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Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds University of Texas Affirmative Action Admissions Program

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 20-01-2011

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(Ilya Somin)

In yesterday’s opinion in Fisher v. Texas, the US Court of Appeals upheld a University of Texas affirmative action program in admissions, applying the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which held that racial diversity in higher education is a “compelling state interest” justifying the use of racial preferences to ensure that there is a “critical mass” of minority students. There is a concurring opinion by Judge Emilio Garza that agrees with the majority’s application of Grutter, but also enumerates Grutter’s many shortcomings and urges the Supreme Court to overrule it. I think there is in fact a decent chance that the Supreme Court will take this case and either overrule or at least cut back on Grutter. Since 2003, Grutter author Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has been replaced by Samuel Alito, a justice unlikely to support the “diversity” rationale. Three other justices have been replaced by new justices whose views on affirmative action are similar to their predecessors’. Since Grutter was a 5–4 decision, the switch from O’Connor to Alito might determine its fate if the issue returns to the Supreme Court.

Fisher is particularly interesting in light of the fact that the Fifth Circuit upheld the program despite the fact that the Texas Ten Percent Plan (which gives automatic admission to any student who graduated in the top 10% of his or her high school class) had already significantly increased the percentage of black and Hispanic students at the University of Texas. In this 2006 post, I argued that the Ten Percent Plan is much more objectionable than traditional affirmative action, even though it is formally “race neutral.” Since then, new research has confirmed the anecdotal data I cited indicating that the ten percent plan creates perverse incentives for students to choose poor quality schools in order to increase their chances of getting into the top ten percent.

My own view of affirmative action is almost the exact opposite of that adopted by the Supreme Court in Grutter. I am skeptical of the diversity rationale embraced by O’Connor, but have a measure of sympathy for the compensatory justice rationale that she and the Court rejected. I outlined these views in more detail here, here, and here.

Unfortunately, I am going to be very busy over the next few days, so probably won’t have much opportunity to blog about this issue. But I did want to offer these few thoughts, and then leave the field open to others. Some of the other Conspirators have much greater expertise on affirmative action than I do, and I hope they will offer some commentary of their own.

NOTE: As longtime VC readers know, I clerked for Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry E. Smith, author of Hopwood v. Texas, the 1996 decision striking down an affirmative action program at the University of Texas Law School that Grutter and Fisher have superseded. Judge Smith wrote Hopwood several years before I clerked for him, and I don’t think this connection has any real impact on my view of the issue. Still, I thought I would point it out just in case.

From my days on the Fifth Circuit, I am also acquainted with Judge Garza, who is one of the smartest and best-prepared judges I have ever met. Whether it was appropriate for him to criticize a Supreme Court decision in his concurring opinion is a question I leave to others. I will note that Garza’s action is far from unprecedented. A number of other well-known federal judges have done similar things, including Richard Posner in State Oil v. Khan, where he successfully urged the Court to overturn an important antitrust precedent that he denounced as ““unsound when decided,” “moth-eaten” and “increasingly wobbly.”




The Volokh Conspiracy

An Interesting Hint About Iran’s Nuclear Weapons’ Program

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 17-01-2011

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This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with permission.

January 16, 2011

By Barry Rubin

There’s a fascinating, subtle, but very important development. Both the outgoing Israeli intelligence chief and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton-and others, too-have said things indicating that Iran is not going to get nuclear weapons for a while.

The Israeli statement gave the year 2015 as the likely date. In her interview with al-Arabiyya television, Clinton said that the Iranians are having significant problems with their program.

From this evidence, along with other things I’ve seen or heard, I conclude that both the United States and Israel have done intelligence assessments stretching out the amount of time before the Iranian regime has deliverable nuclear weapons.

The causes of this would include scientific and technical mistakes made by the Iranians, sabotage and assassination of scientists, defections, computer viruses, and other factors. The sanctions, while welcome and a positive development, are not the cause of the delay.

I want to stress that the Iranians could do it faster if they made certain decisions, rushed, and had some good luck. They’d also have to build a secret new facility first, which would of course take time.

And of course there are lots of things that can go wrong, ranging from successfully blocking their getting certain equipment, to computer viruses striking, to nasty little accidents like a large piano falling onto a key scientist who just happened to be passing by at that particular moment.

So let’s say that it is not impossible but it is pretty unlikely that they will finish in less than four years

Yes, I know Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly rejected the Mossad chief’s statement, and he is right to do so. From a diplomatic point of view, such information could reduce the pressure on Iran and create a more dangerous situation. Many in the West are looking for an excuse to be complacent and to make money trading with Iran.

