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!
Hey everyone, Wonk here… this will be a little lighter than usual because I’m putting this together on the fly this morning.
Let’s start off with the status of the cheddar revolution in the American Midwest. According to the national media, it sounds like the Wisconsin 14 could be heading home from their undisclosed hideout(s) in Illinois:
Here’s the latest from the NYT — “Talks to Resolve Wisconsin Battle Falter“:
Senator Fred Risser, one of 14 Democrats who left Wisconsin last month to prevent the Republican-dominated Senate from approving the collective bargaining measure, said it now seemed conceivable that he and his fellow Democrats would return to Wisconsin, at some point in the future, without a negotiated compromise.
“We have always said we would go back eventually,” Mr. Risser said, adding that the Democrats had yet to make any decision about when to go back to Madison, a move that would open the way for a vote on the proposal by Mr. Walker, a Republican elected in November. “We will have accomplished some of our purpose – to slow things up and let people know what was in this bill.”
And, from the WSJ — “Democrats to End Union Standoff“:
Playing a game of political chicken, Democratic senators who fled Wisconsin to stymie restrictions on public-employee unions said Sunday they planned to come back from exile soon, betting that even though their return will allow the bill to pass, the curbs are so unpopular they’ll taint the state’s Republican governor and legislators.
Sen. Mark Miller said he and his fellow Democrats intend to let the full Senate vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget-repair” bill, which includes the proposed limits on public unions’ collective-bargaining rights. The bill, which had been blocked because the missing Democrats were needed for the Senate to have enough members present to vote on it, is expected to pass the Republican-controlled chamber.
Sen. Miller’s comments are taken out of context in the Wall Street Journal article just released. Dems will return when collective bargaining is off the table. That could be soon based on the growing public opposition to the bill and the recall efforts against Republicans. Unfortunately, the WSJ fished for the quote they wanted, skipping this key step in logic: we won’t come back until worker’s rights are preserved.
Switching to the Mideast, Robert Fisk has an important read in the Independent this morning that I’ve only had time to skim — “America’s secret plan to arm Libya’s rebels“:
Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom, already facing a “day of rage” from its 10 per cent Shia Muslim community on Friday, with a ban on all demonstrations, has so far failed to respond to Washington’s highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes the Libyan leader, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago.
Washington’s request is in line with other US military co-operation with the Saudis. The royal family in Jeddah, which was deeply involved in the Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, gave immediate support to American efforts to arm guerrillas fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan in 1980 and later – to America’s chagrin – also funded and armed the Taliban.
But the Saudis remain the only US Arab ally strategically placed and capable of furnishing weapons to the guerrillas of Libya. Their assistance would allow Washington to disclaim any military involvement in the supply chain – even though the arms would be American and paid for by the Saudis.
If the Saudi government accedes to America’s request to send guns and missiles to Libyan rebels, however, it would be almost impossible for President Barack Obama to condemn the kingdom for any violence against the Shias of the north-east provinces.
Thus has the Arab awakening, the demand for democracy in North Africa, the Shia revolt and the rising against Gaddafi become entangled in the space of just a few hours with US military priorities in the region.
Hillary talked about a perfect storm brewing last month. Deja vu.
More coverage on Libya:
- Houston Chronicle/AP: Libyan warplanes strike rebels at oil port
- BBCWorld: Libya casualties spark UN moves
- BBC — Pro-Gaddafi forces block rebels
- Reuters —Libya plane hits town, over one million need aid
- NYT — A Libyan Leader at War With Rebels, and Reality
Check out the title at the top of your browser on that NYT link at the end — I don’t know if the editors will change it by the time you check, but when I saw it it said, “Qaddafi’s Cult of Personality Faces Greatest Challenge.”
Here’s another item echoing the Bryce Colvert piece on the “Womancession” that I posted about on Saturday. From economics professor Nancy Folbre –– “His Recession, Becoming Hers“:
Men are more concentrated in industries that are both more sensitive to the business cycle and trending down as a share of total employment.
However, women are more concentrated in state and local jobs that are now on the chopping block as a result of efforts to cut taxes and reduce public spending. About 52 percent of state employees and 61 percent of the much larger category of local employees are women – many of them working as teachers, secretaries, or social workers.
The economist Randy Albelda asserts that the conservative attack on public-sector unions resembles the welfare reform discussions of the 1990s, in which recipients of public assistance were labeled greedy, lazy welfare queens.
In more economic doom and gloom headlines…
From the Nation. Christopher Hayes — “Why Washington Doesn’t Care About Jobs“ (h/t Bostonboomer):
This disconnect between the jobs crisis in the country and the blithe dismissal thereof in Washington is the most incomprehensible aspect of the political moment. But I think there are two numbers that go a long way toward explaining it.
The first is 4.2. That’s the percentage of Americans with a four-year college degree who are unemployed. It’s less than half the official unemployment rate of 9 percent for the labor force as a whole and one-fourth the underemployment rate (which counts those who have given up looking for work or are working part time but want full-time work) of 16.1 percent. So while the overall economy continues to suffer through the worst labor market since the Great Depression, the elite centers of power have recovered. For those of us fortunate enough to have graduated from college—and to have escaped foreclosure or an underwater mortgage—normalcy has returned.
The other number is 5.7 percent. That’s the unemployment rate for the Washington/Arlington/Alexandria metro area and just so happens to be lowest among large metropolitan areas in the entire country. In 2010 the DC metro area added 57,000 jobs, more than any in the nation, and now boasts the hottest market for commercial office space. In other words: DC is booming. You can see it in the restaurants opening all over North West, the high prices that condos fetch in the real estate market and the general placid sense of bourgeois comfort that suffuses the affluent upper- and upper-middle-class pockets of the region.
What these two numbers add up to is a governing elite that is profoundly alienated from the lived experiences of the millions of Americans who are barely surviving the ravages of the Great Recession.
I think Hayes is on the money highlighting the 5.7 percent figure, but I’ve heard a lot of people with college degrees getting laid off or having trouble finding a job. Of course that’s anecdotal, but I’m still wondering about that 4.2 percent figure.
- Austin American Statesman — “Perry to appear with Grover Norquist on Tuesday“
- On the women’s rights front… Amanda Marcotte, via RH Reality Check — “Texas Legislators Fight Back With Pointed Amendments“
Washington Post with a headline that shouldn’t surprise anyone who is paying attention — “In Afghanistan, U.S. shifts strategy on women’s rights as it eyes wider priorities.“
Some really nasty and revealing quotes in there about what Obama Admin insiders think of women’s rights in Afghanistan:
A senior U.S. official involved in Afghanistan policy said changes to the land program also stem from a desire at the top levels of the Obama administration to triage the war and focus on the overriding goal of ending the conflict.
“Gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities,” said the senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy deliberations. “There’s no way we can be successful if we maintain every special interest and pet project. All those pet rocks in our rucksack were taking us down.”
But, again, anybody who’s been paying attention is not surprised to see that Hillary’s agenda for women and girls does not translate into Obama’s agenda for women and girls.
Alright, I want to get you this thread up as soon as possible, so I’m going to cut it short there and maybe update later if I find more.
What’s on your blogging list today? I’m sure I missed a lot of important stuff, so help us all out this morning by sharing what you’re reading.
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. ]