Our regular featured content-On This Day In History April 15 by TheMomCatThese featured articles-'This is what co-optation looks like' by ek hornbeckShad Roe by ek hornbeckour weekly features-Six In The Morning: On Sunday by Punting the Pundits: Sunday[...]
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The warning the new documentary Bully deserves is not the R rating it fought over its depiction of kids saying "fuck" a few too many times. The warning it deserves is that you will cry. You will cry because every time you are tempted to think that what Alex, the boy the movie follows through a year of being bullied, endures is just the routine stuff of adolescence, you will be reminded that those experiences kill. You will cry at the sight of Kirk and Laura Smalley after the suicide of their 11 year-old son, who as we first see them could be icons of grief, not just leaning on each other but folded in on themselves even as they are entwined together, taking faltering steps to the cemetery where they will bury their son. Watching this movie at a screening hosted by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, among others, there was a chorus of weeping around me.
Bully tells the stories of five children. Two, named Tyler and Ty, have committed suicide, and are seen only in their families' photos and videos; their parents, though, are determined to keep speaking for them. Ja'Meya, 14, is facing charges for having responded to bullying by pulling a gun on her bullies (no one was injured). Kelby, 16, is seen with her friends, and speaking about her experience of being bullied and ostracized after she came out as a lesbian in small-town Oklahoma, but we don't follow her into the experience as it happens. We do follow Alex, 12, through isolation and torment at school and on the school bus, and watch his parents grapple with the severity of his bullying.
In a sense, the movie is less concerned with the cruelty of children than with the failure of adults to prevent it. Both Tyler and Ty's parents had repeatedly tried to get school administrators to intervene, without success. An assistant principal at Alex's school not only fails to take seriously the abuse Alex is being subjected to on the school bus, she is also shown berating another bullied child for refusing to shake hands with his bully; because the bully is willing to shake hands (and why wouldn't he be), he gets off more lightly. Kelby's teachers are among her bullies.
In a vivid demonstration of how accepted bullying is in some schools, these kids' parents are fighting for them, pushing school administrators to take action, and things still aren't changing. Even in the wake of Tyler's suicide his school resists his parents' call for change. We see how powerless to protect their kids these parents are made to feel; in fact, I almost wish Alex's mom, Jackie Libby, could somehow appear every time this movie is shown. She took part in the panel discussion following the NEA/AFT screening, and the contrast between the frightened, shaken woman in the movie, her inability to protect her son making her raw and vulnerable, and the poised, forceful, witty woman who spoke before hundreds of people last week is a clear demonstration of the potency of bullying even in the lives of adults, and of the system's failure to stop it.
Bully is also concerned with how bullied kids are penalized for fighting back. Most powerfully, Ja'Meya faces more than 40 felony charges; obviously no one sane would argue that pulling a gun is the way to handle teen bullies, or that her action should go unpunished, but it's striking how the routine harassment and abuse bullied kids face is tolerated in contrast. Ty, the 11 year old boy who killed himself did so, his father says, after he was suspended from school for fighting?fighting back. Alex never fights back himself, but when his parents complained, backed up by the filmmakers' footage of Alex being assaulted, it was Alex, not the bullies, who is made to ride another bus.
It's important to note that what we're talking about here is not the kind of transient being picked on that probably all kids face at some time or another, the wheel of experience in which sometimes you're popular and sometimes you're not, sometimes you have social power and sometimes you don't. This is persistent, isolating, crushing abuse. It is very often about gender or sexuality or the intersection between the two?at the NEA/AFT screening, Russlynn Ali, the Department of Education's assistant secretary for civil rights, spoke about how her department sees cases in which kids are bullied for ostensibly being gay as being under federal jurisdiction because, especially in cases where the kids are too young to even know if they're gay or not, the harassment they face is fundamentally about gender, about not fitting conventional masculinity or femininity.
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You?ve heard a lot about the special interests -- how they?ve already spent $5 million attacking Sherrod, opening up the biggest spending gap faced by any Senate Democrat in the country.
