Saturday, January 30, 2010

And Even More Eva Cassidy

I hope you don't mind. My neighbors probably do, because I play any new song I like over and over and over until I get enough on some level. Also, Eva Cassidy is extremely underrated and deserves more exposure.

This particular video may also offer some opportunity for feminist analysis...

Bipartisanship Failed The Test of Time Last Year, These Republicans Won’t Work With Us Now by Anthony McCarthy

When the Senate Democrats and the administration stop looking for cover they’ll get a chance to succeed

There should be a law of politics that when a political party has held power for as long as the Republicans did and their ideas have produced results such as theirs that those ideas are declared to have failed the test of time and no one should advocate them anymore. Anyone who pretends this didn’t happen, should disappear from public view because they can’t be taken seriously by serious people. That would mean they shouldn’t get on TV or the radio. But we can’t expect the corporate media to enforce that law, they have been a part of that failure, one of the main features of it. The mass media of the Republican era also has failed the public, entirely.

Republicans don't believe that government exists to benefit most people, they are the party for the rich and those they can dupe into voting against their own interest and those whose hatred and fear is stronger than their reason. Republicans were given one party rule to try their ideas out and those ideas have failed, conclusively. That is one of the primary truths of our time. Their clear and stated intention to not learn from the failure of their ideas and theories, repeated just last night, is irrefutable evidence of why bipartisanship today is inherently ill founded and is guaranteed to fail. Bipartisanship failed the test in 2009, for just those reasons, it will fail in 2010.

At first I hoped that yesterday’s presidential Q & A with the Republicans of Congress, was for show. I hoped that Barack Obama’s first year, failed largely through a self-damaging try at bipartisanship, would have been enough for him to have seen that it wouldn’t work. The Republican’s monolithic NO! has been impressive for its being unambiguous. Pretending that still isn’t what they intend is foolish and damaging for Democrats.

As The Rude Pundit so rudely but so, so correctly pointed out, if the Obama administration hadn’t traded a third of the stimulus bill for inefficient tax cuts it would have been a greater success. In order to get a grand total of the two phony moderates of Maine and the then Republican Arlen Specter, they crippled their stimulus bill, the part of their economic program that was supposed to reach Main Street.

The Republicans don’t want government to succeed at the things we want it to. They like the kind of failure they produced, with its notable benefits to the wealthy, no matter how many lower income people it hurts. They produced those kinds of results several times now, you can’t believe that’s not their intention. Their theory of their government has been retested over and over again, their ideas have failed, continually.

The use of the stimulus bill by Republicans and their media shills is also illustrative of the futility of trying to work with them. Observe their cynicism for yourself. While every massive failure of Republican theory is passed over or ignored, every glitch in the stimulus is trumpeted as a proof of failure and waste. As always the rules applied to Democratic rule, when real flaws aren’t there, they’ll invent them as facilely as they did “travel gate” and “transition gate”. The media lies, from misrepresenting clerical errors of people who didn't know what county they live in, to the cabloid distortions, - for example, a road repair project dismissed as “beautification” - should put to rest the idea that bipartisanship with any faction of the Republican Party is possible. The media only likes the idea of bipartisanship for the use that their party, The Republican Party, can make of it to discredit good government.

It’s past time, it’s way, way past time, to cite the history of the struggle to get Republicans to cooperate during the past year, cite that they only want to repeat the ideas that were a colossal failure during their one party reign, and move on without them. Repeating the pantomime of yesterday might be entertaining but only encourages Republican obstruction. The use they made of “bipartisanship” last year is counterproductive. Its failure is now the failure of the pathetic and cowardly attempts of Democrats to get them to work with us. When they and their media try to lie or to change the subject repeat it and ram it down their throats. Here is where Rahm Emanuel’s skills could possibly do some good. The way Emanuel’s tough guy act was used last year has also failed the test of time.

If Barack Obama and the Democrats in the Senate don’t stop trying to find cover in that fantasy and govern as they were elected to do, they’ll have a repeat of the past year. Enabling failed politics in order to get cover from the cheerleaders of Republicanism is guaranteed to make your new ideas fail which they'll be only to happy to point out.

