A new recall election is certified in Wisconsin. This time it's against Republican state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.[...]
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If Ed Rendell gets in trouble for accepting speaking fees from the MEK, a whole lot of other DC bigwigs will be sweating, too. [...]
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On the day he turns 65, Mitt Romney enters new and uncharted waters of Medicare bamboozlement. [...]
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California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has introduced legislation that would create a bill of rights for domestic workers. The bill recently received major support from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. The way law currently stands, domestic workers in California are exempt from overtime laws and excluded from the right to bargain collectively.
AB 889 (Ammiano), the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, would provide the over 200,000 domestic workers in California with overtime protections, inclusion in workers' compensation coverage and the right to meal and rest breaks ? givens for almost every other worker in California.
Assemblymember Ammiano, author of the bill, said "Simply put, the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights is about doing the right thing. Ask any parent and they will tell you that domestic workers like nannies, caregivers and housekeepers do some of the hardest and most necessary work around. Not only will this bill improve the everyday lives of workers and their families, it will improve the lives of those who they care for and nurture every day. Treating people fairly is not rocket science ? protecting the health, safety and well-being of domestic workers will lead to better home care, fewer mistakes from exhaustion and less worker injury."
"All work matters and all workers deserve dignity. Domestic workers care for children, the elderly, and the disabled, enabling so many workers to go to their jobs every day knowing their loved ones are in good hands. Just as they care for our families, domestic workers have families of their own and deserve the same protections that all other workers have. This bill is simply about ensuring every worker in California is treated with respect and dignity on the job," said California Labor Federation leader Art Pulaski.
If the bill has success in California, maybe it can help bring a spotlight on the way domestic workers are discriminated against in other states as well.
NOTE FROM JOHN: I'd like to welcome Gabriel Ortiz to the blog. Gabriel will be writing on gay issues, immigration, and a little bit of everything else.
Rush Limbaugh?s disgusting anti-woman tirades over the past few days haven?t been limited to Sandra Fluke and women. An overgrown bully in every sense, Limbaugh?s disturbing rants over the past decades have extended to children, most notably First Daughters Chelsea Clinton, Malia Obama, and Amy Carter.
It?s no coincidence that the girls are also children of Democratic presidents ? a quick Google search finds Limbaugh defending Jenna Bush from ?liberal media? only a few years ago. Further searches reveal that neither Jenna nor her sister have been subjected to the same humiliating taunts, with Rush and his on-air cohorts only describing Jenna as ?spunky.?
Consider Limbaugh's treatment of Malia Obama in 2010 when she was only 11 years old. Limbaugh mocked Malia in a disturbing ?skit? about the BP spill, where he tried to imitate the child?s voice and instead came out sounding like something out of ?The Exorcist.? Malia?s inclusion in this topic was inexplicable, as the child had nothing to do with the spill, and was seemingly introduced as a gratuitous way for Limbaugh to humiliate her father.
In 1988, an adult Amy Carter ? the sole daughter of President Jimmy Carter ? reemerged to the national spotlight after protesting U.S. involvement in Central America and apartheid in South Africa. Instead of furthering civil discussion of these topics, Limbaugh?s response was to call her ?the most unattractive presidential daughter in the history of the country." He was forced to apologize, but not before adding an additional insult years later during his radio show: ?She can't help the way she looks.?
Limbaugh?s most disturbing bullying incident stretches to a few years later, when he called a then-13-year-old Chelsea Clinton ?the White House dog.? Limbaugh again half-heartedly apologized, but not before blaming the error on a technical glitch, saying that a picture of Chelsea was mistakenly displayed instead of the dog?s. ?I don't need to get laughs by commenting on people's looks, especially a young child who's done nothing wrong,? he added. ?I mean, she can't control the way she looks.?
While Limbaugh's attacks on Fluke and other women are despicable, adults are able to defend themselves. Picking on kids ? as Limbaugh has done and continues to do ? has no place in public discourse. When Limbaugh goes to this place, he ceases to be the commentator he claims to be and instead becomes the schoolyard bully who picks on the younger and more helpless kids in order to satisfy his own demented hunger for power.
What kind of a man picks on children?
