The current incarnation of the GOP is not your father’s Republican Party. These people are not fiscally responsible, and certainly not conservative. They’re really not that bright when it comes to economics. For some reason, they have convinced themselves that low wages are necessary for most companies to survive, and that is just insane. If it’s necessary to survive, then consider the example of Costco. They makes a higher profit per store than Walmart, and have for many years. Here’s another: the Washington, DC City Council proposed a minimum wage of $12.50 last year, and Walmart killed plans for three stores. There was no mass exodus of companies from the District; just Walmart. (By the way, they settled on $11.50, and there is still no mass exodus.) If low wages are so necessary to compete, why do so few companies pay the minimum wage? Fewer than 15 percent of all workers make less than $10 per hour, and small businesses that pay the minimum wage or less are actually at higher risk of failure. Most companies that pay at or around minimum wage are in the discount retail and fast food industries. Yet supermarket chains, which have a much higher union membership and pay higher wages against a much tighter profit margin, seem to do quite well.
In the days since Vladimir Putin sent Russian troops into the Crimea, it has been amateur hour back in Washington.
I don’t mean Barack Obama. He’s doing pretty much everything he can, with what are a very limited set of policy options at his disposal. No, I’m talking about the people who won’t stop weighing in on Obama’s lack of “action” in the Ukraine. Indeed, the sea of foreign policy punditry - already shark-infested - has reached new lows in fear-mongering, exaggerated doom-saying and a stunning inability to place global events in any rational historical context.
The more things are different, the more seems the same.
WASHINGTON — California’s congressional delegation has long been known for its inability to get along. But Golden State Republicans aren’t just on the opposite side of issues from Democrats. Lately, they’ve been at odds among themselves.
The divisions were on display when the state’s 15 Republicans split almost evenly on a vote to end the government shutdown and extend the nation’s borrowing authority. All 38 Democrats, in contrast, stuck together in support of the measure.
The Republicans also split on roll calls this year to cut the food stamp program, provide Superstorm Sandy relief, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and end a program that promotes U.S. agricultural products abroad. No California Democrats broke ranks.
In addition to Klayman, many of our old “friends” will be there, including Pamela Geller who Connected the NSA-Sekrit Muslim Dots, Anti-Muslim Demagogue Robert Spencer who mainstream Christians want nothing to do with, and my “totally not racist or homophobic” punching bag Bradlee Dean. Klayman let me give you some advice, as if you will listen, you and your marry band of wingnuts will not be able to bring down Obama, cancel this gathering of crazies while you still have the chance. You’re only going to make reasonable people see you and your supporters for what you really are.
On Sept. 18, 2013, a “citizens grand jury” in Ocala, Fla., found President Barack Obama guilty of “defraud[ing] … the American people into electing an illegal person for the Office of President of the United States.”
In a verdict signed by local tea party activist and “Citizens’ Grand Jury Judge” Randal C. Fritz, the jury sentenced the president to 10 years imprisonment and demanded that he “forthwith surrender himself into the custody of the American people and the people of Florida.”
That didn’t happen. So on Oct. 13, self-declared “Citizens’ Prosecutor” Larry Klayman, who convened the so-called grand jury, appeared on the steps of Washington, D.C.’s World War II Memorial and called on a cheering crowd to “wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town … to put the Koran down and … come out with his hands up.” The date he set for Obama’s “last chance” was Nov. 19.
To accomplish that lofty goal, Klayman formed the “Reclaim America Now Coalition.” Its members include Jihad Watch, an anti-Muslim hate group whose director, Robert Spencer, believes that Islam is an inherently violent religion and that multiculturalism is an anti-Christian conspiracy to destroy the West; You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, an anti-gay “ministry” and hate group whose leader, Bradlee Dean, has argued that it is moral to execute LGBT people; Ride for the Constitution, a coterie of truckers who made news in October with plans to jam Washington, D.C., roads until their demands, which included the president’s impeachment, were met; Gun Owners of America, a pro-militia group that has been described as “eight lanes to the right of the NRA”; and a raft of other extremist organizations united by their loathing of America’s 44th president.
The group plans to converge on Washington, D.C.’s LaFayette Park on Nov. 19 for speeches by Klayman and a host of far-right superstars including Muslim-bashing diva Pamela Geller, arch-“birther” and WorldNetDaily publisher Joseph Farah, Christian Right stalwart Alan Keyes, and unnamed “victims of President Obama’s administration.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry named former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk as his main envoy in Israeli-Palestinian talks starting in Washington later on Monday and said he was seeking “reasonable compromises” in the tough negotiations.
“It is no secret that many difficult choices lie ahead for the negotiators and for the leaders as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional and symbolic issues.”
Kerry said Indyk is ‘realistic’ about the difficulties facing the Israelis and Palestinians and US negotiators in the resumption of the long-stalled talks.
