Nel's New Day

April 10, 2017

People Fight against Climate Change

Filed under: Climate change — trp2011 @ 8:29 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

With his bombing of Syria, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may (or may not!) slow down his destruction of the United States. Congress won’t be revoking any orders from President Obama within two weeks because they’ve left town on their junkets. Meanwhile, the environment is winning in some areas of the United States.

A few weeks ago, DDT signed a number of orders to exacerbate climate change with the excuse that it would create jobs and save money. The bad news for him is that the increase of clean energy is moving along like a speeding train. In the United States, clean energy jobs outnumber oil and gas jobs by more than 2.5 to 1, a ratio that grows each year. Only nine states have more jobs in fossil fuels than in clean energy. Massachusetts is currently considering a bill that would mandate the state obtain all of its energy—electricity, transportation, and heating—from renewable resources by 2050, and 25 U.S. cities are committed to transitioning to renewable energy, some of them making this decision after the presidential election. Ironically, the top five wind-energy producing congressional districts have GOP representatives in Congress.

Last year, one in every 50 new jobs in the nation was in the solar industry that employs 260,000 people, double that from 2010 employments. Coal mining jobs number under 100,000 although the National Mining Association, a trade group, counted 195,494 coal-mining jobs in 2012 that included miners, support activities, and transportation. That high number has shrunk in the past five years. Since 2012, the world has brought more power online from renewables than fossil fuels.

Last year, the European Union had 86 percent of its electricity capacity from renewable sources, and Canada gets more than 80 per cent of its power from emissions-free sources and nearly two-thirds from renewable energy. India hopes to add 175 gigawatts of renewable electricity in five years, the equivalent of Canada’s entire electrical system. China adds enough solar panels to cover three soccer fields every hour. Planning to become the world leader in clean energy, China will invest $361 billion in renewable energy and create 13 million clean energy jobs by 2020.

Earlier this spring the utilities that own the massive 2,250 megawatt Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, one of the biggest polluters in the nation, will close it by 2019. Even better, the utilities may be out by the end of the year because the plant can’t keep running unless the Navajo Nation agrees to extend the lease.

In Alaska, PacRim Coal suspended all its permitting processes for a proposed $600 million Chuitna coal mine because it lost investors. The state’s largest strip mine would have destroyed 30 square miles of salmon river and forest. Cheap natural gas and growth of renewable energy is causing coal mines to stall throughout the nation.

Low oil prices have caused Exxon to leave 3.5 billion barrels of its fuel in the tar sands, following the same practice as that of other companies such as ConocoPhillips, Statoil, and Royal Dutch Shell. Instead, Statoil plans to develop a gigantic offshore wind farm off the coast of New York State.

Washington state blocked plans for the nation’s biggest coal export terminal. The Millennium Bulk Terminals project, proposed for Longview, that would export Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia.

Pawnee (OK) is filing a class-action lawsuit against dozens of fossil fuel companies, accusing them of knowingly causing destructive earthquakes by injecting wastewater underground. Since the fracking frenzy in the state, Oklahoma has had thousands of earthquakes with almost all of them traced to the process. Most of the homes in the town, population 2,300 , have been damaged from cracks in walls, foundations, and storm shelters to short-circuited electrical outlets. A 2015 study by the U.S. Geological Survey indicated that fossil fuel production is causing these earthquakes.

The Pawnee Nation is also suing after an earthquake damaged near-century-old tribal buildings.

For the first time, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection admitted a correlation between fracking and earthquakes.

Maryland’s GOP governor, Larry Hogan, has signed a bill to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state. The law follows New York that banned fracking in 2015 and Vermont in 2012. Florida is considering a ban. Environmentalists in Maryland are moving on to protect the Chesapeake Bay where DDT wants to cut over 90 percent of federal funding to restore the bay.

