Nel's New Day

August 9, 2013

Media Ignores Gun Control Efforts

Reading the newspapers would make one believe that efforts toward gun control have disappeared. With the silence out there, When I Googled gun-control articles for the past week, I found that Gov. Chris Christie has signed at least ten gun control bills passed by the New Jersey legislature. One measure disqualifies  people on the federal terrorist watch list from buying guns and another requires certain mental health records to be sent to the instant background check system. A third increases penalties for certain gun-trafficking crimes. Now gun buyers and owners in New Jersey also have to be trained in firearms safety.

Other bills wait for him such as ones that ban sales of .50-caliber rifles and modernize the state’s gun buying system. Bipartisan support in the legislature passed the bills, and gun opponents didn’t go up in flames over the measures. Scott Bach, executive of the New Jersey Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs, said that his group opposed two of the bills bills but they were not the top priority.

Other lawmakers are trying to make their residents safer:

  • Meridian (MS) has signed an ordinance restricting  open carry of firearms on all city property.
  • The Chicago City Council strengthened Chicago’s assault weapons ban and imposed sharply higher fines for gun crimes near schools and along “Safe Passage” routes.
  • Arkansas school districts can’t use a little-known state law to employ teachers and staff as guards who can carry guns on campus, according to the state’s attorney general.
  • A federal judge in Denver ruled in early July that he will not block the new Colorado state law that limits the size of ammunition magazines.
  • Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford announced Friday that he will order hearings this fall on the state’s “stand your ground” law.
  • The Ann Arbor City Council voted 10-1 to urge state lawmakers to repeal Michigan’s Self Defense Act of 2006, which is similar to Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground law.

Guns are not initially illegal: they are manufactured and then sold in a licensed gun store to a person who passes a background check. Yet in 90 percent of gun crimes, the person with the gun is not the original buyer of the gun from a store. In one-third of the crimes, the gun was bought in a different state than the crime. The most common age of a criminal with a gun is 19, followed by 20, and then by 18, yet the legal age to purchase a handgun is 21. These statistics show that the vast majority of guns used in crimes came from illegal gun trafficking.

Reps. Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) have introduced a bill that now has 184 co-sponsors. According to Thompson, the measure is identical to the bipartisan agreement on background checks struck by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). The bill would require background checks for all gun sales in commercial settings, including at gun shows, on the internet, and in classified ads even if the sellers are doing so privately. Private sellers would be required to conduct background checks through licensed dealers, using the same background check system already used for dealer sales. Licensed dealers would not see changes in the way that they have done their recordkeeping for over 40 years.

In addition, the bill would improve the federal background checks database (NICS) by helping states improve their reporting systems, requiring federal courts to submit records, and removing hurdles to the submission of critical mental health records.  It would provide grants to improve automation and transmittal of mental-health records on the state level, make federal court information available to the NICS, and allow the NICS to have mental-health records otherwise protected by the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Thompson and King stated the following in a joint press release:

“Background checks are the first line of defense against criminals and the dangerously mentally ill getting guns. This bill is comprehensive, it is enforceable, it will save lives, and it will protect the rights of law abiding Americans to own guns. It’s time for Congress to act.”

Over 6.6 million guns are transferred each year through private transfers not subject to background checks.  Almost 80 percent of criminals using handguns for crimes got these through private transfers. Background checks help save lives as shown by states requiring background checks for all handgun sales:

  • Gun trafficking was 48 percent lower than in states that fail to require background checks for all handgun sales.
  • The rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38 percent lower than in other states, while the rate murdered by other means was nearly identical.
  • The firearm suicide rate was 49 percent lower than in other states, even though people committed suicide in other ways at almost precisely the same rate.
  • Thirty-nine percent fewer law enforcement officers were shot to death with handguns.

Hopefully, the King-Thompson bill would close the loopholes that allow domestic violence abusers to easily get guns through existing private sales and transfers. Just the presence of a gun in a DV situation increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.

The day before Congress left for home last week, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) introduced a bill that addressed gun safety, mental health, and gun violence research. “The bill will prohibit the sale of gun kits like those used in the Santa Monica shootings,” Waxman said, referring the June 7 shooting in which 23-year-old John Zawahri shot and killed five people in the Pico neighborhood before he was killed in the Santa Monica (CA) College library.

The Gun Violence Prevention and Reduction Act of 2013 would also “authorize additional research on serious mental illness, improve access to mental health services for all, and reinforce existing government authorities to carry out public health research on gun violence.” Although Zawarhi was denied the purchase of a gun because of his mental illness, he used a loophole in the law to buy a partially-completed gun that he put together himself. Waxman wants to close this loophole.

Chris Hayes reports that California’s strictest gun laws of any state may have caused drastic reductions in gun deaths. Gun violence in the state dropped 56 percent from 1993 to 2010, a time when the population expanded from 30 million to 37 million. Across the nation, gun violence dropped only 29.5 percent in the same period of time. At least 30 California gun laws include a ban on military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, requirements of safety design for handguns, and various steps to help law enforcement authorities get guns out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers.

Among all the industrialized nations, 80 percent of all firearms deaths occur in the United States.

Organizations trying to reduce this percentage:

Mayors Against Illegal Guns: a national, bipartisan coalition of mayors with over 1,000 mayors from 46 states who have been joined by citizens.

The Violence Policy Center: a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury through research, advocacy, education, and collaboration.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America: an advocacy group formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting with 100 chapters in 40 states.

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: a national public interest law center dedicated to preventing gun violence.

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence: a coalition of religious, labor, and nonprofit organizations to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy.

Ceasefire Oregon: a grassworks organization of people who want to prevent gun violence by advocating reasonable, effective gun laws.

The Brady Campaign: a group that works to create a safer America by reducing the number of gun deaths and injuries.

http://americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/   Americans for Responsible Solutions: an organization formed after the shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) to encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership.

These are just a few of the groups working in this area. Other organizations such as National Organization for Women are also committed to a safer life in the United States. And hopefully get the media back to the issue of gun control!

