Monday Reads: The Struggles Continue

0158
Good Morning!

Those of you that know me also know that my most profound and motivating interest lay with social justice issues. I think I was profoundly impacted by watching the evening news as a child. I still remember watching body counts from Vietnam and the images of small children being attacked by hoses and police dogs in places I couldn’t believe were associated with my country. Julian Bond–one of the most vibrant and high profile leaders of the civil rights movement–died on Saturday at the age of 75. His life stands as a tribute to all that has been gained and as a reminder of all the work that continues as we strive to ensure that all our citizens achieve equal status under the law and equal access to economic well being, knowledge, and power.  Bond was also a leader in the anti-war movement as one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He leaves a tremendous legacy of social justice.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, where Bond served as president in the 1970s, announced his death in a statement on Sunday. The SPLC said Bond died Saturday evening in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

“With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice,” the center’s statement read. “He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.”

The Associated Press writes: “The Nashville, Tenn., native was considered a symbol and icon of the 1960s civil rights movement. As a Morehouse College student, Bond helped found [SNCC] and as its communications director, he was on the front lines of protests that led to the nation’s landmark civil rights laws.”

Bond played a major role in sit-ins and freedom rides and the 1963 March on Washington.

The New York Times says: “He moved from the militancy of the student group to the top leadership of the establishmentarian N.A.A.C.P. Along the way, he was a writer, poet, television commentator, lecturer, college teacher, and persistent opponent of the stubborn remnants of white supremacy.”

When he was elected to the Georgia Legislature in 1965, the chamber refused to seat him, citing his support for a group that called U.S. actions in Vietnam “murder.” He took the fight all the way to the Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled in his favor. The Times notes that he spent his two decades in the state’s legislature, “mostly in conspicuous isolation from white colleagues who saw him as an interloper and a rabble-rouser.”

In 1986, Bond ran against his long-time friend and SNCC co-founder John Lewis to represent Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, but was narrowly defeated in runoff.

6762-004-F361DF9CI can only hope to eventually achieve his status of “interloper and rabble-rouser” for justice.  There are many recent events that remind us that none of the struggles in which Bond interloped and rabble roused are solved or even ameliorated.  Even after the disastrous adventures of both Vietnam and Iraq, we continue to have folks who study and bark for war.  Here’s a good example of some one in Democratic leadership who does both and should be very ashamed that he shills for constant war mongering.   As Josh Marshall points out, Chuck Schumer is smarter than his actions and words on the Iran deal.  Decision-making on such vital interests should not be captive to vast, foreign lobbying interests or folks that profit from perpetual violence.

Fareed Zakaria had a column out yesterday dissecting and demolishing New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s argument for opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. I won’t try to duplicate his arguments on the merits. I don’t think I can improve on them. But I have wanted for the last week to address Schumer’s decision.

As you may know, in the midst of last week’s Fox-GOP-Trump debate, Schumer leaked the news that he planned to vote against the deal when it comes before the Senate for review. There are a few things to say about the manner of the leak. As the Senator himself would no doubt agree, no one is more adept, experienced, or desirous of press attention than Schumer. The timing was no accident. It seemed aimed at creating as little splash as possible. Given his status as a prominent, senior, and outspokenly pro-Israel Senator from New York, there is only so much that he could do to limit the impact and reaction. But this was clearly an attempt to do so. And it did get buried to some degree in the Trump Debate/GOP Meltdown/Blood Drama. Schumer has also said that since this is his position, he will of course lobby others to follow his lead. But he has done so not altogether convincingly. Take all this together and I think it is possible that Schumer believes this to be a free vote for him personally – that he can vote in opposition, either knowing that it will pass (sustain a presidential veto) or at least that he won’t be blamed for it going down.

 We’ll know after the vote how that all shook out. And in terms of what one makes of Schumer, there is some difference over what the truth turns out to be. Just after Schumer’s announcement, James Fallows said that it was one thing for Schumer to vote this way himself but if he lifts a finger to lobby other senators against the deal, he should be disqualified from becoming the next Senate Majority/Minority Leader, an office he very much wishes to fill.

I would take it a step further. I think Schumer should be disqualified on the basis of this decision alone. In fact, I would personally find it difficult to ever vote for Schumer again as my Senator, though I doubt he’ll lose much sleep over that since he is amazingly entrenched as New York’s senior senator.

julian-bond-martin-luther-king-voteIt’s obvious when politicians are more beholden to the patron class rather than citizens.  It truly amazes me that one of our major parties no longer even supports voting rights.  This is something that has been unthinkable for the decades since Kennedy and Johnson pushed the Voting Rights Act forward.

On July 20, 2006, the United States Senate voted to renew the Voting Rights Act for 25 more years. The vote was unanimous, 98 to 0. That followed an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, which passed it by a vote of 390 to 33. President George Bush signed the renewal with apparent enthusiasm a few days later.

This bipartisan support for the Voting Rights Act — first enacted into law 50 years ago this month by Lyndon B. Johnson — was not unusual; indeed, it was the rule throughout most of the legislation’s history on Capitol Hill. And if you want to understand how dramatically Congress’s partisan landscape has changed in the Obama era, it’s a particularly useful example.

 As it happens, two bills introduced in the past two years would restore at least some of the act’s former strength, after the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder, which significantly weakened it. And both are languishing, with no significant Republican support and no Republican leader willing to bring them to the floor for a vote. What was, less than a decade ago, an uncontroversial legislative no-brainer is now lost in the crevasse of our partisan divide.

Given the number of Black Americans killed by police actions, it’s difficult to understand how Republican shills like Dr. Ben Carson can continue to say that Planned Parenthood is the number one murderer of Black people. Of course, Republicans these days have spurious notions of “people”.  They let black children starve and languish while spending tremendous efforts to protect clusters of cells.  Here’s an ABC report that shows some reporters actually do due diligence and fact check the outrageous statements of some politicians.    NPR has also debunked this blatant lie.

ABC’s Martha Raddatz debunked GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson’s claim that Planned Parenthood engages in racist population control by targeting black communities.

On the August 16 edition of ABC’s This Week, Carson spoke with Raddatz on the campaign trail in Iowa. Raddatz asked Carson about his controversial comments he made on August 12, when he said Planned Parenthood is targeting African-American communities to control their population by placing “most of their clinics in black neighborhoods.” Raddatz debunked this claim, saying, “Planned Parenthood estimates that fewer than five percent of its health centers are located in areas where more than one-third of the population is African-American” …

The most telling thing about the pushback on all social justice strides these days is Donald Trump’s standing in Republican Polls get_item_viewer_imageand his angry white man shtick showing that much of it is blowback against modernity and rational thought.

