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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Abortion

The upside to being 'poor' in America

Michelle Obama at a DC soup kitchen poses for a photo for a customer 3-06-09

The Census Bureau has released disturbing new numbers, showing the population of poor Americans at 46.2 million, or 15.1% of the population last year. That's the highest rate in 17 years and the largest number in 52 years.

The Census Bureau defines 2010 poverty as $22,314 for a U.S. family of four. Median household income remains just under $50,000.

The disappointing poverty information was widely disseminated and attributed by media to high unemployment nationally (above 9% for 25 of the last 27 months) and to the economy, which has remained stagnant despite nearly $1 trillion of government stimulus spending by the Obama-Biden administration.

Less noticed Tuesday, however, was the release of another non-government report on U.S. poverty, this one by the Heritage Foundation. It paints a dramatically different portrait of poverty in America than the popular conception of stark deprivation -- hungry people wearing rags and living in cars or boxes.

Using the same Census Bureau data, Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield looked into the actual living conditions of America's official poor.

And here are some of the startling steretype-shattering things they discovered:

During the year 4% of the poor became temporarily homeless. Forty percent live in apartments, less than 10% in mobile homes or trailers and about 50% live in standard one-family homes. In fact, 42% own their own home.

The vast majority are in good repair, with more living space per person than the average non-poor person in Britain, France or Sweden.

Ninety-six percent of poor parents say their children were never hungry during the year due to an inability to afford food.

Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning and 92% have a microwave.

One-third of poor households have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV, 70% have a VCR and two-thirds have satellite/cable TV, the same proportion as own at least one DVD player.

Half of the povery households have a personal computer and one-in-seven have two or more.

And half of those with children have a video game system like Xbox.

Almost 75% have a car or truck and nearly a third have two.

Other than that, being poor in America is just like you thought.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press (A Washington soup kitchen client photographs Michelle Obama with his cellphone).

Michele Bachmann signs anti-gay pact that says times were better for black kids during slavery

Michele Bachmann signs anti-gay pact that says times were better for black kids during slavery

Michele Bachmann signed a controversial pact Thursday that is anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-pornography, and floats the curious notion that African American children were better off during slavery than they are under the Obama administration.

The pledge was drawn up by Bob Vander Plaats, a man who ran for governor of Iowa in 2010 and lost in the Republican primary despite the benefit of an endorsement from Internet legend Chuck Norris. Vander Plaats also sought the high office in Iowa in 2002 and 2006 (as Jim Nussle's running mate) but voters gave him the thumbs down.

Somehow he fancies himself a kingmaker and is hoping that other GOP politicians, desperate to appear so-conservative-it-hurts will sign his pledge [.pdf] titled "The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMILY."

The manifesto is ripe with anti-gay paranoia written by the man who once said, "If we’re teaching the kids, 'don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,' the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle."

But the strangest nugget in the pact that the Republican congresswoman from Minnesota signed was one that hearkens back to the good old days when slavery was legal, meaning that black kids had the priceless benefit of having a traditional home.

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Mitt Romney 'doesn't know who he is,' claims Harry Reid

Harry Reid

Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper who "doesn't know who he is," Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday in Washington. 

“He was for gay marriage when he was governor. Now he’s against it. He was for abortion when he was governor. Now he’s against it. Healthcare — we modeled our bill to a large degree [on] what he did in Massachusetts. Now he’s trying to run from that. If someone doesn’t know who they are, they shouldn’t be president of the United States,” the Senate majority leader said to reporters.

"The front-runner in the Republican stakes now — here’s a man who doesn’t know who he is." 

Conservatives already may have gotten the message. According to a new Zogby poll of probable Republican voters, 24% of those polled favor Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann over the rest of the pack. Romney and businessman Herman Cain were tied for second with 15%.

Reid went on to say that he would "favor" fellow Mormon and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who today threw his hat in the ring, over Romney, who is also a Mormon.

According to the Associated Press, Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, said the campaign isn’t seeking Reid’s backing and wouldn’t accept it if it were offered.

Ouch. It's the first day of summer and things are already getting hot under the collar.

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-- Tony Pierce
twitter.com/busblog

Photo: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Ron Paul tries to convince Iowa that he's mainstream

Ron Paul

Ron Paul, the conservative Texas congressman who believes the Commerce Department should be abolished along with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, personal income tax and the IRS, told a crowd of Iowans that he is their mainstream candidate.

