In a combative speech on the Senate floor this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called a Democrats’ accusations that the GOP is waging a war on women “phony,” “outlandish,” and a distraction.”
McCain’s remarks, typical of GOP rhetoric on the issue, sweep aside the reality of the last few months. ThinkProgress compiled this video report:
The latest example, and the context for McCain’s remarks, was today’s vote on the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The bill passed 68-31, with every “nay” vote coming from a Republican man. The five female GOP senators voted for the re-authorization.
But before that, there was, of course, the overwhelming Republican opposition to the White House’s attempt to improve women’s access to contraception, Rush Limbaugh’s misogynistic rants against Sandra Fluke, the Republican amendment to allow employers to deny women contraception for any moral reason, Herman Cain’s suggestion that women have an inferior understanding of policy, Republican governors’ support for mandating medically unnecessary ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, Mitt Romney’s silence on the Lilly Ledbetter Act, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s repeal of that state’s equal pay laws, and the general denigration within both Republican political ranks and the right-wing media-sphere of women’s ability to ably serve in the military.
A public relations consultant working for Republican businessman Dave Spence, running for governor of Missouri, accidentally sent reporters an internal briefing memo today instead of a press release. The memo, prepared for an upcoming interview, instructed Spence on how to respond to a variety of topics, including questions about Obama’s religion. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:
In it, she offered Spence advice in case he was approached by reporters quizzing him on topics such as his recent suggestion that he didn’t know whether or not Obama is a Muslim.
“This is not an issue that I felt was pertinent to my candidacy for governor and expressed those sentiments,” Briggs offered as a potential answer. “However, if the media insists that this is a critical issue that must be addressed, I will be clear. President Obama says he is a Christian, and I take him at his word.”
The consultant felt the need to prep Spence on the unusual issue since just last Friday the candidate questioned Obama’s religion.
In an interview with the editorial board of the St. Louis American, an African-American news weekly, Spence was asked, “Is Barack Obama a Muslim?” The gubernatorial candidate responded, “I don’t know.” “Spence had spent whatever credibility he had for any consideration for an endorsement from The American. Barack Obama, as anyone knows who follows the news, is a church-going Baptist,” the American wrote.
Spence has faced weeks of bad press after it was reported that he voted against paying the U.S. Treasury back the $40 million in bailout funds lent to the bank whose board he sits on. It also came out that Spence employs a lawyer being investigated for facilitating illegal campaign donations.
Earlier, Spence was caught claiming he had a degree in economics. It turns out the degree was in home economics.
On a campaign call just ahead of Vice President Joe Biden’s foreign policy speech today, top foreign policy advisers to presumtive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney attacked the Obama administration’s Iran policy. While emphatically denying that the Romney campaign was threatening Iran with an attack, his advisers Dan Senor and Alex Wong admonished the administration for an honest discourse about what the potential consequences of an attack would be.
Asked by a reporter about Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s comments last week that the Obama administration-led U.N. sanctions program on Iran have been “effective,” the Romney advisers said:
DAN SENOR: (T)he administration has gone out of its way to convey that the military option is not serious. I mean, just look at the things Secretary [of Defense Leon] Panetta has said over the last year, whether it was at the Halifax conference, whether it was the Saban conference at Brookings… He went out of his way to talk about how disastrous military action against Iran would be for the United States, for the global economy, for the region. …
ALEX WONG: The administration has repeatedly talked down the military option and the effectiveness and the (inaudible) of the military option by the united states and Israel.
Listen to a clip of the call here:
Romney’s advisers offer, at best, misleading interpretations of Obama administration policies and statements; at worst, they make claims unsupported by the facts. For example, far from “project[ing] to the world that the military option against Iran is off the table,” Obama has said again and again that all options remain “on the table” to deal with a potential Iranian nuclear weapons program. A potential Iranian nuclear weapon is widely considered a threat to both the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, and the nuclear non-proliferation regime, though U.S. and Israeli intelligence have not concluded that Iran has made a decision to pursue a weapon.
