Rebranding a freakshow when the freaks won’t cooperate

[The GOP's] greatest political strength today is their ability to dominate heavily white areas. — Ruy Teixeira | Think Progress

The Michele Bachmann sideshow is hurting the GOP — Due to a series of gaffes, she is again on the receiving end of criticism, including from Fox News powerhouse Bill O’Reilly. The congresswoman is also, as reported by The Daily Beast’s John Avlon, “embroiled in a litany of legal proceedings related to her rolling disaster of a presidential campaign — including an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation into campaign improprieties.” It’s almost as if Bachmann were a Democratic mole embedded in the Republican Party with the purpose of chasing away a wide range of voters. Her latest sound-bite-producing comment, this time on ObamaCare, begged for audio accompaniment of the Twilight Zone theme. Try to imagine it: “Let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. Let’s not do that. Let’s love people. Let’s care about people. Let’s repeal it now while we can.”

Suddenly conservative Christians have a problem with politicizing religion??!? — “It’s sad when clergy egregiously politicize worship,” Mark Tooley, president of the conservative Christian organization Institute on Religion and Democracy, wrote in one of several blogs and articles that have criticized the sermon. “Is this characterization of religious conservatives as racists, chauvinists and bigots really fair and accurate? And if political critique of religious conservatives were appropriate in an Easter sermon, couldn’t León offer a thoughtful analysis rather than snide smugness?”

NRA Still Undermining Weakened Gun Legislation — Last month the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a plan to increase penalties for straw purchases, or buying a gun for someone who can’t pass a background check. According to the Post, NRA lobbyists are pushing a revision that would make it much harder to prosecute gun traffickers: The NRA’s draft language would require law enforcement officials to prove that the straw purchaser had reason to believe the buyer was prohibited from obtaining guns or knew that the buyer intended to commit a crime, according to an analysis of the NRA proposal provided to The Washington Post by the Bloomberg-led mayors group.

Leaving the massive gun-show loophole in place, on purpose – Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said closing the gun-show loophole is “a bridge too far” for most Senate Republicans. He added that the “paperwork requirements alone would be significant.” The nation would like to reduce mass murders, but for some federal lawmakers, “paperwork requirements” have to take precedence? Similarly, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was asked whether expanded background checks can survive in the Senate. “I don’t think so,” he said. “I don’t think it makes any sense. The current system is broken. Fix the current system.” …that might be possible if Senate Republicans weren’t also blocking ATF from functioning effectively…

  
  
gifset: sandandglass

The Republicans’ Diversity Deserts | Charles Blow — Too many House Republican districts are isolated in naturally homogeneous areas or gerrymandered ghettos, so elected officials there rarely hear — or see — the great and growing diversity of this country and the infusion of energy and ideas and art with which it enriches us. These districts produce representatives unaccountable to the confluence. And this will likely be the case for the next decade. [...] With the exception of a few districts, a map of the areas in this country with the fewest minorities looks strikingly similar to a map of the areas from which Congressional Republicans hail. In fact, although this is the most diverse Congress in history, not one of the blacks or Asians in the House is a Republican. Only about a sixth of the Hispanics are Republicans, and fewer than a third of the women are.

“My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. You know, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.” — Republican Congressman Don Young from Alaska

Top Critique of GOP is Unwillingness to Compromise — A new Gallup Poll finds rank-and-file Republicans, independents, and Democrats voice the same primary criticism of the GOP: it is “too inflexible” or “unwilling to compromise.” When asked to say what they most dislike about the Republican Party, 26% of Republicans, 17% of independents, and 22% of Democrats offer this critique — leading all other mentions.

From the Department of Outreach — Representative Steve King (R-IA) and Senator Jim InHofe (R-OK) want to ban the federal government from translating documents into other languages. An attempt to codify English as our official language and violate the Voting Rights Act.

Exxon Mobil pipeline leaks ‘a few thousand’ barrels of crude oil in Arkansas — Exxon Mobil said that one of its pipelines leaked ‘a few thousand’ barrels of Canadian heavy crude oil near Mayflower, Ark., prompting the evacuation of 22 homes and reinforcing concerns many critics have raised about the Keystone XL pipeline that is awaiting State Department approval.

Alaska Lawmaker Tells Exxon Valdez Spill Not Its Fault – Alaska is set to give oil companies, including ExxonMobil, a massive tax cut. The bill, which passed the Senate 11-9 and is endorsed by Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, is being debated by the House of Representatives. The plan raises the base tax rate that companies pay no matter the price of oil, and also gives them a $5 credit for every barrel they produce. The plan would cost the state anywhere from $3 billion to $9.5 billion over the next six years. As if that weren’t enough, Republicans in the state House want to make the tax cut even larger. And as they debated doing so, Rep. Kurt Olson (R) told a company representative that Exxon shouldn’t be blamed for the second-worst oil spill in U.S. history, the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989…

Loaded for Bear(shit): Consultants Cash In on Palin — Sarah Palin attempted to relaunch her political career this week with a new video which railed against “the big consultants, the big money men, and the big bad media.” …Seen through the lens of the invaluable Center for Responsive Politics, Palin’s PAC spent $5.1 million in the last election cycle (more than it raised in that time period, raising some questions about Palin’s claims of fiscal responsibility). But the real news comes when you look at how donors’ money was actually doled out: just $298,500 to candidates. The bulk of the rest of it, more than $4.8 million, went to—you guessed it—consultants.

