Friday Reads: People with some ‘splainin to doPosted: May 23, 2014
I’ve got some stories that I find very confusing. Perhaps you could explain these to me?
In a new draft of the House GOP Agriculture bill, Republicans have sought to save money by slashing summertime food aid to inner city children while continuing to assist children living in rural poverty.
Talking Points Memo pointed to a passage in a Politico piece about the bill that said, “(I)n a surprising twist, the bill language specifies that only rural areas are to benefit in the future from funding requested by the administration this year” in “a modest summer demonstration program to help children from low-income households — both urban and rural — during those months when school meals are not available.”
The program operates on a modest — by federal government standards — budget of $85 million per year. The White House asked for an additional $30 million to continue the effort to reach nutritionally vulnerable children.
The House replied by declining to fund the White House program, but offering $27 million for a pilot program intended to provide nutritional assistance to the children of the rural poor.
Since the NBA moved to get rid of racist owner Donald Sterling completely, why can’t the NFL get Daniel Snyder to drop the racist “Redskins” team name?
Fifty members of the Senate have signed a letter to the N.F.L. to urge its leadership to press the Washington Redskins to change the team name in the aftermath of tough sanctions against the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers for racially charged comments.
The position embraced by half of the Senate, and the willingness of the lawmakers to sign a formal request to Commissioner Roger Goodell, escalated the fight over the name and represented an effort to put increasing pressure on the league, which receives a federal tax break, and the ownership of the team.
“The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” said the letter, which was circulated by Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, and endorsed by Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, the majority leader. “We urge the N.F.L. to formally support a name change for the Washington football team.”
Cantwell said that “we are going to find out if the N.F.L. can act against this kind of discrimination as quickly as the N.B.A. did.” She said she considered the Senate letter an important milestone.
“Listen, it is hard to get 50 people in this place to agree on anything,” she said.
Reid has made the push for the name change a top interest. He said in an interview that he could not understand the league’s resisting the senators on the name change given other pressing disputes it was navigating, including head injuries and the health of former players.
“I have 22 tribal organizations in Nevada,” Reid said. “They are not mascots. They are human beings. And this term Redskins is offensive to them.”
All but five Senate Democrats — Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas — signed the letter.
How can we continue to fund the war machine while turning our back on the men and women who fought our wars? Can we please arrange to get money to our injured, homeless, and jobless veterans?
Hundreds of veterans with traumatic brain injuries will get kicked out of assisted living facilities this fall unless policymakers in Washington soon extend an expiring pilot program.
Lawmakers are in an uproar over reports that dozens of veterans may have died because of obstacles to obtaining medical treatment at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, but Congress may contribute to the problem by failing to act on pending legislation.
The VA has notified Congress that a pilot program for injured veterans will expire at the end of September without congressional action.
A Senate bill that included language to extend the program stalled on the floor earlier this year because of a fight over how to pay for it. The House Veterans’ Affairs panel plans to hold a hearing on two measures to reauthorize the popular program, but time on the legislative calendar is running out.
Theresa Bozeman, a nurse living in Louisiana, said she is worried about who will take care of her husband, Todd, an Army National Guard sergeant who suffered a severe brain injury from a gunshot wound in July 2012.
Bozeman said that “it would be a tremendous stress” if the assisted-living program lapsed.
“This program has been a blessing to have somewhere for him to live and to have quality of life. He is very impulsive and requires one-on-one supervision 24/7. If the program goes away and I have to care from him at home, I don’t know how I would handle it,” she said.
Todd Bozeman joined the military in 1991 and began showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the ravages of Hurricane Katrina and serving a year in Iraq. He shot himself two years ago after seeking help for suicidal thoughts.
He now lives in a house with five other men with traumatic brain injuries under the supervision of a handful of professionals, including a registered nurse and a licensed practical nurse, Theresa Bozeman said.
The arrangement allows him to socialize with people close to his age and have a lifestyle that somewhat resembles what he knew before his injury.
“He likes to be busy and doing something. It’s a big adjustment for him,” she said, adding that her husband still talks about having flashbacks to his military career.
Unlike so many other issues in the nation’s capital, partisanship isn’t an obstacle. Both conservatives and liberals want the program to continue.
Reps. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is running for Senate against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Paul Broun (R), who just lost a Senate bid in Georgia, have introduced legislation to extend the program. The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee plans to hold hearings on their legislation this summer, according to GOP aides.
“Folks in Louisiana are worried that they won’t be able to continue receiving services if the program is not extended,” Cassidy said. “It makes sense to extend a successful program that allows a veteran suffering from traumatic brain injury to live at home instead of an institution.”
“If we can get something passed this summer, there will be more pressure on the Senate to act,” said a House GOP aide.
A bipartisan veterans bill that stalled on the Senate floor earlier this year included a provision extending the assisted living program.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), the panel’s ranking Republican, have tried to revive it but few bills have passed this year in the bitterly divided upper chamber. It’s uncertain whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will attempt to move it again.
Advocates for extending the program say the VA has enough authority to do so on its own. However, the department recently informed lawmakers in an email that Congress must act. The email, provided to The Hill, says it would take up to six months to “carry out individual transition plans for each Veteran currently enrolled in the pilot.”
Exactly how many more Chris Christie scandals are out there waiting in the wings and when will some one in New Jersey move to impeach him?
