Nel's New Day

November 11, 2016

Russia Looks Forward to Annexing U.S.

putin-trump

Vladimir Putin is crowing, and people in the UK have collectively sighed in relief that they aren’t the only stupid country in the world after the U.S. followed the Brexit vote by electing Donald Trump. I’d like to think that U.S. becoming part of Russia is far-fetched, David Frum, speechwriter for George W. Bush, tweeted, “We may be living through the most successful Russian intelligence operation since the Rosenbergs stole the A-bomb.” Trump’s longing for Vladimir Putin’s affection and his financial support for his “business” ventures will surely lead to a very close relationship with the United States—perhaps even a subservience on the part of the U.S.

On Monday, Russia announced that it is suspending the agreement to dispose of surplus weapons-grade plutonium. Tuesday’s election of Trump will all but guarantee that Russia will keep its plutonium to make approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons. Putin wants more than his nuclear weapons. With Trump he can reduce the American military presence in NATO countries near Russia’s border, cancel all sanctions against Russia, and make the U.S. compensate Moscow for losses resulting from those sanctions. His plans will also include completing his takeover of Ukraine after moving into the Crimea.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) said that President Obama had “convinced Putin he can get away with anything.” The question for Royce is his response regarding his own president allowing Russia to “get away with anything.” The GOP has never been known for loving Russia.

Pro-Kremlin ideologue Sergei Markov effused, “This is a great day for American democracy.” He also said that Russia “may have helped” WikiLeaks in its constant dribble of negative-appearing emails surrounding Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. Markov said that Trump’s control will help provide a Russian-U.S. agreement on Syria, reversing the U.S. position opposing Russia’s policy.

Putin-elected lawmakers at the Russian State Duma thunderously applauded when someone burst into the meeting and announced that Trump had been elected U.S. president.

Throughout the Trump campaign, both the candidate and his campaign officials vigorously denied having any communication with the Russian government. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, however, told the state-run Interfax news agency that “there were contacts” with the Trump team. “Quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.” Russian ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russian embassy staff met with members of Trump’s campaign and added that Clinton’s campaign refused requests for meetings.

The Trump campaign started pushing the GOP toward a friendship with Russia when it demanded that the party’s platform remove a plank to arm arming Ukraine against Russian-backed militants (and covert Russian troops) and soften language on Russia’s aggressive actions in Eastern Europe. In his campaigns after that change last summer, Trump denied any Russian election-meddling, war crimes, and invasion of a European country.

While Trump was developing his campaign, his advisor was Paul Manafort, an adviser for 14 years to Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Putin president of Ukraine who fled to Russia during the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution. The corrupt Yanukovych had explicit ties to the Kremlin going back to 2005 when his Party of Regions signed an agreement with Russia’s ruling party that called for closer ties between the two. A central part of Party of Regions was to remove Ukrainian regions from central-government oversight, and Yanukovych moved forward in his career with the help of Paul Manafort. Since that time, documents show that Manafort was paid $12.7 million to work on behalf of a foreign political party to influence U.S. policy, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

One of Trump’s current team, Michael T. Flynn, also has a very close relationship to Russia’s English-language propaganda outlet, RT (formerly Russia Today), that hid Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine and its role in shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Several other Trump foreign-policy advisors, including Carter Page and Richard Burt, have close ties to Russian banking and investments.

U.S. security experts have described Trump as a “useful idiot,” supporting Russia through ignorance, shared interest, or sympathy without intention of becoming a pawn. Trump has a desperate need to be admired by the elite, and he doesn’t get this worship in the U.S. Therefore he goes to Russia and will have to do what they want in order to keep that affection. Russia wants to dump NATO, Trump’s advisor Newt Gingrich agrees with Russia, and Trump will probably follow along with the idea.

The month before the election on November 8, the FBI started investigating Trump’s Russian connection, but they kept it quiet so that the agency didn’t affect the election—in opposition to their position in talking about emails on Anthony Wiener’s laptop just nine days before the election. Eight hours before the polls opened, it was reported that the FBI had a FISA warrant for Trump’s alleged criminal activities through his illegal connections to the Russian government and other Russian entities. Of particular interest is Trump’s private server, which computer scientists discovered is having secret direct communication with the largest bank in Russia.

As Trump faces a civil lawsuit of fraud concerning Trump University and the possibility of a warrant in an FBI investigation, he is receiving top national intelligence as the president elect. The GOP House will disregarding any Trump illegal actions while they surely reinstate a committee to further grill Clinton over emails proved to be not dangerous to national security.