Small California towns are defeating fossil fuels:

  • Benicia rejected a huge crude-by-rail project from Texas’ petroleum giant Valero after it wanted to send Bakken crude through the town.
  • Oxnard is fighting California Energy Commission plans to put a large gas-fired power plant on a local beach. Now choked with power plants, landfills, and a toxic waste Superfund site, the town plans a deindustrialized beach and restored coastal wetlands.
  • Santa Paula, near Oxnard, has decided to oppose a gas-fired plant after a company sets their sites on that town following Oxnard’s rejection.
  • Arvin elected a 23-year-old councilman as mayor because he promised to protect the city’s water and air. A future plan is to ban fracking.
  • San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors rejected a Phillips 66 crude-by-rail plan to bring oil into its Nipomo Mesa refinery in a location that had long supported refinery projects.

The importance of developing renewables is growing throughout the United States.

  • An increasing number of people in the United States oppose opening federal land for oil exploration, now 53 percent up from 34 percent just five years ago.
  • Another Gallup poll shows that 59 percent of the people are more concerned about protecting the environment and limiting human pollution that energy production cost.
  • Over 70 percent prefer the development of alternative energy to that of oil, gas, and coal; and about two-thirds favor higher emissions standards, including the enforcement of regulations. Only 35 percent of the respondents favor fracking.
  • Among voters, 78 percent think climate pollution should be regulated and/or taxed.
  • A new survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that large majorities of registered U.S. voters want the federal government and businesses to do more to address climate change.
  • Most voters think the U.S. should transition to using more renewable energy and fewer fossil fuels.
  • Renewable energy is heavily supported across party lines, with 85 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Independents, and 76 percent of Republicans agreeing that the U.S. needs more of it.
  • Sixty-nine percent of U.S. voters also want their country to participate in the Paris Agreement, a landmark climate deal reached by nearly 200 nations last year.
  • And 66 percent say the U.S. should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions whether other countries join in or not.

Looking to the future, the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is now solar powered because it saves money.

A recent NASA study by NASA shows that rising sea levels may be almost eight inches during the past century, almost twice what they thought it would be. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40073-as-seas-around-mar-a-lago-rise-trump-s-cuts-could-damage-local-climate-work   One place at great danger if nothing is done to slow down climate change is DDT’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach County (FL). One of DDT’s budget cuts is the $73 million program Sea Grant along with $177 million for other NASA projects to protect communities. Other places that will probably be underwater by 2100 are AG Jeff Sessions’ hometown, Mobile (AL), and Ben Carson’s Detroit will lose drinking water to toxic algal blooms. But they’re all old and don’t care because they’ll be dead by then.

February 17, 2017

DDT: Week Four – Part 1

The judges overturning Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) Muslim ban was his most obvious disaster last week. This week it was, to swipe the words from Judith Viorst, DDT’s “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad” press conference. But I’ll avoid talking about that for this post because his entire purpose was to “detract, deflect, and deflect” attention from the Russian scandal that led to the resignation of DDT’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. Not only did the Russians help DDT win the presidency, but Michael Flynn talked to them about President Obama’s sanctions immediately after they were placed in late December before DDT was inaugurated and then lied about it—at least to the public.

DDT claims that no laws were broken, not even the Logan Act banning U.S. citizens from trying to influence foreign policy, but Flynn resigned after 24 days in office because DDT asked him to step down, according to Press Secretary Sean Spicer. DDT also said his only problem was that people learned about the discussion regarding sanctions. Despite the possibility that Flynn was giving secrets to Russia, he sat in on national security briefings and deliberations until a few hours before his resignation.

DDT knew about the problem before he was inaugurated because Acting Attorney General Sally Yates told DDT about Flynn’s lies weeks before he was inaugurated, yet last week, DDT fired Yates because she would not defend his unconstitutional actions in the Muslim ban. White supremacist Steve Bannon is the winner in Flynn’s resignation because of his increase in power. Watch for the disintegration of Reince Priebus, most likely Bannon’s next target.

Other disasters during DDT’s past week:

security-key

Lack of Security: A photo from the Oval Office shows a key left in a packet with intelligence documents while DDT was hosting a number of people. The smart phone DDT uses for tweets is also unsecured, with the Internet connection making it vulnerable. It’s the same phone he used to tweet about his daughter Ivanka during his intelligence briefing. Some White House staffers are still using personal email addresses, and others have private email accounts with the RNC.  The biggest GOP hypocrisy—for the moment—is that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is demanding a grand jury or charge against Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton’s server while she was secretary of state. The so-called chair of the House Oversight Committee has also refused to address any of DDT’s conflicts of interest or his involvement with Russia although he’s investigating Sid the Science Kid.

