Tagged: Republicans

Nutball neo-Confederate talk grows louder


a_v_d via Shutterstock/Salon)

A Saturday ago at the annual conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused President Obama and other Democrats of waging a war against religious liberty and all but openly threatened a violent revolution…“I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States,” Jindal said, “where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”

Of course, Jindal’s speech didn’t come out of nowhere. Jindal is notorious as a weather vane, not a leader. So this is a clear sign of the need to take threats of right-wing violence seriously — and to look to its justifications as formulated on the Christian right…

“Something has changed in recent years,” Frederick Clarkson notes, as “disturbing claims are appearing more frequently, more prominently, and in ways that suggest that they are expressions of deeply held beliefs more than provocative political hyperbole.” He also cites “powerful indications in the writings of some Christian right leaders that elements of their movement have lost confidence in the bright political vision of the United States as the once and future Christian Nation — and that they are desperately seeking alternatives.”

Perhaps most ominously, there is a growing convergence of theocratic and neo-Confederate thinking, Clarkson finds…

At least some of the historic culture warriors of the Christian Right seem to be considering an ostensibly unlikely coalition with the Neo-Confederate movement. The coalition would lead their followers in religious and political directions in which violence is as likely as the outcomes are uncertain…

In short, if you think that secession talk has been crazy since President Obama took office, it could get significantly worse. The sort of standoff we saw at the Cliven Bundy ranch could pale in comparison to what a religiously motivated group — certain that God is on their side — might do…

Father C. John McCloskey, a 61-year-old priest in the reactionary Opus Dei order, predicted in 2001, and again in 2012, that conservative Catholics and evangelicals would need to band together in a civil war of secession. The “secession of the ‘Culture of Life’ states,” he predicted, would emphasize “the fundamental issues of the sanctity of marriage, the rights of parents, and the sacredness of human life,” and that the secession would precipitate “a short and bloody civil war” that would break the country into what he calls “the Regional States of America.”

RTFA for more of this collective theocratic silliness. Just in case you think idjits won’t be moved to violence.

Then, just for giggles at the so-called mainstream of the Southern Right, check out these folks who still call themselves Republicans. A poll, released Tuesday, finds that 37 percent of those who supported Chris McDaniel, the Tea Party gasbag in the Mississippi Republican primary runoff would support the Confederate states if there were a second Civil War. Just 38 percent would back the United States, and 25 percent were unsure.

Yup. They’re still out there in the dark somewhere.

Thanks, Mike

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Job creation faster in states raising the minimum wage

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New Jersey arrived at the bottom after Christie vetoed the minimum wage increase

The experience of the 13 states that increased their minimum wage on January 1st of this year might provide some guidance for what to expect here in Washington, DC when the city-wide minimum wage increases to $9.50 on July 1.

At the beginning of 2014, 13 states increased their minimum wage. Of these 13 states, four passed legislation raising their minimum wage (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island). In the other nine, their minimum wage automatically increased in line with inflation at the beginning of the year (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state).

As CEPR noted in March and April posts, economists at Goldman Sachs conducted a simple evaluation of the impact of these state minimum-wage increases. GS compared the employment change between December and January in the 13 states where the minimum wage increased with the changes in the remainder of the states. The GS analysis found that the states where the minimum wage went up had faster employment growth than the states where the minimum wage remained at its 2013 level.

When we updated the GS analysis using additional employment data from the BLS, we saw the same pattern: employment growth was higher in states where the minimum wage went up. While this kind of simple exercise can’t establish causality, it does provide evidence against theoretical negative employment effects of minimum-wage increases.

In this post, we can now bring these figures up to date with the data from April and May.

Reality has always intervened between conservative ideology and the day-to-day life of people who actually work for a living. All the crappola from Republicans about trickle-down economy, minimum wage, truly democratic elections, third-parties, resolves as turds on the bottom of history’s shoes. None of these inspires truth-telling or informed re-evaluation by Republicans or Blue Dog Democrats.

