Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) fought to improve the
House Violence Against Women Act. (Official photo)
The House passed the Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization by a vote of 222 to 205, with six Democrats voting yes and 22 Republicans voting no, after an Orwellian afternoon debating the bill, with members from both parties extolling the importance of cracking down on violence against women even as they disagreed bitterly on the bill in question. The Orwellian flavor stemmed from the fact that the Republican bill excludes or weakens protections for LGBT, immigrant and Native American victims of violence?a Republican manager's amendment purported to address some Democratic concerns, but that did not adequately do so. House Republicans argued that passing this bill is very important and should be done in a bipartisan fashion, even as they refused to consider the Senate's actually bipartisan Violence Against Women Act?coauthored by a Republican and passed with 15 Republican votes.
Republicans repeatedly emphasized the bipartisan support for VAWA without acknowledging that their bill does not enjoy bipartisan support and that they have rejected a truly bipartisan bill. They also repeatedly insisted that their bill protects and supports victims, ignoring the opposition of a wide swath of domestic violence organizations, law enforcement groups and faith-based groups.
Democrats first opposed a rule prohibiting amendments, then offered a motion to recommit in an attempt to keep confidentiality protections from being gutted, with Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin detailing how as the victim of a violent rape in the 1970s, she felt put on trial as a single mother who must have invited her rape. Republicans, while rejecting bipartisanship and claiming that immigrant women use fraudulent allegations of abuse to get citizenship, wailed extensively about Democrats allegedly playing politics.
The Gold Report: In January, the Federal Reserve’s extension of a near-zero rate interest policy to the end of 2014 stunned a good many investors. Unless the Fed changes its mind again, that will mean six years of artificially low rates. You’ve indicated that interest rates have nothing to do with the Fed and that they’re really governed by the velocity of money and the health of the economy. Would you elaborate on that?
Lacy Hunt: To clarify, the Fed can control the short-term rates, but the long-term rates are in the hands of the marketplace. The Fed’s influence there is very minuscule. Some may … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: Recovery Via Shared Sacrifice: Lacy Hunt
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Everyone knows that opening a meeting with a joke is a great icebreaker. And at the annual meeting of Safeway Inc.'s shareholders, Senior Vice President and General Counsel Robert Gordon opened with a real knee-slapper:
You know, this is the season when companies and other institutions are interested in enhancing their reputation and their image for the general public, and one of the institutions that's doing this is the Secret Service, particularly after the calamity in Colombia. And among the instructions given to the Secret Service agents was to try to agree with the president more and support his decisions. And that led to this exchange that took place last week, when the president flew into the White House lawn and an agent greeted him at the helicopter.Isn't that funny? Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton are worth less than pigs! Ha!
The president was carrying two pigs under his arms and the Secret Service agents said, "Nice pigs, sir."
And the president said, "These are not ordinary pigs, these are genuine Arkansas razorback hogs. I got one for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and one for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."
And the Secret Service agent said, "Excellent trade, sir."
If you can't see the humor in that joke, you obviously are a humorless feminist who refuses to see the inherent comedy in unfavorably comparing two of the most powerful women in the world to pigs. It's just a joke, after all. Lighten up. A senior executive of a major corporation would never engage in actual sexism, especially at a meeting that he knew would be recorded and posted to the internet. So obviously it was just some harmless, lighthearted fun. Right? And not one single person in that room who laughed at this "joke" would find humor in real sexism. After all, it's 2012. Women can vote and run for office and own property and everything! And just look at the huge advancements women have made in the boardroom. Why, even a whopping, record-breaking 3.6 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. (Even though they make only 69 percent of what male CEOs make.) And only 10 percent of those Fortune 500 companies (of which Safeway is number 63) have all-male boards of directors. Even Safeway has one. Just one. Progress!
And besides, Safeway has a strict Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which Steve Burd, Safeway's chairman, president and CEO, proudly claims is a hallmark of its "well-deserved reputation for honesty, integrity and fair dealing."