August 7, 2013

Liberal Media Would Publish This News

Conservatives moan about the liberal media and praise the lying Fox Network for giving them the facts. Daily Kos has published 15 items that a truly liberal media would publish, news that is not made public in mainstream media.

Off shoring, sometimes called outsourcing is the reason for unemployment instead of the conservative claim of laziness. U.S. multinational corporations have increased employment overseas by 2.4 million while cutting 2.9 million jobs in the United States, and they account for only about 20 percent of the labor force.

In 2010, 20% of the people held approximately 88% of the net worth in the U.S., and the bottom 80 percent of the people held only 12 percent of net worth. The top 1% alone held 35% of all net worth. The bottom 80 percent has lost one-third of its net worth since 1983. The following chart illustrates the great discrepancy in net worth within the country.

if land mass were divided

One group controlled by corporate organizations drafts conservative laws and then distributes them to legislatures. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is responsible for the nation’s laws of stand your ground, voter ID, right to work without rights, school privatizing, health savings account bills to benefit health care companies, tobacco industry legislation, and more. ALEC is meeting in Chicago this weekend to hand legislation to lawmakers before they go back into session.

The U. S. has the most people in prison of any country in the world. This nation has 5 percent of the world’s population but incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. 2.3 criminals. China has four times the number of people with 1.6 million people in prison.  Crime rate declined by 25 percent in the U.S. between 1988 to 2008 while the number of prisoners rose from 350,000 in 1972 to 2.3 prisoners.

incarcerated_americans_zpsb7c891bd

In 2009, non-Hispanic blacks, while only 13.6% of the population, accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population. In 2011, according to FBI statistics, whites accounted for 69.2% of arrests. This is in a supposedly “post-racial” time.

U.S. health care costs are the highest in the world at $8,233. Norway is second with $5,388. The U.S. total amount of GDP spent on health care is also the highest of any country in the world at 17.6 percent. The next closest country is the Netherlands at 12%. Conservatives claim that a competitive market will bring prices down, but obviously it doesn’t.

The Glass-Steagall Act separated risky financial investments from government backed deposits for 66 years after the crash of the market in 1929 . Banks could not take your federally insured savings to make risky investments. The law’s repeal in 1999  allowed commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies to consolidate with no conflict of interest from anyone. The loss of Glass-Steagall led to the recession in 2008 and continues to cause financial problems for everyone except corporations and the wealthiest people. And it’s only getting worse.

Since the 1980s, the bank deregulation has grown into a legal scam as they purchase commodities such as aluminum, oil, wheat, cotton and coffee as well as oil pipelines, ports, and energy distributors and drive up prices. For example, oil speculation may account for one-third of the price of a barrel of oil, costing $10 for each fill-up at the pump.

With the overwhelming conservative takeover of many states in the 2010 election, Republicans were able to redraw national congressional districts to rig the election of a majority of GOP members of the House. In the districts across the nation, Democrats gained more than 1.4 million votes than Republicans, yet the GOP has control of the House with a majority of 234 to 201 seats. Redistricting won’t happen again until 2020 after the census, leaving the GOP to probably control the House until the people they represent understand that they are not benefited by their Republican representatives. [photo]

gerrymandering

The filibuster has been used a record number of time since Obama was elected President. From 2008-2012, 375 bills weren’t even allowed to come to a vote in the Senate because Republicans threatened the filibuster. Far more were probably not even introduced because of the filibuster threat. In the first six months of 2013, Congress has passed only 15 bills that were signed into law, eight fewer than in the first 6 months of 2012 and 19 fewer than 2011. Until the Democrats in the Senate threatened to reform the filibuster, the GOP held up 79 of President Obama’s nominees for the U.S. Circuit Court and Courts of Appeal regardless of qualifications.

Corporations now have excessive control over elections because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. In a 2011 poll, only 22 percent of people had heard of this ruling until they took the survey. Although 77 percent of the people think that corporations have more control over the political process than people, they don’t know why.

The Southern Strategy, exploiting ethnic prejudice, gained its popularity and name from President Richard Nixon’s campaign strategist, Kevin Philips. His position was to get blacks to register as Democrats in the South so that the whites would move to the Republican party. By 1908, the percentage of minorities was so high, however, that Republicans had to create punitive voting laws. In addition, the GOP attacked Medicaid, Social Security, labor unions, and Obamacare–programs which, though they benefit more white seniors, retirees, women, and children, have been sold to many Americans as handouts to lazy, undeserving blacks and minorities. As H.R. Haldeman’s diary quoted Nixon:

“P [President] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

U.S. tax cuts primarily benefit the wealthy. A progressive tax program is designed to tax people very little as they are starting out and progressively increase their rates as they do better. Republican plans shift the tax burden from the wealthy onto working people. For example, the Ohio GOP repealed the estate tax for the portion of estates over $338,000. Other states such as North Carolina want to transfer from income taxes to consumption taxes that increase the percentage of taxes paid by the poorest people. Capital gain taxes are only 20 percent instead of the rate of other income which is closer to 35 percent.

Colony collapse disorder caused the loss of 40-50 percent of commercial U.S. bee hives. Although most people care little about this loss, one-fourth of our food depends on honeybee pollination. In Texas, though, the media address bees in this fashion: “Thousands of Bees Attack Texas Couple, Kill Horses.”

The number of temporary workers has grown by more than 50 percent since the recession ended to nearly 2.7 million. Temporary workers comprise 12 percent of the workforce, 17 million workers. About one-third of these are in manufacturing. Because they get lower pay, fewer benefits, and extremely limited job security, they spend less freely and fail to boost the economy. Economists think that this is a long-term trend.

Six corporations–Time Warner, Disney, News Corporation, Viacom, Comcast, and CBS–control roughly 90% of the media in the U.S. Watch for the stories following the hook of “if it bleeds, it leads”—such as the man who used a SUV to run over people at the Venice beach in California. Or the attention to the Fort Hood trial as the shooter acts as his own lawyer and questions witnesses. Also the way that the media reports what politicians say but don’t bother to fact-check the statements.