On the other hand, it means that any Israeli decision to attack Iranian facilities can also be deferred. Perhaps, too, U.S. policy might change in interesting ways before then, Iran could face significant internal turmoil, Tehran might blunder into an international confrontation, or a piano could just decide to fall on the head of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or even several pianos on several key politicians.

Tsk, tsk. These things happen you know.

Let’s not forget as well that even without a nuclear weapon, there is still a huge political battle going on. Iran is getting more power in Lebanon; has a client state on the Mediterranean called the Gaza strip; is seeking influence in Iraq as the United States withdraws; and takes advantage of American weakness, among other things. Nukes aren’t everything, especially when you are doing pretty well sponsoring terrorism, intimidation, and revolutionary Islamist movements.

Nevertheless, I think the new assessment on Iran’s nuclear program is true and this delay is a good development for the regional situation. Again, there is no reason to believe at this moment that Tehran won’t get nuclear weapons eventually, but it will take longer than we’ve expected up until now.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). You can read more of Barry Rubin’s posts at Rubin Reports.

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Daled Amos

An Interesting Hint About Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 17-01-2011

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By Barry Rubin

There’s a fascinating, subtle, but very important development. Both the outgoing Israeli intelligence chief and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton-and others, too-have said things indicating that Iran is not going to get nuclear weapons for a while.

The Israeli statement gave the year 2015 as the likely date. In her interview with al-Arabiyya television, Clinton said that the Iranians are having significant problems with their program.

From this evidence, along with other things I’ve seen or heard, I conclude that both the United States and Israel have done intelligence assessments stretching out the amount of time before the Iranian regime has deliverable nuclear weapons.

The causes of this would include scientific and technical mistakes made by the Iranians, sabotage and assassination of scientists, defections, computer viruses, and other factors. The sanctions, while welcome and a positive development, are not the cause of the delay.

I want to stress that the Iranians could do it faster if they made certain decisions, rushed, and had some good luck. They’d also have to build a secret new facility first, which would of course take time.

And of course there are lots of things that can go wrong, ranging from successfully blocking their getting certain equipment, to computer viruses striking, to nasty little accidents like a large piano falling onto a key scientist who just happened to be passing by at that particular moment. 

So let’s say that it is not impossible but it is pretty unlikely that they will finish in less than four years

Yes, I know Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly rejected the Mossad chief’s statement, and he is right to do so. From a diplomatic point of view, such information could reduce the pressure on Iran and create a more dangerous situation. Many in the West are looking for an excuse to be complacent and to make money trading with Iran.

On the other hand, it means that any Israeli decision to attack Iranian facilities can also be deferred. Perhaps, too, U.S. policy might change in interesting ways before then, Iran could face significant internal turmoil, Tehran might blunder into an international confrontation, or a piano could just decide to fall on the head of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or even several pianos on several key politicians.

Tsk, tsk. These things happen you know.

Let’s not forget as well that even without a nuclear weapon, there is still a huge political battle going on. Iran is getting more power in Lebanon; has a client state on the Mediterranean called the Gaza strip; is seeking influence in Iraq as the United States withdraws; and takes advantage of American weakness, among other things. Nukes aren’t everything, especially when you are doing pretty well sponsoring terrorism, intimidation, and revolutionary Islamist movements.

Nevertheless, I think the new assessment on Iran’s nuclear program is true and this delay is a good development for the regional situation. Again, there is no reason to believe at this moment that Tehran won’t get nuclear weapons eventually, but it will take longer than we’ve expected up until now.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).  




YID With LID

Guide Offers Lessons from Nation’s First Paid Family Leave Program

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 16-01-2011

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As more states consider offering paid family leave, state legislators would do well to check out a new guide released last week that offers a primer on the nation’s first paid family leave program, implemented six years ago in California. Published by the Labor Project for Working Families and the Berkeley Center for Health, Economic & Family Security, the guide includes the dos and don’ts other states should consider as they pursue similar proposals.

 Since 2004, the California program has provided more than 1 million Californians paid leave from their jobs to tend to critical life events, such as  bonding with a newborn or newly adopted child, or caring for a seriously ill family member.

Netsy Firestein, director of the Labor Project for Working Families and the guide’s co-author, says:

Today’s workers have to juggle work and family like never before, and California has shown there’s a significant and easy way for states to help facilitate that. With a largely successful six-year track record, California offers key lessons for what other states can do.

