Saturday morning’s 6 somewhat interesting things

1) “Things are strange… things are happening to me.” — Mitt Romney, campaigning in southern states. Look, at least the President can visit ANY state in the nation, including southern states, without appearing like he’s desperately trying to entertain strange and terrifying lifeforms from a planet outside our solar system that’s known for sudden, violent attack. And cockroaches in an agricultural building… is that where Romney thinks all the cockroaches are typically kept, stabled for the night, if you will? Or what? Señor Romney thinks agricultural buildings = cucarachas?

2) Rush Limbaugh Scandal Proves Contagious for Talk-Radio Advertisers – Rush Limbaugh made the right-wing talk-radio industry, and he just might break it. Because now the fallout from the “slut” slurs against Sandra Fluke is extending to the entire political shock-jock genre. Premiere Networks, which distributes Limbaugh as well as a host of other right-wing talkers, sent an email out to its affiliates early Friday listing 98 large corporations that have requested their ads appear only on “programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity).” This is big. According to the radio-industry website Radio-Info.com, which first posted excerpts of the Premiere memo, among the 98 companies that have decided to no longer sponsor these programs are “carmakers (Ford, GM, Toyota), insurance companies (Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm), and restaurants (McDonald’s, Subway).” Together, these talk-radio advertising staples represent millions of dollars in revenue.

3) Republican primary voters older, over 90% white – The National Journal ran the numbers: So far, according to exit polls posted on CNN.com, whites have cast at least 90 percent of the votes in every Republican primary except Florida (83 percent) and Arizona (89 percent). In every other state except Michigan (92 percent) and Nevada (90 percent) whites have comprised at least 94 percent of the GOP vote this year. That includes Georgia (94), Virginia (94), Ohio (96), Oklahoma (96), Tennessee (97), South Carolina (98), Massachusetts (98), Iowa (99), New Hampshire (99), and Vermont (99). By comparison in the 2008 general election, whites cast only 74 percent of the total vote. [...] The GOP has been trying to keep their nearly-all-white base riled up with race baiting statements (see: Newt versus Juan Williams; Santorum and “blah” people; the entire birther conspiracy theory; the current attempts at generating outrage over Barack Obama once “hugging” some black guy). It may inspire their current members, sure, but there’s clearly no long-term future there. Eventually that base is going to start, well, dying.

4) Fox Doubles Down On Fluke Conspiracy Theories – On Thursday, Bill O’Reilly speculated that Sandra Fluke — the Georgetown law student who testified about the need for insurance coverage for contraception and was then subjected to unrelenting misogynistic attacks by Rush Limbaugh — was a White House plant. O’Reilly based his suggestion on the fact that Fluke is now being represented by former White House communications director Anita Dunn’s PR agency. As we’ve noted, that conspiracy theory imploded when it became clear that Dunn’s PR firm started representing Fluke pro bono on Monday and that prior to that Fluke was fielding media requests herself. Nevertheless, O’Reilly and fellow Fox News host Eric Bolling were still trying to push Fluke conspiracy theories tonight.

5) 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. It’s a little bit jaw-dropping to see what is going on now…There was some press at the time but we issued guidances that were far, far more controversial.” [image: sandandglass]

 
 

6) It Is a War on Women, and It Is Not Stopping – Anyway, the ladies from Becket want us all to know that this isn’t about contraception. It’s about religious liberty, which is now threatened because secular insurance companies have to provide birth control free as part of a general health-care package even to those people who work in Catholic institutions. [...] The point of this is to show that, as heartening as the polls on these issues might be to Democrats, and especially to the Democrat in the White House, the people who seek to truncate brutally the right of women to control their bodies and, specifically, their health care, are organized, well-financed, and they simply do not stop. There is nothing on the other side of the argument that compares to the network of organizations that apparently have decided that this is their last best chance to roll those particular rights back, and that are prepared to fight that battle on every front possible. This is not encouraging. [images: sandandglass]

  • They just don’t know when to quitHouse Speaker John A. Boehner signaled on Thursday that House Republicans would continue the fight. “I think it’s important for us to win this issue,” Mr. Boehner told reporters just before the Senate killed a Republican measure with a vote of 51 to 48. “The government, our government, for 220 years has respected the religious views of the American people, and for all of this time there’s been an exception for those churches and other groups to protect the religious beliefs that they believe in, and that’s being violated here.”
  • Georgia Lawmaker Compares Women to Cows and Pigs - “Life gives us many experiences,” he explained. “I’ve had the experience of delivering calves, dead and alive — delivering pigs, dead and alive. … It breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it.” [...] House Bill 954 easily passed last week by a vote of 102-65.  Opponents have said that the so-called “fetal pain” bill would force women to carry stillborn fetuses or to have a Cesarean delivery. Doctors could also face 10 years in prison if they are involved in illegal abortions.
  • SMALL WONDER THEN that the GOP is losing women  – When the Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey asked last summer which party should control Congress, a slim 46-42 percent plurality of women said it should be the Democrats. But in a survey released Monday, compiling polling since the beginning of the year, that figure had widened considerably to a 15-point advantage for the Democrats, according to polling by the team of Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff. Fifty-one percent favored Democratic control; only 36 percent wanted to see the Republicans in charge.