In my departed friend Joe Heller?s great novel, a character explains that "Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing."
Republicans are now applying this logic to the choice of a Presidential candidate, with each side offering indisputable proof that, depending on who is doing the figures (a) Mitt Romney is on a ?path to getting the delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination? or (b) a Santorum calculation that ?Mitt Romney?s math is just like Mitt Romney?s conservatism. It?s bogus. Mitt Romney thinks he can get to 1,144. The problem is, he can?t.?
When it first appeared fifty years ago, I read ?Catch-22? during the Cuban Missile Crisis in a Los Angeles hotel room after watching JFK?s speech about nuclear weapons 90 miles from our shores with helicopters making a racket as they came and went on a pad outside my room. In that setting, Joe?s nightmare world made perfect sense.
That feeling is back at a time where Southern GOP voters believe their President is a Muslim and are preparing to back either Romney, a reincarnation of unlikable Col. Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions a crew must fly after they reach it or Santorum, a latter-day Milo Minderbinder, who ends up bombing his own base at cost-plus.
In recent years, I have missed what Heller would have had to say about George Bush, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin, but now on the anniversary of having put the perfect phrase into our language to describe what we are living through now, the only solace is to read ?Catch-22? again and wonder how he knew so well what was coming.
During the GOP convention might be the perfect time.
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Two of the four journalists, Ahmet ??k and Nedim ?ener, were held for 375 days, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported. The release represents a reversal in the case:
The court stated the reason for release as “the probability of the crime’s qualification being subject to change” and “the time suspects spent under arrest.” [...]
The court had previously ruled against the release of prominent ?ener and ??k, who have both remained behind bars since their arrest in March 2011 in connection with their alleged links to the Ergenekon clique.
The struggle between the government and the Ergenekon group, covered in depth last week by the New Yorker, pits a secular underground movement against the powerful government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and his A.K. Party, known for Islamic piety and rejecting the strict secularism of Kemalism that bans public displays of religion. However, some claim that the imprisoned journalists had little to do with the alleged plots to topple the government. (A government spokesman denied improprieties to the New Yorker and said the judiciary was acting independently.)
Six journalists involved in the same case as the four released today remain in jail.
Turkey’s treatment of the press has drawn the ire of rights groups and Turkish allies like the U.S. — as well as some Turks. On December 20, 2011, Turkish authorities rounded up journalists in a crackdown on those allegedly tied to Kurdish separatist movements. The arrests came amid a larger pattern of going after journalists, detailed by writer Alia Malek that month in Foreign Policy magazine.
A large rally in Istanbul in January lamented that the verdict in the trial of an Armenian journalist’s death did not delve into organizations and powerful individuals suspected of involvement.
Just this month, the advocacy group the Committee to Protect Journalists complained that Erdo?an had mischaracterized their statistics to imply that Turkey had ample press freedom, noting: “Turkey is among the democratic countries with the highest number of journalists in prison.” Another group, Reporters Without Borders, complained that ??k and ?ener had spent more than a year behind bars “for no reason.”
“According to the Journalists Union of Turkey, ninety-four reporters are currently imprisoned for doing their jobs,” wrote the New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins, in a blog post accompanying his long magazine article. “Remember, too, that when you start arresting journalists, the freedom for those not in jail shrinks, too.”
In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan on Friday, Rick Santorum defended Kirk Cameron’s recent remarks that homosexuality is “unnatural” and “detrimental and destructive to society,” suggesting that “both sides need to respect both sides.” Santorum believes that it’s just as offensive when LGBT activists suggest that individuals with beliefs like his are “bigots or haters”:
SANTORUM: I think both sides need to respect both sides… As someone who’s been very public about this, I respect people who disagree with me. I think they have a right to go out and make their case and sell it to the American public and try to change the law if they see fit. But, I don?t use language that, you know, calls them bigots or haters, and nor should they think that someone, because they simply disagree with them on that subject, should be treated the same. So I think rhetoric on both sides needs to be judicious and fair and respecting people’s difference of opinion.
