Nel's New Day

April 30, 2016

Bathroom Laws Endanger Transgender People – Take Action

 

Fear is a driving force for conservatives, according to studies using brain scans. The amygdala, an area related to fear, is larger in conservatives, causing them to be reactionary rather than thoughtful. Other studies examining skin conductance and eye tracking show that conservatives focus on negativity when they walk into a room, searching for anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Imaging that tracks oxygen in the blood can identify racial bias. Identifying these physical differences explains the deep divides among people on hot-button issues such as war, abortion, immigration, and same-gender marriage. And transgender people.

transgender girlChristian Extremist and president of a theocratic law group named Anita Staver, president of the Christian extremist Liberty Council, claims that she will be carrying a firearm with her every time she uses a public bathroom. Texas police officer Tracy Murphree, sheriff candidate in Denton County, said he would beat any transgender woman in a public restroom with his daughter until she lost consciousness. Corey Maison (left) is one of the transgender women Murphree threatens.

Conservatives can get over their fears, but unfortunately, they must overcome their initial reactions, hard to do because of the bombardment of conservative media. Fox network continually stokes fears of sexual assault and misbehavior in restrooms, including a fake story about a transgender student harassing females in her school’s restroom. Other media outlets including The Daily Caller, WMD, and the Media Research Center, promote the myth that sexual predators will use gender-neutral bathrooms to prey on women. Yet the 17 states and 225 cities with nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people have not experienced one situation that the conservative media describes.

As Chad Butler, the District Attorney of Nashville (TN) who has prosecuted hundreds of sex crimes, explained, sexual predators are overwhelmingly “heterosexual men.” Butler added that the bathroom debates distract people from real dangers. “A majority of my cases are fathers, stepfathers, uncles, Boy Scout leaders, coaches, youth ministers, preachers. People that are already close to the family that the family trusts,” Butler said. (Think Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the U.S. House.)

North Carolina’s law further legitimizes harassment, discrimination, and bullying. Since the law passed, transgender suicide hotlines have gotten twice as many calls as usual. When young people are denied access to a restroom that aligns with their gender identity, their rates of suicide go up because these laws perpetuate feelings of isolation and depression. Trans students run a high risk of verbal harassment and physical assault or violence in gender-segregated restrooms. Trying to avoid these problems, about half of them experience a health problem such as a urinary tract or kidney infection. These students also tend to drop out of school because of harassment or become homeless because their parents reject them.

People say that they don’t know any transgender people, but more than two-thirds of all transgender people in the U.S. hide their gender or gender transition to avoid discrimination. The vast majority of transgender people are harassed at work; nearly half say they were not hired because of their gender identity; and one-quarter say they were fired because of who they were.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 02: Actress Nicole Maines (R) and Wayne Maines attend the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for GLAAD)

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 02: Actress Nicole Maines (R) and Wayne Maines attend the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for GLAAD)

An excellent book about the trauma of being transgender and conservative parents growing to understand this complex issue is Amy Ellis Nutt’s Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family. A conservative couple discover that one of the identical twin boys they adopt is trangender, and they grow to accept Nicole’s transition, to the point of supporting her through a lawsuit against Maine for equal rights at her school.

Nicole’s father, Wayne Maines, wrote the following in response to a vicious attack ad about transgender people from the Ted Cruz campaign after Donald said that transgender Caitlyn Jenner could use any of his buildings’ restrooms that she wants. Cruz spreads the myth that predatory men pretending to be women will be allowed to assault “your daughter” and “your wife” in women’s restrooms.

“Like many people, I have stayed out politics for the most part, being focused on raising my family, working hard, saving for retirement, and helping our country grow. But it is impossible to sit back and watch people not only make mistakes based on their unfounded fears, but use other groups as fodder for political gain at the expense of real peoples’ lives, in this case transgender people. My daughter is one of those people, and Mr. Cruz, you have put her in harm’s way with this ad, just like those in Houston last year and in North Carolina and other states this year. It has to stop.

“I will be honest. It was not long ago I had a hard time saying the word transgender, but watching my child suffer, watching grown men and women lose their perspective because they feared my child, forced me to dig deep into my core and address my fears, educate myself, and get to know more about the transgender community.

“Mr. Cruz, I would be happy to sit down with you and have a ‘non-politically correct’ conversation. Man to man, father to father and if you have the courage to do so, I may help you conquer this fear. I have witnessed young people and adults demonstrate more courage than you and I can fathom, courage that inflicted scars that can be avoided if we have the courage to change. As someone who wants to  lead of our nation, I imagine that is your goal, but for moment forget about politics and think closer to home. This is no game and you are playing with people’s lives.

“I hope that you never have to lay awake at night wondering if your child will be alive in the morning.  Not just one night, many nights.  I am worried about this election and the path you are taking. If anyone should be worried about his or her child in the bathroom it should me. I am worried about my daughter’s safety and her self esteem. I am worried that all of my family’s hard work raising strong and proud young Americans will be destroyed this fall.

“On a larger level, I am worried about a nation that could lose its way as it struggles to make progress for all. I am worried about leaders using fear and misinformation for political gain.  It is ok to ask questions, not understand something you have no experience with, or even be afraid, but keep an open mind. Let’s conquer this fear and get back to fixing our economy, strengthening our military, and helping our children obtain the tools they need to live full and happy lives.

“I left the Air Force in 1981 proud of my service because I believed in our President. President Reagan said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.’ I still believe what he said. But it is tempered by life experience. I have learned more about freedom watching people attack a community of Americans that just want live their lives in peace, work, and be with their loved ones.  They are not attempting to break down the American family; they are not trying to pretend to be someone they are not; they are not “confused.” They know who they are and what they stand for. I hope everyone running for President has the courage to dig deep and realize that our family values must continue to adapt to an ever-changing world.”

Maines said, “It is natural to fear things we do not understand. But how we react to those fears is critical.” You can take part in the movement to stop laws that put everyone at risk–both transgender people and everyone else perceived to be of the “wrong” gender that a bathroom.

 

Tell North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to overturn the law.

McCrory’s office phone number: (919) 814-2000

McCrory’s 24-hour “comment line’: (919) 814-2050

Write Gov. Pat McCrory and tell him that his new law is not “common sense.”

Tennessee’s new law allows counselors to deny services based on their “strongly held beliefs.” It is the only state in the country to invalidate the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics.  Tell Gov. Bill Haslam that he was wrong to sign this bill.

Across the nation, over 100 anti-LGBT bills are pending in 22 states. There is a way to stop this discrimination: adding federal nondiscrimination protections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through the Equality Act. Democratic House members are calling on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to schedule a hearing on the bill that was introduced last July. When Paul Ryan (R-WI) took over as Speaker of the House, he called on committees to “retake the lead in drafting all major legislation. If you know the issue, you should write the bill. Open up the process. Let people participate.” The Equality Act has over 210 co-sponsors in the House and Senate, including two Republicans. Three years ago, the Senate passed a bill that would have barred discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace, but the House never took it up. Tell your representative that you want this bill to go to the floor.

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April 29, 2016

Thanks to the Bathroom Police, No One Is Safe

Thank you, religious conservatives. You have now given police the right to drag women out of a woman’s bathroom. Here’s a video showing this happening. Oxford (AL) has passed a law allowing transgender people who use the “wrong” bathroom—in the city’s eyes—to be jailed. That was after North Carolina passed draconian laws, including the one keeping transgender people out of facilities that match their gender identities, and then got it signed in less than 12 hours in a special session. That may be fastest that legislators have ever moved.

When North Carolina lawmakers came back into session last Monday, police arrested 54 protesters. People should use the ballot box for their protests, common wisdom has sometimes decreed, but that’s close to impossible in North Carolina because the GOP passed laws to keep progressives from voting. Judge Thomas Schroeder supported the conservatives, eviscerating voting rights for the state’s residents. In his ruling, George W. Bush’s appointee found “little official discrimination to consider” and left in place one of the most regressive and restrictive voting laws in the country that disenfranchised 218,000 North Carolinians, about five percent of registered voters, in the recent primary.

Voter ID laws were enforced differently across the state, polling workers were untrained or overworked, and some voters weren’t allowed to cast provisional ballots. In Durham, the county board of elections had failed to record the correct location of precincts.    Schroeder’s ruling will certainly be appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, but a solution may be too late for the 2016 general election. Another problem for overturning the North Carolina bathroom law is the GOP gerrymandering of election districts after the Tea Party took over in the Democratic rout of 2010.