  
The Daily Show | March 27th 2013

“If your boss suddenly decided he had a moral objection to your health insurance plan covering cholesterol medication—and had the power to act on his objection—it would be outrageous invasion of your privacy and the doctor-patient relationship. It’s the kind of thing that no politician would ever want to see happen, unless that politician were a Republican, and instead of needing cholesterol medication, you needed birth control coverage.” — Jed Lewison

Elevating the religious beliefs of some people over the civil rights of all – As in every state, residents of Kentucky already enjoy religious liberty under the First Amendment, but conservatives in the state legislature decided to craft a proposal that would empower Kentuckians with “sincerely held” religious beliefs to disregard state laws and regulations. In effect, if a law conflicted with the tenets of your faith as you interpret them, your conscience would trump your obligation to follow the law…

Tennessee Republicans pushing to cut welfare benefits if kids’ report cards don’t measure up — Tennessee has among the lowest average monthly benefits for a recipient of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in the country. But not content with that, the state legislature is pushing a plan to cut benefits for families of kids who don’t do well enough in school. [...] Now those kids are essentially asked to bear the burden of maintaining their families’ cash incomes, or putting additional burdens on their parents. The math a kid living on TANF is concerned with is likely this: How many hours ago did I have my last meal? How many days overdue is the rent or the electric bill? And, if this bill passes: What score do I need on this next test to keep my family’s income from being slashed?

James Yeager lost his mind, then he lost his handgun carry permit


image christopherstreet

State Suspends Permit Of Man In Gun Control Rage Video

In a statement released Friday officials said they had suspended the handgun carry permit of James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response based on “material likelihood of risk of harm to the public”. [...]

“The number one priority for our department is to ensure the public’s safety. Mr. Yeager’s comments were irresponsible, dangerous, and deserved our immediate attention. Due to our concern, as well as that of law enforcement, his handgun permit was suspended immediately. We have notified Mr. Yeager about the suspension today via e-mail. He will receive an official notification of his suspension through the mail,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.

Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, a company that offers training to civilians in weapons and tactical skills, has multiple certifications with several different types of weapons. Officials with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security were explicit in stating that the Yeager was not a Department of Safety and Homeland Security certified instructor, nor is his school department certified.

###

MrCensureMoi: Here is Yeager’s original video, which he subsequently pulled from his YouTube channel and replaced — removing the “I’m going to start killing people!” portion (near the end):

Rep. John Duncan won’t extend tax cuts to 98% of Americans because of reindeer games

Think Progress: in a recent photo-op with constituents, Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) explained why Republicans are refusing to give in. The Tennessee Republican admitted that he won’t vote to extend tax cuts to 98 percent of Americans because doing so would cede control to Democrats:

CONSTITUENT 1: Are you going to sign the discharge petition?

DUNCAN: Ummm…Oh no, I’m not. No Ma’am. I’m not about to sign the discharge petition.

CONSTITUENT 2: Well if you sign the discharge petition, you’ll immediately etend the tax cuts for the middle class.

CONSTITUENT 1: Yea, why would you not want to do that? [...]

DUNCAN: It would take too long to explain that. I’m not going to give control of the floor to the Democrats.

###

This guy has been parked in the House for almost a quarter of a century and “has never faced a serious or well-funded challenge for reelection.” So, to all the working and middle class Republican-base-rubes of Tennessee: well done! 

Tea party Rep. Scott DesJarlais had affair with a patient then pressured her to get an abortion

But let’s not mistake who’s being wronged here — it’s Scott DesJarlais! His campaign says ‘the revelations are “old news from the last election cycle that Tennesseans have already widely rejected.’” So suck it, gotchalamestream media! This has nothing to do with family values, pro-life values, or hypocrisy. DesJarlais says Tennessee approves of this behavior — so move along … nothing to see here.

A pro-life, family-values congressman who worked as a doctor before winning election as a Tea Party-backed Republican had an affair with a patient and later pressured her to get an abortion, according to a phone call transcript obtained by The Huffington Post.

“You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one,” DesJarlais tells the woman at one point in the call while negotiating with her over whether he’ll reveal her identity to his wife. They then discuss whether he will accompany her to a procedure to end the sort of life the congressman now describes as “sacred.”

“You told me you would have time to go with me and everything,” the woman complains.

“I said, if I could, I would, didn’t I? And I will try,” DesJarlais says. “If I can [find] time, you’re saying you still will?”

“Yeah,” the woman answers.

The two bicker over when they can meet to hash out a solution, and they make clear the nature of their relationship when DesJarlais says delaying a resolution isn’t fair to his wife.

“This is not fair to me. I don’t want you in my life,” the woman says.

“Well, I didn’t want to be in your life either, but you lied to me about something that caused us to be in this situation, and that’s not my fault, that’s yours,” the doctor responds.

“Well, it’s [your] fault for sleeping with your patient,” the woman fires back.

