Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gov. McDonnell: TSA Pat-Downs "Invasive," Mandatory Ultrasounds "Respectful"

The Virginia Senate adopted a bill in which women planning to have an abortion must have an ultrasound. Originally, the bill called specifically for a transvaginal ultrasound, but they backed down under the demands of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell (left) following a national uproar. Regardless, seeking to make any ultrasound mandatory before an abortion is quite an invasive move by the party of “small government.” Republicans in Alabama, Idaho and Pennsylvania are also seeking mandatory ultrasound bills.

Interestingly, in Nov. 2010 McDonnell said that the Transportation Security Administration’s airport body scans and pat-downs are “probably over the line” in terms of “people’s concerns about their privacy.” In a radio show on Tuesday, McDonnell maintained his objections to the TSA practices while defending mandatory ultrasounds. Asked whether he contradicts himself, McDonnell stated that it’s all a matter of providing woman with “necessary information”:

McDonnell: There are things that are required in the interest of public safety, like TSA procedures. There are ways to accomplish the same result without an invasive patdown...

I believe this is something that respects the dignity of women by making sure they have necessary information.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fox News Tries To Detract From Improving Economy

Conservatives have not reacted well to indicators of a gradually improving economy. Speaker John Boehner insisted, "We can do better." Rush Limbaugh is at a loss to explain. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) refuses to give President Obama any credit.

Fox News first dismissed the news and is now trying to detract from it by suggesting that the real issue isn't economic growth and jobs but deficit reduction. This is the wrong prescription; the Congressional Budget Office has called the president's stimulus package a success, and Nobel Prize-winning economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz have argued that the only problem with the package was that it was too small (read Krugman on the failures of austerity). In the following exchange, Fox's Tucker Carlson and Martha MacCallum insist that Republicans should make debt the issue of the campaign, in contrast to guest Christopher Hahn, who correctly argues that deficit reduction should wait until a more complete economic recovery:

(h/t: Media Matters)

Romney 2012 Vs. Obama 2008: Contrasting Stadium Turnouts

The photo contrast of the week must be the turnout for Mitt Romney’s speech at Ford Field, Detroit, this past week with that of Barack Obama at XL Center, Hartford, in 2008. View these photos in tandem with The Onion’s satirical article, “Romneymania Sweeps America.”

(h/t: Think Progress)

Rachel Maddow Reviews GOP Audience’s Greatest Hits

Rachel Maddow surveyed the end of the Republican debates, noting, "Throughout the whole season, the most interesting and most unpredictable and most outrageous character has been...the audience." She noted some of the audience highlights I’ve mentioned here, including booing a gay soldier who served in Iraq and applauding the number of executions under Rick Perry, letting the uninsured die and the use of waterboarding. The GOP audience’s final note was booing a question about birth control. Watch:

“Snob” Santorum Wanted To Send All Pennsylvanians To College In 2006

Rick Santorum has yet another problem with people attending college, despite his receiving a law degree from the Dickinson School of Law. He recently criticized colleges as places where liberal professors indoctrinate students according to Obama’s image; he also apparently feels that college students become less religious–a charge that Talking Points Memo refuted (leaving aside whether it is a potential president’s role to monitor religiosity). TPM has, in addition, exposed Santorum’s flip-flop on the issue; in 2006, he wanted to send all Pennsylvanians to college. Since Santorum called Obama a “snob” for having this goal, was he a snob back then too? From Santorum’s 2006 campaign website:

“In addition to Rick’s support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring the (sic) every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education. Rick Santorum has supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants, and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable.”

Ed Schultz Mocks Lou Dobbs’ Attacks On “Lorax” Movie

Ed Schultz was amazed by Fox’s Lou Dobbs’ attack on “The Lorax,” the film based on a Dr. Seuss book. Dobbs associates the story’s environmental message with Occupy Wall Street's pitting "the makers against the takers" and Obama’s calling–heaven forbid–for everyone to “pay their fair share.” It all adds up to “the president’s liberal friends in Hollywood targeting a younger demographic using animated movies to sell their agenda.” Schultz responds, “Leave it to Lou Dobbs to think that a kids’ movie about caring about the environment is about Occupy Wall Street.” He recalls that Fox’s Eric Bolling went after the Muppets Movie. Schultz concludes, “Maybe [Fox is] just upset” that kids’ films “are more realistic than the cartoon characters…on Fox.” Watch:

Romney: My Wife "Drives A Couple Of Cadillacs"

Once again, Mitt Romney went off script and revealed himself as Mr. One Percent. Speaking to the Detroit Economic Club at a completely underpopulated Ford Stadium, Romney stated that he likes “the fact that most of the cars he sees are Detroit-made automobiles.” Of course, had Romney had his way, that wouldn’t have been the case, since he stood against the government's assistance plan for automakers and called for Detroit to go bankrupt. To prove that he's a friend of the industry, however, Romney stated that his wife "drives a couple of Cadillacs." All he accomplished was to reinforce the perception that he's completely out of touch. Watch:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Santorum: Obama Wants Everyone To Attend College For "Indoctrination"

Rick Santorum’s latest criticism of Obama? The president wants everyone to attend college. Speaking at a Michigan rally held by the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity, Santorum called Obama a "snob" and stated that his calculated aim was indoctrination by “some liberal college professor.” Students in these subversive bastions will be remade in Obama's image–an especially dangerous prospect since his agenda, as Santorum recently told us, is not "based on the Bible." According to Talking Points Memo, the Tea Party crowd responded favorably; one audience member called Santorum’s disdain for higher education “brilliant.” Watch:

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Willy DeVille Live At Montreux

The late Willy DeVille was known for his utterly unique blend of R&B, soul, cajun, rock and blues. Above, the eclectic DeVille, whose many influences included such Atlantic Records artists as the Drifters and Ben E. King, performs “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl” at Montreux, 1994.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jim Hightower: “Take A Ride In Rick’s Head”

Jim Hightower surveys the moral pronouncements of “the latest darling of the most extreme of the GOP’s extremist voters.” “The Sanctimonious Santorum” has passed judgment on contraception, consensual sex, privacy and impregnated rape victims. Hightower lacks the time to fully consider the candidate's sermons on global warming, the Crusades and his main obsession, gay sex. With Santorum’s current prominence, however, "we can count on many more Rickisms to enlighten us.” Listen:

(h/t: Best of the Left Podcast)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Romney Attacks Obama's "Secular Agenda"

You had to know this was coming. Rick Santorum states that President Obama’s agenda is not “based on the Bible.” So here comes Mitt Romney criticizing the president’s “secular agenda” and "attack" on religion. All this was sparked by birth control coverage for staff in religiously affiliated institutions–an issue in which the president has clearly compromised. Not that that matters to the Republicans, a party that more resembles the Taliban every day. The current crop of GOP candidates are not so much running for president as chief theologian. Excerpts from Romney’s comments in Michigan:

"You expect the president of the United States to be sensitive to that freedom and protect it and, unfortunately, perhaps because of the people the president hangs around with, and their agenda, their secular agenda, they have fought against religion"...

..."I can assure you, as someone who has understood very personally the significance of religious tolerance and religious freedom and the right to one's own conscience, I will make sure that we never again attack religious liberty in the United States of America"...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Charts Show Why GOP Is Focused On Contraception, Not Economy

Listening to the Republicans lately, one would think that contraception is the biggest threat to these shores. They've shifted their focus from the economy to social issues, and it’s no coincidence. President Obama has been attacking their fiscal policies more aggressively and pursued a jobs bill that Republicans blocked. At the same time, the president's poll numbers and the economy have been improving, despite the GOP’s attempts at negative spin. Talking Points Memo produced “two charts that should terrify Republicans” and explain why they’d rather talk about the “war on religion” than the economy:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Santorum Defends Remarks About Obama’s “Phony Theology”

Following his remarks to a Tea Party crowd that President Obama’s agenda is not “based on the Bible” and is “phony theology,” Rick Santorum told Bob Schieffer that he wasn’t questioning the president’s Christian faith. Instead, Santorum explained that Obama was following a “phony ideal” of “radical environmentalists” and using global warming as a way to “centralize power.” Make sense? Watch:

Schieffer: What in the world were you talking about, sir?

Santorum: I was talking about the radical environmentalists... This idea that man is here to serve the Earth as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the Earth. I think that is a phony ideal…. We’re not here to serve the Earth, the Earth is not the objective, man is the objective. I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside down.

Schieffer: How does that translate into some sort of theology, that the president’s theology is not based on the Bible? I mean, that suggests that he’s not a Christian.

