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Friday, August 01, 2014

Sorry about no blog updates.

My work schedule had me working a lot lately and been too tired to look and read for stories to post. Thanks for the understanding and let's take back the house from the forces of stupidity and racism.

How Conservative Media Helped To Kill Boehner's Border Bill

From Media Matters:

House Republicans pulled a bill which would increase funding for security at the southern border after conservative media and their allies voiced opposition to it.
The bill, pushed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was tabled after he and House Republican leadership faced "a rebellion among their most conservative ranks," according to the New York Times, who also reported that the failure to pass the bill "ensures that no legislation to address what both Democrats and Republicans call an urgent humanitarian crisis will reach President Obama's desk before the August break." After the measure failed, Republicans met to discuss whether they would bring up another bill before Congress goes into recess or to scrap the legislation entirely. Roll Call reported that "chaos reigned" as it became unclear what Republican leaders would decide to do.
Conservative media darling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was reportedly whipping votes in order to stop the bill the night before its introduction, according to a Washington Post report. Cruz appeared on Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren that same night and attacked what he described as "President Obama's amnesty."
Weekly Standard founder and ABC News contributor Bill Kristol wrote a July 31 blog post demanding that the House "kill the bill." He described the bill as "dubious legislation" and argued that passing it would "take the focus off what President Obama has done about immigration."
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt agreed with Kristol, writing that the House should "kill the fake border security bill and go home until the House leadership gets serious about passing a real border security bill."
The Drudge Report highlighted opposition to the bill at the top of the site with the headline "Hill Phones Melt As Boehner Pushes Border."
The Drudge headline linked to Breitbart.com, which has repeatedly opposed immigration reform efforts. The story by Matthew Boyle noted that "The American people have overloaded the Congressional phone lines yet again on Thursday, pressuring their members of Congress to vote against the House and Senate immigration bills."
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson argued at his site, RedState, that the bill was flawed because it failed to repeal the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which conservatives incorrectly blame for generating the surge in child migrants from Central America.
Erickson added, "The House GOP should be starting with closing DACA, not telling conservatives they first have to fund the President and then they'll get table scraps" and directed his readers to RedState's "action center" where they could call Congress and demand that "the House GOP must close DACA." 
Daily Caller columnist Mickey Kaus promoted a campaign from the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) which urged readers to call the U.S. Capitol switchboard in order to speak to their member of Congress and demand "No New Laws" on immigration. Kaus also linked to a list of members and their direct office phone numbers.
Laura Ingraham, a talk radio host and Fox News/ABC News contributor, who has been an anti-immigration reform crusader for years, wrote on Twitter that Boehner had made a "supreme accomplishment" by pushing a bill that "manages to enrage both the political left and conservatives." She later celebrated its defeat.

The GOP’s impeachment whiplash

Trolls quickly drown ReaganBook social media site in sea of profanity, pornography

By Travis Gettys/Raw Story
A half-cooked attempt to set up a conservative social network quickly collapsed into a heap of phony accounts, crude swearing, and pornographic GIFs.
Ohio Republican Janet Porter pre-launched ReaganBook – “Facebook for Patriots” – in April, after employees from the more well-known social media site took part in a LGBT rights demonstration in San Francisco.
After several left-leaning sites, including Raw Storypublicized the launch the fledgling social network, its several dozen presumably conservative users were quickly drowned out by a flood of phony accounts (Vladimir Putin, Sarah Palin, and Manuel Noriega) and less-obviously phony accounts.
“I think they’d attract more people and less trolls if they didn’t put that brand on it of Reagan — if they called it something else,” conservative blogger Amy Jo Clark told The Daily Beast.
Many users posted profane criticisms of former President Ronald Reagan, while others posted pornographic images and GIFs.
The only discernibly sincere comments found on the site were the persistent complaints about slow load times and overall poor user experience.
Porter, who is president of the anti-abortion group Faith2Action, announced Wednesday morning that administrators had been tasked with removing offensive posts and culling troll accounts from the site.
“Glad I did the pre-launch because that gives us an opportunity to tighten our security for the real launch,” Porter posted just hours earlier on her ReaganBook page. “Also, the fact that so many leftists have invested so much time in the site, It provides confirmation that we’re on the right track.”
But weeding out the trolls must have proven too difficult, because the site was taken offline by Wednesday afternoon, about 24 hours after the site launched.
“Please be patient while we make the necessary changes to keep the site free from obscenity, pornography, and those intent on the destruction of life, liberty, and the family,” site management said in a statement. “We will be opening the doors again soon with additional protections in place. As Reagan taught us, trust, but verify.”
No timetable was given for when ReaganBook might go back online.

