Grab your morning brew, and let’s go!
- It’s farmer-labor day today at the WI Capitol building, starting at noon, complete with a “tractorcade.”
- Next, a piece I treasure. Plain Talk: Squandering 100 years of progress, by Dave Zweifel. Please take the time to click over and read this one sometime over the weekend if you can.
- Guess who is going to Egypt and Tunisia next week. In her FY 2012 budget request before Congress on Thursday, Hillary announced she will be meeting with transitional leaders in both Tunis and Cairo as well as with Libyan opposition while she’s in the region. For the new Arab world that is emerging to be new at all, women cannot be left behind. Who better to put that world on notice than Hillary Rodham Clinton?
(second link will take you to an AFP report on Hillary’s remarks at Friday’s Women in the World conference in NY. See also her remarks at the 2011 Women of Courage event for more.)
- This week–on International Women’s day no less–our advocate-in-chief helped to launch a Global Partnership on Maternal and Child Health, bringing a long-neglected development goal further out of the shadows. Brava, Madam Secretary!
(see also Hillary’s 100 Women Initiative. If you don’t know what it is, click and find out.)
- From Politico’s quotes of the week: “Her Excellency, Madam President… I love saying that.”
— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, introducing the president of Kyrgyzstan at a State Department event.
- Hillary and Julia from their bilateral on Tuesday.
- If you’re a Hillary fan who can’t get enough of all things Hill and missed my essays from earlier this week, knock yourself out. One is the mischievously titled Hillary: Warmonger and the other is Women, Workers, and The Sisterhood.
- My response to Rand Paul’s hypocritical libertarian rant on “choice” (choice of toilet, that is). Shorter Wonk: I hope Rand has a working garbage disposal, because he sure talks a lot of trash.
- See here for RH Reality Check’s exhaustive coverage of the latest developments from yesterday. Also, Minkoff Minx wrote to her Georgia state representative, Stephen Allison (R-8) and received a letter from Rep. Allison that you might find of interest. Scroll to the end of the post to see it.
- My $0.02 on Allison’s response: The excuse that the most draconian of these bills will never pass is baloney. The rise of mini-Stupaks in states across the country has built up a momentum in the war against women, and that momentum is helping to get other horrible versions of these bills passed. Furthermore, the preponderance of such nonsense legislation clearly indicates a concerted effort to use women and their civil rights as a tool of division and distraction from the economy, degrading those rights in the process and blocking unfettered access to reproductive healthcare for women–all women. The rich will get their safe abortions on demand one way or another, and we all know it.
Tired of hearing about Charlie Sheen?
- Here’s the fix. At least on the Internet.
- Bernie Sanders introduces The Emergency Deficit Reduction Act. Sanders’ press release says the bill would a) create a 5.4% surtax on millionaires, yielding up to $50 billion annually for the US Treasury, and b) end tax breaks for Big Oil, yielding about $3.5 billion a year in new revenue. Thank you, Bernie Sanders!
- Krugman: Dumbing Deficits Down
- BBC News Magazine: Are call centres the factories of the 21st Century?
- Womancession/nifty graph pick of the week: Women Lead in Unpaid Work. Click graph for more info.
US Politics: 2012
- Nate Silver/NYT: Wisconsin Dispute Could Mobilize Democratic Base
- Andrew Leonard/Salon: Do rising gas prices spell doom for Obama?
- US News & World Report says wedge issues are back just in time for the 2012 electoral cycle. In other news… Water? Yep, wet as ever. (When did wedge issues ever leave?)
- Here’s a derivative piece if ever there was one… Cameron Lynch says Barack Obama is the “Surprisingly Silent President.” This echoes Ruth Marcus last week suddenly discovering that Obama is the “Where’s Waldo” president. Obama told America who he was from 2004 to 2008. The
creativeclueless class was too busy chattering away and creating “a different kind of politician” narrative to take note that Obama was telegraphing very clearly that he would make an indifferent kind of president.