Santorum: I wasn’t suggesting the president’s not a Christian. I accept the fact that the president’s a Christian. I just said that when you have world view that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth by things that are frankly not scientifically proven, like for example, the politicization of the whole global warming debate. This is all an attempt to centralize power, to give more power to the government.

Santorum: Obama Agenda Not “Based On The Bible”

Rick Santorum’s driving ambition to turn America into a theocracy is more apparent than ever with his comment that President Obama’s agenda is not “based on the Bible.” Should it be? Santorum ought to familiarize himself with the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment and the separation of church and state:

Obama's agenda is "not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology," Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel.

When asked about the statement at a news conference later, Santorum said, "If the president says he's a Christian, he's a Christian."

But Santorum did not back down from the assertion that Obama's values run against those of Christianity.

"He is imposing his values on the Christian church. He can categorize those values anyway he wants. I'm not going to," Santorum told reporters.

Image: David Horsey, Los Angeles Times

Two All-Male Panels Pontificate On Women’s Reproductive Health

Recently there were two panels on contraception; Jon Stewart put it best regarding their most glaring feature: "This controversy over birth control insurance was really in full flare last week, which is why a concerned Sean Hannity convened a diverse panel of experts on the subject of contraception: Catholic men, Jewish men, Baptist men, black men, white men. Absolutely everyone who might have something relevant to say on women’s reproductive health." Watch as the men tell Hannity that they're ready to die or go to jail before providing birth control:

Then there was the panel headed by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) on contraception coverage, in which not one woman testified. Think Progress produced a video showing the surreal highlights of a meeting held under the banners of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Mahatma Gandhi. Watch as yet more men fret about birth control:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Republicans Don't Call Women To Testify At House Contraception Hearing

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) didn’t include one woman to testify in a hearing on the Obama administration’s regulation that employers and insurers provide contraception coverage to employees, which the GOP opposes. Sandra Fluke, whom Issa and fellow Republicans prevented from appearing, wanted to talk about a friend who couldn’t afford her prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries, with potentially dire consequences. Issa said, “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience...Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.” Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out. Watch as Democrats criticized the proceedings:

Below is a photo of the witness table. As Rep. Maloney asked, "Where are the women?"

Washington Governor Signs Gay Marriage Bill

While Gov. Chris Christie (R) shamefully vetoed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey, Washington became the seventh state to recognize marriage equality. Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) spoke movingly at the signing ceremony, stating, “I’m proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as ‘separate but equal’–they will be equal.” Watch:

Steven Colbert Criticizes Obama’s “Contraception Crusade”

Stephen Colbert defends the Catholic church in its disagreement with Obama on contraception, stating that the president is forcing priests to hand out condoms at Mass. He counters the “liberal complainosphere’s” position that “If you take taxpayer money, you have to follow taxpayer rules.” That money, once accepted, is “transubstantiated into Bishop Bucks.” Republicans like Rick Santorum are standing against this “lubricated slope to tyranny”–something that Colbert graphically illustrates. Watch:

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Lyle Lovett Performs "Friend Of The Devil"

At an empty Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado for ABC's "In Concert" Series," 1991, Lyle Lovett performed a moving interpretation of the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Santorum On Contraception: “It’s Not OK”

One may think that Rick Santorum, this week's surging GOP presidential candidate, only starts frothing at the mention of gays. Actually, this moral scold also looks askance at contraception “because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be,” including sex without “purposes of procreation.” Listen as Santorum spoke to Caffeinated Thoughts on Oct. 2011 (start at 17:55):

Santorum: One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.” It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

Again, I know most Presidents don’t talk about those things, and maybe people don’t want us to talk about those things, but I think it’s important that you are who you are. I’m not running for preacher. I’m not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues. These have profound impact on the health of our society. 
(h/t: Liberaland)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jon Stewart Blasts “War On Religion” Claims

Jon Stewart blasted religious leaders who compare President Obama’s stance on birth control coverage–an issue in which he’s clearly compromised–with a “war on religion” and the rise of Hitler. "Hitler did not 'start small,' " Stewart said. “His deliberate annihilation of a religion didn't kick off with insurance reform." Stewart also reassured religious leaders: “America isn’t Nazi Germany. And the secret police aren’t coming for you. Hell, the IRS isn’t even coming for you. This government hates religious organizations so much it lets them keep $100 billion a year in offerings tax-free.” Watch:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thomas Friedman: Perhaps The GOP Should “Sit This Election Out”

