They’re back: Social issues overtake US politics - All of a sudden, abortion, contraception and gay marriage are at the center of American political discourse, with the struggling — though improving — economy pushed to the background. Social issues don’t typically dominate the discussion in shaky economies. But they do raise emotions important to factors like voter turnout. And they can be key tools for political candidates clamoring for attention, campaign cash or just a change of subject in an election year. “The public is reacting to what it’s hearing about,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. In a political season, he said, “when the red meat is thrown out there, the politicians are going to go after it.” || Note: the GOP doesn’t want its voters to pay any attention to income inequality, their own job performance in Congress, or the plans they have to give more tax cuts to the wealthy paid for with austerity for the rest of us. So, social issues are back with a vengeance.
Santorum: Emotions of Women in Combat ‘May Not Be in the Interest of the Mission’ - “I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. It already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat.” || Note: Also, too: that whole “time of the month” thing, amirite?
Rick Santorum is coming for your birth control - “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” (actual Rick Santorum quote from Oct/2011)
The Contraception Fight—David Frum - “This is not a contraception issue. This is not a social issue. This is a constitutional issue.” So they say, so they may sincerely believe. But politics is not only about what you say. It is also about what your intended audience will hear. If the audience is paying attention, for example, it will notice that Republicans are not proposing to allow employers and plans to refuse to cover blood transfusions if they conscientiously object to them (although there are religious groups that do). Or vaccinations (although there are individuals who conscientiously object to those as well). Or medicines derived from animal experimentation. (Ditto.) No, Marco Rubio’s Religious Freedom Restoration bill provides for one conscientious exemption only: contraception and sterilization.
Most of Obama’s “Controversial” Birth Control Rule Was Law During Bush Years - In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn’t provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today—and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don’t offer prescription coverage or don’t offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally—but under the EEOC’s interpretation of the law, you can’t offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too. “It was, we thought at the time, a fairly straightforward application of Title VII principles,” a top former EEOC official who was involved in the decision told Mother Jones. “All of these plans covered Viagra immediately, without thinking, and they were still declining to cover prescription contraceptives…”
At CPAC, Undermining the Power of American Workers - The panel got a little more honest as it wore on. Both Gerard Malanga from the Manhattan Institute and Kevin Mooney from the Pelican Institute for Public Policy went on at length about how the movement to roll back union rights was less about the economy than about demolishing organized labor as a political force. They cited a number of polls in which union members were dissatisfied with what their unions were doing for them. They mentioned, at length, how far behind the now truncated benefit packages of public sector workers the benefits offered to private sector union workers are. (This, of course, has a lot to do with the rolling back of unions that started under Saint Reagan in 1979, and because a lot of private-sector pension funds have been looted by succeeding generations of Wall Street sharpies, all of which got blamed at the ground level on the unions who were under assault.) To sow division between private-sector and public-sector unions is a nifty way to demolish the political effectiveness of both of them. || Note: and that’s called The Republican Strategy.
Protesters deliver petitions demanding Apple respect worker rights - Protesters on Thursday delivered petitions to Apple’s store in New York’s Grand Central Terminal demanding the company improve worker conditions in its factories in Southeast Asia. An annual internal audit of Apple’s supply chain found many of its suppliers overworked and underpay employees, and nearly one-third were negligent in managing hazardous substances. (see related post on the working conditions)
Obama says $26 billion deal with banks will help millions of homeowners - President Obama hailed a landmark deal struck Thursday with the nation’s largest banks over alleged foreclosure abuses, arguing it will help millions of people dealt a blow by the sagging housing market. Under the agreement reached Thursday, large banks — including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup — are expected to pay approximately $26 billion to cover refinancing costs for homeowners and reimburse them for shoddy foreclosure practices.
“The financial services industry went from having a 19 percent share of America’s corporate profits decades ago to having a 41 percent share in recent years. That doesn’t mean bankers ever represented anywhere near 41 percent of America’s labor value. It just means they’ve managed to make themselves horrifically overpaid relative to their counterparts in the rest of the economy. A banker’s job is to be a prudent and dependable steward of other peoples’ money – being worthy of our trust in that area is the entire justification for their traditionally high compensation. Yet these people have failed so spectacularly at that job in the last fifteen years that they’re lucky that God himself didn’t come down to earth at bonus time this year, angrily boot their asses out of those new condos, and command those Zagat-reading girlfriends of theirs to start getting acquainted with the McDonalds value meal lineup. They should be glad they’re still getting anything at all, not whining to New York magazine.” - Matt Taibbi