Nel's New Day

December 16, 2016

 The Return of the Coat Hanger: The State of Abortion Rights

coat-hanger

When Gov. John Kasich vetoed the infamous “heartbeat” bill, people across the nation breathed a sigh of relief. If signed, the ensuing law would have made abortion illegal in Ohio after the sixth week when some women didn’t even know they were pregnant. The bill he did sign into law, making abortion in the state illegal after 20 weeks, seemed mild by comparison. The 1972 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made abortions legal until 24 weeks, 4 weeks later than Ohio, yet the Ohio’s restriction to 20 weeks initially seemed much better than the alternative.

The new Ohio law is dangerous, however, on many levels. Not only does it attempt to break Roe v. Wade, but it also puts doctors in prison. Performing an abortion after 20 weeks is a fourth-degree felony, carrying a sentence of up to 18 months in prison. A 2013 Ohio law imprisons people who commit fourth- and fifth-degree felonies for a first time offense. Doctors disagree with Kasich’s new law: a group of ob-gyns wrote:

“Continuation of these pregnancies abortions [after identification of serious and fatal birth defects] would result in certain death of the baby and expose the newborn to needless pain. Meanwhile the mother is forced to carry the fetus to term and may be exposed to a myriad of medical and reproductive risks.”

Kasich and his legislators ignored the doctors’ plea.

That’s where the coat hangers come in. In the late 1960s, before Roe v. Wade, pro-choice activists used this object as a symbol of choice because women would use this sharp object as their only option. It caused horrible pain, sometimes permanent damage, and even death, but some women felt it was their only solution. On December 10, 2016—16 years into the 21st century—protesters to Ohio’s anti-abortion bills hung several hundred wire hangers on the fence of the state capitol. More people came and added more hangers. They were taken down during that night, but the protesters can back the next day and replace them.

Coat hangers went to court at a 1972 hearing of Abele v. Markle from a lawsuit from 350 women challenging Connecticut’s anti-abortion statute and influencing the judicial opinions of Roe v. Wade. The women in the courtroom brought babies and hangars; they left their hangars. In a 1969 demonstration in Washington, D.C., over 300,000 protesters hung coat hangers around their necks and carried signs reading “Never again” as they marched.

Many people unaware of the meaning of coat hangers can learn from the case of Anna Yocca, 32, who was charged in a Tennessee court last year for trying to abort a 24-week fetus with a coat hanger. Abortion is legal at 24 weeks, but she still sits in jail and faces new felony charges: aggravated assault, an attempt to procure a miscarriage, and an attempted criminal abortion. Only four of Tennessee’s 95 counties have clinics that provide abortions, and Yocca does not live in one of these.

Yocca is not unique: Purvi Patel was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year after she took medication to terminate her pregnancy. In other states, women have been charged with attempted feticide for falling down stairs, not wearing a seatbelt, and trying to commit suicide while pregnant. Other women throughout the country have also gone to jail for terminating their pregnancy.

Thirty-eight states have feticide laws; many of these were intended to protect pregnant women. Anything that a pregnant woman does can probably result in criminal charges if police determines that it may damage a fetus in any way. Doctors can’t tell the difference between a self-induced abortion or a natural miscarriage, leaving women subject to interrogation, arrest, and even incarceration. Poverty and poor nutrition can become reasons for imprisonment.

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The week before DT won the presidential election, seven states—Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and Texas—sent $30 million of federal funding intended to stop poverty to Crisis Pregnancy Centers that lie to pregnant women about the effects of abortion and refuse to refer them to legitimate women’s clinics. They also provide no other health care that Planned Parenthood does.

The courts are providing some help:

  • A federal judge ruled that Mississippi cannot deny Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood because of their affiliation with abortion services, keeping almost 700,000 state residents on Medicaid to a reliable healthcare provider.
  • The Virginia Board of Health voted 11-to-4 to remove the unconstitutional outpatient surgical center building requirements imposed on clinics that perform abortions. It is the first state to comply with Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court ruling to overturn surgical center and admitting privilege requirements, known as TRAP, passed by many states.
  • A federal court blocked two Alabama abortion restrictions.
  • The Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center opened in Oklahoma City, the first new abortion clinic since 1974. Until the clinic opened, the city was the only major metropolitan area in the country with no abortion provider. It joins two other providers in the state.
  • Memphis Center for Reproductive Health will open a new, comprehensive reproductive health clinic will house the Tennessee first freestanding birthing facility. It will also provide abortion, gynecological, mental health, and sexual/reproductive health care services.
  •  A Planned Parenthood clinic in Springfield (IL) will offer surgical abortion care.
  • South Carolina officials will drop regulations that target abortion clinics in the state.

Alaska must pay almost $1 million in legal fees incurred when Planned Parenthood and two Alaskan physicians fought the state’s unconstitutional parental notification law. Wisconsin had to pay $1.6 million to plaintiffs suing over the state’s admitting privilege law. North Carolina, Alabama, and Missouri also had to reimburse the legal costs from fighting  unconstitutional anti-abortion laws. Other GOP states across the nation are also averaging $1 million out of their budgets to fight abortion rights.

Yet women have to keep fighting for reproductive rights. This month, Texas passed a law, already declared unconstitutional in Indiana and Louisiana, that requires burial or cremation of fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages. A judge has already suspended the law until he hears testimony on January 6, 2017.

Texas is notable because its death rate from pregnancy complications doubled between 2010 and 2014. In 2011, Texas cut out more than 80 family planning clinics, including all Planned Parenthood clinics, across the state, and the other clinics could serve only half as many women as before the budget cuts in 2011. No other state saw the same death rate.