Why are Republican primary voters unable to settle on a presidential candidate? Thomas Friedman writes that their party is “out of date,” unable to address today’s challenges. Until the GOP breaks away from its rigid and reactionary positions, he suggests that it should “just sit this election out.” Selections from “We Need a Second Party”:

The party has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases: anti-abortion advocates, anti-immigration activists, social conservatives worried about the sanctity of marriage, libertarians who want to shrink government, and anti-tax advocates who want to drown government in a bathtub.

Sorry, but you can’t address the great challenges America faces today with that incoherent mix of hardened positions. I’ve argued that maybe we need a third party to break open our political system. But that’s a long shot. What we definitely and urgently need is a second party — a coherent Republican opposition that is offering constructive conservative proposals on the key issues and is ready for strategic compromises to advance its interests and those of the country.

...when all the Republican candidates last year said they would not accept a deal with Democrats that involved even $1 in tax increases in return for $10 in spending cuts, the G.O.P. cut itself off from reality. It became a radical party, not a conservative one. And for the candidates to wrap themselves in a cartoon version of Ronald Reagan — a real conservative who raised taxes, including the gasoline tax, when he discovered his own cuts had gone too far — is fraudulent.

...energy efficiency and clean power will be the next great global industry. Real conservatives — like Richard Nixon, the father of the Environmental Protection Agency, and George H.W. Bush, the author of the first cap-and-trade deal to curb acid rain — believe in conserving. The current Republican candidates are so captured by the oil and coal lobbies that they can’t think seriously about this huge opportunity for energy innovation.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jim Hightower: “Getting Stuck On America’s Economic Ladder”

Jim Hightower comments that the Horatio Alger myth is proving to be just that–a myth. He cites recent studies finding that, despite the denials of Republicans, the U.S. now has less economic mobility than comparable nations. Hightower believes that “class stickiness” will persist “as long as top corporate and governmental leaders deliberately widen the chasm separating the rich from the rest of us.” Listen:

(h/t: Best of the Left Podcast)

The Nation: Income Inequality "Wasn't An Act Of Nature"

It is a point that can't be made too often: the economic injustice we have experienced over the past few years is due to deliberate policies. Rachel Maddow pointed out how the top one percent have thrived due to such policies since Reagan. The Congressional Budget Office reported on the trend toward regressive taxation. In an editorial, The Nation magazine reminds us that these policies and their consequences are the result of a campaign that benefits the wealthiest at the expense of the rest:

The administration has warned against the extreme inequality corrupting our democracy. The wealthiest Americans captured nearly all the rewards of growth in the decade before the collapse. This wasn’t an act of nature; they used their resources to deregulate finance, lower taxes, defend their privileges and trample on workers’ rights. Middle-class families worked longer hours and took on debt to buttress stagnant incomes, even as Wall Street speculators went on a rampage. Romney and Gingrich, the “vulture capitalist” and the lavishly rewarded Washington insider, represent not success but the corruptions that brought us the Great Recession.

Tea Party Activist At CPAC: The Left "Changed The Definition Of Pedophilia"

Tea Party activist Kevin Jackson said at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), "I admire the level of fight that the left brings to what they do. We like keeping things, as they say, very civil." "Civil"? Does Jackson remember how "civil" the Tea Party was during the health reform debate? Does he watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh? Jackson then stated that the left "changed the definition of pedophilia." Right Wing Watch comments, "Jackson might be referring to frequent right-wing claims that the U.S. should resist the growing social acceptance and civil rights for gays and lesbians because it will lead to the normalization of pedophilia." If you consider yourself on the left, did you know you're part of a political orientation supporting pedophilia? Watch:

Romney At CPAC: "I Was A Severely Conservative Republican Governor"

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Mitt Romney desperately attempted to convince the crowd of his right-wing bona fides. Romney stated that he was "a severely conservative Republican governor." Romney resorted to this awkward modifier since he's proven to have no principles other than the desire to get elected. The crowd was not overwhelmed by his assurances of severity:

“I have never heard anybody say, ‘I’m severely conservative,’” Rush Limbaugh noted on his show.

