A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

Paul Ryan’s Cramped Vision – NYTimes.com

In Politics, Really?!? on August 11, 2012 at 13:47

Paul Ryan’s Cramped Vision 

Mitt Romney’s safe and squishy campaign just took on a much harder edge. A candidate of no details — I’ll cut the budget but no need to explain just how — has named a vice-presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, whose vision is filled with endless columns of minus signs. Voters will now be able to see with painful clarity just what the Republican Party has in store for them.

RAs House Budget Committee chairman, Mr. Ryan has drawn a blueprint of a government that will be absent when people need it the most. It will not be there when the unemployed need job training, or when a struggling student needs help to get into college. It will not be there when a miner needs more than a hardhat for protection, or when a city is unable to replace a crumbling bridge.

And it will be silent when the elderly cannot keep up with the costs of M.R.I.’s or prescription medicines, or when the poor and uninsured become increasingly sick through lack of preventive care.

More than three-fifths of the cuts proposed by Mr. Ryan, and eagerly accepted by the Tea Party-driven House, come from programs for low-income Americans. That means billions of dollars lost for job training for the displaced, Pell grants for students and food stamps for the hungry. These cuts are so severe that the nation’s Catholic bishops raised their voices in protest at the shredding of the nation’s moral obligations.

Mr. Ryan’s budget “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment,” the bishops wrote in an April letter to the House. “These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”

Mr. Ryan responded that he was helping the poor by eliminating their dependence on the government. And yet he has failed to explain how he would make them self-sufficient — how, in fact, a radical transformation of government would magically turn around an economy that is starving for assistance. At a time when state and local government layoffs are the principal factor in unemployment, the Ryan budget would cut aid to desperate governments by at least 20 percent, far below historical levels, on top of other cuts to mass transit and highway spending.

Those are the kinds of reductions voters of all income levels would actually feel. People might nod their heads at Mr. Romney’s nostrums of smaller government, but they are likely to feel quite different when they realize Mr. Ryan plans to take away their new sewage treatment plant, the asphalt for their streets, and the replacements for retiring police officers and firefighters.

All of this will be accompanied, of course, by even greater tax giveaways to the rich, and extravagant benefits to powerful military contractors. Business leaders will be granted their wish for severely diminished watchdogs over the environment, mine safety and food quality.

Mr. Romney had already praised the Ryan budget as “excellent work,” but until Saturday the deliberate ambiguity of his own plans gave him a little room for distance, an opportunity to sketch out a more humane vision of government’s role. By putting Mr. Ryan’s callousness on his ticket, he may have lost that chance.