The word “abortion” raises so much emotion among people in the United States. Yet minor surgery to remove scar tissue after early miscarriages is classified in medical files as “abortions.” Basically, self-proclaimed “pro-lifers” are only interested in life until birth. After that children and their parents are on their own because, to quote HUD Secretary nominee Ben Carson, poverty is a choice. Republicans deny children health care, food, water, housing, air, education, and other “amenities” because life for the already born individuals is no longer their responsibility. And the upcoming years will result in more deprivation to children because President-elect Donald Trump is moving more money to the top 0.1 percent.

The year 2015 was considered the worst year for abortion restrictions until now. The upcoming year with a new administration promises to be worse. The last time an elected Republican cared about you was when you were a fetus.

April 20, 2016

John Kasich, Not ‘Mr. Nice Guy” or Moderate – Part Two

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 8:08 PM
Tags: , , ,

 

New York’s primary is finished, and Donald Trump was declared the winner at 9:01 EST, one minute after the polls closed. With the predicted 25 percent of the New York vote, John Kasich has still won only one state, and he’s sensitive about it. Asked if he is qualified to be the nominee if he’s won only one state by the Cleveland convention, Kasich claims that “there’s not ‘if’ in there.” The reporter politely presses him for an answer, and Kasich grabs the voice recorder out of the recorder’s hand and snaps, “What do you think?” The reporter calmly answers, “I think you should answer the question.” The video of the exchange is here.

Considering Kasich’s policies about women and blacks, it’s amazing that any of them vote for him. Three years ago, Kasich could have continued a federal waiver to not reinstate work requirements for the poor that would provide jobs so that they would keep welfare benefits. He kept the waiver in 16 of 88 counties—the rural areas with white populations that largely voted for him. The poor in the remaining 72 counties, including eight counties that hold 75 percent of black residents, lost their wavers. As soon as waiver expired, 134,000 people showed up at the food pantries.

In another policy change, Kasich cut the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program that provides in-home visits to poor women throughout their pregnancies and for the first two years after they give birth. Ohio ranks 45th nationally in infant mortality rate and has one of the highest rates of infant deaths for black mothers in the country. In the most recent GOP debate, Chuck Todd asked Kasich about Cleveland being one of the most segregated cities in the country, Ohio being the sixth worst state in which to raise a black child, and the $20,000 income gap between black and white families. Kasich said he didn’t know about these statistics but did respond to the issue of infant mortality. According to Kasich, the white community is doing much better, and “the [black] community itself is going to have to have a better partnership with all of us to begin to solve that problem.”

Kasich’s defunding health programs offered by Planned Parenthood shows another lack of concern for infant mortality. By pulling money from PP, Kasich has increased unplanned pregnancies and domestic violence, two causes of infant mortality, and decreases prenatal care. The 65 percent of his state’s population opposed to defunding Planned Parenthood didn’t stop Kasich from eliminating health care for thousands of residents. Most of the $1.3 million that Kasich denied Planned Parenthood in Ohio comes from the federal government.

Ohio is known throughout the nation for unchecked police brutality. Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland, John Crawford III near Dayton, and Sam Dubose in Cincinnati.

In the area of women’s reproductive rights, Ohio is a horror story. Last June, Cosmopolitan magazine ran the article “How Ohio Became One of the Worst States for Reproductive Rights in the Country,” and that’s hard to do in the United States! The state has a gag order on rape crisis counselors mentioning abortion, a “heartbeat bill” banning abortions after 20 weeks, a forced waiting period and counseling before an abortion giving alternatives to abortion, a “medical emergency” law to delay abortions even if a woman may die from continuing the pregnancy, and mandated court approval for minors getting abortions if they lack parental consent. Among Kasich’s 17 anti-abortion measures are banning abortions from public hospitals and drastically reducing the number of women’s clinics. Kasich funded so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” fake health clinics that provide false information about abortions such as it causes cancer, instead of real women’s clinics.

In 2012, Kasich appointed former Ohio Right to Life Executive Director Michael Gonidakis to the state medical board. Gonidakis admitted that he wanted the position to further his anti-choice, anti-woman agenda, including denying transfer agreements from abortion clinics to public hospitals. Clinics that perform abortions must look to privately funded hospitals which tend to be Catholic or otherwise Christian and will not sign transfer agreements. By late last year, over half of these clinics were forced to close. Kasich’s laws forced one woman to drive 300 miles to deliver her stillborn child because no doctors would perform an abortion on the woman at 22 weeks.

In addition to taking reproductive rights from women, Kasich consistently makes offensive sexist remarks. In Fairfax (VA), he praised women for their bravery in leaving their kitchens to help elect him. One woman responded, “I’ll come out to support you, but I won’t be coming out of the kitchen.” (One could ask why she would vote for him!) Later he gave the standard non-apology, saying he’s “more than happy to say, ‘I’m sorry’ if I offended somebody out there.” He finished by saying, “Everybody’s just got to relax.”

At the same meeting, a young nursing student asked, “Could you please tell me the economic and public health benefit of defunding an organization that has treated of four million people for STD services just in the past year?” He began by falsely claiming that Planned Parenthood had “discredited itself,” ignoring the “discredited” videos, the indicted leaders of the scam, and the absolution of any PP wrongdoing from Ohio’s Harris County grand jury. The bill defunding PP denies services like cancer screenings to over 50,000 Ohio women.  Kasich’s segue went to his claim of having “robust women’s health funding in Ohio” which led to the disastrous topic of high infant mortality.

Kasich not only thinks that his supporters had to come out of the kitchen to work for him but also believes that wives of politicians are “at home doing the laundry.” He made this comment while trying to give thanks for GOP candidates’ spouses, such as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s wives, and added that they are “at home taking care of the kids.”

Last November he asked a woman in Iowa, “Have you ever been on a diet?” He was trying to compare budgets to diets, but the use of the metaphor fell flat. When student paper columnist Kayla Solsbak at the University of Richmond raised her hand, he said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift concert tickets.” He didn’t even ask her what she wanted. Later she explained in her article that she went to see Kasich “because it’s my civic duty to be an informed voter. Please start treating me like one.”