But I thought you might like to know exactly who these guys are. Meet the special interests trying to buy this Senate race -- and then click here to help us fight back:
Karl Rove?s front group and a major player in races across the country.
60 PLUS ASSOCIATION
Pat Boone is their spokesperson, privatizing Social Security is their top issue -- with ending Medicare as we know it close behind.
CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA
Despite their name, they?re one of the most anti-choice organizations in America, opposing reproductive rights and attacking the LGBT community.
COALITION TO PROTECT PATIENTS? RIGHTS
An anti-health care reform group run in-part by a powerful DC lobbying firm, it?s determined to push misinformation to stop health insurance reforms.
U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Not to be confused with your local Chamber of Commerce, they represent powerful special interests like Big Oil and Wall Street.
Heard enough? Click here to contribute $10 and help Sherrod stand up to these special interest groups today. We?re counting on you to give us the resources we need to fight back. Help our No Fear Fund reach $750,000 this month.
Sherrod hit the nail on the head last week: This is the moment when Citizens United can really come into play. It?s only a matter of time before these special interests completely drown us in spending -- unless we can maintain the resources to stop them.
Sherrod doesn?t rely on special-interest millions -- he relies on grassroots support from people like you. And we?re asking you to help once again.
We need to keep this campaign on track to win in November. Help us reach our $750,000 goal before the end of April to show the special interests that we won?t be bought or bullied.
Now that you know who?s attacking us, let me ask: Who?s ready to beat these guys?
Thanks for everything.
Friends of Sherrod Brown
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If you?ve walked around a neighborhood in Nevada lately, you know how hard we?ve been hit by the recession.
Between job losses, foreclosures, and small business closings -- it?s been hard for many Nevadans to get by.
I know what it?s like to struggle. I know what it?s like to stretch to make ends meet, and to see opportunity so far down the road it seems out of reach.
Lately I have seen too many people struggling to take steps forward, only to be stymied at every possible turn. And I have seen too many of our leaders in Congress ignore the problems of middle class Americans in order to protect their special interest friends.
If there?s one thing I know for certain about the people of Nevada, it?s this -- we always fight back. No matter how hard it seems, no matter how long it takes, we always fight for ourselves and our neighbors.
This month, I?m launching the Nevada Fights Back Fund. Together we can build a campaign geared to fight the special interests and win in the fall. Will you pitch in $10 today?
I am running for Senate to fight back against the right-wing rhetoric and create real solutions for hard-working families everywhere.
We have a clear choice this year.
Are we going to sit back and allow the special interests and corporations to drown out the voices of real people in this election cycle, or will we fight back?
I know that this year, in this election, Nevada will fight back. Contribute $5 or $10 to our Nevada Fights Back Fund today, and help me prove it.
It?s clear that the way Washington, D.C. works right now is not working for the American middle class. I want to be your voice in the Senate, because I know what it?s like.
Thanks for all your support and everything you do.
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“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” – H.L. Mencken
If you want to know how Mitt Romney’s going to reinvent himself, Rep. Bachmann presented the template today on Meet the Press and it was something to behold.
It was Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for the consistent. Rep. Michelle Bachmann for the incomprehensible.
Michele Bachmann: What we want is women to be able to make their own choices [...] We want women to make their own choices in healthcare. You see that?s the lie that happens under Obamacare. The President of the United States effectively becomes a health care dictator. Women don?t need anyone to tell them what to do on health care. We want women to have their own choices, their own money, that way they can make their own choices for the future of their own bodies.
I’ll nitpick that it goes well beyond “choice.” It’s an individual liberty and civil rights issue that no one can direct a woman what to do with her own body, least of all the state or federal government.
As a champion of the war on women strategy, Michele Bachmann and her crew all support the oppressively invasive “personhood,” “heartbeat,” forced ultrasound legislation that is all the rage with religious conservatives.