The new law eliminates a Charlotte ordinance that expanded protections for LGBT people, but it goes far beyond just “bathrooms.” No city or county can extend state laws in eradicating discrimination in the workplace and public accommodations. In addition, the minimum wage of $7.25, required by the federal government, cannot be increased anywhere in the state.

North Carolina lawmakers filed legislation Monday to repeal the state’s law, which, since its passage last month, but GOP legislators, in the majority, oppose this attempt. Lawsuits such as the ones filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal may have a better result as might written requests for the law’s repeal. Thus far, 180 businesses have joined to pressure Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislature, and a coalition of civil rights, faith and business leaders delivered more than 150,000 signatures to the governor’s office, urging a repeal of the law.

The danger of going to North Carolina and Mississippi which has passed a similar anti-LGBT law under the guise of “religious liberty” has traveled far and wide. The British Foreign Office has updated its travel advisories to caution LGBT travelers about travel in these two states because businesses may refuse service to anyone based on personal beliefs. Small businesses in North Carolina have already started losing business. Outfitter Bicycle Tours reports that inquiries about Asheville area bicycle tours are down by one third. The owner has changed his advertising on social media to tours in California, France, and Italy.

Four conferences in Raleigh which would have brought in $3.5 million have been canceled or scaled back. Cancellation of these conventions and concerts, started by Bruce Springsteen, hurt restaurants, hotels, and small businesses. Twelve groups have canceled events in Wake County, and another 31 are reconsidering their plans, costing the area $36 million. The travel industry brings the state about $21 billion each year.

Recruiting employees is now another problem for North Carolina companies. A big industry in the state is craft beer brewing, but owners fear that people experienced in beer making will be more attracted to California and Colorado after the new law was passed.

The economy several years ago boosted North Carolina, the first Southern state to invest heavily in public and secondary education. By the election of the Tea Party in 2010 and McCrory in 2012, the legislature had raised its Moody’s rating to a triple-A bond because it balanced the state’s books and filled up the rainy day fund. The new GOP regime wiped out services for the poor, hacking away at unemployment benefits and reducing per-pupil-spending by $500 while refusing to expand Medicaid.

toilet paperIn a move reminiscent of the “Flush Rush [Limbaugh]” boycott five years ago, a North Carolina-based advertising agency wants to send the new law down the toilet. Durham-based agency McKinney explained that they are making this action “safer for city plumbing” by printing the law “on rolls of toilet paper.”

After one month of the law, $500 million in corporate investment and tourism dollars are at risk, and as many as 1,000 high-paying jobs, including 400 from a PayPal expansion, have been lost. The National Basketball Association announced that the 2017 All-Star Game won’t be played in Charlotte unless the law is overturned. Google refuses more venture capital in the state, movie-making will be moved out of the state, and the furniture market, an economic cornerstone, will lose thousands of buyers.

Tracking these laws shows that influence from a well-funded network of lawyers called Alliance Defending Freedom is coordinating the cross-country discrimination. Based in Arizona, the group has more than 3,000 allied attorneys and offices around the world headed by Alan Sears, a former Justice Department official under President Ronald Reagan. ADF claims involvement in 47 Supreme Court victories, including the Boy Scouts win in banning LGBT people as troop leaders. It describes gay sex as “a distinct public health problem” and defended business owners who deny services to same-gender couples.

Over a year ago, ADF sent letters to school districts recommending a policy that requires transgender students to use private bathrooms or those that correspond with their birth sex. Many lawmakers mirror or copy ADF’s draft in their own bills. North Carolina is one of those states. So are Nevada and Minnesota. Kansas state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook said that they used the ADF model legislation. ADF also offers free legal representation to any district sued for blocking trans students from bathrooms of their choice. The group also sent letters to school administrators in five states, pushing them to overturn policies that would permit trans students to use facilities corresponding with their gender identities.

ADF’s website states that the group “refrains from participating in or promoting any type of legislation” and “does not lobby government officials.” Yet its lawyers have offered testimony and legal analysis to state legislatures in Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Colorado in favor of restrictive bathroom bills and against legislation that protect gay and transgender people from discrimination. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the first states to seriously consider a bathroom bill, back in 2013, was Arizona—where the ADF is headquartered.

A counter-backlash has evolved from individuals and organizations supporting the rights of transgender people. The Gill Foundation recently funded a study examining methods of changing voters’ minds about transgender people through door-to-door canvassing. Freedom for All Americans’ Transgender Freedom Project focuses on building support for transgender people and nondiscrimination laws that protect them. Organizations are collecting stories of transgender people and holding training sessions to use for media campaigns and rallying at statehouses. The Arcus Foundation and the NoVo Foundation have begun a multi-year $20 million project to increase visibility as well as the quality of life for transgender people globally.

Kendall BalentineKendall Balentine, resolved to live her retirement quietly in Deadwood (SD), spoke out after her state legislature passed a bill forcing transgender students into bathrooms wrong for their gender identities. The former Marine and deputy sheriff decided she would put herself into harm once again to fight for people without a voice. She has joined a movement to expand minority civil rights protections to transgender people.

Balentine met with Gov. Dennis Daugaard and told him that she compensated for her feminine feelings as a child by becoming an “uber male.” After her disciplinarian, Vietnam-veteran dad told her that her feelings about being a girl were unwelcome and unnatural, she dated many women, immersed herself in athletics, and volunteered for the riskiest assignments in the military and law enforcement. Her “wall of lies” made her “want to die.” She moved with her wife Pam to an isolated property near Mt. Rushmore and decided to transition. Her wife stayed with her, and her father accepted her. One week after Balentine talked with Daugaard, he vetoed the bill to discriminate against transgender people.

Tomorrow: How the new hate laws endanger the health and lives of transgender people.

April 28, 2016

I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:27 PM
Tags: , ,

Oregon is unique in its system of voting: everyone votes by mail without long lines, inaccessibility to the polls, discriminatory mandatory IDs, poll workers who turn people away, shortened hours for voting that may not mesh with voters working schedules, etc. Sometime before May 17, I will mark my ballot and put it in a convenient drop box. This year I’m marking the box beside Hillary Clinton’s name for president.

Bernie Sanders has many commendable attributes. He was 100 percent right when he said that Clinton needed competition, and he has changed the conversation surrounding what it means to be a Democrat and a progressive. For too many years, the Democratic party has moved to the right, largely from fear of failure at the polls. The Supreme Court’s support of big business, blatantly shown in Citizens United, has warped the campaign process and twisted politics into working for corporations instead of the people who elect lawmakers.

People who plan to vote for Sanders want what he offers—big business out of politics, free college tuition, single-payer insurance, $15 minimum wage, return of the middle class, carbon tax to slow down climate change, etc. I want the same thing, but I’m voting for Clinton because I think she has a better chance moving toward progressive success.

Sanders shows rigidity in his policy of “my way or the highway.” When George W. Bush had this approach, we hated it. Sanders focuses on one solution; Clinton looks for alternatives. He pushed her to support his one position on Social Security and then ridiculed her because she provided alternatives. Clinton looks for compromises; Sanders has said that compromise is important, but he refuses the middle ground.

Clinton knows that passing a $15 minimum wage for the entire country when the federal wage is currently $7.25 is impossible without increments, but Sanders ridicules her when she says that $12, a 40 percent increase, could be a beginning. Oregon, for example, discovered that even with a Democratic legislature and governor, the importance of a compromise to put the minimum wage at a sliding scale from $14.75 in the largest urban area to $12.50 in rural areas. We hate Congress because it won’t compromise; we need to accept it in a president.

Every speech that Sanders makes incorporates his complaint that Clinton takes money from Wall Street, but he never explains how she has supported Wall Street. As far back as 2007 Clinton introduced the American Home Ownership Preservation Act to try to save people from the housing bubble that most politicians refused to recognize. At the same time, she warned about the danger of derivatives and issued calls to eliminate the so-called carried interest loophole, roll back the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, and place limits on chief executives’ compensation. She still has plans to regulate Wall Street, but they are complicated. The slogan of “takes money from Wall Street” is easier as a sound bite.

Sanders has no plans on how to carry out his visionary, grandiose plans. In every Clinton town hall, she addresses questions from the audience in how to accomplish her plans, but Sanders has no suggestions beyond how important his ideas are. Yes, they are vital to the survival of 90 percent of people in the United States, but the problem is how to achieve them.

