Some people who should know better say the fight for women's health, for reproductive choice and privacy, is a distraction from "real issues." That too much time and energy is being spent on a peripheral concern. It's certainly true that this matter ought not to be up for debate. It ought to have been settled long ago. It's true that progressives and the nation as a whole should be spending all our time dealing with public policy on the economy, on the environmental crisis and energy, on foreign affairs, on education, on the bloated military-industrial complex, on taxes and spending, on keeping right-wingers and moderate enablers of right-wingers out of office from the city council level all the way to the White House.
But our enemies give us no choice. Presidential candidates, congresspeople, state legislators and assorted censorious private-sector busybodies empowered by the Vatican or Rush Limbaugh or their own twisted view that everybody should be beholden to their assessment of what's right for every woman to do with her own body have ramped up their crusade in the past couple of years. What had been a steady nibbling away at women's legal right to abortion has become a full-blown assault that has spilled over into promoting controls on who can use contraception and for what purpose.
We can discuss all day long the origins and hypocritical, double-standard, patriarchal and parochial underpinnings of those who are carrying out this assault. But that takes time away from putting a stop to it, from fighting it head-on and from moving from self-defense to offense. Besides making things tougher to pass the worst such laws, as happened with Virginia's transvaginal ultrasound bill, turning the tables on these benighted reactionaries is what liberals/progressives/leftists ought to be doing.
In the battles we've had pushing back against these reactionary attacks, some hard-to-ignore allies have joined us. They oppose what we oppose and/or support what we support and we can make gains by getting others to do likewise. For instance, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, as Joan McCarter points out in her diary, opposes requiring ultrasounds before abortions. You can sign a petition asking the American Medical Association to add their opposition to forced ultrasounds here.
Self-defense is, of course, essential. But the goal of merely hanging onto what we've got when what we've got includes the Hyde Act that punishes poor women and religious conscience laws that permit pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for women who have been raped is simply not enough. That self-defense battle must continue, of course. Not least because the forced-birthers are always coming up with new attacks, like personhood laws that make fertilized eggs equal to human beings already born.
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What do you get when you combine Mitt Romney and Lucille Bluth? Hilarity..
I haven?t played the new Mass Effect (I don?t have a device that can run it!), but I have heard a lot about the controversy surrounding the ending. Here is a quick thought: It seems clear to me that the entire game is ?the ending,? as would be the case in any kind of trilogy. That the last 10 minutes aren?t what players expected doesn?t negate the fact that players had a real part in how the proceeding 30 hours unfolded.
Of course Goldman Sachs is involved in a predatory lending scheme.
Barbara Ehrenreich on the pervasive notion that poverty is the result of a bad attitude.
I was catching up on Key & Peele last night, and thought this skit was hilarious:
The Pennsylvania House postponed a scheduled March 12 vote on the bill. House Majority leader Mike Turzai, a Republican, said the debate was cancelled due to ?concerns raised by the medical community, among others,? Philly.com reported. The Pennsylvania Medical Society, which has no official position on abortion, opposes the bill because it would potentially interfere with the physician-patient relationship.Here's what the Pennsylvania Medical Society says about the bill:
?If enacted, House Bill 1077 would significantly jeopardize the open dialogue within the physician-patient relationship, which is the very foundation upon which modern medicine was built,? said Marilyn J. Heine, MD, president of (PAMED) in a letter to the House.These mandatory ultrasound bills do directly jeopardize the doctor-patient relationship. They would also compel doctors to ignore the guidelines the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) on the use of ultrasound in pregnancy. ACOG's guidelines are very specific:
The use of either two-dimensional or three-dimensional ultrasonography only to view the fetus, obtain a picture of the fetus, or determine the fetal sex without a medical indication is inappropriate and contrary to responsible medical practice. [emphasis added]
The medical community needs to speak out on these proposed laws all over the country. It's not just women's health care that's under attack here, it's the physician's autonomy and the physician's professional responsibilities under attack as well. The national medical community needs to respond. So let's start at the top.
Next Tuesday's Republican primary in Illinois should be close, but recent polling gives Romney a modest edge over Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney currently holds a six point lead according to a new FOX Chicago News poll.[...]
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It wasn't long ago that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback apologized for his office having gotten a high schooler in hot water over her less-than-flattering tweet. Now it turns out Brownback's sensitivity to criticism extends across the social media[...]
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Ed Rendell isn't the only one the Treasury Department is investigating over payments made on behalf of the MEK. [...]
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This morning on CNN’s “Early Start,” Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin zeroed in on Rick Santorum’s latest English first gaffe, this time in Puerto Rico. Using clips of Santorum talking on the subject, it was a damning segment, compliments of the candidate himself. It’s yet another example of the Republican Party’s problem, which is seen in the latest polling.
A Pew Research Center survey (h/t wb) reported in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week has the numbers.
“The Republicans really are the party of white people, and especially older white people,” Kohut told reporters as the poll was released. “They?ve done nothing in this campaign to make themselves be more favorably viewed” among other parts of the electorate.
Latinos, for example, view the Republican Party unfavorably by a 2-1 margin (30% favorable, 60% unfavorable). By contrast, Latinos view the Democrats favorably, 56%-31%.
The picture among Americans under 30 is almost as negative, with 34% viewing the GOP favorably, while 53% have an unfavorable view. Their view of Democrats is almost the exact opposite, 54% have a positive view, and 35% negative. Among those with a college degree or more, only 31% said they had a favorable view of the Republicans, while 66% were unfavorable. That group, which was a key to Barack Obama?s victory in 2008, views Democrats favorably by 55%-42%.
The party of Limbaugh is limping along and his recent defamation of yet another female, this time private citizen Sandra Fluke, is a shining example of why.
