Posts tagged "PoliticsAndNews"
“I was compelled to vote no on Senator Kerry’s nomination because of his longstanding less-than-vigorous defense of U.S. national security issues,” said Mr. Cruz, who also questioned the commitment of Mr. Kerry and Mr. Hagel to the armed forces, though both served in Vietnam. Mr. Cruz has no record of military service.
continuing my efforts to catalogue the ny times’ efforts to son the people they write about, please enjoy this subtle-and-almost-polite shot at junior senator ted cruz, which is typical of the style. previous examples can be found here and here

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to strip away some protections for immigrants who are the victims of domestic violence.

The Violence Against Women Act offers anonymity to victims of domestic abuse who are applying for residency visas so that their applications cannot be sabotaged by their alleged abusers.

And to encourage victims of domestic abuse crimes to remain in the U.S. and cooperate with police, witnesses are able to apply for a special residency visa and eventually apply for permanent residency.

These safeguards, among others, have been removed from the House bill reauthorizing the act.

Via the LA Times. Earlier this week I was thinking about the certainty with which we all hold our respective views, and how terrifying that is. For example, I think that to decline to help victims of domestic violence just because they are immigrants is horrifying, the work of unfeeling, unthinking monsters who have failed a very basic test of compassion and understanding. Or worse, that it is acceptable to appear this way for the sake of appealing politically to people who are that way. 

On the other hand, the people who do these things think it is perfectly reasonable to do so! An earlier This Is America, Dude post:

“Asked if he would be concerned that a woman without legal immigration status was raped and beaten as she walked down the street might be afraid to report the crime to police, Mr. Fattman said he was not worried about those implications. “My thought is that if someone is here illegally, they should be afraid to come forward,” Mr. Fattman said.”

I find this to be horrifying, and he does not. We cannot both be right. What a monsterous thing! How absurd it seems!

The core gay experience throughout history has been displacement, a sense of belonging and yet not belonging. Gays are born mostly into heterosexual families and discover as they grow up that, for some reason, they will never be able to have a marriage like their parents’ or their siblings’. They know this before they can tell anyone else, even their parents. This sense of subtle alienation—of loving your own family while feeling excluded from it—is something all gay children learn. They sense something inchoate, a separateness from their peers, a subtle estrangement from their families, the first sharp pangs of shame. And then, at some point, they find out what it all means. In the past, they often would retreat and withdraw, holding a secret they couldn’t even share with their parents—living as an insider outsider.

Andrew Sullivan, “Barack Obama: The First Gay President,” Newsweek, May 13, 2012

I don’t know how true this is for every gay person (here, for instance, is someone for whom it’s not true), but it’s true for at least one, so: interesting.

disappointed to see sullivan walk back his “we already had a gay president: lincoln” stance

(via screwrocknroll)

"When your bones that have never touched the air touch the air, it’s like putting a Popsicle on your bottom teeth," Rachel says.

"Except for times a million," Destiny says.


"When I woke up, Rachel came in her wheelchair and, like, the first thing she said was ‘I love you.’ And I was, like, ‘I love you, too,’" Destiny says. "My mom told me I lost a leg, and it didn’t really go through my mind. It didn’t really go through my mind for, like, a month. I was like, ‘Whatever, I lost a leg, it will grow back.’ And then I was like, ‘Wait a minute. No, it won’t.’"

2 Teen Girls, Injured By Train, Cope With Change

He is incapable, really, of admitting past errors. Perhaps you may remember that Romney once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter stuck in a cage on the station wagon roof. When he was originally asked about it, he claimed the dog “loves fresh air.”

This was more than four years ago. What would have happened if Romney had just said: “Boy, in retrospect that really does sound like a bad idea. But you have to remember that we had five boys under the age of 14. It was like living in a vortex; we did all kinds of stupid stuff.”

Do you think the nation — particularly the part that has ever tried to drive long distances with a car full of children — would have been understanding? I personally would never have mentioned the incident at all.

But since we haven’t gotten that sort of input, I kind of feel free to bring it up now and then.

Gail Collins! (via barthel)

So Mitt Romney’s foreign policy adviser was gay and an outspoken advocate of treating human beings like human beings. Some Republicans did not care for either of these things and so Romney’s team told the man to not let anyone know he existed for a while in hopes that the whole thing would blow over. Then the man quit! Romney’s team: “wtf dude, what’s the big deal?”

