Nel's New Day

September 30, 2014

GOP House Candidates: Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 7:43 PM
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DailyKos has proposed that Glenn Grothman, the Wisconsin state senator considered to be a shoe-in for the U.S. representative in the state’s sixth district in seven weeks, is the new “dumbest Congressman” for the 114th Congress. Mother Jones offered up some of his credentials for this position:

  • He proposed rolling back a state law requiring employers to give workers at least one day of rest a week, describing the current state law as “a little goofy” and claiming that his proposal is about “freedom.” At one time, people declared that being forced to work seven days a week wasn’t Christian; now preventing a seven-day work week is communism.
  • He believes that homosexuality is a choice and wants to keep public school teachers from mentioning homosexuality in sex education. To him, Ugandan law to criminalize homosexuality is ideal.
  • He thinks that Kwanzaa is a phony holiday promoted by “white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans.”
  • He is opposed to equal-pay legislation because “money is more important for men.”
  • He introduced a bill requiring Wisconsin to officially deem single parenthood to be a “contributor” to child abuse and neglect and in the laws of the state.

At least 26 GOP members of the House will be replaced because they have resigned or lost their primaries. Here is some competition for Glenn Grothman, other candidates likely to be elected:

Baptist pastor Mark Walker, running for the position of Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), wrote on Facebook that he “had the privilege of spending an hour with an African-American male who grew up in the inner city,” but that “most of these Americans have no concept of the pride and joy when we, as parents, invest in our children.” Walker also wants to impeach the president and declare war on Mexico because of undocumented immigrants coming across the border.

Former Navy SEAL team member Ryan Zinke, running for the position of Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT), said the country is losing its focus on “the real enemy,” Hillary Clinton, whom he called the Antichrist.

Former candidate in both New Hampshire and Maryland Alex X. Mooney, running for the position of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), has 100 percent approval from Right to Life, Christian Coalition, and Family Values Alliance and never voted for a tax increase.

After defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary, David Brat has a chance at the Virginia seat. He wants to slash Social Security, Medicare, and education spending and says “rich” nations don’t have to fear climate change. Brat also wants to dissolve the IRS and absolves Big Finance and the banks of responsibility for the financial crisis that triggered the recession. (He’s an economist—and an educator?!) Another of Brat’s positions is getting rid of the United Nation and the Affordable Care Act while strictly controlling immigration.

Jody Hice, likely Georgia replacement for Rep. Paul Broun (evolution, a lie from “the pit of hell”), said of women in politics, “If the woman’s within the authority of her husband, I don’t see a problem.” Hice also compared the recent appearance of red “blood moons” to prophecies that preceded the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Israeli statehood, and the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. He claims that Islam is not a religion but a political ideology and therefore does not deserve First Amendment protections. In a satirical book, he claimed he had found a homosexual agenda to “sodomize your sons” by seducing them “in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms.”

Ken Buck, trying to take the job of Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) who’s aiming for the senate, opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and compares homosexuality to alcoholism. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is no prize: he co-sponsored a fetal personhood bill in the House to give protected status to fertilized eggs. In 2010, Gardner supported a defeated statewide “personhood” amendment but has now renounced it. His name is still on the federal bill although he has claimed that the bill doesn’t exist. He outshouted a Denver reporter who asked why the representative remains a cosponsor of the Life At Conception Act, and a spokesman later said that the bill that would block many forms of contraception was largely “symbolic.”

Colorado already has Rep. Doug Lamborn, running for re-election, who bragged about talking to generals to retire en masse because of President Obama’s ISIL strategy. The member of the House Armed Services Committee told his audience of “liberty voters” that “a lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation.’” Abandoning troops in the midst of war might be one definition of sedition. After criticism of George W. Bush in 2003, Eric Cantor, senior House Republican from Virginia, said, “Traditionally, both Republicans and Democrats leave politics at the water’s edge. A united front is essential for the U.S. to effectively deal with other nations and troubled regions.”

Facing national criticism, Lamborn tried to cover up his statements by saying that they were in the past, but his speech used present tense–a dead giveaway.