The consistency of wrong-headed politicos is another resolution of the inevitable political question – on behalf of stupidity rather than ignorance.

Bill in Congress to guarantee right to contraception – who will try to stop it?

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Democrats in Congress said Tuesday that they had developed legislation to override the Supreme Court decision on contraceptives. The bill would ensure that women have access to insurance coverage for birth control even if they work for businesses that have religious objections.

The bill, put together in consultation with the Obama administration, would require for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Stores to provide and pay for contraceptive coverage, along with other preventive health services, under the Affordable Care Act.

The measure could be on the Senate floor as early as next week, Senate Democrats said. House Democrats are developing a companion bill, but it faces long odds in the House, which is controlled by Republicans. Speaker John A. Boehner described the Hobby Lobby decision last week as “a victory for religious freedom.”

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, who led efforts by Senate Democrats to respond to the ruling, said: “Your health care decisions are not your boss’s business. Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will.”

Ms. Murray wrote her proposal with Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado.

Ms. Murray’s bill criticizes the court’s majority opinion and declares that “employers may not discriminate against their female employees” in the coverage of preventive health services.

To this end, it says that an employer “shall not deny coverage of a specific health care item or service” where coverage is required under any provision of federal law. This requirement, it says, shall apply to employers notwithstanding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Someday the role our original constitution played in leading separation of church and state throughout the world will once again be recognized back where it started. Right here in the Heart of the Free World.

More or less, eh?

Obamacare does at least 21 things that you may not know about


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Obamacare is the law that extends health insurance coverage to millions of Americans.

It is also the law that requires restaurants to post calorie labels, employers to provide adequate break times for breast feeding and starts funding programs meant to train people for adulthood (seriously).

Tucked inside the Affordable Care Act’s 2,000 pages of legislation are hundreds of new programs that have little, if anything, to do expanding insurance coverage. Some are pet favorites of legislators, who tacked a tiny provision into a very large law. Others raise small amounts of revenue to help pay for the insurance expansion. And others are just… weird. There are 21 programs that are, indeed, part of Obamacare.

1. Obamacare makes funds available for “training for adulthood.” True story…

2. And it imposes a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning…

5. Discrimination against plans and providers not offering assisted suicide is explicitly prohibited.

Physician-assisted suicide is an incredibly controversial topic, and different states have different laws about the practice. A federal law in 1997 prohibited federal funds appropriated by Congress from being used to pay for assisted suicide.

Accordingly, the Affordable Care Act contains language prohibiting discrimination against insurance plans and health care providers who refuse to provide physician-assisted suicide. The law appears to be silent on whether insurers discriminate against providers who do offer physician-assisted suicide.

6. The law authorizes funding for grants that target postpartum depression.

The Secretary of HHS is authorized to make grants available for treating individuals who have postpartum depression and psychosis (conditions that occur in women following childbirth). The law also encourages the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct long-term study from 2010-2019 on how pregnancy affects women’s mental health…

7. And it created the Elder Justice Act.

Over 500,000 elderly adults are victims of “elder abuse”—this can take the form of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation. As the Boomers reach retirement age and the population’s share of elderly individuals grows, so will this problem…

13. Employers are required to provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers.

Employers must provide a reasonable amount of break time — and a private place that isn’t a bathroom — for an employee to express breast milk for up to one year after giving birth. Breastfeeding the first six months, at a minimum, is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Prior to health reform, there was no federal law that protected nursing mothers; state laws on the issue tended to be very general…

19. It’s easier for students going into primary care and nursing to get loans.

There is a shortage of doctors who practice primary care, which has been attributed to the high cost of medical school and the low compensation for primary care physicians (relative to physicians who specialize). Health reform eased several rules that govern federal loans to medical students who commit to practicing primary care…

Loan limitations have been used by the Feds – at the behest of the American Medical Association – for decades to limit the number of doctors in the United States. An outdated guild solution guaranteeing the highest income in the world for doctors. Like any Congressional mandate it is out-of-date and the Party of NO wasn’t about to respond even to requests from the AMA to join the 21st Century.