Sanders doesn’t do his homework. The Washington Post ran the headline “Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president,” but she didn’t say that. Yet Sanders leaped on the media’s translation of Clinton’s carefully parsed answer on The Morning Joe Show and accused Clinton of being unqualified—useful fodder for the GOP if Clinton should become the Democratic presidential candidate. Her conclusion was that “I think he hadn’t done his homework,” and Sanders proved this with his response. Clinton’s actual statements are here.     

Most recently, Sanders accused Clinton of an illegal fundraising scheme, using “proof” from a Washington Post article from two years earlier than doesn’t list any specific misdeeds. Yet he didn’t take his complaints to the FEC, the appropriate agency to investigate election wrongdoings, but instead contacted the DNC. Thirty minutes after his accusations, his campaign used the allegations in a new fundraising message. Now the issue has disappeared.

Early in the campaign, Sanders appeared reasonable, and the two were able to discuss issues in their debates. The more votes that Sanders got, the angrier he became. In the most recent debate, he consistently interrupted her after waving his hand in the air and failed to let her answer questions directed to her while ridiculing her, and repeating his standard one-issue position that she takes money from Wall Street. The Washington Post described Sanders with such terms as “caustic, angry and bitter” and “dripping sarcasm and ironic snark.” Unfortunately, it lowered the debate to the level of the Republicans’ cage fights.

Sanders admits that he is a one-issue candidate—income inequality. (Actually, two issues when one considers his positions with his concern about climate change.) He made that obvious after Donald Trump’s far-right statement about punishing women for having abortions by criticizing Trump’s comments as a distraction from the “serious issues” facing the country. Sanders didn’t address concerns from minorities until he was pushed into doing so, and, despite his high record in voting for women’s rights, has not shown himself a leader in this area. he also demonstrates ignorance about foreign affairs, something about which Clinton is well versed.

Someone else is always to blame for Sanders’ losing votes—the media ignores him, blacks support Clinton, closed primaries, the poor don’t vote, etc. He was highly critical about Clinton collecting super delegates early in the race, a technique that she learned after Barack Obama did the same thing in 2008. More recently, however, Sanders’ campaign said that he would try to get these delegates even if Clinton won the popular vote and the assigned delegates.

Sanders has a big problem with his “passionate” followers trolling women journalists who support Clinton and call them sexist terms. They also harass delegates, threatening them if they don’t vote for Sanders. A speaker at Sanders’ Manhattan rally lambasted “corporate Democratic whores.” Sanders isn’t responsible for his followers, but he also doesn’t criticize them.

The “political revolution” can’t happen without support at the polls, and some of his followers aren’t helping him there. In Wisconsin, he warned against electing a far-right state supreme court justice who applies her religious views to her judicial rulings and protects Gov. Scott Walker from any judicial problems, but 15 percent of voters for Sanders ignored everyone else on the ballot. Young people promised a revolution in 2008, and they allowed the Tea Party to take over two years later. These Sanders’ supporters couldn’t even be bothered to help with the revolution when they had their ballots in their hands.

While Sanders and others decry Clinton’s “honesty,” Politifact judges Clinton higher on the Truth-O-Meter. In True or Mostly True, Clinton has 95 ratings, and Sanders has 49.  Although more of Clinton’s statements have been rated than those from Sanders, she still comes out with higher ratings.

When I told a young woman I was voting for Clinton, she said, “But Clinton voted for DOMA (Defense of Marriage).” I pointed out that she was First Lady, not senator, when that passed and that women should not be blamed for what their husbands do. The woman said that it was still Clinton’s fault because she had a great deal of influence over her husband. During the Clinton administration, however, the First Lady was constantly criticized for being too liberal, a socialist when compared to her husband’s centrist agenda. She and her aides were known as “the Bolsheviks” by economists.

One problem I have with Clinton is her strong support of Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet Sanders has been very neutral until his supporters gave him the go-ahead to support Palestine. He was praised for not speaking at the AIPAC meeting, but he requested that he address the meeting via video link. AIPAC President Robert Cohen refused. As Nicholas Sawaya pointed out, “[Sanders] record on key issues in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice falls well short.”

When my ballot arrives, I’m marking it for Hillary Clinton. She’s careful, doesn’t jump to conclusions, and has a wealth of information to use in making decisions. She considers alternatives and doesn’t lose her temper. Her diplomacy is known throughout the world. She also stands for the same things that Sanders does, but she will be better at accomplishing these tasks. Forty-one senators have endorsed Clinton, showing her potential for working with Congress. Only one senator has endorsed Sanders. (A list of Clinton endorsements are here.) More of my reasons for voting for Clinton.

 

April 24, 2016

Conservatives Use God as Justification

About going back into politics, Marco Rubio, failed GOP presidential candidate, said, “We’ll see if God offers us another opportunity in the future.” Let’s hope that God has more sense than Rubio. Below are other lawmakers that God should turn down.

Answering the question about funding a defense for Oklahoma’s latest unconstitutional attack on women, state Rep. David Brumbaugh said that God will pay all the legal expenses as well as fixing the state’s disintegrating economy. The state has a $1.3 billion deficit. Last week, the state House passed SB1552 that revokes the license of any doctor who performs an abortion other than for women who have miscarriages or have endangered lives. If the Senate passes House amendments to the bill, which looks likely, and Gov. Mary Fallin signs the bill, which looks likely, women can’t even get a legal abortion within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy when 90 percent of these surgeries are performed. Brumbaugh compared passing this bill to the abolition of slavery, the Civil Rights Act, and the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is a place where religious conservatives go to pat themselves on the back because they are better than the rest of the people in the United States. It’s also a place where they plan to make everyone in the nation believe the same way that they do. Many of their positions will be found in The Federalist. George W. Carey explained that its readers “would agree with Clinton Rossiter that it stands with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution among the “sacred writings of American political history.” One of these authors of “sacred writings,” Henry Scanlon, published a piece explaining how women who share his views are “incredibly attractive,” whereas the women on the left are manly. In one paragraph of his 2,000 word piece, he writes:

“The young women who attend CPAC are spectacular. No kidding: What’s up with this concentration of incredibly attractive young, conservative women? It’s noticeable and remarkable. They are beautiful and stylish in the way French women often are, which is to say in their own way, not in a conforming or predictable way. They all look like the girl the high school quarterback wants to date, and they are confident, relaxed, and smart, joking amongst themselves.”

He has an explanation for this incredible beauty: daring to read Ayn Rand makes young women “the prettiest, smartest girls” because they have an inner confidence. Scanlon’s wife told him that it’s because these women don’t act like boys which is ugly and they are willing to take fashion risks like Parisian trendsetters. In addition, Scanlon thinks that women get wrinkles from being “politically correct.” In essence, conservative women are “freer” because they don’t have to think. And of course, because God favors registered Republicans. Now we know what religious Republicans are thinking about at CPAC.

In addition to ogling young women at CPAC, Republicans are writing letters in support of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and asking for leniency for the recently-convicted child molester. Among 40 letters of support for Hastert is one from Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority whip who helped make Hastert the speaker and wrote that he is a man of “strong faith” and “great integrity.” DeLay wrote:

“We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can.”

Dennis HastertWhile part of the movement to impeach President Bill Clinton over an extramarital affair between consenting adults, Hastert covered up Rep. Mark Foley’s inappropriate relationships with young Congressional male pages. Legislators in southern states are in a panic about molesters in their women’s bathrooms. Lawmakers, here’s what a child molester looks like. The sentencing for the man who was two heartbeats away from the presidency for eight years is this coming Wednesday. It is not for his molesting children but instead for a financial crime. (More about Hastert here.)

Many fundamentalist Christians, finding Donald Trump too liberal, are turning toward Ted Cruz as a presidential candidate in November. Their question now is whether he’s the kind of fundamentalist that they want. Cruz’ father, foreign policy adviser Jerry Boykin, PAC leader David Barton—and possibly Cruz himself—are “Seven Mountains Dominionists” who want to take over seven cultures: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government. Those who say that Cruz is just a “constitutionalist” see Dominionism as an “elastic” concept and avoid talking about the Dominionist influence on Cruz.

Every year since 1952, the President of the United States has been forced to sign a proclamation declaring the observation of the National Day of Prayer despite the 7th Circuit Court ruling that Congress’s law is unconstitutional. Alabama state Rep. Mack Butler wants to push religion into government ever farther with his proposal of a resolution demanding that the United States become a Christian nation banning abortion and returning to “traditional values.” His proposal follows the first “whereas” that “God has blessed America, where freedom exists for all, regardless of belief or creed.”

