Grover says no to budget deal

So Grover Norquist is throwing a very big monkey wrench into the idea of a lame-duck Grand Bargain to avoid the budget sequester. He says Republicans can indeed find significant cuts in the defense budget, and believes they will do so.

If this is true, and he gets enough of the caucus behind him (after all, this is the same position taken by the progressive caucus, so the numbers might work), there goes the bipartisan wet dream of a Grand Bargain – again. (Yay!) Sounds like he wants Paul Ryan to keep his powder dry for later tax reform:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, his would-be vice president Paul Ryan, and defense hawks in Congress are wrong that savings can’t be found in the U.S. defense budget, according to Grover Norquist, the influential president of Americans for Tax Reform, who said that he will fight using any new revenues to keep military spending high.

“We can afford to have an adequate national defense which keeps us free and safe and keeps everybody afraid to throw a punch at us, as long as we don’t make some of the decisions that previous administrations have, which is to over extend ourselves overseas and think we can run foreign governments,” Norquist said Monday at an event at the Center for the National Interest, formerly the Nixon Center.

But Ryan’s views are at odds with those of Norquist and other budget hawks, who argue that defense budgets can be trimmed. Ryan’s budget plan provides for increasing military spending and doesn’t suggest any tradeoff or specific defense reforms.

“Other people need to lead the argument on how can conservatives lead a fight to have a serious national defense without wasting money,” Norquist said. “I wouldn’t ask Ryan to be the reformer of the defense establishment.”
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Go, Joe!

You know what? I hope he meant it exactly the way they’re accusing him of doing. Because their deregulation did put the working poor in chains, and the resulting crash did hit minorities even harder than anyone else. So however Joe meant it is fine with me:

(CBS News) Vice President Joe Biden has clarified a comment he made earlier today in which he said presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney would “put you all back in chains” by unshackling Wall Street.

The comment, to a crowd that appeared to be roughly half African-American, prompted strong criticism from Republicans. The Romney campaign said the comments “are not acceptable in our political discourse” and said they marked a “new low” for the Obama campaign. The Obama campaign deemed the complaints “faux outrage.”

Oh puhleeze. Republicans, the party of rich old white men, are shocked at Biden’s statement? They’re just ticked that he’s describing what they’re up to!

Speaking in Wytheville, Va., late this afternoon, Biden hit back at the Romney camp’s claims that his comments were outrageous, saying, “If you want to know what’s outrageous, it’s their policies.”

“The last time these guys unshackled the economy, to use their term, they put the middle class in shackles,” he said. “That’s how we got where we are. Nine million jobs lost, wage stagnation, 16 trillion dollars in wealth you all lost, in your home equity, in your 401ks, and your pension plans – you’re the ones that got nailed. All of America except for the very few.”

Biden continued: “And I’m told when I made that comment earlier today in Danville, Virginia, the Romney Campaign put out a Tweet, you know Tweets, and went on the air, went on the airwaves saying ‘Biden’s outrageous in saying that – I think I said, instead of unshackled, unchained or – anyway, outrageous to say that, that’s what we meant. I’m using their own words. I got a message for them, if you want to know want to know what’s outrageous, it’s their policies, and the effects of their policies on middle class America, that’s what’s outrageous.”

My hero

These for-profit colleges are exactly what you would expect: For profit. Students come last. But since these schools have generously donated to both sides of the aisle, nothing will change until ATR (After The Revolution). For-profit schools attract kids whose economic and social background is such that they’re not aware of, or feel they can’t handle better options (like community college) because these schools work around their schedules and tell them they’ll graduate quickly. Except they have a very high dropout rate after and even the ones who do graduate find out most places don’t consider their diplomas of much value.

