Monthly Archives: July 2013

“The Newsroom”: S2E3 Review

It's starting to get serious.

In the third episode of the second season, the show thankfully revisited some of the themes and tone of the first season.  Right off the bat, we see Will McAvoy in his broadcast chair, lambasting Michelle Bachmann, Hermain Cain, Rick Santorem, and Mitt Romney for refusing to stand up for a gay front-line soldier who asked a YouTube question during a presidential debate, and was subsequently booed by the GOP audience.  (This was a real-life news event; the soldier was Stephen Hill).  Here's where the best line of the show came: "How many different kinds of disgusting do you have to be to boo a man who volunteered to fight and die for you?"

After the broadcast, Mackenzie again tries to weasel information from Will: What was in that personal phone message that he sent her several months ago… the one that began "I'm not just saying this because I'm high…."?  But Will persists he can't remember what he said (why not? Because he was high).

And also reappearing from last season is Nina Howard (Hope Davis), the columnist who intercepted that phone message last season.  Now, she is doing a story about how Will was taken off the 9/11 10th Anniversary coverage because he had pissed off the Tea Party.  Will, invoking Don Quixote again (he's back!), decides to remount his "quest to civilize" and convince Nina not to write the story.  So he invites her to a posh and otherwise deserted restaurant, where a man at a piano plays "What The World Needs Now Is Love" and lays down his pitch to Nina.  

To both their surprise, she agrees not to write the story — and in an unguarded moment, he asks her on a date.  She says she would love to, but she has heard the phone message from Will to Mackenzie.  And she repeats to Will: "I'm not just saying this because I'm high…. but I've never stopped being in love with you".  She tells Will that he is "an idiot" for thinking that Mackenzie wouldn't feel the same way back.

At the end of the show, we see Mackenzie, still obsessing about the phone message, summoning the courage to call Nina and ask what Will's phone message said.  Finally she makes the call, but Nina tells Mackenzie she can't remember.  The camera pulls back on Nina, and we see her in Will's bathrobe, with Will, in his apartment. Hmmmmmm.

In another thread, Will is determined to find out who leaked that he was taken off the 9/11 anniversary coverage.  Sloan admits that she was the leaker, although it was by accident.  It turns out, however, that the actual leaker was Reese Lansing, president of ACN.  He's no longer intimidated by the "blackmail" that he worked with the NSA to intercept phone conversations of his staff.  In fact, since Nina isn't working on the story, he's ready to give it to someone else.

So again, like in Season One, we have Reese back in play as nemesis.

However, unlike Season One, the Jim-Maggie-Don-(Lucy) story is gone.  Mostly, that's because Jim is in New Hampshire on the Romney press bus.  Jim is getting frustrated that all they get from the Romney campaign are talking points, and they refuse to answer hard questions.  What frustrates him even more is that the young members of the press are content to report those talking points, rather than ask hard questions.  At one point, he leads a revolt on the press bus.  But the only result of that is that he, Hallie (another reporter and potential love interest), and a third reporter are kicked off the campaign bus.

Jim's producing fill-in at ACN, Jerry Dantana, also continued to press … about the so-called "Genoa tip" that suggested U.S. forces used sarin gas on civilians. Mackenzie joined Jerry in meeting with a soldier, who recalled "tripping over people screaming," inspiring Mackenzie to give the soldier a steno pad to write down "as many names as you can remember, please."

Brought into the situation, Charlie was skeptical it would lead anywhere, though he gave Jerry the go-ahead to pursue the story ("Just do it quietly"). Mackenzie still had her own doubts, but outweighing that was her fear another news organization would follow the story and get somewhere with it first.

Jerry assembles his team to look for confirmation of the event described by the soldier.  The first place they look is for tweets in Arabic around the time and place of the event.  Using a translator who communicates with them by fax, it all looks like a ridiculous effort, until one translated tweet comes across the fax machine.  And it discusses villagers being subject to "willie pete" — military code for white phospherous, or sarin gas.  Like I said, this is starting to look serious.

And meanwhile, Neal is still in the trenches with the Occupy Wall Street People, and Maggie got her clearance — and pills — to go to Africa.  One of the first things she will do while there, we learn, is to visit an orphanage.  I suspect Maggie will not be able to handle it emotionally — we'll soon find out.

RT @NekkidFeet: Come out this Saturday night to Comedy Potluck at The Community Arts Cafe @cac4arts. Things are going to get weird. #improv

It’s Official: NC Passes Worst Voter ID Law Ever

From The Nation:

Late last night, the North Carolina legislature passed the country’s worst voter suppression law after only three days of debate. Rick Hasen of Election Law Blog called it “the most sweeping anti-voter law in at least decades” The bill mandates strict voter ID to cast a ballot (no student IDs, no public employee IDs, etc), even though 318,000 registered voters lack the narrow forms of acceptable ID according to the state’s own numbers and there have been no recorded prosecutions of voter impersonation in the past decade. The bill cuts the number of early voting days by a week, even though 56 percent of North Carolinians voted early in 2012. The bill eliminates same-day voter registration during the early voting period, even though 96,000 people used it during the general election in 2012 and states that have adopted the convenient reform have the highest voter turnout in the country. African-Americans are 23 percent of registered voters in the state, but comprised 28 percent of early voters in 2012, 33 percent of those who used same-day registration and 34 percent of those without state-issued ID.

And that’s just the start of it. In short, the bill eliminates practically everything that encourages people to vote in North Carolina, replaced by unnecessary and burdensome new restrictions. At the same time, the bill expands the influence of unregulated corporate influence in state elections. Just what our democracy needs—more money and less voting!

“I want you to understand what this bill means to people,” said Rep. Mickey Michaux (D-Durham), the longest serving member of the North Carolina House and a veteran of the civil rights movement who grew up in the Jim Crow South. “We have fought for, died for and struggled for our right to vote. You can take these 57 pages of abomination and confine them to the streets of Hell for all eternity."  

Here are the details of everything bad about the ball, via North Carolina Policy Watch. It’s a very long list:

  The end of pre-registration for 16 & 17 year olds

  A ban on paid voter registration drives

  Elimination of same day voter registration

  A provision allowing voters to be challenged by any registered voter of the county in which they vote rather than just their precinct

  A week sliced off Early Voting

  Elimination of straight party ticket voting

  A provision making the state’s presidential primary date a function of the primary date in South Carolina

  A provision calling for a study (rather than a mandate) of electronic candidate filing

  An increase in the maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 (the limit will continue to increase every two years with the Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  A provision weakening disclosure requirements for ”independent expenditure” committees

  Authorization of vigilante poll observers, lots of them, with expanded range of interference

  An expansion of the scope of who may examine registration records and challenge voters

  A repeal of out-of-precinct voting

  A repeal of the current mandate for high-school registration drives

  Elimination of flexibility in opening early voting sites at different hours within a county

  A provision making it more difficult to add satellite polling sites for the elderly or voters with disabilities

  New limits on who can assist a voter adjudicated to be incompetent by court

  The repeal of three public financing programs

  The repeal of disclosure requirements under “candidate specific communications.”

