Friday, January 31, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - Women Should Age-Out

State Representative 
Allan Rothlisberg (R-Kansas)

So, Republicans, how is that We-Heart-Women campaign going?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Republicans Claim to Support Equal Pay for Equal Work. Can They Prove It?

President Obama, during the State of the Union address on Tuesday: "Today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.  That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment.  A woman deserves equal pay for equal work."

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington), who delivered the official Republican response to the President's speech, was asked about this issue on Wednesday:  "Yes, absolutely.  Republicans and I support equal pay for equal work."

what eye thynk:  I believe Ms. Rodgers and her fellow Republicans are a bit confused over the meaning of the word "support."  To begin with, look at their record on the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act.  

Ms. Ledbetter discovered too late that her work as an executive for Goodyear was compensated at a rate substantially below that of her male counterparts.  She sued for back pay.  The Supreme Court denied her claim because she hadn't filed her suit within 180 days of her first paycheck.  (She didn't discover the inequality until she was retiring and found her pension was lower than a male co-worker's.) The act that bears her name removed the statute of limitations on equal pay cases. The Lilly Ledbetter Act was the first piece of legislation that then newly inaugurated President Obama signed into law in January 2009.   The 111 th Congress, which had a Democratic majority in both Houses, passed the bill mostly along party lines with all but a handful of Republicans voting "No." 
 I'm having trouble seeing the support here.

Then there is this quote from the Republican Party's pet news station Fox News, where anchor Martha MacCallum was discussing the equal pay issue on Wednesday evening: "I think most women do not want to be treated as sort of a special class of citizens.  They want to go to work every day, they want to get paid for being a professional, for doing their job really well.  And they don't want to be treated like some group of people who have to be, you know, given a little special handout just to make sure that they're okay.  

Fox's liberal commentator Alan Colmes objected, "It's not a special handout.  It's equality.  It's equal pay for equal work."  Ms. MacCallum's response:  "Many women get paid exactly what they're worth, Alan."
What does that even mean?

Go back to 2013 and you have Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) explaining why she is against pay equality legislation. "You know, I've always said that I didn't want to be given a job because I was a female, I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job.  And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein, that is what women want.  They don't want the decisions made in Washington.  They want...the control and the ability to make those decisions for themselves."
But, Ms. Blackburn, if you are the "most well-qualified person for the job", wouldn't you expect to be paid a salary that supported your qualifications?   And if somebody gives me the "ability to make those decisions" myself, I'll tell ya, I'm going for the big bucks.  Maybe you're nobler than I am and requested a reduced compensation package when you took your oath of office?

And how can we forget 2012 when the Paycheck Fairness Act was brought before Congress for the second time...and Senate Republicans boasted of filibustering it into failure.  Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)--one of the few moderate Republicans left in the world--told reporters, "I think this bill would result in excessive litigation that would impose a real burden, particularly on small businesses."
Well, actually, no, it wouldn't.  If businesses, no matter the size, paid women and men equally for the same job, there would BE no litigation, and thus no burden.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "support" as "to promote the interests or cause of; to uphold or defend as valid or right."

Republicans can continue to claim they "support" pay equity, but the claim is bogus.  Their rhetoric shows it. Their voting record proves it.  And, most importantly, women know it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Republican War on Women: The Battle in the U.S. Capitol

This is the twenty-first in a series of articles on the subjects of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  •  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”
The National Front  

the facts and commentary:  Yesterday, January 28, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, a bill put together by a 12 man (as in all male, no female) committee.  The legislation imposes tax penalties on small businesses that provide abortion coverage in their health care plans. (80% currently provide abortion coverage.)  It also forces women who purchase private ACA insurance plans and want abortion coverage included in their policies to pay the full price for the rider, even if they are eligible for government subsidies to help with the cost of their policies.  There is an exception for rape, but proponents of the law bragged that claiming the exemption on her tax return would "spur audits for rape survivors" and the threat of an IRS audit will be an additional deterrent.

Richard Hanna (R-New York) was the sole Republican to vote "No."

Yesterday evening, just hours after passing these new restrictions, U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) gave the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address.  Part of her reply focused on (surprise!) complaining about the ACA.  In her words:  "Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government's."
Given the chronology in evidence here, I wonder how Ms. Rodgers was able to say that with a straight face.
 Ms. Rodgers is not a party leader.  She's not on any important committees.  She heads no study or research group. It seems obvious that she was chosen simply to put a female face in front of the media at a time when Republicans are desperate to regain support among female voters.  (President Obama won 55% of the female vote in 2012.)   
That percentage isn't going to improve any time soon if Republicans continue to hand ammunition to the Democrats like Ms. McMorris' Party-approved statement.
The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Eye Recommend --- ACA Opposition Frays a Little Further

There are more signs that Republicans are finally realizing their fight against the Affordable Care Act is one they are not going to win.  
 "When Kit Bond was in the Senate, he absolutely hated the Affordable Care Act, and voted to reject and kill the law.  As he was getting ready to retire, the Missouri Republican said the impact of the reform law, especially expanding Medicaid, would be 'horrific.'

Last year, Bond went so far as to describe the Affordable Care Act as 'a pile of manure.'"
Very classy, Mr. Bond.
"Now, however, it appears Bond...has changed his mind, at least about one key aspect of the law. 

(Mr.) Bond has been hired as a lobbyist by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  His goal will be to persuade a General Assembly skeptical of all things Obamacare to go along with one of the law's central tenets--adding 300,000 uninsured Missourians to the public health insurance program for the poor. 