One that is missing from the above list is the GOP’s refusal to increase the minimum wage, not even to match what it was over 40 years ago. The following map shows how many hours of minimum wage work are required to just rent an apartment.

hours needed apartment

What’s missing is reporting about population growth, political lobbying, government’s role, military expenditures, rape on campuses, privatization of prisons and schools, gun violence, nuclear energy—the list goes on and on.

August 6, 2013

Civil Forfeitures: Guilty until Proven Innocent

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:46 PM
Tags: , , ,

The sequester is not to the only law that is devastating the people of the United States. Federal and state laws allow the government to take property from people even if they have followed all the rules that they were told.

Almost one-third of all foreclosed borrowers, nearly 1.2 million people, faced these proceedings from the 11 leading financial institutions because of bank errors or banned practices, many of them intentional “mistakes.” Despite fighting these wrongful efforts to have their homes seized, over 244,000 of those borrowers eventually lost their homes.

Yet settlements for home losses hasn’t stopped the banks as they fabricate documents and illegally kick people out of their homes. Even worse, the settlements are so badly written that they allow the criminal foreclosures to continue. One of these loopholes is the banks’ “threshold error rate” of between 5 and 10 percent, allowing them to illegally taking someone’s home. That means that they can break the law up to 2 times for every 20 transactions with impunity. One company estimated 1.8 million foreclosure filings just in 2012, allowing them the right to take up to 360,000 homes with no right other than the threshold error rate.  Even worse, the rate is based on the bank’s own reporting that could again conceal its illegal activities.

Massachusetts is one of 28 states allowing foreclosures without final approval from a judge, and homeowners continue to face wrongful foreclosures based on improper documents. State law requires banks to send a “right-to-cure notice” to defaulting homeowners, a document that includes who actually owns the borrower’s mortgage, who the borrower should contact, and what steps he or she must take to “cure” the default and avoid foreclosure proceedings. Attorneys found dozens of examples of erroneous or missing information in the notices. In addition, banks and lenders are flouting a state law providing struggling homeowners five months to get their repayments back on track before the lender can initiate a foreclosure.

Homes aren’t the only thing that people are losing. Law enforcement officers are using “civil forfeiture” to take cash, cars, houses, and other assets for drug enforcement even if the person has never been arrested or even charged with a crime. Criminal forfeiture requires a conviction before confiscation of property; civil forfeiture requires only a suspicion of a crime, regardless of owner’s guilt or innocence. These civil laws developed from British law in the seventeenth century. Nearly 2,000 forfeiture actions were filed in Philadelphia from 2008 to 2012 because of alleged drug offenses, sometimes very small, by children or grandchildren. Only 30 of these cases were rejected by judges.

In Johnson County (TX), an officer seized cash from an out-of-state driver who had committed no crime and gave him a receipt with no information about who seized the money or how he could get it back. Police in Virginia took church money from a legal immigrant when he was on his way to buy a property for the church. There are far more horrifying stories of the police abuse for personal gain.

Tenaha (TX) was particularly dangerous for anyone carrying money in their car. Six years ago Jennifer Boatright drove through the town with her boyfriend and two young sons on their way to buy a used car. They were pulled over, their money was taken, and the district attorney told them they could go to jail and lose their children to foster care or sign their cash over to the city with no criminal charges.

Police in Tehana (TX) took the infant of a Washington, D.C. couple while the parents were jailed for the night. They lost the $50,000 that they were taking to buy restaurant equipment. The couple was one of the original plantiffs in a class action against the town for its rampant seizures of cash from those driving through on the highway without other evidence of contraband or illegal activity.

 

A year ago, a class action lawsuit against the officials of Teneha and Shelby County found that cash and other valuables were taken largely from blacks and Latinos. Hundreds, if not more than a thousand, people suffered this highway robbery from the police. Not one of the people stopped and shaken down were ever arrested or even charged with a crime.

 

Barry Washington, the police officer responsible for much of this theft, testified that he considered the ethnicity and religion of the motorists to be factors relevant to establishing reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Under oath, he described one of the examples as “two Puerto Ricans” who are “driving a car that has a Baptist Church symbol on the back, says First Baptist Church of New York.”

 

Thanks to the lawsuit, police will be required to follow rules such as videotaping all stops. The officer must give the reason for the stop as well as advising people that they can refuse a search. All property improperly taken must be returned within 30 business days, and any forfeiture must be given to non-profit organizations or used for training for police mandated by the settlement.

 

Because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against class action suits, no one could ask for money. The plaintiffs could only seek seek “declaratory and injunctive relief”—a legal finding of fact in their favor, and a reform of the forfeiture program.

Most of the money that officers get in these illegal forfeitures goes to the police or sheriff’s department with the officers often receiving bonuses for collecting the money. Despite the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, the DoJ has received an excessive number of reports that police perform these illegal actions when they are given money for doing it. The burden of proof is on the defendant if the person claims that the money was improperly taken.

Even the federal government is making money from forfeitures: last year the Department of Justice brought in $4.2 billion. To their credit, they have turned over more than $1.5 billion in forfeited assets to four hundred thousand crime victims, often in cases of corporate criminality, and used forfeiture to go after ruthless migrant smugglers, organized-crime tycoons, and endangered-species poachers, stripping them of their illicit gains. 

Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas–these are a few of the states where police abuse their power by taking personal property without any retribution. We hope that Sarah Stillman’s article in the New Yorker Magazine will be a wake-up call for the way that government allows this to happen.

Washington D.C. city council members are considering a bill to give D.C. residents the strongest protections against the abuse of civil asset forfeiture in the country. The rest of the United States needs to follow suit.

 

 

 

August 5, 2013

GOP Sequester Destroys the United States

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:08 PM
Tags: , , ,

House members have gone on vacation for a long time, but the stench of GOP votes lingers on. Last week, they voted to block federal funding for ACORN—for the 13th time since the GOP took over the chamber in 2011. Whether anyone believed in the mission of ACORN is moot. The anti-poverty organization staffed by low-income people was disbanded in 2010, almost a full year before the GOP started its worthless votes. “Word is the majority will also prohibit foreign aid to the Ottoman Empire this year,” said a Democratic congressional aide. Although the Empire was dissolved after World War I, the aide might be correct.