Israel’s Fading Democracy – NYTimes.com

In News, Politics, Really?!? on August 5, 2012 at 12:34

Israel’s Fading Democracy 

WHEN an American presidential candidate visits Israel and his key message is to encourage us to pursue a misguided war with Iran, declaring it “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” for America to stand with our warmongering prime minister, we know that something profound and basic has changed in the relationship between Israel and the United States.My generation, born in the ’50s, grew up with the deep, almost religious belief that the two countries shared basic values and principles. Back then, Americans and Israelis talked about democracy, human rights, respect for other nations and human solidarity. It was an age of dreamers and builders who sought to create a new world, one without prejudice, racism or discrimination.Listening to today’s political discourse, one can’t help but notice the radical change in tone. My children have watched their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, kowtow to a fundamentalist coalition in Israel. They are convinced that what ties Israel and America today is not a covenant of humanistic values but rather a new set of mutual interests: war, bombs, threats, fear and trauma. How did this happen? Where is that righteous America? Whatever happened to the good old Israel?Mr. Netanyahu’s great political “achievement” has been to make Israel a partisan issue and push American Jews into a corner. He has forced them to make political decisions based on calculations that go against what they perceive to be American interests. The emotional extortion compels Jews to pressure the Obama administration, a government with which they actually share values and worldviews, when those who love Israel should be doing the opposite: helping the American government to intervene and save Israel from itself.Israel arose as a secular, social democratic country inspired by Western European democracies. With time, however, its core values have become entirely different. Israel today is a religious, capitalist state. Its religiosity is defined by the most extreme Orthodox interpretations. Its capitalism has erased much of the social solidarity of the past, with the exception of a few remaining vestiges of a welfare state. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state.” However, because Israel has never created a system of checks and balances between these two sources of authority, they are closer than ever to a terrible clash.In the early years of statehood, the meaning of the term “Jewish” was national and secular. In the eyes of Israel’s founding fathers, to be a Jew was exactly like being an Italian, Frenchman or American. Over the years, this elusive concept has changed; today, the meaning of “Jewish” in Israel is mainly ethnic and religious. With the elevation of religious solidarity over and above democratic authority, Israel has become more fundamentalist and less modern, more separatist and less open to the outside world. I see the transformation in my own family. My father, one of the founders of the state of Israel and of the National Religious Party, was an enlightened rabbi and philosopher. Many of the younger generation are far less open, however; some are ultra-Orthodox or ultranationalist settlers.This extremism was not the purpose of creating a Jewish state. Immigrants from all over the world dreamed of a government that would be humane and safe for Jews. The founders believed that democracy was the only way to regulate the interests of many contradictory voices. Jewish culture, consolidated through Halakha, the religious Jewish legal tradition, created a civilization that has devoted itself to an unending conversation among different viewpoints and the coexistence of contradictory attitudes toward the fulfillment of the good.


Dark Knight Rises: Bane character part of political plot against Mitt Romney | Film | guardian.co.uk

In Nonsense on July 18, 2012 at 20:34

Bane and Mitt Romney


Dark Knight Rises: Bane character part of political plot against Mitt Romney |

When Christopher Nolan announced two years ago that the character Bane would be Batmans nemesis in The Dark Knight Rises, more than a few eyebrows were raised. While the villain has played a prominent role in the caped crusaders comic book canon, he is not nearly so well known as traditional bad guys such as Joker, Penguin or the Riddler. Now, the real reason behind the hulking antagonists deployment in Nolans forthcoming superhero blockbuster has been revealed – at least, in the mind of the rightwing US commentator Rush Limbaugh: its all a thinly veiled attack on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.According to Limbaugh, who was speaking on his syndicated radio show on Tuesday, “Bane” is designed to get Americans thinking about “Bain” Capital, the investment fund that Romney founded in 1984. The presidential hopeful is currently embroiled in a political spat with Barack Obamas team, who have accused him of being in charge during a period in which the private equity firm made a high number of layoffs at the companies it owned. Romney says he left the firm before the layoffs occurred.”So this evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And theres discussion out there as to whether or not this was purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters,” said Limbaugh. “A lot of people are going to see the movie. And its a lot of brain-dead people – entertainment, the pop culture crowd – and theyre going to hear Bane in the movie and theyre going to associate Bain.”And the thought is that when theyre going to start paying attention to the campaign later in the year and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital but Romney and Bain, that these people will start thinking back to the Batman movies: Oh yeah, I know who that is!”Back in reality, Bane was not invented by Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises but first rose to prominence in the 1993 Batman comic book series Knightfall, in which he breaks Bruce Waynes back. Unless the British director had the ability to see into the future in 2010 when he was finalising his plans for the new film, it seems unlikely that he decided on utilising the villain for political reasons. Then again, Nolan began his superhero trilogy with 2005s Batman Begins, featuring a sinister organisation named The League of Shadows, known for manipulating events in order to forge the future in its own image.


Mississippi’s only abortion clinic fights to stay open amid onslaught of protest – guardian.co.uk

In Really?!? on July 10, 2012 at 12:03

Mississippi’s only abortion clinic fights to stay open amid onslaught of protest 

Mississippi is not alone in its attempts to limit access to abortions. Across conservatives states, there has been a concerted campaign by conservative, anti-abortion groups to shift the focus away from the treatment room to the court room in a bid to undo the constitutional right to abortion enshrined in the Roe v Wade supreme court decision in 1973.

