News & Notes May 3, 2012

“Just close your eyes” Tom Corbett opened his mouth again and tried to explain his insensitive comments about allowing the state to forcibly search women’s bodies before allowing abortions.

Corbett simply doesn’t comprehend that he can’t force women to change their minds any more than he can make them watch an ultrasound.

Another one bites the dust…  Newt finally canned his presidential campaign which is $4 million in debt.  What began as, essentially, a book tour went south when he only won two primaries.  Good-bye Newt.

mitt is meeting with Rick Santorum this week in Pittsburgh as our former (I just love saying that word about Rick!) Senator attempts to nail down some of his radical social positions for the fall campaign.  Good luck with that Rick.  Mitt has already shaken his Etch-A-Sketch and is moving towards the center.  Pinning him down on an issue is like wrestling a greased pig.

Newt isn’t exactly a Romney fan either:

In prison news the DEA left a man alone in solitary confinement for five days with no food or water.  He drank his urine to survive and is now suing for $20 million.

Reports say state prison staff at Rockview tortured and killed prisoner John Carter recently:

According to witness accounts, staff in riot gear filled his solitary confinement cell with an extraordinary quantity of OC chemical munitions, otherwise known as pepper-spray. Following the attack with pepper-spray, his cell door was opened and guards rushed him, assaulting Carter, who was reportedly unconscious, with electro-shock weapons and beating him.

This is horrific and the Governor should explain the use of pepper spray.

Arizona Minutemen member and Neo-Nazi T.J. Ready killed four people including a child yesterday.  The anti-immigration hysteria is out of control.  Demagogues like Lou Barletta who foment this have more blood on their hands this morning.

Philadelphia schools may not open come September.  Thank you Gov. Corbett.

Why not allow Texas to secede?  The sequel to Dumb and Dumber should be made there, any random citizens would do for the lead roles.  Bill Nye, the Science Guy was booed for saying the moon reflects the sun.  Oooh, don’t try and tell these morons facts…

The FBI provided a group affiliated with Occupy Cleveland fake explosives, showed them where to put them on a bridge then arrested them for domestic terrorism.  This, again, is classic entrapment.  The feds get to claim another coup and more people get railroaded to prison.  The fact these five people were part of Occupy may show frustration with the level of violence directed at peaceful, lawful protesters.  The militarization of police forces and the use of these tactics against Occupy protesters will, eventually, cause violent reactions and revolution.

HB 2150 passed the State House yesterday.  While closing the Delaware Loophole it also slashed corporate tax rates and created new loopholes.  If passed by the Senate (not likely) it would cut future revenues making it impossible to fund education, infrastructure and provide vital services for the neediest among us.

Joe Biden Addresses Lafayette College Students

The Vice President came to Easton yesterday to the college, Lafayette, where his great grandfather matriculated in 1875.  Joe Biden is from Scranton and his ancestor arrived in town by train and, as he surmised, either walked to campus or took a horse drawn wagon.  While he reminisced about the wonders his Great Grandfather witnessed in his lifetime he told the several hundred students in the Kirby Sports Arena that it paled in comparison to what they’ll see in their lifetime.  If there was a theme to his speech it was the repeated use of the word “imagine.”  Imagine a world without nuclear weapons, where cancer is cured, where new jobs are created in entirely new industries we cannot imagine as yet.  He talked about how the government must set a vision and goals for the future, provide seed money then allow private industry to lead us into the future.  It very much had the feel of a commencement address.

Biden said that education is the great leveling field in our society.  Unfortunately the U.S. is now 16th in the world in the number of our citizens who graduate from college, we were first when he went to the University of Delaware.  Some of the obstacles to that stem from the cost of college and the rate for student loans.   Congress is set to allow interest rates on these loans to double this July crippling the economy for the future.

College graduates are being saddled with debt they won’t be able to pay without sacrificing elsewhere:  homes, cars, durable consumer goods like appliances and so forth.  That strangling of our consumer markets will threaten economic growth and sustainability.  Jobs are already almost impossible to find for recent graduates and the default rate of loans is growing.  We must make college educations affordable once again and keep student loan rates low.