At Mar-a-Lago DDT was surrounded by waitpeople and other diners at the terrace dining room table while he took a call about North Korea launching an intermediate-range ballistic missile and then moved on to a strategy session.  Then he proceeded to have a sensitive intelligence meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo while club members with no security clearance snapped photos and put them on social media. Aides used phone camera lights to illuminate the national-security documents that DDT and Abe were reading which allows others to see the objects. The morning after that event, DDT tweeted a complaint about all the “leaks.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) responded:

“I would suggest that the president get a briefing on the handling of classified information.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), leader of legislators with heads in the sand, tweeted last summer, “Individuals who are ‘extremely careless’ with classified information should be denied further access to such info.”  That belief is gone; he can’t cross DDT because he needs the president to sign his lovely bills.

White House Leaks to Russia: Earlier the U.S. intelligence community expressed concern that DDT would “tell all” to Russia. Now, according to the Pentagon, Russia has “ears” in the administration’s situation room. A senior Pentagon intelligence official said, “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point.” U.S. intelligence officials were so concerned about DDT’s leaks that they have withheld sensitive intelligence from the president.

Miller’s Declaration of DDT as Supreme Leader: Last Sunday, white supremacist White House aide Stephen Miller said on Face the Nation “that the powers of the president to protect our country will not be questioned.” On ABC he said, “The judiciary is not supreme.” To Fox’s Chris Wallace, Miller said, “The president’s powers here are beyond question.” He also declared that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was “always” 100 percent correct and repeated the lie that thousands of people were bused from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to vote.

DDT praised Miller for his performance, but even DDT-supporter Joe Scarborough thought Miller was out of line. On Morning Joe, Scarborough said:

“Oh my God. It’s so much worse than I ever thought…. It’s called ‘judicial review.’ Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote about it in the Federalist Papers; it was enshrined in Madison’s Constitution.”

DDT’s Counselor Violation of Law: The director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Schaub, called on disciplinary action against White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, for her television hawking of Ivanka Trump’s product line.

Border Checks: No one knows if ICE has stopped detaining people from the seven magic countries, but border agents are still threatening people if they won’t give up the passwords for their cell phones. Natural-born U.S. citizen Sidd Bikkannavar has never visited any of the targeted countries, but he was forced to give up his PIN number and cell phone after he returned from Chile where he drove a solar-powered car in a race. Despite his being a member of the Customs and Border Protection Global Entry program that waves people through after scanning their passports and fingerprints, the NASA scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for over a decade was threatened with detention and seizure—even after he told border agents that the phone belonged to NASA and contained sensitive information. It is not known whether the border agents copied the information. The law: agents can detain people, but they cannot legally force them to unlock their phones. A U.S. judge has also ruled that people cannot be forced to use their fingerprints to open electronic devices.

Immigrants with green cards have also been threatened with deportation if they don’t sign a form that was actually a I-407 form that erases their lawful permanent residency in the U.S. Border agents falsely claimed that not signing these forms would bar them from entering the U.S. for five years; in reality it does just the reverse. Although the goal was to deport criminals and rapists, ICE is still detaining an immigrant vetted and protected under President Obama’s DACA program for over a week although DDT did not overturn that order.

Violation of Law Preserving White House Records: Members of the DDT administration are using an app called Confide that encrypts messages and destroys them after they are read. Using Confide violates the Presidential Records Act passed by Congress, mandating that all official business correspondence be carried out on White House email so that it can be preserved. A year ago, the GOP and DDT screamed about the “missing 30,000” Hillary Clinton emails after the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails on a private email server owned by the RNC while they used false claims to plan wars and fired U.S. attorneys for no clear reason. A major criticism of Clinton was that she “destroyed” emails.

The Great Negotiator: While president-elect, DDT raised hackles by congratulating Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen for his win, directly conflicting with the position of “One-China” policy:

“I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One-China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things.”

Last week, DDT told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he will honor the so-called “One China” policy—at the request of President Xi. No negotiation, nothing from China, just acceptance of China’s “request.” DDT owns business ventures in China.  He was negotiating with one in Taiwan, but it may have fallen through.

