Nel's New Day

October 8, 2011

Perry Sinking in Polls

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:47 PM

Florida declared Herman Cain the top of the heap in the Republican presidential campaign crew, and now the far-right religious conservatives have anointed Ron Paul with the most votes. In both cases, Rick Perry was far down in the numbers. The once favored upfront direct guy is shooting downward.

Even Supreme Court Justice Scalia thinks he’s wrong. His response to Perry, who wants to get rid of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and any other support for people? The Constitution gives Congress the power to “to lay and collect taxes” and to “provide for the…general welfare of theUnited States.” And all these programs that Perry thinks is unconstitutional provide for the “general welfare.” Perry is way far to the right when Scalia thinks he’s wrong!

It’s old news that Perry wanted Texas to secede from the nation, believes that Social Security is “a Ponzi scheme, ridicules global warming, wants to teach “intelligent design” to kids, opposes any federal income tax, wishes to reinstate anti-sodomy laws, and supports radical anti-abortion prevention. His friends include neo-Confederates, preachers who believe the Holocaust was the fault of Jews, ultra-right businessmen Harold Simmons and Bob J. Perry who funded the deceptive anti-Kerry Swift Boat ads in 2004 and gave $1.1 million and $2.5 million to Perry’s campaigns since 2000, and AT&T which has contributed $462,739 to him since 2000.

Beyond Perry’s inability to balance the books in Texas without obtaining lots of federal money which he denies, he uses state money for personal benefit. Because he considers himself the governor of  Texas “100 percent of the time,” he takes state money for family vacations, book promotion tours, and campaign events. Sometimes the campaign provides for part of the expenses, but the money for his security comes out of funds provided by state taxpayers. Trips included not only the family vacation to the Bahamas but also his wife’s trips—without Perry—to Amsterdam, Madrid, and New York. Perhaps she is part of the 100 percent-of-the-time-governor.

Did we mention that he has doubled Texas’ debt and refused to raise taxes on the wealthy (who pay for his campaigns) while he cuts billions from public education, women’s health centers, and shortchanged Medicaid, the last by $14 billion. His school grades show that he finds little importance in education.

Perry got ideas from former Sen. Phil Gramm for increasing the coffers of the state—and helping investors. One of these, called the “dead peasants” plan, allowed Wall Street investors to take out insurance policies on retired teachers that paid off when they died. Gramm has been described as “Rick Perry’s Karl Rove.”

Regulations and climate change are anathema to Perry. There’s a very good reason for this. He got $633,575 from TXU, now known as Energy Future Holdings Corporation, for allowing them to build 11 huge coal-powered power plants in the state, giving the state a #1 ranking in carbon dioxide emissions. Coal pollution results in 12,000 hospitalizations every year for chest pain, coughing, and breathing trouble, and worsens the effects of asthma and emphysema. Toxic mercury spewed by coal plants poisons rivers and aquatic wildlife while posing serious health risks to children and pregnant women. Fortunately opposition to the plan resulted in the building of only three plants, but Perry supported the utility the whole way. At the same time, Perry took $135 million on year from public education to hand out oil subsidies.

Perry’s ranking went down because of his big “heart,” wanting young people to get HPV vaccines and go to college. His heart stopped at preventing rapes at the state juvenile facilities. Although complaints of sexual assault were filed beginning in January 2000, nothing was done in the early years because, as children’s advocate Isela Gutierrez said, “Local prosecutors don’t consider these kids to be their constituents.” The TYC Board of Supervisors, responsible for letting most of the complaints die, consists almost entirely of major GOP donors rather than qualified criminal justice professionals. Several facilities and guards that received complaints were operated or employed by GEO Group, one of the nation’s biggest private prison contractors. System reform was stopped by Perry’s financial entanglements with GEO Group and his support for prison privatization. With over 750 complaints, not one agency employee has been sent to prison for sexually abusing a confined child.

Centralized government is a polite term for Perry’s approach as he fires people on commissions if they don’t agree with him or support another candidate. This is his idea of “inconsequential” government. To show his contempt for government, Perry let private firms run Medicaid during his first term, earning enormous sums for contractors like Deloitte Touche and Accenture (along with their Texas lobbyists), while costing taxpayers $500 million dollars. With an outdated computer system after the program was dropped, the state paid another $1 million a month.

Problems with Perry in the conservatives’ eyes is that he has been on the public dole his entire life, first in the military and then as a politician. He’s against a fence on the border to stop immigrants and had experimental stem-cell surgery on his back. His book Fed Up! opposes government control, yet Dave Nalle, national chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus, a group of libertarian Republicans whose Texas chapter has never endorsed Perry for governor, said, “What he says in the book and what he does are not the same. He’s a good salesman, no question about it. But he’s selling something that’s mostly a fiction.” He also opposes building a fence along the Mexican border to keep immigrants out of the U.S.