Co-author Ann O’Leary, executive director of the Berkeley Center for Health, Economic & Family Security, adds:

More and more Americans are combining work with family responsibilities, and they can’t afford to sacrifice one or the other. We hope this implementation guide shows how states can best pursue smart policies for modern families and the modern workforce.

Interest in paid family leave at the state and federal levels has steadily increased in recent years. In 2009, New Jersey became the second state in the nation to offer paid family leave benefits to its workers. In 2007, Washington State passed a paid parental leave program, but it is not yet implemented. Many other states also are seriously considering establishing paid family leave programs, including Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

President Obama’s 2011 budget also included a request that Congress provide funds for a “State Paid Leave Fund” to help states with start up costs associated with paid family leave programs—a sign of growing federal interest in supporting and encouraging state action.

Click here to download a copy of the guide, “A Guide to Implementing Paid Family Leave: Lessons From California.”

AFL-CIO NOW BLOG

New Proof The Stuxnet Computer Virus Slowing Down Iran’s Nuke Program Joint USA/Israeli Project

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 15-01-2011

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According to a top Computer expert from Germany the Stuxnet virus which as been wreaking havoc on the Iranian nuclear program is just as effective as a military strike. Actually it is more effective,  it has set back Iran’s quest for nuclear capability by at least two years which is the best that can be hoped for with a military strike. And it was done without all the “mess” and human suffering which comes with a military strike

Little by little scientists are beginning to understand Stuxnet a computer worm developed with the sole purpose of doing what sanctions were not able to do, slow down the Iranian march to nuclear weapons. During the past year, Stuxnet the computer worm with a message from the biblical Queen Esther, not only crippled Iran’s nuclear program but has caused  a major rethinking of computer security around the globe (if you want to know how Stuxnet works click here).

According to a report in the Sunday NY Times, Stuxnet was tested in the Dimona facility in Israel’s Negev desert. Dimona is the (officially non-existent)plant where Israel runs its (officially non-existent) nuclear weapons program

Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s efforts to make a bomb of its own.

Behind Dimona’s barbed wire, the experts say, Israel has spun nuclear centrifuges virtually identical to Iran’s at Natanz, where Iranian scientists are struggling to enrich uranium. They say Dimona tested the effectiveness of the Stuxnet computer worm, a destructive program that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran’s ability to make its first nuclear arms.

“To check out the worm, you have to know the machines,” said an American expert on nuclear intelligence. “The reason the worm has been effective is that the Israelis tried it out.”

Officially US and Israeli officials will not discuss what has been going in the middle of the Negev, but new clues point to the fact that thevirus was designed as an American-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian program.

In recent days, the retiring chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton separately announced that they believed Iran’s efforts had been set back by several years.  Clinton cited the “weak” sanctions, which have supposedly damaged Iran’s ability to buy components.  Dagan, told the Israeli Knesset in recent days that Iran had run into technological difficulties (Stuxnet) that could delay a bomb until 2015.

As the virus continues to infect Iranian computers computer experts across the world are trying to figure out where Stuxnet came from. There is nothing but circumstantial evidence and it all points to the US and Israel). For example

In early 2008 the German company Siemens cooperated with one of the United States’ premier national laboratories, in Idaho, to identify the vulnerabilities of computer controllers that the company sells to operate industrial machinery around the world — and that American intelligence agencies have identified as key equipment in Iran’s enrichment facilities. Seimens says that program was part of routine efforts to secure its products against cyberattacks. Nonetheless, it gave the Idaho National Laboratory — which is part of the Energy Department, responsible for America’s nuclear arms — the chance to identify well-hidden holes in the Siemens systems that were exploited the next year by Stuxnet.

There is also the fact that computer scientists who are analyzing the computer worm have found a file name that seemingly refers to the Biblical Queen Esther.  Deep inside the computer worm that some specialists suspect is aimed at slowing Iran’s race for a nuclear weapon lies what could be a fleeting reference to the Book of Esther, the Old Testament narrative in which the Jewish Queen Esther pre-empts a Persian plot to kill all the Jews. One of the key files in Stuxnet was named “Myrtus” (myrtle) by the unknown designer. The biblical Esther’s original name was Hadassah, which is Hebrew for myrtle.

Officially, neither American nor Israeli officials will even utter the name of the malicious computer program, much less describe any role in designing it.

