Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
When I saw the NARAL release yesterday, announcing their endorsement of Obama ? no surprise to anyone, I?m sure ? I flashed back to the 2009 Ms cover, ?This is what a feminist looks like.? I?d recalled the same thing a few days earlier, with Newsweek?s ?The First Gay President? cover. At least, I thought, it wasn?t an LGBT publication making this second declaration, as it was a self-identified feminist publication making the first.
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, today announced that her organization?s political action committee proudly endorses President Obama?s bid for a second term, calling his re-election critical to protecting women?s freedom and privacy.
The announcement, which comes as the country marks National Women?s Health Week, makes NARAL Pro-Choice America the first reproductive rights group to endorse President Obama?s re-election effort.
It all reminds me of what seems to me to be another example of over-reach: Obama awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.
Of course Obama is better on women?s and LGBT?s issue than Romney. Given the backward direction of the Republican Party, that?s not necessarily saying a lot, though Obama is certainly more enlightened than Mitt. But these declarations of heroism or saint-like virtue or just ?bigger than life? are a real stretch for me. Why this need to make him super-powered and halo?d? What do such ?annointings? ? certainly not unique to Obama ? tell us about us?
Anyway, I started wondering what the next declaration will be: This is what an immigrant looks like? An environmentalist? The first female president, or the first physician president? The floor is open for your annointings, as well as your thoughts about what this apparent need for super-powered, halo?d leaders tells us about us, related to Obama or just in general.
If you want to hear scary stories related to retirement, you don’t have to look very hard.
For example, a trade association for the financial services industry called LIMRA recently surveyed a couple thousand Americans on retirement matters. What they found is that about 49 percent of the respondents aren’t saving … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: Meditations on marshmallows and retirement
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*Unless you're gay.(Or black.)The Virginia State Legislature is at it again. Just after 1:00 am Tuesday morning, the GOP-controlled Virginia House of Delegates voted to block the appointment of an openly gay Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney, Tracy Thorne-Begland, to the judgeship of the General District Court in Richmond.Thorne-Begland's nomination had received bipartisan support...
"Lesser of two evils" doesn't always apply. Sometimes the evils are so bad there is no "lesser." Washington has come to that. The system is so rotten now that both party establishments are thoroughly detestable. The Democrats, as a party-- largely because of a sizable contingent of honest, crusading progressives-- are better around the edges. And those edges can be quite important in peoples' lives. For as much as the Democrats still see themselves as a political party that stands up for ordinary working families and as a party that values the role of government's ability to keep the Law of the Jungle at bay, the Democrats, as a party, are better than the Republicans, a true force for evil, a hopeless political party long captured by satanic forces and committed to a counterrevolution seeking to undo every bit of progress that has been accomplished since the Enlightenment. But... aside from that... let's put it like this. Take the Republican House leaders-- John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Jeb Hensarling, Tom Price, Pete Sessions-- and take the Democratic House leadership (leaving out Pelosi for a minute, since she's just a very short time from retirement)-- Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steve Israel, Joseph Crowley-- and there is no way you can point to one over the other and say one is truly the lesser evil than the other.
Yesterday we talked about an opinion going around the OWS movement about the futility of electoral politics. The alternative, unfortunately, is much worse. So finding Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Democrats to run for office-- finding men and women who will stand up to both corrupt party establishments-- becomes the crucial task. It's the primary job of Blue America and we like to think our candidates will stay true to their school when they get to Washington. It's not an easy task. But sometimes you just know who will and who won't. Norman Solomon is one who will, which is why so many progressives believe his primary June 5 for a safe blue district in northern California is the single most important race in the country.
Norman has a long and very public record as an activist and as an author. Where he stands is an open book. But does he have what it takes to resist the temptations once he gets to the den of iniquity that is Washington? Yesterday he wrote a leter to his supporters about the latest Wall Street scandal at JPMorganChase and went out of his way to blame both political parties. And he wasn't nuanced.
One of the huge banks we bailed out a few years ago, JPMorgan Chase, has admitted to a $2 billion trading loss -- growing out of the kind of speculation that crashed the global economy in 2008.
Have we learned nothing? Have we fixed nothing?
When Wall Street gambles, Main Street loses. Yet our federal government keeps subsidizing Wall Street?s gambling ways.
I want to go to Washington to say ?NO!? to the coziness that rips off taxpayers. I want to be your independent watchdog.
...I?ll be blunt: Both Republican and Democratic leaders are to blame. The head of JPMorgan Chase-- whose pay package last year was $23 million-- is Jamie Dimon, a Democrat with close ties to party leaders. He is a major foe of Wall Street reform.
In 1999, it was a Democratic White House working with a Republican Congress that pushed to end the successful Glass-Steagall Act, which for 65 years had set up a firewall separating commercial banks from speculative Wall Street investment banks. Heralded as a shining example of "bipartisanship" at the time, it facilitated mergers that created too-big-to-fail banking institutions and ultimately led to the 2008 crash, from which we are still trying to recover. Was that type of bipartisanship worth the layoffs, foreclosures and budget deficits now hobbling our economy? Of course not.