Russell Brand rips Fox blowhard Sean Hannity over inflammatory Israel-Gaza coverage

By Scott Kaufman/Raw Story
In Russell Brand’s latest episode of The Trews, the British comedian attacks Sean Hannity for his hypocrisy when it comes to the subject of Israel.
Brand begins, however, on a lighter note, playing a clip from Hannity’s show and saying that the Fox News and syndicated radio host “looks like the Ken Doll from the Toy Story 3 film.” Moreover, “he has his name on a police badge in the corner of the screen, screaming ‘HANNITY!’”
He then continued his running commentary on the clip, in which Hannity asks why “is America’s largest Muslim so-called civil rights group [the Council on American–Islamic Relations or CAIR] showing sympathy to terrorists? Let’s have a debate.”
Brand then noted that Hannity was “already being unreasonable” in how he framed the debate. While most people “want peace,” Hannity “wants conflict — wants to know what things I should say to exacerbate the conflict.”
One of Hannity’s guests, Yousef Munayyer of the Jerusalem Fund & Palestine Center, then suggested to Hannity that peace might be achieved if Israel addressed the occupation of Palestinian territory, at which point the Fox News host insisted the debate be brought back to the 1948 petition plan and the 1973 war.
“Yes, let’s do that Sean,” Brand responded. “Because that’s the broader context. But he’s not going to actually talk about any of those things, because Sean’s not interested in truth — Hannity is only interested pushing a particular perspective.”
He then cuts back to the Hannity clip, in which Hannity does not, in fact, address the broader context, but repeatedly asks what Munayyer would do if people were firing missiles into his neighborhood. Munayyer responds that he’s going to try to answer Hannity’s question if Hannity would stop “asking it at him,” to which Hannity replies, “Good luck.”
Brand laughs at Hannity’s answer, then repeats it, “‘Good luck’! That’s right, good luck, mate answering Sean’s question, because Sean doesn’t want an answer. Sean wants to say more stuff while jabbing his finger aggressively!”
After playing another clip of Hannity shouting his guest down, Brand notes that “another thing Sean does is just use incendiary words. ‘Rockets!’ ‘Kidnapper!’ ‘Murder!’ ‘A little baby ducklingkicked in the face!’ These are just things that are bad.”
As the conversation on Hannity’s program continues to deteriorate, Brand remarks that Hannity’s not interested in learning about what would constitute progress in the Middle East, because he took a job at Fox News. Imitating Hannity, Brand yells, “I’m interested in shouting, and pointing, and simplifying things!”
When Hannity tires of yelling the same question his guest has already answered, he switches to his other guest, who like himself is pro-Israel. The guest immediately begins discussing the Palestinians using children as human shields, a fact whose veracity Brand disputes.
“Reports from Gaza say that they’re not using children as human shields,” he say, “those children are dying because there are missiles going off all over the place and Gaza’s only a little tiny area.”
“But even if they were,” Brand continued, “even if everyone was carrying around children literally strapped to wooden boards, using them as shields — they still wouldn’t die if it weren’t for the missiles. The key ingredient in the death of those children is the missile.”
He then returns to the clip at a point in which Munayyer attempts to get a word in. Hannity summarily dismisses him with an angry “Goodbye!” to which Brand responds, “one definition of terrorism is using intimidation to achieve your goals. Who in that situation was behaving like a terrorist?” he asks.
“Sean Hannity — that’s where the terrorism’s coming from.”
Watch the entire episode of Russell Brand’s The Trews below.