Even if ACORN still existed, Congress voted in 2009 to defund any organization charged with breaking federal or state laws with the ban extending to employees, contractors, or others affiliated with the charged group. That means a law already exists to do what the GOP has proposed for 13 times.

What could the House do instead of voting against ACORN? Maybe fixing the draconian cuts of the sequester. Not much chance of this happening because theyll be session only nine days in the next two months.

The negative effects of the sequester are obvious only five months after the it went into effect. Although the economic growth was 1.7 percent in the quarter from April to June, it would have been stronger without the sequester’s loss of between 900,000 and 1.6 million jobs. During that same quarter, government consumption and investment declined by 1.5 percent; reversing sequestration would add 0.7 to 1.2 percentage points to GDP.

The sequester cut 1.5 million people off unemployment insurance. Parents with jobs don’t have child care, low-income kids don’t have preschool through Head Start, and teachers don’t have jobs. Nearly $600 million has been cut from special education funding and $700 million from assistance to low-income school districts. Meals on Wheels and funding for state parks have been cut. Medicare patients can’t get cancer treatments. The National Institutes of Health has delayed or halted 700 research awards that help fund the study of diseases affecting millions of Americans.

Sequestration will cause 337,000 victims of domestic violence, child sexual abuse, adult sexual assault, and other crimes to lose critical support and services through the Crime Victims Fund. The cuts of up to 2,100 food inspections can result in outbreaks of foodborne illness, always a serious threat to families and public health.

The U.S. Forest Service’s $2 billion-a-year firefighting budget has lost tens of millions of dollars with its 5-percent cut. That means 500 fewer firefighters and 50 fewer fire engines than last year as well as 100 fewer seasonal firefighter positions. This year’s fire season may be even more disastrous than the one last year, the third-worst in decades, when 9.3 million acres burned.

Small businesses will suffer from the $1 billion cut from small business loan guarantees.

Potentially dangerous criminals on probation will not be monitored as well as in the past because of reduced staffing. “Funding for salaries and operations in the probation and pretrial services system has been reduced 14 percent for this fiscal year, and resources for location monitoring, mental health and substance abuse treatment have been cut 20 percent,” said  Thomas Hogan, director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

In more than 20 states, federal defense is closing offices and laying off between one-third and one-half of the staff. Without public defenders, arrested people receive help from private court-appointed attorneys who charge much more, and jail costs go up as arrested people spend more time waiting for trials. Long trial postponements cause the risk of cases being thrown out of court such as the trial for alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial after federal public defender furloughs in Massachusetts. And it will only get worse. This year’s cut to the budget is 9 percent; without any legislation next year will see up to a 23-percent reduction, 97 furlough days for each federal defender causing each person four and a half months without pay.

GOP legislators don’t look at the above cuts as problems. Instead they complained last spring about the closure of White House tours.    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) got angry because the Blue Angels military planes flying demonstrations were cut back. In the pattern of blaming the president for any cuts from the sequestration, he said:

“President Obama’s administration should be ashamed for trying to convince the American people that our only choices when it comes to dealing with the debt are either to leave government as big and bloated as it is, or accept a new reality where our people have to endure longer lines at the airport, endless flight delays, the loss of safety net medical assistance, the denial of education services, and many other inconveniences and negative effects to people’s day-to-day lives.”

Inconvenience for lawmakers resulted in one change that they fixed. In order to not have their flights delayed, Congress voted to strip funding for airport.

Rubio’s GOP governor, Rick Scott, criticized the sequester because of National Guard furloughs in the midst of hurricane season. Instead of blaming his senator, Scott faulted the National Guard:  “The problem is you’re losing training time, you’re losing preparation time. When will the National Guard make the decision that we stop the furloughs? Right after the hurricane hits?”

The House can be expected to vote a fix for any cuts that embarrass them. The week before they left town, GOP members voted to stop furloughs for civilian Defense Department employees. The Pentagon’s 11 weeks of furloughs starting in mid-July resulted in a 20-percent-weekly pay cut through September for 680,000 of the Pentagon’s roughly 800,000 civilian employees, the equivalent of 250,000 jobs. During debate, GOP representatives criticized President Obama for not solving the sequester program that they put into law.

Half the cuts of sequestration are in the area of defense because the defense budget is huge. Although salaries, benefits, and military bases are preserved, the Air Force has grounded a third of its fighter squadrons, keeping pilots and mechanics from doing their jobs and canceled its combat training exercises and courses at the Air Force Weapons School.

The Army also sharply reduced training above the basic squad and platoon level and halted depot maintenance for the rest of the fiscal year. With cuts of 37,000 flying hours, the Army will have a shortfall of 500 pilots. The Army is also considering a 100,000-person cut to its active duty force, creating constant deployment in any war situation.

Two-thirds of the Navy’s non-deployed ships and aviation squadrons won’t meet readiness targets by the end of the fiscal year. The Navy has also delayed planned fleet deployments, including the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf and the frigate USS Thach to the South Atlantic.

The Marine Corps has already gone from 202,000 to 182,000 members and could lose 8,000 troops as well as two of its key next-generation weapons systems under sequestration. Fewer personnel requires the Corps to cut back on its purchases of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and eliminate its participation in the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program to replace the Humvee combat trucks.

The intelligence community is trimming contracts, collection systems, and analysis and may decommission some satellite reconnaissance systems.

Three months ago, the House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) called the sequester “idiotic” but said he was hemmed in by the Budget Control Act, the House-passed budget, and House rules. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) summarized the GOP position:

“The fact that the sequester went into effect has been another thing that has taken some of the pressure off and a lot of members of Congress will publicly complain and moan about the sequester and privately say better that somebody else makes the decision than us. Unfortunately that’s what happens.”

Almost 40 percent of people in the country are impacted by the sequester, and a majority of people disapprove of the cuts. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats, 54 percent of Republicans, and 58 percent of independents oppose sequestration.

The sequester is doing exactly what the conservatives want it to do—hurt the nation’s economy, take benefits from people who need them, and undermine the country for no good reason. Lawmakers are supposed to make decisions; Republicans have decided that this is not their job. As Robert Reich pointed out, Republicans want high unemployment and low job-growth to keep wages down, to fuel Wall Street, and to maintain the fear and insecurity among the people of the United States.

