Their ads, focused on Kentucky and Ohio, included children singing “America’s bridges falling down, all around the country,” to the tune of the song “London Bridge is Falling Down.” A narrator warned:
The average age of a U.S. bridge is 45 years, dangerously close to the life span of 50 years. More than a quarter of our bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Because of tight budgets, bridge maintenance is in jeopardy. and if Republican leaders in Congress have their way those budgets will get cut even more. Text “Bridge” to 69866 and let Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell know we need a real highway bill to save our bridges and our lives.
This got the attention of McConnell’s staff, who posted a refutation on his campaign website. McConnell professed his support for the highway bill and slammed Laborers for its support of Democratic candidates and the “radical” Occupy movement.
“Contrary to the assertion in the ads,” McConnell’s staff claimed, “Senator McConnell has been working to pass the highway bill in the U.S. Senate, which is currently slated for a vote on final passage next week.” A McConnell spokesman also told a Louisville, Kentucky radio station that the minority leader was working with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to pass the highway bill.
Just before the vote, McConnell took to the senate floor and praised the lead sponsors, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) for their bipartisan effort. “They have worked together in a collegial way to bring us to this point on the highway bill,” he raved.
Moments later, McConnell joined 21 other Republicans — and no Democrats — in voting against the bill. The House is expected to take up a similar version in April, rather than the far inferior House Republican version.
McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment on why he voted against a bill he’d pledged to support and no explanations were apparent on his senate or campaign websites. But it would certainly appear that the Republican leader owes the Laborers an apology.
New momentum is growing for abstinence-only education with bills advancing in Utah and Tennessee, in addition to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) federal Abstinence Education Reallocation Act. The guise for such bills has always been a reduction in teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, even though studies show that teens who take virginity pledges have just as much sex as those who don’t, but are actually less likely to use protection. Instead, the true motive seems to be a “see no sex, hear no sex, do no sex” approach designed to somehow erase the existence of contraception, homosexuality, and sex in general from the world in which hormone-flodded teenagers exist.
This is most evident from the American Family Association’s latest attempt to justify abstinence-only education. A study in the American Journal of Health Studies found that students who took a particular abstinence-only class were apparently more likely to perform well standardized math exams. AFA’s go-to abstinence expert, Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association, explains the significance of these findings:
HUBER: The researchers were suggesting that it was probably because there are a number of character qualities that are necessary to remain abstinent that also have ? usefulness in other areas of their lives. We’ve been seeing for a long time that abstinence education isn’t just about saying ‘no’ to sex; it’s saying ‘yes’ to a lot of things in the future, and it positively impacts a person’s life — not just in that very singular area of sexual activity.
There are numerous flaws with Huber’s conclusions:
First, the study did not actually evaluate the actual effectiveness of the abstinence-only class, so any assumed benefit from the class (such as lower teen pregnancy rates, etc.) remains undocumented.
Second, the study focused only on one specific type of peer-educator based abstinence-only education, which means the results cannot be generalized to other curricula, which are usually taught by adults.
Further, the only conclusion the researchers drew from the study was that students may have benefited from having peer educators. There is nothing to indicate that students developed “character qualities” from the teaching of the class. If anything, the research suggests it was the mentorship students received from their peer educators that made a difference, not the lessons learned.
Finally, the study only compared students who took this one particular abstinence-only class with students who had no sex education class of any kind. None of the results offer insight into what impact comprehensive sex ed or sexual literacy approaches might have. In fact, the researchers conclude the article by admitting that “studies that compare the influence of abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education programs on academic performance would be very informative for interpreting the findings presented herein.”
Of course, the most compelling point surely remains that sex ed courses should be evaluated for the impact they have on students’ understanding of sexual health, not for how they impact math and English test scores.
In the wake of this week’s deal where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to stop obstructing 14 of President Obama’s judicial nominees and allow them to be confirmed by early May, Al Kamen runs the numbers on how President Obama’s confirmation rate compares to the rate of confirmations under Presidents Bush and Clinton:
After the Senate acts on the 14 agreed-upon judges, there are eight more already teed up for a full Senate vote. An additional eight are in the Senate Judiciary Committee pipeline. And that panel?s chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), says he?ll begin work on 11 more judges in the next few weeks.