Dan Mehan, the Missouri chamber's president, told the Kansas City Star that the business lobbying group 'opposed Obamacare,' but the organization believes it will remain the law of the land."
I'm thinking this comment deserves a big "Duh."
"And as such, Mehan added, 'We should take the opportunity to get an enormous amount of investment back into our state and, while we're at it, improve Medicaid for everyone."
Talk about a Johnny-come-lately justification.  Think of all the money Missouri could have saved if they had not passed their anti-ACA laws--laws they then had to defend in federal court where they ultimately lost their case just this past week.
"And why did he change his mind?  Bond told the Associated Press, 'While I was and still am one of the loudest opponents of Obamacare, I'm getting involved in Medicaid reform now because if our state sits on the sidelines, I'm concerned hospitals in rural and inner city Missouri won't survive.'"
He didn't think of this when he was a U.S. Senator?
"To be sure, that's a perfectly good reason to support a perfectly sensible policy.  But Bond's 180-degree reversal reinforces a larger truth about the nature of ACA opposition:  it's fracturing in ways that spell trouble for conservatives...

...And it's not just Missouri.  Dylan Scott had a good report this morning on West Virginia, where Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R), a leading U.S. Senate candidate, has voted to repeal the law, but is now comfortable leaving Medicaid expansion in place.

The conventional wisdom is that Republicans running in 2014 will be campaigning against Obamacare, attempting to recreate the 2010 magic that saw them make massive gains in Congress and state governments...

...That's the narrative, and that's what Republican strategists would have you believe.  But comments--or the lack thereof--from some GOP candidates in state and national elections suggest that opposition might not be as ironclad as previously believed."
With nearly 3 million Americans now signed up for ACA coverage, Republicans are waking up to the reality that "Elect me because I promise to take away your health insurance" is not the best road to take if you want to be a working politician.
"Utah's Republican governor just endorsed Medicaid expansion in his state, and Republicans in Michigan and Iowa are considering following suit.

For the last few years, the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been a staple of Republican rhetoric, but it's becoming increasingly obvious that the GOP's posture is evolving.  At this point, the Republican position appears to be, 'We hate Obamacare with every fiber of our being, except for (some) parts.'...

...This isn't a sustainable approach to health care policy...

...The ACA opposition, in other words, is fraying, which is generally a precursor to defeat."
Somebody tell Ted Cruz.

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27 - Monday Quote

I came across this quote in a book I was reading and couldn't help but think it pretty much describes the Republican Party's modus operandi.

monday quote:   Yes, it is a lie, but the media repeated it, and a lie repeated becomes perception and perception is reality. (from The Atlantis Plague by A.G. Riddle)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - Cause of Gun Violence Identified (It's Not the Rich)

U.S. Representative
James Lankford (R-Oklahoma)

Representative James Lankford of Oklahoma, the fifth-ranking Republican in the House, has identified the cause of gun violence in this country: "welfare moms."  

At a meeting in Oklahoma City earlier this month, a constituent asked, "My question is regarding the guns and is Washington at all aware of the psychotropic drugs that these children are taking?  I guarantee it 100 percent that's our big problem."

His response: "I agree with that.  I think there's a bunch of issues that, quite frankly, most liberals are afraid to talk about.  We've over medicated kids.  Quite frankly some of the over medication of kids are because welfare moms want to get additional benefits and if they can put them on SSI through maintenance drugs, they can also put the on Social Security disability and get a separate check."
Sounds like feeding time at the Republican Bigot Zoo.
Fact:  Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine--all these shooters came from affluence.  
Mr. Lankford cannot really believe that by eliminating welfare mothers and their supposedly drugged up kids, we will eliminate gun violence, can he?  Or maybe his rich-is-better, Republican sensibilities would just prefer a better class of killer?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Quick Note: Missouri Obstructionist ACA Laws Struck Down by U.S. District Judge

In 2012, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon decided that his state would not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and would not set up its own health insurance marketplace, making it one of 17 red states where the federal government would have to step in to assist citizens signing up for health insurance.  

Last year, Missouri's Republican led legislature went even further, passing laws that were designed to put obstacles in the way of the federal government's exchange efforts.  These included requirements that federally trained insurance navigators also complete a 30 hour state insurance agent training course and pay a fee to be licensed by Missouri's insurance regulating board. They refused to allow federal workers to set up shop on any government property and would not permit ACA information to be displayed in government or social service offices.  Even that wasn't enough for Missouri Republicans.  They made it unlawful for any Missouri employee to offer "help or assistance of any kind" to anyone asking for information. Giving someone an ACA pamphlet or telling them the address of the ACA office was considered grounds for dismissal and prosecution. 

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith ruled that the obstacles Missouri had set in place were illegal.  In his ruling, Judge Smith said "It seems obvious these additional requirements obstruct the federal government's operation of the federally facilitated exchange;" and since Missouri decided not to set up its own exchange, it could not "impose additional requirements or limitations" on any exchange designated by federal law.  He added that forbidding social service offices from disseminating information to those who inquired put social service workers in an "untenable position" and restricted their constitutional rights to free speech.

Judge Smith's decision could have ramifications in other Republican led states like Ohio, Florida, Texas and Wisconsin where similar laws were passed requiring federal insurance navigators to be licensed by the state and setting limits on what navigators can do.

Missouri's attorneys say they will review the decision before deciding if they will appeal.
And so the voodoo doll of Republican obstructionism takes another stake to the heart.
I wonder how much money Republican states are spending to defend these laws-of-hindrance, laws which seem more and more untenable as time goes by.  And I wonder how that money could have been put to better use actually helping the people they claim to serve.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Quick Note: Another Gay Educator Loses His Job

Another gay educator has been fired by a Catholic school.  

Same sex marriage is perfectly legal in the state of Washington, but Eastside Catholic High School in Seattle recently fired popular Vice Principal Mark Zmuda after another teacher complained that he had married his long time partner.  The school was completely aware of Mr. Zmuda's same sex relationship when they hired him, and apparently had no problem with it--until he married. 

