All Articles Tagged "Republicans"
The Republicans have been up in arms about Benghazi and a “cover up” that they keep insisting on in the wake of the terrible September 11, 2012 event that cost the lives of four Americans, including US. Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens. For some background and the latest on the situation, click here.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held hearings last week and Republicans continue to harp on the changes to talking points that were used in discussions of the incident with the media and Congress. Squarely in their cross hairs is former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Not only is this situation being used to attempt to damage President Obama, it’s being preemptively used to hurt Hillary Clinton’s possible 2016 presidential run. Note the use of the word “possible” because Hillary Clinton hasn’t said that she’s even running. So this is what we’re spending precious government time and resources on. Sigh.
Already, the National Republican National Committee has made a video and used the situation as part of its fundraising efforts. According to The Washington Post, the ”Clinton/Benghazi fundraising page made Friday the most trafficked day in the history of its Web site.”
Certainly, when a tragedy of this magnitude happens, it’s worthwhile to investigate, find deficiencies, and solve them, which it looks like Clinton tried to do. The article goes on to say that there are some legitimate questions being asked about what happened before and after the incident. But, as WaPo writes, “the moment Republicans get a little too ambitious in tying Clinton to the issue is the moment that Democrats can credibly say that this is a political operation — as President Obama argued in his press conference Monday.” Seeing the money roll in, and out of persistent fears of their diminishing power, the Republicans can (and probably will, if they haven’t already) go too far.
“The fact is that while Republicans may truly believe Clinton bears some responsibility for what happened on Sept. 11, 2012, and for the administration’s poor public response to it, they still have plenty to prove to the American people in that regard,” The Washington Post says. And before you can prove anything, you have to make people care. A poll from the Pew Research Center finds that only 44 percent are paying attention to the hearings and any of the other activity surrounding the Benghazi investigation. About 40 percent say they believe the Obama administration has been honest; the same amount think they’ve been dishonest.
Moreover, Public Policy Polling research finds that voters trust Hillary Clinton more than they do congressional Republicans. And she has a 52 percent approval rating. Congressional Republicans have a 36 percent approval rating. More than half, 57 percent, view Congressional Republicans unfavorably.
Getting to the truth is one thing, but using this situation for fundraising or political purposes is another. To use David Brock’s words (writing for USA Today), this is looking very much like a “witch hunt.” After the jump, the American Crossroads super PAC attack ad.
The Republican party and the African-American community aren’t known for being on the same side of most issues. But as the GOP has upped its efforts to increase its appeal in the black and Latina community, MadameNoire to take a look of some of the party insiders.
President Obama To Give Back 5% Of Salary “In Solidarity” With Federal Employees Who’ve Been Hurt By Sequestration
President Obama wants to show you as opposed to just telling you that he’s a man of the people, and he’s doing that by returning five percent of his $400,000 salary as a sign of unity with federal employees who have had to take pay cuts, been unemployed or deal with unpaid leaves from their jobs as an effect of sequestration. As part of the sequestration, in March, budget cuts were enacted between the defense and non-defense categories of government, and by the end of the year, it’s said that thousands of jobs will be lost or failed to be created because of these cuts and could even affect Medicare. Even historical sites and parks have been shut down for visitation because of the sequestration.
According to TIME, the following was said in a statement about the president’s choice by a White House official:
“The salary for the President, as with Members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed. However, the President has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury.”
All in all, by the end of the year, that 5 percent (which will be distributed in payments each month), according to the Washington Post, will come out to about $20,000. Even Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is taking a voluntary pay cut, amounting to allegedly 14 furlough days (those unpaid job leaves we were discussing earlier). A democratic senator in Alaska is also following suit.
According to the Washington Post, this could be a move by the president to put public pressure on Republicans, and it could work:
“…what he is clearly hoping is that other Administration figures and other elected officials take his cue to forego some salary and, in so doing, keep the story in the news — ratcheting up the pressure on those (mostly Republicans) who are just fine with keeping the sequester in place.”
Whatever the motivation behind this voluntary pay cut, it’s a bold one that we here are impressed by. What are your thoughts?
In a proposal that broadcasters said was a surprise, President Obama called for a raise in the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour, up from the current $7.25. He justified the proposal by calling out the disgrace that it truly is when a person works all week and still makes less than a living wage. Of course, many workers and worker’s advocates support the move.
