On April 17, 2007, the Supreme Court upheld a national ban on an abortion procedure known as intact dilation and extraction. Anti-abortion groups, which successfully branded it “partial-birth abortion,” had spent 15 years and more than a quarter-billion dollars getting Congress to pass the ban in 2003. The Court’s 2007 ruling was the movement’s greatest legal victory in decades, a significant step toward overturning Roe v. Wade. But not all abortion opponents were celebrating.
Tomorrow, President Obama arrives in Nevada to push another piece of his jobs plan: new federal rules allowing homeowners to refinance at lower interest rates. Unlike the rest of Obama's jobs plan, this provision doesn't require congressional approval. The program is estimated to save households $2,000 per year, freeing up money that Americans can spend. Given Republicans' refusal to pass the other pieces of the president's jobs plan thus far, aid to homeowners seems like a potential bright spot for the president. But, as a report from the Washington Post details this morning, the administration's efforts to help struggling homeowners since 2009 have failed; of the $50 billion the administration initially pledged to help homeowners, only $2.5 billion has been spent.
After Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, D.C., last year, Rachel Maddow convinced Stewart to sit down with her for over an hour to discuss politics and the media. She dedicated her entire show that night to the interview. I don't see how anyone could have come away from that interview thinking Maddow had not given serious thought to the state of the media today and her own role in it.
So you can imagine my astonishment when The New Republic listed Maddow on their list of Washington's 10 "over-rated thinkers." But sure enough, alongside Newt Gingrich and Ayn Rand, there she was:
The House of Representatives is right now taking up H.R. 358, the Protect Life Act -- a bill proposed by anti-abortion stalwart Representative Joe Pitts, a Republican from Pennsylvania, that would allow hospitals to refuse to perform an abortion, even when the life of the mother is at stake. Currently, hospitals that generally do not perform abortions (but are required to if the mother's life is at stake) are still required to help transfer a woman who needs one to a hospital that will provide it. But the Protect Life Act waves that requirement as well. There are over 600 federally funded Catholic Hospitals in the country run by Catholic Bishops and whose bishops make final decisions about care in hospitals under their jurisdiction.
We're entering week three of demonstrations from Occupy Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, intended to protest the abuses of the financial sector. After being mocked as a silly, purposeless movement, the group has in the past few days garnered the support of labor unions, giving it a boost of legitimacy. Even a reluctant media paid them some attention this weekend when New York City police arrested 700 protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge. The trick is to turn these events into a movement. As many have noted, currently the protests don't seem to have a concrete goal or agenda in mind. Of course, getting really specific about policy—a financial transactions tax, for example—probably won't win the widespread support the group needs.