Nel's New Day

April 27, 2013

What’s Missing from Main-Stream Media, April 2013

While the main-stream media concentrates on the Boston bombing, here are a few items that they missed or slighted:

Mark Sanford: The former governor from South Carolina running for representative who said that he was hiking the Appalachian trail for five days while he visited his mistress in Argentina and trespassed in his ex-wife’s home after he was ordered not to do so had arrived at a new low. After the trespass was made public, he ran a full-page ad in the Charleston Post & Currier with his personal cell phone number, asking people to call him “if you have further questions.” A Democratic-aligned super PAC, House Majority PAC, included the number in a fundraising email. In retribution, Sanford published an unredacted list of all his callers’ phone numbers.

The candidate has become increasingly peculiar in his actions. Although he’s running against Elizabeth Colbert Busch, he had a debate with a full-size cardboard poster of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in Charleston. The image brings back the memories of Clint Eastwood and an empty chair at the GOP convention last summer.

Sanford debates poster

Colorado Voting Bill Mailer: Images caused problems for other conservatives, this time a group connected to Colorado’s Secretary of of State. The House has passed a voting bill to improve the state’s laws. It would allow people to register on Election Day, automatically send mail ballots to all voters, and stop fraud through a real-time voter database. Republican county clerks and Secretary of State Scott Gessler oppose the bill. Using the address of Gessler’s former firm, the “Citizens for Free and Fair Elections” have sent out political mailers using a purchased image.

Colorado mailer light skin

There is a change in the image, however, from the original. The dark-skinned face of a woman in the original photo by Mark Wilson (Getty Images) to show long voting lines in Montgomery County (VA) were in 2012 has been digitally replaced in the mailer with the photo of another woman who is much lighter skinned.

Getty dark skinn

Fox Latino friendlyFox News: In an attempt to appear “Latino friendly,” Fox News used a positive photograph featuring a Latina to illustrate its article headlined “‘Illegal Immigrant’ Dropped from Associated Press Stylebook.” Including quotes from racial justice organization The Applied Research Center, which publishes, the article discussed the controversy referred to the term “illegal immigrant” as “controversial.”

But that was in Fox News Latino; highlighted the story on its front page with a different photo and headline. The headline was switched to “AP Rules: Don’t Call Him an… ‘ILLEGAL?'”

fox Latino unfriendly

Later the headline was changed to “What’s in a Name? AP under Criticism for Nixing ‘Illegal Immigrant,'” but the photo stayed—just a bit smaller.

Mark Zuckerberg: Worth $13.1 billion following his creation of Facebook, Zuckerberg has agreed with the importance of changing from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. Now his new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, is spending big bucks on ads advocating anti-environmental causes including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It’s all in the name of business.

John-Mica_2-e1366991056439Washington, D.C.: The best piece of authoritarian patriarchy came last week from Rep. John Mica (R-FL). The topic was Washington, D.C., always at the mercy of Congressional whim, and its budget autonomy. Recently the city voted in favor of this by 85 percent. Unless both chambers of Congress pass a disapproval resolution which would then have to be signed by the president, the over 600,000 people in this city can decide how they spend the money that they pay into the city’s coffers.

Mica, a committee member who oversees the city’s budget, laughed at the vote and said:

“Well, when my kids were young teenagers, they always wanted budget autonomy too. But we always, you know, you allow them to go their own way, and if they get out of line, according to the Constitution, the Congress has the right to step in…As long as they are minding their P’s and Q’s, so to say, I think the government can back off. But we must remain vigilant.”

Pedro Ribeiro, Mayor Vincent Gray’s spokesman, responded to Mica, “Last time I checked, children don’t have a $6 billion local budget.”

Before he made this comment, Mica admitted the city’s finance management has vastly improved since the dissolution of a Congressional control board. After they took control of the House in 2010, the GOP tried to force the progressive district to outlaw abortion, reduce contraception access, sell more guns, block union membership, cut public transportation funds, and pay for private schools.

Washington, D.C., with almost the same population as North Dakota, has no representation in the Senate. Their one delegate in the House cannot vote on the floor. Its economy is larger than those of 14 states, and its residents pay $1.6 billion a year in federal taxes, more per capita than any state. Washington, D.C. is a prime example of taxation without representation that people fought to overturn almost 250 years ago.

Bangladesh Factory:  The most disastrous event of last week was the crumbling of the Rana Plaza building, housing a major Bangladeshi garment factory. Over 350 people have died, hundreds more are injured, and as many as 900 are still missing. This tragedy, the third in five months, is even worse than the fire at the Tazreen Fashion Factory last November that killed 112 garment workers.

The second-largest exporter of garments in the world, this country relies on garments for 80 percent of its exports. Duty free access offered by Western countries and low wages turned Bangladesh’s garment exports into a $19 billion a year industry. Sixty percent of the clothes go to Europe, 23 percent to the United States takes 23 percent, and another 5 percent to Canada. Gap, Walmart, and other retailers of cheap clothing have fought any reforms that could stop such disasters.

Bank employees in the building escaped the danger after a crack developed in the building because they were told to stay home the next day, but garment workers were ordered to return.

Two years ago, labor groups tried to get the factories and buyers to sign onto a plan that would establish independent inspections to replace the infrequent and often corrupt government inspections. Unsafe facilities could be shut down as part of legally binding contract signed by suppliers, customers, and unions. Companies would provide up to $500,000 per year to pay for the inspections.  All the companies—including Walmart, Gap, and Swedish clothing giant H&M—turned it down.

Walmart’s representative said it was “not financially feasible … to make such investments. Gap, which owns the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, said the company refused because it did not want to be vulnerable to lawsuits and did not want to pay factories more money to help with safety upgrades. H&M wants factories and local government to take on the responsibility.

After last year’s Tazreen blaze, the labor group tried again to get the independent inspector plan adopted, but the factories and the big brands would not agree. Siddiqur Rahman, former vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, denied the factories are responsible for killing the plan and blamed the buyers.

Companies claim that they do private audits. Those don’t work, according to a lobbyist for garment workers, because of their confidentiality. If a company pulls its business after safety problems, it won’t tell competitors who will continue to place orders which keeps the unsafe factory open.  Thus we continue to buy cheap and be complicit in killing hundreds of garment workers, almost all of them women.

April 26, 2013

The First Nine Constitutional Amendments, An Easy Lesson

Until the rants of the Tea Party started to take over the media, the U.S. Constitution was looked upon as an important part of our heritage that courts used to determine whether laws fit into the overview of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence. Less than five years ago, people like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) declared that everything the liberals do is unconstitutional, and three years ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) required that the entire constitution be read at the beginning of the 112th Congressional session so that all the bills would conform with the Constitution.