New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie has turned his state’s multi-billion dollar pension fund into a giant political extortion racket, where top employees at 43 different investment firms were given contracts to manage $14 billion in retirement accounts after giving $11.6 million to Republican Party operations that helped elect Christie governor and fueled his rise as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
This massive “pay-to-play” scheme is illegal under state and federal anti-corruption laws, but those hurdles did not deter Christie and the Republicans from raising the campaign funds and subsequently doling out the lucrative contracts, a two-month investigation tracing this political money train by Pando Daily’s David Sirota has found.
Christie’s staff refused to comment for the report published Thursday, which included a detailed spreadsheet naming the donors and recipients. The reporting is a showcase of corruption, impotent campaign finance law, ignored ethical standards and underscores how little it actually costs wealthly interests to buy influence and wrest profits.
The $11.6 million in donations, which date back to Christie’s first gubernational election in 2009, led to $14 billion in public funds to manage—an investment of little more than a penny for every dollar in pension assets turned over to privatized managers.
During this same period, top employees of these investment houses also gave more than $200,000 in political donations to New Jersey Democrats—underscoring that influence-buying is about profits and cultivating power more than partisanship. However, most of the more than $11 million donated went to Republican groups that, in the shell game that is modern political money laundering, spent it to elect Christie as New Jersey governor, greased his rise as RGA chairman, and bet on his likely presidential candidacy in 2016.
The GOP donors who received Christie administration contracts were from Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Guggenheim Partners, Gleacher, Lubert Alder, General Catalyst, State Street, Elliot Associates, Parella Weinberg, Third Point, Lazard Asset Management, and others. New Jersey campaign finance law bars state officials from giving contracts to firms where employees have made contributions to campaigns for governor and state legislature. The federal Securities and Exchange Commission also has anti-circumvention rules to stop “pay-to-play” schemes.
How much more anti-thinking and anti-science can the GOP get and still be taking seriously by anyone?
In the months following the 2012 election, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tried to position himself as the responsible, forward-looking Republican who could embody the GOP’s vision for the future. “We’ve got to stop being the stupid party,” Jindal said in January 2013, arguing that Republicans “need to change just about everything else we are doing.” The party heard Jindal’s reprimand and basically said, “Ehhhhh, no we’d rather be stupid for a little longer,” so Jindal caved and rejoined the ranks of the imbecilic.
No longer content to simply live among the stupid, Jindal now wants to be their leader against the forces of smart. Writing for FoxNews.com this week, Jindal chastised the growing number of clear-eyed political observers who see little chance of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Of particular note was his attack on the quote-unquote “thinkers” in his own party who he says are too quick to give up the repeal crusade:
But even many conservative “thinkers” in Washington have given in to ObamaCare fatalism. They may not say so in public, but they fully believe that talk of the law’s repeal exists only in the land of unsophisticated rubes.
The country that won two world wars and put a man on the moon cannot, it is believed, repeal a disastrous public policy. Says who? Why not?
There you have it. Bobby Jindal, who once exhorted his party not to be stupid, is now attacking conservatives who “think.”
By making climate change a matter of what he “believes” or “agrees with,” Rubio was implying that climate change is a matter of opinion and not of evidence or fact. There’s the old saying, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Conservatives have figured out a workaround: redefine the facts as opinions, and by golly, now you get to have your own facts!
James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal was even more blunt in asserting that scientific findings should be regarded as more opinion than fact in his defense of Rubio, portraying Rubio as a rebel “for refusing to submit to scientific authority.” In a sleight of hand, Taranto portrayed the debate as one of scientists simply asserting, from authority, and Rubio as just someone disagreeing. But Rubio isn’t disagreeing with the opinions of scientists; he’s disagreeing with the conclusions derived from the evidence. Even if all the climate change scientists died tomorrow, the planet would still be heating up. This isn’t a matter of one person’s opinion versus another. It’s a man being presented with facts and refusing to believe them.
But it was Rubio’s followup to this debacle that made it clear this isn’t just about those bought off by oil and gas lying to protect lobbyist interests. This has become broader than that, and is now a full-blown attempt to degrade the word “science” until it doesn’t mean anything at all. When pressed on the issue of his climate change denialism, he tried to punt by saying, “All these people always wag their finger at me about science and settled science,” he whined, as if accepting that the sky is blue is too oppressive if you prefer to believe it’s yellow. “Let me give you a bit of settled science that they’ll never admit to. The science is settled, it’s not even a consensus, it is a unanimity, that human life begins at conception.”
Well, no. That is yet another example of conflating Marco Rubio’s opinion with what he wishes “science” said. The claim that “human life” begins at conception is not one asserted by science, but by religion, as many religions believe that’s when God injects a soul into a human body. But science is pretty clear that, by the scientific and not religious definition of “life,” life does not begin with conception. In order for life to begin, it has to be non-life turning into life. Since both the sperm and egg are alive, by the measure of science, it’s not life beginning. It’s really just life continuing.
As biologist P.Z. Myers explains, “We can trace that life all the way back to early progenotes with limited autonomy drifting in Archean seas, to self-perpetuating chemical reactions occurring in porous rocks in the deep ocean rifts. It’s all been alive, so this is a distinction without meaning.”
Is it just me or is just every interaction with media content just one face palm after another?
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?