During the last decade he failed to challenge George W. Bush, oversaw a substantial increase in the size and scope of the federal government, both in post-9/11 security programs and in social programs like the creation of a prescription drug benefit for Medicare. Perry’s book criticizes Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and suggests it is unconstitutional but accepted financing for the education program. Now he wants the United States to send the military into Texas to solve the state’s drug smuggling problem.

While he says that he opposes raising taxes, his state raised cigarette taxes by $1 a pack and increased the number of businesses subject to the state franchise tax in exchange for billions of dollars in property tax reductions. Anti-tax conservatives said the business tax overhaul was an income tax in disguise, and critics said big refineries and other property-intensive businesses got huge breaks while medium-sized businesses got stuck with higher bills.

Other positions that conservatives hate include his pushing for the Trans-Texas Corridor super highway, a.k.a. the “North American Union” under NAFTA in 2007. Texas conspiracy theorists in Texas (i.e., Alex Jones) accused him of trying to create a single nation consisting of Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., living under one currency, the Amero. The massive project, Trans-Texas Corridor, would have built a toll road, rail lines, and telecommunication infrastructure across the length of the state using eminent domain to confiscate land from rural Texans.

On the other side, Perry supports a federal amendment banning gay marriage. This comes from the man who thinks that the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government should have no control over citizens. He has also signaled support for various federal actions to restrict abortion and vows to defund Planned Parenthood. He also lies about his record as job-creator and his use of federal monies. The dearly-departed journalist/humorist Molly Ivins would be having a great time writing about Gov. Goodhair during this campaign. I miss her.

Meanwhile, Rick Perry–and the other candidates–will speak for themselves in Dartmouth (NH) this coming Tuesday. We’ll see how the ranking goes in the Northeast.

October 7, 2011

Summit Pushes ‘Christian Values’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 5:42 PM

The annual Family Research Council’s Value Voters Summit, sponsored by the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and other evangelical Christian groups, is taking up much of the media space this weekend. With its concentration on the social issues, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said, “People understand the reason we have big, expensive government is because we have neglected and in many ways discouraged family formation, and that core economic foundation, which is the family.”

Except for Jon Huntsman, the entire motley crew of Republican presidential candidates speak at the summit, even Mitt Romney who will have to face  the prejudice from other speakers. Mitt Romney has not only upset conservatives for his previous support for abortion rights and gay rights but also offended the born-again Christian contingent because he is a Mormon. A pastor supporting Rick Perry at the summit stated that the Mormon religion is a cult, and Bryan Fischer, chief spokesman for the American Family Association, claims that Mormons, as well as Muslims, should not have First Amendment protections because these are reserved for Christians.

Fischer, who speaks after Romney, has also likened gay rights advocates to domestic terrorists, argued that gay men and lesbians should be barred from public office, and repeated the discredited theory that homosexuals built the Nazi Party. “If Mitt Romney wants to appeal to mainstream audiences, he should publicly disassociate himself from Fischer’s bigotry before handing him the podium,” said Michael Keegan, president of People for theAmerican Way.

To succeed with the people at this summit and the rest of the Teavangelicals, candidates have to emphasize their religious conservative credentials, but doing so may hurt the winner next year when the Republican candidate needs the moderates to win a majority of the votes. It’s a hard choice to make.

The Southern Poverty Law Center looks upon both major sponsors as hate groups and had a news conference outside the summit today to denounce the unsubstantiated claims about the LGBT community that these groups make. “I think it is appalling that major public figures are legitimizing these groups, which regularly lie about the LGBT community, by attending their functions and treating them as serious commentators on the values of their society,” said Mark Potok, who heads the division of SPLC that analyzes hate groups.

Perry and Michele Bachman want the United States to follow Christian values with the Bible replacing the U.S. Constitution as the guiding principle of their governmental policy. Perry sees defending Israel as a religious imperative for Christian politicians. What these politicians ignore, however, is the Bible’s view of  government. The Bible opposes democracy; its approved system is a divine-right male monarchy with a throne that passes only from father to son. In the Bible’s ideal government, church and state are one with an official religion which all citizens are required to profess and where priests make the law. Iran might be used as a contemporary example for this model. Or perhaps England at the time of the American Revolution.

New Testament teaches the virtue of total submission to the authorities. Earthly rulers, even when they act unjustly, are ordained to their position by God, and Christian believers must obey them without question or be in peril of eternal damnation. In the Bible racial purity was vital because the Israelites were the chosen people of God and instructed to keep themselves separate, not marrying people of another race, tribe, or ethnicity.

