Thursday Open Thread | Black Poets Week: Gwendolyn Brooks


The wordsmith for today is Gwendolyn Brooks.

Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917–2000

Gwendolyn Brooks was a highly regarded, much-honored poet, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period. Her body of work gave her, according to Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor George E. Kent, “a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young black militant writers of the 1960s.”

Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, but her family moved to Chicago when she was young. Her father was a janitor who had hoped to become a doctor; her mother was a schoolteacher and classically trained pianist. They were supportive of their daughter’s passion for reading and writing. Brooks was thirteen when her first published poem, “Eventide,” appeared in American Childhood; by the time she was seventeen she was publishing poems frequently in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper serving Chicago’s black population. After such formative experiences as attending junior college and working for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she developed her craft in poetry workshops and began writing the poems, focusing on urban blacks, that would be published in her first collection, A Street in Bronzeville.

Her poems in A Street in Bronzeville and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Annie Allen were “devoted to small, carefully cerebrated, terse portraits of the Black urban poor,” commented Richard K. Barksdale in Modern Black Poets: A Collection of Critical Essays. Brooks once described her style as “folksy narrative,” but she varied her forms, using free verse, sonnets, and other models. Several critics welcomed Brooks as a new voice in poetry; fellow poet Rolfe Humphries wrote in the New York Times Book Review that “we have, in A Street in Bronzeville, a good book and a real poet,” while Saturday Review of Literature contributor Starr Nelson called that volume “a work of art and a poignant social document.” In Annie Allen, which follows the experiences of a black girl as she grows into adulthood, Brooks deals further with social issues, especially the role of women, and experimented with her poetry, with one section of the book being an epic poem, “The Anniad”—a play on The Aeneid. Langston Hughes, in a review of Annie Allen for Voices, remarked that “the people and poems in Gwendolyn Brooks’ book are alive, reaching, and very much of today.”

In the 1950s Brooks published her first and only novel, Maud Martha, which details a black woman’s life in short vignettes. It is “a story of a woman with doubts about herself and where and how she fits into the world. Maud’s concern is not so much that she is inferior but that she is perceived as being ugly,” related Harry B. Shaw in Gwendolyn Brooks. Maud suffers prejudice not only from whites but also from blacks who have lighter skin than hers, something that mirrors Brooks’s experience. Eventually, Maud takes a stand for her own dignity by turning her back on a patronizing, racist store clerk. “The book is . . . about the triumph of the lowly,” commented Shaw. “Brooks shows what they go through and exposes the shallowness of the popular, beautiful white people with ‘good’ hair. One way of looking at the book, then, is as a war with . . . people’s concepts of beauty.” Its other themes, Shaw added, include “the importance of spiritual and physical death,” disillusionment with a marriage that amounts to “a step down” in living conditions, and the discovery “that even through disillusionment and spiritual death life will prevail.”

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33 Responses to Thursday Open Thread | Black Poets Week: Gwendolyn Brooks

  1. rikyrah says:

    From my favorite weatherman’s blog about this winter:

    The slushy snow that deposited 3 to 8 inches of snow across the Chicago area Tuesday night put down 6.0 inches at Midway Airport. That brings the seasonal snow total to 85.2 inches at that observation site, only 4.5 inches shy of Chicago’s full-season snow record of 89.7 inches.


  2. rikyrah says:

    Ohio State Rep: ‘Public Education In America Is Socialism, What Is The Solution?’
    Eric Lach – March 13, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    A Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives denounced the entire American public school system as “socialism” in a blog post published earlier this month.

    “Socialism, defined on Wikipedia, ‘is a social and economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy,'” state Rep. Andrew Brenner (R ) wrote in a post published Mar. 3 on Brenner Brief News, a website founded and edited by his wife. “That seems to summarize our primary education system. Public education in America is socialism.”

    Brenner serves as vice-chair of the Ohio House Education Committee.

    In the post, titled “Public education in America is socialism, what is the solution?,” Brenner laid out his argument. He noted that the Tea Party, which “will attack Obama-care relentlessly as a socialist system,” rarely brings up “the fact that our public education system is already a socialist system[…] and has been a socialist system since the founding of our country.” He addressed teachers unions — “an outgrowth of our socialistic education system” — which he granted originally improved things “temporarily” before they ultimately “became bureaucratic and they started to take the place of school boards and school management.”