“We will see long lines, many citizens turned away and not allowed to vote, more provisional ballots cast but many fewer counting, vigilante observers at the polling place and all disproportionately impacting black voters,” says Anita Earls, executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice and a former deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Clinton administration. “This new law revives everything we have fought against for the past 10 years and eliminates everything we fought for.”

The legislation should be a wake-up call for Congress to get serious about resurrecting the Voting Rights Act and passing federal election reform. Six Southern states have passed or implemented new voting restrictions since the Supreme Court’s decision last month invalidating Section 4 of the VRA, which will go down in history as one of the worst rulings in the past century. Voting rights groups (and perhaps the federal government) will soon challenge at least some of the new restrictions through a preliminary injunction, others sections of the VRA, or the state constitution. But if Section 5 of the VRA was still operable, North Carolina would have to clear all of these changes with the federal government and prove they are not discriminatory—practically herculean task given the facts. The new law would’ve been blocked or tempered as a result. Instead, the North Carolina legislature interpreted the Court’s decision as a green light for voter suppression, which it was, and made the bill as draconian as possible.

Move aside Florida, North Carolina is now the new poster child for voter suppression. The Moral Monday movement in the state is now more important than ever. Maybe someday we’ll look back at this period as the turning point when the nation realized just how important the Voting Rights Act was and is.

It’s “Da da doo- da”. MT @JoshMalina All I want is a parrot that’ll incessantly sing the “doo da- doo doo” parts of Tom’s Diner.

Sabotaging Obamacare

Look, you can't intentionally derail a train, and then say that the train didn't work.

But that's just what Republicans and Tea Party leaders are planning to do with Obamacare:

"The Republican strategy is to focus on messages that this is not working in states where the law is still unpopular with voters and where there are really going to be competitive races," said Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health.

FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, a conservative issue group financed by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, known for funding conservative causes, are planning separate media and grassroots campaigns aimed at adults in their 20s and 30s – the very people Obama needs to have sign up for healthcare coverage in new online insurance exchanges if his reforms are to succeed.

"We're trying to make it socially acceptable to skip the exchange," said Dean Clancy, vice president for public policy at FreedomWorks, which boasts 6 million supporters. The group is designing a symbolic "Obamacare card" that college students can burn during campus protests.

Right. So you urge your people not to get healthcare coverage, and when they get leukemia, you think they will blame Obamacare??

Noting that it is unprecedented in American history that politicians would try to undercut a law, Norm Ornstein has a few words:

When a law is enacted, representatives who opposed it have some choices (which are not mutually exclusive). They can try to repeal it, which is perfectly acceptable – unless it becomes an effort at grandstanding so overdone that it detracts from other basic responsibilities of governing. They can try to amend it to make it work better – not just perfectly acceptable but desirable, if the goal is to improve a cumbersome law to work better for the betterment of the society and its people. They can strive to make sure that the law does the most for Americans it is intended to serve, including their own constituents, while doing the least damage to the society and the economy. Or they can step aside and leave the burden of implementation to those who supported the law and got it enacted in the first place.

But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation – which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil – is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate – even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists – takes one's breath away.

Indeed.

Tom-toles-obamacare

House Bill 589

North Carolina is set to pass one of the most strict voting limitations bills in the country.  Not only does it include a strict voter-ID law and provision shortening early voting and eliminating same-day voter registration for early voting, but it’s also a laundry list of ways to make it harder for people to vote, and which cannot plausibly be justified on antifraud grounds. WRAL describes some of its other provisions:

  • Eliminate pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, who currently can register to vote before they turn 18.
  • Outlaw paid voter registration drives.
  • Eliminate straight-ticket voting.
  • Eliminate provisional voting if someone shows up at the wrong precinct.
  • Prohibit counties from extending poll hours by one hour on Election Day in extraordinary circumstances, such as in response to long lines.
  • Allow any registered voter of a county to challenge the eligibility of a voter rather than just a voter of the precinct in which the suspect voter is registered.
  • Move the presidential primary to first Tuesday after South Carolina's primary if that state holds its primary before March 15. That would mean North Carolina would have two primaries during presidential elections.
  • Study electronic filing for campaign returns.
  • Increase the maximum allowed campaign contribution per election from $4,000 to $5,000.
  • Loosen disclosure requirements in campaign ads paid for by independent committees.
  • Repeal the publicly funded election program for appellate court judges.
  • Repeal the requirement that candidates endorse ads run by their campaigns.

Thanks to the Supreme Court, this measure no longer requires federal approval before it can go into effect. And while we can be sure that voting-rights advocates will challenge this law in court once it passes, they will do so under much tougher voting-rights standards.

But all is not bleak.  A strong law like this is likely to inspire heavy backlash.  Litigation to bar paid voter-registration drives will probably be struck down. Activists will spend considerable energy seeking to negate the effects of these laws and to increase turnout.

Don't think it will happen?  Talk to the Republican legislators in Florida. They passed their own cutbacks in voter registration and early voting before the 2012 elections. Voting-rights advocates eventually got the registration rules thrown out. After Election Day in Florida saw some people waiting hours to vote, and Florida was once again held up as the example of how not to run an election and a friendly Republican home for voter suppression, the Florida legislature repealed the cutback in early voting and other voting restrictions.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, seeing Florida’s experience, abandoned his effort to eliminate same-day voter registration in the state. The story of the 2012 election was a story of voter and judicial backlash against Republican overreaching on voting.

North Carolina is the next battleground, and it is in the national spotlight.

Of course, the cavalry might arrive before there is a voter backlash:

The Justice Department is preparing to take fresh legal action in a string of voting rights cases across the nation, U.S. officials said, part of a new attempt to blunt the impact of a Supreme Court ruling that the Obama administration has warned will imperil minority representation.

The decision to challenge state officials marks an aggressive effort to continue policing voting rights issues and follows a ruling by the court last month that invalidated a critical part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The justices threw out a part of the act that determined which states with a history of discrimination had to be granted Justice Department or court approval before making voting law changes.

Let's hope.

