Nel's New Day

June 19, 2011

Republican Presidential Candidates

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:15 PM

Four years ago, presidential hopefuls were gathering on both sides of the aisles. By the time the dust settled, both sides had eight major ones with another four having dropped out from each party. With President Obama running for re-election, the media can focus on the Republicans, and what fun it will be to watch! Last time we may have rolled our eyes a bit at what all these people said, but nothing will match the country’s fascination with presidential elections since John McCain pulled Sarah Palin into the limelight from Alaska obscurity.

This year, however, the candidates are dragging their feet in getting involved. Newt Gingrich required an exploratory committee to decide whether to have an exploratory committee—and once he declared, he lost all his major staffers! There were lots of other possibles that fell along the wayside: Mike Huckabee being high on that list when George Will called him “the most recent vibrator.” He’s gone.

Another gone person is Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour who praised the pro-segregation Citizens Council in his hometown of Yazoo City, crediting them with integrating the public schools without violence. The Council did keep busy organizing boycotts of NAACP supporters.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was another prime possibility but decided against a run based family responsibilities. That responsibility was probably to have less media attention toward his wife leaving him and their four children, ages 8 to 14, to marry another man in 1992 before she divorced the second guy a few years later to come back to Daniels and marry him—again. Daniels also opposed using social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage in politicking—both before and after he took away all the state’s funding for Planned Parenthood.

Donald Trump is gone too. Maybe something to do with the $16 million contract he got for the coming year’s unreal reality show. Enough said about him.

Chris Christie has been adamant about not running although other states tried to draft him, evidently unhappy with the already-declareds. Conservative South Carolina legislators called for the New Jersey’s governor to run because he’s “willing to speak the truth.” Christie will be remembered for attacking public employees’ abuse of their perks while he used the state helicopter to fly him to his son’s baseball games where he needed a limousine to carry him the last 100 yards. Maybe Christie is waiting for his legal political advisor, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, to advise him about his involvement in the presidential race.

And there are still other well-known names being tossed around the media including John Bolton, Rudy Guiliani, George Pataki, Rep. Thad Cotter (MI), Rep. Peter King (NY), Sen. Jim DeMint (SC), and Jon Huntsman, Jr. And possibly Sarah Palin! My favorite is Texas Gov. Rick Perry. That’s tomorrow’s subject.

A not-gone but not really there candidate, Roy Moore, announced an exploratory committee (meaning that he doesn’t have to tell anyone who gives him money) in April, but there’s almost no press about him. Moore is known for being removed as Chief Judge of the Alabama Supreme Court because of his refusal to obey a federal court order to remove the 5,280-pound granite sculpture of an open book inscribed with the Ten Commandments which he had installed.

Still in the running, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson participated in the first Republican presidential candidates’ debate held in early May in North Carolina where he said the country should eliminate the minimum wage and corporate taxes and cut Medicare nearly in half. CNN and the New Hampshire Union Leader didn’t invite him to the next one in New Hampshire, so he answered all the questions on a video and posted it to YouTube. Maybe he wasn’t invited to NH because 30 minutes into the NC debate, Johnson interrupted moderator Chris Wallace to protest, “It’s, like, nine questions for all these guys and none for me.” Willie Nelson’s pro-marijuana Teapot Party has endorsed Johnson. Yes, that’s the American music legend Willie Nelson.

The New Hampshire debate was pretty lame. All seven of the participants, including Michele Bachmann who decided to announce her candidacy there, played nice with each other, attacking Obama instead. The worst part was the inconsequential set of questions at the end, but we did find out that Tim Pawlenty prefers Coke to Pepsi. Considering the major problems in the country, I could have done with more useful information.

There is one more participant in the Republican presidential candidate carnival: God. He seems to be taking an active part in the proceedings, having told Huckabee not to run and ordering others to become candidates, such as Bachmann. Pawlenty got his campaign manager, Nick Ayers, because God told him to join Team Pawlenty. And if you believe George W. Bush, God is to blame for him.

Maybe God was at the Republican Leadership Conference with five presidential hopefuls this past weekend in New Orleans. Obama impersonator certainly was there. He started his routine by telling that Obama, the son of a mother from Kansas and a father fromKenya, was born inHawaii, “or as the tea partyers call it, ‘Kenya.’” He elicited raucous applause by projecting some photos of former Rep. Anthony Weiner before he started to upset the Republicans who hired him.

