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June 30, 2011


The top five posts from Progressive Fix

The Drop Out Crisis and Teen Pregnancy - Olivia Marshall

Graduation season is upon us, but the approximately 1.3 million high school students who dropped out this year won’t be hearing “Pomp and Circumstance.” These dropouts are disproportionately black and Hispanic, and overwhelmingly poor. Since failing to finish school contributes mightily to poverty and inequality in America, increasing high school graduation rates should be an urgent national priority.

Why do so many poor kids drop out? Some dwell on low expectations and a lack of motivation among kids who struggle to learn, get frustrated and eventually give up. But lately researchers have drawn attention to an under-appreciated reason that students drop out: pregnancy. Among dropouts, 30 percent of girls cite pregnancy or parenthood as a key reason they left school. According to the National Campaign for Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, only 51 percent of teen moms earn a high school diploma compared to 89 percent of female students who did not give birth as a teen. The picture is even worse for the youngest mothers: just 38 percent of teen girls who have a child before they turn 18 have a high school diploma. For these teens, the task of balancing their education and a baby proved impossible.  Read more…

Wingnut Watch: Bachmann’s Alternate Reality - Ed Kilgore

For true connoisseurs of wingnuttery, there’s no one in elected office quite like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). Sure, her House colleague Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia is more regularly dopey, and her close friend Rep. Steve Smith of Iowa can be as shrill, but day in, day out, Bachmann exhibits the glowing heart of conservative extremism in all its forms with impressive consistency.

To some extent, Bachmann’s notoriety flows from her willingness to say outrageous things for which she has absolutely no evidence. The Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking service PolitiFact has rated 23 Bachmann statements since 2009. Sixteen were either “false” or “pants-on-fire” false. Another six were “half-true” or “barely true.” And that’s aside from her frequent gaffes, most notably her relocation of the Revolutionary War sites of Concord and Lexington from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, and her proud claim just yesterday that John Wayne hailed from her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa (as all Iowans are taught from birth, the Duke was from Winterset).  Read more…

Danger Will Robinson! GOP Actually Not Serious on Defense Cuts. - Jim Arkedis

In the GOP’s Establishment v. Tea Party battle, this round, at least, looks like it was won by the outsiders. And, so it seems, the Establishment looks to be fine with that.

After making a big political show last week of storming out of Vice President Joe Biden’s fiscal negotiations over taxes, Republican Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appears to have made a decision: cutting the Pentagon’s budget is less sacrosanct to conservatives than raising revenue. Cantor has positioned himself firmly against tax increases while using the Tea Party’s focus on spending cuts as political cover to give the appearance that he’s willing to give ground on Defense spending. “Everything is on the table,” Cantor said when referring to Defense cuts, implicitly endorsing the position of Tea Party-backed freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) who says we “can’t afford” this Republican “sacred cow” anymore. Read more…

A Republic, If We Can Keep It - Tom Eland

While ordinary Americans celebrate the start of summer warm weather and bemoan the lack of progress on a deficit reduction deal in Congress, members of Congress themselves have been gearing up for the July 4th recess by engaging in a different sort of Washington pastime–by raising money.

The week before the July 4th recess has seen a flurry of congressional fundraising ahead of the upcoming June 30th quarterly deadline. Read more…

Buying Time in Afghanistan - Will Marshall

President Obama is taking heat for announcing troop withdrawals last night without clarifying U.S. war aims in Afghanistan. Yet his basic strategy couldn’t be clearer. It is to depart Afghanistan gradually – a fighting withdrawal – to maximize the odds that the Taliban won’t be able to take over once U.S. troops are gone.

It may not work, but it’s hard to see a better alternative. The United States can’t “win” this war in any conventional sense. We can’t defeat the Taliban, which unfortunately has an ethnic and popular base in Pashtun regions. We can’t afford nation-building in Afghanistan right now, even if we knew how to do it. We can’t make the central government fundamentally less corrupt and more effective in delivering basic services. The best we can do is to build and train Afghan security forces, bolster local resistance to the Taliban and degrade the insurgents’ military strength. Read more…

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