Thursday, April 12, 2012

On the other hand -- raising your own children is not "work"

Well, the blog I posted earlier today about the flap over Hilary Rosen's saying that Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life" turned out to have another side.

As Huffington Post's political bloggers, Ryan Grim and Amanda Terkel, clarified:
"Ann Romney may believe that focusing exclusively on raising children counts as work, and the majority of Americans may agree with her, but that's not how the federal government sees it.

"As far as Uncle Sam is concerned, if you're poor, deciding to stay at home and rear your children is not an option. Thanks to welfare reform, recipients of federal benefits must prove to a caseworker that they have performed, over the course of a week, a certain number of hours of 'work activity'. . . .  

"Raising children is not among them."
Unless you're taking care of someone else's children, that is.   Then it can be considered work.

So the truth is that Hilary Rosen's original intent was absolutely true -- that the Romney family wealth allowed her the privilege of making that choice.  As Rosen later explained, she believes staying at home with children counts as work, but that most women must both raise their children and earn money.

If Mitt and Ann had been poor, it would have been a different story altogether.  This was a comment about privilege, not about the value of raising your children.


The beast that must be fed.

The 24/7 cable news cycle -- the beast that must be fed -- has been on a binge of over-eating,  pumping and spinning and milking every morsel, trying to extract a few more viewers for their channel.

Let's clear up a couple of them.

1.  Is being a stay-at-home Mom work?

Hilary Rosen, commenting as a political pundit on CNN, said of Mitt's wife, Ann:  "his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing."

Of course we know what she meant -- the privilege of the rich -- but this was prime rib for the spin-meisters.  Fox went to town with it.   First they had Ann Romney on.   This woman of privilege, who had the luxury of being able to be a stay-at-home mom, nevertheless makes the perfectly valid point that raising five kids is work.    And I would add, keeping up with all those homes must make it extra difficult.   So, OK, fair game, and the Repubs played the card.

Then FoxNews had Barbara Bush herself on to comment, and she sort of put it to rest.  Responding to the news that Rosen had issued an apology to Ann Romney, Barb said:

“Well God bless her, good girl. . . .I’m sorry she took a knock at us who chose – or were able to – stay home and take care of our children. . . [but]  Forget it.  Women who stay at home are wonderful. Women who go to work are wonderful. Whatever.”

2.  Does Florida's Stand You Ground law apply to George Zimmerman?

The simple answer is No.   Although Florida's law has no requirement
to try to retreat from the threatening situation before using force, 
legal experts have said that, if Zimmerman was pursuing Martin, 
he cannot claim self-defense.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush put it most succinctly:  
"Stand your ground means stand your ground.
It doesn't mean chase after somebody who's turned their back."
Of course.   It's that simple.   Why has it become such a media hot 
potato?   Oh, yes, I forget.  The beast must be fed.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trayvon Martin #5

The outrage over the lack of thorough investigation of the killing of Trayvon Martin spread to the national, and even international, arena.   Without this public outcry, justice might never have emerged out of police ineptitude, prejudice, and Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, which has been condemned as a quasi-license to kill.

Now that a tough special prosecutor, Angela Corey, has charged George Zimmerman with second degree murder, we need to sit back and let the appropriate process unfold, trusting that a careful investigation and a fair trial will result in justice finally being done.
I must admit that, in my mind, Zimmerman is guilty of vigilantism, going far beyond the advice of the 911 operator and was clearly in the wrong, here.   Even if, as he claims that Trayvon attacked him first and he shot him in self defense -- there is still the 911 tape that establishes that Zimmerman was stalking Trayvon, and he was armed.    So  Trayvon had far more reason to invoke the Stand Your Ground Law to protect himself.

I abhor our NRA gun culture and the paranoid, right-wing bigotry.   But,: at the same time, I totally agree with the following statement released by the Florida ACLU, emphasizing the committment to the accused's rights to a fair trial, as well as the victim's rights to justice:
“When it became clear that the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death was exacerbated by problematic actions of the Sanford Police and local prosecutor, the ACLU of Florida joined in the call for outside investigators to more thoroughly examine what happened that night. 

“As a result of that investigation, George Zimmerman is now being charged with second-degree murder. 

“That more thorough investigation only happened because people marched, met, prayed, rallied and demanded that the criminal justice system not look the other way. 

“Now that charges have been brought, we must remember that George Zimmerman has all the rights of every defendant charged with a crime, including a legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty. 

“This is not the end of the story, but the wheels of justice are turning. The ACLU of Florida will continue to monitor this case as it unfolds to ensure that the rights of all parties – from the demonstrators marching in solidarity with Trayvon’s family to George Zimmerman himself – are not violated.”
This is the ACLU at its best -- standing up for the rights of all, even when the cause is unpopular.


What a pair !!

Rush and Newt.   What a pair of over-inflated blimps -- and my favorite targets for skewering.

So today, it's Newt's turn.    This guy will not accept "no" for an answer.    He was just beginning to sort of, maybe acknowledge that he was not going to be the Republican nominee but was staying in the race so as to influence the debate and the platform.

And then it happened -- Santorum pulled out of the race, leaving Newt as the self-anointed conservative voice.    He's banking on luring Santorum's delegates and picking up steam again -- proudly crowing this morning that "It's my turn now."

Not gonna happen, Newtie boy.  The GOP establishment already has the long knives out, ready to finish you off.   A string of bad publicity about financial irresponsibility is rolling out today.  Who wants to turn over managing our complex economy to someone who doesn't even pay his own bills?

