Powell Asks Romney To Be More ‘Mature’ And Realistic When Talking Foreign Policy
C’mon, People, it’s 2012This morning on MSNBC, former Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team for being “quite far to the right.” Romney has been “catching a lot of heck from the more regular GOP foreign affairs community. We’re kind of taken aback by it,” Powell said.
Later on the same network, the retried four-star U.S. Army general, referring to Romney’s claim that Russia is America’s “number one geopolitical foe,” had some advice for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee — cut out the hyperbole when talking about foreign policy:
POWELL: I think he really needs to not just accept these cataclysmic sort of pronouncements. I think he really needs to think carefully about these statements because they’re now on the wall for people to see. … Let’s not go creating enemies where none yet exist. Does this mean that we should trust Putin or Medvedev? No. Let’s be mature people and look at the reality of the situation and not find ways to see if we can hyperbolize the situation.
Host Andrea Mitchell noted that Romney is attacking President Obama on his Iran policy, saying he’s “showing weakness.”
“Well I don’t know what Mr. Romney would prefer to do,” Powell said, “The fact of the matter is we need a negotiated solution and the only way you can get a negotiated solution is to talk to the other side.” Watch the clip:
Vice President Biden also recently chastised Romney for his militaristic rhetoric. “[L]oose talk about a war has incredibly negative consequences in our efforts to end Iran’s nuclear quest,” he said, adding that if war with Iran is “what governor Romney means by a ‘very different policy’ then he should tell the American people.”
And if Powell doesn’t know “what Mr. Romney would prefer to do” on Iran, as he said today on MSNBC, neither does anyone else. Romney has no real policy on Iran that differs much from the current administration’s approach. The New York Times reported recently that “when pressed on how, exactly, his strategy would differ from Mr. Obama’s, Mr. Romney had a hard time responding.”
Man says Ore. psychiatrist told him he wasn't gay
Max Hirsh says he sensed something wasn't quite right when the psychiatrist focused on his failures with sports and teenage girls, as well as his deficient relationships with older men, particularly his father.
Hirsh became convinced of the psychiatrist's rationale for those questions by the fourth session, when he essentially told the openly gay Hirsh that his true sexuality was in the closet.
"But you're heterosexual," Hirsh recalls the psychiatrist telling him.
Hirsh insisted he was gay; the psychiatrist wasn't buying it.
"He said 'No,' like he had some extra information about my sexuality that I didn't," Hirsh said.
Hirsh, 22, contends the Oregon psychiatrist was practicing "conversion therapy" to change his sexual orientation. His experience is the subject of an ethics complaint filed this month by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which plans to take the same action in other states as part of a national campaign to stop therapists from trying to make gay people straight.
The complaint sent to the American Psychological Association and the Oregon Psychiatric Association arrived in what has become something of a watershed month for opponents of the form of psychotherapy. California legislators advanced a bill to the state senate that would ban children younger than 18 from receiving conversion therapy. And Dr. Robert Spitzer, a prominent retired psychiatrist, apologized to the gay community last week for a "fatal flaw" in his influential 2001 study that found conversion therapy to be a successful option for some people.
Hirsh's experience with the psychiatrist, who he was seeing because he was depressed, could not be independently verified. The Southern Poverty Law Center blacked out the doctor's name in a copy of the complaint supplied to journalists, and Hirsh and his lawyer would not identify the doctor. Christine Sun, the law center's deputy legal director, said the psychological associations require confidentiality when investigating complaints.
The American Psychological Association, in a 2009 resolution, said mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight because there is no solid proof that such a change is likely. The law center wants its anti-conversion effort to spur tougher restrictions and, down the road, more legislative action, such as what's occurring in California.
"Our immediate goal is for the APA to take these allegations seriously and ultimately ban conversion therapy by its members," Sun said.
Supporters of what is called reparative therapy contend the overwhelming majority of gay people are not born that way, and those who want to change should not be denied access to qualified professionals.
David Pickup, a Los Angeles-area counselor who specializes in reparative therapy, said he has helped many clients "maximize their heterosexual potential," when they have come to him because they believe there is a cause-and-effect reason, such as sexual abuse, for their same-sex attraction.
"It's a very tough, very emotional journey," he said.