Fisking S.E. Cupp

S.E. Cupp thinks the Republicans are in for a surge, because the kids get them.

Yes, really.  Let's break down her Daily News opinion piece:

It’s doubtful right now that there’s a Democratic strategist, politician or candidate anywhere in America who’s asking: “How do we get more young voters?”

That’s because youth fealty to the Democratic Party is so rote these days that liberals seem to delight in rubbing it in.

Progressive prognosticator Ana Marie Cox, for one, decreed in The Guardian recently that “no amount of ‘rebranding’ will win back young voters to the Republican Party.” Amanda Marcotte of Slate implied just this week that the rise of progressive millennials — voters ages 18 to 30 — has brought about “the end of the conservative death grip on religion in America,” since “it’s an open secret that the youngest generation finds the reactionary politics and hostility toward science that marks religious conservatism to be repulsive.”

But the largest generation in history — 80 million potential voters, who in 2020 will be roughly a third of the voting-age population, and already are a bigger bloc than either blacks or Hispanics (of course, there’s overlap) — might actually be the most conservative wave of young people in recent memory.

Wow, that's an interesting thesis.  I would love to see the scientific data to prove that.

I have no scientific data to prove it — my hostility toward science revealed, no doubt — but if one actually bothers to challenge the well-tread assumptions, it’s nearly impossible to think otherwise.

Take their lifestyle habits, for starters. As I’ve written before, David Burstein’s research in “Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaping Our World” is instructive. He found that millennials are taking on less debt than their predecessors and are renting, rather than buying homes they can’t afford.

You may see this as delaying adulthood, but in fact young folks deserve ample credit for learning the ills of easy money, predatory lending and government subsidies that don’t pan out. Millennials understand fiscal responsibility instinctively.

Hmmm.  I suspect those millenials are aware of WHY they can't afford houses, etc., despite the fact that their parents and grandparents could.  It's called wealth disparity, and they know it comes from conservative politics.

In addition, they are increasingly entrepreneurial. You could see that as the idealism of youth, but not if the world they live in rewards their ideas. When a 17-year-old sells an app to Yahoo for $30 million, it’s one of many clear signs that today’s young people have an unflinching faith in capitalism and free markets.

Yes.  Well, I suspect that that one-in-a-million 17-year-old who sells an app to Yahoo for $30 million might have an unflinching faith in capitalism and free markers.  The other 17 year olds?  Not so much.

And by the way, being liberal does NOT mean a rejection of capitalism and free markets.

Any more wishful thinking, S.E.?

Many have suggested that the explosion of social media among millennials, where professional and personal relationships are experienced virtually, represents a rejection of community, family values and other such provincial relics of conservative culture.

Not so, in my opinion. The point of social networks like Facebook and Instagram is to maintain (and even rediscover) high school friendships, share baby albums with family a continent away, and create communities where people with the same values can gather. Likewise, Twitter is a news aggregator that acts as a hometown newspaper, condensing the global experience into a quaintly local one.

The millennial embrace of social media is, in fact, a rejection of progress. Yes, it’s an embrace of new technology, but for the purposes of desperately preserving the traditions and experiences of generations past.

True, perhaps, but the technology has allowed young people, once sheltered in the provincial mindset of where they live, to experience thoughts and ideas that previous generations were sheltered from.  Gay marriage, for instance.  The kids in the South don't get what the objection is to it.

Of course, social issues — most notably, gay marriage — are the coup de grâce in the liberals’ case for why today’s young people will never vote for conservatives. And they’re right, to the extent that the politics of gay marriage favors Democrats.

Oh, this should be good.

To me, the more instructive takeaway isn’t that young people think Republicans hate gays, but that young people are enthusiastically promoting marriage. Instead of trying to delegitimize the institution to create new social paradigms, millennials have chosen to champion marriage and monogamous relationships for all couples.

Well, uh….. no.  People who are for gay marriage aren't trying to delegitimize ANY institution, particularly marriage.  They think gay marriage IS legitimate.  Millenials understand this the most.  They aren't championing marriage and monogamous relationships per se; they are championing

Remember: It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans were faring quite well among young voters. In 1972, Richard Nixon won 52% of voters younger than 30. Ronald Reagan won 59% of young voters in 1984, and in 2000, Al Gore and George W. Bush virtually split the youth vote down the middle.

That was then.

While it’s possible (and maybe probable) that millennials will continue to vote Democratic, that won’t be because they are inherently liberal. Their values are quite the opposite, if you can see through the stereotypes, cliches and political adages.

But only someone as bubble-bound as S.E. Cupp can "see through" this.  Ms. Cupp, it's called wishful thinking.

As Democrats grow complacent with these voters and misread their values, Republicans should take the opportunity to give them exactly what they’re asking for, even if they don’t know it yet: conservative policies that help empower their conservative lifestyles.

Yes, please. Do that.  Tell young female millenials what they must do with their bodies — they'll love that.  Make it harder for millenials to get a good education — they'll thank you later.

And so on.

All Ms. Cupp mentions is gay marriage, but she forgets all the other things that youth care about — jobs (which they don't have thanks to conservative policies), the environment (you think young millenials are allied with conservatives on climate change, where conservatives don't even believe in it?), immigration (xenophobia isn't working), and scores of others.  Millenitals are for social justice, which means a war on poverty, not a war on poor people.

RT @WillMcAvoyACN: In spite of the state ban, a county clerk in Pennsylvania has issued a marriage certificate to a same sex couple. http:/…

Say WHAT?!?

It's an anonymous allegation in a civil rights complaint, so keep that in mind.  Still, if it's true, it's pretty shocking

The University of Southern California is facing a federal civil rights investigation after students filed a complaint that alleged the school ignored campus rape and failed to prosecute attackers even after they confessed.

One anonymous USC student involved in the complaint said that campus police had decided she wasn't raped because her alleged attacker did not orgasm…

 

Anthony Weiner’s Problem

Apparently, being busted for an online affair and forced to resign from Congress taught Anthony Weiner that he'd need to be more careful, and use an alter ego the next time he sent pictures of his equipment to women.

So he used the name "Carlos Danger."

It was bound to happen sooner or later: An anonymous woman has claimed to the Arizona-based gossip and nudies site The Dirty that she carried on an explicit online affair with mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner — after he was busted and forced to resign from Congress for the exact same thing. "She was lured by Anthony Weiner post scandal via Facebook," wrote the site's editor Nik Ritchie yesterday. "They had a relationship for 6 months and she believed they were in love … The relationship consisted of Anthony Weiner and Anonymous sending sexually explicit pictures of each other and having sexual conversations via phone. The best part was Anthony used an alias this time thinking this would protect him. Anthony Weiner used the name 'Carlos Danger' when he would email pictures of his penis via Yahoo."