Many insiders were sure that Trump would be widely disavowed after charging that undocumented Hispanics, even the ones who aren’t rapists, are “bad. They’re really bad.” When this didn’t do Trump in, just as many, maybe more, were certain he would be cashiered after his disparagement of McCain. It didn’t work out that way, and Trump went into the first debate leading the national polls among Republicans. Then came his gynecological speculations about Kelly, and the political media were steadfast in their conviction that now, at last, he had crossed a red line that no red state partisan could accept. It was perfectly OK for him to carry the torch for birtherism, to vilify an entire ethnicity, to impugn the reputation of a decorated veteran — but now he had insulted Megyn Kelly of Fox News! He was done, washed up, toast, and the sober pundits whose eternal vigilance safeguards our liberty could finally turn their attention to “serious” candidates such as Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee.

As I write this, the most recent post-debate polling shows Trump on top with a 10-point lead over his nearest rival.

When you repeatedly get something wrong, you need an explanation — an account of your error that gets you back on track by identifying its source. (It goes without saying that the preferred account attributes the error to something other than ignorance on your part.) In our present case, that explanation is the meme, repeated ad taedium if not ad nauseam, that the GOP base likes Trump because he seems asangry as it is. His pugnacious manner, his willingness to insult opponents — or just anyone who disagrees with him — his brusque tone and dismissive gestures: All these things, we’re told, are like catnip to the Republican faithful. Mostly older and white and male, and wholly pissed-off, these folks are tired of namby-pamby politicians who whine about “bipartisan solutions” and want to find ways to “work with the other side.” They want someone who calls ‘em as he sees ‘em, and who sees, as they do, that “the other side” largely consists of fools, traitors and knaves. Trump, it turns out, is their tribune.

As explanations go, this one isn’t completely off-track. It does get one (very important) thing right: the GOP base is mad as hell. But as a theory of Republican politics, it’s sort of like attempts to attribute the Napoleonic Wars to Bonaparte’s shame over his small stature. There has to be something more than anger at work in the GOP, because anger alone doesn’t explain the distinctive shape of its obsessions. The real question is this: What is it angry about?

As we think about the social justice movements of the 1960s and 1970s–the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, the rights for immigrant workers movement, the anti-war movement, the GLBT movement– we can see the strides made.  But, each time we lose a leader of those movements, we gain a perspective that we have miles and miles to go before we can sleep. There are many forces that would like to erase all of that progress. Many of them sit on the Supreme Court.  Many of them sit in statehouses, Congress, and governor’s offices.   We must be vigilant and persistent in pursuit of human dignity.

The Struggles continue.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: A Mixed Bag of News

Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer

Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer

Good Morning!!

The images in this post are from the blog, Reading and Art. I don’t have any central theme this morning, just a mixed bag of news stories. beginning with damaging explosions in Tianjin, China.

CNN reports, Tianjin blasts: Dozens dead; areas of Chinese port city devastated.

You can see the devastation everywhere: in the hollowed out shells of barely-standing buildings, in the anguished faces of relatives waiting for news of loved ones, in the parade of scorched cars.

But what was it that set off the terrifying blasts that ripped through warehouses housing hazardous chemical materials, sending fireballs shooting across the sky and shaking tall buildings more than 2 miles away?

Hours later, amid the destruction in this northern Chinese port city of more than 13 million, the exact cause remained unclear.

A thick chemical odor hung in the air. Fires still burned in the waterfront industrial district where the explosions went off. And the grim toll kept mounting.

At least 44 people are confirmed dead, 12 firefighters among them, officials said Thursday. More than 500 are hospitalized, 52 with severe injuries. Dozens of firefighters are missing.

Local authorities suspended firefighting efforts Thursday because of a lack of information about the “dangerous goods” stored at the warehouse at the heart of the blasts, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

CNN has dramatic photos at the link. A few more stories on the disaster:

Vice News: Video Emerges of Horrific Tianjin Explosion as Death Toll Rises.

USA Today, 12 firefighters among 50 dead in Chinese port city explosions.

This is a developing story, and it sounds like the death toll is likely to rise.

Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer

Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer

You’ve probably heard by now that Jimmy Carter has cancer that has spread from his liver to other organs.

Washington Post, Former president Jimmy Carter, 90, announces that he has cancer.

Former president Jimmy Carter announced Wednesday that he has cancer and will be undergoing treatment at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta.

Carter, 90, said the disease was discovered during recent liver surgery to remove “a small mass” and that the cancer “is now in other parts of my body.”

“I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare,” Carter said in a statement on the Carter Center Web site. “A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

In a statement, President Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama wished Carter “a full and fast recovery.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with [wife] Rosalynn and the entire Carter family as they face this challenge with the same grace and determination that they have shown so many times before,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Jimmy, you’re as resilient as they come, and along with the rest of America, we are rooting for you.”

The president also spoke with Carter on Wednesday evening to wish him “full and speedy recovery” and extended best wishes on behalf of himself and first lady Michelle Obama, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

According to NBC News, Carter said “a more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer

Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer

Sweden has dropped some of its charges against Julian Assange.

Wall Street Journal, Sweden Runs Out of Time on Parts of Assange Probe.

STOCKHOLM—Swedish prosecutors on Thursday ran out of time to pursue two of four investigations into allegations of sexual assault against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning.

Prosecutors said that probes into suspected unlawful coercion and sexual molestation would be dropped as the five-year limit that Swedish law allows for such charges to be brought has come to an end.

The five-year deadline for a second count of sexual molestation will be reached Aug. 18, prosecutors said. If the statute of limitation on that allegation also comes into effect, Mr. Assange would be left facing a single, more serious accusation of rape, over which prosecutors have until 2020 to question him….

Mr. Assange was accused of the crimes by two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010. Prosecutors requested Mr. Assange return to Sweden from the U.K to face questioning.

The WikiLeaks founder, who denies the crimes, refused to return to Sweden, saying he feared he would extradited from Sweden to the U.S. where he could face trial over the publication by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. documents.

Assange says he is disappointed, according to BBC News.

The Wikileaks founder said he was “extremely disappointed” and said the Swedish prosecutor had avoided hearing his side of the story….

He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, fearing he would then be sent to the US for questioning about the activities of Wikileaks.

Under Swedish law, charges cannot be laid without interviewing the suspect.

Mr Assange said he was innocent and claimed prosecutors had refused to visit him at the embassy.

They also refused to promise not to send him to the US if he were to go to Sweden, he said.

Mr Assange said: “I am strong but the cost to my family is unacceptable.”

The new novel, by Winslow Homer

The new novel, by Winslow Homer

In clown car news, Mike Huckabee said some more insane things about Planned Parenthood and abortion.

