Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Boycott Susan G. Komen Foundation

Breaking from all over: The Susan G. Komen Foundation has announced that it will cut off all funding for breast cancer screenings to Planned Parenthood.

Or, to be more specific, they conveniently just adopted a new policy barring grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. According to Komen, this applies to Planned Parenthood because it's the focus of an inquiry launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., seeking to determine whether public money was improperly spent on abortions.

You know what Planned Parenthood is. It's the group with chapters all across the country that provides health care to women and men in such vital areas as family planning and cancer screening. In so doing, Planned Parenthood has probably done more to reduce abortions than any other single organization.

And SGK? The behemoth plastering every product and event it can get its hands on with pink, and spending over a million dollars a year bullying any other organization that even comes close to its "For the Cure" trademark.

Planned Parenthood received $680,000 in 2011 and $580,000 in 2010 from Komen for breast-cancer screening and related services. Nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams were supported by Komen grants.

This is a new low. While they claim they are trying to protect the purity of their funding, it seems more likely that they're trying to protect themselves against association with the anti-choice, anti-sex attacks leveled against Planned Parenthood.

The Susan G. Komen message boards are being flooded with comments from women protesting this betrayal of women's health concerns. I encourage you to add your voice.

There are also "Boycott Susan G. Komen" groups popping up on Facebook, and here's where I suggest caution. If you read the group descriptions, at least one of these groups is an anti-choice cause basing its attacks on the fact that SGK was giving money to Planned Parenthood. The group to join is the one I just linked to, not the Boycott Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which is the anti-choice group.

So today would be a good day to join the Facebook group, let them know how seriously you take this attack on choice and women's health, and contribute to Planned Parenthood's Breast Health Emergency Fund.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is this a smart tactic for Gingrich?

As I mentioned the other day, last week didn't seem like a very good week for Newt Gingrich, and mainly because the week was about two things: his proclivity to keep coming up with stupid ideas, and his longstanding record as a serially unfaithful husband.

So is this really the best time for him to be reminding people of sexual improprieties?

[Herman Cain], who left the race before the first nominating contests after facing accusations of unwanted sexual advances, suggested the two have both undergone intense scrutiny.

"I know that Speaker Gingrich is running for president and going through this sausage grinder," Cain said. "I know what this sausage grinder is all about."

What's the message here? Philanderers for Gingrich?

In a week where he's already taking heavy fire for his own sexual peccadilloes, does Gingrich really need this?

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gingrich chooses not to defend his honor

Not a good news day for Gingrich leading into the last debate before the Florida primary.

A week ago Gingrich had to stand up to a debate the day after ABC aired an interview with his ex-wife in which she described his request to convert his marriage with a six-year affair on the side to what he called an open marriage. He handled it pretty well, doing what comes naturally to him: he lied.

The story is false. Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren't interested, because they would like to attack any Republican.

And the kicker is, it worked. Everyone agrees that his pugnacious presentation won the debate.

Unfortunately for him, he had to walk back his story just ever so slightly today. In fact, "Tonight, after persistent questioning by our staff, the Gingrich campaign concedes now Speaker Gingrich was wrong — both in his debate answer, and in our interview yesterday," King said on tonight's edition of John King USA. "Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says the only people the Gingrich campaign offered to ABC were his two daughters from his first marriage."

You really should watch the video. A week after he lied in the debate, and two days after he lied on camera, they had to come back and admit that what was baloney here, to use Gingrich's term, was not ABC's reporting but Gingrich's own claims.

I didn't watch tonight's debate, but I'm pretty sure they didn't ask the question I would have asked. If I were asking the questions, my first one would be:

Mr. Gingrich at a debate the other night you stated that you had asked ABC to interview several of your friends and that they had refused to do so. Today your campaign admitted that your statement was false, and that the only people you offered to ABC to interview were your two daughters, who have also worked on your campaign.

In light of the fact that your statements during the debate were demonstrably and intentionally false, how can you expect the American people to believe anything else you say to them?