- Have you read Glenn Greenwald’s takedown of the NYT editors and Andrew Sullivan yet? Glenzilla exposes the hypocrisy of their “Bush-tortured” defenses for Obama’s indefinite detention.
- Amnesty International petition to Secretary Gates and President Obama: End the punitive detention of Bradley Manning
- This next one is an amazing development. Via Laura Rozen over at her new Yahoo digs, The Envoy — Reporter: State Department official raps Pentagon treatment of Manning as “counterproductive and stupid.” We’re talking about PJ Crowley over at Hillary Clinton’s state department, y’all. He told that to veteran BBC reporter Philippa Thomas without thinking twice. Thomas blogged about it here.
- Required Reading for all Liberals: Lynn Parramore’s Torture: The Movie (via New Deal 2.0) and Margaret Kimberly’s Peace Prize Torture (via Black Agenda Report).
- Adam Serwer (via the American Prospect) has an important read up that puts it all in perspective… Good Cop, Bad Cop: “On counterterrorism, the only difference between Republicans and Obama is rhetorical.”
Disaster in Japan and Elsewhere
- Foreign Policy’s The Cable: Crowley deleted tweet comparing Middle East ‘tsunami’ to Japan crisis.
(Also, Crowley confirmed his comments about Manning to The Cable:”What I said was my personal opinion. It does not reflect an official USG policy position. I defer to the Department of Defense regarding the treatment of Bradley Manning.”)
- See the NYT’s photojournalism blog — Lens — for dramatic shots of the devastation from the 8.9 quake and tsunami in Japan, as well as other harrowing pictures from around the world yesterday, that tell the story of tragedy and strife.
- “The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century. Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people.”
–Achim Steiner, the executive director of UN Environment Programme
This Day in History (March 12)
- First fireside chat: “It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail.” –FDR, 1933 (even FDR sounds like he’s saying Solidarity forever!)
What Kind of Liberal are You?
- Take the quiz. I’m a “Working Class Warrior.” How about you?
- I mostly linked to this silly quiz so I could share this priceless bumper sticker quote from the first question: “May the fetus you save be gay.”
Song of Protest for Saturday
Extra verse added to the PPM version: “Show me the famine, show me the frail, eyes with no future that show how we failed, and I’ll show you the children with so many reasons why there but for fortune, go you or I.”
I’m turning the Saturday reads over to you in the comments… Take the quiz and let us know how you score, share a song, link us to what’s on your blogging list this weekend…and have a great day!
This is an open thread to post on what’s happening in Wisconsin during the day.
UPDATE 2, 11 am — BREAKING:
UPDATE 1: this is Breaking news out of WI via madison.com
10:15 a.m. — Reporters are being denied access to the Capitol. The State Patrol told a State Journal reporter the building is shut down and they’re not letting anyone else in.
Four or five protesters sitting in front of the Assembly doors were dragged away, but not put under arrest, by State Patrol troopers and other officers.
Other protesters who were in the hallway leading to the doors of the Assembly left voluntarily.
(there appears to be a running live blog via The Cap Times, so check back for more updates.)
Robert Schlesinger has a nice wrap-up of yesterday’s developments over at US News & World Report — “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and His Allies Drop All Pretenses“:
To review: Walker–having created a budget crisis by enacting a huge tax cut–proposed a bill to “fix” the “crisis” by not only sharply cutting the compensation of public employees, but also by stripping public unions of their collective bargaining rights. This was, Walker claimed, what he campaigned on, a declaration which PolitiFact termed “false.” It was not, Walker insisted, about breaking Wisconsin’s public unions but rather about fixing the budget. This lie was made transparent when the public unions’ offer to accept the compensation cuts in exchange for keeping their collective bargaining rights and Walker refused to budge. And a stalemate descended upon Madison as all the state senate Democrats fled to Illinois, leaving the legislature’s upper chamber without the minimum number of members required to pass a budget-related bill.
How to break the impasse? Simple: Drop the pretense that this was about the budget. They stripped out all the actual fiscal items from the law and hastily passed a bill that simply went after the unions.
