ONTD Political

Go, Frothy, Go!

The Lost Party
The strangest primary season in memory reveals a GOP that’s tearing itself apart.

On a biting, brittle mid-February morning 30 miles north of Detroit, Rick Santorum plants his flag in a patch of turf as politically fertile as exists in these United States. For three decades, Macomb County, Michigan, has been both a bellwether and a battleground, as its fabled Reagan Democrats first abandoned the party of Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Mike Dukakis, then gradually drifted back in support of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Barack Obama. Today in ­Macomb, the action is as much on the Republican as the Democratic side, with the county GOP riven by a split between mainstream and tea-party cadres. And yet in demographic terms, Macomb remains Macomb: overwhelmingly white and mostly non-college-­educated, heavily Catholic and staunchly socially conservative, economically anti-globalist and culturally anti-swell.

All of which is to say that when Santorum takes the podium to address a Michigan Faith & Freedom Coalition rally in Shelby Charter Township, the 1,500 souls he sees before him are his kind of people—and soon enough he is speaking their language. To explain how America has always differed from other nations, Santorum invokes the Almighty: “We believe … we are children of a loving God.” To elucidate the evils of Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and cap-and-trade, he inveighs against liberal elites: “They want to control you, because like the kings of old, they believe they know better than you.” To highlight what’s at stake in 2012, he unfurls a grand (and entirely farkakte) historical flourish: “This decision will be starker than at any time since the election of 1860”—you know, the one featuring Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas on the eve of the Civil War.

But before the nation faces that decision, Michigan has its own to make: between him and Mitt Romney in the Republican primary that takes place on February 28. “Do you want somebody who can go up against Barack Obama, take him on on the big issues … or do you want someone who can just manage Washington a little bit better?” Santorum asks, as the audience rises cheering to its feet. “That’s your choice. What does Michigan have to say?”
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2012 or Never
Republicans are worried this election could be their last chance to stop history. This is fear talking. But not paranoia.

Of the various expressions of right-wing hysteria that have flowered over the past three years—goldbuggery, birtherism, death panels at home and imaginary apology tours by President Obama abroad—perhaps the strain that has taken deepest root within mainstream Republican circles is the terror that the achievements of the Obama administration may be irreversible, and that the time remaining to stop permanent nightfall is dwindling away.

“America is approaching a ‘tipping point’ beyond which the Nation will be unable to change course,” announces the dark, old-timey preamble to Paul Ryan’s “The Roadmap Plan,” a statement of fiscal principles that shaped the budget outline approved last spring by 98 percent of the House Republican caucus. Rick Santorum warns his audiences, “We are reaching a tipping point, folks, when those who pay are the minority and those who receive are the majority.” Even such a sober figure as Mitt Romney regularly says things like “We are only inches away from no longer being a free economy,” and that this election “could be our last chance.”

The Republican Party is in the grips of many fever dreams. But this is not one of them. To be sure, the apocalyptic ideological analysis—that “freedom” is incompatible with Clinton-era tax rates and Massachusetts-style health care—is pure crazy. But the panicked strategic analysis, and the sense of urgency it gives rise to, is actually quite sound. The modern GOP—the party of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes—is staring down its own demographic extinction. Right-wing warnings of impending tyranny express, in hyperbolic form, well-grounded dread: that conservative America will soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democratic coalition hostile to its outlook and interests. And this impending doom has colored the party’s frantic, fearful response to the Obama presidency.

The GOP has reason to be scared. Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before by journalist John Judis and political scientist Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Despite the fact that George W. Bush then occupied the White House, Judis and Teixeira argued that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a ­natural-majority coalition for Democrats.

The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.” Meanwhile, the Democrats had ­increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. As a whole, Judis and Teixeira noted, the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP. And the trends were even more striking in some key swing states. Judis and Teixeira highlighted Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, with skyrocketing Latino populations, and Virginia and North Carolina, with their influx of college-educated whites, as the most fertile grounds for the expanding Democratic base.

Obama’s victory carried out the blueprint. Campaign reporters cast the election as a triumph of Obama’s inspirational message and cutting-edge organization, but above all his sweeping win reflected simple demography. Every year, the nonwhite proportion of the electorate grows by about half a percentage point—meaning that in every presidential election, the minority share of the vote increases by 2 percent, a huge amount in a closely divided country. One measure of how thoroughly the electorate had changed by the time of Obama’s election was that, if college-­educated whites, working-class whites, and minorities had cast the same proportion of the votes in 1988 as they did in 2008, Michael Dukakis would have, just barely, won. By 2020—just eight years away—nonwhite voters should rise from a quarter of the 2008 electorate to one third. In 30 years, nonwhites will outnumber whites.
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Yvette Cooper 'deeply worried' by Army A&E medics plan

A proposal to bring in Army medics to cover a shortage of doctors is "deeply worrying", MP Yvette Cooper says.

