In what read like a pretty clear smack-down, the federal court hearing the Texas voter ID case yesterday ordered the state to get its act together and quit stalling?or lose all hope of implementing a voter ID law by the November elections.
The situation is somewhat ironic. Texas is suing the the Department of Justice since it did not approve the latest effort the state's voter ID law, among the most stringent in the nation. The DOJ argues the law will disproportionately impact minority voters. The state is racing against the clock, hoping to implement the law in time for the November elections?with the rather obvious subtext that this law will benefit Republican candidates by suppressing turnout among poor and minority voters who are likely to vote Democratic. The DOJ tried to delay the court date, set for July 9, but the court refused. Since then, however, the order said, "Defendants have worked tirelessly in discovery so that this case may be tried the week of July 9, 2012." The order also mentioned just how available the court itself had been.According to the court, Texas has been the party responsible for delays. The judicial order doesn't mince words, accusing the state of stalling on producing evidence central to the defense claims:
Texas has repeated ignored or violated directives and orders of this Court that were designed to expedite discovery, and Texas has failed to produce in a timely manner key documents that Defendants need to prepare their defense. Most troubling is Texas? conduct with respect to producing its key state databases, which are central to Defendants? claim that S.B. 14 has a disparate and retrogressive impact on racial and/or language minority groups.
Now, according to the order, Texas must show by Wednesday that it can meet all the following deadlines?otherwise, the court says the July 9 date cannot stand and there's almost no way the voter ID requirement can be implemented in time for the elections. If any deadlines cannot be met, the court wrote, "the July 9 trial date is truly impossible"?which means no voter ID requirement for the November elections.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office responded to the order, blaming the DOJ for asking for too much. "The State has already produced roughly 25,000 pages of information and millions of records from State databases," the statement read. "If the DOJ devoted even a fraction of the time they have spent complaining about their purported need for more information to instead reviewing the information they have already been provided, then this trial could unquestionably proceed without further delay."
Apple is down 1.5% this morning along with the broader market based on European concerns. This presents a good opportunity for a 4 day covered call trade using the weekly May expiration this Friday. We did this before and it worked out well.
Annualized Return Of 32% Or Higher
There are several in the money strikes offering an annualized return of 25% or higher right now. To make one of these weekly trades, you would buy AAPL today and then sell a call option that expires this Friday, with the hope of having your stock … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: Weekly Apple (AAPL) Trade For May 8, 2012
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Former auto czar Steve Rattner reacts to Mitt Romney taking credit for the auto bailout: "I've read, I think, everything Romney's had to say on this subject, and the level of flip flopping and dissembling is truly mindboggling. He's been on every side of[...]
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Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
The more the WH attempts to ?explain? VP Biden?s comments regarding marriage equality, the ?dumber? they look. ?Dumb? was how John Aravosis described things yesterday. (See my earlier post here).
On Meet the Press, Biden said
I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights. All the civil rights, all the civil liberties.
The walk-back scramble began almost immediately, with efforts to convince everyone that Biden hadn?t said what he said, but is really right there with Obama, evolving.
For an indication of how bad things are, check out the transcript of Jake Tapper, and others, questioning WH spokesperson Jay Carney, via Pam?s Houseblend. It?s much too long to post the whole thing, but Tapper and others relentlessly pressed Carney about Obama?s, and Biden?s, views on marriage equality. This whole exchange serves as an example of ?what goes wrong when you?re stuck repeating the same two or three talking points over and over and over.?
A very brief selection from the transcript, with Pam supplying the headline:
The #FAIL of Carney?s waffling and redirection and dodging is EPIC.
Q … This morning, the Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, put himself on record in favor of gay marriage. Yesterday, the Vice President indicated something along the same lines. Does this box the President in ahead of the election? Have his views changed at all on this subject?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I have no update on the President?s personal views. What the Vice President said yesterday was to make the same point that the President has made previously …
That?s followed by the now very familiar list of Obama?s accomplishments on behalf of the LGBT communities. The repetition of ?personal view,? ?no update,? and Biden?s saying the same thing Obama is saying, along with the list of accomplishments, basically provided Carey?s response to every question.
Q Jay, on June 23rd, he told an LGBT audience, ?Everybody deserves to be able to live and love as they see fit. … ? What is he referring to if not gay marriage? …
Q … how (is) Vice President Biden … saying that he is absolutely comfortable with men marrying men and women marrying women having equal rights, is not an endorsement of gay marriage?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think the Vice President expressed his personal views. He also said he was evolving on the issue. I think the description ?
Q When did he say that?
Q He did not say that, Jay.
MR. CARNEY: He did.
