Following up on an earlier item, the good news is that we've found one lawmaker in Washington who thinks that exempting Olympians from paying taxes on a cash award is a bad idea. The striking news is that this lawmaker is Tom Coburn.[...]
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This is a victory:
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure shook up its top leadership Wednesday by announcing the resignation of its president and shifting role for its CEO and founder. Two members of its Board of Directors also announced their resignations.It was in February of this year that Komen announced a shocking reversal of its long-standing policy of funding breast cancer screening and awareness at Planned Parenthood. Its original explanation for the decision was pure politics:
Komen President Liz Thompson announced plans to leave the organization in September. Meanwhile, Komen Founder and CEO Nancy Brinker will shift to a new management role as chair of the Komen Board Executive Commiittee when the search for a new senior executive is finished.
Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress ? a probe launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion groups.That "investigation" was nothing more than a smear job by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, as part of an ongoing attempt by House Republicans to shut down Planned Parenthood. To date, Stearns has yet to announce any findings of wrongdoing.
What followed was nothing short of amazing. Boycots, threats and outrage led the foundation, only days later, to issue an apology?of sorts?for its decision.
It was obvious to all that Komen had caved to pressure from the anti-choice movement, including anti-choicers within its own organization?led by Karen Handel, the foundation's senior vice president of public policy, who boasted that she was "staunchly and unequivocally pro-life." Handel even joined anti-choicers on Twitter who taunted women, retweeting someone telling women to "cry me a river," only to then delete it when she was blasted for it.
Handel was forced to resign within the week.
But the outrage didn't stop there. Komen had all but destroyed its brand, with women refusing to purchase its pink products or participate in its fundraisers. Members of the organization resigned in disgust at the politicization of women's health care. Democratic senators blasted the decision, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a matching gift of $250,000 directly to Planned Parenthood.
And now Nancy Brinker, the founder, president and CEO of Komen, is out. As well she should be.
Oh, and Nancy? Cry me a river.
I am going to ask my white friends to ignore this post. If you happen to be white and you were going to check out what I am writing tonight, please come back tomorrow. ( I am going to delay the comments section because I really don't need to hear from the trolls tonight)
Anyway my brothers and sisters, I am moved to write this post because of some disturbing things coming out of London. (No, not Usain partying with blonds until early in the morning.)
First, some of you Negroes were on twitter ripping Gabby Douglas because of her hair style. Not her actual athletic prowess, but her hair. This is ignorant and wrong on so many levels, and it speaks to some greater issues with many of you: This constant need to focus on the superficial and not what really matters. It's why some of you would rather spend $40,000.00 on a brand new car instead of training towards a college degree or a vocational certificate. It's why some of you (who can't afford it) spend thousands of dollars on a hand bag instead of a nice stroller for your infant child. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Gabby Douglas was over there making it happen because she put in the work in to compete on a world class level in a very difficult sport. The last thing she needed to be worrying about is if her weave was tight. It got so bad that you all got white folks in our business. This is not cool. The last thing that poor child needed was to be worried about her damn hair.
The next troubling development from London was this girl fight which broke out between Lolo Jones, and her hurdling teammates, Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells.
This one is a little more complicated, because it involves what is perceived beauty in this country and how that perception of beauty drives marketing.
On one hand we have Lolo Jones; a woman who America views as beautiful,(I actually think Kellie Wells is cuter) and who has athletic talent and a compelling story to match. She was dubbed the Anna Kournikova of track by the New York Times in an article that seemed to send Jones over the top.
"I think it was crazy just because it was two days before I competed, and then the fact that it was from a U.S. media,'' Jones told Savannah Guthrie before fighting back tears. "They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds. I just thought that that was crazy because I worked six days a week, every day, for four years for a 12-second race and the fact that they just tore me apart, which is heartbreaking.
"They didn't even do their research, calling me the Anna Kournikova of track. I have the American record. I am the American record holder indoors, I have two world indoor titles. Just because I don't boast about these things, I don't think I should be ripped apart by media. I laid it out there, fought hard for my country and it's just a shame that I have to deal with so much backlash when I'm already so brokenhearted as it is."
No doubt that Jones works hard, but the truth is that she might not be talented enough to compete for gold on the world's highest stage. And is it really her fault that America has pumped her up because of her looks? You could also argue that the reason the 100 meter hurdles is getting so much shine is because of Jones. Her coming out that she is a virgin only made the press want more of her.
