Nel's New Day

September 9, 2012

The War on Women Continues

What do the Republicans think of women? Here are some fine examples of how little some men treasure the “fairer sex.”

Republican candidate Tom Smith of Pennsylvania, running for the House this fall, told an interviewer that having an unmarried pregnant daughter is the equivalent of having a daughter raped. Paul Ryan, running for the second highest office in the country said that rape and incest are just another “method of contraception.” This is after he refuted Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) explanation of “legitimate rape.”

After Caroline Kennedy spoke at the DNC convention about the new restrictions on women’s rights, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly criticized her speech and said: “I don’t see any women’s rights under assault at all. I don’t see it.” Karl Rove, his guest, claimed, “No one is seriously talking about ending abortion.” Obviously Rove had not read the 2012 GOP platform passed a week earlier.

One GOP goal, stated in their platform and by both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, is defunding Planned Parenthood. Shelby County (TN) did just that: in November 2011, officials took away the $397,000 in state funding for health screenings, STD tests, and birth control and gave it to Christ Community Health Services (CCHS), a religious organization that refuses to provide abortions or refer women to other organization providing them. CCHS does not offer emergency contraception, sometimes called the day-after pill, despite no proof that these cause abortions. They are supposedly trying to create more “crisis pregnancy clinics” that offer “counselors who can discuss adoption and other life-affirming options” with women. Obviously, there is not information about abortion at these clinics.

During the year between July 2011 and June 2012, CCHS failed to use over $500,000 of the $1.3 million grant it received. In early 2012, the health services averaged 51 Title X visits per month, compared with Planned Parenthood’s 841 visits in August 2011 before they lost the funding. Yvonne Madlock, director of the county health department, justified the drop by how busy CCHS was in its transitioning. At the same time, women’s services dropped 93 percent because the county failed to fund Planned Parenthood.

Trying to keep women pregnant is the goal of Quiverfull, a Christian organization that pushes the idea that women’s purpose on Earth is to conceive and bear sons; i.e., “arrows” for God’s army. Stars of TLC’s 19 and Counting, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, are models for this group. Citing several Biblical passages, Mary Price, leader of the organization, explains in her book The Way Home: Beyond Feminism and Back to Reality  that sex for women is unnatural and causes men “to abandon the natural sexual use of the women and turn to homosexuality.”

When single-mother Vyckie Garrison gave up the Quiverfull movement after seven children, she started a blog to explain the problems with what she calls a cult. It goes much farther than just the abuse of women who are encouraged to lose their health in bearing children and provides documentation for the Quivers’ belief that the primary goal of a parent is to subdue the will of their children.

Women’s buy-in to the anti-women movement in the country can be truly horrifying. Fox News co-host Andrea Tantaros said that “no woman should aspire to be” the women’s rights activist and former Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, who conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called a slut because she had advocated that birth control be covered by health insurance plans. Tantaros continued, “She claims to be this smart, successful woman and she can’t afford $9 birth control?” When guest co-host Juan Williams defended Fluke because she was a student, Tantaros replied. “She’s a lazy student. She won’t get a job and pay for her own bills.” Fluke was actually testifying on behalf of a lesbian friend who couldn’t afford the oral contraception she needed to prevent ovarian cysts from forming when her university refused to pay for the medication on religious grounds.

Another example comes from Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R-WI) who was initially horrified at Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) classification of rape as “abhorrent, insulting” and “disgusting.” She went so far as to say, “Rape is a rape. I don’t know how you can categorize it, and it’s disgusting that Todd Akin would have tried to categorize it.” That was before the interviewer told her that her own state’s GOP representative, Paul Ryan, had co-sponsored a bill with Akin to categorize some rapes as “forcible.”  She made a 180-degree turn: “Well, I think there is a way to have a more forcible rape, the same way there are different types of assault.”

Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) showed her disdain for raped and battered women when she called them “distractions” that represent only a “small portion” of South Carolina’s population. When vetoing critical funding for programs working to prevent domestic abuse and rape, she said, “It is only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused. Overall, these special add-on lines distract from the agency’s broader mission of protecting South Carolina’s public health.”

Another dishonest reaction came from the discussion of the GOP platform language that denies all abortions to all women even in the cases of rape, incest, and the women’s health. Several high-ranking Republicans have denied that the platform states this. Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) called the prevention of abortion a “detail” to be left up to states and Congress. On ABC’s This Week, he said, “The party didn’t make any judgment on that. It’s a general proposition to say we support human life.”

The GOP platform actually endorses a Human Life Amendment “to make clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to all unborn children.” That means all abortions would be unconstitutional. When McDonnell appeared on the program, Romney stated that there would be exceptions for rape, incest, and the woman’s life. The next week he dropped rape and incest, and now he supports a ban on all abortions.

The icing on the cake comes from Jacqueline Hatch, an Arizona judge appointed by Republican governor Jan Brewer, when she sentenced a police officer who molested a woman in Flagstaff. Robb Gary Evans drove drunk to a bar, showed his badge to avoid paying a cover charge, and then ran his hand up a woman’s skirt over her genitals. Fired from the police force after an internal investigation, Evans was also convicted by a jury of sexual abuse, a felony with a maximum sentence of 30 months in prison. The trial judge gave him probation and 100 hours of community service. Evans is not required to register as a sex offender.

Hatch said she didn’t blame the victim but she did say that bad things can happen in bars. “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said. “I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it. You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.” Hatch said that her mother used to say, “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”

Hatch was not the only person who criticized the victim, a Flagstaff professional. Members of the community accused her of ruining the defendant’s life. “These people put their lives on the line every day,” Evan’s former partner said to the judge. “I hope you’ll be lenient on him. To me, this is one way we can give a little back to those in law enforcement who give so much to us everyday.”

“I don’t necessarily agree with the way this case got to be here,” former Flagstaff Police Lt. Randy Weems told the judge.

“When women got the right to vote is when it all went downhill,” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show in July. “Because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instincts that government ought to reflect.”

Republicans are now trying to dodge the growing opposition to the GOP’s control of people through banning marriage equality and women’s reproductive rights while creating a greater schism between the wealthy and the rest of the nation’s citizens. Denigrating concerns in this area through such sneering terms as “distraction” and “emotional issues,” they have generated a war against not only half the people in this country but also the poor and the minorities. The angrier the conservatives become, the more they will fail.

September 8, 2012

Democratic Convention 2012 – The Platform

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:23 PM

A week ago, I wrote about the GOP platform that declares Medicare unconstitutional, translates the Second Amendment as if people can carry weapons of mass destruction, promotes unlimited private funding for candidates, and removes all rights for LGBTs and women. The platform’s solution to any problems is impeachment. In essence, the GOP platform rewrites the U.S. Constitution without requiring any votes to approve it.

This week the Democratic platform listed what it would give the people, not take away from them as the GOP did. The negative pieces just list how Mitt Romney’s policies would destroy the United States; the positive ones give a vision for the future that build on accomplishments during President Obama’s first term. Here are some highlights:

Give tax breaks for insourced jobs: “We want to cut tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas and for special interests, and instead offer tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in the United States of America.”