The Republicans didn’t compromise during their long reign of error, they didn’t float new ideas or cooperate a year ago when they’d been trounced at the polls. The fantasy that they’re going to do either now when they believe they are resurgent is too stupid for anyone to believe anymore.

Victim Blaming. May Trigger.

This is a story about two deaths, most likely a murder and a suicide:

Investigators on Monday released the names of a couple found shot to death in a Manhattan Beach home, saying they believe the man killed his girlfriend and committed suicide because she was breaking up with him.

The couple was identified as Michael Nolin, a 24-year-old retired Marine who ran a pornographic Web site out of a Manhattan Beach office; and Danielle Hagbery, a 22-year-old California State University, Long Beach, student who worked at Cheesecake Factory in Huntington Beach.

Sheriff's Lt. Dan Rosenberg said the coroner's officials will make the formal determination on whether the crime was a murder-suicide, but noted, "We believe that's going to be what occurred.

"It appears she was at a point where she no longer wanted to be with him," Rosenberg said. "They were having difficulties."

They were having difficulties, eh? Well, she sure had some, even though the story appears to twist itself into some sort of a "both were guilty" knot.

But wait! Something worse lurks at the very bottom of this piece:

Rosenberg said Hagbery's death should serve as a warning to other young women that they need to look out for themselves - such as not going to the boyfriend's home - when a relationship goes sour.

"This is one more tragic end of a dating relationship where these young women should be aware of it," Rosenberg said. "Ladies need to be vigilant when things go sideways with boyfriends."

If you read the whole thing you will find that there's no way of knowing whether Hagbery went to the man's home voluntarily or not. But that pales in comparison to the victim blaming and the odd assumption that a murdering boyfriend is to be expected when "things go sideways." Just a tragic end of a dating relationship.

Why doesn't Rosenberg add a warning to young men not to go and shoot their girlfriends?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Teen Pregnancy

A new Guttmacher study finds that the teen pregnancy rate has turned up after many years of decline:

For the first time in more than a decade, the nation's teen pregnancy rate rose 3% in 2006, reflecting increases in teen birth and abortion rates of 4% and 1%, respectively.

These new data from the Guttmacher Institute are especially noteworthy because they provide the first documentation of what experts have suspected for several years, based on trends in teens' contraceptive use—that the overall teen pregnancy rate would increase in the mid-2000s following steep declines in the 1990s and a subsequent plateau in the early 2000s. The significant drop in teen pregnancy rates in the 1990s was overwhelmingly the result of more and better use of contraceptives among sexually active teens. However, this decline started to stall out in the early 2000s, at the same time that sex education programs aimed exclusively at promoting abstinence—and prohibited by law from discussing the benefits of contraception—became increasingly widespread and teens' use of contraceptives declined.

It is too early to tell what the small increase means, and correlation does not prove causation. Still, this is something to keep in mind when abstinence education is touted by various wingnuts.

Question for the weekend (by Suzie)

Why do debt collectors have to be so cold and curt? The two most common answers are problematic.

1. They hate their jobs. People with bad jobs should remember that the people with whom they are talking may also have miserable lives. (The reverse is true for people yelling at the debt collectors.) As Ani DiFranco says:
maybe you don't like your job
maybe you didn't get enough sleep
well, nobody likes their job
nobody got enough sleep
maybe you just had
the worst day of your life
but, you know, there's no escape
and there's no excuse
so just suck up and be nice
2. They think that, if they’re nice, the debtors will try to manipulate them. This attitude is pervasive among those with power over the poor: The person seeking food stamps or welfare benefits or public housing is trying to cheat you, and so, you better treat them like dirt to let them know that you won’t stand for any foolishness. Maybe that works with some potential cheaters, but others may think there’s no point in being honest because the system doesn’t care about them and will try to cheat them out of benefits. People who don’t cheat are just beaten down further.

I’ve been thinking about this while working with Bank of America’s “home retention team” on behalf of one of my sisters. How does this pertain to feminism? Compassion often has been associated with women and seen as a weakness. We need to revalue it.