God wanted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to make a fortune off securities fraud, according to the man who’s charged with an alleged kickback deal in which he persuaded people to invest in a company. After his friends put $840,000 in Servergy, Inc., Paxton, who failed to tell them his connection to the company, got 100,000 shares of stock. Paxton claims that the shares were a gift from Servergy’s CEO, William Mapp, because Mapp told him the shares were a gift while they were eating at a Dairy Queen.

Texas has many links to Christianity. The state Board of Education has managed to insert fundamentalist Christianity into the textbooks that then infiltrate the United States, and the Board’s new leader doesn’t believe in science. The woman assigned to head the state’s Board of Education is a home schooler who doesn’t believe in science. Mary Lou Bruner, a woman running for the Board of Education, thinks that the Middle East is forcing Islam content into the textbooks by buying the books. She also has some other bizarre claims, including her accusation that President Obama is a gay prostitute. With a Masters of Education degree from East Texas State University, Bruner has worked as a teacher and counselor in Texas public schools for 36 years. Last November, the board approved about 90 social studies textbooks deemed inaccurate, biased, and politicized.

Almost a year ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a mental health bill on advice from Scientology lobbying. SB 359 would permit hospitals to detail potentially dangerous for several hours in order that they be evaluated. Scientology does not believe in mental illness and purports that the 9/11 attacks were spearheaded by Osama Bin Laden’s psychiatrist.

While engaged in child molesting, other crimes, demolition of the economy, sexism, and falsehoods through their attempts to put fundamentalist Christians into a secular government, Republicans move forward in their attempts to destroy women’s lives. South Dakota plans to be the third state after Arizona and Arkansas that forces doctors to lie about the pseudoscience that a pill will reverse abortions in progress. The theory is based on a physician’s anecdotal case report who tested something on about six patients who said they regretted swallowing the abortion pill. Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, said that doctors offering to undo medical abortions are “essentially testing an unproven, experimental protocol on pregnant women.” Now legislators with no medical training are forcing doctors to do just that in at least three states.

Cecile Richards, director of Planned Parenthood, said, “A woman voting for Ted Cruz is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.” I would say that her statement holds true for the vast majority of Republicans now running for office.

April 23, 2016

Oregon Media Has No Comment about Radioactive Leaks

Filed under: Environment — trp2011 @ 8:18 PM
Tags: ,

Hanford nuclear site, about half the size of Rhode Island, was built during World War II by DuPont as an experimental large-scale plutonium production reactor. GE took over after the war and then closed down most of the reactors within the next two decades. For almost 30 years, the U.S. government has tried to clean up the radioactive mess with little success. With two-thirds of the nation’s high-level radioactive waste by volume, the site remains the most contaminated nuclear site in the nation and has cost $2 billion a year for cleanup, one-third of fed’s national budget for this purpose in the entire country. Throughout the almost three decades of planned cleanup, the site continues to leak.

Hanford nuclear site_0

The most recent disaster was last Sunday when one of the 28 underground tanks holding radioactive materials leaked over eight inches of toxic waste between its inner and outer walls. That tank has been leaking for the past five years but never to that extent. Washington state’s Department of Ecology and the U.S. Department of Energy said that it wasn’t any problem, but former worker Mike Geffre, who first found that the tank was failing in 2011, disagrees.

“This is catastrophic. This is probably the biggest event ever to happen in tank farm history. The double shell tanks were supposed to be the savior of all saviors [to hold waste safely from people and the environment].”

The 2011 leak wasn’t acknowledged or announced for at least a year, and this time the government is saying that the rupture is “anticipated.” But the tank’s outer shell lacks an exhaust or filtration system to keep dangerous gases from polluting the air, and workers are ordered to wear full respiratory safety gear. The hazards “went up by a factor of 10,” according to Geffre, and employees weren’t warned that something like this might happen. Geffre said the government waited for a year to act on his warnings in 2011. Talking about the new leaks, he said, “It’s an example of a culture at Hanford of ‘We don’t have problems here. We’re doing just fine.’ Which is a total lie.”

No one knows if the three other double-shell tanks with the same design as the leaking tank are having the same problem with widening cracks—or if the government would reveal the problem because of the way that they hide the information five years ago. Columbia Riverkeepers, an Oregon-based advocacy organization, pointed out that the tanks, built almost 80 years ago weren’t made to hold waste for decades. The leaking tank is just one of 28 double-shell tanks. Hanford has a total of 177 underground tanks.

The original cracks in the compromised tank may have been enlarged by attempts to pump waste out of it. Pumping began three weeks ago after Washington state petitioned the federal government to do something about the damaged structure. Crews were removing waste from the tank because mixed radioactive and chemical waste had previously leaked into the secondary containment area. It’s possible that the pressure change has “blown out” the weakened wall, putting waste even closer to the nearby Columbia River.

In the same statement that the DOE released about “no indications that waste has reached the environment and … no threat to the public at this time,” the agency admitted that the tank is “too dangerous” to send workers to inspect the full scope of the damage. Further doubt may be generated by the lawsuit that workers filed earlier against the government to seek protection for workers at the Hanford site “from exposure to toxic vapors released from Hanford’s high-level nuclear waste tanks.” The lawsuit states poor management has caused some employees to suffer brain damage, nervous system disorders, and lung diseases resulting from the poor management of the facility. Problems continue, according to the lawsuit because “[officials] don’t have the monitoring equipment in place, they don’t have enough people to do the monitoring, and worst of all, Hanford officials have made it repeatedly clear that they don’t think there is a problem.”

Nuclear engineer Walter Tamasaitis worked for URS Corp for 44 years but was reassigned to a basement office in 2009 after he warned people about the safety design issues at Hanford. Federal investigators supported his concerns, but he was fired in 2013. It was a warning to anyone else who might complain about how the cleanup at Hanford was operated. Hanford has 8,000 workers.

The government had planned a waste treatment plant at Hanford by 2022, but late last year, they pushed its startup to 2039. The plan was to change 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge into solid glass. In 2014, a review showed that the partially built plant had 362 “significant design vulnerabilities,” including seals that could melt and ventilation systems that might not be able to contain radioactive gases. The original plan was to turn out six metric tons of vitrified high-level waste and 30 tons of vitrified low-level waste. At that rate, the job would be finished by 2059. Revised plans pushed the completion date to nearly the end of the 21st century. DOE proposed removing waste from single-shell tanks through 2024 and building new double-wall tanks—that are now failing.

The DOE may have expected the disaster, but removal work is on hold until the situation is evaluated and a plan created to recover the leaked material. The Hanford site, located on the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon, is only 230 miles for Portland (OR), but the media has reported nothing about the leaks. The Portland area has a population of almost 2.4 million people, almost 60 percent of Oregon’s population of 3.97 million.

The Oregonian, once the largest newspaper in the state of Oregon, has nothing to say about the current dangers at Hanford.

April 22, 2016

Earth Day 2016 – Keep What We Have, Make It Better

[Once again, thanks to Ann Hubard for the photographs, showing the benefits of Oregonians because we still have public land.]

Multinomah FallsEarth Day turned 46 today, and I went looking for some good news. These five items from Julia Whittey:

The huge drop of toxic PCBs and related contaminants in polar bears on the island of Svalbard shows that international agreements to ban PCBs are showing some success. As polar bears go, there go humans.

Wildlife preserves in Russia and China for highly rare Amur leopards show that the countries are working together to save endangered species.

Fog in WallowasForty individual projects and nine larger projects received almost one-half billion dollars since last November—the greatest amount of funding that it has provided. One is a proposal to protect at least 5 percent of Brazil’s ocean territory through marine protected areas, and another is a project to investigate the potential of creating ‘blue forest’ preserves in the ocean for the storage of carbon by mangrove and coral ecosystems.

Southern right whales, extinct from ancestral calving grounds off New Zealand for over a century, are finding their way home. Before the whaling industry, 30,000 whales lived in that area.

The  Arabian Oryx, thought to be extinct in the wild since 1973, has moved up to “vulnerable” since captive breeding efforts through Operation Oryx.

Ortho, a gigantic pesticide manufacturer, is stopping the use of neonicotinoids, known for killing honey bees. Europe banned these pesticides in 2013, and Ontario was the first North American region to ban them last year.

For the first time in a half century, greenhouse gas emissions are staying static while the economy grows.

