Nel's New Day

July 20, 2016

GOP Platform Goes Back to 19th Century

Republicans love to talk about the importance of following the U.S. Constitution being the party of Lincoln. Judges and legislation are bound by the Constitution. This year the platform of the self-proclaimed party of Lincoln has seven pages—ten percent of the content—in a section called “A Rebirth of Constitutional Government” (aka revisionist constitutional theory).

This section of the GOP platform proclaims that government exists to protect “God-given, natural rights”; in any difference of opinion, God wins. One of these God-given “inalienable right that predates the Constitution” is “the right of individuals to keep and bear arms” as “a natural inalienable right that predates the Constitution.” Another God-given rights are “to devote resources to whatever cause or candidate one supports” (such as influencing elections), influence elections), to “set their own membership standards” free from anti-discrimination laws, and the “freedom of Americans to act in accordance with their religious beliefs” often when those beliefs call for defiance of the law, as examples of rights that are “not given to us by the government but are rights we inherently possess.”

The platform gets worse by completely invalidating  the U.S. Constitution. “The government cannot use subsequent amendments to limit First Amendment rights.” Thus the GOP repudiates the way that legislators and judges are bound by the Constitution. Republican position is that Congress cannot propose and states cannot ratify, for example, a constitutional amendment overruling the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Republican Party’s position is that this amendment would be null and void.

“Inalienable” means “impossible to take away or give up.” Therefore Republicans state that rights that they consider inalienable cannot be changed through constitutional process and no more amendments with the slightest connection to the First Amendment—religion, free speech, and financing—can be made.  Also “the unborn child” has an “inalienable right to life … which cannot be infringed.”

Stephen Rosenfeld has culled these excerpts from the 2016 GOP platform.

  1. Tax cuts for the rich.
  2. Bank deregulation.
  3. Elimination of consumer protection.
  4. Repeal of environmental laws.
  5. Shrinking unions and union labor.
  6. Privatization of federal railway service.
  7. Freezing or elimination of federal minimum wage.
  8. Cuts in government salaries and benefits.
  9. Appointment of only anti-choice Supreme Court justices.
  10. Appointment of only anti-LGBT and anti-Obamacare justices.
  11. Legalization of anti-LGBT discrimination.
  12. Christianity as a national religion.
  13. Greater campaign finance loopholes and dark money.
  14. Eliminate gun controls nationwide.
  15. An anti-choice constitutional amendment.
  16. Elimination of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
  17. Permission to states in closure of abortion clinics.
  18. Opposition to stem cell scientific research.
  19. Condemnation of executive branch policy making.
  20. Retention of the electoral college.
  21. Requirement of citizenship documents for voter registration.
  22. Drawing congressional districts without consideration of undocumented immigrants.
  23. No labeling of GMO ingredients in food products.
  24. Work requirements for welfare recipients and cuts in food stamps.
  25. More oil and gas drilling on U.S. shores.
  26. Completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  27. Expansion of fracking and burying nuclear waste.
  28. No tax on carbon products.
  29. Disregard of global climate change agreements.
  30. Privatization of Medicare.
  31. State administration of Medicaid.
  32. No increase of Social Security benefits by taxing the rich.
  33. Repeal of Obamacare.
  34. Monopoly control by internet service providers.
  35. English as the official U.S. language.
  36. No amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
  37. Wall along U.S./Mexico border to keep immigrants out.
  38. Government verification of citizenship of all workers.
  39. Penalties for cities giving sanctuary to migrants.
  40. Puerto Rico a state but not Washington DC.
  41. Support of traditional marriage but no other families.
  42. Privatization of government services to fight poverty.
  43. Mandatory bible study in public schools.
  44. Replacement of public schools with privatized options.
  45. Permission of abstinence-only approaches in sex education.
  46. Privatized student loans without lowering interest rates.
  47. Restoration of the death penalty.
  48. Dramatic increase in the Pentagon budget.
  49. Cancelation of Iran nuclear treaty and expansion of U.S. nuclear arsenal.
  50. Reaffirmation support for Israel and elimination of sanctions movement as anti-Semitic.

And that’s just a few of the issues covered in the platform. The GOP shows itself to be pro-rape, pro-gold standard, and pro-“right-to-work” while being anti-national parks and anti-mass transit.

The less rabid members of the Republican party who don’t follow all these positions blithely say that no one reads the platform or pays any attention. Yet the platform is the wish list of GOP leaders for Congress; it’s what they think they want to do to the United States. This platform calls for a drastic military buildup when a large percentage of taxes already goes to the Pentagon. This policy, combined with the massive tax cuts that they call for, follows the first term of George W. Bush which led to trillions of dollars in deficit and a recession that still hurts the nation’s economy.

In his speech tonight, GOP VP candidate, Mike Pence, called for the appointment of Supreme Court justices who will uphold the constitution, but the platform calls for justices who follow the GOP platform. During the convention, speakers consistently maintained that there is nothing progressive about the Democratic party, that it is the GOP that wants to move forward. In many ways, however, the platform resembles the conservative position of the mid-1800s except conservatives 150 years ago didn’t oppose abortion and immigration.

The theme of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) speech tonight is that “freedom matters.” He’s right, but his party’s platform wants to take away freedom for many people in the United States—no freedom for LGBT people to have the same rights as heterosexual people, no freedom for women to have reproductive health care, no freedom from poverty and illness, no freedom to have clean water and air, no freedom for equal internet use, no freedom for people with any skin color to travel safely wherever they want, no freedom for people other than strict “Christians.” In short, no freedom for all—just the entitled.

Of course, Cruz was booed at the end of his speech for not endorsing  Donald Trump after he said that people should not stay away from the election in the fall and that they should vote their conviction. Then Cruz’s wife, Heidi, was escorted from the floor for her own safety. So much for GOP unity. Or maybe the entire situation was a set-up so that Cruz would make Mike Pence, who followed Cruz, look good.

As far as the platform and Donald Trump, however, anyone with sense knows that Trump won’t even read it—and he certainly won’t pay any attention to it. He only wants a wall between the United States and Mexico.

July 13, 2016

GOP Platform—From the Party of Small Government

Filed under: Politics — trp2011 @ 10:14 PM
Tags: ,

The GOP is still working on its platform, but drafts of amendments already reveal its direction. Their stated philosophy is to shrink the government so much that it would fit in a bathtub, but the platform thus far shows that they can’t even fit it into an Olympic-size swimming pool. Here are highlights of the two planks, “America’s natural resources, energy and environment” and “Great American families, education, healthcare and criminal justice”:

  • Pornography is a “public health crisis.” The GOP claims that they want to make children safer, but the public health crisis of gun violence was not addressed.
  • Planned Parenthood is condemned, and Supreme Court vacancies are to be filled with “committed judicial conservatives, like the late Justice Antonin Scalia, so that the Court can begin to reverse the long line of liberal decisions—from Roe to Obergefell to the Obamacare cases.” The anti-abortion policy remains the same—no consideration for rape, incest, or the life of the pregnant woman.
  • The use of Title IX to support survivors of campus sexual assault and trans students is condemned. The GOP “salutes” the state governments who are suing the federal government in these areas.
  • Marriage should be between a man and woman. Despite a Supreme Court ruling which established the constitutional right of same-gender couples to marry, the GOP demands a “reversal whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.” The committee rejected an amendment to have a “thoughtful conversation” within the GOP on marriage equality from an openly-gay platform committee although DC delegate Rachel Hoff begged the committee members to “include me and people like me.” She was told that she could still join the party even if it wouldn’t recognize her marriage. Only 37 percent of people in the U.S. oppose same-gender marriage. The platform also calls for overturning the Supreme Court marriage decision through a constitutional amendment and appointing judges “who respect traditional family values.”
  • Children raised in “traditional” homes are “healthier.” The GOP ignores research that this statement is flat wrong. Outcomes for same-gender couple’s children—including health, emotional difficulties, and coping and learning behavior—is not different from those for children of different-gender couples. Although the GOP doesn’t give children the right to clean air and water, they “have a natural right to be raised in an intact biological family.”
  • Early childhood education should be prevented. A GOP committee member explained that it “inserts the state in the family relationship in the very early stages of a child’s life,” and conservatives have called pre-K education a “godless, socialistic” institution.
  • All government intervention in parenting is to be eliminated. Parents can discipline children any way they wish, including beatings, locking them in cellars, and raping them. Parents can withhold vaccines from children, kill them through religious beliefs, and refuse to educate them because End Times are coming. Texas already legalized parents’ right to deny children an education.
  • Food stamps are unconstitutional. Even for children.
  • Parents can force their LGBT children to undergo “conversion therapy.” Several states have passed laws preventing forced therapy to “take away the gay,” and President Obama has called for a ban on “conversion therapy.” Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that this practice, especially on young people, is not medically or ethically appropriate, instead causing great harm to the subject. (The committee entirely avoided the use of “LGBT” while endorsing discriminations against the community.)
  • State laws should limit which restrooms transgender people could use.
  • Education needs “a good understanding of the Bible.” The GOP wants students to have the option of taking biblical literature in public schools because this “good understanding” is “indispensable to the development of an educated citizenry.” The Bible should also be taught in public schools as American history to keep students from getting “the wrong version” of events. No reference was made to the other 10,000 religions of the world, many of them in the United States. One delegate said that churches should teach the Bible instead of schools, but that position lost. At least one-fourth of people in the U.S. are not Christians.
  • Coal is a “clean” form of energy. The platform uses the same language as coal’s lobby group, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). Burning coal creates a large quantity of heavy metals, pollution that endangers the environment and health.
  • Campaign contributions should be unlimited and concealed“[Republicans] support repeal of the remaining sections of McCain-Feingold, support either raising or repealing contribution limits, and oppose passage of the DISCLOSE Act or any similar legislation designed to vitiate the Supreme Court’s recent decisions protecting political speech in Wisconsin Right to Life v. Federal Election Commission and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.”
  • Military women should be barred from combat. 
  • A physical wall should be built along the entire U.S. border with Mexico.  
  • A ban on AR-15 assault rifles or restrictions on the size of ammunition magazine clips is not acceptable.  
  • People from “terror-sponsoring” countries should receive “special scrutiny” before entering the United States.
  • The power grid must be protected against magnetic pulse attacks. Some of the language in this declaration comes from fictional sources.
  • Congress should turn federal lands over to the states. That way states can sell all the land to private parties.
  • The United States should support Israel against Palestine. There should be “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel; any mention about a two-state solution between those two countries was removed from the platform.
  • GOP delegates should not be allowed from identified areas such as parts of California, Hawaii, Florida, Ohio or New York. Okay, this was a proposal that might not have been passed. But the other crazy positions above are up for consideration during the convention.

Republicans brag about being the party of Abraham Lincoln. The GOP of 150 years ago expanded federal power by funding the transcontinental railroad, state university system, and homesteading in the West while creating a national currency and protective tariff. After the Civil War, Republicans passed laws granting protections for blacks and advancing social justice. That party was left in the dust; now the GOP embraces racism, xenophobia, and misogyny in the name of freedom and liberty. It’s an oligarchic, theocratic party seeking apartheid and obsessed with sex.

The GOP platform of 1956 supported equal pay for equal work, union expansions, trust-busting and anti-monopoly laws, the United Nations, correction of inequities in taxation, and national parks. It also recommended desegregating the schools, expanding  a “soundly financed system of transportation,” strengthening Social Security, and providing a national health care plan. Achievements cited “the highest wages and the highest standard of living ever enjoyed by any nation.”

The GOP platform of 1956 bragged about raising wages “substantially” during Eisenhower’s first term as well as increasing the minimum wage and extending Social Security benefits. Its intent was to “protect the working standards of our people.” “[Since the 1952 platform] unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions.” Because the Republicans of 1956 considered “that the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of the people is as important as their economic health,” it had “created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as the first new Federal department in 40 years.”

In addition, “the Republican Party supports an immigration policy which is in keeping with the traditions of America in providing a haven for oppressed peoples, and which is based on equality of treatment, freedom from implications of discrimination between racial, nationality and religious groups, and flexible enough to conform to changing needs and conditions. That 1956 platform also stressed the importance of resources’ conservation across the United States.

“America does not prosper unless all Americans prosper,” and “government must have a heart as well as a head,” according to 1956 Republicans.  “We recommend to Congress the submission of a constitutional amendment providing equal rights for men and women.”

Much of the current platform has been directly crafted by Tony Perkins, the president of the conservative religious Family Research Council; Kris Kobach, Kansas AG who wrote restrictive voting legislation and open gun rights for the country; and other ultra conservatives.

“The Republican Party’s platform is taking a turn for the right,” reads the lead sentence from a Time article by Zeke Miller. It’s actually in the ditch. The “autopsy” purchased by the GOP after the presidential loss in 2012 recommended inclusion of women and minorities, but the proposed platform promotes hatred, racism, religious bigotry, and exclusion. As Republicans express a fear that a handful of Muslims in the U.S. (0.8 percent of the population) will force Sharia law on everyone, they project their far-right evangelical Christian law from the Old Testament on the entire population, no matter what religion they follow.

The platform is not a done deal. The 2,475 delegates will have a vote on it during the GOP convention. It may make for interesting television watching.

People reading about the GOP platform may say that nobody pays attention to party platforms. They do, however, reflect the thinking of the party leadership—and this platform is insane. That makes the GOP crazy.

March 14, 2016

GOP Platform—Not My Problem, No

Conservatives tend to care only for themselves. Asked about the importance of health care for all, they respond, “But then I can’t find a doctor.” According to conservatives, suffering for anyone else is “not my problem (NMP).” Questions showing how conservatives take no responsibility for anyone except for their personal, selfish needs with conservatives’ responses:

Birth Control: Do you know that birth control keeps women from having unwanted pregnancies? “NMP.”

Abortions: Do you understand that more unwanted pregnancies mean more abortions? “I’m pro-life.” What about women who have children they can’t afford? “NMP.”

Food Stamps: Do you realize that forcing women to have children they can’t afford means they need food stamps and Medicaid? “I cut spending on those because I’m fiscally responsible.” But that means children have no medical care and go hungry. “NMP.”

Crime: What about children growing up in poverty who turn to crime? “I live in a gated community so NMP.”

Minimum Wage: What about millions of people forced to live in poverty because of low wages even if they work 60 hours or more each week? “NMP.”

Food Stamps Again: What about people who have to rely on food stamps because of low wages? “I cut spending on those because I’m fiscally responsible–NMP.”

Immigration: Do you know that building a wall along the entire border would such up taxpayer money and not even work? “NMP.”

Families: Don’t you understand that deporting parents away from their children is cruel and inhumane. “NMP.”

Racism: What about the anti-Latino rhetoric increasing racial tensions and violence against innocent people? “NMP.”

“War on Drugs”: Do you understand that the so-called “war on drugs” does no good while it puts millions of people in prison for smoking a plant? “NMP.”

Racism Again: What about the effect of these laws to put Blacks in jail more often and for longer times than Whites? “NMP.”

Gang Violence: And what about the devastation of black communities that contributes to poverty and gang violence? “NMP.”

Health Care: Do you care that repealing Obamacare would talk health care away from over 20 million people? “NMP.”