Q No. His spokesperson said that afterwards.
MR. CARNEY: Let me just be clear, though. The Vice President ? what he said about the protection of rights of citizens is completely consistent with the President?s position on this issue …
Q You?re trying to have it both ways before an election. …
MR. CARNEY: No. Look, this President has been extremely aggressive in supporting LGBT rights. …
Q Positing that the President has done more for LGBT individuals than any other President in history ? so you don?t need to say that again ? (laughter) ? the question is ?
MR. CARNEY: But I will.
Q … I think there are very few people who think that the President is not going to, after November, whether he?s reelected or not, come out in favor of same-sex marriage. … It seems cynical to hide this until after the election.
MR. CARNEY: Jake, I think the President?s position is well known. … I don?t have an update …
Q It?s not that I don?t want to hear it. I don?t want to hear the same talking points 15 times in a row. …
Q … where would the President be then on the amendment in North Carolina that would ban gay marriage?
MR. CARNEY: The President, through the campaign ? but the same person opposes efforts to deny the rights of citizens in any state where those rights have been established.
Q So he opposes ? so help me out there. He opposes bans on gay marriage but he doesn?t yet support gay marriage? …
There is much more of the same. And there is speculation that Obama will come out for marriage equality after the election, and that Biden is positioning himself for 2016. Whatever. The point isn?t political games for same-gender couples who want to marry. It?s about equality.
For more information and other takes on what?s happening, here are some links:
John Aravosis, Marriage-gate continues; Joe Biden has evolved. Why not Obama?; White House Press Sec being grilled by reporters over Biden?s endorse of gay marriage; Signorile on Obama?s ?gay panic?; Some top gay donors allegedly withholding donations to Obama SuperPAC, (this one about Obama?s refusal to sign an executive order barring same sex discrimination by federal contractors).
Lisa Keen, Biden: Pressuring Obama, or paving the way.
There are multiple stories at Think Progress, including Media Coverage Of Biden?s Remarks Demonstrates That Marriage Equality Is A Mainstream Position.
Joe My God, Obama?s Balancing Act On Marriage.
This continues to get attention because Mr. Obama?s ?trying to have it both ways? position on marriage equality appears so purely political. But who knows? Maybe he really is unsure about same-gender marriage. I kind of doubt it, but at some point, you have to wonder.
Just as important to remember: Mitt Romney signed a pledge to amend the U.S. Constitution to make ?same-sex? marriage even more illegal than it already is.
In the wake of last week’s dust-up over Glee, and a long conversation with me and others, Friend of the Blog S.E. Smith has written a post with an important reminder: there are a lot of people who hit their breaking point with that show much earlier than I did, and for whom pop culture is much, much less attentive to their needs:
Arturo and I both discussed the fact that it?s been heavily criticised since the start for the depiction of people with disabilities and people of colour, but this hasn?t gotten much traction. Glee has also done fairly terribly with domestic violence and sexual assault since close to the beginning, and while it may have been lauded for its depiction of queer youth, as Alyssa points out, even those depictions are sinking into a mire…As often happens, when an issue doesn?t directly affect you or a cause you?re close to, you tend to ignore it. Hence, most people ignoring criticisms from the disability community and people of colour when it came to the show?s depictions of our lived identities.
In the mixed-up world of television hierarchies, gay people are a lot better off than many other minorities. The fights against bullying and homophobia are no longer entirely lonely or isolated battles: participating in them can be a way of gaining social capital in a way that, for instance, the fight for accessibility or standing with poor single mothers of color tend not to be. Gay people are a long way from full equality here in the U.S. and elsewhere, but gay characters appear more frequently and with greater nuance than disabled ones, and Hollywood has more powerful gay men than, say, women of color. There’s nothing wrong with wanting, and pushing for, more and more representative storytelling about LGBT people, a fight I’m fully in support of.
But when, relative to other folks who may be your allies, or who may be members of your community (it’s not like being gay means you can’t be disabled, or that you’re necessarily white), you’re in a position of power, it’s important to be gracious and thoughtful about the needs of other people who feel underrepresented and misrepresented. There are a lot of people who say that Glee has been powerful and life-affirming for a lot of young gay people, and I’m absolutely sure that it’s true. Whatever my objections to the many other facets of the show, its treatment of young gay couples is rich, nuanced, and equalizing. But Kurt Hummel’s story comes packaged with other storylines that marginalize and make small the lives of other people who have less hope of changing their station and less family support than he does.