The A&E unit in Pontefract, run by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, has been closed overnight since 1 November.

Ms Cooper, shadow home secretary and MP for Pontefract and Castleford, was backed by Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett, who said the trust should "get a grip".

The trust said the unit would reopen fully as soon as enough doctors could be recruited to staff it safely.

It said it had been advised by outside experts to seek help from the Army Medical Service, as Mid Staffordshire has already done, to provide a 24-hour service.

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Fuck this government. Fuck them right in the ear. So fucking angry right now about them and what they're trying to do to the NHS and the welfare system. And what pisses me off even more is that they're able to do it because of some of the groundwork was done by a previous administration who dared to call themselves Labour.
Government launches first-ever action plan to advance transgender equality

For the first time, the UK government has launched an action plan to tackle the inequalities facing transgender people in society.

Entitled “Advancing transgender equality: a plan for action” and released by the Home Office today, it promises tougher sentences for hate crimes, support for trans pupils in schools, and tailored recruitment advice for businesses.

Statistics show that 70 per cent of children who are uncertain about their gender suffer bullying, and 88 per cent of transgender employees experience discrimination or harassment in their workplace.

In September, the police reported a 14% rise in transphobic hate crime across the UK from 2009 to 2010.

The Home Office said the document is intended to create a framework for communities to work with the government to challenge and overcome persisting inequalities.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: “Too many transgender people still face prejudice at every stage of their lives, from playground bullying, to being overlooked for jobs or targeted for crime.

“I am proud to announce the first government strategy to tackle the specific barriers facing transgender people.

“Like everyone else, transgender people have the right to be accepted, to live their lives free of harassment, and to be free to achieve any ambition they choose.”

According to the action plan, the government will publish a “clear and concise guide for health practitioners”, including GPs and Primary Care Trusts, on the treatment and care available to trans people, and ensure greater consistency in commissioning gender identity services.

The document also commits the government to raising the starting point for the sentences of murders motivated by hostility towards a transgender person from 15 to 30 years.

Lynne Featherstone, who is also the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, added: “Today is an important step, but I recognise that government can only go so far. So we will be working with schools, businesses and communities so that together, we can drive change and help consign transphobia to the past.”

April Ashley, who in 1960 became the first Briton to undergo sex-change surgery, said: “I think there are so many support groups out there unlike when I did my transition 52 years ago when there was no help at all. Today’s announcement shows we are moving forward to breaking down barriers and educating people.”

Jay Stewart, co founder of Gendered Intelligence, which works to tackle transphobic bullying in schools and across communities, said: “The transgender action plan demonstrates a commitment across government to ensure fair treatment to transgender people. It’s fantastic news for our community. We must now work together to educate people about what it means to be transgendered.

“The plan came about through working with the trans community, and this includes young trans people. I am delighted that Gendered Intelligence has played its part and that the voices of our young people have also been heard.”

The full document can downloaded as a PDF from the Home Office website.

The action plan is only 20 pages with fairly large text, so I'd advise giving it a quick once over if you have a few minutes. Warning for Theresa May.

Free schools and academies must promote marriage

The importance of marriage is to be taught to every pupil at the Government's flagship free schools and academies.

The schools will be made to sign up to strict new rules introduced by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, setting out what pupils must learn about sex and relationships.

Headteachers will be told that children must be "protected from inappropriate teaching materials and learn the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and for bringing up children".

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Ministers have clashed with union chiefs over claims next week's public sector strikes could cost the UK £500m and lead to job losses.

Downing Street has stood by the claim, saying it is a "fact" that closed schools will stop many parents going to work, which has an impact on "output".

But unions have accused them of scaremongering and "fantasy economics".

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And here we go...


Willie Rennie became the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats after the party's dismal performance in this May's elections. He is a bit of a non-entity, but with the Lib Dems having hardly any MSPs they didn't have a big pool of people to choose from, and the membership seemed to think he was the best choice. Michael Moore, Lib Dem MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, said "His energy, integrity and commitment make him the right person to lead our party in Scotland. As an experienced politician and a veteran campaigner he is ideally placed to promote our values in the new Scottish Parliament and throughout Scotland too."

