Nel's New Day

January 2, 2014

Right-Wing Heroes of 2013

A common complaint from the far right is the so-called “liberal media.” Looking at the guests on Sunday political talk shows, however, gives a different picture. Republicans dominate such shows as Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, State of the Union, and, of course, Fox News Sunday. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) topped the list of those who made ten or more Sunday show appearances in 2013; he was on 27 different times, averaging one appearance every 1.9 weeks. Sen. John McCain increased his 21 appearances in 2012 to come in second at 24 times this year. As the chart shows, only three of the top 13 are Democrats. Six of the top seven are Republicans.

Sunday Show Guests

During Rogers’ appearance last Sunday on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked him what the New York Times got wrong in its investigation on Benghazi—definitely not a “fair and balanced” question. Rogers was offended that the NYT reported “that Al-Quaeda was not involved in this.” He was also upset that the article questioned GOP claims that an anti-Muslim video made in the U.S. had nothing to do with the attack.

Who are other potential far-right heroes?

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) may be the finest example of GOP extremist wingnuts at the national level. After he decided to run against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) this year, he received more publicity, but his has a rich history of far-right positions since he was sporadically elected since his first bid for the House in 1990:

  • Wants to impeach President Obama to keep him from passing any gun-related legislation, providing every House member with a copy of Impeachable Offenses: The Case for Removing Barack Obama from Office.
  • Compares President Obama and Saddam Hussein based on the presence of children at the president’s announcement pushing for new gun legislation  like Saddam Hussein using children as human shields during the Gulf War.
  • Claims that President Obama’s support for gun safety shows that he has “no sympathy for unarmed women raped by criminals.”
  • Views climate change as “the new fad thing that’s going through America and around the world.”
  • Tweets, “The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out.”
  • Also tweets that the Boston bomber “thought he could escape in backyard boat after hearing Gore speak on global warming.”
  • Defends the Young Conservatives of Texas group at the University of Texas for its “game” called  “Catch an Illegal Immigrant.”
  • Invites the rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask in the Missouri rodeo to perform in his home state of Texas.
  • Sells this campaign bumper sticker: “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.”
  • Raffled off an AR-15, the same weapon type used in the Newtown (CT) massacre, leading to condemnations of “outrageous” and “insensitive” even from GOP colleagues.
  • Used the term “fag” while talking to a reporter.

 

Food stamps are unnecessary, according to Stockman; his aide accused Democrats trying to live on food stamps were “intentionally buying overpriced food and shopping at high-priced chains to make it appear the cuts go too far.” Salon.com named Stockman  “the new Michele Bachman,” and he was one of two House members to oppose Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) reappointment.

Frustrated because the NRA endorsed Cornyn for the senate in the upcoming primary, Stockman used his endorsement for the House in the last election for his Senate campaign website, “Endorsed by the National Rifle Association.” Recently he tweeted a photo of “liberal tears” as being “the best gun lubricant around. He also takes the position that God granted people “the right to keep and bear arms.”

Liberal tears guns

Elected in 2012 to Ron Paul’s district after a 16-year hiatus from the House, Stockman failed to disclose 17 business affiliations in four states and the British Virgin Islands as mandated by law and gave no details about his personal business. Somehow, $350,000 is unaccounted for, a matter that the House Ethics Committee is addressing.

Washington state Rep. Ed Orcutt (R–Kalama) has potential to be another national far-right hero with his statement that bicycle riders are worse polluters than people who drive cars because they produce more carbon than cars do. It’s all because of the “increased heart rate and respiration” that bicycle riders have. His statements were made in a defense of the proposed 5-percent bicycle tax on bikes that cost more than $500. He lost some of his right-wing cred, however, when he apologized for his comments. The bicycle tax didn’t pass.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), aTexas wingnut like Stockman, has been at the top of the extremists’ popularity poll, but he may struggle in the coming year. After bragging for the government shutdown almost three months ago, he reversed his opinion when he blamed President Obama and Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV), calling it a mistake for them “to force a government shutdown.” He got a lot of cred from shutting down the government; now he’s saying that he didn’t do it. Stockman could make Cruz look like a minor player.

What’s wrong with an honorary and unpaid science laureate to travel the country and inspire children, especially girls and minorities, to be scientists? Larry Hart, a former GOP congressional aide and the legislative director of the American Conservative Union, warned that the position could teach people about climate change. More than half the GOP members of the House and 65 percent of GOP in the Senate deny the existence of climate change or oppose any action connected with it. The position was not approved.

Laura Dimon, daughter of financial criminal and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, wants criminals such as Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman, doing hard time, but her list of “6 Most Notorious Criminals [Who] Aren’t Facing the Justice They Deserve” exempts her father. His actions, capitalizing on the subprime mortgage crisis and the rampant foreclosure fraud, negatively affected millions of lives. His bank managed profits in the billions of dollars by forging signatures to force people out of their homes. The financial crisis, which Dimon manipulated and exacerbated as Chase Bank’s CEO, led to at least 5,000 suicides, far worse than the Boston Marathon bombing.

