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A mustachioed Republican congressman from Maryland is standing up for the rights of the men (and the women) who dare to have hair above their upper lip.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has introduced the Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses Act -- or STACHE Act -- to give people with mustaches a $250 tax break each year.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the American Mustache Institute said that they had found a friend in Bartlett.
"After barnstorming the Nation’s Capitol in support of the proposed Stache Act (details and white paper here, the office of of [sic] Maryland 6th district U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett informed the American Mustache Institute that the congressman has begun the process of ensuring the ‘Stache Act becomes law by passing the proposal to the House Ways and Means Committee for study — an essential first step for tax legislation," the press advisory explained.
A white paper by Northeastern State University Associate Professor of Accounting and Tax Policy Dr. John Yeutter recommended the tax loophole, claiming that the "social and environmental benefits to mustache growth and maintenance contribute to the growth of the economy."
"Given the clear link between the growing and maintenance of mustaches and incremental income ... mustache maintenance costs qualify for and should be considered as a deductible expense," the paper said.
Bartlett spokeswoman Lisa Wright declined to say that the congressman's introduction of the bill constituted an endorsement.
"He sent it over to Ways and Means [committee] without any recommendation of any kind at all," Wright told U.S. News and World Report on Tuesday.
Advocates of the mustache legislation are planning a "Million Mustache March" on April 1st in Washington, D.C.
With a vote coming up soon on Sen. Roy Blunt's "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act" which would, as Mother Jones noted, "grant employers significant discretion in deciding what kind of health care they want to provide workers," it's been interesting watching right wingers twist themselves into knots trying to defend the amendment.
Case in point on this Tuesday evening's Hardball is Susan B. Anthony List's Marjorie Dannenfelser who had to take to lying about whether the amendment would actually allow any employer and not just religious institutions to deny coverage to their employees for just about anything. Dannenfelser was literally left stammering and stuttering when called on the fact that this goes way beyond anything that could be construed at an attack on the Catholic church.
If Republicans and their allies want to convince voters that this is not just a way for them to undermine the Affordable Care Act which they've been determined to do since the day it passed, they're going to have to find more capable people than Dannenfelser to make their arguments for them.
Transcript below the fold.
Willard may have had a big night on Tuesday, but the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, who's a Willard supporter, is still downgrading his chances of beating President Obama.
“This is like watching a Greek tragedy,” McCain told the Boston Herald, saying that negative campaigning and increasingly personal attacks “should have stopped long ago.”
See, when I watch the 2012 GOP primary, I don't think Greek Tragedy. I think "Three Stooges."
“Any utility from the debates has been exhausted, and now it’s just exchanging cheap shots and personal shots followed by super PAC attacks,” said the senior senator from Arizona, one of two states with primaries today.
“I know he’s going to be the nominee, but I also worry about how much damage has been done,” McCain said.
And if there's anyone who knows about doing damage to your presidential aspirations, it's John McCain.
But for the record, the reason the GOP primary's been so ugly is because it's not a campaign of ideas. It's an ideological purity test. Instead of Lincoln-Douglas, the GOP is giving us the Salem Witch Trials.
McCain is right to be worried. Witch hunts usually don't end well.
The good news comes from The Gothamist:
Occupy Wall Street begins two days of major demonstrations today as a group of wealthy backers announces their plan to pump $1.8 million into the movement. The Movement Resource Group, comprised of the two founders of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Nirvana's former manager Danny Goldberg, among others, is a not-for-profit 501c3 that has raised $300,000 and aims to distribute it to the protesters in a series of grants. "Many of us have been working for progressive social change," Ben Cohen told the Wall Street Journal. "There's been a critical ingredient missing."
Representatives from the group met with Occupy Wall Street members on Sunday, and announced the plan to approve national grants of up to $25,000 with the approval of MRG and five OWS members. $150,000 will pay for a national office in New York, another $100,000 will pay for individual, targeted projects, and a smaller, undisclosed sum will be set aside for stipends for "core activists."
I wonder if there will be free ice cream?