Labor Department Nominee Resignation: On the home side, Andrew Puzder, well-known for his abuse of his own workers and employing an undocumented immigrant as housekeeper, withdrew his name after the surfacing of a video showing his ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, describing her husband’s physical and emotional abuse. Although Fierstein later denied the abuse, the description of the abuse on the video may have been too close to the domestic violence that white supremacist Steve Bannon, the man running the White House, perpetrated on his wife. Wife abuse is something that the White House men want to sweep under the carpet. Puzder was the first nominee to withdraw.

DDT’s Refried News: The new Intel factory in Arizona, scheduled to employ 3,000 workers, was first announced by President Obama in 2011. As for the creation of jobs, Intel is still down 9,000 jobs in Oregon during the past year, making DDT a net loss of 8,000 jobs with Intel. DDT takes credit for jobs already considered, including the January job increase while he wasn’t president, and ignoring other job losses.

National Security Advisor Non-replacement: Retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward told a friend that chaos and dysfunction in the White House meant that DDT’s offer to make him national security adviser amounted to “a sh*t sandwich.” It’s another example of the new abnormal as a senior military officer rejects the commander-in-chief’s request and gives cover to other patriots who take the same path. Death by a thousand cuts.

trump-cover-finalDDT has always bragged about the number of times that he has been on the cover of Time. Once again, he has received this placement, but he may not be bragging about it this time. Brooklyn-based Tim O’Brien said that his intent was to show the chaos surrounding the White House. Time explained the cover: “In the first month of his presidency, the New York billionaire has witnessed the lesson of Samson: toppling the temple can be painful if you try it from the inside.” Nothing to See Here.

[Update: This post has been changed to reflect a ruling on February 23, 2017 that prevents law enforcement officials from demanding people open their electronic devices using their fingerprints without having a warrant for those specific people.]

“Indifference about the distinction between truth and lies is the precondition of fascism. When truth perishes so does freedom.”—Simon Shama, British historian

August 8, 2016

Stein, Trump – Bad for the Country

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:09 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Some grumpy supporters of Bernie Sanders keep saying that they’ll vote for Donald Trump and blow up the world or pick one of the two third-party candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Jill Stein. Stein supports much of Sanders’ positions, many of them also ones that Hillary Clinton espouses. But many of her claims, such as not taking corporate money, are bogus:

  • Stein’s top five contributors are corporations—AON,  Xoom Global Money Transfer, IBM, Thoughtworks, and UPS.
  • Stein and her husband, Richard Rohrer, are worth at least $3.9 million. Their stock holdings include at least $100,000 worth of Disney, $100,000 worth of Home Depot, and $50,000 worth of Merck.
  • Stein’s personal choice for vice-president is Ajamu Baraka who refers to Sanders as a “white supremacist” and labels Sanders supporters as naive shills.  americablog.com/…
  • Stein is collecting money to run against Elizabeth Warren in 2018, thereby giving the Massachusetts senate seat to the GOP by draining votes from Warren.
  • Stein’s political experience matches that of Trump—i.e., none. An ex-musician and medical professional, she has won one election—a town meeting representative in Lexington (MA)—with 539 votes.
  • Stein matches Trump in foreign policy positions as pro-Russian, follows his “simplistic” approach, and frequently changes her position as in being for Brexit and then against it.
  • Stein opposes mandatory vaccination policies and implied that vaccinations can cause disorders such as autism.
  • Stein claims that wireless signals are dangerous for children despite evidence that FM radio and television provides five times more of RF signals than base stations.
  • Stein’s job is running for office. For example, she raised about $1.3 million for her 2012 campaign, including $370,000 in public funding.
  • Stein has refused to release her tax returns for the past five years.
  • And more.

Sanders urges his followers to vote for Hillary Clinton, and some of his grumpy supporters have said that they will do anything that Sanders wants them to do—except vote for Clinton. If they implicitly believed him, why aren’t they trying to follow him now?

Trump Watch:  This morning, Donald Trump carefully read his plan for “America First” from a teleprompter in a flat, low-energy voice. He plans to drastically reduce taxes, emulating George W. Bush who started today’s deficit by reducing taxes for the wealthy and starting wars. Other goals are to spend billions and billions of dollars on the infrastructure, but he didn’t say where he’s find the money.