The Gingrich campaign is being trailed by a string of unpaid bills.  They're $4.5 million in debt, vendors are thinking they may never get paid, and yet they continue spending money they don't have.

On top of this is a news story that, while Newt manages to stay out of debt personally, the organizations he starts, and often abandons, wind up losing other people's money.  According to former colleagues and subordinates, Gingrich burns through money by repeatedly expanding his plans and ignoring warnings from staff about the finances of his projects. Now, the same pattern is threatening his presidential campaign.

Bill Allison, editorial director of a nonprofit political watchdog groups, says:
 "Part of the reason Gingrich employs nonprofits and 527s [political advocacy groups] so liberally is that the debts from these groups never attach to him personally, because they're incorporated. . . . That's the beauty of sticking to all these groups -- it's that they don't stick to Gingrich."
So Newt stays above the money battle -- but other people wind up losing money while he lives lavishly (corporate jets, Tiffany's).   A long article, detailing all the money losing operations Newt has started, and then abandoned, is in today's Huffington Post, written by Christina Wilkie.

This bad publicity (probably well orchestrated) is not a good way to try to revive a moribund campaign.   But Newt the Blimp just keeps trying to float above it all, inflated by his Big Ideas, and hoping he can fool people into thinking he is what we need.

He is not.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rush's downfall

It didn't just start with Rush's calling a Georgetown University Law School student a slut.   His numbers of listeners has been dropping before that, but that despicable misstep seems to have landed him skiddingly on a banana peel.

Since then more than 100 advertisers have dissociated themselves from Rush's show.  Two radio stations have dropped his program.

And now he has competition from the kinder, gentler Mike Huckabee, whose radio talk show began yesterday airing at the same time.   Huckabee is being billed as the "safer alternative" conservative voice.

Rush will always appeal to those who get their kicks from listening to trash talk.   But Rush will never regain the power he once had.  Remember a couple of years ago when he was considered to have power in Republican politics?    I don't think that's true any more.

It's about time.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Krugman: "The Gullible Center"

Paul Krugman asks the obvious question that was implicit in President Obama's criticism of the Paul Ryan budget proposal that was passed by House Republicans last week.

Obama called it a "Trojan Horse," meaning that it is a fraud: “Disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country.”    And that radical vision?    It's not so new in Republican circles but rarely has it been so stark:   The vision is that fixing the deficit is the most important thing and that the only way to do it is to cut taxes for the wealthy and slash benefits for the poor and middle class.   So the Republicans' radical vision is, at heart, a plan that is divisive and increases the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us.

Then Krugman raises the obvvious question:   Why are the Centrists buying this?   Here's what it would do, according to Krugman's analysis.

Let's put aside for the moment the fact that most economists, who are not in thrall to Ayn Rand as Paul Ryan is,  say that a time of high unemployment is not the time to worry about the deficit but the time to create jobs.   I strongly believe that too, but that's not the issue here, so back to the effects of the Ryan budget proposal.

In exchange for the $4.6 trillion in revenue lost over the next decade from the tax cuts, between 14 and 27 million would lose their health care insurance under the proposed cuts to Medicare.

But here's the real kicker that makes you wonder why intelligent people are buying this:   It wouldn't fix the deficit either.   That is, unless you buy the snake oil that Ryan's budget is peddling under the heading "closing loopholes," which he declines to specify.
When has Congress ever been able to close those much-touted "loopholes" -- without other loophole-leaks springing up elsewhere?
 So, much as Ryan and the Republicans claim this budget proposal is "revenue neutral," while reducing the deficit, it is far from that in the actual implementation.  And, even if it were somehow to magically close those ubiquitous loopholes, it has a devastating effect on our social contract with those in need, while further enriching the rich.

So, let the debate between Obama and Romney begin.    At least it has a chance of being about the big ideas of who we are as a nation, instead of the silliness of the Republican primary season.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Where are the responsible, courageous journalists?

Are there no responsible, courageous journalists left in America?   Doesn't anyone stand up to the Republicans and confront them with their distortions and lies?

Remember . . .  repeat a lie often enough and it becomes "truth," -- with a small 't' of course.  Or what Stephen Colbert would call "truthiness." **

Here but the latest example.
Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) staged a petition signing today at a Miami gas station, aimed at forcing President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.  Rep. Mack is running against incumbant Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), and he obviously sees a political advantage to blaming both Senator Nelson and President Obama for the rising pump price of gasoline.  Delaying that decision to allow for an environmental impact study to be completed has nothing to do with today's pump prices, except in the minds of politicians who smell a story they can sell to a gullible public -- and nary a serious journalist to ask them to explain how that could be.
Please see ShrinkRap's April 5th blog, "Playing politics with prices at the pump," for a complete debunking of that false assertion.

If I know the truth, and if a few serious journalists know it, why is it so far above the newspaper writers and TV news hacks to know it?

Knowledge may not be the answer.  It's money.  Who owns the papers?   Who says what can and can't be published?   Big money.

The better papers at least shield the editorial page from money influence, but there are few of those "better" papers left these days.

Money controls government, money controls and is ruining academic research, money controls the press.   One begins to wonder, even, if money controls the United States Supreme Court?


** Truthiness, a word coined by Colbert in 2005 and now defined by the American Dialect Society as "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true."  Colbert used it initially to satirize George W. Bush's nomination of Harriet Myers to SCOTUS and to his decision to invade Iraq in 2003.