Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said Tuesday night that nine people were injured in Oaxaca and two in Mexico City. [...] There were reports of damaged buildings but none were reported to have collapsed on the Oaxaca side of the border, said civil protection spokeswoman Cynthia Tovar said. In Guerrero, home to Acapulco where little damage was reported, officials say about 800 homes were damaged and 60 collapsed. [image: ABCNews]
  • Dutch Roman Catholic Church Castrated Boys As ‘Treatment’ For Homosexuality – Shocking reports have surfaced that reveal at least ten teenage boys were castrated in the 1950s by the Dutch Roman Catholic Church as a “treatment” for homosexuality, the Telegraph reports. Dutch journalist Joep Dohmen, reporting for the NRC Handelsblad uncovered ten cases of the castrations, one of which was suffered by Henk Heithuis, who was castrated as a minor for reporting to police sexual abuse by a priest that he endured while in the boarding home. Although the priests were convicted of the abuses, Heithuis was still transported to a Catholic hospital, and underwent a surgical castration as a treatment for homosexuality and, according to the report, a punishment for tattling on the clergy.

(3/20) Tuesday morning’s 6 kind of interesting things

1) PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

  • 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?
Christian: 24
Muslim: 39
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

  • Democratic Group Celebrates Return Of Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan With Film Trailer - Rep. Paul Ryan’s latest plan for deep tax and spending cuts draws this ad from the liberal group Americans United for Change, taking aim at its slashing popular programs. “Like Weekend at Bernie’s, even when no one in America wanted to see Weekend at Bernie’s II, they went ahead and made the sequel anyway.”

  • 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.

6) MISC

  • First Day of Spring Vernal Equinox 2012 – Spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere on March 20, 2012, at 1:14 A.M. (EDT).
  • 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.

TGIF morning’s 6 ambiguously interesting things

1) Democrats / President Obama

  • A snip from the documentary of Bill Clinton on Obama’s decisions re: Detroit and OBL:
  • Obama Pressures Congress on Oil Subsidies - In the most spirited defense yet of his record on energy policy, President Barack Obama today dismissed his critics as playing politics by promising cheap gas without real solutions, and asked his supporters to pressure Congress to end subsidies for oil companies. At an event in Largo, Md., Obama said people “running for a certain office, who shall go unnamed” have been “talking down new sources of energy” and have dismissed his plan to double vehicle mileage standards by 2025. “I guess they like gas guzzlers,” he said. Obama said he expects Congress to vote in the next few weeks on ending subsidies for oil companies. “It is time for this oil industry giveaway to end,” he said. “I guess you can stand up for the oil companies … or you can stand up for the American people.” The president said the $4 billion a year in oil industry subsidies could be redirected to other sources of energy.

2) The Republican War on Women

  • Dems Hammer PA Governor Over Ultrasound Comments - Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) offered up some advice for women who don’t want to have a mandatory ultrasound before they terminate their pregnancy: Don’t look at it. Now Democrats are pouncing, holding up the line as evidence of the GOP’s continuing insensitivity toward women. The quote in question came after Corbett was asked at a press conference whether “making [women] watch” an ultrasound went “too far.” “I don’t know how you make anybody watch,” Corbett said. “You just have to close your eyes.”
  • Religious liberty not under attack in America, says majority – Another poll, another confirmation that the GOP’s narrative that their attack on women’s health is really all about religious liberty has sunk like a lead balloon. The Public Religion Research Institution asked a random sample of 1,007 adults 18 years of age or older whether religious liberty was under attack in the United States, and whether government-mandated birth control coverage was part of that threat. And the American public said, “are you kidding?” Washington, DC— On the heels of a months-long heated debate on religious liberty, a new national survey finds that a majority (56%) of Americans do NOT believe that the right of religious liberty is being threatened in America today. Roughly 4-in-10 (39%) believe religious liberty is under attack.
  • Bishops hold meeting, decide they still hate women’s health care – This week, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), led by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and the president of the bishops’ conference, met to decidewhether they still hate women’s health care. Guess what? They do! In a statement issued by the committee, the bishops insisted that they are “strongly unified and intensely focused” in their “opposition to the various threats to religious freedom.” Religious freedom, as we all know by now, means their right to demand that women be denied access to health care the bishops don’t like. The bishops then proceed to do some serious false-witness-bearing: This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds. First, yes, this is about access to contraception. Second, no, it is not inexpensive. Third, no one is requiring the Church to provide it. And fourth, no one is forcing the Church to pay for it. But the lies don’t end there…