But Israeli officials grin widely when asked about its effects. Mr. Obama’s chief strategist for combating weapons of mass destruction, Gary Samore, sidestepped a Stuxnet question at a recent conference about Iran, but added with a smile: “I’m glad to hear they are having troubles with their centrifuge machines, and the U.S. and its allies are doing everything we can to make it more complicated.”

One interesting part of the program is that it was put in motion by President Bush. Yes liberals, this time you can say it, Bush did it.

The project’s political origins can be found in the last months of the Bush administration. In January 2009, The New York Times reported that Mr. Bush authorized a covert program to undermine the electrical and computer systems around Natanz, Iran’s major enrichment center. President Obama, first briefed on the program even before taking office, sped it up, according to officials familiar with the administration’s Iran strategy. So did the Israelis, other officials said. Israel has long been seeking a way to cripple Iran’s capability without triggering the opprobrium, or the war, that might follow an overt military strike of the kind they conducted against nuclear facilities in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007.

The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,” says Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet. Langner, who runs a small computer security company in a suburb of Hamburg, had his five employees focus on picking apart the code and running it on the series of Siemens controllers neatly stacked in racks, their lights blinking.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ks5IvSibt6E/TRx21pwcvYI/AAAAAAAAA0k/nTcpPU43PXo/s1600/stuxnet.jpg

He quickly discovered that the worm only kicked into gear when it detected the presence of a specific configuration of controllers, running a set of processes that appear to exist only in a centrifuge plant. “The attackers took great care to make sure that only their designated targets were hit,” he said. “It was a marksman’s job.”

For example, one small section of the code appears designed to send commands to 984 machines linked together.

Curiously, when international inspectors visited Natanz in late 2009, they found that the Iranians had taken out of service a total of exactly 984 machines that had been running the previous summer.

Interesting coincidence?

But as Mr. Langner kept peeling back the layers, he found more — what he calls the “dual warhead.” One part of the program is designed to lie dormant for long periods, then speed up the machines so that the spinning rotors in the centrifuges wobble and then destroy themselves. Another part, called a “man in the middle” in the computer world, sends out those false sensor signals to make the system believe everything is running smoothly. That prevents a safety system from kicking in, which would shut down the plant before it could self-destruct.

“Code analysis makes it clear that Stuxnet is not about sending a message or proving a concept,” Mr. Langner later wrote. “It is about destroying its targets with utmost determination in military style.”

This was not the work of hackers, he quickly concluded. It had to be the work of someone who knew his way around the specific quirks of the Siemens controllers and had an intimate understanding of exactly how the Iranians had designed their enrichment operations.

The reason why Stuxnet had knowledge of the workings of the Iranian centrifuges may have to do with the fact that those same type of centrifuges showed up in Dimona.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/01/16/world/JP-STUX-2/JP-STUX-2-articleInline.jpg

The account starts in the Netherlands. In the 1970s, the Dutch designed a tall, thin machine for enriching uranium. As is well known, A. Q. Khan, a Pakistani metallurgist working for the Dutch, stole the design and in 1976 fled to Pakistan.

The resulting machine, known as the P-1, for Pakistan’s first-generation centrifuge, helped the country get the bomb. And when Dr. Khan later founded an atomic black market, he illegally sold P-1’s to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

The P-1 is more than six feet tall. Inside, a rotor of aluminum spins uranium gas to blinding speeds, slowly concentrating the rare part of the uranium that can fuel reactors and bombs.

How and when Israel obtained this kind of first-generation centrifuge remains unclear, whether from Europe, or the Khan network, or by other means. But nuclear experts agree that Dimona came to hold row upon row of spinning centrifuges.

“They’ve long been an important part of the complex,” said Avner Cohen, author of “The Worst-Kept Secret” (2010), a book about the Israeli bomb program, and a senior fellow at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He added that Israeli intelligence had asked retired senior Dimona personnel to help on the Iranian issue, and that some apparently came from the enrichment program.

“I have no specific knowledge,” Dr. Cohen said of Israel and the Stuxnet worm. “But I see a strong Israeli signature and think that the centrifuge knowledge was critical.”

…Dr. Cohen said his sources told him that Israel succeeded — with great difficulty — in mastering the centrifuge technology. And the American expert in nuclear intelligence, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Israelis used machines of the P-1 style to test the effectiveness of Stuxnet.

The expert added that Israel worked in collaboration with the United States in targeting Iran, but that Washington was eager for “plausible deniability.”

One thing can’t be denied, the Stuxnet worm has been a major obstacle to Iran’s desire to obtain nuclear weapons, saving Israel from having to attack Iran at least for a while.  Who ever developed the virus lets hope they are working on a follow-up because 2015 is not that far away.