I’m really impressed that this teacher is going public with his concerns, because he will most likely be blackballed as a result:

Mike Tracy teaches at the Art Institute of California—Orange County, but not for long. In a note on his Facebook page, Tracy explains that AIC-OC (whose parent company, EDMC, is 41 percent owned by Goldman Sachs) has told him he’ll be fired if he doesn’t agree to sell a quota of expensive and, in his opinion, unnecessary e-textbooks.Here’s the note Tracy posted:

As many of you know, I have been in a dispute with our school, the Art Institutes, for some months now, over their policy of mandatory e-textbooks in classes where their inclusion seems arbitrary, inappropriate and completely motivated by profit. In July I asked the US Department of Education, the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education and WASC (our accrediting agency) to look into my concerns. Since that time, the school and its parent company EDMC have escalated the pressure on me to select a book for a class I teach that I don’t think requires one.


Today, the President of the school, Greg Marick, presented me with an ultimatum; either choose a book by Tuesday, Aug 14th or the company will terminate my employment for insubordination. My response, of course, is that I will not change my mind on this issue and that I’m determined to resist the policy however I can. I think this means that, as of this week, I will no longer be teaching at AI.


I want you, my students and colleagues to know that it has been my great honor and privilege to have worked with you over the last 11 years, and that I will miss the opportunity to work for you and with you. I have enjoyed my time as a teacher very much, but it appears as though it is now time to move on. Although it aint over till it’s over, it looks like a 99.5% deal, barring an 11th hour change of heart by the corporation, which would surprise me.

Sandra Bernardo is their regional PR manager. You can reach her at sbernardo@aii.edu or call 714-338-1303. Ask her if she knows how this looks.

Wash, rinse, repeat

As American businesses go away the profitable Bain Capital way!

In the Guardian, Paul Harris reports from Freeport, IL, where a profitable, competitive auto-parts plant has been bought out by Bain Capital, who have literally shipped the factory to China, and who have extended the “kindness” to the American workers who will lose their jobs of a few extra weeks’ worth of work training their Chinese replacements. Mitt Romney owns millions of dollars’ worth of equity in the Bain fund that is shipping good jobs overseas, and stands to make a tidy profit from this.

“I understand business needs to make a profit. But this product has always made a ton of money. It’s just that they think it is not enough money. They are greedy,” said Tom Gaulraupp, who has put in 33 years at the plant and is facing the prospect of becoming jobless at the age of 54.


Mark Shreck, a 36-year-old father-of-three, confessed he was one of the few workers not surprised at the layoffs, as this is the second time his job has moved to China. “I feel this is what companies do nowadays,” he said. Freeport mayor George Gaulrapp


The Freeport workers have appealed to Bain and Romney to save their plant. The local town council, several Illinois politicians and the state’s Democratic governor have all rallied to their cause. “This company is competitive globally. They make a profit here. But Bain Capital decided to squeeze it a little further. That is not what capitalism is meant to be about,” said Freeport mayor George Gaulrapp, 52, pictured.


The anger towards Bain and Romney is palpable. Romney has become the target for the emotions of a community who built lives based on the idea of a steady manufacturing job: a concept out of place in the sort of fluid buy-and-sell world from which Bain prospers. “I didn’t have a clue what Bain was before this happened,” said Cheryl Randecker, 52. “Now when I hear Romney speak it makes me sick to my stomach.”

Butterflies are free to fly about in the radiation

Hat tip to reader Lyn for this story:

In the first sign that the Fukushima nuclear disaster may be changing life around it, scientists say they’ve found mutant butterflies.


Some of the butterflies had abnormalities in their legs, antennae, and abdomens, and dents in their eyes, according to the study published in Scientific Reports, an online journal from the team behind Nature. Researchers also found that some affected butterflies had broken or wrinkled wings, changes in wing size, color pattern changes, and spots disappearing or increasing on the butterflies.


The study began two months after an earthquake and tsunami devastated swaths of northeastern Japan in March 2011, triggering a nuclear disaster. The Fukushima Daiichi plant spewed radiation and displaced tens of thousands of residents from the surrounding area in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

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