After arguing for a bit about who came on to whom — with the woman seeming incredulous at DesJarlais’ interpretation that she made the first move — he gets back to the abortion.

“If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let’s do it,” DesJarlais says.

“Well, we’ve got to do something soon. And you’ve even got to admit that because the clock is ticking right?” he says at another point.

If the Republican Tea Party didn’t run hypocritical candidates, they’d have no candidates to run.

Does an anonymous group / individual really have stolen copies of Romney’s tax returns?

This story is getting better and better! The countdown begins: 22 days. Surely Romney / the billionaires will pay a measly $1 million to keep his secret tax returns secret. After all Romney has spent way more than that in personal credibility by refusing to release this usually common information already. From The Tennessean:

The Williamson County Republican Party this morning notified police about a package received last week that claims to include copies of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s tax returns hacked from an accounting office in Franklin.

A letter in the package corresponds to an incredible claim posted anonymously on a website popular among computer hackers that boasts of having downloaded copies of the tax returns obtained by hacking into systems via PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Franklin office. Whoever is behind the message is threatening to release the filings by the end of the month unless they receive $1 million.

For the same price, someone interested in seeing the returns made public could guarantee that action, according to the letter. Whomever pays first, wins.

[...] Kevin Kookogey, chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party, said his office had not attempted to access the flash drive.

Meanwhile, the Williamson County Democratic Party said they found a similar package at their office Thursday. “Somebody pushed it through the mail slot in the door,” said Gary Moore, a spokesperson for the organization.

Moore initially characterized the alleged scheme as “preposterous,” but said that because a duplicate package was left with the Republican office there may be something amiss.

Oh, please, may something really be amiss!

CNN: The Secret Service said it is investigating, and the company said there is no immediate sign that any such theft took place.

“Using your office” in Franklin, Tennessee, the group tells PricewaterhouseCoopers in an online posting, “we were able to gain access to your network file servers and copy over the tax documents for one Willard M Romney and Ann D Romney.”

It threatens to send encrypted copies to “all major news outlets” and warns, “If the parties interested do not want the encrypted key released to the public to unlock these documents on September 28 of this year then payment will be necessary.

They are demanding a cool $1 million, paid in Bitcoins, “an untraceable online currency popular in the criminal underworld,” says Chris Taylor at Mashable. “An anonymous post on Pastebin asking for Bitcoins? That’s basically a parody of hackers.”  says Julia La Roche at Business Insider. — Is this theft even plausible?

 

Tennessee Tea Party goes Full Metal Orwell

Rewriting history to suit your personal comfort level is doubleplusgood.

Charles Johnson reports that Teabaggers in Tennessee are demanding that school textbooks leave out America’s history of slavery:

“…a group of Tea Party activists in Tennessee has renewed its push to whitewash school textbooks. The group is seeking to remove references to slavery and mentions of the country’s founders being slave owners.

“According to reports, Hal Rounds, the Fayette County attorney and spokesman for the group, said during a recent news conference that there has been “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.

“[...] The group called for textbook selection criteria to include: “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

Morning Bunker Report: Monday 4.9.2012

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

Neo-Nazis are reportedly patrolling Sanford, Fla. where unarmed teen Trayvon Martin was shot and killed on Feb. 26. THE FOX ‘NEWS’ WAR ON INTELLIGENCE: According to a Fox “News” affiliate, Neo-Nazis are ‘a Civil Rights group’! — A Fox Orlando affiliate decribed Neo-Nazis as “a civil rights group” on a television broadcast and online. The group of Neo-Nazis, known as the National Socialist Movement, has been conducting armed patrols of the streets of Sanford, Florida, the town where Trayvon Marting was shot dead. The Fox Orlando affiliate, WOFL, aired a shockingly uncritical report of the groups activities. The Fox reporter introduced the group by saying, “There’s another civil rights group in town.” She also conducts an interview with the group’s leader, Jeff Schoep, without challenging any of his claims about the nature and mission of the group. [image: nydailynews.com]

Bob Schieffer Falsely Claims Health Reform Forces Churches To “Buy Birth Control Pills For Their Employees” — In an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation on CBS, falsely claimed that the Affordable Care Act required religiously-affiliated institutions — including churches — to “buy birth control pills for their employees.” In fact, churches are exempted from the mandate, and contraceptive services will be provided by health insurance plans, not religiously-affiliated employers. Schieffer is misinforming his viewers when he says that the mandate for contraceptive coverage applies to churches. The rule regarding contraceptive coverage specifically exempts actual houses of worship. Furthermore, the rule doesn’t force any religiously-affiliated institution to purchase birth control pills or distribute them its employees. [...] As Sibelius made clear in her statement, Catholic universities and hospitals aren’t going to be buying birth control for their employees any more than they will be buying blood pressure tests and dialysis. Institutions that provide health insurance as an employment benefit are offering just that – health insurance. When a person with employer-provided coverage goes to the doctor or pharmacist, we normally think of their bills as being paid for not by their employer but by their health insurance plan.