Alternate wording: In light of the fact that your statements during the debate were demonstrably and intentionally false, are you prepared to release to the American people a list of the other knowing misstatements you have made during your long political career?

So tell me, did anyone ask that question, or any version of it?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Obama again supports community colleges

Once again President Obama emphasized the central role of community colleges in his education plans.

We have noted that before on these pages, as well as noting that his support for community colleges is a major campaign promise kept, but it's worth noting again.

From last night's State of the Union address:

Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie’s tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant.
I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did. Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. My Administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers – places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.

Community colleges can be the core of the next great American recovery. They're in communities (!) where people live, they are affordable, they provide flexibility for working and other nontraditional students, and they can adapt to meet the vocational and general educational needs of their students.

President Obama has it exactly right when he talks about the importance of community colleges to the new American century.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bob Kerrey was right

If you're a regular reader around here you know that I'm fond of Dan Savage's definition of Santorum, but the news reports today demonstrate that Bob Kerrey was right.

At an appearance in Florida one of Santorum's supporters spoke out, saying "He is an avowed Muslim and my question is, why isn't something being done to get him out of our government?"

Sound familiar? It should, because four years ago a John McCain supporter made a similar charge with regard to then-Senator Obama. Watch the video and then come back. It's short.

Okay, back?

See what McCain did? Even though he was fighting for every vote, he corrected this misguided woman, even saying that Obama was a decent man who just disagreed on policy.

He set quite a standard for your boy, Santorum, eh? So what did Santorum do?

"It's not my responsibility as a candidate to correct everybody who makes a statement that I disagree with," Santorum said. "There are lots of people who get up and say stuff in a town hall meeting and say things that I don't agree with, but I don't think it's my obligation, nor should it be your feeling that it's my obligation to correct somebody who says something that I don't agree with."

Maybe politics are like sports. They claim that sports build character, but maybe politics, like sports, reveal character.

And maybe that's why Bob Kerrey observed “Santorum, that’s Latin for asshole.”

No argument here.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Update: Limbaugh Defend's Gingrich's Honor

This isn't the most important or substantive issue, but I can't let this go without one more post.

We saw the news this week about Newt Gingrich and his, shall we say, casual attitude toward marital fidelity, for which he got some negative publicity. Granted, it's not about politics, it's about sex, although the fact that he was busy impeaching Bill Clinton for extramarital sex while he was enjoying his how access to extramarital sex (to the extent you can say you're enjoying it when you're having sex with someone who is so sharp she can cut glass) says something not very favorable about his adherence to principle and intellectual honesty.

Nevertheless, the man who has been the leader of the right wing of the Republican Party ever since the election of Bill Clinton has rushed to defend Gingrich's honor.

From Rush Limbaugh's web page, to which I will not link:

I got a great note from a friend of mine. "So Newt wanted an open marriage. BFD. At least he asked his wife for permission instead of cheating on her. That's a mark of character, in my book. Newt's a victim. We all are. Ours is the horniest generation. We were soldiers in the sex revolution. We were tempted by everything from Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice to Plato's Retreat, Deep Throat to no-fault divorce. Many of us paid the ultimate price, AIDS, abortion, or alimony for the cultural marching orders we got. Hell, for all I know we should be getting disability from the government." That's from a good friend of mine, "Newt's slogan ought to, 'Hell, yes, I wanted it.'" (laughing) I'm sharing with you how some people are reacting to this.

"Mark of character"?

I guess that's true. I guess that for the last thirty or forty years Gingrich has been demonstrating his character. In fact, we probably know more about the character of Newt Gingrich than we have known about any presidential candidate since Richard Nixon.

And they are remarkably similar.

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gingrich Defends His Honor

Like any southern gentleman, when Newt Gingrich's honor is questioned he stands up to defend it. Maybe there was no slap across the face with a glove, or challenge to a duel at last night's debate, but how could he sit back in the face of charges of marital infidelity?

Let's take a step back and examine the charges.