Extend tax cuts for the middle class: “We are committed to extending the middle class tax cuts for the 98 percent of American families who make less than $250,000 a year, and we will not raise taxes on them. We support allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire and closing loopholes and deductions for the largest corporations and the highest-earning taxpayers. We are committed to reforming our tax code so that it is fairer and simpler, creating a tax code that lives up to the Buffett Rule so no millionaire pays a smaller share of his or her income in taxes than middle class families do.”

Maintain unrestricted abortion and contraception rights: “Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way. Women have a right to control their reproductive choices. . . [and] Democrats will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers.”

Confirm women’s rights: “Women’s rights are civil rights.  That’s why we reaffirm our support for the ERA, recommit to enforcing Title IX, and will urge ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”

Address climate change issues: “Democrats will continue pursuing efforts to combat climate change at home as well, because reducing our emissions domestically–through regulation and market solutions–is necessary to continue being an international leader on this issue. We understand that global climate change may disproportionately affect the poor, and we are committed to environmental justice.”

Reiterates support for cap-and-trade: “Democrats will continue pursuing efforts to combat climate change at home as well, because reducing our emissions domestically–through regulation and market solutions–is necessary to continue being an international leader on this issue.”

Provide clean energy by 2035: “An all-of-the-above approach to developing America’s many energy resources, including wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal, hydropower, nuclear, oil, clean coal, and natural gas. Democrats will fight to cut tax subsidies for Big Oil while promoting job growth in the clean energy sector.”

Stop Citizens United: “We believe we must take immediate action to curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests on our political institutions…by constitutional amendment if necessary.”

Pass the DREAM Act: “We need an immigration reform that creates a system for allocating visas that meets our economic needs, keeps families together, and enforces the law…  Only Congress can provide a permanent, comprehensive solution.”

Close Guantanamo: “We remain committed to working with all branches of government to close the prison altogether because it is inconsistent with our national security interests and our values.”

Repeal DOMA and legalize same-sex marriage: “We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference. We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples.”

Pass tougher gun controls: “We can work together to enact commonsense improvements like reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few.”

Build on Obamacare: “No law is perfect and Democrats stand willing to work with anyone to improve the law where necessary, but we are committed to moving forward. We refuse to go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your health policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men.”

Continue immigration reform: “Immigration overhaul would include bringing ‘undocumented immigrants out of the shadows,’ requiring illegal immigrants ‘to get right with the law, learn English and pay taxes’ to get on a path toward citizenship. It also calls for a visa system that meets the country’s “economic needs, keeps families together and enforces the law.”

Encourage education through immigration reform: “The [current] President also proposed to double key investments in science to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, encourage private sector innovation, and prepare at least 100,000 math and science teachers over the next decade. And to make this country a destination for global talent and ingenuity, we won’t deport deserving young people who are Americans in every way but on paper, and we will work to make it possible for foreign students earning advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to stay and help create jobs here at home.”

Preserve Medicare: “Democrats adamantly oppose any efforts to privatize or voucherize Medicare. We will block Republican efforts to subject Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market through privatization.” The platform adds that the new health care law makes Medicare stronger by adding new benefits, fighting fraud and improving care for patients, saving the average Medicare beneficiary $4,200.

Further reduce nuclear weapons stockpile: The country’s problem will build on the U.S.-Russia treaty that the Senate passed in December 2010. Although Democrats want to maintain a strong military, the country faces tough budgetary decisions that must include defense spending as Democrats and Republicans agreed last summer in the deficit-cutting plan.

Restore voting rights: “We believe the right to vote and to have your vote counted is an essential American freedom, and we oppose laws that place unnecessary restrictions on those seeking to exercise that freedom. Democrats have a proud history of standing up for the right to vote. During the Obama administration, the Justice Department has initiated careful, thorough, and independent reviews of proposed voting changes, and it has prevented states from implementing voter identification laws that would be harmful to minority voters. Democrats know that voter identification laws can disproportionately burden young voters, people of color, low-income families, people with disabilities, and the elderly, and we refuse to allow the use of political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens.”

Protect U.S. intellectual property: “As technology advances, we will continue to work with all stakeholders to protect the security of the nation and its knowledge assets, U.S. intellectual property, the functioning of fair and competitive markets, and the privacy, free expression, and due process rights of Americans.”

Preserve leadership in the Internet economy: “President Obama has committed to ensuring that 98 percent of the country has access to high-speed wireless broadband Internet access. We are finding innovative ways to free up wireless spectrum and are building a state-of-the-art nationwide, interoperable, public safety network. President Obama is strongly committed to protecting an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, creativity, consumer choice, and free speech, unfettered by censorship or undue violations of privacy. [T]he administration launched the Internet Privacy Bill of Rights and encouraged innovative solutions such as a Do Not Track option for consumers.”

Allow District of Columbia full representation: “Every citizen of the United States is entitled to equal citizenship rights, including the 638,000 residents of the nation’s capital who pay federal taxes without representation. The American citizens who live in Washington, D.C., like the citizens of the 50 states, should have full and equal congressional rights and the right to have the laws and budget of their local government respected without congressional interference.” [The GOP platform vowed to present the District of Columbia from these rights.]

Exempt the safety net from deficit reduction: The platform counts the $2 trillion in spending cuts already signed into law during debt ceiling negotiations as part of an effort to get $4 trillion in deficit reduction. The section on deficit reduction ends the Bush tax rates for top earners, closes corporate loopholes, and enacts the Buffet Rule—but does not include reductions in Medicare and Social Security.

Raise the minimum wage: “We will raise the minimum wage, and index it to inflation.”

And the Less than Wonderful?

Lowering the corporate tax rate: “We are also committed to reforming the corporate tax code to lower tax rates for companies in the United States.” The platform does recommend closing loopholes but probably after lowering the tax rates. Obama’s plan specifies only about one-quarter of the loopholes and exemptions that should end and is vague about the rest.

Omitting reform of the housing section: Although this piece of the platform claims that the president’s plan helped 5,000,000 families restructure their loans, these people haven’t actually been helped yet. Although the platform claims that the administration has “cracked down on fraudulent mortgage lenders and other abuses,” this isn’t true.

Missing language about civil liberties: There’s either nothing about indefinite detention, warrantless surveillance, racial profiling in fighting terrorism, and torture, or the language is wishy-washy. For example, torture must be “in line with the Constitution.”

No helping unions: In 2008, the Democratic platform pledged to “fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act,“ also known as the card-check legislation that would make it easier to organize a union. This action, stymied by Congressional Republicans, has disappeared.

Potentially eviscerating Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid: The platform indicates nothing about protecting these programs from cuts or other changes such as raising the retirement of eligibility age. The Medicare language (above) is a low bar.

Supporting the death penalty: “We believe that the death penalty must not be arbitrary. DNA testing should be used in all appropriate circumstances, defendants should have effective assistance of counsel, and the administration of justice should be fair and impartial.” That means that the death penalty still exists and allows for injustice, as it has in the past.