On the other hand we have the aforementioned Wells and Harper. They are probably more talented on the track than Jones, but in the eyes of America, they don't have "the look". And yet, we have been learning that Ms. Harper's story is just as compelling as Lolo the virgin.
"Beadle: You thought you weren't getting enough respect ... Why is that?
Harper: I feel I had a pretty good story -- knee surgery two months before Olympic trials in 2008, to make the team but 0.007, not have a contract ... working three jobs, living in a frat house, trying to make it work. Coming off running in someone else's shoes getting the gold medal. Uhhh, I'd say I was pretty interesting. I just felt as if I worked really hard to represent my country in the best way possible, and to come way with the gold medal, and to honestly seem as if, because their favorite [CLOSE UP ON LOLO JONES FROM TUESDAY NIGHT] didn't win all of sudden it's just like, 'Were going to push your story aside, and still gonna push this one.' That hurt. It did. It hurt my feelings. But I feel as if I showed I can deal with the pressure, I came back, and I think you kinda got to respect it a little bit now.
Beadle [to Harper and Kellie Wells]: You guys kinda hang out together ... Is there fighting amongst the team -- we're talking about Lolo Jones if you can't figure this out -- is there an awkward situation or now that it's over we've all just moved on?
Wells: Well, I think that, on the podium tonight, the three girls that earned their spot and they got their medals and they worked hard and did what they needed to do, prevailed. And that's all that really needs to be said.
Harper: BOOM! Just like that.
Beadle: You can cut the tension in here with a knife." [Story]
OK fam, so that's the back story, now I want to know why these ladies couldn't get along. Weren't they all over there busting their butts as teammates? What is it about us black folks sometimes that makes it so hard to come together?
Why are these two ladies on NBC trashing Jones instead of enjoying their medals?
Holla at me.
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Louisiana education officials are requiring the Delhi Charter School to drop the “Student Pregnancy Policy” that bans pregnant students from attending classes on its campus. After the American Civil Liberties Union called the discriminatory policy unconstitutional and pressured the school with potential legal action, the Louisiana Department of Education has agreed that Delhi Charter School is in violation of federal law.
A letter from Michael Higgins, the director of law and policy in the Education Department’s Office of School Choice, asked the school to make an immediate change to the policy no later than August 16th:
In the letter, released to TODAY.com Tuesday evening, the state asks for a policy that ?does not discriminate against pregnant students or students perceived to be pregnant? and says that ?under no circumstances shall the school require any student to take a pregnancy test.?
The school, which has approximately 700 students from kindergarten to 12th grade, said earlier in the day that although there have never been any complaints about the policy, it was under legal review ?to ensure that necessary revisions are made so that our school is in full compliance with constitutional law.?
After the ACLU’s letter to the Delhi Charter School on Monday brought public attention to the policy, the school was faced with significant backlash. An online petition urging the school to stop discriminating against pregnant students has garnered over 90,000 signatures in just over a day.
You probably remember the earsplitting wingnut screeching that greeted this man's analysis of the threat posed to the country by right-wing extremism - a report, incidentally, commissioned by the Bush administration. (Dave Neiwert was, of course, on the case.) If only our politicians had enough spine to stand up to the predictable rantings of the armchair experts, Daryl Johnson's important work would have continued and maybe even expanded to the point where the Wisconsin shooting could have been prevented. Via Danger Room at Wired.com:
Daryl Johnson had a sinking feeling when he started seeing TV reports on Sunday about a shooting in a Wisconsin temple. ?I told my wife, ?This is likely a hate crime perpetrated by a white supremacist who may have had military experience,?? Johnson recalls.
It was anything but a lucky guess on Johnson?s part. He spent 15 years studying domestic terrorist groups ? particularly white supremacists and neo-Nazis ? as a government counterterrorism analyst, the last six of them at the Department of Homeland Security. There, he even homebrewed his own database on far-right extremist groups on an Oracle platform, allowing his analysts to compile and sift reporting in the media and other law-enforcement agencies on radical and potentially violent groups.
But Johnson?s career took an unexpected turn in 2009, when an analysis he wrote on the rise of ?Right-Wing Extremism? (.pdf) sparked a political controversy. Under pressure from conservatives, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) repudiated Johnson?s paper ? an especially bitter pill for him to swallow now that Wade Michael Page, a suspected white supremacist, killed at least six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. For Johnson, the shooting was a reminder that the government?s counterterrorism efforts are almost exclusively focused on al-Qaida, even as non-Islamist groups threaten Americans domestically.
