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Fact-based, solutions-oriented, people-powered news for the 99%
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9 Strategies to End Corporate Rule

9 Strategies to End Corporate Rule | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

From YES! Magazine


Corporate power is behind the politics of climate denial, Wall Street bailouts, union busting, and media consolidation, to name just a few. And policies advocated by the 1 percent are bankrupting the middle class. But real people have power, too.


Here are some of their most successful strategies.


1. Amend the constitution to end corporate personhood.


2. Dive into grassroots campaigns.


3. Hold corporations accountable to our laws.


4. Get Past the Propaganda


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Tax System Is America’s Biggest Spender

Tax System Is America’s Biggest Spender | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers

Stevenson and Wolfers are professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

If you’re at all like us, chances are you’ll spend Tuesday evening finishing your taxes. As you search for every last deduction and credit, it’s worth asking: Does any of this make sense?Here’s a way to see through the fog. Instead of looking at all the breaks for mortgage interest, health care, retirement savings and so on as deductions, picture the government writing you a check for each item. This equivalence between tax deductions and government spending leads economists to call them “tax expenditures.” Reformers have hit on an even more pointed description: spending through the tax code.

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The result: Even as many areas of government spending have been cut to the bone, our tax code remains larded up with expenditures that cost taxpayers $1.3 trillion every year. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the biggest tax expenditures apply to employer-provided health insurance, pension contributions and mortgages.

...

Taken together, individual income tax expenditures are the equivalent of sending $686 each year to those in the bottom fifth of the income distribution, $3,175 to those in the middle fifth, and $30,714 to those in the upper fifth. The average member of the top 1 percent gets nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year -- a statistic that might have proved useful for the folks protesting in Zuccotti Park.

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Here’s our proposal: Let’s replace all tax expenditures with explicit subsidies -- that is, with actual federal payments -- so we can really see the costs and debate all spending programs on an equal footing. Doing so would help us answer crucial questions, such as whether we get more bang for our buck by subsidizing homeownership or by spending more on schools. [Read the entire article.]

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Top 10 Richest Countries Measured By GDP (Infographic)

Top 10 Richest Countries Measured By GDP (Infographic) | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
This infographic shows how big each of the ten financially largest coutries in the world would be if the size of the country was determined by its GDP.
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TODAY IS OFFSET THE BIG BANKS LOBBY DAY!

TODAY IS OFFSET THE BIG BANKS LOBBY DAY! | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

April 19th the Mortgage Bankers Association is having its lobby day in Washington DC. Don’t let them control our Democracy and take away our rights!

JOIN US ON OUR DAY OF ACTION! FIGHT THE BANKS!

THURSDAY APRIL 19, 2012

First Meeting @12:30PM:
Capitol South Metro Entrance

Second Meeting @ 4:00
Hyatt Regency 400 New Jersey Avenue, NW

For More information Contact: Nish Suvarnakar at (nish@commongoodcenter.org) or 202-505-3868

This event is sponsored by:
Occupy Our Homes DC
Campaign For Fair Settlement

[Facebook event page]

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U.S. Minimum Wage Lower Than in LBJ Era Needs A Raise

U.S. Minimum Wage Lower Than in LBJ Era Needs A Raise | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Bloomberg Editorial


Here’s an unhappy observation about the minimum wage: Congress last increased the rate in stages in 2006, topping it out at $7.25 an hour in 2009, or $15,080 a year.


That amount, when adjusted for inflation, is actually lower than what a minimum-wage worker earned in 1968 and is too meager to offer anyone the chance to climb out of poverty, let alone afford basic goods and services.


About 10 states are now considering raising the rate, and Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, is proposing to increase the federal rate in three increments to $9.80 an hour in 2014. Many of the initiatives under consideration would smartly tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, meaning that those workers’ wages would finally keep up with inflation.


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How Many Minimum Wage Hours Does It Take To Afford A Two-Bedroom Apartment In Your State?

How Many Minimum Wage Hours Does It Take To Afford A Two-Bedroom Apartment In Your State? | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
Ever wonder how people manage to get by on minimum wage? Oftentimes, they don't...
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House Republicans Would Thwart Romney Move to Center

House Republicans Would Thwart Romney Move to Center | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by JONATHAN WEISMAN and JENNIFER STEINHAUER, NY Times


If Mitt Romney is considering a quick pivot to the center as he heads into the general election, he will find an imposing impediment: fellow Republicans in the House.


