Legislators in Missouri are debating a bill that would add even greater regulations to doctors who provide medical abortions, making it more difficult for a clinic to meet the requirements to provide the abortion-inducing medication, RU-486. The state House passed the bill Tuesday that would require a doctor — not a nurse — to “perform a physical examination of the woman at least 24 hours before prescribing” the drug. Doctors would also have to have clinical privileges at a nearby hospital and privileges to intervene with surgery if necessary at the hospital or clinic where the drug was given. And physicians who prescribe RU-486 would have to carry an additional medical malpractice insurance policy. This bill extends TRAP laws designed to restrict abortions to first-trimester medical abortions with the overly burdensome regulations that will do little other than cut down the number of doctors who can provide RU-486 and force women to wait later to terminate their pregnancies.
A full year after Obama released his birth certificate, a significant number of Republican officials across the country still are unable to disavow themselves of the notion that the president was not born in this country.
This week, a leading Republican candidate in one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country revealed himself as the newest member of the birther club. Richard Hudson, a former congressional chief of staff, told a Tea Party in Salisbury on Tuesday that “there?s no question President Obama?s hiding something on his citizenship.” Hudson, “the frontrunner for the GOP nomination” in North Carolina’s 8th congressional district according to Roll Call, also pledged that if elected he would introduce legislation “that requires any candidate for president or vice president to be certified by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as being a citizen.”
HUDSON: There?s no question President Obama?s hiding something on his citizenship. If you elect me to Congress to represent you, I?ll introduce legislation that requires any candidate for president or vice president to be certified by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as being a citizen. Whether that’s a birth certificate or whatever it means, I’m going to make real simple from now on if you want to run for president, you’re need to know you’re going to have to prove you’re a citizen.
Hudson still faces four challengers in the May 8 GOP primary, but he has been endorsed by establishment figures in the state like Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and the wife of former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). Whoever emerges will enjoy a significant leg up against Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) after North Carolina Republicans gerrymanded congressional districts in their favor last year. Roll Call currently rates the race as Likely Republican.
Birtherism has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the past month as GOPers cater to the fringe of their base. Two members of Congress found themselves in hot water recently — Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) — after both pitched their tent in the birther camp during recent town hall meetings. In addition, embattled Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has led a quixotic birther investigation where he concluded that Obama’s birth certificate is a “forgery and fraud.”
Fitzpatrick was listing the reasons why voters should not support the President, and for reason number three, he told the audience that President Obama would have no qualms auctioning off state secrets to foreign countries.
The Huffington Post flagged Fitzpatrick?s comments, which were distributed by the progressive advocacy group Credo SuperPAC:
“When he left the microphone on in Russia, we all heard what he said ? left unrestrained, without the inhibitions of the next election — he?d have flexibility, he said, flexibility to do what he wants to do. Whether it?s trade away ? the secrets of our national intelligence, to, what he could do to the United States Supreme Court in the next four years.”
Watch it (the remarks begin at around the 4 minute mark):
Selling state secrets is a capital offense, punishable by death in the United States, and to accuse the President conspiring to commit treason is a stretch, even by Tea Party standards. Fitzpatrick was extrapolating wildly from an off-the-cuff remark made by President Obama to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that was captured by a TV network’s microphone.
Ironically, it?s Fitzgerald who has run into some constitutional hot water. He and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) failed to be sworn into office last January before casting votes on the house floor, a move that Republicans had to scramble to fix by passing a resolution.
According to a new analysis by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the payday lending industry has been going gangbusters with its spending in Washington over the last few years. In addition to spending nearly $5 million lobbying last year — up from less than $1 million in 2005 — payday lenders are on pace to make more in campaign donations to federal candidates than they ever have before:
CREW?s research shows the payday loan industry is on course to donate more than ever to federal candidates this election cycle. Payday lenders? political action committees (PACs), trade associations, and employees have contributed at least $1.32 million so far, according to campaign contributions tracked by Political Moneyline. That is already almost equal to the $1.5 million payday lenders contributed over the course of the entire 2010 election cycle. So how, exactly, are payday lenders expecting to collect interest on this investment?
