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Gutting GOP, Gutless Obama: Will America’s Economy Go the Way of Europe?



The GOP is gutting food from the mouths of poor Americans, and Obama, moving ever right, doesn’t have the guts to stand up to them, all while the U.S. economy becomes more like Europe’s…

July has been a dreadful month for President Barack Obama and the American economy.

Just read last week’s columns and articles by Paul Krugman, Frank Rich and Joe Nocera and you could easily conclude that Obama and his economic advisers have failed the country and Obama’s chances for re-election are dwindling daily.

Meanwhile, Obama faces the unthinkable prospect that the Republican-led House of Representatives could actually fail to bring a bill that could pass in time to raise the federal deficit ceiling by a looming August 2 deadline.

Yes, our American government could actually default on our debts, not because we don’t have the money, but because we lack the requisite political will.

Factor in the White House’s ongoing, unconstructive negotiations with the House Republican caucus, driven by Tea Party animus to raising taxes and even raising the debt ceiling.  Arguably, the House majority is the most ideological Congress in modern history and Obama has a major political problem confronting him in the debt ceiling crisis that could even jeopardize his re-election.

Blogs have been buzzing this week with the idea of a primary challenge too. Democrats on Capitol Hill can not be feeling very secure in this moment.

Meanwhile, the Republican caucus, frustrated with Speaker John Boehner’s politicking with the President, switched negotiators to Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader, who arrived at the White House yesterday armed with color-coded spread sheets, omitting any tax revenues from the most wealthy of Americans.

The economic situation is pretty grim.

June  job numbers were published last Friday that indicate a downward spiral trend–only 18,000 newly created jobs last month, measly, weak numbers, following an equally bad month in May that produced only 25,000 new jobs. These latest numbers drove the unemployment rate up to 9.2 percent, sinking Americans’ confidence that indicate the hoped for  “summer for recovery” is out of reach.

Not the direction you want the economy to go, especially if you are President Barack Obama who is running for re-election and is currently engaged in the effort to raise $1 billion for his campaign during a dreadful, stagnating economy.

Republicans immediately blamed the president and Congressional Democrats for the sinking economy. Obama made a trip to the Rose Garden to prod Congress to extend the payroll tax past December and pass trade bills now pending with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.

The original stimulus money is finished, much of it being tax cuts and not cash that the economy desperately needed. Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, both Nobel laureates, said from the beginning that $850 billion was not enough to put this economy back on track. And now the results are in: there are 500,000 fewer federal employees, state and local governments are laying off employees, including teachers and police too, as they tighten up their budgets. One municipal jurisdiction in Florida furloughed its police department for six months–they just did not have the necessary $165,000 on hand to keep the cops on duty.

With businesses sitting on mounds of cash, they are simply not hiring at a rate that would substantially improve the economy. During a weak economy, barely out of recession, the federal government becomes the banker and spender of last resort. But apparently the Republicans missed that chapter in macroeconomics 101.

Has America has gone the way of Europe? From the Feds to local  governments, everyone has embraced the austerity mode, so it is no surprise the economy is contracting and the metrics bear out the pain.

Similarly, the austerity approach is not working out so well for the weak sovereign funds and treasuries of Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain (known as the “PIGS”). Italy is also the latest in Europe, who apparently is joining the PIGS with teetering solvency problems too. The upshot could simply be said in three words: “likely to default.” And that is a problem for the European Central Bank, the Germans, the British and yes, the United States too.

Because our globalized financial and banking system is intricately connected, when an Italy or Spain potentially collapses, it will hit our markets who are likely to sustain steep drops in worth. Add in the unbelievable thought that the U.S. could default, you can bet the entire world will also feel America’s economic pain.

Back at home, as Obama and the majority of a Republican Congress prepares to put a political knife to bone, not meat, while long-term joblessness remains the achilles heel since the 2008 crash: 14.1 million unemployed, with 6.3 million of them having searched for work for six months or longer. Including those who are working part-time because they can’t find full-time work and those who have stopped looking, the broader unemployment rate is now 16.2 percent, its highest level since December 2010.

Americans have readjusted our expectations now as it is commonly understood that college graduates will return home to live after graduation.  They must delay venturing out into the world and yield to non-paid work as “interns” as long as their parents can support them.

During this recession, millions of Americans in their 50s and 60s have been chronically out of work, with many believing they will never return to the workforce.  With depleted 401K retirement accounts rocked by the 2008 economic crash, the prospect that Obama has put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the negotiating table with the rabid Republicans, frightens people who are already fragile and hurting, believing from their kishkas (Yiddish for “guts”) that they will never recover.