As Congress was set to reconvene on Monday, House Republicans said Mr. Romney could go his own way on smaller issues that may help define him as separate from his Congressional Republican counterparts. But, they said, he must understand that they are driving the policy agenda for the party now.


“We’re not a cheerleading squad,” said Representative Jeff Landry, an outspoken freshman from Louisiana. “We’re the conductor. We’re supposed to drive the train.”


With Representative Paul D. Ryan’s budget plan, Republicans have already set the agenda on the key issue that divides the two parties in an age of austerity: how to manage the federal budget and its related entitlement programs. Mr. Romney has eagerly embraced it, campaigning with Mr. Ryan by his side and calling him “bold and brilliant.” [MORE]

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A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame

A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, NY Times


HERE’S a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands


An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.


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More Facts On the Unfair Tax Burden for LGBT Taxpayers

More Facts On the Unfair Tax Burden for LGBT Taxpayers | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Paul Guequierre, Human Rights Campaign


We’re another day closer to tax day. If you haven’t filed your tax returns yet, it’s time to get on it. As you get the forms ready, we’ll shed a little more light on the unfair tax burden LGBT taxpayers face. All week we’ve said the lack of marriage equality is the reason for the tax disparity. It is clear that repealing DOMA and making marriage equality a reality in all 50 states is the solution. The anti-equality leadership in Congress needs to hear from us.


To personalize our tax struggles, every day leading up to tax day we will also release a fact of the day on unfair taxation. We encourage you to use Facebook and Twitter to spread the message. Wednesday we told you an average retired same-sex couple will be denied more than $8,000 a year in Social Security survivor benefits upon the death of the higher-earning spouse after retirement. Yesterday we told you same-sex partners and spouses of Armed Forces members are denied military benefits that straight couples receive.


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TARP Bailout Money Fails To Reach Neediest Homeowners After Two Years

TARP Bailout Money Fails To Reach Neediest Homeowners After Two Years | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

The Hardest Hit Fund, a $7.6 billion initiative established by the federal government in February 2010 to help families in states most crippled by the collapsed housing market, has distributed just 3 percent of its money -- or $217.4 million -- to help homeowners, according to a report released Thursday by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, or SIGTARP.

 

"Look at the TARP money that goes out to the banks," said Special Inspector General Christy Romero in an interview with The Huffington Post. "That goes out in a matter of days. This has been two years and only 3 percent of these funds have trickled out to homeowners."

 

The Hardest Hit Fund has helped just slightly more than 30,000 homeowners, or 7 percent of the roughly 480,000 homeowners targeted for assistance by the end of 2017 when the program expires, according to the report. The program is funded by TARP, the 2008 legislation that has provided a $600 billion to bail out various banks and other companies in the wake of the nation's financial crisis.

 

"The Hardest Hit Fund is really struggling to get off the ground and it's a real concern about whether this money can get out to these homeowners," Romero said.

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New Web Series to Feature Inspirational Latinos in America

New Web Series to Feature Inspirational Latinos in America | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

INSPIRA is a web series hosted by Emanuel Pleitez and Gabriela Fresquez who are on a search to discover inspiring Latino leaders who are shaping their communities and influencing the economy across America. INSPIRA is important in today’s time to spotlight role models that can help inspire young Latinos to follow their passion and create a positive impact in their society. From the arts to politics, big business to non-profits, our viewers will be able to follow Emanuel and Gabriela as they immerse themselves into each leader’s life, learn more about what they do, and hear about the people and experiences that inspire them to be the person they are today.


Gabriela Fresquez (left) hopes to inspire young Latino/as who are feeling isolated, unmotivated or without direction. “We need to be reminded that our goals are attainable,” she said.

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Liberals and conservatives don’t just vote differently. They think differently.

Liberals and conservatives don’t just vote differently. They think differently. | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
OUTLOOK | Yes, politics is all in your head.


by CHRIS MOONEY, The Washington Post


...There’s now a large body of evidence showing that those who opt for the political left and those who opt for the political right tend to process information in divergent ways and to differ on any number of psychological traits.