Talking Points Memo, Huckabee: DOJ Should ‘Criminally Prosecute Planned Parenthood.’

“I would also invoke the 15th and Fourteenth Amendments,” he said on Wednesday. “This is the power that we have to stop this incredible, barbaric scourge of abortion. Not just stop funding Planned Parenthood, but we need to invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendment. The Fifth Amendment guarantees due process for every person. The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law for every person.”

Huckabee said that he believes that unborn children are people, guaranteeing them Fifth and 14th Amendment rights.

“I would take that position. I would act on behalf of those unborn children, and I would let those who want to slaughter babies, those who want to sell their body parts, let them sue me,” he said.

In response, Melissa McEwan writes:

Again, this is less like chipping away at Roe and more like taking a bulldozer to it.

I have said many times (for instance) that fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them, that the potential life of every fetus is more important than the actual life of a pregnant person. Never has this been more clear.

If Mike Huckabee, or any of his fellow Republican candidates, had their way, fetuses would have not equivalent rights, but more rights than any pregnant person.

Protip, Huckabee: “Slaughtering babies” is already against the law.

The country school, by Winslow Homer

The country school, by Winslow Homer

CNN reports on a study showing that kids in elementary school are getting crushing amounts of homework.

Kids have three times too much homework, study finds; what’s the cost?

The study, published Wednesday in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended by education leaders, in some cases nearly three times as much homework as is recommended.

The standard, endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association, is the so-called “10-minute rule” — 10 minutes per grade level per night. That translates into 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, 20 minutes in the second grade, all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year of high school. The NEA and the National PTA do not endorse homework for kindergarten….

Parents reported first-graders were spending 28 minutes on homework each night versus the recommended 10 minutes. For second-graders, the homework time was nearly 29 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes recommended.

And kindergartners, their parents said, spent 25 minutes a night on after-school assignments, according to the study carried out by researchers from Brown University, Brandeis University, Rhode Island College, Dean College, the Children’s National Medial Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

Homer, Winslow 6

That is ridiculous and harmful. Children at younger ages learn far more from play and interacting with other kids than from regimented school assignments.

“It is absolutely shocking to me to find out that particularly kindergarten students (who) are not supposed to have any homework at all … are getting as much homework as a third-grader is supposed to get,” said Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

“Anybody who’s tried to keep a 5-year-old at a table doing homework for 25 minutes after school knows what that’s like. I mean children don’t want to be doing, they want to be out playing, they want to be interacting and that’s what they should be doing. That’s what’s really important.”

The Pope is coming to the U.S., and one of his stops will be at a jail in Philadelphia.

Reuters: At drab Philadelphia jail, anxious times precede papal visit.

One of 17 stops on the pope’s first U.S. tour, the visit to the inner-city jail is a reminder of the emphasis the Argentine pontiff has placed on social justice issues since being named head of the Roman Catholic Church in March 2013.

The pope’s stop at the Philadelphia facility will be the latest in a series of prison visits by Francis, an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and lengthy prison terms. He has counseled teenagers in juvenile detention in Brazil. In Bolivia, he kissed inmates in the country’s most violent prison.

His visit also comes at a time when a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are questioning tough criminal sentencing policies that have left the United States with the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. Barack Obama, who last month became the first sitting U.S. president to tour a federal penitentiary, has called for legislation overhauling sentencing rules.

Advocates for prisoner rights say they are pleased the pope has decided to put the issue on his agenda during the U.S. tour, which will include attending a conference on family life in Philadelphia, plus stops in Washington and New York.

Morning glories, by Winslow Homer

Morning glories, by Winslow Homer

I was going to write about Hillary and the media’s obsession with her emails, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, here’s an inspirational piece from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at #HillaryMen.

Hillary’s Path to History Will Get Much Rougher and She’s Ready.

There is a manic urge among the media, the GOP and the elite commentariat to Stop Hillary – to block a woman from reaching the pinnacle of American political leadership.

Each poll, news story or issue that appears to harm her is seized upon with a strange combination of desperation and glee. It’s an unsavory process but Hillary knew what she was in for when she decided to seek the presidency a second time.

As #HillaryMen, we’re undaunted by the negative stories, unwavering in our support for Hillary and unyielding in our commitment to help smash the ultimate gender barrier.

Ending a 44-0 shutout that has lasted nearly a quarter millennium was never going to be easy. There is no cakewalk to the White House. And certainly not for a woman.

We’ve worked in politics and media for nearly two decades. Peter is a veteran of two presidential campaigns, including Hillary’s 2008 run. We’ve seen every permutation of every attack, every rise and fall in the polls, every gaffe and every zinger, every debate moment and debate aftermath, every nervous election night and every election surprise.

We know what lies ahead for Hillary’s campaign and we realize there will be times when the obstacles seem insurmountable. They are not.

For all practical purposes, the 2016 race is just getting underway. As the first summer of the campaign winds down, the rhetoric heats up and political prognostications start climbing in pitch. The fall frenzy begins in a matter of weeks.

I plan to head over to #HillaryMen every time I get angry and/or anxious about something written or said about her in the media. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a link to “The Facts about Hillary Clinton’s Emails” at her campaign website.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and enjoy your Thursday.


Friday Reads

Republicans be like
It’s Friday!

I’ve found a few things that make for interesting reading so let’s get started.

Why have Democratic Governors and Republican Mayors become rare?  This is a great article describing which party seems to have a lock on what levels of state, local and national politics.  It’s hard to imagine any one wanting to live in a state with a Republican governor given the miserable economic and civil rights performance of states that have them.  Here’s the explanation for this particular office.  Is one of the few offices where it’s not the economy that matters?  Like many elections, it’s a matter of who tends to turn out when the election occurs.

Historically, gubernatorial elections have tended to be up for grabs between the parties. Statewide electorates are sufficiently eclectic to encourage candidates in both parties to run toward the center, expanding their bases. But the pattern of results is changing, and for an unexpected reason.

For obscure reasons, 36 states hold their gubernatorial contests during midterm cycles. This hasn’t seemed to matter much in the past. But in recent elections, the types of voters who cast ballots in midterm elections has diverged significantly from those that do in presidential cycles. Midterm electorates tend to be smaller, whiter, older and more Republican; presidential electorates tend to be larger, more demographically diverse, and more Democratic.

This pattern helped Republican gubernatorial candidates in 2010. That year, the GOP won governorships in such bluish states as Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and Wisconsin. But it proved to be an even bigger help in 2014, another GOP wave year. On the eve of the 2014 election, Governing’s final handicapping of the gubernatorial seats included an unusually large field of 12 tossup races. In a neutral environment, one would expect these races to go roughly half to one party and half to the other. Instead, Republican candidates won eight of those 12 races, plus another contest in Maryland that had been rated lean Democratic. Highly vulnerable Republican incumbents, such as Sam Brownback in Kansas, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Rick Scott in Florida and Paul LePage in Maine, also won new terms, buoyed by the GOP-friendly electorate.