Last year the number of bills to restrict abortion, from the defunding of Planned Parenthood to gestational limits, were the highest on record, according to the Guttmacher Insitute.

One of the most controversial in recent months was Virginia’s attempt to pass a law requiring women seeking a termination to have a mandatory transvaginal ultrasound. Eleven states, including Mississippi, have similar laws in the pipeline, while a further 11 state’s legislators have proposals to restrict medicated abortion, and 14 have introduced laws that seek to restrict abortion later in pregnancy – but prior to foetal viability.

Mississippi, the poorest state in the US, already has some of America’s strictest laws on the procedure and an accordingly low abortion rate. But lawmakers are determined to bring it down to zero and are throwing their political muscle behind their goal.

Last November, residents rejected a “personhood” amendment to the state constitution that would have eliminated all abortions and some forms of contraception by defining life as beginning at the moment of fertilization. During the debate, Bryant, then the Republican candidate for governor, warned that if the amendment failed, “Satan wins”.

“This is a battle of good and evil of biblical proportions,” he said.

In April, he signed HB1390, another constitutional scheme with the same aim.

Such increasingly intense rhetoric against abortion from state leaders has silenced the pro-choice voice. One physician who spoke to the Guardian refused to be quoted because he has been falsely vilified as an abortion doctor after speaking out in the past.

“Even the common sense things don’t get said” he said. “It’s hard to have a reasonable discussion.”

Doctors are ostracised for pro-choice beliefs. In April, the state’s Republican lieutenant governor, Tate Reeves, blocked the appointment of Dr Carl Reddix, a Harvard and John Hopkins-trained doctor from the state’s board of health. Reddix does not perform abortions but has admitting privileges and is the physician who the clinic would call if a woman in their care was rushed to hospital.

Abortion opponents pray outside the clinic. Photograph: Rogelio V Solis/AP

Critics argue that such overtly political decisions by leaders who frame the debate in moral terms clouds their ability to address the many problems Mississippi faces.

One example is a blind spot over the teenage birth rate, the highest in the country. Mississippi has 55 births per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 19 in 2010, 60% higher than the US average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Yet until this year, there was no mandatory sex education in its schools. Even then it is limited. Following a new law, introduced in 2011 to tackle teen pregnancy, schools can choose from two curriculums, one emphasising abstinence, the other an “abstinence-plus” programme, which includes information about contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases. Parents also have to opt their children into the programme, restricting the number of children who receive it.

Felicia Brown-Williams, regional director of Planned Parenthood Southeast, who has been advocating sex education in schools for years, said it was at least “a step in a positive direction”.

Brown-Williams sees at first hand the effect Mississippi’s poverty


Bullies on the Bus – NYTimes.com

In News, Politics on June 23, 2012 at 20:34

Bullies on the Bus– Bob Herbert NYT

Whether it is a Republican debate audience booing a gay soldier or Rush Limbaugh’s vicious attack on a female Georgetown law student or Newt Gingrich’s salvos at the poor, bullying has become boilerplate. Hiss and taunt. Tease and intimidate. Target your enemies and torture them mercilessly. Maintain primacy through predation.

Traditionally inferior identity roles are registered in a variety of ways. For Klein, she was elderly and female and not thin or rich. For others, it is skin color, country of origin, object of affection or some other accident of birth.

The country is changing, and that change is creating friction: between the traditional ruling classes and emerging ones; between traditional social structures and altered ones; between a long-held vision of an American ideal and growing reality that its time has passed.

And that change is coming with an unrelenting swiftness.

Last month, the Census Bureau reported that for the first time in the country’s history, minority births outnumbered those of whites. And The New York Times recently highlighted a Brookings Institution demographer’s calculations that, “minorities accounted for 92 percent of the nation’s population growth in the decade that ended in 2010.”

Furthermore, there are now more women in college than men, and a Pew Research Center poll published in April found that, “in a reversal of traditional gender roles, young women now surpass young men in the importance they place on having a high-paying career or profession.”

