Read this!!! New reporting on Fast & Furious says gun walking was never ATF policy. Looks like Fast & Furious was (as suspected) a frenzy whipped up by right-wing bloggers, covered by FOX, acted on by Congress. [CNN Money and CNN Money]
From The Huffington Post:
Click here to read all of the details.
This is a lengthy read but well worth it. Life in one of the poorest counties in the country. [The American Prospect]
Women’s health and birth control access have sparked a contentious political firestorm in American politics as Republicans have unleashed a barrage of restrictive and damaging legislation. As we fight back against these historic attempts to undermine women’s health and family planning access here in the US, let’s not lose sight of our sisters around the world. Access to family planning education and contraception is one of the global keys to improving health, economic development, and security.
While fertility rates have declined dramatically in most of the world, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia have resisted the trend toward fewer lifetime births per mother. From 1950 to 2000, the average fertility rate in developing countries was cut in half, from 6 to 3.
Fertility rates, however, in many African countries have remained stubbornly high. In Nigeria, the rate is 5.5, in Chad and Uganda it’s over 6. With a fertility rate over 7, Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of childbirth in the world. The fact that it is also poor, uneducated and prone to extremist movements is no accident.
Take a look at this list of countries by fertility rate. A quick glance confirms that poor countries tend to have high rates and rich countries tend to have low rates. Is this simple correlation or causation? In other words, which comes first, the economic development or the declining fertility rate? It’s probably some of both but there’s good reason to believe that access to contraception, even in a poor country, can decrease fertility rates and improve economic development.
Researchers in Bangladesh studied the impact of access to birth control, in Matlab district, over the course of 20 years. They found that in villages with family planning, every measure of well-being, including health, earnings and assets, improved. While cultural preferences for large families remain, an increasing amount of research also shows that couples in developing countries desire fewer children. Marie Stopes International surveyed Afghan families and found that the ideal size for most Afghan families was 4 or 5 children, in other words, 2 or 3 children less than their current fertility rate would dictate. Afghan couples also seemed to understand the benefits of limiting family size. One man commented that: “Three to five (children) is perfect in order to feed and educate them well.” Another study found that more African women said they wanted contraception but had no access than said that they actually use contraception. Most poignant however was the reaction of one woman, a mother of 17, upon receiving birth control for the first time. The woman was reportedly so delighted that she “hugged and kissed Aziza (the provider), ripped open a package and swallowed a pill with a gulp of water.”
Increased access to contraception is not just good for families, it also contributes to a stable and sustainable world. While the link between poverty and terrorism has been difficult to tease out, the growth for example of the deadly Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria appears directly tied to grievances about poverty and inequality, economic stress that is worsened by large families.
All of this is to say nothing of the burden that climate change puts on our world and the strain and conflict it creates. The Department of Defense calls climate change an “accelerant of instability” that exacerbates volatile situations.
Warmer temperatures and increased incidences of severe weather lead to more natural disasters, dislocation, and disease. This stress and hardship in turn fuels extremism. Smaller families consuming fewer resources can be a step on the road to lessening the impact of extreme weather events on global security.
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The popular business referral service has apparently decided to risk the reputation of their own business by supporting Rush Limbaugh’s hate radio.
I can only presume that they are hoping to take advantage of Limbaugh’s last distress-sale advertising rates in order to create buzz following their recent Initial Public Offering. In doing so, they have traded dollars and cents for any sense of common decency. Their ad dollars are supporting a man who has called women sluts, prostitutes, and lard-asses.
While Angie’s decision to associate with Rush Limbaugh is revealing in and of itself, a closer inspection of the company reveals that their association with Rush should not be all that surprising. Angie’s List, it seems, has a problem with women too.
Angie’s List was co-founded by Angie (Angela Bowman Hicks) and William Oesterle in 1995. The two came together in order to create a reliable source of business referrals and Angie’s List was born. Though Angie is the public face of the eponymous organization, Bill Oesterle is actually the CEO. Oesterle’s career did not start in business however. It started in Republican politics. (Hat tip to @catsrimportant!)
After graduating from Purdue University, Oesterle took a low-level position with Republican Governor Robert Orr of Indiana. Oesterle apparently rose through the ranks quickly and in 1988 moved from Governor Orr’s staff to the conservative Hudson Institute where he served as Director of Corporate Affairs.
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The caterpillar doesn’t look dangerous, but if you attempt to harm it, it secretes a venomous anticoagulant that causes renal failure, hemorrhaging, and death. Perhaps this is what Reince Priebus meant by the GOP “War on Women” being like a “War on Caterpillars.”