There’s been a lot of buzz about the legality of what the GOP did and lawsuits, but by Schlesinger’s account, there may be only so much that can be accomplished via the legal route:
The state house Democratic leader loudly proclaimed that the passage of the law was illegal because it violated the state’s open meeting laws. The courts will decide that, but even if it so, it seems like a process issue–the GOP can presumably run the same play but correctly dot the I’s and cross the T’s.
And if the GOP was trying to trick the Wisconsin 14 into coming back to protest and be forced into providing a quorum for the whole bill, so far that doesn’t seem to be working:
“We’re not going to go back because there are still a lot of games they can play,” State Sen. Jon Erpenbach told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “We’re going to sit tight here for a while.”
Schlesinger closes with this:
There is talk in Madison of a general strike to protest the bill. And more broadly, the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman warned on Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word that this could be a broader ploy to try to incite an overreaction among progressives that could be used against Democrats in swing states in 2012. Stay tuned.
Fineman is such a putz. SOLIDARITY FOREVER!
And get this —even the rightwing thinktank Cato Institute says Karl Rove’s Crossroad GPS anti-union ad is a misleading use of the Cato study the ad cites! For more info, see Greg Sergent and Talking Points Memo.
When even the Cato Institute points out that the GOP’s anti-union push is making a misleading charge “that seems intended to turn non-unionized workers of all kinds against unionized public employees,” you know you’ve gone way down the rabbithole.
Also, yesterday on Fox we heard straight from one of the horses’ mouths what this is about. This is not about any budget crisis. It’s electoral politics plain and simple.
Think Progress (video at the link):
In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly moments ago, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI), one of Walker’s closest allies in the legislature, confirmed the true political motive of Walker’s anti-union push. Fitzgerald explained that “this battle” is about eliminating unions so that “the money is not there” for the labor movement. Specifically, he said that the destruction of unions will make it “much more difficult” for President Obama to win reelection in Wisconsin:
FITZGERALD: Well if they flip the state senate, which is obviously their goal with eight recalls going on right now, they can take control of the labor unions. If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.
So that’s a little bit of what happened yesterday.
This is from the facebook page of one of the Wisconsin 14 just this morning. Chris Larson:
3 weeks ago, we stepped away from the Capitol & family so that thousands could step up and be heard in Wisconsin. Neighbors spoke up in a way we never could have anticipated. Whatever happens next, I hope each person stays engaged by speaking against injustice, by encouraging friends to vote, by helping campaigns they believe in and by running for office themselves. Democracy is YOURS and it is what you make of it.
I listened to Michael Moore’s reaction to the GOP’s crazymaking from yesterday on Democracy Now, and he thinks Saturday is going to be big:
“This is a turning point. I feel it deep in my heart right now. […] This is our moment. Everybody up off the couch now.”
Below is the song that came to mind when I heard the news… it’s cheesy, and I figure that’s appropriate for a cheddar revolution.
What song are you thinking of right now?
Good morning, news junkies!
I’ve gotten quite hooked on the NYT’s new Lens blog, particularly the regular interview/photo essays compiled by Lens editor James Estrin. A couple months ago, Estrin zoomed the focus in on Eirini Vourloumis and her photographs of Spanish-speaking converts to Islam–you may remember my linking to the interview at the time. This week’s spotlight is on Hazel Thompson and her work documenting the roles of women in Bahrain. There’s also a video of Thompson discussing her experiences at the link. Fascinating stuff.
To the right… from Hazel Thompson’s “Measure of a Woman”… The Youth Activist: Enas Ahmed Al-Farden is the vice president of the Bahrain Youth Forum Society. She is also a radio announcer and a product marketing manager. She lives with her parents and is engaged to be married.
If you have some free time after you’re finished reading this roundup, both the spot on Bahraini women and the earlier one on Latino Muslims are well worth the investment. (I’ll link to them again at the end.) In the meantime, here are the rest of my Saturday picks… grab a cup of whatever gets you up and running in the morning and enjoy.
