Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. – The Washington Post

Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.

It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

via Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. – The Washington Post.

Leonid Brezhnev – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

During Brezhnev’s rule, the global influence of the Soviet Union grew dramatically, in part because of the expansion of the Soviet military during this time, but his tenure as leader has often been criticised for marking the beginning of a period of economic stagnation, overlooking serious economic problems which eventually led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

via Leonid Brezhnev – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Daily Kos: Mitt Romney outraged over reminder that he was wrong about bin Laden strategy

Mitt Romney in April 2007 dismissing the importance of bringing Osama bin Laden to justice:

[Romney] said the country would be safer by only “a small percentage” and would see “a very insignificant increase in safety” if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power. “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person,” Romney said.

As conservative writer Byron York said at the time: “Perhaps Romney should watch the tape of the planes hitting the towers again.” Apparently Romney didn’t, because when then-Senator Barack Obama said he would order strikes within Pakistan against targets like Osama bin Laden with or without the support of the Pakistani government, Romney slammed him:

“I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours… I don’t think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort,” Romney told reporters on the campaign trail. […] Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is one of the Republican front-runners, said U.S. troops “shouldn’t be sent all over the world.” He called Obama’s comments “ill-timed” and “ill-considered.”

But now that Obama’s strategy succeeded, Romney’s campaign says it’s wrong for the Obama campaign to point out that Romney opposed it:

“The killing of Osama bin Laden was a momentous day for all Americans and the world, and Governor Romney congratulated the military, our intelligence agencies, and the President,” Saul said in a statement. “It’s now sad to see the Obama campaign seek to use an event that unified our country to once again divide us, in order to try to distract voters’ attention from the failures of his administration.”

via Daily Kos: Mitt Romney outraged over reminder that he was wrong about bin Laden strategy.

Astronomers find new planet capable of supporting life – Telegraph

The planet lies in what they describe as a ‘habitable zone’, neither too near its sun to dry out or too far away which freezes it.

And the discovery could help answer the question of whether we are alone in the universe, which has been plagued astronomers and alien fanatics for years.

Scientists found the planet, Gliese 667Cc, orbiting around a red dwarf star, 22 light years away from the earth.

Red dwarf stars are the most common stars in the neighbourhood of the sun, usually hosting planets called gas giants, which are not composed of rock matter.

Re-analysing data from the European Southern Observatory, the astronomers found Gliese 667Cc is a solid planet with roughly four and a half times the mass of Earth.

The University Göttingen and University of California scientists have calculated the planet recieves ten per cent less light from its red dwarf star than the Earth gets from the Sun.

As the light is in the infrared area, the planet still receives nearly the same amount of energy as the Earth, meaning water could be liquid and surface temperatures could be similar to ours.

Astronomers are hailing the plant as the ‘Holy Grail’ of discoveries, as 20 years ago scientists were still arguing about the existence of planets beyond our solar system.

Since the discovery of the first extrasolar planet in 1995, astronomers have confirmed the existence of more than 760 planets beyond the solar system, with only four believed to be in a habitable zone.

via Astronomers find new planet capable of supporting life – Telegraph.

‘Fairy Tale’ of Austerity Is Finally Dead – Paul Krugman: Europe realizing those policies made things worse

Paul Krugman doesn’t use the words “I told you so,” but he does pronounce the notion that austerity measures would fire up Europe’s economy good and dead. European policy-makers had the misguided idea—one embraced by Republicans in the US—that cutting back on spending would spur confidence, he writes in the New York Times. Instead, we see nothing but “Depression-level slumps” all over Europe.

The good news is that Europeans—witness the Netherlands elections, for example—are finally waking up, writes Krugman. “Suddenly, everyone is admitting that austerity isn’t working.” The bad news is that the policies in place probably won’t change because of fear-mongering. “We’re now living in a world of zombie economic policies,” writes Krugman, and “it’s anyone’s guess when this reign of terror will end.”

via ‘Fairy Tale’ of Austerity Is Finally Dead – Paul Krugman: Europe realizing those policies made things worse.

Koch Suckers

Government-Run Healthcare is More Efficient Than Private Healthcare | Mother Jones

Can the government provide healthcare more efficiently than the private market? There’s no simple answer to that, but a couple of recent data points suggest the answer is yes.

First there’s Medicare. It’s true that long-term Medicare costs remain our most critical budget problem, thanks to aging baby boomers and ever-expanding treatments for chronic illnesses and end-of-life care. But per-capita Medicare spending has been on a long downward trend, and that trend has been so steady and predictable that a recent study suggested that spending growth per beneficiary over the next decade would be close to zero. Earlier this week we got some confirmation of this when the annual Social Security Trustees report was released. Most of the media attention focused on Social Security, whose financial position deteriorated compared to last year thanks to a slowing economy and an aging population. But using the same economic forecasts, the trustees nonetheless projected no deterioration in Medicare’s financial picture. Why? “Once you dig into the numbers,” says the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff, “the most plausible explanation is a pretty encouraging one: Our health-care system is getting better at delivering the same medicine more efficiently.”

And there’s more. On Wednesday, Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll reported on a new study of Medicaid spending by states. Despite years of horror stories about Medicaid bankrupting state budgets, the study found that most of the increase over the past decade has simply been due to inflation and population growth, not the rising cost of medical care. Adjusted for inflation and population, it turns out that Medicaid spending rose by less than 4% between 2002 and 2011.

via Government-Run Healthcare is More Efficient Than Private Healthcare | Mother Jones.