Weiner has owned up to it and apologized.

I don't really care about the sexual lives of our politicians unless they are in a position to be blackmailed or whatever.  And that held true for the first round of Weiner scandals.  But at some point, it becomes an issue of ones' common sense, and Weiner seems to lack it.  It's not so much the pictures themselves, but the stupidity of a candidate who can't lay off something which acts as a constant distraction.

Plus that fact that, according to some reports, he wasn't asked to send out these explicit pictures of himself — he just did it.  That's kinda creepy.

Maybe Weiner needs to re-evaluate his life goals again.

English Baby Born

Perhaps at the turn of the next century, Baby ________, born today to Prince William and Kate Middleton, will finally become King of England at the ripe old age of 87.  And perhaps someone will do some researching back in time to see what people were saying on the day the once and future King of England was born.  That day would be today, about half an hour ago.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaawn!

It’s Okay, Bigots. The GOP Isn’t Really Embracing “Tolerance”

Following their 2012 election debacle, the Republican National Committee and the College Republicans issued reports which urged the party to go through an image makeover without adjusting its political stances. Essentially, they argued, the party should only appear to be changing and becoming more open-minded, empathetic and welcoming.

Speaking with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network posted today, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus confirmed that the party will try to reach out to groups like gays and lesbians by simply appearing to be more respectful without actually changing its views on issues such as marriage equality.

After Brody said conservative evangelical voters are nervous that the GOP thinks “we have to be more tolerant,” Priebus said there is nothing to worry about. “I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction,” the party chairman said.

“It’s not what you say, I think, it’s sometimes – like our moms used to tell us – it’s how you say it. And I think that’s really the issue. And quite frankly, I think some of that has been overblown.”

Priebus assured Brody that the GOP will continue to represent “things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians” and recognize that “there’s only one sovereign God.”

Watch:

 

“The Newsroom”: S2E2 Review

The second show of the season didn't really move the ball forward very much.  

There was more fall out from the YouTube video of Maggie screeching at the Sex and the City bus (the rant in which she declares her desire for her "best friend's boyfriend" which led to her break-up with Don).  Sloan and Maggie track down the owner of the video and ask her to pull it from YouTube.  They don't want Lisa (Maggie's best friend) to discover it.  But she does, and now Lisa (who was a little crazed to begin with) thinks that Maggie was intentionally "parking" Jim with Lisa, you know, as a backup.  No, it doesn't really make much sense, since Maggie and Jim work together.

Don has a bee in his bonnet about Troy Evans, a story which barely made the headlines in 2011.  Troy Evans was on Death Row in Georgia for shooting a cop, and couldn't get a retrial or clemency, despite the fact that 7 of the 9 "witnesses" now claim they didn't see him shoot the cop (and one of the other two witnesses was the one who probably did shoot the cop).  Don was Will McAvoy to get into the story, but Will says "no".  Although he agrees with most people that Troy Evans is not guilty, he doesn't want to use his celebrity journalist power to subvert the legal system.  Even if, as he admits, the legal system broke down.  And, of course, Troy Evans dies.

It was the second of two news stories in this episode that Will backed off of.  The other one was a (true) story that the United States used drones to kill an American – Anwar al-Awlaki — who had joined and become prominent in al Qaeda.  

Basically, Will was dealing with due process demons: one, where an American received due process but the system got it wrong; and another, where an American was killed by his government without due process at all.  Frustrated by his own inertness (and perhaps cowardice) to stand up to these wrongs, Will bails Neil out of jail (after his arrest at an Ocuupy Wall Street rally).

We learn a bit more about Project Genoa, the over-arching theme of the second season.  There is now a soldier willing to admit that he was part of a U.S military force that used sarin gas (a banned chemical weapon) on citizens in Pakistan.

Finally, Maggie and Gary (that's Gary Cooper, one of the lesser parts) get the green light to go to Uganda.  Maggie wants to be the newsroom's "go to" person on Africa.

And Jim is beginning to get frustrated at how sheepish the media is while on the Romney campaign bus.  (And are they positioning Jim to have a new love interest with that "competitor" girl reporter played by Hallie Shea?)

So, not a lot happening, but things building.

The best scenes were, in order (1) the cutthroat downsizing of Maggie by Lisa.  It began with a hug, and then Lisa quietly (and a bit unfairly) destroyed Maggie for her betrayal; (2) Mackenzie throwing a drink in the lap of Will as soon as she enters the bar.  His reponse: "Use your words".

P.S.  The Sheraton in Concord, NH is not that high.

Detroit’s Downfall

It's kind of disturbing to see how many on the right are cheering the fact that Detroit has filed for bankruptcy.  Some saw it as vindication that Obama's bailout of the auto industry was bad policy.  But, of course, Detroit and the auto industry, while often linked, are not the same thing.  The auto industry is doing fine, thank you very much.  Also, Detroit — the city — has had systemic problems which made it difficult to flourish even in good economic times.

But gloating at the news?  Why do they hate America so much?

3,425,623 Blonde Women We’d Like To Have Tell Us What We Already Believe To Be True #FoxBuzzfeed

4 Liberals You Never Heard Of Who Appear On Fox #FoxBuzzFeed

“Because They Say It” And 14 More Reasons Why We Should Be Able To Use The N-Word #FoxBuzzFeed

RT @daveweigel: The GOP rebranding project really needs conservatives to call Obama a racist for mentioning that racism exists

Why The Tea Party Is Against Immigration Reform

In their own words:

 

This is Ken Crow, who used to be president of Tea Party of America until he bungled logistics of a Sarah Palin speech and is now affiliated with Tea Party Community.  He got up and started talking about "well-bred Americans."

Here is some video of what followed, in which he made a straightforward case for racial purity.

The transcript:

From those incredible blood lines of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and John Smith. And all these great Americans, Martin Luther King. These great Americans who built this country. You came from them. And the unique thing about being from that part of the world, when you learn about breeding, you learn that you cannot breed Secretariat to a donkey and expect to win the Kentucky Derby. You guys have incredible DNA and don't forget it.

 

We’ve Come A Long Way?

Anyone (or any group of justices — yeah, I mean you, SCOTUS) who thinks we have come a long way in terms of race just needs to turn the comments section of any local newspaper on any article dealing with Zimmerman/Martin.

No, we still live in a racist cesspool.

