Nel's New Day

September 15, 2019

Immigration in the U.S.: The Center of Cruelty

Public opinion—aka outrage—about deporting approximately 1,000 seriously ill migrants, primarily children, by denying them any deferred status drew attention before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) moved Hurricane Dorian to Alabama. Families who must renew their medical deferred status every two years were notified in August that they would be automatically forced to leave the country within 33 days. After a backlash, DDT said he would reconsider the new policy that sends all these migrants to their certain death because they would lack health care, but he hasn’t provided a resolution.

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, failed to appear for an emergency House hearing about the travesty, and Daniel Renaud, the associate director for field operations, said that he just follows orders. USCIS, formerly responsible for processing the deferral requests, handed all non-military requests over to ICE. ICE said it knew nothing about the change, and recipients of the deportation letters were not notified. Now ICE won’t address deferral requests until the subjects have an order of removal. The most recent information comes from American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Those people aren’t the only ones who DDT is killing. Last Thursday, ICE rushed the deportation to Cuba of Yoel Alonso Leal, an asylum-seeker with several serious medical conditions including a lung tumor. Over 100 physicians argued that he stay in the U.S. and warned that he might not even survive the flight. No matter—ICE refused to release him to his U.S. citizen wife and family for more tests and treatment. Leal said that Cuban authorities detained and assaulted him in 2016 and 2018 before he sought asylum. 

DDT already killed a man born in Greece 41 years ago, who legally came to the U.S. at less than a year of age, by deporting him to Iraq where he died without insulin for his diabetes. Jimmy Aldaoud never learned Arabic and was part of Detroit’s Chaldean Catholic community, targeted in Iraq by extremists. He was sent to Iraq because Greece doesn’t recognize birthright citizenship. Other Chaldeans, a conservative group, are also targeted for deportation, one of them for a years-old marijuana conviction that was dropped from his criminal record.

ICE also plans to kill detain immigrants by not vaccinating children for the flu. Despite the claim that detainees are held for only 72 hours, they can remain in detention for over a month. At least three people in government “care” have already died of the flu.

DDT also wants to terminate a program protecting undocumented family members of active-duty troops from deportation. Currently the program allows military family members illegally entering the U.S.—for example, overstaying a visa—who cannot adjust their immigration status to temporarily stay in the U.S. The program avoids distractions coming from worries about a spouse being deported and allows the spouse to apply for a green card. Already ICE doesn’t follow its own policies by deporting former service members and breaking the tradition of giving a path to citizenships for those who serve in the military—almost 130,000 since 2001. Last year, the Pentagon discharged immigrants with special skills recruited under George W. Bush’s program.

A lawsuit against Cuccinelli purports that all his directives are “invalid” because he “lacks the authority to serve as acting director.” Cuccinelli is also unqualified to serve in this position because he describes immigrants as rats although his job is to facilitate legal immigration. His new policies include fast-tracking initial screenings of asylum-seekers from 48 hours to a “full calendar day,” blocking them from preparing for interviews of seeing legal help. Cuccinelli is serving as “acting director” because GOP senators have doubted his appointment.

In another cruel form of current government bureaucracy, 37 asylum seekers accused of illegal entry were all processed at one time and expected to answer questions in unison. Public defendants had under two hours to talk with 41 defendants in one case. Unlike other courts under the judicial branch, immigration courts are under the control of DOJ AG Bill Barr. [Right: “Justice” under the reign of Barr and DDT.]

New tent courts recently established at the southern border will hear thousands of cases for asylum-seekers in closed hearings with no court observers unlike open immigration court proceedings. Attorneys are not allowed to participate although most asylum-seekers can’t get legal representation. Over 42,000 asylum-seekers are forced to wait in Mexico where they have been assaulted, kidnapped, and extorted. Others have let Mexico bus them to the middle of the country or the border of Guatemala. The hearings in the tent court facilities are via video teleconference, a serious problem from faulty equipment with poor video and sound quality that prevent due process. 

Last week, people believing in justice breathed a sigh of relief when a federal judge ruled that DDT cannot require asylum seekers to ask another country for shelter before seeking refuge in the U.S. According to DDT’s coerced agreement with Guatemala, people coming from Central America into Mexico must try and fail to obtain asylum in Guatemala before moving on to go through the same process in Mexico before seeking asylum in the U.S. Mexico had refused DDT’s negotiations, but he still forces the “third-country” asylum rule on that country. A 9th Circuit Court ruling against DDT’s new restriction had been only for the ten states in its jurisdiction, but Jon S. Tigar made that ruling consistent for the entire country to prevent “uneven enforcement.”

The relief ended when DDT’s U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay to that judge’s ruling until the courts settled the cases, a process taking and leaving the Supreme Court as the final decider—or “fixer” for DDT. The lower courts determined that DDT’s policy conflicts with existing immigration statutes, violates the requirements of administrative rulemaking, and completely blocks all asylum for people on the southern border unless they come from Mexico. The decision was not explained.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginzberg submitted a dissent stating that lower court decisions should be respected and a stay overturning a lower court is “extraordinary.” The Supreme Court should not be used for the government to ignore lower court litigation. DDT’s administration has made an “extraordinary” number of requests—20—to bypass normal procedures or lower court actions. In addition to procedural anomalies, the dissent pointed out that the goal of DDT’s asylum policy is acting in bad faith. Facts do not support their arguments and illustrated that the policy puts untold numbers of people in serious danger—which DDT and his co-authors know. The decision overturns a longstanding offer of safe refuge to the persecuted with no input before DDT loses on the case’s merits. The lower court determined that DDT’s new policy broke government rules, violated the law, and lacks justification by being arbitrary and capricious.