Andrew Cohen writes in The Atlantic about a particularly infuriating capital case in Alabama. As a reporter, these stories are depressing because you see prosecutors clinging to bad convictions, usually for political reasons:
Another month, another man on death row, another excruciating case that illustrates just some of the ways in which America's death penalty regime is unconstitutionally broken. This time, the venue is Alabama. This time, the murder that generated the sentence took place 30 years ago. And this time, there is an execution date of March 29, 2012, for Thomas Arthur, a man who has always maintained his innocence. He also has the unwelcome distinction of being one of the few prisoners in the DNA-testing era to be this close to capital punishment after someone else confessed under oath to the crime.
Late last month, I profiled the wobbly capital conviction against Troy Noling in Ohio and there are remarkable similarities between it and the Arthur case. Both involve white defendants. Both include contentions of innocence and allegations of bad lawyering at trial. Both include a lack of physical evidence linking the defendants to the crime. Both include crucial witness testimony that borders the farcical. And both include state officials reluctant to permit sophisticated DNA testing that might definitively answer questions about whether the defendants committed the murders they will die for.
Arthur's attorneys are even willing to pay for that testing, the few thousand bucks it would be, and the testing could be completed by the execution date. It is here where prosecutors and judges lose me when they prioritize "finality" in capital punishment cases at the expense of "accuracy." It would cost Alabama nothing to let Arthur's lawyers do the testing. And it might solve a case that already has cost the state millions of dollars. Instead, Alabama wants to finally solve its Arthur problem by executing him. No matter how the new DNA test could come out, the state is more interested in defending its dubious conviction.
Today, Wed. Feb. 29th, Occupiers in New York, Oakland, Mexico City, and over 80 other cities will take part in a coordinated National Day of Action to Shut Down the Corporations. Occupations have been preparing a variety of decentralized actions in response to Occupy Portland's call to target the American Legislative Exchange Council:
We specifically call on people to target corporations that are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The biggest corporations in America, like ExxonMobil, Bank of America, BP, Monsanto, Pfizer, and Wal-Mart use ALEC to buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves only the interests of corporations and not people. They then duplicate and spread this corporate legislation in Washington, D.C. and in state legislatures across the country. The anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin and the racist bill SB 1070 in Arizona are two recent and destructive examples of what corporations use ALEC to do.
In New York, demonstrations will begin at the Koch Industries building and the Pulitzer Fountain at 9 a.m., a march from Tudor City to Bryant Park at 10 a.m., and a Bank of America "Teach-In" with Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi at 11 a.m. in Bryant Park. At noon, occupiers will attempt to "shut down Bank of America branches, ending at B of A tower," which is right across the street from the park. More details are here and here.
#F29 specifically targets the American Legislative Exchange Council, a 501c3 group that includes legislators and corporations as members so that they can draft legislation together that advances "the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty." The following video about ALEC will answer all your questions.
This campaign season can be summed up by one interview on conservative talk radio last August. It was with Iowa Straw Poll-sweeper Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, in which she proclaimed: “What people recognize is that there’s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward.”
Yes, Bachmann warned us of a foreign boogieman rising … one that’s been dead for over 20 years.
But warning of a zombie nation feasting on the metaphorical brains of the U.S. is consistent with a party now completely untethered from basic American history, science or any other evidence-based practice: The GOP is now a party standing proudly on a pro-fiction platform.
Yes, in their party, as an aide to Senator Jon Kyl put it last year, whatever they say is “not intended to be a factual statement” but to illustrate a point.
For example, this week Mitt Romney brought a Michigan tea party audience to tears recalling the 50th anniversary of the American automobile event he attended as a child … even though it took place months before he was born.
Former Senator Rick Santorum asserts public schools are an “anachronism” of the industrialized era as the reason they should be privatized. He said at the CNN debate last week: “Not only do I believe the federal government should get out of the education business, I think the state government should start to get out of the education business and put it back to the local and into the community.” Just when millions of Americans have lost their homes comes a candidate in favor of home schooling.
Public schools are arguably what made us a country. The colonies had one of the highest literacy rates in the world at the time. In James D. Hart’s “The Popular Book: A History of America’s Literary Taste” published in 1950, he notes that in 1650 New England there were laws requiring “reading and writing schools.” Education was thought to thwart Satan at that time (note to Santorum there). Hart goes on to include a popular ditty of the era: “From public schools shall general knowledge flow, For ‘tis the people’s sacred right to know.”