YID With LID

Sen. Rand Paul Holds Debt Ceiling Hostage To 44 Percent Cuts In Every Government Program

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 14-01-2011

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has already made it abundantly clear that he expects Republicans to demand concessions in return for raising the nation’s debt ceiling, which will have to be done sometime in the coming months. Like a slew of equally irresponsible Republicans, Paul has issued demands that he wants fulfilled in return for his vote to increase the debt limit, essentially holding the credit-worthiness of the United States hostage to his brand of radical fiscal conservatism.

Last night, Paul was asked about his stance on the debt ceiling by Fox News’ Sean Hannity, where he replied that the only way he will vote to increase the debt limit is if Congress adopts “an ironclad rule that we will balance the budget from here on after”:

HANNITY: So it will take what to get your vote to raise the debt ceiling?

PAUL: I think an ironclad rule that we will balance the budget from here on after, and that’s what it’s going to take. Not a rule that they can break. You know, they passed pay-as-you-go, they broke it 700 times in the late nineties and the early part of this century. It has to be a very strict rule, so we have to have different rules that they are forced to obey.

Watch it:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) — who has some radical ideas about the federal budget himself — has said that failure to raise the debt ceiling is “unworkable.” “Does it have to be raised? Yes, you can’t not raise the debt ceiling,” Ryan said. Leaving aside the myriad disastrous consequences that would result if the U.S. failed to raise the debt ceiling — and the fact that the current Congress can’t tie the hands of a future Congress, as Paul seems to imagine they can — Paul’s demand shows that he’s completely out-of-touch with what the federal budget actually looks like.

After all, to balance the budget “from here on after” once the debt ceiling is raised necessarily implies balancing the budget this year. And to do so without raising any additional revenue would entail a 44 percent cut in literally everything the government does: everything from Social Security, Medicare, and defense spending to highway funds, the FBI and the Coast Guard. Removing Social Security and defense from the equation then requires an 89 percent cut in everything else.

As the Wonk Room explained, responsible budgeting means finding a balance between the important and popular functions of government and the revenue necessary to fund them. But Paul would risk the United States defaulting on its debt obligations to implement his irresponsible slash-and-burn vision of the budget.

ThinkProgress

Sen. Rand Paul Holds Debt Ceiling Hostage To 44 Percent Cuts In Every Government Program

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 14-01-2011

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has already made it abundantly clear that he expects Republicans to demand concessions in return for raising the nation’s debt ceiling, which will have to be done sometime in the coming months. Like a slew of equally irresponsible Republicans, Paul has issued demands that he wants fulfilled in return for his vote to increase the debt limit, essentially holding the credit-worthiness of the United States hostage to his brand of radical fiscal conservatism.

Last night, Paul was asked about his stance on the debt ceiling by Fox News’ Sean Hannity, where he replied that the only way he will vote to increase the debt limit is if Congress adopts “an ironclad rule that we will balance the budget from here on after”:

HANNITY: So it will take what to get your vote to raise the debt ceiling?

PAUL: I think an ironclad rule that we will balance the budget from here on after, and that’s what it’s going to take. Not a rule that they can break. You know, they passed pay-as-you-go, they broke it 700 times in the late nineties and the early part of this century. It has to be a very strict rule, so we have to have different rules that they are forced to obey.

Watch it:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) — who has some radical ideas about the federal budget himself — has said that failure to raise the debt ceiling is “unworkable.” “Does it have to be raised? Yes, you can’t not raise the debt ceiling,” Ryan said. Leaving aside the myriad disastrous consequences that would result if the U.S. failed to raise the debt ceiling — and the fact that the current Congress can’t tie the hands of a future Congress, as Paul seems to imagine they can — Paul’s demand shows that he’s completely out-of-touch with what the federal budget actually looks like.

After all, to balance the budget “from here on after” once the debt ceiling is raised necessarily implies balancing the budget this year. And to do so without raising any additional revenue would entail a 44 percent cut in literally everything the government does: everything from Social Security, Medicare, and defense spending to highway funds, the FBI and the Coast Guard. Removing Social Security and defense from the equation then requires an 89 percent cut in everything else.

Responsible budgeting means finding a balance between the important and popular functions of government and the revenue necessary to fund them. Any budget plan that actually succeeds in reducing the deficit without pummeling the middle- and lower-class has to include tax increases and must be phased in over time, as the economy gets back to full strength. But Paul would risk the United States defaulting on its debt obligations to implement his irresponsible slash-and-burn vision of the budget.