Boehner Encourages Obama To Take Executive Action, One Day After Voting To Sue Obama Over Executive Action

BY ESTHER YU-HSI LEE/Think Progress

Hours before Congress broke for the August recess, House Republicans claimed that the President could use executive action to fix the border situation with unaccompanied children fleeing violence in the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. In a press statement released Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other House Republican leaders indicated that President Obama could address the crisis “without the need for congressional action,” a statement tinged with some irony given that just the day before, House Republicans had slammed the President with a lawsuit claiming executive overreach.
“This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws,” the House Republican leadership press release stated. “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”
Boehner made the statement even though the House still had time Thursday before it broke for the August recess to vote through a $659 million supplemental emergency bill to deal with the child arrivals at the border. The House could still potentially offer up a fix to the border situation when the GOP holds an emergency meeting on Friday morning. Still, Republican leaders are struggling to reach the necessary 218 vote threshold, with some calling on a vote for a separate measure that would defund a 2012 presidential initiative that grants temporary deportation reprieve and work authorization for some undocumented immigrants.
At odds with Boehner’s statement is a lawsuit that House Republicans hadauthorized Wednesday, which criticizes the President over claims that he had unlawfully overused executive orders. The lawsuit enumerates a number of areas in which they allege Obama had employed executive overreach, but they especially targeted the President for not fully implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Their lawsuit does not specifically mention immigration. Republicans often cite a 2012 executive order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a prime example of executive overreach.

Republicans have claimed that the DACA program was responsible for the surge of child arrivals at the southern border since the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year, as well as the reason why they could never pass immigration reform. It seems that the executive action that House Republican leaders have expressed the most interest in since last year has been to dismantle the DACA program, voting three times to dissolve the DACA program, an issue that researchers found has little to do with the current border crisis (eligible DACA applicants must have entered and continuously lived in the United States before June 2007).

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Male Justices Don’t Understand What Hobby Lobby Meant For Women

BY NICOLE FLATOW/Think progress
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that businesses get to decide whether their female employees should have access to contraception, five conservative mendisagreed with three women and Justice Stephen G. Breyer. This gender split could have been incidental, since the three women on the court were appointed by Democratic presidents. But it also signifies a deeper misunderstanding about the experience of women, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told Yahoo News’ Katie Couric in an interview this week.
“Do you believe that the five male justices truly understood the ramifications of their decision?” Couric asked Ginsburg this week. “I would have to say no,” Ginsburg replied. “But the justices continue to think and change so I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow.”
“Contraceptive protection is something every woman must have access to, to control her own destiny,” Ginsburg told Couric. The decision allowing an employer to refuse to cover those contraceptives “meant that women would have of that for themselves.”
She analogized the “blind spot” the justices had in this case to that in the 2007 ruling against plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter, a woman whose fair pay lawsuit was rejected by the court. She has framed on her wall the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, passed by Congress two years later to correct the Supreme Court ruling in which she dissented. It was the first piece of legislation signed by President Barack Obama.
Ginsburg said the passage of the law is one of her proudest achievements, because in her dissent to that case, “I said the ball is now in Congress’ court to correct the error into which the court has fallen. And Congress did it in record time.”
Lawmakers have already proposed the “Not My Bosses’ Business Act” since the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision in June. But Republicans in the Senateblocked the bill from moving forward.
In her interview with Couric, Ginsburg praised the U.S. tradition of dissents, noting that “many of those dissents are now unquestionably the law of the land,” pointing to Justice John M. Harlan’s dissent to the separate but equal ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson.
In her 35-page dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Ginsburg lambasted the majority for asserting that employers have religious rights that trump those of employees.
“I certainly respect the belief of the Hobby Lobby owners,” Ginsburg told Couric. “On the other hand, they have no constitutional right to foist that belief on the hundreds and hundreds of women who work for them who don’t share that belief. I had never seen the free exercise of religion clause interpreted in such a way.”
She explained how the law is supposed to work with an analogy she used in her dissent: A person has freedom to move his or her arms until it “hits the other fellow’s nose.” “It’s the same way with speech. Same way with religion. You can exercise your right freely until the point where it is affecting other people who don’t share your views.”
On the male justices’ future evolution, Ginsburg said she believes that “daughters can change the perception of their fathers.” She also believes that progress wins out over the course of history. Asked about the landmark Citizens United ruling that struck down limits on corporate political spending, Ginsburg said she believes her dissent in that case will also one day be the law of the land.
“That is my expectation,” she said. “I may not be around to see it but it will happen.”