“But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year,” he said (transcript courtesy of PolicyMic). Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong. That’s why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, nineteen states have chosen to bump theirs even higher.”
The proposal would increase the minimum wage in stages through 2015. The last time there was a raise in the minimum wage was 2007, says CNN. The outlet quotes Bureau of Labor stats that put the number of people earning the minimum wage at 5.8 million, or about 5.2 percent, not counting workers like maids, who get a fixed weekly wage.
No sooner had the words left his mouth did economists and others begin the debate about whether this is a good idea. On its face, of course we want hard-working people to be in a more stable financial position. But some say that there are other considerations that could end up making the higher wage a negative.
“[E]mployer groups say that raising the federal minimum wage would cost jobs, and hiking state rates doesn’t help reduce poverty,” writes CNN. “Studies have projected a loss of at least 467,500 positions were the hourly rate to go up to $9.80, according to the Employment Policies Institute, which advocates for employers. The most recent boost meant that 114,000 fewer teens had jobs.” A previous bill to raise the minimum wage to $9.80 by 2014 stalled. The article says that if the minimum wage kept up with the cost of living, it would actually be $10.56 per hour.
That sentiment is seconded by The Wall Street Journal, which says that Republicans and business groups will oppose the pay hike. There are some who say that raising the minimum wage will increase spending by those earning more money. Others say it will lead to job cuts as employers lay off workers they can no longer afford. Still others say that if you’re trying to alleviate poverty, this will have a very limited impact, and will benefit higher-income earners in a kind of trickle-up effect.
“The White House wants to force wealthier Americans to pay higher taxes by eliminating tax breaks, and it is now calling for wage increases for poorer Americans,” writes the Journal. “Many Republicans oppose raising taxes and oppose raising the minimum wage, but they could face a test in their new public campaign to appeal to middle-class and low-income Americans.” The President was quick to point out that a minimum wage increase was also supported by Mitt Romney.
The effort to raise the minimum wage comes at a time when there are some signs of economic recovery — stock market highs and employers hiring — and there is a need to offer support to lift people out of poverty. The Journal says that the poverty rate in this country is at 15.9 percent, or 48.5 million in 2011. Reuters quotes some business owners and experts who say that it’ll actually put teenagers, immigrants, and those lacking skill out of work.
Those arguments in opposition bring up the bigger problem of education and creating a skilled workforce that can earn a living in this modern marketplace. That’s where other issues like universal pre-school, beefing up jobs in the energy sector, and making college more affordable become critical pieces of the entire puzzle.
According to the International Business Times, the New Yorker’s article on Rand Paul asking for President Obama to resign was just a joke. Apparently Andy Borowitz’s article was satire and he regularly writes these types of opinion pieces on current events — without letting people know they’re not real.
Well, at least this is relief Republicans aren’t that crazy.
I really wanted that headline to read: GTFOHWTBSYRAMF — the last letters meaning you racist a** mother f***ers but that’s not very ladylike so I’ll stop while I’m already behind on my swearing allotment for the day. But after you read this, you might want to yell out a few expletives too.
The New Yorker, in its Borowitz Report, has quoted the always-ridiculous Senator Rand Paul — a Republican from Kentucky, of course — who is now calling on President Obama to resign from office because Beyonce lip-synched the National Anthem during inauguration. According to him:
“By lip-synching the national anthem, Beyoncé has cast a dark cloud over the President’s second term. The only way President Obama can remove that cloud is by resigning from office at once.”
“We must remember that this happened on President Obama’s watch. If Beyoncé lip-synched the national anthem, how do we know President Obama didn’t lip-sync his oath of office?” he said. “If that’s the case, he’s not legally President. But just to be on the safe side, he should resign anyway.”
Yes, that’s a very logical way to look at this situation because singing and talking are exactly the same thing and I’m sure President Obama wanted to save his vocals so he could whisper in Michelle’s ear later during their first Inaugural dance. How does he not realize how crazy he sounds? And how is his party not ashamed? They need to put out a gag order on him.
