The Brattleboro (Vt.) Reformer, Feb. 22, 2013
Republicans in Washington still don’t get it.
Ever since their resounding defeat in November they've been licking their wounds and debating among themselves about how to appeal to a greater number of voters. And yet, at the same time they continue to toe the same old party line on issues important to the very voters they covet.
A new USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll finds the majority of voters don’t agree with that party line. This includes the GOP stand on immigration, gun control, climate change, and most importantly, cutting the budget deficit. In fact, according to the poll, even the majority of Republican voters endorse President Obama’s approach over Republicans’.
‘‘On many of the issues, President Obama has staked out positions that seem to be closer to the public’s thinking than the positions Republicans have staked out,’’ said Michael Dimock, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, in a statement. ‘‘The challenge for him is in building the public’s sense of immediacy on some of these issues, particularly climate change and guns.’’
Republicans have the opposite challenge. ‘‘Their focus on the deficit is in tune with the public’s priorities right now,’’ he says. ‘‘Yet their positions are not quite in step with the kind of compromises that the public tells us they want to see.’’
Those surveyed say by narrow margins that Obama has a better approach than congressional Republicans for dealing with the deficit and guns. By double digits, they favor his plans on immigration and climate change, including limits on emissions from power plants.
The president’s overall job approval rating is 51 percent, a bit higher than it typically has been for the past three years. The approval rating for Republican congressional leaders is a dismal 25 percent. Democratic congressional leaders stand in-between, at 37 percent.
According to the poll there is bipartisan agreement on this: Dealing with the budget deficit is urgent. Seven of 10 Americans (including not only 81 percent of Republicans but also 65 percent of Democrats) say it is essential for the president and Congress to enact major deficit legislation this year.
To begin digging out, three of four Americans say a deficit plan should include both tax increases and spending cuts, akin to the ‘‘balanced’’ approach Obama backs. While there is stronger support to cut spending than raise taxes, only one in five say a deficit-reduction package should rely solely on spending cuts, the position embraced by House Speaker John Boehner.
And those automatic spending cuts, known as sequester, that are poised to take effect? If no deal is reached to avert them, half of Americans say congressional Republicans will be more to blame. Less than a third would blame Obama first.
So if Republicans stay on this self-destructive path they may be looking at another defeat in the 2014 midterm elections.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton (Mass.), Feb. 21, 2013
A tearful Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny stood before Parliament Tuesday to say the nation had failed the more than 10,000 women and girls forced into prison-like institutions known as Magdalene laundries from 1922 to 1996. He was right to offer unqualified apologies to the women who suffered inhumane treatment and unjust incarceration at the hands of the Catholic Church because the church was aided and abetted by the state.
And a sorry, shameful partnership it was. The government has much to regret.
A 1,000-page, government-commissioned report released two weeks ago found that these women were forced into the institutions after being deemed ‘‘fallen.’’ Though these laundries were ostensibly created to offer rehabilitation to prostitutes, they were institutions of cruel and contemptible mistreatment, where the punishment never fit the crime.
The report revealed that the women — and sometimes girls — incarcerated were often guilty of nothing more than being homeless, poverty-stricken, or products of dysfunctional families. For these ‘‘crimes’’ they were institutionalized and forced into hard labor with no recourse or avenue for appeal.
While the report detailed the institutions that operated in Ireland from 1922 to 1996, the year the last one closed, they had been around for much longer. The first one opened in Ireland in 1765. They were taken over by the Catholic Church in 1829. According to some reports, over that time as many as 30,000 women were incarcerated.
The government report found that more than a quarter of the 10,000 women incarcerated from 1922 to 1996 had been directly referred by the government — by a judge, for example, or a truant officer. It also revealed that women may have been incarcerated for infractions as minor as failing to pay a train ticket. Women who ran away from the laundries could be arrested without a warrant.Continued...