  3. rikyrah says:

    Maine GOPer: Maybe Poor People Will Work More If We Reject Obamacare

    Dylan Scott – March 13, 2014, 10:54 AM EDT3094

    Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion faces a tough reality in Maine. Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed the proposal last year and, though the state Senate approved another bill Wednesday, it didn’t pass with enough votes to override another veto.

    But maybe that’s a good thing, according to at least one Republican state lawmaker. Maybe by rejecting the law’s Medicaid expansion, intended to provide health coverage to low-income residents, those people will be encouraged to work more and make more money.

    That’s what Maine Rep. Deb Sanderson (R) told the Portland Press-Herald.

    “Maybe it will incentivize some folks” to work more so they can make more money, Sanderson told the newspaper. She also criticized Medicaid expansion for turning people away from the private insurance market.

    “You’re taking personal choice away from people who may choose to not be on the (Medicaid) rolls,” Sanderson said. “That’s lousy.”

    If Maine doesn’t implement the Medicaid expansion, low-income Mainers will need to make more money to benefit from Obamacare. As TPM has reported, people below the poverty line don’t qualify for tax subsidies to purchase private insurance through — so if their state doesn’t expand Medicaid, they’re unlikely to get coverage through the law.

    More than 24,000 low-income Maine residents are estimated to fall in that Medicaid expansion gap.

  4. rikyrah says:

    March 13, 2014 10:13 AM
    The FL-13 Spin Continues

    By Ed Kilgore

    We’re into Day Two of the FL-13 spin wars, and the analysis isn’t getting much better (with the exception of Sean Trende’s “much ado about nothing” take, and a “curb your enthusiasm” column from Karl Rove). Republicans appeared divided between those who attribute David Jolly’s 3400-plus victory to a massive national repudiation of the Affordable Care Act, and those who attribute it to a massive national repudiation of Obama himself. Many Democrats are treating the outcome as just a continuation of the late Bill Young’s victories. And MSM is all over the place, though some reporters (viz. Politico’s Sherman and Everett) seem to think the election was retroactively “about” Obamacare if Democrats can’t figure out a common line on how to counter-spin it.

    Meanwhile, most accounts give the natural falloff in Democratic turnout in midterms, and especially in midterm-cycle special elections, at most a “to be sure” graph before returning to the “Obamacare referendum” hypothesis. One popular approach is to mention the turnout issue but then attribute lower Democratic turnout to “discouragement” over Obamacare or disappointment with Obama, not with the kind of eternal disparities I’ve been writing about. Dubious analysis wasn’t limited to those advancing that hypothesis, though. Dana Milbank did an entire column attacking the Republican spin on FL-13 without so much as even mentioning turnout patterns.

    In the end, what may actually result from these spin wars is a renewed GOP determination to rant about Obamacare and the tyrant Obama and resist any temptation to develop an economic message, much less a positive policy agenda. This may or may not eventually hurt some Republican candidates this November, but if it doesn’t, it could have a large and baleful influence on Republican thinking going into 2016, when a presidential electorate will show up and probably once again win for the Democratic candidate a lot of districts like FL-13.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Push to expand Social Security (not cut it) gets another boost
    By Greg Sargent
    March 13 at 1:15 pm

    Another Democratic Senator has now joined the push for a proposal that had previously been mostly debated in the blogosphere, far outside the boundaries of acceptable discourse: Increasing Social Security benefits, rather than cutting them.

    Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon announced his support for increasing Social Security benefits in a release after a committee hearing he chaired yesterday on retirement security, but it has gotten little to no attention. Merkley said:

    “Too many Americans are concerned they will never be able to afford to retire. Through Social Security, we can and should put a comfortable retirement within reach of more hardworking Americans. With traditional pensions available to fewer people and ordinary families facing risks and difficulties in saving enough for retirement through 401(k)s and IRAs, the landscape of retirement is changing and we must act. It’s time to give seniors a modest raise and change cost-of-living adjustments to reflect the real costs seniors face.”

    This puts Merkley in a small but growing camp that is advocating for an idea, first put forward by Dem Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, that would lift or change the payroll tax cap, meaning higher earners would pay more, while adopting a new measure for inflation that would increase benefits for all seniors. That measure is rooted in the idea, as Merkley put it in his release, that “seniors are more likely than others to spend large percentages of their income on costs that have risen faster than inflation, such as housing and medical care.”

  6. rikyrah says:

    What Democrats Should Learn From Their Loss In Florida

    By Charles P. Pierce on March 12, 2014

    Oh, what the hell, it was Florida.