Asked about the gender pay gap, Kasich responded to a woman, “Do you not have the skills to be able to compete?” Addressing spousal rape referenced in a disposition by Donald Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump, he said that “everyone should simply “move on. Talk about something else.” During a campaign event last week, a young woman, asked about Social Security. Kasich inquired, “Did somebody tell you to ask this question?” She said, “No. I think for myself.”

In what might be his most shocking example of misogyny, Kasich addressed a question about what he would do about the high rate of sexual assault on college campuses. He told the female questioner not to “go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.” He follows the conservative philosophy that assault victims are to blame for the crime, and the perpetrators have no responsibility. This attitude shows how he would govern if elected president.

Kasich’s tax plan decreases taxes for the wealthy by one-third and eliminates the estate on wealthiest 0.2 percent of taxpayers, lowing $246 billion in the next decade. He also wants to lower the tax rate on investments to 15 percent rather than reducing tax rates for wages. Seventy percent of the taxes saved in investments would go to the top 1 percent while the bottom 80 percent would get seven percent. Kasich also wants corporate taxes to be decreased by almost one-third.

Kasich wants to freeze all non-defense discretionary spending for eight years while boosting military spending by 17 percent. His solution to education, transportation, and job training is block grants which greatly reduce these. Winners: wealthy people, corporations, and military. Losers: veterans, students, disabled, poor, women, people suffering from disasters because of much less money for food, housing, education, health, job training—anything that provides opportunity and security for working families.

John Kasich doesn’t have the delegates going into the GOP convention, but he knows how much the Republican establishment hates Trump Cruz. His expectation is that all the delegates will rally around him by the second or third vote of the convention. Stranger things have happened.

April 19, 2016

John Kasich, Not ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ or Moderate – Part One

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 3:24 PM
Tags: ,

With a large number of delegates in New York, today’s vote there could be “make or break” for one or more of the presidential candidates. Polls put John Kasich at 25 percent because Ted Cruz, who polls at 16 percent, has proved so hateful to residents of New York City. Kasich has 144 delegates at this time, 66 of them from his home state in a winner-take-all, and is 20 percent on target to gain the necessary 1237 on July 18 when the GOP meetings in his city of Cleveland. By comparison, Donald Trump, with 756 delegates, is 91 percent on target and Cruz, with 544, is 57 percent.

Kasich has won one state and gotten zero delegates in another 24 contests. He gained a few delegates in another 11 contests. Only 15 contests remain after New York. Marco Rubio dropped out over a month ago, and he still has 173 delegates, more than Kasich. Candidates need to win at least eight states to be eligible for the first vote at the convention: Kasich is short seven of those states.

The GOP establishment is going crazy trying to figure out how to defeat Trump before this summer’s convention, using Cruz to kill Trump before dumping Cruz, and searching for a viable alternative to the original candidates. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said “no” so many times that he looks like he’s running—just as he said “no” to being Speaker. And Kasich, touted as a “moderate” and Mr. Nice Guy is making no progress. Meanwhile, Kasich is a bridegroom who stands before the minister at a wedding, just hoping that the groom will drop dead so that Kasich can snag the bride.

Kasich is the best choice if—horrors!—the Dems lose the upcoming election, right? He’s a moderate, right? Wrong!!! The man is anti-women, anti-union, anti-Social Security, anti-public schools, anti-LGBT, and anti-Obamacare, and pro-gun, pro-charter schools, pro-tax breaks for the wealthy, pro-privatization of prisons and schools, pro-fracking, and pro-banks. Plus he cares nothing for the climate: early on, he said that the climate might be changing, but “it doesn’t mean because you pursue a policy of being sensitive to the environment.”

His record as Ohio governor, helped by a $1 million donation from Fox’s Rupert Murdoch to the Republican Governor’s Association, shows how he would rule the United States:

Corporations: Kasich’s allegiance is to the corporation “persons.” Before his election he sold junk assets for the now-defunct Lehman Brothers investment bankers to Ohio’s public retirement system, especially the teacher’s pensions–$500 million of them. He refuses to tell how many millions he made while looting retirement funds. When Lehman Brothers collapsed in the Panic of 2008, he was managing director of its Ohio division.

Teachers: Immediately after he became governor, Kasich stopped any teacher salary increases based on seniority and gutted collective bargaining for 360,000 public union workers. The 1.3 million signatures to repeal the bill led to the loss of the anti-union law 61 percent to 39 percent. Kasich has so little respect for teachers that he said, “So if I were, not president, but if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges, where they sit together and worry about, ‘Woe is us.'” In a survey, 96 percent of Ohio teachers said they wouldn’t support John Kasich for president, and almost 80 percent of Republican educators rating his impact on state education as “extremely negative.”

Education: Kasich helped found the Koch brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which writes and promotes laws to suppress poor and minority voters. Part of ALEC’s guidelines is to destroy public education. Kasich cut more than $500,000 from public education while giving charter schools an increase of 27 percent, $57 million, greatly helping White Hat Management whose owner is a big Republican donor. The husband of Kasich’s campaign manager is David Hansen who resigned as director of charter school operations after he presented false data to the feds to win a $71 million grant to create more charter schools. Ohio has nearly 10 times as many failing charter schools, as many as high-performing schools, as it first reported to the U.S. Department of Education in its 2015 charter-school-expansion grant application. In fact, achievement in Ohio’s charter schools fell significantly below the state’s regular public schools. Before Kasich took office in 2011, Ohio ranked fifth in the nation in public education. Now it ranks 23rd.

Medicaid: Kasich is known for being a GOP governor accepting Medicaid from the Affordable Care Act, but his legislature passed a law last year requiring Medicaid recipients to pay for their coverage through a health-savings account by 2018. Fortunately, the federal government has to approve the law, but Kasich probably assumed that he would be president then.