Santorum then admitted he hadn’t even heard Cameron’s remarks. Watch it:
Cameron’s comments were hardly judicious, considering they defamed an entire population of people. Michelangelo Signoreli points out the double standard at play that counters Santorum’s plea for “both sides to respect both sides”:
Last time I checked, people characterized as bigots were not being bullied in schools or bludgeoned on the streets. Bigots can even get married in every state in America — even to other bigots, if they choose — and they can obviously be open about their bigotry, even on national television. But the sad truth is, it is still dangerous in much of America for people to be openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. And that’s because of bigotry of the kind espoused by Kirk Cameron.
In a new column, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum reiterates his conspiracy theory that global warming is a left-wing hoax, which his opponents Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich fell for, showing their “weakness of character.” Santorum’s rant at RedState, the radical right-wing blog founded by CNN contributor Erick Erickson, claims that the scientific fact of man-made climate change is “liberal orthodoxy,” a “pseudo-religion,” and the “litmus test” of “radical environmentalism”:
Of all the GOP candidates, I am the only one who has not bowed, and will never bow, to this liberal orthodoxy. I did not pander when global warming seemed cool to the press and to Hollywood. We know that climate changes over time, that the earth warms and cools over time. This debate is about whether human activity plays a role, and whether U.S. emissions cuts can have any effect when China and India refuse to go along. The apostles of this pseudo-religion believe that America and its people are the source of the earth?s temperature. I do not.
I believe in conservation and good stewardship of our environment. It is our duty as Americans to combat industrial pollution and make sure our air and water are clean. But we can do that without hurting the American worker. Like most Americans I treasure our natural beauty and national treasures, our national parks, and wildlife refuges. I also appreciate the value of working the land, creating jobs, and strengthening opportunities for all American families.
In contrast, radical environmentalism has a blind devotion to the promotion of a radical agenda that ignores the interests and property rights of people. Global warming became the litmus test of this movement.
“Left to the wisdom of individual Americans, our economy can and will prosper,” Santorum concludes his screed against scientific wisdom.
New video of a February town hall shows Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) pandering to birthers and raising questions about the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate.
When Stearns met with constituents on February 25 in Belleview, one of the first questions came from an elderly gentleman who insisted that Obama was not born in the United States and ought to be impeached. Rather than correcting the man and informing him that the president is indeed a natural-born American citizen, Stearns coddled the conspiracy theory by implying that Obama’s birth certificate may be a forgery — “is it legitimate?” Stearns wondered aloud.
The Florida congressman noted that there is a “general consensus” that Obama “produced a birth certificate,” but gave no indication that he agreed with this sentiment. He also advanced an phony conservative meme, debunked by Dave Weigel and others, that Hawaii’s governor was incapable of locating the birth certificate:
STEARNS: All I can tell you is that the general consensus is that he has produced a birth certificate. The question is, is it legitimate? That?s where we stand now. I?ve seen a copy of it on television. But you know the Governor of Hawaii couldn?t get what he felt was an original of the birth certificate. He tried to do it and gave up on it. So I think what Obama?s showing is a facsimile, but I think that debate probably is not enough, shall we say, just to impeach him. We’re going to have an election in five or six months so we can change the course of history by electing someone other than Obama. That’s what elections are all about. If we started impeachment this time of year, very difficult in terms of time and strength.
Watch it, via Youtube user FlaPolActCoop.:
The next questioner asked if there was a grand jury looking into the veracity of Obama’s birth certificate.
While Obama’s full birth certificate has been online for nearly a year, questioning Obama’s citizenship may be a politically expedient move for Stearns, unfortunately. A recent PPP poll in nearby Tennessee found that a plurality of GOP voters (45 percent) do not believe Obama was born in the United States.
Stearns isn’t the only prominent conservative figure coddling birthers. Earlier this month, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio — who has become somewhat of a national GOP kingmaker –announced the finding of his investigation into Obama’s birth certificate, concluding it was a “forgery and fraud.”
Stearns’ name has been in the news lately after a Republican primary challenger accused the Congressman of offering a bribe to withdraw from the race. He is also the Congressman spearheading the GOP’s efforts against Planned Parenthood, opening the investigation into the women’s health organization that led the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to temporarily drop cut funding.