Midday open thread

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 28-10-2012-05-2008

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  • David Leonhardt of the New York Times summarizes the presidential campaign:

    THE housing bust finally seems to be over. Health care costs have slowed. The unemployment rate has fallen below 8 percent, much sooner than forecasters were predicting a few months ago. Consumer confidence has reached a post-recession high.

    There is still no guarantee that the economy is on a stable path to recovery, given its structural problems and the false starts of the last few years. But the odds that the recovery has finally begun have never been higher. Which is one more reason the presidential campaign, for all the groaning it has inspired from left, right and center, matters so much.

    President Obama inherited an economic disaster, and his economic policies have put the country on the road to recovery, while his opponent, Mitt Romney, wants to return to the policies that caused the economic disaster in the first place. Yeah, this presidential campaign matters. But Leonhardt is interested in who will get credit, if Romney is elected and the recovery continues.

    President Obama and his aides quietly chafe at the idea that Mitt Romney would be able to take credit for a recovery. Publicly, Mr. Obama has begun to emphasize the economic good news in recent weeks. Mr. Romney, for his part, has said he expects the economy to improve early in his presidency, not because of his policies but because of optimism about what he will do.

    And there you have it. Obama’s policies sparked the recovery, but if he is elected Romney will claim credit for it. And lest anyone worry that returning to the policies that caused the meltdown in the first place might stall or reverse the recovery, Romney says it’s not about the policies, it’s just that people will be so optimistic about what Romney would do as president that what he actually would do as president won’t matter. It’s all about faith.

    The frightening thing is that this actually is the argument made by the presidential nominee of one of this nation’s two major political parties. The disturbing thing is that there are millions of people stupid enough to accept that as a serious argument. And the bottom line is that if Romney is elected, his austerity policies will ensure that the recovery doesn’t continue.

  • And speaking of serious arguments, does anyone other than the Koch brothers think this is the way to run a government?

    President Obama and Mitt Romney are both on pace to raise more than $1 billion with their parties by Election Day, according to financial disclosures filed by the campaigns on Thursday.

  • How sleazy and dishonest is the Cato Institute? This sleazy and dishonest.
  • David Cay Johnston, of Reuters:

    America‘s healthcare system, more accurately described as a non-system sick care system, totaled 17.6 percent of the economy in 2010, compared to an average of 9.2 percent in the other 33 countries, as the OECD data shows.

    In the United States, total public and private cost of healthcare is significantly greater than the total of corporate and individual income taxes, as well as payroll taxes. For each dollar paid in all three of those taxes in 2010, healthcare came to $1.29.

    If we just lowered our costs to those of France, which has universal care in what is widely regarded as one of the best systems if not the best, it would save almost as much money as Americans paid in individual income taxes in 2010. The French spend 6 percentage points less of their economy on healthcare. In the United States, the individual income tax in 2010 came to 6.3 percent of the U. S. economy, the lowest since Truman was president.

  • So, a young woman in the audience of a town hall presidential debate asked a question about wage inequality. Guess who became the latest target of right wing misogynists?
  • The 10 most Islamophobic moments in the 2012 elections.
  • Ann Coulter is a terrible excuse for a human being.
  • What do you get when you combine hierarchy, bigotry, and self-styled religious self-righteousness?

    The publication Thursday of 20 years worth of secret records kept by the Boy Scouts of America reveal a widespread effort by the organization to cover up a scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse against 1,200 scout leaders.

    The records, known within the Boy Scouts itself as the “perversion files,” cover the years 1965-1985 and detail the names of the alleged perpetrators, their hometowns and other information. The files were results of the organization’s own internal investigations into sexual abuse among its leaders and include court documents, newspapers clippings in cases where charges were actually filed and other material….

    Like the recent pedophilia scandals involving Penn State University and the Roman Catholic Church, the Boy Scout cases involve trusted members of the community who had access to children they were supposed to mentor and to protect, but who instead exploited that access to groom and to molest the most vulnerable of them.

    And as with the scandal in the Catholic Church, this story is only beginning to come to light. Samuel Smith says it’s time for the feds to consider RICO charges.

  • The corn belt is migrating.
  • More media follies:

    The research concluding that some organics may have health benefits above and beyond their conventional cousins is every bit as robust as the research arguing that those advantages aren’t particularly large or widespread. But the media have shown a clear preference for the latter, and it’s not because of the different methods that scientists use. It’s because of the media’s own biases.

  • So, you think you know how to carve a pumpkin?
  • It’s sad that it has to come to this, but with science and scientists under attack for revealing facts that don’t fit certain dishonest and dangerous political narratives, it’s also necessary.

    Penn State University scientist Michael Mann, whose work showed that Earth’s temperatures have risen along with increased fossil fuel use, announced Tuesday he had filed a lawsuit against the conservative National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for defamation, complaining that they falsely accused him of academic fraud and compared him to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

    Organizations that deny climate change is a serious problem have condemned Mann for years.

    Mann was one of the scientists whose emails were hacked from a climate research center at Britain’s University of East Anglia in 2009. Climate skeptics quoted portions of the emails in an attempt to discredit the scientists in what the critics dubbed “Climategate.” But government and university investigations found no misconduct.


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