US News Section

Democrats Ramshield
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 4:41am

This piece is a crossposted excerpt from a slightly larger piece originally posted on DailyKos. Our thanks to the writer, Democrats Ramshield, for the crosspost. The opening has been slightly edited for clarity, as the original lead-in material is not included within this crosspost. Those are the only alterations. -- GH

How does the US social safety net protect working families?

Did you know that virtually speaking the United States is the only major industrialized nation in the world that doesn't offer job protected paid maternity leave by right of law? To which this diary offers a number of quotes below. In reviewing those quotes please ask yourself the question, what type of family values is Yankee capitalism promulgating for the working class?

Paternity Leave / international comparisons

Did you know that 157 countries offer paid maternity leave?

Check out Wikipedia: "Parental Leave": there's a shocking chart which is an embarassment to the United States


Let's take a look at how the French maternity leave policies work to support families as an earned benefit provided to working people. In doing so please consider the quote below.

Maternity Leave in France

CNN: Bindi Dupouy, an Australian living in Paris, and her French husband, just had their first child, a son born in the country.
Dupouy, a 28-year-old lawyer, got almost five months paid maternity leave from her company for the birth. She can take another seven months off beyond that -- a year total -- unpaid, if she wants, with her job guaranteed under French law.


Would you please consider telling your friends, family about how our British cousins are provided with extensive maternity benefits which maybe shared by hetero-sexual couples, as well as same-sex couples and single parent families? Isn't it time that we in the U.S. adopted these types of progressive family friendly policies?

Now we're talking about real family values not just lip service.


Maternity Leave in Britain

BBC: In the UK, women get a year off, with the first six weeks on 90% pay, followed by 33 weeks on Statutory Maternity Pay. The rest is unpaid.



A spouse or partner of the woman (including same-sex relationships) may request a two week paid (at a fixed rate) paternity leave. Both the mother and her partner can additionally request non-paid parental leave, which can be for up to 4 weeks annually, with a current limit of 13 weeks.




Prime Minister David Cameron to take paternity leave after birth of daughter

Next let's take a quick look at real family values in the Republic of Ireland.

If you think this is interesting, please share it with a friend or even share it with your member of Congress.

Maternity Leave in Ireland

Length of time Maternity Benefit is paid

Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks. At least 2 weeks and not more than 16 weeks leave must be taken before the end of the week in which your baby is due.

Let's take a look at how the German people view real family values in the type of paid maternity benefit protected by law that they provide to their citizens.

Maternity Leave in Germany

German law is very generous when it comes to maternity and paternity leave. Mothers are allowed six weeks leave at full pay prior to the child's birth and eight weeks at full pay afterward. In the case of a multiple birth, 12 weeks paid leave is allowed. The mother or father is then allowed up to three years of unpaid leave to stay at home with the child. Recently, the German government initiated a program that allows direct subsidies to new parents (Elterngeld).


Maternity Leave and Job Protection (Mutterschutz)

Source: Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women & Adolescents, Maternity Protection Guide 09.2005

Adjusting to motherhood is made a little easier if you happen to be an employed woman working for a German company. You will actually be provided mandatory time-off from work, before and after childbirth. This is revelatory news for many English speaking expats. Basically the Mutterschutzgesetz, Maternity Protection Act of 1968 was instituted to ensure that expecting mothers are not discriminated against when applying for jobs and to provide them with added protection from being dismissed from work as a result of their pregnancy or arrival of their newborn child. This law actually goes well beyond that fundamental claim and provides much more.


Expectant mothers applying for employment are not required to make their pregnancy known before entering into employment.


Employers may not disseminate information about an employee's pregnancy to a third party.


Women are well protected from loss of employment due to dismissal - from the beginning of pregnancy until 4 months following childbirth


Let's compare and contrast that with the good old USA

where zero days of paid maternity leave are provided by right of law to families.

Now how do you feel about those types of family values?


Paid maternity leave - none.

Parental leave - Under the Family Medical Leave Act 2003 every qualifying individual has the right to 12 weeks unpaid family and medical leave, including parental leave. To qualify, they must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year for an employer who has more than 50 employees. Some States laws provide more or have less stringent qualifying conditions (see the US Study, September 2008 "A Detailed Look at Parental Leave Policies in 21 OECD Countries" by Rebecca Ray noted above)


Now let's look to our friendly neighbor to the north. I'm referring of course to the Canadians and in doing so please consider the package of maternity benefits that are guaranteed by right of law by the Canadian federal government to all families and please ask yourself what kind of family values are those and how do they contrast and compare to what we have in the US?