Omitting anything about child sex abuse: Despite the prevalence of child sex abuse, including that in the churches and the universities, nothing was said about this.

Finale: According to Steve Benen and verified by evangelical blogger Fred Clark, Mitt Romney told 533 lies during the 30 weeks between January 6, 2012, and August 17, 2012.  Ann Werner verified another 86 Romney lies since August 17, 2012, not counting those he may have told today. That’s a total of 616 lies. When he gets to 666 lies, will the Devil take notice?


September 7, 2012

Democratic Convention – Day Three, Forward

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:00 PM

The three days of the GOP convention seemed like the longest days of the year. In comparison, the three days of the Democratic convention went by in a flash. I can’t believe that last night was the culmination of the great lineup of progressive people. Although the last day had a greater majority of political figures, my favorite young LGBT activist, Zach Wahls, spoke about the importance of marriage equality. Those not familiar with the young Iowan Wahls and his rise to fame after he addressed the Iowa legislature on behalf of marriage equality might want to read his touching book, My Two Moms, about his lesbian parents Terri Wahls and Jackie Reger.

Folk singer and guitarist James Taylor performed “Carolina on My Mind” and then joked about the president’s struggle for support among older, white voters. “I don’t get it,” Taylor said. “I mean, I’m an old white guy and I love Barack Obama.”

Charlie Crist, former Republican governor of Florida and now an independent, gave the message that other Republicans are expressing: “Half a century ago, Ronald Reagan, the man whose relentless optimism inspired me to enter politics, famously said that he didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the party left him. I can certainly relate. I didn’t leave the Republican Party; it left me. Then again, as my friend Jeb Bush recently noted, Reagan himself would have been too moderate and too reasonable for today’s GOP.” Crist clearly expressed the major problem with the GOP today when he described the problems that he had after he was grateful to the president when he—in Crist’s words—“saved Florida: the determination to reject anything that the president does for the country just because the president has done it.

Sen. Dick Durbin (IL) urged the country to vote for President Obama for the same reasons that the country voted for Abraham Lincoln after the famous Republican president said, “I hope to stand firm enough not to go backwards.”  Sen. John Kerry, Democratic challenger to George W. Bush in 2004, pounced on Mitt Romney because Romney claimed a separation between Israel and the United States.  Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu actually said that his country and the U.S. both have the same policy and that security cooperation has been unprecedented under the current administration. Kerry said, “When it comes to Israel, I’ll take the word of Israel’s prime minister over Mitt Romney any day.”

That wasn’t Kerry’s only zinger. On Romney’s obvious reliance on Bush’s gaggle of neo con “experts,” Kerry said, “This is not the time to outsource the job of Commander in Chief.” On Romney’s European disaster tour, Kerry said, “It wasn’t a goodwill mission, it was a blooper reel!” And my two favorites:

“The only thing exception about today’s Republicans is that, almost without exception, they oppose everything that has made America exceptional in the first place.”

“It isn’t fair to say Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan; He has EVERY position!”

The last statement was particularly pointed because the GOP ruthlessly accused Kerry in 2004 of being a flip-flopper, a term that now haunts Romney. According to Kerry, Romney and Ryan are “the most inexperienced foreign policy twosome” to seek the White House in decades.

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm gave a rousing speech in her defense of the president’s resuscitation of the auto industry. Describing Romney as someone separated from middle-class issues, she said, “He loves our cars so much, they have their own elevator. But the people who design, build and sell those cars? Well, in Romney’s world, the cars get the elevator; the workers get the shaft.” Her statistics backed up President Obama’s accomplishments in the number of jobs saved by the auto rescue: 150,000 in Ohio; 34,000 in Pennsylvania; 9,800 in Colorado; 19,000 in Virginia; 28,000 in Wisconsin; 25,000 in North Carolina; 35,000 in Florida, and 211,000 in Michigan.

Rep. John Lewis (GA) wove the story of his background suffering from racism with an attack on the recent GOP-backed voter ID mandates that will again keep many minorities from having the right to vote. He said, “They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours, and imposing requirements intended to suppress the votes. I’ve seen this before. I’ve lived this before. Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote.” Beyond passing a draconian “literacy test,” Lewis said, “On one occasion, a man was asked to count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. On another occasion, one was asked to count the jelly beans in a jar — all to keep them from casting their ballots.” After he described the beating he endured while trying to go into a whites-only waiting room just a few miles from Charlotte in 1961, he asked, “Do you want to go back? Or do you want to keep America moving forward?”

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (AZ) received a loud and sustained standing ovation with many of the delegates in tears, when she come onstage to lead them in the Pledge of Allegiance. Giffords was critically wounded in early 2011 when she was shot in the head during a political rally in Tucson and is still recovering. Earlier this week she and her husband Mark Kelly announced their new Political Action Committee, “GabbyPAC,” that will support candidates “in favor of reaching compromise and bipartisan solutions to the challenges we face.” Republican Trey Grayson, former Kentucky Secretary of State, and Democrat Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary will co-chair the PAC.

The evening ended in a high note with speeches by Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama. Biden showed the difference between the two presidential candidates. About Romney, he said, “I found it fascinating last week when Gov. Romney said that as president he’d take a jobs tour. Well, with all his support for outsourcing, it’s going to have to be a foreign trip.”

One of his more pointed comparisons was in the two plans for Medicare with President Obama saying that he would never take away this plan for senior health care and Romney’s goal to give seniors vouchers that they could use in the private insurance arena. Biden said that Romney’s business experience helped his companies make “highest profits. But it’s not the way to lead our country from its highest office.”

President Obama’s speech outlined his goals for the next term including deficit reduction, greater energy independence, lower college costs, and a revitalized manufacturing industry. He aims to create 1 million manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016, double exports in the next two years, cut oil imports in half by 2020, slow by half the growth of college tuition in the next decade, and reduce the federal deficit by more than $4 trillion over 10 years.


More specific than Romney, the president said, “[Republicans] want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last 30 years. Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high? Try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!”

In contrast to Romney’s demand for smaller—maybe non-existent—government, the president said, “Over and over, we’ve been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way, that since government can’t do everything, it should so almost nothing.”

About Romney’s claim to fight Russia, the president said, “My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly. After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy–and not al Qaeda–unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp.  You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.”

Echoing Bill Clinton’s assertion, the president declared that there were no quick fixes to the problems he inherited in January 2009 when he took office. “It will take more than a few years for us to solve the challenges that have been built up over decades,” President Obama said, making the point that Bush had eight years to destroy the economy and that these eight years cannot be turned around in fewer than four years.

Pundit response to President Obama’s speech was, as could be expected, mixed depending on the political persuasion of the speaker. Joe Scarborough’s assessment may have been the funniest from a Republican: “The President said nothing in his speech tonight. But he said it so much better than Mitt Romney when he said nothing in Tampa.”

Yet there was a huge difference between both conventions beyond the positive energy of one and the negative lethargy of the other. Their speeches showed opposite paths between the two political parties. The GOP said over and over that it wants to strip the country of all the progress and go back into a mythical place; the Democrats said continually that despite the obstructionism of the Republicans that we have come a long way in the last four years and we should keep going forward.