    The sky, apparently, is falling eight months early because a Democratic candidate named Alex Sink lost to a Republican candidate named David Jolly in a special congressional election to replace a Republican who’d held the seat for 32 years. Paul Begala took to Twitter to warn the Democrats not to try to spin the result as anything but a loss, and Tiger Beat On The Potomac has sounded the sirens and is herding people into the shelters. To be fair, Sink had a lot of things going for her that not many Democratic congressional candidates in the South have going for them. She outspent Jolly. She was leading (narrowly) in most of the polls leading up to the vote. And Jolly was openly feuding with the national party. But neither candidate got to 50 percent, because a libertarian dude pulled over 8,000 votes.

    So, it’s a loss, and not a good one, for the Democrats going into the 2014 midterms, but it still doesn’t look like much of a bellwether. The Republicans are crowing about how the result was a referendum on the Affordable Care Act, but Sink didn’t exactly rise to its defense. In a low turnout election — Nice job there again, Democrats. — with Jolly explaining that the ACA will end democracy as we know it and kill us all, and Sink mumbling that she would “keep what was right and fix what was wrong,” the stronger argument, no matter how shot through with nonsense it is, will generally prevail.

    • Ametia says:

      Dems need to grow a pair, and citizens need to vote in their best interests. GOP are playing the same game, using the same playbook they’ve always used.

  7. Ametia says:

    a lil white-privileged THUG

  8. rikyrah says:

    In Alabama, College Students Take On Challenge of Health Insurance Sign-Up


    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Students at the University of Alabama Honors College here are encouraged to do volunteer work in the community and on campus.

    For Marlan Golden, a senior, that has included being a Big Brother; running an education project for local Latinos; serving as president of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity; and, most recently, signing up people for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

    For that last one, Mr. Golden, 21, has not had to leave the fraternity house. He and several other student volunteers have been spending recent afternoons signing up the kitchen help and housekeepers of Alpha Tau Omega, as well as those at other campus fraternities and sororities.

    “These are people who feed us and clean up after us but have no health care,” Mr. Golden said as he and a cook sat at his laptop filling out an application.

    Mr. Golden spent an hour and a half setting up a user name, password and profile for the woman, as well as guiding her through a long list of questions about her income and health habits like whether she smoked and, if so, when she last had a cigarette. (“I’m not going to lie, that would be today, Marlan.”) After studying the costs of various coverage options, she settled on a Blue Cross and Blue Shield silver plan.

    By then, the woman looked drained, but Mr. Golden was ready for more. “We only have till March 31,” he said, referring to the national enrollment deadline. “We have to keep going.”

    Mr. Golden is one of about 600 student volunteers from a dozen colleges around Alabama who have been trained to help enroll people for insurance under President Obama’s signature law. They have canvassed churches, job fairs, barber shops in black neighborhoods, libraries — wherever people unlikely to have health care gather.

    The all-volunteer organization, known as Bama Covered, is believed to be the only group doing enrollment that is made up solely of college students. The effort has the feel of student activism from an earlier time, like the push to register blacks to vote during the civil-rights era. By the end of February, Alabama reached 84 percent of its projected enrollment goal, ahead of the national figure of 75 percent.

  9. rikyrah says:

    From TOD:

    A Word from Don:

    Yesterday Paul Ryan called every black male that I’ve ever known, lazy. Paul Ryan, a man that could have easily been the Vice President of the United States of American. The fact that he thought it was safe enough for him to utter such hurtful and demeaning language is a testament to the poisonous environment which President Obama must navigate on a daily basis.

    How do I let what Paul Ryan said about me roll off of my back? How do I get over the fact that the fifty-million people that voted for him to be Vice President more than likely don’t have a problem with him saying what he said?

    I remember a long time ago listening to Dick Gregory make the statement that the reason that black men used to walk around with boom boxes on their shoulders blasting music is so that they could drown out all the negative stereotypes that were said about them.

    I work in a federal prison; I’m surrounded by people that are deemed too dangerous to live in society. I like my job, I like what I do for a living, I’m paid well and I’m grateful. But now I have an anger that I don’t know what to do with.

