Nel's New Day

December 3, 2017

How Far Can Republicans Sink?

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 10:35 PM
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The reports of sexual assault have filled the news, and Democrats are going into the problem head on while the GOP (Grand Old Perverts) are running away. It’s the shiny object keeping people from paying attention to the disastrous tax bill passed by the Senate and headed back to the House while Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues his lies and alienates reasonable leaders in other countries with his bigotry—the past week a focus against Muslims. And Roy Moore is most likely headed toward Washington as the new senator from Alabama. The world will know after the special election on December 12, nine days away.

Last year’s presidential election changed the perspective in the United States toward leadership. Eighty percent of Christian evangelicals voted for an alleged pedophile, and the trend continues with Moore. A survey at end of November shows that 39 percent of registered evangelical Christian voters are more likely to support him after they hear that he may have sexually abused a 14-year-old girl, dated teenage girls when he was in his 30s, and groped women in his office. Only 28 percent says that his behavior makes them less like to vote for him. Sixty-four percent of evangelicals say that they support him over a Democrat. In Alabama, 35 percent of the state are white evangelical Protestants and 58 percent of the state GOP.

Moore is running a campaign rife with fraud. His wife Kayla published a letter supposedly from 50 pastors endorsing her husband. At least four of them said they wanted their names removed from the letter, and others didn’t live in Alabama. Dozens of other evangelical pastors have signed a letter that declares him “not fit for office.”

The stories go far beyond his sexual assault, dating teenage girls, and groping. People who lived in his town knew that he was banned from a mall and the YMCA because he harassed the girls there. An Alabama police officer was assigned to watch him at local high school football games. Her task was to keep him from harassing the cheerleaders.

The recent unabashed GOP support for candidates like Moore and DDT demonstrates the shift in evangelical approach. The party has long proudly supported “family values,” but they have lost their Christian approach toward goodness to vote for policies. Even in 2004, “values voters” who said they prioritized character embodying Christian values such as kindness, honesty, and forgiveness voted for George W. Bush’s policy positions. In a survey following the election, 23 percent referenced personal characteristics of candidates whereas 44 percent talked about their opposition to abortion and LGBTQ rights. That percentage increased to 58 percent among evangelicals by 2015 who held high priorities for social and cultural goals no matter the quality of the candidate. Those who want “religious freedom” also want to remove secularism and diversity from the nation. Seventy-two percent thought in 2015 that too many laws about moral standards have been removed and want to keep the United States a “Christian nation.” Last year almost half of white evangelical Protestants described Democrats as a serious threat to the nation.

Moore fits the evangelical view of what the United States should be. He blames the 9/11 attacks on the legalization of abortion and LGBTQ rights, stating that the Supreme Court recognition of marriage equality is worse than the 1857 Dred Scott decision declaring that blacks were property and not citizens. In addition to rejecting LGBTQ rights and abortion, he denied the existence of evolution and opposes women voting and running for office. He wrote that it is a moral obligation to never vote for a woman to hold public office. It also criticizes a woman’s right to vote.

The evangelical philosophy of marrying young women is taught in homeschooling with the phrase “14-year-old girls courting adult men.” Part of Vaughn Ohlman’s career was speaking at home-school conventions about his retreat for families to arrange child marriages. Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson said that men should marry 15- and 16-year-old girls because 20-year-olds are too old to be molded. Another term for evangelical approach to a male selecting and grooming young girls is predation. Roy Moore represents a Christian fundamentalist problem.

Fundamentalist Christians leadership has a record of protecting GOP sexual predators. Family Research Council president, Tony Perkins, covered for Ohio state Rep. Wes Goodman (R) after his sexual encounters with other men, at least one of them allegedly not consensual. Documents indicate that he sexually assaulted a young man at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. in 2015 while employed by the Council for National Policy (CNP), a somewhat-secretive umbrella organization for prominent conservative leaders from across the country. Goodman has since resigned after an “inappropriate interaction” in his legislative office that GOP Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger deemed consensual. The legislator’s position included virulent opposition to LGBTQ rights; Perkins promised the teenage boy’s stepfather that “this will not be ignored nor swept aside. It will be dealt with swiftly, but with prudence.” Two months later Goodman was running for office. Perkins did suspend his membership with CNP but isn’t answering questions.

Approximately 30 sources, mostly college-aged men, reported inappropriate advances such as unwanted sexting, photos of his body, and hot tub invitations. One news source reported that Goodman targeted “young men he met through conservative circles who were too intimidated to publicly complain.” They feared for their own careers if they reported his undesired sexual advances.

Although the future looks dark at this time of year, a column by conservative Ross Douthat gives a light at the end of the tunnel. According to sociologist Christian Smith, younger evangelicals will “invent evangelicalism anew” because they were “betrayed by older pastors who insisted on the importance of moral character and then abandoned these preachments for the sake of partisanship — revealing their own commitments as essentially idolatrous.” Baylor professor Alan Jacobs goes farther when he predicts that young people will stop identifying with evangelicalism and move on to less radical philosophies. An “evangelical crackup” may come from pitting anti-Trump Southern Baptist Russell Moore “against the nationalist evangelicalism of a Jerry Falwell Jr. or Robert Jeffress.”

A common question about Republicans is how low can they sink. The possibility seems bottomless. After saying that he believed the allegations against Moore, that he was unfit to serve in public office, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is now tacitly supporting him.

“The people of Alabama are going to decide a week from Tuesday who they want to send to the Senate. It’s really up to them. It’s been a pretty robust campaign with a lot of people weighing in. The president and I, of course, supported somebody different earlier in the process. But in the end, the voters of Alabama will make their choice.”

Despite McConnell’s call on Moore to drop out of the race, Moore continues to say that Democrats and the media are making all the women are lying about what he did to them. He claims that LGBTQ people are orchestrating a campaign against him, and conservative outlets are smearing the women. The polls have been up and down for Moore, but polls have proved to be sometimes unreliable since the advent of DDT. One poll gives Moore a six-point lead over his opponent, Doug Jones, whereas another one puts Jones three points ahead.

The Alabaman argument for supporting Moore is to stop abortion. Conservative Jonathan Last wrote that his election will “set back the pro-life cause of years.” It will be an “albatross” for the GOP, and Democrats can use him to take over both chambers in 2018. According to Last, “the chances of Moore hurting the broader GOP caucus in a catastrophic way next year outweigh the chances of that one vote being make-or-break for abortion during the next four years.” (The winner of the December 12 election will be up again in 2020 because he is finishing Jeff Sessions’ term.)

Voting for DDT already increased the rot in the GOP; voting for Moore would increase the decay. Last asks if there is any limit to what a GOP candidate would do to stop votes—and stop the putrefaction. He concludes:

“If you care about the actual impact of supporting Moore—rather than preening in public about how you want people to view you—you start by looking in the mirror and thinking about the next compromise you’ll be asked to make.”

Nine more days until Moore’s election date. We’ll see then whether people in Alabama continue the destruction of the GOP.