September 6, 2012

Democratic Convention 2012 – Day Two, Extraordinary

Topping the first day of the Democratic convention was difficult, but the second day  displayed as much–if not more– electricity with non-stop speakers throughout the evening, capped by a 48-minute speech from former President Bill Clinton.

Many of the convention speakers, in contrast to those at the GOP convention last week, have been non-politicians. For example, three workers from Bain-controlled companies talked about problems of Mitt Romney’s leadership. Randy Johnson began by describing how Bain bought his company in 1994 and fired hundreds of employees without any warning. “They rushed in security guards to walk us out of our plant. We weren’t even allowed to take our personal items.”

Cindy Hewitt, a worker at Dade Behring, told how Bain drop her company, an important part of the community, was driven into bankruptcy, destroying 850 jobs.

David Foster, worker at a steel mill said, “When Romney and Bain took over the mill, they loaded it up with millions in debt, and within months, they used some of that borrowed money to pay themselves millions. Within a decade, the debt kept growing and was so large the company was forced into bankruptcy. They fired 750 steelworkers while they pocketed $12 million in profit. A steelworker at GST Steel would have had to work 240 years to make $12 million.”

Sister Simone Campbell, who led the “Nuns on the Bus” tour for social justice this past summer, used her seven-minute speech to decry Paul Ryan’s budget: “Paul Ryan claims this budget reflects the principles of our shared faith. But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Ryan budget failed a basic moral test, because it would harm families living in poverty.”

Sandra Fluke, the activist who has fought for contraception from insurance companies and called a slut and worse by Rush Limbaugh, talked about the alternate futures, depending on who is elected as president. ”Six months from now, we’ll all be living in one or the other. But only one. A country where our president either has our back or turns his back; a country that honors our foremothers by moving us forward, or one that forces our generation to re-fight the battles they already won; a country where we mean it when we talk about personal freedom, or one where that freedom doesn’t apply to our bodies and our voices.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) said, “My friend Paul Ryan talks about fiscal responsibility but voted to put two wars on a credit card. He voted to spend trillions of dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. He voted for a prescription drug benefit with no plan to pay for it. He abandoned the bipartisan principle that we must pay for what we buy.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) said that a vote for Democrats in the November election is a vote to preserve Medicare and Social Security and a vote in favor of women.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s claims that President Barack Obama is weak on Israel make “no sense” and are “ludicrous.” Earlier in the day when during an MSNBC interview, she said, “I think we do not know what Gov. Romney’s position on national security is, frankly. He has advisers that are some neocons, some of the people that brought you the previous policies under the [President George W.] Bush administration and he barely talked about foreign policy in his speech.”

Elizabeth Warren, who founded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010, talked about how “the [financial] system is rigged” but that President Obama is working to give everyone a chance at a “level playing field.” She described the GOP approach to governing in this statement:  “I’ve got mine; the rest of you are on your own.” Aiming at the GOP, Warren said, “Republicans say they don’t believe in government. Sure they do! They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney’s the guy who said, ‘Corporations are people.’” She finished her speech by quoting the Bible: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”–Matthew 25:40.

Bill Clinton was the highlight of the evening when he shredded all the arguments from the GOP convention speakers about President Obama’s four years. “He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long, hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses and lots of new wealth for the innovators.”

In answer to the objections that life is not better under this president, Clinton said, “Are we where we want to be? No. Is the president satisfied? Of course not. But are we better off than we were when he took office with an economy in free-fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month? The answer is yes.” He continued, “President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did,” he said. “No president–not me or any of my predecessors–could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you’ll renew the president’s contract you will feel it.”

Andrea Mitchell said, “As a political document, this speech was extraordinary,” providing an “explanation of all of the policy points.” Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, who managed GOP nominee John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said, “I wish to God, as a Republican, we had someone on our side who had the ability to do [what Clinton did tonight].”

Blogger Michael Hayne said, “In short, the 42nd President of the United States beautifully encapsulated how Obama has consistently extended the olive branch to Republicans and they have proudly taken that branch, ripped it up into a million pieces, stomped it into the sand and buried their heads with it so that the economic worsened and they could easily say ‘vote Republican’ in 2012.”

Unlike Paul Ryan’s and Mitt Romney’s speeches in Tampa, Clinton’s speech was on policy and gave specifics in amazing detail, so much that there isn’t enough room for it here. Even more amazing, no matter how much and USA Today scoured the multitude of facts that Clinton provided in his speech, the two organizations could not find anything false. This is far different from their investigation of Ryan’s and Romney’s speeches when they had trouble finding anything true.

Asides: The reading level for Michelle Obama’s speech was Grade 12; Ann Romney’s speech was seven grades below. [Note: Is this what each person thinks of her political party’s education?]

Clinton said, “Though I often disagree with Republicans,” he said, “I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama and the Democrats.” Ann Coulter’s tweets show how vicious the far right is:

“Bill Clinton just impregnated Sandra Fluke backstage…”

“To get Bill Clinton to speak at the convention, Obama had to agree to carry his bags.”

In another hateful spate, Rush Limbaugh claimed that President Obama isn’t actually black because he lacks any slave ancestry. Not that it matters, but one of the president’s ancestors is the first documented slave, John Punch, according the The New York Times. 

The ADP National Jobs Report reported the addition of 201,000 private-sector jobs in the month of August, almost 50 percent more than the estimated increase of 140,000 jobs. It also revises the number of jobs added in July up to 173,000 from 163,000. In addition, the Department of Labor’s weekly report today showed the number of new claims for state unemployment benefits had fallen by 12,000 when Wall Street had expected only 1,000.

Things are looking better!

September 5, 2012

Democratic Convention 2012 – Day One, Masterful

While the “We Built That”  theme of the GOP Convention 2012 was hateful and snarky, playing off a misinterpretation of a President Obama speech, the theme of the Democratic Convention 2012 is upbeat—“Americans Coming Together.” Although the people are the United States are polarized, President Obama has brought together everyone–women, minorities, youth, liberal older people, etc.– except the angry old white men.

Last night when the Democratic convention started, I was a bit apprehensive after being immersed in last week’s negativity and hatred of last week. The first speech I heard was from Tammy Duckworth, candidate for the House in Illinois. A returned Iraq veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, she now helps other veterans. Just as Republicans talked about their families last week, Duckworth talked about the way that she worked as a teenager to help support her family who had to have food stamps to survive. Republicans told about how their parents struggled; Duckworth talked about how this generation need a safety net to improve. She also said that a member of her family had been in every U.S. conflict since the Revolutionary War.

Last week, nobody talked about veterans or soldiers or the war except for John McCain who wants another disastrous war. Duckworth talked about how her fellow comrades saved her life because what’s what soldiers do. Her message was that we do for our country what her crew did for her. She also said, “Look adversity in the eye and come together to overcome it.”