August 4, 2013

Religion Continues to Invade Lives

ew_jackson-620x412For a state that should be the cradle of religious freedom, Virginia looks pretty far off the mark as its Republican candidates are firing up for their election in three months. E.W. Jackson, candidate for lieutenant governor, has gone farther off the rails with his statement that people can’t both believe in God and vote Democratic. When pressed by WLEE host Jack Gravely, Jackson said, “I believe that the Democrat Party has become an anti-God party.” The GOP party is getting increasingly embarrassed by Jackson. Pat Mullins, Virginia Republican Party chair, said, “I do not agree with that statement. My parents were Democrats, and I’ve got a lot of Democratic friends in Christian churches all around Virginia.” I guess Jackson is even too extreme for far-right Republicans.

simonecampbellOn the other side  is Sister Simone Campbell. The executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, who gained disfavor with the Vatican because she only wants to help poor people, testified before a House Budget Committee hearing last week about the importance of government-subsidized welfare programs. She talked about the foundational nature of charity and economic justice to the Catholic Church and explained the difference that federal assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Head Start initiatives have made in the lives of America’s most vulnerable.

Catholics like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) understand that directly confronting a nun, even one who seems as gentle as Sister Simone, is not safe. But his colleague, Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI), decided to tackle her head on. The good Baptist accused both Campbell and the Catholic Church of not fixing poverty by themselves.  “What is the church doing wrong that they have to come to the government to get so much help?” he asked her.

Calmly and firmly, she responded, “Justice comes before charity… Everyone has a right to eat, and therefore there is a governmental responsibility to ensure everyone’s capacity to eat. Love and care makes a difference, but the issues are so big there isn’t sufficient charitable dollars there.” Ribble ignored the nation’s history of working with faith groups to provide assistance for the vulnerable, particularly since George W. Bush, of Ribble’s political party, started handing out great amounts of money to churches. He also ignored the fact that 80 percent of the people in the country are now struggling with joblessness, near-poverty, or relying on welfare for at least parts of their lives.

Ryan got in his licks earlier when he introduced the meeting when he said, “If you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead.” Ryan ignored the fact that 68 percent of children who receive SNAP benefits have working parents, and 8.9 million Americans who work full time still live below the poverty line. Both Ribble and Ryan also skipped over the fact that minimum wage is now three-fourths of what it was almost 50 years ago and that wages have shrunk for everyone except the top layer of people in the United States within the past decade. In addition, each one of them receives annual salaries of over $140,000 but work less than half the year.

Pope Francis caused a buzz in the media when he was quoted as saying “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” Most of the reporters took this as a statement that the Catholic Church is softening toward LGBT people. But not true. He continued by paraphrasing the Catechism that homosexual orientation is not sinful but homosexual acts are against the Church. Bottom line in the pope’s statement: celibate gays are not to be judged or excluded from the church.

The media had less to say about the pope’s comments about another disenfranchised and marginalized population within the church—the women. Although “women in the church are more important than bishops and priests,” there is no possibility that they can be a part of the ordained ministry.”That door is closed,” Francis told reporters. Diane Winston wrote about the media’s neglect of the pope’s comments about women in a Los Angeles Times op-ed:

“In the current media ecology of religion and public life, sex sells and gender gets a nod. (Forget religious leaders opining on violence, materialism or climate change. Unless Jesus himself appeared in a ‘Remember Sandy Hook’ T-shirt to buy sunscreen at Wal-Mart, there’s no story.) … But [the pope] kept in place [the church’s] bar to women. And the import of that bar — its global reverberations in unwanted pregnancies, female poverty and sexual slavery — remains hidden in plain sight.”

The Catholic Church had one temporary victory this past week. Federal Judge Rudolph T Randa ruled that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee can continue to shield $57 million of its assets so that it won’t be used for settlements in sexual abuse lawsuits. When Cardinal Timothy Dolan, then Archbishop of the diocese, realized that the sexual abuse was going public, he got permission from the Vatican to move the $57 million into a trust fund connected with the Milwaukee Catholic cemeteries. In his letter of request, he explained that the transfer would lead to “an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” Dolan is also the president of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Forty-five individual priests within that one diocese sexually assaulted an estimated 570 people; one priest was accused of molesting almost 200 deaf boys. The abuse was well-known within diocese leadership, and Dolan informed the Vatican of the problem in the early 2000s before he transferred the funds. If the judge’s ruling holds, the cemetery graves will be safe even if the abused victims receive none of the help that the $57 million could give them.

While the acceptance of different religions is shrinking in the United States, other countries are expanding their tolerance. Lukas Novy has declared for years that he is a Pastaferian of the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,” his own satirical faith with the belief that a creature composed of pasta and meatballs “created the world much as it exists today.” The resident of the Czech Republic wanted to wear a pasta sieve on his head while being photographed for an official government ID, and officials agreed.

Pastafarian-ID-e1375378922671

People in the U.S. might ridicule this satire, but this U.S. allows people to escape responsibilities because they declare a false religious belief. For example, Eden Foods is one of several for-profit corporations that have gone to court to avoid providing health plans that cover birth control.  After owner Michael Potter claimed an exemption based on his religious objections to contraception, a judge ruled in his favor. But Potter gave the press a different story when he spoke with Salon’s Irin Carmon:

“I’ve got more interest in good quality long underwear than I have in birth control pills… Because I’m a man, number one and it’s really none of my business what women do …  I don’t care if the federal government is telling me to buy my employees Jack Daniel’s or birth control. What gives them the right to tell me that I have to do that? That’s my issue, that’s what I object to, and that’s the beginning and end of the story.”

Potter probably won’t mind if the government in Washington state mandates GMO labeling so that he can sell more of his product. He fakes religion because he doesn’t care about women but wants government to help his sales.

The Kentucky chapter of the American Family Association is arguing that government-sponsored religion in public schools will “boost student test scores, lower the crime rate and even decrease the rate of HIV infection.” They can’t use Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church for proof in raising test scores. When four church members went to Rhode Island to protest the start of marriage equality in the state, they carried a flier with the following:

 “Is the United States population illerate? Can’t you read? The Lord Jesus Christ said marriage Is between 1 man and 1 woman for life.”

