Fighting back at the forced birth crowd whose delay, deny, destroy methods run the gamut from state sanctioned rape to provider murder, and are designed to prevent women from receiving a perfectly legal medical procedure, Ca. State Senator Christine[...]
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With the focus on Michigan, Mitt Romney has pulled ahead in the polls in Arizona, where he seemed headed for a double-digit primary victory.
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If this keeps up people are either going to start calling me the "Facebook Avenger" or begin de-friending me in epic numbers.
A few days ago I took on a Christian wingnut in-law of mine. And this morning, I blasted one of those passing acquaintances you pick up like lint along the way who posted on his Facebook page a letter to the editor from a New Brunswick housewife that was a brief sensation in the right wing blogs back in 2010 when the letter first appeared.
I'm guessing my "friend," Michael, found the letter a compelling rejoinder to President Obama's letter to Hamid Karzai apologizing for US soldiers who had accidentally burned a Quran in Afghanistan.
Rick Santorum complained that what the soldiers did was a "mistake" and so no apology was necessary.
My friend surely thought differently, so he re-posed the letter, excerpts of which include:
"Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001 and have continually threatened to do so since?
Were people from all over the world, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from the nation's capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania?
Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?
And I'm supposed to care that a few Taliban were claiming to be tortured by a justice system of the nation they come from and are fighting against in a brutal insurgency.
I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere belief of which is a crime punishable by beheading in Afghanistan.
I'll care when these thugs tell the world they are sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head while Berg screamed through his gurgling slashed throat.
I'll care when the cowardly so-called 'insurgents' in Afghanistan come out and fight like men instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques and behind women and children.
When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and 'fed special food' that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being 'mishandled,' you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts:
I don't care.
And oh, by the way, I've noticed that sometimes it's spelled 'Koran' and other times 'Quran.' Well, Jimmy Crack Corn you guessed it,
I don't care!!
I have another quote that I would like to add, AND........I hope you forward all this.
Only five defining forces have ever offered to die for you:
1. Jesus Christ
2. The British Soldier.
3. The Canadian Soldier.
4. The US Soldier, and
5. The Australian Soldier
One died for your soul, the other 4 for your freedom.
Well, I couldn't let that go, so I replied:
No, this is not a good letter, Michael. In fact it is an abomination. It never ceases to amaze me how people who claim to be devout followers of a religion can be so indifferent to the desecration of another.
The women who wrote the letter from the safety of her living room was free to give full vent to her anti-Islamic bigotry. But it will be our brave troops in the field who will bear the brunt of it. And that is why our military commanders were so insistent a few months ago that President Obama step in and put a stop to the threatened burning of Korans by that far right religious fanatic down South.
The Republican Party is no better. They brag about "supporting the troops." But if a few of those troops just happen to get killed by angry Afghans while Republicans are riling up the Republican base by attacking the President for trying to cool passions with his heartfelt apology to the Afghan people for this needless insult to their religion, well then so be it. That's just politics.
I was working here at Boston Logan Airport on the morning of 9/11 when two planes from our airport were hijacked to create that picture you are now using as propaganda on your Facebook page (the second plane hitting the WTC towers) and I can tell you that Victoria Reggie Kennedy, wife of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, spoke for most of us here on the 10th anniversary of that horrific Tuesday when she said: "I know, as you do, that we can't stop every evil act in this world - or prevent every occurrence of wanton and needless and senseless suffering. But we can affirm our belief in good will toward our fellow human beings. We can reject the hate and the fear that perverts the human heart and infects the soul...."
Central District Public Service Commissioner Lynn Posey (R) broke his silence this morning on the issue of HB 825, which would remove all state oversight of AT&T. (Previous articles here, here, and here.) Commissioner Posey joins Commissioners Brandon Presley (D) and Leonard Bentz (R) in expressing his concerns over the bill. In his press release, Posey asks that the bill be sent to a study committee.
HB 825 was written by House Public Utilities Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Beckett (R - Bruce), who has been paid handsomely by AT&T of late. Over the years, Beckett has received $2,500.00 in campaign contributions from AT&T. Additionally, just this past December AT&T treated Beckett and his wife to meals and golf at a swanky Arizona resort. Less than 90 days after getting the royal treatment from AT&T, Beckett filed HB 825, which would remove AT&T from state regulation.
Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D) released a copy of his letter to Rep. Jim Beckett (R - Bruce) today, in which Presley raises a new concern over Beckett's HB825: constitutionality.
It's an interesting point that Presley makes. Section 186 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 reads as follows:
The Legislature shall pass laws to prevent abuses, unjust discrimination, and extortion in all charges of express, telephone, sleeping-car, telegraph, and railroad companies, and shall enact laws for the supervision of railroads, express, telephone, telegraph, sleeping-car companies, and other common carriers in this State, by commission or otherwise, and shall provide adequate penalties, to the extent, if necessary for that purpose, of forfeiture of their franchises. (Emphasis added.)Therefore, it seems to me that the Legislature is out of luck if it wants to let AT&T do as it pleases without regulation. It's pretty plainly against the state constitution.
Just a short note to let you know about Paul Krugman's new book, soon to be released.
