Updates from December, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts
This week, a bipartisan committee chaired by Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Patty Murray struck a deal and the House passed a two-year budget proposal. The press, the White House and many Democrats praised the deal as a “compromise” and a “good first step.”
If you didn’t know the details, you might think that this was positive news coming out of Washington, DC. After all, it was just a couple of months ago that we won an important battle when Democratic leaders stood up to Republican hostage taking and the result was the total collapse of the Republicans’ dangerous and reckless attempt to shut down government and tank the economy.
Republicans and Democrats alike are trumpeting this plan as a compromise that reduces the deficit without raising taxes. Now that the House has passed the two-year budget bill with none of the tantrums and drama of recent fights, the Senate plans to take up the legislation Tuesday where it will likely pass after a Republican filibuster attempt.
You’ll hear a lot of Republicans calling this a bad deal. But the budget proposal is actually not really even a “compromise” let alone a bad deal from their point of view. In fact, it’s a big win for Republicans. Military spending goes up. Unemployment benefits for nearly 1.3 million Americans go away. Incredibly, this budget boasts spending levels lower than the original Paul Ryan budget.1
What is wrong with this Congress?
We went into this negotiation with big momentum from Democrats’ victory this fall. What happened to standing strong? Where did our hard won leverage go?
If you look at the details of this deal, you’ll see that we raised zero revenue by closing tax loopholes for billionaires or by trimming corporate welfare programs. Instead, the budget deal slashes retirement benefits for federal workers. And through its inaction, the budget conference committee effectively cut off emergency unemployment benefits for nearly 1.3 million out-of-work Americans three days after Christmas.
Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said it was “absolutely unconscionable” for Congress to go on vacation without approving extension of emergency unemployment benefits. We agree.
We find ourselves in a long term budget fight that revolves in large part around the across-the-board spending cuts known as “the sequester.” The sequester has led to indiscriminate cuts to everything – from vital social programs that should be better funded to the bloated Pentagon budget that should be the target of even further cutbacks.
If you remember, in 2011 – despite opposition from CREDO members and other progressives – Democrats agreed to a process that led first to the dangerous farce that was called “the Super Committee.” Then, when the Super Committee failed because Republicans refused to take Democrats up on their offer to cut programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in exchange for modest increases in revenue, an across-the-board sequester was imposed. This sequester has been slashing government spending at a time when the government needed to be spending more money to bring us out of our economic downturn and get people back to work.
Automatic sequester cuts to military spending is one of the few points of leverage Democrats have to force Republicans to agree to common sense proposals like rolling back tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations and passing vital economic recovery legislation such as extending emergency unemployment insurance benefits for those who lost their jobs after Wall Street caused the mortgage meltdown and crashed our economy.
This latest deal – soon to be ratified in the Senate with the only real opposition coming from Republican extremists who would prefer to continue the hostage-taking tactics of previous fights – gives conservatives what they want. Letting sequestered funds flow back to the military (albeit with equal money released to domestic programs) without getting any substantial revenue concessions in return. A win for Republicans, a win for the Pentagon, and a loss for regular Americans.
In October, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama stood up to Republican hostage takers, they showed that we could start reining in Republicans by standing strong in these negotiations. In the aftermath of that hard-won battle we wrote you that the bigger victory would come when Democrats embraced this winning strategy in future fights – and when Democrats stood strong not only when they are on defense but also by going on offense for our progressive priorities.
That bigger victory was nowhere in sight this week. This deal has passed the House, will almost certainly pass the Senate, and Congress will head home for the holiday break. If there is any bright spot in this deal, it’s that a so-called “grand bargain” and cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits are dead for now – and that comes as a result of a ferocious grassroots campaign to force Democrats to hold the line.
Going forward, there is much work to be done to fight for our priorities, raise revenues by making corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share, and continue to defend Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from benefit cuts. But for now the most important thing we can do is pressure Congress to extend emergency unemployment benefits for 1.3 million out-of-work Americans, as Rep. Keith Ellison has called on Speaker John Boehner to do.
The fight continues. Thank you for your activism.