One group of immigrants that DDT wants to protect are Venezuelans. He thinks that it might help him win the state of Florida in the 2020 election.

Perhaps the worst part of immigration court is control by the DOJ instead of the judicial branch. DDT’s fixer AG, Bill Barr, promoted the six judges with higher rates of denying immigrants’ asylum to the immigration appeals court that can overturn lower court decisions. Two of them came from courts drawing complaints of unfair proceedings from attorneys and advocates, and a third denies asylum to domestic violence victims. The six comprise over one-fourth of the appellate board, and four are on the DDT-created Board of Immigration Appeals. Barr established a regulation giving himself the ability to make any appellate decision binding. DOJ sent an email to all immigration court employees with a link to an article from the white nationalist website VDare that “directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs.”

The DOJ also filed a petition to decertify the union of immigration judges with the claim that they are “management officials.” The Federal Labor Relations Authority refused this tactic over 20 years ago, but the new FLRA members mostly belong to DDT. Last year, the union fought the new DOJ quota system of completing 700 cases a year and “efficiency” procedures that could damage due process in court. DDT has appointed at least 43 percent of the 440 immigration judges; changing them to “management” would allow him to fire them at his whim.

While DDT torments and kills migrants, the asylum law is now at the center of his immigration battle. The law says: “Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States, whether or not at a designated port of arrival … may apply for asylum.”

Not satisfied with detaining only immigrants, DDT wants to incarcerate the homeless in a federal facility, starting his roundup in California to rile up his base for the 2020 election.

At his speech in Baltimore, DDT used a favorite term, “goddamn,” which the evangelical community hates. Texas megachurch leader and DDT supporter Rev. Robert Jeffress said, “I can take just about everything else, except [taking the Lord’s name in vain.” For evangelicals, cruelty, corruption, killing, abuse, lying, racism all okay, but “goddamn” crosses the line.

August 16, 2019

DDT: Week 134 – New Rules Ruin More Lives

Only 14 percent of Republicans approved of President Obama’s executive orders. GOP approval of autocratic orders and rules escalated to 43 percent since DDT was inaugurated. He These rules are from the past week while he is on vacation at his resort in Bedminster (NJ).

The brand-new acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, is living up to the hopes of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). In defending new extreme financial restrictions on immigration, Cuccinelli said that only immigrants who can “stand on their own two feet” are welcome in the United States. In explaining the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty, he said that the poem referred to European immigrants who came from “class-based societies,” not from poverty. DDT’s new rule will turn down many green card and visa applicants with low incomes of little education who may have used Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers. In a CNN op-ed, Cuccinelli wrote that “self-sufficiency has been a core tenet of the American dream.”

Thirteen states filed a lawsuit against DDT’s rule to deny visas and permanent residency to poor migrants who don’t meet high enough income standards or receive any public assistance. Washington state AG Bob Ferguson said that the rule to take effect October 15 violates the Immigration and Nationality Act by redefining “public charge” in a way unconnected to its original meaning and congressional intent.

While families—including small children—swam in the Rio Grande River at Juarez, border patrol agents fired rubber bullets at them. Rubber bullets, although defined as “non-lethal,” can cause serious injury and harm, especially when randomly shot into a crowd. Israel’s 2000 study revealed that inaccuracy in aim can lead to “substantial mortality, morbidity, and disability,” in particular if people are hit in such vulnerable areas as the head or neck. Matthew Bowen, the border patrol agent who deliberately hit a Guatemalan migrant with his truck, almost running him over, and referred to immigrants as “subhuman” and “mindless murdering savages” was allowed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge. Supposedly he will resign from the Border Patrol.

In an early Christmas present to big business, DDT bulldozed the Endangered Species Act in completing rollbacks to 46-year-old law to pave the way for business development. Hundreds of species, including the wolverines and monarch butterflies, could be gone if DDT succeeds in his goal. Gone, too, will be much of the habitat for threatened wildlife. DDT may be declaring revenge on the bald eagle that was saved by the 46-year-old law. 

The Labor Department has announced a new rule for private contractors allowing the government to more easily fire LGBTQ people and unmarried women who become pregnant—all with the excuse of “religious belief”—because these categories of people are not protected classes. DDT also has asked the Supreme Court ? in a case that it will hear in October. Another rule proposed this week excludes permission for hospitals, health care providers, and insurance companies that receive federal funding to refuse service to LGBT people and people living with HIV. DDT has also asked the Supreme Court to legalize firing workers for being transgender in a case to be heard in October.

DDT also has a new rule allowing states the ability for force drug tests on people receiving unemployment benefits. Required blood tests in other areas such as food stamps have already proved a failure, and the ACLU pointed out that the Fourth Amendment blocks unreasonable government searches.

DDT’s executive orders are always poison, and this one could destroy free speech in the nation. He believes that any criticism of himself is too much progressive speech so he plans an order to give federal agencies the ability to select the acceptability of internet information. According to a draft, the rule asks the FCC for new regulations about how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. These new policies would be considered in investigations or lawsuits against companies. DDT has consistently complained that conservative content on social media has been suppressed, ignoring the reasons such as misinformation and calls for violence. His censorship rule would eliminate the rights of private companies and allow the party in power to control speech on the internet.