The White House points out that student loan debt averages about $25,000 and the total amount has now surpassed credit card debt:  “If Congress doesn’t act before July 1, 2012, interest rates on loans for over 7.4 million students will double. And for each year that Congress doesn’t act, students rack up an additional $1,000 in debt over the life of their loans.”  The President’s plan includes the following steps:

Reforming student aid to promote affordability and value:  To keep tuition from spiraling too high and drive greater value, the President has proposed reforms to federal campus-based aid programs to shift aid away from colleges that fail to keep net tuition down, and toward those colleges and universities that do their fair share to keep tuition affordable, provide good value, and serve needy students well. These changes in federal aid to campuses will leverage $10 billion annually to help keep tuition down.

·         Creating a Race to the Top for college affordability and completion: The President has proposed incentives for states to maintain their commitments to higher education through a new $1 billion investment.  The Race to the Top: College Affordability and Completion challenge aims to increase the number of college graduates and contain the cost of tuition by rewarding states that are willing to systematically change their higher education policies and practices.

·         Kicking off a First in the World competition to model innovation and quality on college campuses:  The President is proposing an investment of $55 million in a new First in the World competition, to support public and private colleges and non-profit organizations as they work to develop and test the next breakthrough strategy that will boost higher education attainment and student outcome, while leading to reduced costs.

·         Providing better data for families to choose the right college for them: The President is calling for a College Scorecard for all degree-granting institutions, designed to provide essential information about college costs, graduation rates, and potential earnings, all in an easy-to-read format that will help students and families choose a college that is well suited to their needs, priced affordably, and consistent with their career and educational goals.

·         Redoubling federal support to tackle college costs:  The President has already made the biggest investments in student aid since the G.I. Bill through increases to the Pell grant, and by shoring up the direct loan and income-based repayment programs. In his State of the Union Address, the President also called on Congress to make the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent and double the number of work-study jobs over the next 5 years to better assist college students who are working their way through school.

In a recent speech in North Carolina Obama addressed these concerns:

Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.  And living with that kind of debt means that this generation is not getting off to the same start that previous generations — because you’re already loaded up with debt.  So that means you’ve got to make pretty tough choices when you are first starting out.  You might have to put off buying a house.  It might mean that you can’t go after that great idea for a startup that you have, because you’re still paying off loans.  Maybe you’ve got to wait longer to start a family, or save for retirement.

When a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you, that’s not just tough for middle-class families, it’s not just tough on your parents — it’s painful for the economy, because that money is not going to help businesses grow.  I mean, think about the sooner you can start buying a house, that’s good for the housing industry.  The sooner you can start up that business, that means you’re hiring some folks — that grows the economy.

And this is something Michelle and I know about firsthand.  I just wanted everybody here to understand this is not — I didn’t just read about this.  (Laughter and applause.)  I didn’t just get some talking points about this.  I didn’t just get a policy briefing on this.  Michelle and I, we’ve been in your shoes.  Like I said, we didn’t come from wealthy families.

So when we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt.  When we married, we got poorer together.  (Laughter and applause.)  We added up our assets and there were no assets.  (Laughter.)  And we added up our liabilities and there were a lot of liabilities, basically in the form of student loans.  We paid more in student loans than we paid on our mortgage when we finally did buy a condo.  For the first eight years of our marriage, we were paying more in student loans than what we were paying for our mortgage.  So we know what this is about.

And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income. But we only finished paying off our student loans — check this out, all right, I’m the President of the United States — (applause) — we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.  (Laughter.)  That wasn’t that long ago.  And that wasn’t easy, especially because when we had Malia and Sasha, we’re supposed to be saving up for their college educations, and we’re still paying off our college educations.

So we have to make college more affordable for our young people.  That’s the bottom line.  (Applause.)  And like I said, look, not everybody is going to go to a four-year college or university.  You may go to a community college.  You may go to a technical school and get into the workforce.  And then, it may turn out that after you’ve had kids and you’re 35, you go back to school because you’re retraining for something new.  But no matter what it is, no matter what field you’re in, you’re going to have to engage in lifelong learning.  That’s the nature of the economy today.  And we’ve got to make sure that’s affordable.

