I Hate Taxes


Republican Lawmaker: GOP ‘Would Take Women Back Decades’


Teresa Sayward is only an assemblyman, but she’s a Republican telling the truth. It’s a start.

Questions about women and womens’ health have dominated the political debate over the past weeks, and at least one female Republican lawmaker is unhappy with her party’s record. New York Assemblyman Teresa Sayward (R), who is retiring after serving a decade in Albany, told the New York political program Capital Tonight that she does not support any of her party’s presidential candidates, because of their stances on women.

She also took an apparent shot at Republicans’ opposition to President Obama’s birth control mandate, saying, “It’s disheartening for me to see our party move away from what it was always about and that is to stay out of people’s lives, let them live their lives, don’t impose their religion on anybody else.”

Asked which Republican candidate she supports, Sayward replied:

SAYWARD: I do not have a favorite in the presidential race, if I had to vote today, I’d vote for Obama.

INTERVIEW: Really?

SAYWARD: Absolutely… Because I really, truly think that the candidates that are out there today for the Republican side would take women back decades.

via New York Republican Lawmaker: GOP ‘Would Take Women Back Decades’.

Lying In The Bed They Made: Severe Conservative Syndrome And The Fall Of The GOP


With the religious right and the Tea Party in firm control of the primary process, the GOP has gone down the rabbit hole. The puppeteers of the party made their bed. Paul Krugman makes the argument that now they have to lie in it, and it will be a long time before they come back.

Start with Rick Santorum, who, according to Public Policy Polling, is the clear current favorite among usual Republican primary voters, running 15 points ahead of Mr. Romney. Anyone with an Internet connection is aware that Mr. Santorum is best known for 2003 remarks about homosexuality, incest and bestiality. But his strangeness runs deeper than that.

For example, last year Mr. Santorum made a point of defending the medieval Crusades against the “American left who hates Christendom.” Historical issues aside (hey, what are a few massacres of infidels and Jews among friends?), what was this doing in a 21st-century campaign?

Nor is this only about sex and religion: he has also declared that climate change is a hoax, part of a “beautifully concocted scheme” on the part of “the left” to provide “an excuse for more government control of your life.” You may say that such conspiracy-theorizing is hardly unique to Mr. Santorum, but that’s the point: tinfoil hats have become a common, if not mandatory, G.O.P. fashion accessory.

Then there’s Ron Paul, who came in a strong second in Maine’s caucuses despite widespread publicity over such matters as the racist (and conspiracy-minded) newsletters published under his name in the 1990s and his declarations that both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act were mistakes. Clearly, a large segment of his party’s base is comfortable with views one might have thought were on the extreme fringe.

Finally, there’s Mr. Romney, who will probably get the nomination despite his evident failure to make an emotional connection with, well, anyone. The truth, of course, is that he was not a “severely conservative” governor. His signature achievement was a health reform identical in all important respects to the national reform signed into law by President Obama four years later. And in a rational political world, his campaign would be centered on that achievement.

But Mr. Romney is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and whatever his personal beliefs may really be — if, indeed, he believes anything other than that he should be president — he needs to win over primary voters who really are severely conservative in both his intended and unintended senses.

So he can’t run on his record in office. Nor was he trying very hard to run on his business career even before people began asking hard (and appropriate) questions about the nature of that career.

Instead, his stump speeches rely almost entirely on fantasies and fabrications designed to appeal to the delusions of the conservative base. No, President Obama isn’t someone who “began his presidency by apologizing for America,” as Mr. Romney declared, yet again, a week ago. But this “Four-Pinocchio Falsehood,” as the Washington Post Fact Checker puts it, is at the heart of the Romney campaign.

How did American conservatism end up so detached from, indeed at odds with, facts and rationality? For it was not always thus. After all, that health reform Mr. Romney wants us to forget followed a blueprint originally laid out at the Heritage Foundation!

My short answer is that the long-running con game of economic conservatives and the wealthy supporters they serve finally went bad. For decades the G.O.P. has won elections by appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy — a process that reached its epitome when George W. Bush won re-election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security.

