July 4, 2013 at 12:08 am #92162
Happy 4th of July.
And what would a 4th of July be without a reciting of Douglass’
What is the 4th of July to the Negro?
As you make it through the day, don’t forget JJP at TWIB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful day.July 4, 2013 at 12:09 am #92163
Good Morning, Everyone
Happy July 4th!July 4, 2013 at 9:58 am #92164
Happy Birthday to a true American Beauty: First Daughter Malia Obama!July 4, 2013 at 10:00 am #92165
Why I support women’s access to safe, legal abortion
I so love my kids, I can be envious of my wife for carrying them when pregnant. But I care about her right to choose just as much
I have two kids. I love them. I wanted them to be born. I wanted to be a parent for years before my wife gave birth to them. I cried when I saw their first ultrasounds. My wife and I even bought a cheap fetal heart monitor so we could listen to their heartbeats some nights before we went to bed, smiling.
I fly a lot for work. Now, when there are babies or toddlers on a plane who make a racket or cry, I don’t mind. They remind me of my own children, and any noise they make (which previously would have driven me nuts) makes me miss my own kids and count the days till I can be home with them wishing they’d pipe down.
Both times my wife was pregnant, I would sometimes envy the fact that she got to carry our babies around in her all day and all night. She was getting to know them before me. It seemed like the ultimate snuggle.
Our oldest is two and the younger one is an infant. We’re already talking about having another. My wife loves being pregnant and we both love babies and kids, so signs point toward a third. We may adopt. We’ve talked a lot about that, too.
I also believe that a woman should have access to a safe, legal abortion if she wants one.
This belief of mine exists in the same mind whose general knee-jerk reaction upon hearing the word “abortion” is to conjure to mind a sad, scary surgical procedure that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near. This belief exists in the same mind that practically combusts with excitement when I hear a friend or relative (or even a stranger or fictional character) is pregnant.
I support a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion because centuries of history shows us that women are going to get abortions whether they’re safe and legal or not. And when they’re not safe and legal, these women will often die terribly or be damaged irreparably. In my fantasy utopia, there would be no abortion. There’d be contraception readily available and there’d be education geared toward preventing unwanted pregnancies. Adoption would be easier.July 4, 2013 at 10:01 am #92166
Pay It Forward: Innovative Oregon Proposal Could Solve Problem of Student Loan Debt
Home Posted July 1, 2013 – 11:19pm
By passing a law that covers tuition with a new social insurance program, Oregon politicians hope to create a system where students are able to graduate with no debt and no interest payments
As politicians in Washington continue to ignore the plight of students drowning in student loan debt, a new proposal developed by students in Oregon takes an innovative approach that could alleviate the need for student loans all together.
Under the proposal, referred to as Pay It Forward and lauded by Senator Mark Hass as an example of “out of the box thinking,” local students would be able to attend public universities and community colleges in the state for free.
Instead of taking out costly loans, students would enter a social insurance program and pay about 3 percent of their adjusted gross income for graduates of four year programs, or 1.5 percent for two year programs, for a total of 24 years. Students would graduate with no debt, no interest and the percentage of their income they had to pay would never change.
“As a student who will graduate with over $40,000 in student loan debt, I think that we need creative solutions like Pay It Forward. It will eliminate the initial barrier to attend college, and students won’t be burdened with a crushing debt for the rest of their lives,” said Alexandra Flores-Quilty, a junior at University of Oregon.
After passing in the Oregon House last week, the proposal was unanimously passed in the Oregon Senate on Monday. If signed into law, the bill would direct the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) to draft a Pay It Forward pilot program to be considered for implementation by the 2015 legislature.
Initially, the plan would require start-up funding until the first few generations of students graduate and find jobs. But once they’re able to begin paying into the system, the proposal would create a stable funding stream for Oregon’s public higher education, and could serve as a model for other states looking to solve the problem of long-term student loan debt.
“Students are being priced out of higher education, and fear of debt is pricing them out of majors that we desperately need, said Rep. Michael Dembrow. “I think it’s great that the Legislature is taking the problem of student debt so seriously, and I applaud the students who have tirelessly pursued this.”July 4, 2013 at 10:06 am #92167
According To New Poll The American People Despise Supreme Court Decision To Gut Voting Rights Act
Author: Stephen D. Foster Jr. July 3, 2013 7:20 pm
When the Supreme Court decided to gut the Voting Rights Act last week, America lost a landmark piece of legislation that was pivotal in the fight against discrimination across the country. The ruling instantly became one of the single worst in American judicial history, and most Americans could not agree more.
