Mojo - March 2012

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for March 12, 2012

Mon Mar. 12, 2012 9:47 AM EDT

Parachutes with more than 40 payloads of fuel float down to an open field southwest of Forward Operating Base Boris, March 8, 2012. The FOB's fuel is being resupplied in anticipation of the spring fighting season. Photo by US Army Sgt. William Begley, RC-East PAO.

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Mitt Romney's Spotify Playlist is Actually Kind of Great

| Fri Mar. 9, 2012 6:14 PM EST

On Friday, in an attempt to demonstrate once more that he's a totally normal humanoid with wide-ranging cultural interests, Mitt Romney published a playlist of his favorite music from the campaign trail. The mix, which you can find on his Facebook page and the music app Spotify, includes a mix of country, oldies, top-40, and whatever you'd call Kid Rock.

It also includes "The M.T.A.," a song by the Kingston Trio that has likely never appeared within a 40-track radius of Kid Rock. It goes a little something like this:

This was one of my favorite songs growing up, with the unintended consequence being that I developed an acute and highly irrational fear of subway turnstiles (something I'm sure Romney and I have in common). The thought of Romney blasting the Kingston Trio's rendition of "M.T.A." on his campaign bus, feet tapping, head bopping, over and over and over again, actually makes him seem kind of—what's the word here—human.

I'd just add that "M.T.A." (otherwise known as "Charlie on the M.T.A.") is a song about a Boston man who embarks on what is supposed to be a smooth and uneventful ride, gets in over his head, becomes trapped, and is forced to have his wife try to bail him out. She fails and he's then doomed to spend the rest of his life trapped in an endless loop, eating sandwiches. So there's that.

Update: Here's the full mix.

I am a Man of Constant Sorrow — The Soggy Bottom Boys

Read My Mind — The Killers

December, 1963 (Oh What a Night) — Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Ring of Fire — Johnny Cash

Somebody Told Me — The Killers [Ed note: Mitt is apparently friends with singer Brandon Flowers. Right?]

The MTA (The Boston Subway Song) — The Kingston Trio

Good Vibrations — The Beach Boys

Desperado (Live) — Clint Black

Crying — Roy Orbison

Only You (Long Version) — Commodores

Runaway — Del Shannon

It's Your Love — Tim McGraw

As Good as I Once Was — Toby Keith

Born Free — Kid Rock

Over The Rainbow — Willie Nelson

Stardust — Nat King Cole

In Dreams — Roy Orbison

Somebody Like You — Keith Urban

All-American Girl — Kerry Underwood

Arizona and Kansas Pursue Laws Letting Docs Hide Information from Women

| Fri Mar. 9, 2012 5:08 PM EST

Arizona advanced a bill this week that would make it legal for doctors to withhold information from pregnant women about birth defects and other health conditions that might cause them to choose an abortion. The bill barring "wrongful birth, life, or conception" claims passed in the state senate earlier this week and now advances to the house.

The legislation indemnifies medical professionals from being sued for failing to disclose information about fetal abnormalities that might lead a woman to terminate her pregnancy. Thus, a woman living in the state would no longer be able file suit against her doctor if she gives birth to a child with serious impairments.

From the Claims Journal:

Cathi Herrod, president of the conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy, which proposed the bill to Arizona legislators, said she opposes the lawsuits because they give the impression that "the life of a disabled child is worth less than the life of a healthy child."
"Public policy should reflect in Arizona that no child's life is a wrongful life," Herrod said.

It would also prevent suits stemming from a failed vasectomy or tubal ligation (often referred to as "getting your tubes tied").

The Kansas legislature is also considering a bill that would ban malpractice suits against doctors who withhold information from women in order to prevent abortions. That 68-page bill includes a number of other abortion restrictions, including barring medical residents of the University of Kansas Medical Center from providing abortions and requiring women to listen to the fetal heartbeat before undergoing the procedure..

House Considers Bill Federalizing Parental Consent Laws for Abortion

| Fri Mar. 9, 2012 2:34 PM EST

The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives is considering legislation that would enact stringent new limitations on minors who seek an abortion outside of their home state. The "Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act" effectively federalizes state laws aimed at preventing women under the age of 18 from obtaining an abortion, and would impose harsh penalties on doctors or anyone else who assists the minor without first informering her parent or guardian.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) introduced the bill in June 2011. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the measure on Thursday, a signal that it may advance in the near future. The bill requires a minor's parent or guardian to be notified in writing and a 24-hour waiting period after that notification before the young woman can obtain the abortion.