At a State Department announcement, Kerry said that “the cause of peace” has been Indyk’s life’s mission.
In a battle of crazy conspiracy theorists who think everything is an Illuminati plot, far right — I mean really far right — radio show host Rick Wiles is attacking Alex Jones for helping promote a rally of armed gun owners marching on Washington, DC scheduled for July 4.
Trunews radio host Rick Wiles today denounced the upcoming Open Carry March on Washington scheduled for July 4, 2013. The march is organized by Adam Kokesh. Participants are urged to carry loaded firearms to Washington and walk across the Memorial Bridge in a show of defiance against demands by the Obama Administration to the Congress to pass stricter gun control laws…
“This call for citizens to march with loaded firearms across the Memorial Bridge is highly irresponsible and dangerous,” said Wiles. “No responsible citizen should participate in an event that has a high risk of ending in a violent shootout with federal law enforcement officers. This proposed march borders on being an incitement to instigate an armed mob.”
Michael Kelly let go of another employee last month.
As chief executive of a small Michigan military contractor, Nanocerox, he had already cut his work force by one-third. But it was not enough. And if the government spending cuts mandated by Congress continue, he said, more people will go in the coming months.
The squeeze Mr. Kelly is facing is one reason markets are jittery about what the Labor Department’s latest report on unemployment and job creation will reveal about the economy on Friday. After a strong start to the year, several economic indicators beginning in March have pointed to much slower growth, largely because of the fiscal headwinds from Washington, economists say.
Job cuts like the kind at Nanocerox remain the exception, rather than the rule. On Thursday, the government said weekly unemployment claims were at a five-year low.
The problem is that companies have not been hiring. This week, a survey of private sector hiring in April came in well below expectations, while indications for everything from retail sales to manufacturing have also been soft recently.
Whatever the data ultimately show for April, economists like Diane Swonk, chief economist for Mesirow Financial in Chicago, say the economy would be showing much more momentum if it were not for the combination of higher payroll taxes that went into effect in January, as well as the process of automatic spending cuts known as sequestration that began to bite last month.
When President Obama took office in 2008, he promised to curb the influence of special interests. Yet his new lobbying rules and a Bush-era law passed in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal appear to have done little to curb lobbying—and may have created new loopholes for influence peddling. Even as the number of lobbyists has decreased, spending on lobbying has gone up, which experts attribute to a growing number of lobbyists operating under the radar.
A recent report by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) found that there were close to 15,000 officially registered lobbyists in 2007; by last year that number had dropped to slightly more than 12,000. In 2007, total spending on lobbying approached $3 billion, and by 2012 it had jumped to around $3.3 billion. “An amazing amount of money continues to go up, even as the number of people [lobbying] goes down,” says James Thurber, a professor of government at American University who has served on the American Bar Association’s lobbying reform task force. (The report attributed a small decline in lobbying spending in the past two years to a number of factors, including the economy.)
What’s happening here? Monte Ward, the president of the American League of Lobbyists (ALA), estimates that lots of folks are still lobbying; they’re just not telling the government. “With all the restrictions the administration has placed on lobbyists, I think some have decided it’s not worth registering,” he says, adding that they’re doing the same job, but just “getting in under the radar.” Tim LaPira, a political science professor at James Madison University who focuses on lobbying law, says the well-intentioned Bush and Obama policies “actually created a gross disincentive to want to be open and public about what it is you’re doing.”
In 1970, Washington became the first — and remains the only — state in the country to legalize elective abortions by a popular vote.
A generation later, and 40 years removed from the landmark United States Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling that extended abortion access nationwide, Washington is once again poised to stand out.
With 21 states having adopted bans or severe restrictions on insurance companies from paying for abortions, Washington is alone in seriously considering legislation mandating the opposite.
The Reproductive Parity Act, as supporters call it, would require insurers in Washington state who cover maternity care — which all insurers must do — to also pay for abortions.
The bill passed the state House earlier this month by a vote of 53-43, though it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. A similar bill in the New York state Assembly has been introduced each session for over a decade but has never received a public hearing.
“As a country, as a society, we live and breathe the idea of religious freedom and religious tolerance, whatever the religion, and political freedom and political tolerance, whatever the point of view,” Kerry told the students in Berlin, the second stop on his inaugural trip as secretary of state.
“People have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade even though it’s the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another,” he added.
“The reason is, that’s freedom, freedom of speech. In American you have a right to be stupid - if you want to be,” he said, prompting laughter. “And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.
“And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for,” he added. “The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view.”
Kerry made the comments on his first foreign trip since becoming secretary of state on February 1. After one-night stops in London and Berlin, he visits Paris, Rome, Ankara, Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha before returning to Washington on March 6.