For the first time in U.S. history, solar power increased more in generating capacity than natural gas. Over 29 percent of all new power capacity came from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in 2015, a 17 percent increase over 2014.

 

Mountain in WAArch Coal, one of the biggest in the U.S., will abandoned plans to build the biggest new coal mine in the U.S.,  the proposed Otter Creek coal mine, after Indigenous activists, ranchers, and landowners asked for prevention of permits. In Reno, no one showed up to bid at the federal oil and gas auctions. And in Oregon, the federal government denied an application for the proposed Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas terminal at Coos Bay. FERC said that there was no need for the project that takes fracked gas from Canada through a proposed pipeline before it is shipped out of the country.

Today’s Earth Day will also be known as the anniversary for the 170 world leaders who gathered at the UN to sign the Paris Agreement, bringing the nations together to tackle climate change. Countries have already been building programs to increase clean energy and stop the pollution. To take effect, 55 percent of the countries representing 55 percent of global emissions must ratify the deal. Both the U.S. and China, together representing 40 percent of global emissions, signed today.

An extra one: The earth’s protected areas cover eight million square miles of land and sea, over twice the size of Canada. Maps and charts since 1872 here.

Tom McCall PreserveUnfortunately, that number may shrink if the Republicans get their way. After the Bundy tribe threatened federal officials in Nevada a few years ago and occupied a bird sanctuary in Oregon last winter, more GOP legislators are talking about privatizing public land. If they don’t want to go that far, they want to log, drill, mine, bulldoze, and develop that lands available for everyone.

Federal land is used for camping, hiking, climbing, fishing, bird watching, rafting, bicycling, and just plain enjoying with over 600 million visits a year. In just 2011, federal lands provided two million jobs and $385 billion in economic development. National forests provide water—generally clean and pure—to 60 million people. Public land cuts down on pollution because it lacks industry and produces oxygen while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. I live next to the most beautiful beaches in the United States because they are not privately owned. Anyone can walk or run along the Pacific Ocean in Oregon, unlike in California which sells its beaches.

The land in the West has never been “private” land. The federal government took it from Native Americans, not the ranchers who claim that they should “take it back.” The Homestead Act gave away some of this land, but much of it was set aside as national forests and parks.

It’s not “we the people” who think that the public lands should be put into private hands; it’s the corporations and industries such as the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobile—the companies that own the GOP lawmakers. In their attempt to take over private lands, the Koch brothers directly funded the group that occupied an Oregon bird sanctuary earlier this year.

BeachThe move toward privatizing comes from federal government haters in Congress trying to turn federal lands over to the states because they would supposedly be the best to manage them. Of course, they would have to pay for the management, including paying for jobs, firefighting, roads, etc. Complaints about not having access to public land would vastly increase if these were managed by the states instead of the federal government. Many Western states don’t consider state lands to be “public” and thus make them off limits to recreation, trapping, and firewood cutting. Ranchers and farmers would lose grazing rights and federal water.

Former GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s top energy priority was to “work with Congress to ensure that states and tribes—and not the federal government—have the primary role in oversight of energy development within their borders.” He meant selling, transferring, or privatizing U.S. private lands and energy resources—and waive environmental protections. The RNC has officially endorsed efforts to force U.S. public lands to state ownership, and last year the Senate passed a budget proposal that would do just that. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) has a group of House members, the Federal Land Action Group, with the goal of determining “the best congressional action needed to return these [federal] lands back to the rightful owners.”  The Koch brothers’ conservative network is lobbying Western state legislatures to demand state ownership of national forests and other public lands. Their supporters are anti-government activists, white supremacists, militias, and other extremist groups whose ideas are dribbling into the Tea Party that some people consider “mainstream” instead of fringe groups.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is aligned with Cliven Bundy and the land grab movement. No longer a presidential candidate, he’ll still be in the U.S. Senate and will surely continue to push legislation for the loss of federal lands. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), proud of his connection with the conservative ALEC, is right up there with Paul and will remain as senator or be president. As Ohio governor, John Kasich opened state parks to oil and gas drilling before reversing his position three years later because the state lacked “the policies in place yet to properly do it.” In a little over a century, the GOP has changed from the conservation party of Teddy Roosevelt to the takeover party that gives only to corporations and the wealthy.

Then states will sell the land that the federal government “gives” them. New Mexico has sold over one-third of its original 13 million acres, Nevada has just 3,000 acres left from its 2.7 million, Idaho sold 1.2 million acres, and Colorado and Arizona each sold off 1.7 million acres.

Earth Day is a time to appreciate what we have and fight for keeping it—and making it better!

April 21, 2016

Hillary Clinton Faces More Media Censure

Hillary Clinton was declared the most untrustworthy of the presidential candidates two months ago and has received negative ratings in favorability in ten recent polls. That’s this year. Three years ago, when she stepped down from the position of Secretary of State, her approval rating was 69 percent, making her the most popular politician in the country and the second-most popular secretary of state since 1948. The year before, the Washington Post called on President Obama to replace VP Joe Biden with Clinton for his second presidential run.

In Quartz, Sady Doyle has a theory for why this happened:

“[Clinton’s] public approval plummets whenever she applies for a new position. Then it soars when she gets the job. The wild difference between the way we talk about Clinton when she campaigns and the way we talk about her when she’s in office can’t be explained as ordinary political mud-slinging. Rather, the predictable swings of public opinion reveal Americans’ continued prejudice against women caught in the act of asking for power.”

Karen Blumenthal’s Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History, written for teenagers over 15 years old, follows Clinton’s rise and fall throughout her lifetime, starting when she was a bright, competent, confident high school student who wanted to make the world a better place. At Wellesley, she made friends with one of the six black students in the school population of 400, and they became roommates. Her friendship with black activist Marian Wright Edelman led her to become an advocate for children. At the same time, she campaigned for candidates, changing her allegiance from the GOP as a “Goldwater Girl” to fighting for Democrats. In her twenties, she was a member of the House Judiciary Committee legal staff to work on the Nixon inquiry into Watergate.

Clinton’s marriage to Bill Clinton led her to massive ridicule from people in Arkansas, including Bill Clinton’s mother, for her clothing, hair, makeup, etc.—issues that men never face. She kept a job but maintained a low-key presence because of the disapproval. And she tried to change her appearance to satisfy the critics. The same ridicule came from politicians and pundits across the United States when she supported her husband in his campaign for president. Forced to give up her career while she was in the White House, she face further cruelty when she worked to improve conditions for people in the nation. Early in the first term, she and her husband faced five inquiries about the death of a close friend who killed himself because of the persecution he faced in Washington, D.C. The persecution continued as she faced criticism for not divorcing her philandering husband.

People told Hillary Clinton to be more open. She complied, and they heaped more derision on her. She became increasingly private, resulting in even more contempt. Nothing she did suited her critics. As she runs for president in 2016, both Republican candidates and her Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, talk about how much people dislike her. Sanders calls her a liar and unqualified to be president before his aides and consultants talk about how Sanders plans to take over the Democratic candidacy at the July convention because Clinton is unpopular.

Hillary Clinton opponents now realize that ridiculing her hair and dress might be seen as sexist so they complain about her “shrill” voice and ask that she smile more. Chris Matthews (Hardball), who I sometimes respect, recommended that Clinton select John Kasich (check out the last two blogs) for a vice-president if she wants to win.

The conservative media has attempted to dodge he belief that any treatment of Clinton is sexist. Instead, as Brian Birdnow claims, her “vaunted achievements in public life materialized because her now-estranged husband was going places, and she went along for the ride.” According to Birdnow, “the Clintons have been the beneficiaries of adoring media coverage beginning in 1991.” Blumenthal’s book records how hard Hillary Clinton worked before meeting Bill Clinton and since then. As for the “adoring media coverage,” it may have been so for Bill Clinton, but not for his hated wife, “Billary.” Birdnow wrote that “the critics cannot help that she sounds like a screeching harridan when she tries to give a political speech, or that her hoarse voice grates like fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.”

Sanders has given conservatives fuel against Clinton by his repetitive complaining that she took money for speeches on Wall Street. He has never come up with any ways in which she has personally benefited Wall Street, but his insinuation is enough to taint her. Sanders himself voted to deregulate Wall Street in 2000.

The GOP has further plans to shred Clinton’s reputation. Over six months ago, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) led Clinton through an 11-hour inquisition—at least the ninth time—into the death of four people at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi in 2012. Almost two years ago, Gowdy had said that his investigation would be completed by the end of 2015, but that wasn’t an election year. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy bragged that the purpose of the inquiry is to destroy Hillary Clinton.

