Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Seven advertisers have now dropped Limbaugh’s show after intense pressure.  ProFlowers became the latest to remove its sponsorship saying that his comments about Sandra Fluke “went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company.”

Condemnation has come from a variety of sources outside Republican elected leaders.  Yesterday, George Will said that Republicans were afraid of him even though they thought he was a “buffoon”.

ABC’s George Will said yesterday on “This Week” that GOP leaders have steered clear of harshly denouncing Limbaugh’s comments because “Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”

“[House Speaker John] Boehner comes out and says Rush’s language was inappropriate. Using the salad fork for your entrée, that’s inappropriate. Not this stuff,” Will said. “And it was depressing because what it indicates is that the Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”

ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd said the Republicans’ apprehension to say anything negative about the conservative big hitter is based on the “myth” that Limbaugh influences a large number of Republican voters.

“I think the problem is the Republican leaders, Mitt Romney and the other candidates, don’t have the courage to say what they say in quiet, which, they think Rush Limbaugh is a buffoon,” Dowd said.  ”They think he is like a clown coming out of a small car at a circus.  It’s great he is entertaining and all that.  But nobody takes him seriously.”

I was speaking to BB yesterday about how my experience within higher ed was very unlike Rick Santorum’s accusations that universities are turning students against religion and/or conservative thought.  I have had a large number of extremely conservative colleagues and professors in my time.  So, I was pleased when my anecdotal evidence was backed up by some numbers.  Neil Gross wrote in yesterday’s NYT that “College doesn’t make you liberal”.

But contrary to conservative rhetoric, studies show that going to college does not make students substantially more liberal. The political scientist Mack Mariani and the higher education researcher Gordon Hewitt analyzed changes in student political attitudes between their freshman and senior years at 38 colleges and universities from 1999 to 2003. They found that on average, students shifted somewhat to the left — but that these changes were in line with shifts experienced by most Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 during the same period of time. In addition, they found that students were no more likely to move left at schools with more liberal faculties.

Similarly, the political scientists M. Kent Jennings and Laura Stoker analyzed data from a survey that tracked the political attitudes of about 1,000 high school students through their college years and into middle age. Their research found that the tendency of college graduates to be more liberal reflects to a large extent the fact that more liberal students are more likely to go to college in the first place.

Studies also show that attending college does not make you less religious. The sociologists Jeremy Uecker, Mark Regnerus and Margaret Vaaler examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and found that Americans who pursued bachelor’s degrees were more likely to retain their faith than those who did not, perhaps because life at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder can be rough in ways that chip away at religious belief and participation. They report that students “who did not attend college and two-year college students are much more likely — 61 and 54 percent more, respectively — than four-year college students to relinquish their religious affiliations.”

Right wing populists frequently attack educational institutions and intellectuals.  There’s an interesting piece at Alternet that addresses this phenomenon.  Basically, democracy relies on an informed citizenry and that is the enemy of demagogues and the plutocrats they serve.

Right-wing fundamentalists such as Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum hate public schools, which he suggests are government schools wedded to doing the work of Satan, dressed up in the garb of the Enlightenment. Santorum, true to his love affair with the very secular ideology of privatization, prefers home schooling, which is code for people taking responsibility for whatever social issues or problems they may face, whether it be finding the best education for their children or securing decent health care.

Actually, Santorum and many of his allies dislike any public institution that enables people to think critically and act with a degree of responsibility toward the public. This is one reason why they hate any notion of public education, which harbors the promise, if not the threat, of actually educating students to be thoughtful, self-reflective and capable of questioning so-called common sense and holding power accountable. Of course, some progressives see this as simply another example of how the right wing of the Republican Party seems to think that being stupid is in. But there is more going on here than the issue of whether right-wing fundamentalists are intellectually and politically challenged. What makes critical education, especially, so dangerous to radical Christian evangelicals, neoconservatives and right-wing nationalists in the United States today is that, central to its very definition, is the task of educating students to become critical agents who can actively question and negotiate the relationships between individual troubles and public issues. In other words, students who can lead rather than follow, embrace reasoned arguments over opinions and reject common sense as the engine of truth.