A Gallup poll released Thursday found that a record number of people (54 percent) say that they would be willing to vote for an atheist for president, and a Gallup poll last month found that more people support same-sex marriage than oppose it.

These dramatic shifts are upending the majority-minority paradigm and are making many people uneasy.

The Republican-Democratic divide is increasingly becoming an all-white/multicultural divide, a male/female divide, and a more religious/less religious divide — the formers the traditional power classes, and the latters the emerging ones.

This has led to some increasingly unseemly attacks at traditionally marginalized groups, even as — and possibly particularly because — they grow more powerful.

Women are under attack. Hispanics are under attack. Minority voting rights are under attack. The poor are under attack. Unsurprisingly, those doing the attacking in every case are from the right.

Seldom is power freely passed and painlessly surrendered, particularly when the traditionally powerful see the realignment as an existential threat.

The bullying on that bus was awful, but so is the bullying in our politics. Those boys were trying to exert power over a person placed there to rein them in. But bullying is always about power — projecting more than you have in order to accrue more than your share.

Sounds like the frightened, insecure part of American society.


How Racist Are We? Ask Google – NYTimes.com

In Politics, Really?!? on June 11, 2012 at 15:02

How Racist Are We? Ask Google 


Barack Obama won 52.9 percent of the popular vote in 2008 and 365 electoral votes, 95 more than he needed. Many naturally concluded that prejudice was not a major factor against a black presidential candidate in modern America. My research, a comparison of Americans’ Google searches and their voting patterns, found otherwise. If my results are correct, racial animus cost Mr. Obama many more votes than we may have realized.

Quantifying the effects of racial prejudice on voting is notoriously problematic. Few people admit bias in surveys. So I used a new tool, Google Insights, which tells researchers how often words are searched in different parts of the United States.

Can we really quantify racial prejudice in different parts of the country based solely on how often certain words are used on Google? Not perfectly, but remarkably well. Google, aggregating information from billions of searches, has an uncanny ability to reveal meaningful social patterns. “God” is Googled more often in the Bible Belt, “Lakers” in Los Angeles.

The conditions under which people use Google — online, most likely alone, not participating in an official survey — are ideal for capturing what they are really thinking and feeling. You may have typed things into Google that you would hesitate to admit in polite company. I certainly have. The majority of Americans have as well: we Google the word “porn” more often than the word “weather.”

And many Americans use Google to find racially charged material. I performed the somewhat unpleasant task of ranking states and media markets in the United States based on the proportion of their Google searches that included the word “nigger(s).” This word was included in roughly the same number of Google searches as terms like “Lakers,” “Daily Show,” “migraine” and “economist.”


Racially Charged Web Searches and Voting

A huge proportion of the searches I looked at were for jokes about African-Americans. (I did not include searches that included the word “nigga” because these searches were mostly for rap lyrics.) I used data from 2004 to 2007 because I wanted a measure not directly influenced by feelings toward Mr. Obama. From 2008 onward, “Obama” is a prevalent term in racially charged searches.

The state with the highest racially charged search rate in the country was West Virginia. Other areas with high percentages included western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, upstate New York and southern Mississippi.

Once I figured out which parts of the country had the highest racially charged search rates, I could test whether Mr. Obama underperformed in these areas. I predicted how many votes Mr. Obama should have received based on how many votes John Kerry received in 2004 plus the average gain achieved by other 2008 Democratic Congressional candidates. The results were striking: The higher the racially charged search rate in an area, the worse Mr. Obama did.

Consider two media markets, Denver and Wheeling (which is a market evenly split between Ohio and West Virginia). Mr. Kerry received roughly 50 percent of the votes in both markets. Based on the large gains for Democrats in 2008, Mr. Obama should have received about 57 percent of votes in both Denver and Wheeling. Denver and Wheeling, though, exhibit different racial attitudes. Denver had the fourth lowest racially charged search rate in the country. Mr. Obama won 57 percent of the vote there, just as predicted. Wheeling had the seventh highest racially charged search rate in the country. Mr. Obama won less than 48 percent of the Wheeling vote.