Other far-right representatives will most likely be replaced by farther-right candidates: John Ratcliffe is to the right of retiring Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX); Gary Palmer is to the right of retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL); Barbara Comstock  is to the right of retiring Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA); and so on. Comstock wants to track immigrants like FedEx tracks packages.

Several of these candidates have promised to vote against current House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for another term if they are elected. A new advertisement in Wisconsin states: “We have plenty of yes men in Congress, and look where it’s gotten us. Glen Grothman knows when it’s time to stand up and say no.” Boehner has struggled with his recalcitrant caucus for the entire 113th Congress. He may not even have the job in January.

Then there’s Monica Wehby who wants to take the U.S. senate position from Oregon’s Democrat Jeff Merkley. But that’s another story for another day.

November 15, 2012

GOP: Party in Search of a Reason

Since Mitt Romney lost the election, the Republicans are either angry or despondent. Romney told his top donors that President Obama won by providing “extraordinary financial gifts” to a targeted audience—like minorities, women, and the poor. I’m guessing that once again he didn’t know he was being recorded. Despondent and angry might fit the Florida man who killed himself because Romney lost—although there might be other descriptive words.

Another excuse emerged in Wisconsin to explain why Romney lost, at least in that state. State Sen. Alberta Darling, Romney’s state campaign co-chair, is absolutely convinced that Romney would have won in Wisconsin if the state had mandatory photo ID for voting. Romney lost by 200,000 votes, meaning that she assumes there are that many cases of voter fraud. Eight years ago, a study found of the approximately 3 million votes cast in Wisconsin, “only seven were declared invalid—all of which were cast by felons who had finished their sentences and didn’t realize they were still barred from voting. As a result, Wisconsin’s overall fraud rate came in at a whopping 0.00023 percent.”

There must be something in the Wisconsin water. Re-elected state Sen. Glenn Grothman is convinced that President Obama and Tammy Baldwin probably won their elections due to fraud and that eventually he’s “going to have to lay down the gauntlet” on the people who enforce Obamacare. He plans to “talk to some more people,” explaining that “some people are of the opinion that Democrats cheat.” He and Sen. Darling will have lots to talk about when the Wisconsin legislature goes back into session.

Another way that Republicans identify voter fraud is by skin color. Charlie Webster, the head of the Maine GOP, is positive that his state experienced voter fraud because blacks voted on Election Day. “Nobody in town knows anyone who’s black,” Webster said. Actually he does know “black people,” including “a black guy” he plays basketball with every Sunday. Webster wouldn’t tell the media which towns and the number of “black” voters. Megan Sanborn, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Charlie Summers, said that his office had not heard any complaints about voter fraud on November 6 and there was no noticeable increase in Maine’s African-American voting turnout.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is still trying to figure out how to not count legitimate ballots. It’s getting harder after federal Judge Algenon Marbley ordered him to keep certain provisional ballots and issue a new directive regarding these ballots. The judge further ruled that Husted’s directive just before Election Day violated a previous court ruling and state law. Currently Husted is waiting for direction from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. If its ruling agrees with the lower court, Husted has until the end of November to figure out how to count all the ballots.  Ohio still has about 300,000 uncounted ballots, about the same number as in Arizona.

http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/11/14/1187341/mccain-hypocrisy-susan-rice/  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is so convinced that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is “not qualified” to be Secretary of State that he said, “I will do everything in my power to block her from becoming Secretary of State.” McCain might have more credibility if he hadn’t chosen Sarah Palin for the position “a heartbeat away from the presidency.” And also if he hadn’t voted for Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary of State after she was so mistaken about the “weapons of mass destruction.”

McCain also took after a CNN reporter who asked why McCain was having a press conference about needing more discussion about Benghazi at exactly the same time that he failed to attend a classified briefing on Benghazi provided by the Senate Homeland Security committee. McCain is a ranking member of that committee.  Pressed after he said that he had no comment, McCain raised the agitation a notch: “I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?” McCain then accused the reporter, Ted Barrett, of “badgering” him. McCain is almost alone in his virulence against Rice, supported only by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC).

