Nel's New Day

June 15, 2015

Jeb for President? Part I

The big day has arrived! Everyone knew that former Florida governor Jeb Bush wouldn’t be dashing around the country and coordinating with his Super PAC—something he can’t do after he declares his candidacy—unless he was running for president. Millions of dollars later and on the verge, some people say over the edge, of breaking the law in his campaigning, he’s a bona fide candidate. Here’s what the United States would get with Bush III, as he explains his positions in an opportunistic, passive-aggressive way.

Former Florida Governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire April 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Former Florida Governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire April 17, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Bush’s Christian belief will guide his governing. That includes supporting the so-called “religious freedom” that merges church and state in laws and courts.

Unmarried women with children should be publicly shamed, according to Bush’s 1995 book, Profiles in Character. Six years later, he allowed a state law mandating that women be forced to publicize their names, physical descriptions, and sexual histories if they put up their children for adoption. The courts, who Bush hates, struck down the unconstitutional law, and it was repealed in 2003.  On the campaign trail, Bush said that he’s only “evolved” on the issue in thinking that “dads” should have a responsibility—nothing about withdrawing his earlier statement.

To make himself more presentable to the vast majority of voters in the United States, Bush does address income equality, which he calls the “opportunity gap.” But his defining statement is that any law that “subtracts from [economic] growth” should not even be discussed.

A speaker for the secretive Coal & Investment Leadership Forum a few weeks ago, Bush wooed the CEOs of six coal companies and their guests. The group has spent more than $17.4 million on campaigns and lobbying since the last presidential election. How much for Bush, no one knows for sure, because he concealed donor names by waiting a long time to declare his candidacy.

In New Hampshire, Bush said that the science is not clear on how much of climate change is “man-made” and “for people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant.” In Connecticut, he called on immediate action for climate change because “climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.” In foreign policy, the United States should encourage countries with higher carbon emissions rates to reduce them but added that fracking and new drilling technologies is decreasing U.S. carbon emissions. The word “arrogance” disappeared in his next trip to New Hampshire.

Bush got more media coverage than he wanted in early May when he changed his position four times after a question about whether he would have started the Iraq War if he knew then what is known now—that there are no WMDs. First, he said “I would have,” then he said that he misunderstood the question before following up with his not hearing the question correctly. Bush finished up the debate with himself by saying that he would not have gone into Iraq. A year after the war when no one found WMDs, the then-governor of Florida praised the war effort and later described it as a noble mission. By 2013, he was still supporting the war, saying that the public would change its mind about thinking that war was a mistake.

A 19-year-old political science student in Nevada engaged Bush after Bush blamed President Obama for the rise of ISIS. Ivy Ziedrich described the reason for ISIS and said, “Your brother created ISIS.” Bush accused Ziedrich of re-writing history, but that’s what he was doing. The United States pulled back in Iraq because of George W. Bush’s Status of Forces Agreement. ISIS is an outgrowth of Al Qaeda which expanded because of the Bush/Cheney administration’s chaotic U.S. invasion of Iraq. Jeb’s solution is deploying thousands of additional U.S. troops to Iraq in another war.

Bush demonstrated his need for war in the obligatory Europe tour for serious presidential candidates when he addressed Vladimir Putin’s refusal to back off in Ukraine. George W. Bush always liked “Poot Poot,” as he called Putin, because he looked into the Russian leader’s eyes and saw his soul. When asked about Dubya’s mistake, Jeb Bush said, “I think Putin has changed.” Only last year, the Fox network, Republican leaders, and evangelical Christians thought Putin was a better leader than Presidential Obama. Now Bush wants more “robust” training exercises in Ukraine.

After the disastrous week of flip-flopping on his brother’s Iraq War, Bush tried to explain that his new wrist watch would make the Affordable Care Act redundant. His position on ACA is replacement with a “consumer-driven” system, a popular term with no substance. His vision surrounding his new Apple Watch:

“On this device in five years will be applications that will allow me to manage my health care in ways that five years ago were not even possible. I’ll have the ability, someone will, you know, because of my blood sugar, there’ll be a wireless, there’ll be, someone will send me a signal. It’ll come here, I’ll get a double beep saying, ‘You just ate a butterscotch sundae’ or something like that. ‘You went way over the top. You’re a diabetic, you can’t do that,’ whatever.