As Krugman said last week, progressives and Democrats should be worried.  After Obama’s press conference yesterday, no progressive should have any doubt, he has moved to the middle politically and in the process reassured Republicans at least three times during the press conference yesterday that there were no new taxes in his proposed grand bargain until 2013.  He also said, what must have sent shudders through the Democratic caucus in both chambers:

We keep on talking about this stuff and we have these high-minded pronouncements about how we’ve got to get control of the deficit and how we owe it to our children and our grandchildren. Well, let’s step up.  Let’s do it.  I’m prepared to do it.  I’m prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done. And I expect the other side should be willing to do the same thing — if they mean what they say that this is important.

The face of this new economy got a little closer to me just last month in my middle-class neighborhood in Riverdale, New York, historically Jewish identified, although, increasingly diverse, located in the Bronx (many New Yorker’s like to say “Riverdale” is not the Bronx, at least not the Bronx that Hollywood portrays).

When returning from work on a late afternoon bus ride to Riverdale from Broadway Avenue, a nicely dressed and carefully coiffed woman, perhaps in her late 50s, early 60s, remarked about the Columbia University binder I was carrying. I told her I worked at the University. She told me she had attended the prestigious Bennington College and transferred to Harvard where she met her husband.

She said they went onto work in South Africa for 10 years. And then, without hesitation and in a non sequitur she said:  “My husband and I have only eaten one meal a day during the past year and today I finally got a job at a hair cutting salon. It isn’t what I wanted, but I need the job.” She added that they were behind in their rent, but was hoping to catch up soon. I responded by saying “I am so sorry to hear about your trouble. So many people are suffering right now.”  I wished her ‘good luck’ as she exited the bus.

By the time I arrived home, I was so rattled by this woman’s need to share her pain with me, a complete stranger, it was the only thing I could talk about for the next couple of weeks. During the same week, I walked to my favorite Italian restaurant in Riverdale to order a cappuccino and read the Sunday paper. While sitting outdoors with my golden retriever on lead, I overheard an older woman’s conversation with apparently, her husband, discussing their finances. She was clearly tracking the economy.  She mentioned Paul Krugman’s latest column and Obama’s efforts to revive the economy and said, “By the way, we have not received our food stamps for the month and I need to check to see if a mistake was made.”

These women were very much like myself (although clearly straight)– white, both in their late 50s or 60s, well-educated, albeit one had been out-of-work for more than six months and was now vastly underemployed and the other was retired, on a fixed  income needing food stamps to get by, both living in the” middle-class dream” in a Riverdale neighborhood, but barely hanging on.

Their lives and terrible circumstances is now what confronts Obama and Democrats alike, and puts his campaign for re-election in jeopardy, especially as he prepares to cut FDR’s safety nets with Democrats’ acquiescence.  Really?

I do not think moving to the “political center” is what gets Obama re-elected. These women’s plights represent what is most illustrative of America writ large today.

What he has forgotten are the people on Main Street and how to fight for them.

Can you only imagine what is happening to the poor? There are now 14 million children living under the legal definition of poverty in America. There are also 2.5 million more children living in poverty today than in 2000. Every night in America, children go to bed increasingly hungry. This reality has been reported by CBS’ “60 Minutes” twice in the past six months, with a recent update. It is heart-breaking.

In Congress, the Republican response is to gut–literally take food from people’s mouths during a time of general neediness all around. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) told it like it should be told when she said the food stamp cuts and aid to women and children was a bridge too far, calling the Congress “the most gutless institution” during a recent floor speech.

She should include President Obama among the gutless in her next speech.


(Image, top: Gallup)

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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GOP’s New ‘Bizarre Obsession’ Shows It Has ‘Gone Crazy’: Morning Joe



MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough ripped the Republican Party for focusing on a “bizarre obsession” to stoke a culture war that targets vulnerable teenagers.

A proposed draft of a Florida physical education form would require all high school athletes to provide information on their menstrual cycle to state athletic officials, which the “Morning Joe” host bashed as an unnecessary and cruel attack on a minuscule number of transgender teens who play sports.

“The percentage is so small that they’re doing this to every girl in Florida schools?” Scarborough said. “Talk about overkill. Just stop already.”

“I mean, let’s talk about that Florida law,” Scarborough continued. “Can you imagine doing that as a young girl when you were, like, in high school, middle school? Come on, talk about, again, the obsession over 0.003 percent of the population, and then the unbelievably small number of transgender students who are playing sports. The Florida Republican Party has gone crazy. They sent out tons of mailers on this, the obsession, and now they’re making young girls self-report on menstrual cycles because of this bizarre obsession?”

READ: America finally facing politician who has Mussolini’s guile, ruthlessness and willingness to see people die

“This is stupid,” he added. “This is another stupid extension of a culture war where he’s trying to create a culture war around something where there is not a war.”

Watch the segment below or at this link.


