Congress may have averted the fiscal cliff, but when it comes to ugly fiscal battles, America hasn't seen anything yet, according to Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn. "The Republicans now are going to be out for blood" Corn says. "Having lost this round as they are see it, they are going to want to have a big fight over the debt ceiling and to demand it's not raised."
Watch Corn's full discussion on the fiscal cliff deal here:
Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who led a controversial military crackdown on drug cartels, is moving to the United States to take an academic fellowship with Harvard University. But protesters, both Mexican and American, say that given Calderón's political past, he shouldn't be offered this prestigious position or even allowed to work here.
"It's a total disgrace to the families of Mexican citizens who lost their lives because of the drug war," says John Randolph, who worked for the US Border Patrol for 26 years before retiring, and has posted a petition on Change.org asking Harvard to rescind Calderón's fellowship.
"I can't help but think of the Mexican people who have tried to legitimately gain asylum in the United States because of the drug war—and have been turned down," says Randolph. "How can Calderón waltz in and work for Harvard?"
Eduardo Cortés Rivadeneyra, who runs a construction business in Puebla, Mexico, has started a similar petition (in Spanish). He tells Mother Jones that he felt "insulted" when he heard the news of Calderón's appointment at Harvard's Kennedy School. "I assure you that thousands of Mexicans don't want Calderón to teach in the US or anywhere else," he says.
According to a statement by Harvard Kennedy School dean David Ellwood, "President Calderón is a distinguished alumnus of the Kennedy School and is known for his efforts in Mexico to improve the economy, expand and protect public health, address the drug problem, and engage with other world leaders around shared goals." During Calderón's fellowship, students will have the opportunity to ask him "difficult questions on important policy issues," according to Ellwood's statement. Harvard Kennedy School spokesperson Molly Lanzarotta points out that the inaugural fellowship, which is designed for retiring world leaders, is a one-year position, "not a faculty teaching appointment."
Harvard isn't the first university to try to get the former Mexican president onto its campus. In 2012, Calderón was in talks with the University of Texas at Austin. Once news got out that Calderón was meeting with the university president, students and other community members staged a protest on campus, disrupting a meeting of top Mexican government officials. Ultimately, Calderón never had any follow-up discussions with the university or job offers, according to Gary Susswein, a spokesman for the university. Susswein adds that the decision-making process took place "independent of any protests."
Angelica Ortiz Garza, who doesn't have any connection with the university but started an online petition against Calderón's nomination at UT Austin, believes the protests "definitely had an impact on their decision." But unlike UT Austin, she notes, Harvard is "far from the border" and Calderón's time there as a student carries a lot of weight.
"So many tragedies occurred while he was in power, people are poorer, the country is in big debt, and there is a lot of corruption," Garza says. "Unfortunately this has been always the case in Mexico, presidents usually leave the country to work or live in a better place."
Friday evening President Obama expressed modest optimism that the House and Senate will reach a fiscal cliff deal before the New Year's deadline, but said that if Congress fails to act, he will ask Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to propose a bill that protects unemployment benefits and stops tax increases on the middle class.
"I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote, one that…lays the groundwork for additional deficit reduction and economic growth steps," President Obama said at a press conference on Friday, after meeting behind closed doors with Sen. Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "That's the bare minimum...and it shouldn't be that hard."
As my colleague Andy Kroll points out, the fiscal cliff "isn't really a cliff" but we're still "in for roughly $400 billion in tax increases and $200 billion in spending cuts…spread out over many months." Without a fiscal cliff deal, Bush's tax cuts for the middle class will expire, shrinking US GDP by 1.3 percent. Additionally, unemployment benefits worth $30 billion are expected to run out, potentially ending benefits for millions of Americans.
"The American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy," the President said. "Outside of Washington, nobody understands how it is that this seems to be a repeat pattern."
Bluegrass hipsters the Punch Brothers are singing about how rye whiskey "makes your baby cuter" when it starts to pour. The clouds bust open, turning the Austin City Limits grounds into a mudpit. At other stages, people make a run for it—but fans of these charming acoustic rockers don't move. Instead, they kick up their heels and dance through the thunderstorm.
The band is at home playing in the great outdoors, but thanks to their rapid rise to global fame (Chris Thile, the band's founder, was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur "genius grant" in October) they are bringing their unique brand of prodiguous folk everywhere from European art houses to swanky New York City dance halls.
In this morning's National Rifle Association (NRA) press conference, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre found a lot of things to blame for the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, many of them rehashed from the NRA's past responses to mass shootings. Video games, the absence of armed policemen in schools, and pure evil made the list, as did Hurricane Sandy.
Here's what LaPierre didn't blame:
.223 BUSHMASTER SEMI-AUTOMATIC ASSAULT RIFLE
The weapon used by Adam Lanza when he massacred 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, according to the medical examiner (December, 2012).
.223-CALIBER SMITH & WESSON M&P15
One of the weapons used by James Holmes at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, that killed and injured a total of 70 people (July, 2012).
The weapon used by Jeffrey Weise, who murdered nine people and wounded five others on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota (March, 2005).
GLOCK 19 SEMI-AUTOMATIC PISTOL
One of the weapons used by Seung-Hui Cho, who injured and killed 56 people at the Virginia Tech campus (April, 2007).
7.62 mm AK-47 Chinese variant
The weapon used by former Caltrans employee Arturo Reyes Torres, who opened fire at a maintenance yard, killing five and injuring two.
INTRATEC TEC-9 PISTOL
One of the weapons used by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who opened fire in Columbine High School, injuring and killing 39 (April, 1999).