Several gay leaders said the campaign failed to grasp the message it had sent when it told him to lie low.  “Clearly, the Romney campaign thought if they could put him in a box for a while it would go away,” said Christopher Barron, a founder of GOProud, a gay Republican group in Washington. “It is an unforced error on their part.”

He added, “It doesn’t bode well for the Romney campaign going forward if they couldn’t stand up to the most outrageous attacks about him being gay.”

Ms. Gitcho, of the campaign, disputed that characterization. Mr. Romney, she said, “has condemned voices of intolerance within the party. We tried to persuade Mr. Grenell to stay on, and we were disappointed that he chose to resign.”

Here’s the thing, Ms. Gitcho. You didn’t actually condemn voices of intolerance within the party! Here’s what a condemnation looks like: “We are disappointed that some conservatives, with whom we agree on a great many issues, continue to treat our fellow human beings as lepers, to imply that they suffer from character defects simply because of who they are, and as such that they deserve anything less than full equality under the law. Though Mr. Romney is a person of faith and recognizes that personal questions of faith must be settled in an honest manner, we nonetheless must condemn this attempt to insist that all areas of public life align with what should be private religious values.” You can even segue that into a discussion of how Barry is a dangerous radical who insists on driving a wedge of secularism into every church! I don’t give a shit. But let’s look at what you said:

Andrea Saul, a campaign spokeswoman, issued a statement of support for Mr. Grenell on April 24. But it made no mention of the attacks on his sexuality: “We hired Ric Grenell because he was the best qualified person for the job and has extensive experience representing the U.S. Mission to the U.N.”

Ms. Gitcho, I’ve condemned things, I know how to condemn things, condemning things is a hobby of mine. Ms. Gitcho, that’s no condemnation. 

The evening is a result of the fact, feature or bug, that our nation’s capital is located well outside our nation’s media, entertainment and financial capitals, forcing those who call the political capital home and consider themselves terribly important to prove their importance by tricking actual famous and important people into attending a party much lamer than a random Wednesday night back where they live.

Alex Pareene, “No one gets lucky at Washington’s prom,” Salon, April 30, 2012

This, however:

This year, the president delivered some funny jokes about how he once ate a dog. He killed. (Do other democracies do this? I’m honestly asking. Does Australia’s PM have to deliver a stand-up routine to a frigid crowd of media executives and Australian soap opera stars once a year?)

Astonishingly, Alex, other countries are also host to the absurd shenanigans of the political class. American exceptionalism apparently extends to a conviction that America is exceptionally awful!

Australian reporters have the Press Gallery’s Midwinter Ball. The media here frequently compares that event to the WHCD. Political media everywhere is vain and self-important.

(via screwrocknroll)


In my experience, “America is exceptionally awful!” is the first step after rejecting American Exceptionalism. It’s something I’m still working over, trying to reconcile the size, scope, and style of our empire with the idea that America isn’t exceptionally awful. 

Medical examiners in Los Angeles are investigating the possible poisoning death of one of their own officials who may have worked on the case of Andrew Breitbart, the conservative firebrand who died March 1, the same day Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced probable cause for forgery in President Obama’s birth certificate.


finally got an answer to my “what happens if I stare into the mirror and say ‘vince foster’ three times”

There’s a long article in the times about welfare. I took a snippet from it for This is America, Dude because it had a really This is America, Dude snippet in it. But there’s a bunch of pieces that are, though not the one-note-at-a-time required by TIA,D, clearly songs from our savage symphony. 

As the downturn wreaked havoc on budgets, some states took new steps to keep the needy away. They shortened time limits, tightened eligibility rules and reduced benefits (to an average of about $350 a month for a family of three).

Since 2007, 11 states have cut the rolls by 10 percent or more. They include centers of unemployment like Georgia, Indiana and Rhode Island, as well as Michigan, where the welfare director justified cuts by telling legislators, “We have a fair number of people gaming the system.” Arizona cut benefits by 20 percent and shortened time limits twice — to two years, from five.

Many people already found the underlying system more hassle than help, a gantlet of job-search classes where absences can be punished by a complete loss of aid. Some states explicitly pursue a policy of deterrence to make sure people use the program only as a last resort.