Even if Trump were to be forced to resign, impeached, or put in prison, the country is left with Mike Pence—a possibly worse alternative to Trump. The Republicans have two years to disillusion the 59 million people who voted for the GOP ticket. Back to cleaning my closets until 2018.

July 20, 2016

GOP Platform Goes Back to 19th Century

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 13, 2016

GOP Platform—From the Party of Small Government

Filed under: Politics — trp2011 @ 10:14 PM
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The GOP is still working on its platform, but drafts of amendments already reveal its direction. Their stated philosophy is to shrink the government so much that it would fit in a bathtub, but the platform thus far shows that they can’t even fit it into an Olympic-size swimming pool. Here are highlights of the two planks, “America’s natural resources, energy and environment” and “Great American families, education, healthcare and criminal justice”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 1, 2013

GOP Leaping off the Right Edge

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:41 PM
Tags: , , , ,

When Chuck Hagel appeared before the Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense yesterday, a few Democrats and most Republicans pretty much beat up on him, the worst perpetrator being Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).  Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) called his ideas “extreme” and “far to the left” of Obama although she may have been reacting to his endorsement of her opponent, Vietnam vet Bob Kerrey, for her position.

Hagel’s radical ideas were to “engage–not retreat–in the world” and not rule out military force with Iran. He also said, “America has and must maintain the strongest military in the world, that we must lead the international community to confront threats and challenges together, and that we must use all tools of American power to protect our citizens and our interests.”

After Hagel became a multimillionaire in the business world, he served two Senate terms as a Republican from the conservative state of Nebraska. McCain said in 2000 that, if elected president, he would appoint Hagel as Secretary of State. Yet Hagel faced great opposition from the 12 Republican senators during his hearing in front of the  Armed Services Committee.

This is only one case that illustrates Noam Chomsky’s recent statement that President Obama would have been a moderate Republican in the past. On The Young Turks, a daily news and political commentary program, the MIT professor and “world’s top public intellectual” told Cenk Uygur that changing U.S. economic power had moved both major parties to the right since the 1970s.

Although considered a progressive in the current usage of the word—and socialist by those who don’t know the definition of the word—President Obama is similar to GOP centrists of four decades ago. “Kind of a mainstream centrist with some concerns for liberal ideals and conceptions but not much in the way of principle or commitment,” Chomsky explained. “And on some issues he is pretty reactionary–civil liberties, for example.”

“The redesign of the economy since the 1970s” replaced the more liberal policies promulgated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt with bank-friendly policies. Adding to the change was the shift of manufacturing jobs overseas because developing countries provided cheap labor. Chomsky said:

“So you have these two tendencies getting started, and they have consequences. One consequence was the very sharp concentration of wealth. This is not a big secret, but since then, wealth in the United States has concentrated enormously. The concentration of wealth leads very quickly to the concentration of political power. By now it is so obvious you can’t even debate it.”

A history of GOP platform positions shows how radically right that this party has become in the last half century. It had no mention of abortion until 1976 and minimal reference to religion until the 1990s. Lower taxes did not define the GOP until the 1980s. Over the last half century, the GOP has moved from “a socially moderate, environmentally progressive, and fiscally cautious group to a conservative party that is suspicious of government, allied against abortion, and motivated by faith,” according to Marc Fisher in The Washington Post.

Trying to avoid the radical GOP platform adopted last August in Tampa (FL), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters, “Anybody read the party platform? I never met anybody.” (Evidently Boehner doesn’t talk to many people.)

In striving to win national elections, the GOP increasingly appeals to its base in the South, becoming “the dominant party of white suburbia, and finding ways to marry its traditional pro-business foundation with less affluent, more socially conservative voters.”

This is a huge change from 1960 when the platform described the GOP as having “progressive Republican policies” such as “liberal pay” and saying the government “must be truly progressive as an employer.” At this time, the GOP gave “firm support” to “the union shop and other forms of union security” and said that “Republican conscience and Republican policy require that the annual number of immigrants we accept be at least doubled. They also supported court orders for school desegregation” and affirmed the rights of civil rights protesters.

An equal-rights amendment was part of the platform in the 1960s and 70s as was the need for government workers to receive “salaries which are comparable to those offered by private employers.” Not until 1984 did public-sector workers become “bureaucrats” and “Washington’s governing elite,” blamed for “an epidemic of crime, a massive increase in dependency and the slumming of our cities.”

Republicans emphasized federal funding for public transit until 1980 when the platform stated, “Republicans reject the elitist notion that Americans must be forced out of their cars.” The 1968 platform addressed air and water pollution, crowded slums, and discrimination against minorities, all with “a new mix of private responsibility and public participation in the solution of social problems.”