Obamacare will significantly increase the number of people with health insurance coverage. It does that by overhauling the individual insurance market — where people buy their own policies — and expanding Medicaid, a public program that covers low-income Americans.

Like the best of legislation coming from Washington DC, Obamacare supersedes much of States Rights. That credo being the last resort of reactionaries especially those of the Confederate persuasion. Fools who fear modern practices simply because they aren’t what granddad enjoyed adore States Rights. Racists adore States Rights. Conservative Libertarians adore States Rights – they needn’t update their philosophy to account for any understanding of a changing world beyond Henry Clay and the cheapskates’ standard version of tax avoidance.

Five maps of America’s drought conditions

Half of the mainland United States is facing drier-than-usual conditions, with 15 percent of the country experiencing “extreme” to “exceptional” drought. That in itself is far from unprecedented (it happened in 2012 and 2013, for starters) but it’s a significant event.

The real problem, though, is in California, which is facing one of its worst dry spells on record — every single part of the state is now facing “severe” drought or worse. Dry conditions may be one reason why large wildfires are breaking out in California a few weeks earlier than usual. The drought is also hurting the state’s crucial agricultural sector.

Droughts are hardly new in US history, and they’ve been a regular feature of the West for many, many years. But the current drought in California is serious even by historical standards.

RTFA for illustrations and description of the national turn to the worse our land has taken. Yes, special emphasis is on the source of much of our food in California – appropriately. But, the whole nation faces potential disaster.

That this happens within the context of rightwing nutballs in charge of half of Congress – and obstructing the whole – makes life and the cost of living more likely to face a death spiral of thumb-twiddling.

Decorated [and deported] veteran died in Mexico, this week

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Hector Barrios died this week. It’s okay if you’ve never heard of him. You have no reason to know who he is.

The short version: Hector was a decorated U.S. veteran who died abroad, impoverished and estranged from the country he loved and served, with none of the benefits entitled to him as a veteran.

Barrios was born in Tijuana, Mexico. In 1961, at the age of 18, he moved to the United States. In 1967, at the age of 24, he was drafted into the U.S. military to do his part for the war effort. He did not go back to Mexico or hide out in Canada. He did not dodge the draft or evade the call to duty. Hector spent a year in Vietnam, fighting for his adopted country…

Barrios was injured fighting for America, took head wounds in combat, but he survived the war and was able to return home.

“Thank God I came back. Many of my fellow soldiers didn’t make it back.”

Barrios received the Army Commendation Medal for exceptionally meritorious service and his discharge paperwork listed him as a U.S. citizen. He earned his citizenship with blood and his friends say he was proud to be an American…

And after being arrested and convicted for possession of marijuana, Barrios was summarily deported from the country…

“I had a green card. They took it away. But I have my citizenship of the United States in my service paperwork. I took an oath,” he says in a video recorded on the weekend before veteran’s day 2012.

…Hector lived out the rest of his life in Tijuana, in poverty…This man who fought and was injured serving America was allowed to live out the rest of his natural life with none of the Social Security or healthcare benefits veterans are entitled because he was caught with some pot…

Supporters of people like Hector are trying to get Congress to pass immigration reform bills that allow deported vets to return to their homes. I wouldn’t hold my breath as long as the most ignorant electorate in the Western world continues to vote the most heartless and hated politicians in the Western world back into office.

America’s ten least healthy cities

smoking, obesity, no exercise

There’s no doubt that great strides have been made in Americans’ health over the years. Americans smoke less, are more likely to be insured and live longer. However, significant health disparities remain across the nation, influenced by individual choices, the community and clinical care.

To determine the well-being of Americans, Gallup-Healthways surveyed hundreds of thousands of Americans in 189 metropolitan areas in the United States in 2012 and 2013. The survey recorded the physical and emotional health of the residents, as well as measuring job satisfaction and access to basic needs. The resulting Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index allows for comparisons between places and over time.