Over time, however, this strategy created a base that really believed in all the hokum — and now the party elite has lost control.

The point is that today’s dismal G.O.P. field — is there anyone who doesn’t consider it dismal? — is no accident. Economic conservatives played a cynical game, and now they’re facing the blowback, a party that suffers from “severe” conservatism in the worst way. And the malady may take many years to cure.

via Severe Conservative Syndrome – NYTimes.com.

Here’s hoping. If progressives in this country can show middle America how these radical ideals would set the country back a hundred years, we may be able to shift the arguments back to reason.

New Virginia Personhood Laws Outlaw Birth Control – and Oh, Yeah – Can Penetrate Women Without Their Consent


You read that right. Under legislation already passed in the House in Virginia (which the governor has promised to sign) if you seek a legal abortion there, the new law literally requires a forced vaginal invasion — a “transvaginal ultrasound“. The other, the “personhood” law, criminalizes the birth control pill, stem cell research, perhaps even the In Vitro Fertility (IVF) assistance for childless couples. Welcome the Republican plan for America.

From the Huffinton Post: As if stamped out of an anti-woman mold, Republican hopefuls Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul all support the cruel and bizarre policy of “personhood,” the belief that full legal rights instantly accompany the joining of every sperm and egg. Voters wishing to see Republican personhood in the process need look no further than Virginia, where the GOP-controlled House just passed HB1, (Marshall-R). Part of a matched set of two astonishingly cruel legislations, (the other bill literally requires a forced vaginal invasion — a “transvaginal ultrasound” — into any woman considering a legal abortion) of which the personhood bill may actually be more destructive. The transvaginal ultrasound is humiliating, painful, medically unnecessary, and imposed on a woman against her will, like rape with a foreign object –but the personhood law is forever. Do Virginians really want to criminalize the birth control pill, stem cell research, perhaps even the In Vitro Fertility (IVF) assistance for childless couples — as well as a woman’s right to choose?

HuffPo continues:

Having first denied their bill would affect abortion or birth control, Republicans later revealed their true intent. Asked if the bill was intended to “lay groundwork for outlawing abortion,” the bill’s author Marshall responded with the mocking comment: “You’d have to be completely obtuse to not understand that is something I have worked toward for 20 years… ” Democrat Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax) challenged the bill, essentially saying, if the bill truly won’t affect birth control, put that in writing — add an amendment pledging nothing in the bill shall affect birth control. But Republicans immediately voted 64-34 not to add this modest amendment. Even Fox News, normally an apologist for all things Republican, did not buy the “no impact on abortion rights” nonsense, saying:”…Bob Marshall’s House Bill 1 would effectively outlaw all Virginia abortions by declaring that the rights of a person apply from the moment sperm and egg unite.” If personhood laws are put into effect, government would literally have the authority to control the reproductive life of every citizen. Were not Republicans supposed to be in favor of individual liberty? Why then would they want to remove our right to use birth control? With an estimated 99 percent of all women of reproductive years reportedly having engaged in contraception, it hardly seems possible that Republicans would try to ban something as common as air. True, Rick Santorum expressed his sentiment that sex with birth control is “not OK because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” The other Republican Presidential hopefuls also support personhood, with the allegedly moderate Romney going so far as to say he would “absolutely” sign a personhood Constitutional Amendment. What do American voters think? Follow Don C. Reed on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/diverdonreed via Don C. Reed: Republicans With Power: Virginia Personhood Laws a Preview of GOP Presidency?.

And the controversial – but also staunch supporter of both women’s reproductive and sexual freedom, not to mention Planned Parenthood – Dan Savage has a great take here, first taking on Ms. magazine’s controlled response:

Bob McDonnell wants to probe your vagina

The Virginia state House of Delegates voted 63 to 36 to pass a bill requiring that women seeking abortions undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, which requires a probe being inserted into the vagina. Delegate Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) criticized the bill, saying “We’re talking about inside a woman’s body. This is the first time, if we pass this bill, that we will be dictating a medical procedure to a physician.” The House also voted down by a vote of 64 to 34 an amendment, which requires the women’s consent for the transvaginal ultrasound probe. This means a probe must be inserted into the woman’s vagina with or without her consent if she seeks an abortion. The bill will now go to the state Senate. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell indicated that he will sign the bill.

