Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

There was another Republican debate last night, and it may actually be the last one! We live blogged it here. I watched the debate and all it did was remind me how distasteful–actually repulsive–every one of these candidates is. Romney is the slimiest, liar ever; Gingrich is nothing but a grifter; Ron Paul is a whiny old geezer; and Santorum is a sanctimonious, preachy theocrat. After this election, the Republican Party may be truly dead. It’s already brain dead.

Here are a few reactions to the debate for those who are interested.

Paul Begala: Romney Wins the battle, but it may lose him the war.

Andrew Sullivan: The winner’s in the White House.

TPM: Rick’s rough night.

Hot Air: Tough night for Santorum

In state legislatures around the country women are fighting back against the Republican war on women. Yesterday, Governor Bob O’Donnell of Virginia was forced to back down on the anti-woman state-sanctioned rape law that he had originally said he’d sign. In Georgia, (via Charlie Pierce), state rep. Yasmin Neal

was the driving force behind a brilliant bill filed yesterday that would outlaw vasectomies in Georgia on anti-abortion grounds — namely, that the lives of millions of potential “persons” were snuffed out because of the vas deferens between the way we see men as reproductive critters and the way we see women as reproductive critters:

Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies,” said Rep. Yasmin Neal, D-Riverdale, author of the Democrats’ bill. “It is patently unfair that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly, while women’s ability to decide is constantly up for debate throughout the United States.”

Now some Democrats are fighting back at the federal level.

The House Judiciary Committee recently passed a bill that would ban selective abortions based on race or gender by a 20-13 vote. The biggest hurdle to passage was the bill’s name.

Democrats proposed calling the bill “The Ronald Reagan Impose Your Beliefs on a Woman’s Womb Act” and “The Tea Party Determines What Rights a Woman Has Act.”

The legislation (H.R. 3541), sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), was originally entitled the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Non-discrimination Act of 2011.” But after objections by committee Democrats and an amendment by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the bill, which passed on Feb. 16, was changed to the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act (PRENDA) during mark-up sessions last week.

Thirteen Democrats voted against the measure claiming it violated the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide, and would “make it more difficult for women of color to obtain the basic reproductive health care services.”

The GLBT community is fighting back against the GOP haters too. Not too long ago, an anti-gay Tennessee state legislator was asked by the owner, Martha Boggs to leave her restaurant because of his bigoted public statements. Today, Antonio a gay hairdresser in Santa Fe, said he will no longer cut Republican New Mexico governor Susannah Martinez’s hair. Even {gasp!} Alan Simpson is getting in on the act. He says Rick Santorum is “rigid and a homophobic.”

Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wy.) weighed in on the Republican presidential primary on Wednesday, calling Rick Santorum “rigid and a homophobic.”

In an interview with CBS News’ Bob Schieffer, Simpson faulted the Republican field for making issues like same-sex marriage and reproductive rights central to their platforms, warning that they would lose favor with voters if the conversation does not change.

“I am convinced that if you get into these social issues and just stay in there about abortion and homosexuality and even mental health they bring up, somehow they’re going to take us all to Alaska and float us out in the Bering Sea or something,” said Simpson, long known for colorful commentary. “We won’t have a prayer.”

He continued, “I watch Republicans, they give each other the saliva test of purity, and then they lose and they bitch for four years.”

Simpson supports Romney, who also claims to be homophobic, anti-choice, and anti-birth control. Oh well….

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and one of those mainline Protestant churches that Rick Santorum thinks have been taken over by Satan offered drive-thru ashes! Someone needs to tell Rick! It’s the Devil’s work!!

Over the weekend, Newt Gingrich tried to look macho by claiming “you can’t put a gun rack on a Chevy Volt!” But lots of people have stepped forward to prove him wrong.

A GM exec came forward to prove Newt was incorrect.