That’s good for the country; it’s good for you.  At this make-or-break moment for the middle class, we’ve got to make sure that you’re not saddled with debt before you even get started in life.  (Applause.)  Because I believe college isn’t just one of the best investments you can make in your future — it’s one of the best investments America can make in our future.  This is important for all of us.  (Applause.)

We can’t price the middle class out of a college education.  Not at a time when most new jobs in America will require more than a high school diploma.  Whether it’s at a four-year college or a two-year program, we can’t make higher education a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative.  Every American family should be able to afford it.

So the Vice President’s speech yesterday imagining a world of tomorrow filled with amazing new opportunities is in jeopardy for too many of our young people due to this threat of interest rates.  States continue slashing funding for higher education, Gov. Corbett sets his eyes on that target with each budget address.  As funding is cut tuitions increase.  It is a vicious cycle which is going to cost us our competitive edge in the future.  Biden’s imaginings of a brave new world will not happen here if nothing is done.

The scene inside the Kirby Sports Arena:

Student government President Caroline Lang:

The Vice President:

The video:

The rest of the video is below the fold:

Murdoch & News Corp: Unbalanced

The public thrashing done to Rupert Murdoch by the British Parliament yesterday was intriguing.  I posted the video wherein a Committee to which he and his son appeared to relentlessly obfuscate facts around the infamous phone hacking scandal, said he was unfit to run News Corporation.  This is rather extraordinary:  a government actually calling the Murdochs out for their unbalanced behavior.  These people, their companies and newspapers routinely and brazenly broke laws by hacking into people’s voice mail archives, people including the royal family.  Then they went before Parliamentary committees and lied about it all.

Here in the U.S. we’re quite familiar with the lies perpetrated by News Corp through its American propaganda machine Fox News.  They routinely make up shit and broadcast it as factual news.  Pulling something out of your ass isn’t normally news but I suppose it is better than breaking into people’s cell phones.

There have been reports the hacking also happened here but it has yet to be thoroughly investigated as in Britain.  Their report is very damning and, perhaps, the most damning paragraph was this:

“On the basis of the facts and evidence before the Committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone-hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications. This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International. We conclude,therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.”

Of course Murdoch also turns a willfully blind eye to the transgressions committed by Fox News.  Fortunately Media Matters documents them daily.  This passage sounds so familiar:

“The history of the News of the World at hearings of the Committee is a long one, characterised by “collective amnesia” and a reluctance fully and fairly to provide the Committee with the information it sought. News International has repeatedly stone-walled, obfuscated and misled and only come clean, reluctantly, when no other course of action was sensible and when its wider commercial interests were threatened.”

Rupert Murdoch will not do anything to change his pernicious ways unless it threatens his larger interests.  Shareholder lawsuits have a way of turning a company’s management team around towards the right things.  News Corporation is a corrupt enterprise totally devoid of credibility and the British Parliament has laid that accusation clearly and prominently.  That it continues to operate and influence voters through misinformation should be criminal.

Obama/Karzai Sign Accord

Exactly one year after the assassination of Osama Bin Laden Barack Obama flew to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan under cover of darkness (for security reasons) and helicoptered to Kabul to sign a new accord with President Karzai.  The agreement lays out America’s commitment to the Afghan nation for the ten years post withdrawal (2014).  Asked whether it was timed to coincide with the Bin Laden anniversary senior White House officials said it was coincidence, that the agreement had been negotiated and was completed at this time.  If you believe that I have ocean front property in Kansas for sale.

Most American troops will leave the central Asian country in two years after thirteen years of war instigated by our reaction to 9/11.  Interestingly India, the victim of a similar attack, used law enforcement rather than military intervention to remedy the attacks there in a fraction of the time and without bloodshed.  We have much to learn even as we consider ourselves a “civilized nation.”

Obama addressed U.S. troops at Bagram before speaking to the American people prior to his flight home.  As a senior Administration official told the press today “This is hard…Whatever we do, Afghanistan will still be the third poorest nation in world with a 70 percent illiteracy rate [and] sectarian schisms in it,” the third senior official said in response to a question about whether the new deal with the Afghans will bear fruit. “This is still going to be tough.”  The President said this to the troops:

Now, listen, I’m not going to give a long speech.  I’m going to have the opportunity to address the nation from Bagram just in a little bit, and it’s going to be broadcast back home during primetime.  So all I want to do is just say thank you.