Why so restrained, Ms. Magazine? Call it what it is: state-sanctioned rape. And that blogger isn’t being hyperbolic: forcing a vaginal probe into a woman’s vagina without her consent meets the legal definition of rape in Virginia. Rachel Maddow did anger/fury/rage-inducing segments on the new law on her February 14th andFebruary 15th broadcasts. Watch both segments. Right now. Watch Rachel go.

Did you watch? Okay…

It seems to me that a large, loud, and highly disruptive protest is in order. Here’s a suggestion: if the Virginia GOP and Virginia’s Republican state legislators and Virginia’s Republican governor want a look inside your vagina—with a vaginal ultrasound—why not let ‘em have a look? Project images of vaginas and vaginal canals onto the state capitol, the buildings that surround it, and the Virginia state GOP party’s HQ; pack the public galleries in the state house and senate chambers with few hundred women and have ‘em throw thousands of flyers with images of vaginas on ‘em down on the heads and desks of Virginia’s legislators. Blanket both chambers with vaginas—give the GOPervs what they want and grind state business to a halt.

One can only hope. I won’t be able to go there, but I certainly hope feminists and human rights advocates in Virginia and neighboring states protest loudly and with pictures.

This will be the defining issue of 2012. Is this what America (or at least 51%) really wants? I want to believe it won’t even be close.

Power by Alice Walker


Succinctly Put: Global Warming In Brief


Are Any Of Your Websites Dark Today? End Piracy, Not Liberty – Google


Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.

Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.

End Piracy, Not Liberty – Google

via End Piracy, Not Liberty – Google.

The Penn State Rape Timeline: Who Didn’t Do What When


Maureen Dowd lays out the timeline:

Paterno was told about [the rape] the day after it happened by Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant coach who testified that he went into the locker room one Friday night and heard rhythmic slapping noises. He looked into the showers and saw a naked boy about 10 years old “with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky,” according to the grand jury report.

It would appear to be the rare case of a pedophile caught in the act, and you’d think a graduate student would know enough to stop the rape and call the police. But McQueary, who was 28 years old at the time, was a serf in the powerfully paternal Paternoland. According to the report, he called his dad, went home and then the next day went to the coach’s house to tell him.

“I don’t even have words to talk about the betrayal that I feel,” the mother of one of Sandusky’s alleged victims told The Harrisburg Patriot-News, adding about McQueary: “He ran and called his daddy?”

Paterno, who has cast himself for 46 years as a moral compass teaching his “kids” values, testified that he did not call the police at the time either. The family man who had faced difficult moments at Brown University as a poor Italian with a Brooklyn accent must have decided that his reputation was more important than justice.

The iconic coach waited another day, according to the report, and summoned Tim Curley, the Penn State athletic director who had been a quarterback for Paterno in the ’70s.

Curley did not call the university police, who had investigated an episode in 1998 in which Sandusky admitted he was wrong to shower with an 11-year-old boy and promised not to do it again. (Two years later, according to the grand jury report, a janitor saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in the showers and told his supervisor, who did not report it.)

Curley waited another week and a half to see McQueary, who told the grand jury that he repeated his sodomy story for Curley and Gary Schultz, a university vice president who oversaw campus police.

Two more weeks passed before Curley contacted McQueary to let him know that Sandusky’s keys to the locker room had been taken away and the incident had been reported to The Second Mile, the charity Sandusky started in 1977.

Prosecutors suggest that the former coach, whose memoir is ironically titled “Touched,” founded the charity as a way to ensnare boys. They have charged Sandusky, now 67, with sexually assaulting eight boys he met there.

Despite knowing of the two similar rapes, The Second Mile did not do anything to keep Sandusky away from vulnerable children until 2008.