From the Amazon blurb (my emphasis):
The Great Recession is more than four years old?and counting. Yet, as Paul Krugman points out in this powerful volley, "Nations rich in resources, talent, and knowledge?all the ingredients for prosperity and a decent standard of living for all?remain in a state of intense pain."One thing to note ? in a remarkable change for Mr. Krugman, this is an activist book, not just an intellectual study or analysis. I'm sure there's much analysis between its covers, but the title tells it all.
How bad have things gotten? How did we get stuck in what now can only be called a depression? And above all, how do we free ourselves? Krugman pursues these questions with his characteristic lucidity and insight. He has a powerful message for anyone who has suffered over these past four years?a quick, strong recovery is just one step away, if our leaders can find the "intellectual clarity and political will" to end this depression now.
I think the main reason you should be angry about it is that it?s gratuitous. This doesn?t have to be happening. We actually have the tools to make most of this go away. If we could throw aside the political prejudices and bad ideas that are crippling us, in 18 months we could be back to something that feels like a much better economy.Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway ? both parties are responsible.
The Republican-controlled Virginia state Senate has voted 21-19 to pass a slightly amended version of House Bill 462, which requires pregnant women who are considering abortion to undergo ultrasound imaging and be given the opportunity to view the ultrasound image. The bill, which initially mandated the use of a transvaginal ultrasound, was modified at the behest of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) after the original and more invasive version proved too controversial. The bill has passed the House and is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature. –Fatima Najiy
Since HB 56, Alabama’s extreme immigration law, went into effect last fall, children stayed home from school out of fear that their parents would be deported, and U.S.-born children have been denied food stamps because of their parents’ immigration status. Public utility companies denied service to anyone who did not provide ID to prove they were legally in the U.S. Farmers watched their crops rot in the fields after their workers left Alabama. In all, one study shows that the damage from HB 56 could end up costing Alabama about 100,000 jobs and billions in GDP losses.
After officials began enforcing HB 56, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) set up a hotline for Alabama residents to report how the law affected them. Thousands of calls poured in, and the SPLC has collected some of the most egregious stories: undocumented immigrants denied pay, U.S. citizens harassed because they look like immigrants, a family surviving without water in their home. “The result is a crisis that harkens back to the bleakest days of Alabama?s racial history,” according to the report, which highlights 10 of these stories:
[The stories] illustrate the devastating impact HB 56 has had on Alabama Latinos, regardless of their immigration status. The stories also illustrate that HB 56 has unleashed a kind of vigilantism, leading some Alabamians to believe they can cheat, harass and intimidate Latinos with impunity. These consequences were easily foreseeable.
The law was forged within a legislative debate rife with stereotypes, misinformation, incendiary rhetoric and bigotry. The Senate sponsor told colleagues they needed to ?empty the clip? to deal with immigrants. The House sponsor, Rep. Micky Hammon, cited the increase in Alabama?s Latino population to illustrate the growth of the state?s undocumented population. Hammon?s conflation of ?Hispanic? with ?illegal immigrant? during the legislative debate was so egregious that a federal judge cited it in a recent opinion.
When legislators supporting HB 56 can?t distinguish between ethnicity and immigration status, it should be no surprise the law brings the chaos and confusion described in the following pages. As the Latinos whose stories are told here can attest, HB 56 has been a dangerous, failed experiment?a humanitarian disaster.
?There is no fixing this law,? said SPLC legal director Mary Bauer. ?It does not need to be re-written or tweaked at the margins, as some Alabama legislators have suggested. It should be repealed.? State Sen. Billy Beasley (D) described the repeal effort as an “uphill battle.” Three other senators are supporting Beasley’s proposed legislation that would repeal the bill entirely, and a Republican state senator has introduced a bill that would repeal some of the worst parts of the law.
Alabama lawmakers have had a few months to see the irrevocable damage HB 56 has already done to their state. Gov. Robert Bentley (R) should have called a special session sooner for the legislators to do something about this harmful immigration law, but the SPLC’s new report simply highlights how necessary it is that legislators roll back at least the worst parts of HB 56, if not the entire law — and soon.
This month, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta fell under attack for making public statements asserting that U.S. intelligence indicates Iran has not yet decided whether to pursue a nuclear weapon. Newt Gingrich adviser Christian Whiton accused Panetta of not “telling the truth” about Iran’s nuclear program and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Clapper that, despite U.S. intelligence assessments to the contrary, “I’m very convinced that they’re going down the road of developing a nuclear weapon.”
Today, Graham asked Panetta a similar question during a Senate Budget Committee hearing:
LINDSEY GRAHAM: Do you believe the Iranians are trying to develop a nuclear weapon?
LEON PANETTA: I think they’re developing a nuclear capability [but] our intelligence makes clear that they haven’t made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon.
Graham moved on and chose not to publicly disagree with the Secretary of Defense but the message from Panetta was clear. U.S. intelligence, at this time, does not conclude that Iran is in the process of building a nuclear weapon.
These views are echoed by the the IAEA — the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency — which, just last week, reiterated its ?serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran?s nuclear programme,” but came short of concluding that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon.
The Roosevelt Institute’s Matt Stoller noted today that the Federal Reserve?s latest Quarterly Release on Household Debt and Credit shows that “the number of people subject to third party collections has doubled since 2000, from a little less than 7% to a little over 14% of consumers.” “Ten years ago, one in fourteen American consumers were pursued by debt collectors. Today it?s one in seven,” Stoller noted. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law — released a proposal this month to tighten regulation on debt collectors.