Gingrich’s supporters “are dropping faster than Anthony Weiner’s pants,” he said. Then he said that Pawlenty had missed the conference because “he’s having his foot surgically removed from his mouth. Don’t worry,” Brown continued. “It’s covered under Obamneycare. Along with spinal transplants.” After he joked about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith and polygamy and about Bachmann’s tea party support, he was shown off the stage.

The media spent an inordinate time last week trying to decide if it’s wrong for elected officials to lie. Consensus from the Republicans seems to be that it’s very, very wrong if the liars are Democrats and the lies are about sex. Republicans approve of Republicans lying, especially if they get re-elected as in the case of Sen. David Vitter (LA). In fact, the man who illegally hired hookers during his last term in the Senate was a speaker at last weekend’s Republican Leadership Conference. I guess he’s got what it takes to be a leader.

The Republicans have told such outrageous lies and hold such outrageous positions about the direction of our country, that I’ll spend the next week writing about these, candidate by candidate. And just for fun, I’ll begin tomorrow with a major liar, Texas Governor Rick Perry.

June 18, 2011

Updates: Detroit School, Prop 8, Sex Discrimination, and Wal-Mart

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:52 PM

Update on the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit:  CFA will turn remain open but turn into a charter school. Yes, the raspberries, sweet potatoes, eggplants, peas and carrots will keep growing on the four-acre farm in back, the 250 young mothers and pregnant teens will continue to get an education, and their more than 100 babies will continue to get day care, on-site medical care and early childhood education. Supposedly. Blair Evans, of Evans Solutions, made a last-minute deal to purchase the school, but the school will change in other ways. For example, some of the teachers will be forced to leave because they cannot afford the pay cuts from a charter school or they won’t be hired. Detroit school board member Elena Herrada said, “This could have been left a public school if they hadn’t let so much money go out over the years. The fact is we shouldn’t be celebrating this.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Evans Solutions in 2009 because the company fired a social worker in 2007 who told her supervisor that she needed to take leave for cancer treatment. The company settled with the woman for $47,000 last September. Maybe they’ve improved in the last few years.

Update on Prop 8, the ugly saga of legal same-sex marriage in California: After same-sex marriage became legal in California, a large ground-swell led by the Mormon Church managed to pass Proposition 8 in 2008, making same-sex marriage illegal—except for the 18,000 couples already married. Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional in the state, but the opposition is determined to get his ruling thrown out, now because Walker is gay. Chief Judge James Ware of Federal District Court for the Northern District of California upheld Walker’s ruling on the grounds that there is no indication that Judge Walker wishes to marry his male partner of ten years. The ProtectMarriage legal team promises to appeal Judge Ware’s decision while waiting for the U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals to decide the case on other bases.

Update on Sex Discrimination: “Women, don’t get wasted,” Naomi Schaefer Riley, wrote in USA Today. “So what is a concerned mother or father to do? The shortest, most obvious answer is to tell your daughter not to get drunk.” This response from Angie Engles (Columbia, MD) to Riley’s advice describes my reaction to Riley’s ridiculous solution to men’s sense of entitlement: “Nowhere does Riley mention the responsibility men need to take with their drinking. She insists rape statistics are over-inflated and implies that instances of sexual violence against women are really just ‘encounters that they regret,’ all the while forgetting the most important thing about rape: No one deserves it, no one. This piece might have been written as a sincere warning, but, sadly, it comes across instead as a smear against any woman who has ever been the victim of rape or sexual assault.” A column describing the background for a Chicago SlutWalk provides an excellent succinct piece of advice: “I want people to stop blaming victims for what happened to them.”

California Congressional Democratic candidate Janice Hahn has filed a complaint with that Federal Election Commission (FEC) over television advertising from Turn Right USA that superimposes Hahn’s face on a strippers face and butt while a supposed gangster shoves his assault rifle into the woman’s derrière. Hahn’s complaint with the FEC demands that the Republican hierarchy disclose the direct and indirect funding sources behind Turn Right USA, a “super PAC” that can raise unlimited funds without disclosing the identities of the donors, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision. Turn Right USA has admitted that a former volunteer for Hahn’s opponent in the race, Republican Craig Huey, is associated with Turn Right USA. The election is July 12.

North Carolina has become the third state, following Indiana and Wisconsin, to refuse funding to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood clinics have received about $473,000 and serve about 25,000 men and women. North Carolina Planned Parenthood had grants this year to prevent teen pregnancy and provide low-income women with birth control.