In another situation at the same high school, Stephanie Merrow, who is engaged to her same sex partner, has been hired, (for the second year), to assist with the annual school musical.  She finds the situation confusing, as do her students.
Situations like this, which have played out with similar school firings in Ohio, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and even California and New York, just seem so hypocritical.   Same sex marriage is against Catholic doctrine.  I get that.  But so is being a homosexual and having sex outside of marriage.  
It seems that the church is saying: "We know you're gay and our church doctrine tells us that's wrong.  We also know that you and your same sex partner are co-habitating so you're probably not a celibate gay, which is really wrong.  But, we'll ignore all that and hire you because you are exactly the person we want teaching our children.  However, be warned, if you make a life commitment to your same sex partner, we don't want you around because you're a bad influence on our young charges."
I don't see how this double standard can continue to be sustainable.  To quote Pope Francis, "Who am I to judge?"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Eye Recommend --- About That Four-Minute ACA Hack...

This is a confusing story. The far right tries, once again, to scare people away from accessing health care through the Affordable Care Act.  (Why are they so frightened of people having health insurance?)  But then, maybe they're right...or maybe not.

"Just last week, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was able to boast a bit to the House Oversight Committee. has been subjected to 'end-to-end security testing and passed with flying colors.'

Not so fast, conservative media responded.

The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, Fox News and others pointed to David Kennedy, the head of a computer security consulting firm, who reportedly claimed he could use a standard web browser to access 70,000 personal records belonging to consumers who enrolled through the ACA system--after just four minutes of effort...

...Except, that's not quite what happened, and those reports from conservative media painted a deeply bogus picture.

The Washington Post's Brian Fung discovered 'It turned out the reports were nothing more than simple confusion.'

'We never accessed 70,000 records nor is it directly on the website,' wrote Kennedy in an update to an earlier blog post.  'No dumping of data, malicious intent, hacking, or even viewing of the information was done.'...

...Okay, but if Kennedy didn't access 70,000 personal records, as  conservative media claimed, what did he access?  There were 70,000 results of what, exactly?  As best as I can tell, he hasn't elaborated on this point, except to say, 'We do not support the statements from the news organizations.'
I have to admit, I'm confused.  Someone appears to be lying--or at least tainting the truth--either the information officer from Medicare/Medicaid or cyber-security expert and Republican media darling David Kennedy.  Is the report from the government office trying to make the ACA's site security look better than it is?  Or is Mr. Kennedy, fearful of having publicly admitted to hacking a government website , (a legal no-no), just trying to back away from his original statement in order to protect himself?
"Consider this exchange between Fox News' Chris Wallace and David Kennedy over the weekend:

WALLACE:  You say you did not hack the site and, yet, you say you could access 70,000 records of various people who have signed up for health care under--at the website within four minutes.  How do you know that if you haven't hacked the site?

KENNEDY:  That's a great question.  There is a technique called--what we call passer reconnaissance, which allows us to...look at how the website operates and performs.  And these type of attacks that, you know, I'm mentioning here in the 70,000 that you're referencing is very easy to do."
Well, that certainly clears things up.
"...This is the point conservatives still struggle to understand--even if were somehow hacked, the hackers couldn't gain access to private medical records.  Why not?  Because there are no private medical records stored on" 
I think we have to look at the possibility that we are seeing a government vs. Kennedy version of apples-to-oranges.  Perhaps it is easy, as Mr. Kennedy says, to access some information on the ACA site.  If he means information like names and addresses, that is information easily found all over the web, including other government sites. 
Confession:  Last week, while paying our property tax bill on-line, I accidentally typed in the wrong address. Just an incorrect address was all I needed for my neighbor's tax bill to pop up on my screen--no pass code, no identity verification.  I now know his middle names, (he has two), how much he paid for his house and that his property taxes for the last half of last year are past due.  
This is not to say that I defend the ACA for leaving my information readily available to any bad typist, or good cyber investigator; but being able to access the names of people with ACA health care insurance does not seem like an end-of-the-world personal security threat to me. 
And this is where the apples-to-oranges analogy comes in .  I doubt that Mr. Kennedy made up his "non-hack" out of whole cloth, so  have to believe that he was able to access some degree of information on 70,000 ACA customers.   (Apples = customer identities.)  At the same time, the government may also be correct in saying the site passed their security check with flying colors because health care provider names and/or type of plan purchased were protected.   (Oranges = specific health care information.)  
I would like to believe that the government's security check also found my financial information was protected, but then I remember what I know about my neighbor's property taxes.
As I said, this a confusing story

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Utah's Unimpressive Arguments Against Same Sex Marriage.

In researching another article on LGBT rights, I came across a summary of the arguments the State of Utah's attorneys are using in the fight to uphold their state's constitutional ban of same sex marriage. 

what eye thynk:   I found them interesting, a bit circuitous and not a little ridiculous.  If this is the way other states are arguing their anti-gay marriage cases, it is no wonder so many are falling in federal courts.

Their arguments...

1.  Restricting marriage to one man and one woman would make heterosexual couples act more responsibly when they had sex.  The resulting planned children would receive "optimal parenting."

  • So if same sex couples are allowed to get married, Utah wants us to believe that opposite sex couples will suddenly begin acting irresponsibly in the bedroom? And how would this lack of responsibility be defined exactly?  
2. Retaining "the traditional definition of marriage reinforces responsible procreation."
  • What do they mean by "responsible procreation?" I wonder how many births to single, heterosexual women have been prevented as a result of the "responsible procreation" supposedly reinforced by Utah's constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.
3. Government benefits that come with marriage encourage heterosexual couples to form stable families "in which their planned, and especially unplanned, biological children may be raised."
  • Ah! "Unplanned biological children!"  I thought they were eliminated via all that new found sexual responsibility.  (See argument #1.)
4. The state cites a "substantial body of social science evidence (confirming) that children generally fare better when reared by their two biological parents in a loving, low-conflict marriage."
  • Attorneys arguing for the recognition of same sex marriage countered that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association all found that the same can be said of children raised by same sex parents in a like and loving relationship.
5. State attorneys called these organizations "politically correct trade associations", adding that "We are not ruled by experts." 
  • Obviously.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - Military Rape is Just Human Nature

U.S. Representative 
Frank Wolf (R-Virginia)

U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) is retiring.  Virginia State Senator Richard "Dick" Black (R), pictured above, has joined the primary race hoping to win that soon to be vacant seat.