The four of them were outnumbered by the police and far outnumbered by people supporting same-sex weddings.

And so the craziness continues.

August 3, 2013

Taking Action Moves the U.S. Forward

When I looked at today’s email, I saw a the usual plethora of petition seekers, this time asking me to sign onto protests against egregious acts of environmental and political abuses.

  • Major bank executives such as Chase CEO Jamie Dimon who lost $9 billion of depositors’ money through his fraudulent actions are regulating the banking industry by the law that allows them to serve on the New York Federal Reserve Board. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is introducing legislation to make this practice illegal.
  • Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, gubernatorial candidate, refused to repay $18,000 of gifts from Star Scientific, a dietary supplement company that benefitted from its relationship with the AG, because, Cuccinelli said, “There are some bells you can’t un-ring.”
  • New Hampshire state Rep. Bill O’Brien compared Obamacare to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that allowed slave-owners to take African-Americans out to the state back to the South.
  • The Securities and Exchange Committee has not yet passed regulations to require the disclosure of corporation CEO’s salaries despite the three-year-old Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law that mandates this action.
  • Cumulus will reportedly not re-hire Rush Limbaugh, but they may also be trying to jockey a better deal with the misogynist radio show host.
  • Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other stores that sell toxic pesticides containing neoicotinoids (neonics) because these are killing bees, vital for food production, at an inordinate rate; last winter beekeepers reports losses of 50-70 percent of their hives.

These petitions are just the proverbial drop in the bucket. As an activist, I want to make changes in the world; I write a monthly newspaper for the local chapter of PFLAG, help with the local chapter of NOW, and write this blog. But there’s so much more to do. Fortunately, other people are also taking action.

Popular Resistance has a website for people who want to create a sustainable future. It reports that one-third of the people in the United States are members of at least one cooperative, including credit unions. In Seattle, the Community Sourced Capital formed to help people avoid Wall Street and invest in their local communities.

In England, the Church of England has started its own credit union by working with non-profit loan agencies to provide less expensive loan services than the legal loan-shark cost of 1-percent interest per day.

Strike Debt Bay Area is working to reverse the privatizing of public services as in the case of the U.S. Post Office through education.  Another of its projects is to save the historic Berkeley post office, and other groups are focusing on ways the Post Office can expand and provide new services. An early project was to raise money to retire health care debts; as of last January the group had garnered over $11 million.

People in Washington state have put a measure on November’s ballot to require labeling of GMO foods. Companies like Monsanto have poured a great deal of money into the campaign, but success for initiative could lead to a national change. People are also working to buy directly from farmers despite efforts to stop this practice.

In the world, 46 countries get 60 percent of electricity from renewable, clean energy sources. The United States could do this by 2050 at the latest. Last year, the fastest growing source of new energy in the nation was wind that made up 42 percent of new electricity.

Over 600 corporations have been negotiating in secret with the Obama administration and its Office of the U.S .Trade Representative for the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would turn people’s rights over to the corporations around the world. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) said that it will undermine US sovereignty, and former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk admitted that it would not be signed if people knew its contents. The group Flush the TTP is small but growing as it educates people through displaying banners, distributing OccuCards to commuters, and carrying out other actions on #TTP Tuesdays.

Around the nation, people are occupying different spaces in a “dandelion movement” as they disperse seeds to grow their ideas. Through Moral Mondays, people spent 11 Monday evenings in North Carolina getting arrested for being present in the state capitol while GOP legislators continued to try to take away people’s rights.

Wisconsin police are also arresting people who gather in the capitol to sing. For the past two and a half years, Gov. Scott Walker’s opponents have held Solidarity Singalong most weekdays over the lunch hour. They have refused to get permits for their gathering, saying the state constitution allows them to peaceably assemble without the government’s permission. The GOP legislation passed requirements for permits. U.S. District Judge William Conley temporarily blocked part of the law as unconstitutional, but the rest of the law allowed the arrests last week. Retired Evangelical Lutheran Church pastor Carter Dary collapsed with chest pains after his arrest. He was taken to the hospital in handcuffs.

Wisconsin Protests

o-dream-defenders-facebookThe Florida sit-ins didn’t face the same arrests as protesters in North Carolina and Wisconsin. Activists stayed in the capitol for almost three weeks because the state “stand your ground” law freed George Zimmerman after he killed Trayvon Martin. State House Speaker, GOP Will Weatherford, announced that he would ask a House Committee to convene to hold a hearing on the controversial law. The Dream Defenders, primarily young people, say that they will stay in the capitol until their requests are met.

Fast-food workers are striking across the nation to bring up the minimum wage to equal that in the 1960s. Richmond (CA) the city will use its eminent domain power to seize underwater houses threatened with foreclosure and re-finance them.

Because of activism in Ohio, two major oil and gas companies decided not to follow through with fracking in the Delaware River Basin. Nebraska’s Pipeline Fighters are getting their countries to pass zoning laws forbidding tar sands pipelines from crossing through the state as well as writing letters to President Obama, asking him to keep the Keystone Pipeline out of their state.

In May, Gallup released a poll showing that the nation’s shift in ideological attitudes is moving toward the left: more people in the country identify themselves as “liberals” in regard to social and economic issues while fewer of them describe themselves as conservative. A Vanderbilt study shows that conservative politicians overestimate the conservative beliefs of their constituents by more than 20 percentage points on average. Liberal politicians following the same pattern, believing that their constituents are more conservative than they actually are.

Almost 90 percent of Republicans are white; the GOP has only a 13-percent allegiance from Hispanics and less from other minorities. That poll was in February before conservative politicians like Rep. Steve King (R-IA) started talking about how young Hispanics have thighs like cantaloupes because they haul so much marijuana. Polls aren’t always to be trusted, but Republican politicians keep working to alienate everyone in the country except wealthy whites.