Update Walmart—company loses!: The huge corporation lost $188 million (granted, a pittance of the $421 billion net profit last year) in a class-action verdict, when a Pennsylvania appeals court upheld a lower court decision accusing Wal-Mart of not paying employees for rest breaks and off-the-clock work. The U.S. Supreme Court should announce its decision this month about whether the class-action sex-discrimination suit against Wal-Mart may continue. That one could eventually cost Wal-Mart billions—or nothing. Not every employee agrees with the happy ones seen in television advertising: 100 of the “associates” marched on Bentonville (AK) this last week to protest working conditions.

June 17, 2011

Republicans Vote against Ethanol Subsidies!

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:13 PM

Now I have to apologize to some Republicans—at least those 33 Republican Senators who voted to drop the ethanol subsidy. The ethanol amendment is attached to a bill that probably won’t pass, making it safe to vote for it, and President Obama has stated that he would veto any bill that would totally cut ethanol subsidies. Yet the World Bank and other international organizations have asked for ethanol subsidies to cease because they are driving up food prices.

A successful vote would be a start in dropping these gigantic subsidies to help the deficit problem. Although the Senate voted less than a month ago to keep billions of dollars in tax breaks for big oil companies making record profits, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is calling on Republicans to end these financial breaks for these companies.

Those 33 Republicans have broken the grip of  Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) President Grover Norquist who has tried to hold their feet to the fire with his anti-tax hike pledge signed by 41 Senators and 235 House members. Norquist considers the loss of subsidies as tax increases; Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) sees some subsidies as waste and a violation of small-government policy.

Norquist turned his lemons into lemonade, however, when he praised the Senators who voted against ethanol subsidies because he was sure that they would vote for an amendment from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) that would lower the inheritance to zero. Yes, that’s right—0.

Starting his anti-government campaign with Ronald Reagan, Norquist is famous for saying, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” He worked with Newt Gingrich on Contract with America and helped George W. Bush create his tax cuts. Some of Norquist’s fame came from the time when ATR, under his direction, laundered money from Jack Abramoff’s clients to finance so-called “grass-roots” lobbying campaigns. Convicted in 2006 of mail fraud and conspiracy, Abramoff supposedly conspired with Grover Norquist and Christian activist Ralph Reed to co-ordinate lobbying against his own Indian casino clients and prospective clients so that they would then hire Abramoff.

This man who wants to drown government should understand that getting rid of the ethanol subsidies can shrink it. But anyone arguing against bigger government wants small for everyone else and big for themselves. Now we’ll wait to see how tight his grip is on those 276 Congresspersons to achieve his aims.

June 16, 2011

Conservatives Take from Women & Children to Keep Money for Themselves

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 4:37 PM

I have always thought that I understood the definition of a tax, but the Tea Party objection to removing subsidies for wealthy corporations, farmers, ethanol, etc. has raised my consciousness to a new level. It seems that to remove subsidies (I guess the full name is “tax subsidies” fits the Tea Party ultra-conservative perspective of “raising taxes.” If you no longer give money to people for doing nothing, that’s raising taxes. So raising taxes is a defense used by ultra-conservatives to protest cutting government big bucks to big players.

We’ll start with the issues surrounding the subsidy given to oil refiners for blending ethanol into gasoline: First, it costs taxpayers over $5 billion, one third of the increase requested in the deficit. Second, Sierra Club and other environmental groups say that this gasoline isn’t any cleaner than gasoline without ethanol because of the fuel requirements to farm corn. Third, the subsidies drive up corn prices used for animal and human consumption. Fourth, many people in the world are starving to death because of food shortages. Fifth, conservatives are beholden to big business.

The ethanol subsidy is only one of many government giveaways to businesses and individuals. Today lawmakers refused two proposals to lower the maximum amount that farmers can get from government subsidies. The Tea Party members were an integral part of this refusal—perhaps because they’re getting money from these subsidies. At least 23 current members of Congress or their families have received government money for their farms—more than $12 million since 1995. More than $3 million has gone to self-described Tea Party patriot, Rep. Stephen Fincher, and his family since 1995. To be clear, he supports farm subsidies that, in 2009 alone, totaled more than $16 billion. Cotton, corn, rice, wheat, and soybeans account for over 90 percent of this giveaway.

Let us not forget oil subsidies. Congressional representatives that voted to continue the subsidies received more than $8.7 million in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests in 2010. The Sunlight Foundation figured that 77% of the $65 million that the industry contributed to politicians between 2009 and 2010 went to Republicans. How much do oil companies get in subsidies? The answer is murky, but a base figure is over $4 billion for 2010 with other areas not identified.

