In the USA...United Surveillance AmericaBan Ki-moon: FGM a 'human rights violation' that must end
UN secretary general says 'practice must cease' and backs Guardian campaign to end female genital mutilation in the US
Amanda Holpuch in New York
theguardian.com, Monday 12 May 2014 23.16 BST
The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, on Monday described the practice of female genital mutilation as a “human rights violation” that needed to end, on the day the Guardian threw its weight behind a campaign against the practice in the US.
Jaha Dukureh, a 24-year-old American who was mutilated as a child, is leading the campaign to end FGM in the US with a Change.org petition urging the Obama administration to commission a report into how many women are affected and at risk today.
Dukureh launched the campaign at the Guardian’s New York office with UN representative Nafissatou Diop, US congressman Joe Crowley and Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger.
“I know it's hard to believe, but a lot of girls in New York, in Atlanta and throughout America have been through FGM, and even though our storylines might differ, the pain, trauma and horror are the same for every single one of us,” Dukureh said.
Dukureh, a mother of three who lives in Atlanta, was mutilated at a week old in Gambia, where she was born. Later, as a child bride, she endured the practice of "reopening", in New York, where she moved when she was 15.
The US government outlawed FGM in 1996, but at least 228,000 women in the US are thought to be affected, according to research from Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston.
“At times, I feel like the government is afraid to address FGM because they fear dealing with our African cultures,” Dukureh said. “I say: history has taught us to do away with harmful cultures and traditions. Slavery was a culture in America for over 300 years. If culture is harmful and if culture triggers human rights violations, then that piece of the culture must go. I am a proud African woman from this culture, and I say not one single ounce of good comes of mutilating girls.”
Ban Ki-moon endorsed the campaign, and sent Diop, of the UN’s United National Population (UNFPA) and Unicef joint program on FGM, to the camapign's launch.
“This is a serious health and human rights issue,” said Diop, speaking on behalf of Ban. “The effects include depression, insecurity, pain, infections, incontinence and deadly complication in pregnancy and childbirth. While some may say FGM is a tradition, it constitutes a human rights violation that must cease.”
The UN’s program is aimed at helping those communities that practice FGM to abandon it. “These agencies have adopted a human rights-based approach to encourage communities to act collectively, so that girls or their families who opt out do not jeopardize their marriage prospects or become social outcasts,” Diop said.
Rusbridger said he was hopeful about the campaign’s success in the US because of the Guardian’s experience in the UK, where Fahma Mohammed, a young British activist, spearheaded a campaign that led education secretary Michael Gove to write to all schools in England and Wales, warning teachers about the dangers of FGM.
"I think the hope of everybody involved in this field is that it is possible to eradicate this, and that there is the real, tangible hope of improving the health, expectations and happiness of million girls and women in more than 30 countries where this problem affects so many lives,” Rusbridger said.
Crowley, the Democratic congressman for New York’s 14th district, also spoke at Monday’s event, where he said he is looking to emulate the work done in the UK.
Crowley is circulating a letter around Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the State Department, calling for greater awareness among professionals who might come into contact with FGM victims.
*********************American survivor of female genital mutilation calls on US to take action
Jaha Dukurah urges health and human services nominee to carry out study on practice 'happening here to American girls'
Alexandra Topping in New York
The Guardian, Monday 12 May 2014 14.10 BST
Jaha Dukureh: 'There is no way you should be born in America and still be worried about FGM.'
A 24-year-old American survivor of female genital mutilation called on the US government on Monday to help bring an end to FGM in the United States by gathering vital information about the practice in an effort to protect girls across the nation.
Jaha Dukureh, a mother of three from Atlanta, is urging President Barack Obama to order the department of health and human services to carry out a new study on FGM in the US that would establish how many American women and girls are at risk of the practice – the first step in tackling a crime that experts say stubbornly persists despite legislative efforts.
NGOs and survivors from affected communities have told the Guardian that American girls are being taken overseas to be cut, while others are cut by hired women on US soil. When legislation outlawing FGM in the US was passed in 1996, the Department of Health and Human Services put the number of women and girls affected or at risk at 168,000. But as affected communities have grown, the number is believed to have grown by 35% to at least 228,000 by 2000, according to research from the African women’s health center of Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has endorsed Dukureh’s campaign, which is being highlighted by the Guardian, calling FGM “a terrible threat to girls and women, including those in the United States”. Supporters can sign her petition on the Change.org website.