Tennessee seeks to question evolution in bill — The measure states that “teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.” It also says the legislation “shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine.” In a letter to lawmakers, the Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences argued that the bill would “miseducate students, harm the state’s national reputation and weaken its efforts to compete in a science-driven global economy.” The Tennessee Education Association, meanwhile, blasted the “unnecessary legislation.” But Haslam has already indicated he would “probably” sign the measure into law. The Discovery Institute, whose model legislation inspired the bill, hailed the passage of a text that “promotes good science education by protecting the academic freedom of science teachers to fully and objectively discuss controversial scientific topics, like evolution.”

NEVER FORGET! – Some sad news: The tea party may have won Republicans the House of Representatives in 2010, but in 2012, it’s looking like it could help Democrats retain the White House. Now nearly three years old, the tea party has fallen out of favor with Americans, and Democrats are prepared to use it against Republicans in this year’s elections. A recent Fox News poll showed just 30 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the tea party, compared with 51 percent who viewed it unfavorably. [...] I don’t want the Tea Party to fall out of favor with pundits, for two reasons. Pundits were, in my view, always ”the movement’s” most enthusiastic promoters, and I think Republicans who have to get reelected should have to wear the Tea Party they embraced like a badge. Actions should have consequences, and I’m all about taking responsibility. [...] These images of the Tea Party are an important part of the historical record of the Republican Party.

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

DNC Chair Slams Wis. Gov. Walker for Equal Pay Repeal, says GOP ‘callous and insensitive’ towards women – “The policies that have come out of the Republican Party, saying that we should have a debate again over contraception and whether we should have access to it and it should be affordable, saying that — like Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, you know, he tried to quietly repeal the Equal Pay Act. Women aren’t going to stand for that. Governor Walker just signed a bill that repeals the equal pay law they had in Wisconsin for years. You have Republicans who have engaged themselves for the entire Congress trying to redefine rape as only being forcible rape, defunding Planned Parenthood and family planning programs. The Lilly Ledbetter Act — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act put teeth behind the notion that women deserve equal pay for equal work. That was the first bill the President Obama signed into law. The overwhelming majority of Republicans serving in Congress voted against it. So, the focus of the Republican Party on turning back the clock for women really is something that is unacceptable and shows how callous and insensitive they are towards women’s priorities.” 

“I think that there is oftentimes the impulse to suggest that if the two parties are disagreeing, then they’re equally at fault and the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and an equivalence is presented — which reinforces I think people’s cynicism about Washington generally. [The debate over deficit reduction] is not one of those situations where there’s an equivalence. I’ve got some of the most liberal Democrats in Congress who were prepared to make significant changes to entitlements that go against their political interests, and who said they were willing to do it.  And we couldn’t get a Republican to stand up and say, we’ll raise some revenue, or even to suggest that we won’t give more tax cuts to people who don’t need them.”President Obama on bipartisanship at the AP lunch

  • John Cole said this about bipartisanship and today’s GOP:“I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.” [via]

The Gullible Center – So, can we talk about the Paul Ryan phenomenon? And yes, I mean the phenomenon, not the man. Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and the principal author of the last two Congressional Republican budget proposals, isn’t especially interesting. He’s a garden-variety modern G.O.P. extremist, an Ayn Rand devotee who believes that the answer to all problems is to cut taxes on the rich and slash benefits for the poor and middle class. [...] The Ryan cult was very much on display last week, after President Obama said the obvious: the latest Republican budget proposal, a proposal that Mitt Romney has avidly embraced, is a “Trojan horse” — that is, it is essentially a fraud. “Disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country.”The reaction from many commentators was a howl of outrage. The president was being rude; he was being partisan; he was being a big meanie. Yet what he said about the Ryan proposal was completely accurate. [...]  So you can see the problem these commentators face. To admit that the president’s critique is right would be to admit that they were snookered by Mr. Ryan, who is the same as he ever was. More than that, it would call into question their whole centrist shtick — for the moral of my story is that Mr. Ryan isn’t the only emperor who turns out, on closer examination, to be naked. Hence the howls of outrage, and the attacks on the president for being “partisan.” For that is what people in Washington say when they want to shout down someone who is telling the truth.

(3/24) Saturday morning’s 6 potentially interesting things

1) ROMNEY: Feel the excitement!

Romney in 2002: My only connection to the GOP is I’m a registered Republican

Charles P Pierce: The Romney Replacement Bus Is at the Station – Here’s Senator Jim DeMint (R-Wingnuttia), talking about likely presidential nominee, Willard Romney and the rest of the Republican field: “I just hope at some point they’ll realize whether they can win or not. If they can’t, the best thing they can probably do is to help the one who is going to win.” Feel the fire! Here’s The Washington Post’s list of some people from whose lukewarm approval Romney would benefit in the near future. Personally, I wouldn’t hire any of them to park my car, but that’s just me. Honestly, now. Princess Dumbass Of The Northwoods? Senator Aqua Buddha of Kentucky? The zombie-eyed granny-starver? Is there anyone on that list who doesn’t make independent voters scream and run wildly for the tree line? This isn’t a party establishment. It’s the people sitting on the bench that you avoid in the bus station. And even they have to be coaxed and wheedled and pleaded with to support the only candidate in the party who, at this advanced moment on the calendar, has a chance of winning the nomination? I’m telling you, by the time Willard gets up to give his acceptance speech in Tampa, the national committee’s going to be paying people on the sidewalks outside 20 bucks to come in and cheer.