According to the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll, over half of Americans disagree with the high court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act. That number includes a whopping 71% of African-Americans, who initially fought for and achieved the passage of the act during the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Only 33% of Americans actually agree with the court’s decision.
For over 40 years, the Voting Rights Act prevented states, mostly in the South, from discriminating against people of color to keep them from voting. The teeth of the law, known as Section 4, required states with a history of discriminatory policies to obtain pre-clearance from the Justice Department before any new laws could take effect. The court excused its ruling by claiming that voter discrimination no longer exists, but a 15,000 page report assembled by Congress in 2006 made it clear that the Voting Rights Act is still necessary and subsequently renewed it 98-0 in the Senate, by a huge majority in the House, and signed by President George W. Bush.July 4, 2013 at 10:09 am #92168
Maryland’s Highest Court Is Poised To Be Majority Women
By Ian Millhiser on Jul 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm
On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) nominated Judge Mary Ellen Barbera to be the next Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, and named a lower court judge named Shirley Watts to replace a vacancy on that court. Maryland’s Court of Appeals is the highest court in that state, so the addition of Judge Watts will mean that four of the court’s seven seats will be held by women.
Meanwhile, an all-male majority on the Supreme Court of the United States recently handed down a pair of decisions protecting many bosses who engage in sexual harassment and companies that retaliate against people who file civil rights claims. All three of the Supreme Court’s women dissented from these decisions.July 4, 2013 at 10:25 am #92169
Dear Rachel Maddow: Last Week Was Not a Civil Rights Victory for All People – Posted about 23 hours ago
It’s me, Betsy. I am writing to say congratulations to you and all
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans. It has been a great week for all our LBGT brethren. Sadly, it is a little less so for those whose complexion is black or brown. Who am I kidding? It has been an awful week for America as a whole. Once again, we have done as we did since the day of our founding — we denied our brothers and sisters equal rights. I hope you understand that while I too think anytime rights are afforded to an individual or group it is a good time, a time to celebrate, this time I cannot. Indeed, I do not see a day when I will reflect on the Supreme Court’s rulings and be ready, willing, and able to rejoice.
Affirmative Action lost. The inalienable right to cast a ballot for your Representatives is gone. It was not that either of these laws, in
practice, ever brought about equality, but a girl can dream. I had hope. Now, I do not. Today, with my heart broken, I can only reflect on the old adage: if my brother is poor or in pain then so too am I. John Donne spoke for me when he said, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
I am unsure if you are with me Rachel. I listened to your review of
the week and felt confused. Therefore I ask. On Thursday, June 27, 2013, you spoke of the angst yourself. You recounted the woe millions of California voters expressed on election night 2008. First, there was elation, the first black man was elected President of the United States. It seemed we had arrived. It was as you exclaimed, a “civil rights milestone.” People took to the streets and danced. Corks were popped. Confetti fell from sky-high windows. Then, as more ballots were tallied, a dark realization set in. In California, marriages once declared legal would not be going forward. As you stated, “That whiplash moment, that California, alone, experienced the night President Obama was first elected” was devastating.
Perhaps, the man in the video clip you played this Thursday evening said it best for the LBGT community. “In 2008, when we elected the first African-American president, it was a glorious day, but later that night it was a horrible night when the returns for Prop 8 came in saying that we were going to be treated as second-class citizens, and we just could not fathom being treated like that anymore.”
Therein lies the difference Rachel, one of many that I see. People of color can fathom being treated like scum. Of course, persons in the LBGT community can too. That said, the two experiences are not one. The color of our skin cannot be camouflaged. Sexual orientation is perhaps but a subtle “clue.” In other words, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders come out of the closet. Blacks and Browns are more likely to be invited into the [water] closet to clean the mess white persons’ leave behind. Caucasians can be so cruel, as can those of a certain socio-economic “class.”[...]July 4, 2013 at 10:30 am #92170
Our Old History of Fights Over Voting
July 3, 2013
There’s not much new in the current fights over access to the polls.