Our country’s “founding fathers” recognized the danger of mandating a Christian theocracy and totally avoided the mention of religion in the Constitution except for two negative statements: Article IV forbids any religious test for office, and the First Amendment forbids Congress from passing any law respecting an establishment of religion. Nowhere in the Constitution is there any mention of God.

In addition, the Constitution states that governing power comes from the will of the people. The United States of America was the first modern republic created on the foundation of reason, without seeking blessings from a god, without imploring divine assistance or invoking divine favor. At the time it was written and signed, the religious right attacked the Constitution, warning that this godless document would doom the nation.

The 21st-century conservatives can only follow rigid doctrines without reasoning. Taxes are always bad. Government is always bad. Foreign enemies must be attacked. All beliefs other than Christianity are not religions. Climate change is an elite conspiracy to impoverish America. Terror suspects are terrorists. U.S. people do not torture no matter what they do. Christians do not murder. Anyone disagreeing with them is a liberal and must be attacked.

All the current Republican presidential candidates believe that they must agree with these precepts to get elected except Jon Huntsman—the only candidate not to look cordially at the angry, arrogant people at this weekend’s summit. Fewer than 3,000 people are involved in this summit, yet the media are all over this event. In contrast, the Occupy Wall Street group, with far more people involved, was ignored for over a week and then denigrated for not having a purpose. People who argue that the media are far-left don’t pay attention to its focus on the conservatives.

October 6, 2011

‘Occupy the World’ Fights ‘Fat Cats’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:20 PM

First the media thought that the people occupying Wall Street to protest the “fat cats” would go home if they ignored them; now conservatives assume that the movement will disappear if pundits sneer at them—despite the geometric progression of protest groups around the world, over 700 cities at last count.

Rich Lowry calls it “a juvenile rabble, a wooly-headed horde” compared to the “solid burghers” of the Tea Party who “had its signature event at a rally at the Lincoln Memorial where everyone listened politely to patriotic exhortations and picked up their trash and went home.” Evidently, Lowery thinks that all protesters should not do this 24/7 but just get back on the buses that wealthy people provide.  Sean Hannity called one of the protesters “Marxist” and told her “you don’t believe in liberty, you don’t believe in freedom” before he said she wants to destroy America.

The New York Police Department has been equally negative, seeing the group as a visible example of lawlessness akin to that which had resulted in destruction and violence at other anti-capitalist demonstrations, like the Group of 20 economic summit meeting in London in 2009 and the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999. Early in the protest, people—both protesters and watchers—were corralled by police officers with orange mesh netting, forcibly arrested some participants, and pepper-sprayed even if they were on the sidewalk behind the netting. A few days later police arrested 700 of them as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, including a transman who was handcuffed to a toilet and denied food for eight hours.

Despite these police actions and in a contrast to the violence sometimes threatened by the Tea Party, protesters monitor their own to maintain non-violence. For example, when a man threw something at a cop, protesters chased after him to stop him.

In case you have missed the growing media coverage about the event (from blackout to circus, as Jon Stewart describes it), a group of protesters have set up camp in New York’s Zuccotti Park, bounded by Broadway and Liberty Street, near Wall Street. They have their own radio station and newspaper, keep the grounds policed in all ways, and get their food from a centrally-located station where donated meals, especially pizza and Popeye’s chicken, are disbursed.  Although they’ve been there only three weeks, the inspiration came from a July call for action in a blog connected with a Canadian advocacy magazine, Adbusters, and recent meetings in Madrid. Organizational meeting in Tompkins Square and other public places led to a September 17 march near Wall Street before they developed their base.

The place behaves like a village with its recycling center, media center where a gasoline generator powers computers, a library, medical station, and post office set up at a U.P.S store. There is a location for lost and found items, and some therapists have set up shop. The group holds two daily General Assembly meetings to conduct organizational business and work on objectives. Without permission to use amplified sound, each speaker says a sentence that is repeated by others so that it ripples outward. Decisions are by consensus using hand signals: palms upward and wiggling fingers mean approval; palms and fingers downward indicate disapproval; level hands are uncertainty. Committees  include town planning, child care, direct action, and a de-escalation group charged with keeping things orderly.

Congress should be so organized! In fact, some Democratic Congresspeople have decided to support these protesters whose actions may give politicians courage to push back against the ultra-conservative right that has led them around by the noses etc. for almost a year. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a leading Republican presidential candidate, agrees with the protesters. “If they were demonstrating peacefully, and making a point, and arguing our case, and drawing attention to the Fed–I would say, good!” Paul said following a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire.

Occupy Wall Street is making a difference across the country. The Los Angeles City Council has moved to support a Occupy L.A. camped on the City Hall lawn with seven of the 15 members signing a resolution to support “peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by `Occupy Los Angeles.”‘ Although reporters have said that the protesters have no goals or objectives, the Council understands that the demonstrations are aimed at calling attention to the gap between wealthy and poor people.