Pre-existing Conditions: Are you aware that Obamacare stops insurance companies from denying health care to sick people? “NMP.” And kicking people off insurance if they get sick? “NMP.”

Pro-Life: How can you be pro-life and not care about people dying from lack of insurance. “NMP.”

Heroin: Do you realize that the white communities will have the same experiences because millions of Whites are using heroin? “That can’t be true. We need to change the laws (ala Koch brothers)! They aren’t criminals—they victims and deserve our compassion and help! Spare no expense!”

When the conservatives took over both congressional chambers 14 and a half months ago, they bragged that they were going to move the country forward. Instead, they’ve created more gridlock.  The policy of”not my problem” is accompanied by “hell, no!”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) promised a “Year of Ideas,” with legislation aimed at poverty and health care. The chamber has been in session for 154 of the 431 days since the GOP Congress took over. As in the past few years, legislation previously dominated by name changes for buildings can’t even manage that any more: nine GOP members fought naming a post office after national treasure and poet Maya Angelou, calling her a “communist sympathizer.” The House did manage to delay regulations for brick kilns.

The GOP Senate has 298 House-passed bills awaiting action while it spent four weeks on an energy efficiency bill that isn’t finished. Opioid legislation was passed with no funding, and individuals stalled bills for criminal justice reform and Flint’s water crisis—in this case GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz.  It also made the policy of NO quite clear by rejecting the constitutional directive to consider any nominee for the Supreme Court. President Obama came out with six possible appointments, three of them women. That number has been cut in half as conservatives trash professional careers.

One of those who disappeared is Jane Kelly, heartily endorsed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for the 8th Circuit Court. Grassley described Kelly, unanimously confirmed for her present position in 2013, as “a forthright woman of high integrity and honest character” with an “exceptionally keen intellect.” That was before an ad funded by the conservative Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) smeared her for defending constitutional rights guaranteeing all people accused of a crime “the assistance of counsel for his defense.” A public defender in 2005, Kelly represented Casey Frederiksen, on child pornographer who was later convicted of killing a five-year-old girl. Although Kelly did not defend Frederiksen for this murder, the ad uses this murder to inflame people.

JCN began a Judicial Confirmation Network during the Bush administration to help confirm George W.’s nominees. The name changed in 2010 to prevent President Obama’s nominees after the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. It has a seven-figure advertising budget to keep Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and vulnerable senators up for election from allowing a nominee to be considered as well as a six-figure campaign targeting Democrats. JCN has also hired a team of ten researchers from America Rising to locate information keeping any nominees from going to the Senate.

Not satisfied with its continuation of congressional malfunction and trying to wreak the same for the Supreme Court, Congress has decided to ignore the country’s budget—the first time since the system began in 1974. This after bitterly complaining about Democratic inaction several years ago. Both the House and the Senate have decided that they will not have hearings on the president’s budget or allow administration officials to testify about it. This decision came before they even saw any budget. This stupidity follows the 14-month refusal to act on a nominee to head up the Treasury Department’s terrorism section. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chair of the Banking Committee, explained the reason for the wait: he faced a primary challenge and couldn’t approve any Obama nominee.

The NMP and NO economic stagnation policies for 99 percent of people in the U.S. have led to widespread poverty and misery. It’s the conservative “me me me” philosophy that trashes long term greater good for short term personal profit. Now the establishment Republicans can’t understand why Donald Trump is in the lead. The word “demagogue” is freely tossed around—even applied to President Obama. Users of this term need to consult their dictionaries: it refers to “a political leader who tries to get support by making false claims and promises and using arguments based on emotion rather than reason, a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.”

GOP consultant Alex Castellanos may have said it best:

“If our self-indulgent Republican party establishment had really wanted to prevent a takeover of the GOP, they should not have gorged on political power while they failed to do anything to prevent the decline of the country. Our leaders could have led. They could have done more than say ‘no’ to Democrats while offering no alternative.”

President Obama followed up this analysis when by connecting the Trump phenomenon to “a notion that everything I do is to be opposed; that cooperation or compromise somehow is a betrayal.” This, he said, made “an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive.” Tomorrow will show how much Trump is thriving when five states hold their primaries. If he does, the GOP will be—well deservedly—suffering.

trumpprotest-missouri2This is what happens to a non-violent protester at a Trump rally. And it may get much worse. Trump supporters have called for a “militia” supposedly to protect voters against so-called “violent far-left agitators.” “The Lion’s Guard” calls on people to “provide security protection to innocent people who are subject to harassment and assault by Far-left agitators “ and be “willing to forcefully protect people if need be.” Members are already asking for “uniform suggestions.”

While Trump invites violence, he calls for pledges.  As Saturday, he told his audience to repeat after him:

“I do solemnly swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there are hurricanes or whatever, will vote on or before the 12thfor Donald J. Trump for president.”

He then promised that “bad things” would happen to them if they broke their pledge.

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Donald Trump’s campaign is reminiscent of Germany in the 1930s as he asks for violence and demands people to swear that they willl vote for him. All this came from the GOP that decided on a platform of NMP and NO.

 

November 10, 2012

GOP Needs to Look Back to 1956 Platform

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:25 PM
Tags: ,

The latest excuse for Mitt Romney’s loss: President Obama was too hard on him. The entire GOP has accepted Romney’s lies and gone into deep denial about the falsehoods of Romney’s advertising and his debate statements. The president should complain about Romney’s mendacity during the campaign.

Business facts for example. During the last four years, the DOW increased from 8,000 to 13,000, and the NASDAQ doubled. The president cut taxes for small businesses, including the $200 billion in tax relief. Corporate profits are at their all-time high. Federal taxes from corporations fell to 12.1 percent of profits, far below the 25.6 percent average between 1987 and 2008. Small businesses with fewer than 25 works and average wages of less than $50,000 receive tax credits to provide health coverage for workers. Mandated state health insurance exchanges starting in 2014 allow small businesses to buy coverage at a lower cost.

If the GOP wants any chance of winning, they might consider reinstating their own platform from 1956. It supports equal pay for equal work, expanded unions, trust-busting and anti-monopoly laws, the United Nations, correction of inequities in taxation, and national parks. At that time the GOP wanted to desegregate the schools, expand a “soundly financed system of transportation,” strengthen Social Security, and provide a national health care plan. In their 1956 platform, the Republicans “endorse the present policy of freedom for the Federal Reserve System to combat both inflation and deflation by wise fiscal policy.”

In the 1956 platform, Republicans wrote about Dwight Eisenhower’s re-achievements during his first term—“the highest wages and the highest standard of living ever enjoyed by any nation.” The GOP platform bragged about raising wages “substantially” during Eisenhower’s first term as well as increasing the minimum wage and extending Social Security benefits. Other virtues were to “protect the working standards of our people.” In addition, “[Since the 1952 platform] unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions.”

The GOP was so proud of these actions that the platform aimed to “stimulate improved job safety of our workers” and “improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system.” A goal was to “revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public.” Because the Republicans of 1956 considered “that the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of the people is as important as their economic health,” it had “created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as the first new Federal department in 40 years.”

“The Republican Party supports an immigration policy which is in keeping with the traditions of America in providing a haven for oppressed peoples, and which is based on equality of treatment, freedom from implications of discrimination between racial, nationality and religious groups, and flexible enough to conform to changing needs and conditions,” according to the 1956 GOP platform. It also stressed the important of resources’ conservation across the United States.

“America does not prosper unless all Americans prosper,” and “government must have a heart as well as a head.” And finally, “we recommend to Congress the submission of a constitutional amendment providing equal rights for men and women.”

