Nel's New Day

June 30, 2011

Google Rick Santorum

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:24 PM

Rick Santorum has a Google problem—and it’s immediately obvious when a person Googles his name. This derogatory definition of his name resulted from his statement that American citizens do not have a constitutional right to privacy and that society and the family are undermined by certain practices such as polygamy, adultery, and sodomy. In his objection to sodomy, he compared homosexuality to a man having a sexual relationship with a dog.

At that point Dan Savage, now known for the “It Gets Better” campaign to keep LGBTQ young people from committing suicide, created the infamous website with the definition. Last year Savage offered last year to remove the website if Santorum donated $5 million to the gay rights group Freedom to Marry. The website is still up. Incidentally, it’s not entirely a joke. If you’re brave enough to go into the website, you’ll find more information about Santorum.

In the this round’s first GOP presidential candidate debate held in early May, Santorum echoed his strong opposition to same-sex marriage but got lost on the way. Somehow he linked his policy to the Declaration of Independence when he said that the right to life and liberty requires limited government so that people can be free and that this happens only from strong families. “Rights come from God,” he said in explaining why same-sex marriage is wrong.

Would World War II vets want to keep their Medicare? There’s been no polling on that, but Santorum thinks they wouldn’t. In his speech celebrating the 67th anniversary of D-Day, the landing on the beaches of Normandy to take France from the Germans, he talked about how almost 60,000 soldiers fought for freedom. “Those Americans risked everything so they could make that decision on their health care plan,” he said. Now we know: Roosevelt sent the soldiers into war to protect them from Medicare.

A disagreement with John McCain about whether torture and George W. Bush led to the discovery of Osama bin Laden landed Santorum into the midst of a ridiculous statement that he kept repeating. “He [McCain] doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative. And that’s when we got this information. And one thing led to another, and led to another, and that’s how we ended up with bin Laden.” Santorum must have known that McCain was repeatedly subjected to torture over his five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, but he refused to back down from his statements.

Women receive the same lack of compassion from Santorum as McCain’s torture. During a speech at a so-called “crisis pregnancy center” which refuses to accept the possibility of abortion, he ridiculed a health exception for partial birth abortion. Allowing an abortion when keeping the fetus would endanger the woman’s life is just a “phony” excuse, according to Santorum. He went even farther in his assertion that any doctor who performs an abortion, even in the case of rape or incest, should be criminally charged.

As the authority on climate change, Santorum gave his explanation to Rush Limbaugh about why it doesn’t exist: “I believe the earth gets warmer, and I also believe the earth gets cooler, and I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man through the production of CO2 which is a trace gas in the atmosphere and the manmade part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all of the other factors, El Nino, La Nina, sunspots, you know, moisture in the air.” (In the interview he did make one point that I agree with: “You tell people lies enough and you indoctrinate them enough, of course I’ve got grave concerns.”)

School vouchers is a program that Santorum strongly supported, and he had a good reason. While he lived in Virginia between 2001 and 2004, he enrolled his five children in the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School at a cost of $100,000 to the school district. It’s the law in Pennsylvania: school districts must pay for students who live in their district but enroll in cyber schools. The law doesn’t say that they have to pay for children living in Virginia. Santorum gave the money back—after the school district went to court. He did own a house in the district, and Santorum supporters justified his using the school district’s money by saying that he paid taxes there.

Rick Santorum follows the ultra-conservative party line in both social and fiscal aspects. He does have a much greater concern for the former issue—lots of guns, deport all immigrants, keep the flag from being burned, etc. Unlike other candidates, he hasn’t given any hard figures about lowering taxes except for being more punitive toward seniors in reducing Medicare than Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal. Not using specifics and just making general noises might be a safer approach because no one can question facts that aren’t there. Further right than Bachmann, he should be loved by the Tea Party—but he’s getting very little press. That’s a bad sign for someone who wants to become the last presidential candidate standing.

June 29, 2011

Jon Huntsman ‘Nice’ But Dangerous

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 3:33 PM

The far, far right conservatives have serious problems with Jon Huntsman. He doesn’t scream at his opposition, he doesn’t trash President Obama, he doesn’t lie, and he believes in civility. Instead of conforming with their garbage approach like other sheeply conservative presidential candidates, he holds the position that the GOP has moved too far to the right. True, he holds some conservative positions including those of pro-gun, pro-life, and pro-business as well as being a fiscal conservative. On the other hand, he supports same-sex civil unions and the concept of climate change.

Unfortunately for the safety of the planet, he has done a 180-degree turn from the cap-and-trade position he supported while governor of Utah, explaining that we can no longer afford to put limits on emissions in the United States. He also is adamant about vetoing a ban on assault weapons.

Huntsman’s refusal to sign pledges will irritate the Tea Party folk who are using as litmus tests the Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge (meaning not one cent of additional revenue coming into the government) and the Susan B. Anthony Pledge of opposing any abortion rights. He says that he’s running on his record and doesn’t need pledges to show his political positions.

His fiscal record shows a serious problem for the nation. Under Huntsman’s leadership,Utah changed its tax code to create a statewide flat tax, a straight 5 percent which sharply reduced taxes for the wealthy. Research showed that they paid 4.9 percent of their income while the poorest 20 percent of Utah residents paid 9 percent of their income in taxes. The other result of the flat tax was a disastrous shortfall that went from $173 million two years before he took over to $1 billion when he left in 2009 to become the ambassador to China. The year 2009 saw a $300-million loss in revenue in Utah. The state backed off his idea of eliminating corporate taxes when lawmakers realized that this would cost the state at least another $200 million in revenue. Huntsman’s family business, one of the nation’s largest chemical corporations, would greatly benefit if he could successfully slash the federal corporate tax rate.