Lawmakers demanding a significant deficit reduction before voting to increase the borrowing limit ignore the almost $40 billion that could be saved from eliminating subsidies in just these three areas of ethanol, oil, and farm. Instead their way to save money (are they increasing taxes on people who receive less?) is to cut the Women, Infants and Children program, which offers food aid and educational support for low-income mothers and their children, by $868 million, or 13 percent from the current level; almost decimate an international food assistance program that provides emergency aid and agricultural development by more than $450 million, one-third of the program’s budget; and chop the FDA’s $2.5 billion budget by almost 12 percent.

In addition the House conservatives are also considering a cut of $101 million from food assistance for low-income seniors and local food banks, including $38 million (a 22 percent cut) from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, or CSFP, which provides nutritious food packages to more than 600,000 low-income families every month (96 percent of whom are seniors). The remaining $63 million comes from The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP, which provides our nation’s emergency food bank network with food commodities and storage and distribution support. To put $101 into perspective, one day’s worth of Bush tax cuts for millionaires would more than offset these cuts to seniors and food banks.

House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) succinctly described the attitude of the conservatives toward keeping billions for themselves and their cronies while eliminating programs that help people to keep from starving: “When they say women and children first, it means to save them, not to throw them overboard. Surely America is a generous enough country to feed those who need food.”

June 15, 2011

Court Declares DOMA Unconstitutional

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:28 PM

Amazingly great news for LGBT defenders! For the first time, a bankruptcy court has declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) illegal! And not just any old bankruptcy court. The largest one in the United States. Twenty of 24 judges in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California declared DOMA unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection guarantee.

The case involved a legally married gay couple trying to jointly file for bankruptcy after illness and loss of jobs. In his refusal to dismiss the petition of Gene Balas and Carlos Morales, Judge Thomas A. Donovan said the court “discerns no valid, defensible governmental interest” in denying the couple’s bankruptcy filing just because the petitioners are gay. He added there is “no valid governmental basis for DOMA.”

Lawyers opposed to allowing the couple their right to file joint bankruptcy cited the same old reasons to used to ban same-sex marriage—encouraging heterosexual marriage and child-rearing, maintaining traditional morality, and saving the government money. The 20 judges disagreed. The law serves none of those purposes, they averred, and instead amounts to an attempt to enact “the moral views of the majority … as the law of the land.”

Two other bankruptcy courts had earlier ruled that same-sex couples could file joint bankruptcy, but neither one found that DOMA is unconstitutional.

Although the couple’s attorney Robert Pfister said that the federal government may appeal Donovan’s ruling, the U.S. House of Representatives’ legal counsel didn’t follow through with any legal argument despite a two-week delay per their request. Donovan’s ruling adds to a federal Judge’s Joseph Tauro decision in Boston, the first court decision in the nation ruling that DOMA is invalid because it discriminates against legally married gay couples.

It seems that fiscal responsibility trumps Christian morality when the court put the rights of legally married Americans to settle their debts over the supposed biblical ethics used to justify DOMA. A major purpose of government is uniformity in citizens’ managing finances. DOMA is bad for business.

June 14, 2011

Conservative Declare War on Women

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:11 PM

Because of the escalating scandal surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), I’ve tried to avoid hearing or writing about it. By now, however, watching television has made both of these impossible.

Several issues surround the distressing nature of Weiner’s decision to send personal photos of himself to young women. The first of these is the media’s approach toward his actions. Every program—talk, news, comedy, etc.—has decried the excessive attention that the media has given Weiner’s actions—right before each of these programs spends at least ten to fifteen minutes doing the same thing. Don’t like it, media? Don’t do it!

Second, Republicans who are call for Weiner’s resignation have had no problems with Congressional leaders in their own party committing illegal sexual acts such as Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) soliciting prostitutes and Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) coercing a staff member into having sex and then paying off her and her husband when his actions because public. Republicans like to claim that Ensign was called upon to resign; actually, he wasn’t asked to resign by his party, and he resigned 20 months after the disclosure only because the Senate Ethics Committee was planning an investigation.

Republicans justify their outrage by stating that the photos were taken in a federal building by federally-owned equipment. Using a New Jersey helicopter for his private use was considered appropriate for Gov. Chris Christie, but possibly using a Blackberry for transmitting photos isn’t, according to Republicans. As one Weiner constituent said, just let Weiner pay for the Blackberry.

