Saturday, January 08, 2011

Organic vegetables don't have extra nutrients Organic food no more nutritious than conventionally grown

Organic produce is more expensive than the conventional variety, and there are many reasons why consumers fork over that extra money. But if one of those reasons is a belief that organic fruits and veggies are healthier, Danish researchers have some bad news.

A detailed scientific assessment of carrots, potatoes and onions – some grown conventionally and some grown organically – found that all of the veggies had essentially the same levels of flavonoids and phenolic acids, two types of nutrients that are thought to be helpful in preventing ailments such as heart disease, cancer and dementia.

The scientists grew all three veggies on multiple plots for two growing seasons. They found that nutrient levels changed from year to year, but that those changes occurred no matter which type of growing system was used. The one exception was for a phenolic acid called 5-CQA in potatoes – it was “significantly higher” in spuds grown in one organic system than it was in spuds grown in another organic system or using conventional methods.

For a whole lot more detail on how the scientists washed, peeled, freeze-dried, crushed and homogenized the veggies before storing them in nitrogen and removing the flavonoids and phenolic acids using “pressurized liquid extraction” techniques, check out the full study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. But if you just want the bottom line, here it is:

“It cannot be concluded that organically grown onions, carrots, and potatoes generally have higher contents of health-promoting secondary metabolites in comparison with the conventionally cultivated ones,” they

A comprehensive review of research comparing the nutritional content of food that was organically raised with food produced with the use of synthetic pesticides has found no significant differences between the two.

Conducted by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the study is the first to bring a heated debate over the value of organic food to a rigorous conclusion. It is published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"Our review indicates there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organic over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority," said Alan Dangour of the London School's Public Health Intervention Research Unit.

Surveying 50,000 studies conducted over 50 years, the authors focused on 55 that met their standards of scientific rigor. The studies that led to the group's controversial conclusions covered a wide range of crops and livestock that are raised and marketed under organic standards.

For 10 out of 13 food crops studied, the researchers found no significant differences. Where they did find differences, those were attributed to differences in fertilizer use (say, the use of nitrogen vs. phosphorus) and the ripeness level at which the crops were harvested. The authors judged the differences observed "unlikely" to "provide any health benefit" to consumers.

The study was commissioned and funded by Britain's Food Standards Agency, the governmental office that regulates food production and sales in Britain.

Estimated to have surpassed the $23-billion mark last year, sales of organic food in the United States have grown sharply in the last 20 years, fueled by consumers' concerns about pesticide exposure, damage to the environment and the nutritional value of food raised by conventional means.
The study released today will likely do little to allay the first two fears. But for those who pay premiums for organic food in the belief it is richer in nutrients, the new analysis is likely to be a blow.

The authors did not address taste or freshness, an area unlikely to yield to science anytime soon.

Shooting from the lip in reaction to Gabrielle Giffords tragedy

The unreasoned and intemperate Web commentary on the Giffords shooting is shameful, embarrassing.

The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is, of course, both heartbreaking and depressing. It's been years since our country has been through the trauma of a political assassination attempt, and it's no wonder that even the suggestion of one puts us on edge and stokes our fears.
Nevertheless, the sane and rational approach to such an event is to stop, take a deep breath, listen to the facts — and above all, to condemn violence in the harshest possible terms.

That, however, was not the immediate reaction of many Americans, as anyone who was surfing the news Saturday morning is aware. Within minutes, hundreds of commenters were at work across the Web loudly seeking to appropriate the story for their own purposes, in many cases fanning it for maximum fear, and injecting it into the roiling narrative of anger, partisanship and paranoia that has taken over so much of the national political conversation.

Some of the comments were vitriolic, bordering on scary. "So Congresswoman Giffords," wrote one commenter on, "how's that Obamacare vote working out for you?"
On the Washington Post's website, a commenter wrote: "Too bad it wasn't Howard Dean or Al Gore. But a Demokrat is a Demokrat."

The left, for its part, was adamant about who was to blame. "This was a political assassination promoted by the tea party and Sarah Palin," said a not atypical comment on the L.A. Times site. Then there was the paranoid fringe: "2 and 1/2 hours since she was shot and NO WORD on the 'gunman.' Dontcha wonder why???????"

All day, these voices dominated the online debate, opining mostly anonymously and drawing sweeping conclusions before any meaningful information was available.
For some of that time, it wasn't clear whether Giffords was dead or alive, or who shot her or why. Despite that, few seemed to have any doubt whatsoever about what had happened and what it all meant. It's a sad commentary on the state of discourse, on the mood of the nation, on all of us.

There were, of course, voices of sanity. "Some of the posters here are real morons," wrote madsircool at 12:19 on "The name of the suspect hasn't been released…. We don't know the possible motive of the shooter. All of you frothing at the mouth from your unfounded speculation should calm down and wait till the facts come out."

We entirely agree (especially with some early reports suggesting the shooter may be more deranged than political). On the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, former President Clinton noted that we are living today in a contentious and partisan time.
"We are more connected than ever before," he said, "more able to spread our ideas and beliefs, our anger and fears. As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged."

Free speech is one of this page's most fundamental values; we wouldn't suggest for a minute that it should be curtailed for fear of its consequences. But we agree with Clinton that people should assume responsibility for what they say, and we are both ashamed and embarrassed at the unreasoned and intemperate commentary we read Saturday.

Los Angeles Times

Rise in Abortions in China, Young Women Targeted

XI'AN, China (AP) — The leaf-strewn median on Eternal Peace Road hides a grim secret: Numerous tiny fetuses lie in unmarked graves dug by women from the abortion clinic across the street.

The staff at the small clinic in the heart of this ancient city don't bury most of the fetuses — only those that have reached three or four months, when they clearly resemble miniature babies.

"This big," says anesthesiologist Liu Jianmin, using her thumb and index finger to measure out the length of a lipstick tube. The burials are a gesture of respect for lives cut short, she adds, and the patients aren't told.

It is a secret hiding in plain sight, much like the rising rate of abortions among young, unmarried women in China.

While comprehensive data are hard to come by, official figures show abortions are increasing, and Chinese media and experts say many, if not most, of the abortion-seekers are young, single women.

That's a change from the past, when abortion was used mainly to enforce the government's one child per couple limit. Today, students are clearly a client base: The Beijing Modern Women's Hospital offers a government-subsidized "Safe & Easy A+" discount abortion package at 880 yuan ($130). Others advertise in college handbooks.