Add up the totals throughout the country, and racial animus cost Mr. Obama three to five percentage points of the popular vote. In other words, racial prejudice gave John McCain the equivalent of a home-state advantage nationally.

Yes, Mr. Obama also gained some votes because of his race. But in the general election this effect was comparatively minor. The vast majority of voters for whom Mr. Obama’s race was a positive were liberal, habitual voters who would have voted for any Democratic presidential candidate. Increased support and turnout from African-Americans added only about one percentage point to Mr. Obama’s totals.

If my findings are correct, race could very well prove decisive against Mr. Obama in 2012. Most modern presidential elections are close. Losing even two percentage points lowers the probability of a candidate’s winning the popular vote by a third. And prejudice could cost Mr. Obama crucial states like Ohio, Florida and even Pennsylvania.

There is the possibility, of course, that racial prejudice will play a smaller role in 2012 than it did in 2008, now that the country is familiar with a black president. Some recent events, though, suggest otherwise. I mentioned earlier that the rate of racially charged searches in West Virginia was No. 1 in the country and that the state showed a strong aversion to Mr. Obama in 2008. It recently held its Democratic presidential primary, in which Mr. Obama was challenged by a convicted felon. The felon, who is white, won 41 percent of the vote.

In 2008, Mr. Obama rode an unusually strong tail wind. The economy was collapsing. The Iraq war was unpopular. Republicans took most of the blame. He was able to overcome the major obstacle of continuing racial prejudice in the United States. In 2012, the tail wind is gone; the obstacle likely remains.


Is This Maine Independent the Solution to Our Partisan Woes? – The Atlantic

In News, Politics on June 10, 2012 at 14:38


Is This Maine Independent the Solution to Our Partisan Woes? 

 Angus King is trying to turn back time in this state. I hope he can do the same across the country.

In a speech Saturday morning, the self-made millionaire turned independent politician deftly displayed the qualities that helped him serve as a popular two-term governor here from 1995 to 2003. The 68-year-old hailed Abraham Lincoln, Bill Bellichick, Sam Walton and his teenage son in a 30 minute talk that made the audience at the Maine Historical Society’s annual meeting howl with laughter. King was a self-deprecating, pragmatic and non-partisan everyman, a character type that flinty and fiercely independent Maine voters have sent to Washington for decades.

But as in the rest of the nation, politics in Maine have dramatically changed in recent years. The state’s dynamic new political force is Governor Paul LePage, a take-no-prisoners, Tea Party-backed conservative Republican. Since winning a three-way race for governor with 39 percent of the vote in 2010, LePage has assailed public employee unions, unleashed blistering attacks on his opponents and delighted his conservative Republican base. Like them or not, the Tea Party has out-organized its rivals and gained an out-sized voice.

King, a former Democrat who now rejects both Republican and Democratic dogma, is either an anachronism or a sign that some voters are tiring of partisanship. Keep in mind that a record number of Americans — 40 percent — identified themselves as independent in a January Gallup poll; 31 percent identified as Democrats and 27 percent as Republicans.

For now, King is the favorite to win the Senate race. And in one unlikely but possible scenario, he could bethe deciding vote in an evenly divided Senate.

A lawyer, businessman and 18-year-host of the Maine public television show “Maine Watch,” King’s long-shot campaign for governor in 1994 was the first time he had ever run for public office. Bitter partisanship between Democrats and Republicans and a Green Party candidate who drew 6 percent of the vote, helped King eke out a win with 35 percent of the vote. So did the $950,000 that King — whose alternative energy business boomed at the time — spent on the race.

In office, King supported abortion rights but opposed increasing the minimum wage. He oversaw the largest increase in conservation lands in Maine’s history but opposed regulations supported by environmental groups. And while cutting some taxes, he backed a program that gave every seventh and eighth grade student in the state a laptop computer.