    The sacrifices all of you have made, the sacrifices your families make every single day are what make America free and what make America secure.  And I know that sometimes, out here, when you’re in theater, it’s not clear whether folks back home fully appreciate what’s going on.  And let’s face it, a lot of times it’s easier to get bad news on the news than good news.

    But here’s the good news, and here’s part of the reason that I’m here.  I just finished signing a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan that signals the transition in which we are going to be turning over responsibility for Afghan security to the Afghans.  We’re not going to do it overnight.  We’re not going to do it irresponsibly.  We’re going to make sure that the gains, the hard-fought gains that have been made are preserved.  But the reason we’re able to do that is because of you.  The reason that the Afghans have an opportunity for a new tomorrow is because of you.  And the reason America is safe is because of you.

We did not choose this war.  This war came to us on 9/11.  And there are a whole bunch of folks here, I’ll bet, who signed up after 9/11.

Actually we did choose this war.  We chose it in our foreign policy decisions, when we allowed Wall Street and American multinational corporations to overthrow foreign governments and impose austerity.  We chose it when we decided to base our troops on foreign soil in the Arabian Peninsula.  Our actions and policies over decades gave rise to Al Qaeda and financed Bin Laden.  People the world over do hate us and do so with good reason.  Americans can deny the reality but that doesn’t erase history.

The President made these remarks at the signing with the corrupt President Karzai:

I’ve come to Afghanistan to mark a historic moment for our two nations, and to do so on Afghan soil.  I’m here to affirm the bonds between our countries, to thank American and Afghans who have sacrificed so much over these last 10 years, and to look forward to a future of peace and security and greater prosperity for our nations.

Neither Americans nor the Afghan people asked for this war. Yet, for a decade, we’ve stood together to drive al Qaeda from its camps, to battle an insurgency, and to give the people of Afghanistan the possibility to live in peace and in dignity.  The wages of war have been great for both our nations.  But today, with the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement, we look forward to a future of peace.

Together, we’ve made much progress.  We’ve reached an agreement to transition detention facilities to Afghan control, and to put Afghans in the lead on special operations.  And today, we’re agreeing to be long-term partners in combating terrorism, and training Afghan security forces, strengthening democratic institutions and supporting development, and protecting human rights of all Afghans.  With this agreement, the Afghan people in the world should know that Afghanistan has a friend and a partner in the United States.

Mr. President, there will be difficult days ahead.  But as we move forward with our transition, I’m confident that Afghan forces will grow stronger, the Afghan people will take control of their future.  With this agreement, I am confident that the Afghan people will understand that the United States will stand by them, and they will know that the United States can achieve our goal of destroying al Qaeda and denying it a safe haven, but at the same time, we have the capacity to wind down this war and usher in a new era of peace here in Afghanistan.

Mr. President, I’m reminded of all who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, including members of your own family.  I pay tribute to those Afghans who have lost their lives alongside our men and women, and sacrificed for their country.  Of course, our hearts are heavy as we remember so many who have died in this war.  I’m grateful that this agreement pays tribute to the sacrifices made by the American people here in Afghanistan.

As I’ve said before, the United States has not come here to claim resources or to claim territory.  We came with a very clear mission:  We came to destroy al Qaeda.  And we have enormous respect for Afghan sovereignty and the dignity of the Afghan people.  Together, we’re now committed to replacing war with peace and pursuing a more hopeful future as equal partners.

To borrow words from this agreement, we are committed to seeking a future of justice, peace, security, and opportunity.  And I’m confident that although our challenges are not yet behind us, that the future before us is bright.

The President’s remarks to the American people:

Good evening from Bagram Air Base. This outpost is more than seven thousand miles from home, but for over a decade it has been close to our hearts. Because here, in Afghanistan, more than half a million of our sons and daughters have sacrificed to protect our country.

Today, I signed an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our countries – a future in which Afghans are responsible for the security of their nation, and we build an equal partnership between two sovereign states; a future in which the war ends, and a new chapter begins.