According to a government tally, 9.2 million abortions were performed in 2008, up from 7.6 million in 2007. But the count only includes hospitals, and state media report the total could be as high as 13 million. If accurate, that would give China among the highest abortion rates in the world.

Many blame the trend on newly liberal attitudes toward premarital sex, and lagging sex education. Bureaucratic red tape and social stigma also deter single women from having a child on their own, and laws bar women from marriage until they are 20, making teen pregnancy virtually unheard of. These factors and a lack of stigma surrounding abortion, or "artificial miscarriage," as it's known here, have helped make it a relatively cheap, widely available option for birth control.

"The moral outrage over having a child before marriage in our society is much stronger than the shame associated with abortion," said Zhou Anqin, the manager at the clinic in Xi'an, which performs about 60 abortions each month, mostly on students aged 24 or younger.

The two-story facility, which opened in 2007, is one of five operated in China by Marie Stopes International, a London-based not-for-profit group that runs hundreds of clinics globally promoting safe abortions, HIV testing and other services. The fetuses that aren't buried are discarded as medical waste, as they are in the United States and other countries.

In a ground floor examination room, a nurse rubs the sonogram wand over 20-year-old Nancy Yin's belly as Yin stares at the wall, looking away from the image on the machine: a nearly three-month-old fetus with arms, legs, and a quick fluttering heartbeat.

Yin asks to be identified as "Nancy," an English name she likes, instead of her official Chinese name, because her family is unaware of the pregnancy.

A student in Xi'an, she says she started having sex with her boyfriend in March. The couple never used contraceptives, Yin says, because she "didn't feel comfortable with it." Her parents never talked to her about birth control, nor was it discussed in school.

As a nurse checks her blood for signs of infection, Yin huddles inside her winter coat, letting her hair fall forward to cover most of her face. She seems embarrassed to be in the clinic but firm in her decision.

"I considered having the baby," she says. "But it's not possible. I am in school and I've got to graduate."

China's family planning network is enormous and efficient, a virtual population control army that promotes contraception and meticulously logs births, abortions and sterilizations — but it focuses mainly on married couples.

Young people like Yin are falling through the cracks. A U.N.-funded survey of 22,288 Chinese aged 15-24 by the Peking University Population Research Institute in 2009 found that two-thirds were accepting of premarital sex but that most "had very limited levels of sexual reproductive health knowledge."

The survey found 22 percent had had sex before; of those, more than 50 percent used no contraception during their first sexual encounter. A 2009 survey of American high schoolers by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found 46 percent of students had had sex and 85 percent used contraceptives during their most recent sexual activity.

Later, Yin leaves with a bag of pills and an abortion appointment three days later. Zhou, the manager, explains that the pills will kill the fetus and soften Yin's cervix.

"It's like preparing the ground before you pull out a sapling," she says. "If you pour water on the ground first, it will loosen the soil and make it much easier."

Chinese can be brutally frank when it comes to abortion. Many feel a fetus isn't a person until after it's born — an attitude Beijing sociologist Li Yinhe associates with the country's once-high infant mortality rate. Frequent miscarriages and infant death hardened families to the point that babies weren't traditionally named until 100 days after birth, she noted.

"Luckily, in Chinese culture people generally feel that before the actual birth, you don't yet have an actual person, so we have cases of induced abortion at seven and eight months along," Li said. "I think this is to China's advantage from a population control point of view ... China has absolutely no need for the so-called 'right to life' argument, no need to introduce ideas about abortion as murder and so on."

China's few anti-abortion campaigners are usually Buddhists or Christians. But their activities are low-key because the government keeps a tight rein on grassroots organizations and religious groups.

China legalized abortion in the 1950's, but it didn't become common until the government began enforcing a one-child limit to stem population growth.

From fewer than 5 million abortions a year prior to 1979, the numbers jumped to 8.7 million in 1981, a year after the one-child policy was launched. It peaked in 1983 at 14.4 million before coming down as China relaxed the policy to allow rural couples a second child if their first was a girl.

An aggressive, and often coercive, prevention campaign also reduced abortions. In 1983 alone, China sterilized 21 million people and fitted 17.8 million women with intrauterine devices. The next year abortions declined sharply to 8.9 million.

Abortion remains widely available, but what's different is the clientele.

"It used to be that Chinese women only had an abortion if the fetus had birth defects or if they got pregnant after having their first child," says Liu, the anesthesiologist.

"Society is different now, it's much more open, too open actually, and puberty is starting much younger but schools and parents aren't discussing these things with the kids."

Puberty tends to start earlier as countries develop and children's diets improve; in China, the starting age has fallen from about 14.5 in the 1970's to 12.5 years old. Meanwhile, the average marriage age also has edged up, from 20 in the 1970's to 22 now, extending the time that many youths can be sexually active but unmarried.

Li Shuzhuo, a demographer at the Institute for Population and Development Studies in Xi'an, says it's clear that there's been a big shift from post-marriage to pre-marriage abortions over the past ten years, but academics don't have access to data that could help them quantify the change.

Clinics and hospitals are stepping in to meet the demand. Online ads and cheery brochures in pastel colors advertise "painless artificial miscarriage," private recovery lounges and post-surgery massage meant to help shrink the swollen uterus back to normal size.

"These kids today have it so easy, they get a pinch and fall asleep, no suffering," says Liu, the anesthesiologist, who herself underwent an abortion without pain medicine in 1982, standard practice at the time. "If they felt it, they wouldn't get pregnant again."

In fact, Marie Stopes frequently sees repeat customers.

Zhang Jie, a 22-year-old, warms herself by a space heater in the recovery room after her second abortion in as many years. A petite woman with blue-tinted contacts, Zhang works as a salesgirl and hopes one day to open her own fashion shop.

She says she wants a baby when she's older and has some savings, but not now. Unfortunately, she says, the contraceptive pills she got over the counter at the drugstore failed again.

It's not clear why they didn't work, though clinic staff say some women don't realize they must be taken every daily without fail.

The manager, Zhou, wants to tell young people how to use pills and condoms properly when she lectures at high schools and colleges, but administrators often force her to stick to dating etiquette and menstruation.

"They don't want me to mention contraception," she says. "They are afraid I will corrupt the students."