Perhaps most important, liberals consistently score higher on a personality measure called “openness to experience,” one of the “Big Five” personality traits, which are easily assessed through standard questionnaires. That means liberals tend to be the kind of people who want to try new things, including new music, books, restaurants and vacation spots — and new ideas....


Conservatives, in contrast, tend to be less open — less exploratory, less in need of change — and more “conscientious,” a trait that indicates they appreciate order and structure in their lives. This gels nicely with the standard definition of conservatism as resistance to change — in the famous words of William F. Buckley Jr., a desire to stand “athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’ ”


[Read the entire article.]

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As Corporations (Who Need Customers) Flee Donor List, Shadowy Front Group Whines About Influence of Public Opinion

As Corporations (Who Need Customers) Flee Donor List, Shadowy Front Group Whines About Influence of Public Opinion | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by ZAID JILANI, Republic Report


As major corporations and foundations — Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s, Kraft, Intuit, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — have now left or have pledged to leave the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive corporate front group that works to pass legislation in all fifty states.  The corporations are leaving largely thanks to protests by activists and consumers outraged that ALEC has been pushing voter suppression and “Stand Your Ground” laws that harm American communities.


This morning, ALEC sent out a panicked press statement complaining of an “intimidation” campaign that is trying to “eliminate discourse”:


"ALEC is an organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and the vigorous exchange of ideas between the public and private sector to develop state based solutions. Today, we find ourselves the focus of a well-funded, expertly coordinated intimidation campaign."


____________

Well funded?  Hardly.  It's called public opinion, and it's been known to happen without corporate funding, believe it or not.  The exposure of ALEC's cynical profiteering/legislative agenda is proof that public opinion still matters. —Eric Byler


[READ full article by Zaid Jilani of Republic Report.]



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Fix income inequality with $10 million loans for everyone!

Fix income inequality with $10 million loans for everyone! | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

A modest proposal offered in good humor with a warning to the 1 percent.

by SHEILA BAIR, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

For several years now, the Fed has been making money available to the financial sector at near-zero interest rates. Big banks and hedge funds, among others, have taken this cheap money and invested it in securities with high yields. This type of profit-making, called the “carry trade,” has been enormously profitable for them.

So why not let everyone participate?

Under my plan, each American household could borrow $10 million from the Fed at zero interest. The more conservative among us can take that money and buy 10-year Treasury bonds. At the current 2 percent annual interest rate, we can pocket a nice $200,000 a year to live on. The more adventuresome can buy 10-year Greek debt at 21 percent, for an annual income of $2.1 million. Or if Greece is a little too risky for you, go with Portugal, at about 12 percent, or $1.2 million dollars a year. (No sense in getting greedy.)

...

Because we will be making money in basically the same way as hedge fund managers, we should have to pay only 15 percent in taxes, just like they do. And since we will be earning money through investments, not work, we won’t have to pay Social Security taxes or Medicare premiums. That means no more money will go into these programs, but so what? No one will need them anymore, with all the cash we’ll be raking in thanks to our cheap loans from the Fed. [MORE]

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‘Buffett Rule’ Showdown in US Senate: Policy or Politics?

‘Buffett Rule’ Showdown in US Senate: Policy or Politics? | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by HUMBERTO SANCHEZ, Roll Call

With a nod to the November elections, Senate Democrats on Monday began what they promised would be a recurring effort this year to boost taxes on millionaires to address what they argue is an unfair tax code.


“Today, the wealthiest 1 percent takes home the highest share of the nation’s income since the early ’20s, the roaring ’20s,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor. “But while their bank accounts have grown, their tax bills have become smaller. The wealthiest Americans pay the lowest tax rate in more than five decades.”


Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), head of the Senate Democrats’ policy and communications shop, said on a conference call with reporters that he believes Democrats have the upper hand in the debate.