Currently, the breakdown of the gubernatorial ranks is 31 Republicans, 18 Democrats and one independent. Historically, the number of Republican governors has only been that high on rare occasions, so it’s likely that the GOP number will fall somewhat in the coming years, especially after the 2018 election, when a number of two-term Republican governors will be term-limited out, creating competitive open seats. Still, on balance, it’s going to be a tough challenge for Democrats to take back governorships when so many of them are contested during midterm election cycles.

I’m just going to let the headline speak for itself in this analysis piece by Hillary’s Communication’s Director Jennifer Palmieri,  “Hillary Clinton’s No Good, (Record-Breaking, Poll-Winning), Very Bad Week.”HIllary

If you believe the mood and headlines from some of the press, it’s been a pretty rough week for Hillary Clinton. While there was widespread and substantive coverage of the rollout of her economic agenda, politically, it’s a different story. One poll showed so much trouble for Hillary that she only had a higher favorability number than any other candidate it tested.

Even worse, multiple polls released this week show that she leads every candidate running in head-to-head matchups. While it is widely known that the growing Hispanic electorate is critical in deciding the election, new polling shows that Hillary Clinton has a disastrous 68 percent approval rating among Hispanic voters and only leads her closest Republican competition (Bush) by 37 points, 64% to 27%.

Not only that, she raised a record amount of primary money for a candidate in their first quarter, with only $8 million (a sum larger than most Republican campaigns raised in total) in donations of less than $200. Hillary also spent too much money building her organization and was only left with more cash on hand than any other campaign raised and more in the bank than the top three Republican campaigns combined.

It’s true. Hillary is left in the terrible position of having the most resources of any candidate and being voters’ top choice to be the next President of the United States.

So, now for the news from the crazy side of the politic spectrum.  You know that highly doctored video on Planned Parenthood that every low iq Republican christofascist has fallen for?  Well, Republicans are going to make hay with it despite the fact that nearly no legitimate media outlet has even gone near it because it’s so obviously stupid.  Republicans are after Planned Parenthood again and will be pushing more–if possible–stupid laws meant to meant to ensure our constitutionally protected right to an abortion is next to impossible to act on. Nullification any one?

Republicans on Capitol Hill are betting the secretly filmed Planned Parenthood video — depicting an executive allegedly discussing the sale of fetal organs from terminated pregnancies — will give them cover to more aggressively push abortion issues without the political ramifications that have haunted the party in the past.

In recent years, Republicans have worked to soften their tone when it comes to contentious issues such as abortion, wanting to avoid a repeat of gaffes like Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments that have turned off many female voters.

ut now, the GOP is going hard on abortion politics — and Planned Parenthood specifically — following the release of the video depicting a top official for the group casually talking about doctors collecting fetal organs for biomedical companies during abortions.

“The gravity of the situation most definitely” changes things, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told POLITICO Thursday. “This is not just Republicans. It’s independents. It’s Democrats…. Americans don’t want their tax dollars spent doing what they’re doing.”

McCarthy is already talking about defunding the organization through the appropriations process. And in the Senate, GOP leaders who have been eyeing a vote on legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks of gestation say this will give them momentum to clear the bill later this session.

“I think it really probably enhances the prospects of something like that passing right now,” South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the third-ranking Senate Republican, said Thursday. “I think that’s such an egregious, awful, horrible example out there, which I think just elevates the importance of addressing it. So I think it probably helps the bill.”

Planned Parenthood says the video is a misconstrued smear campaign using “heavily edited videos to make outrageous claims about programs that help women donate fetal tissue for medical research.”

Of course, the drive for all of this usually comes from the same people that poor shame while ensuring no one makes a living wage.  Here’s an article on How the American South Drive the Low Wage Economy from American Prospect’s Harold Meyerson.

The American South before the Civil War was the low-wage—actually, the no-wage—anchor of the first global production chain.

Today, as the auto and aerospace manufacturers of Europe and East Asia open low-wage assembly plants in Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi, the South has assumed a comparable role once more. Indeed, the South today shares more features with its antebellum ancestor than it has in a very long time. Now as then, white Southern elites and their powerful allies among non-Southern business interests seek to expand to the rest of the nation the South’s subjugation of workers and its suppression of the voting rights of those who might oppose their policies. In fact, now more than then, the South’s efforts to spread its values across America are advancing, as Northern Republicans adopt their Southern counterparts’ antipathy to unions and support for voter suppression, and as workers’ earnings in the North fall toward Southern levels. And now as then, a sectional backlash against Southern norms has emerged that, when combined with the Southern surge, is again creating two nations within one.

Bill Clinton and CharlotteSo, here’s a cute break and a picture of Baby Charlotte and her Grandad!! There are more at this like from the UK’s Daily Mail.

Bill Clinton was spotted spending some quality time with his granddaughter Charlotte on Thursday morning.

The pair were photographed in New York City’s Madison Square Park as the former president took the infant to see a kids concert.

This is not the first time Clinton has been on babysitting duty either, saying last week that he and wife Hillary were recently in charge of the tiny tyke for her parents.

President Obama continues to be on a roll that cements his legacy.  Alaska’s Governor announced his will be the 30th state to take the Medicaid Expansion offered through the ACA.  

Gov. Bill Walker said Thursday he would use his executive power to expand the public Medicaid health-care program to newly cover as many as 40,000 low-income residents.

The decision comes after the Alaska Legislature earlier this year rejected Walker’s efforts to expand the program through the state budget process, then adjourned without allowing a vote on a separate expansion bill.

Republicans seem to be okay with living breathing people dying, starving, and living lives with no future.  Zygotes get preferential treatment while they assign folks to living hells.

Here is a good list from Robert Reich on The Three Biggest Lies republican tell about poverty.

Lie #2: Jobs reduce poverty.

Senator Marco Rubio said poverty is best addressed not by raising the minimum wage or giving the poor more assistance but with “reforms that encourage and reward work.”

This has been the standard Republican line ever since Ronald Reagan declared that the best social program is a job. A number of Democrats have adopted it as well. But it’s wrong.

Surely it’s better to be poor and working than to be poor and unemployed. Evidence suggests jobs are crucial not only to economic well-being but also to self-esteem. Long-term unemployment can even shorten life expectancy.

But simply having a job is no bulwark against poverty. In fact, across America the ranks of the working poor have been growing. Around one-fourth of all American workers are now in jobs paying below what a full-time, full-year worker needs in order to live above the federally defined poverty line for a family of four.