Republican business leaders are still threatening their customers and employees. Obamacare hasn’t gone into effect yet for employers, but John Metz, who owns the Hurricane Grill & Wings chain and is a franchisee of dozens of Denny’s and Dairy Queen restaurants, said he will reduce employees’ hours and pass a 5 percent surcharge onto his customers because Obama was re-elected. He also plans to reduce his employees’ hours.

Meanwhile, David Siegel, the CEO of Westgate Resorts who threatened to fire some of his 7,000 employees if President Obama were re-elected, has given all of them 5-percent raises. He had reason to: last year was the most profitable year in the company’s 42-year history, according to Siegel.

Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter declared that Obamacare would break them unless they raised prices for pizza. First, the cost increase is less than $.04 per pizza, and second, Papa John’s competition is delighted. But Papa John has even more problems now. A U.S. lawsuit filed in Seattle claims that the company violated state and federal law when they had the marketing company OnTime4U send 500,000 unsolicited—and illegal–text messages to Papa John’s customers across the U.S. Damages could be more than $250 million. The lawsuit caused stock to fall severely before adjusting at $.34 lower.

 

The question keeps arising, how unethical are Republicans? (When you finish laughing, you can read on.) Today the media broke the story that Karl Rove’s pet super-PAC, the same one that got a 1.39 percent return for its hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditures, never legally filed any paperwork to be a super-PAC. According to Josh Israel,

“When Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS) formed in 2010, it established its official address in Warrenton (VA) and registered with the Internal Revenue Service a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization.” It apparently did not, however, register as a charitable organization with the Commonwealth of Virginia, as appears was legally required. According to state code, non-profit groups that intend to solicit contributions must first register with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs. Groups must pay an annual fee ($325 for groups raising over $1 million annually), provide basic information about their operations….”

The organization registered with Virginia’s corporation commission but never registered to solicit contributions in the state. Crossroads’ tax identification was never registered with the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs, vital to keep its contributors secret the way that the organization did. A spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stated that they will be notifying Crossroads GPS of the law. If Rove’s group ignores this order, she noted that state law told “provides for both civil and criminal penalties” if the group can be shown to have made such solicitations. I’m not holding my breath that any action will be taken against Crossroads and Rove.

Once upon a time there was a Republican U.S. representative from the South who was completely anti-abortion. Then people found out that he not only had a mistress while he was married but also tried to convince the mistress that she should have an abortion to save the man’s marriage. People in the South tend to vote for Republicans even when they don’t follow all the rules that they make for other people, so the representative was re-elected.

Now there’s another chapter in the life of Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), luckily for him after the election. His recently-released divorce proceedings show that he and his former wife made a “mutual” decision for her to have two abortions. In court, DesJarlais testified that his ex-wife’s first abortion was because she was taking an experimental drug, and the second was because they were having marital problems. On his campaign website, DesJarlais wrote, “All life should be cherished and protected. We are pro-life.”

Oh, and the mistress? She was a patient of Dr. DesJarlais. And she wasn’t the only patient who he had an affair with. There is proof that he wrote prescriptions for pain killers for at least one of the women, and other women with whom he had affairs claim that he did the same for them. That was while he was chief of staff at a local hospital. Both the affairs with patients and the prescriptions are in violation of the state ethics law.

Normally, I say that people’s sex lives are their own business, but this is a man who votes against women’s rights and marriage equality because he claims to be anti-abortion and pro-family. Those votes make his private life my business—and the business of everyone else in the country. And now he’s one of the House Republican majority for the next two years.

April 2, 2012

Wisconsin’s Journey to Freedom, Part II

Wisconsin—a place where the conservative governor Scott Walker stripped fundamental rights, slashed budgets for health and education, silenced citizens in the formal political process, and erased the possibility of public good or trust from state agencies. A place where Walker, who campaigned on getting more jobs for people and improving the economy, took $56 million from the working poor by reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit while giving $36 million to wealthy Wisconsin investors in a capital gains tax break. A place where Walker used $25.6 million of the $31.6 million Wisconsin’s state government received from the foreclosure fraud settlement to help close a budget shortfall in the state’s general fund.