2) SANTORUM: FEAR and LOATHING on the campaign trail 

Video: Rick Santorum’s Insane New Fear Mongering Ad: Welcome to OBAMAVILLE! – Taking right wing fear mongering to an insane new level, here’s Rick Santorum’s latest web advertisement. Notice at about 39 seconds in: the image of Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flashes to President Obama for a split second.

3) NEWT! Pass the smelling salts and my blankey

Gingrich Says Robert De Niro’s ‘White First Lady’ Crack Is ‘Inexcusable’ – “What De Niro said last night was inexcusable and the president should apologize for him. It was at an Obama fundraiser, it is exactly wrong,” Gingrich said. WHAT DE NIRO SAID: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white First Lady?” De Niro asked, according to a pool report from the fundraiser. The report said the crowd roared and someone yelled “No!” as De Niro asked, “Too soon, right?” Piers Morgan explains De Niro’s joke to Gingrich – “This is the whole point,” [Morgan told Gingrich]. “The whole point of De Niro’s comment, his joke, was precisely because many, many people were saying that kind of thing very seriously about Michelle Obama.”

Newt Gingrich calls Obama comment on Trayvon Martin ‘disgraceful’ - Most observers took President Obama’s comment that the killing of Trayvon Martin hit him particularly hard because “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” as a very normal human reaction. However, at least one person — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich — found it “disgraceful” and “appalling” that Obama was “trying to turn” the death of the African American teenager “into a racial issue.” “Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn’t look like him?” Gingrich asked during an appearance Friday on The Sean Hannity Radio Show. “That’s just nonsense dividing this country up,” he continued. “When things go wrong to an American, it is sad for all Americans. Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling.”

Gingrich: It’s Obama’s fault people think he’s Muslim – “I have said publicly several times that I believe Obama is a Christian. He went to a Christian church for over 20 years. He was listening to the sermons. The fact is I take him at his word. But I think it is very bizarre that he is desperately concerned to apologize to Muslim religious fanatics while they are killing young Americans, while at the same time going to war against the Catholic Church and against every right-to-life Protestant organization in the country. I just think it’s a very strange value system… It should bother the president. Why does the president behave the way that people would think that? You have to ask, why would they believe that? It’s not because they’re stupid. It’s because they watch the kind of things I just described to you. When you have every bishop in the Catholic Church say this administration’s at war with their religion, you don’t think that has an impact?”

4) REPUBLICAN WAR ON WOMEN

Patty Murray Releases Video Urging John Boehner To Drop Birth Control Fight – Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) released a new video on Friday urging House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to abandon his plans to continue the fight in the House against contraception coverage. Minutes before Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) amendment, which would have allowed all employers to refuse to cover contraception for their employees for “moral reasons,” failed in the Senate on March 1, Boehner vowed to take up the fight in the House. “I think it’s important for us to win this issue,” Boehner told reporters at the time. He said the Obama administration’s new contraception rule requiring most employers to cover birth control with no co-pay for their employees violates religious liberty.

5) DOOSH Limbaugh

Media Matters Releases Radio Ads Against Rush Limbaugh (AUDIO) - Media Matters launched its campaign on Thursday, stating the company planned to spend at least $100,000 on anti-Limbaugh radio ads. The ads use audio from Limbaugh’s attack on Fluke and criticize stations that still air his program. The group called their ads “community service announcements.” Listeners are urged to call the local station that carries Limbaugh to say “we don’t talk to women like that” in our city. (see link for both ads)

Limbaugh hires a crisis management consultant – It seems he has now hired a crisis management consultant to try and stop the bleeding before Mike Huckabee comes and steals his time slot (and affiliates). Brian Glicklich has been acting on Limbaugh’s behalf since at least March 8. Glicklich is a former vice president at Premiere Radio Networks, and currently heads the firm How Handy Is That, which specializes in reputation and crisis management and “gadfly defense.” He previously worked as counsel to a firm that provides crisis management to clients like David Copperfield and Paris Hilton. Glicklich also has an extensive relationship with Glenn Beck, and is thanked in the acknowledgements of several of Beck’s books.

6) THE 21ST CENTURY REPUBLICAN-TEA-PARTY-CLOWN-SHOW

Utah demands federal government return public lands to state – The state of Utah, long resentful that some 60 percent of its territory belongs to the U.S. government, says the time has come to reclaim the millions of acres it gave up more than a century ago for admission to the union. Governor Gary Herbert signed into law on Friday a bill demanding the federal government relinquish ownership of roughly 30 million acres of public land in Utah by 2015 or face a state lawsuit challenging its continued control of that property. Shrugging off warnings from state attorneys that the legislation, backed primarily by Republicans, is likely unconstitutional and could lead to a protracted but futile legal battle, Herbert called such a dispute “a fight worth having.”