Here's the question from last night's debate, based on ABC's reporting:

As you know, your ex-wife gave an interview to ABC News and another interview with The Washington Post, and this story has now gone viral on the Internet. In it, she says that you came to her in 1999, at a time when you were having an affair. She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage. Would you like to take some time to respond to that?

Gingrich's response in its entirety:

I think -- I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that. (Cheers, applause.)

. . .

MR. GINGRICH: Every person in here knows personal pain.

Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine. (Cheers, applause.)

My -- my two daughters, my two daughters wrote the head of ABC, and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it. And I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. KING: As you noted, Mr. Speaker, this story did not come from our network. As you also know, it is a subject of conversation on the campaign. I'm not -- I get your point; I take get your --

MR. GINGRICH: John, John, it was repeated by your network. (Boos.) You chose to start the debate with it. Don't try to blame somebody else. You and your staff chose to start this debate with that. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. KING: Now, OK --

MR. GINGRICH: Now, let me be quite clear. Let me be quite clear. The story is false. Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren't interested, because they would like to attack any Republican. They're attacking the governor, they're attacking me. I'm sure they'll probably get around to Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul. I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.

The typography is important here. In all that blathering, the only thing Gingrich says that actually responds to the charge is what's in bold there. "The story is false. Blah blah blah." The rest of his answer is to attack the media, which is always popular among Republicans, and to attack the questioner.

But when he says the story is false, what is he actually talking about?

The only real question was whether he asked his then-wife if he could have an affair with Callista while remaining married to his wife. After the fact.

There's no question about the fact that he was having an affair. We know that he had already been having an affair for six years before the divorce.

The facts are clear. Gingrich met his second wife in 1980 and married her in 1981. (Yes, okay, it is true that he started carrying on with Wife # 2 while married to Wife #1, if you want to be a stickler about it.) He filed for divorce in 1999. By that time he had already been having an affair with Callista for years, and when his divorce was final in 2000 he married her.

Oh yes, and during part of the time he was carrying on with Callista, 23 years his junior, he was trying to hound Bill Clinton out of office for carrying on with a much younger woman.

So to understand Gingrich's "The story is false," in the context of the known facts, we have to conclude that the only factual point that he could be disputing is whether he went to his wife and asked her if it was okay to keep on having affairs while staying married to her.

Not whether he was having affairs with women much younger than his wives during his marriages to them. Not whether he left two wives to marry his much younger paramours. No. Whether he tried to convince his wife that he should be allowed to have affairs.

What's false about the story if you believe every word he says, is that his ex-wife claims that he asked her for permission and he says he never asked for permission, he just carried on his affairs without any regard for what his wife wanted.

Oh yes, and when Gingrich talks about having "someone close to them go through painful things", what he's talking about is all the years he was married to one woman while having an affair with a different woman.

And this is why he feels he must defend his honor?

I'm waiting for the duel.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Life, Justice, and the Republicans

Every so often we see a court case that illuminates the difference between two ideas of justice, and this week was one of those times.

The case involved Cory Maples, a young man in Alabama who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. His court-appointed attorney made the kind of token effort you would expect of someone whose pay is limited to $1,000.00. Indeed, the trial lawyers actually admitted to the jury that they were "stumbling around in the dark," given their inexperience in capital cases. This would ordinarily be grounds for a challenge to the death sentence because he was denied his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel.

Since Alabama has no funding for court-appointed lawyers on appeal even in death penalty cases, Maples was forced to rely on two volunteer attorneys from one of the big New York law firms.

They literally abandoned the case: when they left their jobs they just left, not even telling their client or the court that they were out of it, so when the court in Alabama sent a notice to them that their request for post-conviction review had been denied it was just sent back to the clerk unopened. No lawyer, no hearing, no review of your death sentence.