“The GOP fears this debate because there is an emerging contrast in Congress,” Schumer said. “Republicans want to give even further tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, while we think the very wealthy should share in more sacrifice so the burden doesn’t fall on the middle class.” [MORE]

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Henry Paul Monaghan: A Conservative Law Professor On The Obvious Constitutionality Of Obamacare

Henry Paul Monaghan: A Conservative Law Professor On The Obvious Constitutionality Of Obamacare | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Henry Paul Monaghan, The New Republic


Monaghan is the Harlan Fiske Stone Professor of Constitutional Law at Columbia Law School.


The individual health mandate surely passes constitutional muster under settled judicial principles. The Constitution’s Commerce Clause grants Congress the authority “to regulate commerce ... among the several States.” The Court's precedents establish without question that Congress may regulate intrastate economic activities that Congress (not the Court) reasonably concludes have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. The existence of such congressional authority is especially clear when the challenged provision itself is part of a comprehensive legislative scheme that regulates interstate commerce.


Moreover, the market for health care is distinctive (if not entirely unique) in several key respects. Virtually all of us will need and obtain health care at some point, but we often cannot predict when or in what ways we will need it. And for the vast majority of us, direct payment for the health care services we obtain would be prohibitively expensive. Yet not obtaining needed medical care can be the difference between life and death.


[Read the entire article.]

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Romney walks into ‘secrecy’ attack

Romney walks into ‘secrecy’ attack | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by MARC A. THIESSEN, The Washington Post

Mitt Romney handed President Obama a political gift this weekend, when his campaign announced that he would not file his tax return on time. Romney made the announcement at 5 p.m. on Friday — the time politicians usually put out bad news they hope no one will notice. Team Obama noticed all right. The president took a break from the Summit of the Americas in Colombia to criticize Romney’s lack of transparency, while Obama campaign manager Jim Messina declared that it “begs the question — what does he have to hide?”

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Republicans need to ask themselves: Why does Romney seem to be going out of his way to help Obama raise such questions?  [MORE]

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Senate torpedoes 'Buffett Rule' - The Hill's On The Money

Senate torpedoes 'Buffett Rule' - The Hill's On The Money | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By Bernie Becke, The Hill


The Senate on Monday rejected a Democratic proposal intended to ensure millionaires pay a minimum tax rate.


In a mostly party-line 51-45 vote, Democrats fell short of the 60 votes they needed to move forward with a debate on the so-called "Buffett Rule" legislation, with all but one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), voting to oppose moving forward on the legislation.


Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) was the only Democrat to vote against the motion, though Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with Senate Democrats but missed Monday's vote, released a statement announcing his opposition to the Buffett Rule.


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The Stakes In The Buffett Rule Vote

The Stakes In The Buffett Rule Vote | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by ISAIAH J. POOL, Campaign for America's Future


The Senate is scheduled today to vote on Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's "Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012," which seeks to enshrine into law the "Buffett Rule" that millionaires and billionaires should not be paying taxes at a lower rate than the people who work for them.


The conservative attack was neatly wrapped up Sunday by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who called the Buffett Rule legislation "a shiny object" President Obama is using to distract people as he goes about "dividing and conquering."


It bears repeating what I said in a post last week responding to criticism that the Buffett Rule is not much more than symbolism that would, as Priebus claimed Sunday, would only pay for "11 hours of the federal government." This is not some symbolic "shiny object"; it's a reflection of a bedrock principle that is at the center of what direction the country will choose to get its fiscal and economic house in order. We can ask the financially strongest segment of the society to carry the most weight or we can, as Priebus and the Republican Party are pushing to do, allow the financially strongest to do even less and shift the weight of deficit reduction to those already bearing the burdens of lost wealth, stagnant wages and high unemployment.


That's the point that Institute for Policy Studies senior scholar Chuck Collins, a leading voice on the subject of income inequality and economic justice, makes in the above interview.


"In a way, the Buffett Rule fight is symbolic. It moves us in the right direction, but it doesn't raise as much revenue as it should. We would be better off if Congress just said income from work, and income from investments, capital gains and wealth, should be taxed at the same rate, whether you have high income or low income," Collins says in the interview. [MORE]

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Speaking of America with Don Manning

Speaking of America with Don Manning | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

In our first hour we will speak with Sarah van Gelder, co-founder and Editor of Yes! Magazine.


In the second hour we will hear from women across the US that are members of the "Unite Against the War on Women" movement. We will discuss among other things, the upcoming (April 28) national march.