"We are mainstream if you believe in the things that I believe in," Paul said Tuesday in a banquet room at the Rose Bowl Lanes in Mason City, Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports. His beliefs are that the government should be small and responsible, and personal freedoms should prevail.

"Why shouldn't it be mainstream to have balanced budgets and sound money and limited government, personal liberty, keep the federal government out of the business of the state government here in Iowa?" Paul asked the crowd. "That, to me, seems to be mainstream."

Big government, Paul said, "is a very subtle, if not direct, attack on the way we live."

One area that Paul feels that government should restrict personal liberty is in regards to abortion.

"Life comes from our creator, not our government," Politico reported Paul saying in April. "Liberty comes from our creator, not from government. Therefore, the purpose, if there is to be a purpose, for government is to protect life and liberty."

Many have called Paul the godfather of the "tea party" movement, which has adopted his mantra of limited government. His son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), is a tea party favorite.

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-- Tony Pierce
twitter.com/busblog

Photo: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) in Iowa this month. Credit: Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

Countdown to Keith Olbermann's 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' begins; calm urged on his fan

Finally, after what seems like a couple of days of waiting, the folks over at Current TV have announced the start date for Keith Olbermann's old show there.

Because of Olbermann's chronically messy departures from previous employers and the needless ego-engendered controversies, the Current TV folks have decided to take Olbermann's show in an entirely new direction, beginning with the title.Keith Olbermann smiles for the camera

It will be called "Countdown with Keith Olbermann,"* a reference to the tall but feisty recovering sportscaster with one of the largest heads in TV commentating.

He will provide predictable political commentary on the day's random events with endearingly faux outrage reminiscent of the actors in the ring of a WWF match. All designed to make his audience comfortable with its cliches.

One of Olbermann's current Current bosses, who doesn't get out much, called his new employee "one of America's most gifted thinkers and communicators."

Olbermann, in turn, called his new employer "the model truth-seeking entity."

The program will appear at 5 p.m. weeknights in an attempt to spare Pacific time zone commuters.

Olbermann will try to resuscitate a sagging media career on a little-known cable channel that claims to be distributed into 75 million homes, several of which actually watch. In lieu of a large salary, Olbermann was given an expensive title, Chief News Officer.

"Nothing is more vital to a free America than a free media," Olbermann said in a canned statement, adding in typical down-to-earth manner, "and nothing is more vital to my concept of a free media than news produced independently of corporate interference."

That's a subtle reference to large media companies where Olbermann's employments have ended. At least one of those evil empires had rules that forbid such things as show hosts contributing money to the political campaigns of guests that they also promoted on their show, if you can imagine anything so ethically confining.

Olbermann got caught doing just that and was suspended briefly, generating protest letters from all four viewers. Fortunately, that won't happen when Current suspends Olbermann because no one will notice.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Getty Images (Olbermann smiles for the camera).

Ron Paul says being anti-abortion is a Libertarian stance based in faith

Ron Paul in Iowa Ron Paul, the conservative congressman from Texas known for his small-government beliefs rooted in Libertarianism, told an audience Monday in Iowa that government should dictate what happens in the womb of pregnant women.

Speaking at the Iowa Family Leader's presidential lecture series in Sioux City, Paul, an obstetrician and a Christian, explained that he disagreed with the popular belief that to be a Libertarian means having a laissez faire attitude of "it's the woman's body; she can do whatever she wants."

"Life comes from our creator, not our government," Politico reported Paul as saying. "Liberty comes from our creator, not from government. Therefore, the purpose, if there is to be a purpose, for government is to protect life and liberty."

Paul's stance on abortion won him the endorsement in 2008 of none other than "Jane Roe" from the landmark Roe v. Wade legal case of the '70s.

"Roe," whose real name is Norma McCorvey, became a pro-life advocate a decade ago and supported Paul in the last presidential election specifically because of his views on abortion. "I support Ron Paul for president because we share the same goal, that of overturning Roe v. Wade," McCorvey said. "He has never wavered ... on the issue of being pro-life and has a voting record to prove it. He understands the importance of civil liberties for all, including the unborn."

When Paul accepted the endorsement he said, "As much as I talk about economic liberties, and civil liberties and trying to avoid the killing overseas, I think the issue of life is paramount."

