Oakland from the hills. It's down there, look closer.
This is why you don't see a lot of pictures of the Bay area from the East - atmospheric conditions create a bowl where the haze settles. Some days it is clear though, or so I'm told. And recently, the Bay area dropped off the top 25 for polluted air, according to the American Lung Association: "The study looked at particle and ozone pollution, noting that California in general has reduced car exhaust and soot immensely over the last decade. Three of the nine least-smoggy counties in California are in the Bay Area, with San Francisco County ranking among the cleanest counties in the nation in terms of air quality." So there.
And that brings us to the other news:
* "Defense trumps poverty in Republican House" - that's the straight title from Politico. Here comes the Republican House budget that takes from the poor and gives to defense contractors. "American soldiers learned the hard way not to walk down enemy trails in Vietnam — and certainly not twice. But here come the House Republicans, marching into the sunlight by shifting billions from poverty programs to the Pentagon, all within hours of adopting an entirely new round of tax cuts for those earning more than $1 million a year."
Look, folks. This is it. These people are serious. The mean to destroy the function of government for millions of poor and middle class working folks, while they give more tax cuts to the wealthy and contracts to their campaign donors. All you have to do is look around at what they are doing in the states for proof. They aren't kidding. If you can count on the Republicans for one thing, it is the fact that they will act on their interests if you put them in power. And you aren't going to like it when they are done.
* No debt ceiling showdown this year, as far as they know. "'If the debt limit were to be reached prior to the 2012 elections, Treasury would be able to invoke extraordinary measures to extend borrowing authority beyond the next elections,' the spokesman said. At an event earlier in the day, a Treasury official noted much could change between now and the end of the year, making it difficult to estimate exactly when the ceiling will be hit." Bullet apparently dodged.
* Banking reform? Corporate tax reform? Nevermind. Ain't gonna happen this year. Follow the links if you need to know why, but chances are you can guess the answer. (see: debt ceiling, above)
* Ezra echoes the growing consensus when he says that austerity does not work. Don't look at Greece, look at the U.K. "The more important lesson of the euro area is that a successful currency union should also be a fiscal and political union. The U.S. has little to learn on that score. As for the U.K., well, it’s more about relearning a lesson that some in our country seem to have forgotten: Austerity does not create growth, and it’s not something you want to try prematurely."
* And BTW, here are the fruits of austerity - unemployment reached a new high in the Eurozone for March. "The data came a few days before crucial elections in France and Greece, and it is likely to prompt more intense calls for an easing of Europe’s austerity drive.... The monthly increase, the 11th in a row, translates into more than 17 million jobless people, and it is in line with other recent indicators showing that the euro zone economy remains distressed." Wow, do you mean to say that when you take money out of the economy, the economy suffers?
* The conservative media tells Romney to get in line at a private, off-the-record meeting. Transparency! "During a Q&A period, attendees brought up Fast and Furious, the botched U.S. gunrunning sting that conservative outlets have given more attention than the national media, along with concerns that the Romney campaign will continue leaking to establishment outlets, including ABC News and Politico, rather than conservative ones... At one point, Romney told attendees that the campaign intended to work closely with their outlets and will even help conservative outlets writing about Obama with opposition research, according to an attendee." The GOP War on the Truth continues.
* Speaking of the disinformation campaign, the Wesleyan Media Project finds that 70% of the ads so far this year have been negative - up from 9% in 2008, to date. Yes, you read that right. And just think, this is only the beginning.
* Polls, polls, polls. Qunnipiac looks at the swing states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania today. While the Keystone state shows Obama with a healthy lead, Ohio and Florida are problematic. "Riding the voter perception that he is as good as or better than President Barack Obama at fixing the economy, Republican challenger Mitt Romney catches up with the president in Florida and Ohio, two critical swing states, while the president opens an 8-point lead in Pennsylvania, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today."
* Another important poll to note: Wisconsin. The Walker recall election set for June 5th is a dead heat, but at this point in the fall election Obama leads Romney by 9 pts, 51-42. The recall is going to be a huge momentum driver for one party; if the Democrats win, it's a significant pushback on the republican agenda that is being set in the states, and a blow for Romney talking points. If Walker retains his seat, you know darn well the GOP will trumpet this as validation of their slash-and-burn budgets and union-busting policies. The only question is how far that momentum can take either party in an age of short attention spans and 24-hour news cycles.
* Bachmann. Who cares. Except for this: "ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports that shortly before she dropped her own presidential bid — 119 days ago — Michele Bachman told him, point blank, that there was no way Romney could beat Obama. ”He cannot beat Obama,” Bachmann said. “It’s not going to happen.”
* Good to see that Peter Luke is as brilliant as ever. Preach it, brother.
Moving on to start the day now...