His stand on the individual mandate of health care has shifted in the past four years. He supported it in 2007 but now opposes it. Back in 2007 he said, “We mandate insurance for cars, but not children’s health.” We don’t know if it’s okay now that children don’t have health care. He also favors more federal funding for health coverage, but Medicare would disappear under Huntsman’s leadership. He endorsed the GOP’s budget plan, the one that would turn Medicare into a voucher program with seniors paying most of their health insurance. Huntsman embraced the Ryan program despite saying that, in years past, it would have (and should have) been “laughed out of the room.”

While other candidates run around the country claiming that they will force a constitutional amendment preventing states from legislating same-sex marriage, as New York did less than a week ago, Huntsman said that he would respect state decisions–a fresh approach after the last few months of vitriolic speeches.

A member of the Mormon church, he indicates that he is more “spiritual” than religious and that his Mormon membership is “tough to define.” Evangelicals worry about the Mormon religion because it’s not their own.

In his announcement of candidacy, he said, “We will conduct this campaign on the high road,” describing modern political debate as mostly “corrosive.” While candidates such as Bachmann are trying to back down from earlier statements that President Obama is “un-American,” Huntsman focuses on the issues such as the mounting debt and creating jobs. (Of course, all the Republicans campaigned last year on creating jobs before they got elected and proceed to take away women’s and worker’s rights.) Jon Huntsman appears to be a gentleman; politics for the next year would be far different in the next 18 months if the other candidates tried to match his current level of civility.

Despite—or perhaps because of—his demeanor, blogger Anthony Orlando finds him a very dangerous man. “As a share of the economy, federal tax revenue is the lowest it’s been since the 1940s. The United States has lower tax revenue, as a share of the economy, than every industrialized country except Australia. The average federal income tax rate for a median-income family of four is the lowest it’s been in over five decades, as is corporate tax revenue. Small businesses are less concerned about taxes than they were in the 1990s (or in 2006, for that matter). Taxes don’t seem to be stopping corporate executives, whose compensation increased 18% in 2010, or nonresidential investment, which has long since returned to its pre-recession growth rate.”

None of the candidates, including Jon Huntsman,  seems to know these facts and understand what their tax policies would do to the country.

June 28, 2011

Ron Paul’s Libertarian View

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 1:45 PM

Ron Paul is the longest running presidential candidate, starting with his 1988 victory to be the Libertarian candidate in 1988. Covering 22 counties, his current Texas district is larger than Massachusetts but with only 10 percent of that state. Considering his opposition to programs that would help his constituents, it’s amazing that Paul ever gets elected, but his closeness to the people results in their strong support. He travels over 300 miles daily to attend civic ceremonies and help those in need find programs that he opposes.

Advocating the libertarian replacement of state control with individual liberty and freedom, Paul wants to get rid of federal income tax, gas tax, stimulus, war, IDs, gender-equal pay, death penalty, Department of Education and the Department of Homeland Security, United Nations involvement, foreign aid to the Middle East, environmental protection, Selective Service, aliens’ birthright citizenship, minimum wage, Social Security, laws against drugs, federally funded flood insurance, farm subsidies, and welfare. He regularly votes against any new government spending, initiatives, and taxes while supporting corporate income tax, tariffs, and excise taxes. The American Journal of Political Science found him to be the most conservative of all 3,320 members of Congress from 1937 to 2002.

According to Paul, the “war” in Iraq was the senseless invasion of a sovereign state and bombing Libya was wrong. At the New Hampshire debate, he said, “I wouldn’t wait for my generals. I’m the commander in chief. … I’d bring them home as quick as possible.”

Not all of his policies show minimal government, however. He voted to build the fence along the Mexican border in 2006, and the conservative anti-immigration group American Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR) gave him a 100-percent rating in late 2003. Three years later he received 83-percent approval from another conservative group, U.S. Border Control (USBC).

Adamant about his opposition to abortion, he recent spoke at the National Right to Life Committee’s annual conference in Florida. “Abortion is murder,” he said, claiming that science defines life as beginning with conception. He also wants to prevent stem-cell research and to guarantee no experiments on frozen embryos—that no one else wants. During each of the past four House of Representative sessions, Paul has introduced the Sanctity of Life Act that would establish “personhood” from conception.

His LGBT views are a bit murkier. Twelve years ago he voted to ban gay adoptions in Washington, D.C.In 2007, he stated that “don’t ask don’t tell” was a “decent policy” for gays in the army but that the policy should be changed to focus on both heterosexual and homosexual disruptive sexual behavior. During the same year he opposed putting the classification “sexual orientation” in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He also opposed a Marriage Amendment (meaning no same-sex marriages) because “the current DOMA is enough.”

During an Iowa stop, Paul said that the individual states should settle issues such as gay marriage and abortion. In the first Republican presidential candidate debate in Greenville (SC) Paul said, “The Defense of Marriage Act was really designed to make sure the states have the privilege of dealing with it [marriage].” Paul added that marriage is a very personal religious matter that ideally should not involve government. Unfortunately his responses don’t answer the sticky questions of legal rights.

What sets Ron Paul apart from all the Republican presidential candidates already discussed as well as Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, however, is that he is honest. He says what he thinks, no matter how politically suicidal that statement might be. He doesn’t lie.

June 27, 2011

Tim Pawlenty Fading

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 5:08 PM

Yesterday, The New York Times published an extensive piece on Jon Huntsman, but along the way Matt Bai had a few things to say about the other Republican presidential candidates. According to Bai, the field is currently made up of “insurgents” who are running with Tea Party philosophies and alternatives who are somewhere behind Mitt Romney. The first four subjects addressed in this series have been insurgents: Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Michele Bachmann. Tim Pawlenty is an alternative, a contrast to Bachmann, the top insurgent right now and the other candidate from his home state of Minnesota. In being an alternative, he’ll try to show himself as highly electable and experienced as Romney but better in some way, but he’s got a long way to go.