That?s a total of 41 potentially approved judges.
If the Senate does, in fact, approve them all, Obama?s number of confirmed judges will stand at 172.
To put that in perspective, by the end of May in their respective first terms, George W. Bush had 175 judges approved, and Bill Clinton had 183.
In other words, even if the Senate were to confirm every single one of Obama’s pending nominees before the end of May — a tall order in the hyper-obstructionist era of Mitch McConnell — the president would still lag three judges behind his immediate predecessor. But, of course, there is no deal currently in place to confirm more than 14 of these nominees, which means the Obama Administration is now on track to be 30 judges behind President Bush absent additional confirmations.
For those of you who couldn’t make our panel on Islam and pop culture at SXSW earlier this week, I’m hoping to have video to post eventually. And it feels fitting that after discussing what the next step in depictions of Muslims might look like after the cancellation of All-American Muslim, word’s out about a new show that could be an innovation both in those images?and in alternative sources of funding for pilot production. Here Come the Muhammads would feature a soldier coming home to tell his Christian family?his father’s the pastor at a local church?that he’s converted to Islam. ?I?ve seen all the shows about [Muslims in] sleeper cells,” comedian and show creator Preacher Moss told Illume magazine, which has a fascinating piece on the project. “I wanted to be able to do something that?s funny and meaningful.”
The show’s meant to solve one of the most common criticisms of All-American Muslim, that it focused too narrowly on Lebanese-American Shia Muslims rather than representing the full diversity of Islam. From the sounds of things, it would keep Muslims and Christians in conversation, rather than depicting Muslism as part of a closed community. And I’m glad Ross is putting front and center the idea of what Muslim comedy might look like. One thing some of us on the panel discussed after seeing Marc Maron interview Jeffrey Tambor at SXSW was the fact that while Jewish humor is very much the product of an enclave, it’s also solidly established as part of the American vernacular, an internal conversation that’s entirely comprehensible to the general public. There’s no such Muslim equivalent yet, and seeing how that plays out would be fascinating.
Then, there’s the matter of the show’s funding:
Currently, Moss is in the process of securing funds to develop a pilot ? a process that he said is taking a very different approach from previous shows depicting Muslims.?We?re treating it totally as a start-up, so the idea is that we want to develop a pilot that?s the result of community work, not just one guy,? he said.
Modeled after the Allah Made Me Funny project, a comedy tour founded by Moss that aims to portray the underrepresented peaceful Muslims, Moss plans to raise $50,000 in funding in the same way money is raised for building masjids, schools or hospitals ? one that allows community ownership and, consequently, community pride. The low-budget pilot will also require less repayment later, he said.
?However we distribute, there?s community ownership,? he said. ?A lot of these shows they put out ? Aliens in America, Little Mosque on the Prairie and All-American Muslims ? they had literally no connection to the community.??
I’m all for experiments in fan and community investment in programming, but I’d hate to think that giving the community ownership could trade off with getting a show like this to a larger audience. So if there’s a network looking to add a comedy with Muslim characters where the creators are willing to shoot a pilot on their own, Here Come the Muhammads might be worth a look.
In an effort that has been ongoing for about two-decades, there is a new push for a Senate hearing and a committee vote on the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA). I know I've personally been pushing an inclusive ENDA since 1995.Yes, we know[...]
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Rather than it being a salutary moment, a tribute of sorts to the victims in Japan on the anniversary of their disaster, the announcement by the NRC stands more as an insult. It's as if the US government is saying, "Sure, there are lessons to be learned[...]
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Last summer's budget-cutting deal with the Republicans was a bad one, as we pointed out here repeatedly. The idea that Republicans were ever going to go along with cutting the Pentagon budget in any meaningful way was fantasy on the part of the White House and Democrats.
Not even the super committee established to cut $1.2 trillion out of discretionary spending over a 10-year period could knuckle them under to actually do that. The committee failed, just as many predicted it would. The penalty for failure was to sequester that money, triggering automatic, equal cuts from Pentagon and non-defense spending parceled out over a 10-year period. But, according to two Hill staffers, the GOP budget being presented next Tuesday will blow off sequestration of Pentagon spending. That budget, they told Kevin Baron and Nancy Cook at the National Journal will include no cuts in defense.
