Patt Morrison for July 1, 2011

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The conventional wisdom is as old as economic theory: raise taxes during a recession or a down economy and you kill the recovery and job creation; lower taxes and jobs are created. The reality on the correlation between tax increases and job creation is much more complicated, as the debate is back on in Washington D.C. between President Obama, who wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to help close the budget deficit, and Congressional Republicans who want to keep current tax rates in place and slash spending instead. In the five years after a $241 billion tax increase under President Bill Clinton in 1993 the U.S. economy went on to create more than 15 million jobs and great at an average annual rate of 3.8%. In the five years after President George W. Bush reduced marginal tax rates in 2001 the economy created 6.5 million jobs and great at an annual 2.7% pace.
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Theater texter tossed out

Over the years, movie theater announcements have evolved from polite requests for verbal silence to firm recommendations for turning off cell phones, but like all rules, they are not always observed or enforced. However, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a movie chain based in Austin, Texas, recently kicked a customer out of one of their theaters for texting, a behavior prohibited by the theater owners and communicated to the audience with a short video prior to each film. After the customer left a furious message on the company voicemail, Alamo Drafthouse used the irate recording in an advertisement on Youtube, which drew 4.4 million views and attention from many talk shows and websites. The use of a customer’s voice without his or her permission is perfectly legal, so long as the recording is accurate, but the incident raises questions about the potential impact of what we say or do publicly. Is it important to observe a certain etiquette with cell phones in movie theaters and other places? And do people feel entitled to talk or text on their cell phones, wherever they feel like it? Join Patt for a discussion with the head of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and weigh in with your questions and comments.
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In 2001, amidst public outrage at decades of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and repeated promises by the clergy to catch offenders, a young priest named Father Fernando Lopez Lopez joined the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Four years later Lopez Lopez was convicted of multiple accounts of lewd acts with a child, and one of sexual battery, having admitted to molesting three teenage boys during his time at the St. Thomas the Apostle church in Koreatown. He had been hired smoothly by the L.A. parish, but refused employment and duties earlier that year by a monsignor in the San Bernardino diocese, who had discovered Lopez Lopez’s past. It turned out that the young priest had been asked to leave his former position at a parish in Italy, on allegations of homosexual involvement with youths and drug activity. None of this information, however, was dug up by the L.A. Archdiocese. The excitement surrounding the case died down after the priest served a prison sentence and was deported to his native Columbia. But now, one of the abuse victims is suing L.A. Archdiocese Cardinal Roger Mahoney for exposing him to harm by hiring Lopez Lopez. The trial will begin in October, and is already being covered in an investigative piece by Dan Rather. Could Mahoney have prevented teens from being molested? How will the suit affect Angelenos’ perception of their diocese? And has there been significant reform in the way priests are hired?
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A ban on plastic bags goes into effect throughout unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County today. Paper bags will still be available for 10 cents-a-bag, but county supervisors hope the ban encourages shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. Meanwhile, over in Austin, Texas, a grocery store called in.gredients is going several steps further. They’re aiming to be the first zero-waste, package-free supermarket in the nation. That means shoppers will have to think ahead and bring their own containers for grains, seasonal produce, spices, meat, beer, wine and cleaning materials. What does an aisle in a grocery store without packages look like and would you shop there? Patt talks with the in.gredients cofounder and his revolutionary or old-school idea, depending on how you look at it.
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Mark Halperin is a mostly mild mannered political editor at TIME magazine and a contributor to MSNBC—far from an ideological bomb thrower, the epithet that he muttered on the MSBNC show “Morning Joe” was all the more shocking. Characterizing President Obama’s demeanor during his press conference on Wednesday, Halperin said “I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday.” The hosts joked about it in the moment but executives at MSNBC were not pleased and later that day Halperin was suspended. He would issue a formal apology to both the network and President Obama but he remained suspended indefinitely. Brazen language during political discussions isn’t anything new, even former Vice President Dick Cheney didn’t hesitate to let loose with a curse word on the floor of Congress while in the midst of a debate with Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. But is the office of the president more sacred, giving pause to using crude descriptions while criticizing the president? Would it have made a difference if, instead of using the phallic curse word, Halperin has called Obama an “insufferable jerk?” Same general message, different choice of words—does it matter? How loose should we be with our language these days, while on national television and while going after the leader of the free world?
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