Pawlenty holds similar views to other conservatives: keep all the guns you want, five educators merit pay (and not much), dump the unions, support right-to-lifers, reinstate capital punishment, get rid of any nationalized health care plan, don’t allow same-sex marriages, return to “don’t ask don’t tell” in the military, etc. But he doesn’t show himself rabid about it. He doesn’t get lots of things wrong, but he has a certain amount of baggage, statements that he has to deny in a believable manner.

He started doing in a January interview when he explained that he now believes that the nation was “founded under God.” He said, “I started with the perspective of someone who says that faith is separate from public law and public service; it really isn’t.” Of course, the interview was with a conservative Christian group, and he was trying to sell his book.

Pawlenty also supported TARP Act (Troubled Asset Relief Program) in 2008 but last year said he wasn’t speaking for himself but instead “speaking solely as a surrogate for John McCain [2008 GOP presidential nominee].”  In addition he felt he had to apologize for his past support of a cap on greenhouse-gas emissions. “I was wrong. It was a mistake and I’m sorry,” he pleaded at the New Hampshire debate.

Minnesota’s proximity to Iowa is somewhat awkward for Pawlenty. Although he might be expected to have a strong showing in the neighboring state, the Iowa Republican caucus is one of the most conservative in the nation, and the state is currently enamored with Michele Bachmann even if she has again shown herself as geographically challenged. During her campaign kickoff in Waterloo (IA), she touted a Waterloo native, John Wayne, as one of her inspirations. Actually, it’s the serial killer John Wayne Gacy who came from Waterloo.

Pawlenty does follow the Tea Party belief that government should take from the poor and give to the rich. He backs making all investment income—interest, dividends, gains, etc.—tax free, adding $14 billion to the deficit in one year. That way, 57,000 households making $1 million or more would avoid paying any income tax, more than doubling the current number of millionaires not paying income taxes. Pawlenty would also lower taxes on corporations from 35% to 15% and “sunset” all government regulations unless Congress votes to keep them. Pawlenty’s tax plan would cost $10 trillion by 2021. As governor, he didn’t have a good record of fiscal management; Minnesota is still among the ten worst states in overall tax climate, running eighth from the bottom in 2011.

Just because Pawlenty doesn’t talk as much as Bachmann doesn’t mean that he hasn’t made his share of gaffes. A doozey is this statement: “If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn’t need to be doing it,” Pawlenty said. “The post office, the government printing office, Amtrak, Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac], were all built in a time in our country when the private sector did not adequately provide those products. That’s no longer the case.” The Google Test would also eliminate the need for government to pay for U.S.soldiers, military weapons, the FBI, law enforcement, firefighters, food safety, road construction, arbitration, Social Security, Medicare, and more. In fact, implementing the Pawlenty Google Test would wipe out  “presidential candidate” and “Tim Pawlenty.”

His Perry approach toward the stimulus (first denounce it and then take billions of dollars  for his state) also hit a glitch in his first trip to persuade New Hampshire voters to support him. In touring the electronics company Cirtronics and praising their coming back from near disaster, he questioned the benefit of the stimulus. “It’s maybe had a little temporary effect,’’ Pawlenty said. “But it comes with big negative consequences down the road. It sets a really bad precedent.’’ Cirtronics received $935,000 in federal stimulus money to keep people employed. Minnesota used $2.3 billion in federal stimulus money to balance its budget during the two-year budget cycle ending this June and received a total of $5.9 billion from the federal government.

During his trip to New Hampshire for CNN’s presidential debate, Pawlenty made a controversial (bad?) choice of host for a house party. Ray Shakir calls President Obama a “jungle alien” and Hillary Clinton “Osama’s dream girl.” He also labeled some disabled children “uneducatable” and thus undeserving of taxpayer-funded schooling.

Pawlenty’s relationship with Frank Vennes, Jr. may also come back to haunt him. Vennes was a major donor to both Pawlenty and Bachmann, apparently with money that Vennes got channeling money from a Ponzi scheme that targeted faith-based charities, pastors, and ministers, removing much of their life savings. Both presidential candidates sought pardons for Vennes, hoping to erase the taint of the crimes that first landed him in prison. In April, Vennes was indicted on fraud and money-laundering charges in a U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

Other than not being particularly likable, Pawlenty’s biggest problem may be his lack of resources to compete across 50 states against the better-funded machines of Romney, Huntsman, and Bachmann. People working for Pawlenty’s campaign, including his top two strategists and other advisers, are earning either nothing of under $1,000 a month. More information will be released in July’s mandatory statement of expenditures.

With the lack of publicity and the strong promotion of several other Republican presidential candidates, Pawlenty seems destined to be footnote in history.

June 25, 2011

Michele Bachmann’s Paranoia

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 4:04 PM

“I would love to give the White house fits. I would, because, you know, I would love to stir it up even more…” So says Michele Bachmann, the fastest rising female star in Conservativeland as well as the leader of the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act. At a recent New Orleans rally, the U.S. Representative from Minnesota said, “President Bachmann will allow you to buy any light bulb you want.” Her fierce campaign against compact fluorescent lights comes from the belief that the energy-saving bulbs contain mercury, posing a “very real threat to children, disabled people, pets, senior citizens.”

Two years ago, Bachmann kept insisting that she would refuse to cooperate with the 2010 census despite the fact that this would be illegal. “I’m just not comfortable with the way this census is being handled,” she said, continuing that it was in part because Americans are “compelled” to answer the census. According to Bachmann, the census is used to drive people into internment camps. Before the actual census was taken a year after that, her arguments against it faded, perhaps because someone told her that her position was dependent on the number of people in her district. Maybe someone also told her that the census requirement is in the Constitution.

Bachmann has also warned the country about the danger of Obama-proposed “re-education camps” where they would be forced to absorb the philosophy of the Democratic parties. Her reference was to the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, expanding AmeriCorps and increasing volunteer opportunities around the world. Bachmann warned that a “Democrat colleague” had proposed to make it mandatory. A couple of months after that ranting, her son, Harrison, joined Teach for America (TFA), a member of AmeriCorps.