At the same time, the percentage of religious progressives is rapidly increasing, particularly among the young. The profile of the Republican is older and white, a demographic that is disappearing. We just need to live long enough to see it disappear and hope that the country has not been destroyed by then. At least two political parties are a good idea, but the United States needs progressives to balance the moderate and right-wing groups.

August 2, 2013

Women: Sex Objects and Dispensable

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:06 PM
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As expected, the House voted again today—for the 40th time—to repeal Obamacare, this time through IRS guidelines. Every GOP representative present for the vote supported the erasure of the nation’s health care act as did four Democrats. Hardest hit if Obamacare disappears would be women. This problem is not unique with just the GOP wish to eradicate affordable health insurance. The GOP consistently works to reduce Social Security and Medicare, eliminate food stamps and Medicaid, decimate health clinics for women, and refuse to support the ERA, fair pay, and increase of the minimum wage.

A Texas Republican, State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, even wants to charge State Sen. Wendy Davis for her filibuster against an egregious anti-abortion bill. He claims that her actions cost the state $2.4 million because legislature was forced to go into another special session to pass the transportation measure, supposedly the purpose of the first session. The transportation could have passed in the first session if the GOP lawmakers had not been so intent on criminalizing abortions after 20 weeks and shutting down 90 percent of the women’s clinics providing abortions in the state.

In addition to making life far more dangerous for poor women who will be over 600 miles away from a clinic, the GOP will cost the state more money by health problems resulting from dangerous abortion alternatives and judicial expenses when the state is sued for its unconstitutional legislation. Perhaps the state could charge self-identified “fiscal conservatives” such as Capriglione for those costs.

My question to Capriglione: Would you dream of threatening to charge a male legislator for doing his job an elected official?

With the addition of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to Congress, Capitol Hill has been flexing its patriarchal attitudes. From conservative newspaper The Hill comes an article that begins “Elizabeth Warren Ruffling Feathers.” No matter how much male legislators stir the pot, no one accuses them of “ruffling feathers.” After a difference of opinion between her and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), another senator said, “Elizabeth came out very strong against Manchin.” The person used Warren’s first name, a common approach toward women, as compared to Manchin’s last name. Manchin responded, “I love her,” again a patronizing approach.

Beyond perpetrating annoying attitudes toward women, discrimination loses women jobs and money. An example comes from Kim O’Grady, an Australian, who received only rejections while searching for job despite an excellent resume. The simple act of putting “Mr.” before his name brought the jobs rolling in. After he reported his experiences on Tumblr, he said that no one responded “that my story is only relevant to my local experience as an Australian. His action brings to mind the large number of women who use initials or male pseudonyms in order to sell their books. J.D. Rowling’s first publisher asked her to use her initials rather than her name, Joanne.

Women can legally be fired for their appearance, something that rarely happens to men. Shea Allen, a former ABC reporter in Huntsville (AL), was fired for not wearing a bra. No one knew until she wrote about it on her blog, but she was terminated without cause.

Ordered to not engage with her audience, stand-up comedian Christina Walkinshaw put up with hecklers shouting, “Show us your tits, show us your bush.” After the show, she brought up the incident with the woman running the show and then worked the rest of the weekend. The next week she was banned from the club for the “incident.”

Jennifer Finley was fired by a waxing center because she refused to have another employee give her a Brazilian wax. Teri James was fired by San Diego Christian College for have premarital sex, considered “immoral behavior” in the handbook. After she was fired, the school offered a job to her fiancé, now her husband. She has filed a lawsuit.

James should not expect fairness from going to court as demonstrated by the Iowa Supreme Court. Melissa Nelson was fired because her employer, a dentist, was attracted to her and his wife didn’t like it. Dr. James Knight called Nelson his best assistant, but he had found her “irresistible” for the ten years that he employed her. When the judges, all men, made its first ruling in Knight’s favor, media attention was so negative that they decided to reconsider their decision.

They  reissued the same conclusion with a twist. The judges determined that the law would be violated if a woman were fired because of “gender-specific characteristics” such as appearance. Yet firing a woman for a man’s reaction to these “characteristics” is legal. It wasn’t her appearance that caused her firing; it was Knight’s lust and the threat to his marriage. The judges ignored the fact that Nelson was not the threat to the marriage: Knight was. The court overlooked the fact that Nelson was fired because she was a woman.

meredith baxterFor some females, the lesson of inequity comes early. A private school outside Atlanta told 12-year-old Madison Baxter that she could not try out for the seventh-grade football team because her male teammates were beginning to have “impure thoughts” about her. She was a started on the sixth-grade team and had played football since second grade. A Facebook page is pushing the school to “Let Her Play.”

Judges also used appearance to rule against women in Atlantic City (NJ). At the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, cocktail waitresses, called “Borgata Babes,” are weighed when they are hired and then re-weighed periodically. If they gain more than 7 percent of the original weight, they can be suspended until they lose the weight. Male servers have no such requirement. When 22 of the “babes” sued, New Jersey judge Nelson Johnson ruled against them because they are “sex objects.”

Only one state, Michigan, bans discrimination based on weight and height. Women in other states are not as fortunate. A federal suit filed by three women against their former employer, Merrill Lynch, was thrown out. The women were forced to attend female-only seminars on how to dress, act “perky,” and read a book called Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics From a Woman at the Top before attending a mandatory lecture by the book’s author. The book, written by a woman, tells other women to use the idea of “great sex” for workplace interactions and curry favor with male coworkers by reinforcing “his hunk status,” telling him “I love you,” and to using comments like “Wow, you look great. Been working out?” According to the book, the last line is to be used for any male coworker who is not “morbidly obese.” The women have now refilled in state court.

A transman, self-identifying as a “fat man,” agreed with society’s prejudice against fat women. Michael Young writes about how he rapidly received “male privilege” as soon as he transitioned.

“As soon as I started ‘passing’, I found I was treated with a respect that wasn’t often given to me as a woman. My personal space and boundaries were no longer violated, I was no longer talked down to, and people suddenly respected my right to privacy and my right to be left alone. I was no longer treated as if I simply existed for men’s pleasure.”