“That didn’t get a lot of applause,” firebrand Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) observed with a tight smile.

“Some things are too funny to comment on,” a laughing Newt Gingrich commented as he walked into the conference to give his own speech.

...The central question now looming over the race is, to borrow a phrase, just how severely the party has moved right. How profound is the scale of resistance to Romney?

“You’ve got to have a trust factor, you’ve got to make sure he’s genuine,” said Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a leading tea-party freshman, in attempting to explain conservative unease with the front-runner. “And with Romneycare there are a lot of similarities with the Affordable Care Act.”

Gingrich: Unemployment Benefits Violate The Declaration Of Independence

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Newt Gingrich stated that those receiving unemployment benefits should sign up for a training program or get a degree. Like other Gingrich brainstorms, his proposal is not thought through. Who would pay for these programs? The unemployed? If they can't afford them, would they be paid for through taxes? Certainly conservatives would oppose that. Gingrich also assumes that those who take benefits for 99 weeks are lazy, not desperate for a job in a difficult market. He concludes that unemployment compensation is "a violation of the Declaration of Independence commitment that we have the right to pursue happiness." Watch:

Court Strikes Down CA Gay Marriage Ban

Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, NJ, recently made a powerful statement against Gov. Chris Christie's proposal to put gay marriage to a referendum. This week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit applied similar reasoning to Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in California. The three-judge panel (two in favor, one dissenting) in San Francisco ruled that the proposition violated the equal protection rights of two gay couples involved in the suit. The decision specifically relates to Proposition 8, but it is a step in the right direction. It makes the case that a majority has no right to arbitrarily restrict the rights of a minority:

The two judges on Tuesday stated explicitly that they were not deciding whether there was a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry, instead ruling that the disparate treatment of married couples and domestic partners since the passage of Proposition 8 violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

“Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently,” Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt wrote in the decision. “There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”

“All that Proposition 8 accomplished was to take away from same-sex couples the right to be granted marriage licenses and thus legally to use the designation ‘marriage,’ ” the judge wrote, adding, “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gay men and lesbians in California.”

...Unlike the 2008 State Supreme Court decision here overturning an earlier ban on same-sex marriage, this decision is not about to set off a race to the chapel by same-sex couples. A stay imposed on Judge Walker’s original decision will remain in place, at least for two weeks. Theodore B. Olson, one of the lawyers who challenged the ban, said he would seek to get the stay lifted; backers of Proposition 8 said they would oppose that.

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Ella Fitzgerald Sings "Round Midnight"

We recently heard the Modern Jazz Quartet's instrumental performance of Thelonious Monk's jazz standard "Round Midnight." Now let's listen to a vocal rendition as only Ella Fitzgerald, the "First Lady of Song," could do it. The above is from a 1961 performance in England, with accompaniment by Oscar Peterson, piano; Ray Brown, bass, and Ed Thigpen, drums.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Elizabeth Warren: Romney Gets A Better Deal Than The Rest Of Us

Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democratic senatorial candidate, is always worth listening to, whether the subject is the injustices of privatized health care, the dangers of deregulation or the necessity for progressive taxation. Speaking to Lawrence O’Donnell, Warren commented on the latter issue in regard to Mitt Romney. Watch:

O'Donnell: Do you understand the income category that Mitt Romney is in?

Warren: Actually, I think I do understand it, and that is that Mitt Romney pays 14 percent of his income in taxes and people who get out there and work for a living pay 25, 28, 30, 33 percent. I get it. Mitt Romney gets a better deal than any of the rest of us because he manages to earn his income in a way that has been specially protected for rich folks. I think that’s wrong.

Warren is referring to the minute tax Romney paid on capital gains income. Don’t expect Romney, should he become president, to end this economic injustice. He’s already indicated that he does not want to pay any more taxes than the pittance he already pays. In fact, his tax plan cuts his own taxes by nearly half.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When The GOP Nominates Romney, They Nominate Mr. One Percent

After the rest of the ridiculous crop of Republican presidential hopefuls drops out, there will be a certain irony in the fact that Mitt Romney will be the candidate. Occupy Wall Street, after all, changed the national dialogue from the deficit to unemployment and raised awareness of income inequality and the ways our economic system is rigged for the one percent. Amidst all these issues, the GOP will end up with a candidate whose tax policies are intended to benefit himself and others among the most privileged individuals on the planet.

