Could Rep. Ron Paul of Texas ever be a true contender for the White House?
To be sure, the conservative political landscape has shifted dramatically since Paul's quixotic bid for the 2008 GOP nomination was met by jeers from the party establishment, and the Ron Paul Revolution has minted a new generation of libertarian activists who've helped lay some of the organizational and ideological groundwork for the tea party movement. "Time has come around to where people are agreeing with much of what I've been saying for 30 years," the Texas congressman said on Friday, as he launched his third White House attempt. "The time is right."
Yet despite Paul's growing cult following, many of his views are just a tad extreme for voters from either major party. To name just a few of these politically dicey positions, President Ron Paul would like to...
1. Eviscerate Entitlements: Believes that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are unconstitutional, and has compared the failure of federal courts to strike them down to the courts' failure to abolish slavery in the 19th century.
2. Lay Off Half His Cabinet: Wants to abolish half of all federal agencies, including the departments of Energy, Education, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Labor.
3. Enable State Extremism: Would let states set their own policies on abortion, gay marriage, prayer in school, and most other issues.
4. Protect Sexual Predators' Privacy:Voted against requiring operators of wi-fi networks who discover the transmission of child porn and other forms online sex predation to report it to the government.
5. Rescind the Bin Laden Raid: Instead of authorizing the Navy Seals to take him out, President Paul would have sought Pakistan's cooperation to arrest him.
9. Keep Monopolies Intact:Opposes federal antitrust legislation, calling it "much more harmful than helpful." Thinks that monopolies can be controlled by protecting "the concept of the voluntary contract."
Corporate profits grew 38.8 percent in 2010, the biggest increase since 1950. But while CEOs earned an average of 20 percent more last year, many Americans continued to lose their jobs and benefits. The insecurity of the middle class has a lot to do with how executives are paid. Bonuses pegged to stock prices encourage CEOs to mercilessly outsource and downsize, slashing costs to boost profits. The result is that more corporate leaders are getting paid at the expense of average workers. Here are 10 of the worst offenders:
*Duke's pay would have dropped even more had Walmart not stopped calculating his bonus based on same-store sales, which have declined over the past two years.
At a hearing today of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is expected to attack a Presidential plan to require government contractors to disclose their contributions to political groups. The hearing is a bold move for Issa, who only months ago founded the House Transparency Caucus with the declaration that "sunlight is indeed the best disinfectant."
The disclosure rule at issue is really just a small-bore response to last year's sweeping Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, which opened the floodgates to corporate cash in elections. It focuses exclusively on federal contractors because they presumably have more incentive than other private companies to bribe and influence politicians. So why is Issa throwing a fit?
The answer, as with most things in politics, probably involves money. The union-backed group Chamber Watch has tallied up how much dark money went last year to support Republicans on the Oversight Committee and the Small Business Committee, which is co-hosting the hearing. The results are striking:
Source: US Chamber WatchEvidence suggests that a large part of this dark money comes from companies that feed at the public trough. Board members of just one of those dark money groups, the US Chamber of Commerce, earned a collective $44 billion from federal contracts last year, according to Chamber Watch. Only 18 of the Chamber's 53 board members didn't land contracts with the federal government.
An online biology textbook up for approval by the Texas State Board of Education is drawing fire from scientific and education groups for tacitly pushing creationism. Created by the obscure, New Mexico-based International Databases LLC, the textbook seeks to justify the existence of a higher being while avoiding direct mention of God or the Bible. The Texas Freedom Network, which monitors the religious right in Texas, said in a press release that its adoption by the SBOE would be "a shocking leap backward."
The textbook's "Origin of Life" chapter details lab experiments that have failed to create life from inorganic materials, concluding that there is a huge gap between "life" and "non-life" (as crudely illustrated in the photo at right). But from there it makes the considerable leap that biological explanations for the origin of life are discredited. "[T]he legitimate scientific hypothesis," it argues, is that "life on Earth is the result of intelligent causes."
The notes to teachers accompanying the chapter leave little doubt that pushing a belief in God is the ultimate goal:
[A]t the end of the instructional unit on the Origin of Life students should go home with the understanding that a new paradigm of explaining life's origins is emerging from the failed attempts of naturalistic scenarios. This new way of thinking is predicated on the hypothesis that intelligent input is necessary for life's origins.
Last week, a computer glitch at Houston's air traffic control center caused dozens of flights to be delayed for up to an hour. Though it didn't put any planes in danger, the episode was another unwelcome bit of bad P.R. for the nation's air traffic controllers. In the past month and a half, five air traffic controllers were found to be asleep on duty, sometimes missing calls from pilots. Late last month, a mistake by a controller caused First Lady Michelle Obama's jet to fly too close to a military cargo plane.
In the wake of those incidents, one Federal Aviation Administration official resigned and the agency began requiring more than one controller to be on the job late at night, a change the controllers' union had long advocated. But the FAA also sought to deflect much of the blame onto the controllers themselves. "Over the last few weeks we have seen examples of unprofessional conduct on the part of a few individuals that have rightly caused the traveling public to question our ability to ensure their safety," said FAA chief Randy Babbitt. "This conduct must stop immediately." The government also dismissed independent safety experts' recommendation that controllers be allowed to take short naps on the job. "We're not going to pay controllers to nap," scoffed Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Air traffic controllers respond that there aren't enough of them to keep up with the soaring amount of air traffic—a problem that they say will be compounded by the new staffing rules. There are currently around 15,700 controllers on duty, but turnover is high: 7,600 controllers left the job or died between 2005 and 2010. (The mandatory retirement age for controllers is 56.) Last year, more than one-quarter of controllers were trainees.