Why are more people working but still poor? First of all, more jobs pay lousy wages.

While low-paying industries such as retail and fast food accounted for 22 percent of the jobs lost in the Great Recession, they’ve generated 44 percent of the jobs added since then, according to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project.

Second, the real value of the minimum wage continues to drop. This has affected female workers more than men because more women are at the minimum wage.

Third, government assistance now typically requires recipients to be working. This hasn’t meant fewer poor people. It’s just meant more poor people have jobs.

Bill Clinton’s welfare reform of 1996 pushed the poor into jobs, but they’ve been mostly low-wage jobs without ladders into the middle class. The Earned Income Tax Credit, a wage subsidy, has been expanded, but you have to be working in order to qualify.

Work requirements haven’t reduced the number or percent of Americans in poverty. They’ve merely increased the number of working poor – a term that should be an oxymoron.

Meanwhile, the man most responsible for the mess that is Greece is now a Billionaire. All of his wealth has come from Goldman Sachs but not his salary.  However, he has said this about the poor.  Too bad he hasn’t acted on getting laws passed to relieve poverty.

In recent years, Blankfein has spoken about the need for public policies that promote fairer distribution of wealth while not overly crimping its creation.

“I know I’m a big fat cat, plutocrat kind of guy, but I will tell you I’ve been the beneficiary of some of these redistribution policies,” Blankfein told business school students in South Africa in April, noting he grew up in public housing and got need-based scholarships to Harvard. “Sometimes I wish I had amnesia, because there’s lots of things I’d like to forget, but that isn’t one of them.”

President Obama was met with Confederate flags while heading toward an Oklahoma prison for this speech.  The president is taking on mandatory minimums for small drug “crimes”.  The Confederate Flag waving was shameful.  The speech was compelling.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

bathing_beauty_striped_swim

Sorry this will be a little short. I have a friend from Ft. Worth visiting me, so my on-line time is a bit limited at the moment.  However, it’s been really hot and steamy so I have to say that it is a relief to stay inside and just watch the sun go down. I have no idea why anyone wants to extend the summer days in this kind of heat.

The biggest story of the week is that debt-ridden Detroit has filed for bankruptcy.

Detroit, the cradle of America’s automobile industry and once the nation’s fourth-most-populous city, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the largest American city ever to take such a course.

The decision, confirmed by officials after it trickled out in late afternoon news reports, also amounts to the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history in terms of debt.

“This is a difficult step, but the only viable option to address a problem that has been six decades in the making,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, who authorized the move after a recommendation from the emergency financial manager he had appointed to resolve Detroit’s dire financial situation.

Not everyone agrees how much Detroit owes, but Kevyn D. Orr, the emergency manager, has said the debt is likely to be $18 billion and perhaps as much as $20 billion.

For Detroit, the filing came as a painful reminder of a city’s rise and fall.

“It’s sad, but you could see the writing on the wall,” said Terence Tyson, a city worker who learned of the bankruptcy as he left his job at Detroit’s municipal building on Thursday evening. Like many there, he seemed to react with muted resignation and uncertainty about what lies ahead, but not surprise. “This has been coming for ages.”

Detroit expanded at a stunning rate in the first half of the 20th century with the arrival of the automobile industry, and then shrank away in recent decades at a similarly remarkable pace. A city of 1.8 million in 1950, it is now home to 700,000 people, as well as to tens of thousands of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and unlit streets.

From here, there is no road map for Detroit’s recovery, not least of all because municipal bankruptcies are rare. State officials said ordinary city business would carry on as before, even as city leaders take their case to a judge, first to prove that the city is so financially troubled as to be eligible for bankruptcy, and later to argue that Detroit’s creditors and representatives of city workers and municipal retirees ought to settle for less than they once expected.

Some bankruptcy experts and city leaders bemoaned the likely fallout from the filing, including the stigma. They anticipate further benefit cuts for city workers and retirees, more reductions in services for residents, and a detrimental effect on borrowing.

endless-summer-full-flatThe strict Texas law put into place to stop women from exercising their constitutional right to abortion has begun to take its toll.

Planned Parenthood on Wednesday informed staff at three of its facilities in Texas that they would be closing, according to people familiar with the decision.

The three clinics are located in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin, Texas. They are closing in response to a new package of abortion restrictions signed into law on Thursday and funding cuts to Texas’ Women’s Health Program that were passed by the Texas state legislature in 2011. Out of the three Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing, only the Bryan clinic performs abortions.

“In recent years, Texas politicians have created an increasingly hostile environment for providers of reproductive health care in underserved communities. Texans with little or no access to health care services have been deeply affected by state budget cuts to programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers and dozens of others that provided lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams and birth control,” said Melaney A. Linton, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.”

“The combined impact of years of budget cuts to women’s health care services and the dismantling of the successful Women’s Health Program will take affordable, preventive health care options away from women in Bryan, Lufkin and Huntsville — just as these policies have taken health care away from an estimated 130,000 others — when Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is forced to close these family planning health centers at the end of August,” she said.

Some anti-choice legislators are trying to make the recently passed Texas bill even worse.

On Thursday, three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.

The Texas legislature is currently in the midst of a special session that was convened specifically to give lawmakers more time to consider abortion restrictions. The session will end on July 31. Until then, GOP lawmakers have been busy proposing a slew of anti-abortion bills in the hopes of being able to rush them through.

One of those bills, a measure to ban abortion after 20 weeks and shut down the majority of the states’ abortion clinics, has captured national attention over the past several weeks as thousands of Texans have rallied at the capitol in protest. The legislature gave final approval to that bill on Saturday, and Gov. Rick Perry (R) just signed it into law on Thursday morning. But that’s not enough to satisfy Reps. Phil King (R), Dan Flynn (R), and Geanie Morrison (R) — whofiled HB 59 on the same day that Perry signed the controversial abortion restrictions.

So-called “heartbeat” bills are so radical that they divide the anti-choice community. In addition to criminalizing the vast majority of abortions, they also mandate invasive ultrasound procedures for women seeking abortions. In order to detect a fetal heartbeat so early in a pregnancy, doctors typically have to use a transvaginal probe.

`Meanwhile, back in Virginia, the GOP candidate for Governor wants to reinstate the laws against oral sex!

In an unusual move, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), his party’s nominee for governor, launched a  new campaign website Wednesday highlighting his  efforts to reinstate Virginia’s unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law. The rule, which makes felons out of even consenting married couples who engage in oral or anal sex in the privacy of their own homes, was  struck down by federal courts after Cuccinelli blocked efforts to bring it in line with the Supreme Court’s 2003  Lawrence v. Texas ruling.