1. Matthew O’Brien, “How Paul Ryan Won the Budget War: in 1 Chart,” Atlantic, December 13, 2013.
- House exhales after passing compromise budget (kansascity.com)
- The Budget Misdeal: An Agreement That Solves Nothing (ourfuture.org)
- House exhales after passing compromise budget (mcclatchydc.com)
- House approves budget deal over token conservative opposition (nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com)
- Washington’s House delegation votes in unison for federal budget deal (thenewstribune.com)
- The sequester is dead, and Paul Ryan killed it (rare.us)
- Should Democrats Let Republicans Kill Extended Unemployment Benefits? (ourfuture.org)
- Budget Deal Heads for Passage by Limiting Scope to Easing Cuts – Businessweek (businessweek.com)
- House to vote on Murray-Ryan budget; GOP to block vote on emergency unemployment insurance extension (dailykos.com)
- House exhales after passing compromise budget (kansas.com)
“One of Our Greatest Coups”: The CIA & the Capture of Nelson Mandela. Polaroid & Apartheid: Inside the Beginnings of the Boycott, Divestment Movement Against South Africa.
As South Africa prepares to hold a state funeral for Nelson Mandela, we look at how the CIA helped the South African track down and capture Nelson Mandela in 1962. In 1990, the Cox News Service quoted a former U.S. official saying that within hours after Mandela’s arrest a senior CIA operative named Paul Eckel admitted the agency’s involvement. Eckel was reported as having told the official, “We have turned Mandela over to the South African security branch. We gave them every detail, what he would be wearing, the time of day, just where he would be. They have picked him up. It is one of our greatest coups.” Several news outlets have reported the actual source of the tip that led to the arrest of Mandela was a CIA official named Donald Rickard. On Thursday, Democracy Now! attempted to reach Rickard at his home in Colorado. On two occasions, a man who picked up the phone hung up when we asked to speak with Donald Rickard.
We look back at how African-American workers at Polaroid in Massachusetts helped launch the divestment movement against Apartheid South Africa in the early 1970s. We speak to Caroline Hunter, co-founder of the Polaroid Workers Revolutionary Movement, who stumbled upon evidence that her employer was providing the camera system to the South African state to produce photographs for the infamous passbooks for black residents. Hunter and her late husband, Ken Williams, then launched a boycott of the company. The boycott and divestment campaign ultimately grew to target other corporations in apartheid South Africa, including General Motors and Barclays Bank, among others. By 1977, Polaroid finally withdrew from South Africa.
- CIA ratted out Mandela (ptaka71907.wordpress.com)
- Democracy Now! U.S. and World News Headlines for Thursday, December 12 (sunsetdaily.wordpress.com)
- Not in My Name: Skorton’s Appropriation of Nelson Mandela (cornellsjp.wordpress.com)
- “One of Our Greatest Coups”: The CIA & the Capture of Nelson Mandela (democracynow.org)
- Democracy Now! U.S. and World News Headlines for Friday, December 6 (sunsetdaily.wordpress.com)
- Mandela – Rest in Peace (lemixmedia.wordpress.com)
- The Secret History of How Cuba Helped End Apartheid in South Africa (alternet.org)
- Democracy Now! U.S. and World News Headlines for Monday, December 9 (sunsetdaily.wordpress.com)
- College Divestment Movement Takes on Fossil Fuels After Battling Apartheid With Mandela (nation.time.com)
- Nelson Mandela: A Reflection Upon the Life and Times of my Hero (literarycorrectness.com)
Egg replacer equivalent to 3 eggs
1 pkg. gluten-free vegan ginger cookies or graham crackers
1/2 cup pecan halves, plus more for decorating
1 stick vegan butter
2 8-oz. pkg. vegan cream cheese
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves (optional)
Pinch ground ginger (optional)
Soy whipped topping, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and prepare the egg replacer according to the package directions.
- Place the ginger cookies and pecans in food a processor and pulse until fine. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, preferably a springform pan.
- Melt the vegan butter in a saucepan on low heat. Add to the cookie mix and press into the pan until evenly moist and flat.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the vegan cream cheese and brown sugar until soft. Stir in the vegan sour cream and pumpkin at a low speed.
- Beat one-third of the egg replacer into the mixture, followed by another third of the egg replacer. Add the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger and mix until well combined. Add the remaining egg replacer and mix well. Pour on top of the crust.
- Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the pie inside until the oven reaches room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before decorating as desired, and enjoy!
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Easiest Vegan Cupcake Recipe
Baking should be a fun experience, so take away the stress by following our simple vegan cupcake how-to! You’ll be enjoying delicious vegan treats in no time.
For more baking tips, check out our Ultimate Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet!
- Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake (jamiadesserts.wordpress.com)
- A Vegan Cake That Doesn’t Taste like Sand (dailycandy.com)
- Mama’s Cheesecake (theinvoluntaryhousewife.com)
- Pumpkin-Ginger Cheesecake (cafecarol.com)
- Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe (freehealthandwellness.com)
- Mandy’s Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake (gainingmommymentum.wordpress.com)
- Pumpkin Cheesecake (astandring.wordpress.com)
- Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust (tastespace.wordpress.com)
- A Baker’s Dozen of Vegan Christmas Cookies! (honkifyourevegan.com)
- Thanksgiving 2013: Maple Glazed Tempeh, Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake, and More! (thehotvegetarian.wordpress.com)
Just when we thought things could not get more despicable…
We have just learned that a “hunters’ rights organization” has scheduled a wolf-killing competition for the week after Christmas. Prizes will be awarded for such hunting objectives as killing the largest wolf and the most female coyotes.
There’s even a “youth division” prize for children as young as 10 take part in the bloodshed.
Already, 154 wolves have been killed in Idaho since hunting season began on August 30. This barbaric competitive slaughter promises to raise that number even higher.
Organizers of this so-called wolf derby admit that one purpose of the event is to show the world that no one can stop them from killing wolves – not you, not me, and especially not the federal government. It’s a horrific demonstration of what happens when wolves are prematurely stripped of Endangered Species Act protection.
Those Idaho hunters are outright wrong – America’s wolves belong to all of us. And to enlist children in the wholesale killing is beyond the pale.
Thank you for all you do.
- Reviled, Revered: Is the Gray Wolf Still An Endangered Species? (blogs.kqed.org)
- Competitive hunting of wolves, coyotes in Idaho sparks outcry (reuters.com)
- Researchers Find Evidence of Mountain Lion Predation on Wolves (outdoorhub.com)
- We’ve reached the end game for gray wolves. (sunsetdaily.wordpress.com)
- Wolves should remain on the Endangered Species List (collegian.com)
- Idaho Wolf Hunt Causes Controversy (pawnation.com)
- Competitive hunting of wolves, coyotes in Idaho sparks outcry (trust.org)
- Red Wolves Critically Close to Extinction After Hunters Kill 10 Percent of Population (inhabitat.com)
- The Tragic Story of the Death of Mexican Wolf 1288 at the Hands of USDA Wildlife Services (thewildlifenews.com)
- Does It Really Make Sense for 6,000 People to Kill 600 Wolves? (4thenaturesake.wordpress.com)
Now thats a Good One…Who Comes With These things? (I am dead serious in that I must know the human that has a brain…that in some meeting last week…comes up with yet another brilliant way to deal with rapes…to Insure yourself in the event you get raped but again, he must have said in some meeting….that hey..lets insure people for when they get raped….How do you even bring that thought together let alone as a collective group of people in that said meeting…to then feel its appropriate to put that on the books). Wow….Rape Insurance? U Poor Women….Maybe its some way to get up the ACA’s ass so to speak…but man oh man….is this what came out of that female autopsy they (GOP) came up with last week? Was it (Rape Insurance Concept) in that manual?
Overall though…lets piece this together with quotes from the GOP over the last 2 years…before rapes…you have foster Friez saying that as contraception…you can place baby aspirin in between your knees which of course was suggested before Todd Aiken‘s Legitimate Rape story about how these antibodies maybe, inside of ones body I assume is what he meant. That in his mind can determine that a sperm is from a person that is raping whomever and therefore it kills that ability to reproduce in any way….now think about that fiction because that has to be hard to come with as a human with a brain. Thats brilliant if you break that concept down to a real thing…Think about it…..because, that Todd Aiken comment when taken in the literal sense, is just amazing. I’ll bet the house if you will, that not even in writing for films or on TV and nor in the history of entertainment or fiction work has anyone ever said “hey…lets come up with this legitimate rape situation” by I guess doing what I say here…”lets have it when this woman gets raped in our film….that she can make her body be able to break down the sperm so it cannot reproduce ever when its a rape situation.” I’ll bet that was never even suggested or said out loud by any other human in the history of mankind, except for Todd Aiken. Todd Aiken created this concept all by himself. Its brilliant if you think about there being a legit rape. And, if that is NOT odd enough to say out loud to people, we then had/have the Dick or some Murdock saying that when you do get raped..its ok because god wanted it done or something along those lines but have no fear now folks because if any of this do occur in ones life….you can now insurance yourself with none other than “Rape Insurance.” …so there ya go…you are officially covered….LOL…..