Compare these ideas to the current GOP platform that wants to make English the official language, curtail marriage equality, put more people in prison, reduce benefits to people, consider returning the dollar to the gold standard, keep the U.S.-controlled Mariana Islands from having any minimum wages, and repeal the 16th Amendment because it allows federal taxes. The current GOP platform also supports a “personhood” amendment that would convey full rights to a human fertilized egg.

Republican candidates also want to eradicate the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; diminish the area of national parks; ignore equal pay; reduce the minimum wage; and eliminate unions. If the GOP were in the majority, they would get rid of national health care, Social Security, welfare, regulations to protect workers, and any financing for the infrastructure.

The equal rights amendment isn’t even a consideration now.

As Marc Fisher wrote in The Washington Post:

“The Republican Party, viewed through its quadrennial platform documents, is consistently business-oriented and committed to a strong defense, but has morphed over the past half-century from a socially moderate, environmentally progressive and fiscally cautious group to a conservative party that is suspicious of government, allied against abortion and motivated by faith.”

Yet the “Republican’s” don’t understand why everyone doesn’t flock to their policies. Even reasonable members of their own party, such as David Frum, can’t convince them that they have lost the right to call themselves “conservatives.” The GOP destroys, not conserves.

The United States has moved so far to the right that many Democrats don’t follow the ideas of the 1956 GOP platform.

September 1, 2012

GOP Convention 2012 – The Platform

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:46 PM
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The GOP presidential election is over for another four years. Mitt Romney has dropped by Louisiana to visit the disasters from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac but failed to tell the suffering people that the Republicans didn’t want to help them. Chris Matthews of MSNBC got into a heated argument (what RNC Chair Reince Priebus would call hysterical) with delegates which they started by calling him an asshole. Other than that, there’s a curious lack of energy about the Republican convention on the Internet except for dialog about Clint Eastwood’s performance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 29, 2018

DDT: Week 92, Part II – Jamal Khashoggi, GOP’s Promotion of Violence

The tragic events in the U.S. have taken front and center over the vicious murder of U.S. resident and WaPo reporter Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabians in their Turkish embassy, but the Saudis continue to contrive a number of explanations for the horrific event since October 2, 2018.

Robbie Gramer, Diplomacy/National Security Reporter, tweeted a “tongue-in-cheek” sequence of events listing Saudi’s “official” positions since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi embassy in Turkey to get papers so that he could marry his fiancé:

  • He’s not dead; he left the consulate; we have evidence.
  • OK, he has disappeared.
  • OK, he may be dead.
  • OK, he’s dead but we didn’t do it.
  • OK, he’s dead, but it was a rogue group who worked for us.
  • OK he’s dead and we did it, but it was only because a 1 vs. 15 fight broke out.

That tweet is ten days old, and more has happened since then:

  • OK, so we thoroughly cleaned and painted the embassy, but we’re tidy.
  • OK, one of the killers dressed up like him and wandered the streets to confuse people.
  • OK, it was premeditated, but rogue officials did it.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keeps trying to cover up what he called a “cover-up” while Jared Kushner orchestrates DDT’s responses to the innocent man’s torture, dismembering, and murder.

Other events since Gramer’s tweet:

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam (MBS) called his BFF Jared Kusher to ask, “Why the outrage?”
  • Turkish police found an abandoned Saudi consulate car in Istanbul.
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin uncanceled his attendance at an economic conference in Saudi so that he could hobnob with MBS.
  • Foreign investors sold off $4 billion from the already faltering Saudi stock market, causing it to drop five percent before it slightly rose today.

Both Canada and France plan to continue their arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and DDT continued to insist on the sales that must be approved by Congress. He has kept escalating the number of jobs for his yet non-existent arms deal—from 40,000 six months ago to over one million jobs now. DDT fabricated over one million jobs in an industry that currently has 355,000 jobs, 0.5 percent of the total U.S. labor force if the number includes every job connected to the sale or production of airplanes, tanks, bombs, and services for the entire U.S. military. The Saudis have signed commitments for only $14.5 billion in U.S. weapons, not $110 billion, since DDT was inaugurated, but no contracts have been signed. Congress may pass the sales, but the jobs won’t last: Saudi Arabia plans to start manufacturing its own arms. The U.S. won’t get Saudi money, but DDT and his businesses will.

In a piece called “It Takes a Village to Make a Hate Crime,” Dan Doubet wrote about the events leading up to the slaughter of innocent people at a place of worship last weekend. The suspect gave his reasons which were directly related to the GOP and right-wing hysterical conspiracy theories about invasion from poor people, mostly women and children, fleeing the violence of Honduras.

  • The GOP Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate, Scott Wagner, called George Soros a “Hungarian Jew” who has a “hatred for America” and a menacing conspirator in his opponent’s reelection bid.
  • Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) reiterated the Soros’ myth as a “fact” on Sunday’s Meet the Press, and host Chuck Todd not only failed to correct his lie but also compared it to the Democrat’s factual statements about the Koch brothers.
  • Meghan McCain, the daughter of former POW prisoner and Arizona senator, compared the bombs sent to a dozen U.S. leaders to Republicans being “heckled at restaurants.”
  • Kellyanne Conway, DDT’s counselor, blamed “antireligiosity” for the killing in the synagogue because late-night commedians are “making fun of people who expresses[sic] religion.” She compared this hate crime toward Jews to the hate crime toward blacks in a South Carolina, also calling it anti-faith. No one on Fox & Friends questioned her analysis of a hate crime toward a specific religious or ethnic group. (Her husband, George Conway, tweeted a quote from a WaPo op-ed by Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter: “This president will never offer comfort, compassion or empathy to a grieving nation. It’s not in him. When questioned after a tragedy, he will always be glib and inappropriate. So I have a wild suggestion: Let’s stop asking him. His words are only salt in our wounds.”
  • Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that DDT is merely “showing contrast.”
  • DDT continues to blame the media and uses it as an excuse for not limiting his violent language:

“I’d have a much different tone frankly if the press was evenhanded. If the press was fair, I’d have a much different tone all the time. But I’m fighting the media, I’m fighting – the media is not being honest and I’m fighting that lack of honesty so I have to have that tone. Otherwise I’ll never get my points across, we’ll never get what we have to get across, and we are making America great again.”

Conservative Max Boot describes the “tone” that DDT continues to use that brings out violence in his followers:

“Trump calls Democrats ‘evil’ and ‘crazy.’ He accuses them of being ‘treasonous’ and ‘un-American.’ He claims they are in league with MS-13 gang members. He says they are trying to open our borders to criminals and to turn America into Venezuela—a bankrupt socialist dictatorship. He denounces the media as ‘the enemy of the people.’ He applauds a congressman who assaulted a reporter and calls for his political opponent to be locked up. He singles out minorities such as Waters for opprobrium, and he promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that hold George Soros responsible for everything from the Central American caravan to protests against Brett M. Kavanaugh.

“When Trump talks about ‘globalists’” the far right hears ‘Jews.’ When Trump says there were ‘fine people’ on both sides in Charlottesville, the far right hears official approval….

“And Trump continues his incendiary rhetoric even after the tragic consequences have become clear. On Friday, after a pro forma denunciation of political violence, Trump laughed as a group of black conservatives at the White House chanted ‘Fake News!’ He echoed their chants of ‘Lock him up!’ about Soros. Hours later, he presided over a rally in Charlotte, where supporters chanted ‘CNN sucks.’ Asked by reporters whether he would tone down his hateful rhetoric, he defiantly replied, ‘I could really tone it up.’ Asked if he bore any responsibility for what is happening, he answered, ‘There’s no blame. There’s no anything.’”

One GOP congressional members admits the GOP connection to white supremacy. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), known for his bigotry and enamored with Austria’s far-right party founded by a former Nazi SS officer, said:

“If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans.”