Friday critter blogging (by Suzie)

Julie Savell-McCandless took this photo of her Butterscotch in the snow.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Today's Shallow Thought

I figured out why I find the Super Bowl discussion so annoying on some extra personal level, and this is why:

Here you have this great celebration of masculine sports, all focused on traditional masculine characteristics. Everyone is supposed to be watching because this sports event is not just about guys playing with an oval object but about the country, its spirit, its inner meaning and so on.

Then at half-time an ad comes up telling how women should behave to be viewed as good. In the past, the half-time ads have told us how women should behave to be viewed as bad in a good way: Show more ass and tits, as they would say.

It is jarring.
I forgot about the traditional role for women in this extravaganza: As cheer-leaders. The whole thing is an ode to the old-fashioned patriarchy, really.

The CBS Super Bowl Ad

As you probably know, CBS is going to air an ad by the conservative (and patriarchal) Focus on Family during the Super Bowl:

For years, CBS and other networks banned "advocacy" commercials from airing during the Super Bowl.

But CBS recently reversed its stance. A commercial that opposes abortion, featuring Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, is set to air in this year's big game. And some fans say they don't want to see these types of ads in the Super Bowl.

CBS reversed its stance without telling anyone. Whether this is in fact a stance reversal is not clear in any case, because:

In the past, CBS and other networks airing the game refused to run advocacy ads from groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the United Church of Christ and Some of these commercials lambasted the Bush-era U.S. deficit or spoke on the issue of gay rights.

Women's rights and abortion rights groups point out that long-standing ban — they want CBS to pull the Tebow ad. They also warn that CBS might alienate viewers by showing divisive commercials.

CBS approved the Focus on the Family commercial before making a statement about their new policy on advocacy ads. As the controversy over the ad grew louder over the past few days, CBS issued the new policy. The broadcaster now says it will accept advocacy ads that are produced "reasonably."

Note that word "reasonably." It offers a convenient out.

To understand why reproductive rights groups reacted by wanting the ad banned you need to know that the policy reversal was not advertised anywhere until the Tebow ad was accepted. It looked like CBS only accepted forced-birth ads.

The ad itself is not about forced-birth but about choice: the one Tim Tebow's mother made by going against the advice of her doctors. She had the right to make that choice, and the final outcome happened to be a happy one. But Focus on Family doesn't want women to have the right to choices in the future. That's the oddest thing about this ad.


I listened to the SOTU speech tonight and still find it very refreshing to have a president who can give a speech easily, fluently and with real words in it.

The contents of the speech were not bad, either. The president focused on jobs which was needed. He covered the question of Wall Street Banksters and the health care mess fairly well, from the PR angle. I personally enjoyed his jab at the SCOTUS for their silly activism from the bench and a similar jab at the Republicans for refusing to hold the hand extended across the aisle.

Psst, Barack. They will never grab it except for the purposes of sawing it off.

There were also actual proposals: More money for Community Colleges, help for people paying back their student loans, tax breaks for small businesses and so on.

For us feminazis there was a mention of women in Afghanistan and Iraq (I suppose it was for us because women in Afghanistan and Iraq don't vote here) and the enforcement of the Equal Pay Act. I would have liked Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to be mentioned, too, because men and women far too seldom actually have exactly the same job classification due to gender segregation at work.

I didn't like the mention of offshore oil and gas exploration. It reminded me of the "Drill, Baby, Drill!" Palin campaign. But at least it was combined with a stern word to the climate change deniers.

Speeches are not acts, of course. But it wasn't a bad speech, on the whole. Indeed, it might be the best Republican SOTU I've ever heard.

A couple of Echidne questions, though:

1. When did "small businesses" become the most quoted interest group in a presidential speech? I understand that small business employ a lot of people. But the majority of new small businesses also go bankrupt in five years and small businesses often don't offer retirement benefits or health insurance.