Jobs: Under Kasich, Ohio became one of the two worst economics in the nation by 2013. Promising to create new jobs, Ohio found just 5,289 jobs in the first eight months of 2014. Despite all the jobs that could have come from building a train line that would restore passenger service among Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, he killed its possibility, and the $400 million already secured left the state. Columbus is the Western world’s largest capital city without passenger rail service.

Alternative Energy: Kasich signed a bill that froze the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards at their present levels for two years just six weeks after David Koch donated $12,155 to Kasich’s re-election campaign. The law could have cost $456 to implement while saving Ohio residents $1.03 billion.

Water: Toledo is suffering from toxic water, and Ohio permits radioactive fracking water dumped in the state from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. At the same time, he set up a fracktivist “enemies list” targeting environmentalists for harassment.

LGBT Rights: Kasich is 90 percent anti-LGBT in all areas, even objecting to “civil unions.” The Human Rights Campaign gave Kasich a 10 percent out of 100 percent rating for LGBT equality. Most of the time now he tries to avoid answering any questions about LGBT issues, but he slipped up when he responded to the new discriminatory law in North Carolina: “There is a legitimate concern for people being able to have their deeply-held religious beliefs…. If people would just calm down here, I think things would settle down…. If you feel as though somebody’s doing something wrong against you… can you just get over it? You know?”

Taxes: The rich do better in Ohio because of their 21-percent decrease in taxes while the state budget is balanced on the backs of local governments. Proceeds of the inheritance tax on the top 1 percent largely went to counties and municipalities; Kasich disappeared it. His goal is to completely eliminate Ohio’s income tax by 2016 and use the $2 billion “rainy day fund” erasing more services for education, prisons, sewage treatment facilities, deteriorating roads, disintegrating bridges—all formerly funded by the state income tax and inheritance taxes. His new system will increase taxes for seniors and disabled Ohioans by eliminating a homestead property tax exemption. In the meantime, local governments will have to raise property taxes by 12.5 percent to fund schools, again hitting seniors on fixed incomes.

Gerrymandering: Kasich and his legislature gerrymandered congressional districts to give three-fourths of House seats to the GOP with no competition. Kasich was re-elected partially because of Ohio’s Secretary of State’s decision that each of the state’s 88 counties would have only one early voting site. A county with over one million voters had the same number—one—as a county with 10,000 voters. Kasich also tried to remove the Libertarian Party from the ballot before a federal court blocked him.

Prisons: Kasich failed to further privatize prisons, but he did hire Aramark for prison food service, a company famous for serving maggots to prisoners. He also cut prison security staff in a rising prison population suffering from overcrowding and dangerous conditions.

In addition, Kasich has opposed the auto rescue that saved and created jobs in Ohio and vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He also wants to create a federal agency to promote “Judeo-Christian Western values” around the world.

Kasich tends to change his mind on more progressive issues, wanting to say what conservatives want to hear. He began his position on the president’s decision to appoint Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court by saying he could consider him as his own nominee. Kasich advocated showing Garland “respect” by granting him a meeting—until he didn’t. That was early Saturday. Later that day, he said he was merely being “polite.” Talking to reporters, he said, “He’s not gonna be my pick for the Supreme Court.” He also made a reference to the Second Amendment, indicating that the NRA had passed along their disapproval of Garland.

While Kasich is trying to appear friendly and compassionate by hugging them and telling them to take a widow to dinner, he has a long history of anger and irrational criticism. Pulled over in Ohio, he repeatedly called the police officer an “idiot.” He consistently blames Democrats, even at bill signings, and GOP allies are very careful around him. A few years ago, he said, “If you’re not on the bus, we will run over you with the bus. I’m not kidding.”

There’s so much to say about John Kasich that this is only Part One. Part Two will include his views on women, blacks, and taxes.

April 17, 2016

Christian Arrogance

As the number of Christians in the United States shrinks, those remaining seem to become more and more arrogant about their superiority. They fail to understand that “freedom” means that not everyone has to agree with their beliefs as in the U.S. Constitution that separates church and state into the First Amendment.

our god is biggerBrittany Taylor has decided that Troup Independent School District (TX), supported by taxpayer funding, should provide Bible verses in its website. Enraged when a verse was removed, she made T-shirts for students reading “my God is bigger than your God.” The verse read, “As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.” Her recourse was to make T-shirts for students that read “Our God is bigger,” making a childish argument that “my God is bigger than your God.” The website kept the meaning of the verse:

“As the giant moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. In Troup ISD we work to engender the spirit of attacking the problems that present themselves day in and day out. Teaching the students to run to meet the giants in their lives is a goal we fully embrace. Welcome to the Troup ISD web site. We trust that you will be able to find everything you are looking for and remember, you are always welcome at Troup ISD.”

GOP presidential candidate John Kasich followed the same pattern of Christian religious arrogance in his recent campaign trying to win over the hearts and votes of New Yorkers. Meeting haredi Orthodox Jews, students  of the Talmud, in a Jewish bookstore, he decided to school them about the meaning of the text that they study. Kasich asked, “They sold [Joseph] into slavery, and that’s how the Jews got to Egypt. Right? Did you know that?”

During another campaign stop at a Brooklyn yeshiva, he argued with Torah scholars about whether Abraham or Moses is more important to the Jewish people. Kasich disagreed with their position and said, “What are you talking about? Get outta here! The story of the people are Abraham—when God made a covenant with Abraham, not Moses.”

At the Shmurah Matzoh Bakery, Kasich also expounded:

“You know who I like? I like Joseph. And I like—you know who Joseph is? I like Joshua. You like Joshua? How about Elijah? You like him? He had a tough time there. He said ‘why am I having such a tough time,’ and you know what God told him? ‘There are a lot of people having tougher times than you.’ Why do I like Jacob? Well, because I think he was a pretty good guy. You don’t read about many of his flaws.”

