I have a couple of things to bring you tonight, one of them is on an old topic…that I never paid attention to before. But, my very dear friend was asking me about it, and of course I wanted to get the right information. The rest of my highlights are on the BOA mortgage settlements…but first this.
As you all know, the death of Savita Halappanavar hit me hard. I took it very personal because my situation was similar, only my fetus was not in the process of a miscarriage, it was an ectopic that was just at the opening of my fallopian tube at the uterus. So there is actually no way I could have gotten my medically necessary abortion if I was in Ireland.
I sent the Irish Embassy Foreign Affairs a message about my disgust at the death of a woman which could have been prevented. They sent me an email back…
Dear JJ Lopez Minkoff
Your e-mail below refers.
The Irish Government has extended its sympathies to the family of Ms. Savita Halappanavar on their loss.
Two investigations are currently underway in order to establish the facts in relation to this case and to identify the factors that contributed to this tragic death. In addition, a Coroner’s Inquest will take place into the matter.
The Minister for Health and Children has indicated that the outcome of the investigation reports must be awaited before commenting further. The investigation teams will work closely with Ms. Halappanavar’s family at all times and keep them fully informed of the terms of reference of the investigations.
Press & Information Officer
Embassy of Ireland
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com]
Sent: 14 November 2012 15:23
To: #WASHINGTON EM External Mail
Subject: FeedbackYour name:: JJ Lopez Minkoff
Your email address:: firstname.lastname@example.org
Query/Comment:: It is appalling that in this modern era a woman will die because of the religious beliefs of others…Savita Halappanavar should be alive today. Instead she suffered pain and torture at the hands of your country’s archaic anti-abortion laws and an obvious lack of humanity by hospital doctors and staff. Shame on them.
Recent press about the death of Savita Halappanavar, admitted to a hospital in Ireland with medical complications in a 17-week pregnancy, is a grim reminder about the impact of abortion restrictions on women’s lives.
In Ireland, abortion is legal only to save a woman’s life. In the last two years in the United States, nine states have passed laws banning abortion after 20 weeks (in Arizona abortion is banned after 18 weeks) except to save a woman’s life. But as the death of Ms. Halappanavar so poignantly illustrates, “risk to a woman’s life” in emergency situations is extremely difficult to assess.
In the video, an alleged Obama supporter screams about her “Obama phone” at a rally in Ohio. She tells a reporter, “Keep Obama in president, you know! He gave us a phone, he’s gonna do more.”
The video made news this week as taxpayers grow increasingly uncomfortable with the so-called “47%” – those folks who supposedly rely on the government for entitlements. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney described those folks as:
[D]ependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it
She went on to shriek, “Everybody in Cleveland, low minorities, got Obama phones…”
It was a great sound byte. But it’s deeply flawed. The “Obama phone” program she’s touting doesn’t give out free phones to minorities. And it wasn’t started by President Obama. And this rumor isn’t new.
Of course it isn’t true…
… reported months ago, there is a law in place to help low-income customers have access to basic telephone service. It’s divided into two programs: Link-Up America and Lifeline.
Link-Up assists consumers with the installation costs of phone service. The program pays up to $30 of the cost of installation and up to $200 in the form of a one year, interest-free loan for additional installation costs.
Lifeline provides discounts on basic monthly service at a primary residence for qualified telephone customers. These discounts can be up to $10.00 per month, or more for certain Native Americans. Generally, to qualify, your income must be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines (these vary by location and size of family but for comparison, rings in at $22,350 for a family of four in the lower 48).
In some instances, coverage may include discounts for cell phone service instead of land lines at primary residences because realistically, cell phone service is less expensive in some areas than traditional service. Eligibility and type of program may vary from state to state – and this is why there is a flurry of confusion about the program being a product of the Obama administration. In Florida, for example, cell phone service was added to the existing program – in 2008, the year that Obama was elected to office. The conclusion from many folks was that it was a new federal program. It was not. It was an expansion of the existing program and implemented on a state by state basis.