Above the framed copy of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in her chambers, Ginsburg has a photograph of the signing of the act, given to her by President Obama with a personal message. “Happy birthday,” he wrote, “and thanks for helping to create a more equal and just society.”

Prominent Conservative Pundit Tells John Legend To ‘Shut Up And Play The Piano’

BY JUDD LEGUM/Think Progress
John Podhoretz, a former speech writer for Ronald Reagan with a regular column in the New York Post, told musician John Legend to “shut up and play the piano” in a tweet sent on Wednesday afternoon. Podhoretz was prompted by a tweet that Legend sent criticizing Israel’s treatment of Secretary of State John Kerry.
podhoretz
Podhoretz’s tweet was widely criticized for playing into racist stereotypes of African American entertainers.
Rather than apologize or address the controversy, Podhoretz apparently deleted his Twitter account. He was an extremely active user of the Twitter, sending almost 70,000 tweets and attracting over 34,000 followers.

Podhoretz is also the editor of Commentary, a conservative magazine, and a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

NY Times Misses Link Between Anti-Civil Rights Zealot And Right-Wing's "Dark Money ATM"

MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS/Media Matters For America:

The New York Times missed the opportunity to explore the close connection between Donors Trust, the right-wing's "Dark Money ATM," and the conservative activist behind high-profile Supreme Court cases that are successfully attacking decades-old civil rights precedent.
The Times recently ran a profile of Edward Blum, the director of the Project on Fair Representation, a non-profit group that solicits plaintiffs to challenge civil rights policy and law like affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act. The article reported that this self-described "one-man organization" receives funding from "conservative groups like the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Searle Freedom Trust." This support from some of the right-wing's biggest donors has allowed Blum to pursue high-profile cases that are challenging half a century of civil rights precedent.  
Blum was the driving force behind the failed attempt to overturn constitutional race-conscious admissions policies in the recent case of Abigail Fisher, a white student who sued the University of Texas after she wasdenied admission. Blum also organized the recent challenge to the Voting Rights Act, which successfully gutted a key provision of the Act that protects minority voters from racial discrimination at the polls. Blum is now rolling out new websites to troll for other rejected students in his attempt to once again provide the Supreme Court's conservative justices an opportunity to overturn case law that allows affirmative action.
But the Times provided an incomplete picture of Blum's access to deep-pocketed conservative groups by omitting the fact that Blum also has long-standing ties to the "donor-advised fund" Donors Trust. Mother Jonesrecently coined the "dark money ATM of the conservative movement" to refer to Donors Trust because of its history of raising and handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to libertarian and conservative groups, without disclosing the original sources. Although Blum's website explicitly noted the connection between the Project on Fair Representation and Donors Trust as recently as June 30 and September 9 of last year, he has scrubbed that information from the site, instead claiming to now be affiliated with "Project Liberty, Inc." This new sponsoring organization has the exact same contact information as Donors Trust, which Joan Biskupic of Reuters previously reported "fully financed" Blum's efforts to roll back civil rights law.
This is what Blum's website looked like in 2013, with explicit references to Donors Trust:
contact
And this is what it looked like on April 8, 2014, with references to Donors Trust replaced with Project Liberty:
Tax records from 2012 show that Project Liberty is a grantee many times over of Donors Trust. These same records also show that the Project on Fair Representation was spun off from Donors Trust to "a supporting organization during 2012."
According to the Conservative Transparency website, in 2012 alone Donors Trust donated over $1 million to Project Liberty, conveniently housed at the same address as Donors Trust. In fact, Donors Trust's website still lists the Project on Fair Representation as one of the "current special program funds" it administers, describedas "donor-initiated and donor-funded projects incubated by DonorsTrust and administered at the pleasure of its Board of Directors."
The spotlight of a Times profile could have clarified why this significant financial tie between Blum and Donors Trust is in the process of being buried.
In addition to the Bradley Foundation and the Searle Freedom Trust, Donors Trust's ability to "drape[ ] in secrecy" the right-wing money fueling the current attack on progressive law and policy has also attracteddonations from the Charles Koch-controlled Knowledge and Progress Fund, the Charles G. Koch Foundation, and the Adolph Coors Foundation -- money that has funded conservative groups like Blum's as well as think tanks like the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. As explained by a former top IRS official to the Center for Public Integrity: "Koch is among an exclusive pool of donors who have used Donors Trust as a 'pass-through,' says Marcus Owens, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, now in private legal practice. 'It obscures the source of the money. It becomes a grant from Donors Trust, not a grant from the Koch brothers.'"
Hopefully, now that the Times has once again turned to the peculiar story of Blum and the Project on Fair Representation, they will investigate his role in this obfuscation as well.