At this point, I should remind you that Rand Paul is the son of Ron Paul, the originator of the “honest rape” theory that, speaking of cloud casting, overshadowed way too much of the abortion debate during the Presidential election this year. So yeah, the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree at all.
Like Beyonce, the White House has chosen not to comment on what has become the most unnecessarily crafted scandal in a slow news week ever — because why would they — but Rand says the refusal to comment:
“only serves the argument that this President has something to hide.”
I wish Republicans like Rand and his pappy would realize that they should actually be the ones who keep quiet on things that don’t actually matter. Isn’t there a deficit to be fixed right now?
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced her choice to replace departing Sen. Jim DeMint — Rep. Tim Scott. Elected to Congress in 2010, Rep. Scott was “the first black congressional Republican from the Deep South since Reconstruction,” reports The Washington Post.
Sen. DeMint is leaving his post to lead The Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. He was elected to the office in 2004 and had said he had no intentions of running for re-election in 2016. DeMint is a Tea Party favorite and has stated his belief that the new position will be “a vehicle to popularize conservative ideas in a way that connects with a broader public,” The Wall Street Journal reports. He was known for bumping heads with leaders of the Republican party. He officially steps down on January 1.
From the beginning, Rep. Scott was the favorite to step up to the position. Born in 1965, he was raised by a single mother. He first ran for office in Charleston, SC after graduating from college and running a real estate company (note WaPo‘s biographical detail about his beginnings with a mentor). His election to the Charleston City Council in 1995 was enough to thwart a lawsuit asserting that the city violated the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
He won his seat in Congress by defeating Paul Thurmond, son of 1948 segregationist candidate for President, Strom Thurmond. He declined to join the Congressional Black Caucus, saying that he appreciated the invite but his “campaign was never about race,” The Washington Post says.
Even if it isn’t about race for him, it is very much for the Republicans. When he takes his spot in the Senate, Scott will be “the first black Republican senator since Edward Brooke of Massachusetts lost in 1978; and the only currently serving black senator,” The Atlantic reports. “(Your shocking fact for the day: Brooke remains the only black senator to ever be reelected.),” the magazine continues. After he leaves the House, there will be no black Republicans in the Congressional body. Republicans struggled throughout the election cycle to reach black voters and other minority groups. So even as they oppose policies like affirmative action and certain elements of immigration reform, and (as Gov. Haley did yesterday) as they take pains to express that their sole concern is choosing the most qualified person, Republicans would also like to add a few diverse faces to their ranks. With demographic trends showing minority groups will have growing influence in future elections, the GOP has a vested interest in appealing more strongly to minority groups.
“Other Republicans insist that the candidates are a first step — that they are taking — and that having as many high-profile non-white faces will allow them to speak to minority voters on a core level that they have struggled to do in the past,” says a separate WaPo story. Hmm… Don’t think so. It’s not just what a politician looks like, but what they support.
While the GOP is working hard to keep Susan Rice, currently the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, from becoming the next Secretary of State, other groups are working even harder to get her approved.
A diverse group of African-American women leaders joined together today to show their support for Rice. The group teamed up with the Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR), an intergenerational civic engagement network of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, to launch a campaign to “express their unequivocal support of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and to encourage Senate and congressional leaders to treat the esteemed public servant with respect,” announced a press release.
“It is important that women from all walks of life come together to push back when we see someone being treated unfairly not because of her work, but due to politics. Ambassador Rice has had a stellar career and has served this country with great dignity. We can not sit back and allow those who long for the days when white male privilege persisted in America to ruin the Ambassador´s reputation,” Melanie L. Campbell, president of the National Coalition and convener of BWR, tells us via email. “It’s a new day and Black, White, Caribbean, Asian and Latino women have come together to say, not on our watch! We are demanding that Ambassador Rice be given the proper respect appropriate for any other Cabinet-level member of a sitting Administration.”
The group of high-profile women signed an open letter to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Among those who signed are: Ingrid Saunders Jones, chair, National Council of Negro Women; former Essence editor Susan L. Taylor, CEO and founder, National CARES Mentoring Movement; actress Vivica A. Fox, president, Foxy Brown Productions; and Dr. Natalia A. Francisco, founder and executive director, Women of Worth & Worship, LLC.