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May 10, 2017

Jason Chaffetz: Epitome of the GOP

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:10 PM
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Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) may be almost gone, but he will live on as the epitome of the GOP leadership. Vinson Cunningham describes some of his characteristics, and photographer Bill Clark captured a representative image.

Chaffetz seemed like an independent person last October when Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) revealed his privileged sense of depravity by talking about indiscriminately  grabbing “pussy.” In response, Chaffetz seemed to take the high road when he rescinded his endorsement of DDT:

“My wife and I, we have a fifteen-year-old daughter, and if I can’t look her in the eye and tell her these things, I can’t endorse this person.”

At that time he also had much more to say about the “awful place” the nominee had put the country in and his “abhorrent and offensive” language, but his position about DDT lasted only two and a half weeks before the 180-degree turned Chaffetz into a DDT supporter. His excuse was that Hillary Clinton was “that bad.” As House Oversight chairman, he has focused for years on trying to make Clinton’s life miserable in endless Benghazi inquisitions. None of the expensive endeavors turned up any illegal action, but Chaffetz isn’t through. Returning from re-election this past January, Chaffetz opened an investigation into Clinton’s emails, hoping for criminal charges, and Comey’s firing inspired him to expand the scope of his search for something—anything—that might be illegal in Clinton’s private server.

Faced with unconstitutional conflict of interest charges for DDT, Chaffetz mentally shrugged his shoulders and said, “He’s already rich. He’s very rich. I don’t think that he ran for this office to line his pockets even more. I just don’t see it like that.” Pushed to investigate the $400 million deal between Jared Kushner’s family and the Chinese, Chaffetz said:

“I don’t see how that affects the average American and their taxpayer dollars. Just the fact that a staff person’s family is making money? It’s not enough.”

Chaffetz referred to “these other little intrigues about a wealthy family making money” as “a bit of a sideshow.”

Soon after DDT’s inauguration, Chaffetz proposed a bill that would allow Republicans to sell off public lands. A bipartisan backlash caused him to say that he was withdrawing the bill because his constituents objected. That was February 2. Eight days later the bill was referred to a subcommittee.

During public appearances during “Trumpcare”s first attempt this year, Chaffetz maintained that people could pay for their health care if they didn’t buy a new iPhone. First, the cost of an iPhone won’t pay for health care. But then came the discovery that Chaffetz’s $738 iPhone—and its services—came from campaign funds. This would be illegal if he used it for person business, but he hasn’t answered any questions about whether he does. Then came his attack on Rosie O’Donnell after Chaffetz’s Democratic opponent for 2018, Kathryn Allen, raised over $200,000 in just two days.

Another part of Chaffetz’s history is his failure to become a Secret Service agent. He claimed that he was rejected because he was too old, but then-Assistant Director Edward Lowery sent an email saying about his application, “Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out. Just to be fair.”

The kitchen apparently got too hot for Chaffetz at an April town hall meeting in his home Utah district. The people who attended scolded him for not investigating administration corruption, including DDT’s appointment of Michael Flynn for national security adviser. Chaffetz whined about how his constituents in his deep red district were there only to “bully and intimidate” him and called them “paid protesters.” Then he said he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2018 and might even leave Congress before then. Chaffetz claimed that he wanted to return to the private sector and be with his family. “I started poking around to see what I might be worth and what sort of possibilities are there,” he said in an interview. And then he avoided Congress and his constituents by a month-long leave after foot surgery. Distancing himself from DDT at this time could let him run for governor or even president in 2020.

The House was so desperate for votes on their cruel “repeal and replace” health care bill that Chaffetz showed up on an expensive metallic scooter to cast his vote denying tens of millions of people the same health insurance that he will keep. His district is in the top ten of districts with the most people relying on the Affordable Care Act. Clark’s photograph perfectly presents the GOP cruelty of a “repeal and replace” vote for ACA in the House with the slick, gleeful Chaffetz framed against marble walls and elaborate chandeliers.

With Clinton in the White House, Chaffetz could have stayed gleeful while the Fox network filmed him constantly leading highly visible investigations about Clinton’s conflicts of interests and abuses of power. Like many other Republicans, Chaffetz hasn’t figured out how to work in a government controlled by the GOP. They are accustomed to dealing with opposition in a world where they preen in front of the cameras as victims; they don’t know what to do when the opposition comes from within. Even worse for the Republicans is that the corruption comes their own party—and much of it from their own president.

Stephanie Mencimer writes: “Jason Chaffetz is so ambitious that his last name is a verb.” She explains that “to Chaffetz” means to throw a former mentor under the bus to move ahead, something that people such as presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. and House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Other Republicans carry Chaffetzing farther. DDT claimed that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, had come to DDT asking for Comey’s firing, but people familiar with the occurrence said that DDT summoned the two of them to the White House after he decided to fire Comey. They followed his orders, and DDT tried to put the blame on them when the scheme backfired.

According to over 30 White House officials, however, DDT had become increasingly furious about Comey’s appearing in public, especially to talk about Russian involvement in U.S. politics, especially during the past week. The Washington Post has provided extensive information about events leading up to the firing and such questions as why Sessions was involved in the firing when he recused himself from anything dealing with Clinton’s emails, the ostensible reason for the firing, and Russia, the probably reason behind the firing.

The firing and the GOP support behind him reflects how Chaffetz views his job—that he has sworn allegiance to the Republican party over any loyalty to his country. The question is how long the Republicans will continue to support DDT over their country’s best interests. In an analysis of senators’ responses, only 12 of them actively defended DDT for the firing while another fifteen said that DDT’s actions raised concerns about a lack of information or the timing of the firing. Another 21 senators were vague, likely waiting to see which way they should jump after the dust settles. This is the congressional body responsible for confirming the replacement for Comey. Much to DDT’s amazement, the Democrats were overwhelming angry about the firing because of its apparent intent to stop the investigation into his relationship with Russia.

DDT’s possible business dealings with Russia may be the major issue that emerged from Monday’s Senate hearing and Comey’s firing. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper if he had any “concern” about a DDT business interest in Russia. Clapper’s ultimate answer upon being pressed is that he could not comment on that question “because that impact an investigation.” That was an open hearing; the Judiciary Committee may pursue the question in closed meetings.  Thus far, there is a murky background to DDT’s Russia business interests that he has denied.

Basically, Chaffetz well represents the Republican leadership—cruel, self-centered, hypocritical, cowardly, dishonest, ignorant, and loyal only to those who can give him something. We’ll watch him to see where he pops up next.

July 6, 2016

‘Political Correctness’ – Just Being Nice

“Political correctness” is a term initiated in the 1793 Supreme Court case Chisholm v. Virginia upholding the rights of people to sue states. Justice James Wilson wrote in his opinion that people, rather than states, hold the most authority which makes a toast given to the United States” is not “politically correct.” He preferred the greater accuracy of “People of the United States.”