This program started back in 1996…
The federal program wasn’t started by President Obama. It dates back to 1996, as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Act did a number of things, including increasing internet access to doctors and patients in rural hospitals (for consults with specialists); subsidizing internet and phone coverage for schools and libraries and providing free or subsidized coverage for families who can’t afford it so that they have links to emergency and government services. The Act was not taxpayer funded… exactly. Taxpayers do pay for coverage but not via federal income taxes. Instead, the Act “mandated the creation of the universal service fund (USF) into which all telecommunications providers are required to contribute a percentage of their interstate and international end-user telecommunications revenues.” So that little fee on your phone bill labeled USF? That’s what you’re paying for.
There is more detail here: Obama Phone: Urban Legend or Real?
Notice that earlier we said Link-Up helps fund “installation.” What installation does a cell phone have? None. So why is installation part of Link-Up, which is under the Lifeline program umbrella? Because, the whole thing began back in 1996 when the Federal Communications Commission authorized the programs for landline phones. At that time it provided discounts on landline phones only, for obvious reasons.
To this day the government provides discounts on landline phones for financially disadvantaged people in the United States and U.S. territories. The Link-Up portion helps with the installation and the Lifeline Assistance part helps with the monthly bills, to the tune of roughly ten dollars a month.
So, the subsidization of phones began under President Clinton, and has continued under Presidents Bush and Obama.
Over that time, the usage of cell phones rose and the costs came down. Assuming one believes in the Lifeline program in the first place, and remembering that the FCC has mandated the program, it only makes sense to expand the phone assistance program to include cell phones. So, in 2008 the first application of this program for mobile phones began when a company called Tracfone started their Safelink Wireless service in Tennessee.
Aha, some say, that’s the same year Obama was elected! Well, that’s true. But the service in Tennessee was launched three months prior to Obama being elected. And that means the discussion and approval of the extension of the program occurred under President Bush’s watch.
The Bush Phone, anyone?
As the Forbes article points out, there is legislation proposed to stop the Lifeline phone program, brought forward by Republican congress members, none of which are from Ohio.
On now to the mortgage stuff. Two items of interest, first Mortgage refinancing bill on hold in Senate
The Senate is postponing work on a mortgage refinancing bill that Democrats argue would help millions of homeowners and accelerate the economic recovery until after they return from the Thanksgiving holiday.
The measure, which was expected to be one of the first votes to take place when the upper chamber returns from its recess, is getting pushed off while a sportsmen’s bill sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is completed this week.
There is still the possibility that the mortgage bill, which has been touted by the Obama administration as an easy avenue to help struggling homeowners, could come up next month when Congress tilts its agenda toward averting a drop off the fiscal cliff.
I hope that this bill, if it does pass has some way to hold the banks accountable for the amount of modifications/refinances they do CLOSE, not just mod applications they take.
Speaking of which, the basturds at Bank of America have sent out alerts about the class action lawsuit they settled over the summer. Yes, we got one…and I can only hope my parents will get some sort of relief for the hell BOA put them through.
This one offers a bit of vindication. I cannot tell you how much grief I got from “official sources” over the clear reality that banks would be able to pay off their penalties in the foreclosure fraud settlement with investor money. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan flat-out said it, and then had to backtrack and obfuscate. But it was clearly set up by the terms of the settlement. Banks would get credit under the settlement for modifying loans in private label mortgage backed securities, which means the investors take the hit.
This became more clear in Bank of America’s side deal, where they would reduce their penalty through modifying loans they don’t own:
The expanded program could allow Bank of America to avoid paying $350 million in penalties tied to the foreclosure settlement and half of a separate $1 billion penalty related to a settlement of false claims filed on loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, if the bank meets certain targets. Many of the write-downs will be made on loans originated by Countrywide Financial Corp., which Bank of America acquired in 2008, and then packaged into securities. BofA will also reduce balances on loans it owns […]
Some fund managers feel it is unfair for banks, which serviced mortgages on behalf of investors, to use those same loans to meet their obligations under the settlement. “The fact that a servicer has done a poor job has already impacted borrowers and our investors,” said BlackRock Managing Director Randy Robertson, who declined to speak specifically about the Bank of America agreement. “To ask investors to pay for banks’ fines in any form seems inappropriate and incorrect—we have very serious issues with that.”