Consider: Romney has said that we should speak of income inequality in "quiet rooms"; believes that questioning income inequality is "class warfare"; has told us that corporations are people; has downsized companies and laid off workers with Bain Capital; believes that banks that foreclose "aren't bad people"; considers amounts ranging from $10,000 to $374,000 to be chump change; professes unconcern for the poor; pays a 15 percent tax rate; and is unwilling to pay more taxes to help the middle class.

The Republicans couldn't send a more blatant message when they choose Romney. They will be brushing aside growing income inequality and all the other issues raised by OWS in order to nominate Mr. One Percent.

Image: Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Santorum To Gay Man: You Don’t Deserve The “Privilege” Of Marriage

Rick Santorum told a gay man in Missouri that he doesn’t deserve the “privilege” of marriage because only straight marriages “benefit society.” Speaking like the theocrat he is, Santorum stated that heterosexual unions reflect the way “God made it to be.” He also referred to “the purposes of having children,” ignoring the fact that there are straight childless couples–and gay couples who are fine parents. Santorum, who once compared gay marriage to polygamy, made more absurd analogies regarding marriage between mothers and daughters or aunts and nephews. Watch:

Santorum: You’re not entitled “to special treatment under the law…[Marriage is] not a right, it’s something that has existed since the beginning of human history as an institution where men and women come together for the purposes of forming a natural relationship as God made it to be. And for the purposes of having children and continuing that civilization. It is an intrinsic good…And as a result of that, we extend a privilege. We extend certain privileges to people who do that because we want to encourage that behavior. [...]

Two people who may like each other or may love each other who are same-sex, is that a special relationship? Yes it is, but it is not the same relationship that benefits society like a marriage between a man and a woman.
(h/t: TPM)

Romney And Trump, Perfect Together

A Facebook /Politico poll finds that Donald Trump’s endorsement is a net negative for Mitt Romney, with 41 percent stating that it causes them to view him more negatively. The endorsement is not surprising, as evidenced by a Talking Points Memo video showing how much they have in common, besides their immense wealth and despite Trump's past criticisms. Both express misleading concerns about “regulatory uncertainty,” “high business taxes,” Obama's "anti-jobs agenda" and “class warfare.” Romney and Trump are straightforward about one point: both of them like firing people. Watch:

Fox’s Briggs: "If You Want To Yap" During The Super Bowl, Do It "With The Ladies In The Kitchen"

Where else but on Fox would a sexist, dismissive comment such as the one made by Dave Briggs pass without notice? “If you want to yap” during the Super Bowl, his advice is to do it “with the ladies in the kitchen.” Watch:

Briggs' statement is one example among many of sexism on Fox and Friends.

"The Woman In Black": A Lawyer's Haunting Case

Based on a novel by Susan Hill, “The Woman In Black” is a throwback to traditional horror films. Set at the turn of the century, the plot involves Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a London attorney settling the estate of a deceased client in a distant town. Kipps, a widower, leaves his son with a nanny and travels to the town, where the villagers are unwelcoming. They fear that his presence will stir up a vengeful ghost, the woman in black, with dire consequences for local children. Kipps forms an alliance with Mr. Daily (Claran Hinds) and his half-mad wife (Janet McTeer), still mourning the death of their son. As Kipps surveys papers in the deceased woman’s forbidding mansion, he glimpses various presences who gradually “introduce” themselves in more startling ways. The suspense builds without excessive gore or over-the-top special effects. Whether Kipps can break the woman in black's curse–one that might endanger his son–is at the heart of this entertaining, atmospheric film.

Mark Lilla: Republicans Have A Blind Faith In Reduced Government

During a Republican presidential candidates' debate last June, the participants expressed a belief that we can slash and burn our way to prosperity. Mark Lilla (left), professor of the humanities at Columbia University, writes that the same reckless spirit that led the Republicans to sign Grover Norquist's pledge never to raise taxes also leads them to propose eliminating governmental agencies and programs without regard for the consequences:

During the 2010 congressional election campaign, Republican candidates (and some Democrats) were put under enormous pressure to sign the Americans for Tax Reform “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which obliges them to oppose any increase in the marginal personal or corporate tax rate, and any limits on deductions or tax credits that aren’t offset by other tax cuts. To date, all but six Republican representatives and seven senators have signed this collective suicide note, making the group’s president, Grover Norquist, nearly as successful as Reverend Jim Jones. That’s how the apocalyptic mind works, though. It convinces people that if they bring everything down around them, a phoenix will inevitably be born.