For almost 200 years, the term was largely obscure until conservatives co-opted the term in the 1980s for their personal political gain by using the phrase for a leftist conspiracy that infiltrated the higher education system. For decades, people argued about being “politically correct” in teaching and language in university classes.

In the 2016 presidential campaign, political correctness was highlighted in the first GOP debate after Fox network Megyn Kelly asked Donald Trump about his verbal sexist attacks against women. He was ready with an answer:

“I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.”

The audience applauded, and other GOP presidential candidates adopted the tactic. Erica Hellerstein and Judd Legum wrote:

“The term “political correctness,” particularly in the Republican presidential primary, does not have a specific definition. Rather it functions like a Swiss army knife—it is the answer to every kind of issue that a candidate might confront. It’s a “get out of jail free card” for bigotry, sexism and lying.”

Dr. Warren Blumenfeld wrote:

“The political Right coined the terms ‘political correctness,’ ‘politically correct,’ and ‘PC’ as pejorative rhetorical ploys to intimidate, discredit, and outright dismiss the statements, policies, and actions of the progressive Left generally, and more specifically, to inhibit anyone from thinking critically and challenging societal inequalities.”

Trump and his surrogates use the term the most. The candidate complains that he can’t even use the word “thug” without criticism. Corey Lewandowski has been fired from Trump’s campaign but still defends the candidate, describing the accusation of anti-Semitic content of Donald Trump’s tweet using the Star of David, Hillary Clinton, images of $100 bills, and the word corruption “political correctness run amok.”

In the past, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), former GOP presidential candidate, blamed political correctness on 9/11 and used it for collecting email addresses. Ben Carson tweeted that we should “#StoPP funding political correctness and Planned Parenthood.” Asked what they have in common, he said that “political correctness” is making people amoral. Carson also said tried to connect political correctness and his opposition to Obamacare and accepting Syrian refugees. Criticized for saying that a Muslim should not be president, a statement that violates the U.S. Constitution, Carson said, “Political correctness is ruining our country.”

The opposition to political correctness (aka civility) is supported by 68 percent of people in the U.S.—81 percent of Republicans. Even 62 percent agree that “a big problem this country is being politically correct.” GOP candidates know these high figures and play on them in order to avoid any difficult topics. It’s all in the repetition.

In today’s News-Times (Newport, OR), Gilbert Schramm provides his take on “political  correctness”:

Like most Americans, I was horrified by the shooting in Orlando—and by Trump’s response. He immediately tweeted, “We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.” Wait, “political correctness” wasn’t the cause of the shooting; political incorrectness was the cause.

Obviously, if you subject any group to unrelenting bigotry and hate-speech, some unstable person will eventually act on the lies and hatred they have been fed. It doesn’t really matter whether the hatred in Orlando came from a radical Christian, Jew, or Muslim, extremist fundamentalists from all three religions can have equally ugly attitudes about the LGBT community.

To truly understand Orlando, you need to understand the systematic conservative attack on the term political correctness. Nothing defines what the modern Republican Party has become more clearly than its misuse and abuse of this term: Trump and his supporters take an obscene pride in mocking it.

This is truly puzzling. In general usage, “ correct” means right, and “incorrect” means wrong. Why do they reverse our traditional values and language and pretend that the term is an insult?

Through American history, as progressives fought for women, religious, ethnic and racial minorities, they developed new language that reflected their concern for equal rights. The whole idea of political correctness was to improve communication, to reduce conflict, and to be more civil. Not a bad idea.

In creating a better language to express American values, there was sometimes a silly notion that re-labeling problems simply made them go away. Some bigots may have used the new terms insincerely. Some good people may have been unfairly criticized for not keeping up with the changing language. But true progressives not only amended their language, they did other concrete things to rectify the scars caused by institutional racism.

Affirmative action was necessary to help correct the deep institutional disadvantages left by centuries of racism. The GOP has been attacking affirmative action for years by arguing that it constituted “reverse racism.” This is an absurd argument. Its very existence proves that those who use it don’t truly understand the lasting damage left by the real racism.

Then there is the term “colorblind.” Just recently, a Trump spokesman complimented Trump for being “colorblind.” Colorblindness is not vision enhancement; it is a vision deficit that removes a whole dimension of nuance.

So when you hear terms like political correctness, reverse racism, or color-blindness, you are hearing someone who doesn’t understand racism, bigotry, or gender bias at all, and who likely doesn’t care. Yet in spite of conservative efforts to turn the truth upside down, being politically correct (right) is better than being politically incorrect (i.e., just wrong and offensive).

The Trump attitude that “correctness is a bad thing has now spread from opinion to facts. His casual attitude towards facts is noteworthy—in most of what he says he just doesn’t have much use for the truth. For him, it’s right to be wrong.

Trump’s abuse of the term political correctness may have more to do with the “political” part than with correctness. After all, he has won so far by disclaiming any past experience as a politician. Republicans believe that the existence of governments is only excused by the fact that total anarchy is just a tad bit worse. Progressives, on the other hand, feel that government can play a positive role. History has repeatedly proven the progressives to be right.

If GOP conservatives don’t believe that government can make life better, they should leave governing to those who know it can do some good.

Meanwhile, they should stop turning the truth (and our very language) upside down. Corruption of language leads to corruption of thought. That corruption makes it possible to believe that suppressing the vote protects democracy, that there is something called “legitimate rape,” that more guns will make us safer, that gun-free zones attract violence, and other GOP nonsense.

Whatever mild annoyance has been caused by politically correct language, the carnage in Orlando is a stark example of the alternative.

Republicans brag that Donald Trump is honest because he says what he thinks. They seem to admire him for calling undocumented Mexicans “rapists” and stating that sex appeal is responsible for a woman’s success. Zeba Blay wrote:

“To yearn for the opposite of the ‘politically correct’ is simply to yearn for the ability to be comfortable, to maintain the right to trivialize issues that affect people’s lives…. Using “politically correct” as an insult or dismissal is emblematic of an inability to approach difficult conversations with the complexity they demand. Being uncomfortable or annoyed is not a good enough reason to dismiss every conversation that hinges on social justice, as if actual social justice were the worst thing in the world.”

Political correctness is accepting Spanish-language messages on service lines, not telling racist jokes at work, and being less demeaning to women. It’s a way of showing sensitivity toward others, especially those who have been invisible or expected to be submissive. Conservatives don’t like it because it’s hard work. They just want to say what they think—and what they think can be very unpleasant.

Noted author and illustrator Neil Gaiman said, “I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase ‘politically correct’ wherever we could with ‘treating other people with respect’, and it made me smile.” It makes me smile too.

March 14, 2016

GOP Platform—Not My Problem, No

Conservatives tend to care only for themselves. Asked about the importance of health care for all, they respond, “But then I can’t find a doctor.” According to conservatives, suffering for anyone else is “not my problem (NMP).” Questions showing how conservatives take no responsibility for anyone except for their personal, selfish needs with conservatives’ responses:

Birth Control: Do you know that birth control keeps women from having unwanted pregnancies? “NMP.”