More evidence Obamacare is working

Nazi derangement from the fringe on the right

Many Obamacare Critics, Including Koch Brothers, Accepted Its Subsidies

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., renewed his criticisms of the Kochs this week. In a Senate chamber speech, Reid noted that Koch Industries benefited from a temporary provision of the health care law.
The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, Reid said, "helped the company pay health insurance costs for its retirees who are not covered by Medicare." Reid asked sarcastically: "So it's OK for Koch Industries to save money through Obamacare" even as Koch-related groups seek the law's repeal.
When Congress enacted the health care law in 2010, it appropriated $5 billion for the temporary reinsurance program. The goal was to subsidize employers' costs for workers who retire before they become eligible for Medicare. Hundreds of employers applied — many were corporations, cities and public universities — and virtually all the money was soon distributed.
"If the Affordable Care Act is so awful," Reid asked, "why did Koch Industries use it to their advantage?"
Federal records show that Koch Industries received $1.4 million in early retiree subsidies. That's considerably less than the sums many other employers received. A Koch Industries spokesman said he had no comment on Reid's latest criticisms.
The Koch consortium may be the loudest "Obamacare" critic among the subsidized employers. But many others accepted the subsidies while heavily backing GOP House and Senate candidates, most of who call for repealing the 2010 health care law.
For instance, United Parcel Service received $37 million from the program's subsidies for early retirees. From 1989 through this year, political action committees affiliated with UPS donated $32 million to federal candidates and political parties. Of that, 64 percent went to Republicans, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Union Pacific Railroad's employee health system received $9.7 million in subsidies. Republicans received more than two-thirds of the nearly $20 million in political donations from the railroad's PACs in the 25-year period tracked by the center.
Altria Client Services Inc. received nearly $11 million in the early retiree subsidies. And Republicans received 71 percent of the nearly $24 million in Altria-related political donations from 1989 to 2014.
One of the biggest subsidy recipients was AT&T, at $213 million. More than half of the $56 million in AT&T-related political donations went to Republicans during the 25-year period.
Spokesmen for AT&T and Altria declined to comment about accepting "Obamacare" subsidies while funding candidates who want to repeal the law.
Other companies that steer most of their political donations to Republicans, and the early-retiree subsidies they received, include: Pfizer Inc., $23 million; GlaxoSmithKline, $14 million; Southern Company Services, $7 million; Lockheed Martin Corp., $4 million; CSX Corp., $2.2 million; KPMG LLP, $1.4 million; and Deloitte LLP, $1.2 million.
The data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics omits much of this year's heavy political spending, because many major players are not required to report donations. The Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity is among those "super PACs" that can keep their finance details private, even as it dominates the airwaves in some states, like North Carolina, with competitive Senate races.
The Kochs and their allies show little sheepishness about denouncing a federal health law that benefited them. In fact, the Koch-related group FreedomPartners is spending more than $1 million on ads criticizing Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado and Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa, Democrats running in tight Senate races.
Their alleged wrongdoing? Accepting campaign donations from health companies that benefit from "Obamacare."