Although union-busting was one of Walker’s passions, unions weren’t the only losers in Walker’s Wisconsin. The final budget bill allowed “direct conversion” of credit unions, owned by the share-holders, into investor-owned banks. Credit unions can return dividends to members through offering banking services with lower fees and loans at lower rates than banks. Communities without credit unions have higher fees at ATMs and for other banking services. The 220 credit unions in Wisconsin are often in rural areas that lack investor-owned banks. There was no notification of the credit union amendment to the public before the legislators voted.

Over a month ago, the state legislative bodies passed SB 202, repealing the 2009 Equal Pay Act allowing people to sue employers who illegally discriminate against them based on protected class status. The bill was sponsored by ALEC members, part of the coalition funded by wealthy conservatives such as the Koch brothers and huge corporations such as AT&T, Coca-Cola, and VISA. Identical bills that support anti-immigration, photo IDS, defunding unions, privatizing schools and public assets, corporate tax loopholes, etc. combined with those that stop states from raising revenue have popped up in all the 26 conservative-controlled states, thanks to ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).

Like The Lily Ledbetter Act, The Equal Pay Act was developed to provide legal protection to women who are unfairly compensated based on their gender. One Republican explained the repeal of equal pay for all by saying that many businesses and employers asked for the bill. (I wonder how many votes from women these conservative legislators expect to get in the 2012 election.) Before Wisconsin passed the Equal Pay Act in 2009, Wisconsin was 36th in the worst pay gap; in the next two years the state climbed to the 24th position. Thus far I haven’t found any record of Walker signing the bill, but he is expected to do so.

Not content with destroying women’s pay equality, Wisconsin legislators have also passed another anti-choice bill, this one requiring doctors to verify—in writing—that women were not coerced into abortions. And to guarantee a higher percentage of teen pregnancy, the legislators also passed a bill requiring abstinence-only instruction for teenagers. (If they want to analyze the increase in teen pregnancy Wisconsin will have because of this law, they should check the high number of Texas teen girls who get pregnant thanks to abstinence-only education.) The Wisconsin bill also requires sexual education courses to discuss parental responsibility and the socioeconomic benefits of marriage (I’m guessing heterosexual), as well as explain pregnancy, prenatal development, and childbirth.

Following the loss of collective bargaining for 175,000 state public employees, school districts are now imposing strict and arbitrary rules on teachers without any mediation with teacher unions.  For example, New Berlin not only increased workdays for teachers with no pay increases but also created a dress code: no jeans, no open shirts, and no skirts that are not below the knee. Teachers cannot have any students as Facebook “friends” and must report any traffic incidents or tickets to the school district. School districts who want to work with teachers to design an employee handbook are afraid to do this because they might violate the ban against collective bargaining. The law has moved teachers to the level of serfs with no rights.

What kind of lawmakers have voted in favor of laws that allows such abuse of employees? Rep. Don Pridemore is a prime example. Rather than allowing an abused woman to divorce the man who beats her up, she should try to remember what she loves about him. Pridemore said, “If they can re-find those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help.”  With Sen. Glenn Grothman, he also co-sponsored not only the photo ID law, now declared unconstitutional, but also a bill that credits child abuse to single motherhood.

As the chair of the House Children and Families Committee, Pridemore wants to mandate the state Child Abuse Prevention Board to conduct public awareness campaigns emphasizing that single parenthood is a leading cause of child abuse. His co-sponsor, Grothman, said, “A child is 20 times more likely to be sexually abused if they are raised by say, a mother and a boyfriend, than their mother and father.” He failed to provide any support for this statement. Grothman, who has never been married, also wants to underscore “the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect.”

There is hope in Wisconsin. Peter Rickman, a union organizer and former leader of Wisconsin’s Teaching Assistants Association, said they can create new organizations by bringing together community groups, political organizations, and unions that last beyond one protest or one election cycle. “We have strength in numbers, the 1 percent has the money,” he said. The logo of Wisconsin redesigned as a blue clenched fist still brings people together.