Representatives tried to read aloud with varying success–only a few glitches such as leaving out the piece blacks being only three-fifths of a person and skipping part of it because a couple of pages got stuck together. That part guaranteed “to every state in this union a republican form of government.”

They also left out the part written by the infallible Founding Fathers about runaway slaves, that if they escaped to a free state, the Constitution required that they not be freed but rather “delivered up” to their owners. Notable, too, was the omission of how the electoral college works, perhaps because the conservatives plan to get rid of it so that they can elect a GOP president.

Now Jon Stewart has brought to life the first nine amendments to the U.S. Constitution through playing clips of Fox pundits on The Daily Show, pontificating about the recent Boston bombing.

As Stewart said, “Anybody can toss away the lesser known amendments. Only a true patriot can set a course straight for the First.” And Bob Beckel, a host on The Five, did exactly that when he asked that the U.S. “cut off Muslim students from coming to the country for some period of time.” That eviscerates the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech, religion, and press as well as the right to assemble and petition the government.

Eric Bolling wanted wiretapping in mosques, attacking the Fourth Amendment that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and sets out requirements for search warrants based on probable cause.

Fox folks were highly incensed about suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev being read his Miranda rights, claiming he should be declared an enemy combatant and “intensely interrogated.”

“In the wake of an assault on our freedom and way of life, we have quickly jettisoned the Sixth Amendment–right to a fair and speedy trial–and the Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination,” Stewart said. “What’s next?” Stewart left out the violation of the Seventh Amendment that provides for the right to trial by jury in certain civil cases, according to common law.

Sean Hannity doesn’t “believe” that waterboarding is torture. “There goes the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment,” Stewart continued. “Any others?”

Actually, yes there were. Ann Coulter said, “I want to know about this wife… I don’t care if she knew about this. She ought to be in prison for wearing a hijab.”

To Coulter’s impassioned plea, Stewart responded, “And down goes the Ninth Amendment! Down goes the Ninth Amendment! Ann Coulter doesn’t just want a police state. She wants a fashion police state.” (I had to look up the Ninth Amendment: it protects rights not enumerated in the Constitution.”

Thus Stewart showed that Fox wants to ignore seven of the first nine constitutional amendments in the treatment of the 19-year-old suspected of setting off pressure cooker bombs at the Boston marathon. It seems that Fox didn’t address the forced quartering of soldiers—but that’s only in peacetime, and the government seems to have declared the United States permanently at war somewhere.

Stewart asked if there were any constitutional right that Fox wants to keep after the Boston bombing.  “Since we’re just throwing amendments away willy-nilly, what if we wanted to track the weapons that any of these America haters bought, or do a background check?” Stewart said.

Visuals juxtaposed the 3,400 deaths from terrorism in the United States during the past 30 years with the almost one million deaths from guns during the same time. That was followed by a montage of clips from Fox, extolling the virtues of bearing arms in any situation and as many as people might want.

“Yes, it turns out there’s only one amendment in our constitution’s pantheon that is exempt from statistical analysis or emotional freak-out-itude, and it is the Second. So god help us if the Muslims ever decide to form a well regulated militia.”


The written word does not do justice to this segment of The Daily Show. You can find the video here.  Send it to everyone you know, and make it go viral!

GohmertStupidity about the Boston bombing is as rampant in Congress as on Fox. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) accused President Obama of being influenced by Muslim Brotherhood members in his administration. On a radio interview yesterday, he said, “This administration has so many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence that they just are making wrong decisions for America.”

Gohmert didn’t think this up on his own. Almost a year ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) claimed Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the government, pointing a finger at top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Her false accusations led to Egyptian protests against the Secretary of State when she went there and the need for Abedin to have police protection because of threats against her life.

At that time, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) condemned Bachmann’s statements, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) described her claims as “pretty dangerous.” Even conservative Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) defended Abedin.

Gohmert, who gets his information from extremist right-wing media media such as World Net Daily, sits on the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

Meanwhile the conservatives are busy creating conspiracy theories: the government staged the attack to take over the government; the First Lady is hiding a Saudi student who was the real bomber; the Fox cartoon Family Guy predicted the bombing; the marathon organizers knew about the bombing before the race; the suspects’ uncle worked with the CIA; Facebook pages memorializing the blast were created before it happened; the dead suspect was an FBI informant; he’s not actually dead; and photos of the suspects at the scene of the crime were photoshopped.

Now Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) believe that a nationwide shortage of ammunition has resulted from the Obama administration’s stockpiling. To stop this and create more “transparency and accountability,” they introduced the Ammunition Management for More Obtainability Act, AMMO act for short. Finally, a gun control bill from the conservatives!

These two Congressmen probably got their news from fringe websites like Drudge or Alex Jones’s Infowars. Even, known for its crazy stories, described the idea as “based more on panic than fact.” These are the people who keep our country from moving forward.

April 20, 2013

GOP Politicians ‘Insensitivity’

A few days ago, my partner and I talked about how to describe Mark Sanford, candidate for the House of Representatives. She said “stupid,” and I thought perhaps “arrogant.” His words and actions are just another in the long line of  ignorant, clueless, naïve, self-serving, oblivious, dumb—the list goes on and on—statements from these people. For the sake of politeness, I’ll use the term “insensitive” to cover all these adjectives.

Back to Sanford. Most people in the country know him as the past governor of South Carolina who told people four years ago that he was hiking in the Appalachians to cover the fact that he had flown to Argentina for five days to visit his mistress. Public knowledge of his lies led to a rapid disintegration of his marriage and then a divorce. Nikki Haley became governor, and Sanford disappeared—for a while. This year, however, he is running for a House seat vacated by Tim Scott after Haley appointed him to Jim DeMint’s vacant seat.

Things looked pretty good for Sanford in his run against Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Until last week. The news that he had trespassed in his ex-wife’s house sent shock waves through his major donors from the NRCC to the Club for Growth, most of which dropped him like a hot potato. Yet the NRCC had no criticism for his illegal activities in entering a house without permission. They just said, “Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time the NRCC will not be engaged in the special election.”

What was Sanford’s excuse?

“I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14-year-old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened.”

So Sanford was worried about just the second half the game, he referred to his ex-wife’s place as “the” beach house, and she was in town because she caught him sneaking out the back door.

Even conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has thrown Sanford under the bus, attributing Sanford’s behavior to “hubris.” Skipping the fact that she blamed his problems on the fact that his wife didn’t stand by him, Parker’s conclusion is right on target:

“Sanford’s lack of empathy for his family, not to mention his impeachable judgment, should disqualify him from further public service, an opinion apparently shared by the Republican National Committee, which recently withdrew support for his candidacy.”