In a recent piece of paranoia, she claims that President Obama secretly wants Medicare to go bankrupt so retirees would be forced to enroll in his new national health care law, forcing them into the private insurance market. (Which seems to be what the Republicans want, not Obama!)

Paranoia also runs rampant in her claim about Iran and Iraq: In what she describes as an “agreement made” between Iraq and Iran, “they are going to get half of Iraq, and that is going to be a terrorist safe-haven zone where they can go ahead and bring about more attacks in the Middle East, and come against the United States.”

Other of her statements are equally wacky. “I think if we give Glenn Beck the numbers, he can solve this [the national debt],” she said to a South Carolina audience. Bachmann compared Iraq after a 2007 trip to the Mall of America with its marble and abundance of water. Her claim that Terri Schiavo,Florida woman caught in a political tug-of-war about forgoing further life-prolonging procedures or life support treatment, was “healthy” came after an autopsy showing that Schiavo’s brain was “profoundly atrophied.”

Sometimes her statements are as cruel as they are stupid, for example when she said that Melissa Etheridge should repent after her diagnosis of cancer. “Unfortunately she is now suffering from breast cancer, so keep her in your prayers,” she said in November 2004. “This may be an opportunity for her now to be open to some spiritual things, now that she is suffering with that physical disease. She is a lesbian.”

Claiming to have 23 children (18 of them in short-term foster care as teenagers), Bachmann takes a laissez-faire approach toward their education: Doubting evolution, she said that she would require schools to teach intelligent design. “What I support is putting all science on the table and letting students decide.” She also claimed that “there are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.” Not true.

Abortion: Believes right to life extends to the born and unborn, as do all the far-right wingnuts; co-sponsored legislation to defund Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal dollars; and signed the Susan B. Anthony List’s Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge.

Environment: Called global warming “a hoax” and would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, created during Richard Nixon’s presidency. Also claimed that carbon dioxide is “harmless” despite the scientific finding from a Stanford scientist that as many as “20,000 air-pollution-related deaths per year per degree Celsius may be due to this greenhouse gas.” Pro-Second Amendment, she warned her constituents to be “armed and dangerous” in their resistance to cap-and-trade limits.

Fiscal Issues: Would “zero out” capital gains tax, Alternative Minimum Tax, and estate tax; cut the top corporate rate from 35 percent to 9 percent; scrap the U.S. tax code; and adopt a national consumption tax. Also maintained that eradicating the minimum wage would wipe out unemployment “because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.” (Noted economist Paul Krugman strenuously disagrees.) Her tax changes would take 23,000 millionaires off the income tax rolls saving them about $11 billion, adding the same sum to the U.S. deficit. The deficit would skyrocket even more because more than 200,000 households that make $1 million or more would get an average tax cut of $100,000—about $10 billion, according to my calculations. 

LGBT Issues: Wants a Constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. Claimed that showing a picture of The Lion King to second graders and telling them that the music for the movie was written by a gay may would lead to “desensitization” toward same-sex marriage. Equates pedophiles with LGBT people: A “pedophile, someone who considers themselves gay, someone who considers themselves transgender, someone who considers themselves a cross-dresser? That is who is protected.” Describes same-sex marriage as dangerous: “It is our children who are the prize for this community, they are specifically targeting our children.” [Note: Bachmann’s stepsister Helen LaFave has been with her same-sex partner for 22 years.]

Politics: Accused Obama (at that time a U.S. senator) of having “anti-American views” and wanted “an exposé” of other legislators, such as then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid, by the media because of their views.

Religion: Believes support for Israel is handed down by God and that the U.S. will cease to exist if it pulls back its support; defends National Day of Prayer; and gives God credit for her decision to run for president.

Bachmann definitely suffers from a fuzzy history syndrome. In Manchester  she praised New Hampshire for being the state where the Revolutionary War began. The “shot heard round the world” was actually 50 miles south in another Concord—this one inMassachusetts. She deserves credit for perseverance, however; she repeated that story twice more in other fundraisers. “She makes Sarah Palin look like Count Metternich,” tweeted longtime GOP consultant Mike Murphy.

Speaking to an Iowa anti-tax group, Bachmann praised the Founding Fathers for ending slavery. “The very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States,” she said. Some were against slavery, others were opposed, but slavery wasn’t abolished until Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation 87 years later.

Bachmann praised John Quincy Adams because he “would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.” The sixth president of the U.S. did campaign against slavery. But he was eight years old when the Declaration was signed and died in 1848, almost 20 years before the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery.

Even current events seem to escape Bachmann, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. During an appearance on Meet the Press, she suggested that President Obama should defer to Gen. David Petraeus on the Libya crisis. At that time Petraeus, commander of American forces in Afghanistan,  was not involved in Libyan military decisions.

Her use of tax-payer funds to help the Tea Party may lead to problems for Bachmann on her path to the presidential candidacy. After she asked thousands of tea partyers to the Capitol to rage against the pending health care bill in late 2009, she and three other conservative GOP colleagues — Reps. Tom Price (GS), Steve King (IA) and Todd Akin (MO) — each paid $3,407.50, a total of $13,630, for the sound system used at the rally, out of their taxpayer-funded office accounts. House rules prohibit the use of these funds for political activities, but Bachmann’s office insists the the event was a “press conference,” which can be funded from official accounts. No questions were taken from the press.

Her use of other tax-payer monies seems also questionable. After she gave an alternate response to President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address in tandem with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), she paid Oval office Writers a $5,000 fee for “speechwriting.” A year ago she hired Guy Short as “senior adviser,” paying him $5,000 for the month. During the same month, Short established C&M Strategies in Colorado. After Short quit, Bachmann’s campaign paid C&M Strategies for fundraising consulting services. Its CPA filed papers with the Federal Election Commission creating Bachmann’s leadership PAC, Many Individual Conservatives Helping Elect Leaders Everywhere. Since then, MICHELEPAC and the campaign committee have paid C&M Strategies about $150,000 for fundraising consulting.