Abortions: Do you understand that more unwanted pregnancies mean more abortions? “I’m pro-life.” What about women who have children they can’t afford? “NMP.”

Food Stamps: Do you realize that forcing women to have children they can’t afford means they need food stamps and Medicaid? “I cut spending on those because I’m fiscally responsible.” But that means children have no medical care and go hungry. “NMP.”

Crime: What about children growing up in poverty who turn to crime? “I live in a gated community so NMP.”

Minimum Wage: What about millions of people forced to live in poverty because of low wages even if they work 60 hours or more each week? “NMP.”

Food Stamps Again: What about people who have to rely on food stamps because of low wages? “I cut spending on those because I’m fiscally responsible–NMP.”

Immigration: Do you know that building a wall along the entire border would such up taxpayer money and not even work? “NMP.”

Families: Don’t you understand that deporting parents away from their children is cruel and inhumane. “NMP.”

Racism: What about the anti-Latino rhetoric increasing racial tensions and violence against innocent people? “NMP.”

“War on Drugs”: Do you understand that the so-called “war on drugs” does no good while it puts millions of people in prison for smoking a plant? “NMP.”

Racism Again: What about the effect of these laws to put Blacks in jail more often and for longer times than Whites? “NMP.”

Gang Violence: And what about the devastation of black communities that contributes to poverty and gang violence? “NMP.”

Health Care: Do you care that repealing Obamacare would talk health care away from over 20 million people? “NMP.”

Pre-existing Conditions: Are you aware that Obamacare stops insurance companies from denying health care to sick people? “NMP.” And kicking people off insurance if they get sick? “NMP.”

Pro-Life: How can you be pro-life and not care about people dying from lack of insurance. “NMP.”

Heroin: Do you realize that the white communities will have the same experiences because millions of Whites are using heroin? “That can’t be true. We need to change the laws (ala Koch brothers)! They aren’t criminals—they victims and deserve our compassion and help! Spare no expense!”

When the conservatives took over both congressional chambers 14 and a half months ago, they bragged that they were going to move the country forward. Instead, they’ve created more gridlock.  The policy of”not my problem” is accompanied by “hell, no!”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) promised a “Year of Ideas,” with legislation aimed at poverty and health care. The chamber has been in session for 154 of the 431 days since the GOP Congress took over. As in the past few years, legislation previously dominated by name changes for buildings can’t even manage that any more: nine GOP members fought naming a post office after national treasure and poet Maya Angelou, calling her a “communist sympathizer.” The House did manage to delay regulations for brick kilns.

The GOP Senate has 298 House-passed bills awaiting action while it spent four weeks on an energy efficiency bill that isn’t finished. Opioid legislation was passed with no funding, and individuals stalled bills for criminal justice reform and Flint’s water crisis—in this case GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz.  It also made the policy of NO quite clear by rejecting the constitutional directive to consider any nominee for the Supreme Court. President Obama came out with six possible appointments, three of them women. That number has been cut in half as conservatives trash professional careers.

One of those who disappeared is Jane Kelly, heartily endorsed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for the 8th Circuit Court. Grassley described Kelly, unanimously confirmed for her present position in 2013, as “a forthright woman of high integrity and honest character” with an “exceptionally keen intellect.” That was before an ad funded by the conservative Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) smeared her for defending constitutional rights guaranteeing all people accused of a crime “the assistance of counsel for his defense.” A public defender in 2005, Kelly represented Casey Frederiksen, on child pornographer who was later convicted of killing a five-year-old girl. Although Kelly did not defend Frederiksen for this murder, the ad uses this murder to inflame people.

JCN began a Judicial Confirmation Network during the Bush administration to help confirm George W.’s nominees. The name changed in 2010 to prevent President Obama’s nominees after the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. It has a seven-figure advertising budget to keep Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and vulnerable senators up for election from allowing a nominee to be considered as well as a six-figure campaign targeting Democrats. JCN has also hired a team of ten researchers from America Rising to locate information keeping any nominees from going to the Senate.

Not satisfied with its continuation of congressional malfunction and trying to wreak the same for the Supreme Court, Congress has decided to ignore the country’s budget—the first time since the system began in 1974. This after bitterly complaining about Democratic inaction several years ago. Both the House and the Senate have decided that they will not have hearings on the president’s budget or allow administration officials to testify about it. This decision came before they even saw any budget. This stupidity follows the 14-month refusal to act on a nominee to head up the Treasury Department’s terrorism section. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chair of the Banking Committee, explained the reason for the wait: he faced a primary challenge and couldn’t approve any Obama nominee.

The NMP and NO economic stagnation policies for 99 percent of people in the U.S. have led to widespread poverty and misery. It’s the conservative “me me me” philosophy that trashes long term greater good for short term personal profit. Now the establishment Republicans can’t understand why Donald Trump is in the lead. The word “demagogue” is freely tossed around—even applied to President Obama. Users of this term need to consult their dictionaries: it refers to “a political leader who tries to get support by making false claims and promises and using arguments based on emotion rather than reason, a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.”

GOP consultant Alex Castellanos may have said it best:

“If our self-indulgent Republican party establishment had really wanted to prevent a takeover of the GOP, they should not have gorged on political power while they failed to do anything to prevent the decline of the country. Our leaders could have led. They could have done more than say ‘no’ to Democrats while offering no alternative.”

President Obama followed up this analysis when by connecting the Trump phenomenon to “a notion that everything I do is to be opposed; that cooperation or compromise somehow is a betrayal.” This, he said, made “an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive.” Tomorrow will show how much Trump is thriving when five states hold their primaries. If he does, the GOP will be—well deservedly—suffering.

trumpprotest-missouri2This is what happens to a non-violent protester at a Trump rally. And it may get much worse. Trump supporters have called for a “militia” supposedly to protect voters against so-called “violent far-left agitators.” “The Lion’s Guard” calls on people to “provide security protection to innocent people who are subject to harassment and assault by Far-left agitators “ and be “willing to forcefully protect people if need be.” Members are already asking for “uniform suggestions.”

While Trump invites violence, he calls for pledges.  As Saturday, he told his audience to repeat after him:

“I do solemnly swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there are hurricanes or whatever, will vote on or before the 12thfor Donald J. Trump for president.”

He then promised that “bad things” would happen to them if they broke their pledge.

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Donald Trump’s campaign is reminiscent of Germany in the 1930s as he asks for violence and demands people to swear that they willl vote for him. All this came from the GOP that decided on a platform of NMP and NO.

 

September 7, 2015

Good News, Bad News from Labor Day, 2015

Republicans love to blame the Democrats for destroying the coal industry, but conservatives are the people who decimated the economy in the South through their eradication of the unions. For a century, union organizers were shot, beaten, and stabbed in their fight to get reasonable pay and safe conditions underground, but now the last union mine in Kentucky has been closed. Younger workers took their wages for granted, and now not one working miner belongs to a union, the only protection that mine workers have had.