2. What's wrong with the ideas of justice and fairness? I noticed Obama used "freedom and human dignity" as the desirable attributes. But those smack a little wingnutty to me, given the way the Pope always uses "dignity" to explain why women should not be free and the way Bush always talked about "freeance and peance."
Oops! I almost forgot. DADT must go. A good thing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The iPad

Apple's newest touch-screen device is called an iPad. Monica Hesse writes:

Business Insider declared the name "terrible," with one columnist writing that he'd heard rumors of the name "but dismissed it immediately," thinking that Apple would have the foresight to predict a landslide of menstruation mockery. (Did they not see "MADtv's" iPad parody in 2007?)

Meanwhile, the blogosphere found the name debate totally absorbing -- "How will it stand up to other tablets if I pour a test tube full of blue water on it?" one Lemondrop blogger wondered -- and a heavy flow of iPad-related Twitter traffic led "iTampon" to become a top trending topic.

"Are there NO women in the Marketing or Biz Dev department of Mac?" wrote one user, speculating that "iPad" would pass muster only with a man. No women were present on Apple's panel at the San Francisco announcement.

My short search couldn't find out if the name-making team included any women. Neither was I sure if others would connect the name so very quickly to menstruation aids. It seems they do.

The Division Of Feminist Blogging Labor

I don't write a lot about certain feminist topics because there are other excellent blogs covering them. But it just occurred to me that this might look like I don't care about the topics. So this post is to explain, I guess.

As examples, my coverage of sexism in the popular media, fashions, body shape and size requirements and so on is less than the amount I could produce, and that is simply because other blogs (,,, for some obvious examples) already cover them extensively. Likewise, I write much less about reproductive choice than I could because the information can easily be found elsewhere (e.g. RH Reality Check).

Do you think these choices are something I should change? I'd love to write about anorexia and bulemia, for example. Are there any other topics you can think of that I don't cover enough?

Time To Re-Tool!

Yeah. Now it's fighting time for the president! Or so I see:

In his speech before a joint session of Congress, scheduled for 9 p.m. Washington time, Obama has a chance to retool his message as he seeks to give some momentum to his agenda before the November election that will determine control of Congress.

"He has to send a clear signal to the country, and to his own party, about what his top priorities are and what he is really prepared to fight for," said Bill Galston, a scholar at the Washington-based Brookings Institution who was President Bill Clinton's domestic-policy adviser. "The signals coming out of the White House have not been clear and to some extent they have been contradictory."

Health Care

The president's main domestic priority, an overhaul of the health-care system -- which represents about 17 percent of the economy -- has hit snags in Congress.

White House aides said the administration hasn't been successful in selling the U.S. public on the health-care plan.

The effort "became a caricature of its component parts," Robert Gibbs, the president's spokesman, said yesterday. "To the degree that that's a communications failing, I think people here at the White House and others would certainly take responsibility for that."

The communication effort has certainly been pretty miserable. I have no idea why the administration wants to urinate on its base, but that's exactly what has been raining here in the left-commie-feminazi land. (I really feel funny writing that because I'm so middle-of-the-road and polite in reality.) Why does it matter? Because the GOTV effort and the people who do most of that, and also because I doubt the administration wants the base to stay at home in November.

But I wouldn't count on any sunshine for us in the SOTU speech, either:

Since Brown's election, Obama has injected a populist tone into his speeches. During a Jan. 22 town-hall meeting in Elyria, Ohio, he used the word "fight" or "fighting" more than 20 times.

Afterward, the president was still in a feisty mood as he toured a sporting-goods factory and was given a shiny football helmet. "I'll need this during the State of the Union," Obama said. "I can knock some heads with this."

Sounds like the sunshine will still be reserved for the one-sided bipartisanship, even when it is rejected.

Well, I promise to watch the speech with an open and hopeful mind, wanting something, anything, pleasesir, to make me feel better.

Then on the specific tools mentioned in the first piece I linked to: Obama appears to promise accelerated depreciation for firms. Depreciation refers to the percentage of the purchase price of durable capital equipment (say, trucks) which can be deducted in taxes in a given tax year.

Because something durable produces income for the firm for more than one year, its price becomes a tax deductible cost also divided over a period of years. How much can be deducted in each tax year depends on the rules. When depreciation is accelerated, larger percentages can be deducted earlier and that helps firms which are struggling because it reduces the amount of taxes they will have to pay early.