    Back in my youth I would not have had this anger because I would not have let it get bottled up, I would have released it somehow or someway. But now that I’m older and wiser it gets harder and harder to deal with the disrespect that gets directed at black men like me

  10. rikyrah says:

    School Spirit or Gang Signs? ‘Zero Tolerance’ Comes Under Fire
    By Nona Willis Aronowitz

    LIVE BRANCH, Miss. — On the last Friday in January, 15-year-old Dontadrian Bruce was finishing up his biology project at Olive Branch High School. He and his group had constructed a double helix out of Legos, and his teacher asked them to pose for a picture with their project. Bruce smiled and held up three fingers—his thumb, forefinger, and middle finger, palm facing outward. The teacher snapped a photo on her phone and went onto the next group.

    On Monday morning, Bruce was summoned out of first-period English by assistant principal Todd Nichols, who showed him the photo. “You’re suspended because you’re holding up gang signs in this picture,” said Nichols, according to Bruce.

    Bruce explained that he was simply representing the number on his football jersey, “3,” and that all the kids did it in football practice. He also said he had no idea the gesture was known to signal affiliation with the Vice Lords, a Chicago-based gang with a strong presence in Memphis, Tenn., 20 miles north of Olive Branch.

    “I was trying to tell my side, and it was like they didn’t even care,” said Bruce. When his mother, Janet Hightower, received a call from the school, she was shocked at the news. Her son had never been in trouble like that before, she said, and he made As and Bs.

    “He’s a good child,” Hightower said. “I know what he does 24 hours a day. If he leaves home and goes two houses down, he’s gonna text me and let me know.”

    When Hightower arrived at the school, she was shown the picture, and that same day, February 3, Bruce was sent home. On February 6, Bruce appeared before a disciplinary hearing officer who decided his fate: “Indefinite suspension with a recommendation of expulsion.”

    Bruce’s punishment is a particularly vivid example of what can result when fear of gang activity in schools collides with the contentious policy known as “zero tolerance”—a term describing school rules that favor suspensions and expulsions, even in the case of minor infractions.

    Zero tolerance stems from the Gun Free Schools Act of 1994, which mandated that schools expel students found with firearms or face losing federal funding. The law was originally passed to respond to an increase in gun violence in schools. With the help of this policy, the number of high school students suspended or expelled during a school year has increased by around 40 percent in the past four decades. Ninety-five percent of suspensions are for nonviolent misbehavior, according to federal government figures.

    Zero tolerance’s effectiveness has been hotly debated. Defenders say it’s the best way to ensure safety and maintain an environment free of distractions; critics deride it as “zero intelligence,” claiming that it’s counterproductive and breeds racial profiling. Some states, like Maryland, have been re-evaluating their disciplinary policies to address these criticisms. In January, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged educators to rethink zero tolerance policies, advocating “locally-tailored approaches” instead of knee-jerk punishment. Exclusionary discipline is “applied disproportionately to children of color,” Duncan said. “Educationally, and morally, that status quo is simply unacceptable.”

    Duncan has numbers to back up his claim. The federal government found that of 3 million children suspended or expelled during the 2010-11 school year, the overwhelming majority — 7 out of 10 — were black, Latino or kids with disabilities.

    This echoes independent studies, like a 2013 report by the University of California at Los Angeles Civil Rights Project, which found that one in four African-American students in secondary schools was suspended at least once in the 2009-10 academic year, compared to one in 16 white students.

    “When the evidence is there at every single [disciplinary] level, then clearly you have a problem,” said Meg Clifford, a researcher at the University of Texas’ William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law.

    Perhaps nothing illustrates this apparent bias better than accusations of gang activity, which can be notoriously hard to prove, as they rest on evaluations of clothing colors, accessories and hand signals often outlined in school gang policies.

  11. My blood is boiling at that Eddie Munster looking mofo. He’s the lazy sob sucking the government dry while trying to deny poor people the chance to eat. Paul Ryan is the REAL freeloader but feels he’s entitled because of his privileged whiteness.

    • Liza says:

      “He’s the lazy sob sucking the government dry…”

      Indeed. Perhaps he should be asked to justify his own compensation including all of the perks and benefits. And have him explain what congress gets for their “retirement” because most people don’t know. No one sucks off the federal government like congress does.

  12. rikyrah says:

    The Media Gets It Wrong: Obamacare Didn’t Cost Alex Sink the Florida Special Election

    By: Jason Easley
    Wednesday, March, 12th, 2014, 2:36 pm

    The media are parroting the Republican belief that Obamacare is the reason why Democrat Alex Sink lost a special House election in Florida last night, but actual polling of voters reveals that Sink’s position on the ACA was popular. She lost because the district is heavily Republican.