Not satisfied with making a fool of himself already, he explained the parallels between Christianity and Judaism in the blood of the lamb that protected Jews from the plague in Egypt and “Jesus Christ, [who] is known as the Lamb of God … that saves all of us.”

Uriel Heilman of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency asked that Kasich abstain from giving Christian Bible lessons to Jewish voters:

“Talking about Christ’s blood during a visit to Borough Park? Oy vey. Please, somebody, prep this guy Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn want to hear about food stamps, affordable housing, Medicaid. Ix-nay on the Jesus-nay.”

The most recent blatant projection of religious arrogance, however, comes from Dennis Hastert, U.S. House Speaker for eight terms. His strong religious belief is demonstrated by his undergraduate college experience at Wheaton College, a school that bans “homosexual behavior” and accepts “conversion therapy,” even a half-century after Hastert graduated. As Speaker, Hastert assured the Christian Coalition that he would lead the GOP drive to pass a federal marriage amendment that would enshrine marriage between a man and woman in the U.S. Constitution. He also added increased funding for abstinence sex education, saying, “More kids need to be taught to just say no, that doesn’t just apply to drugs, it also applies to sex before marriage.” Before Hastert spent 20 years in Congress, he was known as a “pillar of the community” where he was a high school wrestling coach.

Hastert was chosen as Speaker when the GOP needed someone sexually squeaky clean while they impeached Bill Clinton for adultery. Newt Gingrich was outed from Speaker as a serial adulterer—the problem that the GOP used for the impeachment—and proposed Speaker Bob Livingston resigned after his own adultery was exposed. Hastert lived the “family values” lifestyle—or so the GOP thought.

In the 1990s, John Diluloi, who became George W. Bush’s first director of the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, created the myth that young black men were “super-predators.” At that time, Hastert leaped on the bandwagon to extend the myth to sexual predatory gays who would destroy “traditional” marriage. Shortly before he became a representative, he said, “We must continue to be proactive warding off pedophiles and other creeps who want to take advantage of our children.” Hastert kept a file in his office on “Homosexuals” including smearing gay men with the sexual predator stamp. The file contained policy statements from conservative groups such as the Traditional Values Coalition and the Family Research Council that has worked to promote discrimination against LGBT people. One piece described teens supposedly lured into sex by adult gay men.

In 2003, Dennis Hastert, while Speaker of the House, said that “it is equally important to stop those predators before they strike, to put repeat child molesters into jail for the rest of their lives.” If Hastert had succeeded with his wish, he would be going to prison for the rest of his life. This year, Dennis Hastert was revealed as a “super-predator,” molesting at least four boys including one who was 14 and another who took his own life. Hastert also put a La-Z-Boy chair outside the locker room showers at Yorkville High School so he could watch young boys “horseplay,” according to Conan O’Brien sidekick Andy Richter, who attended Yorkville High School in the 1980s. The coach claimed that it was to keep the boys from fighting.

Hastert may spend six months in prison for obstructing an FBI/IRS investigation into illegal bank withdrawals–but not for sexually molesting male minor children. The statute of limitations in Illinois for his sexual behavior is only three years so he goes free on any of these charges.

Through his lawyer, Hastert has apologized for “misconduct” and “harm.” The lawyer’s spin is that the 74-year-old man, longest serving Speaker of the U.S. House, has been punished enough because he is “humiliated.” Hastert’s attorneys are seeking a sentence of probation without prison time. Hastert claims that he doesn’t remember what happened and “deeply regrets that the episode occurred.” His defense team contends that Hastert merely “brushed” the genitals of a student in 1974 which might not constitute sexual misconduct. Despite Hastert’s bad memory, he paid $3.5 million to the ex-student from money he got from “interesting” real estate deals. And also despite Hastert’s bad memory, the team wants a reduction in sentencing because their client has accepted responsibility for his misdeeds.

Hastert’s sentencing on April 27 may not go well for him: a judge stated that the former Speaker’s false statements made to investigators last year about the sexual molestation will be used as a factor because the conduct is only a year old. Hastert calls his victim an “extortionist” which also doesn’t sit well with the judge. The recommended sentence for Hastert’s offense is six months or less, but it carries a maximum of five years in prison. He admitted guilt last October as part of  plea bargain to avoid publicity, but the accusations have gone viral because of his denials. One of the victims and the sister of another who committed suicide may testify at the sentencing hearing.

Hastert is a religious man; he will surely hope that his apologies will get him off. If not that, then pity for his health and age—and the fact that he’s an important white man. This is an example of a political leader who wants everyone in the nation to follow his Christian religion.

April 12, 2016

Cruz Worse Than Trump

In a panic about the GOP being represented by Donald Trump, Republican establishment types have moved to the presidential candidate who they hate the most—Ted Cruz. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) shifted from wanting to poison his colleague to just saying that the Republican party is “screwed up.” Part of the GOP argument is that Trump is too “liberal,” but when they complain about his actual positions, they are almost identical to those espoused by other Republicans—particularly Cruz. The GOP has temporarily picked its most mistrusted and hated senator, “a serial liar who led the 2013 government shutdown and called Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a fraud on the Senate floor.”

Trump’s briefly held position about punishing women for having abortions is part of the GOP agenda. John Kasich said that individual states should decide how to punish the women. (It’s the usual GOP statement when candidates or elected officials try to weasel out of answering a question.) Cruz has a much worse position when he says farther by saying that states should ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who still denies that  he wants to be president in the same way he denied wanting to be Speaker of the House, “opposes abortion, period,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. During a campaign, he said that he was willing to let states criminally prosecute women who have abortions.

Troy Newman, one of Cruz’ top advisers, wants to execute abortion providers, and another adviser, Kevin Swanson, wants to execute Girl Scout leaders for “promoting homosexuality.” Cruz’ “no” votes include the Paycheck Fairness Act, raising the minimum wage, and reauthorizing the Violence against Women Act. He has voted to defund Planned Parenthood. All three of the GOP presidential candidates are saying, “Vote for us, and we’ll take away your rights.”