Conservatives curse the unions but fail to realize that they are responsible for the rise of the middle class.

union_density_middleclass 2

union_density_inequality 1

High income inequality has correlated with low union membership for over 100 years in the U.S. As union membership shrinks, money and power shift upwards. Data from 2010 show that all workers make more money in a pro-union state.

workers do better

Today is Labor Day, established as a federal holiday 121 years ago to celebrate labor. Oregon declared it a holiday 17 years earlier. If you have today off, thank unions. If you are working today, thank unions for other benefits such as shorter work weeks, weekends off, expanded health care through employer-provided health insurance, and the end of child labor except within religious groups. Unions also brought paid vacation, breaks, sick leave, Social Security, overtime pay, worker’s compensation, and more. If you don’t have these benefits, thank the Republicans.

In some states, union attacks brought “right-to-work” laws, which block collective bargaining for higher wages, better benefits, and protections. The “freedom” created by these laws gives corporations and the wealthy the “right-to-underpay” and “right-to-cheat” employees. In Wisconsin, the latest state to adopt this law, “right-to-work” will cause workers and families to annually lose between $3.89 billion and $4.82 billion. Workers in “right-to-work” states make $1,560 less per year than in states without the law. Women in union jobs earn $212 per week—30.9 percent—more than women in non-union jobs. The gender wage gap is also smaller for women in unions, 88.7 cents for every dollar a man makes compared to 78 cents for all workers. Men in union jobs make $173 more per week than non-union workers.

President Obama celebrated this year’s Labor Day by mandating all 300,000 government contractor employees be granted seven paid sick days per year starting in 2017. That leaves another 44 million workers without paid sick leave because the United States is the only developed nation without a paid sick leave policy. The president’s executive order adds to other orders that move toward higher minimum wage and equal pay for men and women.

Other good news comes from the job market. Republicans swore to bring jobs back when they were elected in masses, but they’ve done nothing to help workers. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he would reduce the unemployment rate to 6 percent by 2016 if he were elected in 2012. Right now, it’s 5.1 percent after 66 consecutive months of private sector job growth—13 million jobs—during President Obama’s six and a half years in office. Many of these jobs came from the health care job growth after Republicans called the ACA the “job killing health care law.”

The bad news comes from the loss of wages for everyone except the top echelon. Oregon is an example of this: in the past 35 years, the bottom income bracket has lost 30 percent of income in the state while the top 1 percent gained 88 percent of the income. Republicans refuse to increase the federal minimum wage, one-third lower when adjusted for inflation than in the 1960s. They also consider the Keystone Pipeline bill a “jobs bill” although it employs only 4,200 people for one year while wiping out other permanent jobs by taking over and destroying land. The GOP’s “Hire More Heroes Act” to employ veterans doesn’t count veterans as employees so that companies with more than 50 employees can avoid the ACA mandate to provide health care. Up to one million workers would lose health insurance with the redefinition of “full-time employment” as 40 hours a week in the GOP’s “Save American Workers Act.”

Another piece of bad news is the growing divergence between salary and productivity. During the 25 years prior to 1973, wages and productivity grew together, but between 1973 and 2014, hourly wages went up 8.7, adjusted for inflation, and productivity increased by 72.2 percent. The change is a major reason for the rapidly growing income inequality during the past 40 years as payment for employees went to owners of capital. Workers generate the income but don’t get an increase in hourly pay. The last four years has been worse as worker productivity increased by 21 percent while wages rose only 2 percent.

wages by bracket

Republicans claim to support a “trickle-down” economy but instead push an economy that is “gush-up.” Unregulated free-market capitalism is a “winner-take-all” wealth over the common good, and billionaires buy politicians and design education and health systems to control the bottom 99 percent of people in the United States. The average CEO earns 204 times what average workers earn, and two-thirds of the poor in the United States—68 percent—have jobs.

Hedge fund billionaires are not required to pay their fair share of taxes receive awards yet are praised. For example, John Paulson, noted for “Outstanding Contributions to Society,” got $3.7 billion by conspiring with Goldman Sachs to create risky subprime mortgages. He used other people’s money to bet against his sure-to-fail financial instruments. As U.S. wealth grew from $52 trillion to over $83 trillion between 2007 and 2014, six million more children were forced onto food stamps. Forty percent of households are food-insecure while 40 percent of the food in the United States is wasted.

Despite the decreasing unemployment rate, taxpayers fund the movement of many jobs overseas while technology eliminates others. Kodak once employed 145,000 people to do the same photo processing that Instagram does with 15 workers. Three-fourths of faculty at colleges and universities are now “adjunct” instructors, paid a pittance for part-time work. One-fourth of these teachers, almost 20 percent of college and university faculty, are forced into food stamp or other public assistance programs to survive.

Republicans claim that they want to return to the 1950s, and economically this would benefit almost everyone. In 1956, the GOP platform supported an increase in the minimum wage, an expansion of Social security, adequate coverage for the unemployed, better housing, and health care for all. “Government must have a heart as well as a head” and “America does not prosper unless all Americans prosper” were included in the GOP belief system. According to the GOP platform, “President Eisenhower’s administration brought the highest employment, highest wages, and the highest standard of living ever experience in any country.”

Today’s GOP portrays people on unemployment as leeches, but the GOP of 1956 called for “providing assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment.” Republicans in the 1950s also wanted to strengthen “the rights of labor unions” and protect “the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively.”

In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower looked forward to today’s GOP when he wrote:

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are…a few…Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

He may have been right.

August 22, 2015

GOP Discouraged, True Conservatism Disappearing

Filed under: Politics — trp2011 @ 9:13 PM
Tags: , ,

Last weekend, I searched for some missing papers in my office. My method of doing this is to clean files, shelves, anyplace that has papers. It was a productive day: I filled a huge recycling can, and I found a couple of clippings on conservatism.

The first one is from Eugene’s Register-Guard on New Year’s Day 2005 after George W. Bush was Time’s “Man of the Year.” (Actually, the RG got it wrong because Time finally changed the term to “Person of the Year” in 1999.) Bush’s selection may not have been an honor; Vladimir Putin received the same “honor” three years later.

To quote the editorial:

“Conservatism used to be about the past. Conservatives resisted change, valued traditions and defended institutions. A Conservative foreign policy resisted foreign entanglements, while a conservative domestic program aimed for small government and balanced budgets.

“Bush’s conservatism is about the future, and about provoking change. Conservative disdain for the nation’s secular institutions, excepting the military, is palpable—schools, the media, the courts, the executive agencies of government and others are regarded as needing to be torn down and rebuilt. A conservative foreign policy has become one that is assertive, muscular and unilateral. A conservative domestic policy is one that favors tax cuts without regard to deficits.