Canadian Maternity Leave

In Canada, maternity benefits for working mothers and parents remain the responsibility of the federal government. Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) gives paid maternity leave for 15 weeks.


Let's look at Italy's maternity leave by right of law.


Maternity leave

During pregnancy, women have the right to a period of leave lasting two months prior to and three months following the expected date of childbirth

Australia just joined progressive nations all around the world by passing a paid parental leave act. Shouldn't we in the US do the same? Why should we deny working families the ability to fully participate in the benefits to society and wealth through their labor produce, by denying them paid maternity leave.  

The Australian Government will deliver Australia’s first national Paid Parental Leave scheme from 1 January 2011. It will provide eligible working parents with 18 weeks of pay at the weekly rate of the National Minimum Wage.

Paid parental leave for New Zealand:

You can receive paid parental leave for a maximum of 14 weeks. You can transfer your paid parental leave to your spouse or partner, as long as they also qualify for paid parental leave from their employer or self-employment.


Shouldn't we view the lack of paid maternity benefit as a de facto tax levied against working families in America as a methodology for depriving working families to be able to share in the value and wealth that they produce, but aren't able to fully participate in. In fact when we view the fact for example in the European Union when we adjust for the fact that they all have universal medical systems, paid child allowance, paid maternity leave, paid sick leave and aren't reduced to the humiliation of using food stamps and for the most part get 3 or 4 weeks paid vacation a year, that working families pay less taxes, work less hours and have on average longer life expectancies, than their counterparts in the US.  

Please tell us how do you feel about the lack of paid maternity leave in America today, and that America stands alone in its use of food stamps to try to humiliate its citizens in the grocery check out line. Please also share with our readers how you feel about what all this is doing to the American dream? We find ourselves in a posture where our health care reform measures will leave millions of uninsured Americans behind. Where the doors to college opportunity are being closed by ever higher tuition rates, wherein we note that the lifetime limit for the federal Stafford student loan program has not been increased in about 18 years. Where we find a prison population in the United States that has grown to over 2 million which represents a staggering loss of potential in the American society

Also please tell us about how many American companies who claim that they cannot afford to pay paid maternity leave in the United States, seem to have no problem paying them overseas in their European conglomerates? This diary is merely a discussion starter and by no means a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter, but has attempted to look at the American social safety net in a contrast and comparison to the social safety net as it presents itself in the European Union countries.

Connecticut Man1
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 12:06pm

We can sit back and worry about how these poor people will get by in this economy (the disaster economy that they created) or we can work from the pragmatic point of view of reality and tell them to suck it up and tighten their own damned belts instead of trying to squeeze the middle class and the poor even more than they already have to pay for their own disasters:

Writing in the Financial Times, John Podesta and Robert Greenstein argue against extending the Bush tax cuts “for the top 2 percent of earners, whose average annual income is $800,000.” They note that “a few centrist Democrats are joining the conservative stampede,” and conclude, “We cannot afford to let blind ideology and rabid partisanship threaten sensible economic policy.”

I know it would be tough on them to have to try and get by with about 400 or 500 dollars per week less when they are only earning about $15,384.00 per week give or take a few pennies...

Know what I mean? How many of you could get get by on $500 per week less when it is more than your weekly paycheck?

Perspective is everything.

And people earning $66,666 per month?

I will never, never ever, shed one tear over them paying a few percentage points more in taxes. Nor will I ever worry about their empty threats.

And we are well past the time to declare a class war on those that are still trying destroy the middle class.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 7:37am

Continuing information that adds to, and overlaps, the recent piece by DeltaDoc, here's a clip of Rachel Maddow's interview with Jane Mayer, author of Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In case you missed the initial list of items to start boycotting with a vengeance, here it is again:

  1. Brawny paper towels
  2. Dixie Cups
  3. Stainmaster Carpet
  4. Lycra
  5. Georgia Pacific (Plywood, lumber...and paper?)

More info later -- let's take a chunk out of Koch's bottom line, and teach these teaparty-spawning, traitorous instigators of sedition a lesson in patriotism and economics. One that makes irresponsible, selfish, unregulated capitalism pay far less for such scurrilous activity.

Corporate activism, corporate sedition and treason: those are the most damaging items that are affecting and destroying our nation today. The Kochtopus is the funding spigot that directed monies to and through think tanks and sold the teabagger origins as a "grass roots" movement, instead of the corporate-spawned tool that the movement really is.