Tonight, I’d like to speak to you about this transition. But first, let us remember why we came here. It was here, in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden established a safe-haven for his terrorist organization. It was here, in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda brought new recruits, trained them, and plotted acts of terror. It was here, from within these borders, that al Qaeda launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.

And so, ten years ago, the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al Qaeda could never again use this country to launch attacks against us. Despite initial success, for a number of reasons, this war has taken longer than most anticipated. In 2002, bin Laden and his lieutenants escaped across the border and established safe-havens in Pakistan. America spent nearly eight years fighting a different war in Iraq. And al Qaeda’s extremist allies within the Taliban have waged a brutal insurgency.

But over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan Security Forces. We devastated al Qaeda’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set – to defeat al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild – is within reach.

Still, there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over. But tonight, I’d like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan.

First, we have begun a transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Already, nearly half the Afghan people live in places where Afghan Security Forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.

As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.

Second, we are training Afghan Security Forces to get the job done. Those forces have surged, and will peak at 352,000 this year. The Afghans will sustain that level for three years, and then reduce the size of their military. And in Chicago, we will endorse a proposal to support a strong and sustainable long-term Afghan force.

Third, we are building an enduring partnership. The agreement we signed today sends a clear message to the Afghan people: as you stand up, you will not stand alone. It establishes the basis of our cooperation over the next decade, including shared commitments to combat terrorism and strengthen democratic institutions. It supports Afghan efforts to advance development and dignity for their people. And it includes Afghan commitments to transparency and accountability, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans – men and women, boys and girls.

Within this framework, we will work with the Afghans to determine what support they need to accomplish two narrow security missions beyond 2014: counter-terrorism and continued training. But we will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling its cities and mountains. That will be the job of the Afghan people.

Fourth, we are pursuing a negotiated peace. In coordination with the Afghan government, my Administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban. We have made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence, and abide by Afghan laws. Many members of the Taliban – from foot soldiers to leaders – have indicated an interest in reconciliation. A path to peace is now set before them. Those who refuse to walk it will face strong Afghan Security Forces, backed by the United States and our allies.

Fifth, we are building a global consensus to support peace and stability in South Asia. In Chicago, the international community will express support for this plan, and for Afghanistan’s future. I have made it clear to Afghanistan’s neighbor – Pakistan – that it can and should be an equal partner in this process in a way that respects Pakistan’s sovereignty, interests, and democratic institutions. In pursuit of a durable peace, America has no designs beyond an end to al Qaeda safe-havens, and respect for Afghan sovereignty.

As we move forward, some people will ask why we need a firm timeline. The answer is clear: our goal is not to build a country in America’s image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban. These objectives would require many more years, many more dollars, and many more American lives. Our goal is to destroy al Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that. Afghans want to fully assert their sovereignty and build a lasting peace. That requires a clear timeline to wind down the war.

Others will ask why we don’t leave immediately. That answer is also clear: we must give Afghanistan the opportunity to stabilize. Otherwise, our gains could be lost, and al Qaeda could establish itself once more. And as Commander-in-Chief, I refuse to let that happen.

I recognize that many Americans are tired of war. As President, nothing is more wrenching than signing a letter to a family of the fallen, or looking in the eyes of a child who will grow up without a mother or father. I will not keep Americans in harm’s way a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security. But we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan, and end this war responsibly.

My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda.

This future is only within reach because of our men and women in uniform. Time and again, they have answered the call to serve in distant and dangerous places. In an age when so many institutions have come up short, these Americans stood tall. They met their responsibilities to one another, and the flag they serve under. I just met with some of them, and told them that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder. In their faces, we see what is best in ourselves and our country.

Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, coast guardsmen and civilians in Afghanistan have done their duty. Now, we must summon that same sense of common purpose. We must give our veterans and military families the support they deserve, and the opportunities they have earned. And we must redouble our efforts to build a nation worthy of their sacrifice.

As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew America. An America where our children live free from fear, and have the skills to claim their dreams. A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation.