“The new conservative vision of America’s place in the world is being tested in Iraq. Bush believes American power can bring about a democratic transformation in that country, creating an example that would ripple throughout the Middle East. It’s an ambitious project, and in 2004 it didn’t go as well as its architects hoped. Bush’s new conservatism is being tested at home as well as the federal government attempts to simultaneously sustain large tax cuts, steep increases in spending and record deficits…

“Politics will never be the same.”

Even a Democratic president hasn’t been able to change some of these problems in the United States.

The second piece came from 2004. Mark Oberzil of Forest Grove (OR) wrote the following:

I am a conservative. I believe in staying solvent and out of debt.

I am a conservative. I believe in keeping my nose out of other people’s business, their nations and their bedrooms.

I am a conservative. I believe in conserving our assets and our resources — our air, our land, our water. Accordingly, I don’t support or engage in wastefulness, inefficiency or lavish excesses.

I am a conservative. I think an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Therefore I support appropriate government spending on such things as infrastructure, schools, social welfare and crime prevention, because in the long run it’s cheaper and more effective.

I am a conservative. If I am attacked, I respond appropriately and conservatively. I do not swat mosquitoes with dynamite.

I am a conservative. I don’t deal falsely or prematurely with facts.

I am a conservative. I understand the purposes of various institutions. It is the job of government to govern, the job of religion to address spiritual needs, and the job of business to secure profits by producing needed goods and services. I do not confuse these institutions.

I am a conservative. I understand my position in the world and that my opinions are not the only valid ones.

I do not have an exclusive claim on what is right, good or patriotic, and those who disagree with me are not automatically evil traitors.

What’s really weird, though, is that I’ve always thought these things…

… but now everyone calls me a liberal!

A more recent letter to the Eugene Register Guard from conservative W.K. O’Connor, “How conservatives can gain respect”:

“A few thoughts after being subjected to the Aug. 6 dog-and-pony debate by Republican presidential contenders:

“When conservatives abandon efforts to prevent women from having abortions; stop refusing to expand Medicaid (might help the poor — can’t have that); stop pounding on deporting illegal immigrants (bigotry toward Latinos); show some semblance of social conscience by giving back what they’ve taken from food stamp and nutrition programs for poor single mothers and elderly people by closing a tax loophole for billionaires (horrors!); halt their blatant, continuing war on minority voters by taking voting rights from millions of people who have voted for 30, 40 or 50 years (the most elemental right in a democracy); cease lying about global climate change; quit supporting private ownership of guns nobody needs, and stop stripping schools of funds they need for education — not to mention their blatant racism and homophobia — then I would respect them.

“That may make me sound like a liberal. I’m not.

“But the Republican Party my family grew up with doesn’t exist anymore, being now driven by religious wackos who subvert the Constitution.

“Our democracy is in decline and is being driven further into oblivion by a billionaire oligarchy. Unless the people stand up and restore some sanity, we’re simply accelerating the process.

“’Ours is a problem in which deception has become organized and strong; where truth is poisoned at the source; one in which the skill of the shrewdest brains is devoted to misleading a bewildered people’” — American journalist Walter Lippmann.”

Connor isn’t alone in his disgust for the GOP. Approval rating for the Republican party has gone down nine points since January to 32 percent, just two-thirds of the 48 percent approval of the Democratic party. Republicans brought down the rating with their drop from 86 percent approval in January to the current 68 percent who see their own party positively.

Republican rating poll

 

By 53 percent to 31 percent, the Democratic Party is viewed as “more concerned with the needs of people like me” than the GOP. The Democrats hold a 16-point lead on governing in an honest and ethical way (45 percent to 29 percent). The blue part is ahead in ability to handle these areas as well:

  • Environment (a margin of 53% to 27%)
  • Abortion and contraception policies (50% to 31%)
  • Education (46% to 34%)
  • Health care (46% to 36%)
  • Foreign policy (41% to 38%)

If true conservatives disagree with the leaders of the Republican party, they need to take it over in the same way that the Tea Party hijacked the GOP over a decade ago.

October 31, 2014

It’s Halloween! Be Afraid of the GOP

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 8:21 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

With four days until the 2014 election results start to trickle in, the polls are up and down. A week ago, carpet-bagger Scott Brown and former Massachusetts GOP senator, was even with New Hampshire’s Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Now he’s down by 8 points. The robotic creature for the New York Times, assigned with determine winners, reported that its conclusions were 3 percent accurate. The GOP is chortling—at least publicly–that it’s taking over the senate. This is what we can expect if Republicans have a majority by January 1, 2015:

Agenda control through the budget process: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.” It will be a return to 2011 when Congress threatened to not raise the debt limit to pay for what they had already spent as well as 13 months ago when the GOP shut down the government 13 months ago in an attempt to get their own way and cost the economy at least $24 billion.

More tax cuts for the wealthy and further spending cuts for middle- and working-class families: Although the senate needs 60 votes to break a filibuster, congressional budget resolutions can squeak through with an ordinary majority of 51 votes and cannot be filibustered. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) 2015 budget bill sent to the senate gives those making over $1 million another $200,000 in tax cuts while cutting nondefense spending by $4.8 trillion. Almost 70 percent of that money takes from programs helping low-income and middle-class families—Medicaid, Pell Grants for college, etc. The GOP also wants to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Right now, the reality is an average U.S. corporate tax rate at 27 percent with small businesses paying a disproportionately large percentage because of loopholes and subsidies for the big companies. GOP leaders claim that they will close these loopholes, but they can’t afford to do this because they’ll lose campaign funding. GOP austerity cost the economy 2.4 million jobs from December 2010 to October 2013.

Obstruction of well-qualified judicial nominees, leaving vacancies on federal courts: The record shows continued filibustering of the president’s judicial nominees. Only 16 judicial nominees were filibustered during George W. Bush’s eight years compared to the 77 nominees from President Obama filibustered in a six and a half years. There would have been more than 77 if the senate had not changed its rules to require a simple majority vote for reasonable debate times for these nominees. A GOP senate means the return of the filibuster for judicial confirmations. Currently federal courts have 63 vacancies and 32 judicial nominees.

Another vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act: The GOP has promised that the first vote would be to repeal the ACA if they control the senate. The vote would take place at a time that the uninsured rate is at a record low: 7.3 million enrolled and paying premiums through the marketplaces; 8 million with health coverage through Medicaid; and 5 million signed up for ACA-compliant plans outside the marketplace. And that’s with almost half the states refusing to participate in the ACA. Insurers also cannot deny coverage with a pre-existing condition or put lifetime and annual coverage limits on their care. They have to spend at least of the premiums on health care and cover young people up to the age of 26 on their parents’ policies.

Greater rollback of women’s health needs: McConnell says he will push for narrower exemptions on abortions after 20 weeks than the Supreme Court has allowed. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) has a bill to allow businesses the ability to refuse contraceptive coverage for their employees. Before the ACA required equal insurance charges for both genders, women were charged up to 150 percent more than men for the same coverage. Over 48 million women receive preventive care without deductibles or co-payments and saved $483 million on just birth control pills, $269 per woman, because of ACA.

