Memorial Day ReadsPosted: May 27, 2013
I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday weekend!
Bob Dole is an interesting man and definitely a war hero. He was also a Republican who served at a point in time when Republicans were interested in solving problems–not creating them–and had a fairly consistent view of things. Although I will never, for the life of me, understand how exactly a party that wants to be the party of small government seems to be so interested in what goes on in people’s beds and bodies.
I just remember him now being wheeled to the Senate to pass a really important piece of legislation that the party shot down because of some weird conspiracy theories. They walked right by a man in a wheel chair that has given a lot to this country and ignored his pleas to recognize his right to have access to life. He spoke out yesterday and the comments were doozies.
Asked on “Fox News Sunday” if the Senate was broken, Dole responded that “it is bent pretty badly.”
“It seems almost unreal that we can’t get together on a budget, or legislation,” said Dole, who served in the Senate from 1969 to 1996. “We weren’t perfect by a long shot, but at least we got our work done.”
Dole came back to the Senate last December to support a United Nations treaty to bar discrimination against people with disabilities, which failed after a vast majority of Republicans declined to support it.
Dole said in his Fox News interview that he isn’t sure there would be a place for him and other big-time Republicans of his generation, like Presidents Reagan and Nixon, in the current GOP.
“Reagan couldn’t have made it. Certainly, Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it,” said Dole, who called himself a “mainstream conservative Republican.”
“I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says closed for repairs, until New Year’s Day next year, and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas,” Dole said about the current state of his party.
I thought the comment about Nixon was particularly interesting. He was a man of ideas. Those ideas also included attracting the Southern Confederates into the party that now are the big problem. That sure is a bold idea. Attract a bunch of folks with a history of insurgencies. So, the sorry state of the nation has a lot to do with Nixon’s big ideas and Reagan’s big ideas and we basically have Obama throwing together Dolecare which was a big idea in its time too. I think we need fewer big ideas and more solutions.
The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.
1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009
2. It’s Even Worse 3 Years Later
Since the recession, the disparities have continued to grow. An OECD report states that “inequality has increased by more over the past three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous twelve,” with the U.S. experiencing one of the widest gaps among OECD countries. The 30-year decline in wages has worsened since the recession, as low-wage jobs have replaced formerly secure middle-income positions.
3. Over half of Americans are now IN poverty.
4. 75% of Americans are NEAR poverty.
The average household in the bottom 75% earns about $31,000 per year. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to 130% of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 for a family of four.
Incredibly, Congress is trying to cut food assistance. Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee referred to food stamps as “stealing.” He added a Biblical quote: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” A recent jobs hearing in Washington was attended by one Congressman.
5. Putting it in Perspective
Inequality is at its ugliest for the hungriest people. While food support was being targeted for cuts, just 20 rich Americans made as much from their 2012 investments as the entire 2012 SNAP (food assistance) budget, which serves 47 million people.
We’re abusing all of our resources. Here’s research that shows how quickly we’re draining our aquifers. They are a key source of fresh water.
Since 1900, the U.S. has pulled enough water from underground aquifers to fill two Lake Eries. And in just the first decade of the 21st century, we’ve extracted underground water sufficient to raise global sea level by more than 2 percent. We suck up 25 cubic kilometers of buried water per year.
That’s the message from the U.S. Geological Survey’s evaluation of how the U.S. is managing its aquifers. Or mismanaging. For example: water levels in the aquifer that underlies the nation’s bread basket have dropped in some places by as much as 160 feet.
Researchers from the University of Leicester have revealed in the journal Antiquity that the remains of King Richard III had been buried in an untidy grave, “without any pomp or solemn funeral,” as the medieval historian Polydore Vergil had written. There were no signs of a coffin or a shroud, and the lozenge-shaped grave was too short for his body, which had been placed on one side of the hole. Additional evidence suggests that the defeated king’s hands may have been tied. Other medieval graves in the town had been carefully dug to the correct length and with vertical sides.
So, the world is atwitter with a possible sunrise in Japan. There’s even a name for it “Abenomics”. I will try to tackle the whole thing some time this week but I thought I’d mention that Japanese women will still be left out no matter what the outcome.
The World Economic Forum ranks Japan a dismal 101st in gender equality out 135 countries — behind Azerbaijan, Indonesia and China. Not a single Nikkei 225 company is run by a woman. Female participation in politics is negligible, and the male-female wage gap is double the average in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
One number explains why Japan must pull women into the job market and help them achieve leadership roles: 15 percent. That’s how much of a boost that gross domestic product would receive if female employment matched men’s (about 80 percent), says Kathy Matsui, the chief Japan equity strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
“Japan is lagging because it’s running a marathon with one leg,” says Matsui, who has been churning out “Womenomics” reports regularly since 1999. “It must start tapping its most underutilized resource.”
Abe is acting from fiscal necessity, not from a sense of social justice. Japan’s workforce is shrinking as the population ages and the birthrate declines. That might be manageable if not for a public debt more than twice the size of the $5.9 trillion economy. Politically, increasing the number of women workers is an easier sell than opening up Japan to immigrant labor.
The deal is that some of the Abenomics suggestions to correct some of these issues for women are strikingly patriarchal.
The government is considering circulating “Women’s Notebooks” to warn of the evils of postponing marriage and motherhood. Yes, career-oriented women are selfish. When Abe calls on companies to provide three years of maternity leave, he uses a Japanese expression that a child should be held by its mother until the age of 3. In other words, kids are women’s work. (In fact, knowing that a three-year absence could derail their careers, many women are likely to further delay childbirth.)
Abe’s government should begin by actually enforcing the 1986 Equal Employment Opportunity Law. Japan should promote diversity and offer tax incentives to companies that do, as well. More-flexible work hours would draw women into the workforce. So would offering subsidized or free day care so more families can afford it.
At least Japan is trying to have a discussion. All we get here are cuts to early child education and care and less access to reproductive health care and family planning.
A parole hearing in the Russian town of Berezniki has been adjourned until May 23 after a jailed member of the all-female opposition group Pussy Riot refused to continue taking part via video-link.
At the hearing on May 22, the court rejected Maria Alyokhina’s requests to be physically present and to have the judge and the prosecutor replaced.
Alyokhina, who spoke to the Berezniki court from her prison in the Perm region, announced that she was starting a hunger strike.
Her lawyer, Irina Khrunova, told journalists that there were many procedural violations in the parole hearing.
“Masha [Alyokhina] and I agreed [before the parole hearing] that if the court did not allow her to be brought to the courtroom, then she would refuse to participate in the hearings,” she said.
Khrunova indicated that Alyokhina would also not participate in the hearing on May 23.
“She very much wanted to appear in court; she wanted to tell the court about her situation and why she thought she deserved to be released on parole, but since the court refused to hear her personally, she thought she didn’t need to continue [participation],” he said.
Alyokhina and another Pussy Riot member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, are serving two-year prison sentences after being convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”
Alyokhina, Tolokonnikova, and a third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, were arrested in February 2012 after staging a performance critical of President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.
Samutsevich also received a two-year prison sentence but was later released on probation.
Tolokonnikova’s parole request was denied last month by a court in the Russian republic of Mordovia, where she is serving her prison sentence.
Hard to get justice anywhere in the world these days.
No Justice No Peace.
What’s on you reading and blogging list this holiday?