Michele Bachmann Would Consider Lowering Minimum Wage To Match Cost Of Overseas Labor |
During a campaign stop in Florida, the Associated Press reports that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said she would consider lowering the minimum wage. Her comments came in response to a question from a journalist regarding whether changes to the minimum wage should be considered to balance the cost of labor here and overseas. “I’m not married to anything. I’m not saying that’s where I’m going to go,” she replied. Although Bachmann’s comments were reportedly given in the context of creating jobs, a post by the Economy Policy Institute explains why such a policy would mostly just stimulate poverty.
Just as his anti-Muslim colleague David Horowitz did earlier, Islamophobia network leader Robert Spencer responds to the facts of the CAP report by engaging in baseless smears and innuendos. “Fear, Inc.,” he writes, is just “simply an instrument” of “the misogynistic and unjust agenda of the Islamic jihad.”
In his lengthy response on the anti-Muslim site Jihad Watch, Spencer — who earns at least $140,000 to run that hate site — doesn’t identify or list any factual errors in CAP’s report. Spencer merely concludes that the report’s authors must be part of the “Islamic supremacist propaganda machine.”
Both Horowitz — who is currently trying to fundraise off our report — and Spencer reveal much about their own tactics and methods through their responses. In their view, anyone who believes that their anti-Muslim rhetoric is divisive, inappropriate, and unhelpful must be siding with the terrorists. It is rarely possible to have any rational discourse with the Islamophobia network.
A programming note: I’m finally on the list for movie screenings in the DC area, so expect more reviews. And feel free to treat these reviews both as guidance on whether or not to go see something, and as open threads for discussion over the weekend.
I went to see Colombiana, a movie about the CIA’s involvement in drug trafficking, the moral justifications for assassinating Bernie Madoff, and Zoe Saldana’s naughty bits, hoping for a slickly nasty little late-summer action movie in a year that’s been somewhat short on female heroines, and on gleeful darkness. There are bits and pieces of an entertaining film here, notably an interagency rivalry between the CIA and the FBI and a downturn revenge fantasy. But Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, who wrote the movie, and the delightfully named Olivier Megaton, who directed it, are probably right to trust that the sight of Saldana dancing braless in her apartment or setting off plastic explosives in her skivvies are selling points in and of themselves.
The movie begins with a reasonably promising, if somewhat overacted, premise. After watching her family murdered by a drug cartel, a young Cataleya (a promising Amanda Stenberg, who has a key role in the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games and is a welcome reminder that not only white little girls can get tough) gets herself to Chicago and into the home of her uncle Emilio. “I used to want to be Xena: Warrior Princess,” she tells him. “I want to be a killer. Will you help me?” “Sure,” he promises, rather jauntily. I was hoping we might be on the road to a non-white version of Big Daddy and Hit Girl’s relationship in Kick-Ass, a gleefully twisted but genuinely loving father-daughter training movie. But after buying her way into a private school and shooting up a passing car to illustrate why she should attend classes, the movie skips forward 15 years, denying us the privilege of seeing Cataleya learn her stuff, and into the much less creative pleasures of letting us see her deploy it as she goes after Don Luis, the man who had her family killed, and the people who worked for and with him. Read more
At a recent town hall event captured by CNN, a woman stood up to ask about Romney’s views on private social security accounts like the ones proposed by former President George W. Bush. Romney said he has described the options for Social Security but that he opposed privatization in Social Security and said that he’s instead in favor of letting some people save a portion of their income tax-free:
WOMAN: If I understand it correctly, that you say part of Social Security, one way of doing it is privatizing, that people can invest their money, is that correct?
ROMNEY: I didn’t mention that. There are ideas, I didn’t mention that. I just described the three major ones. There have been other ideas about people investing. You know, the disadvantage, privatization of Social Security, that doesn’t make sense. I mean, privatizing Social Security. There have been some that have said let people save some of their money and let them invest it. The market goes up and down. I kind of like the system the way that we have in that regard. It would be nice if people could take a portion of their income and save it tax-free.
Besides the fact that people already have the option to save a portion of their income tax-free (IRAs and 401[k]s are made for this purpose), it’s important to point out that in the past Romney had praised Bush’s privatization push. In 2007, during a Republican presidential primary debate, Romney said that Bush’s plan “works“:
HUME: How about it, Governor Romney? Are you prepared to be as bold as Senator Thompson has been in making an — in addressing these extremely politically sensitive entitlement programs?
ROMNEY: I’m prepared to be entirely bold, but I’m not prepared to cut benefits for low-income Americans. We’re going to make sure that we protect these programs for our seniors. That’s number one. Number two…
ROMNEY: Well, our current seniors. Currently, we’re taking more money into Social Security that we actually send out. So our current seniors, their benefits are not going to change. For people 20 and 30 and 40 years old, we have four major options, for instance, for Social Security. One is the one Democrats want: raise taxes. It’s the wrong way to go. Number two, the president said let’s have private accounts and take that surplus money that’s being gathered now in Social Security and put that into private accounts. That works.
Given Romney’s statements in 2007 and his statements this week, it is unclear where the presidential contender actually stands on introducing privatization into Social Security.