Here, in Afghanistan, Americans answered the call to defend their fellow citizens and uphold human dignity. Today, we recall the fallen, and those who suffer wounds seen and unseen. But through dark days we have drawn strength from their example, and the ideals that have guided our nation and lit the world: a belief that all people are created equal, and deserve the freedom to determine their destiny.

That is the light that guides us still. This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end. With faith in each other and our eyes fixed on the future, let us finish the work at hand, and forge a just and lasting peace. May God bless our troops. And may God bless the United States of America.

Our mission in Afghanistan ended when Osama Bin Laden’s body was dumped overboard in the Arabian Sea.  Why we remain there is a question I’ve asked since.  I’ve yet to get a good answer when I ask what our mission is there because we really don’t have one since killing the 9/11 mastermind.

Air Force One departed Bagram Air Base as dawn approached.   Is it a new dawn for Afghanistan?  No, the war torn country ruled by warlords for centuries will revert to its previous state.  The only evidence of our presence in fifty years will be the hatred created by the barbarism of our troops against the Afghan people.  We’ll be attacked again in revenge and another generation of Americans will wonder why they hate us.

 

News & Notes May Day Edition

This is my third time writing this today.  Every time I got halfway through Firefox crashed taking the work with it…  Now I’m using Chrome and trying to figure out how it works.  At least Chrome remembers my passwords and saves my tabs (I hope!).  My 64 bit system simply hasn’t worked well with Firefox and after today’s failures I’m fed up.

Today is May Day, the traditional labor celebration day worldwide.  Many general strikes were planned.  Occupy movements are also scheduled to resume as of today.  Occupy Delaware has been broken up though, as of this morning, several tents remained.  Occupy Wilkes-Barre says it will resume.

Vice President Joe Biden is in Easton tomorrow speaking at Lafayette College.  I plan on being there for coverage.

The President is in Afghanistan where 90 minutes ago he and President Karzai signed an agreement for ten years of cooperation after the 2014 U.S. withdrawal.  I’m on a White House conference call about it as I type.  The agreement says the U.S. will not maintain military bases in the country.  

Iraq is buying American fighter jets as the real reasons for our failed invasion there evolve:  it’s all about business.

Last week Pat Toomey joined every other male Republican Senator voting against the Violence Against Women Act.  The renewal expanded coverage to Native Americans, members of the LGBT community and others.  A section written by Bob Casey expands protections for college coeds who are a disproportionate number of the rapes in that age group.  Date rape continues being a problem at colleges and universities.  Why does Pat Toomey hate women?  Though the bill passed the Senate a House version passed today strips LGBT protections.  According to Republicans it’s OK for gays and lesbians to be beaten.

The Pennsylvania ACLU is initiating legal action against Gov. Corbett and the Commonwealth over Voter ID.  The fact PennDOT is insisting on charging people for state issued identity papers for voting makes this a poll tax.  Those have been struck down by the Supreme Court.  This is the first of many legal actions to come caused by Corbett’s radical agenda which taxpayers will forced to cough up dollars to fund.  Instead of educating our children, providing services for the disabled and fixing our roads we’ll be paying lawyers in losing causes.

The AFL-CIO is ridiculing Mitt Romney:

New Mexico Senate candidate Eric Griego has a new ad targeting Heather Wilson on Social Security and Medicare:

This will be an interesting race to watch, New Mexico is a swing state and this open seat is a bellweather.

The Fox/Rupert Murdoch hacking scandal continues unfolding.  James Murdoch stepped down as head of the Fox empire in Britain and today Parliament found Murdoch senior “unfit” to run the company:

Texas efforts to defund Planned Parenthood met a roadblock when their law was declared unconstitutional.  It has already cost the Lone Star State $35 billion in federal Medicaid funding.  Rep. Daryl Metcalfe plans on introducing a similar initiative here soon.  Meanwhile the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down its “fetal personhood” legislation.

Poor Mitt Romney:  just after hiring a communications guru infamous for his sexist Tweets (he scrubbed his Tweets after being hired) Ric Grenell has quit already.  Instead of his horrible sexist comments about women (and, especially Rachel Maddow) being the cause for his exit it is his sexual orientation.  Republican extremists couldn’t bear having  a gay man in that position.