Also, the principal writer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, was (gasp) publically educated.
Santorum, as a pro-fiction candidate, also dismisses colleges as “indoctrination mills.” One man’s indoctrination is another man’s accreditation to work in the sciences.
The four candidates still vying for the nomination are pro-fiction to the core: Somehow the President who okayed the assassination of Osama bin Laden, sent drone attacks into Libya and kept Gitmo open is an apologetic pansy – soft on our enemies. Obama has deported more illegal immigrants and spent more money protecting the border than any of his predecessors – but he’s ignoring the issue of illegal immigration. Romney keeps on promising if elected he’ll make the military so powerful no other country would dare attack us even though we have the biggest military in the world. Gingrich who says if given any power he’ll send U.S. Marshalls to compel radical judges to explain their rulings, deems “the pill” to be the epitome of radical government overreach. Taxes? Too high even though they’re historically low (especially during war time). Tax cuts? A pay-for-themselves panacea even though the Bush Tax Cuts didn’t pan out.
Challenge their narrative and brace for the ad hominem attacks. You only believe this because you’re at least one of the following: liberal, socialist, unemployed, commie sympathizer, elite, dupe, European, journalist, gun hater, Muslim, Obama-bot, or (my favorite from my inbox) silly little girl.
Because in fiction you must create an enemy or there’s no story.
The pro-fiction party will tell you their ideas will lower gas prices, cut the deficit, end poverty, cut the size of government and make everybody super free by allowing the states to decide which rights to take away.
No matter how completely impossible – no matter how divorced from evidence or precedence – the GOP will continue to make claims not to be factual – but just to illustrate a point. Possibly that you should vote for them.
The Soviet Union must be watching this race right now and just laughing their heads off.
They should have expected them.
Interpol's website crashed for a short time yesterday due to an "Anonymous cyber-attack" after the international police agency announced they had arrested 25 suspected members of the hacktivist group in Europe and South America.The arrests in Argentina, Colombia, and Spain were nabbed by national law enforcers working under Interpol’s Latin American Working Group of Experts on Information Technology Crime.
Via The Guardian:
The website went down briefly on Tuesday as supporters of Anonymous made online claims that it had been targeted following the arrests in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain. It was quickly back up and running but was loading slowly.
Interpol announced that the arrests had been made under the umbrella of Operation Unmask, which it said was launched in mid-February in the wake of a series of coordinated cyber-attacks originating from the four countries against targets including the Colombian defence ministry and presidential websites, a Chilean electricity company and Chile's national library.
It added that the operation was carried out by authorities in the four countries under the aegis of Interpol's Latin American Working Group of Experts on Information Technology (IT) Crime, which facilitates the sharing of intelligence between the states involved.
Around 250 items of IT equipment and mobile phones were also seized during searches of 40 premises across 15 cities, Interpol said. Payment cards and cash had also been seized as part of the investigation into the funding of illegal activities carried out by the suspected hackers, aged 17 to 40.
The executive director of police services for Interpol, Bernd Rossbach, said "This operation shows that crime in the virtual world does have real consequences for those involved, and that the internet cannot be seen as a safe haven for criminal activity, no matter where it originates or where it is targeted."
And then they went offline.
From Tuesday night's The Daily Show, regular Samantha Bee laid waste to Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist while interviewing him about his so-called "Taxpayer Protection Pledge."
NORQUIST: My team is winning and it can be taught to Harry Reid. He wanted a $2.5 trillion tax increase last year and he didn't get it.
BEE: Your team is winning? It's like you came up with this whole idea when you were twelve.
NORQUIST: It was something I came up with when I was twelve, to get a teacher to...
BEE: I'm sorry, what did you say? You came up with this idea when you were...
NORQUIST: Seventh grade.
BEE: ...in seventh grade?
BEE (off camera): Yes, the entire federal government is paralyzed because of a document, written by a twelve year old, in 1968.
Bee's solution for the Democrats... get their own "think tank" of twelve year olds.