Both Trump and Cruz are competing to prove how much they hate Muslims. All eight people who Trump and Cruz appointed as advisers have connections to the Center for Security Policy, a hate group serving as the anti-Muslim movement’s premier think tank, and half of them hold ranking positions with CSP, including founder Frank Gaffney who works for Cruz. On his radio show, Gaffney called Jared Taylor’s openly racist American Renaissance website “wonderful.” Other major Cruz advisers are Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.), Executive VP of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council; Claire Lopez, VP for research and analysis at CSP; Andy McCarthy, columnist for National Review and active on the anti-Muslim speaking circuit; and Fred Fleitz, Senior VP for Policy and Programs at CSP.

Trump picked Sen. Jeff Sessions, key politician in the anti-Muslim movement; Walid Phares, anti-Muslim activist and former Lebanese Christian Militia member; and Joseph E. Schmitz, Senior Fellow with CSP. After Trump fired adviser Sam Nunberg for being too racist, Nunberg moved to the Cruz camp.

After Trump promised to “bomb the sh*t” out of ISIS, Cruz promising to carpet bomb the Middle East. Even Fox criticized Cruz’ position, but he was still touting this solution on Easter Sunday, right after talking about salvation. As Jimmy Kimmel pointed out on his late night show, the only difference is that Cruz wants the sand to “glow.”

President Obama reported that he’s “getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about” both Trump’s and Cruz’ “suggestions” including their immigration proposals. Cruz claims that, if elected, he would deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. He also wants the same wall that Trump does and would triple the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Trump and Cruz also show the same positions in issues of no gun control, repealing the Affordable Care Act, picking Supreme Court nominees, and costing taxes by $9.5 trillion through cutting taxes. Jimmy Kimmel shows the striking similarities his late night show.  Both men want religion in government and oppose international agreements.

In his struggle to rise from the bottom, GOP candidate John Kasich summarized their positions although he didn’t give their names:

“a ban on Muslims from entering the country, surveillance of Muslims in the U.S., dropping out of the NATO alliance, allowing nuclear weapons in Europe, and promising to repeal Obamacare ‘simply through the will of a strong man in the White House.’”

USA Today editorial board likened GOP presidential candidate Cruz’ “dogmatic, confrontational and hyperpartisan” rhetoric and tactics to those of Trump.  An analysis of the similarities between Cruz and Trump are striking with the only differentiation that Cruz varies from “generally” to “far” more conservative than Trump.

There is one major difference between Trump and Cruz: Trump backers are proud of their candidate; and Cruz backers are embarrassed by their candidate. John Nichols described Trump as “a crude xenophobic demagogue who has little respect for civil liberties or civil rights and who says terrible things about Muslims, refugees, and immigrants.” Steven Rosenfeld described Cruz as “a conniving, uncompromising, power-hungry demagogue whose policies would serve the richest Americans.” Cruz is just more tied to special interests, rigid, and connected to sleazy campaign tactics.

Cruz also has a super PAC to do his bidding. He claims that “family” is off-limits, but his super PAC started the “war of the wives” by printing a photo of Trump’s wife, causing Trump to retaliate. The difference is that the super PAC didn’t get permission to use a copyrighted photograph whereas Trump pulled his off of a tweet.

Religion is another area in which Cruz is farther away from reality than Trump. Colorado’s Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt is on Cruz’ team of leaders in that state, and Cruz has bragged about the man’s endorsement. As a “preacher,” Klingenschmitt has made many videos, including his claim that God made a hurricane because he was thrown out of the U.S. Navy chaplain. His departure didn’t even come from his crazy beliefs; he violated policy by wearing his military uniform at a right-wing political rally. He lost his position on the state House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee after he declared that a viciously violent attack on a pregnant woman removing her fetus was punishment for America’s legalization of abortion. He also tried to exorcize President Obama—although not in person—and tried to cleanse a woman of the” foul spirit of lesbianism.” His objection to gays serving in the military is their “taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels.” Videos of Klingenschmitt’s “preaching” are here.

Much has been said about how Trump is wonderful because he doesn’t follow “political correctness,” which parents call courtesy when they’re teaching the children how to be well-behaved. Trump takes pride in not being civil while Cruz continues with his wax-face smile and speaks courteously. Yet the same vitriol comes from both their mouths—except when Cruz is worse. Asked about a comparison between him and Joe McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator who destroyed tens of thousands of lives through his hearings in the 1950s, Cruz said, that it “may be a sign that perhaps we’re doing something right.”

Robert Reich listed four reasons that Cruz is far worse than Trump: Cruz is more fanatical, more disciplined and strategic, a true believer, and a loner who’s willing to destroy government institutions to get his way.

The only virtue that the GOP can find in Cruz is, in the words of Lindsey Graham, “He’s not Trump.” No, he isn’t. He’s worse.

September 12, 2015

Too Many Charter Schools for Profit Only

Filed under: Education — trp2011 @ 10:05 PM
Tags: , , , ,

In his push toward replacing all public schools with privately-managed, public-funded charter schools, Jeb Bush has become the sugar daddy of big business that makes big money off depriving young people of an education. The GOP presidential candidate opened the first charter school in the state when he was governor and increased it 56 percent annually during his first administration. By the time that he left office in 2007, the number had grown from 30 to 300 and since doubled to over 600. There would be more, but poor planning and management has caused the closure of another 308 schools so far this year. His first school closed in 2008.

Jeb Bush got the charter school ball rolling by maintaining that they would save students from failed public schools. By 2009, he sang another song—that charter schools are “a great opportunity… a half billion dollar opportunity.” Investors immediately showed interest in the lucrative possibilities. Bush has kept lobbying for these schools: almost all the classrooms with happy children in his campaign videos “are at schools operated by Academica, [Florida’s] largest for-profit charter school management company,” according to BuzzFeed reporter Molly Hensley-Clancy.