In the “London Whale” scam, Dimon’s bank admitted that it violated securities laws, and Dimon himself admitted that he violated the law by guaranteeing that all information in the SEC filings is accurate. His penalty would have been a $5 million fine and up to 20 years in prison if he had been indicted and convicted. No one went to prison, and taxpayers will pay $7 billion of the $13 billion settlement.

Billionaire founder of Home Depot Ken Langone can be representative of many wealthy people in this country. He’s trying to raise $180 million to restore New York’s St Patrick’s Cathedral and thinks that Pope Francis’s criticism of capitalism and wealth might discourage donors. Langone has said:

“I’ve told the cardinal [Timothy Dolan], ‘Your Eminence, this is one more hurdle I hope we don’t have to deal with. You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don’t act the same as rich people in another country. You get more with honey than with vinegar.”

Dolan will also be revered by the right wing for his comment that the pope “also loves rich people” and that the wealthy donor misunderstood Francis’ message. Langone agrees, explaining that capitalism in Argentina is different than in the United States. He missed the point that as of 2011, inequality of income was far greater in the U.S. and in Egypt—and it’s only gotten worse in this country during the past two years.

Along with the beloved right-wing people is the corporation, McDonalds. Its website is now gone, but these insults toward its poorly-paid employees will remain on the Internet for long into the future. Although intended to be helpful advice for its employees because some of them could not survive on the minimum wage paid by the company, recommendations from the McResource Line showed the tremendous gap between the wealthy and the rest of the people in the United States:

  • A budget plan allowing for a whopping $20 per month in health insurance and $0 for heating; totaling both car and homeowner’s/renter’s insurance for $100 per month; and requiring a second income, such as another job.
  • Seeking government assistance at a time when the GOP is blocking any safety net and the unlivable pay at fast-food industries costs taxpayers $7.7 billion per year.
  • Cutting food into small pieces to reduce workers’ hunger.
  • Selling Christmas gifts on eBay for additional income.
  • Advice on tipping people like dog walkers, personal trainers, housekeepers, pool workers, caddies, and au pairs, among others, including how to give gifts as tips.

The tipping point in the decision to drop the website may have been the recommendation for healthy eating.

mcdonalds_food

In this case, the hypocrisy was double-headed: the advice pointed out that the company’s own food is not healthy. Instead, of getting a McDonalds cheeseburger, fries, and drink, Resource Line recommended something like Subway food—a sandwich, salad, and water. I will miss the website, but the tragedy will remain .

July 31, 2013

Jail, Threats, Fraud, Cookies, and More

Some news you might not see in mainstream media:

The Wall Street Journal’s announcement that the game Monopoly was doing away with its jail sentence, making the game look way too much like reality, created a great deal of hoop-la. Even John Oliver, Jon Stewart’s summer sub on The Daily Show, got into the excitement. It seems, however, that WSJ was wrong. Jail, at least in Monopoly, is here to stay. Wonder what else Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ is wrong about.

monopoly-jail-top630

Putting a picture of Jane Austen on the Bank of England bank note also caused great interest, especially for the people who sent rape and death threats to the major campaigner for using Austen’s picture. British people caught two of them, one a 21-year-old man who sent a about 50 abusive tweets every hour for 12 hours to Caroline Criado-Perez after she successfully lobbied for replacing Charles Darwin on the ten-pound note starting in 2017.

It wasn’t enough for these men that the picture of World War II prime minister Winston Churchill will replace the face of 19th-century social reformer Elizabeth Fry on the five-pound note beginning in 2016. Without the addition of Jane Austen, the only woman on Britain’s money would be Queen Elizabeth II, whose face is on every British coin and banknote.

A Twitter representative, Mark Luckie, waited four days to talk with her about the abuse, temporarily blocking her attempted communication with him. Publicity connected the past seven days of threats and abuse has required police and politicians to take notice of the abuse toward Criado-Perez and Labor MP Stella Creasy, who came out in Criado-Perez’s support.

If you’re still smoking, you might be interested in knowing that cigarette companies have switched to clay in their filters, the same substance used in kitty litter. A dozen tobacco companies have avoided as much as $1.1 billion in taxes by making their cigarettes heavier with this filler filler, exempting their product from a 2,653 percent increase in federal excise tax  on non-”large cigar” tobacco products. Taxes for a rolled tobacco product weighing at least three pounds per 1,000 increased only 155 percent. Treasury Department spokesman Thomas Hogue said, “If you meet the definition of a large cigar, then you’re a large cigar.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently introduced legislation to equalize the tax structure that could make $3.6 billion in new taxes over 10 years.

