Nel's New Day

May 6, 2017

DDT: More Week Fifteen

The spin on health care keeps coming. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) claims that she would never hurt people with pre-existing conditions because she has a special-needs child. According to Rodgers, states can have “new models for better patient outcomes” and criticizes health insurance for relying “on younger, healthier people subsidizing the costs of the older and sicker.” That’s why it’s called “insurance.” People whose houses don’t burn down subsidize people whose houses burn down. That’s insurance. The GOP is now officially “the party of death.”

Lucky for Rodgers, she’ll still have insurance if the rest of the nation doesn’t. And her need for “new models” didn’t extend to state retirement plans that can help the national retirement savings crisis. Republicans vote for states’ rights as long as they benefit only the wealthy.

About ten percent of the Republicans who voted to take health care from people are facing their constituents at town hall meetings, and their audience isn’t swallowing what their representatives are serving. A crowd loudly jeered Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) when he claimed that nobody dies from a lack of access to health care. A study published in 2009 by the American Journal of Public Health shows that lack of health insurance is linked with 45,000 deaths annually, about 2.5 times higher than the estimate from the Institute of Medicine in 2002. Uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993. Labrador probably isn’t aware of research surrounding health care because he probably didn’t even read the bill he supported.

The Republicans claim that no one should have to pay for other people’s health insurance, but they make sure that we pay for the GOP war that George W. Bush started over 14 years ago. Taxpayers also pay for the extended DDT family‘s travel around the world, touting their businesses. The budget that DDT just signed into law includes an extras $120 million for security that includes reimbursements to law enforcement in Manhattan and Palm Beach and another $73 for “necessary expenses for presidential security.” Between the election and inauguration, New York paid $24 million for Trump Tower security, and Palm Beach County has spent $4.5 million in overtime pay for presidential protection. DDT has not spent one weekend in the White House since his inauguration, and each of DDT’s seven trips—25 days—to Mar-a-Lago has cost over $600,000 for just the flights. None of these costs shows the loss to the economy as small businesses are badly damaged by restrictions from DDT’s presence.

DDT’s businesses are profiting. His frequent trips to his properties, including his Washington hotel for dinner and his Virginia golf course, has increased their income by 30 percent. Taxpayers also give DDT $1.5 million a year to rent the floor below DDT’s penthouse, and he still appears on ads his new condominium building on Uruguay’s coast. The Trump Organization is using Mar-a-Lago’s taxpayer-provided helipad for Marine One, and the club’s promotional magazine features quotes about DDT’s last presidential campaign and an advertisement for Ivanka’s jewelry.

During his campaign DDT was highly critical of costs for President Obama’s vacations and the time that he played golf. A DDT broken promise: “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.” In eight years, the former president spent $96 million–$8 million a year, a sum that DDT blew through in less than three weeks. Although he tries to hide his games, DDT has played golf on the average of three times that the former president did.

Some other happenings from last week:

The Heritage Foundation has fired Jim DeMint from his position as president. One reason was was tension between DeMint and Ed Feulner, his predecessor, who was concerned that the DeMint-era emphasis on political activism overshadowed the institution’s role in the intellectual development of the conservative movement.” Feulner will replace DeMint on an interim basis. But the reasons behind the coup against DeMint might be deeper.

Be careful where you laugh. CodePink member Desiree Fairooz, 61, could face up to a year in prison. Her crime was laughing after Sen. Richard Shelby said during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearings that the nominee had a history of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” She didn’t disrupt the proceedings until she was arrested and dragged out of the Senate chambers. No one was arrested for laughing when Sessions “joked” about disagreements with his wife. Each of two men wearing KKK costumes at the Sessions hearing could also be in prison for a year each.

Current administrative officials treat leadership like a joke. Last week, Wilbur Ross, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, described the U.S. preemptive bombings on Syria as “after-dinner entertainment” for guests at the Mar-a-Lago club on 6 April. His audience of the wealthy and powerful at the Milken Institute Global Conference laughed. Ross continued by saying, “The thing was, it didn’t cost the president anything to have that entertainment.” Actually, taxpayers shelled out about $100 million for the “entertainment.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) referred to the “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen” five times when he talked about the bombing.

DDT touted the Energy Star program, which honors businesses and organizations that excel in energy efficiency, as “America’s resource for saving energy and protecting the environment.” Then he announced that he will eliminate the 25-year-old program. Energy Star posts information on appliances about their energy efficiency, and over 1,000 U.S. companies call it a model for successful collaboration between public and private sectors. DDT’s properties, also evaluated by the Energy Star program, typically get low ratings: eleven of his 15 skyscrapers in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco are less energy efficient that comparable buildings. On a scale of 1 to 100, his Mayfair Hotel, now converted into condos, received a 1. Follow the rubles.