Details of Suspect in Ariz Rampage Slowly Emerge

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — An initial portrait of a the man accused of shooting Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head in an attack that also killed six people outside a Tucson grocery store slowly began to emerge Saturday, as authorities described a young man with a troubled past and neighbors recalled a 22-year-old who often kept to himself.

One former classmate said the accused gunman, Jared Loughner, often did his own thing. Another described him as a student who disrupted class with occasional outbursts.

Neighbors said Loughner wasn't hostile toward anyone but certainly didn't warm up to anyone, either.

"He was a guy in high school who definitely had his opinions on stuff and didn't seem to care what people thought of him," said Grant Wiens, 22, who told The Associated Press he went to high school and had a class at Pima Community College with Loughner.

Loughner was in custody Saturday after authorities said he opened fire outside a grocery store as Giffords, a Democrat, met with voters. The rampage left the congresswoman wounded. Arizona's chief federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and four others were killed.

Authorities said the accused gunman targeted the three-term congresswoman, but an exact motivation was not immediately known. Many questioned whether the nation's polarized political climate had played a role, even as Loughner's political views remained unclear late Saturday.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described the gunman as mentally unstable and said he possibly acted with an accomplice.

Federal law enforcement officials poured over versions of a MySpace page that belonged to Loughner and over a YouTube video published weeks ago under an account "Classitup10" and linked to him. The MySpace page, which was removed within minutes of the gunman being identified by officials, included a mysterious "Goodbye friends" message published hours before the shooting and exhorted his friends to "Please don't be mad at me."

On his MySpace page, Loughner spoke of how he liked to read and he also wrote repeatedly about literacy, complaining that the rate was especially low in the congressional district where he lived.

"The majority of people, who reside in District-8 are illiterate hilarious. I don't control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure," he said.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Wiens also said Loughner used to speak critically about religion. He also talked about how he liked to smoke pot.

"He wasn't really too keen on religion it seemed like," Grant Wiens, 22, told The Associated Press. "I don't know if floating through life is the right term or whatever, but he was really just into doing his own thing."

Loughner's MySpace profile indicated he attended and graduated from school in northwest Tucson and had taken college classes. He did not say if he was employed.

Tamara Crawley, director of the Marana Unified School District in Tucson, said Loughner attended Mountain View High School in Tucson for three years but withdrew after completing his junior year in 2006. Crawley did not know why Loughner had withdrawn from Mountain View High and it was not clear if he had transferred to another school in the area.

Lynda Sorenson said she took a math class with Loughner last summer at Pima Community College's Northwest campus and told the Arizona Daily Star he was "obviously very disturbed."

"He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts," she said.

In a Dec. 15 YouTube video, Loughner describes himself as a U.S. military recruit.

The Army released a statement indicating Loughner was not accepted.

In October 2007, Loughner was cited in Pima County for possession of drug paraphernalia, which was dismissed after he completed a diversion program, according to online records.

A year later he was charged with an unknown "local charge" in Marana near Tucson. That charge was also dismissed following the completion of a diversion program in March 2009, the Daily Star reported.

Ryan Miller, 19, was a sophomore at Mountain View when Loughner was a senior. He said Loughner was seemed like a normal kid.

"I was in shock," he said, describing his reaction to the shooting. "I didn't know what possessed someone our age to do something like this."

Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics (Thanks in large part to RIGHT WING WACKOS' LIES & FOX NEWS?)

WASHINGTON — The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others at a neighborhood meeting in Arizona on Saturday set off what is likely to be a wrenching debate over anger and violence in American politics.

While the exact motivations of the suspect in the shootings remained unclear, an Internet site tied to the man, Jared Lee Loughner, contained antigovernment ramblings. And regardless of what led to the episode, it quickly focused attention on the degree to which inflammatory language, threats and implicit instigations to violence have become a steady undercurrent in the nation’s political culture.

Clarence W. Dupnik, the Pima County sheriff, seemed to capture the mood of the day at an evening news conference when he said it was time for the country to “do a little soul-searching.”

“It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included,” Sheriff Dupnik said. “That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America: pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”

In the hours immediately after the shooting of Ms. Giffords, a Democrat, and others in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson, members of both parties found rare unity in their sorrow. Top Republicans including Speaker John A. Boehner and Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona quickly condemned the violence.

“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement. “Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society.”

President Obama made a brief appearance at the White House, calling the shooting an “unspeakable act” and promising to “get to the bottom of this.”

Not since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 has an event generated as much attention as to whether extremism, antigovernment sentiment and even simple political passion at both ends of the ideological spectrum have created a climate promoting violence. The fallout seemed to hold the potential to upend the effort by Republicans to keep their agenda front and center in the new Congress and to alter the political narrative in other ways.

The House was set to vote Wednesday on the new Republican majority’s proposal to repeal the health care law that had energized their supporters and ignited opposition from the Tea Party movement. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the new majority leader, said Saturday that the vote and other planned legislative activity would be postponed.

The original health care legislation stirred strong feelings that flared at angry town hall meetings held by many Democratic lawmakers during the summer of 2009. And there has been broader anger and suspicion rising about the government, its finances and its goals, with the discourse partially fueled by talk shows and Web sites.

Tea Party activists also condemned the shooting. Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, noted on his Web site that Ms. Giffords is “a liberal,” but added, “that does not matter now. No one should be a victim of violence because of their political beliefs.”

But others said it was hard to separate what had happened from the heated nature of the debate that has swirled around Mr. Obama and Democratic policies of the past two years.

“It is fair to say — in today’s political climate, and given today’s political rhetoric — that many have contributed to the building levels of vitriol in our political discourse that have surely contributed to the atmosphere in which this event transpired,” said a statement issued by the leaders of the National Jewish Democratic Council. Ms. Giffords is the first Jewish woman elected to the House from her state.

During last spring’s health care votes, the language used against some lawmakers was ratcheted up again, with protesters outside the House hurling insults and slurs. The offices of some Democrats, including Ms. Giffords’s in Tucson, were vandalized.

Ms. Giffords was also among a group of Democratic House candidates featured on the Web site of Sarah Palin’s political action committee with cross hairs over their districts, a fact that disturbed Ms. Giffords at the time.

“We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list,” Ms. Giffords said last March. “But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that.”

The image is no longer on the Web site, and Ms. Palin posted a statement saying “my sincere condolences are offered to the family of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.” (Late Saturday, the map was still on Ms. Palin’s Facebook page.)