BofA made a settlement deal with its own investors for $8.5 billion (one that’s still tied up in court), that they claim makes those loans eligible for write-downs without even having to get investor consent on a case-by-case basis. It’s probable that these write-offs could be beneficial to the investor, or NPV-positive, to use the technical term. But they’re still paying for BofA’s misconduct.
Have I said how much I hate these BOA ratfukkerz!
BofA started this process back in May by mailing letters to people with loans that they “owned or serviced.” In other words, they would reduce balances on loans they didn’t own, and get credit under the settlement. Sure enough, as American Banker reports today, writing about BofA’s compliance with the settlement:
In a surprising revelation, the Charlotte, N.C., lender also said that more than half of the nearly $5 billion in principal reductions will be paid for by investors, not the bank itself. That matters little to delinquent borrowers who saw their monthly payments reduced, but it is sure to anger investors who have argued that they should not have to be punished for banks’ mistakes.
Whether B of A’s report is indicative of progress other banks are making in complying with the landmark settlement won’t be known until Joseph A. Smith, the settlement’s monitor, issues his own progress report on Monday.
It’s actually not surprising. BofA has been planning this for months. All of the indications in their side deal showed they would get off the hook for billions in principal reductions by laying the cost off on investors.
Dayen feels “vindicated” in his prediction of just this scenario, you can read more at the link. Personally I feel so disgusted with these bankster crooks, that goes for Obama too, for letting them get away with this shit.
Two more items, quick questions…am I the only one who is disturbed by the use of Twitter to announce Israel’s attack on Gaza?
The IDF’s Twitter account is not without its dissenters:
But apparently, the better translation is “pillar of cloud” or “pillar of smoke”. And there’s this of course, put out by the IDF:
And they posted a video of that assassination, which we embedded here. I think Israel has a right to self-defense against the rockets being randomly fired toward their civilian population. But I do not recognize the Western concepts of just war and self-defense in these macho posturings about war. There is a relish about the use of disproportionate technology and force that I suppose tells us something about what living under siege can do to the psyches of human beings. The dehumanization of the enemy is also helped in part by distant electronic and video monitoring and broadcasting of deaths on the ground, as if this were a video game. It makes me think again about the question of the moral use of drone warfare.
And it’s hard to disagree with this tweeter:
I believe that Youtube has taken the IDF video down…I really do not want to get into a discussion about the timing and events that lead up to this attack, however, the use of twitter and the PR #hashtag branding of this war makes me sick.
One last link for you, and I can’t wait to see this on Fox and Friends, come on Gretchen get pissed off! Chick-fil-A Declares War on Christmas
For many Religious Right groups, Christmas is not so much a time to celebrate Immanuel than it is to raise money by fomenting outrage when shops use slogans like “happy holidays.” The American Family Association has a “Naughty or Nice” list to stir up consumers to boycott companies which are “against Christmas” and yesterday Liberty Counsel announced its “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign,” targeting public spaces which “censor” Christmas and selling their “Help Save Christmas Acton Pack.”
As Jeremy Hooper noted yesterday, it appears that the Religious Right’s most beloved fast food chain, Chick-fil-A, has indeed declared war on Christmas. In their horrific assault on Christmas, the company released a statement celebrating the “holiday season” that doesn’t once include the word “Christmas” and also pushed out a press release about “holiday gift giving,” again failing to mention “Christmas.” Even their online ads are clear affronts to Christmas!
We will wait to see whether LC or the AFA decide to be consistent with their boycott calls and paint Chick-fil-A as the season’s latest Grinch, but we won’t hold our breath, especially since Newt Gingrich, a proud foot soldier in the “War on Christmas,” escaped judgment when his company Gingrich Productions declared war on Christmas, and both LC chairman Mat Staver and AFA founder Don Wildmon endorsed him.
How dare those cows leave out the name of Christ in their seasonal greeting! I am sure they could get a bucket of paint and splash up some words of Noel for the Holiday Season. I wonder if they would call it Knowell? or Kristmose?