I?ll be blunt again: Electing business-as-usual Democrats to Congress will not fix Washington/Wall Street cronyism.
...I refuse to take any corporate PAC or lobbyist money-- not one penny. I'll never compromise my ability to speak out for you. I?ll speak out against corruption no matter which party inhabits the White House or runs Congress.
In Washington, I?ll look out for the interests of the 99% -- the middle class, the poor, the small businessperson, even the local banks that don?t have the government advantages of the JP Morgans.
As for a Wall Streeter like Jamie Dimon and his $23 million in a year pay package, he doesn?t need my representation. He has all too many members of both parties doing his bidding.
With your support, I'll fight for everyone who doesn't have a lobbyist. I'll fight for you.
This open letter will be straight to the point-- if you opposed the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq-- if you knew Bush and Blair were lying about the Downing Street Memo-- if you wanted (and still want) Guantanamo shut down-- if you oppose the "secret" drone wars-- if you opposed the Obama "surge" in Afghanistan-- then there is one anti-war candidate running for Congress this year who stands head and shoulders above everyone else-- Norman Solomon.
In fact, if you have demonstrated against any of the undeclared, unconstitutional wars that the U.S. has waged over the last 40 years, from Vietnam to El Salvador to Iraq, Norman Solomon was right there with you. He marched; he was arrested for nonviolent protest; he wrote and spoke out; he organized high-profile peace missions to Iraq and Afghanistan; he led the fight for "Healthcare, Not Warfare!"
And since next year's Congress will be missing two of our most dedicated peace leaders, Dennis Kucinich and Lynn Woolsey, we need Norman Solomon elected to stand up for us, no matter where we live.
We know Norman. We've worked with him against illegal wars for 4 decades now. And we can state for a fact that there is no pro-peace candidate running for an open seat in Congress this year who is more deserving of the votes, the donations, or the volunteer help of anti-war activists all across the country.
...Norman Solomon has spent his life opposing wars and standing up for peace. He's earned our support. The question for the peace movement is-- will we come through for him?
Six months from now, the most highly educated Americans in history will have chosen someone to lead them through hard times. In my lifetime, that process has advanced from control by political bosses in smoke-filled rooms to one dominated by media and money across the spectrum.
Tammany Hall is gone, but now thanks to Citizens United, we are in the hands of the Koch brothers and George Clooney?s Hollywood friends. If that doesn?t make us feel warm and safe, it shouldn?t.
?Freedom of the press,? A. J. Libeling wrote back then, ?is limited to those own one.? Now cable and the Internet have made publishers of us all, misinformation is spread more democratically by Rupert Murdoch and rabid bloggers, but do voters understand more than they did then?
To ensure they don?t, Democrats and Republicans will swamp them in a tide of money. The President?s campaign will try to match GOP Super PACs with a ?Super-O-Rama? to offset Karl Rove?s Crossroads and the Kochs? Americans for Prosperity.
The TV commercials to be spewed out by such deformed spawn of the First Amendment will do nothing to further rational debate of issues, only becloud them with appeals to a national id of prejudice, political elitism and class hatred.
In contrast, the sound-bite circus of Obama-Romney debates will seem like Lincoln-Douglas. Yet they will only underscore the ugly atmosphere in which a President is being chosen, as ?journalists? do little to clarify underlying issues and ramp up the bear-baiting, point-scoring involved.
There is, as any sane observer knows, an overriding clash of visions for America?s future at the heart of this election year, but its people may have a choice only of tendentious appeals to the worst in them.
The smoke-filled back rooms of the political bosses gave us a mixed bag of choices from FDR to Harry Truman. Is the enlightened era of their money-and-media counterparts doing any better?
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What could possibly go wrong? After all, it's not as if creditors ever make mistakes, or claim you owe them a lot more than you actually do. So it would never be abused by the legal system, right?
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has approved legislation making it easier for debt collectors to go after defaulting consumers and small businesses.
Brewer signed House Bill 2664 into law today. The measure allows collection agencies to use final billing statements as a basis to show amounts owed and interest rates as they seek court judgments and wage garnishments.
The bill was favored by debt collectors, which buy delinquent accounts from banks and credit card companies for pennies on the dollar, but receive only minimal information from those sources. It can be difficult and expensive for the collection companies to get additional information on the defaulting consumers and business owners.
Debt collectors? business model depends on them collecting money from the account holders whose information they buy. The new state law makes it easier on them if they can obtain final billing statements from the banks and credit card issuers.
This law seems uncomfortably close to the kind of legal by-step that allowed banks to foreclosure on homes to which they didn't hold an actual title, but MERS stated they did:
The language in this bill ? primarily, but unofficially, known as the Credit Card Responsibility Bill ? that pertains to collection agencies is this:
?In an uncontested court action in this state a creditor may establish the amount of the debt that is owed on a credit card account through a copy of the issuer?s final billing statement or by the electronic record pursuant to section 44-7007 that is maintained by the issuer and that represents the amount owed. In contested actions the court shall weigh the evidence of the parties as required by law.?