Three weeks ago Rush Limbaugh was the undisputed king of talk radio. Not only did he have the most stations and the best broadcast slots, the audiences he attracted meant that he could actually charge stations for his show. Most talk radio shows are provided to the stations for free, bartering space on the dial for a half share of the advertising slots.
Limbaugh's show is distributed by Premiere, which is in turn owned by Clear Channel, a company with a balance sheet that has been running red ink for some time as the outdoor advertising market went sour during the recession. The Motley Fool has an interesting analysis of Clear Channel's attractiveness as a stock pick, scoring the company a mere 2 out of 10 on its investment screen. Forbes reports that the company has $19.2 billion in debt.
But wait, it gets worse (or better).
Clear Channel's stock has just jumped after the company announced that it would borrow $2.2 billion to pay a special dividend of $6 to shareholders. Regular readers of this blog will remember the special dividend as one of the tricks used by Mitt Romney to make his fortune at Bain Capital. The crew would buy a company with money borrowed against the value of the company then borrow even more money to fund a special dividend that would mean a huge profit for them and likely bankruptcy for the company. And, hey, lookee here [Matt Koppenheffer, my emphasis]:
In a press release today, Clear Channel, which is largely controlled by Bain Capital, announced that it will be raising $2.2 billion via two debt offerings. The company will then turn around and use $2.17 billion of the proceeds to pay a $6.08-per-share special cash dividend to shareholders on record as of March 12. As the big jump in the stock suggests, the move was well received by investors.Forbes states that Bain Capital paid $17.2 billion to acquire the company. The huge debt load suggests that what Bain really did was to put in as little of their own money as possible and the rest makes up the lions share of that $19.2 billion in debt. Matt is not too impressed by this:
You'll have to excuse me if I throw up in my mouth just a little bit. Maybe I'm just a sissy when it comes to debt, but the idea of a company practically doubling its indebtedness in order to pay out a massive dividend just doesn't sit well with me.The only reason I can see that the stock would jump $1.50 on the news of the special dividend is a short squeeze. When a company pays a dividend, a short seller has to cover it. So an investor short 1,000 shares in Clear Channel would be facing a $6,000 charge to their account.
Yesterday Arkansas freshman Rick Crawford introduced a bill in the House, The Shared Responsibility in Preserving America?s Future Act, which the Village media has been breathlessly hyping as a wonderful, almost Broderesque surtax on millionaires. It isn't. It's another call for a Republican Balanced Budget Amendment that Crawford and his cronies would like to balance on the backs of working families by severely cutting back on the social safety net. In return-- and after the Balanced Budget Amendment passes-- Crawford's plan would authorize a 5% surtax on individual income exceeding $1 million annually (income, not wealth). Crawford: "Republicans have long championed a balanced budget amendment to force the federal government to live within its means. Democrats have pushed for new taxes on millionaires to address our debt. This reasonable approach can be the beginning of a new era in Washington where Congress puts the needs of the country first and stops burdening future generations of Americans with immense debt.?
Crawford's district is traditionally Democratic and he has two Democratic opponents, an ultra conservative Blue Dog, Clark Hall and Gary Latanich, a progressive economist. Crawford, whose reactionary economic and fiscal views pretty much mirror Crawford's, so his attempt to disguise his corporate views in populist drag yesterday fell flat. ?Rick Crawford," Hall said in a press release, "thinks taking all sides of an issue and holding one?s finger up to the political wind will help his election chances. In reality, it?s political cowardice, and the only compromise Rick Crawford has shown willingness for is a compromise of his principles." Gary Latanich took a more comprehensive approach in addressing Crawford's claims to having a plan to resolve the deficit and the debt crisis. "What Congressman Crawford is calling for," he told me this morning, "is an additional tax on those making more than $1 million per year. The suggested tax increase is something slightly more than 2.5%. According to Congressman Crawford, without some form of revenue enhancement, any proposals for reducing the deficit have no chance of passing in the Democratically controlled Senate."
"On this point the Congressman is probably right, without revenue enhancements, which Democrats see as ?shared? sacrifice, any deficit reduction proposal is dead on arrival. And while this seems like a major concession by a Republican, it is just political posturing because he also wants it to be packaged with a proposal for a balanced budget amendment.
"Let?s take a closer look at Congressman Crawford?s proposal. He?s interested in an additional tax on millionaires. As far as an additional tax on those at the upper end of the income distribution is concerned, this is most appropriate given the increasingly skewed distribution of income we?ve experienced since the end of the 1970s. The first problem, thought, is with his timing. Now is not the time to raise taxes. Any tax hike at this time will reduce demand, and even though the demand reductions may be small, they are not what is needed at a time when the demand for goods and services is not sufficiently large to significantly reduce unemployment.
"The time for his proposal to be implemented is when the economy is well on the road to recovery, when the nation is nearing the full employment. At that time a comprehensive tax reform should be undertaken. It should include additional tax hikes for those making considerably more than $1 million, and it should also contain relief for those at the bottom of the income ladder. In addition, there should be a closing of tax loopholes, such as the preferential tax treatment of dividends and capital gains, both of which should be taxed as ordinary income.
"But the real flaw in his proposal, the one that makes me think that it is just for show, is its attachment to a balance budget amendment. The annually balanced budget amendment is pro cyclical. That means it will intensify any recession or inflation we enter into. If the annually balanced budget amendment were in place today, it would force the government to cut spending by more the $500 billion, and raise taxes by a like amount. A $1 trillion cut in the federal budget would send the economy into a Greek style nose dive, which in the end, would leave us in the same condition that we were during the Great Depression.
"The annually balanced budget amendment always forces the government to do exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, cut spending during a recession making it worse, or raise spending during an inflation making it worse. Nice try Mr. Crawford, but you economics is still wrong for Arkansas and the nation."