It looks like Tim Pawlenty might be the perfect VP match for Mitt Romney. He has had some issues with his financial disclosure forms and he refused to release his tax returns as Governor of Minnesota. From the Guardian:
Democrats have been digging into a web of allegations from nine years ago which involved Pawlenty’s use of a shell corporation to shield $60,000 in payments from a telecommunications group during his election campaign that were not declared to the state’s campaign finance board. The money came from a firm run by a prominent Republican strategist. Pawlenty had until recently been a board member.
Opponents accused Pawlenty of accepting an unethical and possibly illegal salary to campaign. The scandal widened because the telecommunications group making the payments was exposed for scamming customers, many of them elderly.
Pawlenty is touted as a leading candidate to be Mitt Romney’s running-mate in part because his background is seen as a political antidote to Romney’s life of privilege. He is the working class son of a truck driver, who knows adversity after his mother died while he was a boy and his father lost his job.
But if he is on the Republican ticket, a fresh airing of the allegations from 2003 is not only likely to undermine Pawlenty’s attempts to portray himself as the voice of the working man but threatens to draw unwelcome attention to difficult issues for Romney – the pressure to release his own tax returns, the morality of his business practices and the parking of millions of dollars in shell companies.
And if Romney turns Pawlenty down for VP, he (Romney) will look like a hypocrite.
I posted this link on Thursday morning, but I think it bears repeating. This op-ed in the NYT by Michael J. Graetz is the best thing I’ve read so far on what Mitt Romney may be hiding by not releasing his tax returns. Graetz discusses Romney’s huge IRA:
With an I.R.A. account of $20 million to $101 million, the tax savings would be more than a few pennies.
The I.R.A. also allows Mr. Romney to diversify his large holdings tax-free, avoiding the 15 percent tax on capital gains that would otherwise apply. His financial disclosure further reveals that his I.R.A. freed him from paying currently the 35 percent income tax on hundreds of thousands of dollars of interest income each year.
Given the extraordinary size of his I.R.A., we have to presume that Mr. Romney valued the assets he put in his retirement account at far less than he would have sold them for. Otherwise it is quite a trick to turn contributions that are limited to $30,000 to $50,000 a year into the $20 million to $101 million he now has there. But we cannot be certain; his meager disclosure of tax records and financial information does not indicate what kind of assets were put into the I.R.A.
He also addresses Romney’s offshore accounts, and concludes that
Mr. Romney is an Olympic-level athlete at the tax avoidance game. Rich people don’t send their money to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands for the weather.
The part I found most interesting was Graetz’ discussion of Romney’s transfers of funds to his sons. Graetz suggests that Romney may not have paid any gift tax on the $100 million trust fund he established in 1995; because it is well known that the IRS doesn’t generally audit gift tax returns.
Based on his aggressive tax planning, revealed in the 2010 returns he has released and his approval of a notably dicey tax avoidance strategy in 1994 when he headed the audit committee of the board of Marriott International, my bet is that — if Mr. Romney filed a gift tax return for these transfers at all — he put a low or even zero value on the gifts, certainly a small fraction of the price at which he would have sold the transferred assets to an unrelated party….According to a partner at Mr. Romney’s trustee’s law firm, valuing carried interests, such as Mr. Romney’s interests in the private equity company Bain Capital, at zero for gift tax purposes was common advice given to clients like Mr. Romney in the 1990s and early 2000s.
At this point, I’m convinced that there is some really hinky stuff going on in those returns. Otherwise Romney would have released them by now. But he’s dreaming if he thinks the press will stop focusing on this.
Yesterday, Wimpy Willard dodged questions about Michelle Bachmann’s muslim witch hunt and the Chick-fil-A controversy. Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon:
Mitt Romney failed to join other Republican leaders today in condemning Rep. Michele Bachmann’s witch hunt against Muslims in the U.S. government, telling reporters at a campaign stop in Las Vegas that it was not “part of my campaign.” Republicans like Sen. John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner, among others, have spoken out publicly against Bachmann’s campaign, but when Romney was asked about it, along with the controversy over Chick-fil-A, he dodged the question. “I’m not going to tell other people what things to talk about. Those are not things that are part of my campaign,” the presumed GOP nominee said at a rare press availability after a campaign stop.