Keith Poole of the University of Georgia and Howard Rosenthal of New York University have charted the ideological shifts and polarization of the political parties in Congress from the 18th century until now.

nominate-house_mediansOne new representative has the answer to the gridlock that the conservatives are causing because of their radical right approach: Just do what we say. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) actually said that the federal government could get more done if it let new members of Congress take charge. “I think it can happen, and if they allow us to lead this charge, I think it will happen,” he said. When asked who “us” is, Davis said, “Those that were elected, those who are willing to sit down and find a common solution like a balanced budget agreement in 1997.”

After Davis complained about how the president’s stance on immigration reform differs from the Republican goal of controlling the Senate and White House, he said Republicans are making more of an effort to move legislation. He thinks that the GOP goal is “to govern. It’s not just about partisan politics.” It’s the view from the right.

People in Arizona, including some Republicans, have a different approach: a citizens’ group called Respect Arizona is working to recall notorious, immigrant-hating Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The group needs to gather 335,317 signatures by May 30 in order for the county to call a special election for the sheriff’s office. The chair of Respect Arizona is Williams James Fisher, a Republican attorney.

In the 2012 election Arpaio squeaked by with 50.7 percent of the vote after he received over $8 million campaign money, mostly out of state, and the treatment of Hispanic voters created hundreds of thousands of provisional ballots, many of which may never have been counted. In the most recent election, Arizona sent a majority of representatives to Washington—five out of nine. Perhaps the state will be even bluer if the ballots from all adult citizens in the state are counted.

The GOP has spent untold hours and money since the 2012 election less than three months ago in trying to figure out how to repackage its message to appeal to minorities, women, and the 98 percent of the people in the United States struggling to make a living wage. Returning to the time of environmental awareness, equal rights for women, labor unions, positive immigration policies, and bipartisan cooperation would be a start.

September 1, 2012

GOP Convention 2012 – The Platform

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 24, 2012

A Look at the 2012 Republican Convention

The 2012 Republican convention is almost upon us, and the attendees are moving from upset to frantic. First they worried about Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac, which now seems to be heading a bit west and lessening, perhaps hitting Pensacola (FL) by early Wednesday. That’s lucky for convention-goers because the Tampa Bay Times Forum, location of the event, closes when winds go over 96 mph.

The next storm, Hurricane Todd, started last Sunday when Rep. Akin (R-MO), running for the Senate, dropped his bombshell about how raped women couldn’t get pregnant, eliminating the need for abortions because no “legitimate” rape could result in pregnancy. Usually a stupid comment like this causes problems for just the person dumb enough to say things like this, but it’s Akin’s close relationship to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Republican VP nominee, and their identical perspectives on abortion that caused tons of Republicans to call upon Akin to resign as a protective device for the Romney/Ryan campaign. It didn’t work. Akin is sticking around and causing lots more trouble.

Continuing with disasters, the three major television channels cut back—way back—on their convention coverage, one hour each night to be specific. They aren’t even going to the Republican convention on Monday, the first night, when Ann Romney was scheduled to speak. Republicans changed her speech to Tuesday so that she could get onto major television stations.

Other speakers chosen for the convention speak volumes without their even opening their mouths. Romney’s lame joke this afternoon about people knowing where he and Ann were born, trying to bring up the birther issue of whether the president’s mother was a citizen, leads in a description of seven birthers speaking at the convention: Donald Trump, the leader of the birther charge this past spring; Janine Turner, Northern Exposure star with her own conservative radio show; Sam Olens, Georgia AG; Rick Scott, Florida governor; Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), vice-chair of the House Republican Conference; Bobby Jindal, Louisiana governor; and Mike Huckabee, radio show performer. Huckabee’s relationship with the Republicans, however, is currently rather tenuous because of his vigorous support of Hurricane Todd.

Carlos Galindo, blogger for the Tucson (AZ) Citizen, has listed many of the other speakers with their attributes:

NJ Gov. Chris Christie insults voters and Republicans cheer.

AG (FL) Pam Bondi has diligently worked with Scott to purge liberal voters from the state list; ex-Gov. Jeb Bush (FL) supervised the appointment of his brother to president in 2000.

Texas senate nominee Rafael “Ted” Cruz thinks George Soros has a secret agenda get rid of golf courses.

African-American former Rep. Artur Genestre Davis (R-AL) spoke at the 2008 Democratic Convention and asked people to put President Obama in office.

Gov. Mary Fallin (OK) has led the charge against poor people.

Puerto Rico’s governor Luis Fortuño trashed then-candidate Obama to the Latino community four years ago.