Thursday morning’s 9 interesting things

1) Obama celebrates return of [union] jobs from China – He appeared at a plant making padlocks for Master Lock in the midwestern state of Wisconsin, which has recently returned around 100 jobs that were once offshore back to the United States. [...] “For the first time in 15 years, this plant is running at full capacity…. Today, you’re selling products directly to customers in China stamped with those words: “Made In America.” Obama unveiled a package of proposals in his State of the Union address last month to boost American manufacturing and create jobs. The president wants to cancel tax breaks for firms that outsource jobs, require multinational companies to pay a basic tax, and lower taxes for firms that hire workers in the United States.

2) Boehner defends payroll tax deal – House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, defended Wednesday the decision to move forward with a roughly $100 billion payroll tax cut extension that is not paid for, arguing that it was the only way to prevent a tax hike. “We were not going to allow Democrats to continue to play games and cause a tax increase for hardworking Americans,” Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill. “We made a decision to bring them to the table so that the games would stop and we would get this worked out.” || Note: And if you believe that, I have a beautiful bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

3) As Number Of Insured Americans Decreases, Affordable Care Act Will Provide More Coverage Options – The number of Americans who received health insurance from their employer dropped again in 2011, continuing a three-year decline. According to a Gallup survey, 44.6 percent were insured through their employers in 2011, compared to 45.8 percent in 2010 and 49.2 percent in 2008. And at the same time, the number of Americans without insurance has increased, growing from 14.8 percent in 2008 to 17.1 percent last year.

WHO BENEFITS? – The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes two primary mechanisms for helping people afford health coverage. Starting in 2014, people with family incomes up to 138% of the poverty level ($31,809 for a family of four and $15,415 for a single person in 2012) will generally be eligible for the Medicaid program. [...] On average, an estimated 17% of the non-elderly population nationwide would benefit from the Medicaid expansion and tax credits. In parts of Florida, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and California, 36-40% of population could benefit. In areas of Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, and Connecticut – states that generally have high levels of employer-provided health insurance or have already implemented reforms to make insurance more accessible and affordable – 2-4% of the non-elderly could benefit from the coverage expansions in the ACA.

4) Santorum: Dems ‘look down their nose’ at Americans – The former Pennsylvania senator went on the attack against President Barack Obama and Democrats for rejecting Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) to replace the current Medicare program with a voucher scheme. “They don’t believe you can make these decisions,” Santorum told a crowd in Boise, Idaho. “They need to makes these decisions for you because if you were left to make decisions you will obviously jump off a cliff. Don’t you see how they see you? How they look down their nose at the average American — these elite snobs.”

Why Romney Can’t Stop Santorum – Then, last night, in Boise, to a very appreciative audience, Santorum produced what may be the pure crystalline essence of a politics gone utterly barking mad. (Watch the whole thing, if only to see where the standing ovations come in, and to see what prompts them. Anyway, I did, and this is not promising.) [...] You could call it “populist,” if by “populist” you mean anti-intellectual jibber-jabber that probably sounds a lot better coming from a general on a South American balcony.

6) Rombo – Rick Santorum has a new political ad where not only does he call the Romney character “Rombo,” the character shoots “mud” at a cardboard figure of Santorum. At the end of the ad, Rombo gets the “mud” all over his shirt. I get it – the guy slinging mud gets dirty himself. But do Santorum’s people “get it”? Is that mud or is it Santorum? Or could it be runny shit from a terrorized dog? This ad so completely symbolizes what the words “Romney” and “Santorum” have come to mean this election year, that’s it’s remarkable Santorum’s people created and paid for it. Watch:

5) Romney Unloads on Santorum – In all probability, Romney’s campaign against Santorum will work. What’s Santorum going to say – that Republicans always vote for the debt ceiling when there’s a Republican president, and that opposition to it is nothing but disingenuous partisan posturing that both sides used until last year, when it got out of hand and Republicans almost crashed the world economy with it? If the debt-ceiling issue became the vehicle for persuading the Republican base to nominate the least sincerely conservative candidate in the field, that would really be poetic justice for the tea party.

7) Romney tells west Mich. businessmen he’ll fight unions – “I’ve taken on union bosses before,” Romney said before hundreds at a furniture manufacturer. “I’m happy to take them on again.” [...] Romney kicked off his “welcome home rally” with a meeting with 10 business, economic and political leaders, who advised Romney of things on their wish list: less regulation, more certainty, more state power, less spending and right-to-work legislation. One business owner asked Romney to sign an executive order on Day 1 to end a provision that federal work be done by union labor. “You’ll have that,” Romney said. || Note: The King of Bain ‘kicked off’ his welcome home rally with the one percenters, promising to fight for their concerns, which in many cases includes reducing wages and benefits! 

When Romney Courted The Unions - in 2002 the former Governor was actively courting the labor vote. Romney prominently featured on his campaign website a call for union members to vote for him because he would invest in infrastructure, adjust the minimum wage annually to inflation, and have labor be a critical factor in developing the state.

8) Aggressive Anti-Union Bill On Life Support In Arizona – A Wisconsin-style anti-union bill that state Republicans aimed to push through the Arizona legislature is now on life support as state Senate Republicans have failed to come up with enough votes. [...] Still, it’s probably too early for unions in Arizona to declare victory. At least two other bills designed to restrict their impact in the state are likely to pass, the senators told the political news website.

image9) Translation challenge of the day — another Palin word salad – “Truly, it is a war on our religious liberties and that violation of conscience that he would mandate that is un-American because it violates our First Amendment in our Constitution.”  

Also, too – Now Sarah Palin is hinting around that if, you know, it comes down to, like, a brokered convention or whatever? She might be available. That is, if nobody else is into it.