Even the Democrats have climbed on the “resign” bandwagon because of the “distraction.”  Democrats will find another way to avoid such topics as Republicans voting themselves a healthy farm subsidy while proposing to starve women and children with their tax cuts.

The worst part of Weiner’s “sex scandal,” however, is its reflection of our country’s attitudes toward sex. During the 1980s, the anti-feminist backlash led women into more submissive and “feminine” behaviors. A more liberal climate changed that slightly in the 1990s, but the rapid conservative move toward the far right for the country during the last decade gave men the entitlement to control women. The introduction of 1000+ bills designed to illegalizing abortion and contraception has been the most visible piece of this increasing Puritanical attitude toward the treatment of women.

A conservative society has worked hard to control women, for example, the New York cop who threatened to ticket a woman riding a bicycle because she was wearing a short skirt. Jasmijn Rijcken escaped the ticket after she told him she was visiting from her native Holland, but she didn’t escape the lecture. Calling her skirt “distracting,” he said that men cannot control themselves when they see sexy body parts; therefore women must conceal them.

At least the police officer was able to control himself enough around Rijcken so that he didn’t rape her the way that other New York police officers did another woman. A fashion executive celebrated her promotion to the extent of .20 alcohol test and the woke from having blacked out to find two NYPD cops raping her in her apartment. They were acquitted although one of them said he used a condom and both kept going back to her apartment. Jury members found more sympathy for police officers than for a woman who drank too much.

Clichés abound in this case. Although the medical examiner testified that the victim’s cervix was bruised, consistent with being violently penetrated from behind, the defense claimed that the contusion was caused by overly vigorous scrubbing in the shower. Under New York law, “too drunk to consent” means either unconscious or unable to speak. The victim testified that she was unconscious and woke up to find herself being raped by the officer. The cops were still acquitted.

An example of the disregard held by conservative politicians for women was exhibited by Massachusetts GOP state Rep. Ryan Fattman when he said that undocumented women should be afraid to go to the police when they are raped. This response was in reaction to Gov. Deval Patrick’s refusal to join a federal immigration program because he was concerned that victims of violent crimes would be afraid to get help from the police.  According to Fattman, stopping violent crime and helping rape victims is far less important than deporting undocumented immigrants who have not committed a crime.

The U.S. Supreme Court, so out of tune with what they call women’s sensibilities that they want to prevent them from making the mistake of having abortions, refused to hear another case about “women’s sensibilities.” Last November the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a cheerleader not only had no right to refuse to chant her rapist’s name but also had to pay the $45,000 in legal fees. One of the cheers she refused to do was “put it in” for a free throw. The court ruled that “as a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece.” Now we know that by law women are “mouthpieces.”

In another Texas rape case, the 11-year-old victim is being blamed. Authorities have arrested more than a dozen suspects in the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl, but a woman at a town hall meeting said, “She lied about her age. Them boys didn’t rape her. She wanted this to happen.” The woman further accused the child by saying, “But if she hadn’t put herself in that predicament, this would have never happened,” she said. “People have a tendency to say, ‘Boys will be boys.’ That is a common mentality now,” Dr. Walter E. Afield, a nationally known mental health expert, said.

The military may be among the worst in concealing rape cases. In a class action lawsuit brought by 17 military veterans, one victim described being gang-raped with a videotape of her horrible experience circulated among other military members. Her superior officer told her that he didn’t believe she was raped because she “did not act like a rape victim” and “did not struggle enough” in the video despite the fact that she was seriously injured and covered in severe bruises after the assault. Others who reported being raped have been threatened with court martials and even killed. A military chaplain told one victim that “it must have been God’s will for her to be raped” and that she needed to go to church more.

The military is required to keep records of sexual assaults for only one year, ensuring that the government will not need to pay disability compensation to veterans who suffer this treatment while trying to follow their beliefs in protecting the country.

The slut defense is the most favorite, explaining why men in power would rape women. We heard about that in both the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn situations. The gossip Web site TMZ claimed that the mother of Schwarzenegger’s child had started to “pursue Arnold” in the late 1990s and that she “decked herself out as a sexy swashbuckler for Halloween” a year before she gave birth. Schwarzenegger will go back to making movies; the woman’s life is destroyed.

“When you have money you can put up a good defense for what should be indefensible. It means you can hire high-profile attorneys and in many cases they will rip the poor victims to shreds,” said Anne Seymour, a lawyer at Justice Solutions in Washington D.C. about the strategy for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, accused of raping a housemaid at an exclusive New York City hotel. The defense claims that they have information to “seriously undermine the quality of this prosecution and also gravely undermine the credibility of the complainant in this case.” Trial is set for July 18: we can expect to hear the “slut defense.”