[...] Now a security consultant in the Washington D.C. area, Johnson used to work for DHS? analysis shop, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A). He supervised a team of six analysts studying what he calls ?domestic non-Islamic extremism.? It?s a telling term: the DHS employed as many as 40 analysts who looked at al-Qaida and other jihadist groups? inroads into the homeland.
Johnson ran everything else. One person on his team worked on the threat from anarchists; another, the threat from animal-rights extremists. Still others looked at anti-abortion radicalism, white supremacy and radical environmentalism. They were supplemented by analysts at the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; but outnumbered by the literally thousands of analysts, operatives and other counterterrorism officials throughout the government who focus on jihadism. ?Salaries were our major budget item,? he recalls.
Then, in April 2009, Johnson warned that the election of the first African-American president, combined with recession-era economic anxieties, could fuel a rise in far-right violence. ?DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities,? he wrote.
And so began a brief media firestorm. Conservative writers feared that the DHS was demonizing ? even, potentially, criminalizing ? mainstream right-wing speech. ?It?s no small coincidence that [Secretary Janet] Napolitano?s agency disseminated the assessment just a week before the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party protests,? pundit Michelle Malkin speculated in the Washington Times. Others objected that Johnson?s report unfairly stigmatized veterans.
It surprised Johnson. An Eagle Scout leader from northern Virginia in his early 40s, Johnson became interested in counterterrorism in his teens, after an Arkansas standoff between federal authorities and a millenarian group called The Covenant The Sword And The Arm of The Lord, which stockpiled weapons and explosives to bring about Armageddon. ?I was always fascinated with why people use religion to justify violence and believe the world was ending ? and had a role to play in hastening that end,? Johnson said.
Stung, DHS responded by cutting ?the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam, canceled numerous state and local law enforcement briefings, and held up dissemination of nearly a dozen reports on extremist groups,? the Washington Post reported in June 2009.
According to Johnson, his former team now consists of a single analyst tasked with tracking all domestic non-Islamic extremism. His database has been shuttered.
Mitt Romney got one of his better polls in a long while on Wednesday, but the problem was that the rest of the day's data was mediocre for him.
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People come from all around to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the famous painting American Gothic. Here you see a crowd of such observers at the Art Institute this afternoon. American Gothic was painted by Grant Wood. What could be more All-American than seeing this famous painting in the great Midwestern capitol of [...]
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NYT columnist Eduardo Porter seriously misrepresents the issues in the trade debate in his column today. First of all, he misrepresents recent trade deals by referring to them as "free trade" agreements.[...]
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Today on CNN, Newt Gingrich applauded the central tenants of McCarthyism to justify his support for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) baseless campaign to root out alleged Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government.
Host Wolf Blitzer singled out Bachmann target Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, telling Gingrich that it’s “ridiculous” to include her and that the whole thing reeks of McCarthyism. But the former House Speaker — and Mitt Romney supporter — wouldn’t back down, praising McCarthyism for rooting out communists and defending Abedin’s inclusion in Bachmann’s witch hunt. “This State Department has been amazingly pro-Muslim Brotherhood,” he said, “American citizens have the right to have the Congress ask the question.” Watch the clip:
Bachmann has been widely criticized for her anti-Muslim campaign, including by some top Republicans, particularly for singling out Abedin. But the Minnesota congresswoman has yet to offer substantial proof of any Muslim Brotherhood plot. In fact, actual members of the Islamist group have recently lamented that they can’t even take over the Egyptian government.
Clinton recently praised the Republicans who spoke out against Bachmann and today, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan denounced the campaign as well. “I have no idea of what it is that they are making reference to, and I?m not even going to try to divine what it is that sometimes comes out of Congress,” he said.
At a Native American hospital in his home state, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) said the Indian Health Service has “serious” problems, including a severe doctor shortage. According to The Hill, Baucus cited the hospital where he spoke as an example for refusing to provide rape kits to some female patients. But to help the system make improvements, Baucus noted that the Affordable Care Act permanently reauthorized the Indian Health Services Act, which provides health care to many Native Americans, and that President Obama has requested a significant budget increase for the program. “Our goal is to begin a new era of providing…quality health care,” Baucus said, “health care that can change the vicious cycles American Indians suffer daily.”