Wow. Where to begin today? I guess we’ll start with the story that I’m, albeit remotely, connected to.
Broward County Schools Lockdown connected to incoming Congressman’s Chief of Staff
As I was on the air yesterday, word came that all Broward County schools were on lockdown, including the school my daughter attends. The only information we could get at the time was that an email and a phone call to a ‘local radio station’ saying that someone was going to start shooting at a government building or school was deemed a credible enough threat to take this action. Late last night came word that the ‘local station’ was indeed WFTL, and that the impetus for the threat was Joyce Kaufman’s commandment that “if words don’t work, bullets will.
Video of Kaufman’s proclamation was featured Tuesday night on MCNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show (scroll down to yesterday’s blog to see the report). Last night, South Florida’s local WSVN made the connection, leading to widespread reports today, including this one from the Broward New Times:
Channel 7 is reporting that the man who allegedly threatened to shoot up a Pembroke Pines school was prompted somehow by Joyce Kaufman, the acidic right-wing radio show host who was named yesterday newly elected Congressman Allen West’s chief of staff.
This whole thing is still murky, but WSVN reported that the threat was linked to Kaufman’s “call to action” during a Tea Party rally in Fort Lauderdale on July 4 during which she said, “If ballots don’t work, bullets will.”
Kaufman and West
The threat was emailed to Kaufman’s radio station, WFTL-850. A woman identifying herself as the emailer’s wife called the station to confirm it was real. And that led to the massive lockdown in public schools throughout Broward County. Broward Superintendent Jim Notter wrote in an email to selected school officials wrote that the threat contained ethnic and religious slurs, though it’s not clear which religion was at issue.
The television report says the issuer of the threat had seen Kaufman’s incendiary statement on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC the night before. That somehow sparked him. Again it’s still a sketchy case. And it’s important to note that there’s really only one person to blame for today’s lockdown: The man, still at large, who sent the email. (more here)
So, what’s my connection to this story? Yesterday on the show, I told you of my meetings with station management on Friday and again Tuesday regarding the possibility of replacing Ms. Kaufman on the air there. I’m guessing they didn’t hear my show yesterday, as they had more important things to deal with. To be continued…
Huffington Post Reports that the White House Will Give in on Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
President Barack Obama’s top adviser suggested to The Huffington Post late Wednesday that the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board, temporary continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers.
That appears to be the only way, said David Axelrod, that middle-class taxpayers can keep their tax cuts, given the legislative and political realities facing Obama in the aftermath of last week’s electoral defeat.
“We have to deal with the world as we find it,” Axelrod said during an unusually candid and reflective 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. “The world of what it takes to get this done.”
But not so fast, reports Greg Sargent:
UPDATE: White House denies giving in on Bush tax cuts: The White House is sharply denying the Huffington Post story I noted below claiming that David Axelrod signaled a willingness to accept a temporary extension of all the Bush tax cuts, claiming that their position remains unchanged.
There is not one bit of news here. I simply re-stated what POTUS and Robert have been saying. Our two strong principles are that we need to extend the tax cuts for the middle class, but we can’t afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy.
And White House comm director Dan Pfeiffer adds:
The story is overwritten. Nothing has changed from what the President said last week. We believe we need to extend the middle class tax cuts, we cannot afford to borrow 700 billion to pay for extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and we are open to compromise and are looking forward to talking to the Congressional leadership next week to discuss how to move forward. Full Stop, period, end of sentence.
It’s Veteran’s Day
And I just got word from Iraq Veterans Against the War about Jeff Hanks, an Army Specialist who to go AWOL (Absent Without Leave) in order to seek civilian mental health care after being denied treatment by his command for TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Specialist Hanks will turn himself into military authorities today to face possible charges and read a public statement about the denial of his care as well as hazing of soldiers seeking care and military disregard of professional medical recommendations.
There is a bit of positive news coming out on this Veteran’s Day. The Washington Post is reporting
A Pentagon study group has concluded that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to two people familiar with a draft of the report, which is due to President Obama on Dec. 1.
And Then There’s Alan Simpson
Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, released their preliminary report, and it’s stunning. Among their recommendations (from HuffPost);
- Roll discretionary spending back to FY2010 levels for FY2012, requires 1% cut in discretionary budget authority every year from FY2013 though 2015;
- Fully offset the cost of the “Doc Fix” by asking doctors and other health providers, lawyers, and individuals to take responsibility for slowing health care cost growth;
- Reduce farm subsidies by3 billion per year by reducing direct payments and other subsidies;
- Achieve100 billion in Illustrative Defense Cuts;
- Index retirement age for Social security to increases in longevity. “This option is projected to increase the age by one month every two years after it reaches 67 under current law, meaning the normal retirement age would reach 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075.” There will be a “hardship exemption” for those unable to work beyond 62;
- Give retirees the choice of collecting half their benefits early and the other half at a later age to minimize impact of actuarial reduction and support phased retirement options;
- Reduce corporate tax rate to 26% and permanently extend the research credit;
- Gradually increase gas tax to fund transportation spending.
- Reduce Congressional & White House budgets by 15 percent;
- Freeze federal salaries, bonuses, and other compensation at non-defense agencies for three hears;
- Cap the number of federal political appointments at 2,000;
- Eliminate the Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools;
- Eliminate all earmarks.;
- Reduce unnecessary printing costs;
- Reduce funding to the Smithsonian and the National Park Service and allow the programs to offset the reduction through fees;
- Cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
We’ll discuss all of these things, if time permits, on today’s show.
But it being Thursday and the end of my work week, I try to inject a bit of fun too.
Today, I’ll be joined by former National Lampoon contributor Rick Meyerowitz, who’s written the brand new book Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Writers and Artists Who Made the National Lampoon Insanely Good. He’ll be here in South Florida for the Miami Book Fair International, reading and signing at 3pm on Sunday Nov. 21.
And we’ll end the week with comedian John Fugelsang, talking about everything I’ve written about this morning. Whew…