Asked about Short’s duties in the Congressional office, Bachmann spokesman Doug Sachtleben said in an email, “With six years of hill experience as a Chief of Staff, Guy Short worked with every member of the Congresswoman’s staff to ensure that they worked as effectively as possible to serve the constituents of Minnesota’s sixth district.”

Other Bachmann staffers received regular checks from her campaign while serving on her Congressional payroll—which is permissible as long as the employees make a clear separation between the time they spend working on the campaign and the hours they are working for the Congressional office.

She also used her Congressional office account to cover travel costs for television appearances—not barred by House rules but strange. All these expenses are covered, according to Bachmann, by the need for “communication.” Other Members who appear on television have the costs covered by the networks, and those costs are reported to the House Ethics Committee as “gift travel.”

Her blend of Evangelicalism and the belief that globalism is a force for evil began the star’s rise spanning the time of George W. Bush’s reign and moving into that of President Obama. In 1999, she laid the foundation for her political career by railing against the Profile of Learning, a state curriculum standard that she and her allies argued was leading the nation toward a pantheistic, pro-abortion, one-world society. The Profile, initially created by former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson, established 10 basic “learning areas” that students were required to pass—like reading, writing, and mathematics. Bachmann argued that public schools, in collaboration with business interests, would use these “learning areas” to funnel children into specific careers through a program called School to Work.

The world would be better if Michele Bachmann moved from a political career into writing fiction, but her insane comments seem to do nothing other than bring her more money.

June 24, 2011

Same-Sex Marriage Legal in New York

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:49 PM

At 7:30 pm today (PST), the New York legislature passed same-sex marriage. The only way to go from here is forward!

June 23, 2011

Newt Gingrich Tries to Return

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:43 PM

Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood.” This direct statement from Newt Gingrich comes from his changed his position on Paul Ryan’s rejection of Medicare. First Newt was against it, but after the far-right screamed, he is for it.

Gingrich has struggled with his new campaign for Republican presidential candidate particularly after his senior staff all bailed. Newt’s reason for their disappearance is that he’s “too different” with his edgy, forward-thinking policy positions—a rebel, an outsider who challenges the mainstream. Others have suggested, however, that he doesn’t pay enough attention to the nuts-and-bolts of campaigning. The staff’s departure may be related to the appearances for the candidate’s personal film and book industries that he and his wife require staffers to coordinate. And of course, there was the two-week cruise in Greece soon after he declared himself a candidate. This from the man who complains about the Democrat “elite.”

Although Gingrich has spent lots of time lobbing questions about the not one but two $500,000 lines of credit, interest free, from Tiffany’s, the mainstream media hasn’t mentioned anything about its background. Nothing about the fact that the lobbying spending on “mining law and mine permitted-related issues” increased sharply during the time that Callista Gingrich was chief clerk of the House Agriculture Committee and Gingrich’s former chief aid works for the lobbying company employed by Tiffany’s.

Gingrich’s complaint about Obama is that he has an unfair advantage over the Republicans: “He’s going to have all the advantages of the mainstream media. He’s going to have all the advantages of left-wing billionaires like George Soros. He’s going to have all the advantages of the Hollywood crowd, and they are going to go out—and all the advantages of the unions. So they are going to try to raise a billion dollars for a very practical reason: He can’t afford to run a fair election. If he was on an equal playing field, he’d lose.” [Always someone else’s fault?]

This statement differs from what he said he would tell children who wondered what their opportunities were: “If you’re black you have to work harder, and if you’re black and poor you have to work twice as hard.”

Gingrich told one interviewer that he has written and said so much that he refuses to answer questions about what he wrote or said in the past. Fortunately, the web has a wealth of information. He doesn’t need to say anything.

About Taxes: “Match the Chinese and have zero capital gains tax.” (Feb 2009) “Tax hikes retard growth and depress revenues.” (Dec 2007) “Eliminate the capital gains tax to encourage investing.” (Sep 2007) “We should adopt a single-rate tax system.” (Jul 2010) 

About President Clinton’s Impeachment: “We proceeded with an unpopular impeachment ‘because we can.’” (Jun 2004)

About LGBT People: “I helped author DOMA; if it fails, amend the Constitution.” (Jun 2011) ” The Army and Marines wanted Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell.”  (Jun 2011) “I helped oust Iowa justices who approved same-sex marriage.” (May 2011) His half-sister, a lesbian lobbyist, said in June 1995, “Newt promotes tolerance.” She may think differently now, especially after he supported California’s Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in the state, with television advertising. He also opposes same-sex adoption.

About Affirmative Action Programs: “Discontinue them.” (Nov 1998) Earlier (June 1992) he said, “Affirmative action is okay individually, but not by group.”

About Religion: “Insist on judges who understand our rights come from God.” (Dec. 2006)

About Women: “Women are not suitable for combat due to infections.” (June 1995)

About Tolerance: “America is multi-ethnic but not multi-cultural.” (Jun 1995) “The red-blue split inAmerica is 85% Americans and 15% fringe. (Dec 2007)

The recent Republican presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire revealed some perspective on Gingrich when he compared Muslims with Nazis and Communists. Like Herman Cain, he believes all U.S. Muslim citizens should sign a loyalty oath.

Gingrich initiated his national political involvement in 1972, supporting Richard Nixon with the group Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP). And yes, that’s the way it’s known.  After losing a couple of races for the House of Representatives, he became the victor in 1978. In the early 1980s he co-sponsored Endangered Species Act.  His passion led him to developing the Contract with America, a ten-point plan to reshape government in decentralization of federal authority, deregulation, tax cuts, reform of social programs, increased power for states, and a balanced federal budget.