Because nothing says "integrity" like making jokes about powerful women who are worth less than pigs. Ha ha ha!
Of course, what's extraordinary about this "joke" is that it's not extraordinary. It's a blatantly sexist, disrespectful joke that a high-level executive at a major Fortune 500 corporation felt perfectly comfortable telling at a meeting that he knew was being recorded and webcast out to the world. Because it's just a joke. Who could possibly take offense? Certainly this kind of run-of-the-mill sexism garners laughs in boardrooms and executive offices all over America. This is just the way it works.
And that's the problem. It's this kind of casual sexism that contributes to a corporate culture in which women are still not especially welcome. Yes, things have changed and improved, but women are still woefully underrepresented?and underpaid?and it's not hard to see why, when corporate America is still so obviously a boys' club where women are merely the butt of a joke to warm up a crowd.
Until the highest echelons of corporate America no longer feel perfectly comfortable cracking "jokes" like this, women?even the 3.6 percent who now run Fortune 500 companies (at a reduced rate)?still have a long road ahead before we can achieve full equality.
The NYT reports on a study of what states are choosing to do with the mortgage/foreclosure fraud settlement funds. The bottom line is that, with big states like California and Texas likely to siphon off the funds, and many more moving in that direction,[...]
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You know, some of us drink because we're not poets. I've been a writer all my life and it's as much a part of me as my sexual orientation and skin color ('tro, male, and white not that it should make a difference). I don't pretend to special[...]
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"If he were my son I would spank him."
That's how the widow of a North Carolina man whose name was presented at a polling station by an activist working with James O'Keefe's Project Veritas responded to a video the group released this week showing an individual using her deceased husband's name.
As Media Matters points out, Michael Bolton, Jr. -- a very much alive son of the widow who spoke to TPM -- is registered to vote at the same address as his recently deceased father. The poll watcher in the extended version of the O'Keefe video asks if he was the junior Bolton to which the Project Veritas operative responds: "That would be correct."
"I don't like the way they just felt that they could use my husband's name and put it out there," the widow told TPM. "It just wasn't right. My husband just died, and then they do that? Why didn't they use somebody from a year ago or five years ago. It was just very insensitive."
Winifred, wife to Michael G. Bolton and mother of Michael G. Bolton, Jr., said she supported the implementation of voter ID laws O'Keefe's group backs, she just wished they'd talked to her first.
"I agree that there should be picture ID, I don't understand why you don't have to have picture ID, I don't understand how that is so hard to get," Bolton told TPM. "I sort of wish they had called first and asked permission, because it was very unnerving. I'm sympathetic to the message that they're trying to get out, but being a new widow, it was really unnerving when it went up there. I am upset that it was a little insensitive that they didn't call."
Bolton told TPM that one of the polling watchers informed her that someone had tried to vote on behalf of her son when she went to vote. The poll watchers told her the individual acted weird and nervous. Her son returned to the polling station to vote later in the day. She found out about the Project Veritas video after her sister saw it on Facebook.
This isn't the first O'Keefe voter fraud video which has confused a living voter for a dead one. Project Veritas' New Hampshire sting mixed up a 23-year-old voter for a dead 84-year-old. Meanwhile, Think Progress reports that the North Carolina video has other flaws -- two of the "non-citizens" in O'Keefe's latest video turned out to be nationalized citizens.
An executive order issued by President Obama today authorizes sanctions against people and entities who "obstruct" Yemen's political transition, the latest sign of the administration's increased focus on the country.
The order allows the Treasury Department, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to seize the U.S.-based assets, or assets that come under the control of a U.S. person or entity, of anyone who has "engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen, such as acts that obstruct the implementation of the agreement of November 23, 2011, between the Government of Yemen and those in opposition to it." The order also allows for sanctions against those who support such acts, and those who work on behalf of people performing such acts.