Attorney general mocks Louie Gohmert at hearing: ‘Good luck with your asparagus’

By Travis Gettys/Raw Story
Attorney General Eric Holder got the last laugh Tuesday when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) tried to outfox him.
The Tea Party lawmaker tried to lure Holder into a trap during a House Judiciary Committee with a series of questions on same-sex marriage.
The attorney general said he did not believe a person who held the personal belief that marriage was between a man and a woman had violated the civil rights of same sex couple.
“How about if they have a business and they believe that?” Gohmert said, and Holder acted confused and asked if he meant the business itself held that belief.
“If it’s a private business, and the owners of the private business believe marriage is between a man and a woman, are they violating a same-sex couple’s civil rights, in your opinion?” Gohmert said.
But Holder declined to take the bait, saying he did not wish to comment on a matter currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It is your opinion that matters on whether you tell attorneys general how to act in the states or how you approach businesses or individuals that have this biblical view that the president had when he was a senator in 2008, so I thought it was rather important,” Gohmert said.
The lawmaker tried to ask one more question, but his time expired and his adversary fired off a parting zinger as the chairman introduced the next speaker.
“Good luck with your asparagus,” Holder said, briefly stopping the proceedings.
When last the two tangled, Gohmert complained in colorful but baffling language that the attorney general had challenged his character.
“The attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus!” Gohmert said.
Watch the exchange posted online by Fox News:

Rachel Maddow: Wisconsin GOP senator hid alleged sexual misconduct by party ‘rising star’

By Arturo Garcia/Raw Story
While a Wisconsin Republican faces allegations of sexual misconduct, it is the way some of those allegations were kept secret by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) that is really rocking the state, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow says on her show Tuesday.
The alleged victim worked on Johnson’s staff when state Rep. Bill Kramer allegedly assaulted her in 2011. At the time, the woman declined to press charges, saying she did not want to cause “embarassment” to herself or the party. But she did inform both Johnson and his chief of staff, Tony Blando.
Maddow explained that the woman and her lawyer sent Kramer a letter warning him that if he was accused of similar behavior in the future, that she would alert the authorities. Kramer, who became majority leader in September 2013, was stripped of his powers after being accused of fondling and harassing two different women during a party fundraiser in Washington D.C. this past February.
“In the interim, he has risen steadily through the ranks of Wisconsin Republicans,” Maddow said. “He was elected majority leader for the Republicans. And in all that time, neither Senator Johnson nor his chief of staff apparently said ‘beep’ to anyone about this guy maybe being a bad choice he was for leadership.”
Johnson’s association with the alleged victim, Maddow said, came to light because of what she described as a shoddy attempt by authorities to redact the police report related to the incident with “magic marker.”
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Johnson’s office failed to inform either Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) or former speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R), who was serving in that position at the time of the alleged attack.
“She requested that Senator Johnson and Mr. Blando keep the matter confidential and take no further action,” Johnson’s office said in a statement. “Senator Johnson and Mr. Blando fully honored her request.”
Kramer has been charged with two counts of felony sexual assault following the alleged victim’s statement to the authorities. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.
“From the start of this story to the present of this story, it has never felt like this story was under control,” Maddow said. “And on Monday, it will go to court. But in Wisconsin politics, it is officially out of control entirely.”
Watch Madddow’s commentary, as aired on Tuesday, below.