Academica has almost 100 schools in Florida and over $150 million in annual revenue along with being the subject of “an ongoing federal probe into its real estate dealings,” as reported by the Miami Herald in 2014. Charter schools must be overseen by a non-profit board of directors, but corporations make their money from everything else—payroll operations, food services contracting, textbook sales—as well as hiring personnel and controlling curriculum.

Another way that companies like Academica make profits is state grants, loans, and tax credits for building the school before charging the school district massive rents and leases to use the buildings. Charter Schools USA charged one school $2 million rent, 23 percent of its budget. Charter companies also get the profits if they sell the buildings to another entity. Within the last two years, only charter schools received capital outlay for new construction, and charter school companies are now going after local property taxes.

Although Florida districts traditionally decide when and where a new school is needed, charter schools can open up at the company’s volition without permission from a school district. Laurie Rich Levinson, a school board representative, said, “We must approve them even when we don’t know where exactly they’ll be located,” she says. Charter schools are also not subject to traffic restrictions, building codes, and other regulations mandated for other businesses and institutions.

Companies closing charter schools also punish communities through charges. When local officials in Florida tried to get $400,000 back from two closed schools, the companies had either moved the funds or had them frozen by liens. The Sun Sentinel reported, “County schools may have to repay $1.8 million owed by two closed charter schools.” The schools didn’t keep accurate counts of enrolled students; therefore money already collected will be withheld from future payments to the district.

Florida is not alone in its problems with charter schools. Claims that charter schools provide superior education have been debunked in other states. A report on Pennsylvania’s charters a year ago indicated that only one in six of these schools is “high-performing” and none of the online ones is “high-performing.” Charter schools weed out students based on characteristics such as those with special needs and low test scores. In many cases, English learners and children in poverty need not apply. The result is higher segregation in schools.

In many charter schools, cost-cutting curriculum limits students to little more than reading and mathematics test preparation, inexperienced teachers with high turnover, and products that line the pockets of board members. At the same time, the schools are used as cash cows.

Publicly-funded charter schools act like private entities, denying such basic information as salaries. In 2012, Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett and the GOP-controlled legislature tried to introduce a bill that exempted all charters from the state’s sunshine laws. Companies have argued in California courts that they are private entities and cannot be treated as public institutions.

The drain on real public schools is tremendous. For example, charter tuition payments cost Pittsburgh $53 million in just one year. In order to make more money for their companies, charter corporations are working to close traditional public schools. Pennsylvania forced districts to approve new charters while slashing the budget and closing more schools.

Big donors for John Kasich during his 2014 run for Ohio governor were charter school operators and companies. He vowed to clean up charter schools after cutting money from public schools and to show how well the charters were doing with a public site to compare their performance with public schools. The upgrading of charter facilities and increase in their budgets cost Ohioans well over one billion dollars so far this year while public schools lost one-half billion dollars. Last month, David Hansen, state director of school choice, resigned after he admitted charter schools looked much better because he omitted poor grades for online and dropout-recovery schools. Kasich probably won’t be talking much about charter schools on the campaign trail.

One state has declared that giving public school funds to charter schools is unconstitutional. Washington state Supreme Court spent almost a year of deliberation before he overturned a narrowly-passed ballot measure in 2012 allowing publicly-funded, privately-operated schools. Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that charter schools aren’t “common schools” because they’re governed by appointed rather than elected boards. Therefore, “money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools,” she wrote. A coalition filing the suit asked for this ruling because these schools are “improperly diverting public-school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control.” The nine schools planning to open this fall will not close but instead plan to rely on private funding.

In 1992, democratic socialist Sweden began distributing vouchers to parents to send their children to any school, private or public. Companies were permitted to operate for-profit schools, and private equity firms ran hundreds of schools. The result:

  • Test scores fell consistently starting in 1995.
  • Social stratification and ethnic and immigrant segregation increased.
  • Better teachers went to schools with students of higher socio-economic status.
  • One of the biggest private education firms declared bankruptcy in 2013. About 1,000 people lost their jobs, and the company’s unpaid debt is about $150 million.
  • A convicted pedophile legally set up several schools.
  • The system found no impact on medium or long-term educational outcomes such as high school GPA, university attainment or years of schooling.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 2,486 U.S. charter schools closed between 2001 and 2013. [Check here for an interactive map of these closures.] Charter school students are two and a half times at risk of having their school closed, causing a disruption in their education and decreasing high school graduation rates by almost 10 percent.

Unknown millions of dollars of the $3.3 billion spent by the federal government went to schools that never opened to students. The Center for Popular Democracy documented more than $200 million in fraud, waste, and mismanagement in the charter school industry in 15 states alone. Wisconsin was given $69.6 million between 2010 and 2015, but one-fifth of the charters opened in the first two years of grants have closed. Indiana was given $31.3 million because the schools are exempt from democratic oversight by elected school boards.

Failed charter schools may cost about $1.4 billion in 2015. This waste hasn’t stopped the Department of Education. Secretary Arne Duncan asked for a 48-percent expansion of the program and refuses to release any information about grants or their applicants.

Fraud, lack of transparency, lower achievement—these are a few of the problems in many states that allow these schools to be controlled by profiteers. People in every state should look into laws for charter schools to make sure that they don’t have the same problem.

July 21, 2015

Kasich: ‘Moderate’ GOP Candidate with Bad Reproductive Rights Record

Today’s late entry into the GOP presidential campaign, John Kasich, has had such a low profile that he looks better than the collection of crazies stumping the country for the GOP presidential nominee. Conservatives should love him—investment banker, Fox network commentator, budget hawk, blue-collar background, past legislator, and governor of the must-win state of Ohio for the president. His short fuse, however, may bring more excitement to the fight, currently among the field of 15 men and one woman who desperately want to be winners. For example, he prompted a walkout after yelling at a wealthy donor at a Koch brothers-sponsored conference. He told a BP employee in a meeting that oil and gas companies deserve to “have a bad reputation.” He added, “Oil companies are liars and they are going to be screwed.”