That Bachmann could say what she did without a hint of irony shows the alternative universe these people live in, but also what they think the American public will buy. They’re not even fazed when they say something so completely contrary to reality, proven through their own prior statement.
But no one should underestimate what a voter will tell him or herself in order to validate their own emotional leanings.
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Many Republican congressmen shudder if Allen West, an unprosecuted war criminal and torturer who managed to slip into office in the Tea Party surge in 2010, gets anywhere near them. The man, who recently declared that all 80-some-odd congressmen in the Progressive Caucus are "communists," is clearly deranged. But one out-of-touch congressman, Buck McKeon, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and fighting for his political survival against both Republicans and a Democrat who are questioning his ability, his competence, his integrity and his trustworthiness, has invited West to speak at one of his fundraisers! Keep in mind that West was court marshaled, found guilty, fined and drummed out of the military.
McKeon, who represents the defense contractors and war machine lobbyists who shovel money into his sleazy career, is at war with the Pentagon right now. McKeon has solicited more bribes from war industries-- $386,550 so far this year alone-- than anyone else in Congress. In fact, McKeon's take is more than #2 and #3 combined! and career-long, McKeon has taken well over a million dollars in direct bribes from war contractors and lobbyists representing war industries. And the two things these people don't want are peace and military cutbacks. And McKeon is their man.
A rift is opening between military leaders and Republicans over the size of the defense budget.
Republicans in Congress have hammered President Obama for a planned $487 billion cut to the Pentagon over the next decade and accused him of basing his new strategy for the military on the size of those cuts.
GOP lawmakers have repeatedly pressed Pentagon officials in recent weeks about whether the $487 billion reduction is too big of a risk for the military to take.
But the service chiefs and their deputies have held the line, providing a near-unified front in saying they support the president?s budget plan and his strategy revamp. The budget cuts involve risk, they say, but it?s an acceptable amount.
Military officials upped the ante this week, as the chiefs of the Navy, Marines and Air Force chose for the first time in years not to submit an unfunded priority list to Congress, known as the services? ?wish lists.? The Army has not said whether it?s submitting a list.
Republicans cried foul, and one lawmaker accused the Obama administration of injecting politics into the decision.
?I don?t think anybody is buying the line that the services don?t want to come in and tell people what they need,? Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) told The Hill. ?I?ve never known a situation where the services say, ?We don?t want to come in and let you know the needs we have.? ?
The decision not to send the unfunded lists follows a public dust-up between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the Pentagon two weeks ago, when Ryan accused military leaders of not giving ?their true advice? on the budget.
Pentagon officials say the unfunded priorities lists aren?t being sent because the services helped craft the new military strategy, and they support it.
?The new strategic guidance required some tough choices, but I believe the choices are appropriate to the context in which they were made,? Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday at a Harvard Kennedy School of Government forum. ?One of the toughest choices of all had to do with how to manage a smaller budget.?
But Republicans in Congress say the absence of the wish lists makes it harder for them to do the job of conducting oversight of the Pentagon budget.
House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said that even if the military is going along with the president?s budget, he isn?t inclined to accept the Obama administration?s level of cuts.
?The chiefs are telling us that as long as they have to assume the risk inherent in the president?s new strategy, they have all they need,? McKeon said. ?My job, however is to minimize that risk and ensure that our military has the resources to keep America safe.?
This year?s Pentagon budget proposal is the first that accounts for a $487 billion reduction in defense spending over the next decade, which is a result of the August debt-limit deal reached by Congress and the White House.
Republicans, Democrats and the Pentagon do agree that sequestration-- an additional $500 billion automatic cut to defense spending that?s set to hit in January 2013-- should not occur. While everyone has said sequestration is bad for the military, Congress is still deadlocked on finding alternate deficit reduction to reverse it.
But McKeon and other GOP defense hawks in Congress who oppose sequestration are also taking issue with the initial cuts that were agreed to in the August debt deal.