Wonk Room

Video: Joker Phillips talks up football program

Posted by admin | Posted in Sports | Posted on 13-01-2011

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Before last night’s basketball game, UK football coach Joker Phillips was made available to the media.

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John Clay’s Sidelines

‘Fruit Loop’ Brown Doesn’t Want To Fund AIDS Program For People ‘Who Caused It By The Way They Live’

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 12-01-2011

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North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Journal is reporting that State Rep. Larry Brown, who made headlines last October when he referred to gay people as “queers” and “fruit loops” in an email exchange, doesn’t want the government to fund AIDS treatment for gay people “living in perverted lifestyles” because the state “should not spend money to treat adults with HIV or AIDS who ‘caused it by the way they live‘”:

He began by discussing his support for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a union between one man and one woman, which would forestall any efforts to allow same-sex marriage. He went on to say he thinks the government shouldn’t spend money to treat HIV among people “living in perverted lifestyles.”

“I’m not opposed to helping a child born with HIV or something, but I don’t condone spending taxpayers’ money to help people living in perverted lifestyles,” said Brown, who ran unopposed in the November election to win a fourth term.

Brown wouldn’t say Tuesday what he considers perverted, but did say that adults who get HIV through sexual behavior or drugs would be among those who should not be treated at government expense. Asked how he would feel about the government paying for diseases caused by smoking, Brown said he felt the same as for HIV because smokers “choose to do that on their own.”

The North Carolina Division of Public Health estimates that more than 35,000 people are HIV positive or have AIDS in the state, leading Katherine Foster, the president of AIDS Care Service in Winston-Salem, to call Brown’s remarks “fiscally and socially irresponsible.” “What Representative Brown can’t seem to get through his mind is that HIV disease … affects individuals regardless of age, race and sexual orientation,” Foster said. “Without funding for HIV, the disease is at risk for reaching pandemic levels, just as it has in countries that do not provide government funding for HIV-AIDS.”

From January to July 2010, North Carolina’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program — a national program funded by the federal and state governments and run by the states — stopped enrolling new patients as a result of state budget cuts. The General Assembly appropriated an additional $ 14 million in funding in July, which now allows the program to accept new applicants above 125% of FPL (by statue, the program usually accepts patients above 300% FPL). ADAP currently serves 6,120 Carolinians with an additional 100 on the waiting list, assistant ADAP head John Peebles told me during a phone interview this afternoon. He said the future appropriation levels were “unknown” since Republicans won control of the General Assembly in November. “We consider ourselves very fortunate to get the expanded $ 14 million,” he added.

Indeed, North Carolina’s AIDS program is faring better than most. “At least 19 states have taken such steps as capping enrollment, dropping patients, instituting waiting lists, lowering the income ceiling for eligibility, and no longer covering certain drugs or tests.”

Wonk Room

Fulfilling Father’s Campaign To Segregate Public Schools, Koch Groups End Successful Integration Program In NC

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 12-01-2011

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Today in the Washington Post, reporter Stephanie McCrummen detailed how a right-wing campaign in the Wake County area of North Carolina has taken over the school board with a pledge to end a very successful socio-economic integration plan. The integration plan, which created thriving schools in poor African-American parts of the school district along with achieving diversity in schools located in wealthy white enclaves, was a model for the nation. However, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Tea Party group founded and funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, worked with local right-wing financier (and AFP board member) Art Pope to fundamentally change Wake County’s school board:

“I don’t want us to go back to racially isolated schools,” said Shila Nordone, who is biracial and has two children in county schools. “But right now, it’s as if the best we can do is dilute these kids out so they don’t cause problems. It sickens me.”

In their quest to end the diversity policy, the frustrated parents have found some influential partners, among them retail magnate and Republican operative Art Pope. Following his guidance, the GOP fielded the victorious bloc of school board candidates who railed against “forced busing.” The nation’s largest tea party organizers, Americans for Prosperity – on whose national board Pope sits – cast the old school board members as arrogant “leftists.” Two libertarian think tanks, which Pope funds almost exclusively, have deployed experts on TV and radio.

In a way, the Koch brothers are simply fulfilling their father’s legacy. In 1958, Fred Koch — the founder of Koch Industries — joined a group of manufacturing executives and Jack Welch to found the John Birch Society, a virulent far-right group that dominated the civil rights debate. The John Birch Society organized an impeachment campaign against then-Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren for the Brown v. Board decision outlawing racial segregation, and mobilized its supporters to oppose integration of schools on the grounds that mixing black and white would lead to the “mongrelization” of the races. Fred supported the John Birch Society’s anti-civil rights campaign, and wrote a screed denouncing the civil rights movement as communist-inspired.