The Hill reports that a number of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are working on a “grand bargain” including cuts to entitlements.

A small, bipartisan group of lawmakers in both the House and Senate are secretly drafting deficit grand bargain legislation that cuts entitlements and raises new revenue.

Sources said that the task of actually writing the bills is well underway, but core participants in the regular meetings do not yet know when the bills can be unveiled.

The core House group of roughly 10 negotiators is derived from a larger Gang of 100 lawmakers led by Reps. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Health Shuler (D-N.C.), who urged the debt supercommittee to strike a grand bargain last year.

That larger group includes GOP centrists like Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), who has said Republicans should abandon their no-new-tax-revenue pledge, as well as Tea Party-backed members like Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).

The key test in the coming months will be to see whether the core group can get buy-in from many of the 100 members who vaguely support “going big” on the deficit once real cuts and tax increases are identified.

The talks are so sensitive that some members involved do not yet want to be identified.

Shuler, who is retiring this year, is keen to establish a legacy as a deficit cutter before leaving Congress and he is involved in the drafting effort.

Ezra Klein has some analysis up on how medical procedures in the US are so much more expensive than any place else in the developed world. It’s called “Why an MRI costs $1,080 in America and $280 in France”.

As it’s difficult to get good data on prices, that paper blamed prices largely by eliminating the other possible culprits. They authors considered, for instance, the idea that Americans were simply using more health-care services, but on close inspection, found that Americans don’t see the doctor more often or stay longer in the hospital than residents of other countries. Quite the opposite, actually. We spend less time in the hospital than Germans and see the doctor less often than the Canadians.

“The United States spends more on health care than any of the other OECD countries spend, without providing more services than the other countries do,” they concluded. “This suggests that the difference in spending is mostly attributable to higher prices of goods and services.”

On Friday, the International Federation of Health Plans — a global insurance trade association that includes more than 100 insurers in 25 countries — released more direct evidence. It surveyed its members on the prices paid for 23 medical services and products in different countries, asking after everything from a routine doctor’s visit to a dose of Lipitor to coronary bypass surgery. And in 22 of 23 cases, Americans are paying higher prices than residents of other developed countries. Usually, we’re paying quite a bit more. The exception is cataract surgery, which appears to be costlier in Switzerland, though cheaper everywhere else.

Prices don’t explain all of the difference between America and other countries. But they do explain a big chunk of it. The question, of course, is why Americans pay such high prices — and why we haven’t done anything about it.

So, that’s a few stories to get things started this morning!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

41 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    In an age where a man has walked on the moon, when technology is the forefront of any progressive society, and medical advances have increased the lifespan of humans, we are today in 2012 discussing women’s rights to control her own body.

    A society in which its proposed leaders are calling for a ban on contraception, family planning, and equal rights.

    I can only describe this as taking one step forward, a thousand steps back.


    • ralphb says:

      It’s like we just walked out of the damn cave and noticed the Sun for the first time. We are so screwed.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    A pundit – whose name escapes me – offered a cogent argument about where Rush gets his “success”.

    Clearchannel owns the rights to his broadcast. The swooped in and took over local stations and made Rush the staple program, forcing these stations to include him whether they wanted to or not.

    Most of these stations broadcast to small towns. The average listener is white, male, and blue collar. Rush “appeals” to their sense of victimhood, diving into their biases and representing their distrust.

    Which is why he is able to spread his venom against women, gays, and minorities without much backlash since his audience basically approves.

    Clearchannel is a national corporation that broadcasts coast to coast. Nowhere is it more entrenched than in the Bible Belt where televangelism and right wing talk radio flourishes.

    Throw in a penchant for gunracks attached to many vehicles and you have the “god and guns”demographic where Rush is held in due respect.

    As long as Rush has that audience to play to he will remain on the air.

    • dakinikat says:

      Rush has been doing this for 20+ years. What horrifies me is that it finally seems to have reached a critical mass. He should’ve had his lynching with either the Amy Carter or Chelsea Clinton comments. I’m not sure how calling the two southern president’s daughters ugly and dogs was entertainment or anything but ugly. I can’t imagine the good ol boys down here in the south thinking that was a proper way to treat two little ladies of the south.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Apparently as of late he has been going after Michele Obama, framing his racism around describing her work outs and interest in obesity. (He may have taken that one personal.)