As progressives, we should want better. Not every cultural artifact has to be about every oppression. That’s impossible, and a lot of subjects would benefit from a tight, stand-alone focus that elevate them as issues rather than using them as a spice in an Overcoming Difficulties Potpourri. The Surrogate, an exceedingly warm, funny romantic comedy about sex and disability that will be huge Oscar bait later this year does precisely that. Girls may not capture all of New York, but it does well on reproductive rights and sexual health issues without?and your mileage may vary?regularly taking a hammer to people who face challenges that its main characters do not.
Things aren’t perfect, by any means. But we shouldn’t feel so desperate for any representation of people who aren’t straight, white, gender-conforming and able-bodied that we champion those that do gravely wrong by other people in the frame. If Hollywood products want credit for being progressive, and they want the awards and accolades and social approbation that comes along with being groundbreaking*, we should have the confidence to demand of them that at minimum they try to avoid doing harm.
*Which is, of course, different from critical acclaim, as it should be. If folks want to be treated as if they have a special category of impact, I see nothing wrong with holding them to a higher standard.
The Senate today will vote on a Democratic plan to prevent a scheduled increase in the interest rate on federal student loans. The bill proposes extending the current rate on student loans, and paying for the extension by closing a tax loophole that lets wealthy professionals (such as doctors and lawyers) avoid paying all of the payroll taxes they owe.
Senate Republicans, however, intend to block the proposal from moving forward:
“We’ll defeat cloture,” Kyl said, using the legislative parlance for a key procedural vote scheduled for Tuesday that requires 60 votes to succeed. If Republicans prove Democrats can’t move a bill without GOP support, “I presume leaders in the House and Senate will get together and find a way to ensure the interest rate doesn’t double,” Kyl said.
The tax loophole in question — known as the Edwards Loophole, as it was utilized by former Sen. John Edwards — hurts both taxpayers who have their payroll taxes automatically withheld by their employers and self-employed small-business owners who pay all of the payroll taxes they owe. As Center for American Progress Director of Fiscal Reform Seth Hanlon noted:
The bill takes away the opportunity to recharacterize income from a professional service business to avoid payroll taxes. That solution puts such businesses on par with other kinds of small business owners, who are required to pay self-employment taxes on all of their business income. Closing this tax loophole is a commonsense measure to make people pay what they should be paying already.
Republicans, however, would rather the bill be paid for by gutting a key health care program, making their priorities when it comes to both the social safety net and student loans abundantly clear.
Last night on Fox News, House Majoriy Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) claimed that the Republicans were just trimming the fat from the budget and getting rid of wasteful spending:
VAN SUSTEREN: But these cuts — I mean, these cuts — I mean, some of the cuts, I mean, just — you know, there are — there’s money sitting in our government. There’s some fat that we can.. some of these cuts. I mean — the fat is incredible!
MCCARTHY: Then you would support what we’re doing. That’s we’re doing committee by committee!
Watch the clip:
So what do McCarthy and the GOP consider budget fat? The New York Times today offered some details:
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would push 1.8 million people off food stamps and could cost 280,000 children their school lunch subsidies and 300,000 children their health insurance coverage through the federal and state Children?s Health Insurance Program. Elimination of the social services block grant to state and local governments would hit child abuse prevention programs, Meals on Wheels and child care.
A further 23 million would be affected by the repeal of the Social Services Block Grant, which helps fund child care and disability assistance to low-income Americans.
In fact, eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would more than provide the savings the Republicans are seeking, twice over.
But not only are House Republicans protecting “largely useless” weapons systems and programs by cutting needed social services, their motivation stems from trying to prevent military spending cuts of nearly $500 billion over ten years because of the Budget Control Act’s sequestration trigger. Luckily for the GOP, the Center for American Progress has found more than $500 billion in Pentagon cuts — i.e. the real budget fat — that could be implemented over the next decade while still maintaining our vast military superiority.
While GOP plan has no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, the AP noted yesterday that it is “likely just a sample of what?s in store next year from Republicans if Mitt Romney wins the White House and the GOP takes back the Senate.?
Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody reports that the Republican National Committee’s National Hispanic Outreach Director says that Mitt Romney’s “still deciding what his position on immigration is.” Romney’s apparent uncertainty, however, must come as an enormous shock to anyone who paid attention to his well-developed immigration policies during the Republican primary. Back before Romney decided he needs to appeal to Latino voters in order to win the general election, Romney often took the harshest, most anti-immigrant positions on immigration among all of the GOP candidates. Romney proclaimed his immigration plan is to make the lives of undocumented immigrants miserable so that they “self-deport”, and he has promised to veto the DREAM Act if elected president. Indeed, Former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce (R-AZ) the lead sponsor of Arizona’s harsh immigration law, said that Romney’s “immigration policy is identical to mine.?