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Yesterday I attended an event way out in Agua Dulce in the Santa Clarita Valley for two of Congress' worst warmongers, House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Buck McKeon (R-CA) and a more hands-on kind of war criminal, teabagger Allen West (R-FL). It was the ugliest, whitest crowd I ever saw. People were suspicious of my hoodies but no one shot at me and eventually I slapped a Mitt Romney sticker on it and I was instantly part of the klan-- although just before that some really grotesque monster came running up and screaming that I was a communist because I was talking with a sassy lady named Carole Lutness, a Democrat who once ran for Assembly. I never got a chance to meet Buck or West when I left after 2 hours, melting in the sweltering heat.
Although, as we saw last week, House Republicans-- led by McKeon, Cantor and Paul Ryan-- are asking Americans to go deeper into poverty so that military contractors (financiers, along with Wall Street, of their and their allies' political careers) can continue to reap record profits, most Americans want to see Congress making significant cuts to the Pentagon budget.
As Congress struggles to rein in the federal deficit, a new survey finds Americans preferred to cut defense spending more than any other program.
In a new survey that not only asked for opinion, but also briefed the respondents on the federal budget, Americans came to a bipartisan conclusion: 67 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats supported cutting the defense budget.
And by quite a bit.
Here's how the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), one of the three non-profits who conducted the survey, boils it down:
"The average total cut was around $103 billion, a substantial portion of the current $562 billion base defense budget, while the majority supported cutting it at least $83 billion. These amounts both exceed a threatened cut of $55 billion at the end of this year under so-called 'sequestration' legislation passed in 2011, which Pentagon officials and lawmakers alike have claimed would be devastating.
'When Americans look at the amount of defense spending compared to spending on other programs, they see defense as the one that should take a substantial hit to reduce the deficit,' said Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), and the lead developer of the survey. 'Clearly the polarization that you are seeing on the floor of the Congress is not reflective of the American people.'
In fact, just this morning the House of Representatives advanced a bill that would sidestep the "sequestration," cutting social programs and dodging cuts for defense. Just to bring you up to speed: The "sequester" came into play after a "supercommittee," established by the big budget agreement reached in the summer of 2011, failed to find $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years. Because that failed, the agreement stipulated that the cuts would be made evenly across the board.
? The U.S. defense budget is six times that of China's and equal to that of more than the next 17 highest spending countries combined.
? If the "trigger" spending reductions under the August debt deal go through starting in 2013, the Pentagon budget would return to 2007 levels-- a time when we were paying for two major wars.
? Republicans in Congress are now trying to renege on the Budget Control Act they had forced into place, increasing defense spending above the agreed-upon levels in the debt deal.
? Military and defense spending played a significant role in increasing the national debt-- over the last decade, the defense budget nearly doubled.
? The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to this soaring increase in defense spending and to record deficits. Gen. Colin Powell, Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen, and even a number of conservative politicians say the Pentagon budget should be a part of fixing our deficit.
? America is safer under President Obama, who has shown across-the-board national security strength with achievements that include ending the war in Iraq, killing most top Al Qaeda leaders, forcing Iran to the negotiating table, and winding down Afghanistan.
? The bin Laden raid is just part of the President's successful efforts to reorient the fight against terrorism to focus specifically on the key threat we face-- defeating Al Qaeda and weakening terrorists around the globe.
Today, House Republican leadership is asking low and middle income families to sacrifice their health care and basic services in order to protect bloated and wasteful Pentagon spending and to protect tax cuts for millionaires. This out of touch budget to end the Medicare guarantee while giving massive tax breaks to Big Oil and the wealthiest is not a serious proposal, Mr. Speaker.
In these difficult times for millions of struggling families, Republicans are asking that we vote to cut $36 billion from the food stamp program and children?s health services so we can spend more money on cold war weapons that do nothing to improve our national security.
Our budget should reflect our values. We should not be balancing our budget on the backs of the most vulnerable. We do not have to make these heartless cuts that hurt our poor and struggling families so we can spend more money to build two more nuclear submarines or buy more over budget V?22 helicopters. We do not have to make choices that abandon the needy, our seniors and the futures of our children.
We must come together to protect people who are struggling, our Nation?s children and our elderly during economic downturns, not make them more vulnerable. We must protect and invest in the futures of our most vulnerable families, not dole out more money to the Pentagon for outdated and over budget weapons programs that we don?t need and doesn?t make America any safer.