Within three years after the Contract,  he was accused of unethical behavior. Of the 84 allegations charged against him while he was Speaker of the House, only one stuck: two counts “of failure to seek legal advice” and one count of “providing the committee with information which he knew or should have known was inaccurate” concerning the use of a tax-exempt college course for political purposes. He negotiated a sanctions agreement, which he immediately violated. House voted 395 to 28 to reprimand Gingrich, including a $300,000 “cost assessment” to recoup money spent on the investigation, the first time in the House’s history that the Speaker had been disciplined for ethics violations.

After the House vote against him, staffers said that he started to deteriorate. Their description of him: “He’s a sociopath, but he’s our sociopath.'” He quit in 1998 before the end of his term. “I’m willing to lead but I’m not willing to preside over people who are cannibals,” he said. His Republican colleague Tom DeLay accused Gingrich of having a flawed moral compass. Yes, that’s the same Tom DeLay who was convicted of money laundering.

Gingrich has been married three times, not unusual for people in this country but remarkable in the way that he moved from one wife to another as he touted family values and then participated in President Clinton’s impeachment. Jackie Battley, his first wife, was his high school geometry teacher. He says that he started dating her when he was 18; she says that he was 16. They married when he was 19 and she 26; the marriage lasted 18 years until he found her replacement and delivered Jackie divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering surgery for uterine cancer. By the time he finished with her, she had to get a court order just to pay her utility bills and accept charity from her church to help support their two children.

Marianne Ginther, Jackie’s replacement, met Gingrich at a political fundraiser while her father was an Ohio mayor. They were married six months after Gingrich divorced Jackie when Marianne was 23 and Gingrich was 38. Marianne developed MS while Gingrich was having a six-year affair with Callista Bisek. When Marianne asked Gingrich how he could talk about family values and yet have an affair, he answered, “It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say.” This comes from the man who claims that the “Democrats are being fundamentally irresponsible and dishonest.”

Callista, 23 years younger than Gingrich, converted him from being a Baptist to a Catholic. She is evidently highly involved in his professional matters. Gingrich does have an excuse for his marital infidelities: “Sometimes you just feel so passionate aboutAmericathat you need to go have some extramarital affairs. We’ve all been there,” he said.

In February 2011, Gingrich said that the number one job today is to create jobs. If he’s sincere, that makes him a very different Republican because the rest of them are busy taking away rights from the citizens in the form of punitive anti-choice, anti-union, just anti- laws. But objections from the Tea Party people may reverse his opinion.

June 22, 2011

Herman Cain a Shill for Koch Brothers

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:26 PM

Only one of the current Republican presidential candidates has no elected experience, which made me think that there wouldn’t be much about him because of that—and that he probably wouldn’t lie. Boy, was I wrong!

Herman Cain came out of a political obscurity as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza into standing ovations by Tea Party folk and a high percentage in polls, at least until recently. No matter what, he’s definitely made a name for himself.

Here are some of his positions. At least for today. They change quickly.

Foreign policy: His perception and approach appear to be several steps below the one from Sarah Palin’s when she says, “I can see Russia from my house.” His Afghanistan plan. No plan. “No. At this point, I don’t know all the facts,” he said. No plan for the war on terror. And he declines to share his thoughts with voters until he gets into the White House. “The right approach is that the day I’m elected, I would start on that plan,” Cain told Fox Sunday News. He also said, “You don’t need foreign policy experience to know your friends and your enemies.” Conservatives often want elected officials to run government like a business. Cain uses his business experience, specifically denying pizza deliveries to a black neighborhood in Omaha (NE), as his foreign policy. He refused to send delivery drivers into a violent neighborhood, and he said he would apply the same logic to his foreign policy decisions.

Abortion: He has told the Religious Right that he believes life begins at conception and that he wants to revoke taxpayer funding of that group. (Like lots of other conservatives, he confuses women’s reproductive care paid for by Medicaid and abortions which aren’t.) Yet he has offended conservatives by refusing to sign the Susan B. Anthony List’s Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge.

Fiscal policy: He favors a return to the gold standard and supports economic stimulus but calls President Obama’s stimulus plan a “spending bill.” His plan: (1) lower top corporate and individual tax rates to 23 percent; (2) drop capital gains tax to zero; (3) suspend taxes on repatriated profits; (4) provide what he calls a “real” payroll tax holiday; and (5) make those tax rates permanent. When asked whether he was concerned that those tax cuts would exacerbate the deficit and debt problem, Cain said he is “not concerned that it’s going to leave a hole.” 

Illegal Immigrants: Cain’s solution to keep people from coming across the Mexican border illegally is a 20-foot-tall, barbed-wire-studded, electrified Great Wall and a moat with alligators. If China can build a wall, so can the U.S., he claims. 

LGBT Issues: Cain believes that homosexuality is a sin and a choice. He supports a constitutional amendment preventing same-sex marriage but supports civil unions. He seems to have a higher regard for the LGBT community than he does for Muslins, however, because he said that he would allow gay people into his cabinet. His reason? Gay people would be opposed to Sharia Law.

Separation of Church and State: The country should embrace its “religious heritage,” according to Cain. He believes that the United States’ founding documents are based on biblical principals. He originally stated that he would allow no Muslins in his cabinet and then backed off that, indicating that he just didn’t want any “bad” Muslins. (The far far right is pretty irritated with his increased tolerance.) Cain said if he were president that he would require all Muslims to sign a loyalty oath. Evidently he hasn’t read Article VI of the Constitution, which states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Legislation: “I am only going to allow small bills — three pages. You’ll have time to read that one over the dinner table,” said Cain. Jon Stewart joked that “the State of the Union Address will be delivered in the form of a fortune cookie!” before the media knocked him for imitating Cain’s accent.

As with many other people who wave the Constitution as support for all that they say, Cain isn’t really sure what it says. For example, he talked about the importance of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Constitution followed by the statement “when any form of government becomes destructive of those ideals, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.” Sorry, Mr. Cain, that’s in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. I don’t expect that everyone will know this information, but any presidential candidate who bases his arguments on the Constitution should know what’s in it. (You can also check out Separation of Church and State above.)