Use of the Congressional Review Act to weaken environmental rules, jeopardizing public health: Congress can pass a joint resolution stopping a major rule submitted to the legislative branch. The senate can accomplish this in 60 days without any possibility of a filibuster. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said that he will challenge every EPA rule under the current administration, including the proposal to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants by up to 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. The rule would curb dangerous pollution, save money on energy bills, and improve public health by avoiding 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children every year. Full implementation would save $93 billion in 2030. For every dollar, people will see $7 in benefits.

Expansion of carrying concealed and loaded guns: The NRA wants the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, allowing people to get gun permits in states that have the weakest gun safety laws and carry them all over the United States. This is a race to the bottom as states with the weakest standards set national standards for these permits. People like George Zimmerman, who killed a teenage boy and has a history of violence including assaulting a police officer and domestic violence, would have permission to carry his gun everywhere instead of in only those states with weaker gun safety laws. Local law enforcement would have no recourse. This legislation failed by only two votes in 2009 and was included in the compromise measure developed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Fortunately, it was three votes short of breaking the filibuster because it could have passed with 57 votes.

Legislation removing any LGBT rights: At this time, 33 states recognize marriage equality with another three that may soon marry same-sex couples after courts release rulings. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has announced that he will be “introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws.” Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, reiterated the party’s support for a constitutional amendment that would unmarry loving and committed same-sex couples. The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act currently pending in Congress would, if passed, allow for government-sanctioned discrimination against the LGBT community and gut existing workplace protections for the now thousands of legally married same-sex couples employed by the federal government or its contractors. For example, this Act would permit federal workers to ignore paperwork from same-sex couples for processing tax returns, approving visa applications, or reviewing Social Security applications and allow a federally funded homeless shelter or substance abuse treatment program to turn away LGBT people.

Legislation to deport DREAMers: Children who were brought to the United States and who meet strict criteria may currently stay in the U.S. and work legally. A senate bipartisan bill that passed 68 to 32 would have made this administrative rule into law as part of immigration reform for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants, but the House refused to consider the bill. A GOP senate would most likely reverse its former position on immigration reform. Cruz said he would “use any and all means necessary” to prevent the administration from allowing undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to stay in the place they know as home.

More cuts to programs and rules that increase college access, affordability, and readiness:  Ryan’s budget cuts Pell Grants by $90 billion, makes monthly student loan payments higher, and eliminates $107 billion from early education and K-12 education programs over the next decade. A GOP senate would most likely block regulations on for-profit colleges with a history of predatory practices that saddle students with higher rates of debt and low-quality degrees and charge 3.5 times as much as public institutions for the same degree.

On the other hand, the GOP may suffer if it wins the senate. The Tea Party will put more leverage on the GOP establishment to toe the far-right line. Their unwillingness to compromise and move to the right will cause them to lose more voters in 2016, including those for the president. Repealing health care, rejecting minorities, and taking more rights from women will lose the party a huge constituency.

The GOP may win some seats this year because they keep minorities and low-income people from voting, but these people will have the next two years to get the necessary ID. In addition, the courts may overturn the discrimination of the new voter suppression laws. Judicial rulings during the past few weeks to keep these laws have cited only an excuse that they can’t be changed this close to the election. During the next year, there will be many lawsuits from people denied their constitutional right to vote in next week’s election.

October 28, 2014

Cats Not Republicans; Fox Bemoans Cheap Gas

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 6:41 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

If you’re ready for a little political humor, Messaging Matters has 12 reasons why cats are not Republicans.

  1. catCats are curious about what you do in your bedroom, but they don’t try to legislate away your freedom to do it.
  2. Cats may take away your cushion, but they’ll give it back to you with a gentle push.
  3. Cats give you attention and sympathy when you’re sick.
  4. Females are treated with importance in the cat world.
  5. Cats make use of solar power, often all day long.
  6. Cats lick their own problems and take care of other cats too.
  7. Cats don’t blame black and brown cats for their troubles.
  8. Cats know how to ration their resources.
  9. Fat cats are not at the top of the cat hierarchy, are not cat role models, and have more trouble surviving and thriving, not less.
  10. While Republicans blindly follow authority, it is said that getting Democrats to act in unison is like herding cats.
  11. Cats don’t foul their own nest.
  12. Cats are popular and well-liked on the Internet and elsewhere.

And one more: cats believe in diversity.

cat_dog

mouse_cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

More photos here. Photos: top right by Crazy Ivory; above with dog by Szilvia Pap-Kutasi; above with mouse by Frank Hinsberger.

My favorite Fox network story this week:

During President Obama’s two terms, he has been blamed for high gas prices despite the shifts in these being caused by global market conditions, demand of seasonal changes, and other factors under the president’s control. The Associated Press, which tends to lean right in its reporting, has a study of 36 years that compares monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and domestic oil production. The result: “No statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.” Over two years ago, 92 percent of economists surveyed by the Chicago Booth School of Business agreed that “changes in U.S. gasoline prices over the past 10 years have predominantly been due to market factors rather than U.S. federal economic or energy policies.” More experts here. Even Fox’s far-right John Stossel admitted that U.S. energy policy “doesn’t make that much of a difference” in gas prices.

In the first two months of 2012, Fox network blamed high gas prices on the president more than three times than the other major news outlets combined, as well as distorting charts and claiming that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to move oil across the United States for export would lower gas prices. One of the network’s “experts” was Eric Bolling, former minor league baseball player and major Wall Street oil and energy futures trader.

Gas prices went up the next summer, as they always do, and Fox gleefully reported on how Mitt Romney’s energy plan was the solution. They used former Shell Oil executive John Hofmeister as an expert to explain why gas prices are high although he didn’t point out that it was because his own company jacked up the prices to make more money and elect Republicans. Bill O’Reilly told the Romney campaign to use these prices for an attack on Barack Obama, a reversal from his position in the last year of the Bush administration that if “you hear a politicians say he or she will bring down oil prices, understand it’s complete BS.”

Fox now warns that cheap gas is bad–maybe “a sign of a weakening economy” (that didn’t happen) or “a sign of a looming global economic crisis.”

cheap gas

May 15, 2014

GOP Loses Moral Compass

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 10:53 AM
Tags: ,

Refusing to address immigration reform, starving people and driving them out of their homes, threatening law-abiding citizens and government officials while destroying Native American lands, accusing Hillary Clinton of everything including brain damage and the kidnapping of Nigerian girls, executing innocent people, killing people through refusal of health care and lack of gun controls, denying human-caused climate change, forcing everyone to follow fundamental Christianity, keeping women from legal reproductive rights, allowing campus sexual assault and rape in the military, continuing domestic violence, polluting the country while stopping green energy, endangering people’s lives through a crumbling infrastructure, keeping the poor and minorities from voting, putting the wealthy in control of government, denying equal pay for equal work, privatizing everything at a higher cost, taking people off Social Security and Medicare, refusing unemployment benefits, making life dangerous by eliminating regulations, destroying family life through no paid sick leave and maternal rights,  lying and cheating to win elections, stopping union rights for working hours and safety, decreasing educational level by reducing funding and mandating religious beliefs in school–these are some of the ways that the Republican party has lost its moral compass.