The Los Angeles resolution also calls for a vote on a “responsible banking” measure by October 28 that would require the city to divest from banks and financial institutions that have not cooperated with efforts to prevent foreclosures. “This resolution supports the goals of Occupy L.A. and the need for responsible banking reform,” said valley-area City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who co-sponsored the motion with his Westside colleague Bill Rosendahl.

The office of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa distributed 100 rain ponchos to the demonstrators yesterday. That’s a bit different from New York Mayor Bloomberg’s position about wanting all the protesters to move on, perhaps because he’s the nation’s 13-richest man with at least $19 billion and his long-time, live-in girlfriend, Diana Taylor, is on the board of the park’s owner.

Even President Obama has added to the commentary. “I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place,” he said. “So yes, I think people are frustrated, and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.”

How long the protesters will be allowed to stay in their New York location is not known. Zuccotti Park, former known as Liberty Plaza, is private property owned by the real estate agency Brookfield Properties.  In public statements, Brookfield has suggested to the city that it is past time to restore the space to its normal use and has posted signs in the park objecting to the sleeping bags, tarps, and use of benches as beds throughout the space. A representatives of the police department said, however, that Brookfield would have to formally declare the protesters trespassers before they could be removed.

There’s lots more out there on the Internet about these protests, but the important piece is that this was truly a grassroots protest. Well-known protesters like Michael Moore have appeared at the demonstrations, but he didn’t organize it. The Tea Party can brag about coming up from the members, but anyone who pays attention to the media (other than Fox) knows that the Koch brothers funded it and Dick Army organized it. The same “fat cats” that these demonstrators are protesting paid for the buses to move Tea Party members around, at times not even getting more than a handful of people at their demonstrations. Occupy Wall Street (and all those other cities) is truly from the People.

October 5, 2011

Fox News Unhealthy

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 5:52 PM

Fox “News” has a long reputation for mis-educating its 100 million viewers (that’s almost one-third of the country’s population!) in political matters. But it’s “health” news from their “experts” can be equally dangerous.

One example of the falsehoods from Fox is that apple juice, probably from China, is high in arsenic. When The U.S. Food and Drug Administration tested the same juice that Dr. Mehmet Oz used to make this accusation, they disagreed. Oz’s former medical school classmate Dr. Richard Besser called this accusation an “extremely irresponsible” report. He explained that arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food, and soil in both organic and inorganic forms. Organic arsenic passes through the body and is essentially harmless; inorganic arsenic is toxic and presents a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long period of time. Oz failed to break down the type in its testing

In the juice that Oz used, the FDA also found far lower total arsenic levels—2-6 parts per billion of arsenic versus the 36 that he claimed on his show. Nestle USA wrote the program’s producer in advance that the method the show’s lab used was intended for testing waste water, not fruit juice, and “therefore their results would be unreliable at best.” The FDA also warned the producer in advance of the show’s inaccuracies. Fox insisted on broadcasting the show.

If Fox News had its way, there wouldn’t be any regulation on the amount of arsenic in any foods—or any regulations on anything—so it would be a moot point based on their philosophy of “inconsequential government” (to use Rick Perry’s term). Oz’s testing would be a waste of time.

Even worse than Oz’s “health news” is the dangerous message from the channel’s “expert on psychiatry,” Dr. Keith Ablow, who reported that “tomboys” watching transgender Chaz Bono, Cher’s son who appeared on Dancing with the Stars, will want to become boys. In a recent column, “Don’t Let Your Kids Watch Chaz Bono On Dancing With the Stars ” Ablow added that Chaz Bono does not have a civil right to be transgender.

Ablow’s alternative to Bono’s changing gender? “Make no mistake: I would have gone to the ends of the earth to help Chaz Bono if she had come to me for help. I would have treated her with dignity and summoned every ounce of my intellect and empathy to explore her psyche with her. I would have pried loose every family secret hidden by the Bonos. I would have been relentless. I would have used everything I know about medication to help her. I would have enlisted the help of every expert I know–some of the world’s best–at everything from endocrinology to hypnosis. I would have teamed up with a spiritual counselor, if that seemed indicated.” In an earlier column about Bono, Ablow called Bono “psychotic” and “delusional.”

At least Megyn Kelly, Fox anchor, disagreed with Ablow’s homophobic, transphobic, hateful, and unscientific statements. When pressed about his column on Bono, Ablow went further, however, comparing transgender people to people suffering from anorexia and heroin addiction. Other people have trashed Bono for being transgender, but none of those people is a declared “expert” on a major television channel. Ablow seems to be an authority in everything; for example, he has determined that marriage is a “dying institution” due, in part, to the existence of the birth control and said President Obama must engage in “introspection” to determine if he has “prejudice… towards white people.”