According to the press release, the letter sent to Senate intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and committee ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said that Ambassador Rice “has excelled throughout her career both in the public and private sector. Her commitment to international peace and the equality of all people should be heralded, not summarily dismissed for political gain and expedience.”
The letter even addressed the Benghazi incident as it pointed out, “While some members of the Senate have pushed back on their rush to judgment in the press regarding Ambassador Rice’s prepared remarks on the attack in Benghazi, we feel that the public integrity and reputation of this brilliant woman, who serves our country with great dignity, has been unfairly and unnecessarily attacked.”
Rice also got a major show of support from the incoming Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) chair Rep. Marcia Fudge, who at a recent press conference vigorously defended Rice’s qualification and accused the GOP of being both racist and sexist. She stated, “women and minorities tend to be the target of Republican attacks when they lose to Democrats,” reports The Loop 21.
In addition to the letter there is an online petition in support of Ambassador Rice. The twitter hashtag is #SupportAmbassadorRice.
What do you think of the Susan Rice backlash?
No doubt, you’ve been hearing a lot about the “fiscal cliff” that we’re perilously close to going over. On January 1, a number of tax increases and spending cuts will go into effect if this very divided federal government doesn’t reach a compromise. Faith in their ability to reach a resolution is low, which is impacting stock prices today and has been a factor for many business decision makers for months.
“Failure to reach a deal means tax increases and deep spending cuts take effect in five weeks — the fiscal cliff scenario that analysts fear could push the country back into recession,” says CNN.
The plan President Obama proposes would extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class while ending them for people making $250,000 and more. This infographic lays out who would be affected by the tax increase and who wouldn’t. (Those who wouldn’t include individuals making less than this amount and “97 percent” of small businesses.) The My2K hashtag refers to the $2,200 that middle class taxes would increase should we actually fall off this metaphorical cliff. The White House has also been pushing their proposal hard on their Twitter account, with videos and other media included, and on this website.
Of course, others who reject the President’s plan have also used the hashtag to make their point of view known.
President Obama is also meeting with small business owners, chief executives at corporations, and middle class Americans today.
The Republicans, of course, aren’t taking this lying down. They’re also planning a number of events in Washington, with small business owners and corporate bigwigs, and in their home states, telling everyone who will listen that the White House plan will cost jobs. They say there should be no tax increases for anyone and want to reduce the size of government. They’re also in favor of spending cuts and entitlement reforms, a break with a pledge that many Republicans made with Grover Norquist, an anti-tax activist who founded Americans for Tax Reform.
“This is the public relations phase of the latest fiscal showdown in Washington, where direct engagement is no longer viewed as the optimal route to reaching a deal. As Wall Street shudders and Congress once again risks looking feckless in the face of crisis, both sides are locked in a battle to win over key interest groups — and the public,” writes Politico. The website notes that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) haven’t met face-to-face in a while to discuss a compromise. Many believe they should meet, and meet often, in the coming days. But previous meetings over other issues yielded little. So the President seems to be opting for another strategy this time around.
A final compromise has to be reached in 33 days.
Add this to your list of watch party options. Tonight, some museums across the country are hosting Election Night viewings in connection with the exhibit “Your Land/My Land: Election ‘12”—inviting impassioned online debate across all 50 states.
Conceived by New York-based artist Jonathan Horowitz, the installation simultaneously on view in seven museums around the nation features blue and red carpets divided into opposing zones to reflect the Democrat-GOP divide. Monitors suspended above the carpets simulcast a live feed from liberal leaning news network MSNBC on one side and a live feed from conservative-friendly outlet Fox News on the other.
President Obama’s portrait hangs on an adjacent wall while a photograph of Governor Romney waits on the floor, only to replace Obama’s hanging position if he wins.
Horowitz told Madame Noire he designed the installation as “a location for people to gather, watch coverage of, and talk about the presidential election.” He added, “Aesthetically, it depicts an electorate and media that have become polarized like never before.”
Polarization is safe in the museum setting says Bill Arning, director of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, one of the museums exhibiting “Your Land.”
“We don’t have the type of social spaces we used to,” Arning explains, citing the shortage of public forums where people can physically congregate for the express purpose of deep civil debate. “[These days] the only place we’re used to seeing 40 people at once is a shopping mall,” he quips. “The social role of museums as being the safe place to discuss dangerous ideas is getting more and more important.”
