President Obama spoke at an LGBT fundraiser this evening in New York City, just as the New York Senate prepares to take up marriage equality legislation. Obama addressed the measure directly, reiterating his position that marriage is best left to the states:
OBAMA: Part of the reason that DOMA doesn’t make sense is that traditionally marriage has been decided by the states and right now, I understand there is a little debate going on here in New York about whether to join five other states and DC in allowing civil marriage for gay couples. And I want to say that under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, with the support of Democrats and Republicans, New York is doing exactly what democracies are supposed to to do. There is a debate, there is a deliberation about what it means here in New York to treat people fairly in the eyes of the law and that is — look, that’s the power of our democratic system.
Earlier in the speech, Obama was briefly interrupted by marriage proponents who encouraged him to evolve towards supporting full marriage rights. He addressed their requests only once, saying, “I heard you guys. Believe it or not, I anticipated someone might…” Watch it:
As part of his campaign to reclaim his old seat, former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) released an economic plan last week that calls for a massive tax cut for corporations, dropping the rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Touting the plan, Allen made the media rounds, proudly saying his plan would create 500,000 a jobs a year. Here he is trumpeting his plan on Fox Business yesterday:
Considering that economists say the country needs to create 250,000 job a month to bring down unemployment , 500,000 jobs a year is not very many. But more importantly, Allen’s own numbers show that corporate tax cuts are not an efficient way to create jobs.
Dropping the corporate tax rate to 20 percent would cost about cost about $1.3 trillion dollars over 10 years, according to a ThinkProgress analysis of data from the Tax Policy Center, or about $130 billion per year to create 500,000 jobs. That translates to about $260,000 in lost tax revenue for every job created. The median household income in 2009 was only $50,000. This is hardly surprising, considering that the Congressional Budget Office has found that a corporate tax cut “is not a particularly cost-effective method of stimulating business spending” and “does not create an incentive to spend more on labor.”
Despite that tremendous cost, nearly every Republican is calling for big corporate tax cuts, claiming it’s the only way to create jobs. But Allen, inadvertently, admitted that these cuts would have a lackluster result.
Forced sterilization is a human rights abuse we typically associate with another time and another place. But yesterday a North Carolina task force heard heart-wrenching testimony from some of the victims of the state’s 40-year-long forced sterilization program that targeted poor, undereducated, and mentally unstable residents.
North Carolina is considering compensating some of the nearly 7,600 victims of the program or their relatives. The program was overseen by the North Carolina Board of Eugenics and persisted well into the 1970s. Some of the victims were as young as 10 years old, and many were poor women the state deemed too “promiscuous” to be good mothers:
Nearly 7,600 men, women and children as young as 10 were sterilized under North Carolina’s eugenics laws. While other state sterilization laws focused mainly on criminals and people in mental institutions, North Carolina was one of the few to expand its reach to women who were poor.
Sterilization was seen as a way to limit the public cost of welfare. Social workers would coerce women to have the operation under threat of losing their public assistance.[...]
The North Carolina Eugenics Board was created in 1933 and operated for decades with little public scrutiny. It used rudimentary IQ tests and gossip from neighbors to justify sterilization of young girls from poor families who hung around the wrong crowd or didn’t do well in school. Girls like 13-year-old LeLa Dunston, who had just had a baby. Dunston is now 63.
Victims and family members packed into a room at a Department of Agriculture office building Wednesday to hear stories from survivors. One who testified was Elaine Riddick, who was sterilized without her knowledge at the age of 14 after she was raped and became pregnant. The state said Riddick “was promiscuous and didn’t get along well with others.” “They cut me open like I was a hog,” Riddick said.
NPR points out that just 40 years ago, “it wasn’t uncommon for a single mother on welfare, or a patient in a mental hospital in North Carolina, to be sterilized against her will.” More than half the states had eugenics laws, but unusually, North Carolina conducted most of its sterilizations after World War II and the atrocities of Nazi eugenics programs came to light.
Seven states, including North Carolina, have issued apologies to the victims of forced sterilization programs, but North Carolina would be the first to compensate them. An estimated 3,000 victims are still living and could qualify, depending on what the state task force decides in its preliminary recommendation, which are due out in August.