Doctors or anyone who assists the minor without first informing her parents may be fined up to $100,000 and imprisoned for up to a year for violating this law. Thirty-seven states currently require parental involvement of some type, if a minor seeks an abortion, the law is meant to prevent anyone from traveling to another state to avoid those laws. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) introduced the Senate version of the bill last June as well, declaring that it was an effort to ensure state parental laws are not "undermined and circumvented."

While the sponsors insist that the law would not apply in cases of "medical emergency, abuse or neglect," it would put the burden on the young woman to prove that she is, in fact, a victim of one of those circumstances. The Center for Reproductive Rights contends that the law would subject the young women, their doctors, and anyone who might help them to a "confusing maze of overlapping and conflicting state and federal laws—making it more difficult and more dangerous for young women to obtain abortions."

The bill, CRR maintains, "fails to consider the reasons why a teen would turn to another adult like her grandmother or aunt for support, and could force young women to instead rely on an abusive caretaker, choose to travel alone or turn to unsafe alternatives to terminating her pregnancy."

Iran War Watch: "Bunker-Buster" Edition

| Fri Mar. 9, 2012 10:41 AM EST
A GBU-28 "Bunker Buster" laser-guided bomb weighs roughly 5,000 pounds.

Are the United States and Iran on a collision course over the Middle Eastern country's controversial nuclear program? We'll be posting the latest news on Iran-war fever—the intel, the media frenzy, the rhetoric.

During to a recent visit to Washington, DC, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly placed an order for a pair of hot items: GBU-28 "bunker-buster" bombs and some advanced refueling aircraft—weapons that would significantly improve the Israeli air force's ability to take out Iran's underground nuclear facilities. President Obama has since ordered Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to work closely with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hash out details of a potential sale, a senior US official told Haaretz. The report continues:

During the administration of former U.S. President George Bush, the U.S. refused to sell bunker-penetrating bombs and refueling aircrafts to Israel, as a result of American estimates that Israel would then use them to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. Following Obama's entrance into the White House, however, the United States approves a string of Israeli requests to purchase advance armament.

Just a few months after Obama took office, the president quietly approved the transfer of over four dozen GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrators. (At the time, some raised concerns that the sale might be perceived as "a green light for Israel to attack Iran's secret nuclear sites one day.") The Israeli government also currently maintains a limited stock of older, smaller bunker-busters, as well as a small number of refueling jets, all of which were bought from the United States.

American intelligence officials do, however, often acknowledge their uncertainty over how effective the Pentagon's latest bunker-busting technology would actually be at penetrating the scattered subterranean chambers where the Iranian government is enriching uranium.

Also, there was a report this week in the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper Ma'ariv—citing anonymous intelligence sources—that the Obama administration had proposed a deal to allow the weapons sale, in exchange for Netanyahu's promise to hold off on an attack until 2013, after the messy election season winds down in November. But considering, for instance, that Israeli officials have openly floated the idea of not warning the Americans in the event of a preemptive airstrike on Iran's nuclear installations, it's likely that this alleged covenant is just one more bad rumor regarding regional tensions. (Naturally, at least one Israeli official has already dismissed it as such.)

Now, enjoy some classic footage of GBU-28 bunker-busters doing their thing:

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for March 8, 2012

Thu Mar. 8, 2012 10:21 AM EST

Senior Airman Daniel Stehley, of the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron munitions flight, spray paints build codes on inert guided bomb units after helping assemble each weapon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., February 27, 2012. The weapons were assembled in preparation for an upcoming Operational Readiness Exercise. (US Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kenny Holston)

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Insane Sex Laws Inspired by Republicans

| Thu Mar. 8, 2012 6:00 AM EST

As Republican lawmakers have pushed ever more intrusive and expansive uterus-related legislation, some of their colleagues across the aisle have fired back with intentionally and equally ridiculous counterproposals. From mandatory rectal exams for guys seeking Viagra to prohibitions on sperm-stifling vasectomies, most of these male-only provisions have, unsurprisingly, flopped. But they've scored big as symbolic gestures, spotlighting the inherent sexism of laws that regulate only lady parts.

Some of the tongue-in-cheek ideas introduced across the country:

Delaware: By an 8 to 4 vote, the Wilmington, Delaware, city council recognized the personhood of semen because "each 'egg person' and each 'sperm person' should be deemed equal in the eyes of the government."

Virginia: As the state Senate debated requiring transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, Sen. Janet Howell proposed mandating rectal exams and cardiac stress tests for men seeking erectile dysfunction meds. Her amendment failed by just two votes.