Well, it seems those Lib Dem values involve exploiting LGBT concerns to score political points, making wildly, knowingly inaccurate comparisons, and racist photoshop jobs!

Yes, that is Alex Salmond in the corner, photoshopped in to stereotypical arab dress and hugging a camel. 

Source: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Willie-Rennie

(Mods: I know the source is only WIllie Rennie's facebook page, but it's too late for this to have broken in any papers right now, but this will be a major row by the morning)
Lib Dems 'broker key health victory'

Liberal Democrats may win a key concession on the controversial Health and Social Bill before the legislation is passed, PoliticsHome has learned.

Sources have indicated that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, including key rebel Baroness Williams, have struck a deal which would allow Lib Dem peers currently opposed to the legislation to secure changes to the role of the Health Secretary. They are currently concerned that the Bill will mean the Secretary of State is not responsible for ensuring that patients across the country receive the same services and standards of care.

PoliticsHome understands that the responsibility of the Health Secretary to ensure the provision of health services could be re-written so that it allays fears that he could "wash his hands" of the NHS.

In advance of the Bill moving to committee stage in the House of Lords next Tuesday, peers from the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties, and crossbenchers have submitted amendments to the legislation that would change the Health Secretary's duties. The amendments may either be accepted or replicated to some degree by the Government.

Those sponsoring the changes include Baroness Williams, who has been a persistent critic of the reforms, and crossbenchers Lord Patel and Baroness Finlay.

A key amendment submitted by those three peers calls for the Secretary of State to "provide or secure the provision of services". Baroness Williams and Lord Patel also join Labour's Baroness Thornton and Lib Dem Lord Marks to oppose clause 4 in the Bill, which allows non-NHS providers autonomy when carrying out the functions they have been commissioned to do.

The clause, which the peers will oppose in the Bill committee, currently says the Secretary of State should ensure "that any other person exercising functions in relation to the health service of providing services for its purposes is free to exercise those functions or provide those services in the manner that it considers most appropriate".

A spokesperson for Baroness Williams said defining the role of the Secretary of State was one of the key areas for the peer. Labour sources said the party's peers would focus on the Secretary of State's duties as well as preventing regulator Monitor from exercising what they fear is a purely economic role.

Last week Baroness Williams abstained on a vote which would have committed parts of the legislation into a special committee within the Lords for additional scrutiny.


<3 Shirl the Pearl. I really distrust the coalition when it comes to the NHS and parts of this bill are rotten but people who say "the Liberal Democrats do nothing" should look at the things they do and see whether they'd prefer the Liberal Democrats just to shout from a sedentary position rather than trying - and often succeeding - to tug the crazy Tories off whatever scheme they think is good at the time. They can't do everything - but that doesn't mean they shouldn't do something.

The government's controversial NHS bill for England has cleared a crucial hurdle after peers rejected a proposal to send it for further scrutiny.

The House of Lords voted 330 to 262 against an amendment which would have referred parts of the bill to a special select committee.

Health Minister Earl Howe said it could be altered further to address concerns, but any hold-up could "prove fatal".

Peers have also rejected an amendment to block the bill altogether.

That amendment was put forward by Labour peer and former GP Lord Rea, who argued it was never a manifesto commitment by either the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats.

It was rejected by 354 votes to 220. The Health and Social Care Bill - which will now proceed to a normal committee stage in the Lords - would increase competition and put GP-led groups in control of buying care in their areas.

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West Midlands police question suspects over alleged plot to carry out act of terrorism

Counter-terrorism officers have arrested seven people, fearing they were in the "advanced stages" of planning a mass-casualty attack on the British mainland, the Guardian has learned.

The arrests were made in Birmingham, with six men arrested under counter-terrorism laws, and a woman arrested on suspicion of failing to disclose information.

Police say the plot, which they believe to be al-Qaida inspired, was thwarted after counter-terrorism officials received or developed intelligence about the men.

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There are police vans on my road and a daily mail journalist just asked my Dad if we knew the people that have been arrested. We didn't as they're a few houses up. It's very strange.


Delegates at the five-day event will vote on 15 policy motions on issues including welfare reform, adult social care, phone hacking and Lords reform.
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The prospect that gay and lesbian couples will no longer be denied the right to marry has come a step closer with the announcement that an official consultation on reforming the marriage laws will start in the spring.

The Home Office lifted the ban on gay and lesbian civil partnership ceremonies being held in religious places eight months ago but strong opposition from some religious groups had blocked any further reform.

The equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, said that the launch of a formal consultation in March 2012 would allow any necessary changes of legislation to be made this side of the 2015 general election.

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