Charles and David did not only inherit an oil company, they inherited a political philosophy. The Tea Party movement, orchestrated by AFP and other Koch fronts, reflects the paranoid style of the movement started by their father, Fred. As Thom Hartmann has explained, corporate interests have long funded far-right, paranoid movements to continually shift the balance of politics in America. The radical right creates political space for corporate candidates like Richard Nixon or Mitt Romney to appear “moderate” in contrast. David Koch, it should be noted, actually supports Romney for president in 2012 even though David’s fronts have spent the last two years boosting reactionaries like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).

Sue Sturgis of Facing South has reported that the AFP campaign in Wake County was also aided by the private school industry, including a company called the Thales Academy. AFP has called for more charter and private schools, and now with its slate of Tea Party candidates controlling the system, they will have the power to continue their racially-segregated privatization scheme.

ThinkProgress

Sex Offender to be Tracked by GPS in Pilot Program … Hang Garmin’s or Tom Tom’s on All of ‘Em

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 11-01-2011

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Sex offender tracked by GPS in pilot program … pilot, this should be made permanent every where.

More than 1100 registered sex offenders in Allegheny County, PA and 43 of them are now wearing GPS monitoring devices as part of a pilot program to monitor them as a condition of their parole. 43!!! So there are over 1050 sex offenders walking around without any monitoring? Now there’s some public safety.  With the obvious rate of recidivism of sex offenders this is an obvious condition of any parole for these dirt bags.

Can they wearing the GPS around their neck instead?

More than 1,100 registered sex offenders live and work in Allegheny County and 43 of them are now wearing monitoring devices as a condition of their parole.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala blames the nature of the crime for the need to better track these offenders.

“Because the psychology of the crime of the criminal actually is, they will re-offend and so we’re looking at persons who are recidivists,”Zappala said.

 

The offenders are monitored by places like Guardian Protection Service. The system uses GPS technology.

As long as the offenders stay in the inclusion area, they’re OK, but if they travel into an exclusion area, police are notified immediately.

“Exclusion zones for example [are] schools, daycares, playgrounds, facilities where children congregate for those sex offenders,” John Hudson, a security consultant, said. “We’ve identified in their red zones. If an offender with a device goes into one of the red zones, an exclusion zone, we’ll be notified immediately.”

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Scared Monkeys

Speaker John Boehner Can’t Think Of A Single Program He Would Cut

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 07-01-2011

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This is not a good sign:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

WILLIAMS: Name a program right now that we could do without.

BOEHNER: I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.

Reason’s Nick Gillespie is not pleased:

That’s not exactly an ambush, bub. It’s right up there in the softball sweepstakes with Katie Couric asking Sarah Palin to name a newspaper she reads or two Supreme Court decisions she disagrees with.

The GOP got kicked to the curb in 2006 because they were up-to-the-neck-complicit with the profligate and stupid spending (and bellicose) ways of George W. Bush. If after four years in the supposed wilderness you get power and the first thing you do is walk back the suggestion that you’re gonna cut $ 100 billion out of fiscal year 2011 (still without a budget!), and then your main guy bumbles the query above…well, you’re not winning any fans among the growing ranks of independents (read: crypto-libertarians) who want a smaller government that does less and costs less.

I’ve been saying for awhile now that the GOP’s fiscal conservative, cut spending, reduce the size of government rhetoric throughout 2010 was just that, rhetoric, and that when they got back into power we’d see that they had not learned their lesson from the 2001-2006 time in power. Between comments like this and their attempt to back track on a clear campaign pledge to cut $ 100 billion in spending this year, it’s beginning to look like I was right. Honestly, I thought it would take them longer to reveal their hypocrisy.




Outside the Beltway

After Railing Against Government Spending, Speaker Boehner Can’t Name One Program He Would Cut

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 06-01-2011

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Campaigning before the recent midterm elections, House Republicans were adamant that, if given power, they would cut government spending. However, when pressed for specifics, many were unable to list even one single item they would cut from the budget. “The line-item will be across-the-board,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) embarrassingly responded when asked for specific cuts.