Think what happened in Michigan — abortion coverage being banned from basic health insurance by the GOP-controlled legislature — won’t happen in your state? Think again: Republicans all over the country are showing shocking disregard for the concerns (and rights!) of women.
Just today, Thom Tillis, speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, (and candidate for U.S. Senate, running against Kay Hagan) blatantly dismissed his anti-woman, anti-choice record claiming that opposition to his extreme agenda was just “whining coming from losers.”
The GOP’s War on Women comes in all shapes and sizes, from state legislatures to halls of Congress — these extremists have no place in making decisions about our health care.
But you can fight back. EMILY’s List is traveling the country, from Michigan to Texas to California to Maine recruiting women to run for office. We need your support to ensure these women have the tools and resources to fight back on your behalf. Donate now and together we will protect your right to choose.
Click here for more information, and visit The Sustainable Action Network at anytime!
- Michigan To Require Women to Buy ‘Rape Insurance’ (the-detroiter.com)
- Outrageous ‘Rape Insurance’ Law Forces Women to Plan for Their Own Rapes (thestir.cafemom.com)
- Rape Insurance? (thinkprogress.org)
- Michigan Approves ‘Rape Insurance’ Bill Banning Health Coverage For Most Abortions (thinkprogress.org)
- In Michigan, the meaning of ‘rape insurance’ (msnbc.com)
- SMH: Michigan Women Will Have To Buy “Rape Insurance” In Order To Get An Abortion (bossip.com)
- North Carolina’s choice (politico.com)
- Michigan Republicans pass “Plan Ahead for Your Abortion” law (eclectablog.com)
- Michigan passes ‘rape insurance’ bill (syndicatednewsservices.com)
- Michigan Passed a ‘Rape Insurance’ Bill Despite State Senator’s Speech About Her Own Rape (thewire.com)
Did you catch Elizabeth on the Rachel Maddow Show last night?
Please forward this email to three friends in Connecticut so they have a chance to see it too!
It’s been one year since the tragedy in Newtown, and Republicans are still blocking sensible steps to fight gun violence. It’s time to step up the pressure again, and demand Senate Republicans allow an up or down vote on background checks.
A majority of Senators supported expanding background checks for gun purchases, but were blocked because Republicans used the filibuster to block an up-or-down vote.
Enough is enough. With tragedy after tragedy continuing to take innocent lives, we don’t have the luxury to give up this fight.
- Year after Newtown, gun control groups keep hope (news.yahoo.com)
- Universal Background Checks To Purchase Guns Would Be A Nice Christmas Present From Congress (leanleft.com)
- Congress renews undetectable gun ban for decade (bostonherald.com)
- A Year After Newtown, Little Has Changed (newrepublic.com)
- Mother’s shooting convinced me of need for better gun laws: Guest opinon (oregonlive.com)
- Congress renews undetectable gun ban for decade (stltoday.com)
- Congress renews undetectable gun ban for decade (news.yahoo.com)
- Letters: Remembering the Clackamas Town Center shooting and preventing gun violence (oregonlive.com)
- Year after Newtown, gun control groups keep hope (wfaa.com)
- Congress set to extend ban on plastic guns; tougher restrictions likely to fail (cjonline.com)
The BP oil spill disaster continues to negatively impact wildlife habitat in the Gulf of Mexico. Bottlenose dolphins are not only suffering from terrible illnesses but also washing up on the shores, dead.
Scientists report that it will be many years — even decades — before the true impact of the BP oil spill is understood. The consequence of four million barrels of crude oil will be felt for generations to come.
It’s time to speak up! Gulf restoration decisions are being made and it is time to urge the Secretary of Commerce to ensure that BP fines are used to help this effort.
- Panhandle Receives $88 Million for BP Oil Spill (wjhg.com)
- New Report Sheds Light on Damage From BP Oil Spill (readersupportednews.org)
- BP Argues Companies Are Unfairly Cashing In On 2010 Spill (npr.org)
- Nearly Four Years After The Spill, A Look At Human Impacts (huffingtonpost.com)
- BP Oil Spill Inspired Play, SPILL, to Premiere at LSU’s Reilly Theatre on 3/12 (broadwayworld.com)
- BP oil spill claims system shut down (bizjournals.com)
- Local chosen for board that will oversee BP oil spill funds for Florida (nwfdailynews.com)
- BP oil spill claims halted by shocking court reversals (wwltv.com)
- Flesh Eating Bacteria Tied to BP Oil Spill Tar Balls (freakoutnation.com)
- BP Spill Money Funds Florida Snapper Project (wjhg.com)