    The conservative National Journal drew the conclusion that the result of the special election is the beginning of a Republican wave, “Tuesday night’s special election in Florida should be a serious scare for Democrats who worry that Obamacare will be a major burden for their party in 2014. Despite recruiting favored candidate Alex Sink, outspending Republicans, and utilizing turnout tools to help motivate reliable voters, Democrats still lost to Republican lobbyist David Jolly—and it wasn’t particularly close.”

    The Los Angeles Times also blamed the ACA, Republicans scored a significant victory in a special congressional election Tuesday, holding on to a seat in a swing district in Florida that Democrats had high hopes of capturing after a campaign that focused heavily on President Obama’s healthcare law.

    The Hill also parroted the Republican logic, “Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in the special election to fill Florida’s 13th District on Tuesday night, delivering a stinging blow to Democrats that underscores their vulnerability to ObamaCare attacks.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Creationists Attack Neil deGrasse Tyson for Blind Faith in Science

    By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson
    Thursday, March, 13th, 2014, 7:02 am

    As you can imagine, the forces of the so-called Religious Right are really not happy with the new Fox series, Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, which premiered Sunday night. The series is, of course, a reboot of the 1980 series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was hosted by astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan. This time around the series is hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Of course, when Sagan produced the original series, scientists could actually talk about science without being metaphorically burned at the stake. That is no longer true, and you might have heard how one local Fox station, KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, managed to edit out the only mention of “evolution” in the series’ first episode.

    Meanwhile, deGrasse finds himself attacked for an oxymoronic “blind faith” in science. Because, apparently, blind faith in the comprehension of the Cosmos of Late Bronze and Early Iron Age humans is so much more advanced, and trustworthy, than ours. If you see something bizarrely hypocritical about creationists attacking somebody for having “blind faith,” you’re not alone.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Americans Split on Obama as 69% Back Minimum Wage Hike

    By Julianna Goldman Mar 11, 2014 7:00 PM CT

    President Barack Obama is rebounding from record-low approval ratings as he remedies the botched rollout of his health-care website and moves past the budget standoffs of the last several years.

    Less than eight months before the November midterm elections, Americans are evenly split, with 48 percent approving of Obama’s job performance, up from 42 percent in December — the biggest positive change of his presidency, according to a Bloomberg National Poll. He’s also registering an improved favorability rating at 49 percent, the highest since last June.

  15. rikyrah says:

    I have voted already.

    For folks in Illinois, you can vote now!

    You can vote Early and if you forgot to register regularly, you can do GRACE PERIOD – where you register to vote and vote at the same time.

    Early Voting and Grace Period Voting ends THIS SATURDAY, MARCH 15, 2014.

    Get out and vote!!

  16. rikyrah says:

    Why Marc Lamont Hill Doesn’t Deserve the Benefit of the Doubt on Labeling Lupita Nyong’o a “Fetish”

    DateWednesday, March 12, 2014 at 12:45PM

    This is the season of the Pharell Williams defense. A Black man get’s called on nonsense and then immediately claims that he has no idea why Black women are offended.

    I appeared on a Huffpo Live segment hosted by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill in response to a segment last week where he waived the flag of caution over Lupita developing a potentially large white fan base. ( She’s in the business of selling tickets to fans *eyeroll*) In the context of his concern trolling he used the very loaded word of “fetish.”

    When confronted with is own words, Dr.Hill took the Scarlett O’Hara “I don’t know nuthin bout slandering Black women” defense. Also known as throwing a rock and hiding your hand. He also pulled out the old “But, but, but I have a Black daughter!” defense. *Typical* As if rapists, batterers and serial killers don’t have daughters too. He claims he had “no idea” that his guest Kamua Bell who he was kee keeing it up with while labeling Lupita a fetish has an entire comedy routine based on attacking Black women.

    His fans have labeled me as an “Angry” “Hostile” Black woman for not indulging in his amnesiac – Reindeer Games. All of a sudden when confronted with his offense, the highly educated Black professor plays the “I’m confused card. ” Whatevs!

    So let me be clear- I am proud to be a Black woman who has the ability to feel anger. Harriet Tubman felt anger, Rosa Parks felt anger, Martin Luther King felt anger, Jesus Christ turned over tables in the Temple and routinely told his disciples that they were wrong. He probably was perceived as angry. The question isn’t whether or not I’m angry, the question is why aren’t you.