On May 7, the nation will find out if the voters of South Carolina prefer a stalking, law-breaking candidate rather to a Democrat

Sanford isn’t alone, however, in his “insensitivity.” The bombing in Boston brought out the worst in several high-profile lawmakers.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is a lawyer, Air Force Reserve colonel, and member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps who led the impeachment of President Clinton because he believes in the “rule of the law.” Now he wants the perpetrator of the Boston bombing to be “held as an enemy combatant.” Graham wants a U.S. citizen captured in the U.S. to be deprived of his basic constitutional rights. This is the same man who considers those who massacre large numbers of people with high-powered weapons to have mental issues.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) took Sean Hannity’s Fox show as fact when Steve Emerson reported that unnamed “sources” told him that the U.S. government was secretly deporting the Saudi national suspect in the bombing. Presenting this conspiracy theory as fact, he criticized Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a House hearing for doing this. When Napolitano said this wasn’t true, Duncan said, “He is being deported.” Duncan follows the conservatives of the United States when he gets all his information from the least reliable news network.

Even Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), usually a reasonable person, joined the insanity. She said, “Whenever we have an attack like this it’s difficult not to think that it’s somehow involved in Islamic extremism. I don’t have evidence to back that up. That’s just based on previous attacks.” Although it turned out that the two young men who allegedly set off the bombs are Muslims, there has been no “evidence” to show that it was connected to “Islamic extremism” any more than the mass murders by “Christians” were connected to “Christian extremism.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) argued, “We have people that are trained to act Hispanic when they are radical Islamists.” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) followed that up with trying the persuade people to drop the immigration bill that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented people. For him, one act of violence eliminates the possibility for anyone to again become a citizen in the United States except by birth.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told a national television audience on Tuesday that a “person of interest” in the Boston bombings “is in custody.” Law enforcement officials spent time explaining that he was wrong. McCaul also announced at a press conference that “we’ve been quite fortunate that this type of attack has not happened before in the U.S.” At the age of 51, McCaul could possibly be forgiven about the anarchist bombings in 1919 and 1920, including the wagon bomb that killed 38 people on Wall Street.

But where was he during the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the Unabomber in 1994, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the 1996 pipe bombs at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, the 1998 bomb at an Alabama abortion clinic in 1998, the 2000 arson attack at a Syracuse temple in 2000, the 18 pipe bombs planted in mailboxes in five states in 2002, the 2008 bomb at a military recruiting center in Times Square, the 2008 bomb at a San Diego courthouse, the 2008 fire bombs targeting researchers at UC Santa Cruz, and the 2011 attempted bombing of an MLK parade in Spokane. The last four happened since he became representative in 2005.

This last week was tragic in many ways, one of them the rejection by a minority of senators who managed to quell an amendment to require background checks for some people before purchasing weapons. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who voted against requiring background checks has a solution “to do more to curb the senseless acts of violence that continue to occur in this country.” His answer:

“One of the things we need are parents, parents to be more careful and more repetitive at telling their kids that it is not right to kill people. It’s not even right to bully them. And it’s definitely not right for them to kill themselves. Until we can get that message across to our kids, I hope that we don’t rely on a few votes by this body to make everybody feel comfortable that all the problem is taken care of.”

If Enzi is right, we don’t need him or any other lawmakers; we just teach kids to do the right thing. Wouldn’t that be grand!

February 8, 2013

GOP Factions Fight

Since the last election, GOP leadership has believed that its radical (some people say crazy) candidates caused them to lose the presidency and the Senate. While the GOP thinks they won the House—despite having fewer votes—their loonier candidates in the last two elections kept them from taking over the Senate. One idea from part of the GOP leadership is to move ever so slightly back toward the center. (It’s a very long trip!)

Fox News may have started this journey by firing first Sarah Palin and then Dick Morris. They kept Karl Rove, despite his inability to bring Ohio to Mitt Romney (possibly through some computer manipulation). Rove has a plan. After losing his donors about $100 million through failed candidates paid by super PAC American Crossroads, Rove created the Conservative Victory Project. The goal is to find electable  “conservatives” instead of candidates like Christine O’Donnell (“I am not a witch”) and Todd Akin (“legitimate rape”).

Clearly, the Tea Partiers and other far-far-right conservatives are, to put it mildly, distressed. One of Rove’s people, Jonathan Collegio, referred to far-far-right activist L. Brent Bozell as a “hater,” and Bozell’s colleagues demanded that Collegio be fired. The letter of protest described Bozell, nephew of former Sen. James Buckley and deceased National Review founder William F. Buckley, “a beloved and critically important player in American history.” No apology would be “acceptable,” according to signatories Mark Levin, Richard Viguerie, Phyllis Schlafly, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, Rick Scarborough, Frank Gaffney, and Ginni Thomas (yes, Clarence Thomas’ wife).

The letter described the far-far-right position: “You obviously mean to have a war with conservatives and the Tea Party. Let it start here.”

David Bossie, president of the conservative group Citizens United, declared “The Civil War has begun.” FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe added, “This is a little bit like gang warfare right now.” He called Rove’s move “Orwellian” and said, “The Empire is striking back.” He continued,

“All events point to a fundamental clash between the old guard Republican establishment dictating outdated ideas from the top-down, versus a tech-savvy younger generation of activists driving their agenda from the bottom-up. These blatant acts of hostility are typical behavior of an entrenched political establishment, circling the wagons around incumbents, regardless of job performance in office.”

Both the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund accused Rove of trying to muzzle the GOP base. Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, named it the “Conservative Defeat Project” and said that it “has chosen to declare war on the party’s most loyal supporters.”

Former Rep. Joe (“deadbeat dad”) Walsh (R-IL), who lost to Iraqi veteran Tammy Duckworth, has announced his own anti-Rove super PAC. “If Rove wants a fight for the soul of the Republican Party, bring it on,” Walsh said.

“I dare say any candidate who gets this group’s support should be targeted for destruction by the conservative movement,” wrote Erick Erickson on

Amy Kremer, head of the Tea Party Express, warned, “If the establishment’s large donors want to see a complete electoral catastrophe, then all they need to do is push Tea Party conservatives into supporting alternative third candidates.”

Judson Phillips, head of Tea Party Nation, wrote,

“If Karl Rove wants to throw out bad candidates, I have four words for him. John McCain and Mitt Romney. If you are a wealthy Republican donor and are thinking about giving money to Karl Rove or one of his groups, let me suggest you give your money to Bernie Madoff instead. You will get a better return on your money from Madoff or any other ponzy [sic] schemer than you will from Karl Rove.”

Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said, “They are welcome to support the likes of Arlen Specter, Charlie Crist and David Dewhurst. We will continue to proudly support the likes of Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.” (Sen. Toomey from Pennsylvania was part of the filibuster to stop the Veterans Jobs bill to find work for those coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.)

The Tea Party faced serious losses last year. In Wisconsin, Club for Growth, Tea Party Express, and the Senate Conservatives Fund all backed former Rep. Mark Neumann while FreedomWorks backed businessman Eric Hovde. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson won the primary and then lost to Democrat Tammy Baldwin in November.

In Missouri Rep. Todd Akin won a multi-way Senate primary because Tea Party Express and Sarah Palin supported state treasurer Sarah Steelman and the establishment-oriented U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed St. Louis businessman John Brunner. Akin, as almost everyone knows, went down in flames after his “legitimate rape” statement.

In Indiana, FreedomWorks and Club for Growth beat out incumbent Dick Lugar with Richard Mourdock, the tea partier who lost after saying pregnancies resulting from rape were intended by God.

Rove has his work cut out for him. In Georgia, Rep. Paul Broun is running for the Senate office to be vacated by Saxby Chambliss in 2014. A doctor and member of the science committee, Broun declaimed, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” He called President Obama a “Marxist” and said the president “upholds the Soviet constitution.”

Rachel Maddow reported:

“Broun, an apparent Birther, believes cap-and-trade would kill people; the Affordable Care Act will dictate what kind of car Americans can drive; the health care reform effort reminds him of “Northern Aggression”; and that he considers President Obama to be a Hitler-like figure intent on establishing a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship on Americans. In 2010, Broun argued that the Centers for Disease Control might ‘give all the power to the federal government to force you’ to eat healthier foods, which would include the CDC ‘calling you to make sure you eat fruits and vegetables, every day. This is socialism of the highest order!’”

Mike Berlon, Georgia Democratic Party chairman, said in an e-mail. “If there is a living God, we’ll be facing [Broun] as the Republican nominee in November of 2014.”

With Tom Harkin leaving the Senate in 2014, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has decided to run for the job, bringing his own personal baggage. He supported Akin, saying that he had never heard of any female becoming pregnant because of statutory or forcible rape. A supporter of legalized dog fighting, King compared immigrants to dogs when he said that immigration law should let only the “best” immigrants into the United States in the same way that dog-buyers select the “pick of the litter.” King said,

“You want a good bird dog? You want one that’s going to be aggressive? Pick the one that’s the friskiest, the one that’s engaged the most, and not the one that’s over there sleeping in the corner. If you want a pet to sleep on the couch, get the one that’s sleeping in the corner.”

King justified his statements by saying that he meant the statement as a compliment.

“This American vigor that we have that comes from legal immigrants who came to this country with a dream–we get the cream of the crop of every donor civilization on the planet–and people that can take a compliment and turn it into an insult are not going to be constructive working across the aisle. But that’s what that was, was a compliment. And everyone who was there that heard that knows that.”

King is also a longtime advocate for legalizing cockfighting and other forms of animal torture. Most recently, he fought legislation that would make it illegal to bring a child to an animal fight. He has also set aside his love for states’ rights in order to forbid localities from enacting anti-animal torture standards.

In addition,  King has stated that both the Affordable Care Act and federal regulation of the insurance industry are unconstitutional, and he thinks states can ban contraception.

As he did with American Crossroads, Rove has promised anonymity for the wealthy donors. Last time he was protecting them from the left; this time donors may be more afraid of the right. Rove has his work cut out for him.

December 24, 2012

The First ‘War on Christmas’

The conservative claim of War on Christmas will end tomorrow—for another nine or ten months when Fox “News” gears up for holidays in 2013. Here are some notable skirmishes from the past couple of weeks, frequently led by Bill O’Reilly.

A few weeks ago, O’Reilly questioned Pastor Robert Jeffress last week about the lack of outrage at this mythical war on the holiday representing the birth of Christ—the same holiday that many people have described as secular. Jeffress blames the religious leaders: “Wimpy pastors produce wimpy Christians, and that is why we are losing this culture war and I believe it’s time for pastors to say, you know, ‘I don’t care about controversy, I don’t care whether I’m going to lose church members, I don’t care about building a big church, I’m going to stand for truth regardless of what happens.’”

The truth, according to Jeffress, is that Jesus was a fighting man. If he were here, he would pick up his cudgel and force radio stations to play Christmas music. Everyone would be required to say “Merry Christmas,” and every government building would have a Christmas tree.

O’Reilly might want to turn to conservative Christian radio host Matt Barber for help. Barber is ready to go to war. After the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a complaint to stop a Michigan man from putting a nativity scene on public land, Barber said they should be punched “in the mouth.” The 6th Circuit Court ruled in favor of the nativity scene, but Barber is still angry. He told his listeners that they should contact Liberty Counsel’s toll-free number if they find any “religious cleansing.”

“You know, what do you do with a bully?” Barber explained. “If a bully keeps getting his way and intimidating kids on the playground and nobody stands up for themselves then the bully is encouraged and emboldened and continues to bully more and more people. But when a little kid is being bullied and he turns around and punches the bully in the mouth–metaphorically speaking, of course–then the bully is oftentimes proven to be a paper tiger.”

Atheists aren’t the only cause of the war on Christmas. LGBT and pro-choice people are also instigators—according to O’Reilly and his associates. In a discussion with O’Reilly, Bernard McGuirk, producer of Imus in the Morning, said, “The war on Christmas is very, very real, and if you ask me, in addition to some grouchy misanthropic heathen atheists it has to do — at the root of it — with two things — abortion and the gay rights agenda, because Christianity is against those things.”

O’Reilly’s response was emphatic. “Hundred percent agree. I absolutely agree 100 percent that the diminishment of Christianity is the target, and Christmas is the vehicle because the secularists know the opposition to their agenda, legalized drugs is in that as well, comes primarily from the Judeo-Christian traditionalist people.”

Perhaps O’Reilly should call out his own station for rejecting the word “Christmas” when referring to office parties. In a four-minute segment about how to deal with the upcoming festivities, the hosts referred to “holiday party” experiences twice as many times as to “Christmas party.” Maybe that makes it just a skirmish instead of a war.

bit of information about the holiday. Although the New Testament gives no date for the birth of Jesus Christ, historians and theologians have determined he was born either in the fall or the spring, about the time of Passover. December 25th was chosen to coincide with pagan celebrations in the Roman Empire which went from Europe through Asia Minor to the Middle East and Africa. Other cultures—Egyptians, the Norse, Greeks, etc.—celebrated their gods during late December.