This is the kind of “health advice” that Fox “News” provides. Yet Fox continues to employ Ablow even after this attack. My bumper sticker says “Turn off Fox.” I need another one that states “Friends don’t let friends watch Fox.”

October 4, 2011

Disappearing Bachmann

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:06 PM

The Republican presidential candidate collection stays dysfunctional as always with fair-haired non-candidate Chris Christie saying that he won’t run until he  he might run and then won’t run. With the first primary in Iowa three months away, Herman Cain is leaving the campaign trail for one-third of that time, and Rick Perry is suffering from not only foot-in-mouth problems but also racial issues. (Jon Stewart’s take on this is hilarious and, as usual, right on target.) Thaddeus McCotter quietly slipped out of his campaign on September 22.

Now Michele Bachmann has lost her pollster and senior adviser, and two other of her staff members have transferred back to her congressional office. Once the favored candidate by the Tea Party, her national polling among those who lean Republican is just 4 percent. Mitt Romney is in the lead with 21 percent while Cain and Perry are tied at 14 percent. Another poll gives slightly higher numbers for the four, but only Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum are below Bachmann. Her former campaign manager, Ed Rollins, said that she doesn’t have the resources to campaign beyond the Iowa caucuses.

Until Perry’s entry, the media provided an onslaught of information about Bachmann, but the reporting on her mistakes only seemed to endear her to her public. No longer. Her claim that the vaccine for HPV that could prevent cervical cancer would cause “mental retardation” seems to be her downfall. Her indifference to the many teen suicides in her Congressional district also became a problem when she declared that bullying is “not a federal issue.

Caleb Laiseki, a 16-year-old national advocate for LGBT youth, disagreed. “A national issue is when an issue is occurring throughout the entire nation,” Laiseki said. “Therefore, when incidents of suicides and bullying are occurring in all fifty-states, it clarifies that this a national issue that needs prompt solutions.” (Out of the mouths of babes.) Pending legislation before Congress include the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act both of which aim to stop the bullying of LGBT students in schools, and President Obama held a bullying summit last summer.

The question of how Bachmann perceives the definition of “submissive” also created problems after the August debate. The audience booed Byron York after he asked, “As president, would you be submissive to your husband?” Bachmann covered by claiming that the word means “respect,” but York had described her feeling about getting a law degree being something she “hated,” but she did it only because her husband told her to do it. Having Marcus Bachmann calling the shots as the commander-in-chief is a very scary thing.

Bachmann’s indifference to the pain of vulnerable people in this nation goes far beyond her false claims that she can bring the price of gasoline down to $2, that eliminating corporate taxes (what corporate taxes?!) will help the nation, and that she saved the country from losing all its incandescent lightbulbs. (There was never a risk of that.)  Her claim that she has “a post-doctorate degree in federal tax law from William and Mary” is also just plain wrong.

Her calls for austerity in government while bemoaning the waste of earmarks and stimulus plans are belied by her own actions. At least 16 times, she petitioned the federal government for financial help or aid,  several of these requests from stimulus funds which she had labeled “fantasy economics.” Two more requests went to the Environmental Protection Agency; Bachmann had promised to lock the EPA’s doors and shut off its lights if she were in the White House. Both she, as a farmer who accepts subsidies, and her husband, as a medical person who takes Medicaid, personally accept money from the government that she considers wasteful.

Unlike Sarah Palin, Bachmann can cite specific reading that influences her. After working as a research assistant with fundamentalist law professor John Eidsmoe on his 1987 book Christianity and the Constitution, she continues to tell audiences that he has a major influence on her thinking. As recently as 2005, Eidsmoe spoke at the Council of Conservative Citizens, the same white supremacist group that helped cost Trent Lott his Majority Leader post, and he’s passionately talked up confederate states’ “right to secede.”

In her attempt to push through her personal agenda, Bachmann doesn’t hesitate to pull out all the stops—for example describing her own miscarriage in her attempts to criminalize others’ miscarriages. She also dropped her ten-year membership in an ultra-conservative church just weeks before she declared her campaign for Republican president.

Bachmann plans to run again for her seat in the U.S. House if she fails to be the selected Republican presidential candidate, but her constituents may have become disenchanted with her. She has failed to vote in Congress since August 1 and voted only 54 percent of the time since announcing her presidential candidacy on June 13, missing 150 votes since that time. Tim Pawlenty said that “her record of accomplishment in Congress is non-existent.” She claimed the lightbulb bill as her greatest accomplishment. Minnesota newspapers are reporting that she may not be a viable candidate in 2012—even in Minnesota.

October 3, 2011

‘Think Before You Pink’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 5:30 PM

Each October, retail stores glow pink as corporations cash in on the big business of breast cancer during its “awareness” month. And each year my friends look at me askance as I sputter about these scams surrounding pink. How can I be against the “race for the cure” or the wonderful pink ribbons designed to bring awareness to this disaster focused on the object that screams motherhood and sex? Easy.