Cain also has no idea about the background of  the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. When Chris Wallace interviewed him about this conflict, he criticized Obama’s suggestion that there should be a shift to the time before the 1967 war but finally said that he thought that people should always have the right to return.

Cain has been the spokesperson for a group called America’s PAC that, among other things, suggested Democrats wanted to kill “black babies.” The mission of the group is to get black voters to join the Republican cause if they want to enjoy the same success as whites and has run some vicious, lying television advertising to frighten Black voters.

Cain is funded and promoted by the Koch brothers and their ultra-conservative political organization Americans for Prosperity. The Koch brothers will not be happy until the wealthiest corporations in the nation appoint the few government leaders who would remove all regulations, the corporations would not be taxed, and the corporations could pay workers lower salaries than they would receive in China. The brothers hope to use Cain as their path to these goals.

What does Herman Cain believe? From what he has said, Christianity and corporations should rule the United States, the country should have no involvement with foreign countries, women should have no rights, and the top one percent should own 99 percent of the country instead of just 90 percent.

Cain has  little knowledge and less experience to become the President of the United States. Somehow this gives him more credence than with experienced, knowledgeable people–at least among Republicans. Only in politics and marriage are the characteristics of ignorance and lack of experience highly prized.

June 21, 2011

Rick Perry Lies

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 10:15 AM

According to satirist Andy Borowitz, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign slogan is “What Harm Could a Governor of Texas Do?” “I promised the people of Texas I would destroy the state by 2012, and now it looks like we’re on track to do that,” Borowitz claims that Perry said. He supposedly added that he hoped to bring down the cost of the federal government the same way he reined in costs inTexas, “by making the state no longer habitable for human life as we know it.” His plan to eliminate the states one by one is picking up steam, with support from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Florida Governor Rick Scott. As President, Perry promised (according to Borowitz), he would push a three-part agenda: “Eliminate education, eliminate healthcare, and pray for Rapture.” His one regret about his tenure as governor was that Texas never seceded from the United States, but he added, “As President, I promise that the United States will secede from Planet Earth.” Borowitz is closer to the truth than most people can imagine.

I’m nominating Rick Perry, potential presidential candidate, as Liar of the Week. Or maybe Month. His proud claim that Texas has balanced its budget fails the smell test. The state actually has a $27 billion shortfall requiring massive cuts that adversely impact children, education, the elderly, and people in poverty. If the shortfall disappeared, it’s because Perry took all the money away from people who desperately needed it. He is still lying, however, when he tells everyone that the state would not take any stimulus money from the government in 2009 and then quietly took $6.4 billion (some people say as much as $14 billion) to balance last year’s budget. Five months after he took the stimulus money, Perry again took advantage of federal funding to issue $2 billion in bonds for highway improvements in Texas. Despite last year’s balanced budget, he’s managed to get the state’s budget a $27 billion shortfall this year.

Perry claims a stellar record on job creation. He lies. Twenty-three percent of the other states have lower unemployment rates thanTexas. The job growth seen under Perry is the same as it was under former Democratic Governor Ann Richards. And the jobs he claims to have created pay a pitiful wage. Compared to all the other states,Texas has by far the largest number of employees (about 550,000 Texans or 9.5 percent of hourly workers) paid at or below the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour in 2010). The figure of 550,000 in 2010 rose from 221,000 in 2007, an almost 150-percent increase. The median hourly earnings for all Texas workers was $11.20 per hour in 2010, compared to the national median of $12.50 per hour.

Perry uses the Old Testament to explain the problems he’s caused in Texas during the past decade. “I think in America from time to time we have to go through some difficult times—and I think we’re going through those difficult economic times for a purpose, to bring us back to those Biblical principles of you know, you don’t spend all the money. You work hard for those six years and you put up that seventh year in the warehouse to take you through the hard times. And not spending all of our money. Not asking for Pharaoh to give everything to everybody and to take care of folks because at the end of the day, it’s slavery. We become slaves to government.” So God did it.

So who should be afraid of having Perry for President?

Children:Texas is 33rd in average public school teacher salary, 43rd in high school graduation rate, 44th in average state funding per pupil, 45th in SAT scores, and dead last in the percent of people over the age of 25 with at least a high school diploma. Texas ranks fourth in the United States in the percentage of children living in poverty, 34th in the percent of children who have received full immunizations, and first in the percent of children without health insurance. [These and other rankings below come from a Texas Legislative Study Group.] This year Perry scaled back more than $10 billion of child support services despite Texas’ $8.2 billion rainy day fund. Even Barbara Bush, George W.’s daughter, is upset with the direction ofTexas. In an op-ed piece, she says, “An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma. We rank 49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores.” She thinks something should be done about Rick Perry—and she doesn’t mean electing him for president. In schools cheerleaders are “mouthpieces,” which means that they are forced to cheer for boys who rape them—and then pay court costs if they have the temerity to sue.

Women: The latest Texas anti-abortion law requires pregnant women to view a sonogram of the fetus and listen to a detailed explanation of limbs and organs that are developing before having an abortion. The ACLU is suing to overturn this law.

Non-Christians: Lots of Perry’s public praying for rain, election, etc. is combined with a proposed bill preventing Sharia law—despite the fact that no one suggests that it exists  in Texas. Perry’s Day of Fasting and Prayer in August will be held in conjunction with American Family Association whose representative, Bryan Fischer, claims that Muslims have no First Amendment rights. Fischer also thinks that American Muslims should be deported and that Muslims should be prohibited from serving in the armed forces. The spokesperson for Day, Eric Bearse, has told the AFA that the purpose of the summit is, in part, to convert non-Christians.

Voters: A state bill wants to avoid any decision from the Department of Justice about redistricting. Another one, swiftly passed, requires photo ID for voting. The state is also arbitrary about its definition of photo ID: concealed weapon permits are sufficient, student IDs aren’t. Perry wants to repeal the 17th Amendment, which allows people to electU.S.senators.