Nothing really new about that–just more evidence of Romney cowardice.
We’ve been talking about how the female Olympic athletes are forced to wear skimpy costumes, presumably to attract the male audience. But at The Daily Beast Tricia Romano has a different take: The Olympics or Soft Porn? Female, Gay Fans Gawking at Male Athletes
Ripped, tanned men seemingly carved out of marble are making women and gay men happy—very happy—during these Olympics, spurring Internet memes and social-media buzz. It’s like the Channing Tatum male-stripper movie Magic Mike got a sequel—a very (thankfully) long sequel—one that’s also preciously short on plot but long on beefcake.
While women have long provided daydream fodder for men and lesbians—say hello to the field hockey team when not checking out the scantily clad ladies taking part in the beach volleyball competition—London’s Games seem to be drumming up a particularly focused interest in celebrating the fine male physique.
American gold-medal swimmers Ryan Lochte and Nathan Adrian might have gained notoriety for winning races, but they became instant sex symbols the second they stepped out of the pool. In the days since their London debut, you can read all about Ryan Lochte’s penchant for one-night stands, and there are entire articles parsing the hot-but-dumb problem posed by Lochte, and conversely how smart and sweet Adrian is and whether or not he has a girlfriend. (He’s single! Ready, set, go!).
I was at the grocery store yesterday afternoon, and I noticed that the National Enquirer had a big splashy story about James Holmes, the “Dark Knight Shooter. I was sorely tempted to buy a copy, but I resisted. It’s just as well, because I discovered the story was on-line. In case you’re interest, here’s the “scoop” in this week’s Enquirer.
There aren’t a lot of revelations. They quote a fellow student who was supposedly freaked out by Holmes:
by the time he got to graduate school, Holmes had grown into a creepy individual who frightened others just by his presence.
“I’d seen him many times, always walking alone,” a fellow student at the University of Colorado Denver told The ENQUIRER. “He was very odd, walking around with a blank stare on his face like he didn’t see anyone else. Sometimes he was talking to himself, in an angry tone. I would cross the street when I saw him coming.
“He may have been a nerd, but he was tall and muscular which can be very intimidating. I felt like he was the kind of guy you didn’t want to be around if he snapped.”
The article also says that Holmes’ admired Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.
In emulation of Breivik, Holmes spent the days leading up to his massacre of the innocent by bingeing on Internet sex and real-world drugs. He reportedly took the prescription painkiller Vicodin just before the shootings.
Holmes shared another trait with Breivik – a fascination with the extremely violent video game World of Warcraft.
I’m not sure where they got that. I suppose it could be a law enforcement source–or they could have made it up out of whole cloth.
There are a couple of other sensational stories on Holmes over there–look if you dare.
In other true crime news, the judge in the Drew Peterson case denied the defense’s request for a mistrial, and testimony continued yesterday. Anna Marie Doman, the sister of Peterson’s wife Kathleen Savio, testified that her sister had said that Peterson had threatened to kill her.
“She was afraid,” Doman said. “She said Drew had told her he was going to kill her. She wasn’t going to make it to the divorce settlement, and she wasn’t going to get his pension or the kids.”
After two years of court battles over the issue, it was the first hearsay statement heard by jurors in Peterson’s murder trial, allowing Savio to speak from beyond the grave.
As she described talking with Savio in her Romeoville home in 2004, Doman testified that Savio extracted a promise to take care of her kids, a vow Doman acknowledged she had failed to act upon.
“She made me promise over and over that I was going to take care of the boys,” Doman said. “She said, ‘I want you to say it — you’ll take care of my kids.'”
After a misstep by a defense attorney, Doman also was allowed to testify about a previously excluded statement — that Peterson had told Savio he would kill her and make it look like an accident.