Since the states get fixed federal grants, any caseload growth comes at their own expense. By contrast, the federal government pays the entire food stamp bill no matter how many people enroll; states encourage applications, and the rolls have reached record highs.

So the take-away is that despite the recession, welfare rolls haven’t really gone up. There are several reasons for this, but a big one has to do with welfare reform. Welfare reform handed welfare over to the states in the form of block grants. Here’s a bunch of money, distribute how you see fit. How many states see fit to distribute that money is (a) in very strictly limited ways and (b) not in the form of helping people who need help. Please keep this in mind next time Paul Ryan talks about handing Medicare over to the states as block grants.

Clarence H. Carter, Arizona’s director of economic security, says finances forced officials to cut the rolls. But the state gets the same base funding from the federal government, $200 million, that it received in the mid-1990s when caseloads were five times as high. (The law also requires it to spend $86 million in state funds.)

Arizona spends most of the federal money on other human services programs, especially foster care and adoption services, while using just one-third for cash benefits and work programs — the core purposes of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. If it did not use the federal welfare money, the state would have to finance more of those programs itself.

“Yes, we divert — divert’s a bad word,” said State Representative John Kavanagh, a Republican and chairman of the Arizona House Appropriations Committee. “It helps the state.”

Arizona, am I rite

“We have reduced our caseload, and we don’t have people dying in the street,” Mr. Kavanagh said. “There were an awful lot of people who didn’t need it.”

who wants to bet that mr kavanagh’s definition of “awful lot” “need” and “people” are really weird 

Several women acknowledged that they had resorted to shoplifting, including one who took orders for brand-name clothes and sold them for half-price. Asked how she got cash, one woman said flatly, “We rob wetbacks” — illegal immigrants, who tend to carry cash and avoid the police. At least nine times, she said, she has flirted with men and led them toward her home, where accomplices robbed them.

“I felt bad afterwards,” she said. But she added, “There were times when we didn’t have nothing to eat.”

Arizona: We don’t have people dying in the street.

Opponents, most of whom are political conservatives, regard the ambitious project as a classic government overreach that will require taxpayer subsidies. But they also see something more sinister: an agenda to push people into European or Asian models of dense cities, tight apartments and reliance on state-provided transportation.

In their view, the rationale of the rail system rests on flawed assumptions that would undermine California’s identity, which during the last half-century has revolved around single-family homes that have driven economic growth, family-oriented lifestyles and signature West Coast recreation.

“It is a real movement in California of controlling the masses, controlling land use, deciding where people should live,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare). “I oppose that absolutely, because it is a form of left-wing social engineering.”


Ralph Vartabedian, “A collision of visions on bullet train,” Los Angeles Times, March 8, 2012

There is a massive political fiction that, for years, I’ve been trying quixotically to expose, and, of course, I’ve been entirely unsuccessful. That fiction is that conservatives believe in small government. Yes, I know. Liberals say conservatives believe in small government. Conservatives say conservatives believes in small government. They are all wrong. Conservatives do not believe in small government.

What conservatives do believe in is government that rewards things they approve of and does not reward things they disapprove of. (Liberals behave similarly, and, in their own way, are as anti-government as conservatives are; see here for more.)

This quote is a perfect example. Yes, high speed rail is a government subsidy that helps facilitate a certain kind of urban living revolving around dense urban cores and freely available public transport. But the model favored by conservatives — single-family dwellings situated in suburban and exurban sprawl connected by miles of highway — is equally the product of government intervention: oil subsidies, taxpayer funds spent on constructing roads, and inner city building regulations limiting the supply of high-density housing.

(For my part, I think anti-sprawl liberals should accept that not everyone is going to accept living in high-density downtown cores and eschewing auto travel. The solution is to foster inner-urban growth, taking the cost and population pressures off the outskirts, and, in the process, making it more practical and cost-effective to provide the suburban infrastructure the right demands.)

Reporting from Washington— Mary Brown, a 56-year-old Florida woman who owned a small auto repair shop but had no health insurance, became the lead plaintiff challenging President Obama’s healthcare law because she was passionate about the issue.

Brown “doesn’t have insurance. She doesn’t want to pay for it. And she doesn’t want the government to tell her she has to have it,” said Karen Harned, a lawyer for the National Federation of Independent Business. Brown is a plaintiff in the federation’s case, which the Supreme Court plans to hear later this month.