In theory, this should boost investment in durable equipment.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Remembering Kate McGarrigle (by Suzie)

Tomorrow, in NYC, an informal gathering will celebrate Kate McGarrigle, who died last week. At the same link, an obituary describes her: "Outrageous at times, but anything was more fun when Kate was along."

I was at a retreat on sarcoma advocacy last week when she died, after struggling for 3½ years with clear-cell sarcoma.

On Contempt

You may have already heard about this:
When things looked their darkest for Gov. Mark Sanford — when he was in danger of being impeached for running off to Argentina to see his mistress — his best insurance policy may well have been South Carolina's lieutenant governor, Andre Bauer.

Lawmakers knew if they removed Sanford, they would end up with Bauer, a fiercely ambitious Republican with a reputation for reckless and immature behavior.

Now Bauer has folks shaking their heads again, after he likened government assistance to the poor to feeding stray animals.

At a town hall meeting Thursday, Bauer, who is running for governor in his own right now that Sanford is term-limited, said: "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that."

The link tells us all the possible excuses Bauer may now use to cover up what he really thinks about the poor. But whatever made him flash us his Freudian slip, we now know what Bauer really thinks about those on government assistance.

Oddly, Bauer's silver-foot-in-the-mouth disease didn't anger me nearly as much as overhearing a discussion on Ford's new remuneration policy on Marketplace, a public radio program.

The particular program which made my blood go cold was about Ford auto company's new policy of paying its workers: Those who have been employed a long time get to keep their pensions and health insurance benefits, those who enter employment now will not. One woman in the latter category points out that people doing the same work now earn different amounts of money. She is treated as a contractor and must cover her own retirement and health care needs while someone next to her gets those from Ford on top of the wage package.

You could argue that firms have always been allowed to pay more on the basis of seniority which can be seen as a proxy for work experience.

But here's the snag: It's not the seniority which matters here but when the latest employment contract was signed. The woman the program interviewed had worked for Ford before but had taken a break in the employment and later returned. So it is the date on the latest contract that determines the total amount of earnings.

All this can cause bad blood among the workers. The program then interviewed one of those opposing voices who argued that new workers at Ford should not compare themselves to the old workers at Ford but to the workers at McDonald's and at Walmart. They can then congratulate themselves for making three times as much!!!

What contempt! Just tell people to compare their situation to the lowest paying jobs and firms in the country, without letting the fact that the jobs might be completely different intervene. Or was it a threat this voice expressed? If the new Ford hirees are unhappy, let them remember that they could be taken down much further?

To give all this some context, the automobile industry jobs used to be the blue-collar gold standard jobs. The kinds of jobs with which America's prosperity was once built.

A Good Listen

Anthony McCarthy suggests this Callie Crossley show on gender and politics, in the context of the Brown-Coakley race.

The Good Old Double Standard

Is well and alive, at least according to a survey of boys and young men about sex:

Despite discussion of hookups, friends "with benefits" and other sexual openness, the survey found a double standard for guys and girls: 53% of guys said having lots of hookups makes them popular, but 71% said it makes girls less popular.

"Girl can't do what a guy does and be thought of the same way," Cooks says.

Popular to whom? Other guys? Or girls? It's unclear from the quote but I suspect they mean popular to other guys. The distinction does matter.

Still, if these findings are true they suggest that young men and teenage boys see casual sex as something adversarial, a competition in which the guy tries to score and the gal is supposed to resist. If he scores he has won and she has lost. Then he moves on to the next hunting expedition.

Monday, January 25, 2010

And Suddenly, Deficits Matter Again!

They have not mattered for eight years, my sweet reader. But now they do. They matter more than getting jobs for the unemployed, more than fixing health insurance, more than almost anything. And even more ominously, Obama's planned proposal to freeze some types of federal spending is seen as a way to start boiling the frog that is us:

But one administration official said that limiting the much smaller discretionary domestic budget would have larger symbolic value. That spending includes lawmakers’ earmarks for parochial projects, and only when the public believes such perceived waste is being wrung out will they be willing to consider reductions in popular entitlement programs, the official said.