As we’ve noted several times, the payday lending industry makes billions by fleecing low-income Americans. About 120 million payday loans are made annually in the U.S., with an average interest rate of 455 percent. The Center for Responsible Lending has found 76 percent of payday loan volume ($3.5 billion in annual fees) is due to ?churning,? which is repeat borrowing by customers who paid off their loan, but because of the interest, require another loan before their next paycheck.
Payday lenders, many of which are financed by the nation’s biggest banks, have upped their lobbying and campaign donations in response to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has made predatory payday lending one of the areas that it hopes to more rigorously regulate.
And it’s telling that the three lawmakers collecting the most donations are Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), vice chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, all of whom vociferously oppose the CFPB. Yesterday, the House Financial Services Committee voted to gut the budget of the CFPB, showing that these donations could be a fantastic investment.
Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee today, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta suggested that, while specific intelligence is incomplete, there might be something to rumors and accusations that China provided equipment for North Korea’s ballistic missile program in violation of U.N. sanctions. Media reports about the possibly Chinese-designed and -made mobile missile carrier come in the same week as a provocative — and ultimately failed — attempt by North Korea to launch a large rocket that portends development of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The Washington Times first raised the latest issue on Monday based on photographs from a parade in Pyongyang that appeared to show a mobile missile carrier that closely matched a Chinese design. On Tuesday, Foreign Policy reported that Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asking for more information about the allegations.
Today, Panetta was asked about the equipment by Turner and dodged on specifics. He did note, though, that “there is growing concern about, you know, the mobile capabilities that were on display in the parade recently in North Korea.” While he said the U.S. needed to get better intelligence, he added:
I’m sure there’s been some help coming from China. I don’t know, you know, the exact extent of that. I think we’d have to deal with it in another context in terms of the sensitivity of that information. But clearly there’s been assistance along those lines.
Watch the video:
If the allegations are true, they would constitute a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874 which prohibits arms sales to North Korea. Asked about the report, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said, “China is always against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
The Nelson Report, a widely-read and well-sourced daily newsletter about Asian affairs by foreign affairs analyst Chris Nelson, reported that a source confirmed the truck was of Chinese origin:
Tonight, sources we absolutely rely on have come forward with information the carrier is new and cannot have appeared in [North Korea] without the explicit permission of [China]. As our source comments, with understatement: “The political implications of the appearance of Chinese missile transporters at the 15 April parade in Pyongyang are huge. ”
And the source’s source claims Beijing is fully aware of the implications of what it’s done, and that, the source argues, is why China approved stronger language than it’s ever before accepted, in Monday’s UNSC President’s statement.
Nelson comments that China’s embarrassment and quick accession to the Security Council’s unanimous but non-binding Presidential Statement that included a threat to ratchet up sanctions undermines criticisms of the Obama administration and the U.N. that the statement was all bark and no bite.
?Had the president?s economic plans worked ... it would be open by now, but it?s still empty,? Romney said. ?It underscores the failure of this president?s policies with regards to getting this economy going again. The other day, the president was in Ohio, and he said that this campaign was going to come down to his vision. His vision for America. If you want to know where his vision leads, open your eyes, because we?ve been living it for the last three years.?The factory, however, was shut down during the Bush administration, in June 2008. Yet nonetheless, Mitt Romney's campaign blames President Obama:
?The fact that it struggled through the last three years is not the fault of Barack Obama?s predecessor, it?s the fault of this administration and the failure of their policies to really get this economy going again,? said Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney aide.What a load of bullshit. When President Bush took office, there were 17.1 million manufacturing jobs in the country. By the end of his term, there were 12.5 million?and falling fast. We still haven't recovered to that level, but over the past two years, America has gained 500,000 manufacturing jobs. Compare that with the 1.5 million lost in Bush's last two years in office.