I told my partner about Duckworth’s speech, and she joined me for the next one. The next speaker was a young woman from Phoenix (AZ), Stacy Lihn, who talked about how the Affordable Care Act saved her infant daughter because the ACA had removed the insurance caps. Mitt Romney said that the best day for the people who voted for Obama was the day that they cast the vote; Lihn said that the best day was when the Affordable Care Act passed and removed the insurance caps so that her infant daughter could have heart surgery. My partner and I were both hooked.

Lihn was followed by Secretary of State Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius who said that after President Obama was elected, “Being a mother is no longer a liability and being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.” She pointed out that people are getting refunds from the insurance company because they have to use a specific percentage for providing health care. She also said, “What’s missing from the Romney/Ryan Medicare Medicare plan is Medicare.”

The messages about how things are better since 2008 kept coming. Kal Penn, actor and former White House official, talked about the importance of the Pell grants for students and the jobs that his friends got with a car company that exists because of President Obama. He also described how the president kept the GOP from eliminating tax credits for the middle class when Republicans were bargaining to raise the debt ceiling. Lilly Ledbetter, prevented by the Supreme Court from filing a salary discrimination suit although she didn’t know about the discrimination for over 20 years, said in that wonderful Southern voice, “What a difference four years make!”

As Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said, “What’s at stake is the American dream. That dream is essential to who we are as a nation.” He described Romney’s disastrous governance in the state was with education cuts, increases in business taxes, loss in business confidence, and poor job creation. According to Patrick, freedom means keeping government out of our private affairs. Romney is “a fine fellow and a great salesman,” Patrick said, but “he’s more interested in having the job than doing the job.

And the upbeat speeches kept coming: Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley described how the progress of the nation since George W. Bush, repeating “forward, not back” until the crowd chanted the refrain. Julian Castro, San Antonio’s mayor, gave a great speech about his mother and grandmother while he explained that, like Duckworth, he had achieved what he has done because of this country.

The tissues rolled out again when Elaine Byre, four out of five children in the military service and the fifth heading that way, talked about how the president helped bring the soldiers “honor and respect in action.” She met Michelle Obama after she wrote her a card last Christmas and got invited to the White House with her husband. Byre said she’s not even a political person but she’s a mom. “If somebody is there for my family and families like mine, then I’ll be there for them.” Her relationship with Michelle Obama shows that the First Lady walks her talk: “We were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.”

The hit of the night, however, was Michelle Obama and her magnificent energy and love for her husband. Her funny stories about their financial struggles far outdid those of Ann Romney: Barack Obama took her out on a date in his car with the hole in the floorboard so rusted that you could see the pavement below; Obama’s favorite coffee table was one that he found in a dumpster; and his best shoes were actually one-half size too small. When they got married, their combined student loan payments were larger than their mortgage. She talked from the heart, saying that she loved her husband instead of telling the audience that they should love and trust her husband the way that Ann Romney did. Her message was that the way that the president tries to make life better for people because it’s personal to him, not political. “When you walk through that door of opportunity, you don’t slam it shut. No, you give other folks the chance to succeed,” Michelle Obama said. “Doing the impossible is the history of this nation.”

And these were just the tip of the massive iceberg that rolled over the GOP blackness. Over and over people made the point that to get change, you have to keep working. It’s a long term thing.

I missed the first part of the speeches but read what Don Hamel‘s description. His blog is well worth reading. He wrote that, as a middle-aged heterosexual man, he listened to the speeches from Anthony R. Foxx, the young looking African-American mayor of Charlotte; the women of the U.S. House of Representatives; Rep. Jared Polis, the first openly gay parent to serve in the House; and the president of NARAL who talked about the battle over women’s reproductive rights. Hamel then described the audience as “a sea of faces of every color, people who wanted to discuss Muslim’s rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, voter disenfranchisement, every one of them with a seemingly different agenda.”

After watching all this, Hamel had an epiphany. He said, “It’s not tolerance that makes me support the rights of LGBT Americans; it’s love of country, as well as respect for its citizens. If you believe in America, you believe in it for everybody. And it’s practical, as well; your rights are only as safe as everyone else’s. I’m not tolerant of women’s rights to make choices about their own bodies; I’m insistent that everyone in my country has that right. And if anyone’s freedom can be taken away, so can yours.”

He concluded by writing that he is “not tolerant of the Tea Party, the Ayn Rand disciples, the people who will spend a 100 million dollars to avoid paying a dollar in taxes. Their values are not ‘traditional’ or ‘Christian,’ and the only ‘family’ they truly value is their own. The people who arm themselves against their countrymen, the ones who legislate by skin-tone or income size; we have given them all the attention they should be allowed. They’re to be feared or pitied, but they needn’t be listened to any longer. The Americans at the podium, and the Americans in the crowd all have many voices, but they are all saying the same thing as I am: Move America forward.” [Thanks, Don!]

Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland summarized the difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney in very blunt terms. As he said, “If Mitt Romney was Santa Claus, he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.”

Deval Patrick encouraged the Democrats to grow a backbone to get President Obama re-elected. Last night started this process.

Asides: Fact checking has now reached a new low. refuted San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s claim that Romney would “raise taxes on the middle class” was false because Romney had promised he wouldn’t do this. This is the same Romney who consistently switches from one position to another, the most recent today when he stated that he would not support any abortions, even to save a woman’s life. Yesterday he disagreed with himself.

Ezra Klein said that last night’s speeches may be remembered as the turning point in health care politics when “Democrats stood up and began fighting for their health care law.”

Less than two years ago, Paul Ryan asked for a health care grant to develop a new facility in his district at Racine (WI).

CNN contributor Erick Erickson referred to the women speakers at the Democratic convention as “the Vagina Monologues.” Erickson, who once said he “kind of like[d] the idea” that women are barred from a golf club so that he wasn’t “hanging out at some women’s event,” half-heartedly expressed regret for his comment, saying “My apologies to those offended by my tweet. Wasn’t my intention.” (He doesn’t sound very sorry.)

September 4, 2012

GOP Convention 2012 – Finished

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:13 PM

Today the Democratic Convention 2012 started, and I’ll have lots to say about it tomorrow. But I have one last blog on the GOP Convention 2012 with this email about its schedule that I received in an email from a good friend:

8:30 am – Opening Music: “Trample the Weak” by Ted Nugent, sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

9:00 am – Tax-planning seminar on how you too can pay less than 15 percent taxes on your millions/billions.  Hosted by Bain Capital accountants.

9:30 am – Discussion of Christian values and marital fidelity, Newt Gingrich presiding.

10:00 am – “Sucking up to Israel” or “How to Subjugate National Security to a Foreign Power,” a tutorial by Sheldon Adelson.

10:30 am – “Women’s Rights: What’s the Big Fuss Little Lady?” dominated by Erik Cantor.

11:00 am – “Why I’m Holier Than Thou,” ministered by Rick Santorum.

11:30 am – “The Curse of Irrelevancy,” sobbed by John Boehner.

12:00 pm – “My Gun’s Bigger Than Yours” or “Is That a Politician in Your Pocket or Are You Just Glad to See Me?” telemarketed by the NRA.

Break for Lunch – Provided by Chic-fil-A.