Women are fighting back. A series of “SlutWalks” is planned around the world this summer, stemming from a Toronto(Canada) policeman who told women on a college campus “not to dress like sluts” if they didn’t want to get raped. The one unifying principle of their protests is that all women are sluts because all women can be raped at any time no matter what they are wearing with law and society claiming that they deserve it because of the way they dress. Some of us are uncomfortable with the word “slut” but, as Jaclyn Friedman said during her speech at the Boston SlutWalk, the word is used as a weapon against women to mark them as fair game, as a target for violence.

Some columnists, including women, think that it’s demeaning for women to march as “sluts.” They believe that, with all the advances for women in the past few decades, that they should be more dignified than to do that. Others opposed the idea that the purpose is to make the word “slut” more positive so that anyone can use the word.

I believe that the marches are to bring to the fore the treatment that women receive justify males’ bad behavior and their disapproval about women. A man steps over the boundary of appropriate and legal behavior? He just says “The woman wanted it” or “She was drunk” or “I couldn’t control myself.” It’s the sense of entitlement that they have regarding their treatment of women.

As soon as a woman is raped, she’s called a slut. That’s got to stop. In the past, women have started a program called “Take back the night.” SlutWalk is “Take back the day.”

June 13, 2011

Republicans Leaning toward Same-Sex Marriage

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:44 PM

Most of the talk right now is about whether to raise the debt ceiling and how to cut benefits for the needy while giving the un-needy more money that they could possibly spend. So today, I’ll write about the changing conservative attitudes toward gay marriage.

New York is possibly the next state that will give LGBT people the same marriage rights as other people. Former Bush (George) campaign chief and RNC chair Ken Mehlman, who declared himself gay last year said that Republicans have been “very thoughtful and carefully considering this issue.” At this time, Mehlman is “cautiously optimistic” about New York’s passing the measure before the legislature adjourns in a week.

Assistance toward legalizing same-sex marriage in New York comes from a group of conservative financiers and wealthy donors to the Republican Party. Usually known for bankrolling right-leaning candidates and causes, this group has provided about $1 million to a new coalition of gay rights organizations. Representing some of the state’s richest and most politically active figures, the donors include Paul E. Singer, a hedge fund manager and top-tier Republican donor, and two other financiers, Steven A. Cohen and Clifford S. Asness. Describing himself as “a small-government guy,” Asness said, “This is an issue of basic freedom.” Cohen, who runs SAC Capital Advisers, said, “We believe in social justice for all Americans.”

Singer has a gay son who married his partner in Massachusetts. His argument for supporting gay marriage is that “it’s consistent with the principles that we as Republicans believe, which include maximizing freedom, which include encouraging strong families, and which include following the golden rule.” He also pointed out that the polls are increasingly positive toward repealing the “Defense of Marriage Act.”

Iowa has had legalized same-sex marriage for over two years now, and the state hasn’t imploded. Former state Sen. Jeff Angelo became so convinced that the rejection of same-sex marriage doesn’t jeopardize core conservative principles of limited government that he has started an organization to support same-sex marriage. A philosophy of Iowa Republicans for Freedom, launched at the beginning of June, is that the conservative values of smaller government should keep government out of the private lives of all Iowans including gays and lesbians.

“If we are in favor of freedom and are in favor of limited government, then we have to acknowledge that these values — the values of being in favor of marriage equality — are consistent with our conservative principles,” Angelo said. “In my party we always talk about how we don’t want an activist court. So why would we want an activist Constitution?” he asked. “Those against same-sex marriage want to put something into the Iowa Constitution that is effectively legislation, which is not why the Constitution was constructed. The Constitution is intended to protect individual rights and limit government.”

Ironically Angelo, a three-term member of the Iowa legislature who left two years ago, once sponsored a bill trying to ban same-sex marriage in Iowa. “I previously bought into the notion that I could tell my gay friends how much I loved them, that I just disapproved of their lifestyle and they would be OK with that,” Angelo confessed. “But they told me that I made them feel lesser in my eyes or that I made them feel like a second-class citizen. I labored under the delusion for some time that [what my friends said] wasn’t true, that they really believed I loved them and that I was their friend.”