Hirsh, in an interview from Eugene, where he studies physics and psychology at the University of Oregon, said he started seeing the psychiatrist while living in Portland in February 2011. He suffered from depression and wanted to improve his romantic relationships with men. Instead, the psychiatrist focused on potential reasons for the young man's same-sex attractions, and suggested Hirsh improve his relationship with his father, seek platonic friendships with male mentors and engage in team sports and other masculine pursuits.
The complaint specifies four alleged violations of medical ethics, including failing to provide treatment with informed consent.
Hirsh, who came out as gay at age 19, said he did not request a cure for his same-sex attraction and the psychiatrist did not advertise his use of conversion therapy.
In this aspect of the complaint, the law center has an unlikely ally in the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which supports reparative therapy.
David Pruden of Salt Lake City, the group's vice president of operations, said in an e-mail exchange that the therapy is ineffective if the patient does not want to change and it's "always unethical" for a mental health professional to attempt it without consent.
Frustrated with the psychiatrist's approach, Hirsh stopped his weekly sessions after six visits. He returned, however, because he was under pressure from his parents to see a therapist and the doctor called to reassure him he was OK with Hirsh being gay.
Hirsh said the psychiatrist abandoned the conversion-type talk for a string of sessions, but gradually reintroduced the same themes.
"It was clear that he wasn't actually, in any way, helping with my depression. I was feeling worse," he said.
Hirsh said he asked the psychiatrist for his thoughts on conversion therapy in August, during what proved to be their final session. The psychiatrist, according to Hirsh, acknowledged studying under a gay-conversion psychoanalyst during his residency. He explained that he didn't think he could personally change someone's sexuality, but felt concerns about the therapy were overblown.
"He said he expected conversion to become more popular in the future as the country becomes more conservative," Hirsh said.
Fox's Tammy Bruce Says She's "Been Told" She'll "Never" Guest Host For O'Reilly Because She's Gay
Let’s See How This Plays OutLongtime Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce tweeted yesterday that she's been told she'll never guest host The O'Reilly Factor because she's gay. Bruce did not specify whether she had received that message from the network's personnel, but replied favorably to a fan who responded to her tweet by criticizing the network.
Bruce is a conservative radio show host who regularly appears on The O'Reilly Factor with host Bill O'Reilly. According to Nexis, Bruce most recently appeared on the program's April 6 broadcast with guest host Juan Williams.
Bruce is openly gay, a fact she's noted on The O'Reilly Factor. A biography posted on WMAL, which carried her radio show (the program now streams "exclusively at TalkStreamLive"), states that when her radio show "debuted in Los Angeles in 1993, she was the first openly gay woman in the country to host a show on a mainstream talk radio station."
Bruce's comments came in response to a follower who told her she needs "to fill in for O'Reilly sometime." Bruce replied: "I'd love to fill in for O'Reilly, but I've been told it will never happen because I'm gay. Go figure..."
Several followers responded to Bruce's tweet with criticism of Fox. One follower tweeted: "Tammy, so sorry to hear that! You've always been an intelligent and thoughtful commentator. Bad on Fox " Bruce replied: "Thanks @gutsy9 I appreciate the support "
Messages to Bruce seeking clarification and comment were not returned. Fox News also did not return a request for comment by posting time.
Dems Escalate Battle For Women Voters With Equal Pay Bill
Ha!Senate Democrats are advancing legislation to beef up equal pay protections for women, the latest salvo in the election-year battle for women voters.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is set to file cloture Thursday on the Paycheck Protection Act, which would strengthen protections for women who sue for pay discrimination. The move puts Republicans in an uncomfortable position as they work to repair their weak brand image with women voters ahead of the November election.
Five female Democratic senators talked up the bill Wednesday afternoon during a Capitol briefing — and made clear they intend to hammer Republicans as anti-women if they stand in its way.
“As I look at the record of Republicans on women, it is not good,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). “Personally I say it’s a war on women, and the more they protest it the more I say it. Because I really, truly believe it. They filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act before. They left millions of women out of the Violence Against Women Act. They launched repeated attacks on women’s health including denying affordable access to birth control. They want to criminalize a woman’s right to choose. And they tried to repeal health reform, which prohibits discrimination because of gender — not to mention, makes investments in prevention.”