The former leader of this neo-Nazi party called “Freedom Party,” Heinz-Christian Strache, was forced to resign after the discovery that he led a fraternity using a songbook joking about murdering Jewish people. King, who also endorsed a Toronto mayoral candidate who promoted a book calling for the “elimination” of Jewish people, is expected to win his upcoming election for the ninth time although his conservative newspaper has endorsed his opponent for the first time. The Sioux City Journal wrote that King “holds up this district to ridicule.”

The uncle of DDT’s anti-immigrant strategist Stephen Miller, retired neuropsychologist Dr. David Glosser, again repudiated his nephew’s practices:  “It is absolutely unacceptable to utilize hatred, bigotry to advance your political ends. This is a shallow, shabby expression of ambition. It’s poisonous to the country, destructive to society, and a complete repudiation of your own background and your own past.”

Miller grew up in a Jewish family. His mother’s family escaped the anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia during the 1900s when they immigrated to the United States.

Over 35,000 people from Pittsburgh signed an open letter to DDT asking him to not come to the city until he denounced white nationalism and stops targeting minorities. Yet DDT insisted on going to the city tomorrow as the funerals of the 11 slaughtered people begin. Pittsburgh’s mayor asked DDT to come later because of sensitivity issues and the lack of security resources for both him and the people attending the funerals, but DDT ignored all these requests. He plans to go where and when he’s not welcome.

DDT continued to attack three recipients of the pipe bombs in his rallies since the explosives were sent. When asked about toning down his rhetoric, he said, “Rallies are meant to be fun” and that “You have to go on with your lives.”

Even Fox network is tired of his attacking a caravan far away that may never get to the border. In response to adding 5,200 military members on the Mexico border by the end of the week with more in the future in addition to the 2,000 National Guard members, Shep Smith accused DDT of exploiting the people fleeing violence for political gain in the election eight days away.

“Tomorrow the migrants, according to Fox News reporting, are more than two months away, if any of them actually come here. But tomorrow is one week before the midterm election, which is what all of this is about. There is no invasion. No one’s coming to get you. There’s nothing at all to worry about.”

DDT displays his insensitivity, his promotion of killing by covering for Saudi Arabia, and his inciting violence, for example today tweeting that the media is “the true Enemy of the People” and attacking opponents. He won’t stop.

May 14, 2016

How Far Will the GOP Go?

Republicans are going crazy after “the people” spoke and chose a candidate that they—and the majority of people in the United States—consider unsuitable. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) met with other GOP legislators and presumptive GOP heir Donald Trump to lay down the law. Trump appeared to back down on all the backing down that he had done during the past week, and Ryan, who foolishly believes that he can control a loose cannon, found him “warm and generous”—although not enough to endorse him. Other Republicans are going off on their own crazy ways.

Ryan’s governor, Scott Walker, blames the state’s deferment of $101 million in debt on President Obama, costing taxpayers at least $2.3 million in just interest plus tens of millions more. Wisconsin has the money, but Walker put it into the general fund for any shortfalls. The president’s economy has added jobs every month for six years, but Walker’s failed policies badly hurt Wisconsin. Yet Walker’s rainy day fund has $280 million thanks to the president’s gains in the stock and job market. His reason for looking poor is to make future budget cuts to use the Koch brothers’ “starve the beast” government strategy.

Some of the GOP craziness is ongoing. The Platform Committee of the Texas GOP is voting next Wednesday on an “independence” resolution. Then Gov. Rick Perry hinted that Texas might separate itself from the “United States,” but this vote will be the first action in its 171-year history about a decision to make the “state” an independent nation. With ten county chapters supporting the resolution, the Texas Nationalist Movement seems to be moving toward the political main stream from a fringe group.

In the GOP’s effort to “Benghazi” Hillary Clinton, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) is working with Fox host Adam Housley to find the fake witnesses swearing that military assets could have saved the lives of four people at the diplomatic compound almost four years ago. Fox has no evidence, but Gowdy wants these non-existent people for his committee. Housley is known for finding Dylan Davies who claimed that he scaled the wall on the night of the attack and engaged combat with the terrorists—before Davies admitted he lied.

Randy BarnettRandy Barnett is blaming John Robert for Donald Trump’s popularity because of Robert’s vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act. He claims:

“Roberts increased cynicism and anger at play-by-the-rules conservatives and decreased respect for institutions across the board.”

Barnett’s article in highly conservative The Federalist is based on the premises that John Roberts knows that the health care law violates the constitution but he pretends that it doesn’t because of his belief that courts should not overturn law passed by majorities. The argument overlooks Roberts’ deciding votes that gutted the Voting Rights Act, campaign finance law, and gun control legislation—and other decisions. Somehow, however, Barnett has convinced himself that the Trump supporters vote for the businessman because of a judicial review. This man who teaches lawyers at Georgetown University has even crazier ideas—so far right that the John Birch society doesn’t agree with them.

A recent GOP fit (they have so many!) comes from a report claiming that Facebook suppresses conservative articles in its Trending Topics feed. There is no support for the allegations from former Facebook workers, and Republicans have never expressed any concern that “fair and unbalanced” Fox is anything but. The RN accuses Facebook of “censoring” the right and using its power “to silence view points and stories that don’t fit someone else’s agenda.” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has declared that he “wants to haul Facebook employees before Congress.” He wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with the demand that Trending Topics employees brief the Commerce Committee by May 24.

Despite all the vacation days and the health crisis of the Zika virus moving through the southern states, GOP finds that “Facebook hearings are a matter of urgent national interest.” Even if someone could find support for allegations, the question begs congressional oversight for a private social-media company. Thune now worries about Facebook’s integrity whereas his opposition to net neutrality declaimed that any political interference in Internet operation is unacceptable. In 2007, during a fight against the “Fairness Doctrine,” Thune argued:

“I know the hair stands up on the back of my neck when I hear government officials offering to regulate the news media and talk radio to ensure fairness. I think most Americans have the same reaction. Giving power to a few to regulate fairness in the media is a recipe for disaster on the scale that George Orwell so aptly envisioned.”

In avoiding a consideration of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Republican congressional members decided that the last elected year of the president’s four terms is a “lame-duck session,” but they are considering a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the real “lame-duck session” between the general election and the changing of the guard at the end of December. Only three trade-related bills have been voted on in a lame duck: 1974, 1994, and 2006.

TPP is a really bad idea: extending drug company monopolies over their products, undermining environmental and labor regulations, allowing corporations to send more jobs oversea, voiding U.S. consumer laws with unelected international tribunals, etc.  Republican legislators who lose in November can vote for the TPP before they leave Congress and then take jobs for giant corporations grateful for their vote.

Publicity about the North Carolina “bathroom law” keeping trans people out of the appropriate facilities just hasn’t stopped. The Department of Justice has ordered the state to rescind the law to keep its federal funding, and North Carolina is suing the DOJ for its order. At the same time, all 10 GOP House members gave the Department of Education until yesterday to promise—provide the state with “immediate assurances”—that the North Carolina won’t suffer monetary penalty for violating federal civil rights. GOP state leaders, who complain about being “bullied” by the federal government are telling lobbyists that their employing corporations that they can expect retribution for speaking out against HB2, the potty law.

Gov. Pat McCrory wants to overturn the Civil Right Act of 1964 to make segregation legal again so that the state can “make special circumstances for those individuals [transgender students].” He also claimed that the “far left … brought this [agenda] up.”