“There is no way you should be born in America and still be worried about female genital mutilation,” said Dukureh. “America is the land of the free. In this country girls are protected. But FGM is not something that is happening in a far away place, it is happening here to American girls. They may come from immigrant communities, that doesn’t make it acceptable.”
Ban Ki-moon said FGM had to be tackled as a human rights issue. “I am proud to lend my voice to this important campaign. Governments around the world must work to protect girls from the barbaric practice of FGM,” he said.
He added that he had been inspired by meeting Fahma Mohammed, the young British activist who spearheaded a campaign in the UK, which resulted in the British government writing to all schools warning teachers about the dangers of the practice.
“Her courage and conviction show that one person can make an enormous difference. Now we are seeing Jaha Dukureh taking up the challenge in the United States, where I hope she will have equal success,” he said. “FGM is a terrible threat to girls and women, including those in the United States and other countries where the practice is not well-known. We have to break all taboos about speaking out against this practice so that we can end it.”
He added his voice to the call for better data collection and more government and public commitment to tackle the practice. “We need more information on how many girls are sent from the United States for FGM, we need more discussion about the issue – and above all, we need action,” he said.
FGM on a minor has been illegal in the United States under federal law since 1996 and 22 states have passed their own FGM laws. Last year, through the Girls Protection Act, Congress closed a loophole which meant girls could still be taken back to home countries in the summer – a practice known as “vacation cutting”. Only six states have outlawed vacation cutting.
Joe Crowley, the Democratic congressman for New York’s 14th district – who alongside Republican Mary Bono Mack spearheaded the passing of the Girls Protection Act in 2013 – said: “People have the idea that this is happening elsewhere and not right here in their backyard. The reality is FGM is taking place here and is happening to US citizens.”
He called for greater awareness among professionals who might come into contact with victims. “We have the laws we need in place,” he said. “What we now need is a campaign of education, of understanding and compassion by law enforcement, by educators and by the medical community We need to bring all forces that can be brought to bear to eradicate FGM in this country. “
Without a prosecution under federal law and little awareness of the highly secretive ritual, experts warn that the practice is still being carried out when girls are taken to meet extended families, or is happening by hired “cutters” on American soil.
Mariama Diallo, African Community Specialist at Sanctuary for Families, a non-profit that works with affected communities, said she regularly came across cases of high school students who had been taken “home” to be cut. “We also hear from community members that families pay for flights for cutters to come to the US and do it, but this is more likely to affect babies so no one will find out.”
Shelby Quast, senior policy advisor at Equality Now, said: “We think that with the growing immigration there is quite a big problem with women at risk in the US as well women who have been subjected to FGM. We need to do a great deal more in educating people, making it known what FGM is, and making sure that there are places that girls who are at risk can report and those that hear them have some place that they can go.”
More than 140 million women and girls worldwide have suffered FGM, with up to 98% of girls mutilated in certain African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. The practice – typically carried out on girls between the ages of four and 12, though victims can be as young as just a few weeks old – involves the removal of part or all of a female’s outer sexual organs. In some instances part or all of the clitoris is removed while in the most extreme cases, girls are sewn up with only a small hole left to pass urine and menstruate.
Related complications – both physical and psychological – can be lifelong and catastrophic. The Guardian spoke to Naima Abdullahi, who went through FGM in Kenya when she was nine years old. She still suffers from trauma and hip problems related to struggling when she was being pinned down by two women in order to be cut. “This is something I live with every day. It is something I carry and every woman like me has learnt to carry,” she said. Other related issues include recurrent infections, reduced fertility, complications during childbirth and severe pain during sex.
Among other survivors interviewed by the Guardian, some like Leyla were cut on a family holiday, during their first visit to their parent’s home country. “There was no anaesthetic, no gloves, no pain medication after – no nurse to take care of you,” she said. “It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced.”
Deeply rooted in some cultures where it has been practised for thousands of years, FGM – sometimes referred to a female genital cutting – is traditionally seen as a way of maintaining a girl’s virginity before marriage, but condemned by campaigners as a means of controlling women's fertility and sexual desire.
Despite the passing of laws the US government and public at large have been reluctant to tackle FGM head on because of cultural sensitivities, said long-term campaigner Taima Bien Aime, now executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. “FGM is a taboo that is yet to be broken in the States,” she said. “People, both in the community and outside it, just do not want to talk about it. And that makes it very difficult for women to stand up and say ‘this happened to me.’”