Re-elected in a landslide in 1998, he supported George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential campaign — “I thought he was a compassionate conservative,” King told me in an interview after his Historical Society stemwinder — but backed John Kerry in 2004. “I didn’t like the direction that the Bush administration had taken,” he explained, “particularly in starting two wars and tax cuts that weren’t funded.”

As evidence of his bipartisanship, King’s campaign says the bills he proposed during his eight years in office had 891 Democratic sponsors or co-sponsors and 755 Republican sponsors or co-sponsors. His self-described political philosophy is “I call ’em as I see ’em.”

More than anything, King is an iconoclast. The day after he completed his second term in office, he, his wife and two youngest children set out on a five-month road trip across the United States. King, a self-described environmentalist, piloted a diesel-burning, 40-foot long RV with a car towed behind for 15,000 miles through 33 states. He also owns a Harley.

Olympia Snowe’s surprise February decision to not seek reelection prompted King to enter the race. Her complaint that partisanship had made it impossible to get anything done in Washington is King’s battle cry.

The independent argues that average Americans are turning less partisan, not more partisan. “I think we’re divided among the people who talk a lot,” he said.

As he campaigned, he says, he hears a clear message from 95 percent of voters. “Why can’t they talk to each other?,” he said, paraphrasing voter questions. “What happened to common sense? Why can’t they work together?”

King said he was “neither arrogant enough nor naïve enough” to think he can single-handedly ease Washington’s partisanship. But he believes there is a “nascent moderate caucus” of senators from both parties “who realize that things are not going right.” In a closely divided Senate, that group could be “very influential.”

King will not say which party he will caucus with, if elected, but in this year’s presidential election, he is backing Obama. He said Mitt Romney’s failure to support the bailout of the auto industry or the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan, as well as his hawkish foreign policy advisers, worry him.

At the same time, he opposes some of Obama’s signature decisions, including Dodd Frank financial industry regulations, the troop surge in Afghanistan and the president’s own failure to embrace Simpson-Bowles as a bipartisan compromise. King said he would have supported the 2009 stimulus and Obamacare as imperfect answers to dire problems.

On the economy, King accuses both parties of embracing false “silver bullets.” Liberal calls for increased stimulus spending and conservative calls for tax cuts are not panaceas. He says the government should spend heavily on infrastructure, research and development and education, but end its role there.

“We need the federal government to provide infrastructure and leadership on issues like education and research,” he said. “But in the long run the federal government cannot be the creator of jobs.”

As both parties become more partisan, according to King, they are driving “whole swathes” of voters to become independents.

“They have essentially purged or otherwise narrowed their bases,” he said. “But by doing that they’ve pushed a lot of people toward the center.”

King is leading in the polls and Maine political scientists say the race, for now, is his to lose. But with control of the Senate potentially at stake, both national parties — and so-called Super PACs — are expected to savage the Maine independent. King, meanwhile, promises to not run a single negative ad.

Ronald Schmidt, a political science professor at the University of Southern Maine, said that the state’s Tea-Party backed governor is creating a new style of politics in Maine. Governor LePage, who is also a deft politician, may be calculating that having a small but highly motivated base may be enough to again defeat a divided opposition. If a centrist like King is going to win Maine’s Senate race, Schmidt said, moderates need to be as motivated as Tea Party members.

“Can the moderate Republicans organize themselves that well?” Schmidt asked. “Can the moderate Democrats?”

This year pundits and the media will rightly focus on the presidential race. But elections like this one are hugely important as well. Whether an Obama or Romney administration takes office in January 2013, they will face a dysfunctional Congress unable to enact desperately needed reforms. Sending moderates like King to Washington and ending our poisonous, take-no-prisoners politics is vital.

The Incomplete Violence Against Women Act | The Nation

In News, Politics on May 18, 2012 at 04:36

Salamishah Tillet | The Nation.

Yesterday, the GOP-led House voted to approve the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), trending as #fakevawa on Twitter, almost exclusively along bipartisan lines with 222 members voting in favor and 205 against.