I heard an interesting story on NPR a couple of days ago. It’s an interview with David Niose, a lawyer from Boston who has written a book called Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans. Here’s the blurb from the show:
The religious right has been a disaster for this country, according to David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. It has imposed an outsized and overbearing influence on our national politics at the expense of reason, critical thinking, science and ethics. And he goes further, saying the rise of the religious right correlates with an array of social ills — from high rates of violent crime and teen pregnancy to low rates of scientific literacy.
But he says there’s a growing movement to counter the religious right. Secular Americans — non-religious believers who for a long time were marginalized in America — are now emerging as a force to be reckoned with.
While a large majority of Americans say they still believe in God, many are losing faith in organized religion. At the same time, the number of Americans who say they don’t have any religious identity has doubled since 1980.
I hope you’ll give it a listen. There also a link to some excerpts from the book at The Humanist if you’re interested.
I found this interesting piece at Raw Story: Mayans may have used chocolate in cooking 2,500 years ago
When the Spanish conquistadores invaded Mexico 500 years ago, they found the emperor Moctezuma drinking a exotic beverage called xocóatl with his breakfast. Made from ground cacao beans that had been boiled in water, spiced, and beaten to a froth, it was literally the drink of kings, permitted only to rulers and other high aristocrats.
Until now, it has been believed that chocolate was consumed in ancient Mexico only in the form of a beverage and not as a food or condiment. However, that belief has been challenged by the discovery in the Yucatan of a 2,500 year old plate with traces of chocolate residue.
The discovery, which was announced this week by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, suggests that present-day Mexican dishes, like the chocolate-based mole sauce often served over meats, may have ancient roots.
Previous excavations have revealed traces of chocolate on drinking vessels used by the Olmecs and other early Mexican cultures as far back as 2000 BC, but this is the first find involving plates.
Smart people, those Mayans.
Now what are your recommendations for weekend reading?
Hey all, I’m filling in for Mink while she continues to rest up and recover from a nasty migraine. There’s no way I can compete with the excellent work she does on a daily basis, but I’ll try to do her Evening News space at least a fraction of the justice it deserves. Feel better soon, JJ! Sending you lots of healing energy!
So, I’d like to start with some reading on the Chick-fil-A idiocracy we live in, which IMHO, is the most definitive piece you’ll read about this mindboggling madness (though “The Chick Fellatio” gets an honorable mention.) Via Huffpo Gay Voices…
Chick-fil-A: 5 Reasons It Isn’t What You Think, by David Badash, founder and editor of The New Civil Rights Movement. I especially appreciated the last reason on the list:
5) Chick-fil-A is just exercising their First Amendment rights by running a business based on the Bible, right? Wrong. There’s a line between the “free exercise of religion” and violating the law. If Chick-fil-A is violating the law by discriminating against gay people, or by firing women so that they can be “stay home” moms, as one woman who is suing Chick-fil-A says in court documents, that’s not exercising religious expression or free speech, and that’s not a First Amendment issue. It may be, if the court decides, a violation of the law.
Thank you, David Badash!
Before I continue, I’d just like to note that we live in an era where a gun-toting embryonic chicken sandwich has more authority on interpreting the Bill of Rights and the Constitution than the average, living, breathing human being. Sad.
On the upside, Chick-fil-A manager goes against flock, sponsors gay pride festival! REFUDIATE DAT, HATERS!
Unfortunately, internal politics is a-roostin’…
“As all this news was swirling around yesterday about the Chick-Fil-A sponsorship for PrideFest, we started hearing that some people from within our own community are coming together to stand against us,” said Ryan Manseau, senior director for NH Pride Fest.
On Wednesday Manseau got a call about a major sponsor for Pride Fest being pressured by another local group to drop out because of the Chick-Fil-A sponsorship.
Let’s hope they get their feathers straightened out!
And, that is all I will link to on that. Otherwise, my puns will go further south than they already have… oops, I guess they just did 😉
Moving along. Michael Moore says… he wouldn’t say he supports Obama. And, the cow jumped over the moon.
Oh, but no worries! He and Susan Sarandon still hope O gets four more years. Well, ok. I guess that’s clarity of some sort…that means absolutely nothing.