Mr. Black entered Virginia politics after retiring as a military prosecutor.  Citing his military court experience, he claims that military rape is "as predictable as human nature...Think of yourself at 25. Wouldn't you love to have a group of 19 year old girls under your control, day in, day out?"

And Republicans wonder why they have trouble connecting with women voters.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20 - Monday Quote

Tomorrow is our 30th wedding anniversary.  We've had good times, wonderful times, bad times and awful times.   Love goes on.

monday quote:   Before I met my husband, I’d never fallen in love.  I’d stepped in it a few times.  (Rita Rudner, comedienne, 1955-     )

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Quick Note: Republican Sponsored Voter ID Law Struck Down in Pennsylvania

On Friday, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley struck down the central element of that state's strict voter ID law--the picture ID requirement. "Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal."

His argument is interesting in that, he doesn't say requiring a photo ID is wrong, but bases his judgement on the fact that the state does not mandate that acquiring a voter ID be convenient and available to voters.  "As a constitutional prerequisite, any voter ID law must contain a mechanism for ensuring liberal access to compliant photo IDs so that the requirement...does not disenfranchise valid voters."

He stated there are 9300 poling locations in Pennsylvania, but the state issued voter photo IDs only at 71 licensing centers with limited hours, making it logistically difficult for many voters to get the required ID.  He called the state's $5 million education efforts "largely ineffective and consistently confusing" and cited "overwhelming evidence" that hundreds of thousands of qualified voters lack IDs that comply with the law.  

The state argued that the voter ID law was necessary to combat voter fraud; but when asked to present evidence of fraud, state attorneys said they had no specific examples.

Opponents of the law argued that the vast majority of voters who lack the required IDs are senior citizens and poorer minorities who tend to vote Democrat, and without evidence of fraud, the law is simply an "act of voter suppression."

The law was passed by the Republican controlled legislature and signed by Governor Tom Corbett (R) in 2012, with every single Democratic legislator voting against it.  The law was stayed for that year's election in order to allow the case to be heard.

It is expected that the case will be appealed to Pennsylvania's Supreme Court; but it is doubtful that it can be decided before the May primary election.

Representative Daryl D. Metcalfe (R), who sponsored of the bill, called Judge McGinley's ruling "an activist ruling by a partisan Democrat judge." He said that just because the law may impose a burden on some voters "doesn't give you a reason to (disregard) the voice of the people" as expressed through the people's representatives in the state legislature.
Rather, I would call the law an activist law passed by one partisan component of the legislature over the obvious objection of the other party and in complete disregard of any voice but its own.   
Voting is a fundamental right in this country. No one should be permitted to make exercising it a burden.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Republican War on Women: North Carolina - More Good News!

This is the twentieth in a series of articles on the subject of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  •  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”
The North Carolina Front 

the facts and commentary:  In 2011, the Republican led legislature in North Carolina passed new abortion restrictions.  Among them was a requirement that any woman wanting an abortion be required to have an ultrasound and have the images placed within her sight.  The abortion provider was then required to describe the images in detail--even if the woman asked the care provider not to--and to encourage her to listen to the heartbeat.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles declared the law unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court has never held that a state has the power to compel a health care provider to speak, in his or her own voice, the states ideological message...and this court declines to do so today."
It has taken awhile, but these conservative, anti-abortion laws are finally making their way through the courts.  Three states have seen their ban of abortions after 20 weeks struck down and now North Carolina joins Oklahoma in having its ultrasound requirement ruled unconstitutional on the grounds that politicians have no right to insert themselves into the middle of the doctor/patient relationship.    
It's about time.
The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Friday, January 17, 2014

Quick Fact: In Republican-speak, Anti-abortion and Pro-jobs = Synchronicity

Last Friday, I wrote about the all-male House Judiciary Committee that met to discuss the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion bill:

They are currently readying the bill for presentation to the full House.  Nothing is likely to ever come of it, but Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) insists that it is not a waste of time because they are creating jobs.  Yes, that's right.  According to Republicans, forcing women to have children they don't want and/or can't afford is a jobs bill.

It is "very, very true that having a growing population and having new children brought into the world is not harmful to job creation.  It very much promotes job creation for all the care and services and so on that need to be provided by a lot of people to raise children."
Well, at least they didn't try to sell it as a wonderful way for the the "little woman" to find fulfillment and meaningful and appropriate employment as a minimum wage child care worker while leaving "real" jobs open and available for manly and more capable men.  Maybe that will be next week's sound byte.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Quick Fact: Oklahoma's Same Sex Marriage Ban Joins the "Unconstitutional" Ranks

On Tuesday, in a case that has languished in the courts for nine years, Judge Terence C. Kern of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma ruled that Oklahoma's state constitutional amendment barring same sex marriage is unconstitutional. 

In his ruling, Judge Kern said the ban is "an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit."  The state had argued that the amendment was written in the interest of promoting heterosexual marriage and protecting the welfare of children. Judge Kern answered that the amendment was based on "moral disapproval" saying that the state had failed to prove opposite sex marriage or children would be harmed by lifting the ban.