Chevrolet executive Selim Bingol fired back this morning via GM’s new blog, called BTW:

“Newt Gingrich has taken up saying that ‘You can’t put a gun rack on a Volt.’ That’s like saying ‘You can’t put training wheels on a Harley.’ Actually, you can. But the real question is ‘Why would you?’ In both examples:

It looks weird,

It doesn’t work very well, and

There are better places for gun racks and training wheels — pickup trucks and little Schwinns, respectively.

Seriously, when is the last time you saw a gun rack in ANY sedan?”

OK, I know I haven’t posted much serious news this morning. I guess I’m just punch drunk from that debate last night. We did get a bit of good news last night though. A federal judge in California–a Bush appointee yet–found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

You may recall that Martha Coakley got the ball rolling in Massachusetts in 2010, convincing the Obama administration to stop defending the law. Yesterday’s decision is the third time a court has called DOMA unconstitutional

The New York Times has an interview with the mother of Marie Colvin, who was killed in Syria yesterday. Colvin was majoring in anthropology at Yale in the late 1970s,

but took a course with the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer John Hersey. She also started writing for The Yale Daily News “and decided to be a journalist,” her mother said.

On Wednesday, Marie Colvin, 56, a veteran correspondent for The Sunday Times of London, was killed as Syrian forces shelled the city of Homs. She was working in a makeshift media center that was destroyed in the assault. A French photographer, Rémi Ochlik, was also killed.

At her family’s split-level home on Long Island, the telephone rang at 5 a.m. It was so early, her mother said, that “I knew it was something terrible.”

“She was supposed to leave Syria” on Wednesday, Ms. Colvin said. “Her editor told me he called her yesterday and said it was getting too dangerous and they wanted to take her out. She said she was doing a story and she wanted to finish it and it was important and she would come out” on Wednesday.

Photojournalist Remi Olchlik was also killed in Syria yesterday

Remi Ochlik didn’t waste any time celebrating after he won one of photojournalism’s most prestigious prizes two weeks ago. Hours later, he was on a plane headed back to work in Middle East danger zones, a friend recalled.

On Wednesday, the promising 28-year-old French photographer was dead, killed in a barrage of gunfire and shelling by government forces in Homs, Syria, where he had arrived just the night before….

Colleagues remembered Ochlik as careful and experienced despite his young age, but driven to cover a string of conflicts that won him a reputation as one of the world’s best young photojournalists.

At just 20 years old, Ochlik got his professional start covering riots in Haiti in 2004. The next year he set up photo agency IP3 Press and covered sports, society and politics. When the “Arab Spring” erupted last year, Ochlik was all over it: In Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, and most recently, Syria.

That’s it for me this morning. What are you reading and blogging about?

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47 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    I love that bill about the vasectomies. Brilliant. And from Georgia no less! ;)

    • bostonboomer says:

      I was wondering if you had heard about it. And the male legislators all claim any effort to curb male sexual behavior is a joke while their stupid bills are highly serious.

      • That is what is ridiculous not only about the bills but the treatment of women’s sexuality around the world. In Islam women wear burkas so men are not enticed. In Victorian times a glimpse of an ankle was considered risque. The problem? The denial of the fact that humans are part of the animal kingdom and males of the species are always ready for sex. Human males can’t control their own “blood flow” so they must Control the objects of their desire instead. It hasn’t worked – rape still occurs whether you’re wearing a burka, a flannel nightgown or a short skirt. But somehow, it’s the woman’s fault. Maybe when the Repugs talk about personal responsibility they should clean up their own “backyard” first before messing around in yours, mine & ours.

    • Woman Voter says:

      We need more of that to put it in ‘closer’ terms for the men.

  2. bb, I wish I had your optimism that Obama will win re-election. Although the 4 fools running for the Repug nomination are certifiable, so are a large number of voters. Listening to NPR interviewing people who have debate watching parties, or those who attend the rallies, is discouraging. These folks see these wackos as better than Obama, who on their words, is destroying “our” country. Although born and raised in America, I don’t recognize the place sometimes. Add to all this the voter restriction laws passed in so many states, which will diminish the number of those voting Democratic. Looking forward, I’m not frightened – I am flat out scared. I’ll be 62 tomorrow & I just need 4 more years until I will no longer have to worry whether or not I have a job. Living on SS will be tough, but getting out of the ups & downs of this struggling economy will be a relief.