Fox network Greta van Susteren wrote a year ago that “dragging the investigation into 2016 looks political” and that releasing the report right before the election “looks awful” and “sends a bad message about fairness.” If the report comes out in 2016, she wrote, “it is fair to draw an adverse inference against the Committee—an adverse inference of playing politics. . . . Whatever the findings are in this investigation—it will forever be plagued by allegations of unfairness, and politics if this investigation is dragged into 2016.”

Gowdy said then that “it’s not going to come out in the middle of 2016.” He recently announced that the Benghazi report will be released during this summer–the middle of 2016. Democrats on the committee aren’t allowed to see transcripts of witness interviews, and they won’t see the final report before it’s released either in July just before the Democratic convention or in September as the presidential campaign goes into full swing. Gowdy promises that the report will be “eye-opening.”

In a recent column, Dana Milbank pointed out one “eye-opening” event:

“Gregory Hicks, the U.S. diplomat in Libya who criticized the administration response, is now on detail from the State Department working as a legislative assistant to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) who previously said Hicks’s ‘shocking testimony’ confirmed a ‘Benghazi whitewash’ by the administration.”

Also eye-opening is the $6.5 million expenditure thus far in a probe that “quickly devolved into the mix of unfounded allegations, selective leaks and partisan sniping that characterized the preceding Benghazi investigation by Rep. Darrel Issa’s oversight panel.”

Gowdy swore transparency that never occurred. Sixteen months ago, he promised monthly hearings that didn’t happen. In its 700+ days, the committee had only four public hearings and only one since January 2015. At the same time, mysterious leaks, damaging and false, are fed to the press from GOP members. Remember? Democrats aren’t allowed to know what’s happening.

Gowdy has dragged out his committee “work” longer than investigations into 9/11, Watergate, and the JFK assassination. No male has ever been investigated in this manner despite their greater transgressions.

Milbank provided a background of the Benghazi investigation up to Clinton’s testimony in October.

Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of the acclaimed biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, said of Hillary Clinton, “I don’t think there is a First Lady who has been treated as rudely and meanly except for Eleanor Roosevelt. Both of these women boldly risked the scorn of “those threatened by the image of a woman carrying the fight for social justice into the public arena.” Karen Weaver, the mayor of Flint (MI) said about the water crisis that Hillary Clinton “has actually been the only candidate, whether we’re talking Democratic or Republican, to reach out and talk with us about, ‘What can I do? What kind of help do you need?’”

Hillary Clinton graduated high in her Yale Law School class and became partner in a top law firm through her own hard work. Throughout her life, she has worked hard and energetically, showing competence, intelligence, stamina, courage, and knowledge of the issues. In her current campaign, she demonstrates a consideration of alternatives leading to successful endings rather than latching on to only one solution. She has experience in working with countries across the world and has been highly praised for these accomplishments. Clinton understands that a plan is necessary to accomplish goals—universal health care, higher taxes for the wealthy, gun sensible laws, equal pay, reduction of income inequality, clean energy, etc. Just hoping that people will rise up isn’t a successful way to improve the lot of over 300 million people in 50 disparate states.

One question is how people would view Clinton today if the media and other politicians had not spent billions of dollars to trash her. Another is how they would treat her if she were a man. The miracle is that she is doing so well with all these forces against her.

April 20, 2016

John Kasich, Not ‘Mr. Nice Guy” or Moderate – Part Two

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 8:08 PM
Tags: , , ,

 

New York’s primary is finished, and Donald Trump was declared the winner at 9:01 EST, one minute after the polls closed. With the predicted 25 percent of the New York vote, John Kasich has still won only one state, and he’s sensitive about it. Asked if he is qualified to be the nominee if he’s won only one state by the Cleveland convention, Kasich claims that “there’s not ‘if’ in there.” The reporter politely presses him for an answer, and Kasich grabs the voice recorder out of the recorder’s hand and snaps, “What do you think?” The reporter calmly answers, “I think you should answer the question.” The video of the exchange is here.

Considering Kasich’s policies about women and blacks, it’s amazing that any of them vote for him. Three years ago, Kasich could have continued a federal waiver to not reinstate work requirements for the poor that would provide jobs so that they would keep welfare benefits. He kept the waiver in 16 of 88 counties—the rural areas with white populations that largely voted for him. The poor in the remaining 72 counties, including eight counties that hold 75 percent of black residents, lost their wavers. As soon as waiver expired, 134,000 people showed up at the food pantries.

In another policy change, Kasich cut the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program that provides in-home visits to poor women throughout their pregnancies and for the first two years after they give birth. Ohio ranks 45th nationally in infant mortality rate and has one of the highest rates of infant deaths for black mothers in the country. In the most recent GOP debate, Chuck Todd asked Kasich about Cleveland being one of the most segregated cities in the country, Ohio being the sixth worst state in which to raise a black child, and the $20,000 income gap between black and white families. Kasich said he didn’t know about these statistics but did respond to the issue of infant mortality. According to Kasich, the white community is doing much better, and “the [black] community itself is going to have to have a better partnership with all of us to begin to solve that problem.”

Kasich’s defunding health programs offered by Planned Parenthood shows another lack of concern for infant mortality. By pulling money from PP, Kasich has increased unplanned pregnancies and domestic violence, two causes of infant mortality, and decreases prenatal care. The 65 percent of his state’s population opposed to defunding Planned Parenthood didn’t stop Kasich from eliminating health care for thousands of residents. Most of the $1.3 million that Kasich denied Planned Parenthood in Ohio comes from the federal government.

Ohio is known throughout the nation for unchecked police brutality. Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland, John Crawford III near Dayton, and Sam Dubose in Cincinnati.

In the area of women’s reproductive rights, Ohio is a horror story. Last June, Cosmopolitan magazine ran the article “How Ohio Became One of the Worst States for Reproductive Rights in the Country,” and that’s hard to do in the United States! The state has a gag order on rape crisis counselors mentioning abortion, a “heartbeat bill” banning abortions after 20 weeks, a forced waiting period and counseling before an abortion giving alternatives to abortion, a “medical emergency” law to delay abortions even if a woman may die from continuing the pregnancy, and mandated court approval for minors getting abortions if they lack parental consent. Among Kasich’s 17 anti-abortion measures are banning abortions from public hospitals and drastically reducing the number of women’s clinics. Kasich funded so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” fake health clinics that provide false information about abortions such as it causes cancer, instead of real women’s clinics.

In 2012, Kasich appointed former Ohio Right to Life Executive Director Michael Gonidakis to the state medical board. Gonidakis admitted that he wanted the position to further his anti-choice, anti-woman agenda, including denying transfer agreements from abortion clinics to public hospitals. Clinics that perform abortions must look to privately funded hospitals which tend to be Catholic or otherwise Christian and will not sign transfer agreements. By late last year, over half of these clinics were forced to close. Kasich’s laws forced one woman to drive 300 miles to deliver her stillborn child because no doctors would perform an abortion on the woman at 22 weeks.

In addition to taking reproductive rights from women, Kasich consistently makes offensive sexist remarks. In Fairfax (VA), he praised women for their bravery in leaving their kitchens to help elect him. One woman responded, “I’ll come out to support you, but I won’t be coming out of the kitchen.” (One could ask why she would vote for him!) Later he gave the standard non-apology, saying he’s “more than happy to say, ‘I’m sorry’ if I offended somebody out there.” He finished by saying, “Everybody’s just got to relax.”

At the same meeting, a young nursing student asked, “Could you please tell me the economic and public health benefit of defunding an organization that has treated of four million people for STD services just in the past year?” He began by falsely claiming that Planned Parenthood had “discredited itself,” ignoring the “discredited” videos, the indicted leaders of the scam, and the absolution of any PP wrongdoing from Ohio’s Harris County grand jury. The bill defunding PP denies services like cancer screenings to over 50,000 Ohio women.  Kasich’s segue went to his claim of having “robust women’s health funding in Ohio” which led to the disastrous topic of high infant mortality.

Kasich not only thinks that his supporters had to come out of the kitchen to work for him but also believes that wives of politicians are “at home doing the laundry.” He made this comment while trying to give thanks for GOP candidates’ spouses, such as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s wives, and added that they are “at home taking care of the kids.”