But it is time for survivors to speak out and for government action, said Dukureh, who has set up a grassroots organisation – Safe Hands for Girls – to raise awareness about FGM. “Someone has to talk about this, someone has to say what is going on,” she said. “Most of the time, what we hear from government officials is –this is their culture. But I’m a woman from this culture and I’m saying, this is not to my benefit. This is abuse and it is time we did something to stop it.”
*******************Jaha Dukureh: 'In Washington, they don't want to talk about vaginas'
An Atlanta woman who is a survivor of female genital mutilation is leading a campaign for the US to take action on a brutal practice happening in its own backyard
• Sign the Change.org petition to end FGMhttps://www.change.org/petitions/end-fgm-now-protect-girls-from-getting-cut-and-support-victims-of-female-genital-mutilation-in-the-usa
theguardian.com, Monday 12 May 2014 14.09 BST
Jaha Dukureh does not give up easily. When, aged just 15, she was sent to New York from Gambia for an arranged marriage, it looked like her dream of getting an education was over. But she refused to stop trying.
“I went to school after school, begging them to let me join, but because I didn’t have my parents with me they said I couldn’t enrol,” she says. “At the last school I just told them I was all on my own, and I sat in the principal’s office and cried until finally they gave in.” Within days, she had joined the class. “You don’t even know how happy that made me. I was so excited just to sit in class and learn,” she says.
Now Jaha is facing a new challenge: trying to help bring an end to female genital mutilation, otherwise known as FGM, in the US. The 24-year-old mother of three, who now lives in Atlanta, went through the practice – which involves removing some or all of a girl’s outer sexual organs – when she was only a week old. But she knows many girls who, despite being born and raised in the United States, were taken as children back to their family’s country in order to be cut and hears stories that cutters are also at work on American soil.
“FGM is not something that is happening in a far away place. It is happening here to American girls,” she says. “When these kids are being sent back they are told they are going to meet their families. Often the parents are not to blame, they take their kids back home and it can be done without your permission – you go out and come back to a mutilated child.”
After hearing about the campaign of British schoolgirl Fahma Mohamed – who headed a successful Guardian-backed campaign to get more education about FGM in schools – Jaha started a petition on the campaigning website Change.org. She is calling for a new study to find out just how many girls and women are affected by FGM in the US, as the first step to forming a national action plan to tackle the brutal practice.
“There is such a culture of silence about FGM in America. If you stand up and say ‘This happened to me’, people will scrutinise you, but someone has to stand up and say, this can’t go on happening. This is a human rights abuse and it has to stop,” she says.
A culture of silence and fear around the subject – coupled with public apathy and lack of awareness – has allowed the practice to continue under the radar, she says. “When people come to this country they bring their traditions with them – they eat the same food, dress in the same way – what makes people think that they won’t continue with FGM?” she asks. “Yes it’s a cultural issue but I’m from this culture and I am saying, this is not to our benefit. This is abuse.”
Jaha has already spent her life challenging accepted cultural norms. As one of five girls and three boys, she grew up in Gambia and was among the first girls in her family to go to school. “Some family members would complain because instead of coming home and learning to be a woman, I’d be in talent shows and after-school classes,” she says. “My mom was so proud of me, she would sell clothes or take African products to the UK to sell so she could pay my school fees. She wanted me to become a doctor.”
But when she was in 7th grade her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Unable to find treatment in Gambia she went to the UK, taking Jaha with her. “She wanted me to go to school, but it just wasn’t possible, so when I was 14 I just spent all my time going back and forward to hospital.” When her mother was told she had three months to live, she sent Jaha back home. “She didn’t want me to see her die.”
On her return, without a mother to protect her, she was told she had to go to New York to marry a man in his 40s. Still just 15 when she arrived, she soon found out that not only had she gone through FGM as a child, she had been subjected to the most extreme form. Jaha had type 3 FGM, where the clitoris and labia are removed before the girl is stitched together, leaving only a very small hole to urinate and menstruate.
“I went through days and weeks of excruciating pain when [my husband] was trying to have sex with me,” she says. She was taken to a doctor in Manhattan who opened her vagina, and told her she had to have sex that day or the wound would close again. “This happened in America – it was like I went through the FGM all over again.”