The most recent poll indicates that only 25 percent of the Republicans support same-sex marriage (although a large percentage supports civil unions), but that figure is up from 20 percent last year. The writing is on the wall, according to Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who told Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly, “It’s clear that something like same-sex marriage—indeed, almost exactly what we would envision by that—is going to become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture.”

Ads run by Truth and Hope a couple of years ago may have had a part in changing Republicans’ minds about why same-sex marriage should be legalized. According to the polling, almost 58 percent of Republicans viewing one of their videos about a same-sex family described it as extremely or somewhat effective and used the word “inspiring” for their reaction instead of anger or embarrassment.

Many Republican women—Laura and her daughter Barbara Bush, Meghan McCain, Cindy McCain, Mary Cheney, just to name a few—have come out in favor of same-sex marriage while their male counterparts oppose it. In state legislatures, conservative men traditionally oppose same-sex marriage whereas the conservative women support it. As Abigail Adams wrote her husband over two centuries ago, “Do not put such unlimited powers into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”

June 12, 2011

Personhood, Conservative Education, Health Care, Tax Cuts, & Detroit School Closing

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:06 PM

Update on Personhood USA: This organization, if unopposed, will change the landscape of reproductive rights in the United States. All the laws making zygotes a “person” may even be continued in law through the conservative U.S.  Supreme Court judgments.

Update on conservatives wanting their constituents to be ignorant: In Florida, where the governor has signed a new bill funneling taxpayer monies into private schools, InterAmerican Christian Academy, a private school in Doral, graduates students after only eight days of schoolwork and $399. Gus Garcia-Roberts, a journalist at the Miami NewTimes, proved it was possible, getting a 3.41 GPA after handing out his simple five take-home tests to 8-to-13-year-olds.

Update on health care for all: Despite the screaming and fussing about “Obamacare” from the conservatives, not one red state has figured out its own system to avoid federal regulation, but two blue states have already done this. Vermont was the first with its single-payer system. Oregon is second with its Health Insurance Exchange that allows 350,000 Oregonians to have access to affordable, quality health care. The single marketplace gives Oregon citizens the opportunity to compare the quality and value of plans. Small businesses in the state will receive assistance in providing health care for their employees, and people who leave their jobs can keep their coverage. The law creates a nine-member governing board to establish standards for insurance companies. In that way people and businesses can choose the plan that works best for each of them. The Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan, open to anyone under 138 percent of the federal poverty level, is part of the exchange. People whose incomes are between 138 percent and 400 percent of poverty level would qualify for federal tax credits to subsidize the cost of their health premiums. Oregon will receive $48 million in federal funds to implement the plan.

Update on Bush’s 10th anniversary of tax cuts: Andrew W. Fieldhouse and Ethan Pollack have issued a report from the Economic Policy Statement explaining ten facts that people should know about the Bush tax cuts. Don’t believe it? Check out the supporting data.

  1. The Bush tax cuts disproportionately benefited the wealthy.
  2. The Bush tax cuts did little for low-income families.
  3. The Bush tax cuts never trickled down.
  4. The Bush tax cuts were a poorly designed economic stimulus.
  5. The Bush tax cuts failed to create strong long-run growth.
  6. The Bush tax cuts were so expensive that they added greatly to the debt.
  7. The Bush tax cuts were much more expensive than advertised.
  8. The Bush tax cuts continue to be expensive.
  9. The Bush tax cuts eliminated the most progressive federal tax: taxes on large estates.
  10. A decade of Bush tax cuts are increasing interest spending today.

Update on Detroit’s Catherine Ferguson School closure: The highly successful school for pregnant girls and young mothers has definitely been closed by the emergency manager appointed by the new Michigan dictator (aka Gov. Rick Snyder). G. Asenath Andrews, principal of the school, said that she will probably now be retiring. She does not know what will happen to the displaced students.

June 11, 2011

Banks Fraudulently Foreclose

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:51 PM

The illegality of many foreclosures by large banks has made news for the past few years, but the bank’s actions seem to be getting more outrageous. Although the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) didn’t actually foreclose on homes, members of the Koch-owned conservative organization left false eviction notices throughout Detroit’s Delray district telling them that the Michigan Department of  Transportation would be taking their properties to build the new International Trade Crossing Bridge. The AFP is fighting the project because the new bridge would take toll revenue from an almost privately-owned bridge. Panic ensured among the struggling families because of this action.