"This Executive Order will allow the United States to take action against those who seek to undermine Yemen's transition and the Yemeni peoples' clear desire for change," Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "The President took this step because he believes that the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people, along with the urgent humanitarian and security challenges, cannot be addressed if political progress stalls."
The order refers to "certain members of the Government of Yemen and others" that "threaten Yemen's peace," but does not name anyone explicitly. An administration official told TPM that it is too early to say who will be targeted under the order, but that it could be used against military and political leaders both inside and outside the government of Yemen who meet the criteria.
One official told The Washington Post the order was designed as a "deterrent" to "make clear to those who are even thinking of spoiling the transition" to think again.
Former Yemeni Vice President Abed Rabbo Hadi took over the presidency from long-time leader Ali Abdullah Saleh in February, as part of the transition deal. Hadi has since vowed to eradicate Al Qaeda in the country.
The U.S. has recently stepped up military operations in Yemen, home to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. According to The Long War Journal, which keeps an unofficial tally, the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command are known to have conducted at least 35 air and missile strikes inside Yemen since December 2009. At least 18 strikes have been carried out since March. Earlier this month, it was revealed that U.S. and Saudi intelligence had foiled a new AQAP underwear bomb plot hatched in Yemen.
Today, the Associated Press reported that U.S. troops are operating from a desert air base in the country, helping to coordinate assaults and airstrikes against AQAP, whose fighters have taken over territory in the south of the country.
Critics of expanded executive power are voicing concerns over the order, among them journalist Jeremy Scahill, who has reported extensively from Yemen.
"For the record, I don't think the Obama Administration would be so brazen as to freeze Jeremy Scahill's assets because he reported critically on Obama's Yemen policy," Marcy Wheeler wrote on her blog. "But the Executive Order they're rolling out today is reportedly written so broadly so as to make something like that possible."
Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Earlier this month Dan DeWalt wrote So then Who in the Hell Are We? at This Can?t Be Happening.
The latest PR catch phrase from business, administration, military, state and local officials after some atrocity or other is that whatever happened, it is certainly ?not who we are,? a phrase initially uttered by the Vietnam War commander, Gen. William Westmoreland, with reference to the My Lai slaughter of 400 women, children and old men, all civilians, by a group of US soldiers.
Yet if all these abominations are not ?who we are,? then why do our business, police and military and government institutions generate so many examples of obscene, horrific or criminal behavior?
?This is not who we are? fits right in with ?If I offended anyone? used in what?s suppose to be an apology, but is better termed an acknowledgement that enough people seem to think I did something that offended them so I finally had to say something. ?This is not who we are? may very well be accurate, in terms of who we want to be or think ourselves to be, or want others to think we are. But unless accompanied by concrete actions to change the ?not who we are? decision or incident or whatever, it serves more as a non-apology apology.
DeWalt provides these examples:
?This is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for.? ? Jeff Gearhart, Wall-Mart general counsel, on the firm?s Mexico bribery
[Torture] ?is not the norm.? ? Mike Pannek, Abu Ghraib prison warden.
?This is not who we are.? ? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the US massacre of 16 Afghan villagers …; General John Allen, commander of forces in Afghanistan, on Koran burning …; Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on troops posing with enemy body parts …; Secretary of State Clinton, also on troops posing with enemy body parts …
Spying by the New York Police on Muslims in Newark, NJ, which the Newark Police Chief was alerted to, is ?not who we are? ? Newark Mayor Cory Booker
?I can tell you something all of you know already – that using pepper spray on peaceful protesters runs counter to our values. It does not reflect well on this university and it absolutely is not who we are.? ? UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, who ordered campus police to use force to clear peaceful student occupiers from the campus, leading to pepper spraying of students
Ripping families apart by deporting the undocumented parents of American-born children is ?not who we are.? ? President Barack Obama
?This larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody?s money, and let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they?re on their own ? that?s not who we are.? ? President Barack Obama
?You can?t say, well, we developed trade and the economic relations first and the disregard of human rights. That?s not who we are. We are the United States of America.? ? Sasha Gong, director of the China branch of Voice of America.