INSANITY: TENNESSEE: Senate Passes Bill Allowing The Teaching Of Creationism – The Tennessee Senate has approved a bill that will allow teachers to advocate for creationism and against climate change. The bill’s wording is couched in terms of “protecting the right to open discussion.” Senators voted 24-8 to pass a bill that says schoolteachers cannot be punished for “helping students to understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories” taught in public schools. The measure has drawn strong opposition from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Center for Science Education and the American Civil Liberties Union, which said it is cover for teachers who want to teach creationism or intelligent design. Supporters said the measure would give teachers more guidance to answer students’ questions about science topics. “The idea behind this bill is that students should be encouraged to challenge current scientific thought and theory,” said state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson.  ||| RELATED: U.S. students behind in math, science, analysis says – CNN – In math, U.S. high schoolers were in the bottom quarter of the countries that participated, trailing countries including Finland, China and Estonia. [...] In science, the United States falls behind countries such as Canada, Japan and the Czech Republic.

3/19: Monday morning’s slightly interesting things

1) PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

  • Obama’s Spending Record: More Conservative Than Reagan’s – This is the kind of reality that makes Sean Hannity’s head explodes. So far, the GOP candidates have been running against a fictional president with a fictional record. Obama didn’t campaign to increase government spending, but inheriting what was in the final quarter of 2008 an annulaized contraction of 9 percent of GDP, he opted for a stimulus. That accounts for much of the spending. I know we are supposed – along with Fox News – to have total amnesia about the spending record of George W. Bush, wh had nothing like the recession Obama inherited to counter. But there it is. Along with the fact that of the last seven presidents, the top three are all Republicans…
  • Obama Plans Big Effort to Build Support Among Women – On Monday, mailings will go out to one million women in more than a dozen battleground states in three separate versions for mothers, young women and older women, campaign and party officials said. [...] The campaign’s effort to rally women around the health care law had been long planned, to coincide with the second anniversary of Mr. Obama signing it on March 23, campaign officials said. But the effort has gained intensity, they added, because of recent controversies over contraception, abortion and education in Washington and in state capitals that have energized people in the campaign’s far-flung field offices who are essential to putting any national strategy into action.
  • Sen. Daniel Akaka: Congress should stop targeting federal employees - Hard-working federal employees are being squeezed by Congress again, as some of my colleagues attempt to attach an extension of the pay freeze to pending highway funding bills. This comes after Congress last month effectively cut the pay of new employees by forcing them to pay more toward their pensions — permanently — to offset the costs of just 10 months of unemployment. I strongly oppose this new habit of picking the pockets of America’s dedicated middle-class public servants. [...]  CBO’s report said that workers without college degrees were paid higher average wages in the federal government than in the private sector, but noted that workers with college degrees — the bulk of the federal workforce — were paid about the same, and workers with graduate or professional degrees were paid significantly less. Averaged across all categories, federal workers were paid 2 percent more. However, the report was flawed. CBO relied on limited survey data of self-reported wages and occupations, and some federal contractors inaccurately reported that they are federal employees. CBO did not account for complexity or other aspects of jobs, instead using broad occupational categories. As Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry pointed out, we should pay the federal forklift operator transporting nuclear-tipped torpedoes more than the private-sector forklift operator moving boxes… [graph via: thebottom99percent.com]

2) THE 2012 GOP PRIMARY

  • After Santorum tells Puerto Ricans to speak English… Mitt Romney Wins Puerto Rico Primary – Late Sunday night, with 61 percent of the Puerto Rican votes counted, Romney had 83 percent of them. He won all 20 delegates to the national convention at stake because he prevailed with more than 50 percent of the vote. That padded his comfortable lead over Santorum in the race to amass the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Romney announced the Puerto Rico win at the Illinois rally and told the crowd, “I intend to become our nominee and I intend to get Latino voters to vote for a Republican and take back the White House.” The Santorum campaign accused Romney of pandering. “Mitt Romney says he supports English as the official language of America while on the mainland, but then says Puerto Ricans don’t have to learn English while he’s on Puerto Rico,” Santorum communications director Hogan Gidley said in a press release.
  • Santorum: Obama ‘exposing children’ to risk from porn  – In an undated statement on his official website, the former Pennsylvania senator asserted that “America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography” because Obama’s Justice Department was favoring “pornographers over children.” “Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships,” the statement says. “It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.” “Current federal ‘obscenity’ laws prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier,” the statement continues, adding that these laws should be “vigorously enforced.”
  • LGF: Santorum also accused President Obama of being an “appeaser of evil.” This is very sick stuff; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such twisted counter-factual arguments in a presidential campaign.
  • Porn in the USA: Conservatives Are Biggest Consumers

3) THE 21st CENTURY REPUBLICAN (TEA)PARTY

  • McCain: GOP needs ‘to get off’ contraception issue – McCain appeared once again on NBC’s Meet The Press (for a record 64th time) and told host David Gregory that the GOP needed to “get off” the issue and “fix the perception” their party currently has with women. “I think we have to fix that,” McCain said. “I think that there is a perception out there, because of the way that this whole contraception issue played out. We need to get off of that issue, in my view. I think we ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives, and make that clear, and get back on to what the American people really care about: jobs and the economy.