We should not be shortchanging the education of our children, risk the health of our seniors and allow our infrastructure to crumble beneath our feet so that bloated defense contractors can keep getting
The priorities on display in this bill are clear and shameful. Once again, the Republicans put millionaires and billionaires, subsidies for big oil and gas, and bloated Pentagon spending above everyone and everything else. As co-chair of the Out of Poverty caucus, I urge my colleagues to reject this attack on our most vulnerable.
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Why is Ralph Reed treated like a serious commentator on anything? He should be in jail, not on the panel of a Sunday morning bobblehead show. But if he's going to be on a bobblehead show, then I'm going to ridicule his short memory and double standard for candidates.
During his Roundtable appearance on This Week, discussion turned to whether Mitt Romney's pattern of bullying others and entitled attitude is relevant to the election at hand. I say it absolutely is, not necessarily because of the incidents themselves, but because they are more evidence that the man lacks empathy and any sense that others less fortunate than he inhabit this place we call the United States.
Ralph Reed has a different opinion. After enumerating all of Romney's wonderful qualities, Reed actually had the nerve to ask who would want to serve "if they know people will be dumpster diving into your high school or prep school?"
Wow, really? Because nothing says dumpster diving like half the Republican Party claiming Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States, that he is really a Kenyan usurper, and the other half claiming that he's Muslim but somehow influenced by an inflammatory Christian pastor in the church he attended for 20 years, and other assorted untrue stories they flog every damn day. Nothing says dumpster diving like pointing at his time in Indonesia as a time where he was indoctrinated by imams, or the nonsense they spewed just this week about how he dealt drugs in college.
So here is Ralph Reed, calling a story corroborated by five independent witnesses and Romney himself "dumpster diving" while he and his band of religious thugs are largely responsible for the lies, rumors, and smears they laid upon Barack Obama for the last six years or so. Who would want to serve, indeed?
I've got a proposal for Ralph Reed. He can man up and tell his birther eliminationist wingnut followers to recant all the lies they've told and magnified about Barack Obama, and I'll shut up about the true stories of Mitt Romney's past. Better yet, why doesn't Reed just crawl back under the rock he came from?
Transcript follows below the fold.
REED: Well, I think the thing -- first of all, the young man in question is dead, all right, so he's not even able to speak to this, number one.
Number two, it was a half century ago. This isn't -- this doesn't involve his public record, all right.
And the other thing that it really underscores, George, is how desperate they are to try to tear this guy down. I mean this is somebody who has been faithful to the same woman for 42 years, raised a wonderful family.
Whatever you think of him politically, turning around Bain consulting, building Bain Capital into one of the most respected private equity organizations in the nation, turning around the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, outstanding job as governor of Massachusetts. This is the kind of man that you would want your daughter to marry. This is the kind of guy you would want to be a business partner with.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Part of the reason --
REED: If I could just finish, here's my concern. If this is what we're going to do to candidates, George, who will want to serve? Who is going to want to put their name on the ballot if they know people will be dumpster diving into your high school or prep school?
Madeleine Kunin certainly knows from women and work. She?s been the governor of Vermont and the Ambassador to Switzerland. Before all that, she did her time as a journalist, a college professor, and an activist. She?s seen the feminist movement go[...]
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Fox News' senior political analyst on Sunday dismissed a Washington Post story which revealed that presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had assaulted a gay classmate in 1965.
"Look, this was not a prank," Brit Hume admitted. "This was hazing and it was mean. There was no doubt about it and I don't have any doubt about the basic truth of the story. The problem with the story dating from high school was that it was the utter failure of the Post to connect it to anything else in Romney's life or career."
"If it were a story that this is where you get the first example of the mean streak that Romney has shown or the tendency to take advantage of people who are in a weaker position -- there was nothing," he added. "I think it was much ado about not very much."
In an report published by the Post last week, Matthew Friedemann, who described himself as a ?close? friend when Romney attended the prestigious Cranbrook School in 1965, said that the future Massachusetts governor picked on John Lauber, "a soft-spoken" gay student, for his long bleached-blonde hair.
?Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school?s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber?s hair,? the Post's Jason Horowitz wrote. ?Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.?
Hume blasted editors at the paper for thinking the story was a "big deal."