As a campaigner, DDT said he’d label China a currency manipulator. Now he says they aren’t because he made China to stop manipulating the currency as soon as he was inaugurated. He didn’t know that China’s currency manipulation ceased in 2014. The question is whether DDT is delusional or merely ignorant.

DDT has abdicated another responsibility of “commander-in-chief.” The Pentagon is now in charge of setting troop levels in Iraq and Syria where over 5,000 military members are employed.

DDT looked forward to terminating the trade agreement like a Christmas gift to himself until his brand new Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, showed him a map of how the farmers who voted for him would be hurt. DDT changes his mind based on maps as well as what hurts blue states and who talked with more recently.

Guns were banned at the annual NRA meeting in Georgia where DDT made a campaign speech. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Guns should be available everywhere with no restrictions. And NRA members are all responsible gun owners who would never kill people. Right!

Sean Hannity’s question about DDT’s biggest accomplishment brought a variety of responses. My favorite: Not getting impeached.

DDT wants to change libel laws  so that he can sue journalists and the media for articles that DDT considers inaccurate and “win lots of money.”

Why would DDT call for “a good shutdown”? Maybe because he wants to know how far he can go and still have support. A year ago he said that he could kill someone in the street, and he would still get elected president. Now he’s called president—although he wasn’t sure about it at a recent speech. Fill the Cabinet with billionaires who hate their agencies? Sounds good. Shut down the press? No problem. Buddy up with the world’s tyrants while rejecting the nation’s allies? Just fine. Now he wants a “good shutdown” in September to fix the “mess” in government. He blames the constitutional checks and balances:

“I think the rules in Congress – and in particular the rules in the Senate – are unbelievably archaic and slow moving. And in many cases, unfair. In many cases, you’re forced to make deals that are not the deal you’d make. You’d make a much different kind of a deal. You’re forced into situations that you hate to be forced into.”

To change the “rules of the Senate” is because “for the good of the nation things are going to have to be different.” A major goal is to do away with the Senate filibuster of 60 votes if more Republicans aren’t elected. He’ll have to do more than that because of the serious split in the GOP.

DDT ran on a campaign promise of changing Washington, D.C., yet 54 percent of voters say that he’s made no progress. I disagree: he’s made it much worse.

April 13, 2014

Religion & Ignorance: The Chicken or the Egg

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:08 PM
Tags: , ,

Collecting articles about the ignorant statements from religious fundamentalists, I wonder which came first–ignorance or a belief in religious fundamentalism. When I talked to a friend about this question, he said that these people are likely not stupid, just uneducated. A few statements from conservative  leaders during the past few days back up this theory:

Once an elected senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint heads up the Heritage Foundation. The name of the group almost sounds as if it has something to do with our country’s history, but DeMint demonstrated a woeful lack of knowledge in his appearance on a Christian radio station:

“Well, the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government.”

He goes on for a while in the same vein, saying that “no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves” and gives credit to the “Republican” Abraham Lincoln because of “a love in his heart that comes from God.”

The phrase “all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights” does not appear in the Constitution although some of this sentiment is in the Declaration of Independence. Before the Civil War, the U.S. Constitution stated that runaway slaves had to be returned:

 “No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

The U.S. Constitution also prevented Congress from banning slave importation until 1808. DeMint is right “that the slaves were eventually freed” because of the constitution, but it was the Thirteenth Amendment that did by providing that “[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude. . . shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Even that document didn’t pass until the end of 1865, eight months after the end of the Civil War and the assassination of Lincoln.

Despite the U.S. Constitution, state laws in the South continued the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws that maintained the inferiority of former slaves and their descendants until big government passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, now largely eradicated.

As for Lincoln the Republican, the GOP party of the 19th century held liberal views while the Democrats were comparable to the Republicans today. The Republicans love to claim Lincoln as one of their own when it serves them, but they reject all of his policies.

Rick Wiles, host of TruNews, demonstrated ignorance when he claimed that Adolf Hitler and all the top Nazi leadership were “creating a homosexual special race.” He continued by accusing LGBT rights advocates of being “homofascist” in a radical movement just like Nazi Germany.

“It wasn’t this thing about an Aryan race of white people, blue-eyed, blonde-haired, white people, Hitler was trying to create a race of super gay male soldiers … It will end up in America just like it was in Germany, but it won’t be the Jews that will be slaughtered. It will be the Christians.”

