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Kay Steiger

Kay Steiger is an associate editor at Talking Points Memo. She formerly worked at Raw Story, Washingtonian magazine, the Center for American Progress and The American Prospect. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, the Guardian, Jezebel, AlterNet and others. She graduated from the University of Minnesota. Contact her at kay@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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Time to heave ho, argues Ed Kilgore, "As the State of the Union Address and the first partisan blows of the 2014 election cycle approach, there’s a familiar character missing from the political state: the Deficit Boogeyman."

Venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who is under fire for comparing the attack on America's rich to "Kristallnacht," was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in France in 1996 for killing someone -- with his yacht.

It apparently doesn't get much worse than the U.S. Army, according to jokes surfaced by the Washington Post from emails commanders sent to one another. Brigadier General Martin P. Schweitzer, at the time a colonel, wrote in an email to a colleague that he had masturbated "3 times over the past 2 hours" after a meeting with Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC). Ick.

We're pleased to have Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in The World, join us this week for TPM Cafe Book Club. She has a great essay written for TPM today on why poverty doesn't explain gaps in test scores: "[I]f we consider only our most affluent kids, the top quartile of American 15 year olds by socio-economic status, we see something startling: our most privileged kids still score below their privileged peers in 26 other nations on a test of critical thinking in math."

TPM subscribers should join us for a Q&A with Amanda Ripley on Friday at noon.

Today is the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in the United States. Over at TPM Cafe, Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which fights many anti-abortion state measures in court, argues: "People are fed up. They’re speaking out. And — for the first time in a long time — there are signs that a critical mass of our representatives in Congress is listening."

Following that, Jessica Arons of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project argues that many anti-abortion policies are about making life harder for poor women: "in a perverse irony, Congress denies coverage for abortion care to women enrolled in Medicaid, our government’s health insurance program for the poor, under a policy known as the Hyde Amendment."

And TPM's Sahil Kapur points out that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a fierce defender of women's rights, actually hates Roe v. Wade: "Her pique is that the Roe opinion, written by Justice Harry Blackmun, relies on a "right of privacy" under the 4th Amendment and emphasizes the right of physicians to practice medicine as they see fit. She prefers that abortion rights be recognized under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, based on the view that having a child should be a woman's choice."

Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as someone who champions partisan gridlock in a policy speech Thursday evening in Prestonburg, Kentucky.

"We must rise above the partisan bickering and the Washington gridlock that Mitch McConnell champions," Grimes said in prepared remarks. "What I recognize, and what Mitch McConnell lost sight of long ago, is that this tragedy – and it is a tragedy – is not a set of numbers. These are the heartbreaking stories of real people, of our fellow Kentuckians, good people, hard-working people, unable to support themselves and their families because of devastating circumstances beyond their control."

Her speech goes on to say that there is no "silver bullet" for Kentucky's economic woes but proposes " commonsense solutions" like investing in infrastructure, pushing greater training in math and science for the workforce, offering affordable child care and eliminating the gender pay gap.

"Eastern Kentucky and similar regions are still largely left behind economically: Coal jobs have disappeared and not been replaced. Families struggle to make ends meet on minimum-wage jobs. Schools and infrastructure lag behind. Good Americans, who work hard and have served their country, lack opportunity. We can do better," she said.

Grimes' policy proposal can be read in full below:

Read Alison's Job Plan

Marion Johnson on North Carolina's rollback of voting rights to post-Reconstruction-era restrictions: "Much like the voter suppression of a century ago, many elements in North Carolina’s new law will disproportionately hurt black and low-income voters.
 According to Democracy NC, 29 percent of early voters and 34 percent of same-day registrants in 2012 were black."

It's that time of year, when members of Congress announce they just can't muster another election season. We're keeping track of who's retiring here, and we'll keep it updated.

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