Well yes, theoretically, the courts would weigh evidence. But as we saw in the Florida foreclosure courts, judges simply rubber-stamped the bank requests, no matter how egregious or poorly documented their claims. So I wouldn't count on it.
by Jorge Madrid
The fossil fuel industry is aggressively pushing its drill-everywhere-drill-anything agenda, which would open up every square inch of America to extraction. So what would happen if we gave the industry what it wants?
Today, the Center for American Progress released ?America?s Future Under ?Drill, Baby, Drill,?? describing where we may be in the year 2030 if we continue down the path of fossil fuel dependency that the American Petroleum Institute (API) advocates a report on the organization’s “vision,” also released today.
If you ask API, that vision means opening up significant portions of our oceans that are currently off-limits to drilling; turning large swaths of our pristine public lands into areas for extraction; and pushing shortcuts in the environmental and public health review process to speed up permits.
In short, Big Oil wants a free ride to “Drill Baby Drill” straight into our children’s future.
But at what cost?
CAP?s report illustrates some of the costs we may incur if Big Oil gets its way: Intensifying heat waves, drought, and accelerated sea-level rise become a normal part of our warming, unchecked, carbon-spewing world. Public health impacts in the U.S. from smog and ozone quadruple, global food prices rise, and water scarcity exacerbates already-worsening conditions in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
What will our economy look like under the ?Drill Baby Drill? scenario? Consumers will be more vulnerable to spikes in the global oil market as clean energy and efficiency become an afterthought; public health costs add up as lawmakers strip needed regulations; and America misses an opportunity to invest in a globally-competitive clean energy sector, thus ceding leadership to China, India and Europe.
Of course, we can?t predict what 2030 will exactly look like. But we do have a massive body of scientific evidence showing us we must reduce emissions quickly today — otherwise, it will be too late.
Big Oil can no longer pretend that its vision is consistent with a prosperous, healthy future. Making our country more reliant on fossil fuels is good for the largest, most profitable companies in the world — but it’s terrible for society.
And now, come with us into the dystopian future, to the year 2030?
Jorge Madrid is a Research Associate for Energy Policy at the Center for American Progress.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney used a speech in Iowa yesterday to blame President Obama for a “prairie fire of debt” that is supposedly spreading across the nation. Romney continued the assault today, giving a speech in Florida in front of a giant clock featuring a running total of the nation’s debt.
As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Romney’s attack ignores that his own economic plan would add more than $10 trillion to the national debt. It also ignores Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts, which had the nation’s highest per capita debt total when he left office in 2007.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (compiled by Connecticut’s chief analyst in 2009), Massachusetts had $10,504 in per capita bond debt in 2007, the highest total in the nation. No other state had more than $10,000 in per capita debt, and only one had more than $8,000. Massachusetts ranked second, behind only Alaska, in per capita debt as a percent of personal income, with debt making up more than 21 percent of each resident’s income.
State bond debt isn’t altogether a bad thing — it finances infrastructure projects and other programs that benefit state residents. But Romney’s accumulation of it while governor is an element of his Massachusetts story that he regularly omits.
Romney has painted the national debt as a moral crisis that “threatens what it means to be an American.” And yet, Romney’s past and his plans for the future prove that he isn’t actually willing to address it.
Researchers at the Family Acceptance Project have produced a new series of resources aimed at identifying best practices for preventing LGBT young people from committing suicide. The first of the multi-lingual guides, “Supportive Families, Healthy Children,” helps families understand how reactions to their children’s LGBT identity can have a big impact on increasing or minimizing suicide risk and other health problems. The guides can be accessed in English, Spanish, or Chinese.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a bill yesterday that will allow pharmacists in the state to refuse to fill a prescription they think could be used to induce abortion. But since the “conscience” measure says they cannot be required to provide a drug or devise that they think “may result in the termination of a pregnancy” — but does not define which drug in particular — the law’s opponents say it could allow a pharmacist to interfere with a woman’s health care by refusing to distribute birth control or emergency contraception.
Women who already have difficulty obtaining contraception may face additional hurdles, according to Julie Burkhart, founder of an abortion-rights group in Wichita, Kansas:
Burkhart said the law could create a hardship for women in small towns with a sole pharmacist who may refuse to fill certain prescriptions. In larger cities, women will have to make sure they go to a cooperative pharmacist, she added.
“Women should not have to go armed with a lot of research when looking for a physician or pharmacist in the community,” Burkhart said.
No pharmacist could be fired for refusing to fill such prescriptions, and doctors can refuse to refer patients to pharmacists who would fill a birth control prescription. Additionally, the Associated Press had reported that the law could “allow a doctor to refuse to provide chemotherapy to a pregnant cancer patient because it might end her pregnancy.”
Brownback’s office justified his signing by saying the bill “gives more legal protection to Kansas health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions” based on their conscience. Kansas already had a law that allowed medical professionals to refuse to assist in abortion procedures.
While Kansas lawmakers failed to pass a sweeping anti-abortion bill that would have required doctors to give false information to their patients, the expanded “conscience” law is just one of several laws recently approved in the state that undermine women’s health and well being.