The same faith has been expressed in the Republican presidential candidate debates, where the contenders compete to demonstrate how many agencies they would abolish when in office (if they remember their names), how many programs they would cut or starve, and how much faith they have in the ingenuity of the American people to figure it out for themselves once they’re finished. What’s so disturbing is that they don’t feel compelled to explain how even a reduced government should meet the challenges of the new global economy, how our educational system should respond to them, what the geopolitical implications might be, or anything of the sort. They deliver their lines with the insouciant “what, me worry?” of Alfred E. Neuman.

GOP Attempts Negative Spin On Jobs Boost

The Labor Department stated that 243,000 jobs were added in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent, marking the fifth consecutive month it has dropped. This good news for the country–and President Obama–left the Republicans looking for any way to spin the news negatively. Speaker John Boehner, unable to deny the surge, lamely suggested, "We can do better." He called for bipartisan action, ignoring the fact that the Republicans blocked Obama's jobs bill. Watch:

The de facto head of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, was completely at a loss to explain the improving numbers. Listen to his incoherent statement:

Did Komen Really Reverse Its Position?

Supposedly Susan G. Komen for the Cure has apologized and reversed its prior decision not to fund Planned Parenthood. Komen has not, however, definitively confirmed future support. The part of its statement dealing with future grants is actually ambiguous:

We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants [emphasis mine], while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.

Komen, then, will honor the commitment it has already made and allow Planned Parenthood to apply for future support. Komen board member John Rafaelli commented to The Plum Line in this non-committal spirit:

“It would be highly unfair to ask us to commit to any organization that doesn’t go through a grant process that shows that the money we raise is used to carry out our mission. We’re a humanitarian organization. We have a mission. Tell me you can help carry out our mission and we will sit down at the table.”

So is Planned Parenthood’s providing breast cancer screenings to thousands of low income women not part of Komen’s mission?

Image: Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Rory Gallagher Performs “Too Much Alcohol”

The late Irish blues-rock guitarist Rory Gallagher demonstrated his mastery of the acoustic slide in performing “Too Much Alcohol” in 1977.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Komen Caves To Right Wing, Cuts Off Planned Parenthood

Outrage against the breast cancer advocacy organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure continues following its decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Though Komen’s grants went toward breast cancer screenings, many for underprivileged women, and not for abortion services, right-wing groups criticized the support. After its decision, Komen offered the flimsy reason that it cannot support a group under investigation; Planned Parenthood, constantly under Republican attack, is being investigated by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). Yet John D. Raffaelli, Koman board member and Washington lobbyist, acknowledged that an investigation does not necessarily mean that the charges are justified. Regardless, Komen already indicated its direction by appointing a senior vice president who is hostile to abortion rights:

The organization’s longtime support of Planned Parenthood had already cost it some support from anti-abortion forces, Mr. Raffaelli said. But the board feared that charges that Komen supported organizations under federal investigation for financial improprieties could take a further and unacceptable toll on donations, he said. “People don’t understand that a Congressional investigation doesn’t necessarily mean a problem of substance,” Mr. Raffaelli said. “When people read about it in places like Texarkana, Tex., where I’m from, it sounds really bad.”

...Mr. Raffaelli disputed assertions that were widely circulated on the Web on Wednesday that the decision was made or influenced by Karen Handel, Komen’s new senior vice president for public policy, a Republican who ran for governor of Georgia in 2010. During that campaign, Ms. Handel wrote, “Since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.” Ms. Handel was hired to urge state governments to spend money on breast cancer screening, and having a Republican deliver that message could help in many states, Mr. Raffaelli said.

...Foes of abortion and Web sites critical of it have criticized the Komen foundation’s financing of Planned Parenthood for years. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and several bishops in Ohio issued statements last year raising concerns about donating to the Komen foundation. In December, LifeWay Christian Resources, which is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, said it was recalling a pink Bible it was selling because a dollar per copy was going to the Komen foundation.

It is disheartening to witness this move by Komen, supposedly dedicated to women's health. Join the surge of support for Planned Parenthood by donating whatever you can.