In April 2009 the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had found that carbon dioxide and several other greenhouse gases, though not pollutants in themselves, were subject to federal regulation under the Clean Air Act, because of the threats they pose to human health via climate change. It was not the sort of finding that Texas governor Rick Perry—long a skeptic, even outright denier, of anthropogenic climate change—was liable to welcome.

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Liberals hoping for a tougher, more passionate President Obama might want to check out what he said in Detroit on Monday. Speaking in front of a General Motors plant that might be shuttered if not for his administration's policies, Obama gave a feisty, pointed speech about jobs and the economy -- and, perhaps, a hint of what's to come on Thursday, when he addresses the same topics before a joint session of Congress. Obama told the crowd he didn't want to reveal too much of what he'll say in that speech and avoided getting overly specific on policy.

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There was a time, not long ago, when the dominant arbiters of public opinion relegated Al Sharpton to the outskirts of serious, respectable discussion. Sure, he was a fixture on the Ebony magazine list of the 100 “top” black Americans. Sure, journalists called him when they needed a provocative quip. Sure, Democratic Party politicians courted him. But “the Rev” was unmistakably relegated to the black ghetto of celebrity activism. No one thought to ask his opinion regarding issues other than those perceived as directly pertinent to aggrieved blacks.

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Monthly job losses, graphic by Steve Benen The August jobs report is out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And it is ugly. Via Neil Irwin of the Washington Post: Job creation came to a halt in August, according to new government data that show an economic recovery that appears to be puttering out. The Labor Department on Friday reported zero net job creation in August, far worse than the 68,000 net jobs analysts had expected to be added. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.1 percent.

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The August jobs report casts in sharper relief the Obama administration's proposal next week to boost the economy. As I've argued before, this is a political move. House Republicans have neither the political nor the ideological incentive to adopt any new expansionary fiscal policy. But to call it political is not to dismiss its importance. Obama's speech, if it succeeds, can help clarify something that Republicans have successfully obscured: Obama is not in charge of the economy.

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When Rick Perry assumed the governorship in December, 2000, Texas was already the execution capital of the United States, responsible for more than a third of the nation’s executions since 1976. Now, almost eleven years later, the state has even further out-paced the rest of the country, with its share of executions growing to over 40 percent during Perry’s watch. Though it may be tempting—for either Perry’s supporters or his critics—to credit (or discredit) the governor with this super-sized slice of the pie chart of American executions, such an attribution would be in error.

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I don't put much stock in politicians, so I've only twice donated to political campaigns. In 2006, I tossed a few dollars at the Democrat running for Senate against the loathsome Rick Santorum. It could have been a three-headed goat, for all I cared, but Wikipedia says it was Bob Casey. (You're welcome, Bob.) And late in 2007, I gave $50 to Ron Paul. I was working at the time for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, but it wasn't that I had any plans on voting for him.

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2011 has been a banner year for abortion opponents. Thus far, 87 state laws restricting abortion have been enacted, the most in any year since Roe v. Wade and more than double the previous high. But one rogue wing of the pro-life movement sees no reason to celebrate: the budding “personhood movement,” which wants to turn abortion into homicide by methodically amending state constitutions to define conception as the beginning of a person’s life. This November, Mississippi votes on the personhood issue by popular referendum.

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President Obama has accommodated Speaker John Boehner by moving his speech from Wednesday to Thursday. He also intends accommodate football fans by finishing his address before the Packers and Saints play in the NFL season opener that evening. Kickoff is at 8:30, so I suppose that means the president plans to begin the speech early or to speak really, really quickly. Maybe he can get some pointers from the guy who used to make those FedEx commercials.  But does the speech even matter?

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Some Americans who lost their jobs in the recession are about to lose something else: Their access to affordable health insurance. And it's thanks to the same backwards thinking that's preventing broader action to boost the economy. Ever since February, 2009, the federal government has been subsidizing COBRA premiums. COBRA is the program that allows people to keep their job-based insurance even when they lose their jobs.

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