    Those of us who make decisions based on reason & logic cannot change the beliefs of those who rely on faith to guide their choices. What do you say to someone whose whole world is built around “just because”? When God is deciding who wins a sporting event or helps them find their keys, it is simply a losing battle. These attacks on everything I hold dear, coming all at once, from all sides is just too much to handle. Sorry, I’m just feeling pessimistic and like I’m being buried alive. Sorry, to be a Debbie Downer!

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Not a Debbie Downer at all! (Besides, I have used that phrase for years to describe my own mood.)

      The “changing face of America” is due in large part to the Tea Party officials elected to government state by state as well as those who sit in congress. They are an extension of the Moral Majority that came into being when Reagan was elected and came fully out of the wilderness when a black president was sworn into office. This is when the true insanity came out ot play but they have been making inroads for years by gaining a foothold in the legislative bodies of their own individual states.

      Going after women is a by product of those who cling to the Tea Party. And the Republican establishment is stuck with them. A lifelong politician like John Boehner can’t control them and they are all stuck on a “place called Ugly” as a result.

      I am not crazy about Obamacare but it does offer coverage to those with pre exisiting conditions. That is at least a step. But no one in that contingent of clowns vying to be POTUS discusses what would become of that stipulation with their never ending chorus of getting rid of it. For them, too bad if you are screwed out of treatment.

      Planned Parenthood is another example of a fringe group being allowed to insert their idiocy into the dialogue. Erasing healthcare for women – and some men – just shows their contempt for their fellow man. And those 4 fools are greeted with applause when they suggest it.

      Waving their religious beliefs to a nation composed of diversity shows just how far they are willing to bend to the will of the derganged, bigoted, discriminatory faction that rules that party today.

      Anyone willing to take a chance by voting even more of these lunatics into office also needs to have their “values” examined since what they represent is the worst in us.

      • I totally agree. I think the “slide” in America began with Reagan. Xenophobia came out of the closet, most notably his use of “the welfare queen” phrase/bogeywoman. I think Obama’s election scared the crap out of the underground racists. I think most of us had resolved that the only remaining racists were the white supremacists/skinhead fringe groups. That isn’t true, however. It’s, I’m afraid, most white men (and their arm candy white women) who are desperately afraid of losing their white male privilege & supremacy uber alles. They see the nation moving closer to that diverse melting pot – so championed many long years ago – where everyone’s voice counts. That’s why immigration, voter rights, unions & feminists/women’s rights are under attack. Those groups pose a threat to their version of the “American Dream.” Too bad no one ever told the rest of us that it was an old white boyz club dream that we weren’t included in.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m not that optimistic. I’m not that happy with what Obama is doing to the country either, but we have a long way to go before we can really guess what’s going to happen.

      I’m 64 and already living on Social Security for the time being, so I should be worried too. But I don’t have any real control over what happens so I just keep on keepin’ on.

      • Well, at least you’re having a more optimistic day than I. None of us have much control over anything. I guess some days it just seems more out of control, which is scary. Not a fan of rollercoasters. I’m more of the merry-go-round type person. That could explain why I often feel I’m running around in circles. Oh my, my epiphany for the day.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I agree. As MA residents we can probably expect that Obama will carry our state. And hopefully bring Elizabeth Warren along with him.

        But it is difficult to assess the other states out there. With gerrymandering and redistricting holding sway over the electorate, no matter how low congress is held in the polls, chances are the same morons we all collectively despise will return after November with little changing in that body. Even Michele Bachmann is running once again from a district that almost guarantees she will succeed.

        We may loathe Mittens and Rick but the hatred toward Obama in some regions could very easily be all it takes to achieve a win. Even their sheer incomptency may not be a deterrent in states like Texas, Ohio, and Florida which Obama is going to have to pull out if he wants a second term.