Astroturfing is one of the primary strategies of the Kochtopus; it's time to start targeting and cutting off the many arms, trimming the beast back to a more manageable size -- or destroying it, before its infection spreads any further.

Connecticut Man1
Friday, August 20, 2010 - 9:22am

I know that many of us would be just as offended as these people, courtesy of brannyboy at MLN noting the absurdities of Linda McMahon's statement on this issue, over a mosque and community center being built 2 blocks away from Ground Zero on the hallowed grounds of a former Burlington Coat Factory retail store:

Here's Linda McSteroids on religious freedom:

"I do believe that we practice religious freedom throughout our country, and we should," McMahon said. "But for me, the location of the mosque in this particular area just kind of rubs salt in the wounds."

Tell it like it is, sister! For starters, a mosque in that location would be profoundly offensive to these victims of 9/11:

   Samad Afridi
   Ashraf Ahmad
   Shabbir Ahmad (45 years old; Windows on the World; leaves wife and 3 children)
   Umar Ahmad
   Azam Ahsan
   Ahmed Ali
   Tariq Amanullah (40 years old; Fiduciary Trust Co.; ICNA website team member; leaves wife and 2 children)
   Touri Bolourchi (69 years old; United Airlines #175; a retired nurse from Tehran)
   Salauddin Ahmad Chaudhury
   Abdul K. Chowdhury (30 years old; Cantor Fitzgerald)
   Mohammad S. Chowdhury (39 years old; Windows on the World; leaves wife and child born 2 days after the attack)
   Jamal Legesse Desantis
   Ramzi Attallah Douani (35 years old; Marsh & McLennan)
   SaleemUllah Farooqi
   Syed Fatha (54 years old; Pitney Bowes)
   Osman Gani
   Mohammad Hamdani (50 years old)
   Salman Hamdani (NYPD Cadet)
   Aisha Harris (21 years old; General Telecom)
   Shakila Hoque (Marsh & McLennan)
   Nabid Hossain
   Shahzad Hussain
   Talat Hussain
   Mohammad Shah Jahan (Marsh & McLennan)
   Yasmeen Jamal
   Mohammed Jawarta (MAS security)
   Arslan Khan Khakwani
   Asim Khan
   Ataullah Khan
   Ayub Khan
   Qasim Ali Khan
   Sarah Khan (32 years old; Cantor Fitzgerald)
   Taimour Khan (29 years old; Karr Futures)
   Yasmeen Khan
   Zahida Khan
   Badruddin Lakhani
   Omar Malick
   Nurul Hoque Miah (36 years old)
   Mubarak Mohammad (23 years old)
   Boyie Mohammed (Carr Futures)
   Raza Mujtaba
   Omar Namoos
   Mujeb Qazi
   Tarranum Rahim
   Ehtesham U. Raja (28 years old)
   Ameenia Rasool (33 years old)
   Naveed Rehman
   Yusuf Saad
   Rahma Salie & unborn child (28 years old; American Airlines #11; wife of Michael Theodoridis; 7 months pregnant)
   Shoman Samad
   Asad Samir
   Khalid Shahid (25 years old; Cantor Fitzgerald; engaged to be married in November)
   Mohammed Shajahan (44 years old; Marsh & McLennan)
   Naseema Simjee (Franklin Resources Inc.'s Fiduciary Trust)
   Jamil Swaati
   Sanober Syed
   Robert Elias Talhami (40 years old; Cantor Fitzgerald)
   Michael Theodoridis (32 years old; American Airlines #11; husband of Rahma Salie)
   W. Wahid

Muslim American Soldier Pictures, Images and Photos

But, ya know... Yes. I would be just as insulted as many of these victims of 9-11 and their families would likely be. How can anyone be as insulted by this Constitutionally settled right being put into action as they would be by the right wing (and much of the media that bought into it) bringing up their crazy as a campaign distraction from real issues? Like the need for jobs because of unemployment issues. The evergrowing debt because of tax cuts that are NOT CREATING JOBS and have NOT been creating jobs for years..

My only hope for this community center?

That they might erect a monument to remind themselves AND, more importantly, other non-muslim Americans on a xenophobic tear these days that Muslim Americans were and continue to be victims of a crime they did not commit. But they don't have to "rub salt in the wounds" of the xenophobes with a monument like that if they don't want to.