Mitch McConnell Compares ‘Obsession’ With Closing Gender Pay Gap To Blowing ‘A Few Kisses’

BY REBECCA LEBER/Think Progress
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) honored Equal Pay Day — a day that symbolizes the amount of time it takes women to earn what men make in a year — by accusing Democrats and President Obama of a “never-ending political road show” that merely blows “a few kisses” to their voter base.
“Instead of focusing on jobs, he launched into another confusing attack on the left’s latest bizarre obsession,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “Just think about that. The percentage of Americans in the workforce is at an almost four-decade low, and Democrats chose to ignore serious job-creation ideas so they could blow a few kisses to their powerful pals on the left.”
McConnell argued the fact that women still earn 77 percent of what men make should take a backseat to more serious Republican priorities. These priorities typically include building Keystone XL pipeline and repealing Obamacare (which Republicans have attempted more than 50 times).
Leading up to Democrats’ latest push for equal pay, Republicans have claimed that the gender wage gap is a “myth” and that it is “condescending” to discuss. But the reality is that women still earn less even when they achieve the same education and job level, with gender discrimination accounting for as much as much as 40 percent of their pay gap.

In the past, McConnell’s voting record against women has not stopped him from taking credit anyway. He once touted the Violence Against Women Act to women voters, although he opposed it in both 1993 and 2012. McConnell has also opposed both the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. And the very health care law that McConnell wants to repeal prevents insurance companies from charging women more and ensures 

GOP Spokesperson Asked What Republicans Are Willing To Do To Close Gender Pay Gap, Comes Up Empty

BY IGOR VOLSKY/Think Progress
Pay equity MSNBC
A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee (RNC) was unable to explain how the GOP would address the pay disparity gap between men and women during an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday and instead repeatedly insisted that Democrats were misleading the public about the issue.
Kirsten Kukowski, the RNC’s National Press Secretary, dodged questions about the Republican Party’s solutions three different times. Instead, she reiterated that Republicans believe “people should be paid equal pay for equal work” but claimed that the Paycheck Fairness Act would tie down employers in regulations. Pressed for a solution, however, Kurkowski would only say that lawmakers should look to “best corporate practices” and allow for additional flex time. Watch it:
The Paycheck Fairness Act increases pay transparency by prohibiting employers from punishing workers who share their salary information and allowing employees to discuss their salaries without fear of losing their jobs. Under the Act, businesses must identify a legitimate business-related reason for maintaining a pay inequity and prove that there are no comparable alternatives that would not result in a pay disparity. The measure only applies to employees who are performing the same job with the same skill, responsibilities, and working conditions.
The GOP has responded to the Democrats’ push for pay equity by releasing a memo, of which Kukowski is listed as the primary author. The document seeks to dismiss concerns about equal pay by questioning the validity of the often-used statistic showing that women, on average, earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. “That number comes from the average earnings of women in all positions and contrasts it with the average earning of men in all positions,” the memo notes. “But women and men hold different jobs in different industries and varying levels of experience.”
But research has shown that the problem of pay equity goes beyond a single statistic. Women earn less than men in their very first year out of college — and in almost every job category tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women even earn less than men in the 20 most common occupations for full-time working women — including education, nursing, and social work — and in the highest paid fields.
Kukowski, along with other critics, also noted that using an average number would mean that the median pay for women in the White House “is 88 cents for every dollar a man makes.” The administration denies that it discriminates against women, noting that discrimination is not fully responsible for the wage gap. Instead, women are often steered away from high-level positions or have trouble starting a family given the lack of paid family leave and child care assistance programs. A recent study by economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn, however, found that while experience, occupation, and industry explain much of the gap, more than 40 percent could be the result of discrimination.
Ultimately, however, Republicans don’t seem too concerned about the pay equity problem. The GOP memo notes that the issue is simply a distraction from the health care law. “ObamaCare is deeply unpopular, and they don’t want to talk about how policy cancellations are hurting women, or about how women are losing access to the doctors of their choice, or about how it’s meant smaller paychecks for working women (and men),” it says.

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