In comments on Jeff’s post defending the much-lamented former Hand of the King on Game of Thrones, long-time commenter Dirk Lester notes, “Neither Ned’s honor nor his sense of duty were problematic. It was his failure to think strategically based on those impulses that was moronic.” I wanted to riff on that a little bit, because I think it gets at the core reasons I’ve always thought it was a good decision for Martin to kill off Ned Stark — and why people who are deeply upset about Ned’s death on the show are missing the point.
Ned’s failure as Hand of the King comes less from the fact that he’s unfailingly noble, and more from the fact that he fails to recognize that other people’s actions won’t be predictable because nobility is no longer the dominant code of the land — strategic thinking is. Repeatedly, Ned assumes that only one outcome is possible because he assumes everyone is using the same basis for decision-making that he is: he never thinks through the possibility that Cersei won’t react to the revelation of her incest with shame but with deliberate action; he can’t imagine that the people around him would have little compunction about harming his children or using them as hostages; he has a difficult time adapting to the existence of spy tradecraft, much less using it to protect himself while he’s investigating Jon Arryn’s murder; he can’t foresee that the Mountain will essentially go rabid and turn on the man meant to bring him in; he doesn’t anticipate that Renly won’t bow to the line of succession, choosing flight and fight rather than submission; it was inconceivable to him that Robert might have beggared the realm; and he can’t see that a rigid definition of honor might lead anyone into dishonorable actions, as it did with Jamie Lannister. Read more
Late last month, Congress defeated an amendment sponsored by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) that would have mandated an accelerated U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The measure failed 204-215, but the result is significant because it garnered 26 Republican votes.
At an event today sponsored by the Center for American Progress, McGovern and Jones said President Obama’s Afghanistan withdrawal plan he announced last night does not go far enough. “We need to get all the troops out of Afghanistan sooner than 2014, because 2014 will become 2015 and so on, and it will be a neverending exit date,” Jones said.
In an interview with ThinkProgress after the event, both lawmakers stressed that they’re not giving up their efforts in Congress. “I think the anti-war movement in Congress is going to continue to grow and intensify,” McGovern said. Jones said he’s optimistic that he can peel away more Republicans to their side:
JONES: Republicans are beginning to understand that trying to police the world, you can’t pay for it. That’s what Republicans are beginning to understand. [...] What I’m trying to do on our side is to get more Republicans to join on the bill. Because that in itself sends a signal. But I believe, as Jim said, we’re not going away. [...]
TP: Are there a lot more Republicans talking to you privately?
JONES: Oh yeah.
Watch the interview clip:
Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), who is also part of a coalition of leaders in Congress pushing for an end to war in Afghanistan, has called on the president to reduce forces there to 20,000 by the end of 2012 and to around 10,000 by the end of 2013. “Anything short of that,” he said in a separate interview with ThinkProgress last week, “he’s [Obama] going to have a revolt in Congress. Congress has had it.”
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said today that “a formal end to the ban on gays serving openly in the US military will likely come by late July or early August” and would be “left for his successor at the Pentagon, Leon Panetta, who is due to take over from Gates on July 1.” Under the repeal legislation passed last year, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell cannot be repealed until 60 days after President Obama, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff certify that lifting the ban would not undermine military readiness or unit cohesion.
With the force scheduled to complete DADT training in the coming weeks, Gates recently met with the service chiefs to begin “the pre-certification phase of this”:
The chiefs, Gates said, will be asking “are we ready to proceed with this, are you confident that good order and cohesion and discipline will be maintained, and content that people have been trained adequately and so on.”
Based on that exercise, the chiefs will then deliver their conclusions to the defense secretary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Obama, he said.
Gates said he sought to start preparations in his final weeks in office to ensure the issue could be taken up by his successor next month without any delays.
“I wanted to get this started because when Mr Panetta comes in he’s obviously going to have a lot of things on his plate. “And I was concerned that if I didn’t get this started it might be delayed several weeks until he was able to get to it and inform himself about it.”
He added: “I think our hope would be that we would be in a position, and I underscore the word hope, to provide the certification sometime in the last half of July, early August.”
Republicans in the House have sought to delay implementation of repeal and successfully attached an amendment to the Defense Authorization legislation that would expand the certification process to include the service chiefs. A similar amendment was not included in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the bill.
Last week, a group of 23 House Republicans wrote Obama asking him to hold off on certification “until Congress can review the Defense Department’s policy changes that would lead to open service.” “Given the necessity for congressional review, which has been limited to this point, we respectfully request that you refrain from transmitting certification until Congress has had sufficient time to review pending legislative matters of policy and law,” the letter said.