Democrats have also pointed out cases where Republican candidates seemed to raise the prospect of armed revolt if Washington did not change its ways.

But many Republicans have noted that they too are subject to threats and abuse and, during the health care fight some suggested Democrats were trying to cut off responsible opposition and paint themselves as victims.

Sensitive to the issue, Tea Party activists in Arizona said they quickly reviewed their membership lists to check whether the suspect, Mr. Loughner, was associated with them. They said they found no evidence that he was.

Tea Party members in Tucson had disagreed sharply with Ms. Giffords, particularly as the health care debate unfolded, but she ended up backing the measure despite the political risks. They strongly supported her opponent, Jesse Kelly, in the November election, and staged several protests outside her office.

DeAnn Hatch, a co-founder of the Tucson Tea Party, said her group had never staged any rallies against the congresswoman elsewhere, and she did not believe there were any Tea Party protesters at the event Saturday.

“I want to strongly, strongly say we absolutely do not advocate violence,” she said. “This is just a tragedy to no end.”

But others said it would be hard to separate this shooting from the ideological clash.

“At a time like this, it is terrible that we do have to think about politics, but no matter what the shooter’s motivations were, the left is going to blame this on the Tea Party movement,” Mr. Phillips, from Tea Party Nation, said on his Web site.

“While we need to take a moment to extend our sympathies to the families of those who died, we cannot allow the hard left to do what it tried to do in 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing,” he wrote. “Within the entire political spectrum, there are extremists, both on the left and the right. Violence of this nature should be decried by everyone and not used for political gain.”


Rolling thoughts about the press, the Web, and political assassination.

The Giffords Shooting

@jaketapper anyone can be first with wrong information. —Jan. 8, 7:20 p.m.

@radleybalko What a weird criticism. RT @joanwalsh John McCain, don't stand in front of beautiful beach to express condolences to dead, wounded in Tucson. —Jan. 8, 6:52 p.m.

@DaviSusan If you want to read a good eye witness account of what happened at the Giffords shooting, WaPo has a good one: —Jan. 8, 6:26 p.m.

@joshtpm FLASHBACK: Vid of interview w/Giffords from last year on her being on Sarah Palin's 'crosshairs' list —Jan. 8, 6:25 p.m.

@chashomans Thought experiment: Imagine the US media's treatment of the Giffords shooting applied to the Salman Taseer assassination, and vice versa. —Jan. 8, 6:20 p.m.

@benpolitico RT @RAMansour: We never removed this Facebook post: "Take Back the 20" website is no longer relevant now tht elex is over —Jan. 8, 6:32

@CraigSilverman I collected the notable tweets related to the false death reports of Rep. Giffords: —Jan 8, 5:49 p.m.

@walterkirn People looking for a moral in the shooting are finding the one they went in with. The more things change… —Jan. 8, 5:37 p.m.

@Dahlialithwick looks like in 1994 Judge Roll found that background check provisions of Brady Law were unconstititonal —Jan. 8, 5:37 p.m.

@walterkirn Why are partisan types so disappointed when an evildoer turns out not to be a political enemy? it denies them their own violent thoughts. —Jan. 8, 6:20 p.m.

@walterkirn Intense, personalized ideological passion and excitement, regardless of content, seems to be the illness. —Jan. 8, 5:31 p.m.

@benpolitico Krauthammer wrote about the analyzing lone gunmen, nuts by definition, in a very different context in '09 —Jan. 8, 5:11 p.m.

@billgifford And this: "No! I won't pay debts in a currency that's not backed by gold and silver!" (an actual Tea Party plank) —Jan. 8, 4:59 p.m.

@maddow There is nothing to be gained from speculating on the motives and affiliations of AZ shooter w/o facts. Retweeted by @pmjim —Jan. 8, 4:56 p.m.

@walterkirn stoned. lonely. excitable. half-literate. politically incoherent. on the the thin side. these lone gunmen are one brain sharing bodies. —Jan. 8, 4:46 p.m.

@weareyourfek* Today, John Boehner, is when you cry. —Jan. 8, 4:45 p.m.

Obama trumpets economic growth

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is trumpeting private-sector job growth and lower unemployment, telling the public that "the trend is clear" on the economy - and it's encouraging.

The president used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to discuss the latest economic news and press for bipartisan action in the newly divided Congress on measures to spur growth.
He presented the December jobs report in a positive light even though it fell short of what economists had been looking for and even though the drop in unemployment came partly because some people stopped looking for work.

The private sector added 103,000 new jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent.

"Now, we know that these numbers can bounce around from month to month. But the trend is clear," said the president, whose 2012 re-election prospects may well hinge on the condition of the economy.

"We saw 12 straight months of private sector job growth - the first time that's been true since 2006," he said. The economy added 1.3 million jobs last year. And each quarter was stronger than the last, which means the pace of hiring is picking up, he said.

Obama attributed increasingly optimistic economic forecasts in part to the tax cut deal he negotiated last month with Republicans to extend Bush-era tax rates for all, along with unemployment benefits, a payroll tax cut and assorted other tax breaks. He urged businesses to take advantage of provisions including one that allows businesses to write off 100 percent of their capital investment expenses in 2011.
And the president said that the deal stands as an example of how Washington should work as he confronts a Congress where Republicans just assumed the majority in the House and expanded their ranks in the Senate.

"What we can't do is refight the battles of the past two years that distract us from the hard work of moving our economy forward. What we can't do is engage in the kinds of symbolic battles that so often consume Washington while the rest of America waits for us to solve problems," the president said.
"The tax cuts and other progress we made in December were a much-needed departure from that pattern. Let's build on that admirable example."

Republicans devoted their weekly address to spotlighting steps being taken by the new GOP House majority, including trimming House members' operating budgets and, more importantly, moving to repeal Obama's signature health care law.
The GOP contends the law extending coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans is a budget-busting job-killer, although the Congressional Budget Office said this week that repealing it would cost billions because the law's numerous taxes, fees and cuts in Medicare spending would be lost.

Although the repeal is not expected to pass the Senate and would certainly be vetoed by Obama, new House majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., pledged that Republicans would try to replace it with "a new vision to improve our health care system without bankrupting our country."

"We will provide Americans with the mainstream solutions they were denied when Democrats used dubious procedural tactics to jam through the bill along strictly partisan lines," Cantor said.