"You have to wonder what kind of news judgement these people have if you really think that?" the Fox News contributor opined. "The story, if it were played on an inside page at much less length, might have been appropriate -- the way it was handled, ridiculous."
"This was 5,000 words of nothing," Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot agreed. "It was about his high school years. 'Oh, he went to an elite prep school. Oh, he was a happy-go-lucky guy. He was a leader of the prankster group.' So what?"
Paige Sultzbach, Arizona High School State champion second-base womanMeet Paige Sultzbach, the face of Title IX in 2012, 40 years after the landmark legislation, the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, passed.
?I just joined baseball because the school does not offer high school softball so I decided why not,? said Paige Sultzbach. ?The boys have always been supportive, like my big brothers.?It wouldn't have been a story at all, but for the fact that Sultzbach and her teammates reached the state championship and their would-be opponents, the private Our Lady of Sorrows Academy, decided to forfeit the game rather than share a playing field with a female. Officially, the school said "As a Catholic school we promote the ideal of forming and educating boys and girls separately during the adolescent years especially in physical education.?
It's a testament to the success of Title IX that the remarkable part of this story isn't that Sultzbach tried out for and landed a starting position on her school's baseball team. That's not newsworthy anymore. No, the part that made news is that there's still a school administration out there in 21st century America that has a problem with that. The fact that it's news is progress.
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...Title IX wasn't just intended to provide girls and women the opportunity to play sports in public education, but to make sure boys and girls had equal access to every learning opportunity, to get girls out of the home ec class and into shop, and vice versa for boys. By the time I was in high school, just in the decade following Title IX, home ec didn't exist anymore; we had co-ed "life skills" courses in which everyone learned the basics of feeding themselves, balancing a checkbook, running a household independently. Shop was still shop, but less segregated by sex than by the fact, at my school at least, that it wasn't a particularly "cool" elective.
?Title 20 U.S.C. Sections 1681-1688
The advances by women academically in the post Title IX America has been exceptional. In 1976, women were just 48 percent of enrolled undergraduate students. By 1996, they comprised the majority, at 56 percent. In the following decade women earned around 62 percent of the associate's degrees awarded, and around 57 percent of bachelor's degrees. The achievements for minority women are particularly remarkable.
For nearly all levels of degrees within different race/ethnic groups, women earned the majority of degrees in 2008?09. For example, Black females earned 68 percent of associate's degrees, 66 percent of bachelor's degrees, 72 percent of master's degrees, 62 percent of first-professional degrees, and 67 percent of doctoral degrees awarded to Black students. Hispanic females earned 62 percent of associate's degrees, 61 percent of bachelor's degrees, 64 percent of master's degrees, 53 percent of first-professional degrees, and 57 percent of doctoral degrees awarded to Hispanic students.Members of the "Original Nine" professional
"In the '70s we had to make it acceptable for people to accept girls and women as athletes. [...] We had to make it OK for them to be active. Those were much scarier times for females in sports."What Title IX has done is pretty damned remarkable, from girls' sports programs at every level of education to the establishment of professional athletic leagues for women. We have a whole new set of heroes for all sports fans, documented in this fantastic gallery from Sports Illustrated, the "Top 40 Athletes of the Title IX Era." A trajectory from Billie Jean King to Mary Decker Slaney to Mia Hamm to Maya Moore has redefined athletic achievement and blown apart preconceptions of what "athlete" means.
?Billie Jean King
It's not just the athletes, either. You won't get a lot of argument if you say Pat Summitt, Tennessee's women's basketball coach, was in the top five, if not top two, college basketball coaches?men's or women's?of the Title IX era. After eight national titles and a 1,098-208 record, Summitt announced her retirement last month, less than a year after she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Her record is burnished by the fact that every woman who completed her eligibility playing for the Lady Vols under Summitt graduated.
But it's changed the world too for all of us not-so-athletic types, or at least the ones not really good enough to compete, like self-proclaimed "everyday athlete" Risa Isard.
Growing up, I wasn't an elite athlete, but I had passion to spare. I ran, jumped, threw and kicked on a daily basis, and eventually I found my calling in high school track and cross country. I was good (I earned seven varsity letters), but not good enough for the next level. [...]My only real athletic achievement was becoming a proficient horsewoman in my pre-teens. I don't like running, suck at tennis, am worse at golf, won't drown in a pool, and am a great shot in basketball, but am not coordinated enough to do a lay-up or really anything else on the floor. But I can ride, and as a child, being able to work with a 1,500-pound animal, being able to get it to do what I wanted it to with grace and skill was phenomenally confidence building. For all the girls who aren't lucky enough to grow up on a cattle ranch with horses at their disposal, organized sports provide that kind of experience?the experience that turned a generation of girls into confident, capable women.