“We’ll be able to guide our own health care decisions in a way that will make us healthy. And ultimately, we have to get to a health system, away from a disease system.”

Even if everyone in the United States could afford the expensive Apple Watch, the device will be reduced to saying “you need medical attention” if a person suffers from a broken leg or a genetic disorder. That medical attention will require health coverage to be affordable. Cancer needs chemotherapy, not a watch. Heart disease requires a cardiologist, not a watch.

Bush does know that his Apple Watch won’t help people with Alzheimers. He wants to cut domestic spending in almost all other areas but calls for increased funding to find a cure for Alzheimers and speed up the approval process for medications to treat the disorder. Tampa Bay Times’ Adam C. Smith noted that Florida state lawmakers in both parties “recall Bush vetoing their budget items targeting Alzheimer’s research and care while at the same time approving tax cuts often mainly for the benefit of specific businesses or wealthier Floridians.” Then Bush called the Alzheimer measures a “want,” not a “need.” His “evolution” may come from his mother-in-law’s Alzheimer’s disease.

Asked about his favorite author, Bush cited Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve which declares that Blacks have a lower intelligence level than Whites. Murray’s newest book, By The People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, calls for dismantling the United States regulatory and welfare programs because of the culture of laziness “in our inner cities in particular.”

Murray proposes a legal defense fund started by “just one wealthy American” to give wealthy people veto power over much of U.S. law. His recommendations would erase the minimum wage, overtime laws, most environmental protections and financial reforms, many worker safety laws, and anti-discrimination laws.

Bush was supposed to be the smart one, yet he’s having trouble demonstrating that characteristic. He can’t speak coherently about Iraq, thinks his Apple Watch is part of an anti-Obamacare vision, isn’t up to speed on immigration policy, and believes people who believe in climate science are “arrogant.”

Because Bush is so weak on foreign policy, he needs advisors—and they show poor choices. His top adviser on US-Israeli policy is George W. Bush. Of the 21 foreign policy advisors he listed, 17 served in the George W. Bush administration including the top policy architect of the Iraq War, Paul Wolfowitz.

Before Wolfowitz became the cheerleader for the Iraq War, he promoted the theory that Saddam Hussein, not Islamic extremists such as Al Qaeda, was responsible for the world’s anti-United States terrorism. The theory started over a decade before the U.S. declared war on Iraq and included blaming Saddam for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the attack on the USS Cole off the Yemen coast. Wolfowitz, top Pentagon official for Bush I, contributed to a book on the 1993 World Trade Center bombing called Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War against America. He was also a prime advocate for Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader, who pushed the false information on Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction onto U.S. leadership.

Wolfowitz disagreed with the testimony of General Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, that it would take “several hundred thousand soldiers” to occupy Iraq; discounted the possibility of sectarian violence in Iraq following the invasion; insisted that Iraq’s oil revenues would finance post-war reconstruction; and declared that he was “reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators.” All these claims were false. Now he’s advising another Bush about global conspiracies.

That’s the tip of the Jeb iceberg. Part II tomorrow.

May 4, 2015

GOP Candidates Pander to Crazies, Bigots

Three GOP presidential candidates—one of them not yet declared—are pandering to conservative right-wingers with the typical nutty, ignorant statements. One of them is Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who kept making awkward outreach motions toward minorities after he opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One of his strategies to set himself apart was opposing mass incarceration and the drug war while the GOP supports these. Last week, he may have lost any minority support, however, after he blamed what he described as “thuggery and thievery” in Baltimore last week on a “lack of fathers.” He laughed when he told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, “I came through the train on Baltimore (sic) last night, I’m glad the train didn’t stop.” According to Paul, root causes of these riots are “the breakdown of the family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of a moral code in our society.”

william hilton paulPaul’s oldest son, William Hilton Paul, crashed his car into an unoccupied car while driving drunk, the third time that he had a problem with the law involving alcohol, the first two while he was underage. His first offence included an assault of a flight attendant on a US Airways flight. At the time of the recent car wreck, Paul’s 22-year-old son didn’t have automobile insurance.

Another GOP presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), is struggling with his attempts to woo the Hispanics.  He tried to make up for an absence last March at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce with a recent speech before the organization to talk about the group’s important issues. First he told them that the president’s immigration policies to benefit families in the Hispanic community are scare tactics for the Hispanic community. Then he told them that Hispanics are conservative because Hispanics don’t panhandle and because they believe in family, country, and hard work.