Curley said he told Sandusky he could no longer bring children onto the Penn State campus. In other words, Jer, if you want to violate kids who live in cow town where everything revolves around the idolatry of Penn State and Paterno, kindly take them off campus. The predator was still welcome on his own, though; he was spotted at the football team’s weight room working out last week.

Curley told the university president, Graham Spanier, about the matter, and it got buried. Paterno, Curley and Schultz disingenuously claim they were left with the impression that the contact might have been mere “horsing around,” as Curley put it. That’s grotesque.

Like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State is an arrogant institution hiding behind its mystique. And sports, as my former fellow sports columnist at The Washington Star, David Israel, says, is “an insular world that protects its own, and operates outside of societal norms as long as victories and cash continue to flow bountifully.” Penn State rakes in $70 million a year from its football program.

Paterno was still practicing for the game against Nebraska on Saturday, and supportive students were rallying at his house. This is what Israel calls “the delusion that the ability to win football games indicates anything at all about your character or intelligence other than that you can win football games.”

via Personal Foul at Penn State – NYTimes.com.

The Bomb Buried In Obamacare Explodes Today-Hallelujah! – Forbes


If this is true, and HHS and the Obama administration actually follow through with it, I’ll reconsider my position that the health care bill was a total giveaway. Rick Ungar in Forbes:

I have long argued that the impact of the Affordable Care Act is not nearly as big of a deal as opponents would have you believe. At the end of the day, the law is – in the main – little more than a successful effort to put an end to some of the more egregious health insurer abuses while creating an environment that should bring more Americans into programs that will give them at least some of the health care coverage they need.

There is, however, one notable exception – and it’s one that should have a long lasting and powerful impact on the future of health care in our country.

That would be the provision of the law, called the medical loss ratio, that requires health insurance companies to spend 80% of the consumers’ premium dollars they collect—85% for large group insurers—on actual medical care rather than overhead, marketing expenses and profit. Failure on the part of insurers to meet this requirement will result in the insurers having to send their customers a rebate check representing the amount in which they underspend on actual medical care.

This is the true ‘bomb’ contained in Obamacare and the one item that will have more impact on the future of how medical care is paid for in this country than anything we’ve seen in quite some time.  Indeed, it is this aspect of the law that represents the true ‘death panel’ found in Obamacare—but not one that is going to lead to the death of American consumers. Rather, the medical loss ration will, ultimately, lead to the death of large parts of the private, for-profit health insurance industry.

Why? Because there is absolutely no way for-profit health insurers are going to be able to learn how to get by and still make a profit while being forced to spend at least 80 percent of their receipts providing their customers with the coverage for which they paid. If they could, we likely would never have seen the extraordinary efforts made by these companies to avoid paying benefits to their customers at the very moment they need it the most.

Today, that bomb goes off.

Today, the Department of Health & Human Services issues the rules of what insurer expenditures will—and will not—qualify as a medical expense for purposes of meeting the requirement.

As it turns out, HHS isn’t screwing around. They actually mean to see to it that the insurance companies spend what they should taking care of their customers.

via The Bomb Buried In Obamacare Explodes Today-Hallelujah! – Forbes.

World Aids Day Is Over, AIDS Isn’t: AIDS Rages On in the American South


BBC News – Ashamed to die: stigma of HIV/Aids in America’s South

The American South has been quietly ravaged by HIV/Aids, even as the rest of the US has made great advances in treatment and prevention.

A disproportionate number of HIV sufferers live in the southern states, the region which also has the highest death rate from Aids.

Andrew Skerritt, the author of Ashamed to Die: Silence, Denial and Aids Epidemic in the South, says an innate conservatism combined with poverty and low levels of education in the region, known as the Bible Belt, has hampered efforts to rein in the epidemic.

He contrasts the vigour and success of campaigns in the rest of the US with the South’s reluctance to act, claiming many people who prefer to stay silent are in denial.

Mr Skerritt’s book chronicles how the disease has devastated the South Carolina town of Clover. In this community of just 5,100, one family alone has lost eight members to Aids. Michael Maher went to Clover to find out more.

Watch the whole video here: BBC News – Ashamed to die: stigma of HIV/Aids in America’s South.

Here’s the article version.

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