3) Your 2012 GOP presidential candidates

  • Romney Campaign Dings Santorum: No, Puerto Ricans Don’t Have To Stop Speaking Spanish – On Wednesday, Santorum told the Puerto Rican newspaper El Vocero that islanders would have to be fully proficient in English, in order to genuine integrate into the main American culture — and he said, to comply with federal law — in order to be granted statehood if they wanted it.In fact, there is no federal law, either in the Constitution or current federal statutes, establishing English as a required official language of government business in order to qualify for statehood. (Though in the past, Congress did make such a requirement for statehood in 1811 for Louisiana, where French was widely spoken, and also in 1906 regarding the Native American languages spoken in areas of Oklahoma.) But the fact remains that Spanish is the primary language of Puerto Rico, and will continue to be so as a cultural fact for the foreseeable future.
  • The ‘Oops, Just Kidding’ Endorsement – Former Puerto Rican Sen. Oreste Ramos announced Thursday that he was rescinding his support for Santorum after the presidential candidate said Puerto Rico would have to adopt English as its primary language if the territory were to ever gain statehood. “Although such a requirement would be unconstitutional, and also would clash with our sociological and linguistic reality, as a question of principle I cannot back a person who holds that position,” Oreste said, according to the San Juan newspaper Vocero. “As a Puerto Rican and Spanish-speaking U.S. citizen, I consider the position of Mr. Santorum offensive.”
  • Stephen Colbert’s hilarious commentary on Santorum and Puerto Rico (and Santorum and everything else):
  • Rahm Emanuel to Romney: ‘If You Can’t Stand up to Rush, How Are You Going to Stand up to Russia?’ – “Now I’m not going to give advice to Republicans. They don’t take it and I don’t want to give it. They’ll make whatever decision they want to make,” Emanuel said at an event Thursday morning in Chicago. “You just take a look at the fortitude, the strength, the determination and the vision the president made on the auto industry and juxtapose it to Mitt Romney, who doesn’t have the fortitude, the strength or the character in my view to stand up to Rush Limbaugh. How can he stand up and make a decision to save 1.3 million manufacturing jobs? “That Oval Office requires vision. That Oval Office requires spine. That Oval Office requires determination and grit. Mitt Romney says, ‘Let it go.’ The president said the American workers are too important to let go, and he doubled down on the American workers. When a decision comes to the Oval Office, who’s got the fortitude, who’s got the grit, who’s got the determination and who’s got the back of the American people and middle-class families? And nothing coming into that Oval Office is easy. It’s not clear. And I think when you see the character, the fortitude and the strength measured up, and the determination to reject conventional wisdom and see around the corner what’s right for the American middle class, people who work every day, play by the rules, you’ll see the difference of the two individuals and their vision for America.”

4) The 21st Century Republican (tea)Party / New American Theocracy

  • Arizona Makes Another Attempt At Government Birtherism – Without saying as much, Arizona officials are working on yet another birther bill. This is the latest of several attempts by the state to try to prove the myth that Obama is not an American citizen. This time, an Arizona legislative committee is pushing a measure that would require presidential candidates to fill out an eligibility form before they can be put on Arizona’s ballot.
  • Arizona Birther Bill – The Birthers Are Strong in This One – I’m in sunny Arizona for a couple of days and, boy howdy, is the wingnut strong out here. The state legislature’s Government Reform Committee — yeah, that one had me on the floor, too — yesterday reported out a birther measure that was probably inspired by the comic stylings of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “investigation” of the president’s origins. [...] “Yesterday,” said Democratic state senator David Lujan, who was one of two votes on the committee against the measure, “I asked if this had anything to do with President Obama’s birth certificate, and they told me that Sheriff Joe’s investigation had given the idea added value. “It is frustrating. We have something like 250,000 people unemployed in Arizona, and we’re occupied with stuff like this. A lot of people, and not just Democrats, are just frustrated with the activities of the Tea Party folks. I don’t know what keeps them coming back like this. I really don’t. Not with everything else we should be addressing.”
  • WELL THIS IS SHOCKING: GOP frosh to back millionaires’ tax – Freshman Republican Rep. Rick Crawford will propose a surtax on millionaires Thursday morning, a crack in the steadfast GOP opposition to extracting more money from the nation’s top earners. The Arkansas Republican will unveil the plan during a local television interview Thursday morning, and plans to introduce legislation when the House returns next week, according to sources familiar with his thinking. Crawford will propose the additional tax— expected to be north of 2.5 percent — on individual income over $1 million as part of a broader fiscal responsibility package.
  • BOEHNER’S DO-NOTHING HOUSE PLANS TO DO EVEN LESS: Staffers: House won’t pass highway bill this month – The House will not take up the Senate’s transportation bill and its own version won’t hit the floor until mid-April at the earliest, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee aides told industry officials Thursday morning. Democrats on both sides of the Capitol are ramping up their pressure on the House after the Senate approved a two-year, $109 billion bill that garnered votes from nearly half of the Republican caucus. The general game plan over the next few weeks, as laid out by aides: continue rallying and gauging support for a five-year bill when members return to town next week. An extension of the current law, slated to expire April 1, would hit the floor sometime during the March 26 week.House members get a two-week break starting March 30 and don’t return to session until the week of April 16 — the earliest any other bill could come up for a vote, the aides said. || On Wednesday, Boehner said he “will take up the Senate bill “or something like it” this month.” Nope.