He agreed that there were a few negative stereotypes regarding “a fat man” but not the way that “fat women are disproportionately targeted in Western society … subjected to public humiliation and discrimination every day, simply because of their bodies.” As a fat woman, he experienced “a poisonous, malignant contempt.”

The worst thing about this discrimination against women is that it’s become so insidious that most of the time we don’t notice it. People like to think that we’re in a post-sexist world, but we still live in culture that requires women’s subservience to men, careful attention to appearance, and possible loss of jobs, money, and even lives because of our gender. We live in a culture in which judges can, with impunity, call women  “a sex object.”

August 1, 2013

GOP: ‘Stop Government’

Yesterday was a landmark day: the Senate approved, for the first time, a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Until seven years ago, the agency had a real director—not just an acting one—but the NRA persuaded Congress to put an amendment into the PATRIOT Act requiring Senate confirmation for that position. Since that time—seven years—the Senate has refused to confirm any nominees.

Seven months ago, President Obama nominated B. Todd Jones, the most recent person proposed for the position, but Senate GOP members held up the confirmation through filibustering until Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Harry Reid (D-NV) made a deal to stop the filibuster for seven other presidential nominees. The 60-40 vote to end the filibuster was not effortless: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) had to fly back from North Dakota after being ill, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) had to be persuaded to vote with the Democrats and the other GOP senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and John McCain (R-AZ).

George W. Bush nominated U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan for director, but the NRA accused Sullivan of “overly restrictive legal interpretations” and “overly zealous enforcement activities.” Sens. David Vitter (R-LA), Larry Craig (R-ID) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) threatened to filibuster Sullivan, and he was never confirmed. President Obama’s nominee in 2010, Andrew Traver, lost to the NRA because he supported a ban on .50 caliber rifles.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the man who called Edward Snowden a criminal, refused to support Jones who he accused of “retaliating against a whistle-blower.” One case has been closed because of a technical review of the complaint document, and the other has been moved to mediation.

This will be the last action before Congress heads home to campaign for five weeks, supposedly listening to what their constituents say. They declared this week “Stop Government Abuse,” which would be better described “Stop Government.” Instead of using this last week to clean up bills languishing in the House for months, that chamber considered ways to control government workers and give people the right to record their conversations. The new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, just nine days of House meetings away. They have eight out of 12 appropriation bills left to determine, including the farm bill. For weeks, conservative GOP representatives have been threatening to close down the government if Obamacare is not overturned. And we know how well that worked two years ago!

Conservative scholar Norm Ornstein calls the GOP behavior “irresponsible.” He asserted that the GOP has five different parties: a House party, a Senate party, a presidential party with Southern and a non-Southern one. According to Ornstein, the dominant parties are the House and the Southern one, and they are wreaking disaster on the nation:

“You could say it’s a do-nothing Congress but that doesn’t do justice to it. These guys are doing something, which is to destroy the economic fabric of the country by holding the functions of government hostage to a non-negotiable demand to eliminate Obamacare.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) warned his House colleagues that aiming toward the shutdown of the government would be a “suicidal political tactic.” He compared their position to that the Pickett’s unsuccessful attack during the Battle of Gettysburg leading to Confederate retreat.

The polls agree with Cole and Ornstein. Republican pollster Whit Ayers, president of North Star Opinion Research, found that respondents opposed the shutdown strategy by a 64-29 percent margin.

But the GOP plods along with its “stop government” tactics. With Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’s leadership, 43 GOP senators blocked the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill. Although 19 GOP senators wanted to bring the bill to the floor in June, McConnell managed to whip his caucus into a “stop government” position. House Republican leaders also pulled their THUD bill from the floor because there weren’t enough Republicans to vote in favor of the bill.

The House “stop government” focus this week was on bills with such titles as “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act” and “Stop Playing on Citizen’s Cash Act.” The STOP IRS Act, STOP standing for “Stop Targeting Our Politics,” would let the IRS to fire employees “who take official actions for political purposes.” As some of the people in Congress are already leaving for their nice five-week vacation, House GOP leaders plan the 40th vote against Obamacare, its efforts to bar the IRS from implementing or enforcing any piece of the 2010 health-care law.

When lawmakers come back in September, however, playtime is over, especially if constituents tell GOP legislators that they shouldn’t close down the country. By now, the effects of the sequester is far more evident, and people without jobs are angry.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) showed his piece of “stop government” when he was asked about is the mis-named “Hastert Rule” that supposedly requires a majority of Republicans to approve a House bill before the House votes on the bill. He tried to dispel the myth in this way: “It is not, ‘they don’t come to the floor unless we have a majority of the majority,’ because we don’t know if we have a majority until we vote on it.”

At face value, this statement seems to give the impression that Ryan thinks the Hastert Rule should be ignored. That’s a good idea because, as McCain frequently claims these days, bills deserve to see the light of day and receive an honest debate. A spokesman clarified Ryan’s language when he told Ryan’s constituent, “The House will consider only those immigration reforms that garner a majority of House Republicans.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is already practicing the lies that he will tell his constituents. Yesterday morning, when asked about the president’s recent series about the economy and the middle class, Boehner said, “If I had poll numbers as low as his, I’d probably be out doing the same thing, if I were him.” Poll numbers are something that Boehner really shouldn’t touch.

The latest NBC/WSJ poll showed Obama with a 48% favorability rating; the same poll showed Boehner with an 18% favorability rating. The president’s approval rating, depending on which poll you like, is somewhere between 45% and 50%, while Boehner’s Congress’ approval rating is between 11% and 19%.

popularity

In other polls:

  • 55 percent of people think that Edward Snowden is a whistleblower, not a traitor, in contrast to Congressional opposition toward Snowden’s actions.
  • 78 percent of the people want a path to citizenship for undocumented people in the U.S.; the House refuses to even consider the possibility.
  • only 21 percent of the people think that abortion should not be allowed.
  • 68 percent of the people think that Republicans are doing too little to compromise with President Obama.
  • only 33 percent of the people that the distribution of wealth in the nation is fair, and a majority of the people believe that the government should do something about this.
  • 55 percent of the people think that marriage equality should be legalized, up from 46 percent less than nine months ago.

Boehner should check out the polls. He might find them enlightening.

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