When the marriage broke down, Jaha refused to stay with her husband and was taken in by family members. Without anyone to vouch for her, she went to 10 different schools where she was told her she could not be enrolled without a guardian’s consent, before the 11th agreed. “I went to school during the day and waitressed in Harlem in the evening for lunch money and clothes,” she said. “But you know, I went to the prom. I saved up and I bought my prom dress, I got a date – I was a real American girl.”
When she was 17 she moved to Atlanta to be married for a second time. “I was very lucky because my husband understands my passion for education and he is the best dad for my kids I could ask for,” she says. She finished high school and put herself through college, and started work as a bank teller. In three and a half years she has been promoted three times and now works as a personal banker. “When people ask where I am from, I say I’m a Georgia peach,” she says. “This is home now. There are so many opportunities here and there is no way that girls should miss out on that because of FGM. That does not sit well with me.”
Her campaign has not been easy. After she spoke publicly for the first time, Jaha suffered immediate and severe backlash. “People called my husband, my sister, my dad. They said I wanted to get people locked up, break up families – but that is not my message,” she says. Jaha’s husband and father both respect her decision to lead the campaign, as hard as it may be and she refuses to be scared into submission. “Whatever they do, I am not afraid. They are not going to make me stop. The safety of our daughters is more important than that”.
Between looking after her young family and working as a personal banker she tours schools, colleges and community groups to talk about the dangers of FGM , and with other survivors has set up a foundation called Safe Hands for Girls.
But now she is taking her campaign to the top by asking for better data on FGM in the United States and as a first step to creating a national action plan to train educators, health professionals and police – and give survivors a safe place to seek help.
“In Washington they don’t want to talk about vaginas, they don’t want to hear about this issue and they don’t want to address it,” she says. “Sometimes, I feel is Washington afraid to tackle FGM – are they scared of it?”
She is determined to keep fighting until FGM is recognised as a real risk for American girls and policies are put in place to protect them. “I don’t want to be poster child. I want every woman who has been through this to be able to speak out,” she says. “But you know, in every revolution one person has to stand up to be counted, then other people follow. Right now everyone is turning a blind eye and pretending nothing is wrong – but once we stand up together, they won’t be able to ignore us any more.”
*******************Freedom? Republican Run States Are Now Telling People What They Can and Can’t Buy
Monday, May, 12th, 2014, 10:09 pm
Republicans hate regulations nearly as much as they hate taxation, and according to their Libertarian mindset, the concept of government interference in free market capitalism is tantamount to seizing the one percent’s wealth and assets and giving everything to undocumented immigrants, gays, and people of color. However, during the past year Republicans have interfered with private businesses simply because the companies failed to adhere to GOP regulations against union representation and renewable energy sources. In Republican-controlled states, GOP legislatures have forbidden business owners from providing overtime pay, sick leave, or raising the minimum wage, and still have the temerity to decry tyrannical government interference in business over gender pay equity, attempts to raise the minimum wage, or enforcing 14th Amendment protections against discrimination in the workplace. In a relatively new form of Republican fascism and regulatory overreach, Republican states have told consumers what they can and cannot purchase, and enacted regulations forbidding one company from conducting business in their states.
Missouri is the latest state to attempt to ban residents from purchasing cars from Tesla by inserting new language in an existing bill that forces consumers to buy new cars and trucks only through franchised dealerships. The legislation, HB 1124 was passed late last year without anti-Tesla language, but Republicans resorted to their now-typical stealth tactic and slipped new language to put a screeching halt to Tesla selling cars in Missouri; a clear violation of Republican libertarian policy against government dictating how free market capitalism is conducted. The Missouri senate version of the bill passed without the public’s knowledge and moves to the House for passage without debate because powerful car dealers and the oil industry ordered Republicans to protect their monopoly on pollution-causing vehicles without the public’s knowledge.
Powerful auto manufacturers already paid the Chris Christie administration to shut down Tesla in New Jersey because the company does not use middlemen (franchises), and the Christie administration supported banning Tesla because Republicans contend “Tesla shouldn’t have the right to unilaterally change the way cars are sold.” Free market capitalism is not free in Republicans’ minds and they will not allow Tesla, or any company to sell cars unless manufacturers profit from dealership franchise fees, dealerships profit as middleman, and the oil industry profits from selling gasoline and oil that Tesla CEO Elon Musk clearly understands is the rationale behind forbidding consumers from purchasing what they want. According to Musk, the electric cars need far less service than gas-powered cars so the need for a dealership franchise profiting off of regularly scheduled dealership maintenance is non-existent. He said, ”There are no oil, spark plug or fuel filter changes, no tune-ups and no smog checks needed for an electric car. Overcharging people for unneeded servicing (often not even fixing the original problem) is rampant within the industry and happened to me personally on several occasions when I drove gasoline cars.”