Being an athlete is a source of confidence and empowerment and provides women like myself with a positive image of our bodies. It's hard to feel badly about yourself after a five-mile run, even if you end up short of your target time and panting at the finish. It's hard to feel as if there is an obstacle out of your reach after running mile repeats in blistering heat. It's hard to feel alone when you are surrounded by teammates and connected to every other female athlete in an invisible, but powerful, way.
And that's why Title IX didn't just change the law. It changed the culture. It created a life for me that made it OK to play sports and to race my heart out during gym class. Most important, it gave rise to teams that helped girls like me to find ourselves.
We need every one of them. Because the fight for educational equality is not over, far from it. Girls and women in plenty of schools still don't have the same access to resources and opportunities as boys. In 2011, schools provided 1.3 million fewer chances for girls to play sports in high school as compared to boys. As in every area of life, women still have to sue to get full access to the benefits they are supposed to be provided under the law.
But here's the good news: 40 years of Title IX has created a lot of strong, competitive women who will gladly take on that fight.
One cannot but see how a lot of the arguments that existed then still exist today. Fortunately, one thing we have learned over the years is that the use of violence to achieve these ends, or prevent them, rarely (if ever) results in their intentional[...]
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Enjoying the day here with the family, and thought this post was a good one for remembering the true intent of the holiday. Happy Mother’s Day to all!
For those wondering why we have such a failed banking system, take a look at how it works. People like Jamie Dimon are sitting on the board of the NY Federal Reserve, the board that is supposed to be keeping an eye on Wall Street. Tim Geithner was schmoozed by Wall Street and bought into their lies, just as NY Fed presidents before and after. The relationship between banks and those tasked...
Happy Mother's Day, Mom-in-Chief! (Mike Brand/Creative Commons)
What a week! President Obama's endorsement of marriage equality was the best news all year, without question. I believe his change of heart was sincere and announcing it in an election year was an act of pure political courage. BRAVO, Mr. President!
Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, told TheDC that she believe that once the campaign realizes the connection they will not go through with the fundraiser.So, Mitt Romney's perfectly happy to trample all over women's rights when he wants the votes of the anti-choice crowd. But the CEOs who profit from contraception? Perfectly okay to take their money. Silently.
"I would be shocked if, after they are aware of the fact that this guy is the chairman of Teva Pharmaceuticals, that they go forward with this fundraiser,? Nance said.. Nance further said that she would strongly urge the campaign to cancel the event ?because it is dirty money,? adding that she will be ?sorely disappointed? and ?question if Gov. Romney has a clear understanding of what it means to be pro-life? if they go through with it.
Romney's campaign response? Silence.
Mr. Mourdock, for his part, described bipartisanship as follows: ?I have a mind-set that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.?Well, finally somebody in the traditional media has caught up to what we have been saying for years. Bipartisanship isn't the two parties negotiating in good faith. Bipartisanship is when Democrats cave in to whatever Republicans want. Has been for a long time.
There is plenty wrong with the Democratic Party, but monolithic adherence to liberal orthodoxy is not one of them. On the contrary the old Will Rogers joke ?I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat,? still resonates. Just for example, thirty-four House Democrats voted against the Democratic president?s signature health care legislation. The far left is not dominating the political debate in the slightest; it hardly has a voice at all. What passes as American liberalism today is awfully similar to the Republican platform of the Eisenhower area (something Rachel Maddow has noted.)
?If there were ever a time when Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley were prophetic, it?s tonight,? Reid said on the floor. ?These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn?t. They were right. The rest of us were wrong ? or most of us, anyway. What a shame.?Who could have ever predicted? We did! The time to understand that the Senate is a broken institution was many years ago. Reforming the filibuster should have been priority #1 in early 2009. And in early 2011. And in early 2013. No matter who wins a majority, that majority should rule. The federal government cannot continue to be essentially dysfunctional because of an extra-constitutional and archaic Senate rule. If the voters don't like the majority, they can sort it out at the ballot box.
Happy Mother's Day!