Middle Age RiotThe latest lawsuit against the federal government, filed by “North Carolinians for Privacy,” is identical to a suit in Illinois from the Alliance Defending Freedom. It begins with the falsehood that DOE’s guidance “forbids educational institutions from maintaining sex-specific restrooms and locker rooms” and moves on to the argument that gender identity is not a component of sex. The lawsuit’s main claim is that the DOJ “unmistakable ultimatum” to either prohibit sex-specific restrooms or lose federal funding endangers all the students’ access to education. Another premise in the lawsuit is accusing the DOJ of violating the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) because the agency discriminates on the basis of gender identity against non-transgender people because it allows “some, but not all, biological males the right of entry and use of female restrooms and locker rooms.” The suit claims that North Carolina’s HB2 “treats all persons the same, regardless of their gender identity.”

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has dived into the bathroom controversy by describing it as the “biggest issue facing families and schools in America since prayer was taken out of public schools.” About potentially losing $5 billion of federal funding for Texas education, he added, “Well, in Texas, he can keep his 30 pieces of silver.” The analogy indicates that either he or Texas—or both—should be compared to Jesus who was betrayed by Judas for “30 pieces of silver.” Answering Patrick’s comments, including the one about no longer giving poor students free lunches, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “I think this does underscore the risk of electing a right-wing radio host to elected statewide office. No one should be discriminated against because of who they are.” Texas cut school funding 25 percent in the ten years following 2002 and ranks 38th in the nation in per K-12 student funding.

The U.S. disdain for the Republican party is at its highest level since 1992; 62 percent look at it unfavorably whereas only 33 percent view it with favor. The positive perception fell four points in the past six months. Only 68 percent of self-identified Republicans approve of their party, an 11-point drop from October. Independents prefer the Democrats to Republicans, 37 to 28 percent. The majorities of minorities oppose the GOP: women, 62 percent; blacks, 79 percent; and Hispanics, 61 percent. Among whites, 37 percent view both parties favorably while 59 percent have an unfavorable view of Democrats and 58 percent—only one percent less—have the same view of Republicans.

Update: Wisconsin’s debt deferment was erroneously listed as $101. It is $101 million.

 

February 18, 2016

GOP Hypocrisy Expands with Scalia’s Death

Last weekend’s events—the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the GOP presidential candidate in South Carolina less than two weeks before that state’s primary—occupied the media. The Saturday night debate showed the shift in presidential debates: in the past, they focused on the people on the stage, but the crowd attending the debate is now part of the performance. Ugly heckling and booing caused Political Wire’s Taegan Goddard to comment that the show seemed to be “taking place in a Roman coliseum,” and Republican David Frum bewailed that the audience  was “joining in the bloodbath.”

Prominent conservative pundit Rich Lowry called the debate a “train wreck,” and Frum asked if the GOP looks “like a party ready to govern anything.” GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who taught the conservative side how to speak in loaded language that hid their efforts to destroy democracy in the nation, said:

“Seriously, this is insane. The GOP is destroying itself tonight, and they have no one to blame but themselves.”

Trump has set the tone for debates. Kasich tried to stop the demolition derby and Ben Carson commented on how few questions he got, but the other four tried to out-insult the others.

While the candidates battled about other issues, they declared consensus in their firm belief that President Obama lacked the right to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia, who died February 13, 2016, the same day as the debate. An hour after the announcement of Scalia’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the president, with 11 months left in his second term, should leave the nomination to the next president and promised that the Senate would not acknowledge the nominee if the president were so foolish as to making an appointment.

Of the 54 Senate Republicans, 33 opposed any appointment this year. They demand that any nominee continue Scalia’s “legacy”—one of the most conservative on the Supreme Court. Eleven senators indicated a possible willingness to consider a nominee, and another ten are silent on the issue. Seven of the 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first stop for any judicial nomination, concurred with McConnell by announcing they would not consider any appointment from President Obama.

Only a decade ago, however, McConnell said:

“Any President’s judicial nominees should receive careful consideration.  But after that debate, they deserve a simple up-or-down vote. . . . It’s time to move away from advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent.  The stakes are high . . . . The Constitution of the United States is at stake.  Article II, Section 2 clearly provides that the President, and the President alone, nominates judges.”

He had held this position for the previous 35 years. In 1970, McConnell wrote:

“Even though the Senate has at various times made purely political decisions in its consideration of Supreme Court nominees, certainly it could not be successfully argued that this is an acceptable practice.

“The proper role of the Senate is to advise and consent to the particular nomination, and thus, as the Constitution puts it…This taken within the context of modern times should mean an examination only into the qualifications of the President’s nominee.”

The qualifications, according to McConnell, are competence, achievement/distinction, temperament, ethical behavior, and no criminal record. Nothing about political ideology. McConnell voted for a Supreme Court justice late in a president’s term, supporting Justice Anthony Kennedy, nominated only 13 months before the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term. Over a century has lapsed since the president failed to nominate or the Senate failed to confirm a nominee in a presidential year because of the impending election.

In the past, McConnell has stated other rational—and accurate–positions that disappeared after Barack Obama was elected president:

“The President is presumably elected by the people to carry out a program and altering the ideological directions of the Supreme Court would seem to be a perfectly legitimate part of a Presidential platform. To that end, the Constitution gives to him the power to nominate.

“Even though the Senate has at various times made purely political decisions in its consideration of Supreme Court nominees, certainly it could not be successfully argued that this is an acceptable practice.

“The true measure of a statesman may well be the ability to rise above partisan political considerations to objectively pass upon another aspiring human being.”

Reagan supported replacement of justices in the last year of a presidential term:

“The Federal judiciary is too important to be made a political football. I would hope, and the American people should expect, not only for Judge Kennedy’s confirmation but for the Senate to get to work and act on 27 other judicial nominations that have been left in limbo for quite awhile now.”

In July 2008, during the last year of George W. Bush’s second term, Republicans convened a hearing entitled “Protecting American Justice: Ensuring Confirmation of Qualified Judicial Nominees” in reaction to the “Thurmond Rule,” a demand from racist senator, Strom Thurmond, that a president be limited by time to nominate a justice. Almost half a century ago, Thurmond tried to make this mandate in retribution to President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act by blocking the president’s nomination of Justice Abe Fortas as Chief Justice in 1968. No rule was passed, and Thurmond said gave the last six months as the timeline for no nominations. Comments from participants in the 2008 hearing:

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA):

“[The idea that July 2008 would trigger the] Thurmond Rule ­­– that’s just plain bunk.  The reality is that the Senate has never stopped confirming judicial nominees during the last few months of a president’s term.”

Eight years later, Grassley said:

“The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year… it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said in 2008:

“There’s no excuse for not considering and voting upon a well­ qualified judicial nominee in the United States of America today…  [J]ust because it’s a presidential election year is no excuse for us to take a vacation.  And we’re here.  We’re ready to go to work.”

Now, Alexander wants to allow the next president to fill this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), in 2008, wanted the two parties to work together “to confirm qualified men and women to the federal bench” in an election year–“to establish that regardless of the next president’s party, the nominees will be treated fairly and on the basis of their qualifications, and not on the basis of ancient political squabbles.”

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) echoed these ideas:

“I think it’s clear that there is no Thurmond Rule.  And I think the facts demonstrate that.”

GOP Sen. John McCain said in 2005 that if Democrats should “win the next presidential election,” they should choose Supreme Court nominees because “that’s the way the system works.” McCain has now reversed this opinion.

In the Washington Post, Paul Waldman wrote about the change in the GOP:

“[Republicans] haven’t just grown more ideologically conservative in recent years, they’ve also grown more procedurally radical. Again and again, they’ve decided that the system of formal and informal norms that make the government work can be discarded if it becomes inconvenient.”