In the United States, voting rights don’t march forward as much as they ebb and flow. Often, it happens like this: The prospect of short-term political gain leads one of the two parties to make a massive push for democratic participation, which is then countered by the other side, which has an equally large interest in maintaining a smaller electorate of particular people. After North Carolina Democrats won unified control of state government in 2006—thanks to wide dissatisfaction with the Republican Party and high turnout from black voters—they moved to expand voting with same-day registration. Greater participation, they argued, was a good in itself. North Carolina Republicans took control of the legislature in 2010, and in the same vein, promptly moved to restrict voting where it was previously open. In 2011, then-Governor Bev Purdue vetoed a bill that would have required identification for all voters, end same-day registration, restrict early voting, and end voting on the Sunday before an election.
Now, however, Republicans have the governorship as well as a veto-proof majority. And with the Supreme Court’s decision last week—which gutted the Voting Rights Act and ended the pre-clearance requirement for North Carolina, among other states—the GOP has a chance to turn this proposal into law. They aren’t wasting any time.
With the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act—as well as the actions in states like North Carolina—that’s where the fight is now. Are we still a country that’s serious about opening the polls to all of its citizens, or do we believe that voting is for some, and not for others?July 4, 2013 at 10:34 am #92171
Just how low can the Republican party go?
The GOP has become the heartless party of cutting food aid to the poor, abortion bans and denying people health coverage
What is the single most consequential political development of the past five years? Some might say the election (and re-election) of Barack Obama; others might point to the passage of the most important piece of social policy (Obamacare) since the 1960s; some might even say the drawing down of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in reality, it is the rapid descent of the Republican party into madness.
Never before in American history have we seen a political party so completely dominated and controlled by its extremist wing; and never before have we seen a political party that brings together the attributes of nihilism, heartlessness, radicalism and naked partisanship quite like the modern GOP. In a two-party system like America’s, the result is unprecedented dysfunction.
Whether it was the promiscuous use of the filibuster and other blocking techniques in the Senate to stop President Obama’s agenda; the manufactured fiscal crises highlighted by the disastrous debt limit showdown of 2011; or the unceasing efforts to undermine the economic recovery by blocking any and all measures to stimulate the economy, President Obama’s first term was dominated by the Republican’s unbridled obstructionism and disinterest in actually governing the country. That anything was accomplished is nothing short of a miracle.
But after the results of the 2012 election one might have expected the Republican fever to break and some level of sanity and good sense restored to the party of Lincoln.
If anything, the first half of 2013 has seen the GOP continue its journey towards “peak awful”. Go back to the beginning of the year. As millions of Americans were celebrating New Year’s Eve, the Republicans were careening the country off the fiscal cliff because of their insistence that no rich person should ever pay a cent in higher taxes. The budgetary mania continued through the sequestration and refusal to compromise with President Obama even after he put the liberal sacred cow of Social Security on the table. Along the way Republicans foiled modest efforts at gun control, ginned up made-up scandals involving the IRS and the death of four Americans in Benghazi and couldn’t actually be bothered with the difficult task of proposing public policy legislation. And after three years of complaining incessantly that Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget, key Republicans have spent the last 100 days obstructing the budget process.
But in the past few weeks things have actually gone from terrible to unimaginable. There’s the GOP “Ebenezer Scrooge” Farm Bill, which would have cut food stamps by $20.5bn, causing nearly 2 million poor Americans to lose food assistance. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Republican House also passed an amendment to the bill that would force food stamp recipients to work in return for benefits, but provided no actual funds for job training. In fact, it even barred states from spending more money on employment and training. So if you’re a poor person and you lose your job, you lose the government benefits that allow you to feed you family. This piece of monstrous legislative cruelty was supported by all but six House Republicans. Thankfully the larger bill failed, but Republican heartlessness has hardly been dimmed.
Across red state America, Republican legislators are doubling down on new abortion restrictions like those soon to become law in Wisconsin that would force women who want a constitutionally protected abortion to have, in some cases, a wand inserted into their vagina so they can see the fetus they are about to abort. In Ohio, the state recently enacted new anti-abortion laws that not only divert federal funds away from Planned Parenthood to anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” where women are fed a witches brew of mistruths about the health risks of abortion.