One person who continued to fight back against Walker and exercise his free speech is 36-year-old Azael Brodhead, Iraq veteran and state Department of Corrections probation and parole agent. For weeks he drove past Walker’s house, honked his horn, gave “the finger” through his sunroof, and shouted “Recall Walker.” When he was ticketed for “unnecessary blowing of horn,” he went to trial. Fined $166.20, he continued his routine—stopped the honking but kept up the yelling. “Probation agent is my day job,” said Brodhead. “Being a concerned citizen is 24-7.”

The Koch brothers bankrolling many of the conservative campaigns for Wisconsin legislators, including Walker, had a bad week in the state last week. Federal authorities are investigating Prosperity USA and Wisconsin Prosperity Network. At least one person being investigated is also involved in Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit cofounded by the conservative Koch brothers that helped organize the tea party movement in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Not much information yet about what’s happening but then it’s a secret investigation.

Much more about the effects of Wisconsin’s protests on the rest of the nation is in John Nichols’ book, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Occupy Wall Street.

March 6, 2012

Is Bigotry Brave?

Is bigotry brave? This question came up when Piers Morgan (CNN) called former child actor Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) “brave” when Cameron said, “I believe that marriage was defined by God a long time ago…. Do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don’t.” He added, “It’s [homosexuality] unnatural, it’s detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.” Cameron made his opposition more clear to Morgan when he said that he wouldn’t support any of his six children who came out to him.

How far would Morgan—or others who agree with him—go in declaring a bigot brave? Would they say that the members of the Kansas Baptist church protesting homosexuality are brave? The ones who carry signs saying “Thank God for dead soldiers” because there are gays and lesbians in the U.S.?

One person responding to the Salon article about Cameron pointed out that it’s not particularly brave to voice anti-gay views if the speaker surrounds himself with others, like fundamentalist Christians, who hold the same views. “So no, it is not brave for Cameron to voice his bigoted views, when after the interview, he goes back to his people ready to pat him on the back for it, having nobody who really matters to him be at odds with his statements,” said the person responding.

Cameron may have been surprised to find himself surrounded with opposition. In response to all those criticizing him, he asked for their debating such issues “with greater love and respect.” Does Cameron find his words loving and respectful? I don’t.

Would Morgan think that Rush Limbaugh is “brave” for his bigotry? As of today, at least 34 advertisers have decided that they don’t want to be connected to the man who called a 30-year-old Georgetown law student a “slut” and “prostitute”—among many other things. Limbaugh hasn’t stopped. Today he spent an hour railing against Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating. “What is it with all of these young, single, white women, overeducated — doesn’t mean intelligent,” Limbaugh said about the woman he called an “authorette.” McMillan grew up in a rural area outside Flint (MI), earned a B.A. in college (overeducated?), and then researched her book by working low-paying jobs for almost a year at Wal-Mart, Applebees, and other places in the food industry.

Other attacks on women came from Rick Santorum and the state of Wisconsin. “We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it’s falling apart because of single moms,” Santorum said when he ran for the Senate in 1994. He hasn’t changed his mind since then—just softened the rhetoric. According to Santorum last October, single moms are “the political base of the Democratic party. Why? Because it’s so tough economically that they look to the government for help and therefore they’re going to vote. So if you want to reduce the Democratic advantage, what you want to do is build two-parent families; you eliminate that desire for government.” I always have trouble understanding Santorum. Is he saying that if women get married, they will vote Republican?

Wisconsin doesn’t bother with sugar-coating their message. State senator Glenn Grothman, has introduced a bill that would require the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to include single mothers as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, one-third of Wisconsin parents are single. There are approximately 13.7 million parents in the United States, with mothers outnumbering single fathers five to one.

Like, Santorum, Grothman contends that financial benefits drive the rise in single motherhood among low-income moms. A scary statistic is that 14 percent of the voters to the article agree with Grothman. Women in Wisconsin are poorer than they were a year ago, because this is in one of those Republican-ruled states that have taken money from the poor and middle-class workers to give to the wealthy and the corporations.

So the question stands. Is bigotry against LGBT people, women, single mothers, etc. brave? Or just ignorant?

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