Georgia: Responding to a Georgia house bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Rep. Yasmin Neal wrote a bill outlawing most vasectomies because they leave "thousands of children…deprived of birth."

Ohio: A bill introduced by state Sen. Nina Turner would compel men to get psychological screenings before getting prescriptions for impotence meds. "We must advocate for the traditional family," Turner said, "and ensure that all men using PDE-5 inhibitors are healthy, stable, and educated about their options—including celibacy as a viable life choice."

Illinois: State Rep. Kelly Cassidy proposed requiring men seeking Viagra to watch a video showing the treatment for persistent erections, an occasional side effect of the little blue pill. As she explained, "It's not a pretty procedure to watch."

Missouri: Protesting the legislature's vote to reject Obama's contraception coverage mandate, nine female lawmakers cosponsored a bill restricting access to vasectomies except for men risking death or serious bodily harm. "In determining whether a vasectomy is necessary," the bill reads, "no regard shall be made to the desire of a man to father children, his economic situation, his age, the number of children he is currently responsible for, or any danger to his wife or partner in the event a child is conceived."

Oklahoma: When a zygote-personhood bill came before the state Senate, Sen. Constance Johnson penned an amendment declaring that ejaculating anywhere outside a woman's vagina constitutes "an action against an unborn child." Bonus: Johnson also suggested that any man who impregnates a woman without her permission should pay a $25,000 fine, support the child until age 21, and get a vasectomy, "in the spirit of shared responsibility." In response to the same bill, state Sen. Jim Wilson proposed an amendment requiring the father of an unborn child to be financially responsible for its mother's health care, housing, transportation, and nourishment during pregnancy.

Texas: Contesting a bill mandating sonograms before abortions, Rep. Harold Dutton unsuccessfully offered three amendments in a row. The first would have required the state to pay the college tuition of children born to women who decide against an abortion after seeing a required ultrasound image. The second would have subsidized the children's health care costs until age 18. When that failed, he lowered the age to 6. That didn't fly, either.

Pot Legalization Foe Getting Rich off the Drug War

| Thu Mar. 8, 2012 3:01 AM EST

The lobbyist who helped kill California's Proposition 19, the 2010 ballot measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana, has constructed an entire business model around keeping pot illegal. While fighting against the proposed law, lobbyist John Lovell accepted nearly $400,000 from a wide array of police unions, some of which he also represented in attempting to steer millions of federal dollars toward California's marijuana suppression programs.

The revelation, reported yesterday by the Republic Report's Lee Fang, illustrates how Prop. 19 threatened the paychecks of some of its biggest foes. Police departments stood to lose lucrative federal grants like a $550,000 payment in 2010 to police departments in three Northern California counties that covered 666 hours of police overtime spent eradicating marijuana. And Lovell would have presumably lost a job as a guy who helped land those kinds of grants. Here's a copy of a notice sent to a police department in Lassen County, California:

Police unions and their lobbyists weren't the only economic interests with a stake in Prop. 19. The alcohol industry and prison guards also contributed money to fight the measure. And on the other side, the passage of Prop. 19 would have given thousands of "hempreneurs" behind the state's $1.3 billion medical marijuana industry a stimulus stronger than a vaporized bowl of Hindu Kush. The likely side effects—a decline in budget-busting law-enforcement costs and millions of dollars in tax revenue for the state of California—don't seem all that bad compared to what we got stuck with: A war on drugs that makes people like John Lovell even richer.

Also read: Tony D'Souza's "The New Dealers," a tale of recession-strapped Americans who turned to dope dealing to make ends meet.

Colbert On Targeted Killing: "Due Process Just Means There's A Process That You Do"

| Wed Mar. 7, 2012 12:08 PM EST

On Tuesday, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert took on Attorney General Eric Holder's legal justification for killing American citizens abroad suspected of terrorism, particularly Holder's argument that "due process and judicial process are not one and the same."

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"Trial by jury, trial by fire, rock, paper scissors, who cares? Due process just means that there is a process that you do," Colbert said. "The current process is apparently, first the president meets with his advisers and decides who he can kill. Then he kills them."

Pretty much.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for March 7, 2012

Wed Mar. 7, 2012 11:08 AM EST

An OH-58D Kiowa Warrior from Task Force Saber, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, fires a 2.75-inch rocket at a mountainside during a test flight in eastern Afghanistan, March 2, 2012. The Kiowa warrior is the Army's scout and reconnaissance aircraft, which often provides close support for ground troops on the battlefield. Saber's Kiowas lead the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, which has flown more than 65,000 hours across all airframes since October 2011. US Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon, Task Force Poseidon Public Affairs.