Also, this:

 

Hayward: Woman allegedly attacks 73-year-old musician on stage after song dedicated to Trayvon Martin

HAYWARD — A woman was arrested Saturday after allegedly jumping on stage at a music festival and attacking a legendary musician after he dedicated a song to Trayvon Martin, according to police and eyewitnesses.

The woman, who police identified as 43-year-old Dinalynn Andrews Potter of Barstow, apparently yelled, "it's all your fault" before shoving 73-year-old Lester Chambers, his family said Sunday.

"She had a crazed look in her eye," said Kurt Kangas, a friend of Chambers who ran to his aid. "I saw the devil there."

Chambers was performing at the Hayward Russell City Blues Festival downtown when around 5:15 p.m. he dedicated Curtis Mayfield's hit "People Get Ready" to Martin, the 17-year-old shot and killed by George Zimmerman.

A Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman on all charges Saturday.


Zimmerman Found Innocent

I don't have much to say about this, although I find abhorrent the dancing on Trayvon Martin's grave that the rightwing blogosphere is engaging in.

I thought Zimmerman would be found innocent — not because of any nefarious reasons (like a racist jury or anything like that), but simply because the burden of proof is so high and there were so many unknowable key variables.

To me, the Zimmerman case was less about race, and more about guns and gun culture, and how the law imposes LESS responsibility on gun owners when it should be MORE.  At TAP, Scott Lemieux nails it:

Carrying a deadly weapon in public should carry unique responsibilities. In most cases someone with a gun should not be able to escape culpability if he initiates a conflict with someone unarmed and the other party ends up getting shot and killed. Under the current law in many states, people threatened by armed people have few good options, because fighting back might create a license to kill. As the New Yorker's Amy Davidson puts it, "I still don't understand what Trayvon was supposed to do." Unless the law is changed to deal with the large number of people carrying concealed guns, there will be more tragic and unnecessary deaths of innocent people like Trayvon Martin for which nobody is legally culpable. And to make claims of self-defense easier to bring, as Florida and more than 20 other states have done, is moving in precisely the wrong direction. And, even more importantly, no matter how self-defense laws are structured the extremely unusual American practice of allowing large number of citizens to carry concealed weapons leads to many unecessary deaths. (All 50 states, it's worth noting, permit concealed carry.)

Yup.

“The Newsroom”: S2E1 Review

*SPOILERS ABOUND. ALERT. *

Pity Aaron Sorkin.  People expected so much from "The Newsroom" and many didn't get what they wanted.  Critics found the show preachy.  Others, like my girlfriend, found the women characters especially vapid.  We were told they were brilliant and/or "the best in the business" although we didn't really SEE them being particularly brilliant.  And in relationships, these women were comeplete washouts.

My girlfriends' criticism was correct, although to be fair, when it came to relationships, the men were equally inept.  That's just Sorkin.  He knows about awkward social relationships.  He couldn't write about a healthy relationship if a gun was held to his head.  On the other hand, the women did tend to wig out more often than men (Will's opening show rant notwithstanding), and Season One was notorious for its constasnt "mansplaining" (men explaining things to women).

Still, whatever its flaws, most were drawn to the snappy dialogue and smartness of the show, and HBO greenlighted Season Two.

What changes would be made??

Well, the critical consensus is that this season of "The Newsroom" improves on the flaws of season one.  A few reviews said it gears back on some of the frenzy and pretentiousness and moralizing about the proper way to conduct the news. 

Right from the start, we could see that the show was revamped.  The theme music, while the same tune, is now a staccato piano-and-brass arrangement.  Gone are the soaring strings.  And gone are the faded images of Murrow and Cronkite.

And suddenly we find Will, much more mellowed out (or beaten out?), 14 months into the future from where Season One left off.  He's talking with a team of ACN lawyers, headed by Marcia Gay Hardin (Jeff Daniel's co-star from "God of Carnage", and why not, since we had Hope Davis last season).  The "interview with the lawyer" framework is typical Sorkin (he used it in "The Social Network").  Like the "psychiatrist session", it allows him to have his characters narrate past events.

So we have Will McAvoy, presumably at the middle or end of Season Two (timeline-wise), explaining what happened following the time period where we last saw the group.  That's fine, until Maggie walks in to the conference room and asks Will a question.  Her hair is short, cropped and orange.  She leaves.  Even the lawyer asks what happened to her hair.  Will explains that she went to Uganda, and saw some real horrible things.  Yikes.  We're put on notice that this season is not going to be fun, especially for Maggie.

But this episode is only teasing about what is to come.  And most of what is to come — at least one major plot thread — will involve something called GENOA, a black ops operation of Obama.  We don't learn much about GENOA in this episode, except that is (or will be) the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers, that the news show reported on it, and then had to retract it.  Now there is some sort of legal battle — that's why we have lawyers in the loop.

How did GENOA come about?  A series of events that fell like dominoes. 

A young ACN reporter on the campaign trail with Romney apparently tried to jump out a hotel window in Nashua into the pool.  He missed and broke his ankle.  So Jim had to find a replacement.  He chooses himself, because he needs to get out of the office.  Why?  Because he can't stand to see Maggie and Don together.  Mackenzie allows this; after all, she did the same thing when she and Will had problems years ago.  Of course, Mackenzie fled all the way to Afghanistan; Jim is only going to New Hampshire ("There are no Taliban fighters in Concord")

So off goes Jim.

Who will take Jim's job while he's out?  A new character named Jerry Dantana, from ACN's Washington bureau.  Dantana comes up to New York and, wanting to make an impression, he books his own guest for a panel discussion on drone strikes, rather than using the regular go-to guy that Jim would have used.  Dantana's guest, an ex-CIA guy named Cyrus West, impresses Will, but not so much Mackenzie.  Desparate to make amends, Cyrus offers Dantana a story — a top secret story "that can make careers and end presidencies".  This is no doubt the GENOA we've heard about, and will hear about all season.

But the loose threads from Season One are still there.  For example, a comment that Will made during Season One is having severe backlash.  Remember when he called the tea party "the American Taliban"?  Yeah, that didn't go over well.  ACN President Reese Lansing finds himself shut out of a House conference where SOPA was to be discussed.  Jim is shunned out of the Romney press bus.  And Charlie pulls Will from appearing on ACN's 9/11 Ten Year Anniversary special. All this Will takes in stride.  It's what is expected in response to Newsroom 2.0.

But what of the relationships?  Sorkin left Season One with everything a mess.  Jim and Maggie acknowledged their affection for each other, but Maggie moved in with Don anyway, determined to make that work.  And Sloan, when asked by Don why she didn't have a boyfriend, answered, "Because you never asked me out."  Oy, a messy love triangle became a messy quadrangle.