First passed in 1994 with broad bipartisan support, VAWA originally provided $1.6 billion in funding toward the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, extended victim’s rights for redress and established the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.

Full disclosure: as a rape survivor, I have been a direct beneficiary of VAWA’s funding for I, like millions of women across the country, went to my local rape crisis center for help. Since then, through my work as a university professor and the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit that empowers college students to end campus sexual assault I have witnessed firsthand how VAWA’s Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus Program have increased resources for victims and prevention programs on campuses all over the country.

This year, the bill’s reauthorization has become enmeshed in a series of political battle between Democrats and Republicans over the scope of its protections. Democrats have fought to expand its coverage to include protections for groups especially vulnerable to gender-based crimes, such as gay, lesbian and transgender victims, Native Americans and undocumented workers. Those provisions were part of the Senate bill that passed in April.

The approved House Republican version, on the other hand, removed such stipulations, with Republicans claiming that their bill was both gender-neutral and “victim-centered.”

As a result, House Republicans risk advancing the perception that the GOP isn’t standing strong for women’s rights, which is more than just a perception—they are, after all, the aggressors in the War on Women. By denying the expanded protections—recommendations made by a victim’s rights advocates, law enforcement officials, and survivors themselves—Republicans are also legislating a hierarchy of victimhood, determining which groups deserve funding, resources and equal protection under the law.

This is especially appalling because Native Americans and undocumented immigrants experience disproportionately high rates of domestic and sexual violence, while bearing the even greater burden of social stigma and discrimination by law enforcement than other Americans.

The National Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women also reports that while members of the LGBTQ community experience sexual and domestic violence at approximately the same rate as non-LGBTQ victims, they are more likely to be denied services than heterosexual victims. Forty-five percent of LGBT victims were turned away when they sought help from a domestic violence shelter, according to a 2010 survey, and nearly 55 percent of those who sought protection orders were denied them. Thirty-four percent of Native American women, on the other hand, will be raped in their lifetimes, and 39 percent will be subjected to domestic violence. Of special concern to House Democrats was the bill’s failure to protect abused immigrant women, nearly 75 percent of whom, need legal protections to prevent abusers and perpetrators from using immigration status as a tool of abuse, exploitation and control.

Republicans claim that the differences in the Senate and House bills are a result of Democrats’ politicizing a key issue for both parties. They’re wrong, and I can’t help but think about the thousands of victims who will continue to be underserved and vulnerable to future abuse and exploitation.


The Tea Party Boxes Boehner In, Again | The Nation

In News, Politics on May 18, 2012 at 04:30

The Tea Party Boxes Boehner In, Again

Someone in the GOP is finally being sensible.

House Speaker John Boehner set the conservative blogosphere afire yesterday, when Politico’s Jake Sherman reported that the House GOP leadership would seek to reimplement popular parts of healthcare reform should the Supreme Court strike the entire law down next month. The pushback—and immediate retraction from Boehner—illustrates once again that the far right has the GOP leadership on a very short leash.

According to the story, Boehner briefed his colleagues on a contingency plan to reinstate both the requirement that keeps young Americans on their health insurance plans until age 26, and the laws that forbid insurers from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions. He believes that it’s “too politically risky” to rip those provisions from the law.

Boehner is quite right, but this sounds like fingernails on sheet metal to the Tea Party, which has spent the last two years fulminating about the socialistic, dictatorial, no-good, very-bad Obamacare. And the reaction from the hard right was swift.

“If this is true I have had it. I’m calling out John Boehner right now,” said powerful radio talker Mark Levin last night. “Look how fast they fold like a cheap tent.”

Daniel Horowitz at the popular blog RedState groused: “I’ve long struggled with the question of whether Republicans lack a full understanding of the free market or whether they simply lack the communication skills and fortitude to articulate free market positions to the public.”

“GOP thinking about keeping parts of ObamaCare, if you can believe it. No, no, a thousand times no,” tweeted Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association.