        He comes as close as possible to the racism line but the dog whistles are received by an audience who thoroughly appreciates those attacks.

        In a family gathering – or a neighborhood setting – he would be challenged if not outright banned from the group

        But slap a few million dollars on his salary and suddenly he becomes an “important voice”.

        Never underestimate the stupidity of those who find this crap “illuminating”.

    • foxyladi14 says:

      tru dat

  3. bostonboomer says:

    When states abuse women, by Nick Kristof

    Quote from a Texas doctor on forced vaginal probes:

    “It’s state-sanctioned abuse,” said Dr. Curtis Boyd, a Texas physician who provides abortions. “It borders on a definition of rape. Many states describe rape as putting any object into an orifice against a person’s will. Well, that’s what this is. A woman is coerced to do this, just as I’m coerced.”

    “The state of Texas is waging war on women and their families,” Dr. Boyd added. “The new law is demeaning and disrespectful to the women of Texas, and insulting to the doctors and nurses who care for them.”

    • ralphb says:

      Just goes hand in hand with this delicious morsel of information.

      Texas has some of the weakest sex-education programs in the nation, and last year it cut spending for family planning by 66 percent.

    • dakinikat says:

      I read that yesterday. I can’t imagine how the women of Texas aren’t planning an uprising right now except most of the rich ones will just find a way to go elsewhere and have access to birth control so they may not care.

      • ralphb says:

        Outside of the Austin paper, daily newspapers in TX do a horrible job of covering state government and the same goes for the TV stations. It wouldn’t surprise me if a large portion of the population doesn’t know this damn situation even exists. That sounds horrible and it certainly is so.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        And to think we could have had Rick Perry had we played our cards right.

      • ralphb says:

        We certainly didn’t want Rick back!

    • Woman Voter says:

      “My sister lost her baby… and my state requires her to see the ultrasound before she aborts it.”


      leeleeleelee submitted: “This is the reality of Texas’ ultrasound for abortion bill. A 30 year old Texas woman’s fetus’ heart stopped beating after 12 weeks. The options given were to wait until miscarriage, give birth to it, or to abort it (the preferred, safest option). She has to look at an ultrasound of her already dead fetus and if she looks away, she will have to listen to the Doctor describe it.”

      This is emotional torture…there is no other reason for this to be done, another example of the WAR ON WOMEN.

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    I am flummoxed that Scott Brown, here in the Commonwealth of MA that is considered by far one of the most liberal in the nation, is ahead of Elizabeth Warren in the polls.

    This idiot just voted “in favor” of the Blunt Amendment allowing employers to determine the coverage of their employees!

    A state that was the first to permit gay marriage is “supporting” Brown, a GOP tool, over Warren, a progressive woman.


    • ralphb says:

      Pat, I doubt that people know what they are really supporting and I think that’s true not only in the case of Brown but all over the country. What passes for “common knowledge” seems to be consistently wrong with a right wing rhetorical bias.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        He represents a party that would eviscerate women’s rights, attacks Social Security, loathes gays, and would stomp all over the separation of church and state.

        Next up: book banning.

        Far fetched? Not really when fundies are allowed to write the curriculum and push for the teaching of creationism alongside science.

        Warren is expected to stand up for the average citizen, and has proven it, while Brown is nothing more than a tool of the Right.

        In a state that repeatedly sent Ted Kennedy to DC, regardless of the flaws exhibited in his private life, I am dumbfounded that Warren would be running from behind.

      • ralphb says:

        Dak, I think that’s the way it is now. Outside of political junkies people are not paying much attention yet.

    • peggysue22 says:

      I’m hoping what Dak’s hoping–that people simply are not paying attention yet. Brown’s position on the Blunt amendment was completely illogical and he tried to tell Patrick Kennedy where his father would have stood on the issue. Jerk!

      In any case, it’s a long way to November and Warren will need to fight for every vote. But she’s a fighter and has proven herself up for a battle. Got my fingers crossed.