The new site, vachildpredators.com, highlights 90 people identified “sexual predators” in Virginia who have been charged under the  law since the 2003 ruling, which held that states could not ban private, non-commercial sexual relations between consenting adults. Cuccinelli warns that these offenders “could come off Virginia’s sex offender registry if a Virginia law used to protect children is not upheld,” and identifies the sodomy law as only the “Anti-Child Predators Law.” While it is true that many sex offenders are charged under the Crimes Against Nature law, it is far from the only tool prosecutors have to  punish child predators.

 
dog-ladyIt is possible that some very wonderful paintings that were stolen in an art heist were destroyed by the thief’s mother in her home’s oven.

Did a cache of priceless stolen art go up in smoke in a Romanian village?

That’s what the art world is afraid of, amid reports that museum forensic specialists from Romania‘s National History Museum are analyzing ashes found in an oven in the village of the mother of the suspected heist ringleader.

The Associated Press reports that according to Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, the museum’s director, investigators found “small fragments of painting primer, the remains of canvas, the remains of paint” and copper and steel nails, some of which pre-dated the 20th century, in an oven in the village of Caracliu where Olga Dogaru lives. Mrs. Dogaru’s son was arrested in January in connection with the theft of seven paintings – including works by Matisse, Monet, and Picasso – from Rotterdam‘s Kunsthal museum last October.

So, that’s it’ from me today.  I’m going to spend some more time with my friend!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today!


Late Night Open Thread: Rabbit…Rabbit… Message…Message

Good Late Evening!

I’ve spent the night watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit? This film came out in 1988…can you believe it? I love this flick.

“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way…”

So…According to this article in RH Reality Check, the phrase “Pro-Choice” is going to become a thing of the past. Honestly, I don’t like the new slogan. After “Pro-Choice”: What’s Next for Our Messaging?

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) recently announced that it would move away from “choice” language in its messaging. As PPFA President Cecile Richards argued, the term “pro-choice” no longer resonates with many younger advocates and voters, nor does it reflect the complexity of reproductive health decision making. But the move raises an important question that the movement now must answer: what’s next for our messaging?

During the recent media coverage surrounding Roe v. Wade’s 40th anniversary, the term “reproductive justice” was often cited as a framework that better appeals to young people since it encapsulates economics, race/ethnicity, environment, sexual orientation, and other contexts that affect access to reproductive rights. While many of us advocates welcome the opportunity to have a discussion about reproductive justice (RJ), it’s important to note that individuals in the media are often unclear about how to discuss RJ and may not fully grasp what it means.

I don’t think Reproductive Justice is going to help get the message across, and RJ sounds like a damn low-testosterone condition.

As communications strategist and full-spectrum doula Miriam Zoila Pérez noted in a recent post, “Reproductive justice isn’t a simple concept that can be explained in a sound bite. But because of that, it also better mirrors the complex world we live in than a label like pro-choice or pro-life ever could.” Furthermore, RJ isn’t an identity, so it isn’t a replacement for “pro-choice.”

The fact that Planned Parenthood, the biggest, most well-known reproductive health provider in the nation, is abandoning “pro-choice” terminology is a sign that the movement needs to find more relevant ways to talk about these issues—ways that better connect to people’s real-life experiences. When abortion access is under attack at the local, state, and federal levels, holding on to stigmatized messaging that doesn’t work inside or outside the Beltway is obstinate and myopic.

What do you all think about the phrase, Reproductive Justice?

moving away from “pro-choice” language won’t mean that discussions about abortion will be displaced. Many vocal RJ leaders and advocates do significant work on the ground to promote abortion access. But an RJ framework is more inclusive than that; it allows us to deconstruct the conditions that limit access to abortion, contraception, comprehensive sex education, and more.

Eesha Pandit of Men Stopping Violence and the National Network of Abortion Funds points out that even if we drop the term “pro-choice,” mainstream reproductive rights organizers won’t suddenly adopt the RJ framework. “On one hand, there’s the co-opting of ‘reproductive justice’ within reproductive rights and reproductive health communities. That’s problematic because it makes the real point of reproductive justice and the work that women of color have done in creating the framework, completely invisible. Just using the term ‘reproductive justice’ does not mean that the framework or the perspective is in an intersectional frame,” she told RH Reality Check. Changing language is irrelevant if the reproductive rights community doesn’t shift its approach. But introducing RJ as a framework can help the media make these important connections.

When I think of the word justice, I think of someone being a victim and looking for justice….why not just call it reproductive rights? Or find another word salad that can be made into a catchy acronym? I guess Pro-Choice isn’t going anywhere soon, but this “RJ” sucks.

Since I am enjoying this fabulous classic movie, just a couple of more links for you tonight.

This next link is also about messaging, on the GOP side: A muddled message gets messier and more mendacious

With the sequestration cuts just days away, Republicans have spent the last several focused on rhetoric instead of policy. By any sensible standard, GOP policymakers have invested no real effort on resolving the problem, and have instead devoted all of their energies in winning a public-relations fight once the sequester starts doing real damage.

And with this in mind, one might expect their message to be amazing. After all, once a political party gives up on governing and focuses solely on messaging, it’s stands to reason they’ll be pretty good at it.

And yet, Republicans’ sequestration message “is all over the place.” GOP leaders believe the sequester will be awful but they want to let it happen. The policy was integral to the Republican fiscal plan and it’s entirely the White House’s idea. When Republicans say the cuts will hurt, that’s fine; when Democrats say the cuts will hurt, it’s evidence of scare tactics.

And now Republicans are simultaneously convinced the cuts will hurt and help the economy.

One of Georgia’s brilliant </snark> representatives is spouting off a load of crap:

Rep. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a likely U.S. Senate candidate, argued over the weekend that sequestration cuts “must” happen in order to “get this economy rolling again.”

As a matter of economic policy, Price’s argument is practically gibberish. Taking billions out of the economy and forcing public sector workers from their jobs does not get an economy “rolling,” unless we’re talking about “rolling” downhill. Independent economic estimates, including that of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, suggest these cuts will likely cost the U.S. economy 750,000 jobs just this year, which leads to legitimate questions about whether Price, a member of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, has the foggiest idea what he’s talking about.

But the larger point is, Price’s comments offer a reminder that Republicans don’t even agree with other Republicans. If the sequester will “get this economy rolling again,” why is Price’s party so eager to blame the policy on President Obama? Why are some far-right House Republicans saying these cuts will do real harm while other far-right House Republicans say the exact opposite?

