Nel's New Day

July 1, 2013

Conservatives Want Big Government, Control

A week ago yesterday, David Gregory tried to criminalize the journalist who reported on Edward Snowden’s leaks about the unconstitutional NSA surveillance. Yesterday, he seemed a different person—for some of the time. Gregory pushed against Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s (R-KS) false belief that there are studies showing that the traditional marriage of male and female is better for children. Several times, Gregory tried to explain that these studies show that having two parents is better for children although Huelskamp was unable to accept information that disagreed with what his personal belief. 

Yet the panel contained the worst of the narrow bigots who refuse to follow any scientific belief in humanity or nature, the head of the Heritage Foundation Jim DeMint and the religious leader Ralph Reed. They added nothing to the discussion about the SCOTUS decisions overturning DOMA and turning Prop 8 back to a district court ruling in California. All the two of them could do was to repeat the far-right belief that traditional marriage should be decided by the state, as if giving same-sex couples federal benefits had anything to do with states’ rights. 

The statements from DeMint and Reed about mandated transvaginal ultrasounds were equally weak. DeMint claimed that these ultrasounds give women an opportunity and that they are lucky because they are free. Rachel Maddow disabused him of both ideas, telling him—and the audience—than a mandated action is not an “opportunity” and that these ultrasounds are not free. After that, Reed claimed that 70 percent of the people in the country want abortions after 20 weeks—a bold-faced lie. DeMint also tried to justify SCOTUS overturning the Voting Rights Act.

A strong feel of sexism, however, came with Gregory’s treatment of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis who stopped the stringent anti-abortion bill last week through a filibuster of almost 12 hours. First, of Gregory’s six questions to her, two of them dealt with her choice of wearing pink sneakers. Davis had to stand for the entire time, not even leaning against any object.

The second oddity was that Meet the Press, we’ll assume Gregory’s choice, ran personal information about Davis beside the video of her that included her being a single mother at the age of 19 and attending a community college. It is the first time I’ve seen this on the program, and there was nothing about Huelskamp growing up on a farm or adopting four children, information about as pertinent to his appearance as that about Davis.

The third peculiarity was the disparity between questions for Davis and Huelskamp. For the latter, Gregory talked about the new bill the representative introduced to pass a constitutional amendment declaring marriage as only between one man and one woman. With Davis, Gregory asked why she would try to block another anti-abortion bill when she had little or no chance of success in doing this. Actually, she has a better chance of blocking this than Huelskamp has of getting a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution blocking marriage equality, yet Gregory didn’t ask Huelskamp about that. 

Davis had an excellent response to Gregory’s question of why she would pursue an issue if it was most likely that she would fail: “I don’t thinks it’s ever acceptable to concede the argument on incredibly important issues like this.” It was almost as if Gregory was trying to convince Davis to just quit. 

A group that did just quit, at least for ten days, is Congress. Today is when seven million college students can thank the Republicans in Congress for the doubling of new student loan interest rates while the lawmakers headed home for a leisurely recess. When the rates go from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, students will pay over 10 percent more over 10 years. Last Thursday, Senate Democrats asked for a temporary one-year delay to keep the loan rates at 3.4 percent, but the GOP refused.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said, “Why would we want to … just kick the can down the road another year?” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chair of the Senate education panel, said lawmakers would consider a retroactive fix on July 10.  With the current rates, the U.S. government is forecast to make a record $51 billion profit from the federal student loan program this year. Angus King (I-Maine) described this sum as “billions of dollars off the backs of our students.”

Democratic senators proposed closing tax loopholes for oil companies, wealthy pensioners, and multinational corporations, raising $8.6 billion over ten years. The GOP didn’t seem to mind restricting wealthy heirs from sheltering inherited 401(K) accounts from being taxed, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposed increasing taxes on the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and restrictions on multinational companies’ deducting interest payments to foreign subsidiaries from U.S. taxes. The Chamber’s $136 million in 2012 lobbying expenditure make them the highest spender. In addition, the Chamber spent almost $36 million in election campaigning for conservative causes and candidates. 

A year ago, Mitt Romney supported the president’s proposal for a temporary extension of lower rates, and the GOP senators backed off. 

The House Republicans want to tie student loan rates to the 10-year Treasury note and add 2.5 percent with the added revenue paying down the deficit. The cap would be 10.5 percent, but there would be no fixed rate.  This is the plan from the people who say that they want to protect the children.

Student debt in the United States currently totals more than $1 trillion, and one in five households has student debts. College costs have increased 7.45 percent per year from 1978 to 2011, exceeding both inflation and family income growth. At the same time, the bottom 90 percent of people in the country have not increased their salaries. People who have paid off their student loan debt are 36 percent more likely to own homes than those who haven’t. 

As most of us know, the immigration bill will also have great trouble in the House. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) is one of the far-right lawmakers who’s trying to cover his negative votes that might lose Hispanic votes. His concern is that some undocumented people in the country might not want to become citizens, and he thinks that the immigration reform bill would force citizenship on those who don’t want it.

Gowdy likes his own Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act that the House Judiciary Committee passed on Thursday. If this became law, all undocumented immigrant would be designated as criminals, and states could enforce their own more restrictive immigration laws.

The conservatives weren’t able to protect the Bank of America in San Diego because a jury acquitted Jeff Olson of all 13 counts. Olson is not particularly a household name maybe because he doesn’t seem to be a criminal. Yet the bank pushed for prosecution after Olson used water-soluble chalk to protest the bank’s powers in front of three different buildings. One of the messages was “Shame on Bank of America.”  

Another activist was charged with the crime of using chalk to write on the sidewalk in Pennsylvania this last week. According to the police citation, A.J. Marin “Governor Corbett has health insurance, we should too.” The state pays for Corbett’s health care, and he opposes Medicaid expansion in the state for 700,000 poor and uninsured residents. Federal funding pays all the bills for the first three years.

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Abortion isn’t the only reason that the state is looking into women’s vaginas. In Clayton County (GA), 37-year-old Nakia Grimes discovered that her birth certificate incorrectly labeled her as a male because of a new rule requiring her to have a copy of her birth certificate.

An employee told the mother that, to prove she is a biological woman, she’d have to get Pap exam, have a doctor write a note verifying that she is a woman, and have it notarized. Grimes angrily reported the situation to a local media outlet who contacted Vital Records Services. State records officials looked up the birth certificate of Grimes’ son, Zion, and made the change.

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