Morning Bunker Report: TGIF 4.13.2012

————————————-WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STANDS FOR TODAY

Remember, ladies: this whole ‘war on women’ thing is just in your silly, little heads. In an exchange caught on camera, Virginia House Speaker William Howell (R) berates the group’s executive director Anna Scholl, mocking the group’s website and her. Howell criticizes the Washington Post’s article about the group’s as “full of half-truths or un-truths.” In a failed attempt to back up his accusation, Howell notes that while the Commonwealth paid about $230,000 on ALEC-related expenses, it spent even more on travel for the same and other legislators to attend conferences by the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislators. When by Scholl pressed as to how omission of that irrelevant detail constituted an inaccuracy, Howell berated her: “I guess I’m not speaking in little enough words for you to understand.” When Scholl responded to the slight, telling him “I’m a smart girl, actually I went to the University of Virginia,” more than capable of understanding polysyllabic words. Howell curtly replied, “We’ll good for you.” [ThinkProgress]

Congratulations, Arizona Women- Every Single One of You Is Now Officially Pregnant — According to Jan Brewer and the deep thinkers in the Arizona legislature: Life starts earliest in Arizona, which now defines gestational age as beginning on the first day of a woman’s last period, rather than at fertilization. In practice, that means the state has banned abortions after about 18 weeks (20 weeks from the last menstruation) except in the case of medical emergencies. [...] Now that Arizona has decided to separate being pregnant from when you actually become pregnant, every single woman is, according to the law, pregnant the moment they begin their last period, and will remain officially pregnant until the beginning of your very next period. There will apparently be a 1 day window in between these two events in which you are not officially pregnant.

Karl Rove’s Pro-Millionaire Facebook Campaign — The latest brainstorm from Karl Rove & Co. is on the right: a Facebook petition opposing the “Buffett Rule,” which would ensure that millionaires pay a minimum 30% tax rate. “Really,” says Greg Sargent, “it continues to amaze that people in positions of real influence could venture something this idiotic with no evident sense of embarrassment.” Lack of gall has never been one of Karl Rove’s weaknesses, so his lack of embarrassment probably isn’t really all that surprising. But what’s this all about? It is kind of dumb, after all. My guess: it’s just part of a “mud against the wall” strategy. It’s not likely to gain much traction, but it’s cheap and it might produce some useful feedback.

  • The problem Obama and Buffett are trying to address isn’t that each of them personally can’t pay more in taxes if he so chooses… Rather, they are trying to solve a society wide problem that threatens the future of a country of over 300 million people — one that, in their telling, requires a bit more sacrifice from high earners as a whole class if we are to have any hope of solving it…. The silly implication that there’s something hypocritical about calling for higher taxes on the wealthy when you are wealthy yourself and could just write a check if you really wanted to is about nothing more than sowing confusion about who is really looking out for whose interests. [Greg Sargent]

U.S. priests accused in 700 sex cases in 2011: report — Sixty-eight percent of the complaints relate to events that took place between 1960 and 1984 — the majority from 1975 to 1979, the report says. Many of the clergy members accused have since died, or been relieved of their church duties. More than 280 of them had been accused in the past, it said. Of the 21 accusations made by minors, seven were considered credible by the police and three were determined to be false, the report said. Three other cases were still under investigation. The Church spent $144 million dealing with the scandal in the United States in 2011 — including attorneys’ fees, settlements, and support for offenders — a decrease from $150 million in 2010. [...] The publication of the report comes several weeks after the start of the first trial of an American bishop who sheltered pedophile priests.