Pragmatic Catholics connected December 25th, known by Romans as the birth of the “Sun” to the birth of the “Son.” Then the Catholics appropriated March 25, a pagan feast-day on the Spring Equinox (aka “the birth of Spring”), into the day that Mary conceived Jesus.

The three Wise Men didn’t appear at his birth. They traveled from their own country and arrived a couple of years later when Jesus and his parents were living in a house.

The word “Christmas” derives from fourth-century Roman Catholicism with the “mas” part coming from the Mass, or blasphemous Eucharistic service of western Catholicism. The actual word, Christmas, comes from 1050 AD.

People who choose to follow a literal translation of the Bible should know that its writings are opposed to using trees. Jeremiah 10 states: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk.”

The tradition of gifts comes from the requirement of nobility that subjects give presents to them during the Winter Solstice. Saint Nicholas, a Catholic bishop born in 270 AD, promoted the gift-giving ritual when he threw gold into the homes of poor people so that they wouldn’t have to sell their daughters into prostitution.

Druids followed the ritual of kissing under the mistletoe, a medicinal herb, to increase fertility. The white berries represented drops of the Sun God’s semen. Red holly was a symbol of the menstrual blood of Diana, the queen of heaven, and witches used holly wood to make wands.

Maybe these are the reasons that the Puritans didn’t celebrate Christmas. The first War on Christmas came from the original settlers of New England who objected in the excess of revelry and contended that there is no Scriptural warrant for the celebration of Jesus’s birth. They understood that the holiday was superstitious at best, heretical at worst. The Puritans forbid merriment and ordered shops to stay open, churches to be closed, and ministers arrested for preaching on December 25.

Between 1659 to 1681, all people who celebrated Christmas in the American colonies were fined five schillings. The War on Christmas lasted until 1870 when the day was declared a federal holiday as a sop to the Southerners who lost the Civil War. Thus following our Founding Fathers, as many conservatives wish, we should not celebrate Christmas. Back to “Happy Holidays.”

Other December celebrations—which is why it’s a good idea to say “Happy Holidays”!

  • Jewish Chanukah
  • Secular Winter Solstice
  • Pagan Yule
  • Buddhist Rohatsu5
  • Baha’i Masa’il and Sharaf
  • Jain Maunajiyara
  • Sikh Gur-purab
  • Zorastrian Ghambar Maidyarem
  • African-American Kwanzaa
  • Kenetic Orthodox The Establishment of the Celestial Cow
  • And sometimes Muslim Ramadan, depending on their calendar.

For now, happy holidays!

December 4, 2012

GOP’s Dilemmas–Money, Public Response

Great news from today. Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will be sitting on the chamber’s banking committee. This action can provide fireworks for the next six years! After preventing her from from running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, she still has regulatory control over the industry.

If you eat at Olive Garden or Red Lobster, you might want to contact owners Darden Restaurants about their plans to cut workers’ hours to avoid providing health insurance. Although they previously announced that they would do this if President Obama were re-elected, they now worry about negative publicity and loss of business. Papa John’s Pizza and Applebee’s have already decided that public opposition to cutting workers’ hours will hurt them and changed their position.

About 25 percent of the people in the country want to secede from the United States, about the same as last year. I would be one of the people who would vote to let them.

The House will lose 5 percent of GOP women, giving women a total percentage of about 8 percent, when Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (MO) leaves in February to head up the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a lobbying organization for rural utility companies and her biggest all-time campaign contributor. There is no primary for her replacement, and state party leaders—Republicans—control the election. Emerson follows Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) with her proposed resignation. She didn’t declare herself job-looking or declare a conflict of interest, in opposition to House rules, but she’ll be gone in a couple of months and won’t care.

House Speaker John Boeher (R-OH) has tried to send a message to his members who fail to vote in lockstep. Reps. David Schweikert (AZ-06) and Walter Jones (NC-03) are gone from the Financial Services Committee, and Reps. Justin Amash (MI-03) and Tim Huelskamp (KS-01) disappeared from the Budget Committee. Only one of the four was too left, mostly on foreign policy; the others are the ultra-conservatives who oppose Boehner’s agenda. Amash considers the GOP budget measures too liberal, and Schweikert defeated Ben Quayle, a Boehner favorite. There’s a thorn in paradise!

Boehner doesn’t seem to be in control, however. His ridiculous fiscal proposal, recommending $150 billion less in revenue than the one from before the election, has been rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. That may be why he didn’t speak to the president at the White House holiday party last night. No photos this year as in the past. And the GOP is now going to lobbyists for advice.

Hoping to get traction from the name of Democrat Erskine Bowles who joined with Alan Simpson to lead the failed fiscal discussions almost two years ago, Boehner calls his plan after him. Bowles, however, opposes the “Bowles plan,” or at least John Boehner’s manipulation of it, saying that it has nothing to do with the plan from the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction commission.

Republicans are fond of saying that Democrats refuse to compromise in fiscal matters. The following chart shows the extent to which Republicans plan to compromise:

fiscal compromise

If Republicans look unhappy these days, it might be because they have noted the polling about who is to blame for the fiscal stalemate. It would be nice if they would start paying attention to polling after their disastrous conclusions before Election Day.


Another poll shows that only 10 percent of the people in the U.S. view the honesty and ethical standards of House of Representative members as very high or high. In an examination of 22 different professions, only car salespeople did worse, at 8 percent. Senate members faired slightly higher at 14 percent.

The Senate’s standing may go down after they voted down the U.N. treaty ban on discrimination against people with disabilities, 61-38. Treaties require a two-thirds vote; Rick Santorum had promised 36 no votes, and he got two extra. GOP senators voting in favor of the treaty were Kelly Ayotte (NH), John Barrasso (WY), Scott Brown (MA), Susan Collins (ME), Dick Lugar (IN), John McCain (AZ) and Lisa Murkowski (AK). Three of these “moderates” fought the nomination of Susan Rice for Secretary of State although President Obama has not appointed anyone for the position. Even Bob Dole, 1996 Republican presidential candidate, came in a wheelchair to support the passage of the treaty and got nowhere.

Supporters of the treaty argued that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would merely require the rest of the world to meet the standards that Americans already enjoy under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

The treaty was negotiated and first signed under President George W. Bush and signed again by Obama in 2009. At least 153 other countries have signed it; 126 have ratified it. Democrats and advocates for people with disabilities argued that recommendations from a panel created by the treaty would be advisory only, not binding, and that the treaty did not create any new legal rights in state or federal courts. John Kerry countered that the treaty would allow the United States to serve on the committee to advocate for the rights of U.S. veterans and citizens living or traveling abroad.

Newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) can drive the Senate into a crazier position on the U.N. Last summer he wrote a blog vowing to fight “a dangerous United Nations plan” on environmental sustainability that, according to Cruz, would abolish “golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads.” He lays the fault on the Democratic financier-philanthropist George Soros. Cruz also agrees with Glenn Beck that the supposed ban on light bulbs was intended to shut down manufacturing in the United States.

Forty-nine percent of people in the United States join Ted Cruz in his conspiracy theories: they think that the supposedly-illegal work of ACORN, the organization to help poor people that went bankrupt two years ago, is responsible for the re-election of President Obama. If the organization was so powerful, why did it let so many Tea Party members go to Congress in 2010?!

The Finale: Disturbed by Fox’s failures regarding Election Day 2012, Roger Ailes has send out orders that producers must get permission from higher up before booking people connected with the election—including Karl Rove and Dick Morris. The comedy shows will be poorer because of Ailes’ mandate.

November 21, 2012

Peace, Economic Security a Little Closer

Today’s Best News:

Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire in Gaza after eight days of rocket fire and retaliatory Israeli air strikes left at least 100 Palestinians and three Israelis dead. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed to pursue a “comprehensive peace,” suggesting the Obama administration will rekindle two-state peace talks that have been frozen for the past three years over disagreements about Israeli settlements and future borders.

Occupy Wall Street (by now it seems to be Occupy the World) has come up with a great idea: the Rolling Jubilee project. When people can no longer pay their debts, individuals or companies can buy these debts at pennies on the dollar and then try to collect something from the people who owe money. Occupy has decided to buy these debts—and then forgive them. Even Forbes likes the idea. To test the idea, Occupy purchased $14,000 worth of outstanding loans for $500 and then pardoned the debtors. Now they are looking for donations to expand the project. Thus far they have managed to wipe out almost $10 million of debt for less than $50,000.

Occupy used Iceland for their model. After that country’s banks forgave loans equivalent to 13 percent of the GDP, Iceland’s consumer debt, its economy grew at 2.5 percent in this year’s first quarter. The result is expanded consumption, increased wages, improved standard of living, and no economic collapse. The banks’ action eased the debt burdens of over one-fourth of the country’s population.

Contrary to the beliefs of most conservatives, the U.S. “federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such stretch since demobilization from World War II,” according to Matt Yglesias. This year the $1.089 trillion deficit is $200 billion smaller than last year and almost $300 billion smaller than when Barack Obama became president. This is not necessarily good news for economists because such a fast reduction in the deficit could lead to a recession, but learning about it might shut up all those candidates who use the deficit to whip the president. This chart, showing the rise and fall of the deficit over the past 60 years also indicates that Democrats seem to do better than Republicans. It appears that the liberals always have to clean up after conservatives. At least the Republicans shouldn’t be able to destroy the decrease in the deficit during the next four years.









The last piece of good news for today is that people in the United States may become more educated. There was a time when progressives felt that Fox News had a permanent stranglehold on the country’s population. Study after study showed that people watching Fox were more ignorant of political facts than those who didn’t follow any news, but the number of watchers kept growing. There’s a chance that Fox’s popularity is winding down. During the eight days after President Obama’s re-election, MSNBC’s average audience for the key 25-54 year old demographic drew about 8% more viewers than Fox, according the Nielsen ratings.

Two programs were at the top of the MSNBC lineup. Rachel Maddow won seven of the eight days against her Fox competition, Sean Hannity, beating him by an average 18 percent, and her 544k average was second to only Bill O’Reilly in all of cable news. Lawrence O’Donnell won all eight days against Fox’s Greta Van Susteren with a margin of victory of 17% for the eight days. Hannity, perhaps the most strident partisan host on Fox, frequently invites on his show Dick Morris, the man who loudly claimed the errors of polls indicating the president’s defeating Romney. Van Susteren has a close association with friend and client of her husband, Sarah Palin. The question is whether Fox will become more reasonable to keep an audience or ramp up the rhetoric of hatred and fear.

I’m guessing that the majority of conservatives had no idea how many lies the Republican candidates, led by the master of mendacity Mitt Romney, told them in expensive advertising. If the trend of watching MSNBC continues, the voters in the next election will be more aware of facts rather than Fox pundits’ impassioned attempts to sway the voters’ opinions through the largest collection of lies in any general election campaign since the invention of television.

In the election that seems so long ago but was decided only 15 days in the past, the majority of people voted for Democrats both in Congress and in the presidency. This happened despite the Republicans’ attempt to weed out Democratic voters across the country. Republicans need candidates who can win on their own merits, not through lying to voters and suppressing the votes. Maybe they will learn this.


November 14, 2012

Macke Needs to Try Harder

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:33 PM
Tags: , , ,

When I was young, I learned that an apology has two parts:  the action for which I’m apologizing is wrong, and I recognize that I was wrong in doing this. Following is a statement from Tricia Macke, anchor of a news show on WXIX, a Cincinnati Fox affiliate.

“I recently posted comments on my personal Facebook page regarding cable news anchor Rachel Maddow which were insensitive and inappropriate. I apologize to Ms. Maddow and any others who may have been offended by my comments, as they do not reflect my firm beliefs in individual and equal rights, and they certainly do not represent the opinions or position of my employer WXIX-TV.”

Nowhere do I see any indication that she believed her action was wrong or that she was sorry for what she had done. There was the obligatory “I apologize to anyone who might have been offended…” which is meaningless.

The reason for Macke’s faux apology began on October 12 when Macke posted on her personal Facebook page, “Rachel Maddow is such an angry young man.” A reply compared her comment to making racist jokes, and Macke responded, “I’m sorry. I should have said antagonistic.” Another person wrote that calling Maddow a “man” was offensive, and Macke then answered, “I knew what I was saying.”

It was not until the Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) and Equality Ohio addressed the issue with her employer that Macke issued her “apology.” She was also suspended from work for two days last weekend although the television station refused to say whether her statement was related to this action. The station did submit the following statement with the same apology “to anyone who may have been offended”:

“We have received several expressions of concerns about a recent Facebook posting by FOX19 Anchor Tricia Macke on her personal Facebook page. Tricia’s response is provided below and is also posted on her personal Facebook page. We also apologize to anyone who may have been offended by her comments.”–WXIX Station Management

In its objection to Macke’s statement, GLAAD said “referring to Maddow as a ‘man’ because she is a gay woman is completely unacceptable for someone in the business of journalism.” The organization’s president, Herndon Graddick, said, “Macke owes an apology not only to viewers, but to young people in Ohio who are subjected to unfair bullying and harassment like this on a daily basis.”