“By helping to create a new atmosphere of fiscal discipline, it can actually also feed into debates over other components of the budget,” the official said, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity.

Those "other components" of the budget are Medicare and Social Security, not spending on the military.

I must say that I agree with Atrios.

From My "No Comment" Files

Karen Tumulty at Swampland:

My favorite cause seems to have picked up a new spokesman: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.

We'll see if the Little Girls of the United States Senate pay him any more attention than they have me. (In addition to the two links above, you can read more of my earlier arguments on this subject here, and here.)

Emphasis mine.

This links to an earlier post and the attached conversation.

Wimminz in the U.S. Senate

I read a post on women's under-representation in the U.S. Senate a few days ago, and had to think about it for a while before posting, because it sorta makes a mess of some things while doing OK on other things. An example:

There's an interesting subtext to today's election in Massachusetts. The Senate's two best-represented demographics are facing off: a woman and a white man.


Saying women are the second best-represented demographic is like saying Scottie Pippen was the second-best player on the Bulls in the '90s – the leader is so far ahead of the pack, the appellation doesn't mean much. To use an expression I picked up from King Kaufman, the first-place demographic for Senators is white males, then daylight, then women.

The 17 female Senators comprise (in an easy math question) 17% of the Senate. In a nation that is 50.7% female, they're underrepresented in the Senate by 33%. White males, on the other hand (disclosure: I'm one of those), comprise approximately 32% of the population – but 78% of the Senate.

Well, yeah. But it's odd to compare ALL women to only white men, and I'm not sure why the post decides to do that. It hides the situation of women of color, for one thing.

Why not compare women and men and then do a separate racial analysis? Neither am I terribly fond of the way the quote defines the percentage under-representation. It would have been better to say how many women we'd have to add and men to deduct to get fair representation. Fair in the sense of the population proportions of men and women, that is.

But most of that is nitpicking. This is what I have most problems with:

The difference is striking when viewed on a map of the United States:

You may note, however, that some of the states that have a female Senator are the most populous in the nation. Let's adjust for population, using the numbers from Wikipedia.

Both Senators represent the entire state, of course, so if a state has even one female Senator, she represents the entire population. Likewise with the white men. Under this calculus, 134,976,372 Americans are represented in the Senate by a woman, or 44%. This is closer to a fair representation of the population, but still off by a yawning margin.

What's off in this quote? Every state has only two Senators. This means that the most populous states are represented by the same amount of power as the least populous states. The power of the two female Senators from California, for example, is exactly the same as the power of the two white male Senators from Rhode Island or North Dakota.
For more on my views about the wider question of women in politics, go here.


My area just had a power outage which lasted a couple of hours. This offered an opportunity to light candles and to sit in silence, after the first few minutes of frenzied annoyance at the modern lifelines being cut.

A book about medieval interior decoration (yes, such books exist!) discusses the importance of candles and fire-light as the only real sources of light after dark. Houses were built with small windows in Europe and in the winter the rooms were dusky even through the day.

A modern museum installation shows us rooms of that era in a way the people then living would never have seen. I remembered that during the power outage, because the candles in the room were reflected in anything metal or glass and because of the way the shadows candles created brought out different colors and textures.

Gilded picture frames were not just a way of demonstrating great wealth but part of the overall impact of a painting, a way to bring glitter into the darkness and to cast more light on the picture itself. And copper, brass and silver were not just the raw materials of vases and bowls but also important reflectors of light.

Today's Action Alert

CBS is going to air a forced-birth commercial by Focus on [patriarchal] Family, a right-wing organization, even though in the past it has refused to air commercials which it finds controversial:

The network has rejected ads from, PETA, and the United Church of Christ among others on the grounds that their content is too controversial.

But there's something wrong with CBS's definition of "controversial." This year, the network approved an ad produced by the ultra-conservative group Focus on the Family attacking a woman's right to choose.

Demand that CBS pull this incredibly controversial and insensitive ad from the Superbowl line-up.

The Superbowl is the most-watched television program in the country, giving anti-choice voices an enormous audience to broadcast their idea that a woman doesn't have the right to make decisions about her own body. To top it off, CBS has no plans to run a pro-choice ad to balance the two sides of the issue.