The legislation, spearheaded by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), aims to build on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act by protecting women from retaliation if they sue for equal pay. It would also narrow the criteria under which an employer can defend pay disparities and enlist the Department of Labor to help eliminate gender-based pay gaps.
Beneath the effort is an ongoing debate as to why, as Census data shows, women earn 77 cents for every dollar men make. Progressives say it’s a product of institutional discrimination while conservatives chalk it up to differences in career choices. Studies suggest that women are likely to earn less than men across professions, although part of the overall gap is caused by career decisions and the fact that women tend to take more time off for children.
“The Paycheck Fairness Act isn’t just about women, and it’s not just about fairness. It is about the economy,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a member of the Democratic leadership. “When women are not paid what they deserve, middle class families and communities pay the price.”
Republican aides declined to comment for this article. The GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act bill in November 2010, when Senate Democrats were unable to overcome a unanimous Republican filibuster. Senate GOP women who had voted for Lily Ledbetter argued at the time that the PFA would expose small businesses to excessive lawsuits and impose new costs and restrictions in a tough economic climate.
This time, however, the Democrats’ large advantage with women voters makes it riskier for Republicans to stand in the way of the bill. Whatever their rationale, Democrats will tar them with a frequent refrain that has frustrated the GOP and its presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“They say they didn’t launch a war on women,” Boxer said Wednesday, “so we’re giving them a chance to walk this back.”
Protesters Mock Arizona Congressman’s DC Abortion Ban, Ask ‘Mayor Franks’ To Fix Pot Holes
Has this worked out well for any legislature that’s tried it?A week after Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) held Congressional hearings on a bill that would prevent doctors in D.C. from performing abortions after 20 weeks, protesters descended on the Arizona Congressman’s office — who represents a district 2,300 miles and two time zones away from the nation’s capital — to ask “Mayor Franks” to fix pressing local concerns like pot holes, broken street lights and traffic lights:
One by one, about 50 protesters knocked on the door of Franks’ office, and then spoke a few words about a problem in the city that they think “Mayor Franks” should address if he’s going to be writing laws that affect D.C. residents.
“My issue today is Metro — full funding for Metro,” said Jon Ozment, a 56-year-old D.C. resident. “As a constituent here, I use Metro all the time, my children use it, and it’s really disgraceful the condition they’ve allowed Metro to get to.”
“I have to say I’m very disappointed today,” he added. “I really wanted to meet my representative, Mr. Franks. He’s supposed to be representing us and I did take some time to come in here today, so I hope he takes these concerns into account.”
During the subcommittee hearing last week, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) criticized Franks for blocking Del. Eleanor Norton (D) — D.C.’s only congressional representative — from testifying against the measure. The ban itself is based on the contested theory that a fetus can feel pain 20 weeks after gestation and mirrors prohibitions in seven states.
Wednesday’s protest was organized by Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington DC and DC Vote.
Pennsylvania Legislature Will Consider Defunding Planned Parenthood
Sure, People want Pell Money to go to banks…A bill to defund Planned Parenthood will be introduced in the Pennsylvania state legislature this week.
The bill, like similar efforts in Texas and Arizona, will put the women’s health provider at the end of the list for any federal funding, according to the Huffington Post. But it isn’t even written by the Pennsylvania state legislature. Rather, the bill is an effort by the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List:
[State Rep. Daryl] Metcalfe’s bill, the Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act, would put health care providers that offer abortion services at the bottom of the priority list for state funding. The anti-abortion activist group Susan B. Anthony List wrote the bill, which closely resembles the one Arizona lawmakers used to defund Planned Parenthood earlier this year.
Planned Parenthood clinics receive a substantial percentage of their money through state and federal government funding streams, including Medicaid and Titles V, X and XX. The clinics use the funds to offer breast cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, pap smears, maternity care and other medical services for low-income and uninsured patients.
Federal funding cannot be used for abortion services at Planned Parenthood. However, that funding is used for vital well woman care, particularly for low-income women, and women who live in rural areas and have few health care options.
Romney’s Higher Education Plan: A Giveaway To The Wall Street Banks And Predatory Schools That Fund His Campaign
Maybe they should conduct the purge with a little oversight…2012 presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney released his higher education plan Wednesday, decrying the nation’s “education crisis.” During a speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Romney blamed President Obama for rising tuition prices and increasing student debt.