[Left: Tricia Macke; right: Rachel Maddow]

Rachel Maddow, an internationally recognized journalist with her own show on MSNBC, will certainly not suffer because of Macke’s ignorant remarks. Always gracious, witty, funny, and charming, Maddow will move forward in her extremely successful career.  The losers from Macke’s cruel, bullying comments are, as Graddick pointed out, the young people, not just in Ohio but anywhere else that Macke’s comments and other similar ones are passed along. According to recent statistics:

  • 9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school.
  • LGBT teens are bullied 2 to 3 times as much as straight teens.
  • More than 1/3 of LGBTQ kids have attempted suicide.
  • LGBTQ kids are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide then our straight peers.
  • LGBTQ youth with “highly rejecting” families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accept them.

Even if Macke doesn’t care about LGBTQ youth, she might want to consider the effect of her statements on straight children. For every lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth who is bullied, four straight students who are perceived to be gay or lesbian are bullied. The stigma and hostilities caused by this anti-LGBTQ bullying result in health risk behaviors, such as skipping school, smoking, alcohol and drug use, and sexual risk; these risks exist as much for heterosexual youth perceived to be lesbian or gay as for non-heterosexual youth who try to keep their sexual orientation hidden.

Macke has five children: chances are good that one of them and/or some of their friends may be part of these horrifying statistics. Her behavior will make life harder for them and for their friends. Hopefully, she will learn understanding and compassion for youth without any tragedies to those she loves. In the meantime, two days suspension is far too little consequences for her inexcusable statements. Macke is over 40 years old: she should understand that as a journalist, she is a mentor to many young people.

Her biographical page for Fox 19 states: Abraham Lincoln said, ‘whatever you are, be a good one.’  I try.” I hope that she starts to try harder after this experience.


November 7, 2012

Thoughts on Election Day 2012

Twenty-four hours ago, I was taking deep breaths and telling myself that everything would be okay. Now I have to keep from cheering about yesterday’s election every time I go someplace. When I went to the veterinarian to pick up something, I did discover that only one of the entire crew voted for President Obama; luckily he was the one who I talked with.

Most amazing to me is how stunned the Republicans are that they lost the presidency and the Senate. In their arrogance, they thought that white male supremacy would overcome the weak women and people of color to win these although the polls were all against them. By 1:00 this morning I had watched MSNBC for so many hours that I flipped over to Fox News to get a feel for their take on the election. It was refreshing to see four women of color with two white men on a panel discussing the reasons for Mitt Romney’s failure.

First the two men concentrated on how the Republicans failed to communicate their message. Then one of them agreed with the host that, yes, perhaps Romney should have been more open with their plans. Finally, the host turns to the women. The Fox employee talked about the importance of explaining the Republican message about economy to women.

I cheered when one of the women guests presented the simple statement that the Republican problem is not their messaging but their policies! I’ll keep that brief explanation handy in all my political discussions from now on. Another woman talked about the young people not understanding why the Republicans were anti-choice, anti-marriage equality—in short, anti-rights that they have come to expect. The women were quickly shuttled off, but not after I cheered them.

Fox News is also the source of yesterday’s funniest story. CEO Roger Ailes ordered the election team to prepare for the worst: “Guys, if things don’t go your way tonight, don’t go out there looking like someone ran over your dog.” However, American Crossroads co-founder and Fox News contributor Karl Rove isn’t used to following orders. Hearing that Fox was calling Ohio—and thus the presidency—for Barack Obama, he told the host, and the audience, that Fox’s decision desk was wrong. After all, his super-PAC had put $300 million on Romney. 

After a discussion with the host, Megyn Kelly was sent on camera to talk to the decision team. “This is Fox News,” an insider said, “so anytime there’s a chance to show off Megyn Kelly’s legs they’ll go for it.” And some people wonder why no one takes Fox “News” seriously! Rove stuck to his guns for almost an hour. He may have been surprised because of his connection to the possibly rigged voting machines in Ohio that gave George W. Bush enough votes to win the 2004 election.

As Alyssa Rosenberg wrote:

“The decision by [Fox] last night to break the firewall between its anchors and its decision team on behalf of a contributor, Karl Rove, who helped shepherd hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the outcome of an election and didn’t want to hear the final verdict on his investment, was already a sham, another illustration of a conservative allergy to facts and data. Sending an attractive woman to do that embarrassing work–rather than letting her continue to do her anchoring job, at which Kelly is frequently a credit to the network–on Rove’s behalf, to fake concern for the integrity of election results, and to send her in part so you can get her legs out from behind her desk, is strikingly juvenile and strikingly retrograde.”

After Karl Rove’s blowup, conservatives have passed around the blame for Romney’s loss. His own staff is blaming both him and other staff members. Fox News blames the media bias, especially when it insisted on reported the news about Romney’s “47 percent” mooching statements. Of course, moderators Martha Raddatz (ABC) and Candy Crowley (CNN) came in for their share of blame because of their style of moderating. The National Review wrote that people in this country are “not equipped” for liberty.

My small-town newspaper is owned by Ross Pobanz, a wealthy “self-made” entrepreneur who gets to publish an offensive weekly column about progressives because, as I said, he owns the newspaper!. Today’s column moved from toxic to rabid. After trashing President Obama’s policies in stereotypical terms, Pobanz defined those who support the president: “progressives and especially progressive women, the very young African-Americans, a majority of the Hispanics and people who can be bought with either benefits or promises of future benefits. Union members, trial lawyers, teachers, government employees, city dwellers, chronic malcontents and dedicated freeloaders such as Occupy…”

Those not in the president’s camp are “suburbanites, people without debt, ambitious people …, just about anyone with his head above the mush or at some degree of remove from government.” This is the divide in the conservative world.

As angry as Pobanz is, Donald Trump is even closer to the edge. In tweets that he tried—and failed—to erase, he wrote,  “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!” Even so, Trump didn’t achieve the heights of Ted Nugent’s hate: “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

An apology for a mistake in yesterday’s blog: imagine my surprise when I got up this morning to find out that two of the three states voting on marijuana legalization had passed these initiatives! Living in a small, hippie-oriented areas of the Oregon Coast, I am accustomed to people talking about the use of cannabis, but my conservative Nebraska upbringing kept the notion of legalized weed from being part of my culture. Colorado and Washington voted to decriminalize small portions of the drug although Oregon failed to pass its more liberal bill. With other states legalizing medical use, the federal government will be forced to reevaluated its position on making marijuana legal.

The election of  two extra Democratic seats for the Senate and the switch in Nebraska’s seat from Democratic to Republican brought three additional women to the Senate for a total of 20. Two Democratic women are the first openly-LGBT senator, Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and the first Asian-American woman, Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

The 77 women in the 113th House is also a record. Although 2 percent fewer than in the Senate, the women include two veterans, Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and two women under the age of 40, Gabbard and Grace Meng (D-NY). Gabbard is also the first Hindu in Congress.