Workers: Texas ranks last in workers compensation coverage.

People Who Desire Health and Well-Being: Texas ranks first in the number of areas of hazardous and toxic waste emissions and leads the nation in carbon dioxide emissions. Perry, a global warming denier, called the 2010 BP oil spill an “act of God.” (Always God’s fault!) Perry also wants to repeal the 16th Amendment that permits the federal government to fund highway construction projects, food inspectors, the military, etc.

People in Need: Texas is at the top of the states in the percentage of people without health insurance yet comes in second to last in percentage of low-income population covered by Medicaid. Not even happy with that low percentage, Perry wants to strip those 3.6 million low-income Texans of their health care, causing the state to lose billions of federal dollars that support hospitals and other providers, forcing these to eat the costs of caring for uninsured individuals who use the emergency room as their primary source of care. Texas ranks ninth in income inequality between the rich and poor and fifth in income inequality between the rich and middle class.

LGBTQ People: Texas refuses to recognize sex changes in transgender people—born that way, stay that way. Perry opposes having LGBT centers on college campuses and wants to bring back laws against sodomy (probably just for same-sex couples, however). After Texas’s anti-sodomy law was struck down in 2003 by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, Perry supported the Texas legislature’s refusal to remove the law from its books. At his Day of Fasting and Prayer on August 6, Perry will be accompanied by American Family Association “Director of Issue Analysis” Bryan Fischer, who claims that the German Nazi Party was formed by homosexual thugs. Fischer also wants homosexuals banned from public office. The AFA is classified a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Plaintiffs against Corporations: Plaintiffs who lose cases against corporations will have to pay both sides’ court costs. Those who win but get less than the defendant originally offered also pay for the court costs. Corporations win again.

Innocent convicts: Over 200 men have been executed in Texas since he became governor, including at least one who was almost certainly innocent.

Who should like Rick Perry?

Rich old men especially those with yachts because of the bill that lifted taxes of yachts that cost $250,000 or more. And corporations. They’re people too.

An independent poll shows that 9 percent of likely Texas Republican—just Republican!—voters would support Gov. Rick Perry in a presidential race—and that percentage has more than doubled from the 4 percent he got in a poll while Donald Trump was still telling people that he considered running. In his last election to governor, Perry received only 39 percent of votes.

According to the Legislative Reference Library, Perry was sent 1,379 bills before May 30 that needed his signature. With the deadline two days ago, he had signed or vetoed only 277 of those bills. If he doesn’t sign a bill, it automatically becomes law. Maybe he just didn’t want to do all that writing. Autopen anyone?

“Our opponents on the left are never going to like us, so let’s quit trying to curry favor with them,” declared Perry. Okay, that’s a truth if the far right continues its craziness. But then he calls the Obama administration’s “mix of arrogance and audacity” (does he have a mirror?) and complains about its big-government overreach. Looking at the results of his “small government” above, one wonders about his definition of “small government.”

June 20, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Defeats Women

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:36 PM

Sorry, Rick Perry. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to read about you. Today’s topic is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision for Wal-Mart and against women—and a bit about our silent Justice Clarence Thomas.

In a major victory for Wal-Mart and much of corporate America, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the largest gender discrimination class action lawsuit in history with its unanimous ruling that a sex discrimination case against Wal-Mart cannot proceed as a class-action lawsuit in its current form. Worse, by a typical anti-rights 5-4 vote, the court also said there are too many women in too many jobs at Wal-Mart to wrap into one lawsuit.

Justice Antonin Scalia claimed that there was no proof that gender discrimination was common in the corporation’s retail stores. Lawyers for Wal-Mart had said that the number of plaintiffs was too great for the corporation to defend itself. Five of the justices agreed with them and  ignored the lawyer representing the women workers, Brad Seligman, who said that the suit was not a burden for Wal-Mart because of its centralized management system which showed patterns of discrimination across 41 regions.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg dissented with Scalia, stating that both the statistics presented by the plaintiffs and their individual accounts demonstrated that “gender bias suffused Wal-Mart’s corporate culture.”  Women filled 70 percent of the hourly jobs but only 33 percent of management positions and that “senior management often refer to female associates as ‘little Janie Qs,’” she added.

“Today’s ruling underscores the need to act boldly and strongly on behalf of women’s rights: we must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “It is a matter of fundamental fairness in our nation, and we must work—in the courts and in Congress—to correct this injustice throughout our country.”

Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, said, “The court has told employers that they can rest easy, knowing that the bigger and more powerful they are, the less likely their employees will be able to join together to secure their rights.”

Meanwhile Clarence Thomas’ hot seat is getting warmer. Disclosures yesterday show an “ethically sensitive friendship” with Dallas real estate magnate and GOP financier Harlan Crow which include the expensive gifts Crow has given Thomas, the $500,000 he donated to Thomas’ wife to start her lobbying business, and the multimillion-dollar donation for a museum at a cannery where Thomas’ mother worked. Fortunately for him, Supreme Court justices are not bound by the same code of conduct as other federal judges, a code that states jurists “should not personally participate” in raising money for charitable endeavors.

These ethical lapses are on top of Thomas’ failure to report his wife’s income on his financial disclosure forms (he said he forgot), his lies about his role at a political retreat for wealthy conservatives organized by the right-wing Koch Brothers where participants discussed legal strategies for overturning campaign finance laws (he said he didn’t), and his wife’s close contact with right-wing activist organizations (he said who cares). He’s also using his wealthy friends to fly around the country and stay in plush digs with no indication on his disclosure forms.

Four months ago Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) led 72 other colleagues in asking Thomas to recuse himself from any Supreme Court review of President Obama’s healthcare law because of the work that Thomas’ wife did in opposing that healthcare law. Weiner is gone because he lied in a situation dealing with sex. Thomas is still ruling against the rights of people despite his lies and fraudulent actions. Conservatives 1, liberals 0.

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