5) Misc

  • Natural Born Drillers – Paul Krugman – To be a modern Republican in good standing, you have to believe — or pretend to believe — in two miracle cures for whatever ails the economy: more tax cuts for the rich and more drilling for oil. [...] Thus Mitt Romney claims that gasoline prices are high not because of saber-rattling over Iran, but because President Obama won’t allow unrestricted drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Meanwhile, Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal tells readers that America as a whole could have a jobs boom, just like North Dakota, if only the environmentalists would get out of the way. The irony here is that these claims come just as events are confirming what everyone who did the math already knew, namely, that U.S. energy policy has very little effect either on oil prices or on overall U.S. employment. For the truth is that we’re already having a hydrocarbon boom, with U.S. oil and gas production rising and U.S. fuel imports dropping. If there were any truth to drill-here-drill-now, this boom should have yielded substantially lower gasoline prices and lots of new jobs. Predictably, however, it has done neither.

6) Rush “Shock Blob” Limbaugh

  • Guess who’s knocking on Rush Limbaugh’s door as his advertisers flee like rats from a sinking ship? – It’s the people behind the infamous GodHatesFags website — the Westboro Baptist Church, the most notorious gay-bashing group in America — and they’re ready to step in to keep the embattled Limbaugh on the air. “As a matter of fact, I can confirm that,” Westboro spokesman Steve Drain told Hatewatch today when asked if the church was seeking to advertise on “The Rush Limbaugh Show.” “We’re preparing our first ad at this very moment, and we’ll have a 30-second radio spot ready to go by Friday.” Drain said he has been in contact with ad executives, but added that the Westboro spots will have to be produced before they are accepted or rejected. The radio ads would be posted as audio links Friday on the church’s websites, the Westboro spokesman said. [via: ABL]
  • Struggling Clear Channel And Rush Limbaugh’s $400 Million Payday – But the truth was that for days on his flagship station, WABC in New York, Limbaugh’s show had been stripped of key advertisers. Instead, the once robust revenue-generating program had turned into a feel-good forum where during commercial breaks WABC ran nonpaid public service announcements on behalf of the United Negro College Fund and New York Office of Emergency Management. That’s because WABC didn’t feel comfortable putting lots of advertisers on Limbaugh’s show, which up and down Madison Avenue had become poisonous in this wake of his misogynistic Fluke debacle.  So towards the end of his show on Tuesday, the nine-figure salary talk show host went to commercial break and a paid advertiser did pop up. And it was a new advertiser, a sponsor who apparently had signed on amidst the controversy. The sponsor’s name? The Holy Name Cemetery in New Jersey, which was advertising a “pre-planning open house weekend.” How fitting.

Herman Cain was just joking about joking about an electrified border fence

Be sure to tip your waitress, folks. He’ll be here all week…

Cain has spent the last several days explaining a controversial comment about building an electrified fence along the U.S. – Mexico border that he said could kill people trying to enter the country illegally. On Sunday, he said his comments were “a joke.” But talking to reporters here after a meeting here with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has made a national reputation for cracking down on illegal immigrants, Cain reversed course.

Initially Cain apologied when told his remarks had upset some in the state. “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa,” he said, using the Latin formula for expressing contrition. But when a reporter challenged his description of his comments, saying he didn’t seem to be telling a joke, the retired pizza executive acknowledged: “You’re right.” He said he still believes in the need for a border fence “and it might be electrified.”

Herman Cain acknowledges his electric border fence idea isn’t a joke after all

Also not a joke:

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has cast himself as the outsider, the pizza magnate with real-world experience who will bring fresh ideas to the nation’s capital. But Cain’s economic ideas, support and organization have close ties to two billionaire brothers who bankroll right-leaning causes through their group Americans for Prosperity.

Long ties to Koch brothers key to Cain’s campaign (via)