The House Republican budget authored by Ryan revokes a portion of the $487 billion cuts in the Budget Control Act, while making deeper cuts than the president in non-defense discretionary spending. The Ryan budget passed the House last month, but is not likely to move in the Senate.
Ryan caught the ire of the military at a forum hosted by National Journal last month were he accused officials of hiding their views.
?We don?t think the generals are giving us their true advice,? Ryan said. ?We don't think the generals believe their budget is really the right budget.?
Dempsey took issue with the remarks and issued a rare public rebuke of a lawmaker.
?There?s a difference between having someone say they don?t believe what you said versus ? calling us collectively liars,? Dempsey told reporters during a trip through Latin America. ?My response is: I stand by my testimony. This was very much a strategy-driven process to which we mapped the budget.?
...McKeon is using Ryan?s budget, not the president?s, to set defense spending for his 2013 Defense authorization bill. That would put his budget above the caps in the Budget Control Act and likely lead to a bigger budget than the Senate?s version of the bill.
In a speech at the Reagan Presidential Library last month, McKeon said he wants to roll back the president?s cuts, something that is plausible only if Republicans sweep the 2012 election.
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Looks like someone is still playing coy to placate the wingnuts who might vote for her in her House district that really don't like Mitt Romney. I'm quite sure Michele Bachmann is more than aware that Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for president.
GREGORY: Are you fully behind Mitt Romney for president at this point?
BACHMANN: Well, I'm very seriously looking into an endorsement for Mitt Romney. As you know, Rick Santorum just got out of the race this week. I think we're seeing a uniting and a pulling together around our eventual nominee and I have said that I want my voice to be one of uniting our party; the independents, the main stream, the conservatives, evangelicals, the tea party movement. I want to unite our party and so I'm waiting for our party to come together and help in that process.
While writing a book about ACORN, I got to know Wade Rathke, spending dozens of hours hanging out with him, interviewing him, e-mailing back and forth, interviewing friends and enemies, and literally following Rathke as he worked. In an age of stylish[...]
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Herman Cain released yet another "Sick of Stimulus" commercial Friday, and it's as bizarre as the first two.
In the commercial, a farmer is feeding his chickens and is attacked by the birds in a scene that could be straight out of a Hitchcock movie. The farmer is then pecked to death.
"This is the average American taxpayer feeding big government," says the same little girl who appeared in the previous two commercials.
It seems the metaphor is to liken "Big Government" to the chickens, with the government's need for taxes as ravenous as the chickens' appetites.
I'm sure sick of Republicans complaining about "Big Government" when it comes to raises taxes on the rich and then "crickets" when asked if legislation requiring trans-vaginal ultrasounds isn't also big government.
As in previous Cain commercials, the young girl closes out the commercial by asking, "Any questions?" A macabrel depiction of the farmer's corpse raises his bony hand.
The first Sick of Stimulus spot was released in February and showed the same little girl throwing a goldfish on the ground.
"This is the economy," the young girl says. As the fish flops around on the ground, the girl then throws water on the fish and says, "This is the economy on stimulus." The commercial also ends with the girl asking, "Any questions?" Cain stated the goldfish was not harmed.
In the second commercial, the girl places a bunny into a straw bed and says, "This is small business under the current tax code." The rabbit bed then hurls the bunny (now replaced by a fake bunny) into the air. Similar to skeet shooting, the fake bunny is then shot by an actor dressed in a suit.
This spot also ends with the girl asking, "Any questions?"
All three commercials close with a shot of Cain standing on a bluff, staring out over an animated barren rocky landscape, head turned away from the camera.
These are not the first unusual commercials Cain has released. Campaign manager Mark Block ended a spot by puffing on a cigarette and blowing smoke toward the camera in a now much-parodied commercial.
The former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, who withdrew from the presidential campaign after allegations of infidelity, is also organizing an event called "Cain's Revolution on the Hill" in Washington on April 16 to protest the tax code.
Cain has endorsed fellow Georgian Newt Gingrich for president.