Trump promises a moratorium on any new regulations, like Mike Pence supposedly did as governor of Indiana. The purpose was to help the economy, but the state’s GDP growth was behind the national average in 2012, 2014, and 2015 while barely beating the average in 2013. Indiana ranks 38th in the nation for per capita income, and its unemployment rate is above the national average. Pence, unlike Trump and Clinton, supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump also promises unlimited deductions for child care which, like his other plans, provides far more help for the wealthiest because they can deduct their nannies. The poorest people, who need help with child care, don’t itemize their deductions. In his promise to bring all jobs back to the United States, Trump struck a cheery note missing at the Republican convention although he talked about how this nation doesn’t “win” anymore.

Trump’s common misrepresentation about Clinton is her support of NAFTA. First Lady when Bill Clinton signed the trade pact into law early in his presidency, Clinton was not in any position to stop the NAFTA trade pact. The law, passed by more Republicans than Democrats, was negotiated and signed by George H.W. Bush. Then House Speaker and current Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich supported NAFTA. And like Trump, Clinton wants to renegotiate NAFTA. Factchecker gave Trump Two Pinocchios for his lie. Trump also repeated his lie that Clinton would immediately change her rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Instead of presenting a concrete jobs plan, Trump repeated old lies about how Hillary Clinton killed 100,000 jobs. She failed to get half the jobs she promised because of the George W. Bush economy, but she didn’t “kill” the jobs. The jobs that Trump brags about providing were three decades ago because of his construction in New York, but many of these were for immigrants, some of them undocumented. He also caused bankruptcies in small companies after he failed to pay them for work on his construction projects until they sued to get part of what they were due.

Trump also uses the nation’s visa system to hire foreign workers at low wages, for example, at Florida’s Mar-A-Lago Club which Trump calls home. While the resort worked to get over 500 work visas for workers, it hired only 17 of 300 U.S. residents who applied for work there. “I’m a businessman,” Trump said about the hiring of people who he talks to political audiences about taking jobs of U.S. residents.

Trump repeated—several times—his declaration about “93 million out of the workforce” that Politifact ruled “false” a year ago. It includes everyone of retirement age—65 and older (37.8 million people)—and every teenager at least 16 years old—high schoolers (9.7 million) and college students (5.7 million). Trump’s figure also includes disabled people who cannot work, parents wishing to stay home to take care of children, and people living off investments. The number “out of the workforce” is closer to 21 million: 8.3 million officially unemployed, 6.4 million people who haven’t looked for work recently enough to qualify as being “in the labor force,” and another 6.5 million people working part-time would rather have a full-time job.

Trump consistently gets a “pants on fire” for his lie about Clinton raising taxes on the middle classes. The GOP put a caption saying she wanted to raise taxes under a video of Clinton stating “we aren’t going to raise taxes on the middle class.” Repealing the death tax always gets cheers, but it applies  to only those estates worth over $5.45 million; last year one in 500 estates—0.002 percent—were subject to this tax. Supporters talk about protecting the family farm, and Trump promises that he’ll protect “workers” from this tax. Yet that’s never been a problem for either of these categories. Once again, Trump is protecting his wealth in a speech delivered in poverty-ridden Detroit.

According to Moody’s Analytics, Trump’s economic plan would:

  • Cost the economy over three million jobs;
  • Raise the unemployment rate by 40 percent;
  • Cost $9.5 trillion during the next decade;
  • Increase the national debt by almost 80 percent in two decades;
  • Lead to a recession and global economic panic;
  • Keep child care out of reach for working families.

Trump brags about saving New York City by building expensive structures, but he also cheated the city out of almost $3 million in taxes in just 1986 through “failures in basic bookkeeping, the seemingly sudden adoption of irregular accounting methods, and efforts to stymie officials,” according to a CBS “Moneywatch.” Among missing items for the audit were monthly ledgers detailing over six months of income and expenses—supposedly lost because of a flood in New Jersey and missing in a Chicago office.

More fact-checking on the speech from NBC. Plus a funny analysis from the NY Daily News.