But court records reveal that Brown and her husband filed for bankruptcy last fall with $4,500 in unpaid medical bills. Those bills could change Brown from a symbol of proud independence into an example of exactly the problem the healthcare law was intended to address.

pretty sure we can file this with the earlier noted media pieces making fun of people who sit in sinking ships and yell about how the government has no business bailing, and it’s against the bill of rights to force them into a lifeboat

Residents in Uniopolis wanted a balanced budget, and voted in Republican Gov. John Kasich to get the job done. But now the village is facing disincorporation because it can’t stay afloat.

The cuts were felt across the state: Auglaize County, where Uniopolis is located, lost $5 million in the new budget, according to Innovation Ohio, a left-leaning think tank. Cuyahoga County, the home of Cleveland, lost $230 million, and Hamilton County, where Cincinnati is located, lost $136 million, the think tank reported.

In the western part of the state, a Republican stronghold where forgotten barns with peeling paint sit atop flat fields, many who supported Kasich say they didn’t expect the cuts would reach their small hamlets. Uniopolis voted for Kasich by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

"I did vote for Kasich. He said he was going to balance the budget and he did," said Bob Wenning, whose wife, Elaine, has sat on the Uniopolis Village Council for 19 years. "But there’s a lot of towns that are hurting because of those state budget cuts."

"He could have cut less than what he did," added Elaine Wenning, standing outside the couple’s small house as big rigs rumbled by on a two-lane highway.

there was that long piece in the sunday times about people who depend on the social safety net but also hate it, and now the la times is chuckling over some folks who voted their town out of existence. really hoping that these stories become a trend. 

     At the prison, shadowed by seacoast mountains, Gold Coats are paid $50 a month and have better knowledge of impaired prisoners’ conditions than many prison guards. Gold Coats, trained by the Alzheimer’s Association and given thick manuals on dementia, were the first to notice when Mr. Cruz began putting his boots on the wrong feet and “started pulling down his pants and going to the bathroom wherever he was,” said Phillip Burdick, a Gold Coat who is serving a life sentence for beating a man to death with a hammer.

There’s an article in the Times about the growing population of people in prison developing dementia and Alzheimer’s and the inmates who have been trusted with the responsibility of aiding them. It’s riveting, not in the least because of the surreal quality of weaving in contextual details that include the words “beating a man to death with a hammer.” In the video accompanying the article, two convicted murderers walk across the yard, one softly asking where they are and where they’re going, the other brightly answering that they’re going back to the building, that yellow building with all them windows in it.

    Gold Coats get harassed and called snitches for seeming to side with prison officials and because of the perks they receive. In the dining hall, to help dementia patients who, as Mr. Burdick says, “start forgetting basic things like what is a spork for,” Gold Coats sit with them at special “slow eater” tables, where meals are allowed to stretch beyond the usual 10 to 12 minutes.

     When a prisoner tried stealing a patient’s dessert, Mr. Montgomery, one of the Gold Coats, snarled, “You got to give him his cookie back.”

     “Who are you, the PO-lice?” the inmate barked. Mr. Montgomery retorted, “Yes, I’m the PO-lice!”

Ellison, Invisible Man: “You caint forgit down here, ‘cause if you do, you liable to blow up something. They got all this machinery, but that ain’t everything; we the machines inside the machine.”

     Families of demented inmates seem unperturbed that prisoners like Mr. Montgomery now have so much responsibility. Laura Eklund, Mr. Cruz’s niece, said prison officials have asked if his relatives wanted him paroled, but the family has declined. “To be honest, the care he’s receiving in prison, we could not match,” she said.

     When Mr. Cruz spies his own reflection, he often believes it is his brother Sergio. To keep him from getting agitated, his cell mirror has been covered with tape. But now when he looks into a toilet, he calls: “Hey, my brother, he’s down there. I can’t get him out.”

     Mr. Montgomery said he tries to reassure Mr. Cruz, but if Mr. Cruz is locked in his cell, Mr. Montgomery — still a prisoner, after all — cannot enter even if he is allowed out of his own cell. He will call to Mr. Cruz through a tiny window in the thick metal door. “All I can do is say, ‘Cruz, come here, come here, come here,’ but he’ll stand there,” staring helplessly into the toilet and agonizing. “ ‘See, see, look, see.’ ”