Republicans started out with the argument that there is no history of a president nominating a Supreme Court justice in his last year. Once that excuse was totally debunked, they decided it would be cruel to the nominee because Senate will destroy that person’s reputation. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said:

“I think that hearing would end up very politicized. And I don’t think it would be fair to the nominee.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) made a similar argument:

“[I]t might be just as well not to have a hearing that would, sort of, might mislead the American people into thinking that this is just about the qualifications of the candidate, because it’s bigger than that.”

One reason for the shift in attitude may be a fear of the Senate reverting to a Democratic majority. Of the 36 senatorial positions up for grabs in the 2016 election, 24 are Republican. Of those 24, six are in for difficulty in being re-elected.

Another concern may be popular opinion, as seen in the results of the conservative Rasmussen poll indicating that 51 percent of likely voters believe that Obama should nominate Scalia’s successor, and 53 percent believe the Senate should not “reject or refuse to consider” the nomination. Only 35 percent favor McConnell’s blocking the president’s constitutional duty to appoint Scalia’s replacement.

Yet the cracks appearing in McConnell’s control of his Republicans seem to be disappearing,  and GOP senators are turning toward rejecting any nominee. For example, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) earlier stated that the Senate should hold hearings. Her shift in opinion was revealed in tweets urging President Obama to “follow a tradition embraced by both parties” by yielding to the next president:

“If [the president of the United States] ignores precedent, I believe extraordinary circumstances give the Senate every right to deny the nominee an up or down vote.”

The biggest irony about the argument surrounding an appointment to replace Scalia this year comes from the justice’s famous “originalist” view of the Constitution, his belief that laws and judicial rulings in the 21st century should following the text of the Constitution exactly as the Founding Fathers intended. Article II Section 2 of the Constitution states that the president is responsible for nominating members of the high court. Nowhere does the Constitution state “except when a Democratic president has almost a year to serve.”

As Frank Rich wrote:

“By refusing to act on the Scalia vacancy, the [GOP] party will once again brand itself as the party of obstructionism, government dysfunction, and animosity toward the growing majority of Americans who do not fit its predominantly white male demographic.”

January 29, 2015

What They Said Last Weekend: GOP Presidential Wannabes

The 2016 election circus started in Iowa last weekend at the Iowa Freedom Summit as conservative possible presidential candidates gave the crowd a feeding frenzy of far-right rhetoric. In some mysterious way, the state with under one percent of the nation’s population and composed of over 90 percent whites gets more press than any other place in the nation.

To satisfy the crowd, all candidates put hope on the future of the United States by returning to a past with small government and big business with the country’s military power forcing countries to do the bidding of the U.S. Solutions to problems are sealing the borders (at least the southern one), eliminating the Affordable Care Act, closing government agencies, cutting taxes and regulations small business, erasing unions, privatizing schools, and protecting Christian liberty and traditional marriage.

Scott Walker: Declared the winner and possible toy of the enormously wealthy Koch brothers, the Wisconsin governor bragged about allowing more concealed weapons, decreasing voters through stricter laws, and cutting state spending. His anti-union crusade excludes police and firefighters comes from a colonial management style. He also lied in his speech (what a surprise!) when he said that his changes prevent things happening such occurrences as when Wisconsin’s 2010 “outstanding teacher of the year” winner got laid off. In truth, Megan Sampson self-nominated herself for an award as a first-year teacher of English, and she is still teaching. After Walker used “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” as his union, the pro-union band Dropkick Murphys tweeted, “Please stop using our music in any way … we literally hate you.”

Ted Cruz: A preacher’s son like Walker, the senator claimed, “Our rights are from God, not government.” He added, “[The] Constitution binds the mischief of government.” Claiming that the federal government is filled with “senseless obstacles,” Cruz wants to reassign the 110,000 IRS employees to guard the Mexican border, expunge the “locusts” at the EPA, repeal “every word” of Obamacare, and replace the federal income tax with a flat regressive tax rate. His new mantra may be “Show me where you have stood up and fought.” He said, “If you’re a single mom waiting tables, you can do anything.” Saint Reagan got a nod when Cruz declared the key to a 2016 victory was “reassembling the Reagan coalition” of evangelicals, libertarians, blue-collar democrats, women, and youth. [Good luck on getting the women back with current proposed legislation!]

Chris Christie: The combative, bullying New Jersey governor morphed into a deferential, solicitous man for the Iowa event, touting himself as pro-life, conservative, and successful because of his great minority backing. His brashness, according to Christie, comes from an Irish father and Italian mother who taught him to be open and forthright.  The audience swallowed his speech–hook, line, and sinker.

Carly Fiorina: The loser to California’s Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010 immediately bragged about her religion by telling about the plaque her Sunday School-teaching mother gave her: “What you are is God’s gift to you and what you make of yourself is your gift to God.” As the CEO “of the largest technology company in the world,” she claims to know that the promise of the United States is not from weak managers such as President Obama and Hilary Clinton but instead from the real leaders (presumably her) who “create possibilities.”

Ben Carson: The retired brain surgeon pushed the need for conservative family values, using his single mother as an example. The only black GOP candidate, he wants people to listen to their parents and “not social psychologists” as well as charter schools and prosecution of business owners who hire any undocumented person. According to Carson, government expenditures of $5,000 for Medicaid could buy “boutique” private insurance. All public lands would be open to oil and gas drilling, if Carson had his way.

Donald Trump: The pro-business approach from this New York-based real estate mogul contrasted to the other, more ideological candidates. Referring to two possible candidates who didn’t attend, he said Mitt Romney should go away because he “failed” and “choked” running for president in 2012, and “the last thing we need is another Bush.” (Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul did not attend; they attended the Kochs’ donor summit in southern California). Ironically, he said that the country needs to rebuild the “crumbling” roads, bridges, and airports, something the GOP leadership has refused to consider. To Trump, current mainstream weak, bungling GOP leaders don’t know how to close deals.

Rick Santorum: The former representative and losing presidential candidate who tied Mitt Romney in the 2012 GOP caucus has shifted from an evangelical scold to a proponent of privatized education and rebuilding the family. The GOP should focus on working people instead of  business owners and entrepreneurs.

Sarah Palin: “America needs a hero again, and screw the left and Hollywood who can’t understand what we see in someone like Chris Kyle [the protagonist of American Sniper] and all of our vets.” She said a lot of other things, including pointing three fingers at someone, but most of it was largely incoherent. You can listen to it here.

Mike Huckabee: The crowd had thinned considerably before the former Alabama governor and  presidential loser got up to speak. In contrasting ISIS and climate change, he said, “I believe most of us would think that a beheading is a far greater threat than a sunburn.” Accused of being insufficiently conservative on fiscal and education, he tried to recoup his losses by saying that education should be a “local function” and blamed income inequality on regulations and government overreach.

Rick Perry: Trying to look like a border warrior, the former Texas governor and failed presidential candidate looked for immigration hawks: “If Washington refuses to secure the border with Mexico, Texas will.” He also bragged about the big job creation in his state during his time in office, something going downhill with the gas prices.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal skipped Iowa to host a prayer rally backed by some of the most extreme Christian activists. The promotional materials for Jindal’s event were exactly the same as those for a rally held Texas Gov. Rick Perry held in 2011 to launch his presidential candidacy, but fewer than 10 percent of Perry’s 35,000 audience attended this event. Messages were the usual anti-choice and anti-LGBT positions, including ranting from Jim Garlow who believes that same-sex marriage is demonic. The group also wants to delete IRS restrictions that try to keep tax-exempt churches out of electoral politics. Jindal, who claims he is “not for discrimination against anybody,” wants a constitutional amendment to allow discrimination against same-sex couples. Describing himself as an “evangelical Catholic,” his language matches that of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In the aftermath of Jindal’s rally, organizer Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association was fired from his position as AFA’s director of issue analysis a few days before almost 100 RNC members take an AFA-funded trip to Israel. Fischer has said that the Jewish religion is counterfeit and Jews don’t have First Amendment rights. Fischer has kept his AFA talk show as a platform for his hate speech.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) appeared in a panel with Cruz at the Koch brothers’ donor forum on the same weekend as the Iowa event. All of them suggested that they would reject a deal to cut $10 in spending for every $1 in new taxes. Four years ago, the House decided that the ideal cuts-to-revenue ratio would be a 5-to-1 ratio in GOP favor of “85% spending cuts and 15% revenue increases.” The responses from these three senators show a marked move to the right in just four years by refusing a 10-to-1 cut.