12:30 pm – “How to Buy an Election: Making the Citizen’s United Decision Work for You!” time paid for by Karl Rove and Antonin Scalia.

1:00 pm – “Keeping Your Cadillacs Primed” followed by “Reaching Out to the Proletariat with Dressage,” driven by Ann Romney.

1:30 pm – “Maintaining Conservative Values While Screwing the Elderly,” convened by Paul Ryan.

2:00 pm – “Exploit Your Entire Family for Maximum Profits” or “Mama Grizzlies for Dummies,” hosted by Sarah Palin.

2:30 pm – “Fair and Impartial News Reporting: Why It’s Over-rated and What You Can Do to Eradicate It,” aired by Fox News

3:00 pm – “Bombastics 101,” orated by Chris Christie.

3:30 pm – “A Muslim Ate my Love Child,” confessed by Michelle Bachmann

4:00 pm – Open forum on Gay Rights [Note:  Event cancelled due to lack of attendance]

4:30 pm – “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” or “The KKK for a New Generation,” delivered by Gov. Rick Perry.

5:00 pm – “Overcoming Depression by Selling Your Soul,” whined by John McCain.

5:30 pm – “What’s a Soul?” questioned by Dick Cheney.

6:00 pm – “Understanding Why Democrats Exist in Higher Numbers Than Republicans…Their women Are All Sluts,” ranted by Rush Limbaugh.

6:30pm – Acceptance Speech with Special Thanks to the Job Creators at the Top 1 Percent: “Never Have So Few Given So Little to So Many So Reluctantly” or “What Would Jesus Do?” Mitt Romney (sung to the tune of America the Beautiful).

7:00 pm – Dinner: Please indicate your choice of foie gras with non-Kobe beef or Texas BBQ served in troughs recycled from Super Pac money storage.

September 3, 2012

Labor Day, NOT a Time to Celebrate Management

On this Labor Day, my partner and I sat outside the local Fred Meyers’ grocery store and discussed the importance of labor unions. I told her that they are much like bees, that people might complain about getting stung but without unions that society would disappear. In a more optimistic fashion, she maintained that the super-rich would pay the workers just enough to keep buying what the corporations sell so that the wealthy could keep making more and more money. My response was that they weren’t that smart, that they were perfectly willing to kill the golden goose to get all the eggs immediately rather than receiving them piecemeal.

The entire battle regarding labor and labor unions is about power. Workers think that they should have certain rights, and conservatives want the control with the company or the people who pay taxes. If conservatives had their way, they would do away with the minimum wage, child labor laws, the 40-hour week and any overtime, workers’ compensation, workplace safety, pensions, health care insurance, leave for illness, vacations and holidays, equal treatment for the workers, any kind of anti-discrimination laws, etc. Conservatives are intent on accomplishing this race to the bottom.

A tweet from Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) today shows how little regard conservatives have for labor: “Today we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built their own business, and earned their own success.” No mention of people who build roads, nurse the sick, put out our fires, keep us safe, pick our food—those people who worked at Fred Meyers today so that I could buy groceries.

When a group of laborers celebrated the first Labor Day 130 years ago, working conditions were deplorable, but people could still to West to get land and work for themselves. In 1887, Oregon (do you detect my pride?!) was the first of 30 states to declare the day a holiday before the federal government took the same action 12 years later. Tragedies in the early 20th century led to the anger that resulted in the growth of labor unions. From that action and the benefits of President Roosevelt’s New Deal came a strong middle class that had a much more comfortable life in the mid-20th century than people have now.

The percentage of workers in unions peaked in 1954 at almost 35 percent of the workers. Since that time, union membership has grown in the public sector while drastically shrinking in the private sector, now down to 7 percent, the same as in 1932. Private sector workers resent public sector employees having more benefits, including pensions and health insurance; private sector workers prefer to tear down the benefits of public sector workers rather than attempting to build up their own situation. More race to the bottom!

One complaint from conservatives is that unions can require its members to campaign for a political candidate. The truth is that corporations have the same right. That’s why the miners were required to watch a speech by Mitt Romney recently and be photographed while having their wages docked because they weren’t working while attending the event. Rob Moore of Murray Energy Company, which owns the mine, admitted that the workers weren’t paid for the day. He said, “Our managers communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.” Even unions don’t do that.

In states without right-to-work laws, the union must represent all workers if the majority of workers in a private company vote for a union because all workers must then pay dues. In right-to-work states, however, the majority does not rule. Statistics about “right-to-work” states show that the workers are worse off than in other states. Workers have lower compensation in RTW states than in other states. Average wages for nonfarm workers in RTW states are $57, 732, compared to $65,567 in other states. Even when compensation is adjusted for cost of living, those in RTW states lose out by 3.5 percent. This figure doesn’t take into consideration the salaries of federal employees whose wages would be the same in all the states, meaning that salaries are probably even lower in these states.

RTW states lose companies that provide better wages. In one right-to-work state, Oklahoma, the number of new companies coming into the state has shrunk by one-third since it passed its RTW law, and the state has lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs during the same time period.  Idaho has the same problem as Oklahoma. Before it became a right-to-work state in 1985, Idaho was ranked 35th for per capita income. Now it is 49th because the only industries coming into the state are those seeking cheap, unskilled labor.

lRTW states also suffer from more problems than lost wages. The occupational-fatality rate in the construction industry—one of the most hazardous in terms of workplace deaths—is 34 percent higher in right-to-work states than in states without such laws. Workers in RTW states also have less health care and pensions.

Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy signed the Executive Order that brought bargaining rights to most federal workers for the first time. Public sector union rights had no controversy for 20 years; even Ronald Reagan presided over the extension of collective bargaining rights to California state and local workers in 1968 when he was governor. He also caused the shift against public sector unions when he broke the air traffic controllers strike in 1981 although he kept their right to bargain. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was the one who stripped government workers of their bargaining rights.

Despite claims that public sector unions are at fault in today’s budget deficits, conservatives, as usual, lie about this. North Carolina with a 10-percent budget shortfall for next year has no collective bargaining. Budget problems in New York, a highly unionized state, are only one-third those of North Carolina. Conservatives’ worship of Ronald Reagan ignore the fact that his position on workers’ rights is much closer to that of Kennedy than to today’s rabid hatred of public “servants.”

Tomorrow the Democratic convention starts in Charlotte (NC). Today the North Carolina State AFL-CIO helped kick off the event with its “hug-a-thug” booth, referring to the Republican use of the term “union thugs.” MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer for the organization, said, “Union members take care of you in the hospital, deliver your packages and sit next you in church. We are just average folks.” Union members run the Guide Dogs of America program and rebuilt the World Trade Center.

As Nathaniel Downes said:

 “No man is an island. We all live and work in a community. We do better when the community is thriving. Our nation did its best when we had a strong concept of community, of society. Those who made the most paid to support that system, paying ahead for the next generation. Those who fell behind were caught in the safety net and given a ladder with which to climb back out of the pit of poverty. The concept of greed and selfishness has sapped society of its strength. The pursuit of wealth at all costs has created a catastrophe in the making, for once enough people fall into poverty the consumer market will seize up. Once that happens, no money in the world will help those at the top as they find their empires crumbling beneath them.”