The Federal Trade Commission weighed in and came down on the side of Tesla’s right to sell vehicles directly to consumers without the necessity of a middleman. The FTC said In a blog post, “Regulators should differentiate between regulations that truly protect consumers and those that protect the regulated.” In a separate letter signed by over 70 leading economists under the banner of the International Center for Law & Economics soundly dismissed every single car dealer argument and concluded that these bans are entirely motivated by “economic protectionism that favors dealers at the expense of consumers and innovative technologies.” Elon Musk agreed with the economists and Federal Trade Commission saying, “When Tesla came along as a new company with no existing franchisees, the auto dealers, who possess vastly more resources and influence than Tesla, nonetheless sought to force us to sell through them. The reason that we did not choose to do this is that the auto dealers have a fundamental conflict of interest between promoting gasoline cars, which constitute virtually all of their revenue, and electric cars, which constitute virtually none.” Republicans love conflict of interest when it profits the oil and auto industry and the concept of free market capitalism is thrown out the window when their donors’ profits are jeopardized by a product that cuts into their bottom line.
Nearly all car manufacturers profit handsomely from granting individually-owned dealerships the right to sell their cars, so Tesla is facing pressure for Republicans beholden to automobile manufacturers and dealers wielding inordinate political power stemming from their political contributions. For example, a powerful lobbying group representing car and truck dealers, the National Automobile Dealers Association, spent $3 million in political contributions in 2012 and an additional $3 million on lobbying to prohibit consumers from buying a car they want and force them to purchase only vehicles their clients sell. Missouri Republicans resorted to an increasingly common practice and asked New Jersey, Texas, and Arizona to “show me” how to force consumers to purchase gas-guzzling vehicles and restrict free market capitalism by using stealth legislation to forbid Tesla from participating in what Republicans claim is commerce untouched by government intervention.
Republicans are once again displaying the hypocrisy that has become one of their defining characteristics when it comes to their cherished free market capitalism free from government intervention and interference that is more often than not from Republicans. In fact, they are going far beyond just butting in to a business, they are deliberately prohibiting Tesla from exercising their right to commerce and boldly telling consumers which product they can buy and which one the oil industry and automobile manufacturers and dealerships are forcing on them. Tesla is in the early stages of the appeal process in New Jersey to be afforded the same opportunity to take part in what the Republicans claim is the American dream of researching and developing a product, manufacturing that product, and taking it to consumers and let the market decide if it is a success or failure. However, in the Republicans’ donors minds, an electric car that does not require oil and gasoline to operate, or costly regularly scheduled repair and maintenance dealership visits does not deserve to participate in free market capitalism because the only government interfering in business is Republican state legislatures that are now telling consumers they can only purchase Republican, automobile manufacturers and dealers, and oil industry-approved products in what can only be termed fascist capitalism Republican style.
**************John Boehner Goes Orange, Dark, and Gloomy By Saying He’s Living on Borrowed Time
By: Jason Easley
Monday, May, 12th, 2014, 5:20 pm
At a luncheon in Texas today, Speaker of the House John Boehner refused to pledge that he will serve another full term as speaker because he literally thinks he is going to die soon.
According to Politico:
The Ohio Republican, speaking to a luncheon here sponsored by a group of local chambers of commerce, said he can’t “predict what’s going to happen,” and stopped short of fully committing to serving another full two-year term.
“Listen, I’m going to be 65-years-old in November,” Boehner said. “I never thought I’d live to be 60. So I’m living on borrowed time.”
With an attitude like that, it is pretty easy to see why John Boehner probably drinks alone. The last few years have been rough for the Speaker of the House. Boehner finally achieved his dream job only to wake up and realize that he is leading a group of Republicans that can’t agree with each other on anything. Boehner did initially try to teach the tea crowd how this whole government thing works, but after many failures, he eventually gave up and just started reading the script that his tea party hostage takers placed in front of him.