So pro-choice is too controversial, forced-birth is not?

Here are two petitions you can sign about the planned ad:

Utterly Hilarious

This whole piece is full of bwahahas. Examples:

Mr. McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said on the CBS news program "Face the Nation" that President Obama should sit down with Republican leaders and begin adopting some of their ideas for improving the nation's health care system such as overhauling medical malpractice lawsuits, allowing residents of one state to buy health insurance from a company in another state, and granting tax credits for people who purchase health insurance on their own.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are not an important reason for high health care costs. Allowing residents of one state to buy health insurance from another state means that all firms migrate to the state with the laxest regulations and that is bad for the consumers. Tax credits are useless for people who don't earn enough, and those are the people who have the most trouble finding affordable coverage.

Still, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," said that in the wake of the Democrats' defeat in the Massachusetts Senate race, "my hope is that the current bill is finished."

"The American people are telling us please stop trying to pass this," he said.

He faulted Mr. Obama for pursuing during his first year a single-mindedly liberal path in running the country rather than trying to engage moderates.

"The president made a decision to go hard left," he said. "That's why he doesn't have many of my members. If he chooses to govern in the middle, I think he'll have much broader cooperation from Republicans."

I'm laughing so hard it hurts. Senator McConnell is lying about everything in that quote. Bipartisanship, bwahaha.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Impeach Roberts by Anthony McCarthy

As mentioned at the time, everyone in the room knew that John Roberts lied under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee in his confirmation hearings when he said he would respect precedent even if he didn’t like it. Well, he has shown in just about everything he’s done since taking office that he had no intention of doing that, and he hasn’t.

There is a special kind of lie that is told in these Judiciary Committee pantomimes, the kind that Roberts and any number of other nominees have told. The prospective lie that is told about the future, one whose evidence is yet to be created. That form of intentional deception is as deserving of punishment as one told about the past which leave witnesses and available evidence, certainly in the case of a Supreme Court justice who has absolute power and life tenure. Though as with the lies Rehnquist told about his voter intimation, it is not deemed to be sporting to look too seriously at those.*

I’m no lawyer or legal scholar and I knew Roberts was lying and I knew that the Senators did as they pretended otherwise. His opponents knew he was lying and his supporters certainly did, his intention to overturn precedent was one of the reasons they were so hot to get him on the Court.

It’s one of the most unattractive features of Anglo-american “justice” that it doesn’t deliver justice but its opposite. So much of it is a twisted and niggling means to find excuses to not deliver justice to those who need it and to so often deliver privileges to the privileged. That, dear lawyers, is why you are so widely despised by so many. It has been the privilege of courts that a courtly ceremony of respect and deference is shown to them even as they prove their basic corruption.

The few periods when the Supreme Court has consistently produced justice are used as PR by the corrupt majority of justices and the legal establishment with a vested interest in the charade. No doubt, liberals with bad memories of the “Impeach Warren” signs that American fascists put up during his term, will be horrified by anyone pointing out that the large majority of “justices” don’t deserve to be considered by us in the same way. If they were deserving of our respect, the enemies of the common good would have signs out calling for them to be impeached or “called home by the Almighty”. We, The People, are under no obligation to follow the hypocritical pose of judicial impartiality towards the various members of the Supreme Court. Maybe if we’d been more vocal in opposition of those who wrong us and in support of those who do justice, there would be more of the latter to look back on. Maybe the biggest obstacle for progressives is their observance of staid decorum when populist fury is needed and desirable.

Roberts, Alito, Thomas, are all obvious perjurers. They lied under oath about important issues during their confirmation hearings on TV, in public, to a room full of lawyers. The Senators, too finicky and fussy to do their jobs, pretended not to know it and so now we are under their judicial tyranny. Connecting those dots isn’t all that hard, though apparently it is for lawyers.

* As the lies told by Alito when he said that he would be impartial in the application of the law. There was no reason to believe that based on his previous record, as Professor Ronald Sullivan’s testimony in the hearings demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt.