The “celebration” of breast cancer in October began 25 years ago. Since that time, the incidence of deaths from breast cancer has decreased minimally—less than 2 percent each year. But there is no cure; research money has provided no progress in stopping the onslaught of cancer despite our knowledge that the environment causes more than half the cases of this feared disorder. Women seem to be more terrified of breast cancer than other deadly diseases—like lung cancer which kills almost twice as many women each year as breast cancer. But lung cancer isn’t sexy. There’s no pink for those lungs.

Back to my annoyance with all those pink products. Most of them are scams, free advertising, and PR for companies without their having to follow through with donations. No one really knows how much non-profit money is generated by most of these products. Clinique supposedly donates $10 of every $14 in sales during their “In the Pink” lipstick sales, but American Express gave one penny per transaction of any amount during “Charge for the Cure.” Companies that state “net profits to charity” may do so for only a limited time or only after a certain sales quota was reached. Most of the time consumers are not aware of these differences.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure has trademarked its own version of the pink ribbon, but anyone can create their own. Tchotchke vendor Oriental Trading sells “Find the cure” car magnets and “I wear pink in honor of” buttons, among a multitude of other “pink” objects, but only the proceeds from its pink rubber duckies goes to breast cancer. Christina McCall’s online Pink Ribbon Marketplace promised to donate profits to legitimate non-profits but never has. Owner of Amsterdam-based Pink Ribbon International, Walter Scheffrahn, has made a variety of promises to donate but never followed through. Both McCall and Scheffrahn say they don’t know which organization should get the money.

So which companies are ethical and which are out-and-out scams? It’s hard to tell. The largest non-profit company dedicated to eradicating breast cancer is the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, famous for fundraising races and pink gear during the past three decades. With this record, it’s hard to understand why Komen has posted statements on its website that dismiss links between the common chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and breast cancer, even while funding research that explores that possible connection.

The carcinogenic problem with BPA is not quackery. The United States’ President’s Cancer Panel concluded in 2010 that “more than 130 studies have linked BPA to breast cancer, obesity, and other health problems.” A number of studies have found that the chemical causes breast cancer in lab animals. In human cell cultures, BPA has caused breast cancer cells to proliferate and has also reduced the effectiveness of chemotherapy. In September, a study by the California Pacific Medical Center found that BPA even made healthy breast cells behave like cancer cells and decreased the effectiveness of yet another breast cancer drug. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that BPA is in the urine of more than 90 percent of the United States population, probably from continuous exposure to the chemical. The FDA has concerns over health risks of BPA, and the American Nurses Association is lobbying to reform the United States’ chemical regulation policy.

Yet Komen posted an online statement in April 2010 that BPA had been “deemed safe” and followed that one in February 2011 that begins, “Links between plastics and cancer are often reported by the media and in email hoaxes.” Komen’s chief scientific adviser, Dr. Eric Winer, dismissed the criticisms as inflammatory. “If a woman is particularly worried about plastics, she can avoid plastics in her life,” he told a Mother Jones reporter. No problem, he says. Women should be on their own to decide what produces cancer.

BPA is found everywhere from plastic water bottles to food can liners, products that are made by private industries funding Komen. A major sponsor of Komen is Georgia-Pacific, a subsidiary of anti-regulation Koch Industries and major manufacturer of epoxy resins that contain BPA. Another major donating industry, 3M, is a member of the American Chemistry Council, a powerful trade group that argues that BPA is safe. Komen partners with DS Waters, which delivers the type of water bottle cooler with a pink cap made from polycarbonate plastic that contains BPA. The American Chemistry Council used its connection with Komen to justify that pink cap a Facebook post, “Leading breast cancer org Susan G. Komen says no evidence to suggest a link between BPA & risk of breast cancer.” Katrina McGhee, Komen’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, claims that Komen’s sponsors have no effect on any of their policy decisions. Sure, no problem. Again.

Komen supports other makers of carcinogens. Its website says that exposure to organochlorine pesticides, a category that includes DDT, as one of six “Factors That Do Not Increase Risk.” Like BPA, many pesticides have estrogen-like traits. A 2007 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives suggested that women exposed to DDT as adolescents were five times more likely to develop breast cancer during adulthood. Yet a company making these pesticides is a sponsor of Komen.

My slogan is “Think Before You Pink.” I don’t buy pink, and I donate money to candidates who want to regulate carcinogenic chemicals instead of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

October 2, 2011

Republicans Flip-Flop

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:42 PM

Flip-flopping was a major criticism of John Kerry when he ran for president in 2004. The Republicans have now mastered the art or reversing their positions on anything. Here are some of the policies that they supported until President Barack Obama thought they were good ideas:

1. Health Care Mandates: Newt Gingrich was a huge supporter of  an individual health care insurance mandate. Republicans want people to take responsibility for themselves but not if it’s Obama’s idea.