But you don’t have to share your personal political views with strangers to share the “Your Land” experience. Allison Agsten curator of public engagement at Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum says visitors have already been flocking just to watch the debates with a group. “For the final presidential debate, when the rest of the museum was closed,” she says, “nearly forty visitors came.”
Turnout could be even higher on Election Day, if not after says Agsten which is the exhibit will remain on view for two weeks after the polls close. “We all know that MSNBC and Fox won’t stop churning out the coverage!“ With pretty much every poll predicting a statistical dead heat between the candidates, and Hurricane Sandy damage potentially impacting voter turnout on the East Coast, a nail biter of hanging chad proportions could be in store.
Flashbacks from 2004 aside, Dominic Molon, curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis where “Your Land” greets visitors in the lobby, says the exhibit ironically offers voters a detox from election fever. “Jonathan’s work is very much about this kind of intersection of the mass media, popular culture, and politics,” he observes, “[and] the way that they kind of cancel one another out.”
Molon adds, “Like [the] viral video of the little girl crying about ‘if I hear about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney anymore…’ I think we’re almost all kind of at that point right now.”
Tell us how you feel on YourLandMyLand.us and #YLML. “Your Land/My Land: Election ’12” is currently on view at the museums listed below.
Contemporary Art Museum St Louis – on view till November 11, 2012
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston – on view till November 11, 2012
Telfair Museum (Savannah) – on view till November 11, 2012
Contemporary Art Museum (Raleigh) – on view till November 12, 2012
Hammer Museum (Los Angeles) – on view till November 18, 2012
New Museum (New York) – on view till November 18, 2012
Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (Salt Lake City) – on view till November 24, 2012
The recent spate of GOP callousness towards rape victims is part of a broader rape culture in our country in which victims of sexual assault are frequently blamed for their own attacks–by gossip, by the media, and also in some cases, legally.
Witness this perfect example of rape culture coming from legal papers filed in California . Here’s what happened: the Moraga school district has responded to a suit by adult victims who were underage at the time. One perpetrator, having gone to trial, has been found guilty of offenses specifically against Kristen Cunnane, but that didn’t stop the district from laying the blame at her feet in its filing.
In fact, they actually claimed she was careless and negligent–yes, when she was a preteen being molested by a teacher.
The district and three other defendants claim Cunnane “was herself responsible for the acts and damages of which she claims,” in the Oct. 24 legal filing.
“Carelessness and negligence on (Cunnane’s) part proximately contributed to the happenings of the incident and to the injuries, loss and damages,” they claim.
When she read the legal response, Cunnane, 30, said she was floored.
“It felt like I got punched in the stomach, and I stood up and thought about how young I was when I was 12 to 13 years old at the school,” said Cunnane, whose suit was filed in September. “For them to use words like ‘negligent’ and ‘responsible’ just broke my heart.”
The district’s legal counsel says that by using this language, it’s simply exhausting every avenue for defense against these allegations, but lawyers who work with these kinds of cases maintain that this kind of excuse doesn’t hold:
A youth law attorney said he understands the district’s need to include many affirmative defenses in its legal response to the suit but said that assigning responsibility to Cunnane for the abuse was inappropriate.
“I think it is reprehensible to place the blame on the young girl who was victimized,” said William Grimm, senior attorney with Oakland-based National Center for Youth Law. “The district’s defense has to be plausible … and this doesn’t even pass the smell test, in my opinion.”
As Cunnane says in the story, and as advocates who work with victims know, it’s very difficult for many victims, whatever the circumstances, to stop blaming themselves because they’ve internalized rape culture.
Actions like the district’s only make these problems worse.
When victims are blamed instead of perpetrators and denied agency over their bodies, it’s no wonder that politicians feel they can say things like Washington congressional candidate John Koster did, the latest in a long line of Republicans.
“[I]ncest is so rare, I mean, it’s so rare,” Koster says in a recorded interview with an activist from Fuse Washington, a liberal group. “But the rape thing … you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept her child, gave it up for adoption, she doesn’t regret it. In fact, she’s a big pro-life proponent. But on the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better? You know what I mean?”
These people can’t even give victims agency in their language about assault.
*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.