With Jim in New Hampshire, one would have thought things would go somewhat smoothly.  But no.  Don learns of a Youtube video, shot by a tourist on a "Sex in the City" tour bus, showing Maggie in the rain, yelling at the bus and professing her desire for her "best friend's boyfriend".  Don was feeling guilty for not loving Maggie, but, through the video, he learns that she didn't love him.  Youtube saves the day where regular communication can't.

So Don and Maggie are splitsville, for good it seems.  And that's for the best in my view.  It was frustrating to watch them the first season, knowing (as the viewers did) that neither one particularly loved the other.

But that doesn't mean the door is open for Don and Sloan — apparently, he took her "because you never asked me" as a joke.  "Uh, yes, a joke, " she says.  

Anyway, this leaves Maggie without Don AND Jim, which (we assume) is why she is going to go to Uganda in some future episode.  Probably that, and probably because of the YouTube video.

On the Will-Mackenzie front, it's all the status quo.  The last scene of last night's episode has Will at the karaoke bar pondering the lyrics of the Who's "You Better".  You know, the one that goes, "When I say I love you, you say 'You better' (You better, you better, you bet)".  Well, Will thinks that describes his relationship with his audience.  Mackenzie thinks it describes the relationship between the two of them.  I don't know.  I never understood that song myself.  I'm not sure what Sorkin was trying to say with that scene.  I suspect that sonw was an earworm, and he used it.

What else?  There's some nice non-romantic chemistry developing between Charlie and Sloan.  After reeming her out last season, they now spar and tease each other professionaly.  He calls her "moneyskirt".  She asks him why things have to be this way; he says "Because I'm a nerd and you're a nerd and you give nerds a bad name".  "Oh, no," she replies. "I give nerds a goooood name."

Sorkin hasn't forgotten his appreciation of Boradway musicals.  In fact, Jenna Johnson (the "sorority girl" who asked "What makes America great?" in the show's premiere episode) is now an intern at ACN, and Will — just to br ornery — makes her go research all the musicals that have won Pulitzer Prizes (there are eight — can YOU name them?)

And Sorkin seems to address the Mackenzie-as-incompetent criticism in one scene where, as executive producer, she handles a wrongly-fact-checked voiceover by calling the reporter at a Benihana's and getting to fix the voiceover live(!).  Immediately after that, a hugh technical glitch shorts out the system, but Mackenzie saves the broadcast so adeptly that Will at the anchor desk isn't even aware there are problems.

Okay, Aaron.  We get it.  Mackenzie is good at her job.  

Sorkin also writes her as more stable — less likely to freak out.  In fact, I sense we will see less freaking out from everybody this season.

Another sub-story emerges as well.  Neil, with his ear close to the social network, has heard rumblings about a group that calls itself "Occupy Wall Street".  Mackenzie doesn't think it will become a story, but she allows Neil to check it out.  He does, although he is dismayed that the group, which initially had one demand (calling for a presidential commission to get money out of politics) seems to have about fourteen demands, and its message is ultimately going to get diluted.  I'm sure we will hear more about that.

So is Season Two better?  Well, the Sorkin elements are still there.  If the first episode is any example, he seems to like his charactors more and give them more dignity.  I've read that by episode four of this season, it will be clear that this is quite different from Season One.  It will still be political, with a bit more left-bashing (Occupy Wall Street), and involving the characters more directly in serious events (genocide in Uganda), giving them and their characters more gravitas.  We'll see.

Common Sense

Can't argue with this thoughtful editorial

I am saddened to say that if the teen had been white I doubt anyone would seriously consider that a man carrying a loaded handgun could be innocent of killing with that gun a white teen armed only with Skittles candy. But, because the teenage boy was black, the defense has sought to create a plausible scenario of self-defense sufficient to argue reasonable doubt, without mentioning anyone’s race. In other words, the self-defense defense might work because the teen was black.

Let’s examine the undisputed evidence:

1. The man thought the teen looked suspicious.

2. The man called the police to report his suspicions about the teen.

3. The man was told by the police not to chase and pursue the teen.

4. The man decided to chase and pursue the teen anyway.

5 . The man was carrying a loaded gun.

6. The teen was not carrying a gun.

7. The teen was not carrying any weapon.

8. The teen was carrying candy.

9. The teen was not committing any crime.

10. The teen was not trespassing, as he was walking toward his father’s condo.

11. The man and the teen met in a physical confrontation.

12. The man and the teen fought, wrestled to the ground, and punches were exchanged.

13. The man shot the teen with his gun.

14. The man shot the teen while both were on the ground.

15. The shot from the man’s gun killed the teen.

16. There is no evidence that the teen was committing a crime or about to commit any crime.

17. But for the man chasing and pursuing the teen, there would have been no physical confrontation.

18. But for the physical confrontation, there would have been no fight.

19. But for the fight, the man would not have shot the teen.

20. But for the shot, the teen would be alive.

The man’s actions created a course of conduct that led to a dangerous situation: the physical confrontation and the fight. The dangerous situation subjected the man and the teen to the risk of death or injury, as the man was carrying a loaded gun.

Manslaughter is defined as: “The killing of a human being by the . . . culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification . . . ”

Does the evidence support a finding of guilty of manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt?

I believe it does.

Before The Verdict

I haven't been following the Zimmerman trial closely in part because I have a job, and in part because I believe the controversy surrounding Trayvon Martin's death has been resolved.  By that I mean, that there was a moment in time where it looked like Zimmerman wasn't going to stand trial at all, and that had me concerned.  Now, of course, Zimmerman has stood trial, and that, as far as I was concerned, thwarted an injustice.

As for Zimmerman's ultimate guilt or innocence, I am largely unmoved either way.  I seriously doubt the six-women jury will find that he had the necessary mens rea to have committed second degree murder.  Manslaughter is a more likely outcome, but if I had to bet, it would be a full-out acquittal.

Why?

For the simple reason that there were only two eyewitnesses to the full encounter: Martin, who is dead, and Zimmerman, who is the defendant.

An acquittal will mean that the criminal system worked, but I think that cannot be the end of the story.  Below the fold is a rarely-seen picture of Trayvon Martin, lying dead.  Click through at your own risk.

RIP Toshi Seeger

Young-Toshi-Gene-DeitchToshi-Aline Ohta Seeger, wife of folk music icon Pete Seeger, passed away overnight on Tuesday, July 9th. She was a mother, an organizer, an activist and filmmaker … and an essential part of all of her husband’s work. She was 91.