Connecticut Man1
Friday, August 13, 2010 - 4:25pm

[ed. note - CM1] Bunping this with an update from Rachel Maddow at the bottom. - Originally posted on 2010-07-26 19:30:52 -0400.

From Open Left, who profits from SB-1070? Two of Governor Brewer's top advisers...

When it leads to a profit, the GOP believes that taking away your freedom by subverting the law is a good thing.

More below the fold from Think Progress:

a new investigation by local Arizona TV news station CBS 5 finds that the Brewer administration may have ulterior motives for its strong support of the new law. The station has found that “two of Brewer’s top advisers have connections” to private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

Paul Senseman, Brewer’s deputy chief of staff, is a former lobbyist for CCA. His wife continues to lobby for the company. Meanwhile Chuck Coughlin, who leads her re-election campaign, chaired her transition into the governorship, and is one of the governor’s policy advisors, is president of HighGround Public Affairs Consultants, which lobbies for CCA.

This is important because CCA currently “holds the federal contract to house detainees in Arizona.” CBS 5 notes that the company currently bills $11 billion a month to the state of Arizona and that, if SB-1070 is successfully implemented, its profits would be significantly padded as it would take responsibility for imprisoning immigrants arrested by Arizona police.

The company maintains that it “unequivocally, did not at any time lobby — nor did we have any outside consultants lobby — anyone in Arizona on the immigration law,” but direct lobbying would not be necessary with allies like Senseman and Coughlin working directly for Brewer.

If ever there were a law put in to place that would be guaranteed, just by virtue vice of its profitability, to be abused up and down the legal system... This would seem to be it. Especially when you consider how little regard many of the law's supporters already show towards all of SB-1070's intended victims.

[update] This story gets the Rachel Maddow treatment, and it is worth updating it with her video and, of course, the link to where she covers the story a bit on the Maddow Blog:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Some further reading on Arizona and SB 1070:

Think about the coming redistricting as a result of the recent Census.

Imagine that many states that will gain a lot more Congressional weight through the Census results inevitable redistricting suddenly decided to chase a particular growing population from their state with certain targeted policies in order to achieve the goal of keeping these newly minted Congressional heavy weights in the hands of a political party that would otherwise be losing grip in the future.

And just imagine if they were already doing it to a large degree and with great success.

I guess you do not have to imagine it all, eh?

What if Arizona "Show Me Your Papers" was never about racism?

... often in the past: Voter Suppression: Behind the Arizona Immigration Law: GOP Game to Swipe the November Election : Our investigation in Arizona discovered the real intent of the show-me-your-papers law. ...


Arizona Man Kills a Latino Man Over SB 1070 Dispute

... County slaying below the fold. ARIZONA: White racist kills Latino neighbor over immigration law ... one day after Cinco de Mayo, the Varela family of Phoenix, Arizona suffered a horrible shock when they watched a 50 year old White ...


Concealing Weapons Just Got Easier In Arizona

... Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill making Arizona the third state allowing people to carry a concealed weapon without ... not only protects the Second Amendment rights of Arizona citizens, but restores those rights as well," Brewer, a Republican, ...


Rand Paul to abolish Section 1 of 14th Amendment, ending birthright citizenship

... Rand Paul of Kentucky and State Senator Russel Pearce of Arizona have with their Neo Nazi, white supremacist supporters. That is why ... and then only one week after Russell Pearce proposes an Arizona law to strip birthright citizenship from citizens of Arizona , Rand ...


SCANDAL! Rand Paul MUST return Neo-Nazi funds NOW and DENOUNCE

... Or how about the Arizona Nazi party connections between State Senator Russell Pearce (of the new ... picture below. And here is J.T. Ready (Left) with Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, the author of the new Arizona police state "show me your papers" law , who has his own ...


Open Thread - A Real News Double Feature

... sidebar: Recent Posts 05/05/2010: Arizona Debate Unleashes New ‘Reconquista’ Accusations ...

Connecticut Man1
Thursday, August 12, 2010 - 4:31pm

Last week, Judge Walker delivered a ruling on Marriage Equality that was deemed a success by the people fighting for this basic human right. But he also delivered a ruling on a temporary stay of implementing the the results of his decision. Today, Judge Walker gave his stay a deadline of July 18th.

A federal judge put gay marriages on hold for at least another six days in California, disappointing dozens of gay couples who lined up outside City Hall hoping to tie the knot Thursday.

Judge Vaughn Walker gave opponents of same-sex weddings until Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. to get a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether gay marriage should resume. Gay marriages could happen at that point or be put off indefinitely depending on how the court rules.

