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!
Good morning, news junkies! It’s been a helluva week in current events. Grab a cuppa whatever gets you up and warm this morning and let’s dig in.
Restate of the Union
For the source on that, see VL’s latest webcomic: “Restate of the Union“? Once again, Vast Left hits it out of the park. And, Glen Ford at BAR hits it back out there again (emphasis in bold is mine): “The Obama/GOP Consensus… With whole communities in a state of economic dislocation, Obama burns the rescue boats and poisons the water, all the while promising that the necessary budgetary savings will not be achieved ‘on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens’ – as if Wall Street’s bankers will shield the helpless with their well-bonused bodies… No dollar signs to give meaning to the president’s mystical and misleading rhetoric on jobs, which will somehow be made to appear through a uniquely American process of ‘innovation’ and ‘self-invention’ inaccessible to lesser peoples. This aspect of exceptionalism will out-‘green’ China and overtake South Korean Internet speeds, without costing the Treasury an extra dime. ‘Thousands’ of jobs will result, to take the place of the hundreds of thousands that will be lost in the public sector, alone, as government implodes at all levels. ”
Also: Bostonboomer came up with an excellent list of words that were missing from the president’s address (see last section of this post for my list), and over at the CSM Global News Blog, Stephen Kurczy has a roundup of “World reactions to Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address.”
Power to the People: Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, and the Palestine Papers
The REAL story this week is the one going on in the Middle East. I collected more links and excerpts than I could fit here, so I’ve put up a separate Saturday reads just for the Middle East at my place. Please click on the link above or the image to the left to get the scoop! To the left, description by Mona Eltahawy: “..a photo of a man and a woman standing in Mahalla, posted on the citizen journalists’ Web site Rassd News Network, instantly conveys why Egyptians have taken to the streets. The woman holds a loaf of bread and a Tunisian flag. The man next to her holds a loaf of bread and a sign that reads ‘Yesterday Tunisia. Today Egypt. Jan. 25 the day we began to take our rights back.’”
In South Florida, via the Miami Herald: “Modern-day slaves’ story repeats daily in plain sight… The case of dozens of Filipino workers held captive spotlights a widespread human- trafficking problem.” And, from Nikki Junker at RH Reality Check: “Moldova, A Hot Bed for Human Trafficking… So when I think of Human Trafficking, I think of the places where poverty is most rampant and in the European Union, the poorest country is little Moldova whose people are bought and sold as commodities to be used by the richer nations of the world.”
This Saturday in Women’s and Children’s Health
For the extended version, please click here or on the image to the left. Topics covered: Breakthroughs, Cancer Research, January: Cervical Health Awareness, February 4: Official Wear Red Day, Abortion Rights Awareness Month?, Obstetric Fistula, Chemicals and the Rise in Childhood Cancers, Demography trends in India, Stupakistan: An Interactive Map, Anti-Abortion Myths, Catholic hospitals, Abortion showdown in Texas, Stem Cell Research, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.
I wrote this back in November, but after hearing Obama’s SOTU remarks on education, I thought I would revisit it. It’s chock full of links–I basically recorded everything of interest I could dig up on the charter school debate. If you want to read the entire piece, click on the link/image or bookmark for later. Otherwise, here are the three must-read links you ought to familiarize yourself with if nothing else:
Bringing it altogether: Populism vs. the Pseudo-Pragmatism of Barack Obama
The president’s speech on Tuesday failed to put people first and then added insult to injury by championing the false pragmatism of “[spending] cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs.” Talk about “suckered into stupid” !
Remember O’s “Dumb” war comment? “I don’t oppose all wars…what I am opposed to is a dumb war.” Well, I’m not against all budgetary cuts. I’m just against the stuck-on-stupid ones that would further erode underfunded social safety nets that I care deeply about–especially at precisely the moment where the margins of society need those social safety nets the most. By all means, cut back spending on unnecessary things. I don’t know about you, but war+untruth and military aid toward a sham peace process all sound pretty darn unnecessary to me.
The president paid lipservice to “ordinary people” before he closed, but here are some more words missing from Obama’s speech: Egypt, the Palestine Papers, Citizens United ruling, Modern day slavery, Mental health, Childhood cancer, Hexavalent chromium, NASA privatization/layoffs (though Obama sure Sputnik’d us in a way that is a most unfortunate turn of that phrase), Atheist (yet for no discernible reason, he tacked Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim in front of his two-second mention of the DADT repeal), Texas School Board of Education and textbooks, CREDO study on charter schools, Peterson/Lastra-Anadón (their study gave Race to the Top winners poor marks), Smith-Lipinski, Paycheck Fairness Act (not the same thing as the Lilly Ledbetter Act), Income inequality, Rise in Multi-generational American households due to unemployment and foreclosure, Food stamps, Stem cell research, Dickey-Wicker, Public option/Medicare for All, Elizabeth Edwards.
I miss Elizabeth’s voice (from an August 2007 interview): “It’s the continuing inequity. We still have a middle class that lives on a razor blade. So sometimes when you say poverty, you neglect a large portion of the population about whom he’s deeply concerned. It’s the two-income trap. It’s more likely in America that your parents will file for bankruptcy than divorce. We think of divorce as so prevalent, but we all know that happens because somebody moves out of the house. But when bankruptcy happens, they stay there, they close up, and you don’t feel what’s going on. But what that means is we have all these families under stress, constantly. And then we have the people who are trying to get out of dire distress. You hear that thirty-seven million people in this country live in poverty, and fifteen million people—fifteen million— live in deep poverty, which is $7,800 for a family of three.”
Now, that’s a State-of-the-Union-as-inherited-from-Bush-and-the-GOP speech!
I miss so many voices on the domestic policy front. Like Bobby Kennedy: “It is not realistic or hardheaded to solve problems and take action unguided by ultimate moral aims and values, although we all know some who claim that it is so. In my judgment, it is thoughtless folly. For it ignores the realities of human faith and of passion and of belief — forces ultimately more powerful than all of the calculations of our economists or of our generals.”
We are witnessing the power of those forces in the Middle East. Not in a glossy Shepard Fairey poster, but out in the streets. Genuine conviction. Genuine passion. The hope of a people demanding policies that put the interests of the public trust ahead of the pseudo-pragmatic. As Hillary said in her 2009 Human Rights speech at Georgetown: “Of course, people must be free from the oppression of tyranny, from torture, from discrimination, from the fear of leaders who will imprison or ‘disappear’ them. But they also must be free from the oppression of want – want of food, want of health, want of education, and want of equality in law and in fact.“
There is nothing more pragmatic or more “innovative” than a domestic and foreign policy agenda driven by a human rights agenda to free people from the oppression not just of tyranny but also of want. It is the only agenda that pays lasting progress forward.
We need a freeze on the idiocracy that suggests otherwise.