The host and guests take your questions and comments live. Civil Discourse Lives on "Speaking of America" Monday evenings @ 8pm PST / 11pm EST.


Let's Talk About It! [HERE]


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Law Shrouds Details of Congressional Trips Abroad

Law Shrouds Details of Congressional Trips Abroad | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by JUSTIN ELLIOT, ProPublica

Members of Congress normally have to disclose where they travel overseas, whom they visit and how much the trip cost — but not under a little-known State Department program that keeps those details and others a secret.

“Official travel and travel sponsored by foreign governments, while not as troubling as lobbyist-sponsored travel, certainly should be subject to full transparency,” says Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at the watchdog group Public Citizen who helped draft the 2007 law tightening privately funded travel rules. [MORE]

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After Complaining About Being Silenced, ALEC Is Deleting Critical Comments From Facebook Page

After Complaining About Being Silenced, ALEC Is Deleting Critical Comments From Facebook Page | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by ZAID JILANI, Republic Report


Corporate front group ALEC – which lets big corporations write legislation and then pass it off to state legislatures to be enacted — is hurting. In recent days, six major corporations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have decided to stop funding the group, which has been engaged in pushing voter suppression and “Stand Your Ground” laws.


This has prompted ALEC to whine that it is being silenced by an “intimidation” campaign. (It used the word four times in a single short press release.) ALEC claims that by publicly urging companies to voluntarily leave the organization, critics are trying to “eliminate discourse.”


In an ironic move, ALEC is apparently deleting comments on its Facebook page that are critical of the corporate front group. Pinterest user Wagatwe isn’t putting up with this hypocrisy. Wagatwe has compiled a Pinterest page of comments that ALEC deleted from its page, such as, “How much are the Koch Brothers paying you for this tripe?” [MORE]

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White House Doors Open for Big Donors

White House Doors Open for Big Donors | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by MIKE McINTIRE and MICHAEL LUO, NY Times


Although Mr. Obama has made a point of not accepting contributions from registered lobbyists, a review of campaign donations and White House visitor logs shows that special interests have had little trouble making themselves heard. Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits.


More broadly, the review showed that those who donated the most to Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party since he started running for president were far more likely to visit the White House than others. Among donors who gave $30,000 or less, about 20 percent visited the White House, according to a New York Times analysis that matched names in the visitor logs with donor records. But among those who donated $100,000 or more, the figure rises to about 75 percent. Approximately two-thirds of the president’s top fund-raisers in the 2008 campaign visited the White House at least once, some of them numerous times. [MORE]

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Austerity is Breeding Radicalism in Europe Again

Austerity is Breeding Radicalism in Europe Again | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Walter Russell Mead's blog


As austerity bites, European politics is turning nasty, fast. The smart, cosmopolitan, enlightened Brussels elite and the well-groomed, well-bred moderate national political leaders have completely trashed Europe. The people are angry. Unfortunately, Europeans in the past have made incredibly stupid decisions when they are angry: Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler… the list goes on.

....


Bad things happen when European politics shifts drastically toward radical ideas. The European left and the European right can both turn ferociously ugly.


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Rosen vs. Romney: A faux girl fight

Rosen vs. Romney: A faux girl fight | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker begins with the obvious, "Rosen wasn’t attacking stay-at-home moms," and then takes it from there.


by KATHLEEN PARKER, The Washington Post


Oh, the elitist slander. How dare she! Being a full-time, stay-at-home mom is a job!

And off they went.


Stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) allegedly were insulted. Working mothers who allegedly envy SAHMs recoiled from the blinding truth of Rosen’s observation. Single moms with mouths to feed and no jobs allegedly were furious at the Romneys’ apparent cluelessness.


Regular folks, meanwhile, who know better than to argue about “women issues” when the political masses are engaged, somehow managed to get through another night without pondering whether the gender gap can ever be bridged.


For reasons that don’t interest me much, “girl fights” have always had a particular tug on our imaginations.Thus, when consultant/pundit/Democrat Hilary Rosen commented on CNN that Ann Romney had never held a job (and therefore was ill-suited to advise her husband on women’s employment concerns), the body politic convulsed in paroxysms of outrage. [MORE]

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