"Looking ahead, the best boost that Congress can provide to the economy is to send a credible signal that we are serious about cutting spending and eliminating job-killing regulations," he said.
"Our surging debt burden hangs over the economy like a dark cloud, waiting to unleash a storm of inflation, higher taxes and higher borrowing costs upon businesses and families. Only when the cloud is lifted can we get on the path to long-term growth."

The Associated Press

Five myths about why the South seceded

One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War began, we're still fighting it -- or at least fighting over its history. I've polled thousands of high school history teachers and spoken about the war to audiences across the country, and there is little agreement even on why the South seceded. Was it over slavery? States' rights? Tariffs and taxes?

As the nation begins to commemorate the anniversaries of the war's various battles -- from Fort Sumter to Appomattox -- let's first dispense with some of the more prevalent myths about why it all began.

1. The South seceded over states' rights.

Confederate states did claim the right to secede, but no state claimed to be seceding for that right. In fact, Confederates opposed states' rights -- that is, the right of Northern states not to support slavery.

On Dec. 24, 1860, delegates at South Carolina's secession convention adopted a "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union." It noted "an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery" and protested that Northern states had failed to "fulfill their constitutional obligations" by interfering with the return of fugitive slaves to bondage. Slavery, not states' rights, birthed the Civil War.

South Carolina was further upset that New York no longer allowed "slavery transit." In the past, if Charleston gentry wanted to spend August in the Hamptons, they could bring their cook along. No longer -- and South Carolina's delegates were outraged. In addition, they objected that New England states let black men vote and tolerated abolitionist societies. According to South Carolina, states should not have the right to let their citizens assemble and speak freely when what they said threatened slavery.

Other seceding states echoed South Carolina. "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery -- the greatest material interest of the world," proclaimed Mississippi in its own secession declaration, passed Jan. 9, 1861. "Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth. . . . A blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization."

The South's opposition to states' rights is not surprising. Until the Civil War, Southern presidents and lawmakers had dominated the federal government. The people in power in Washington always oppose states' rights. Doing so preserves their own.

2. Secession was about tariffs and taxes.

During the nadir of post-civil-war race relations - the terrible years after 1890 when town after town across the North became all-white "sundown towns" and state after state across the South prevented African Americans from voting - "anything but slavery" explanations of the Civil War gained traction. To this day Confederate sympathizers successfully float this false claim, along with their preferred name for the conflict: the War Between the States. At the infamous Secession Ball in South Carolina, hosted in December by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, "the main reasons for secession were portrayed as high tariffs and Northern states using Southern tax money to build their own infrastructure," The Washington Post reported.

These explanations are flatly wrong. High tariffs had prompted the Nullification Crisis in 1831-33, when, after South Carolina demanded the right to nullify federal laws or secede in protest, President Andrew Jackson threatened force. No state joined the movement, and South Carolina backed down. Tariffs were not an issue in 1860, and Southern states said nothing about them. Why would they? Southerners had written the tariff of 1857, under which the nation was functioning. Its rates were lower than at any point since 1816.

3. Most white Southerners didn't own slaves, so they wouldn't secede for slavery.

Indeed, most white Southern families had no slaves. Less than half of white Mississippi households owned one or more slaves, for example, and that proportion was smaller still in whiter states such as Virginia and Tennessee. It is also true that, in areas with few slaves, most white Southerners did not support secession. West Virginia seceded from Virginia to stay with the Union, and Confederate troops had to occupy parts of eastern Tennessee and northern Alabama to hold them in line.

However, two ideological factors caused most Southern whites, including those who were not slave-owners, to defend slavery. First, Americans are wondrous optimists, looking to the upper class and expecting to join it someday. In 1860, many subsistence farmers aspired to become large slave-owners. So poor white Southerners supported slavery then, just as many low-income people support the extension of George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy now.

Second and more important, belief in white supremacy provided a rationale for slavery. As the French political theorist Montesquieu observed wryly in 1748: "It is impossible for us to suppose these creatures [enslaved Africans] to be men; because allowing them to be men, a suspicion would follow that we ourselves are not Christians." Given this belief, most white Southerners -- and many Northerners, too -- could not envision life in black-majority states such as South Carolina and Mississippi unless blacks were in chains. Georgia Supreme Court Justice Henry Benning, trying to persuade the Virginia Legislature to leave the Union, predicted race war if slavery was not protected. "The consequence will be that our men will be all exterminated or expelled to wander as vagabonds over a hostile earth, and as for our women, their fate will be too horrible to contemplate even in fancy." Thus, secession would maintain not only slavery but the prevailing ideology of white supremacy as well.

4. Abraham Lincoln went to war to end slavery.

Since the Civil War did end slavery, many Americans think abolition was the Union's goal. But the North initially went to war to hold the nation together. Abolition came later.

On Aug. 22, 1862, President Lincoln wrote a letter to the New York Tribune that included the following passage: "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union."

However, Lincoln's own anti-slavery sentiment was widely known at the time. In the same letter, he went on: "I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free." A month later, Lincoln combined official duty and private wish in his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

White Northerners' fear of freed slaves moving north then caused Republicans to lose the Midwest in the congressional elections of November 1862.

Gradually, as Union soldiers found help from black civilians in the South and black recruits impressed white units with their bravery, many soldiers -- and those they wrote home to -- became abolitionists. By 1864, when Maryland voted to end slavery, soldiers' and sailors' votes made the difference.

5. The South couldn't have made it long as a slave society.

Slavery was hardly on its last legs in 1860. That year, the South produced almost 75 percent of all U.S. exports. Slaves were worth more than all the manufacturing companies and railroads in the nation. No elite class in history has ever given up such an immense interest voluntarily. Moreover, Confederates eyed territorial expansion into Mexico and Cuba. Short of war, who would have stopped them - or forced them to abandon slavery?

To claim that slavery would have ended of its own accord by the mid-20th century is impossible to disprove but difficult to accept. In 1860, slavery was growing more entrenched in the South. Unpaid labor makes for big profits, and the Southern elite was growing ever richer. Freeing slaves was becoming more and more difficult for their owners, as was the position of free blacks in the United States, North as well as South. For the foreseeable future, slavery looked secure. Perhaps a civil war was required to end it.

As we commemorate the sesquicentennial of that war, let us take pride this time - as we did not during the centennial - that secession on slavery's behalf failed.