The increased Democratic diversity in the 113th Congress means that, for the first time, white men will no longer be the majority of the Democratic caucus. Before the election, white men were 53 percent of House Democrats and 86 percent of the Republicans.

In 2012, the right-wing conservatives swept over 60 percent of state legislatures. Yesterday, Maine and Minnesota Democrats took back their Houses and Senates.  Colorado Democrats took back their House and will have the first openly gay Speaker to replace the one who blocked any consideration of a civil unions bill that had sufficient votes to pass. Iowa Democrats not only kept their Senate but also the one remaining judge who had the temerity to rule that a law opposing marriage equality was unconstitutional. The Tea Party got rid of the other three judges in 2010. California gained a supermajority in the legislature, giving them the power to overcome the gridlock from Republicans who refused to raise any taxes to keep the state solvent.

Michigan repealed its “Emergency Manager” law that allowed the governor to play dictator by overriding democratically-elected representatives in cities and schools, usually done in communities with high minority populations. It’s too late for Benton Harbor to save their park for children that a developer took over, but it saves the rest of the state. Michigan also refused to pass a law requiring a two-thirds’ majority for the legislature to raise taxes.

Any change in Arizona toward the liberal is still up in the air because many Latinos were forced to file provisional ballots. The results should in interesting.

Republicans had one success: the residents of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District elected a man who actually believes he is Santa Claus. Perhaps there’s something in the water in the district; Kerry Bentivolio replaces Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, known for his run for president, his falsification of names on petitions to run for representative, and his guitar-playing.

The best summary of the election comes from humorist Andy Borowitz.


October 1, 2012

Republicans Face Obstacles

Election Day is five weeks from tomorrow, and the Republicans are growing more and more desperate. From ridiculous statements to voter registration fraud, the GOP leaders are making fools of themselves.

The latest loopy Republican is Mitt Romney surrogate John Sununu. In an interview with the New York Times, he claimed President Obama didn’t deserve credit for killing Osama bin Laden because he could have done it sooner.

Paul Ryan has also been infected by the mania to hide facts. In assuring Chris Wallace (Fox News) during an interview yesterday that Romney’s tax plan would give tax cuts to everyone, he said it would take too long to explain. “But let me say it this way, you can lower tax rates 20 percent across the board by closing loopholes and still have preferences for the middle class for things like charitable deductions, home purchases, for health care,” he explained. Ryan stuck to his classic “trust me” approach today when he said that he just didn’t want people “change the channel.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been a member of both major political parties as well as an independent in the last decade, has a reason for racial prejudice. When the NAACP filed a complaint about the racial bias against blacks and Hispanics in the admissions test for entering the city’s top public high schools, Bloomberg had an answer. “Life isn’t always fair,” he said.

If anything on Fox News can be believed, the big money donors are switching their cash from Mitt Romney to Republican Congressional candidates.

Since even the Fox polls shows that President Obama is polling ahead of Romney, the Republicans have this theory that all the polls are rigged—except the Rasmussen poll that shows the two men almost equal. First, Nate Silver, who predicted the electoral results for president in 49 out of the 50 states, has said that the polls are probably close to accurate. But second, the methodology for the Rasmussen polls lead to skewed results. They employ Pulse Opinion Research, a pay-to-poll agency which uses automated polling, a process that calls up a land line and allows anyone who answers to provide the answers despite age or eligibility.

The New York Times has published an article, buried on the bottom of page 13 last Friday, stating that Romney’s national security team recommends that he should rescind President Obama’s executive order barring torture. In all likelihood, he would do this because he is on record as saying that waterboarding is not torture. He has also said that he would approve “techniques” not allowed by the Army manual.

Fox News has trained one Millennial very well. In an interview with Fox, Steven Crowder said that he’s against “free” healthcare and “free” Social Security unlike other Millennials who just want “free” stuff. The interview doesn’t mention that Crowder grew up in Canada where he received “free” healthcare until he moved to Los Angeles. He did, however, use the typical Republican catchphrases such as “free birth control” and “Obama phones,” a program that started under Ronald Reagan.

More and more cases of Republican voter registration frauds are appearing across the country after Strategic Allied Consulting, an RNC-employed company, turned in registration forms to at least ten Florida counties with names of people who had died.

A complaint in California occurred after a surge of 35,000 registered Republicans in Riverside, a notorious blue area. Democrats presented affidavits from 133 Democratic voters who said that they had been re-registered as Republicans without their consent after signing petitions, including one that purported to lower the price of gasoline.  Others said they were offered free cigarettes or a “job at the polls” if they signed some paperwork. Re-registering Democrats as Republicans interferes with Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts because the party won’t contact a voter who is listed as a Republican. Petition voters said they were being paid $7 per signature.

In Colorado, the same company, paid $466,643 or half its total budget by the Colorado Republican Party, was fired at the recommendation of the Republican National Committee but not soon enough. On video, a young woman told someone that she was working for the county clerk’s office. She said, “I’m actually trying to register people for a particular party because we’re out here in support of Romney, actually.” No one knows how many people the company registered for the Democratic party and then discarded.  Colorado is one of five swing states that have stopped voter registration efforts because they had all employed the fraudulent company.

Also in Clay County (FL), a female volunteer calling for the Republican Party said that President Obama is a socialist and Muslim and that he’s going to take away Medicare. In addition, she gave instructions to watch Fox News and the propaganda “documentary” 2016: Obama’s America. None of these things is true—including the information in the film. There’s proof that the volunteer said these things because she left a message on an answering machine.

The icing on the cake for today, however, is last Friday’s ruling from Judge Carol Jackson, a George H.W. Bush appointee to a federal court in Missouri, that rejected a Catholic business owner’s challenge to the Obama Administration’s rules requiring employer health plans to cover birth control. The decision stated that salaries and health insurance can be used to buy birth control, so if religious employers really object to enabling their employees to buy birth control, they would have to not pay them money in addition to denying them comprehensive health insurance.

According to the ruling, an employer cannot assert a religious objection to how their employees choose to use their own benefits or their own money because religious freedom is not a license to “force one’s religious practices upon others.” Jackson not only rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that the birth control rules violate the Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause but also rejected the plaintiffs’ much stronger claim that the rules violate a federal law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). RFRA gives religious objectors significant, although not entirely insurmountable, rights against laws they do not wish to follow for religious reasons. So Jackson’s opinion rejects the strongest possible legal argument against the Obama Administration’s contraception rules.

As shown below, the Romney campaign can’t even find enough women to get out and support Mitt Romney in Missouri.

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