The fact that he has stopped trying to pretend to lead the House is how the government shutdown happened. It’s how the country’s debt rating got lowered, and it is also why there will be a special committee to investigate Benghazi. Boehner played a big role in creating his own mess by willingly leaping into bed with the tea party only to find out later that the bed was on fire.
John Boehner has been without a doubt one of the worst Speakers in American history. Under his non-leadership, the House has dissolved into chaos. Boehner has regularly placed keeping his speakership ahead of doing what is right for the country. It is John Boehner’s fault that the legislative process is completely dysfunctional to the point where major accomplishment is impossible. John Boehner may live to be 100, but he is signaling that the end is near for his time in Congress.
*****************House Republicans Admit Defeat By Scheduling No Hearings or Votes to Repeal Obamacare
By: Jason Easley
Monday, May, 12th, 2014, 1:40 pm
Republicans have quietly tried to change the subject away from healthcare, and the ACA. The shift is so dramatic that no Republican committee in the House has an Obamacare hearing planned, and there are no repeal votes scheduled.
According to The Hill:
House Republicans have no scheduled votes or hearings on ObamaCare, signaling a shift in the party’s strategy as the White House rides a wave of good news on the law.
Not a single House committee has announced plans to attack the healthcare law in the coming weeks, and only one panel of jurisdiction commented to The Hill despite repeated inquiries.
GOP campaign committees also declined to say whether they will launch any new efforts on the law.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee responded with a statement that claimed that there is no evidence that they are talking about Obamacare less. The statement was a nice dodge, but it isn’t even close to the subject being discussed. House Republicans might be talking about Obamacare until they are blue in the face, but they have ceased efforts to repeal the law.
In this case, actions really do speak louder than words. The Republican majority’s actions are an unspoken admission of defeat. The day after the ACA sign up numbers came out, House Republicans began their new push on Benghazi. This is not a coincidence, and only the Republican base is gullible enough to believe that the strategic shift was not deliberate and intentional.
House Republicans aren’t fooling anyone. They literally stopped talking about Obamacare on the same day that the final numbers were released. They finally realized that campaigning on taking away healthcare from tens of millions of Americans was not a good idea.
Republicans needed a new issue fast, so they went back to the Benghazi well once again. The American people and the media still aren’t buying Benghazi as a legitimate news story. House Republicans still have no healthcare legislation of their own. Democrats, even in red states, are starting to pummel Republicans with the ACA.
The louder that House Republicans scream about Benghazi, the more obvious their defeat on Obamacare becomes. A party with no issues, no ideas, and no consensus has nothing to run on. Obamacare will still be a dog whistle term that will be used to get out the Republican vote, but to really understand what the Republican Party is up, always ignore their words and watch their deeds.
The actions of House Republicans tell us that they lost, and the Obamacare fight is over.
******************A Plurality of Kentuckians Like Obamacare, As Long as It’s Called Something Else
By: Sarah Jones
Monday, May, 12th, 2014, 11:58 am
But a plurality of registered voters – 29% – have a favorable impression of Kynect. Kynect is Obamacare, by a different name. Twenty-two percent have an unfavorable impression of it, and 27% have never heard of it while 21% are unsure.
And just to prove that it’s all in the name, not in what it actually does, a plurality 43% of registered voters strongly think the “health care law” is a really bad idea. Just 27% think it’s a good idea. But they love Kynect.
I’ll bet if the questions were worded differently in order to explain what it does, the results would be different. For example, “Do you think it is a good idea to have affordable healthcare available for everyone so that everyone pays their share and no one is cut off from medical help due to an inability to pay?” “Do you think it’s a good idea to stop insurance companies from canceling insurance policies when a person gets sick?” “Do you think it’s a good idea to give women free mammograms?” Etc.
The truth is that Americans love what Republicans call socialism, so long as it’s not called socialism. Waving hello to the Tea Partiers against socialism who carry signs telling the government to keep their hands off of their Medicare.
A negative 1% “haven’t heard of it (Obamacare)”. That’s pretty astounding for a policy, but who could miss it with Republicans fear mongering about it, tossing coffins on lawns, sending threats to lawmakers, and Sarah Palin’s Death Panels. You’d have to be living in a cave to have missed the idea that Obamacare was going to kill you and fundamentally change America to a socialist Fascist state of doom forever, as not shown in every other industrialized nation which have affordable health insurance.