As much as Pete is a consummate dreamer and optimist, Toshi had a strength and brilliance that was at least his equal. Theirs was a true partnership. Without Toshi’s counsel and support, and always outspoken and direct opinions, it’s clear to anyone who ever met these two remarkable people that, without Toshi, Pete would never have had the foundation and freedom to do the work that made him so legendary.

But Toshi, despite her profound wisdom, strength, morality and courage, was also extremely modest and self-effacing. Often rebuffing attention paid to her, and always doing a loving job at making sure that Pete was always grounded and clear about how his work, his missions, were always bigger than a single man or woman.

Toshi was born in Munich, Germany, to an American mother and a Japanese father. Her parents brought her to the U.S. when she was 6 months old, as soon as it became legal for the two to be married here. They found an apartment in New York City, where her father found work as the building’s caretaker.

Toshi grew up in a family of progressives. She went to the High School of Music and Art, and . After a few years of friendship, meeting Pete at square dances around NYC, Pete and Toshi were married in 1943, just before Pete was about to ship out overseas. She was age 21 at the time. Pete wrote in his autobiography that they “found we had much in common. Her parents were extraordinary people. We were all very close. Her mother, descended from Old Virginny (slave owners), had declared her independence from that racist part of her tradition, moved to Greenwich Village, married a Japanese who was in political exile, as mililarists were taking over his homeland. He did important and dangerous work for the U.S. Army in WWII.

Toshi-Cooks-Soup-ed-renehanWhile he was overseas during the war, Pete and Toshi corresponded via letters incessantly.

In 1949, following the war, the two moved to Beacon, NY, where they raised their children Danny, Mika and Tinya. They built a cabin for shelter, and lived in that beautiful woodland mountain ever since.

Over the last decades, Toshi became a key leader and artistic programmer for the Great Hudson River Revival, the annual fundraiser for the Clearwater organization, and a true mecca for those of us who adopted Pete, and Toshi’s, view that music could be a tool to help focus activism. She also played a pivotal role in Clearwater sloop voyages. Pete often sang her praises as an organizer: “after having to organize me for 66 years, no wonder.”

Toshi’s credits also included filmmaking, recording Texas inmates performing hard labor. The film, “Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison,” is part of the Library of Congress archives.

Pete’s career became a consuming part of her life, and he spent many days away from the home. After being acquitted after the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Toshi had said “Never again. Next time no appeal. Let him go to jail.”

But the two remained strong throughout the years. She took care of the home, always gardening and was a terrific cook, raising their children and making a wonderful home as Pete traveled the world making his music.

Moments Later….

Gun nut libertarian loads a gun within blocks of the White House and uploads the video on YouTube

 

Then…

Police searched the Northern Virginia home of activist Adam Kokesh Tuesday evening and took him into custody on a charge of being in possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms while also having a gun, authorities said.

Kokesh, a former Marine, was held overnight at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, charged with possession of schedule I or II drugs while in possession of a firearm, said Lt. Steve Elbert, a spokesman for the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office.

That's how it's done.

More GOP Hanky Panky With NC Abortion Laws

Last week, while much of the country was focused on the July 4th holiday, Republicans in North Carolina's state Senate launched a legislative ambush – they took a bill related to Sharia law, of all things, amended it to include sweeping new restrictions on reproductive rights, and then rammed the bill through a day later on July 3rd.

With the bill pending in the GOP-led state House, all eyes quickly turned to rookie North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who swore as a candidate last year that he would leave the state's existing abortion laws alone. Would he keep his promise?

As of this morning, yes. McCrory said that without significant changes, he would veto House Bill 695. There's some ambiguity about the scope of the governor's commitment — he apparently wants clarifications on health and safety measures, so he's open to some new restrictions — but for now, the bill would not get his signature.

What's truly amazing is how state GOP lawmakers responded to the governor's comments.

Hours after Gov. Pat McCrory issued a veto threat for a controversial abortion bill, House Republicans — acting without public notice — took a bill about motorcycle safety and inserted abortion language.

The new bill — S353 — represents tweaks to the version that passed the Senate last week but still includes some of that version's contentious language. It calls for a physician to be present when the first drug in a chemical abortion is administered, as opposed to all drugs, as the version that passed the Senate last week would mandate.

Another major change from the Senate version: Abortion clinics would not be required to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. But the state Department of Health and Human Services would be authorized to apply those standards as it sees "applicable."

Got that? Republicans are so desperate to approve restrictions on reproductive rights, they whipped up changes to a bill on motorcycle safety and are plowing ahead. Melissa Reed, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Health Systems said in a statement, "It is a disgrace to North Carolina that legislators have again resorted to sneak attacks to move their anti-women's health agenda forward."

For the record, the legislative committee was made aware of the changes at 9:57 a.m. this morning — three minutes before it convened. Whether McCrory would veto this amended bill, and whether that veto could be overridden, remains to be seen.

Discouraged

Light blogging lately, and that's in part because I'm very discouraged about the state of things politically.  It seems that conservatives have done a very good job at the local level of ruining this country, and doing so while cheating.  The recent Supreme Court decision striking parts of the Voting Rights Act has caused many states to roll out voter Id laws, further entrenching the GOP dominance in some areas of the country.

But I think what really has got to me is the state of NC politics.  Even the New York Times editors took notice:

The Decline of North Carolina

Every Monday since April, thousands of North Carolina residents have gathered at the State Capitol to protest the grotesque damagethat a new Republican majority has been doing to a tradition of caring for the least fortunate. Nearly 700 people have been arrested in the “Moral Monday” demonstrations, as they are known. But the bad news keeps on coming from the Legislature, and pretty soon a single day of the week may not be enough to contain the outrage.

In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as governor, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since Reconstruction. Since then, state government has become a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot.

The cruelest decision by lawmakers went into effect last week: ending federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents. Another 100,000 will lose their checks in a few months. Those still receiving benefits will find that they have been cut by a third, to a maximum of $350 weekly from $535, and the length of time they can receive benefits has been slashed from 26 weeks to as few as 12 weeks.

The state has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country, and many Republicans insulted workers by blaming their joblessness on generous benefits. In fact, though, North Carolina is the only state that has lost long-term federal benefits, because it did not want to pay back $2.5 billion it owed to Washington for the program. The State Chamber of Commerce argued that cutting weekly benefits would be better than forcing businesses to pay more in taxes to pay off the debt, and lawmakers blindly went along, dropping out of the federal program.

At the same time, the state is also making it harder for future generations of workers to get jobs, cutting back sharply on spending for public schools. Though North Carolina has been growing rapidly, it is spending less on schools now than it did in 2007, ranking 46th in the nation in per-capita education dollars. Teacher pay is falling, 10,000 prekindergarten slots are scheduled to be removed, and even services to disabled childrenare being chopped.