        Remember, these three states elected Rick Scott and Rick Perry over more qualified and less corrupt politicians who it is best not to count them out.

        I am less optimist about defeating the GOP than I ever was. If Mitt is to be their standard bearer and hinting at McConnell, Rubio, or Christie on the ticket, it may just be enough to “rouse” those GOPers off the couch on election day thinking they are getting a “heavy weight” to balance it off.

        • The only bright spot in Florida re Rick Scott, is that he won by a very, very narrow margin. It certainly wasn’t a mandate. I don’t exactly remember but it was either a couple hundred votes or maybe about a thousand votes. And is popularity rating is less than 50%. There’s a group that has bumper stickers that say “Pink Slip Rick Scott.”

      • bostonboomer says:

        When will Scott pee in a cup for the state employees’ drug test?

      • jawbone says:

        Speaking of Obama carrying MA — will these rising gas prices affect voters in even MA? Or especially so since heating oil must be going through the roof. Or, is it?

        I don’t get why this administration is trying to bait Iran into doing something rash so the US can do something militarily against it. At least doing so just now when there are some, seemingly, positive signs for the economy picking up. Each increase in gas prices is removing the basis for any such growth.

        What are they thinking?

      • foxyladi14 says:

        that is really about all we can do. :)

  3. NW Luna says:

    I am furious:

    Washington state cannot force pharmacies to sell Plan B or other emergency contraceptives, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying the state’s true goal has been to suppress religious objections by druggists — not to promote timely access to the medicines for people who need them.

    U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton sided with a Ralph’s Thriftway pharmacy and two pharmacists who said state rules requiring them to dispense Plan B violate their constitutional rights to freedom of religion because such drugs can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, which they consider equal to abortion.

    Washington’s rules require that pharmacies stock and dispense drugs for which there is a demand. The state adopted the dispensing regulations in 2007, after reports that some women had been denied access to Plan B, which has a high dose of medicine found in birth-control pills and is effective if a woman takes it within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/2017568248.html

    So, if I’m a pharmacist I can just say “Nope, no insulin for you diabetics, my religious beliefs say that’s how god made you. No chemo, whatever happens is god’s will.” /s

    WTF?

    BTW Plan B is just a stronger dose of same ingredients in oral contraceptives. Taking 2, 4 or 6 oral contraceptive pills (depending on brand) on same schedule as you would Plan B is pharmaco-equivalent.
    Here is the chart on equivalent pills: http://ec.princeton.edu/questions/dose.html#dose
    Pass this info along to all sisters!

  4. jawbone says:

    I woke up to NPR covering this news and have been grouchy ever since. Grrrrr.

    In the USA Today coverage, the report says the judge stated at his February hearing that “the contraceptive issue is more important than many other freedom-of-religion cases, such as those concerning religious dress or other ceremonial matters.”

    Now, the reasoning given by the pharmacists is exactly what the life begins at conception people have been arguing, so can they also refuse to fill contraception pill prescriptions?

    This judge’s similar ruling in 2007 was overturned by the Ninth District appellate court’s ruling, and the case was returned to him. The judge has now trimmed his objections to what he things will pass constitutional muster. Appeals will go forward.

    Wonder how the Supremes will decide if, when, this gets to them? Obama has been careful to send business-favoring, not too liberal judges so far….

    • ralphb says:

      The judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush, first blocked the state’s dispensing rule in 2007. But a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel overruled him, saying the rules did not target religious conduct. It sent the case back to Leighton, who held an 11-day trial before reaffirming his original decision.

      What does this judge have to do with Obama’s appointments? Let’s just hope the 9th Circuit overrules this asshat again.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Phamacists have already been refusing to fill contraception prescriptions for years. Isn’t the conscience rule something that Obama supports and has upheld?

  5. jawbone says:

    BTW, I just learned that a massive infrastructure improvement project in my township is being funded by Obama’s stimulus package, the part to improve cleaner energy availability, In our case, my little part of the township had been requesting access to natural gas for decades, but the gas company contended the houses were too small for them to recoup their investment of laying pipe a fiscally responsible amount of time.