In anticipation of the state's appeal to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, (the same court that is now hearing the Utah marriage equality case), Judge Kern stayed his decision, so there won't be a rush on same sex marriage in that state, at least for now. 
In just six short months, repercussions of the Supreme Court's June 2013 decision finding parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional have reached states all over the country.   Now that even uber-conservative states like Utah and Bible-belt states like Oklahoma are impacted, I can't help but be optimistic for the year ahead and for the time when "17" becomes "50."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Republican War on Women - Good News for Arizona Women

This is the nineteenth in a series of articles on the subject of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  •  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”
The Arizona Front 

the facts and commentary:  Over 13 months ago, Arizona's legislature passed a law banning abortions after 20 weeks.  In April 2012, Governor Jan Brewer (R) signed the restriction into law.  Hers was the first state to challenge the Supreme Court's ruling that abortion is legal in the U.S. up to 24 weeks. Twelve Republican led states soon followed with their own 20 week restriction.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Arizona's law was unconstitutional, citing a "long line of invariant Supreme Court precedents" beginning with Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Ms. Brewer's administration appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.  On Monday the Court declined the case,  leaving the 9th Circuit Court's decision in place and effectively invalidating Arizona's law.

Arizona joins Georgia and Idaho, two other states that had their 20 week abortion restriction ruled unconstitutional in federal court.  Similar restrictions in nine other Republican led states still stand and have yet to be challenged. 
The Supreme Court decided Rowe v. Wade 40 years ago and there have always been those who did not agree with it.   But it took the modern Republican Party to raise opposition to the current level where, over the past few years, they have been acting like the court's decision had an opt-out clause just for them.
And so the fight continues.  What are the women in those nine states waiting for?  

The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two Tales of Chris Christie and the George Washington Bridge

Unless you have spent the past ten days or so on Jupiter, you are aware that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in trouble over the closure of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge in early September.  He claims he knew nothing about it, that devious staff members planned the entire event and then lied about it making him just another victim of their deceit.

Tale #1 - Let's Get Serious

what eye thynk:   I first became aware of the bridge shutdown early in December.

Mr. Christie has never been shy about serving as the vanguard in the handling of any crisis nor of using his response to bank political capital.  He is New Jersey's king of the look-what-I've-done photo-op.  Remember Hurricane Sandy?

Considering the media coverage that was given to the massive four day traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, I find it implausible that he, a man known for his hands-on, finger-in-every-pie management style, was completely unaware of the crisis unfolding in his state.  And, since he had to be aware of it, it is equally implausible that he would not have stepped forward to wield his power in as public a way as possible in order to "save the day."

"Plausible deniability", a term coined by the CIA in the 1960s to mean letting your underlings know what you would like to see done but without ever giving a direct order so that you can claim no knowledge of, (or responsibility for), the act when it happens, seems to be the working model for Mr. Christie's defense.

I find it easy to believe that Mr. Christie never gave a direct order to shut down three out of four lanes on the George Washington Bridge.  He didn't get where he is by being stupid.  But, encouraging a certain type of behavior and then ignoring that behavior when it becomes somatic is not the equivalent of innocence.  

It is not difficult to imagine the Governor dreaming aloud about how he'd like to see the mayor of Fort Lee brought low over his lack of endorsement; but before he took that step, Mr. Christie might have given some thought to Richard Nixon.  The I-know-nothing-somebody-else-did-it-without-my-knowledge defense didn't turn out so well for him either.

Tale #2 - Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

Gail Collins took on the Chris Christie debacle in her New York Times op-ed piece last Saturday.  She called it "Imagining President Christie".  Two of her points made me smile.

She compared Governor Christie's two hour press conference on Thursday with Harry Truman's claim that "The buck stops here":
 "Christie took the more modern approach, which is to make it clear that while you're responsible, you are totally not at fault.  The buck that stopped at Christie's desk was not his buck, just an errant piece of currency that wound up in the office because of treacherous fools over whom he had no actual control whatsoever."
In pointing out that Christie said he fired his deputy chief of staff without ever asking for her side of the story, Ms. Collins addressed his lack of curiosity this way:
"But then we have had presidents who were less inquisitive than a sidewalk.  Look at George W. Bush.  And he got elected twice."
Leave it to Ms. Collins to find a double-whammy style twist in any Republican situation.  With sincere thanks for her assistance, I can say "My work here is done for the day."

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13 - Monday Quote

I have always loved the month of January--for the snow, for wall-to-wall football games--but mostly because it is a chance to start over.

monday quote:  It is never too late to be who you might have been. (George Eliot, novelist, 1819-1880)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Minimum Wage "Burdens" Employers?

Earlier this month, N. Gregory Mankiw, Chairman and Professor of Economics at Harvard University, wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times: "Help the Working Poor, but Share the Burden." In it he explained why he opposes an increase in the minimum wage.  He said that increasing the minimum wage would unfairly burden business owners and force them to subsidize the incomes of poor Americans. 
---> RANDOM THOUGHT:  I wonder why an  intelligent and obviously educated person like Mr. Mankiw could not follow his own argument one step further and see that these minimum wage workers would not BE poor if they were paid a living wage?  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Quick Fact(s): Marriage Equality News in Utah and Indiana

And the marriage equality fight continues... 

Utah - One Step Backward, One Step Forward
The Supreme Court granted the State of Utah's request this week to stop same-sex marriages from continuing while the case is being litigated.  Utah's Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced that Utah would not recognize the approximately 1300 same sex unions performed in the 17 days since U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that Utah's ban on such marriages was unconstitutional.  

However, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said that these couples WILL be recognized by all federal agencies.  This makes them eligible for federal health care benefits and spousal social security benefits and allows them to file their federal tax return as a married couple.

Indiana - One (Attempted) Step Backward
State Representative Eric Turner (R) will introduce a bill in the Indiana legislature to add a gay marriage ban to the state constitution.  He also wants to limit benefits for same sex couples.  It is unclear whether he expects this benefit ban to prevent same sex couples from getting federal benefits already granted by the Supreme Court.  