At 2:30 a.m. the girls own the strip, K between Third and Seventh: escorts such as Staci, plus the $150-an-hour diva prostitutes and the homeless-and-hungry hookers who’ll jump in cars at a red light for spare change — all transgender or transsexual, male to female. They’re trailed by bashful “straight” boy groupies and older men who can’t quite transcend drag queendom, never mind pass with the aggressive elegance of Staci, who seven years ago was a chunky teenage boy from Alexandria sitting on that electric box at Sixth, watching the ladies walk K Street like a runway.
At that time Staci’s 5-year-old niece needed money for school. Her first client was a Howard University employee, she says, and she spent 20 minutes with him for $200 and everything started to fall into place.
Some people in my building get really huffy about this, which I never really understand. But the other thing I don’t really understand is just that the supply of potential service providers seems a bit strangely high. Is the demand for this particular thing really so high? Even in the Internet age, when there should be less need than ever for paid sex transactions to happen on the streetcorner?
The historic national monument honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was unveiled this week in Washington. Reflecting on the history that led up to this occasion, GOP freshman Rep. Allen West (FL) — the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus — offered his thoughts on the seminal civil rights leader’s legacy to the National Journal. When asked whether King has “informed decisions in your career or personal life,” West painted Dr. King as if he were a conservative icon:
Dr. King’s message is and always shall be relevant. It is about individual responsibility and accountability to seek the highest good in your life … as a nation seeks its highest good. America can only be as great as the sum of its parts, all parts.
I think that, if Dr. King were to come back and see what has become of the black community, he would be appalled: The exorbitantly high unemployment rate, the second- and third-generation welfare families, the rampant decimation of the inner-city black communities, the incarceration rate of young black men, and the breakdown of the black family would all bring a tear to his eye.
Indeed, King might weep at the current, socio-economic decimation of American black communities. But it is not for failing to follow what West offers as King’s conservative message, one of “individual responsibility and accountability.” Indeed, King’s own words, inscribed in the memorial, rebuke the idea of individualism –”We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” — for one an undeniably progressive view of an ideal world — “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies; education and culture for their minds; and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”
These progressive values are not merely enshrined in his words but explicitly espoused, pursued, and defended in every action he took, up to his very last:
King Died Supporting A Public Sector Union’s Strike: In King’s final sermon, he called upon the people of Memphis to join together in support of the Memphis sanitation worker’s AFSCME-led strike. “Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness,” King preached. “when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school — be there.”
King Compared Poverty To “Cannibalism” And Called For It’s “Direct And Immediate Abolition”: King believed that poverty “is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization.” He called for America to abolish poverty by guaranteeing “white and Negro alike” a minimum income.
King Called War Funding A “Demonic Sucking Tube” Undermining Poverty Programs: King opposed the Vietnam war in no small part because it diverted precious resources away from anti-poverty programs. “A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. . . . Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.”
King Said Poverty Made Him “Question The Capitalistic Economy”: King called for a radical restructuring of America’s economic system. “And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. . . . You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the oil?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the iron ore?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two thirds water?’”
As Princeton University Prof. Cornel West noted today, King dedicated his life to fighting four catastrophes he identified: Militarism, materialism, racism, and poverty. By twisting his legacy into one that somehow justifies policies that make these catastrophes worse, West and his colleagues risk trampling on the very message West seeks to commemorate:
The absence of a King-worthy narrative to reinvigorate poor and working people has enabled right-wing populists to seize the moment with credible claims about government corruption and ridiculous claims about tax cuts’ stimulating growth. This right-wing threat is a catastrophic response to King’s four catastrophes; its agenda would lead to hellish conditions for most Americans.
A large crowd gathered today outside the State Department to protest the designation of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) as a “foreign terror organization.” Police at the scene told ThinkProgress the groups organizing the demonstration said at least two thousand people were there, though the estimate seemed high.
Among Iranians, who dominated the crowd, many said they rallied for the MEK because they supported democracy in Iran and opposed the post-revolutionary Islamic regime.
But many apparent non-Iranians came out as well, most wearing flags, headbands, and even yellow vests with images of the group’s leaders — Maryam and Massoud Rajavi — on the chest. Of this group, few seemed to have many details about the MEK, and instead pledged vague notions of support for human rights and democracy, often even getting the name of the MEK wrong.
Some of the attendees had been bused and flown in at no personal cost, receiving transportation and in some cases lodging and meals.
One attendee who spoke with ThinkProgress, Melvin Santiago, 23, a homeless man living in shelters in Staten Island, New York, said he’d found out about the protest from a friend he’d come with. They made the trip along with about 100 other people in four rented coach buses.
“He saw [a flier] yesterday passing by the church,” said Santiago of his friend. “He usually goes there for the food pantry.”
On a day’s notice, Santiago said he hadn’t had a chance to learn too much about the MEK — he thought the group was called “Ashraff,” which is the name of the camp in Iraq where 3,400 members currently live.
Some of the other attendees knew little about the MEK’s history. The State Department designated the group in 1997 and made allegations of decades of terrorism, including against Americans when the U.S. had good relations with the Shah before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Two attendees from Arkansas, who’d come up with an Iranian friend who lives nearby, said that they suspected collusion — “hanky panky” — between the State Department and the Islamic Republic.
Others had an interest in Iran. One attendee said he lived in Iran and played professional basketball there. He said he supported human rights in Iran. He said the reverend at his church informed him about the rally, though he admitted that “to be honest, I don’t really understand what the MEK is.”