More from the NY Times:

Both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown had asked the court to lift the stay. “Doing so is consistent with California’s long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect,” Mr. Schwarzenegger’s lawyers wrote in a brief filed Friday.

When the decision was announced on Thursday, there was euphoria and tears from many of those assembled at San Francisco’s city hall, even as ministers began arriving to perform ceremonies and rainbow flags – long a symbol of gay rights – were being waved. Those ceremonies would be on hold, however, as Judge Walker said he would allow the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – where the case has been appealed -- time to consider the matter.

Still, the mood was ebullient among gay and lesbian couples in San Francisco.

They may be celebrating but they will have to wait another week, at least, before any more Marriage Equality is shared.

Connecticut Man1
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - 11:11pm

For anyone that believes that participatory democracy works better than suppressed democracy...

The DoJ recently hammered out some pretty darn good rules of the road and then some when it comes to the previously under utilized and relatively unenforced motor voter laws. From the Op Ed pages of the NY Times:

A Welfare Check and a Voting Card

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, better known as the motor-voter law, is well-known for making it possible to register to vote at state motor vehicle offices. However, the law also required states to allow registration at offices that administer food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, disability assistance and child health programs. States were enthusiastic about the motor-vehicle section of the law, and millions of new voters got on the rolls while getting a driver’s license. But registration at public assistance offices proved far less popular.

In part, that was because of additional paperwork at those offices, but in many states, Republican officials did not want to provide easy entry to the voting rolls for low-income people whom they considered more likely to vote Democratic. The Bush administration devoted its attention to seeking out tiny examples of voter fraud and purging people from the rolls in swing states. It did little to enforce the motor-voter law despite years of complaints from civic groups and Democratic lawmakers.

In April, however, President Obama’s Justice Department sent the states a set of guidelines making it clear that it expected full compliance with the public-assistance office section of the law

There are times when it is appropriate to give kudos to the Obama administration for small changes that can make a huge impact over time. This is one of them.

The government can and should always be actively pursuing potential voters and trying to increase the participation rates in a democracy. And this is a whole bunch of small efforts to do just that.

Connecticut Man1
Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 7:52pm

Judge Walker issued his rulings and struck down Prop 8 on the basis of violations of due process and equal protections rights:

Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result...; moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.

Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8.

But it was all just one giant step forward before an immediate stall:

Although today's Prop 8 ruling said "California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples," that may not be happening immediately. Supporters of traditional marriage Tuesday night filed papers requesting Federal Judge Vaughn Walker to stay his decision if he ruled banning gay marriage unconstitutional. "A stay is essential to averting the harms that would flow from another purported window of same-sex marriage in California," they wrote.

Yep... Bring on the "GOP Trial Lawyers" and their "frivolous lawsuits" in order to waste the court's time and the state's money while there are real crimes going on everywhere around us and no money to pay for what really needs to be fixed in the USA.

Connecticut Man1
Monday, August 2, 2010 - 12:33pm

Think about the coming redistricting as a result of the recent Census.

Imagine that many states that will gain a lot more Congressional weight through the Census results inevitable redistricting suddenly decided to chase a particular growing population from their state with certain targeted policies in order to achieve the goal of keeping these newly minted Congressional heavy weights in the hands of a political party that would otherwise be losing grip in the future.

And just imagine if they were already doing it to a large degree and with great success.

I guess you do not have to imagine it all, eh?

Connecticut Man1
Friday, July 30, 2010 - 12:06pm

From the Rachel Maddow show, Chris Hayes notes an odd contrast in immigration policies that is sure to piss off the left, right and even the middle. From the Maddow Blog:

President Obama is expected to deport 10 percent more people this year than President Bush deported in 2008. At the same time, the Obama administration has taken on Arizona's "Papers, please" anti-immigration measure. The federal government won a temporary injunction Wednesday against parts of the law that critics say would lead to racial profiling.

Whatever you make of the justice and fairness in this issue, there's a political calculation at work. Just months ago, the president's approval rating among Latinos was coming in at 79 percent. It's now down to 55 percent.

Video from The Rachel Maddow Show, with Chris Hayes sitting in for Maddow, below the fold.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Nate Silver explains some of the potential problems with this. I just can not, for the life of me, see any real strategy here. Not good strategy, at least. Unless the plan was to do the electoral equivalent of beating himself over the head with sledgehammer in both hands?

As Maddow would say: "Someone talk me down?" But I am not sure that anybody sane could do that.