The question before the Supreme Court this week was whether in this case, where the attorneys who represented the defendant abandoned the case, he was entitled to pursue an appeal of his death penalty. The question was so clear that even Roberts and Alito ruled in favor of the defendant, but what is most interesting is the dissent by the Scalia-Thomas twins. In their view, it doesn't matter that his lawyers in New York dropped the case, and maybe never even communicated with him, he is considered responsible for everything his lawyers knew and did.

The derelictions of the defense attorneys in this case are so shocking that even some of the most conservative justices ever to sit on the court ruled in favor of the defendant. What we know, though, is that Scalia and Thomas are the model for judicial appointments from the Republican Right. If you picture the vacancies likely to arise on the Court in the next five years, and if you consider the choices that Mitt Romney will be in a position to make if he is elected, you can see the paramount importance of this year's election to all who value justice in our courts.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 12, 2012

More Santorum

It's not just in the Times, it's also on NPR, and some people are unhappy.

Take this ombudsman's note defending their coverage of the Santorum story.

The ombudsman found that covering the story was a legitimate journalistic enterprise.

I have to say that for myself, I sympathize with Wolff but agree with Sydell. It would be disingenuous to ignore what anyone can see on Google. We Latinos call that trying to cover the sun with a finger. Sydell's story, at least, gives a responsible explanation of why you find what you find on Google. And why Santorum has a problem.

Of course it was. Journalists have no business pretending a real news story isn't news. Even if the subjects of those stories don't like it.

My favorite part of this whole thing, though, is the phrasing of the letter of complaint. Read this sentence:
All Things Considered has stepped out of bounds for this cheap political smear.
He said it, I didn't.

I've always been partial to Bob Kerrey's definition of Santorum, but I have to agree that Dan Savage has really topped him.

Don't you wonder, though, why Santorum's friends are working so hard to keep the meme alive?

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 09, 2012

So let me get this straight

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Did you see that?

Rick Santorum's anal sex problem just made it into the pages of the New York Times.

And the credit goes to Maureen Dowd, who has not always been treated kindly in these pages.

Still, credit where credit is due.

Rick Santorum is getting a bit more attention, what with his dead-heat finish with Willard M. Romney in the Iowa caucuses this week, but attention isn't necessarily good for him.

As MoDo points out,
Not satisfied with mentioning homosexuality in the same breath as bestiality and pedophilia, as he did in 2003, Santorum tried to win over the kids by equating homosexuality with polygamy.
Maybe Santorum doesn't remember what it was like to be a college student, or maybe he just was never the kind of college student who talks back or disrespects his elders, but here's the response he got:

The grating Santorum was their worst nightmare of a bad teacher. He merely got booed; he’s lucky the kids didn’t TP his car or soap the windows.

But that might just show that Santorum has a tin ear when it comes to talking to college students; here comes Dowd's money quote:

When 17-year-old Rhiannon Pyle, visiting with her civics class from Newburyport, Mass., pressed Santorum on how he could believe that all men are created equal and still object to two men in love marrying, he began nonsensically frothing.

"So what?" you say? It's only a "so what" moment if you are unfamiliar with Santorum's anal sex problem.

You see, back when Santorum first started saying homosexuality was the same as "man on boy" or "man on dog" it offended a gay sex advice columnist named Dan Savage, who decided to retaliate by coming up with an appropriate definition for Santorum's name. After a poll of his readers Savage decided the appropriate definition for Santorum is "the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes a byproduct of anal sex."

Santorum doesn't like it. In fact, he hates it, and he's gone crying to Google to make it stop, but it won't stop. If you google Santorum the Dan Savage definition is likely to be the top link, and is pretty much guaranteed to be in the top two or three.

Now "frothy" is not a particularly common word, so when Maureen Dowd, a person who is undoubtedly familiar with the new definition of Santorum, uses "frothing" in referring to Santorum in a column about Rick Santorum and same-sex relationships, there is no way that's an accident.

So you go, MoDo!

By the way, in case you're wondering, one of the readers' pick comments in the Times had the same thought:

Frothing? As in the first Google entry for Santorum? Well, Maureen, you had me chuckling (even if it was a tad subtle).

Labels: , , , ,