Perhaps the worst case is in Texas, where a proposed law would ban any abortion after 20 weeks and allow precious few exceptions for the health of the mother or the condition of the fetus. So imagine if a woman goes in to see her doctor in the 21st week of her pregnancy and discovers that her baby is afflicted with a genetic anomaly. This is not a hypothetical since procedures like an amniocentesis are performed in the later stages of pregnancy and can detect such disorders. Under the Texas law, a woman would be forced to carry that baby to term. This is akin to state-sanctioned torture. And even if the woman’s health were partially, but not severely at risk, abortions would be forbidden. Amazingly, this ban is actually more generous than the recent post-20 week abortion ban passed in the House of Representatives, which would have no exceptions except in the case of the life of the woman.
Texas legislators and Governor Rick Perry have defended these bans as part of their fierce regard and respect for human life. Unfortunately, that pro-life agenda is all too rarely applied to non-fetuses. For example, Texas also has one of the paltriest welfare programs in the US (recipients get less than $300 a month). The state has also consistently refused to take federal money to expand health insurance for children and Texas has joined two dozen other red states in refusing to take federal money to expand Medicaid for its poorest citizens.
The GOP’s efforts to reject Medicaid expansion (which is a crucial part of Obamacare) are perhaps the best example of the Republican party’s achievement of “peak awful”. Even though under the provisions of the law the federal government would be picking up the tab for the first five years of the program and even though Republican governors like Rick Scott in Florida, Rick Snyder in Michigan and John Kasich in Ohio support the expansion, GOP legislators are balking. They plead fiscal rectitude as the root of their opposition (a fallacious claim) but in reality the opposition is yet another example of Republican psychosis about Obamacare. The decision to reject Medicaid money will not only increase the economic anxiety of potential recipients, it will harm mental health and literally cost lives. But such “humane” arguments have done little to shake GOP intransigence.
Indeed, Republicans on the national level are now doing everything in their power to ensure Obamacare fails. Just this past week, key GOP senators, after discovering that the Obama administration was working with major sports leagues to encourage people to sign up for coverage, wrote a stern letter threatening the leagues for partnering with the White House on a law that was passed along partisan lines and is “controversial”. Hmm, wonder how that happened?
Now let’s put aside for a second that Obamacare was passed by Congress and upheld by the US supreme court. Even if Republicans remain unhappy with the legislation it is the law of the land and its proper implementation is the responsibility of the federal government. But the GOP goal is not to make sure even what they believe to be a terribly flawed law works; it’s to make sure it fails so that Democrats will be blamed and Republicans will reap the political benefit. That millions of Americans will be harmed and will suffer because of this narrow political agenda seems to be of little concern.
Then again, none of this should be a surprise to even sentient observers of American politics. In the narrow pursuit of political gain, Republicans have adopted an agenda that is quite simply, inhumane and cruel. Even if one is charitable and defends it on the ground of adherence to an ideological agenda of smaller, less intrusive government (except in the case of lady parts) it can’t be defended. If one’s ideological predisposition means denying food assistance to people who are laid off from their job or forcing a woman to carry a dead fetus to term or preventing individuals from getting health care coverage, then you have a monstrous ideology.July 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm #92181
Fourth of July: What kind of freedom is this?
by Goldie Taylor | July 4, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Bottle rockets, BBQ and Cardinal baseball.
Growing up in East St. Louis, the Fourth of July holidays hold some of my fondest memories. My cousin Booky and I woke at daybreak to help my Uncle Ross clean the grill and get a first crack at the box of fireworks.
When Aunt Gerry wasn’t looking, he’d sneak us a few boxes of sparklers and a book of matches he knew we weren’t supposed to have. Booky, a crafty Svengali, always managed to come up with a cache of forbidden bottle rockets.
Uncle Ross placed the large American flag into a metal bracket affixed to a freshly-painted white column on our front porch. He was proud of that flag, proud of his Army, proud to have served his country in the Korean War.
I, along with several cousins, my brother and nephew, would later follow in his footsteps. My paternal grandfather had served as well. Ross would have been mighty proud of us. He passed away in 1984, a few years before I enlisted in the Marine Corps.
In so many ways, since my own father’s death in 1973, Ross filled my daddy’s shoes until they overflowed.July 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm #92182July 4, 2013 at 7:31 pm #92183July 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm #92184
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