Although any given incremental erosion of women’s reproductive rights from a GOP sponsored bill at the state level seems harmless enough to the future of the GOP, taken in the aggregate they are likely to cause the party severe electoral distress.
Caterpillars aside, the GOP “War on Women” is real and it has real-world consequences for the millions of women whose lives can and will be impacted by legislation that erodes more than a century’s worth of progress on women’s reproductive rights.
There were over 1100 antichoice provisions introduced in 2011 and 900 antichoice provisions introduced so far in 2012. Legislators in 13 states have introduced 22 bills seeking to mandate that a woman obtain an ultrasound procedure before having an abortion.
Of these, seven states are pursuing the state-rape vaginal probe variety. In addition, legislators in 13 states have sponsored right-wing “Personhood” type bills, too extreme even for the electorate of Mississippi, that could make both abortion and reproductive choices highly restricted.
Lest we think that the rhetoric around these bills might contain the damage to the GOP’s standing amongst women, please note how Georgia state legislator Rep. Terry England compares women to cows and pigs on his farm in support of bill forcing women to carry even inviable fetuses to term and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett justifies forced ultrasound bill by telling women to “just close your eyes.”
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When Republicans took over state legislatures and the US Congress in 2010, we were promised a war on unemployment. Instead we’ve gotten a war on the environment, women, minorities, unions and everything else that moves, organizes and votes Democratic.
What the heck happened? While a lot of attention has rightly been focused on Super PACs, there’s another type of organization that has had an even more dramatic and troubling impact on our democracy. Secretive, tax-exempt 501©(3)s have been gaming our system, enabling corporations and private foundations to buy our democracy at wholesale. They have orchestrated a broad sweep of extreme legislation across the country while using a tax-exempt status to hide their funders and sustain their existence through favorable IRS treatment. Two organizations in particular, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans United for Life (AUL) have led the charge in what has been described as “ghostwriting the law”but which in fact goes far beyond that.
The idealized “Schoolhouse Rock” version of our democratic process works something like this: Constituents concerned about a problem in the community contact their representative in the legislature, who recognizes the issue and decides to respond. The legislator works together with a skilled staff to draft legislation. The legislation is honed in committees where other members bring the perspective of their districts.
Finally, the entire body votes for the bill and it either succeeds or fails on its merits. We all know that this ideal has long been perverted by lobbyists and large donors who hold undue sway in our democracy. Less visible but even more pernicious is the impact of organizations like ALECand AUL who turn legislating into a wholesale, Costco-style activity.
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There’s a concept in sports of playing down to the level of your competition. This occurs when a strong team struggles to beat a weak team because they do not play at their best. Mitt Romney is a vastly superior candidate in terms of organization, skills, and resume than Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich (let alone Herman Cain and Rick Perry). Romney’s not as strong as, say, a Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, but he should have had no trouble dispatching a group of competitors who struggle to even qualify for the ballot, fund their travel, and fill out their delegate slates in key states. Romney’s been playing down to the field and it’s badly damaged his chances for victory in November.
In playing down to a subpar field Romney has taken extreme positions that he won’t be able to Etch A Sketch away. In order to box out Rick Perry, he staked out the most extreme position on immigration of anyone in the field and badly damaged his standing with Latino voters. In order to box out Rick Santorum, Romney was forced to support the Blunt amendment which would allow employers to deny women preventative healthcare, to make a lot of noise about eliminating Planned Parenthood, and to support so-called “personhood amendments” like the one that Mississippi voters rejected as being too extreme. The result has been a stunning decline in the governor’s support among women, particularly women of child-bearing age. The latest USA Today/Gallup poll shows that Romney’s support among women under 50 in 12 key swing states has dropped 14 points in a single month. Over the same period he went from beating President Obama by 2 points in swing states to losing to him by 9. Romney may want to use a Men in Black style mind-eraser trick once he’s through the primary but Democrats are unlikely to allow voters to forget where Romney stood in order to box out his far-right competitors.
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Yesterday, in my appearance on Martin Bashir’s MSNBC show, Bashir Live (See Clip below), I lost it a bit over Reince Priebus’ comparison of the War on Women to a War on Caterpillars. In my spluttering rant, I listed evidence of the many ways in which the War on Women is very much real and very much a product of the GOP working with shadow organizations like Americans United for Life (AUL). Below are a SMALL and not nearly comprehensive sample of the provisions being introduced nationwide which are designed to shame women and dictate to them what they can and can’t do. Please email additional examples to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
War on Planned Parenthood
***Please note that only 97% of what Planned Parenthood does is preventative health care or providing birth control and other contraception which DECREASES the need for abortions. One in five American women have relied on Planned Parenthood for services.
Just purely WTF bills
State legislator craziness
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