The DOJ has started to decertify the union representing 440 U.S. immigration judges by filing a petition with the Federal Labor Relations authority defining judges as “management.” Judges are not happy about DOJ’s move. Judge Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, stated:

“We are trial court judges who make decisions on the basis of case specific facts and the nation’s immigration laws. We do not set policies, and we don’t manage staff.” 

In ridiculing the concept of immigrations as management, Tabaddor said, “We don’t even have the authority to order pencils.”

The Department of Agriculture, possibly violating the law by moving its research agency far away from Washington, DC, now avoids the “latest available science” to help farmers by concealing its study on negative affects of climate change on nutritional value of rice. The results show damage of higher CO2 concentration on levels of protein, iron, and zinc levels. After the feds suppressed research from Lewis Ziska, the 25-year veteran of the department left for a job at Columbia University while morale at the EPA has drastically dropped.  

Massive numbers of bankruptcies and foreclosures from DDT’s policies and lack of concern for climate change has caused concern among farmers. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had an answer for them at a Farmfest in Minnesota when he told a joke about what to call two farmers in a basement: “A whine cellar.” After he was booed, DDT tweeted the falsehood, “Farmers getting more than China would be spending.” DDT’s brief postponement of tariffs won’t help the farmers. Most of DDT’s welfare for farmers has gone to the wealthy, and net farm income dropped in the last five years from $123.4 billion to $63 billion. DDT promised to help them, but farm income is still shrinking. In the Nigerian language, the word MAGA, acronym for “make America great again,” is defined as a pawn in a scheme, a sucker or fraud victim. DDT has suckered in investors and millions of supporters. China refuses to play DDT’s games.

DDT’s trade war was partly to bring jobs back to the U.S., his promise during his campaign. In the first two years after DDT’s inauguration, companies announced the return of only 145,000 factory jobs, and only 30,000 are from his tariffs. Trade policies moved factories to low-cost Asian countries such as Vietnam. Reacting to a backlash toward the new draconian tariffs with China, DDT changed the deadline for “some” tariffs on Chinese imports—about 60 percent of those threatened— from September 1 to December 15. The investors followed his newest promise with their typical sheeple purchase: a day earlier, the Dow Jones dropped almost 400 points after Goldman Sachs told its clients that the trade war would continue until after the 2020 election. The day of the promise, the Dow regained almost all its losses but fell 800 points the next day. Once again, MAGA.

In July, Chinese imports of U.S. goods fell 19 percent from a year earlier while their exports to the U.S. declined 6.5 percent. China has delayed customs clearance for U.S. goods and licenses in finance and other fields. At the same time, other global areas have benefited from more Chinese exports to them after DDT’s tariffs. DDT lost his agreement with China by saying that he would keep the tariffs even if China returned to buying soybeans and other exports from the U.S. The U.S. trade deficit with China has fallen, but the U.S. overall trade deficit increased as U.S. exports remained flat and imports grew. Chief economist Mark M. Zandi for Moody’s Analytics warned that DDT’s trade war is doing economy damage, especially in manufacturing that is “pretty close to recession.”

Aides to DDT say he is “rattled.”  Anxious about the economy because he needs positive views for a re-election, DDT consulted business leaders and financial executives—and the news was not all good for him. The Dow Jones rose over 300 points today, but it is still down almost 300 points for the week after wild fluctuations of over 1000 points. It was a one-day reprieve: the next day the Dow dropped 800 points after the bond market announced the possibility of a recession. DDT is screaming for the Federal Reserve to save him, but is he taking advantage of selling short? At least, DDT may have learned to say the phrase “inverted yield curve.”

The US budget deficit also widened to $867 billion for the first 10 months of the fiscal year, an increase of 27% over this time last year. 

This week, DDT took credit for a major manufacturing complex in western Pennsylvania that was announced in 2012, the year that President Obama campaigned for his successful second term. DDT’s speech was filled with slurs about Democratic presidential candidates. 

DDT’s tax cuts have provided almost no benefit for economic growth, business investment, and worker pay. Half of surveyed corporate chief financial officers expect the economy to shrink by the second quarter of 2020, and two-thirds expect a recession by the end of 2020. Deficits have soared back to the levels of the crisis at the end of George W. Bush’s regime, and only five percent of growth from tax cuts have offset the losses. The interest cut last month was an attempt to counteract the slump in manufacturing and investment. The highly touted salary increase from the tax cuts averaged $28 per worker. That’s the picture of what DDT calls “the strongest economy in the world.”

June 11, 2019

How to Create More Problems with Immigration

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) purged the Department of Homeland Security, many people blamed his aide, neo-Nazi Stephen Miller, for the firings. Even GOP senators were upset about Miller’s ascension in DDT Land: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) called Miller the “guy behind the curtain.” Miller was behind DDT’s executive order banning Muslims from the United States and the family separation policy at the southern border. He crafted DDT’s anti-immigrant speeches, and his ideas mesh well with DDT’s bigotry toward people of color in an excuse of “law and order.”

During Miller’s high school at Santa Monica High School and college days at Duke University, he spread his philosophy of “Americanism,” especially in his push for English-speaking first. In a column for the college newspaper, he argued that multiculturalism threatens U.S. identity. In Washington, D.C., he worked for congressional members, such as then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) before he became senior policy adviser for DDT’s presidential campaign. Richard Painter, a White House ethics lawyer during President George W. Bush’s administration, called Miller “the most notorious racist in the Trump White House.”