Summary of the GOP’s presidential speech today: Trump thinks Clinton lies, he wants to lower taxes for the wealthy, he plans to do away with all regulations, and he won’t explain how his plans work—like where the money comes from to give to the wealthy. Nothing new as Donald Trump tries mightily to appear presidential.

The second most popular senator in the United States, Susan Collins (R-ME), announced that she will not vote for Trump. She’s joined in this opinion by at least ten other members of Congress and two GOP governors. In addition, 50 top GOP national security officers, mostly from the George W. Bush administration, signed a letter opposing Trump, declaring that he would be “the most reckless president in American history.” In their fervor to keep Trump from being president,  however, most of them stop short of saying that they will vote for Hillary Clinton, leaving the blame on them if he is elected president.

[Note: Conservative host on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, repeated the myth of Clinton’s dishonesty on yesterday’s program and failed to talk about Trump’s constant lying and the increasing percentage of people who doubt his honesty. A new poll puts Clinton and Trump even on trustworthiness but finds her higher in being temperamentally fit and knowledgeable about the world. After Todd trashes Clinton, he ponders about why people think that Clinton is dishonest. Let’s see: Todd says a large number of people think that she is dishonest, he has conservative guests who repeat what he says, and then he’s confused about the reason for this perception.]

August 6, 2012

Where Is Congress? And the Jobs?

Today is Monday, and many workers went back to work. Those  people at work don’t include the members of the U.S. House of Representatives: they’re off on a month vacation. Their excuse for all this time off is that they need to listen to their constituents. More likely, they are fund-raising and campaigning, working very hard to get re-elected for another two years.

Last year the House calendar listed 175 legislative days. Those included the 17 pro forma days when a few of them marched into session, said they were there, and then left in order to keep President Obama from making any recess appointments. Therefore, they were in working sessions for fewer than 44 percent of the days. Most people with full-time jobs work 250 days a year, so the representatives’ days in session were fewer than 64 percent of the days employers require for full-time work.

This year the House plans to meet an average of three days for 26 weeks. They list a fourth day at the beginning of the week most of the time, but those days all state that there will be no vote before 6:30. At the other end of the week, days indicate no votes after 3:00 pm. So they leave for the weekend at 3 and don’t get back until 6:30 pm three days later. This means fewer than 100 working days during the entire year. Fortunately for them, they only have to work one month after they get back in September because they won’t be in Washington for the last four weeks of October—except for the one who calls the House into session twice a week to again stop the president from carrying out his constitutional right.

If they actually accomplished something while they were physically in the nation’s capitol, they might be forgiven for their absence this month. Two years ago, this House was elected because candidates promised that they would get jobs for people and reduce the unemployment that George W. Bush created during his eight years. Instead, they have worked to reduce the safety net for all people in the country.

Despite the desperate plight of farmers and ranchers from the horrendous drought throughout the country, the Congress failed to pass any emergency aid for them. The House failed to consider the five-year farm measure, providing only a short-term, $383 million package of loans and grants for livestock producers and a limited number of farmers. In disgust, the Senate ignored the bill because the House would not even discuss the broader legislation. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Agriculture Committee, said that her committee would work during August to put together a new measure for the House.

Without any legislation, livestock producers have lost their safety net program for feed losses. Their only recourse is to find another source of feed or sell or kill off animals. Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-OK) told the Republicans in the House, “If you want to leave people hurting, I guess that’s your choice.”

The House also declared an anti-abortion bill for Washington, D.C. a priority, but it failed because of the two-thirds requirement. Banning abortions after 20 weeks, it would have prevented up to 1.5 percent of abortions performed. Meanwhile some Senate members have been busy adding anti-abortion amendments to any bill available: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tried to attach on to the bill providing federal flood insurance. In June, the House passed a Homeland Security spending bill that includes a provision to bar Immigration and Customs Enforcement from providing abortions for illegal immigrant detainees. This hasn’t happened since 2003.

The Violence against Women Act is still being held hostage by conservative lawmakers. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) pointed out last Friday that “it has now been more than 300 days since VAWA expired, a timeline that has also seen the deaths of more than 1,100 women due to domestic violence.” She continued, “In April, the Senate passed VAWA by a vote of 68-31, a rare bipartisan feat that included 15 Republicans.”  The House refuses to take action.