4) REPUBLICAN WAR ON WOMEN

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    Tennessee Bill May Expose Identities Of Women Seeking Abortions – Tennessee lawmakers will consider a controversial measure on Wednesday that could intimidate women seeking abortions by requiring that the names of doctors who perform the procedures be published online. The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, said at an initial hearing on the bill earlier this month that the reporting requirement writes into law a form that the Department of Health already asks providers to fill out whenever they perform an abortion. “The Department of Health already collects all of the data, but they don’t publish it,” he said. “All we’re asking is that the data they already collect be made public.”

5) HEALTHCARE REFORM  

  • Paul Krugman: Hurray for Health Reform – Can such a system work? It’s already working! Massachusetts enacted a very similar reform six years ago — yes, while Mitt Romney was governor. Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who played a key role in developing both the local and the national reforms (and has published an illustrated guide to reform) has surveyed the results — and finds that Romneycare is working pretty much as advertised. The number of people without insurance has dropped sharply, the quality of care hasn’t suffered, and the program’s cost has been very close to initial projections. Oh, and the budgetary cost per newly insured resident of Massachusetts was actually lower than the projected cost per American insured by the Affordable Care Act. Given this evidence, what’s a virulent opponent of reform to do? The answer is, make stuff up. We all know how the act’s proposal that Medicare evaluate medical procedures for effectiveness became, in the fevered imagination of the right, an evil plan to create death panels. And rest assured, this lie will be back in force once the general election campaign is in full swing. For now, however, most of the disinformation involves claims about costs…
  • U.S. Tells States How to Expand Medicaid in Health Law - The Obama administration on Friday told states how to enroll millions more low-income Americans into Medicaid under the health-care overhaul, 10 days before the Supreme Court begins considering a challenge to the law. The regulations, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, detail the scheduled expansion of Medicaid to cover a larger batch of low earners in 2014, when much of the health-care law is set to take effect. ‘Medicaid will look and feel like a very different program by 2015,’ said Cindy Mann, a top official at the agency charged with overseeing the changes. The Medicaid expansion is part of the broader case brought by opponents of Democrats’ 2010 health-care law that the Supreme Court will begin hearing March 26. To reduce the number of uninsured Americans, the law calls for adding 17 million or more additional people to the Medicaid program in the next decade.

6) PROTECTING THE WEALTH OF THE ONE PERCENT: GOP WAR ON THE 99%

  • Marginal Tax Rates and Wishful Thinking – At least since Calvin Coolidge, politicians have trumpeted the supply-side benefits of cutting marginal income tax rates. Lower rates will unleash economic growth and the cuts will largely pay for themselves — or so it’s often said. Yet careful studies find little evidence of such effects. Perhaps it’s time to reform tax policy based on facts, not worn-out assumptions…History shows that marginal federal income tax rates have varied widely…If you can find a consistent relationship between these fluctuations and sustained economic performance, you’re more creative than I am. Growth was indeed slower in the 1970s than in the ’60s, and tax rates were higher in the ’70s. But growth was stronger in the 1990s than in the 2000s, despite noticeably higher rates in the ’90s…If moderate increases in marginal rates wouldn’t much affect behavior, a mix of rate increases and cuts in tax expenditures might be a sensible path. [...] Finally, income inequality has surged in recent decades. Raising marginal rates on the wealthy is a straightforward, effective way to counter this trend, while helping to solve our looming deficit problem. Given the strong evidence that the incentive effects of marginal rates are small, opponents of such a move will need a new argument. Invoking the myth of terrible supply-side consequences just won’t cut it.
  • AFL-CIO calls for birth control access, immigration reform and overturning Citizens United – Broad statements on Fixing What is Wrong with Our Economy and Organizing and Growth sketch out a vision for the economy and for unions. To “fix what is wrong with our economy,” What we need now is an economic program as serious and far-reaching as the problem President Obama has correctly diagnosed. We must start by shifting the focus of U.S. economic policy from one of maximizing the competitiveness and profitability of corporations that happen to maintain headquarters somewhere on U.S. territory to one of maximizing the competitiveness and prosperity of the human beings who live and work in America. The AFL-CIO proposes massive “productive public investment” in education, energy, transportation, manufacturing, infrastructure and more, all paid for by letting the Bush tax cuts expire and imposing new or increased taxes on capital gains, financial speculation and income greater than $1 million. Related, we have to rein in the financial sector and expand and support manufacturing. Additionally, “it is essential that we tackle the problems of wage stagnation and economic inequality,” by increasing and indexing the minimum wage and reforming labor law, among other things.
  • Today in labor history, March 19, 1917:  The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Adamson Act, a federal law that established an 8-hour workday, with overtime pay, for interstate railway workers.  Congress passed the law in 1916 to avert a nationwide rail strike. [via: todayinlaborhistory]

Monday morning’s 9 interesting things

1) Comedians in the GOP – If the economy is clearly on the rebound by the Fall — still a big if — Republican arguments for the presidency will start to get really comical. This morning Gov. McDonnell (R) of Virginia — a major rising star — said the improving economy is due to Republican governors, not President Obama.

2) Poll: Romney narrowly trails Santorum in Minnesota caucuses – Minnesota has 40 delegates at stake in its non-binding caucuses, which will select delegates to the Republican convention to choose the party’s candidate to face Democratic President Barack Obama in November. Minnesota is among three heartland states voting on Tuesday, along with Missouri and Colorado. PPP said Tuesday has the potential to be a big day for Santorum, who has had a lead in Missouri and is running second in Colorado.