DeWalt writes about the ?sick hypocrisy? of Obama, Clinton, Panetta and Allen to
… claim that these actions are not a direct result of U.S. military and foreign policy. If Dick Cheney and John Yoo were torturing language and logic to advocate the torture of humans, why wouldn?t guards at Abu Ghraib fall into the same debased state of mind? …
Those in power attempt to frame the issue within the ?one bad apple in the barrel? rubric. As long as they can pretend that war crimes and atrocities aren?t a logical outcome of official policy, they can shift blame to those without power … .
When riot geared law enforcement officers use ?non-lethal? pepper spray, sound canons, batons, bean bags, spying and more, in the name of enforcing ?order,? and as inevitably will happen, someone is injured, or the official actions are so obviously over-the-top, the use of ?that?s not who we are? as an attempt to avoid responsibility at the top becomes a familiar, pious-sounding non-apology apology. The safety of ?we? instead of ?me? language, along with a clear ?it?s not my fault? distancing are all attempts to avoid complicity.
Same kind of thing, when corporations seek to distance themselves from, say, ?using bribery as a standard business practice,? which, DeWalt writes, has recently been exposed at Siemens, Boeing and Wall-Mart.
Of course not everyone, not even at the top of government, law enforcement and corporations, do this. But the fact that the ?this is not who we are? phrase shows up so often is telling, both about those using it, and about those who do, or don?t, name it for the evasion of responsibility it is. That?s us, of course. DeWalt:
Just because these shameful acts may indeed indicate who or what our Empire?s institutions are, it does not mean that it is who we are as well. Most Americans, as well as most Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians etc., would not commit the types of acts that have made our nation infamous over the years. But if we are truly better than that, if this is not who we are, then we had better do something about the fact we are being represented to the world by the very actions that we find so heinous.
The Who?s ?Who Are You?? might provide a better soundtrack yet if we changed it to ?Who Are We??
This is par for the course with the Catholic church. Why choose Option A when you can choose Option B and hurt someone vulnerable at the same time.It's the way the Catholic church has mishandled the pedophilia scandal (putting children last), it's the way they're handling compliance with non-discrimination laws in DC, Illinois and Massachusetts (rather than simply not discriminate, the...
Most of these fake moderates (20) were defeated or forced to retire
When Broderite shills in the corporate media solemnly bemoan the fate of the corporate hacks they lionize as the great all-wise "moderates," what they're actually describing are the congressional careerist hacks who have sold themselves to corporate interests on their way to cushy criminal jobs in the world of lobbying. And how nice of Congress was it to redefine "bribery" in a way that will exempt their-- and their staffers'-- future careers from criminal procedures? Never forget how Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff define bribery in his book Capitol Punishment:
[C]ontributions from parties with an interest in legislation are really nothing but bribes. Sure, it's legal for the most part. Sure, everyone in Washington does it. Sure it's the way the system works. It's one of Washington's dirty little secrets-- but it's bribery just the same...
Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK)- most of any Dem- $699,440
Gene Greene (TX)- $467,063
Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT)- $341,997
Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR)- $331,300
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- $210,100
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)- $201,975
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)- $179,450
John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA)- $175,700
Charlie Gonzalez (TX)- $162,500
Rick Larsen (WA)- $116,300
Rubén Hinojosa (TX)- $105,584
Silvestre Reyes (TX)- $98,400
Jason Altmire (Blue Dog-PA)- $79,789
Mike Thompson (Blue Dog-CA)- $47,760
Dennis Cardoza (Blue Dog-CA)- $46,400
Mark Critz (PA)- $18,000
Eric Cantor- $418,850
Paul Ryan- $242,850
Patrick McHenry- $46,250
Buck McKeon- $30,200