“We are losing ground,” Superintendent June Atkinson said recently, warning of a teacher exodus after lawmakers proposed ending extra pay for teachers with master’s degrees, cutting teacher assistants and removing limits on class sizes.

Republicans repealed the Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that was the first in the country to give death-row inmates a chance to prove they were victims of discrimination. They have refused to expand Medicaid and want to cut income taxes for the rich while raising sales taxes on everyone else. The Senate passed a bill that would close most of the state’s abortion clinics.

And, naturally, the Legislature is rushing to impose voter ID requirements and cut back on early voting and Sunday voting, which have been popular among Democratic voters.One particularly transparent move would end a tax deduction for dependents if students vote at college instead of their hometowns, a blatant effort to reduce Democratic voting strength in college towns like Chapel Hill and Durham.

North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.

Indeed.

Similar things are happening in Texas.  Here's one woman who is not worn down, and I wish I could be as inspirational:

 

On a national level, we have a do-nothing Congress:

WASHINGTON — The current Congress has had just 15 bills signed into law so far, the fewest in recent history.

This is not an insignificant feat. After all, the 112th Congress (2011-2013) was the most unproductive since the 1940s. But even that Congress, by this time in its first year, had 23 bills signed into law.

And the low number can't be blamed on President Barack Obama. He's vetoed just two pieces of legislation during his time in office, both in 2010.

The Huffington Post compiled the data from GovTrack, which lists laws since 1973. Back then, significantly more legislation made its way into public law. The height was the 94th (1975-1976) and 95th (1977-1978) legislative sessions.

While the 113th Congress has passed a couple of significant pieces of legislation — including the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy victims — the approvals have often been accompanied by intense partisanship not seen in the past, when both VAWA and disaster relief received strong bipartisan support.

Other bills that became law this year, however, have been significantly less weighty — awarding a congressional gold medal and a measure regarding commemorative coins.

Last year, Thomas Mann of the left-leaning Brookings Institution, and Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, published a Washington Post op-ed saying that the GOP deserves the blame for the dysfunction.

"We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional," they wrote. "In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party."

In an interview with Washington radio station WAMU aired on Monday, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) bemoaned the productivity of Congress and called on his colleagues to do more.

"The first six months of this Congress have been among the least productive in American history," Connolly said. "Only 13 bills have been passed into law in the first six months of this year. That's gotta be a record low."

I am praying for a national backlash next election cycle.  Gay rights being the rare exception, this country really is going backwards.

GOP Giving Up On Latinos

A good article by Benji Darlin suggests that the GOP is experiencing a backlash and revision when it comes to wooing the Latino vote.  After Romney lost last year, almost every Republican politician and pundit suggested that the GOP needed to woo Latinos if it was going to remain a viable party.

After the past few weeks, and with an immigration bill looming, that narrative has changed:

The new argument sees immigration reform at best as a divisive distraction from the GOP’s real problem of countering “white flight” from the polls. At worst, they view it as an electoral apocalypse, a seventh seal behind which lies an unbroken line of future Democratic presidents.

As the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill moves to the House, whose members are overwhelmingly planted in safe GOP districts, the stakes couldn’t be higher for comprehensive reform. Whether it passes will be determined in large part by which of the two narratives can win over the conservative mainstream.

At the moment, the anti-immigration argument appears to be gaining converts fast. On election night, Fox News anchor Brit Hume called the “demographic” threat posed by Latino voters“absolutely real” and suggested Mitt Romney’s “hardline position on immigration” may be to blame for election losses. On Monday, Hume declared that argument “baloney.” The Hispanic vote, he said, “is not nearly as important, still, as the white vote.”

Sean Hannity, a reliable bellwether on the right, has been on a similar journey since the fall. He announced the day after President Obama’s re-election that he had “evolved” on immigration reform and now supported a “path to citizenship” in order to improve relations with Hispanic voters. Hannity has now flipped hard against the Senate’s bill.

You also have those like Rush Limbaugh, arguing that all the Republicans need to do is become MORE conservative, and they will increase their "white vote", ensuring future election victories.

One can imagine if these pundits are wrong.  If they are wrong, the Republican party is sent spiraling downward.  They'll never get Latinos again.

And guess what?  Those pundits are wrong.  The white vote is dwindling.  And more importantly… what does this abandonment of Latinos say about the GOP?  Matt Lewis:

If the GOP consciously concedes the Hispanic vote to the degree they have conceded the African-American vote (a move they seem committed to replicating), sooner or later (and admittedly, it could take years), the math won’t add up.

Writing-off a constituency isn’t good for anybody, including the written-off constituency. But what bothers me most about the notion that more Hispanics will automatically equate to more Democrats is what it implies. Assuming Hispanics are somehow “unwinnable” means either that, 1). conservative ideas aren’t compelling enough to compete in the market place of ideas, 2). conservative policies are actually only beneficial to whites, or 3.) Hispanics either don’t get it – or are simply predisposed to be liberal (and no amount of cajoling or persuasion can change that.)

These theories range from protectionist and defeatist — to infuriating and insulting.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/02/how-to-lose-the-hispanic-vote-forever-hint-concede-it-now/#ixzz2XuZVgSSl

Yup.

Ohio Budget Bill, Signed Into Law, Is Darconian on Wonen’s Health and Rights

* Rape crisis centers will operate under a state-imposed gag order — rape-crisis counselors will face new restrictions when telling impregnated rape victims that they can legally terminate their pregnancy.

* The budget effectively defunds Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.

* There's a provision to require women seeking legal abortions to undergo a state-mandated, medically-unnecessary ultrasound — even if women don't want one, and if their doctor doesn't recommend one. Ohio Republicans proudly declared they want to put themselves between patients and their physicians, prescribing specific procedures for no medical reason.

* Women will also be required to pay for state-mandated, medically-unnecessary ultrasounds they do not want and their doctors do not think they need.

* Physicians will be legally required to deliver a Republican-written speech to women seeking legal abortions. Whether the doctor believes what's in the script, or even wants to say those words to his or her patient, has been deemed irrelevant.

* Clinics that provide abortion services will be required to have transfer agreements with local hospitals, and then bans public hospitals from establishing those agreements, all in the hopes of shutting the clinics down.

* And Republican policymakers in the state decided to redefine the words "pregnancy" and "fetus" in state law — the budget decides that a woman is pregnant even before a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine lining. The effect of this policy may prevent a woman from using an IUD in the state of Ohio.