Speaker of the House John Boehner was no stranger to the promise to cut government spending. In fact, he promised over and over for months to do everything he could to reduce the budget:

We need to cut spending. That’s what the American people want. That’s what the economy needs.” [12/17/10]

“Let’s be clear, if we actually want to help our economy get back on track and to begin creating jobs, we need to end the job-killing spending binge. We need to cut spending significantly.” [12/17/10]

“Our new majority will prepare to do things differently, to take a new approach that hasn’t been tried in Washington before by either party. It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it.” [11/3/10]

We will not solve our fiscal challenges until we cut spending.” [8/25/10]

“If we want to solve the budget problem, we’ve got to have a healthy economy and we have to get our arms around the runaway spending that’s going on in Washington, D.C.” [8/9/10]

“And if in fact we’re elected to the majority you’re going to see us cut spending. You’re going to see us revive the economy and reform the way Congress does it job.” [10/5/10]

If the lame-duck Congress is unwilling to cut spending and permanently stop all the tax hikes, the new House majority will act in January.” [12/1/10]

Republicans have been consistently focused on offering better solutions to cut spending now.” [6/21/10]

We will never get our economy out of the ditch until we cut spending and have real economic growth.” [8/30/10]

However, now that he holds the speaker’s gavel, it seems that Boehner is no better than his colleagues at actually identifying specifics in the budget that he would like to see eliminated. In an interview set to air tonight, NBC’s Brian Williams asked Boehner to name a specific item he’d cut, and Boehner couldn’t deliver:

WILLIAMS: Name a program right now that we could do without.

BOEHNER: I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.

Watch it:

During just their first couple of days in control of the House, Republicans have voided loads of promises when it comes to the budget, including halving their promised budget cuts for the current year (cuts which they now say were “hypothetical”) and exempting their first bill from their own budget rules.

ThinkProgress intern Paul Breer contributed research to this post. Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.

ThinkProgress

After Railing Against Government Spending, Speaker Boehner Can’t Name One Program He Would Cut

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 06-01-2011

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

0

Campaigning before the recent midterm elections, House Republicans were adamant that, if given power, they would cut government spending. However, when pressed for specifics, many were unable to list even one single item they would cut from the budget. “The line-item will be across-the-board,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) embarrassingly responded when asked for specific cuts.

Speaker of the House John Boehner was no stranger to the promise to cut government spending. In fact, he promised over and over for months to do everything he could to reduce the budget:

We need to cut spending. That’s what the American people want. That’s what the economy needs.” [12/17/10]

“Let’s be clear, if we actually want to help our economy get back on track and to begin creating jobs, we need to end the job-killing spending binge. We need to cut spending significantly.” [12/17/10]

“Our new majority will prepare to do things differently, to take a new approach that hasn’t been tried in Washington before by either party. It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it.” [11/3/10]

We will not solve our fiscal challenges until we cut spending.” [8/25/10]

“If we want to solve the budget problem, we’ve got to have a healthy economy and we have to get our arms around the runaway spending that’s going on in Washington, D.C.” [8/9/10]

“And if in fact we’re elected to the majority you’re going to see us cut spending. You’re going to see us revive the economy and reform the way Congress does it job.” [10/5/10]

If the lame-duck Congress is unwilling to cut spending and permanently stop all the tax hikes, the new House majority will act in January.” [12/1/10]

Republicans have been consistently focused on offering better solutions to cut spending now.” [6/21/10]

We will never get our economy out of the ditch until we cut spending and have real economic growth.” [8/30/10]

However, now that he holds the speaker’s gavel, it seems that Boehner is no better than his colleagues at actually identifying specifics in the budget that he would like to see eliminated. In an interview set to air tonight, NBC’s Brian Williams asked Boehner to name a specific item he’d cut, and Boehner couldn’t deliver:

WILLIAMS: Name a program right now that we could do without.

BOEHNER: I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.

During just their first couple of days in control of the House, Republicans have voided loads of promises when it comes to the budget, including halving their promised budget cuts for the current year (cuts which they now say were “hypothetical”) and exempting their first bill from their own budget rules.

ThinkProgress intern Paul Breer contributed research to this post.

Wonk Room

An anti-poverty program that works

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 04-01-2011

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Brazil is employing a version of an idea now in use in some 40 countries around the globe, one already successful on a staggeringly enormous scale. This is likely the most important government antipoverty program the world has ever seen. It is worth looking at how it works, and why it has been able to help so many people.

The idea in question is so simple, so obvious, that it actually takes a lot of explanation and evidence to convince people of its worth. So if you’re interested, head here.







Ezra Klein