    This winter, I began seeing new gasline pipes being laid, some of the on my cross-street. I called the gas company was told my street would be getting letters asking for interest in hooking up to gas.

    Then, when I had to go to another county for a medical appointment, a county with a Democratic county board, etcl, I saw all these signs about road, water, other infrastructure improvements as part of the Obama stimulus (I can’t recall the name on the signs, but it was federally funded).

    No signs here in Morris County, NJ, which is very Republican and one of the highest average earning counties in the US. And, two years ago, the Democratic mayor was defeated, so we have a Republican township government. Is that why no signs informing people how and why we’re finally getting these improvments? Nor were there explanations in the mayor’s quarterly letter.

    This week I learned there was a temp gas co. office (trailer) in town, and I went there to see if my street had enough households signed up to have pipes laid down our street. We did, but need more if a small block will get pipes for the one house served from my street. So, I’ll be going out this weekend, to try to get more people signed up; if they do, then the gas company can cover the extra 75 feet to this house now being left out in the cold

    II am not aware of any statements coming from the WH or state Dems which empahsize what is going on here in NJ because of the stimulus, btw. .

    Do these Dems know how to communicate nowadays?

    Interesting.

    Are other states not making the source of funding for projects known?

    • ralphb says:

      I’ve never seen a sign indicating any stimulus funding for anything in TX, but Perry took every dollar he could get and asked for more while bitching about it constantly.

      A friend of my daughters used to work in the legislature and she said there were projects all over the state funded by stimulus money.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’ve seen the signs in a couple of states when I’ve driven cross-country.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I know that stimulus funds helped here in MA. But I heard a couple of days ago that because of government cuts we’re going to lose thousands of high tech jobs. The austerity stuff is so stupid.

      • jawbone says:

        Maybe those signs add to the cost and are too expensive to put up? Heh.

  6. ralphb says:

    Jobless Claims in U.S. Point to Improving Labor Market

    The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits last week held at a four- year low and consumers became more confident, indicating an improving labor market may boost household spending.

    Applications (INJCJC) for unemployment insurance benefits were unchanged in the week ended Feb. 18 at 351,000, the fewest since March 2008, Labor Department figures showed today. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to minus 38.4 in the week to Feb. 19, the strongest reading since April 2008.

    This looks like more good news for the economy, slowly trying to come back.

  7. ralphb says:

    Once again, speculators behind sharply rising oil and gasoline prices

    A McClatchy review of the latest Commitment of Traders report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates oil trading, shows that producers and merchants made up just 36 percent of all contracts traded in the week ending Feb. 14.

    That same week, open interest, or the total outstanding oil contracts for next-month delivery of 1,000 barrels of oil (about 42,000 gallons), stood near an all-time high above 1.486 million. Speculators who’ll never take delivery of oil made up 64 percent of the market.

    McClatchy, almost the only real newspapers left in the US, points out that Wall St speculators are largely behind the spike in gasoline prices. As if we didn’t know that already.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Arlen Specter says Santorum lied last night when he said he only supported Specter after getting a commitment from Specter that he would support Bush’s judicial nominees.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/specter-scoffs-at-santorums-endorsement-claim/2012/02/23/gIQArNNhVR_blog.html

    LOL

  9. ralphb says:

    TPM: Virginia Legislature Kills Personhood Bill, Postpones Ultrasound Bill

    It’s good that personhood is dead, for this year at least.

    • dakinikat says:

      I think its still alive in two other states.

    • janicen says:

      The fact that this bill was killed and the ultrasound bill was amended just goes to show you how this legislation is being driven at the national level. It’s obvious that the legislators who initially claimed that this was good legislation and the right thing for Virginia, have received different marching orders from whomever is pulling their strings. I’d love to see an investigation including telephone and bank records of everyone in the legislature who supported the bills with possible indictments under the RICO statute. These state governments are not operating independently. There is an organized effort to subvert the law and I’d love to see the bastards frog marched out of their offices and off to jail.