Sociologist James W. Loewen is the author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me"

Jared Loughner ID'd as Giffords Shooting Suspect

Authorities Say 22-Year-Old Claims Sole Responsibility for Rampage; Motivation Unclear

(CBS/AP) The investigation into the shooting rampage outside a Tuscon grocery store that killed six people and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords clinging to life centers around one man - 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, authorities said.

Officials said the suspect, currently in custody, used a Glock 9mm pistol equipped with an extended magazine to carry out the attack, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Orr. There is no word on the number of rounds fired. Authorities are currently tracing the weapon to find out who owns it and where it was purchased.

"The gunman began just spraying everybody at point blank range. It wasn't like he was picking people out, he just began shooting at everybody who was close to him and kind of a constricted area," Dr. Steven Rayle, who witnessed the shooting and offered medical attention to the victims, told CBS News.

Rayles said the suspect "had a determined look on his face. And he just began shooting, wearing dark clothes, a little bit … shabbily dressed, and he really, I think, … thought he would be getting away."

A person at the scene, possibly one of Giffords' aides, tackled the suspect, Rayles said.

A federal law enforcement official tells CBS News that police and federal agents are still investigating the possibility that others may have been involved in the attack, but so far, the probe centers on a single shooter. Multiple search warrants are being served in the investigation, said Pima County Sheriff's Department spokesman Rick Kastigar.

Ex-boyfriend of missing LAS VEGAS dancer arrested, charged with murder

The 32-year-old former boyfriend of missing professional dancer Deborah Flores-Narvaez has been charged with murder, jail records show.

Authorities confirmed the charge against Jason "Blue" Griffith stems from the disappearance of Flores-Narvaez, who has been missing since Dec. 12.

Police said Flores-Narvaez's body was recovered downtown but did not say where or when.

Griffith is being held without bail, jail records show.

It has been nearly a month since the 31-year-old dancer was reported missing, a day after she failed to show up for a Dec. 13 performance in the Luxor show "Fantasy." Three days later, police found her Chevrolet Prizm abandoned in the northeast area of the valley, its license plates removed. The disappearance of the woman has made national headlines in part because her family has made high-profile appeals for help in finding her.

Detectives have focused on Griffith, a professional dancer himself, because she accused him of beating her in October. Flores-Narvaez also told police she was pregnant with Griffith's child at that time.

Griffith has told detectives that Flores-Narvaez visited him at his home on the night she went missing, but the conversation was brief and she seemed OK before leaving his residence, police said.

Investigators have previously searched Griffith's North Las Vegas home and his car and his attorney, Patrick McDonald, has said Griffith has cooperated with police, including volunteering for an interview with detectives.


NRA should be proud! Arizona congresswoman among 12 shot at Tucson grocery

NEW: Hospital: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords undergoing surgery for head wound
NEW: A federal judge is among the 11 others injured, a law enforcement source said
The shooting happened just after 10 a.m. MST at a Safeway store
Giffords was holding a constituent meeting at the store

(CNN) -- U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was critically wounded Saturday in a shooting at a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store in which at least 11 other people were injured, officials said.

Darci Slaten, a spokeswoman for University Medical Center in Tucson, said Giffords was undergoing surgery Saturday afternoon for a gunshot wound to the head.

A federal judge from Arizona was among the 11 others shot in the incident, a law enforcement source told CNN.

The shooting happened shortly after 10 a.m. MST, Pima County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jason Ogan said.

Giffords, 40, was holding a constituent meeting at the Safeway grocery store when the shooting occurred, according to a schedule posted on her website.

An FBI spokesman said the agency was sending agents to the scene, and two senior Obama administration officials said the White House is monitoring the situation. They said they believed that a congressional staffer may have been killed.

Pictures from the scene showed a Giffords banner hanging from the storefront.

At least two victims with gunshot wounds were transported at Northwest Medical Center, according to spokesman Richard Parker.

The conditions of the 11 others shot were not immediately known.

The motive for the shooting is unclear, Ogan said.

"We're just trying to sort this out right now," he said.

An employee of a nearby business, Jason Pekau, told CNN that he did not see the shooting, but heard "15 to 20 gunshots."

Giffords, a Democrat, was first elected in 2006. She has served as chairwoman of the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee and also holds seats on the House Science and Technology and Armed Services committees.

She won her third term in a closely contested race against a Tea Party-sponsored candidate and was one of three Democratic legislators who reported vandalism at their offices following the March vote on health care reform.

She is married to Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut who is scheduled to lead a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station.

House Speaker John Boehner said he was "horrified" by the shooting.

"An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve," he said. "Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society."

CNN's Dana Bash and Nick Valencia contributed to this report.

History Channel Pulls 'The Kennedys'

Says Controversial Miniseries 'Not a Fit’

Ambitious miniseries was set to air this spring; stars Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes, and producer Joel Surnow were told today of cancellation.
In a surprise move, A&E Television Networks has canceled plans to broadcast The Kennedys, the ambitious and much-anticipated miniseries about the American political family that was set to air this spring on the History channel.

“Upon completion of the production of The Kennedys, History has decided not to air the 8-part miniseries on the network,” a rep for the network tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.
“While the film is produced and acted with the highest quality, after viewing the final product in its totality, we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.”

The multi-million dollar project—History and Lifetime president and general manager Nancy Dubuc's first scripted miniseries at the network and its most expensive program ever—has been embroiled in controversy since it was announced in December 2009.

Developed by Joel Surnow, the conservative co-creator of 24, along with production companies Asylum Entertainment and Muse Entertainment and writer Stephen Kronish, the project drew fire from the political left and some Kennedy historians.
Even before cameras rolled, a front-page New York Times story last February included a sharp attack from former John F. Kennedy adviser Theodore Sorenson, who called an early version of the script “vindictive” and “malicious.”

History and parent A&E said at the time that the script had been revised and that the final version had been vetted by experts. Indeed, the script used in production had passed muster with History historians for accuracy.

Despite the controversy, History was able to recruit a big-ticket cast to the project, announcing in April that Greg Kinnear (John F. Kennedy), Katie Holmes (Jackie Kennedy), Barry Pepper (Robert F. Kennedy) and Tom Wilkinson (Joe Kennedy) would co-star. The actors and CAA, which reps both Kinnear and Holmes, were told this afternoon of the cancellation. Surnow also was told today.