Hope After The Storm? by Anthony McCarthy

It’s been such a bad week that it seems almost painful to have to point to a few faint glimmers of hope. Apart from the modest move by Barack Obama to do to banks what he should have done last winter, there is the news that Elizabeth Warren was asked to call in. I think she will not let us down the way the boy’s club for growth has. If she becomes a more obvious influence in this administration and, more importantly, if policies she has called for replace those of the Wall St. insiders, it could save this administration from complete disaster. That change will be the decisive indication that Obama’s populist move is sincere and not just optics.

Warren has spent her career laying the groundwork for what might be called progressive populism. From her perch in Cambridge, she’s excoriated the unfair credit and lending practices that, in part, gave rise to the current crisis. She was the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which, if created, would regulate credit cards and mortgages in the same way home appliances are regulated now. (Full disclosure: Warren once wrote about the agency in the publication I help edit.) And well before the bubble broke in the summer of 2007, when America was still riding high on George W. Bush’s economy, Warren was speaking out against the incredible pressure the 21st century economy was putting on the middle class. She was derided as a Cassandra, but she was right.

The election of Brown to the Senate was just one slap in the face for the Democrats in Washington this week, the other one is the “Citiziens United” case. If for nothing but their self-preservation even corporate Democrats have an interest in curbing that sell off of electoral Democracy by the out of control, partisan Republicans who hold the majority on the Court. There are ideas of how to get around it, most interesting so far is the proposal to change the definition of what is and isn’t legitimate activity for corporations. As entirely artificial, legal entities, corporations can only exist through the legal mechanisms of their creation. If those are changed, their legitimate functions can be curbed. This idea from Kent Greenfield, professor of constitutional law and corporate law at Boston College Law School gives some hope that it would be possible to cut the legs out from the court created monster before it destroys democracy.

Instead of using the tools of constitutional law, we need to use the tools of corporate law. Such a change could be put in place tomorrow, by a simple majority vote in both houses of Congress followed by the President”s signature.

Corporations are chartered “for any lawful purpose.” To address the mistake of Citizens United, the only change required would be for charters to include: “except that any entity created by this charter shall not have the power to expend money to influence the outcome of any local, state, or federal election.”

This change would simply condition the benefit of incorporation itself on the waiver of the “right” of corporations to participate in political campaigns. The Court has often upheld the ability of government to condition benefits on the waiver of rights. The Court has not always been clear in all the nuances, but the basic rule is that if the government gives you something, it can limit the uses you make of it. It makes sense to assert that prerogative here: if the government creates corporations, it can pick and choose what powers those corporations embody.

The real obstacle is the state of Delaware. Most big corporations go there for charters, primarily because Delaware doggedly protects managers from shareholder lawsuits. And Delaware has no interest in limiting corporate speech.

So real change would have to come at the federal level. Congress could simply say that as a condition of being listed on a national securities exchange, corporations would have to be chartered at the federal level. And federally chartered corporations would be limited to doing what corporations are intended to do: create wealth by producing products and services and prohibited from trying to skew the democratic process.

That way, corporations would stay where they belong, in the marketplace. The “marketplace of ideas” will be left to the rest of us.

There are other ideas coming out of the House for restricting the Federalist Society judicial rewrite of the Constitution.

I would, of course, add restrictions on the ability of TV and radio stations, both broadcast and cable to lie on behalf of the corporate elite. Nothing about democracy is secure or automatic, it has to be constantly watched and tended. And that is a job too important to leave to the legislative, executive or the judicial branches. It is too important to leave to lawyers and legal scholars, there are few of those who have raised their voices to oppose this latest assault on democracy. In the end as in the beginning, democracy depends on The People, on their grasp of reality on their morals and good character. If you cynically deny those are important than you have already given up on the possibility of democracy. At bottom it is the mass media, unrestricted and let off its obligations to the American People who have fostered the rot in its foundation. And they’ve done it for exactly the same reasons of corporate self-interest that makes the corporate beneficiaries cynically named “Citizens United” so dangerous to democracy.

Sunday Purple Finch

By 1WattHermit.

Eva Cassidy on Route 66