A recent example of illegal foreclosures comes from two of the nation’s largest mortgage firms that declared almost 50 foreclosures on the homes of active-duty military members—an illegal act. The discovery came from the federal bank regulators’ three-month probe into the possibility of illegal foreclosures by 14 of the nation’s largest home loan servicers. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a law to protect military members from financial distress, covers armed forces’ members. One part of this act restricts these foreclosures.

Last fall the reports of banks’ illegal break-ins as they claimed to have the right to foreclose increased exponentially. For example one woman came home after she was in the midst of an agreement to modify a mortgage. She discovered everything gone—including her photos and her husband’s ashes. Another woman was home alone. She called 911 because she heard someone trying to break in. The person trying to break in was ordered by her bank, JP Morgan Chase, despite the fact that they had not begun foreclosure.

In the best story this past week, however, the foreclosed party fights back—and wins. In 2009, Warren Nyerges, a retired police officer, and his wife, Maureen Collier, bought a 2700-square-foot home in Florida with $165,000 in cash. No mortgage then, none later. No matter—the Bank of America foreclosed on them a year later. The situation was settled after Nyerges hired an attorney, but the solution cost Nyerges $2,534 that he wanted the Bank of America to pay. After the bank refused, a circuit judge ordered the bank to pay up.

After five months and no money, the Nyerges’ lawyer took legal action, the same action that the Bank of America has illegally taken. Allen took moving trucks and two sheriff’s deputies to a local branch of Bank of America and told them to remove anything they could—cash, furniture, computers, etc. One hour later, the branch manager handed the lawyer a check for $5,772.88 for the legal fees and additional costs, probably for the moving vans and deputies.

A fine example of American creativity!

June 7, 2011

Tenth Anniversary of Bush’s Tax Cuts Drives Deficits

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:19 PM

I’m making way below $1 million dollars, and I could manage an increase in tax cuts to help other people worse off than I am. What do people who make a million dollars do with their money—other than 14th homes, second yachats, 10th international cruises (think Newt Gingrich), etc. They’ve gotten a 27 percent increase in the past decade while the rest of us have had none. Why can’t they pay a share to people who are starving?

Today is the tenth anniversary of the Bush tax cuts. This ten years of tax cuts has cost the country more than $2.5 trillion with almost 40 percent of the benefits, or about $1 trillion, going to households with incomes above $380,000. The wealthiest 1 percent of households now own more than 35.6 percent of all private wealth, more than the bottom 90 percent of the U.S. population combined.

If the conservatives had not gotten elected in massive numbers with promises for more jobs from the winners, the tax giveaways to the wealthy might have been allowed to expire at the end of 2012. Now the same people who forced the continuation of tax cuts claim that the country is broke and that we should not take care of children and the elderly, the sick and the destitute, and even the middle class people that are losing their homes. They think that instead we should send people like Paris Hilton and the Koch brothers lots of money.

With high unemployment (that the tax cuts have never helped) and the rapidly increasing costs of necessities such as food and health care, the middle class is imploding down into poverty. Yet conservatives still think that everyone in the bottom 99 percent of the country can afford more cuts to any benefits so that they can keep from raising the deficit.

Because conservatives don’t care about the people’s welfare, Democrats need to consider tax cuts for the wealthy. The tax cuts that the Congress and President Barack Obama agreed on last fall will increase the tax deficit $3.9 trillion during the next ten years. That doesn’t include the interest we would have to pay on this amount. Those need to stop.

Progressive champions Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Sen. Bernie Sanders are leading the fight for a real solution to our budget crisis. Their proposal is to increase the income tax rates for people who make more than $1 million a year. It’s a pittance compared to what is needed to recover from the past ten years of tax cuts and high military expenditures on a war to nowhere, but it’s a start.

Even the wealthy understand this. A group known as Patriotic Millionaires describes the reductions signed into law by George W. Bush as “one of the worst decisions that members of both parties have made in the last 50 years.” Erica Payne, founder of the Agenda Project, said, “Increasing taxes on millionaires has to be part of the solution to how we get our fiscal house in order.” Billionaire investor Warren Buffett tells people that he pays a lower annual tax rate on the tens of millions of dollars he earns than his secretary, who makes $60,000 a year, does.

The chasm between the rich and the poor is toxic to the country. The richest 1% of Americans make 24% of the country’s income, the highest share since the 1930s. The 1930s were also the last time the richest 1% have so consistently paid such a low income tax rate. And as Michael Moore has pointed out, the top 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom 50% of Americans put together.

To “celebrate” the obscene tax cuts that Bush gave the wealthy, contact your representatives and senators to tell them that they need to save the country by raising these taxes.

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