More commentary and video at the link…

Perhaps both of these messages would be easier to get across if the politicians used the technique we saw Jennifer Lawrence use at her press interview after she won the award for Best Actress. Politicians Can Take A Lesson From Jennifer Lawrence’s Mocking Post-Oscar Press Conference

For the press who she ruthlessly mocked and whose questions she reluctantly answered in a glib but charming fashion, Lawrence may not have been their favorite interview of the night.

When asked what the “process” was for preparing to come to the Oscars, Lawrence replied – with all the sincerity and lack of affectation that one would expect from anyone other than an Academy Award-winning actress – that she woke up, took a shower, tried on the dress and “came to the Oscars.” That last bit delivered with a bit of faux pomposity she knows the reporter was expecting.

“I’m sorry,” Lawrence added. “I did a shot before I…”

Lawrence displayed humility and self-deprecation – it was disarming. Probably due mostly to that particular character trait’s conspicuous paucity in Hollywood, as well as Washington D.C.

“The fall up to the stage,” another reporter then asked regarding a minor trip that Lawrence encountered on her way on stage to accept the Oscar. “Was it on purpose? Absolutely,” Lawrence said, simultaneously anticipating and rejecting the reporter’s premise before it had even been submitted. “What happened?” the reporter asked. “What do you mean ‘what happened?’ Lawrence replied. “Look at my dress.”

Contentious, but entirely lacking in aggression. Mocking, but buttressed by a transcendent likeability.

You can read more about who else has that special touch when it comes to dealing with the press. (Can you guess which politician is gifted with such talents?) I don’t know if I agree completely with the article’s assessment, but it does make a point. I guess.

Alright, that is all I got for tonight…Enjoy this bit of fun from Roger Rabbit.

And this great tune by Jessica Rabbit.

BTW, Jessica Rabbit’s speaking voice was performed by Kathleen Turner, and her singing voice was performed by Amy Irving. Turner was uncredited.

This is an open thread…


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

Much is being made of the election results that delivered a sound thumping to Republicans and their agenda to restrict the rights of women and minorities and to provide benefits to the wealthy and powerful.  A record number of women will be serving in the US Senate.  Five new women will be headed there.  Of all the significant races, Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren appears to have garnered the most hope and angst. Simon Johnson considers her election “important”.

Senator Warren is well placed, not just to play a role in strengthening Congressional oversight but also in terms of helping her colleagues think through what we really need to make our financial system more stable.

We need a new approach to regulation more generally – and not just for banking. We should aim to simplify and to make matters more transparent, exactly along Senator Warren’s general lines.

We should confront excessive market power, irrespective of the form that it takes.

We need a new trust-busting moment. And this requires elected officials willing and able to stand up to concentrated and powerful corporate interests. Empower the consumer – and figure out how this can get you elected.

Agree with the people of Massachusetts, and give Elizabeth Warren every opportunity.

Laura Gottesdiener thinks Warren’s election may usher in the end of the Tea Party.

Warren, who beat out the incumbent Republican Scott Brown in a bitter election, ran a campaign centered on connecting the dots between economic policies and personal values. A Harvard bankruptcy-law professor, Warren trumpeted a platform that called for economic reform, financial regulation and the protection of Social Security, Medicare and other safety-net programs.

“We said this election is about whose side you’re on,” Warren told The Huffington Post . “I think of this as an election where we stuck to our values: Make sure Social Security and Medicare benefits are protected, and millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. To me, that’s the heart of it. That’s really where the basic social contract is reaffirmed.”

This type of populist platform became increasingly risky after Citizens United allowed for the infusion of billions of dollars into state elections. Warren was already well disliked on Wall Street for her role in creating and heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog agency that seeks “to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans — whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products.”

 Warren may be given a seat on the powerful senate banking committee which has to be worrying Wall Street.

Senior Senate Democratic aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Massachusetts senator-elect is a logical fit for the committee, even though it is rare for a freshman senator to get such a plum assignment.

If she gets the slot, Warren’s bully pulpit would be replaced with real power.

The bipartisan panel can greatly influence policy decisions through its oversight of financial services, international trade, insurance, housing, securities and economic issues.

Warren, who has called for breaking up the big banks, could move to block legislative tweaks to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law that would blunt the full impact of profit-pummeling reforms.

She would also be able to forcefully push for regulators to use all the powers available to them to write strict interpretations of rules.

That could mean stronger curbs on Wall Street trading, higher capital buffers and rules that would compel mega-banks to shrink.

Warren and other Senators will have to watch the President and Speaker of the House as they battle of the so-called fiscal cliff before getting their say in the budget.

While no can say for sure how the negotiations to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” — the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and impending across-the-board spending cuts — will unfold, the betting here is it will get ugly before it gets better.

First, virtually no one believes what happened last time will happen this time: President Obamawon’t cave on extending tax cuts for upper income earners.

So will House Republicans come to the table voluntarily, before the first of the year? Or will it require all hell breaking loose — an expiration of the income and payroll tax cuts, sequestration, the estate tax, and the AMT kicking in, cap gains and dividend rates rising — before they are forced to come kicking and screaming to an agreement?

The president holds a lot of leverage here — not just because he just won, Democrats expanded their majority in the Senate, and gained seats in the House. He holds leverage because, structurally, we’re talking about tax cuts that are expiring. His position is clear: The rate for the wealthiest will be allowed to go up. If he is willing to go to the wall and let the the lower rates expire, pressure shifts to House Speaker John Boehner to make a deal before his conference is isolated by the business community, which more than anything wants D.C. to just cut a deal, and Senate Republicans, who cut a deal and sold Boehner out last time. Add to that a tanking market and mounting economic hysteria, and that’s a lot of pressure on the House GOP true believers, Allen West or no Allen West.

The conventional wisdom is that Obama and Republicans will make a short term deal on taxes and sequestration — kicking that can down the road yet again — contingent on agreement on a “framework” for tax reform to be done in the first part of 2013.

There is incentive for Boehner to try and make an early deal, before the first of the year. The question, as always, is will he have the votes to allow tax rates on the wealthy to rise? Seems doubtful. He would have to be a pretty firm and big commitment from Obama on tax and entitlement reform to get them to go along.

Is it a matter of who will blink first?  Here’s a conversation between Ramesh Ponnuru and Margaret Carlson.  This is Ponnur’s take.

Does Boehner mean that tax reform should raise money by cutting tax breaks more than it cuts tax rates? Or does he mean that it should raise money just by encouraging economic growth?

If it’s the first, Boehner is going to have a problem with conservatives — especially Grover Norquist, the party’s anti- tax enforcer. If it’s the second, he’s not talking about much revenue.

That’s a bargain that sounds grand to me, but liberals who just won an election might disagree, don’t you think? My guess is he’s being ambiguous so he can gauge the reaction.