Gov. Nimrata Randhawa (Nikki) Haley (SC), daughter of Sikh immigrants, support the state’s anti-immigration bill that uses a police force wearing special uniforms and using special emblems on their cars to hung down undocumented immigrants.

Gov. John Kasich (OH) talked about the need to “break the back of organized labor in the schools.”

Gov. Susana Martinez (NM) ran on a platform of taking away the drivers licenses of undocumented immigrants in her state and complained about U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants when she thought her grandfather had illegally entered the country.

Sen. Paul Rand (KY) who opposes part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The choice of all the above speakers demonstrates large chunks of the GOP platform, the most conservative in decades. Major platform provisions, that purport to follow the Constitution, include the following:

No abortion in case cases of rape or incest and bans on drugs that might end pregnancy after conception. The question here is why they have problems with what Todd Akin said; they all agree.

Praise for “informed consent” laws that lie to pregnant women, waiting periods, and mandatory ultrasounds, including a “salute” for the law developed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA) who may have lost the VP spot after the country rose in anger about his “vaginal probe” (VP?) requirement.

Anti-LGBT language including the rejection of a proposal to endorse civil unions because Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council objected and the demand that the federal government back the Defense of Marriage Act denying marriage equality.

Replication of Arizona’s anti-immigration laws in which the state called for a border fence, a national E-Verify system to make it harder for undocumented workers to find employment, the end of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, and an end to sanctuary cities.

A Federal Reserve audit to shut up Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

Removal of women in combat and repeal of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which would prevent gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military.

More guns in Washginton, D.C. because Perkins thinks that the expansion of gun rights will stop shootings and prevention of statehood for the city.

No new taxes except for war because any new taxes would have to be approved by a super-majority “with exceptions for only war and national emergencies.”

That’s what the convention-goers are doing. Meanwhile the Tampa law enforcement is also taking action.

Prisoners in Hillsborough County are sure to be delighted about the Republicans coming to town. Sheriff David Gee is emptying the 1700-bed Orient Road Jail to provide home for protesters who offend the law. Some prisoners will be relocated, but others will just be released. Gee says he won’t allow anything more than chanting and holding up signs. He might want to take note that Minneapolis (MN) police had to settle an excessive-force lawsuit after their treatment of protesters at the convention.

Tax-payers are paying $50 million for security at conventions.  Tampa’s expenditures include new police uniforms, $534,600; closed-circuit cameras, $2.3 million for closed-circuit cameras; upgraded police radios and multichargers, $5.9 million; a fleet of new vehicles, including an armored truck, about 200 Kona Race Light 7005 aluminum bicycles, and several Bobcat utility vehicles, more than $790,000. The city still has about $2.7 million left. Wonder what happened to the rest of the money?!

Some convention-goers may be disappointed. Tampa police has started a crackdown on prostitution at strip clubs, arresting 16 women at 12 strip clubs last week in “Operation Keep it Clean.” This will keep them busy during the convention so they won’t be available for minor crashes without injuries and minor crimes. Sounds like Hillsborough County may have some safety issues next week.

The second day of the convention may be a highlight with its “We built it” theme. Meant to embarrass President Obama for his speech that businesses are helped by the infrastructure, this approach may turn around and bite the Republicans. Their Tuesday celebration is at the Tampa Bay Times Forum—which was 62 percent built with tax-payer money.

More than that, the speaker touting “We built it,” meaning by herself, didn’t. Delaware Lt. Gov. candidate Sher Valenzuela, the “We built it” speaker, received millions of dollars in federal loans and contracts for her business, First State Manufacturing. She not only attributes her success in part to this outside assistance but also urges other small business owners to follow the same strategy of seeking government funds. Earlier this year, she gave a presentation in which she credited the use of “millions of dollars in secure government contracts” and, at the same presentation, encouraged other entrepreneurs to take advantage of public institutions and government investments to help their businesses get ahead.

She isn’t the only one making the “We built it” look bad. A featured speaker at a Paul Ryan event yesterday bragged about getting government funding to help build his business. Bain Capital, the business that is supposed to show Romney’s acumen, benefited from government funding, and Ryan’s family contracting business was built in large part from government contracts. Ryan Incorporated Central began in 1884 doing government-subsidized railroad construction, moved into building federal interstate highways, and helped build O’Hare Airport. Since 1996, the business has had at least 22 defense contract including one worth $5.6 million, a good reason for Ryan to increase defense spending. Looking at these situations, the Republicans are right: “We [the tax-payers] built it.”

Such is the Republican look on the country during the coming week.

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