And as far as Ohio is concerned:
With an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in February, Ohio?s jobless stats are lower than the national average of 8.2 percent. The unemployment rate, which peaked at 10.6 percent in December 2009, has steadily fallen since then ? it was at 8.6 percent when Obama took office in January 2009.So since Obama has taken office, unemployment in Ohio is down one percent, even though the economy was an absolute freefall when he was inaugurated. Meanwhile, when Bush took office, Ohio's unemployment rate was 3.8 percent, so it more than doubled during his presidency.
Look, I get why Republicans don't want to talk about the Bush years: Wouldn't you want to forget an era in which you got to try all your ideas and they turned out to be miserable failures? And it's no surprise that Mitt Romney and his campaign would want to push back on President Obama's efforts to remind people of that reality. But it is a bit surprising that they thought it would be a good idea to visit a campaign that was closed during the Bush administration as a result of the policies that they want to put back in place. But perhaps expecting competence from the same crew that did such a terrible job over the last decade is expecting too much.
None dare call it treason.[...]
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And then there were three. The listing of Global X MLP ETF (MLPA) today (4/19/12) makes it the third ETF structured as a C-corporation, thereby subjecting its shareholders to the heavy burden of double-taxation on taxable income received from the fund and all capital gains.
Like its two predecessors, Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP) [see AMLP’s Dirty Little Secret] and Yorkville High Income MLP ETF (YMLP) [see ... [visit site to read . . . → Read More: MLPA: Another C-Corp Double Taxation ETF
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On Wednesday, I posted briefly about Jennie Linn McCormack, in a piece I called "What Does An Abortionist Look Like?" It was an intentionally provocative title, which aimed to draw attention to a story that's been ignored: a woman who took RU-486, ordered over the Internet, and was arrested for inducing her own abortion. I was trying to make two points. First, what happens when governments restrict access to abortion? Women start doing it for themselves. Second, do we really want to put desperate women in jail for trying to control their own bodies?
But several things about the piece drew some criticism from a number of reproductive rights advocates, people whose politics and efforts I respect. One critic, Gretchen Sisson, was kind enough to write a thoughtful critique of my piece. With her permission, I am posting that below.
I want to say first that I'm so glad you're writing about the Jennie McCormack case. Not enough people are writing about the Jennie McCormack case. I also understand where you were going using the term "abortionist" in the title, but that word is so alienating to so many supporters that it really set the tone for other aspects of the article. I think that, in order to make the point you were going for, you'd have had to illustrate the contrast very clearly: are you comparing the single mother to a back alley "abortionist" of yesteryear? Or are you comparing her to physicians that perform abortions today? The term "abortionist" is still used pejoratively in many circles, so if you're using it, I think you need to be deliberate about why you're using it. I know that for many choice activists, once they see that word, they're going to be on high alert while reading the rest of the article (with good reason).
Some of the other issues I have are with your tone more broadly. For example, mifepristone and misoprostol are safe drugs, and I don't believe Jennie was "lucky" to not have had problems. She was pretty typical. In countries where abortion is illegal, women use them safely, on their own, in secret, all the time. Saying Jennie was "lucky" make the drugs seem very dangerous. They aren't; in fact, misoprostol is available over-the-counter in many countries to treat ulcers. Yes, I would have preferred Jennie, and all women, had access to doctors when using these drugs. But I think the "lucky" terminology implies the drugs are riskier than they are. This makes it more difficult to increase access. For example, telemedicine programs have been proposed, where doctors prescribe drugs long-distance and then make them available by remotely pressing a button. Imagine the increase in rural access that could be made possible through telemedicine, and imagine the likelihood such programs will be possible if we inaccurately promote the idea that these drugs are more dangerous than they are.