Incidentally, because I know y’all are just dying to know. Here’s where Mona the Wonk stands:
- I’m Switzerland on Obama 2012.
- I don’t want to see Romney get four to eight years at any point on the space-time continuum.
- Hillary 2016.
Speaking of which… While I was in the airport en route from Houston to Chicago last week, I picked up a copy of the lastest issue of Foreign Policy on the stands. I hope to do a separate post on the Hillary feature soon. A good way for me to start exercising those blogger muscles again… 😉
In the meantime, I’d like to direct you to another feature in this edition of FP–Anthropology of an Idea, “American Exceptionalism: A Short History,” by Uri Freedman. Teaser:
On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney contrasts his vision of American greatness with what he claims is Barack Obama’s proclivity for apologizing for it. The “president doesn’t have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do,” Romney has charged. All countries have their own brand of chest-thumping nationalism, but almost none is as patently universal — even messianic — as this belief in America’s special character and role in the world. While the mission may be centuries old, the phrase only recently entered the political lexicon, after it was first uttered by none other than Joseph Stalin. Today the term is experiencing a resurgence in an age of anxiety about American decline.
An enlightening little timeline follows at the link. Fascinating tidbits like:
A group of American historians — including Daniel Boorstin, Louis Hartz, Richard Hofstadter, and David Potter — argues that the United States forged a “consensus” of liberal values over time that enabled it to sidestep movements such as fascism and socialism. But they question whether this unique national character can be reproduced elsewhere. As Boorstin writes, “nothing could be more un-American than to urge other countries to imitate America.”
Touche. Click over and give it a look.
A couple DC headlines for y’all before I close this…
Taylor Marsh on Reid’s tax charges against Romney:
Majority Leader Reid isn’t backing down. The problem is that he’s turning into the story.
Meanwhile Boehner has stopped crying or some other such development:
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday he is “feeling better” about Republicans’ chances of holding the House than he did in April, when he said the party faced a “one in three” likelihood of losing the majority.
“Our team’s in pretty good shape,” Boehner said as he briefed reporters in the Capitol for the final time before Congress departs for a five-week recess. “Our members have worked hard. Frankly, our candidates and challengers out there — a lot of them have been through tough primaries. And I feel good about where we are as a team. We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and November, but our team is doing well.”
Boehner’s comments in the spring warning about the possibility of losing the House were seen as an intended wake-up call to Republicans in advance of the election season. Most political analysts now believe the chances that Democrats will win back the House in November are slim. They need a net gain of 25 seats, but most projections show them gaining only in the single digits.
In other news…Americans and all citizens of Planet Earth? Still screwed.
The always essential Glen Ford at the Black Agenda Report sums it up well:
The Poverties of a Decaying System
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“This crisis of capitalism will be full of drama.”
A preview of new Census figures indicates that poverty in the United States will likely soon reach the highest levels in 50 years. Now, some of you optimists out there are saying: Well, there’s nowhere to go but up. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true. What I think is so depressing to many people about this particular historical juncture, is that there is absolutely nothing on the economic horizon on which even optimists can pin their hopes. There are no new industries on the verge of some huge explosion, no scientific breakthrough just around the corner. With education costs soaring, people can’t even hope to study themselves out of hard times.
It’s not a good time to be a child, because there is nothing sadder than growing up around adults who have themselves lost hope that our world will become a better place. It’s not a good time to be middle-aged, knowing that the Golden Age was 40 years ago, when the proportion of Americans in poverty was the lowest ever: only 11.1 percent. It’s expected to hit 15.7 percent under a president elected as an agent of Hope and Change.
But actually, there’s really nothing wrong with the world that a social revolution can’t fix. The fact that the two corporate political parties have no ideas worth listening to, simply means that the Democrats and Republicans can no longer even pretend that they can serve the 1% and take care of the rest of us at the same time. There’s no need to despair – just direct your political energies, elsewhere.
Well, now that I’ve brightened up your evening… 😉 … it’s your turn! Have at it in the comments, Sky Dancers.
*barlow: a girl, a flapper, a chicken.