- Bryce Covert, via The Nation warns “With State Budgets Withering, Get Ready for the ‘Womancession.‘” A few key (and troubling) points I took away from Covert’s piece, which I’ve paraphrased slightly for the sake of brevity:
- As of November, men’s unemployment is down .04 percent over the previous 12 months, and women’s unemployment over the same period is up .04 percent. Between July 2009 and January 2011, women lost 366,000 jobs while men gained 438,000.
- The public sector has shed 426,000 jobs since August of 2008. 154,000 of those jobs were in education. Women comprise only a little over half of the public workforce but have lost 83.8% of the jobs during the recovery-in-name-only.
- And, just look at who is exempt from Walker’s proposal to strip collective bargaining: public officers, firefighters, and state troopers. It’s the public employee unions made up mostly of women that are facing threat of annihilation.
- Covert has another good piece up at New Deal 2.0 you might want to check out: “Student Debt Can be Deadly.” I’ll try to boil it down for you this morning. The average undergrad student graduates with $4,100 in credit card debt and $19,300 in student loans. Couple that with the phenomena of a) college educated 20-24 year olds having the highest percentage increase in unemployment and b) suicide being the second leading cause of death among college students, and you’ll see what Covert means by deadly.
- Wonk’s two cents: The Taxed Enough Already (TEA) crowd never shuts up about the “debt we’re creating for our children,” but they sure don’t seem to be looking in the right place if that’s what they’re really concerned about.
- At least there was a bit of justice on the student loan front for one individual this week–after six years, the Department of Education has finally forgiven the student debt of Tina Brooks, a disabled former cop. Appalling that it took so long. Propublica’s joint investigation with the Center for Public Integrity and the Chronicle of Higher Education found that…
although borrowers who develop severe and lasting disabilities are legally entitled to get federal student loans forgiven, the process for deciding who is eligible is dysfunctional, opaque and duplicates similar reviews conducted by other federal agencies. Many borrowers have been denied for unclear reasons, and many others have simply given up.
- Really bad theatre or comedy gold? You judge: SEC to curb bonus pay for only about 30 institutions.
- On Thursday, Zaid Jilani from Think Progress posted the graph I’ve been looking for. This is what the workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana are protesting:
- The Center for Reproductive Rights’ Melissa Upreti, via RH Reality Check, reports that “Nepal Advances As U.S. Backslides on Women’s Rights.” What takes the cake is that Nepal’s Supreme Court cites Roe in its groundbreaking affirmation of a woman’s autonomy, access to abortion, and well-being over that of a fetus. I almost want to laugh and tell Nepal’s Supremes that their ruling sounds better than Roe. Our dear Roe has, among other things, successfully kept women’s rights in perpetual limbo for almost 4 decades. As much as I believe in the privacy argument, I’m a much bigger believer in the autonomy and equity arguments.
- Anna Clark, via AlterNet, looks at “What’s Next for Women’s Health (And Rights) in Tunisia and Egypt?” According to Clark, family planning was actually decent under both dictatorships. Will the road to self-governance bring more progress for Arab women or are we looking at another backward slide?
- Here’s a good companion essay to read after Clark’s piece. Margot Badran, via the SSRC’s Immanent Frame, writes of “Egypt’s Revolution and the New Feminism.” From Badran’s pen to the goddess’s ear:
Will the youth now be willing to accept patriarchal authoritarianism sustained by the old family law, a law so out of sync with contemporary social realities—with their own realities? It is very hard to see by what logic they could do so. Freedom, equality, and justice cannot be reserved for some only. For the youth, female and male, who raised this revolution, freedom, equality, and justice are surely non-negotiable, and dignity, the order of the day. This is the essence of the new feminism, call it what you will.
- I missed this one last week. William John Cox’s “Political Upheaval and Women’s Rights,” via Truthout. Excellent long view essay. Cox really lays it all out there. Fundamentalism is a threat to women everywhere, be it in the Mideast or in the US.
[There’s more, so if you need a coffee refill or anything, now would be a good time for an intermission before you click to continue. ]