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‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History



For the past two decades teenaged women participating in Florida high school athletics have been asked to submit their menstrual history, including the date of their first period, the date of their last period, and how many periods they have had in the last 12 months. The board of directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association, the organization in charge of coordinating high school athletics in the Sunshine State, will debate later this month if they will make divulging that information mandatory for participating in sports. According to the FHSAA website that board is comprised of 14 men and two women. Not one is a physician or medical professional.

Critics are voicing concerns over a variety of issues, including the right to privacy, the need for the highly personal medical information, who has access to it, how it is stored, and how it could be used against the students, including to determine possible pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, or if the athlete is transgender.

“Many parents and doctors are worried that schools will use the menstrual data to monitor students for late or missed periods, a possible sign of pregnancy, or to out transgender students by watching for girls who don’t get periods or boys who do,” The New Republic reports, calling it “a terrifying glimpse of our dystopian post-Roe world.”

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The three-page form, called the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation, asks:

“When was your first menstrual period?” “When was your most recent menstrual period? “How much time do you usually have from the start of one period to the start of another?” “How many periods have you had in the last year? and “What was the longest time between periods in the last year?”

A draft form slightly alters the questions, asking instead, “Have you had a menstrual period?” and “How old were you when you had your first menstrual period?” in addition to the other three questions.

While it currently states answering is optional, at the end of this month those questions could become mandatory, although the reason for the possible change has not been disclosed.

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Because the information is not being given by the athletes to a physician or other medical professional or organization, the information is not subject to HIPAA regulations. And in some school districts the inform action is stored on a third-party platform, possibly exposing it to other entities.

“This is clearly an effort to further stigmatize and demonize transgender people in sports [and] meant to further exclude people who aren’t assigned female at birth in girls sports,” the  president of PRISM, a South Florida nonprofit organization that provides sexual health information to LGBTQ+ youth, Maxx Fenning, told The Tampa Bay Times. “Beyond that, I think there’s concern among LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ [students] alike. This is an extremely invasive mode of gleaning into someone’s reproductive history, which is especially dangerous in this post-Roe world we live in.”

TIME adds that critics “have noted that this policy would be a major challenge for transgender athletes who may have to out themselves with their responses to the questions. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved a bill last year—which is currently under legal fire—that bans transgender female students from playing on women and girls’ sports teams.”

READ MORE: Trump Vows to Use DOJ and Congress to Make Being Transgender Illegal While Promoting the ‘Nuclear Family’

According to the fan-checking site Snopes, “these written forms with students’ medical information are submitted to school officials, contrary to a number of other states where only a doctor’s signature is required to clear an athlete for play.”

Snopes adds that “concerns grew as many states worked to criminalize abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and transgender athletes faced scrutiny. In Florida, abortions are banned after 15 weeks, with only a few exceptions.”

“Any forms (physical or digital) could be subpoenaed. Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, nearly all athlete-registration forms moved online, which meant reproductive data for athletes was being stored by a third-party software company called Aktivate. Other counties were also planning to digitize their forms.”

Last October NBC News reported that an Aktivate spokesperson said a student’s information could be removed but only with parental and school district consent.

Image via Shutterstock

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George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation



U.S. Rep. George Santos is angered a man interviewed for a staff position in his Capitol Hill office secretly recorded the conversations, claiming it “violated the trust that we had in him.”

The freshman New York Republican lawmaker who is believed to be under multiple DOJ and local investigations, suggests the candidate handed the recordings over to Talking Points Memo, and says he expects an article will be published there Thursday evening, after the news site contacted his office.

“According to Santos, his office had been in the process of hiring Derek Myers for a position, but paused when they saw he faces wiretapping charges in Ohio after publishing recorded court testimony — obtained from a source, he said — as part of a story for a small newspaper,” Semafor reports. “FIRE, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to First Amendment issues, has defended Myers, arguing local authorities in the state were criminalizing legitimate journalism.”

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“While they said they expect the audio will just show them questioning him about his specific circumstances, it’s unknown if he recorded other exchanges.”

Regardless, Santos is taking action.

The GOP congressman accursed of deceiving his constituents with countlessly false claims that helped get him elected, says he is going to report Myers to the Biden administration, claiming he has a White House press pass.

Santos says he wants Myers’ White House press pass to be revoked, after Myers, the congressman says, claimed to have one.

“He should have that revoked if it’s true, if it’s even remotely true he has it,” Santos told Semafor.

It’s not known if Myers does, and if so it’s unlikely it’s a permanent hard pass. It’s also unlikely it would be revoked if Myers did not break the law.

Semafor adds in Washington, D.C. it is legal to record your own conversation with another party without obtaining their consent.

READ MORE: ‘Firehose of Disinformation’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders Picked to Deliver State of the Union Response in Nod to Trump (Video)


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