AFA’s Bryan Fischer called LGBT rights advocates “Nazi stormtroopers” who are “totalitarian and repressive.” Pastor Jeff Allen wrote in an op-ed for Liberty Counsel attorney Matt Barber’s website Barbwire:

“Many [LGBT rights advocates] really do console themselves with fantasies of their own Kristallnacht, in which Christians are euphemistically ‘taken out of the way’ as part of the ‘gay’-stapo’s ‘final solution’ to the ‘Christian problem.'”

Last week Wiles called on Jesus Christ for help in overthrowing President Obama out of office with a military coup.

Last Sunday, I wrote about Mississippi’s so-called “sex education” that compares a girl who has premarital sex to a dirty piece of candy. A student is told to unwrap a piece of candy which is then handed to all the other students, one by one. The teacher draws the analogy that girls who have sex with different boys are just like that candy: they get dirty just like the candy because they’re handed from one boy to another.

The mandated Mississippi curriculum allows teachers to instruct students that homosexual activity is illegal under the “unnatural intercourse” statute. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas invalidated all laws against homosexuality, some states such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Utah have kept their anti-sodomy laws on the books. Mississippi teachers don’t have to teach anti-LGBT positions, but they cannot contradict them. The state also has a law allowing anyone to discriminate against anyone else on religious bases.

An argument from religious fundamentalists is the belief in “geocentrism,” the theory that the sun revolves around the Earth, in opposition of the heliocentric model with Earth and other planets that make up a solar system in which planets circle the sun. To support geocentrism, ultra-conservative Roman Catholic Robert Sungenis has made a film, The Principle, narrated by Kate Mulgrew and including statements from noted scientists.

Mulgrew, a progressive Democrat, says she was duped, and several scientists have said that they never agreed to be in the film. Lawrence Kraus wrote:

“I have no recollection of being interviewed for such a film, and of course had I known of its premise I would have refused. So, either the producers used clips of me that were in the public domain, or they bought them from other production companies that I may have given some rights to distribute my interviews to, or they may have interviewed me under false pretenses, in which case I probably signed some release. I simply don’t know.”

Many ignorant religious fundamentalists have been elected to Congress. In its congressional report card for 2013, the Secular Coalition for America has given 315 of the members, 58 percent, an F grade for supporting bills such as granting special rights to religious organizations, discriminating against rights for women and LGBT people, and promoting issues like prayer in federal environments.  Five of the 315 congressional members receiving F grades:

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA): At 5 percent, he has opposed taking care of the poor and maintained that abortion causes cancer, although he later retracted this false statement. He also opposes marriage equality because he claims, wrongly, that churches would be forced to perform same-sex marriages.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI): Another 5-percenter, the former minister insists on Christian prayer in any setting and has voted against every bill calling for separation of church and state. In opposing bills such as the ACA, he said:

“I don’t normally quote from Joseph Stalin, but today he said something appropriate, about liberty. He said America is a like a healthy body, and it’s resistance is three-fold, it’s patriotism, it’s morality, it’s spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within. I would encourage our church, I would encourage Congress, I would encourage our administration to fight back strongly against what Stalin understood.”  [Huh?]

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC): A quote from this 5-percenter’s website:

“America was built upon Judeo-Christian values, and these values should be protected. During my years in Congress I have been a steadfast supporter of traditional marriage, the unborn, and the free exercise of religion. I am an active senior member of both the Values Action Team (VAT) and the Pro-Life Caucus.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): The presidential candidate wannabe frequently says that he thinks about the bible first when governing which includes pro-life and anti-climate change issues.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): Also trying for the presidency, he believes life begins at contraception, employing his philosophy of libertarianism only when it pleases him. He claims that this philosophy has no moral compass and needs Christianity for direction—unless, of course, when Christianity supports helping others and ending poverty.

Check on your own representatives and senators here.

These images from a fourth-grade science test in a religious school  shows why fundamentalist religious people are ignorant.

science test

 

 

science 2

December 10, 2012

Tea Party May Suffer Reverses

Despite the looming “fiscal cliff,” the Tea Party that made big news last week. The 2012 election was not good for the movement. It succeeded in electing only four the 16 Senate candidates it backed. Tea Party Caucus founder Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) barely managed to survive a challenge from her Democratic opponent, and Rep. Allen West (R-FL), one of the top House fundraisers, lost. FreedomWorks’ $40 million in the 2012 cycle resulted in onlyl 25 percent success. Other Tea Party House members will be missing after December 31 this year.