No advertisers had registered complaints or concerns with the miniseries, confirms an A&E spokesperson, but the content was not considered historically accurate enough for the network’s rigorous standards. So an air date, which had not been announced but was planned for spring, was scrapped.

“We recognize historical fiction is an important medium for storytelling and commend all the hard work and passion that has gone into the making of the series, but ultimately deem this as the right programming decision for our network,” a rep tells THR in the statement.

The miniseries is still scheduled to air in Canada on March 6, and will still be broadcast internationally.

But the U.S. cancellation no doubt is a disappointment in an otherwise blockbuster era for AETN president and CEO Abbe Raven and Dubuc, both of whom championed the project. AETN, owned by a consortium comprised of Hearst, Disney-ABC Television Group and NBC Universal, enjoyed its most-watched year ever in 2010, with its six Nielsen-rated networks posting combined year-over-year viewership growth in each quarter.
In addition, History is now a Top 5 cable network in all demos, fueled by hit original series such as Pawn Stars and Ice Road Truckers.

The Kennedys cancellation somewhat mirrors the fate of The Reagans, a miniseries that was to air on CBS in 2003 but was scrapped when advertisers threatened to boycott after conservatives raised concerns about depictions of former president Ronald Reagan being insensitive to AIDS victims. The Reagans later aired on Showtime.

THR has learned that producers of The Kennedys might make a similar move to bring the miniseries to a pay cable channel. UPDATE: A rep for Showtime says nobody at the network has yet seen The Kennedys.
In addition, producers Asylum and Muse have issued a statement: "Although we regret this does not fit into the History Channel's plans, we are confident that television viewers in the United States will join viewers from around the world in having an opportunity to watch this series in the near future."

Dems pick targets in health fight

With the House set to vote Wednesday on repealing health reform, Democrats plan hometown attacks on many of the 62 House Republicans representing districts President Barack Obama carried on 2008.

The Democratic National Committee is monitoring tweets and interviews by the targeted Republicans, and has begun to push for news coverage of the statements back home. Democrats plan press events hosted by state parties, including appearances by “real people” who would lose care if the law were overturned.

“We will make clear to the American people that as their first order of business, Republicans have decided not to focus on jobs and deficit reduction, but on re-litigating partisan battles,” a party official said. “Rather than focusing on working together to continue our recovery and create more jobs, they are engaged in a futile political game for partisan gain. This is exactly the type of petty political game … that the American people are sick of. ”

Kevin Smith, communications director for Speaker John Boehner replied: "Democrats still couldn't be more out of touch with Americans who are struggling in this difficult economy. ObamaCare is already devastating small businesses and destroying jobs.
That's why Americans support repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs and protect jobs."

A Democrat who helped plan the strategy said: “The administration is continuing to implement the law, and it’s already benefiting people. And it’s never a good position to be in – regardless of what party you’re in – to take things away from people to please your political base.

“It’s going to be very difficult to undo the Affordable Care Act. Because once you start pulling individual strings – whether it’s the hospital association, or the provider groups, or nurses, or the disease community, or community health centers – all of those groups care what’s in the bill. And … you’re going to hear from them. … They’re [ticking] off some pretty powerful constituencies.”

The party official said: “[T]he DNC will be running a full rapid-response operation with monitoring and fact checks, run a full surrogate program and engage our national list.
We are also considering paid national media and to reach into districts as warrants. We will also have our online outreach at our disposal, including paid targeted/member-district specific advertising if necessary. … [Organizing for America] will be hosting phone banks, … days of action and other organizing activity from now through the vote and beyond.”

The official said the party plans to broaden the argument from health-care reform to “holding Republicans accountable for looking out for the special interests and appeasing their extreme right wing Republican base on a host of issues.”


House clears way for health-care repeal vote (GOP really care for you USA!? A waste of time. HOW ABOUT MEDICARE for all ?)

On a largely party-line vote, the House on Friday cleared the way for debate on legislation that would repeal the national health-care overhaul, setting up a repeal vote next week.

The House approved the terms of debate for the repeal bill on a 236-to-181 vote. Four Democrats -- Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Mike Ross (Ark.) -- joined Republicans to vote in favor of proceeding on the measure. All four voted against the health-care overhaul last year.

The vote came after a heated debate Friday morning on the House floor in which Democrats accused Republicans of fiscal irresponsibility and protested the GOP's efforts to push along the repeal bill as quickly as possible.

"This is nothing but a gag rule," Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said of the GOP-led process.

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) charged that Republicans had thrown "fiscal responsibility out the window," citing the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's estimate that a repeal of the health-care overhaul would add $230 billion to the national deficit over the next 10 years.

Republicans countered that the public has already made up its mind in favor of repeal and that Americans voted for swift action in the November midterms.

"Frankly, there is nothing to amend. ... Either we're going to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, or we're not," House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said.

Friday's vote clears the way for seven hours of debate on the repeal legislation next Tuesday and Wednesday. A vote is slated for Wednesday.

A Gallup poll released Friday morning showed that Americans remain divided on repealing the legislation, with 46 percent backing repeal and 40 percent opposing it. The survey also indicated that opinion on repeal remains split along partisan lines: 78 percent of Republicans are in favor of repealing the overhaul while 64 percent of Democrats are against repeal.

Scott sisters freed from prison (Little wonder some folks see the law as different if your black!)

Jamie and Gladys Scott left the Central Mississippi
Correctional Facility this morning, driving through a
crush of news media and yelling “We’re free” after
spending 16 years behind bars.

The sisters, sentenced to life terms for their
involvement in a 1993 armed robbery that netted
between $11 and $200 are are expected to leave
Jackson later today for Pensacola, Fla., where their
mother, Evelyn Rasco, and their children live.

As their SUV pulled off of the prison grounds, the
Scott sisters waved and yelled “God bless y’all” to
media and supporters lined up across the street.

They held a Friday afternoon press conference with
national NAACP leader Ben Jealous in Jackson before
leaving for Florida.

Rasco was busy Thursday preparing her house for
her their arrival. She told The Clarion-Ledger the
national media were parked outside and her phone
was “ringing off the hook.”

“I just want to make sure everything’s together for
when my children get home,” Rasco said. “That’s
what I’m concerned with today.”

Last week, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour agreed to
indefinitely suspend the sisters’ sentences.

Florida leaders told Mississippi officials Wednesday
afternoon that the two had been accepted to go to
Pensacola, and area judges, the district attorney and
sheriff were notified.