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Photo: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) speaks in Sioux City, Iowa, on Monday. Credit: Tim Hynds / Sioux City Journal

Nevada's Sharron Angle returns to politics, as will all the ways Harry Reid slammed her

Sharron Angle 

Is Sharia law taking hold in U.S. cities? Are the unemployed spoiled? And what exactly constitutes a 2nd Amendment remedy?

Republican Sharron Angle gave us all sorts of things to ponder during her failed 2010 bid to oust Democratic Sen. Harry Reid. Now, Nevada's doyenne of head-scratching statements -– who once characterized entitlement programs as a form of idolatry –- is returning to the political arena, where she'll likely dole out more.

Angle, a former state lawmaker and a "tea party" darling, announced this month that she would vie for the congressional seat that Republican Rep. Dean Heller is vacating to run for the Senate. Many Republicans in the Silver State groaned. They'd prefer an establishment candidate, such as Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki or state GOP Chairman Mark Amodei, who wouldn't carry as much baggage into the general election.

In her race against Reid, Angle raised millions of dollars and charmed a number of voters with her warm persona. But the unpopular Reid still trounced her by about 6 percentage points. To be sure, Angle ran a flawed campaign, but what ultimately sank her was Reid's barrage of commercials drubbing her lightning-rod statements.

Angle often speaks in fiery rhetoric that simultaneously rallies her conservative supporters and turns off moderates. For example, when asked what she'd tell a teenager who'd been impregnated by her father, Angle essentially said she'd encourage the girl to give birth, turning "what was really a lemon situation into lemonade."

Not the best metaphor.

To outdistance Angle, a tireless campaigner, her rivals will likely ...

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Weekly remarks: GOP says U.S. must develop more domestic oil; Obama marks Women's History Month

Capitol Dome

Weekly remarks by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, as provided by the Republican Party leadership

This is Lisa Murkowski, senator for Alaska and lead Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 

Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Japan in the wake of Friday’s terrible earthquake and tsunami. In Alaska, the memories of the devastating 1964 quake are still with us. We know we’re just beginning to comprehend the magnitude of this quake and its devastation.

We share and support the President’s commitment to bring America’s resources to bear to help Japan recover -- and we commend the actions that he has taken so far.

This tragedy -- as well as the upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa -- serve as stark reminders of how intertwined our world economy is; how world events beyond our control can affect all of us. It makes it all the more important that we control those things we can.   

I want to speak with you today about one of the threats that we’re....

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Roe vs. Wade: 38 years after the legal decision, the social argument rages

the Row vs Wade controversy Duckboy Cards Hamilton Montana

There may be no legal appeal beyond the Supreme Court's historic decision in Roe vs. Wade, but 38 years later the country is still divided, still arguing and still emotional over the abortion issue.

The arguments are encapsulated today in two brief public anniversary statements issued by their respective offices. One is from a Democrat, Barack Obama, who already is president. The other is from Ohio's Republican John Boehner, who is the new House speaker, who could become president after the vice president.

House Speaker John Boehner's statement to participants in Monday's annual March for Life
Today marks the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s tragic Roe v. Wade decision that tore asunder a right to life our Founding Fathers described so indelibly in our Declaration of Independence. The decision denigrated the respect we must have for life at all stages, especially the innocent unborn.

The new House majority has listened to the people and pledged to end taxpayer funding of abortion. A ban is the will of the people and ought to be the law of the land. 

This week, Congressman Chris Smith introduced bipartisan legislation that....

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The voluble Glenn Beck appears ahead in the developing media threat race

Glenn Beck warning youJust taking time to set our sights on targeting a quick update on the flaming fusillades of violent political rhetoric recently launched over the use of flaming fusillades of violent political rhetoric assaulting American politics with verbal bayonets fixed:

After all of his compelling conspiracies and adamant blackboard chalkings, Glenn Beck, the charming, likable master media talker with the 1950s haircut, has revealed that he has only 15 threats operating against him at any one time.

In a regular on-air chat with fellow Fox News talker Bill O'Reilly (see video below), Beck claimed that he doesn't really track criticism about himself, especially not from left-wing clowns who are paid to drum up opposition to conservative media folks, if you can believe there's such a group of people milking a really rich guy for some of his millions.

Beck said he didn't know how his threats ranked against....

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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