Within hours, GOP aides were e-mailing conservative pundits, assuring them that “Jake Sherman & Politico are liars.” And today, Boehner’s office sent out an e-mail blast titled “Anything Short of Full ObamaCare Repeal is Unacceptable.” Boehner was quoted as saying that “the president’s healthcare law is making things worse” and that “the only way to change this is by repealing ObamaCare in its entirety.… Anything short of that is unacceptable.”

But if that repeal were to happen, does Boehner still favor legislation to protect people with pre-existing conditions? He doesn’t say. Notably, even conservative stalwarts like Senator Jim DeMint and Representative Tom Price favor that. (DeMint would like to see state pools for those with pre-existing conditions, while Price has said he wants stop-gap legislation protecting those provisions should Obamacare disappear).

If Boehner does indeed want to create such legislation, does the far right object to that on principle, now that Obama has created such laws? Because Boehner is absolutely right, it’s politically dangerous to gut that, along with provisions for Americans under 26. (What if the law is repealed, does everyone age 22 to 26 suddenly lose coverage?) The GOP leadership gets that, but the opinion-makers and Tea Party firebrands don’t—and it’s clear who holds more power.


Richard Mourdock’s Many Pursuits Don’t Include Bipartisanship – NYTimes.com

In News, Politics, Really?!? on May 9, 2012 at 06:36

Richard Mourdock’s Many Pursuits Don’t Include Bipartisanship – 

I don’t understand how you can be Against the Dream Act.. which allows certain illegal immigrants (who moved to the US as children) to gain citizenship. But no doubt this gentleman and I would disagree on many other things. So sad Lugar was gone… The middle ground in the Senate is increasingly hollow… …and it’s not because the Democrats are moving left

The man who deposed the Republican foreign policy conscience of the Senate is a 60-year-old homebody and former geologist who loves riding motorcycles, running marathons and thumbing through history books in bed. He is best known in political circles for trying — unsuccessfully — to block the auto bailout that saved thousands of jobs in Indiana, the state he seeks to represent in Congress.

Should he prevail in November, Richard Earl Mourdock, who defeated Senator Richard G. Lugar in Indiana’s Republican primary on Tuesday, might also replace Speaker John A. Boehner as the man most likely to cry during a floor speech.

“It’s a beautiful thing at 60 to know who you are,” Mr. Mourdock said in a telephone interview, referring to his propensity for tearing up on the stump when he talks about the nation’s debt. “There are things that touch me deeply. And there’s a part of me that wishes I wasn’t doing this. I love nothing more than riding a motorcycle around southern Indiana on a Sunday afternoon, and now I won’t be doing that for a while. But I am doing this for a reason.”

That reason, Mr. Mourdock said, is to cease the efforts at bipartisanship that defined the six-term tenure of Mr. Lugar and push for a more conservative agenda among Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Mourdock’s support from Tea Party groups — which helped frame Mr. Lugar, 80, as an out-of-touch Methuselah who does not even live in their state — is deep.

But Democrats who try to portray Mr. Mourdock, a two-term state treasurer, as Christine O’Donnell in a necktie may fall short. He is a far more seasoned politician than Ms. O’Donnell, whose Tea Party candidacy cost Republicans a Senate seat in Delaware in 2010. He has run for office numerous times, including three races for the House; easily won his last election; and methodically campaigned to oust Mr. Lugar, who a year ago seemed untouchable.

A more apt comparison may be Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a conservative Republican who picked off Robert F. Bennett in the 2010 primary with the heft of grass-roots supporters. Mr. Mourdock said Mr. Lee, though young enough, at 40, to be his son, was his role model in the Senate.

Mr. Mourdock, whose Democratic opponent is Representative Joe Donnelly, is decidedly to the right of the man he bested. He is strongly opposed to the Dream Act, for instance, a measure that would pave a path to citizenship for some immigrants brought to the United States illegally as minors, and one that Mr. Lugar once supported. Nor would he have supported the bank bailout, which Mr. Lugar voted for, or given nods to judges Mr. Lugar helped confirm.