Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes that the Republicans seem determined to dig themselves a deeper hole in his Makers, Takers, Fakers:
Meanwhile, back in Louisiana Mr. Jindal is pushing a plan to eliminate the state’s income tax, which falls most heavily on the affluent, and make up for the lost revenue by raising sales taxes, which fall much more heavily on the poor and the middle class. The result would be big gains for the top 1 percent, substantial losses for the bottom 60 percent. Similar plans are being pushed by a number of other Republican governors as well.John Nichols at The Nation offers Three Strategies to Block the Gerrymandering of the Electoral College:
Like the new acknowledgment that the perception of being the party of the rich is a problem, this represents a departure for the G.O.P.—but in the opposite direction. In the past, Republicans would justify tax cuts for the rich either by claiming that they would pay for themselves or by claiming that they could make up for lost revenue by cutting wasteful spending. But what we’re seeing now is open, explicit reverse Robin Hoodism: taking from ordinary families and giving to the rich. That is, even as Republicans look for a way to sound more sympathetic and less extreme, their actual policies are taking another sharp right turn.
Under at least one scenario entertained by Priebus and his minions, Romney’s 5 million–vote loss of the popular vote nationally still would not have prevented him from assuming the presidency.Noam Scheiber at the radically redesigned The New Republic says Tim Geithner was A Good Hire—Who Stayed About Three and a Half Years Too Long.
Impossible? Hardly. Because of gerrymandering and the concentration of Democratic votes in urban areas and college towns, a 1.4-million vote majority for Democrats in congressional races nationwide in 2012 was converted into Republican control of the US House and gridlocked government.
So can Priebus be stopped? It’s possible. But democracy advocates need to move fast, and smart.
[For more punditry, including a take on a different drone war, please keep reading below the fold.]
E.J. Dionne Jr. sounds like Paul Krugman, but from the pages of the Washington Post in The urgency of growth:
The moment’s highest priority should be speeding economic growth and ending the waste, human and economic, left by the Great Recession. But you would never know this because the conversation in our nation’s capital is being held hostage by a ludicrous cycle of phony fiscal deadlines driven by a misplaced belief that the only thing we have to fear is the budget deficit.James K. Galbraith at Alternet writes about a different drone war than the one the United Nations is investigating in Is This the End for the Deficit Drones?
Let’s call a halt to this madness. If we don’t move the economy to a better place, none of the fiscal projections will matter. The economic downturn ballooned the deficit. Growth will move the numbers in the right direction.
The drones are in groups with names like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Campaign to Fix the Debt. They drone on, and on, about the calamities that await unless we cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.Jessica Valenti at The Nation writes Why Ending the Ban on Women in Combat Is Good for All Women:
That the goal of the deficit drones is to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has been plain for years to anyone who looks at where the money comes from. It comes largely from Peter G. Peterson, a billionaire former secretary of Commerce under Nixon, who is Captain Ahab to Social Security's Moby Dick. And when one trick, such as privatization, falls flat, his minions always have another, whether it's raising the retirement age or changing the COLA. But a cut by any other name is still, and always, just a cut.
One of the most common arguments, however, is that the chance of women being raped is just too high. In a 2007 Washington Post piece, Kathleen Parker wrote, “What kind of man, one shudders to wonder, is willing to allow his country’s women to be raped and tortured by men of enemy nations?” Setting aside the disconcerting possessive language, how is it ethical (or logical) to ban women from spaces in which someone else might commit violence against them? Rape on college campuses is at epidemic proportions, yet no one suggests that we ban women from universities. Or perhaps we should create a law that prevents women from marrying men—after all, there’s a chance they might end up with an abusive husband. It’s for their own protection! This particular argument also largely ignores the shockingly high rate of sexual assault within the military. It’s not always the “enemy” women in the military have to be afraid of.The Editorial Board of the Austin American Statesman writes
Another Pentagon survey estimated that only 13.5 percent of sexual assaults are reported each year. The actual number of sexual assaults in the military — 241,000 women serve in a force of 1.6 million — may be closer to 19,000.[...]Sadhbh Walshe at The Guardian asks Is miscarriage murder? States that put fetal rights ahead of a mother's say so:
As it did 65 years ago with racial integration and recently with the end of don’t ask, don’t tell, the military will adjust quickly to the change. We’re confident we will soon forget that banning women from combat was ever an issue.
Ending what justifiably has been called an “epidemic” of sexual assault might prove a more difficult task for the military. Promising changes have been made; more must be made. The only enemies women in the military should have to face are on the battlefield, not in the barracks
This week, just in time for the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) released a study (pdf) on the "criminalization of pregnancy", as reported last week by the Guardian's Karen McVeigh. It details hundreds of cases of women who were arrested, forced to undergo medical procedures, and held in jails, prisons, or mental institutions.Jim Wallis at The Blog makes a A Call for a New Social Covenant:
These arrests and detentions were made possible by the relentless quest to undo Roe v Wade and restrict access to legal abortions. But there is a bigger issue, according to NAPW's executive director Lynn Paltrow:"We are no longer just talking about [attacks on] reproductive rights, but whether, in the guise of trying to end just abortion rights, we are going to remove pregnant women from the community of constitutional persons."
We should discuss social covenants many contexts, and the results will vary from place to place. But they should all include shared principles and features -- a value basis for new agreements, an emphasis on jobs that offer fair rewards for hard work and real contributions to society, security for financial assets and savings, a serious commitment to reduce inequality between the top and the bottom of society, stewardship of the environment, an awareness of future generations' needs, a stable and accountable financial sector and the strengthening of both opportunity and social mobility.Rebecca Burns at In These Times writes about a terrible trend in ‘Zero-tolerance’ and ‘tough-on-crime’ policies put students in a school-to-prison pipeline:
Metal detectors and uniformed security guards greet students each day at Orr Academy on Chicago’s West Side. “My high school seemed like its own personal prison,” Edward Ward, a 2011 Orr graduate, told the Senate Judiciary Committee during his testimony in December 2012. He recalled how a police processing center was even set up to book students on school grounds.The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times urges lawmakers to ignore the National Rifle Association and Stem the flow of guns to Mexico:
Ward’s testimony was part of a historic congressional hearing on the school-to-prison pipeline. With more than 3 million students suspended or expelled each year, U.S. schools are “increasingly a gateway to the criminal justice system,” according to Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who convened the hearing.
Activists warn that this trend is exacerbating the racial disparities that already permeate the prison system. A 2010 study from Indiana University found that, compared with their white peers, black male middle-school students are three times more likely to be suspended, and black female students, four times.
The U.S. has sent nearly $2 billion in aid to Mexico since 2007, much of that as part of the Merida Initiative, a counter-narcotics program designed to provide aid and equipment for that country's drug war. Yet that assistance has been undermined by lax U.S. gun laws, which allow members of the drug cartels and their associates to buy weapons here and smuggle them across the border. At least 68,000 of the firearms seized in Mexico between 2007 and 2011 — and probably quite a lot more — came from the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.