Although the road to prosperity is now paved with poverty of the vast majority, the wealthy don’t understand what will happen without a strong middle class. It’s a cycle: the worse off that people get, the more that their anger and resentment builds, and they use unions for scapegoats. As these angry and resentful people attack and weaken unions, the economy worsens. Then the angry and resentful are far worse off and trying harder to destroy their scapegoats, which only worsens the economy. In essence they destroy themselves.

Respected Republican presidents of the past understood the importance of labor, not management:

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”–Abraham Lincoln

“Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”–Ronald Reagan

“It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize.”–Theodore Roosevelt

“Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice.”–Dwight D. Eisenhower

“If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool.”–Abraham Lincoln

The Republican goal of destroying the public sector unions comes from the GOP desire to destroy the middle class, because this is the group that organizes opposition to conservative ideology that only wants to provide more wealth for the rich. After the public sector unions are gone, the GOP will go after the few private sector unions that remain. Organization means resistance to the GOP objective of taking freedom from everyone in the country except the super-rich.

September 2, 2012

Good News on the Voting Restriction Front

During Condoleezza Rice’s speech last Wednesday at the GOP convention, she said that “failing neighborhood schools” are the “civil rights struggle of our day.” She must have skipped the news since the last election about the number of states that are removing voting rights from minorities (and many others) through draconian restrictions of voting.

This last week, however, saw a movement toward correcting the injustices of this past two years when federal judges, appointed by both Republicans and Democrats, struck down these laws in six different rulings in Ohio, Florida, and Texas. Sunday has a tradition of spreading the “good news,” and this Sunday finally has good news.

Florida: A three-judge court restored early voting in five counties that are subject to the Voting Rights Act. An even more important ruling voids the state law that prevents groups such as the League of Women Voters from registering new voters because of drastic restrictions on them—a 48-hour time frame on submitting registration forms as well as fines against organizations and individual volunteers who violated the new guidelines.

Ohio: The state is required to open election polls on the weekend before Election Day. Early voting began in Ohio after the long waits in 2004 for voting. In 2008, almost 100,000 people cast their vote on the Sunday before Election Day, many of them people who had to work during the week. The judge cited Bush v. Gore (the decision that appointed George W. Bush president in 2000) in restoring this early voting.

Another Ohio achievement was the ruling that the state has to count votes cast in the wrong precinct because of mistakes made by election officials. Ohio had said that votes cast in the wrong precinct could be discarded even when the voter went to the right polling place and was told to go to another, wrong, place. In the last general election, approximately 14,000 votes were not counted because of election official mistakes.

Texas: Federal judges struck down both a strict new photo identification requirement and the election redistricting that undercut the voting power of Latinos and blacks.

South Carolina is fighting the Voter Rights Act because the state is among the 16 jurisdictions with historic voting rights violations that require approval from the Justice Department to alter election procedures. The case has gone badly for South Carolina. State Rep. Alan Clemmons (R), denied that the bill was motivated by any desire to hurt minority voters, but civil rights attorney Garrard Beeney presented evidence that Rep. Clemmons had responded positively to a racist email from one of his constituents about the bill. Sen. George “Chip” Campsen III testified at length about alleged cases of fraud he had heard about but could not cite any instances of fraud related to voter impersonation.

Other states or parts of states challenging the Voting Rights Act include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, and Texas.  Unfortunately, the conservatives on the Supreme Court have indicated sympathy for these states.

In Tennessee, Memphis is suing the city, Tennessee’s photo identification requirement for voting for “imposing an undue burden on registered Tennessee voters’ right to vote.”

Working people’s fighting against conservatives to gain and keep the Constitutional right to vote is nothing new in the United States as shown in Alexander Keyssar’s The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States. Originally, only men, primarily white, who owned, not leased, a certain amount of property could vote in this country. Only Vermont, which gained statehood in 1791, had no property or tax requirements for voting. During the early 19th century, veterans mobilized to gain the right to vote, and Western states loosened the requirements. In Wisconsin, even non-citizens could vote if they said they would become citizens.

Conservatives, fearing that the urban factory workers would overrun the country, pushed against the workers’ rights. The anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic movement especially hostile to the Irish controlled voted through literacy tests, long residency requirements, and long waits for new citizens to gain voting rights, wanting 21 years but compromising on two years in Massachusetts

Even after the Civil War, blacks could not vote in 15 states and territories in 1870. The 14th Amendment declared “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” to be citizens and prohibited states to deny citizens “equal protection of the laws.” It didn’t address voting, but the 15th Amendment did. When political alliances between blacks and poor whites threatened the power of the local elites, the conservatives created the “Jim Crow” system of strict racial segregation and the end of black civil and political rights, violently enforced by Ku Klux Klan terrorism and one-party rule by ultra-racist Democrats. Poll taxes and literary tests could disenfranchised many poor whites, and the country failed to enforce the 15th Amendment until the 1960s.

Meanwhile California had banned anyone born in China from voting, and other state constitutions barred “paupers” from voting to prevent striking workers or the unemployed during the depressions of the latter half of the 19th century. Other states determined that Native Americans were not citizens because they lived on reservation land outside the state’s jurisdiction. By the early 20th century they were allowed to vote if they severed their tribal connections and sold tribal lands to non-Indians.

Women didn’t vote in federal elections until 1920 although 17 states, over one-third of the United States, permitted voting within the states. The Voting Rights Act expanded the absolute right to vote in 1965, requiring, for example, New York to drop its literacy test to keep many Puerto Ricans from voting. The 24th Amendment permanently banned poll taxes, and the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 mandated allowing voter registration by mail and in government offices such as motor vehicle bureaus.

A common ploy in this century to keep people from voting has been the purges of voter lists. Florida started this in 2000 where they disenfranchised many people with names similar to that of an ex-convict and used the excuse that it was legal because convicted felons cannot vote in that state. After an extremely close—and mis-managed—vote in Florida, the Supreme Court ruled that “the individual citizen has no constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States…” State legislatures can allow voters to choose the states’ electors who vote for president in the Electoral College, said the five justices, but the legislature can also “take back the power to appoint electors.”

Conservatives have been open about not wanting minorities, seniors, students, disabled, and the poor to vote. The following quotation from Matthew Vadum in American Thinker is just one example:

“Why are left-wing activist groups so keen on registering the poor to vote? Because they know the poor can be counted on to vote themselves more benefits by electing redistributionist politicians.  Welfare recipients are particularly open to demagoguery and bribery. Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals.  It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.”

How ironic that federal law defines the ages of people who vote but not their felony status or their ability to get a photo ID. If people are supposedly rehabilitated because they have served their time, they should be able to take their full place in society. And photo IDs have not stopped any fraud. I’m grateful that I live in Oregon where felons can vote once they leave prison and where we all vote by mail. When the law was first passed, I worried about fraud and coercion. Any possibility of that is far overshadowed by the restrictions that conservatives have placed on the majority of U.S. citizens.