Of course, tuition increases and growing debt are a phenomenon several decades in the making. And Romney’s plan would make the problem decidedly worse in two important ways, giving federal money away to Wall Street banks and predatory for-profit colleges, two industries to which Romney has extensive ties.
First, as he’s promised before, Romney intends to divert money away from student aid — instead giving it away to banks — by repealing Obama’s student loan reforms:
Reverse President Obama’s nationalization of the student loan market and welcome private sector participation in providing information, financing, and the education itself.
President Obama did not nationalize the student loan market. (Plenty of banks still make private sector student loans.) Instead, Obama and the Democrats cut private banks out of the federal student loan program, ending billions in subsidies that were needlessly going to banks for acting as loan middlemen. The money saved went into the Pell Grant program. Romney’s plan would entail taking away Pell money in order to pay Wall Street to service federal loans.
Second, Romney would remove regulations meant to protect students from predatory for-profit colleges:
Ill-advised regulation imposed by the Obama administration, such as the so-called “Gainful Employment” rule, has made it even harder for some providers to operate, while distorting their incentives.
This rule simply states that colleges leaving too many students crippled with debt and without good jobs lose their access to federal dollars. Many for-profit schools make nearly all of their revenue from the federal government — in the form of the various streams of aid used by their students — yet have much high rates of student loan default than public schools. Only 11 percent of higher education students in the country attend for-profit schools, but they account for 26 percent of federal student loans and 44 percent of student loan defaults.
Romney is already intimately tied to the for-profit college industry. Inside Higher Ed noted that two of his advisers “have lobbied on behalf of the Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix.” On the campaign trail, Romney has effusively praised Full Sail University, a for-profit institution. And it seems that his policy platform would be a boon to this industry which is, in many instances, extremely predatory.
EXCLUSIVE: Florida Congressman Demands Gov. Rick Scott ‘Immediately Suspend’ Voter Purge
Florida Congressman Ted Deutch (D) told ThinkProgress today that Gov. Rick Scott was engaging in a “blatant attempt to supress voter turnout.” Scott is currently involved in a massive effort to purge up to 180,000 from the voting rolls. The list, purportedly of non-citizens, has proven unreliable. Earlier this week, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, a Republican, posted a picture on Twitter of a voter on the list falsely identified as ineligible, with his passport.
Congressman Deutch said that his office has heard from several constituents who have recieved a voting ineligibility letter in error. In light of these errors, Deutch will soon send a letter to Scott demanding the purge be immediatly suspended. An excerpt:
It is out of grave concern that we write to ask for the immediate suspension of the Florida Division of Elections’ directive that county supervisors of elections purge up to 180,000 names from Florida’s voter rolls in advance of the November 2012 elections.
While we all agree that the right to vote should be reserved only to those who are eligible, any process that could strip Floridians of their voting rights should be conducted with the utmost caution and transparency, and certainly not within six months of a major federal election and within 90 days of the primary. Providing a list of names with questionable validity – created with absolutely no oversight – to county supervisors and asking that they purge their rolls will create chaotic results and further undermine Floridians’ confidence in the integrity of our elections. A rushed process will undermine both Florida and federal law requiring voter rolls to be maintained in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner.
The letter was circulated to the entire Florida Congressional delegation and Deutch expects several of his colleagues to sign on. Deutch noted that while Florida has “no history of mass voter fraud” it does have a history of “mass voter disenfranchisement” that proceeded the presidential election in 2000.
In 1998, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris hired a private company to create a “scrub list” of duplicate registrations, deceased voters and felons prohibited from voting in Florida. The company’s list, however, was riddled with errors. One person flagged as a felon by the list was actually a Florida judge. A county elections supervisor discovered the list was unreliable when she received an erroneous letter informing her that she was a felon and could not vote. By one estimate, 7000 Florida voters were wrongfully removed from the voter rolls for the 2000 presidential election — 13 times George W. Bush’s margin of victory in that state after the Supreme Court halted the post-election recount.
Deutch said that, in this election, “Governor Scott wants to play the role of Katherine Harris.”
African-Americans made up 88 percent of the voters removed from the rolls in the purge that preceeded the 2000 election, even though they account for only about 11 percent of Florida voters. In Florida, 93 percent of black voters cast a ballot for Al Gore.