Republican defense leaders have protested that the military was taking the brunt of spending cuts. But by firewalling defense from further cuts, House Republicans would need to pay for those expected cuts another way. At a House Budget Committee hearing, Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told [Secretary of Defense Leon] Panetta he felt entitlement spending should be on the table.Even Pentagon critics who would like to see deep cuts in military spending of $1 trillion or more in the next decade tend to agree that cuts need to be planned for and that chopping nearly $100 billion out of the 2013 budget would be an imprudent shock. Better, they say, to make smaller cuts now and bigger cuts two, three and more years down the road when adjustments have been made in Pentagon plans. President Obama's proposed 2013 core budget for defense is $523 billion, only $7 billion less than in 2012. Additional money is proposed for Iraq, Afghanistan, nuclear weapons and other items. Over a decade, it would reduce spending by $487 billion below what would otherwise be the case on the current trajectory.
?With regards to the Budget Control Act, an across-the-board $97 billion discretionary spending cut will be imposed on January 2, 2013, including devastating cuts to our national security,? Ryan said in statement provided to National Journal. [...]
Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement, ?The Speaker and Chairman McKeon are working towards a shared goal: ensuring that we have $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction, but doing it in a way that does not ?hollow out? our Armed Forces or jeopardize our national security.?
However anyone feels about the appropriate amount of spending for the Pentagon?a $1.5 trillion-$2 trillion cut over 10 years is my own preference?one thing is clear: Republicans can't be trusted to keep their end of any bargain. They've broken the budget deal they agreed to last summer. Flat out defaulted on it, with nary a downward glance of embarrassment.
Sure, given a chance, they'll make other deals with Democrats gullible enough to believe that this time, finally, they'll keep their word. Instead of continuing that fantasy, Democrats ought to call them out every single time they open their mouths to talk about bipartisanship and working cooperatively to solve the nation's problems. They should be called out because they obviously don't believe that. It's a phony pitch. But if it gets them a few inches closer to their real goal, they'll say anything, sign any deal, pledge to go halfsies or any other thing to get a bite or a slice of what they want. And then, when the time comes, they'll say "what deal?" And keep demanding the whole pie.
Bargaining in good faith doesn't exist for these guys. And those Democrats who still don't get it should stop pretending that it does.
Our regular featured content-On This Day In History March 16 by TheMomCatPunting the Pundits by TheMomCatThese featured articles-Foreclosure Fraud: More Foreclosures by: TheMomCatThis special features for March Madness-2012 NCAA Men's Basketball[...]
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I am writing today with some exciting news! Just a few moments ago, I filed as a candidate for House District 79! With your continued support, I hope to return to the State House in 2013 as your House District 79 Representative. It has been an honor to represent you over the past two years, and I do not take that responsibility lightly.
Despite a slow economic recovery statewide and nationally, new companies and industries are making the move to the Palmetto State to bring thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. As a small business owner, I will continue to fight for and with you to make sure we create a business-friendly, competitive environment for businesses to locate, relocate and expand right here in South Carolina! Just this year, our state experienced nearly a $1 billion budget surplus, a major accomplishment during these tough economic times. But we can do even more?
We must focus on improving education and fighting to keep partisan politics out of public education if we?re serious about laying the foundation for a better tomorrow and having a competitive, 21st century workforce. Improving our infrastructure to better support commerce, and working together to develop a meaningful, comprehensive tax reform plan that fosters balance and equity for individuals and businesses are examples of other critical issues that I?m fighting hard for everyday.
I will continue to fight for the people of District 79 and the State of South Carolina and together, we can accomplish so much more, but I can?t do it alone. I need your help. That?s why I?m asking you to make a $50, $75 or $100 donation today, by clicking here.
Good ole boy politics continues to rule this state. And although I have the courage to stand up and fight, it takes resources too. Let?s commit to work together to ensure that our voices are heard at the State House and beyond. There is still much work to do to help move our state forward. I?m truly grateful for your prayers and generous support over the past two years. Together, we can make the next two years our best, most impactful ever! Please stand with me today.
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