The legislature must approve Mr. Turner's bills within the next few weeks and then present them to the citizens of Indiana during the November election before any changes can be made law.
For now, the number of states permitting same sex marriage is stuck at 17 1/2. Progress is slow, but steady; though it is frustrating that Republican led states like Indiana still seem to have their heads stuck in a vintage 1950s sandbox.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Republican War On Women - The Battle in the U.S. Congress

This is the eighteenth in a series of articles on the subject of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  •  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”
The National Front 

facts and commentary:  A panel of twelve MEN on the House Judiciary Committee met yesterday to discuss the "No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion" bill.  The bill would deny tax subsidies to women and small businesses who purchase abortion coverage as part of their health care plan. Exceptions would be granted in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. GOP leadership, in order to signify the importance of the bill to their party's rank and file, has assigned a high number (H.R.7) to the bill.

The bill's supporters argued:
  1. The bill would discourage individuals and small businesses from including abortion coverage in their insurance plans by imposing tax penalties on them.
  2. Middle and low income women who are eligible for partial subsidies to pay for their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and who can currently choose to include abortion coverage in their policy, would undoubtedly choose not to purchase abortion coverage if they were told they would have to cover the entire cost themselves.  This would effectively eliminate abortion coverage from millions of ACA insurance plans.
  3. The rape exception would "spur audits for rape survivors...The bill could prompt the IRS to audit a sexual-assault survivor who seeks abortion care with her own, private funds."

Millions of Americans are trying to figure out how to feed their families following the January 1st end of the federal unemployment benefits extension and these (ALL MALE) clowns are meeting to discuss how they can punish women who choose to access a legally available health care option. And they think that threatening a rape victim with an IRS audit is a perfectly reasonable argument to support their position!

This bill, the men-only panel considering it and the arguments presented in support of it need no further comment. 

The Republican War on Women is "fiction"?


Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Republican Look at Economic Equality - By the Numbers

Economic inequality is a front and center issue as mid-term election campaigns begin in earnest and as the Senate gets ready to debate raising the federal minimum wage.  Republicans continue to address the issue in their own way:

  1. Republican Party Chairman in Pennsylvania, Rob Gleason, told the Philadelphia Daily News that members of Congress have a "tough job", where they "don't make a lot of money."
  2. Representative Phil Gingrey (R-Georgia) complained last year that he could be making big money as a lobbyist but instead he was "stuck" on Capitol Hill being paid a paltry salary.
  3. In 2011, Denny Rehberg (R) then a U.S. Representative from Montana told his constituents that he was "struggling like everyone else."  At the time, Mr. Rehberg had a net worth of $56 million.
  4. Representative Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin) has complained about how he "struggles" to pay his bills and has to drive "a used minivan."
  5. Representative Steve Southerland II (R-Florida) says his congressional salary is "not so much."
  6. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) who opposes raising the federal minimum wage says that "Raising the minimum wage may poll well, but having a job that pays $10 an hour is not the American dream." 
  7. Thom Tillis, (R-North Carolina), who is challenging Kay Hagan (D) for her Senate seat, has been quoted as saying that complaints from people on public assistance after Republicans in his state voted to cut social service programs was nothing but "whining coming from losers."
  8. Representative Jack Kingston (R-Georgia), who has entered the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate recently said he had asked the Secretary of Agriculture about the school lunch program.  "Why don't we have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch?  Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria."
  9. And finally, we have Arthur Laffer, a conservative economist who first gained national prominence as a member of Ronald Reagans's Economic Policy Advisory Board and who now serves as a non-staff adviser to the Heritage Foundation.  Mr. Laffer managed to offend both the economically disadvantaged and minorities when he called the federal minimum wage the "black teenage unemployment act."

what eye thynk:   My answer to #s 1,2,3,4, and 5 -  Members of Congress have a base salary of $174,000 a year plus benefits.  The Speaker, Majority and Minority leaders and committee chairman earn more.  The average American salary is $51,000 per year.  Please explain to me again who you feel is underpaid and struggling.

#6:  Mr. Rubio is right, a $10/hour job is not going to earn anyone the classic American dream, but it looks like a God-send to the worker who is currently subsisting on $7.25/hour.

#7:  Members of Congress are paid 3 1/2 times what the average American makes.  So maybe, the complaints coming from Congress should be disregarded as nothing but "whining coming from 'winners'?" 

#8:  Next Mr. Kingston will be calling this a job training program and bragging how he is singlehandedly tackling the national unemployment problem.

And finally, #9 - 84% of those working for minimum wage are over 20 and 47% are over 30, not teenagers.  57% of minimum wage workers are white.  47% work full time and still have incomes so low they are eligible for food stamps and other social services.  If raising the minimum wage high enough that these same workers no longer need government paid social services, wouldn't that end up reducing the cost of government social programs--a plan that Republicans seem to advocate?

Republicans still seem to have a lot of work to do when it comes to relating to the average American income and the average American worker.   I advocate a year of being forced to live on the federal minimum wage--even a $10/hour minimum wage--as a cure for their chronic Mitt Romney-itis.  

After watching tonight's evening news, I have to add this addendum:  16% of Americans now live in poverty while just over 50% of the members of our current U.S. Congress are millionaires.  This percentage includes both Republicans and Democrats.  While it must be difficult for ANYONE who has risen that high economically to truly understand what life is like for the rest of us, it appears that Democrats are the only ones willing to address the chasm.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Eye Recommend: Banished for Questioning the Gospel of Guns

This is an article specific to firearms, but it speaks to a much wider problem in this country.
"The byline of Dick Metcalf, one of the country's pre-eminent gun journalists has gone missing.  It has been removed from Guns & Ammo magazine, where his widely-read column once ran on the back page.  He no longer stars on a popular television show about firearms.  Gun companies have stopped flying him around the world and sending him the latest weapons to review.

In late October, Mr. Metcalf wrote a column that the magazine titled 'Let's Talk Limits,' which debated gun laws.  'The fact is,' wrote Mr. Metcalf, who has taught history at Cornell and Yale, 'all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be.'

The backlash was swift, and fierce.  Readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions.  Death threats poured in by email.  His television program was pulled from the air.