  • WHY ARE CHURCHES TAX-EXEMPT AGAIN? Catholic Bishops are urging every diocese to hold a “Fortnight for Freedom” during the two weeks leading up to the Fourth of July, for parishioners to study, pray and take public action to fight what they see as the government’s attempts to curtail religious freedom. [...] Several states have denied financing to Catholic agencies that refused to place foster children with gay parents. And the federal government refused to reauthorize a grant to a Catholic immigration organization that served victims of sex trafficking because as a Catholic group, it would not provide or refer women to services for abortion and birth control… the bishops say that unjust laws should be either changed or resisted. In this passage, the bishops seem to refer to the recent attempt by President Obama to accommodate their objection to the health care mandate, by ordering the insurance companies, and not the Catholic institutions, to pay for birth control coverage. [NYTimes]

———————————————————–——PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday night said the Republican-led “war on women” was real, claiming their view on birth control would take the United States back to the 1950s. “I think the war on women is real,” he told MSNBC host Ed Schultz. “And look, I’ll tell you when it’s going to intensify. The next president of the United States is going to get to name one, possibly two or more, members to the Supreme Court.” Biden said it was an “outrageous assertion” for CNN contributor Hillary Rosen to claim that Ann Romney, a mother of five, had not worked a day in her life. “My entire career as a senator and the vice president is to get to one point, when my daughter is able to make whatever choice she wants and no one question it,” he explained. [Raw Story]


Biden to Attack “Romney Rule” on Taxes – Biden will coin a new phrase — “the Romney Rule” — to illustrate his case, according to excerpts of his remarks released by the Obama campaign. “The Buffett Rule says that multi-millionaires should pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as middle-class families do,” Biden will say. “The Romney Rule says the very wealthy should keep the tax cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional, new tax cut every year that is worth more than what the average middle class family makes in an entire year.” Biden refers to the so-called Bush tax cuts on individuals earning more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000. Romney wants to extend and expand the cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year; Obama wants to let them lapse. “Look, these are tax cuts to people who didn’t ask for them, who don’t need them, and who know the nation can’t afford them,” Biden will say. “And it matters. There’s a stark choice we have to make.” [image: Joe Biden Unleashed | Mother Jones]

Whitney Tilson, a millionaire hedge fund manager, wants President Obama to raise his taxes. Despite the fact that the Buffett Rule, the proposed minimum tax on the wealthiest Americans, would have made his federal tax bill 40 percent higher, Tilson was one of four millionaires standing with Obama yesterday at an appearance touting the rule. Tilson also penned an editorial in the Washington Post calling for the Buffett Rule’s passage, saying, “It’s okay to raise my taxes” because “simple math and basic fairness” demand it: It’s not class warfare to say that people like me — who aren’t suffering at all in these tough economic times, who are in many cases doing the best we’ve ever done and who can easily afford to pay more in taxes with no impact on our lifestyle — should be the first to step up and make a small sacrifice. [...] Think of it this way: Every billion dollars not raised from millionaires is equal to a million average U.S. families each paying an extra $1,000 in taxes. That would be real hardship for a lot of families that, unlike mine, are struggling to make ends meet. [ThinkProgress]


Taking the false-equivalence fallacy to the extreme — What much of the political world seems to be saying today is that the “war on women” now has two competing counterweights. One the one hand, we have a party that has pushed for restricting contraception; cutting off Planned Parenthood; state-mandated, medically-unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds; forcing physicians to lie to patients about abortion and breast cancer; abortion taxes; abortion waiting periods; trap laws at abortion clinics, forcing women to tell their employers why they want birth control, opposition to prenatal care, and measures that make it harder for women to fight pay discrimination. On the other hand, we have a media pundit with no connection to her party’s presidential campaign who said something about Mitt Romney’s wife professional background. Don’t you see? Both sides clearly have a problem here. Republicans were losing the “war on women,” but not anymore. Let’s pause to appreciate the differences between policy and politics. A public policy offensive involving women’s health, waged at the local, state, and federal level is a serious development, worthy of scrutiny. It affects people in direct and personal ways… to obscure the differences a national policy initiative and a 30-second soundbite on CNN, which the pundit has since apologized for, is take the false-equivalence fallacy to depths that simply aren’t healthy for our public discourse. [Steve Benen]

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