The senate terms for both Paul and Rubio are up in 2016, forcing them to make plans about running for both offices. At this time, Kentucky state law does not permit this for Paul.

The best humor, however, is Mitt Romney’s born-again shift in opposing income inequality. This quiz shows his attempts to usurp Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) position on this issue.

Doing well in Iowa and pandering to the far Christian right doesn’t predict success in a national campaign. Past winners in Iowa have been Rick Santorum, Pat Robertson, and Pat Buchanan. These appearances, however, do push the major candidates to the right and show what we can expect to hear during the next 21 months.

May 4, 2014

GOP Moves U.S. toward Theocracy

Last Thursday, the fundamentalist Christians got their chance to strut their stuff on Capital Hill as James Dodson, founder of the Focus on the Family, repeatedly called President Obama “the abortion president” during the ceremony on the National Day of Prayer. Part of his rationale, as he explained to Megyn Kelly on Fox network, is that he believes contraception to be equal to abortion. Two years ago, the Dodsons used the National Day of Prayer Task Force, established by George W. Bush, to pray that President Obama would lose the election.

Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA) called Dodson’s speech a “10- or 15-minute rant against President Obama.” Fed up with his statements, she told him that his speech was “completely inappropriate for this day.” and walked out. Hahn is the co-chair of the weekly congressional prayer breakfast.

Four of Iowa’s GOP candidates for U.S. Senate all want only judges—and that includes on the federal level—with a “biblical view” of justice, according to a debate organized by The Family Leader, a far-right religious group. One judge who follows the biblical directive can be found in Alabama. Only Christians are protected by the Constitution, according to Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore at the Pastors for Life Luncheon:

“Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures. They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship. Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”

Moore gave custody of a child to an abusive man instead of the mother because she is a lesbian. He has already been removed from this position for using tax-payer money to install a 2.5 ton monument of the Ten Commandments outside the state’s supreme court building. Moore said that the monument should remind people “that in order to establish justice we must invoke ‘the favor and guidance of almighty God.’” It was removed only after U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled a fee of $5,000 every day until Moore complied. The other judges decided not to spend the money and had it taken down.

Alabama-Ten-Commandments-Monument

SatanA seven-foot statue of Satan in Oklahoma is still in limbo as the legislature can’t figure out what to do. Insisting on putting up a Ten Commandments monument outside the state Capitol in 2012, lawmakers had to agree that other religious monuments could also be placed there. The Satanic group has raised $30,000 and released a mock-up of the final statue.

Women have had the right to vote for fewer than 100 years in the United States, but history-revisionist David Barton thinks they don’t deserve the right. The Christian conservative who founded Wallbuilders, the organization to destroy separation of church and state, claims that society and culture is destroyed by women voting. His rationale is that husband and wife are “considered one” which means that they have only one vote—naturally by the husband. Could his reason be that women tend to lean toward the pro-family Democrats who support education, domestic violence/sexual assault laws, healthcare, equal pay, family planning, etc.?

One candidate for president has a good idea—capping CEOs’ and sports’ coaches’ pay at $300,000 a year, but his plans go south from there. Darrell Trigg also wants to form a new political party, the Christian Party, because it is God’s will that he will “be the next President of the United States of America.” In that way he can take the country back to Christian principles and lead millions to a personal relationship with God. Obviously that would require getting rid of the separation of Church and State and make Christianity the official religion. His platform includes forcing schools to teach the Bible and have prayer at the beginning and ending of every school day. Other controls over people are subject matter of TV shows and Internet content.

Oklahoma may have that curriculum even without Trigg. Steve Green, president of the Hobby Lobby, has provided an elective curriculum to the state’s Mustang School District this coming fall. Those public schools will teach “Museum of the Bible Curriculum”; Green hopes that his curriculum will be in hundreds of schools by 2016 and thousands by 2017. The Supreme Court thinks that the curriculum is just fine, according to Abington School District v. Schempp. Someday, Green said, teaching the Bible in high school “should be mandated.”

The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee has passed a measure mandating the teaching of creationism and sent it to the State Board of Education.

The way to get around the Constitutional block on teaching Christianity in public school is to get rid of them. That’s Ray Moore’s idea. The GOP candidate for South Carolina’s lieutenant governor wants all the state’s public schools replaced with those run by churches. His reason is that the Bible doesn’t advocate for public school education. According to Moore, public high schools are “the Pharaoh’s schools”; putting 25 to 35 percent of the public school children into the church-run schools would force South Carolina to dump its public education system.

Average cost for religious private school education is about $8,549 a year, but that issue didn’t enter into Moore’s plans. Ray Moore has company in Texas. The GOP lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick thinks that public schools there specialize in left-wing indoctrination.

After Georgia passed a law allowing guns anywhere except in the state Capitol, there is one place where people can be safe from weapons—Catholic and Episcopal churches. The law allows religious leaders to determine whether guns can be permitted in churches. These two denominations have decided that their churches are not the places for guns.

Most of the time, the disappearing veil between church and state benefits evangelical Christians who want to force the United States into become a theocracy. More sensible religious groups have argued that the First Amendment also protects religion in the U.S. When North Carolina passed Amendment 1 in 2012, one of the provisions was to fine ministers and put them in jail if they married anyone without a legal state marriage license.

North Carolina is the first state in the nation to criminalize clergy for their choices in expressing their religious faith. The law is so vague that even blessing a marriage could be considered a criminal act. The United Church of Christ (UCC) church, founded in North Carolina in 1748 and with over 150 congregations in the state, is suing for its religious rights. Three UCC ministers have been joined by two Unitarian Universalist clergy, one Lutheran pastor, one Baptist minister, and one rabbi as plaintiffs in the case that includes eight couples they seek to marry.

sarah palin

In an act once thought to be impossible, Sarah Palin has gone too far in her vicious rhetoric. She was rewarded by a cheering crowd at the NRA/NRAAM annual meeting when she said, “If I were in charge, they would know that water-boarding is how we baptize terrorists.” However, Faithful America, an organization founded to combat the hatred and violence from far-right Christians, started a petition in opposition to Palin’s message:

“This is what we’ve come to in America: A former candidate for vice-president can equate torture and Holy Baptism, and one of the nation’s most powerful political lobbies erupts into cheers and applause. As usual, Palin’s remarks are already making international headlines, once again portraying Christianity as a religion of hatred and violence. But this time, let’s show just how many Christians are appalled by Palin’s twisted misrepresentation of our faith.”

Even conservative Christians are shocked—shocked, I tell you—that a Christian would endorse torture as a Christian method of punishment. They skipped the chapters in history about Christians burning heretics and Jews during the Inquisition, destroying Native American religion, and whipping slaves to evangelize them in not-so-long past in the South.

I guess we’re lucky that Sarah Palin isn’t in charge. And let’s do something before the country becomes the United States of a Vengeful Christian God. In 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt citied four freedoms: freedom of speech and expression; freedom to worship as the person prefers; freedom from want; and freedom from fear. Let’s regain these freedoms.

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