Just days after the column appeared, Mr. Metcalf said, his editor called to tell him that two major gun manufacturers had said 'in no uncertain terms' that they could no longer do business with InterMedia Outdoors, the company that publishes Guns & Ammo and co-produces his TV show, if he continued to work there.  He was let go immediately...

...When writers stray from the party line promoting an absolutist view of an unfettered right to bear arms, their publications--often under pressure from advertisers--excommunicate them...

...Richard Venola, a former editor of Guns & Ammo (said): 'The time for ceding some rational points is gone.'

There have been other cases like Mr. Metcalf's.  In 2012, Jerry Tsai, the editor of Recoil magazine, wrote that the Heckler & Koch MP7A1 gun, designed for law enforcement, was 'unavailable to civilians and for good reason.'  He was pressured to step down, and despite apologizing, has not written since."
What did he have to apologize for--having an opinion?  
"In 2007, Jim Zumbo, by then the author of 23 hunting books, wrote a blog post for Outdoor Life's website suggesting that military-style rifles were 'terrorist' weapons, best avoided by hunters.  His writing, television and endorsement deals were quickly put on hiatus...

...Mr. Metcalf said he...despairs that the debate over gun policy in America is so bitterly polarized and dominated by extreme voices...

...'Compromise is a bad word these days,' he said.  'People think it means giving up your principles.'...

...In the column that led to his dismissal, he said that too many gun owners believed that the constitution prohibits any regulation of firearms."
And the NRA is happy to perpetuate that myth.
"He noted that all rights are regulated, like freedom of speech.  'You cannot falsely and deliberately shout, "Fire!" in a crowded theater,' he wrote.

'The question is, when does regulation become infringement?'  he continued.  Mr. Metcalf ended the column arguing that requiring 16 hours of training to qualify for a concealed carry license was not an infringement.

Though his editors had approved the column before it went to press, they reversed course after publication.  Jim Bequette, editor of Guns & Ammo, issued an apology to the magazine's roughly 400,000 readers."
What are gun manufacturers so afraid of?  Do they fear that, were a more moderate voice to be heard, people would realize how strident their support for absolute and unfettered access to firearms really is?
This refusal to permit a dissenting opinion is becoming epidemic in this country, and not just among firearm advocates.   
Tea Partiers listen only to other Tea Partiers.  Republicans fear breaking with the party line will result in punishment from party leadership.  Democrats fear that abandoning the far left for a more moderate position will earn them a "weak" tag.  Conservatives get their news exclusively from Fox News, while liberals crave the re-enforcement of their opinions from MSNBC.  Mainstream churches find themselves reduced by congregations who, unable to accept any but their own narrow interpretation of the Bible, remove themselves from their denominational umbrella to form their own communities.  
We may look down on other cultures where disagreements seem to be answered with mass bombings and where the beheading of an enemy is casually videoed and uploaded to YouTube; but how much different are we when a simple magazine article is answered with death threats?  
Acknowledging that there are differing opinions on any issue is to invite excommunication from your core group--no matter what or who that group represents. In this, a country built on the proud foundation of being the world's melting pot, the demonization of moderation is a sign of serious illness in our democracy.  Only when we listen TO everyone, can we secure our preeminence as a country that is FOR everyone.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Quick Fact: Unemployment Benefit Extension - Congress Talks While Millions of Americans Wait

The Senate vote to debate the extension of federal unemployment benefits finally happened this morning. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) was about to call for the vote on Monday when John Cornyn (R-Texas) accused Mr. Reid of pushing the issue with 17 senators absent because of weather delays.  Republicans were hoping to use the filibuster to stall the extension debate, but six Republicans joined the Democratic majority today, moving the question forward.

Despite agreeing that unemployment benefits help the economy, (those benefits are immediately poured back into the national money flow), Republicans, continue to harp on the need to cut the deficit--while ignoring the fact that the deficit is dropping faster than at any time since World War II.  They are pushing for the cost of the extension to be offset by reductions in other spending.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) used the opportunity to continue the Republican fight against the Affordable Care Act.  He proposed adding an amendment to the unemployment extension bill that would delay the ACA's individual mandate for a year.  His amendment was blocked by Mr. Reid.
I can only imagine the confusion that would reign with 6 million people already signed up for insurance if Mr. McConnell had been successful.
The Senate must now debate and vote on the extension before sending the bill to the House where Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is leading the no-extension-without-corresponding-spending-cut crusade. 

Other House Republicans seem to have some odd arguments against the extension. Representative Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), remarked "These have been extraordinary extensions, and the Republican position all along has been 'we need to go back to normal here at some point.'"  Representative Rob Woodall (R-Georgia) added "What we did was never intended to be permanent.  It was intended to be a very temporary solution to a very temporary crisis."
Yes, a return to "normal" is the goal; but we haven't reached that employment point yet; and what Mr. Woodall is calling a "temporary crisis" has proven to be anything but.  As one pundit wrote recently: "The fire trucks don't shut off the hoses simply because the fire should have been put out by now."

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6 - Monday Quote

Old Man Winter is visiting for a few days. 

monday quote:   In the depth of Winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible Summer. (Albert Camus, writer, 1913-1960)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Quick Fact: When Paperwork Becomes an Enemy of Religion

The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Roman Catholic nuns, is dedicated to running nursing homes for the poor in the U.S. and around the world--a good and noble calling.

As a non-profit, church based employer, all they need do to exempt themselves from providing contraception coverage for their employees under the Affordable Care Act is file paperwork identifying themselves as such; but the Little Sisters of the Poor are objecting to the paperwork requirement.  They are arguing that, if they comply with the Obama administration's filing requirements, their employees will then be able to purchase contraception coverage on their own which, they say, will make them complicit in providing the very birth control they object to for religious reasons.

Their fight has reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.  On Tuesday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the 10th Circuit Court, temporarily blocked the White House from enforcing their paperwork requirement. 

The Obama administration claims that the order has "no legal basis to challenge the self-certification requirement."  The order must make a choice: file for the available contraception exemption and provide health care coverage for their employees or refuse to provide coverage and pay a non-compliance tax penalty.