According to former DHS officials, Miller got rid of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen by leaking information about asylum seekers at the southern border to the Washington Examiner and then giving copies of the newspaper reports to DDT. Nielsen was joined in April DHS departures by Randolph Alles, director of the Secret Service, and the White House withdrawal of Ron Vitiello’s nomination for head of ICE. On June 1, Miller dumped Lee Cissna, Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) former staffer as head of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Pushing out Cissna irritates Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) because he, along with other establishment senators, hates DDT’s replacement, Ken Cuccinelli. Cissna is a knowledgeable immigration hawk; Cuccinelli has only loyalty to DDT. Under Cissna, his department created systems to delay approvals and increase denials for immigrants, participating in DDT’s attempt to get rid of DACA and sunset Temporary Protected Status designations for several countries. Cissna was in charge of cracking down on asylum-seekers that returned thousands of them to Mexico where they remain in danger.

DDT needs Republican senators, including McConnell, to get Cuccinelli confirmed, but the former Virginia AG has no experience in immigration law and regulation. He also leads the Senate Conservatives Fund with the goal of defeating incumbent Republicans in primaries. Two years ago, Cuccinelli signed a letter calling for McConnell to step down.

Cuccinelli does have experience in persecuting immigrants by restricting them access to public services, employment, and citizenship. In 2010, he supported the Arizona law permitting police to investigate the immigration status of any person stopped by law enforcement and issued a legal opinion expanding a policy to include any suspected undocumented immigrant in Virginia. In the state senate, Cuccinelli proposed a law allowing employers to fire employees who didn’t speak English in the workplace and deny them unemployment compensation. Another of his bills would permit businesses to sue competitors for economic damages if they believed the employers hired undocumented immigrants plus $500 “for each such illegal alien employed by the defendant.” In 2008, he encouraged Congress to call a constitutional convention for the purpose of amending the 14th Amendment of the constitution by excluding citizenship for children born to undocumented immigrants.

After trying to hide his anti-immigrant past during his lost run for governor, he appeared on conservative media advocating the militarization of the border and prevention of all immigrants from Central America. He also wrote an op-ed for the Washington Examiner to support the deployment of troops to the southern border.  

As AG, Cuccinelli crusaded against the Affordable Care Act and fought to keep Virginia’s sodomy law, struck down by the Supreme Court a decade earlier. Equating being gay with pedophilia, he started the website VAChildPredators and listed the names of everyoneone convicted of sodomy. Despite his claim to protect children, the anti-sodomy law was only for consensual oral or anal sex between adults—no matter what gender. The Supreme Court struck down his attempts.

In other attacks on LGBTQ people, he fought to keep same-gender couples from adopting and tried to eliminate nondiscrimination protections in colleges and universities. If he heads immigration and citizenship, he can continue to block children born overseas to same-gender parents from becoming citizens. His appointment will be the destruction of same-gender families and death sentences for LGBTQ asylum seekers.

Cucinelli also opposes all abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, and the mother’s health. To Cuccinelli, any information about sexuality—even in higher education—is symptomatic of the “moral depravity that has crept across this commonwealth and this country.” The Catholic Church creates a “culture of dependency on government, not God,” according to Cuccinelli, because they want to care for the poor, immigrants, and uninsured. He ridiculed a Catholic diocese newspaper for putting these issues in its voter guides.

A vehement climate change denier, Cuccinelli frequently tells audiences to exhale carbon dioxide together to “annoy the EPA.” He investigated former University of Virginia climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann for fraud because Mann sought government funding for climate change research. Much of Cuccinelli’s funding came from fossil fuel companies that he inappropriately helped in coalbed methane extraction rights, according to a state judge and Virginia’s inspector general. He followed the “birther” conspiracy about President Obama’s birth place falsely being in Kenya and then asserted that the president was re-elected through voter fraud. At the site of the Virginia Tech mass shooting where 32 people were killed, he bragged about his NRA “A” rating.

In addition to Cuccinelli being a truly awful nominee, his appointment may be illegal. The 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act requires that nominees to lead agencies must have had another federal government position in the executive branch, G-15 or above, for at least 90 days before the vacancy or in another Senate-confirmed role. DDT slipped Cuccinelli into a newly invented “principal deputy director” position to carry out his nefarious activities for at least two years as “acting” and not requiring confirmation.

Cuccinelli’s competitor, Kris Kobach, is even crazier than Cuccinelli. A few weeks ago, Kobach was a media joke for the demands he made for being “immigration czar”: access to a government jet 24 hours a day; an office in the West Wing; a staff of seven; walk-in privileges with DDT; Assistant to the President rank with commensurate high pay; security detail; face of DDT’s immigration policy; guaranteed weekends off for family time; orders that secretaries of DHS, Defense, Justice Ag, Interior, and Commerce immediately follow his directives without question; and the promise that he would be appointed DHS Secretary by November. Kobach wrote anti-immigration laws, used faulty computer software to suppress the vote, and acted as adviser to the even crazier former Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

To suppress the U.S. vote, Kobach led DDT’s “election” commission, disbanded in 2018. The same year, Kobach lost his run for Kansas governor to a female Democrat—in Kansas! Now he’s considering a run for U.S. senator after Pat Roberts plans to not run again. Republicans are so unhappy about the possibility that National Republicans said they will “make sure he doesn’t make it past the primary.”

DDT seems to be bringing undocumented immigrants to the southern border in far greater numbers than President Obama. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) holds DDT responsible. In April, he said:

“I called up all the folks I’ve been working with on this, what’s going on. They said, well, there’s a couple of small reasons and one big reason. The small reasons are the elections in Guatemala and better bus travel from southern Mexico to northern Mexico. But the big reason? As Trump rants about the border, so many people are saying, ‘I’m in this terrible situation; if I’m going to go, I’d better go now.’ It’s all Trump-generated.”