  5. ralphb says:

    Little Green Footballs: Everything Is Different Now – the Breitbartocalypse Is Upon Us

    Before his death, Andrew Breitbart had been promising a true BOMBSHELL revelation about Barack Obama, a STUNNER that would finally put an end to Obama’s reign of terror. Some whispered darkly that this may have been the reason for Breitbart’s sudden mysterious collapse.

    Tonight, Breitbart’s fearless heirs have unleashed the BREITBARTOCALYPSE! And Barack Hussein Obama can only cower in terror.

    The earth-shattering scoop that will blow this baby wide open can now be revealed: 14 years ago Obama attended a play in Chicago.

    Yes! A play!

    The subject of this nefarious play: the dreaded Saul Alinsky.

    It’s over, Barack. You should just resign right now like Sarah Palin; you’ll never recover from this blow. It was fun while it lasted.

    • dakinikat says:

      That would be the same Saul Alinsky that Romney’s father likes, wouldn’t it?

      • ralphb says:

        After the play Obama apparently took part in a panel discussion with (horror of horrors) Studs Terkel and some other old labor organizers.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Seriously? This is the bombshell?

      I was under the impression that it was a tape of Obama at a gay party or something along those lines.

      I once went to a lecture given by Henry Kissinger. Does this make me a closet neocon?

      • ralphb says:

        I don’t care it he had video of Obama and a sheep, he’d still be better than Willard, Newt, or Santorum 😉

    • ralphb says:

      Fucking hilarious isn’t it? Breitbart is dead and this is what he had. Yeesh,

      • Pat Johnson says:

        In some quarters he is being “eulogized”.

        A muckracking liar with few principles but an “enemy” of Barack Obama he is receiving praise for being just that.

        In an age where truth doesn’t count for very much – yet most people “demand it” – this man is credited as a “truth teller”.

      • ralphb says:

        Just more continuing hilarity from the rabid right.

      • Woman Voter says:

        The interesting thing is the tweets that went out, then suddenly stopped…guess most people glanced and thought are they serious!

        I did notice they didn’t have any expose on Rush and those 29 blue pills:

        Rush Limbaugh’s Dominican Stag Party
        29 Viagra pills, two “24” producers among radio star’s all-male crew

        That is right it is a copy of the custody form for ALL those BLUE PILLS for Erectile Disfunction… Cover that I say!

    • Woman Voter says:

      I can’t believe they posted that…a ‘PLAY’ and he stepped on the stage…OMG!

      I quickly thought of how many rallies and plays I have attended… 😆 I can only imagine the people that find it shocking are reacting a bit like the KING with no clothes, no one dares to tell the Brietbart followers that the story has NO CLOTHES…there is no there there people!

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    But here’s the thing:

    There are enough stupid people out there, those who are incapable of thinking for themselves, and just enough Obama haters who will eat this up with a spoon.

    For them, it is reason enough to validate their belief that Obama is a stealth citizen, a Muslim loving sympathizer, a Kenyan colonial, a Marxist, communist, socialist traitor out to make the world in his image via education and retraining camps. (Long live Michele Bachmann!)

    Nothing will deter those who believe that he is a usurper, an illegitimate black man who does not belong in the Oval Office who will dine off this stuff and nonsense forever.

    So anyone who ratches up the hate meter with crap that holds no significance whatsoever to the issues that envelop us as a nation this is enough to feed them.

    • ralphb says:

      See the AP story I posted below. There is little doubt left that Obama is not the preferred candidate of the 1% in 2012.

    • maddie says:

      Yes, if they only looked closer, they would realize that Obama is just “Bush light”.

  7. ralphb says:

    Wingnuts may go predictably batshit but I think this is a very good story for Obama.

    AP: Obama had transgender nanny in Jakarta: report

  8. ralphb says:

    ThinkProgress has been able to confirm only two advertisers that are still sticking with Rush Limbaugh. One is Lear Capital, one of those peddlers of gold coins common on talk radio. The other is an identity theft protection company called Lifelock. Turns out Lifelock has a rap sheet with the FTC, having paid $12 million in 2010 to settle false claims charges.

  9. ralphb says:

    Drone crashes into SWAT team tank during police test near Houston

    Barney Fife must be running the drone program. 😉