Shock waves swept across the conservative community when Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), founder of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, resigned to lead the conservative Heritage Foundation think-tank. The senator will be long remembered for his support of Rep. Todd Akin (R-MI) after the now-failed candidate for Senate claimed that victims of “legitimate rape” can’t get pregnant and his leadership in the opposition to Obamacare.

Other DeMint positions included barring unmarried and LGBT teachers in public schools and pushing a law preventing the discussion of abortion on the Internet between patient and doctor. He also wanted to strip all federal employees of collective bargaining rights and compared striking Chicago teachers to “thugs” in the Middle East. By putting a hold on a 2010 bill to sell land near the Smithsonian Institution for the National Women’s History Museum, he blocked the entire project. His excuse was that museums already existed for “quilters” and “cowgirls.”

The Senate has a rule that one person can anonymously stop any bill from proceeding. DeMint has threatened to shut down the Senate by placing a unilateral hold on every single piece of legislation in the Senate. He also said that he would only allow bills to proceed that his office had personally approved. His megalomania didn’t stop there: last year he told Fox Business that he was willing to cause “serious disruptions” by not raising the debt ceiling to get cuts to social programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

DeMint’s actions have alienated not only the Democrats but also his own party. For the past two campaigns he supported enough Tea Party members in Senate campaigns to keep a Democratic majority in that chamber. Two years ago, DeMint’s candidates included Christine “I’m not a witch” O’Donnell in Delaware, Ken Buck in Colorado, and Nevada’s Sharron Angle who threatened “Second Amendment remedies” if Congress didn’t change direction. All three lost their bid for the Senate.

Not satisfied with these losses, he moved on to unseat incumbents who were not “pure” enough in their conservatism, according to DeMint’s personal opinion. He broke his promise to GOP leaders to stop donating money to opponents of GOP Senate incumbents in the primaries when his personal super PAC gave $500,000 to defeat Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) in favor of far-right conservative Richard Mourdock. After Mourdock made his infamous speech about births from rape being a “gift from God,” he lost the former GOP senate seat to a Democrat, Joe Donnelly.

The Heritage Foundation will give DeMint a greater chance to meddle in GOP internal politics and provide him with a $1 million salary. Right now with $40,000 net worth he’s one of the poorest members of Congress.

The other South Carolina senator, Lindsey Graham, was so surprised with the announcement that he could barely talk. The question, of course, is DeMint’s replacement. The other South Carolina senator, Lindsey Graham, could barely speak about it.  Comedian Steven Colbert has offered, but Gov. Nikki Haley turned him down.

It’s not a plum position: DeMint was two years into a six-year term, and his appointed replacement will serve only two years before having to run for the next two years to finish DeMint’s term. Graham’s term is also up in two years. DeMint’s defection will benefit him because the state might not be able to find two strong candidates for Senate during the same election.

The more people have learned about the Tea Party, the less they approve of the movement. In the last two years disapproval has doubled from 25 to 50 percent while approval among voters is 21 percent. Even in DeMint’s highly conservative state, more people disapprove of the Tea Party than approve, and only 1 in 12 Republicans claim to be Tea Party supporters.

Last week saw two other blows to the Tea Party clout. One was the rapid departure of FreedomWorks leader and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) after a dispute about its future direction. Armey took an $8 million payoff and demanded that his name and photo have no connection with the organization. At the same time, Karl Rove has convinced his super PAC, Crossroads for Prosperity, to stop its ultra-conservative position and take any policy that will get GOP candidates elected. Hopefully that will result in a clash between DeMint’s pure policies and the pragmatic ones of Rove.

The same conflict will be evident in Congress. The movement was built on anti-establishment sentiment. Yet to be successful, elected officials have to operate within the establishment in order to be successful. The question is how Tea Party leaders and activists can do this without being part of what they see as the problem. An example of this is Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (R-TX), rising Tea Party star, who will be vice-chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, squarely in the middle of the establishment that he opposed during his candidacy.

Meanwhile Reince Preibus is struggling to maintain his leadership of the RNC. Showing his chops, he compared the U.S. president to the Italian ship captain accused of manslaughter after his cruise ship went down—without the captain.

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), looked foolish when he proposed a bill to give President Obama the ability to raise the debt ceiling. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed, and McConnell immediately demanded that the bill have 60 votes to pass, in essence filibustering his own bill.

Now it’s a new week, and rumors abound inside the Beltway about talks between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Details remain private, but staff and leaders describe these discussions as “serious.”  It also might be a stalemate. Boehner has another three weeks, and Republican leaders say that they operate best with a deadline.

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