Numbers at the southern border have increased since then. DDT advertises his wall and announces elimination of aid to Central America to improve the political and economic conditions. In 2014, U.S. aid to El Salvador drove down violent crime in the country, and migration dropped. Since then, climate warming and rainfall decrease eradicates corn crops in Honduras and loss of agriculture in Guatemala. DDT’s rejection of climate change and its problems will mean more “climate refugees.” He also may be causing worsening economic conditions in Central America forcing refugees as a rallying point for his 2020 election. Illegal immigration fell for eight years under a Democratic president before it steadily rose after the Republicans took over all three branches of government.

In DHS’ and privatization’s latest failure, photos of airport passengers and other personal data including license plate information collected by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have been stolen in computer hacking. The surveillance facial-recognition program, sold by Amazon, has thus far been proved to be faulty, especially for women and people of color. The private firm Perceptics, most likely the target of the attack, is part of an initiative to verify identities of all travelers at the border. Just another evidence of encroaching authoritarianism in the United States.  

November 5, 2013

Election 2013–Tea Party Loses

I voted last week although today is the official Election Day of 2013. Nothing much important—a city vote about building a new swimming pool and a county one about whether the county commission should be elected on a nonpartisan basis. My state has mandatory mail-in voting, so I vote any time within a couple of weeks before the deadline—unlike the rest of the nation except for Washington.

In Texas, lots of people, including the 90-year-old former House Speaker Jim Wright, were blocked at the polls because of the new voter ID law. Even the gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis was challenged when she went to vote. By some coincidence they are both Democrats.

While, the U.S. House of Representatives wallows in ennui and obstructionism, millions of people across the United States are setting trends with today’s election. Some of the results are almost sure before people go to the polls: abrasive Chris Christie got another term as New Jersey governor, and progressive Bill De Blasio became the first Democratic New York mayor in two decades. New Jersey may have wanted to want Christie, but they didn’t want his veto of the minimum wage. Voters overturned this veto to bring the minimum wage to $8.25, still lower than in many other states.

The nail-biter happened in Virginia where a far-right, anti-sodomy, anti-woman, pro-fraud Ken Cuccinelli lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a fundraiser who’s never held elected office. Not since 1977 has a governor in the sitting president’s party won a Virginia governor’s race. Extremist E.W. Jackson, vying for lieutenant governor, was called nothing but a sideshow but still pulled in 45 percent of the vote against Ralph Northam.

The office of attorney general still hasn’t been called with Democrat Mark Herring a few hundred of votes from “Cuccinelli’s clone,” as the conservative Washington Post called Mark Obenshaim. He has been behind not only the loss of jobs in Virginia but also the suppression of voters and establishment of “personhood” legislation to eliminate any abortions. He even attempted to force women to report miscarriages to the police. Another of his bills would allow campus groups to ban LGBT people.

When Cuccinelli’s ratings started to tank, he tried to have 57,000 voter names purged from the lists and succeeded in 38,000 cases. The state gave lists of purges to local registrars who were told to use their “best judgment” in deciding who to remove with no standards for reviewing the names. Registrars received the lists just a few days before Election Day, and at least two of the officials said they would wait until after today to start the process after finding a large percentage of mistakes. Even the purging wasn’t enough to stop the election of Democratic governor and lieutenant governor.

In mayoral business, financially beleaguered Detroit ended up with the first white mayor in the majority-black city since Roman Gribbs (1970-1974). The city’s finances are still controlled, however by Kevin Orr, the emergency manager who Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder appointed.

With 12 candidates for mayor, Boston elected Marty Walsh, supported by organized labor, after Tom Menino finished his 20-year run as the first non-Irish mayor since 1930. Minneapolis has almost three times that number, 35, on its ballot for mayor. No results planned until tomorrow.

Annise Parker, Houston’s first lesbian mayor, regained her position. Seattle has two Democrats running for mayor. At this time, State Sen. Ed Murray is ahead at 57 percent, but Washington mail-in votes will come in during the next several years. Murray led efforts to legalize gay marriage in the state and, if elected, would be Seattle’s first openly gay mayor.

Most of the 31 ballot measures in six states are fairly ho-hum. New York does have one that, if approved, would permit casinos state-wide and another that would allow a mining company to do its work in a “wild forever” preserve of Adirondack Park if they promise to put the land back when they’re finished. No results for those yet.

The most important initiative in the nation may be Measure 522 in Washington state that requires labeling on genetically-modified foods. A similar measure failed last year in California. The question in this vote is whether the big money will win. Of the $22 million fighting against the labeling, $550 came from Washington state residents. Even a win from the pro-labeling group could lead to a federal court challenge with the food industry’s claim that its rights are violated through “coerced speech.”

Over 90 percent of people in the U.S. want labeling of genetically-engineered foods, and Connecticut having passed a law to require this. Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire, are also considering similar bills. The industry promises people that these foods are safe but don’t allow the products’ independent test. Seeds are engineered to produce their own insecticide or survive treatment with an herbicide. For example, a farmer can spray their fields with Monsanto’s Roundup to kill the weeds but not the crop. The USDA is currently considering the approval of carcinogenic chemicals.