In agreeing to release the sisters, Barbour noted the
high cost — nearly $200,000 a year —of providing
dialysis treatment to Jamie Scott.

In what many have considered an unusual move, the
governor conditioned Gladys Scott’s release on her
donating a kidney to her sister.

In a statement, Barbour appeared to downplay the
kidney stipulation.

“(Gladys) asked for the opportunity to give her sister
a kidney and we’re making that opportunity
available to her,” he said.

It remains unclear whether Gladys Scott will be an
organ match for her sister or whether she has any
health complications that could prevent the

The governor’s office has not said what will happen
if Gladys Scott is unable to go through with the

“All of the ‘What if’ questions at this point are purely
hypothetical,” Barbour said. “We’ll deal with those
situations if they happen.”

Rasco said the family does not know how it will pay
for Jamie Scott’s dialysis treatments or the eventual

“We’re trying to set up all of the medical stuff,” she
said. “I just don’t know.”

She said supporters are considering establishing a
fund to help cover medical expenses.

The sisters, who will remain on probation for the
rest of their lives, are required to report to the
Florida Department of Corrections probation office
at 315 S. A St. before Jan. 18, agency spokeswoman
Jo Ellyn Rackleff told the Pensacola News Journal on

Rudy Giuliani Considering Second White House Run (PLEASE someone ask him why his on the cheap communication system allowed hundreds of cops & fireman die on 9-11?)

Sources close to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani confirm to CBS News that the Republican is talking to his political advisers about mounting another presidential bid.

Giuliani, whose 2008 presidential campaign fell flat, has learned from his mistakes, a source says, and will retool his strategy, beginning with a strong start in the early primary state of New Hampshire.

The New York Post first reported on Giuliani's moves Friday morning. According to the Post, Giuliani is optimistic about his chances, predicting a Republican primary populated with far-right candidates like Sarah Palin. That would allow him to stand out as a moderate candidate with strong national security credentials. The Post reports Giuliani will meet with voters in New Hampshire next month.

In an appearance on MSNBC this morning, the former mayor played down the latest reports but remained vague about his intentions. "So far I haven't found any political advisors to round up," Giuliani said. He added, however, that "of course I keep in the back of my mind" the possibility of running again.

Given Giuliani's lackluster performance in 2008, some skepticism about his presidential ambitions could be justified. Some insiders told the Post his current moves are designed to keep him relevant and possibly boost his speaker fees.

Also, some recent polls suggest another presidential bid could be a long shot for Giuliani. He was left out of a New Hampshire Journal poll that surveyed New Hampshire residents about potential Republican candidates, and he failed to get any support in a National Journal survey of about 100 Republican "insiders."


These are tough times for state governments. Huge deficits loom almost everywhere, from California to New York, from New Jersey to Texas.

Wait — Texas? Wasn’t Texas supposed to be thriving even as the rest of America suffered? Didn’t its governor declare, during his re-election campaign, that “we have billions in surplus”? Yes, it was, and yes, he did. But reality has now intruded, in the form of a deficit expected to run as high as $25 billion over the next two years.

And that reality has implications for the nation as a whole. For Texas is where the modern conservative theory of budgeting — the belief that you should never raise taxes under any circumstances, that you can always balance the budget by cutting wasteful spending — has been implemented most completely. If the theory can’t make it there, it can’t make it anywhere.

How bad is the Texas deficit? Comparing budget crises among states is tricky, for technical reasons. Still, data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggest that the Texas budget gap is worse than New York’s, about as bad as California’s, but not quite up to New Jersey levels.

The point, however, is that just the other day Texas was being touted as a role model (and still is by commentators who haven’t been keeping up with the news). It was the state the recession supposedly passed by, thanks to its low taxes and business-friendly policies. Its governor boasted that its budget was in good shape thanks to his “tough conservative decisions.”

Oh, and at a time when there’s a full-court press on to demonize public-sector unions as the source of all our woes, Texas is nearly demon-free: less than 20 percent of public-sector workers there are covered by union contracts, compared with almost 75 percent in New York.

So what happened to the “Texas miracle” many people were talking about even a few months ago?

Part of the answer is that reports of a recession-proof state were greatly exaggerated. It’s true that Texas job losses haven’t been as severe as those in the nation as a whole since the recession began in 2007. But Texas has a rapidly growing population — largely, suggests Harvard’s Edward Glaeser, because its liberal land-use and zoning policies have kept housing cheap. There’s nothing wrong with that; but given that rising population, Texas needs to create jobs more rapidly than the rest of the country just to keep up with a growing work force.

And when you look at unemployment, Texas doesn’t seem particularly special: its unemployment rate is below the national average, thanks in part to high oil prices, but it’s about the same as the unemployment rate in New York or Massachusetts.

What about the budget? The truth is that the Texas state government has relied for years on smoke and mirrors to create the illusion of sound finances in the face of a serious “structural” budget deficit — that is, a deficit that persists even when the economy is doing well. When the recession struck, hitting revenue in Texas just as it did everywhere else, that illusion was bound to collapse.

The only thing that let Gov. Rick Perry get away, temporarily, with claims of a surplus was the fact that Texas enacts budgets only once every two years, and the last budget was put in place before the depth of the economic downturn was clear. Now the next budget must be passed — and Texas may have a $25 billion hole to fill. Now what?

Given the complete dominance of conservative ideology in Texas politics, tax increases are out of the question. So it has to be spending cuts.

Yet Mr. Perry wasn’t lying about those “tough conservative decisions”: Texas has indeed taken a hard, you might say brutal, line toward its most vulnerable citizens. Among the states, Texas ranks near the bottom in education spending per pupil, while leading the nation in the percentage of residents without health insurance. It’s hard to imagine what will happen if the state tries to eliminate its huge deficit purely through further cuts.

I don’t know how the mess in Texas will end up being resolved. But the signs don’t look good, either for the state or for the nation.

Right now, triumphant conservatives in Washington are declaring that they can cut taxes and still balance the budget by slashing spending. Yet they haven’t been able to do that even in Texas, which is willing both to impose great pain (by its stinginess on health care) and to shortchange the future (by neglecting education). How are they supposed to pull it off nationally, especially when the incoming Republicans have declared Medicare, Social Security and defense off limits?

People used to say that the future happens first in California, but these days what happens in Texas is probably a better omen. And what we’re seeing right now is a future that doesn’t work.