Not surprisingly, the physical health of residents was influenced by their habits. While less than 20% of Americans surveyed were smokers, more than 34% of Charleston, W.Va., residents smoked, the most in the nation. Residents also reported among the highest rates of obesity in the country…

According to Dan Witters, research director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, there is a clear relationship between poor physical health outcomes, such as obesity, and many of these habits. “When you’re talking about obesity, the big three are healthy eating, exercise, and smoking…”

AMERICA’S LEAST HEALTHY CITIES:

10. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.

9. Spartanburg, S.C.

8. Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.

7. Clarksville, Tenn.-Ky.

6. Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla.

5. Redding, Calif.

4. Columbus, Ga.-Ala.

3. Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, Tenn.-Va.

2. Charleston, W.Va.

1. Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio

RTFA for the depressing details. Each metro area is rated for a physical health index, obesity, blood pressure and poverty rate. Following notes describe contributing factors – without having the courage to confront politics and ideology.

Fact is – nine of these ten unhealthiest cities are in the old [and new] Confederacy. You’re looking at the actual achievements of Tea Party and right-wing Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats and True Believers in fundamentalist religion. This is the reality they offer to Americans gullible enough, ignorant enough to vote them into power.

Hobby Lobby hypocrisy – invested in contraceptives they would deny to employee health plan

When Obamacare compelled businesses to include emergency contraception in employee health care plans, Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, fought the law all the way to the Supreme Court. The Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, the company’s owners argued, forced them to violate their religious beliefs. But while it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm’s owners cite in their lawsuit.

Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k)…

These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell.

Nice to see primary source acknowledgement of one of my favorite dichos criticizing right-wing scumbags. “Republicans would have invented hypocrisy if Christians hadn’t beat them to it.”

The IMF is interesting to US policymakers for the wrong reason

The International Monetary Fund is an immensely useful organization, able to deliver substantial amounts of financial and technical assistance at short notice to almost any place in the world. It also has the great advantage of almost always being perceived as incredibly boring…

In the realm of international economics, being perceived as boring confers power to the extent that it allows major decisions to be made without a great deal of external scrutiny. From 1918 to 1939, international economic cooperation was hard to come by – in large part because all of the attempted deals were put together at high-profile international conferences. Following the creation of the IMF in 1944, many of the same decisions became routine, a lot less interesting, and much easier to implement…

The US does not dictate what happens at the IMF, but it does have a disproportionate influence. Given the Fund’s origins in helping to rebuild Europe after World War II, European countries are also very well represented on its executive board and in terms of ownership shares (and thus voting weight on important decisions).

One major goal in recent decades has been to shift representation at the IMF somewhat away from Europe and toward the world’s emerging markets. These countries’ global economic and financial significance has grown rapidly, yet they have relatively little representation at the Fund.

A package of reforms has been agreed. Like most products of international negotiations, the agreement is not perfect; but it does move the ball forward…These reforms need to be agreed, in legislative form, by the US Congress before they can take effect. For whatever reason, President Barack Obama’s administration did not push this item hard in 2013 and early 2014 – and the agenda of encouraging further IMF reform has therefore languished.

The Obama administration proposed to tie IMF reform to the presumably imminent approval by Congress of funding for Ukraine. This is sensible legislative tactics but not appealing as an economic strategy. In effect, the administration tried to make the IMF more interesting, particularly to encourage Republicans in the House of Representatives to support the reforms.

The latest indications are that the Republicans will not be so enticed. But the bigger problem is that Ukraine does not really need a massive loan from the IMF. What Ukraine needs is a sharp reduction in corruption, as well as real legitimacy (through the ballot box) for people who want to rein in the influence of oligarchs – a group that has sapped the economy through plunder and incompetence over the past two decades.

Mostly, what looks like happening is typical of Congress and Congressional Republicans. Money for war is always available – so, the White House and the Pentagon will make Ukraine aid sound like war is imminent.

The need to reform the IMF and why – will probably be swept under the rug.

The need to reform Ukraine will simply be ignored. Most of Congress has no interest in anything concerned with real reform vs. the phoney sort they talk about all the time. The kind that means screwing working people even more.