Changing from kitty litter cigarettes to electronic ones won’t make people safer. Sales are rising for these alternatives, but no one knows the health problem because they aren’t regulated. The primary byproduct of electronic cigarettes is definitely not a “harmless water vapor,” as manufacturers claim.  In Scientific American, Stanton Glantz noted that the smoker inhales a collection of dangerous substances including acetaldehyde, nickel and cadmium. With every puff, both smokers and the people near them inhale formaldehyde, toluene, and nicotine.

The FDA tried to ban imports of electronic cigarettes from China by declaring them “unapproved drug/device combination products” but lost in court. Manufacturers maintain that these are healthy alternatives to cigarettes in the same way that tobacco companies used to swear that cigarettes were also “healthy.”

China also wants to buy Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor and hog producer. Shuanghui International is willing to pay $4.7 billion. In 2011, it was discovered that some Shuanghui products contained a hazardous and banned chemical used to make meat leaner. Smithfield president Larry Pope said that there wouldn’t be any problems, and it would bring more jobs to the United States. Other food safety issues in China have included rat meat passed off as pork and thousands of pig carcasses floating on a river. Smithfield already uses an additive, banned in China and Russia, to bulk up animals with muscle instead of far, without increasing the amount of feed.

People have known for decades about the dangers of lead in paint, but Sherman-Williams is being sued because it knew over a century ago that the company knowingly poisoned people. Ten California cities and counties are seeking $1 billion from the company to strip the leaded paint that remains on millions of residences throughout the state. The United States banned lead paint for residential use in 1978, several decades after other countries forbade its use. Once thought to be more dangerous for children, new research finds that lead effects for adults may be worse, causing dangers from increased blood pressure and stroke.

Pepsi may also be in trouble after it was discovered that the caramel coloring in drinks contains high levels of a probable carcinogen. Both Pepsi and Coca-Cola were told to adjust their formulas to avoid a cancer warning label in California. Coke products no longer tested positive in May for the chemical, but Pepsi products outside California still contain it. Pepsi said that the chemical won’t be removed from its drinks until February 2014 but gave no timeline for world-wide distribution. FDA said that a person would have to drink 1,000 cans of soda a day to reach the doses used in rodents to cause cancer, but California has still added 4-Mel to its list of carcinogens.

Detroit is so broke that it’s threatening to sell all its art in the museums and not pay contract pensions. No schools, no roads, no utilities, no services. But it is spending almost one-half billion dollars on a new hockey arena. That’s what you get with an “emergency financial manager” appointed by the Republican governor.

North Carolina

North Carolina has finished its hate-filled legislation, and Gov. Pat McCrory has duly signed all the hateful bills, but publicity about them hasn’t ended. The latest story started with a small group of women going to McCrory’s mansion to protest the most recent anti-abortion bill  that he had promised not to sign—and then did. at McCrory’s mansion.  Various French princesses have been credited with the statement, “Let them eat cake,” when referring to peasants suffering from famine. McCrory changed the term “cake” to “cookies” when he delivered a plate of chocolate-chip cookies to the protesters. Four security guards stopped traffic in the street, and McCrory walked to the middle and pointed at one of the women. She walked up to him, and he handed the plate of cookies, saying, “These are for you. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you.”

McCrory wouldn’t talk to the protesters; he just handed over the plate after he lied to them and took away their constitutional right to choose reproductive health care. The crowd responded by chanting, ”Hey Pat, that was rude. You wouldn’t give cookies to a dude.” McCrory said that the critics exaggerated the impact of the law that closes 15 out of 16 clinics that provide abortion and bars state residents from paying for the coverage through state health exchanges. [Photo by Corey Lowenstein @ News Observer]

Cookies…-no-thanks

Cumulus Media, the second-largest owner and operator of AM and FM radio stations in America, will not be renewing its contracts with both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on its 40 channels that have hundreds of radio stations. Although they may have already signed with rival syndicate WOR, the future of right-wing radio may be in jeopardy. The majority of its listeners, primarily white, are disappearing because most of its older demographic. Limbaugh blamed the ad buyers, saying that they are Limbaugh recently acknowledged difficulty selling ads, complaining ad buyers are “are young women fresh out of college, liberal feminists who hate conservatism.” For months, Cumulus has been telling investors that Limbaugh is costing the company millions of dollars in lost advertizing.

If your electricity bills going up, it might be because of banks rigging the market. This week, the Federal Regulatory Commission fined JP Morgan Chase $410 million fine, following a penalty of almost $500 million against the British bank Barclay two weeks ago. JP Morgan agreed to pay a civil penalty of $285 million and return $125 million in wrongful profits without either admitting or denying its guilt in using energy traders to fix prices. The situation isn’t unique: financial markets are controlling market forces in oil, currency exchanges, and hard commodities from precious metals to aluminum. Industry deregulation in the 1990s permitted banks to directly deal in physical commodity markets instead of being limited to financial products based on commodity prices.

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