While the Senate Finance Committee voted to renew tax breaks for businesses such as biodiesel and wind energy, the House has passed a bill to erase these breaks. While not discussing the farm bill and VAWA, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) reintroduced an English-only bill at a House Judiciary subcommittee. The bill has 122 co-sponsors.

Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) wants a law exempting honoraria won by U.S. Olympic medalists from taxes to show the country’s appreciation. On the Senate side, Marco Rubio  (R-FL) introduced the Olympic Tax Elimination Act, which would “exempt U.S. Olympic medal winners from paying taxes on their hard-earned medals.” It’s a moot point because the $25,000 won for a gold medal won’t result in much taxes unless the athlete makes over $250,000 after exemptions for training, uniforms, etc.

The day before the representatives walked off the job for a five-week vacation, Rep. Paul Labrador (D-ID) joined three Republicans in proposing a bill to clarify that the individual mandate in the 2010 healthcare law, and associated penalties for not buying health insurance, “shall not be construed as a tax.” Once again the conservatives are trying to do away with health care for the people of the United States.

The House did pass a measure (H.R. 4078) last week that would prevent any new regulations—or even actions leading up to their proposal—until the unemployment rate reaches 6 percent, pretty much an impossibility. Even former Republican Rep. Sherwood Boehlert from New York objected to the measure and wrote an article entitled, “GOP right wing is serious about disabling government.” He wrote, “The legislation might as well just directly order the agencies that were created to protect the public to close up shop.”

The measure turned out to be more of a joke than the Republicans intended. First, a typo that said “employment” rather than “unemployment” gave the meaning that new regulations would be suspended until unemployment reached 94 percent. In repairing that problem, they referred to H.Res. 783 instead of H.Res. 738. In a desperate move to make Democrats vote quickly on all these issues about a bill that has almost no chance of being law, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) reminded the opposition that life is short, a reference to the mass murder in Aurora (CO) the week before.

Another successful bill in the House was one that would fire federal employees if they don’t pay their income tax. More than 96 percent of federal employees pay their taxes on time, and laws exist to take care of this. The issue with the IRS is that the conservative lawmakers keep cutting back on their funding so that they cannot pursue people who fail to pay taxes.

The summary of House floor activities presents a compendium of legislative trivia that includes authorizing battery recharging stations for privately owned vehicles in parking areas under the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives and authorizing the use of the rotunda of the Capitol for the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Unfinished business included preventing abuse of government charge cards. The summary shows micro-management to excess.

Although Congress avoids most compromises, the Senate and the House did agree to tighten sanctions against Iran. In addition, a tentative agreement would keep the government operating after the end of the fiscal year on September 30 until March 31, but the measure hasn’t passed either the House of Senate. Conservative lawmakers are not known for keeping their promises.

One agreement has conservative bloggers spitting in anger over a bipartisan bill passed last week. The president can now appoint some executive branch and military officers without Senate approval. The far right is still safe in refusing to confirm all the judges that President Obama nominates. President Obama began his administration with 1,215 executive branch positions requiring Senate confirmation. By contrast, fifty years ago President John F. Kennedy had only 286 positions to fill. At the start of the Obama administration, there were 1,215 executive branch positions that required Senate confirmation.

Ted Cruz, the newest Tea Party candidate to defeat an establishment Republican, gave the party line on compromise: “I am perfectly happy to compromise and work with anybody, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians. I’ll work with Martians. If–and the if is critical–they’re willing to cut spending and reduce the debt.” The definition of compromise has been, and continues to be, doing that the Tea Party wants. Running for the Senate in Texas, he will most likely win, contributing to the craziness in Congress.

It’s been over 19 months since the Tea Party hijacked the Congress with the promise that they would solve the unemployment problem. They have enacted just 151 laws in these 19 months, almost 20 percent of them renaming post offices and courthouses or adding people to the Smithsonian board. This is far less than half of any other Congress during the past 64 years, even 15 percent of one Congressional session’s output. The popularity of the Congress, shrunken to 12 percent, is as drastically low as the number of acts.

Where are the jobs?