    And let’s be precise with our labels – I wasn’t “angry,” I was resolute. I was asked to be a GUEST on a show and while I had no expectation that I would get to speak at length, I certainly expected the other women on the panel to get to have their say and the bulk of the time was taken up with Marc talking about himself and playing dumb. At one point I asked if we were going to get to talk – not so I could talk but so the other two women could get in a word. None of us really needed to be there this morning, he could have just done a monologue.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Porsha Williams loses out in divorce settlement

    Porsha Williams will receive just a car and her engagement ring in her divorce settlement.

    The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star’s marriage to former football player Kordell Stewart broke down last year and the pair’s divorce was signed off in December.

    They have been going through the courts to work on a settlement, and now legal documents obtained by TMZ show that Williams received very little in the proceedings. The papers reveal she only gets to keep her Mercedes, the ring Stewart proposed with and her personal items. Stewart has also agreed to pay her $19,000 legal bill.

  18. rikyrah says:

    A Cantor plan comes together

    03/12/14 05:00 PM—Updated 03/13/14 01:17 AM
    By Steve Benen

    As one of his attempts at party “rebranding,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) unveiled something called the “Make Life Work” agenda last year, filled with modest policy measures intended to improve Republicans’ standing. In an interesting twist, one of ideas actually seems poised to become law.

    For whatever reason, Cantor has been eager to end federal funding for the major parties’ presidential nominating conventions, but if he simply proposed scrapping the spending, his idea probably wouldn’t go far. So the Virginia Republican tried to make things tough for Democrats: Cantor proposed taking the money that would go to conventions and redirecting it – not to tax cuts or deficit reduction, but to children’s medical research.

    The congressman’s office even found a 10-year-old Virginia girl who died last year of brain cancer and named the legislation after her. The bill became the “Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act” and became the center of Cantor’s plan to make the House GOP appear more mainstream and in touch with real public concerns.

    House Democrats grumbled, at a variety of volumes. If Cantor were serious about children’s medical research, they asked, why did his House Republican caucus push deep cuts to scientific research at the National Institutes of Health? If the concern for research is genuine, why play emotionally manipulative games and target convention spending?

    Those questions never actually received good answers, but Cantor’s idea may become law anyway.

  19. rikyrah says:

    The wrong way to tackle immigration
    03/13/14 08:00 AM
    By Steve Benen

    At first blush, the fact that House Republicans actually voted on a bill related to immigration policy yesterday may have encouraged reform proponents. The GOP majority has been inclined to largely ignore the issue for quite a while.

    But the legislation the House took up yesterday didn’t support reform progress; it did the opposite.

    A House Republican bill aimed at forcing President Barack Obama to enforce immigration and other laws as they are written drew sharp rebukes Wednesday from the White House and House Democrats, who ripped the measure as anti-immigrant.

    The legal dispute over President Barack Obama’s unilateral decision to suspend deportations for people brought to the country illegally by their parents, known as “dreamers,” has split the GOP and Democrats before.

    At least on paper, the legislation, which passed 233 to 181, wasn’t explicitly about immigration. Rather, this was yet another election-year “message bill,” in which House Republicans pretended to be outraged about President Obama’s entirely routine executive orders. GOP leaders put together a bill – subtlely called the ENFORCE Act – intended to make it easier for members of Congress to sue the White House, forcing the administration to prioritize law enforcement in line with lawmakers’ wishes.

    It is, by any sensible measure, a deeply foolish proposal. How many House Republicans, some of whom surely knew better, had the sense to vote against this transparent nonsense? Zero.

  20. Ametia says:

    Holder will call for reduced sentences for low-level drug offenders

    Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday will urge reduced sentences for defendants in most of the nation’s drug cases, part of his effort to cut the burgeoning U.S. prison population and reserve stiff penalties for the most violent traffickers.

    Holder’s proposal, which is expected to be approved by the independent agency that sets sentencing policies for federal judges, would affect 70 percent of drug offenders in the criminal justice system, according to figures provided by Justice Department officials. It would reduce sentences by an average of nearly a year.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Jobless claims reach lowest level since Nov.
    03/13/14 08:38 AM
    By Steve Benen

    Though initial unemployment claims were stuck at a discouraging level for much of January and February, the latest figures from the Labor Department suggest March is offering encouraging signs.

    The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 9,000 to 315,000 in the week ended March 8, marking the lowest level since the end of November, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to total 330,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The average of new claims over the past month, a more reliable gauge than the volatile weekly number, declined by 6,250 to 330,500. That’s the lowest level since early December.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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