The 522 opposition claimed that grocery prices would increase because of the labeling which has been shown to be false. Virtually all the money for No on 522 came from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and five chemical and biotechnology corporations: Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Bayer, and BASF. These groups used an “Astroturf” strategy in publicizing donors to conceal the source of the donations. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that the sum is “the largest amount of money ever concealed in an election.”

A group called Moms for Labeling sued to find out GMA’s donors. After the suit was thrown out, Washington’s Attorney General filed his own suit. Public health watchdog Michele Simon, wrote that the secret fundraising actually broke the law because the tactic was specifically intended to “better shield individual companies from attack.”

With half the votes counted, the measure is down by about 10 percent. The next few days will show whether the $22 million paid off.

The GOP hopes that an early primary in Alabama sets the tone for those pitting far-right Republicans against Tea Party extremists. Big business funded anti-Tea Party Bradley Bryne who defeated Ted Cruz-loving Dean Young. The Tea Party isn’t giving up: yesterday Tea Party Leadership Fund Treasurer Dan Backer announced the group’s plan to target the 87 GOP congressmen who voted to stop the government shutdown with Tea Party candidates.

Smaller elections may cast larger ripples. For example, SeaTac voters may have approved a $15-an-hour minimum wage and sick days for workers. This would cover workers at Washington’s Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and nearby large hotels. Currently the state has the highest minimum wage at $9.19. And right now, the measure is winning!

Voters in South Portland (ME) failed to ban the flow of tar sands oil from western Canada to the city by 192 votes out of the 8,837 turnout. Businesspeople wanted the the thick, gooey oil; the opposition didn’t want its harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases. Its neighbor, Portland, approved legalized recreational marijuana for residents 21 and older. It is the first East Coast city do to so.

In Colorado, voters in 11 rural counties decided whether they wanted to secede from the state that has legalized LGBT civil unions and marijuana. One of these would like to join Wyoming, which would ruin the nice square look of that state. At this time, four counties rejected the proposal, four approved it, one has incomplete returns, and two others are saying how they voted. Even if the counties request secession, the state and Congress would have to approve a 51st state. Good luck on Congress approving anything these days!

In Whatcom County north of Seattle (WA), voters picked four county council candidates in an election that will determine the future of a proposed coal-export facility, which, if built would be the largest terminal facility like that on the West Coast. Environmentalists need at least four councilors to oppose permits for the facility, and, at this time, the election appears to be providing these opponents to the facility.

A great victory today, too, is the decision of the Illinois legislature to pass marriage equality. Gov. Pat Quinn has promised to sign the bill, making the state the 15th in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

What does today’s election tell the people in the United States? The Democrats have one more state governor, 21, compared to the 29 that the GOP has. The newest one defeated his opponent in spite of his strong belief in gun control. A Southern primary defeated a Tea Party member. Pot and same-sex marriage are becoming more accepted, and the climate issues might be getting closer to a win but not yet there—especially with corporation money pouring into elections.

Chris Christie gave what sounded like the first campaign of his presidential campaign, especially when he said that he might not finish this term as governor of New Jersey. Most ironic was his bragging about the respect he has shown people, when one thinks about his bullying tactics toward anyone who might ask him questions. Either he’s moving forward or hoping that no one watches reruns of those videos.

And it’s 364 days until we do this again in November 2014.

October 21, 2013

Good News after the Shutdown

Recent news seems to be better than usual. We’re probably in a honeymoon period after the government re-opened and a few of the GOP members of Congress seem mildly chastened, but I’ll just enjoy what we have today.

Gov. Chris Christie has decided to stop fighting marriage equality in New Jersey. A judge ruled that same-sex couples could marry in that state this month—beginning yesterday, in fact—but Christie appealed the decision, asking for a stay of ceremonies until after the appeal. The judge turned him down, and the governor’s office submitted a formal withdrawal of the appeal to the state Supreme Court this morning. New Jersey is the 14th state to legalize marriage equality.

In my state of Oregon, the attorney general has ruled that the all government agencies in the state must recognize all legal out-of-state marriages, whether performed in other states or other countries. A campaign is still collecting signatures to put marriage equality on the ballot in 2014 by removing the ban from the state constitution. Over 100,000 signatures of the necessary 116,284 have already been gathered. Meanwhile two couples are suing the state to legalize marriage equality. Suits are popping up in several other states that discriminate against gay and lesbian marriage.

Opinion about the GOP has not faired well with the aftermath of the government shutdown. A new survey from Pew Research shows that unfavorable views of the Tea Party have doubled in the past three years from 25 percent in 2010, when the extremists took over the House of Representatives, to 49 percent last week. Only 30 percent of the people have a favorable view of the group that shut down the government for 16 days.

Tea Party

A majority of Americans also think that the GOP control of the House is bad for the country, and even more want House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) replaced. The 54 percent who oppose the GOP rule is up over 25 percent from the 43 percent in December 2012, the last fiscal standoff. Another 63 percent want Boehner replaced.

An NBC/WSJ shows that 24 percent of people approve of the GOP, a record low. Gallup, usually more positive than other surveys, found only 28 percent approval of the GOP. Congress has a 12 percent approval rating with 86 percent of the respondents disapproving, according to the CNN/ORC International poll. President Obama’s ratings haven’t changed since last June, and 44 percent are more confident that he can handle problems facing the U.S., compared to the 31 percent who think that the GOP can. Another 21 percent expressed no confidence in both that the president and the GOP.