3) Newt Gingrich said Sunday that an “age of austerity” is the wrong solution for the economy and would “punish” the American people. He said he prefers “pro-growth” policies instead. The comments appear to pour cold water on the modern Republican belief that austerity and growth go hand in hand. – Newt Gingrich, on “Meet the Press”

4) 2012 Chrysler Bowl Commercial – It’s Half Time America

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5) Avoiding Congress’s fiscal bombs – the total debt load in the U.S. —which combines both public and private debts — has fallen by 16 percent, leaving the U.S. further along the painful deleveraging process than any other major economy. [...] That doesn’t mean the public sector’s deficits should, or can, be ignored. As the McKinsey study says, history suggests that recovering from a financial crisis requires a two-stage deleveraging process: First, the private sector sheds debt while the public sector adds debt and drives growth, and then the private sector drives growth while the public sector sheds debt. But as the IMF notes, American policy, right now, has this backward: “The risk of too rapid short-term adjustment stands in marked contrast to the continued lack of progress in clarifying a medium-term consolidation strategy.”

6) How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’ – They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different. Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn’t find oil, but that didn’t stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls “an enviable standard of living.”

7) How Rich Donors Could Get Billions from Taxpayers – Mitt Romney has apparently succeeded in setting up a $100 million trust fund for his sons, tax-free. As President George W. Bush put it in rejecting calls to raise taxes on the wealthy duiring his 2004 reelection campaign: “The really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway.” If the Republican presidential candidates and their fabulously wealthy SuperPAC donors get their way in cutting income taxes, eliminating the capital gains taxes and ending the estate tax, Bush’s really rich won’t have to work very hard to dodge Uncle Sam. If the Kochs and the Waltons succeed in getting the best government money can buy, the rest us will have to pay for it.

8) Morning CheckUp Study finds Tennessee will see savings from reform: “Health care reform will reduce the number of uninsured Tennesseans by more than half and cut uncompensated care and bad debt by $2.3 billion, but the newly insured could put a strain on the state’s health care system.” [The Commercial AppealHealth care employment to skyrocket through 2020: “Job growth in the healthcare sector will outpace other sectors through 2020 predicts new statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS’ employment projections find that total employment is expected to grow by 14.3 percent through 2020, resulting in 20.5 million jobs. Healthcare and social assistance should see the most gain with 5.6 million jobs.” [Healthcare Finance News]

9) Weekly Standard Rolls Out The Iraq Argument For Iran – Did you enjoy the Iraq War? Well, the Weekly Standard wants to do it again, with a new article arguing that sure, Obama got Bin Laden killed and has arrested or killed 20 of the most wanted Al Qaeda terrorists, but never mind because Iran is part of the Axis of Evil. No, seriously. [...] The Obama administration is dealing with Iran as the rogue state it is, working with the international community to try and get them in line. The Standard is arguing here for a return to the Bush era where the U.S. government used the magical terrorism wand to short circuit any and all discussion in order to do stupid things like invading sovereign nations based on cooked-up intelligence…

America’s Poverty Belt

From the Atlantic:

Nationally, 13.8 percent of Americans live in poverty, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census. But the geographic pattern varies significantly across states and regions.

The map above, from a Census special briefing report [PDF] released today, maps poverty by state. Immediately apparent is a broad “Poverty Belt” – states where more than three in ten people live in high poverty areas – stretching from West Virginia through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

via: azspot

Interestingly enough, the Poverty Belt overlaps the Bible Belt:

American Bible Belt

The Bible Belt of America:

A Bible Belt is an area which Christian Evangelical Protestantism is a pervasive or dominant part of the culture. In particular, in the United States, it is the region where the Southern Baptist Convention denomination is strongest. It includes the southern states of the Midwest and the entirety of the South.Wikipedia

What’s the correlation between poverty and Christian Evangelism / Fundamentalism in this area of the U.S.? Illegal immigration, religion, politics, unemployment, God’s will… all of the above?

 

UPDATED** Conservative utopia

Tennessee Pay-To-Spray Firefighters Watch As Home Burns Down

The conservative vision of utopia (touted by many of the GOP candidates in this election) is a society in which most government agencies are privatized, and unfettered free enterprise reigns supreme.

Here’s a look at what that vision means in the real world: Tennessee County’s Subscription-Based Firefighters Watch As Family Home Burns Down.

… The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn’t do anything to stop his house from burning. Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay. The mayor said if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck. [...]

Via ThinkProgress:

UPDATE***

Glenn Beck mocks and ridicules the guy whose house burned. Note: that’s exactly what Jesus would do!

Home

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(Video) Community Center of DEATH!

TPM:

nullDaily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi was on the scene in Tennessee to report on local opposition to a planned mosque in Murfreesboro. “Opponents say building a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero is simply too close,” Mandvi said. “But did you know that 18,000 blocks is also too close?”

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Text ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 to donate $10 to Nashville disaster relief

via Soup

You might not know it if you’re watching ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News or MSNBC but Nashville needs your help.

< p>Text ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 to donate $10 to disaster relief.

See pics from Boston.com here:

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Or see video: