If he's really paying a 63 percent tax rate, then all Phil Mickelson had better worry about is firing his accountant and hiring a new one. I mean, is he kidding?:
"If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate's 62, 63 percent," Mickelson said. "So I've got to make some decisions on what I'm going to do."
Social Security? He pays that on the first $113,000 or so of his earnings. He made...ready...$47 million last year. He could lose what he pays in Soc Sec taxes in his golf bag. Even if he is actually paying 63 percent, then the poor fellow was living on a mere $17.4 million last year.
And if he did that, he and his financial advisors are pretty stupid. Barry Ritholz at The Big Picture blog explains why:
It seems only a couple of years ago (although they do pass rather quickly, so it might have been five) that all the wise people were saying that support for abortions rights was decreasing, especially among young people. I thought that had hardened into conventional wisdom.
So imagine my surprise to encounter this new WSJ/NBC poll this morning with support for abortion rights at an all time high on this 40th anniversary of the Roe decision. Fully 70 percent support Roe v. Wade, and those supporting the right in most circumstances constitute a solid majority:
Some 31% of respondents in the poll said abortion should always be legal, and 9% believed it should be illegal without any exceptions. Between those two opinions are the 23% who thought it should be legal most of the time, but with some exceptions, and the 35% who felt it should be illegal except in circumstances of rape, incest and to save a woman's life.
Same-sex marriage approval. Marijuana legalized. Now this. It continues to amaze me how the country has flipped culturally. I think this is probably Obama's biggest impact, more than health care or anything else. He's changed the political culture of the country. In some senses by doing particular things--repealing don't ask, don't tell. But in other senses just by being Barack Obama.
The president wants nothing less than to change the default assumptions of our society. Here’s how he can do it.
Barack Obama’s speech was elegantly pugnacious, a fine articulation of civic-republican liberalism and a very clear statement of a political agenda, with its specific mentions of climate change and inequality and other concerns. As others have noted, it was his most openly liberal speech as president, and it tells us what he aiming for in term two. He wants to do for liberalism (without using the word of course; we’re still not at that point yet) what Ronald Reagan did for conservatism. And he can—but only if he understands and acts on the differences between his situation and Reagan’s, and not their similarities.
President Obama compelled Congress to act during his inauguration address.
It’s only natural for someone who wants to emulate and surpass a predecessor to think about the historical resonances. So Obama might be thinking things like, “He had charisma, I have charisma; he brought the country out of recession, so did I; he put together a new electoral coalition, and so have I.”
These things are true but they’re superficial. What’s important are the differences, and here are two important ones.
Inaugurals are supposed to be high-minded and conciliatory, right? Wrong, says Michael Tomasky. Obama should send a message to Republicans with a combative address.
Barack Obama starts his second term Monday. Or Sunday, technically. That in itself makes this a good week. And while I know I should be thinking about higher-plane issues like the great arcs of history and liberalism and whether Gunnar Myrdal or William Julius Wilson had it right all along, as I watch him take the oath (which I trust John Roberts has been practicing this time), I’m going to be thinking chiefly about two things. First, all my hundreds of right-wing commenters over the years who assured me (in increasingly hysterical and sadistic language) that he’d never be nominated, then that he could never win, then that he would never succeed, then that he’d certainly never be reelected, etc. Don’t worry, I’m not holding my breath waiting for your mea culpae. And second, I’m very curious to see what kind of tone he seeks to establish in his address. I hope it’s combative, and I hope he has some language in there that’s new and startling and tells this town that the second-term Obama is going to be a much tougher customer than the first.
President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Jan. 14, 2013. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
I know. Presidents are supposed to rise above that for inaugural addresses. Supposed to be very high-minded. That would be nice. But these are low-minded times, and he’s got some extremely low-minded opposition. Obama spent part of his first term, a lot of his first term, being far more high-minded than they deserve.
It cost him a lot, and it may have cost the country even more. Early on, in the interest of conciliation, and because he understood what a storm it would kick up on the right, he decided on no torture-related prosecutions. Probably the right thing politically. But the country pays a long-term price for letting all that disgusting business happen in our name with no consequences. On more prosaic skirmishes, Obama let the Republicans define the debate—notably the spring 2011 government shutdown threat and the summer 2011 debt-limit mess. For all he accomplished—and he did accomplish a lot, there’s no denying that—he also let himself get pushed around.
I note with interest that the AP has now discovered that Te'O perpetuated the story of the girlfriend in two interviews after last Dec. 6, when he now says he discovered that young Ms. Kekua never existed:
An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10. He and the university said Wednesday that he learned on Dec. 6 that it was all a hoax, that not only wasn't she dead, she wasn't real.
Well, I suppose to be charitable he could have decided that for the sake of the team and of Our Lady generally, he'd keep a lid on things until old ND played in the national championship game. So if he is innocent, I'm sure that made the whole thing that much harder on him. However, if he was innocent, why not announce on Dec. 6 or 7 that he was scammed? It strikes me that far from deflating the Irish faithful, it would have had, after the inital shock, quite the opposite effect: Everyone would have rallied round the poor sap, and the Irish community would have been galvanized as never before.
Something isn't adding up. A lot of things aren't adding up. My main question, and maybe one of you knows the answer is: If he met this girl in the flesh at that Stanford-ND game in November 2009, who in fact was he meeting? Or was that account just wrong, and they met only online? And if they met only online, did he initially lie about a face-to-face meeting, to give the relationship more credence to sportswriters? Because who would give a shit if somebody someone met only online died? (Incidentally, as luck would have it, I was at that game, with dear Aunt Jan, cheering the Cardinal on to glory, and I can report to you from atop a stack of Bibles that we saw hide nor hair of her!)
Two treatments of the Democratic-liberal future divert our attention this morning. Tom Edsall's column in the Times raises lots of interesting, important, long-term questions for liberalism that I'll try to explore by turn in the coming weeks. A Politico piece by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman puts the matter, as Politico is want to do, in more immediate and hyped-up terms.
Edsall is working off a recent piece by Walter Russell Mead in The American Interest claiming that "the blue model" of government and society is fast running out of answers for the coming fiscal crises, that the entitlement state can't be sustained, etc. The Politico piece insists that in the coming weeks and years, on a raft of fiscal and economic issues, the Democrats are going to have to "decide whether they want to be principally known as the party of Rahm Emanuel or the party of Elizabeth Warren."
It's easy to predict that this article is going to come in for a massive round of abuse on the liberal blogs today, because when outlets like Politico run articles like this, they tend to channel what the liberal blogs call the Very Serious People, and the unwritten assumption is of course that the party is on the verge of going the Warren route, which is understood to be the hippie route, and it's going to be a giant train wreck, and everyone will get to write #demsindisarray stories forever!
The Politico piece is actually more nuanced than these pieces usually are, if you read all four pages, and it gives a pretty fair shake to the Warren point of view. What I dispute is the premise.
This TPM write-up is pretty comical about a Christina Hoff Sommers presentation to the Republicans gathered down in Williamsburg:
Hoff Sommers, an author and American Enterprise Institute fellow known for her attacks on the feminist movement, instead saved her most pointed criticisms Wednesday night for the older, male politicians who she said were alienating young women voters.
“We have some problematic allies,” Hoff Sommers said in her opening remarks. “Conservative leaders and funders, they don’t take women’s issues seriously.”
“I’m not sure what’s worse: conservatives ignoring women’s issues, or conservatives addressing them,” she said as the audience laughed.
Veronique Pozner, whose son, Noah, was killed at Sandy Hook. Read this, from Naomi Zeviloff of the Forward:
Veronique told me that Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy visited her in the funeral home, and she brought him to see Noah’s open casket. I asked her why it was important for her and for the governor to see Noah’s body. “I needed it to have a face for him,” she said. “If there is ever a piece of legislation that comes across his desk, I needed it to be real for him.”
Veronique continued on in this vein for a few minutes. But I still felt that I didn’t understand why she, asa mother, chose to see Noah’s body, so I asked her again: Why, for her? “I owed it to him as his mother, the good, the bad, the ugly,” she said. “It is not up to me to say I am only going to look at you and deal with you when you are alive, that I am going to block out the reality of what you look like when you are dead. And as a little boy, you have to go in the ground. If I am going to shut my eyes to that I am not his mother. I had to bear it. I had to do it.” Several family members also chose to view Noah’s body.
Then, unprompted by me, Veronique described what she saw: “We all saw how beautiful he was. He had thick, shiny hair, beautiful long eyelashes that rested on his cheeks. He looked like he was sleeping. But the reality of it was under the cloth he had covering his mouth there was no mouth left. His jaw was blown away. I just want people to know the ugliness of it so we don’t talk about it abstractly, like these little angels just went to heaven. No. They were butchered. They were brutalized. And that is what haunts me at night.”
David Corn had a very good quote last night on Ed Schulz: I'm like Diogenes with his light, Corn said, searching for one Republican, just one, who'll acknowledge that maybe a couple of these Obama proposals are good ideas.
That will never happen, I guess. Or will it?
First of all, there are 15 House Republicans who represent districts Obama won, and there are 70 from states that Obama won. On the Senate side, there isnt much. Susan Collins, Mark Kirk...Rob Portman is from a blue state, but he doesn't seem so likely a candidate.
Here's a thought. I see from today's Times poll that a pretty dern large majority yet again supports the NRA idea about armed guards in schools:
Conservatives’ appalling response to Obama’s gun-control proposals shows just how out of touch they are with America, says Michael Tomasky.
Among the moon-howling reactions to the president’s surprisingly bold gun-control proposals on the right, the one that most struck me was the boiling indignation that he had the temerity to speak of, and surround himself with, school children. Rush Limbaugh led the way as usual: “He’s using these kids as human shields ... He brings these kids who supposedly wrote letters to the White House ...” And so on. It was a shocking rant, even for that flatulent pile of gelatin, and amazingly out of touch with how the country feels about what happened in Newtown, and what is happening in our political culture generally. And it made me realize: they’re going to lose. Their excess outrages America, and even if they prevail for the time being in Congress, in the long run, they’re cooked.
President Obama after a press conference Wednesday to introduce proposals to reduce gun violence. (Jim Watson/AFP, via Getty)
The president surrounded himself with children? One has to be sensitive about how one does such things, of course. But in this case, I should hope so! This is about children. If those 20 children in Newtown hadn’t been killed, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. An event like that leads to a simple choice for a society, and make no mistake that it is a moral choice, as profoundly moral a choice as a society can make. Either you try to do something or you don’t.
If those lives were real to you, you try to do something. Obama keeps that one girl’s drawing up on the wall of his private office? Thank God for that. She is real to him; her classmates are real to him, the event is real to him. That he is trying to do all this—up to and including the assault-weapons ban, the executive orders, all with the sure knowledge that the Republicans might not only block him but then find some grounds on which to impeach him—is evidence enough for me that it’s real to him.
A very big thing happened last night in the House of Representatives. For the second time this month, Boehner broke the Hastert Rule. The issue was Hurricane Sandy relief, a follow-up vote to a smaller package approved earlier this month. It passed, but the important thing is how it passed:
Yeas: 241 (192 Democrats, 49 Republicans)
Nays: 180 (Rep. Jim Cooper + 179 Republicans)
That is to say, with a minority of the majority. The first time was on the fiscal cliff, and now it's happened on hurricane relief. (By the way, bravo, Republicans; what a disgrace. I really never thought I'd start saying things like this, but it really is a shame that Democrats are too soft and decent to tell Kansas or Louisiana to go fuck off the next time Mother Nature gives them a snootful.)
Anyway, as Jed Lewison notes at Kos, strike one, strike two...the handwriting is on the wall. Boehner will do the same on the debt limit. After the Koch brothers' little warning shot yesterday, it seems virtually guaranteed. In addition to all this, did you notice yesterday that Chuck Todd tried a few different times to ask high-ranking GOP Congressman Greg Walden, the guy who thinks the platinum coin would sink the Titantic, if Boehner would honor the Hastert Rule, and he refused to answer.
The NRA’s new ad is beyond anything we’ve seen, in political propaganda terms, in the modern history of this country. The text goes as follows:
Are the president’s kids more important than yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security.
'The NRA's new ad takes aim at President Obama's daughters.'
Let’s start with the ad’s broken logic. A, the Obama family has Secret Service protection; B, other American families do not; C, because of this, Obama is an elitist and a hypocrite. It’s pretty ludicrous. Malia and Sasha Obama get lots of things because their father won the presidency. They also have a chauffeur; get to ride on a big fancy airplane free of charge and don’t have to endure any TSA-related indignities; live in a beautiful big house rent-free; and so on. By the ad’s logic, all of these are instances of hypocrisy.
Chuck Hagel, in a typical mid-nomination self-abasement ritual, now finds that he really really likes the gays. He now supports don't ask, don't tell repeal, and he vows that if given the chance to serve, he'll move heaven and earth to extend full family benefits to gay families.
I think that sounds pretty swell. The Log Cabin Republicans are only partially assuaged. Amanda Turkel in HuffPo:
"For years the Pentagon has been dragging its feet with regard to extending benefits to the families of gay service members," said Gregory T. Angelo, interim executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "To ensure that action is taken on this front, we need to be sure that there is a champion for our cause at the helm of the defense department. There is nothing in Hagel's record to suggest he will be that champion.
"While Senator Hagel's recent professed support for gay military families is encouraging, it stands at odds with his record of opposition to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and his broader record of opposition to equality for gay and lesbian Americans," Angelo continued. "We look forward to the confirmation hearings when the Senator will be able to explain his apparent epiphany in greater detail. We continue to remain cautious about his nomination until that time."
It's hard even to know what to say about this one. John Fugelsang, hosting Viewpoint these days on Current until the show runs its course, had a commentary last night that is just mind blowing.
Remember how back in December, Wayne LaPierre blamed shooting like Newtown on our violent culture--video games, Natural Born Killers? For example:
And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.
Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here's one: it's called Kindergarten Killers. It's been online for 10 years.
Do House Republicans actually want to shut down the government? Michael Tomasky fears that is the case.
This tweet, which arrived midafternoon yesterday from the redoubtable @LOLGOP, really does say it all: “The GOP is rebranding itself from a party that accidentally blows up the world economy to one that purposely blows up the world economy.” How quaint today seem George W. Bush and his economic minions, with their endearing good intentions! We learn now from Politico that the current crop is ready to take the country, and the world, down to the gates of hell. Many of them have now passed the point of wanting to get their way. On some twisted level, they want not to get their way—to blow up the building just to see what happens.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio waits for the start of a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill, Jan. 4, 2013. (Susan Walsh/AP)
There is no other rational way to interpret the following quote from the Politico piece, which is by the way another of those textbook Politico pieces in which the entire moral universe of these debates consists of little more than perception and positioning. If Politico had been around in 1934, it would have been entirely capable of sentences like, “Even the young chancellor’s opponents, while citing his maneuver’s apparent illegality, concede that his move to wrest power from the ailing von Hindenberg may prove to be a political masterstroke.”
In any case, it seems that many Republicans are willing to risk default for the sake of making their point. But if somehow John Boehner folds on default and helps the president and the Senate prevent it, he may at least have to throw his rabids the bone of a government shutdown. “We might need to do that,” a GOP aide said, “for member-management purposes—so they have an endgame and can show constituents they’re fighting.”
Don't have an hour to watch President Obama pontificate on the future of national security? No worries! Watch the key moments from his speech in less than 250 seconds.
Question No. 1: Did the attackers know that secret location, or did they learn it that night? By Eli Lake.