Last November he asked a woman in Iowa, “Have you ever been on a diet?” He was trying to compare budgets to diets, but the use of the metaphor fell flat. When student paper columnist Kayla Solsbak at the University of Richmond raised her hand, he said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift concert tickets.” He didn’t even ask her what she wanted. Later she explained in her article that she went to see Kasich “because it’s my civic duty to be an informed voter. Please start treating me like one.”

Asked about the gender pay gap, Kasich responded to a woman, “Do you not have the skills to be able to compete?” Addressing spousal rape referenced in a disposition by Donald Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump, he said that “everyone should simply “move on. Talk about something else.” During a campaign event last week, a young woman, asked about Social Security. Kasich inquired, “Did somebody tell you to ask this question?” She said, “No. I think for myself.”

In what might be his most shocking example of misogyny, Kasich addressed a question about what he would do about the high rate of sexual assault on college campuses. He told the female questioner not to “go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.” He follows the conservative philosophy that assault victims are to blame for the crime, and the perpetrators have no responsibility. This attitude shows how he would govern if elected president.

Kasich’s tax plan decreases taxes for the wealthy by one-third and eliminates the estate on wealthiest 0.2 percent of taxpayers, lowing $246 billion in the next decade. He also wants to lower the tax rate on investments to 15 percent rather than reducing tax rates for wages. Seventy percent of the taxes saved in investments would go to the top 1 percent while the bottom 80 percent would get seven percent. Kasich also wants corporate taxes to be decreased by almost one-third.

Kasich wants to freeze all non-defense discretionary spending for eight years while boosting military spending by 17 percent. His solution to education, transportation, and job training is block grants which greatly reduce these. Winners: wealthy people, corporations, and military. Losers: veterans, students, disabled, poor, women, people suffering from disasters because of much less money for food, housing, education, health, job training—anything that provides opportunity and security for working families.

John Kasich doesn’t have the delegates going into the GOP convention, but he knows how much the Republican establishment hates Trump Cruz. His expectation is that all the delegates will rally around him by the second or third vote of the convention. Stranger things have happened.

April 19, 2016

John Kasich, Not ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ or Moderate – Part One

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 3:24 PM
Tags: ,

With a large number of delegates in New York, today’s vote there could be “make or break” for one or more of the presidential candidates. Polls put John Kasich at 25 percent because Ted Cruz, who polls at 16 percent, has proved so hateful to residents of New York City. Kasich has 144 delegates at this time, 66 of them from his home state in a winner-take-all, and is 20 percent on target to gain the necessary 1237 on July 18 when the GOP meetings in his city of Cleveland. By comparison, Donald Trump, with 756 delegates, is 91 percent on target and Cruz, with 544, is 57 percent.

Kasich has won one state and gotten zero delegates in another 24 contests. He gained a few delegates in another 11 contests. Only 15 contests remain after New York. Marco Rubio dropped out over a month ago, and he still has 173 delegates, more than Kasich. Candidates need to win at least eight states to be eligible for the first vote at the convention: Kasich is short seven of those states.

The GOP establishment is going crazy trying to figure out how to defeat Trump before this summer’s convention, using Cruz to kill Trump before dumping Cruz, and searching for a viable alternative to the original candidates. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said “no” so many times that he looks like he’s running—just as he said “no” to being Speaker. And Kasich, touted as a “moderate” and Mr. Nice Guy is making no progress. Meanwhile, Kasich is a bridegroom who stands before the minister at a wedding, just hoping that the groom will drop dead so that Kasich can snag the bride.

Kasich is the best choice if—horrors!—the Dems lose the upcoming election, right? He’s a moderate, right? Wrong!!! The man is anti-women, anti-union, anti-Social Security, anti-public schools, anti-LGBT, and anti-Obamacare, and pro-gun, pro-charter schools, pro-tax breaks for the wealthy, pro-privatization of prisons and schools, pro-fracking, and pro-banks. Plus he cares nothing for the climate: early on, he said that the climate might be changing, but “it doesn’t mean because you pursue a policy of being sensitive to the environment.”

His record as Ohio governor, helped by a $1 million donation from Fox’s Rupert Murdoch to the Republican Governor’s Association, shows how he would rule the United States:

Corporations: Kasich’s allegiance is to the corporation “persons.” Before his election he sold junk assets for the now-defunct Lehman Brothers investment bankers to Ohio’s public retirement system, especially the teacher’s pensions–$500 million of them. He refuses to tell how many millions he made while looting retirement funds. When Lehman Brothers collapsed in the Panic of 2008, he was managing director of its Ohio division.

Teachers: Immediately after he became governor, Kasich stopped any teacher salary increases based on seniority and gutted collective bargaining for 360,000 public union workers. The 1.3 million signatures to repeal the bill led to the loss of the anti-union law 61 percent to 39 percent. Kasich has so little respect for teachers that he said, “So if I were, not president, but if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges, where they sit together and worry about, ‘Woe is us.'” In a survey, 96 percent of Ohio teachers said they wouldn’t support John Kasich for president, and almost 80 percent of Republican educators rating his impact on state education as “extremely negative.”

Education: Kasich helped found the Koch brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which writes and promotes laws to suppress poor and minority voters. Part of ALEC’s guidelines is to destroy public education. Kasich cut more than $500,000 from public education while giving charter schools an increase of 27 percent, $57 million, greatly helping White Hat Management whose owner is a big Republican donor. The husband of Kasich’s campaign manager is David Hansen who resigned as director of charter school operations after he presented false data to the feds to win a $71 million grant to create more charter schools. Ohio has nearly 10 times as many failing charter schools, as many as high-performing schools, as it first reported to the U.S. Department of Education in its 2015 charter-school-expansion grant application. In fact, achievement in Ohio’s charter schools fell significantly below the state’s regular public schools. Before Kasich took office in 2011, Ohio ranked fifth in the nation in public education. Now it ranks 23rd.

Medicaid: Kasich is known for being a GOP governor accepting Medicaid from the Affordable Care Act, but his legislature passed a law last year requiring Medicaid recipients to pay for their coverage through a health-savings account by 2018. Fortunately, the federal government has to approve the law, but Kasich probably assumed that he would be president then.

Jobs: Under Kasich, Ohio became one of the two worst economics in the nation by 2013. Promising to create new jobs, Ohio found just 5,289 jobs in the first eight months of 2014. Despite all the jobs that could have come from building a train line that would restore passenger service among Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, he killed its possibility, and the $400 million already secured left the state. Columbus is the Western world’s largest capital city without passenger rail service.

Alternative Energy: Kasich signed a bill that froze the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards at their present levels for two years just six weeks after David Koch donated $12,155 to Kasich’s re-election campaign. The law could have cost $456 to implement while saving Ohio residents $1.03 billion.

Water: Toledo is suffering from toxic water, and Ohio permits radioactive fracking water dumped in the state from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. At the same time, he set up a fracktivist “enemies list” targeting environmentalists for harassment.

LGBT Rights: Kasich is 90 percent anti-LGBT in all areas, even objecting to “civil unions.” The Human Rights Campaign gave Kasich a 10 percent out of 100 percent rating for LGBT equality. Most of the time now he tries to avoid answering any questions about LGBT issues, but he slipped up when he responded to the new discriminatory law in North Carolina: “There is a legitimate concern for people being able to have their deeply-held religious beliefs…. If people would just calm down here, I think things would settle down…. If you feel as though somebody’s doing something wrong against you… can you just get over it? You know?”

Taxes: The rich do better in Ohio because of their 21-percent decrease in taxes while the state budget is balanced on the backs of local governments. Proceeds of the inheritance tax on the top 1 percent largely went to counties and municipalities; Kasich disappeared it. His goal is to completely eliminate Ohio’s income tax by 2016 and use the $2 billion “rainy day fund” erasing more services for education, prisons, sewage treatment facilities, deteriorating roads, disintegrating bridges—all formerly funded by the state income tax and inheritance taxes. His new system will increase taxes for seniors and disabled Ohioans by eliminating a homestead property tax exemption. In the meantime, local governments will have to raise property taxes by 12.5 percent to fund schools, again hitting seniors on fixed incomes.

Gerrymandering: Kasich and his legislature gerrymandered congressional districts to give three-fourths of House seats to the GOP with no competition. Kasich was re-elected partially because of Ohio’s Secretary of State’s decision that each of the state’s 88 counties would have only one early voting site. A county with over one million voters had the same number—one—as a county with 10,000 voters. Kasich also tried to remove the Libertarian Party from the ballot before a federal court blocked him.