Another question: What leverage does Boehner have, and what leverage does he think he has? Obama doesn’t have to cut any deal to get a lot of extra revenue. He can let taxes go up as scheduled and challenge the Republicans to cut them only for the middle class. Republicans can either go along or decide not to and then blame him for the resulting middle-class tax hikes. Who likes their odds better in that fight?

Republicans have another bit of leverage, beyond the threat of blaming Democrats for tax increases: We’re getting close to hitting the debt ceiling again, and in the normal order of thingsHouse Republicans would have to agree to lift it.

Carlson has this to say.

In an election that was otherwise a debacle for Republicans, the House held its majority, and Boehner holds the gavel as long as he coddles his most extreme members. So he will.

Meanwhile, the president (unless you see something in him, Ramesh, that I don’t) still believes in this hope-y, change-y stuff Republicans consider a joke. He still sees himself as a historic figure that can bridge the partisan divide.

It is Boehner’s tiny, eensy-weensy bit of openness to dealing with Obama that is enraging conservatives. At the same time, it is playing to Obama’s view of himself. The president’s signature trait is an inability to negotiate from strength. He leads with his best offer. If Obama were buying a car, he’d probably pay full price and leave without radial tires.

In fairness to Obama, it’s foolish to call the bluff of an opposition that’s already shown it will allow the U.S. to default on its debt.

You’re right, Ramesh, that Obama doesn’t have to do anything at all to raise revenue. But he can’t risk raising taxes on the working and middle classes when the economy is still shaky. Republicans, by contrast, are willing to risk anything.

One of the quiet victories of the election is the failure of the NRA whose candidates didn’t do well this election.

The Sunlight Foundation, a campaign watchdog group, found that the NRA’s Political Victory Fund – the political arm of the nation’s largest gun lobbying organization – spent almost $11 million for or against individual candidates in the general elections, but got less than a 1 percent return on its investment.

The NRA, for instance, spent more than $7.4 million in opposition to President Obama and almost $1.9 million in support of Mitt Romney, according to Sunlight. But Obama was the victor on Tuesday, and the NRA had similar bad luck trying to influence Senate and House races.

For example, the group put almost $538,000 behind Indiana Senate contender Richard Mourdock (R), who lost, and spent more than $512,000 to oppose Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who won, according to Sunlight.

Conversely, Planned Parenthood did an outstanding job!

Planned Parenthood’s political wing trounced other groups with a near perfect return on its election spending, according to a new numbers review.

The Sunlight Foundation found that Planned Parenthood’s advocacy arm and super-PAC spent about $5 million and $7 million, respectively, to oppose Republicans and support Democrats in the general election.

In the end, the two groups saw returns on investment of about 98 and 99 percent, according to Sunlight.

The figures come as election-watchers pick apart the most expensive cycle in history. Republicans’ loss in the presidential race and failure to claim the Senate came as a surprise to outside donors, many of whom spent millions to ensure GOP victories.

Planned Parenthood’s political wing played an outsized role in the general election, compared to cycles past. The flood of political activity came as Republicans vowed to end Planned Parenthood’s federal funding as a healthcare provider for low-income women. Conservatives argue that while the law technically bans public funds from supporting abortions, taxpayer money need not flow to a group that performs the procedures.

The election covered a wide range of women’s health issues in addition to public funds for Planned Parenthood, giving the group ample chance to advocate in favor of abortion rights and access to free birth control.

The only outside groups that came close to beating Planned Parenthood’s return on investment were Majority PAC, which fought for Democratic Senate candidates, with a success rate of about 88 percent, and the Service Employees International Union PEA-Federal, with about an 85 percent success rate.

I’ll end with offering some beautiful finds in a Thracian burial site in Bulgaria.


The researchers found fragments of a wooden box, containing charred bones and ashes, along with a number of extremely well-preserved golden objects, dated from the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century B. C.. They include four spiral gold bracelets, and a number of intricate applications like one which shows the head of a female goddess adorned with beads, applications on horse riding gear and a forehead covering in the shape of a horse head with a base shaped like a lion head. The objects weigh 1.5 kg, but the excavations continue.

The precious find also contains a ring, buttons and beads. Gergova explains that it seemed the treasure was wrapped in a gold-woven cloth because a number of gold threads were discovered nearby.

The Professor says these were, most likely, remnants from a ritual burial, adding the team expects to discover a huge burial ground, probably related to the funeral of the Gath ruler Kotela, one of the father-in-laws of Philip II of Macedon. She notes this is a unique find, never before discovered in Bulgaria.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Rick Santorum Claims that Abortion is Associated with Breast Cancer

Lying fetus fetishist Rick Santorum

This morning on Fox News Sunday, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination told interviewer Chris Wallace that he disagreed with the Komen Foundation’s reversal on funding Planned Parenthood, because abortion may cause breast cancer. As quoted at Raw Story:

“I’ve taken the position as a presidential candidate and someone in Congress that Planned Parenthood funds and does abortions,” Santorum explained. “They’re a private organization they stand up and support what ever they want.”

I don’t believe that breast cancer research is advanced by funding an organization where you’ve seen ties to cancer and abortion,” he added. “So, I don’t think it’s a particularly healthy way of contributing money to further cause of breast cancer, but that’s for a private organization like Susan B. Komen to make that decision.”

That is complete bulls**t. From Raw Story:

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the several small flawed studies that suggested a link between abortion and breast cancer have been disproven.

“Since then, better-designed studies have been conducted,” the institute’s website said. “These newer studies examined large numbers of women, collected data before breast cancer was found, and gathered medical history information from medical records rather than simply from self-reports, thereby generating more reliable findings. The newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk.”

In 2002, according to the article in Raw Story, the Bush administration

temporarily altered NCI’s website to say that scientific evidence supported a possible link between abortion and breast cancer. After an outcry from the scientific community, NCI corrected its website with an accurate fact sheet.

A study released by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) (PDF) in 2006 found that the Bush administration also used pregnancy resource centers — commonly known as “crisis pregnancy centers” — to falsely inform pregnant teens that the risk of breast cancer increased by 80 percent after an abortion.

Santorum also gave the following quote to Politico writer Juana Summers:

“I’m very disappointed to hear that…It’s unfortunate that public pressure builds to provide money to an organization that goes out and actively is the No. 1 abortion provider in the country. That’s not healthcare. That’s not healthcare at all. Killing little children in the womb is not healthcare. It’s very disappointing that Susan G. Komen would continue to do that, which is a great organization that talks about saving lives, not about ending lives.”

Rick Santorum and his fellow candidates need to STFU. I think it’s time for a Constitutional amendment that says that no man can interfere in womens’ health decisions.