Black History Month: A congressional lesson

Since today is the last day of Black History Month, let’s have a black history quiz:

What do the following people have in common? (Chart from the Washington Post)


Yes, they are black. (Why else would they be in this quiz?) But they also represent a significant minority.

Of the 1,950 people who have served in the U.S. Senate, these nine are the only African Americans to hold a seat in the upper chamber of Congress.

Hyram Revels and Blanche Bruce were both senators from Mississippi who served during the post Civil War Reconstruction of the South from 1870-71 and 1875-1881, respectively. Both were appointed by the Mississippi State Legislature, but Bruce was the first black person for serve a full Senate term.

Edward Brooke (1967-1979) of Massachusetts was the first African American to win a Senate seat in a popular vote. The Bay State also was represented by Mo Cowan, who was appointed to the seat in 2013 to fill out the vacancy created by the appointment of John F. Kerry to the post of Secretary of State. Ed Markey now holds that seat.

Illinois has had three black senators, Carol Moseley Braun (1993-1999)), Barack Obama (2005-2008) and Roland Burris (2009-2010). Moseley Braun is the only African American to serve a full term as an Illinois senator. Obama … well, you know what happened to him. Burris was appointed to finish Obama’s term.

Tim Scott of South Carolina was appointed to the Senate in 2013 when Jim DeMint decided he was going to go to the Heritage Foundation to make a lot of money. It will be interesting to see what happens this year, when Scott faces a special election to complete the term. He’s only the third black person to represent a Southern state.

And Cory Booker of New Jersey was elected last year in a special election, but he runs again this year for a full term.

So, by the numbers, There have been five black Democrats and four black Republicans in the Senate. Three have been appointed. Two are up for re-election this year. And one became president.

An interesting countdown for such a tiny group.

A concise explanation of GOP policy on women

Two things to consider concerning the Republican Party and women’s health issues.

This is what conservatives are doing today:

And this is what they want the future to be:

The above are “fantasy.” Here’s reality (from the Associated Press):

Abortion opponents have stopped handing out toy fetuses at the North Dakota State Fair.

State Fair General Manager Renee Korslein tells the Forum newspaper that fair officials were not aware that North Dakota Right to Life and other local chapters planned to hand out the toys during the fair parade on July 20 and later at fair booths.

Korslein says parade organizers may create an application for exhibitors to list what they’ll hand out for next year’s parade. She wouldn’t say whether North Dakota Right to Life would have been allowed to pass out the dolls this year if it had asked.

A federal judge earlier this week halted a law passed by the North Dakota Legislature that would have banned abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

One nation … indivisible

You can blame the religious right for this:

One-fifth of U.S. adults say they are not part of a traditional religious denomination, new data from the Pew Research Center show, evidence of an unprecedented reshuffling of Americans’ spiritual identities that is shaking up fields from charity to politics.

But despite their nickname, the “nones” are far from godless. Many pray, believe in God and have regular spiritual routines.

When a group insists on imposing their religion on our political system, people who want to believe in a higher power don’t tune out politics. They tune out religion. Think I’m kidding?

The study presents a stark map of how political and religious polarization have merged in recent decades. Congregations used to be a blend of political affiliations, but that’s generally not the case anymore. Sociologists have shown that Americans are more likely to pick their place of worship by their politics, not vice versa.

Some said the study and its data on younger generations forecast more polarization.

“We think it’s mostly a reaction to the religious right,” said Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, who has written at length about the decline in religious affiliation. “The best predictor of which people have moved into this category over the last 20 years is how they feel about religion and politics” aligning, particularly conservative politics and opposition to gay civil rights.

Here’s a link to the complete study.

Ah, the humanity!

Here’s Mitt Romney‘s plan for tonight’s presidential debate (from the National Review).

Romney’s advisers have a simple strategy: They want their candidate to balance his finely tuned arguments with personal warmth. Since Romney is a reserved man, his advisers acknowledge that it will be difficult for him to endear himself to the country, especially under the hot studio lights. But they consider it critical. “This is really about introducing him to the country,” a Romney adviser says. “It’s the largest audience he has ever had. Everybody’s watching.”

So the key to winning the debate is to appear human? He hasn’t tried to appear human during the past six years he’s been running for president?  Good luck with that.

The joys of middle income

I don’t know about this:

“No one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is (to) keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers,” Romney told host George Stephanopoulos.

“Is $100,000 middle income?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less,” Romney responded.

I want to go on the attack, but then, I’d like to fit into Mitt Romney’s definition of middle income, especially the $200,000 to $250,000 part.

What’s a blogger to do?

The Romneys and the ‘dignity of work’

The latest in the war on women from your GOP candidate for president, Mitt Romney:

“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” said Romney. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless.’ And I said, ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.”

Now, contrast that with what happened when Hilary Rosen, the Democratic strategist last week said, “Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.”

Ann Romney,making her Twitter debut, responded, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.” The blogosphere quickly picked up on the remarks, prompting senior Democratic officials, including Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, chief strategist David Axelrod, first lady Michelle Obama, and the president himself, to distance themselves from the comment and praise the work of motherhood.

Once again, the White House pisses me off for leaving its supporters out to dry. Yes, there is work in raising a family. We all know that. But a hell of a lot of Americans are immersed in the work of raising a family and at the same time working to bring a paycheck home every week so that family they’re raising can survive.

Hilary Rosen was right. Ann Romney never for a day had “to have the dignity of work” under the terms Mitt Romney wants the rest of us to follow. Because we are not worthy. Because our function in the world is to serve Mitt and Anne and all the little Mittsters driving their cars into the family’s garage elevator.

Don’t think for a second that Romney cares about us or our dignity. We are here to serve or be fired. Nothing more.

The Cain mutiny: Herman is out

This really isn’t a surprise (from the New York Times):

An unapologetic and defiant Herman Cain suspended his presidential campaign on Saturday, pledging that he “would not go away” even as he abandoned the Republican presidential race in the face of escalating accusations of sexual misconduct.

“As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul-searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign,” Mr. Cain said at a rally in Atlanta, surrounded by supporters chanting his name. “Because of the continued distractions, the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because we are not fighters. Not because I’m not a fighter.”

The fact that he got as far as he did is amazing, considering his utter failure to grasp any major issue. But in the alternate universe that is GOP land, that was a qualification that showed he had an open mind. Not even the sexual harassment issue knocked him out. A 13-year affair proved to be unacceptable to his base, not to mention his wife.

So what does his future hold?

He gets a contract with Fox News to be the official representative of African Americans against Barack Obama. He sells more books. He gets high paying speaking gigs. He’ll syndicate a column. And in four years, he’ll be back in the political spotlight as a pliant media speculate on whether he’ll make another bid for the presidency.

But whatever he does, he should consider harvesting and bottling that pheromone he gives off that makes women come up with what he says are sexual fantasies about him. Put that in a commercial with a Barry White soundtrack in the back, and there’s his next million dollars.

(This was the greatest moment from “Ally McBeal.”)