Prisons: Kasich failed to further privatize prisons, but he did hire Aramark for prison food service, a company famous for serving maggots to prisoners. He also cut prison security staff in a rising prison population suffering from overcrowding and dangerous conditions.

In addition, Kasich has opposed the auto rescue that saved and created jobs in Ohio and vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He also wants to create a federal agency to promote “Judeo-Christian Western values” around the world.

Kasich tends to change his mind on more progressive issues, wanting to say what conservatives want to hear. He began his position on the president’s decision to appoint Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court by saying he could consider him as his own nominee. Kasich advocated showing Garland “respect” by granting him a meeting—until he didn’t. That was early Saturday. Later that day, he said he was merely being “polite.” Talking to reporters, he said, “He’s not gonna be my pick for the Supreme Court.” He also made a reference to the Second Amendment, indicating that the NRA had passed along their disapproval of Garland.

While Kasich is trying to appear friendly and compassionate by hugging them and telling them to take a widow to dinner, he has a long history of anger and irrational criticism. Pulled over in Ohio, he repeatedly called the police officer an “idiot.” He consistently blames Democrats, even at bill signings, and GOP allies are very careful around him. A few years ago, he said, “If you’re not on the bus, we will run over you with the bus. I’m not kidding.”

There’s so much to say about John Kasich that this is only Part One. Part Two will include his views on women, blacks, and taxes.

April 18, 2016

D.C. Pays Taxes with No Representation, Corporations Avoid Paying

Filed under: Income inequality,privatization — trp2011 @ 7:24 PM

Your income taxes are due today, April 18. What happened to the deadline of April 15, you might ask. The exact due date is connected to the legal holiday in Washington, D.C. commemorating the date that Abraham Lincoln freed 3,000 slaves in the city. This year, April 16 was a Saturday, making Friday the holiday. There was nobody there last Friday to take your money.

Washington, D.C. is a unique place in the United States because its government has no rights to spend the money it raises from local taxes or pass any laws without permission from Congress. The GOP, the same party who demands states’ rights (unless they don’t agree with their laws) and small government, strictly controls the capital city of the nation. With a bigger share of jobs in high tech except for Seattle and San Francisco, D.C. has a bigger economy per capita that those of 16 states. The share of federal funds that the District relies on to balance its budget is smaller than that of 30 states, meaning that it pays more in federal taxes than it receives. D.C. has a higher population that the states of almost 700,000, larger than either Wyoming or Vermont. Each of those two states has two senators and one representative in Congress who are allowed to vote, but the lone representative permitted from Washington, D.C. can vote on procedural matters and in congressional committees but not on the House floor. The capital has no representation in the Senate.

The city is not allowed to spend any money that it raises from taxes until Congress passes its budget. While the federal government drags its feet, D.C. frequently has to borrow money and then pay interest for funding that it already has. Congressional budget stalemates force D.C. to austerity measures, causing delays in hiring and finalizing contracts. Government shutdowns that the GOP occasionally force on the country weighs down the District’s bond ratings which also increases borrowing costs for major projects.

Before GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz decided to shut down federal agencies in 2013, Washington’s city officials set into motion a plan to financially disconnect D.C. Congress. They eliminated the city charter requirement that D.C. had to submit its budget to Congress for appropriation and unanimously adopted a budget autonomy amendment. In April 2012, D.C. voters overwhelmingly ratified the proposal that the District was not forced to wait for Congress to pass the federal budget to spend its own money and instead treat its plan as it does local legislation.

D.C. decided it will submit spending and laws to Congress for approval or rejection within 30 days. Both chambers must vote down the submissions before the president signs off, something that has happened only three times in the past 40 years. The budget autonomy amendment has been challenged in the courts, with mixed results. A U.S. District Court judge earlier ruled that the charter amendment was invalid, but D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian F. Holeman ruled last month in favor of the District.

Unlike previous years when the District has been forced to wait for Congress to approve its spending as part of the federal budget, the city plans to begin spending its money unless federal lawmakers act to stop it. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has called for the end of slavery for all 672,000 Washington, D.C. residents:

“One hundred and fifty-four years after President Lincoln abolished slavery in the District of Columbia, we remain at the mercy of those we did not elect to office. It is just not right, and we must stand together until our rights are recognized.”

She calls congressional control over non-voting U.S. citizens the country’s “biggest ongoing voting rights violation.” District license plates read “taxation without representation.” Citizens pay federal taxes but have no voice in how that money is spent. The GOP has blocked the capital from funding abortion coverage for low-income women, needle-exchange programs, and counting ballots on legalizing medical marijuana.

Last week, the new head of Washington’s Metro met behind closed doors with senators from Maryland and Virginia. The issue was safety issue for the transit system, funding for repairs, and an unexpected shutdown of the Metro last month. No one from D.C. was allowed at the meeting.

Bowser also calls for the District could be admitted to the union under the “Tennessee model.” The former federal territory became the 16th state with no ratification from the other states by approving a state constitution and a pledge to form a republic-style government.

The deadline for passing a budget in the House is April 15, but Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) couldn’t manage to get his caucus together. House members left last week leaving that bit of unfinished business. With no budget, the House can pass a “deeming” resolution, setting a top line spending number in place of a budget resolution and acting as if a budget has been passed.

Residents of Washington, D.C. are paying more than $1.6 billion in taxes today—perhaps more than that because politicians who live in D.C. register in their home states. Meanwhile major U.S. corporations—Apple, Citigroup, Microsoft, Pfizer—avoid paying $700 billion in taxes because they stashed $2.4 trillion in other countries. U.S. residents—including those in D.C.—pay more in taxes than Fortune 500 companies PG&E, State Street, Con Edison, Weyerhaeuser, Duke Energy, and Qualcomm combined.

One-tenth of $700 billion could pay ten years of universal preschool for every 4-year-old child in low and moderate income families. One-half of $700 billion could double the five-year budget for highway repair and mass transit. Nine million students could get two years of free tuition at community colleges during the next ten years for only 11 percent of $700 billion. At this time, corporations are persuading Congress to forgive the taxes when they bring the money back to the U.S. The last time they did this, described as “repatriation,” they were given a tax rate of 5.25 percent in 2004 with promises for new jobs and then reduced their workforces. Corporations spent the money on mergers and stock buybacks before setting up more real or dummy operations overseas where they could shelter more profits.

Nearly 20 percent of large U.S. corporations reporting a profit on their financial statements in 2012 paid nothing in U.S. corporate income taxes. GOP campaigns loudly announce that a 35-percent top on taxes for corporations is far too much, but big profitable companies pay an average of 14 percent of pretax income for federal taxes. That’s about what the upper middle class pays.

State taxes differ across the country, but the poorest 20 percent of people in the U.S. paid an average of 10.9 percent of their income in state and local taxes while the middle 20 percent of Americans paid 9.4 percent. The top 1 percent, meanwhile, pay only 5.4 percent of their income to state and local taxes.

About 44 percent of the taxes you paid today goes to past or current military spending. With 25 percent going to the Pentagon and current military spending, another 19 percent goes to “veterans’ benefits plus 80% of the interest on the debt.” The veterans’ benefits come from the GOP insistence on causing more wars. Over half the Pentagon funding goes to private contractors with the largest part to procurement of weapons and other goods.  A large chunk goes to service contractors that charge three times as much for their services in the military as for non-military services. This corporate profit is most likely sheltered overseas with little or no taxes coming to the United States.

Conservatives mourn the passing of the 1950s, a “golden age” for the country as far as they were concerned. With a growing economy, the country was wealthy, jobs paid more and lasted longer, and the U.S. was seen as a powerful nation. The U.S. was #1 in GDP per capita. President Dwight Eisenhower was behind the building of the interstate highways that linked almost all parts of the nation.

I’ll join these conservatives in being wistful about the time. In 1950 corporate taxes accounted for 30 percent of federal revenue, compared to less than seven percent in 2012. The top corporate tax rate was 52 percent in the 1950s compared to the current 35 percent. The top marginal tax rate was 92 percent during that time compared to 39.6 percent now. Sheltering money, however, means that the wealthiest people pay a much lower percentage than the bracket. History shows a correlation between higher top marginal tax rates and economic growth, dropping from 4 percent to 2 percent when the top rate shrank to about 35 percent.

Meanwhile, happy Tax Day. You’re most likely paying more than the wealthy and far more than corporations. And almost half of it will go to war.

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