A judge in the Texas case said, “As the Supreme Court has ‘often reiterated…voting is of the most fundamental significance under our constitutional structure.’ Indeed, the right to vote free from racial discrimination is expressly protected by the Constitution.”

Cheers for Vermont, the only state that upholds the spirit of the U.S. Constitution.


September 1, 2012

GOP Convention 2012 – The Platform

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:46 PM

The GOP presidential election is over for another four years. Mitt Romney has dropped by Louisiana to visit the disasters from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac but failed to tell the suffering people that the Republicans didn’t want to help them. Chris Matthews of MSNBC got into a heated argument (what RNC Chair Reince Priebus would call hysterical) with delegates which they started by calling him an asshole. Other than that, there’s a curious lack of energy about the Republican convention on the Internet except for dialog about Clint Eastwood’s performance.

All that’s left now are the candidates and the platform. And what a platform it is!

A party that prides itself on freedom and a belief in the U.S. Constitution continues its attempt to drastically restrict human rights in this country. Republicans want to make English the official U.S. language, pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one woman and one man, and outlaw abortion in all cases. The GOP also wants to create more mandatory prison sentences and force youth to attend faith-based (translate, Christian) organizational programs for behavioral problems. Washington, D.C. won’t be allowed to govern themselves.

The change in Medicare and public schooling to voucher systems accompany along deep cuts to Medicaid and Medicare in order to give extra money to the wealthy. And the ubiquitous elimination of health care is front and center.

The GOP also wants to create more mandatory prison sentences and force youth to attend faith-based (translate, Christian) organizational programs for behavioral problems.

The Republican craving for privatization is also prominent: the platform calls for taking airport security away from the Transportation Security Administration. (People familiar with the debacle of the private security in the Middle East can see the failure in this.) The platform also calls for privatization of the post office, which means we will pay much more for not getting mail on time or perhaps ever.

As usual, Republican business interests are determined to destroy the country with their plan to develop “state-of-the-art” coal-fired power plants and the new coal gasification and “coal-to-liquid” fuels. (I guess that would use the “clean coal” that the GOP touts.) The GOP think that private ownership would be able to protect the land far more than government can. (Theodore Roosevelt would be screaming at the loss of the national parks!) The platform also suggests that Congress should see which of its massive land and water holdings would be better for private activities like ranching, mining, and forestry.

Naturally, more business interests enter in with the GOP desire to give more money to banks. Although the platform cuts student loans, it moves the process back to the banks which will keep the profits from interest and fees. The banks won’t lose any money, however, because the platform also requires tax-payers to reimburse the banks for any unpaid loans.

Although the GOP want to “strictly enforce” pornography (however they define it) on the Internet, the platform also calls for allowing cable companies to charge as much as they wish for Internet access (called “free” market but not “fair” market). Not only are cable companies worried about more strict enforcement, but hotel owners are also concerned. The recent anti-porn push came from someone who say that the Marriott Hotels are

In the GOP fear of being taken over by global interests (as if global corporations haven’t already done that), they obliquely reference “Sharia Law” by stating, “There must be no use of foreign law by US courts in interpreting our Constitution and laws.” Protecting the country from the United Nations, they reject the nonexistent UN tax. And they still think that Hawaii isn’t really part of the United States through its reference to preventing Native Hawaiians similar status to Native American tribes by opposing “the creation of any new race-based governments within the United States.”

The platform also focuses  on current events. In reference to a mistake that was immediately corrected, it declares, “A Republican Commander in Chief will protect religious independence of military chaplains and will not tolerate attempts to ban Bibles or religious symbols from military facilities.”

In a bow to supporters of Texas Representative Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy, the GOP calls for a commission to study the feasibility of returning the dollar to the gold standard.  The platform did note that a similar commission created by President Ronald Reagan “advised against such a move.”

The platform gets very specifically micromanaging. Federal funding should be denied to universities that provide in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants. Washington, D.C. must have looser gun ownership laws.  There’s even a piece in the platform that criticizes the president’s administration for leaking details of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. More sour grapes, I’m guessing.

The GOP wants to allow corporations and the wealthy to donate as much money to political campaigns as they wish. This seems to be working out quite well for Romney, and the Tea Party is glorying in all the donations from the Koch brothers and other corporate heads who plan to benefit from the Republicans’ selling off the country.

An interesting oddity is the opposition for any minimum wage on the Mariana Islands. According to the platform, this lack of flexibility “has seriously restricted progress in the private sector.” This gem comes from the U.S. government’s attempt to clean up sweatshops on the Islands because the U.S. has controlled them since World War II. Chinese women brought there were subject to prostitution, forced abortions, and penny-salaries for producing clothing that could then be labeled “Made in the USA.”

Jack Abramoff, hired to stop any U.S. reforms in the Islands, hired Ralph Reed and his political direct mail company, Millennium Marketing, to persuade U.S. Christians to write Congresspeople to stop these reforms. Reed lied to his Christian constituents, telling them that the left and organized labor were to blame for hurting those poor Chinese women. As head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Reed now boasts he’s building a political machine of five million members with an annual budget of $100 million, full-time lobbyists in all fifty state capitals, and contacts with 27 million conservative voters.

The minimum wage will go from $5.05 to $5.55 at the end of September. Next time a conservative claims to be a Christian, ask them about this exploitation.

Other oddities include repealing the 16th Amendment that federally taxes people; policing universities for liberal bias; defending the Electoral College at all costs; importing less fertilizer; and maintaining liberty for innovation.

The Tea Party organization Freedomworks cheered that the Republican platform adopted 11.5 of the 12 points of the tea party’s Freedom Platform. The GOP came short of eliminating the Department of Education.

Less than 30 percent of the adopted GOP platform will do anything; the rest of it will undo everything else, destroying decades of environmental, social, and economic policies, both Republican and Democratic. The platform moves the country back over 80 years when the GOP convention had only white men.

The good stuff? Support for NASA and space-related technological advancements. That’s it.

From a party that complains about long bills in Congress, the 62 pages of the GOP platform seems excessive. Even House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that both the GOP convention and the platform are too long. He wants only one page.

Romney does not agree with parts of the platform. Delegates thought that this was okay; they reportedly said that Romney could do anything he wanted. Even RNC Chair Reince Priebus repeatedly says that the GOP platform is not Romney’s platform. Yet the RNC delegates approved all these ideas. The overarching theme of the convention, although supposedly only for one day, as “We built that.” That describes the platform.

Aside: Republicans had been hoping for a bounce from the convention. The one point that Romney achieved has now flattened; a Reuters poll shows that President Obama is again ahead by a point. Romney’s likability improved after the convention; conservatives say that’s more important that the polls about who people will support in the election.

It appears that Paul Ryan is truly a congenital liar—about everything! He even lied about his fastest marathon time in an interview with Hugh Hewitt last week. Although Ryan claimed to run Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth (MN) in less than three hours (“I had a two hour and fifty-something”), his time was actually 4:01—causing the then-20-year-old to come in nineteen hundred and ninetieth place out of the 3,277 men who ran that race. We can be pretty sure that if Ryan’s lips are moving, he’s telling a lie.

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