These are the things that they want to take away. The ways in which they want to make people’s lives better?

[The space was blank on purpose. The GOP doesn’t want to help people–just increase the wealth of corporations and the top 1 percent.]

So much to write about, and I’ll be out of the country for a couple of weeks. I’ll let you know then what the Canadians think about some of these issues and what the GOP has done while I’m gone to further eliminate human rights.

April 29, 2014

Obamacare Terrifies GOP Leaders

What happens when GOP leaders accidentally tell the truth? There’s a lot of backpedalling!

What Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said last week:

“We need to look at reforming the exchanges.”

The news that over 600,000 residents in Washington state probably led her to say that the Affordable Care Act will persist with reforms occurring within that structure.

What Rodgers said this week via her spokesman Nate Hodson:

“The headline is not an accurate or representative portrayal of what the congresswoman said in the interview, what her voting record reflects, or what she believes. She will continue fighting to repeal Obamacare at every opportunity moving forward and replace it with patient-centered reforms.”

What House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said last week:

“[To] repeal Obamacare … isn’t the answer. The answer is repeal and replace. The challenge is that Obamacare is the law of the land. It is there and it has driven all types of changes in our health care delivery system. You can’t recreate an insurance market overnight.”

About immigration, Boehner blamed rank-and-file House Republicans for the lack of immigration reform and ridiculed them for an unwillingness to work hard.

What Boehner said this week:

“There was no mocking. Listen, you all know me. You tease the ones you love. But some people misunderstood what I had to say. And I wanted to make sure that members understood that the biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform forward is [the president].”

People who watch the video of Boehner’s mocking his own party members might disagree with his assessment. Spokesman Brendan Buck tried to cover for Boehner’s comments about the ACA: “For four years now, the House Republican position has been repeal-and-replace.”

That’s not necessarily true:

  • 2012: Boehner said, “It’s pretty clear that the president was re-elected. Obamacare is the law of the land.”
  • 2013: Boehner shut down the federal government using, in part, the opposition to the ACA.
  • 2014: Boehner said that the ACA is “the law of the land” and full repeal “isn’t the answer.”

Would the real John Boehner please stand up?

Scott Brown, briefly a GOP Massachusetts senator now running for the same office in New Hampshire, also demonstrates the GOP confusion related to the Affordable Care Act. Because opposition to Obamacare helped elect him to senate in 2010, much of his current campaign is based on his opposition to the ACA. He has declared Obamacare a disaster and want a plan that sounds almost exactly like the ACA:

“I’ve always felt that people should either get some type of health care options, or pay for it with a nice competitive fee. That’s all great. I believe it in my heart. In terms of preexisting conditions, catastrophic coverage, covering kids–whatever we want to do, we can do it.”

This is his position for New Hampshire healthcare:

“As a matter of fact, in New Hampshire, I would encourage everybody to do a New Hampshire plan that works for New Hampshire, that deals with individual freedoms, and doesn’t have mandates put on by bureaucrats in Washington … a plan that is good for New Hampshire … can include the Medicaid expansion folks who need that care and coverage.”

Throughout the country, GOP candidates are campaigning on an anti-ACA platform that replaces it with the existing ACA provisions:

  • Thom Tillis (NC GOP Senate candidate) says that of course he supports protecting people with preexisting conditions, just not with Obamacare.
  • Tom Cotton and Terri Lynn Land (AR and MI GOP Senate candidates) want to expand health care to those who need it but don’t take positions on state Medicaid expansions.

Voters need to ask GOP candidates these questions:

  • What do they intend to replace the ACA with?
  • How many consumers would lose coverage if Republicans have their way?
  • What’s wrong with Medicaid expansion?
  • Why would they oppose the ACA’s most popular provisions?
  • How does one endorse ACA goals while condemning the ACA policy?

One man, Dean Angstadt, represents everything that terrifies GOP candidates and legislators. A self-employed logger, he refused to have anything to do with the ACA because he thinks that the Democrats are “full of it.” Yet the worry about his faulty aortic valve led him to either use the ACA to buy a health plan for life-saving surgery or die. The pacemaker and defibrillator implants that helped his heart three years ago weren’t working any longer. He hoped to save money for surgery but couldn’t work to make the money.

Luckily he had a friend who persuaded him to sign up for health insurance through the ACA and pay his premium of $26.11. His plan started on March 1, and his surgery for life-saving valve replacement was on March 31. Angstadt said, “Not only did it save my life, it’s going to give me a better quality of life.”

He continued, “For me, this isn’t about politics. I’m trying to help other people who are like me, stubborn and bullheaded, who refused to even look. From my own experience, the ACA is everything it’s supposed to be and, in fact, better than it’s made out to be. A lot of people I talk to are so misinformed about the ACA.”

Conservatives like the Koch brothers pay for ads to keep Angstadt and others like him from signing up for health care. He learned that they were wrong, and he’s alive to tell others that opposition to “Obamacare” is wrong.

Not everyone will be as lucky as Angstadt. Despite the 13 million people who got healthcare because of the ACA, over half the states refuse to expand Medicaid with federal money. Other court challenges could do away with the ACA in another nine states. The body count of preventable deaths in states that refuse Medicaid expansion is from 7,115 to 17,104. Opt-out states will have 712,037 more people with depression, and 240,700 more people suffering catastrophic medical expenditures. Another 422,553 people won’t get medication for diabetes, and another 443,677 women won’t get pap smears to detect cancer.

gop_obamacare_body_count

In just Rick Perry’s Texas, up to 3,000 people will needlessly die, joined by 671 from Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, 1,176 in Nathan Deal’s Georgia, 2,221 in Rick Scott’s Florida, and 1,145 in Pat McGrory’s North Carolina. These deaths can be directly tracked to the state governors and legislators.

Medicaid refusers are states that already have the lowest Medicaid benefits to working adults. These are places where people with below-poverty incomes don’t qualify for Medicaid but can’t get tax credits for coverage on the insurance exchanges. Leaders in these states condemn thousands of people to death because they refuse money from the federal government.

left out people

States even lose money by refusing federal funding. For example, Georgia refused $33 billion in Medicaid funding during the next decade and has to make up the difference of Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments. Federal funding would have meant an annual $60 million and coverage of 27,000 uninsured patients for Grady Memorial Hospital instead of a $45-million loss. A fourth rural hospital announced it was closing its doors in February after a shortage of patients who can pay their medical expenses. Savannah’s Memorial Hospital is losing about $50 million in annual subsidies. And that’s just one state out of the 25 refusing ACA funding.

The shame of these states is their refusal to help the most vulnerable—at no cost to themselves. All because of politics. The states of shame are largely those who vote Republican. And those states are the unhealthiest in the country.

uninsured

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