In a brief filed on Friday, the nuns wrote:  "The Little Sisters...cannot execute the form because they cannot deputize a third party to sin on their behalf."  If they do not sign, they "face ruinous fines for their religious refusal to sign the forms" the cost of which would be a burden on their right to exercise their religion as they see fit.
So, a group of nuns is basically fighting paperwork for religious reasons. Paperwork?  Really?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Quick Fact: Republican Candidate Says His Domestic Violence Conviction Shows He Is Ready for Washington

The Maine primary has a new Republican candidate.  Erick Bennett (R), is challenging Susan Collins (R) for her seat in the Senate.

In 2003 Mr. Bennett was convicted of domestic violence after attacking his wife, who has since divorced him.  One would think that this would eliminate Mr. Bennett from any consideration, especially among Republicans who are still searching for a way to appeal to women voters.  But Mr. Bennett is using an unusual tactic in dealing with his less than stellar history with women: he is claiming that this conviction shows his "guts and integrity".

"The fact that I have been jailed repeatedly for not agreeing to admit to something I didn't do should speak to the fact of how much guts and integrity I have.  If I go to D.C., I'm going to have that same integrity in doing what I say, and saying what I do, when it comes to protecting people's rights as well as their pocketbooks."

He also told the Bangor Daily News that his conviction and jail time has encouraged him to pursue a "pro-family" agenda.
Susan Collins' place as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate would seem to be secure.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Quick Fact: Congress Will Be Back in Session on Monday. The House Will Begin By Re-Fighting 2013

Following their holiday break, the U.S. Congress will be back in session on Monday.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced that, among the first items of business on that chamber's agenda, will be a vote on the reinstatement of federal unemployment benefits and a debate on raising the federal minimum wage.

In the other chamber, Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) has announced that he will introduce a bill in the House requiring the Affordable Care Act to protect consumer's private information.  This comes after Republican congressional leaders encouraged their members to spend some of their holiday down time meeting with constituents to discourage them from signing up for health insurance by warning that doing so could jeopardize their privacy.  (Consumer protection is already written into the law and security sweeps are done multiple times a day; but facts that don't fit Republican rhetoric are deemed by Republicans to not be facts at all.)  
If this Republican Party had been in place in 1908, party members would have been encouraging constituents to invest in horse breeding in order to protect themselves from Henry Ford.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Rand Paul Sees Himself as a Benevolent Benefactor, Out to Help the Unemployed Find Self-Worth. Awww.

Congress failed to vote on the continuation of extended federal unemployment benefits before leaving Washington to enjoy the holidays with their families.  As of January 1, long term unemployed are no longer eligible for federal unemployment benefits, leaving between 1.3 and 4.1 million Americans, (depending on whose study you believe), with no source of income.  Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and Senator Jack Reed, (D-Rhode Island) have joined forces to co-sponsor a bill to re-instate the federal unemployment extension. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) says the Senate will vote on the bill on Monday when members return to Washington. 

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has announced that he will not support the bi-partisan bill.  To explain his position, Mr, Paul said: "(It is) our moral obligation as a society to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. Liberal pundits try to argue that Democrats are the only ones who care about the poor and unemployed, but the truth is, caring doesn't help unless it is linked to good policy."

what eye thynk:   Mr. Paul seems to support the oft-voiced Republican opinion that people who are still unemployed after six months are unemployed by choice--that the benefits given to them by the government make them so comfortable they see no reason to go back to work.  Without benefits to rely on, these people will be forced to go out and get a job, thus immediately reducing the number of unemployed to pre-economic collapse levels.

By denying benefits to those unemployed for longer than six months, Mr. Paul actually expects us to see him as a benevolent benefactor, a man willing to help the little guy learn to stand up on his own; for without the guidance offered by visionaries like Mr. Paul, surely these poor unemployed souls would remain mired in the false comfort of unemployment benefits, never to realize the joy and self-worth that a  job could bring to their lives.  

Okay, enough sarcasm.  

To support his ridiculous position, Mr. Paul cited a study published by Rand Ghayad, doctoral candidate in economics at Northeastern University.  Mr. Ghayad, upon seeing his study used to support Mr. Rand's argument responded:  
"Paul cites my work on long-term unemployment as a justification--which surprised me, because it implies the opposite of what he says it does...
...Paul misreads my work to try to back up his argument.  He says my paper, which shows that companies don't want to hire people who have been unemployed for more than 6 months, proves his point about long-term benefits...How does he figure this? Well, Paul thinks that 'extending long-term benefits will only hurt the chances of the unemployed in the job market,' because longer benefits will make them choose to stay unemployed longer--at which point firms won't hire them.  But just because companies discriminate against the long-term unemployed doesn't mean long-term benefits are to blame.  Paul might know that if he read beyond the first line of my paper's abstract...
...There is no evidence in my study, and almost no evidence elsewhere, that cutting unemployment insurance would increase employment much at all.  There is some evidence that it would lower the unemployment rate, but only because people would give up looking for work, and no longer count as unemployed.  So eliminating benefits for 4.1 million long-term unemployed people might hide some of the problems with our labor market.  But it would do nothing to cure them.  It would only cut off a vital lifeline for the long-term unemployed and their families.
According to Paul, 'caring about the unemployed doesn't help unless it is linked to good policy.' Of course.  But good policy requires more than a cursory or selective reading of the research on unemployment."
Mr. Ghayad summarizes his difficulty with Mr. Paul's position this way:  "People aren't long-term unemployed because they prefer getting benefits.  People are long-term unemployed because there still aren't enough jobs."

There appears to be enough support from both Democrats and Republicans to pass the benefit extension bill in the Senate.  Whether it can get through the House is another matter.  Let's hope someone in that chamber takes the time to "read beyond the first line" of the studies out there.   Surely our long-term unemployed deserve that much respect.