For a month the Internet has been reporting the possibility of Democrats taking back the House. I have serious doubts because of the heavy gerrymandering done in the majority of the GOP-controlled states, but this idea keeps popping up. A new survey of 25 GOP-held districts shows dwindling favorability for Republican members of the House in the wake of the recent government shutdown, indicating excellent chances for a Democratic candidate.

In ten of these districts, the incumbent Republican is trailing a generic Democrat. Adding this survey to previous ones, generic candidates lead in 27 of 61 GOP-held districts. When voters were informed their Republican candidate supported the government shutdown, 11 more districts flipped, and one race became a tie. The Dems would have to add 18 seats to the existing 200 in order to achieve control of the House. Unfortunately, voters have very bad memories, but bad behavior in January and February with the possibility of another shutdown might renew a negative impression of the GOP legislators.

Negative press may be the reason that Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR), who came in with fellow Tea Partiers less than three years ago, has announced that he will not seek re-election. As usual, he used the family responsibilities. Griffin is a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and a nonpartisan report rates his district as “safe Republican.” Griffin was Karl Rove’s protege of Karl Rove and appointed as an interim U.S. attorney in Little Rock in 2006 after a scandal in which several U.S. attorneys were fired by the administration. He was never confirmed by the Senate and later resigned the position.

Another interesting race is for Kentucky senator. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is being attacked by the Tea Party on one side and Democratic candidate Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes on the other. She has run a tough campaign thus far with her infamous description of Congress: “The GOP has come to stand for gridlock, obstruction and partisanship. If doctors told Senator McConnell he had a kidney stone, he’d refuse to pass it.”

McConnell tried to pick up some points during the government shutdown by negotiating with Harry Reid and then announcing that this can never happen again. The final continuing appropriations resolution also provided his state with a $3 billion earmark. Yet Grimes’ one-point lead doubled during the shutdown to 45-43 as 60 percent of the people in the state opposed the government closures. The Affordable Care Act, which McConnell vehemently opposes, has been very successful in Kentucky.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is still looking good in the Tea Party despite his determination to eliminate the Affordable Care Act at all costs. Time, a publication popular with conservatives, announced that he “potentially violated ethics rules by failing to publicly disclose his financial relationship with a Caribbean-based holding company during the 2012 campaign.” When he was caught in 2013, he reported the financial relationship by amending his mandatory financial disclosure documents but is now being forced to submit a second amended disclosure after an inquiry by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.

When good news comes out of the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s usually because they have refused to hear a case. Last week justices said they wouldn’t review a decision that upheld the Maryland gun law requiring residents to demonstrate a “good and substantial reason” to get a permit to carry a handgun outside their own home or business. The state is one of six “may issue” states mandating this reason. Maryland law does not recognize a vague threat or general fear as an adequate reason for obtaining a permit. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law.

Maryland residents can carry a gun at their home or business or while hunting with no permit. The new Maryland law that went into effect at the beginning of October will most likely be the subject of court cases. One of the nation’s tightest gun laws, it bans 45 types of assault weapons, though people who owned the weapons before the new law was passed are allowed to keep them. People must also submit fingerprints to get a license to buy a handgun. That law is also being challenged in court.

Another court case that SCOTUS turned down comes from Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a candidate for governor, and his obsession with outlawing sodomy and oral sex. Ignoring the fact that SCOTUS struck down anti-sodomy laws ten years ago, Virginia kept the law on the books, and Cuccinelli wanted to use it to prosecute cases involving minors. Last July, Cuccinelli unveiled a website for the law and said that he planned to put it back on the books. He also blocked the Virginia legislature from changing the law to conform to the SCOTUS ruling.

The law, however, clearly includes all people, including adults, who engage in oral or anal sex, and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals deemed it unconstitutional.

Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial campaign isn’t very successful either, partly because of his close relationship to Ted Cruz. Last week’s poll shows the GOP candidate down seven points to Terry McAuliffe. A recent ad gives evidence of Cuccinelli’s role in shutting down the government. Virginia was the state most hurt by the federal shutdown. Another of Cuccinelli’s problems is the restrictive laws regarding women’s reproductive rights in the state that has frequently brought out protesters.

As Scarlet O’Hara said in Gone with the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day.” But for today, this news is good.

August 18, 2013

Fundamentalist Christians’ Creativity

Catholic leaders seem to oppose the rights of women much of the time, but Bishop Robert Lynch has attacked the “pro-life” Population Research Institute (PRI) because of the lies it spreads about Catholic Relief Services (CRS).  In addressing PRI’s accusations that the CRS fails to adhere to Church policy by actively promoting contraception, Lynch wrote:

“From time to time, I suspect when these organizations need money, they try to stir up a hornet’s nest or storm by attacking a Catholic organization, usually falsely accusing them of being anti-life, pro-contraception, either pro or soft on abortion, etc., etc., etc. The storms start small enough and then occasionally grow in size. It’s simply a money-raising scheme with little regard for the human lives which they allege they seek to protect–-well maybe it is only pre-born human life in which they are interested.”

After all this time, a Catholic bishop is complaining about fake “pro-life” organizations that are not opposed to the execution of a severely schizophrenic man on Florida’s death row for 34 years! In addition to ignoring capital punishment, these same organizations oppose avoid immigration reform and food aid.

Lynch also points out the lack of transparency in PRI which refuses to identify both the sources of its allegations and the members of its Board of Directors. He concludes by stating, “Keep on doing the good work of Christ and be an instrument of mercy to the world.”