2. The Nuclear START Treaty: Ronald Reagan, the conservative’s god, negotiated the very first START Treaty which was signed by yet another Republican, George H. W. Bush, in 1991. After that treaty expired in 2009, President Obama negotiated a new one to continue the Reagan legacy. Conservatives opposed Reagan’s treaty.

3. Dream Act: Reagan granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants in the 1980s, and Republicans worked on immigration reform under the Bush II administration. George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) both worked with Democrats, notably Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), for immigration. Obama has followed Reagan’s Dream, but Republicans refuse hear anything of it.

4. TARP: Republicans supported TARP when they helped pass it in response to the economic collapse in 2008. George W. Bush even signed the legislation into law. Republicans take credit for the stimulus checks that they give to state constituents, but lambast Obama for the idea that wasn’t even his.

5. Bail-out of Auto Industry: Republicans supported the idea but abandoned it once President Obama called for it. The auto industry is a “job creator,” but conservatives wanted the bail-out to fail because Obama supported it. Now Mitt Romney tries to take credit for the successful idea.

6. Israel Going Back to Pre-1967 Borders: Among other presidents, both Bushes suggested this, but Republicans denounced Obama for the idea.

7. Gun Control: Ronald Reagan supported the Brady Handgun Act, and Republicans have supported gun control measures. Today’s conservatives want war against liberals so they want guns in everyone’s hands in all places.

8. Public Education: The Founding Fathers believed in education for all, and every Republican president has supported the public education system. Ronald Reagan campaigned on axing the Department of Education but, once president, amped up its budget. When George W. Bush sought to improve public education, Republicans were on board. With Obama, Republicans have decided that all public schools are evil liberal institutions that must be destroyed.

9. Infrastructure Spending: Republicans used the power of the federal government to build the railroads in the 1860s and 1870s, the Panama Canal in the beginning of the twentieth century, and the interstate highway system in the 1950s. Republicans immediately opposed President Obama’s call for new infrastructure spending to improve crumbling roads and bridges and to improve rail lines.

10. Child Labor Laws: Republicans began championing child labor laws starting in 1852 and tried to pass a Constitutional amendment in 1924. After Democrats passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, child labor laws became federal law. Now Republicans want cheap labor for huge corporations which means killing child labor laws—and Obama’s policy.

11. Civil Rights: Republicans ended slavery and adopted the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. They splintered over the Civil Rights Act in 1964, but a Republican-led Supreme Court ruled against school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. President Obama has called for increased civil rights; Republicans oppose them for everyone except Christian white males.

12. Environmental Protection: Originally championed by Theodore Roosevelt, environmental protection has been supported by Republicans. They even supported the environment in the 1970s when Nixon created the EPA. Now Republicans support the oil and coal industry and want to open the entire American coastline and federally protected lands to drilling and mining. George H.W. Bush signed legislation in 1990 that implemented the cap-and-trade system, and many Republicans still support cap-and-trade. Now President Obama supports it; most Republicans oppose it.

13. Deficit Spending: Republicans employed deficit spending since the Reagan years and abused it during the W. Bush administration to pass their conservative agenda and fund wars. Reagan doubled the national debt, and George W. Bush doubled it again. Because Democrats controlled the White House and the Congress from 2008 to 2010, Republicans completely reversed their stance on deficit spending and oppose deficit spending solely on the grounds that a Republican isn’t President. If a Republican were president right now, they would abuse deficit spending once again to slam their destructive anti-middle class, anti-poor, anti-women, and anti-America agenda through Congress with no thought about fiscal responsibility whatsoever.

14. Federal Reserve: Now a target for most Republicans, it was a Republican idea, proposed by Republican leader Nelson Aldrich, to organize and regulate the banking system and to enforce monetary policy, thereby stabilizing the financial system. Obama needs the 1913 Federal Reserve Act to enforce Dodd-Frank which will make banks more responsible and accountable and will protect consumers. Conservatives don’t want to protect consumers.

15. Women’s Rights: The women’s rights movement was born in and grew with the Republican Party in the mid 1800s. Ronald Reagan legalized abortion as governor of California, and a moderate conservative Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Today’s Republican Party is now waging a war against women. The harder Democrats and President Obama fight for women’s rights, the harder Republicans fight to eliminate these rights because of orders from white Christian extremists.

16. End-of-Life Counseling: Republicans referred to this as “death panels” in 2009 in response to Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but they supported end-of-life counseling in their own 2003 Medicare bill. Both Bushes supported end-of-life counseling, and even Sarah Palin was for it until she was against it.