March 8, 2012

International Women’s Day–We’re Still Losing

Today is International Women’s Day, a day not only to celebrate women’s accomplishments throughout history but also to look back to struggles and forward to what needs to be done to improve the lives and opportunities of women. During the 100+ years that countries have commemorated women on one day in early March and worked for our rights, we have come a long way in the United States— voting, owning property, controlling our bodies, etc. Yet domestic violence and rape are still rampant around the world, unmarried Saudi Arabia women are still subject to male guardianship, and female genital mutilation is still common. And in the United States we are losing our rights.

In 1945 the first international agreement to proclaim gender equality as a fundamental human right, the Charter of the United Nations, was signed in San Francisco.  Almost 70 years later, women still lack the same rights and opportunities as men. Many countries worked toward this equality after the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which promotes women’s rights as human rights, in 1979.  President Jimmy Carter signed CEDAW in 1980, but the United States Congress refuses to ratify this document that calls for inclusion and equality of women in “all spheres of life.” Thirty-two years after Carter signed CEDAW, the United States is one of seven countries that has not ratified the treaty; the other six countries are Iran, Somalia, Naurau, Palau, Sudan and Tonga.

A tipping point comes when small changes build up to critical mass until one more addition changes everything, reversing the direction. The conservatives have initiated so many state and federal laws that we may have reached critical mass—the tipping point when we start fighting back. Now Republicans, including women, are getting very concerned about losing the women’s vote for their party in the upcoming election. In defending the GOP’s fixation on birth control, Ann Romney, wife of a Republican presidential candidate, said, “Do you know what women care about? Women care about jobs.”

Instead of castigating the Democrats, she should turn back to her own party. Last year, state legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, up from 950 in 2010. Of these provisions, 135 were enacted in 36 states, an increase from 89 in 2010. Of the 135 provisions, 68%—92 in 24 states—-restrict access to abortion services; the 92 new abortion restrictions enacted in 2011 shattered the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005. In contrast, the majority of the jobs bills enacted in the Republican-controlled states had the effect of lowering salaries, usually for women.

Ann Romney is right that women care about jobs, but women also care about restrictions on their bodies and reproductive rights as shown by protests across the country. When Virginia decided to require transvaginal ultrasounds for all women before they could get abortions, the women silently stood outside the state capitol, even when the SWAT team came up to arrest them. Despite the state backing down, requiring only abdominal ultrasounds, women are still angry.

Across the country, women legislators in Republican-controlled states are protesting. They’re introducing bills stopping vasectomies (because these prevent children from being born) and requiring mental and medical screenings (such as rectal exam and cardiac stress tests) for men who want prescriptions for such drugs as Viagra that supposedly cure erectile dysfunction.

Another case in which Republicans vote against women is the Violence against Women Act. After VAWA expired last November, the Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee held up its reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, because not one of them would agree to vote the bill out of the committee. They supposedly objected to lesbians and undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse being covered under the bill. Ann Romney needs to know that women need safety as well as jobs.

Ann Romney has ignored the fact that Republicans have a history of voting against women and jobs. Every male senator voted against the Lily Ledbetter Act in 2009; it passed because three women Republican senators voted for the bill. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 stated that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck. Legislation was in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that the 180 days began with the first check a person received even if the person was not aware of any inequity for a long period of time.

The Republican senators have consistently blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which provides for equal pay for equal work, despite the House passing this act in 2009—before the conservatives took over.

Across the board, Republican-elected officials at all levels of government and their spokespeople and pundits on TV and radio continually display a lack of respect, civility, and in many cases outright hostility towards women. As long as they continue to do so, Republicans will have more and more trouble getting votes from women, a group that comprises more than half the voters in this country.

Conservatives have been increasingly discouraged about electing a Republican president because of the drawn-out primary. Now they believe this primary can hurt the chances for Republican representatives and senators. Conservatives should extend their worry to the conservatives’ consistently destructive behavior toward half the country’s population.

With their current policies of eliminating women’s rights and making decisions for women, the neo-cons may lose all the gains of the 2010 election. They won that election because they promised to improve the economy and get people jobs; all they have done since they were elected is to take rights away from women.

AGR Daily News Service

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