The key here is that Obamacare is in operation now and people are beginning to see that the world has not ended. In time, what Republicans fear the most will happen: People will embrace Obamacare as they do Medicare and Social Security, thus harming Republicans’ efforts to keep Americans from having a government that works for them instead of the elite. Every time a voter sees the government working to help citizens, a Republican has to spend more money to fool the voters come election season.
Democratic Governor Steve Beshear, of Embrace Obamacare and Attack Kentucky Republicans with It fame, has a 63% approval rating and a 22% disapproval, with 14% unsure. In other words, we might question conventional “wisdom” (aka, beltway agreement) that claims Democrats are fighting an uphill battle in 2014 because of Obama’s bad approval ratings and Obamacare. The truth is that Democrats are fighting an uphill battle because the press aids and abets Republicans in their Obama/Obamacare fear-mongering, fail at fact-checking, and run bogus Benghazi email and bogus IRS stories based on uncorroborated Republican sources. If the press did their job, the people would not be so misinformed as to only like Obamacare when it’s called something else.
Sure, Obama’s approval ratings are nowhere near as low as W’s, but the press totally buys it when Americans tend to not approve of Obama after all they hear of the President – from same press – is that he is lying about a cover up in Benghazi and using the IRS to hunt down enemies.
The same caveat can be applied to Americans supposed dislike of Obamacare. All they’ve heard of it is scary Republican ads about Obama’s death panels and Obama stealing from Medicare. The loudest voices have the most money to spread their “message”. The Koch brothers are spending millions on ObamaScare ads. These things tend to make an impression on the public, especially when they aren’t paying enough attention to know who is behind the claims.
Those polled in the NBC poll were majority white, mostly landlines (some cell phone users), with a majority “registered Democrat”. The caveat here is that with the Tea Party splitting from the GOP and embarrassed/disenchanted conservatives pretending to be “Independents”, it’s hard to know if the Independents in polls really represent Independents, or are comprised of enough embarrassed Republicans to actually belong in the Republican column.
********************Senate Republicans forfeit vote on Keystone XL pipeline by blocking energy bill
Monday, May 12, 2014 20:11 EDT
By Thomas Ferraro and Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republicans on Monday blocked an energy-efficiency bill backed by manufacturers and environmentalists, forfeiting a chance to vote on the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline.
On a nearly party-line vote of 55-36, President Barack Obama’s Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bipartisan energy bill supported by the White House.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, had offered a vote on a separate bill to take the final decision on Keystone out of Obama’s hands and give it to Congress if Republicans allowed passage of the energy bill.
But Republicans refused. They complained that Reid barred them from offering amendments to the bill, including one that would have reined in emissions-cutting regulations on coal-fired power plants, a top strategy in Obama’s fight against climate change.
The blocked energy-efficiency bill would cut electricity use by imposing tough building codes and requiring federal data centers to find ways to consolidate and become more efficient.
In turn, the bill, sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, and Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, would help protect the environment, create nearly 200,000 jobs, and save consumers billions of dollars a year by 2030, backers said.
“Today’s failure to move forward on a bipartisan energy efficiency bill is yet another disappointing example of Washington’s dysfunction,” Portman said.
“It’s a sad day in the U.S. Senate when more than 270 organizations – from business to environmental groups – can get behind a good, bipartisan effort, but we can’t get votes on a few amendments to pass it.”
TransCanada Corp’s proposed pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels per day of oil sands petroleum from Canada’s Alberta province to Texas refineries.
Democrats accused Republicans of being more interested in making Obama’s repeated delays on Keystone an election-year issue than voting to build the project or pass an energy bill.
Congress has not passed significant energy legislation since 2007. Shaheen and Portman hoped their bill would not suffer the same fate as the sweeping climate bill the Senate killed in 2010. But now it looks as if energy efficiency is doomed until after the November 4 election.
Reid had offered a vote on a Keystone measure sponsored by all 45 Republicans and 11 of the 55 Senate Democrats in return for the bill.
It was unclear if they could get the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation, which would allow congressional approval of Keystone. But even if approved, Obama was certain to veto it.
A Senate vote on Keystone would have shown broad bipartisan support for the project and put more pressure on Obama to end years of delays and finally make a decision.
Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, the chief Democratic sponsor of the Keystone bill, said: “This is just the latest skirmish, and the battle to build Keystone is not over.”
(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Sandra Maler, Peter Cooney and Andre Grenon)