Paul and Cruz have both decided to investigate Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claim that President Obama might be attacking his state. After the U.S. Special Operations troops launched a training program, Jade Helm 15, in seven southwestern states, Abbott called out the National Guard to protect the residents of Texas. The right-wing thinks that the U.S. is declaring martial law on these states, especially Texas, because the training exercises labeled the state as “hostile.” Adding to the conspiracy theories is that the rioting in Baltimore is a cover for the military to take over parts of the U.S.

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Conspiracy theories aren’t new to Cruz: he has long maintained that Islamic  Sharia law threatens the United States, ISIL operatives are coming into the country across the southern border, and a UN resolution was intended to abolish golf courses in the country. At the South Carolina GOP’s annual convention, Cruz said that “the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration.” Both Paul and Cruz have given credence to the crazy theories by demanding answers from the Pentagon about the covert actions.

Wal-Mart is in the midst of the conspiracy theories that include confiscating guns and building “secret underground tunnels.” Texans maintain that the government’s political prisoners will be put into abandoned Wal-Mart buildings. President Obama is planning to use Special Forces to impose martial law in Texas and will hold political prisoners in abandoned Wal-Mart buildings, according to a group of Texans. The president plans to transport them in train cars that already have been prepared with shackles, according to an anonymous letter supposedly from a Texas Ranger. Another theory is that the plumbing problems closing some Wal-Mart stories are actually a cover for building the secret tunnels to move supplies and people during a crisis. A website pondered whether these massive stores soon be used as “food distribution centers” to house invading Chinese forces who will be disarming Americans.

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush revealed last week that Charles Murray, known for his book The Bell Curve, shapes Bush’s ideas. The book states that inequalities in the United States are explained by intelligence differences among racial groups. At Harvard, George told his classmates that “poor people are poor because they’re lazy.” Jeb told conservative National Review editor Rich Lowery that he “was waiting for the last chapter [of The Bell Curve] with the really cool solutions—didn’t quite get there.” Bush most likely agrees with his brother, George W., who told Harvard classmates that “people are poor because they’re lazy.”

Jeb Bush has a long history of creative money-making ventures. In a savings and loan fiasco 30 years ago, he and a partner, Armondo Condina, borrowed $4,565,000 to buy a Miami building. Repaying the loan was on the condition that the building’s revenues were sufficient to cover the repayment, and they made no payments for the next two years. The bank sued them, the S&L company went bankrupt, and the partners were allowed to keep the building for a payment of $500,000. The failure of the S&L company cost taxpayers $285 million.

Some of Jeb Bush’s hard-earned money came from his position on the board of InnoVida where he was paid $15,000 a month. Claudio Osorio, the CEO of the company that promised to use sturdy and lightweight building panels to revolutionize affordable housing, went to federal prison for fraud after Bush started collecting his stocks and cash for lending his name to the enterprise. Bush had to repay only half the $470,000 he collected as a consultant from late 2007 through the fall of 2010, and his settlement was unlike the others in the case because of a “nondisparagement” clause that limits what the bankruptcy trustee can say about the former governor.

Although Bush claimed that he had thoroughly vetted the company, the Miami attorney who represented NBA player Carlos Boozer and others after they lost $2.5 million invested in InnoVida, said thorough vetting would have revealed Osorio’s “questionable history” at his prior high-flying company, CHS Electronics. That company had to pay $11.75 million in a 2000 settlement.

Bush served five years as a director Swisher Hygiene when the Charlotte-based seller of sanitary supplies issued faulty earnings reports and as a consultant at Lehman Brothers while the investment bank headed toward a drastic 2008 bankruptcy contributing to the global financial crisis. He received $2.4 million of stock holdings from his board seat at Tenet Healthcare, assisted by profits from the Affordable Care Act. Other ventures included private equity and offshore investments in natural gas exploration and shipping. One fund was set up in the United Kingdom to shelter his investments from taxes.

These are the candidates that sneer at the working poor because they don’t have the advantages of the wealthy and entitled. Bush hasn’t yet officially declared himself a candidate because he’s still raising money for his super PAC, but he will definitely be a one; Paul and Cruz are already stumping the country for votes.

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