His anger is so obvious that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) accused the 63-year-old candidate of having “a hair-trigger temper.” Like candidate Scott Walker, Kasich cuts out anyone who disagrees with him. Conservative activist Matt Mayer said:

“When you criticize Kasich, you’re sort of dead to him. That’s the way it works.”

Kasich may have a better chance than when he first ran in 1999, but a downside to the incumbent-defeating state senator, congressman, and governor is that the people of Ohio voted out his signature law rolling back public sector workers’ collective bargaining rights, worse than Walker’s law in Wisconsin. “Ohio’s law … gives city councils and school boards a free hand to unilaterally impose their side’s final contract offer when management and union fail to reach a settlement,” New York Times’s Steven Greenhouse wrote. Kasich’s law also applied to police and firefighters, who were exempted from Walker’s law. Backlash cut Kasich’s approval-disapproval rating from 30 to 46, and the Ohio constitution allowed voters to put the law up for approval or disapproval. Despite his campaigning for the law, Kasich lost by 61 to 38 percent.

The 16th candidate  also opposed his own party to accept the Medicaid expansion with the argument that helping the poor is a Christian action. In the 21st century, this is an anti-GOP position. He even went farther when he claimed that limited government advocates had to do more to help the less fortunate. He presented this position at the Koch brothers event, but Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley were quick to disagree. Kasich even told the New York Times that the GOP is waging a “war on the poor.” He said that his “most important mission” was to convince conservatives that “when some of us are doing better, it is essential that we begin to figure out how to help people who are not doing better.” Preparing for his campaign, he told people to “read Matthew 25″ about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. His arguments make the GOP uncomfortable because religious arguments to help people makes cutting those programs far more difficult.

The Ohio legislature refused to expand Medicaid so Kasich bypassed them. He went to the state “Controlling Board,” created to handle adjustments to the state’s budgetary flow and asked them to let the federal Medicaid money come into the state. When two appointees indicated that they would vote against Kasich, he simply replaced them with a final count of 5-2 in favor. Lawsuits against his action failed with the state Supreme Court upholding Kasich’s actions. A former president was Kasich’s justification:

“Reagan was fiscally responsible, but he was also pragmatic and compassionate. When we consider what Reagan would do, let’s also remember what he did do—expand Medicaid.”

Kasich’s win raised his popularity poll to 55 percent approving of his job performance, compared to 30 percent disapproval. Lawsuits against his action failed when the state Supreme Court upheld Kasich’s actions, and he won his next election with a 31-point victory.

Kasich has followed the GOP position in his support of a mentor program receiving Ohio taxpayer funding from “Community Connectors” required that the schools partner with both a church and a non-profit business and signing a bill that stopped Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs for at least two years. Worst, however, may be Kasich’s elimination of women’s reproductive rights.

Ultrasounds are required at least 24 hours before women who can receive oral contraception or an IUD because Ohio law equates preventing pregnancy to abortion. All women having abortions must also have ultrasounds, even if doctors find these unnecessary.

Restrictions on women’s clinics have caused Ohio to lose seven of its 16 clinics since 2011 putting the state second in closures behind Texas. That was before the latest set of highly restrictive laws attached to the state’s budget bill, one which mandates that clinics have an emergency patient transfer agreement with a hospital no more than 30 miles away. One new Ohio law forbids public hospitals from accepting such transfer agreements although Ohio law forbids public hospitals from accepting such transfer agreements. Another one law closes a Dayton clinic waiting for two years for a state variance allowing it to operate without this agreement by requiring that the clinic get a variance within two months.

These new laws are piled on top of the ones from two years ago, defunding Planned Parenthood, moving state funding from real reproductive health facilities to faith-based, anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers, and requiring that doctors have partnerships with private hospitals—highly difficult because most private hospitals in Ohio are religious ones. Two years ago, a law stripped funding from rape crisis centers that give clients any information about abortion services and requires doctors to give women seeking abortion information about the presence of a “fetal heartbeat.” Kasich has made life harder for women in keeping from getting pregnant, having abortions, and keeping their children because the budget cuts for welfare services to single mothers went to the crisis pregnancy centers.

As conservatives in Ohio struggle to pass a 20-week abortion ban, they fail to consider that Ohio law defines fertilization as dating from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period, actually about two weeks before true contraception. That means that Ohio could have an 18-week abortion ban as conservatives have tried to impose on the state.

Kasich imposed a policy in which counselors at rape-crisis clinics are legally prohibited from referring victims to abortion providers, even though terminating an unwanted pregnancy is still legal. The governor has not explained why the gag rule is necessary.

On the national level, Kasich’s chances are slim to none. Ranked at 12th in national polls, he hasn’t topped three percent in any of them, keeping him out of the first debates, awkward because the first one on August 6 is in his home state. Only George Pataki rates below him in the latest PPP polling. His chances and position put him in the same arena with former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, who continually pointed out the failures of the GOP base in his 2012 GOP run for president. Kashich’s team includes two key consultants for Huntsman. The Washington Examiner’s Philip Kline wrote that conservative voters should “punish [Kasich] for his expansion of President Obama’s healthcare law.” Other conservative pundits such as Avik Roy, who works for Rick Perry, and Jason Hart, Watchdog.org reporter, agree with Kline.

Republicans from defense hawks to protectors of corporate tax breaks were upset with Kasich, then U.S. representative when he helped broker an agreement with President Clinton and congressional Republicans to balance the U.S. budget in 1997. How long Kasich will last, no one knows. His campaign 16 years ago ended in July 2000 because Bush had much more money than he did. When Kasich dropped out 16 years ago, he said about Bush’s slogan, “This business of compassionate conservative, I wish I’d thought it up.” Now he’s co-opted the description.

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