Additionally, I take exception to the line "To put it mildly, Jennie Linn McCormack doesn?t sound like the world?s most responsible person?except that she apparently had the good sense to realize she was not going to be a good parent to another child." This second part is just so judgmental to me; it seems to be condemning Jennie McCormack in a different court (as well as ignoring the absolute ostracism that she has faced in her community). The country is full of people who say others are unworthy parents: they say it about poor people, about unmarried people, about gay people. Only Jennie McCormick can decide whether or not she wants another child, and if she doesn't want to continue the pregnancy, then not continuing the pregnancy shows good sense. If she does want to continue the pregnancy, then taking action to make that happen would have been a sensible choice. We don't know every part of her life, so I don't think we can say what's "right" or "wrong". More importantly, I don't think what we have to say matters.
If we want abortion to be a responsible choice, a parenting choice, a safe choice, then our concept of abortion should have nothing to do with whether or not we think any given woman "deserves" access or is making a "correct" choice. Women do not earn the right to abortion because they are good and they make the decisions others think they should. Women have the right to access abortion because they are human beings in control of their own bodies and lives.
Here's why I mentioned the mess that appears to be Ms. McCormack's life: I dislike messaging away reality. My point, as I wrote to Gretchen Sisson, was that everyone has the right to make choices about her body, everyone has the right to the full spectrum of medical care. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to have made smart choices in the past. You don't have to have your life together even in the slightest. The moment of conception should not be the last moment a woman has the right to decide whether or not to give birth.
Dr. Sisson and I disagree on some points, but on others I will be paying closer attention in the future.
Speaking of teen pregnancy, you saw that it hit a 30-year low in 2008, yes? Why, you ask? Because of increased use of contraception. Yo, Mr. Santorum!
Every time some candidate airs a negative ad, you can reliably turn on cable news and hear some "strategist" or other say, "This is going to be the most negative campaign in history!" But I'm still waiting for someone to say, "This is going to be the dumbest and most trivial campaign in history!" The 2012 campaign will not be the most negative in history, trust me. But it might be the dumbest. So what do we bloggers do when confronted with the latest bit of campaign idiocy? You can ignore it, of course. You can say, "This is actually quite revealing...", in which case you're full of it. Or you can say, "This is inane." I'm opting for number three.
If you haven't heard about Mitt Romney's cookie gaffe, then behold:
Egad! This obviously demonstrates ... absolutely nothing about what kind of man Mitt Romney is. He just meant that the cookies looked store-bought and not homemade. He may have been trying to rib his own people, saying to the folks around the table, I realize this whole set-up is kind of artificial, down to the cookies somebody put on the table, but let's just do the best we can here.
Would a cleverer politician have considered the possibility that the cookies came from a local bakery and treaded more lightly? Maybe. But so what?
The food-related campaign incident this brings to mind is from 2004, when John Kerry, campaigning in Philadelphia, was taken to legendary cheesesteak emporium Pat's (I think it was Pat's; it might have been Geno's). And there, he looked at the menu and ordered what looked good to him, a cheesesteak with Swiss cheese. Reporters were appalled, since they had been told that to show you're down with the common folk, you're supposed to ask for a cheesesteak "whiz with," meaning with Cheez Whiz and onions.* And since Kerry didn't know this, he obviously didn't care about ordinary people. The idea that since he might not be aware of the blue-collarest way to order at Pat's because he wasn't from Philly was just too absurd to consider. And after all, everybody knows that Swiss cheese is the kind of high-falutin, snooty, expensive cheese you can only get in an artisanal cheese shop. I mean, it has to come all the way from Switzerland, for pete's sake. As Rick Santorum would say, what a snob! Reporters dutifully filed stories about the terrible gaffe.
All of which is to say, this campaign has a ways to go before it can claim the mantle of the dumbest and most trivial ever. But it's on its way.
*As someone who spent a decade in Philadelphia and ate more than a few, I can attest that provolone is the best cheese for a cheesesteak. Unless you're a drunk frat boy, in which case by all means go with the Whiz.