The last two days I've been travelling through LAX and have had access to the LA Times, my favorite American newspaper. And I've read yesterdays and todays, cover to cover, with my collective 7 hours of layover time in LAX and Santa Barbara (yes... Santa Barbara) airports. And I've got lots of things I'm fired up about. Here are just a few:
- JOBS BILL! As reported in the LA Times, Scott Brown (R-MA), the oft-though-not-always-clothed new Senator in the Lion's Seat, voted along with Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME); Susan Collins (R-ME); Christopher Bond (R-MO); and George Voinovich (R-OH) for President Obama's jobs bill, which passed 62-30 over GOP attempts to muster a filibuster. Really, Republicans? Filibustering a JOBS bill? The Filibuster is meant to be a tool of last resort to protect the Union in cases of grave crisis. In a week that saw the publication of stories about how it may take at least one decade for the jobs lost in the last three years to come back, you are using this tool of last resort to prevent a law that: waives the 6.2% Social Security Tax for the year for new hires, in an attempt to spur, you know, HIRING; reauthorizes the Highway Trust Fund that uses gas taxes to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure; allows businesses to write off equipment as an expense all at once, now, instead of allowing it to depreciate over time; and expands a bonds program that will fund schools and energy projects. So let's review - reduce taxes (which Republicans should be able to get behind) and have giveaways to businesses (which Republicans should be able to get behind) and they threaten to FILIBUSTER! It's simply outrageous. And equally outrageous, and sickening, is that Harry Reid and other Senator Democrats (D-NV) are crowing and "ebullient" (which is a word you don't get to see often in print, and even less when it's connected to Senator Harry Reid). This bill is one TENTH the size of the Jobs Bill that the House passed. This bill creates 350,000 jobs, according to the CBO, but we've lost 8 million jobs! This is a drop in the bucket, and it was this hard to get? Stop rolling over! Change Senate rules to abolish the Filibuster, or make it 55 votes to get cloture, and get something done! But at least we got a jobs bill. And I was in Flint, Michigan last week. I'd say we need it.
- Keep the Faith - It might not seem like it, but at least one study is reporting that youth are less religious. An LA Times article reported the results of a recent Pew Charitable Trust study showing that Milennials are by far the least religious of any American generation. Ever. They still believe in some sort of higher power, and they still pray, but they are generally unfreighted with all of the knowledge dulling, democracy eroding, fear enabling attachment to organized religion that previous generations endured. Like so much else in American life, however, there is a polarization, with moderate religious organizations (i.e., ones that don't think every contradictory word in the Bible is to be taken literally) losing ground and Evangelical religious groups gaining ground. Great. Like we didn't have enough polarization (and concomitant ossification) in the Senate, now the kids are going to be moving to the ends on religion, too. But the fewer are religiously affiliated now, the better that augurs for rational public policy in a host of areas moving forward.
- What century is it? You might remember reading about a case from Recife, Brazil, last March, in which a nine-year-old girl in Brazil was raped by her stepfather. She got pregnant, with twins. She was nine, remember. Had she carried to term, she would have died, so doctors aborted the twin fetuses to save her life. The local Catholic bishop church excommunicated the doctor, the medical support team, and the girl's mother. The girl was not excommunicated because "The Church is benevolent when it comes to minors," and it need not be said that the rapist step-father was not excommunicated. C'mon, he's a dude, and he only raped his step-daughter, which is less grave than obtaining, performing, or assisting an abortion. Why is this back in the news? Because the chief Vatican bioethicist, Msgr. Renato Fisichella, has been recorded as saying that the doctor and the medical team don't deserve excommunication - they were trying to save the girl's life, after all. And there have been calls for his resignation for such outrageous remarks, which he has so far side-stepped. Story here.
- Wait, what? Oh, yeah, I forgot to nap! Researchers have conducted a study that would seem to indicate that not only do we feel better after napping, that our blood pressure drops and our long term risk of heart attack is lowered, but napping can help memory and new learning. As reported in, yup, the LA Times. Story here.
Thanks for bearing with the slower winter months on Bren's Left Coast - more soon!