The Georgia Dome is a world-class sporting facility that serves the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and often hosts the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament, the SEC football championship, an annual bowl game, and the NCAA Tournament. In 2013, it’s slated to host the NCAA Men’s Final Four — college basketball’s biggest event — and it’s been home to two NFL Super Bowls. Judging by the fact that major events keep coming back, the place is in fine shape.
In the eyes of its inhabitants, though, the Georgia Dome is old, crumbling, and wholly inadequate, and if the Falcons and the city of Atlanta get their way, the Dome won’t stand much longer — even though it’s only 20 years old. According to new plans announced by the city of Atlanta and the Falcons yesterday, the Dome will soon be replaced by a $950-million, state-of-the-art facility with a retractable roof. The Georgia Dome — built a measly two decades ago — will be imploded, and taxpayers will be footing at least part of the bill, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
The new plan comes with a higher price. A GWCC-commissioned study released Wednesday put the cost of a new retractable-roof stadium at $947.7 million, up from the $700 million estimated last year for an open-air stadium. Under either plan the public-sector contribution would be an estimated $300 million from an extension of the hotel-motel occupancy tax, passed by the Georgia Legislature in 2010, according to Frank Poe, executive director of the GWCC Authority, the state agency that operates the Dome.
The hotel-motel occupancy tax was originally passed to help finance the construction of the Georgia Dome. It was supposed to expire in 2010, but when the owners of the Falcons threatened to pursue a new stadium in the Atlanta suburbs, the Georgia legislature rushed to extend it so as to keep the team downtown. The extension included an agreement that the Falcons could pursue a new stadium on the same site. Less than two years later, they’re doing exactly that.
The recession and a sluggish economic recovery, meanwhile, crunched Georgia’s state budget and forced deep cuts into areas like education. The state owes local school districts more than $5 billion collectively — Atlanta-area school districts are millions of dollars short. In 2011, the state cut $403 million from its education budget after taking cuts of $300 million and $275 million in the previous two years.
The Falcons want a new stadium because they feel they’re missing out on the riches that come with new skyboxes and luxury suites — amenities the Georgia Dome lacks compared to newer NFL facilities. Still, the team’s value has increased nearly $300 million since owner Arthur Blank bought it in 2002. If the Falcons want a new stadium, they should build one. They just shouldn’t come to taxpayers asking for help.
Both Politifact and the Washington Post Fact Checker have given the ad their worst ratings of “pants on fire” and four Pinocchios, respectively. Politifact found all three examples used to be false, with the ad stringing together “alarming” soundbites that are “ultimately ridiculous.” And the Washington Post writes “there is no excuse for these kinds of ads, which take facts out of context or simply invent them.”
After pouring more than $8.4 million into bogus energy attack ads since November, the oil industry front group Americans For Prosperity announced yet another major ad buy of $6.1 million in eight states.
The latest ad is based on a set of mistruths about green jobs that have been widely debunked.
In the ad, AFP explains that “billions of taxpayer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries,” and uses four examples that supposedly prove that Obama’s clean energy stimulus created foreign jobs instead of domestic ones.
All four examples are either mostly or completely false.
1. The ad claims that $1.2 billion is being used to create solar jobs in Mexico. This point was completely made up by a random conservative blogger and has been repeatedly called out as a lie. This $1.2 billion loan guarantee was issued for a large, first-of-its-kind solar plant in California being developed by NRG. However, the blogger falsely wrote that the money was being used to create manufacturing jobs in Mexico.
In reality, the jobs created in Mexico had absolutely nothing to do with the loan guarantee. The only connection to Mexico was that some of the solar panels would be coming from a manufacturing plant located there. And even though the source of the panels had nothing to do with the decision to issue the loan guarantee, the company providing the panels, SunPower, explained that most of the panels were coming from America anyway.
2. The ad claims that a loan guarantee for an electric vehicle manufacturer went to jobs in Finland. This is also a made up story pushed by Fox News and conservative bloggers. In fact, all of the money used through the loan guarantee went toward building a U.S. manufacturing facility.
There were some jobs created in Finland during final assembly of the vehicles, but that was announced up front in 2009 when the loan guarantee was issued. According to the Department of Energy, all of the money set aside for Fisker’s next-generation vehicle manufacturing was issued for American operations.