17. Financial Disclosure: Republicans were all for this transparency in 2002 when George W. Bush signed the McCain-Feingold Act into law. Obama supports campaign finance laws so Republicans are now completely against financial disclosure. They and the activist Supreme Court have allied themselves with the corporate world over the nation’s people in their effort to steer elections their direction. To do that, campaign finance laws must not exist.

18. Minimum Wage: Eighty-two House Republicans and 39 Senate Republicans joined the Democratic majority in passing the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. George W. Bush signed the bill into law, and Republicans voted to raise it. Three times. Now that Obama stands with the workers, Republicans oppose the minimum wage on behalf of their corporate masters, most notably, Koch Industries.

19. Military Intervention in the Middle East: Reagan and both Bushes supported military intervention in the Middle East. Republicans became doves when Obama used the military to intervene in Libya although the dictator was overthrown without one lost U.S. life.

20. Abortion: As mentioned above, Reagan made abortion legal in California. Presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s wife had an abortion to save her own life. Conservatives who support legal abortion are terrified to say so.

21. Economic Development Administration: This program provides grants to local projects which have created jobs. Republicans such as Susan Collins, Chuck Grassley, and even John Cornyn have supported it in the past. Cornyn stated in March 2010 that funds from an EDA grant “would pave the way for the creation of new jobs and business opportunities, which will strengthen the region’s economy,” according to a local East Texas NBC news affiliate. Republicans are now calling for an end to the EDA.

22. Lower Taxes: Republican support lower taxes only for the wealthy. As they crusade to eliminate taxes on corporations and the wealthy, they support a proposal that would raise taxes for the bottom 90 percent. Once again they oppose Obama in wanting to lower taxes for the middle-class.

23. Medicare: Even Theodore Roosevelt supported national health care. Republicans originally opposed Medicare but then defended it after it became the law of the land. As president, Reagan saved Medicare. Obama wants Medicare, and it represents how popular government-run universal health care is in this country. Technically speaking, Republicans were against Medicare before they were for it before they were against it.

24. Social Security: Ronald Reagan and Milton Freidman supported the New Deal programs of the 1930s, and even Ayn Rand collected Social Security up to her dying breath. Ronald Reagan saved Social Security by raising payroll taxes which also saved Medicare because it is part of the Social Security Act. Republicans had control of Congress and the White House from 2001-2006: if they wanted to kill Social Security, they could have done so. But now, just as big bankers have proved that they are irresponsible, conservatives want to privatize. Did I mention that Obama supports Social Security?

Watching the Republicans try to destroy Obama at any cost to the country and hearing conservatives talk about their faith in the Founders of the United States, we can assume that Republicans were for this country before they were against it.

October 1, 2011

Amendments Should Expand Rights

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:12 PM

“You had demonization of immigrants, smear campaigns in presidential elections, unfunded congressional mandates, government where the means justified the ends, a whole group of people who felt they lost control of their country and wanted to take it back.” Sounds like today, right? With the conservatives trying to pass constitutional amendments to limit people’s rights, such as the so-called “Defense of Marriage” that would prevent same-sex marriage. Or the movement for an amendment that would require a “balanced budget” at the cost of people in poverty and other distress.

This quote actually came from Ken Burns when he was discussing his new documentary about the 18th Amendment which went into effect over 90 years ago—and lasted only 13 years. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was the only one that has ever limited the rights of people in the United States; all the others expanded their rights. Even the 17th Amendment, hated by the conservatives, allowed people to elect U.S. Senators rather then letting the political machinery of each state legislation make these choices.

The limiting 18th Amendment brought prohibition of alcohol to this nation. It resulted in organized crime, women’s alcoholism, government corruption, and heightened racial and religious prejudice. The cause of this amendment was–as in the current attempts to limit people’s rights–religious fervor and the conservatives’ desire to  control people.

Reminiscent of today’s Tea Party, a small but passionate religious minority, led by a relentlessly driven visionary, cobbled together a legislative majority by scaring politicians into believing that if they’re not for you, they’re against you and will get voted out of office come next election. Although Burns says that he isn’t trying to make a direct comparison to today’s trials, we see forward by looking back need. “What we begin to understand is that the study of history provides us insight, and (we hope) helps us apply compassion and tolerance to the political circumstances we find ourselves in today.”

“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits,” Mark Twain once wrote. “Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky:  It is the prohibition that makes anything precious.” The ultra-conservatives will never understand how important the rights of all people are. It is up to the rest of us to make sure that they don’t take control. In the meantime, enjoy watching the documentary about the lawless violence of the amendment that was intended to save our country.

Ken Burns’ three-part series, Prohibition, airs tomorrow through Tuesday on public television—something that the current conservatives want to eliminate because of its “liberal” bias.

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