Colorado Senate Passes Civil Unions Bill |
With a vote of 23-12, the Colorado Senate just approved final passage of the Civil Unions Act, with three Republicans voting in favor of the bill. Though an overwhelming majority of Coloradans support civil unions, the legislation still faces hurdles in the Republican-controlled House.
President Obama congratulates Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on successful pirate raid
Today on a press call with Mitt Romney’s campaign foreign policy advisers, former Navy Secretary during the Reagan administration and now Romney adviser John Lehman claimed that American allied military leaders around the world are telling him that under President Obama, the United States is no longer leading in world affairs. As one piece of evidence, Lehman cited the Obama administration’s policies in combating piracy:
LEHMAN: I think the biggest concern when I talk to my former counterparts and current military leaders in — among our allies in Europe and the Pacific is, the theme that they — I keep hearing from them is, Why is the United States under Obama abdicating leadership or keeping stability in the world? … And they see our abdication of leadership in for instance dealing with the pirates. We were not in a leadership position and that’s opened up a very attractive opportunity for the Russians and even the Chinese have two ships out there.
Listen to the clip:
Absent in Lehman’s argument of course is the fact that, according to data released just this week, sea piracy worldwide has declined 28 percent in the first quarter of the year and, as the AP reported, “attacks fell sharply in Somalia’s waters thanks to international naval patrols.” And which country has a “large” naval presence there? The United States.
“When the Obama administration came to office the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia was snowballing out of control,” Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro said recently at an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress, “through the collective effort of the United States, the international community, and the private sector, we are now seeing signs of clear progress.” Shapiro continued:
The numbers clearly demonstrate this. In 2011, the number of successful pirate attacks fell by nearly half. As a result, there has been a significant drop in the numbers of ships and crew held hostage. In January 2011, pirates held 31 ships and 710 hostages. In early March of 2012 pirates held eight ships and 213 hostages – a roughly 70 percent decline. This is still way too many, but it is clear advances are being made.
“The Obama administration has pursued a strategy that seeks to leverage all elements of U.S. power” to combat piracy, Shapiro added, which comprises an integrated multi-dimensional approach that includes diplomatic engagement, expanding security at sea, preventing attacks and debilitating piracy networks.
Also absent from Lehman’s argument? Obama’s order in 2009 for a successful Navy SEALS operation to take out pirates holding an American ship captain hostage, nor his most recent order for U.S. special ops forces to rescue an American and a Danish hostages from pirate-affiliate kidnappers.
Siberia Passes Anti-Gay ‘Propaganda’ Bill |
Siberia has joined St. Petersburg as the latest Russian region to pass legislation that prohibits LGBT “propaganda,” any promotion of sexual or gender diversity to minors. Alexander Ilushchenko, who oversees a culture and education committee, claimed the bill was designed to protect kids from being exposed to gay pride parades. In St. Petersburg, activists have organized multiple protests resulting in arrests under the new policy. Moscow is considering a bill that could implement the anti-gay free speech limitation nationwide.
House Republicans have touted their budget as a prescription for economic growth that will return the United States economy to prosperity. In reality, as ThinkProgress has documented, the GOP budget slashes social spending on programs that protect the most vulnerable while giving more than $3 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthiest among us — and even after all that, it not only fails to reduce the national debt but actually adds to it.
More than 60 percent of the spending cuts in the GOP budget would come from programs that benefit the poor, including food assistance, Women, Infant, and Children programs, and potentially even tax credits that have huge effects on poverty and hunger. Those cuts would undoubtedly not only hurt adults in struggling families, but harm children as well. According to a new report from the Half In Ten project at the Center for American Progress, millions of children will lose assistance from a number of services, as the following infographic shows:
As Half In Ten’s Melissa Boteach noted yesterday, the GOP budget would also boot nearly 280,000 children from school lunch programs, even while protecting a massive tax break for multimillionaires.
Under the guise of creating economic prosperity, Republicans have pursued a tax-and-cut ideology with reckless abandon over the last two years, taking the axe to vital social safety net programs while also cutting tax rates on the wealthy. The casualties of the Republican agenda, however, are not numbers on a chart — they are poor kids who are struggling to survive.