The courts have come out in favor of “We the People” instead of “We the Christian People.” After issuing a temporary restraining order on Oklahoma’s proposed anti-Sharia constitutional amendment in 2010, Chief District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange of the Western District of Oklahoma, struck it down, preventing state courts from considering Islamic and international law. Her ruling stated that targeting a specific religion is unconstitutional and that the law attempts to fix a non-existent problem.

Educators are also winning in Kentucky where creationists and climate change deniers tried to put their stamp on school curriculum.  Despite the complaints that called members of the Kentucky Board of Education as “facist” and “atheistic,” the board approved new science standards to reinforce the teaching of evolution and climate science. Despite being told that they promoted “socialistic” thinking that leads to “genocide” and “murder,” the board declared that evolution is the “fundamental, unifying theory that underlies all the life sciences.” Scientific thought in Kentucky is not home free yet, however, because the board’s changes much at approved by the legislature’s education committees.

Fundamentalist Christians are concerned that children raised in a literal belief of the Bible will be marginalized, leading to physiological harm in the classroom and then on to the genocide and murder. There seems to be no concern about marginalization of children who believe in facts. Baptist minister Matt Singleton told the board that the lie of evolution has led to drug abuse, suicide and other social afflictions. He referred to the curriculum as “the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution.”

After kids learn about evolution in school, they will be confused when they go to the Creation Museum, partially funded by $40 million from the state of Kentucky.  There may be pleas for further funding because the Kentucky museum, opened in 2007 by the Australian-founded Answers in Genesis, has started losing attendance, down 40 percent last year from the year it opened.

For those unfamiliar with this “museum,” it purports to prove that the Bible is correct, that Earth was created as is 6,000 years ago and that people lived here at the same time as dinosaurs. (Fact check: dinosaurs died about 65 million years ago, and humans as we know them didn’t appear until 250,000 to 400,000 years ago.)

creation museum

 

Because of religious indoctrination, about 46 percent of Americans think God created humans in their present form while 32 percent say God helped humans evolve. Only 15 percent think that evolution is a natural process. According to the museum, “God made Adam and Eve on the same day as land animals” and “Before man’s Fall, animals were vegetarians.” Kids’ T-shirts say “On the Sixth Day, God Created Dinosaurs!”

Both the museum and creationist author and filmmaker Darek Isaacs believe that dragons actually lived thousands of years ago. Dragons are compared to Satan in the Book of Revelations, and according to Isaacs, God wouldn’t include them without factual basis. Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis-U.S., added that dinosaurs were with humans on Noah’s Ark.

With Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) leaving the Senate, Georgia Republicans are distressed about the crop of GOP candidates, including Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), who might lose the seat to the Democrats in an increasingly Democratic state with a fast-growing youth and minority voting population. Broun is known for declaring in his church that evolution and the big bang theory “lies straight from the pit of hell” and common refers to Obama as a socialist.

Broun’s beliefs may force his opponents into a hard right position where the winner will be stuck for the general election. Two days after he introduced a “no amnesty” bill barring any legal status for undocumented immigrants, his opponent, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) sent a campaign email with the subject line “stopping tax credits for illegal immigrants.” A leading opponent, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), claimed that Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) horrific remarks about rape and abortion were “partly right.” The Georgia politician/obstetrician apparently believes that women cannot get pregnant without “legitimate rape.” Gingrey later apologized for this statement, but the Internet never forgets.

The GOP hopes to pick up six Republican seats to take over the Senate; losing the Senate seat in Georgia would give them a severe blow.

In less than three months, Virginia will elect a new governor. One of their choices wants to change the commonwealth constitution to let religious schools get taxpayer funding. Currently Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli argues that this current ban on funding for religious schools is the result of “anti-Catholic bigotry in American politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” Virginia won’t have to write its own legislation: Cuccinelli is taking the wording from over 1,000 right-wing ALEC-developed models that also promoted voter suppression and “Stand Your Ground” laws. Another of Cuccinelli’s plans is to reinstate an anti-sodomy law.

In a decision regarding city ordinances, San Antonio (TX) will decide whether it will add protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and veteran status in a vote on September 5, 2013. The religiously-inspired crowd of over 200 people led by several pastors repeatedly booed Eric Alva, a gay veteran who was the first Marine seriously injured in the Iraq War, when he spoke in favor of these changes. Alva lost his right leg when stepping on a landmine.

ModernFamilyFundamentalist Doug Sehorne of South Carolina suffered a great shock when he discovered that the cover of his most recent book, presenting literal lessons from the King James Bible, has a photo taken from Modern Family.  One of the quotes in Bible Principles of Child Discipline (from the Book of Proverbs) provides the instruction from Proverbs 23:13-14:  “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”

For those who don’t follow sit-coms on television, Modern Family follows three families, one of them a gay couple—Mitch and Cameron—with an adopted daughter, Lily. None of the characters in the series has shown any proclivity toward beating children, and Sehorne has written on his Facebook page that the program is a “wicked TV show involving a gay couple.” Although he has pulled the book from amazon.com where he was selling e-copies, the cover exists on the never-forgetting Internet.

Bryan Fischer, American Family Association spokesman, has moved redder than Republican states into the red of Russia. On a Voice of Russia interview, he praised the country for their violence toward LGBT people. In his Christian approach, Fischer said, “Homosexual behavior damages the body and soul. We love homosexuals enough to tell them the truth.” Russia has a new law that imprisons anyone who faintly supports the LGBT community, endangering the lives of athletes and others from the United States who attend the Olympics.

Fischer also accused President Obama being absent from the Situation Room during the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound and had his image Photoshopped into the picture only after he knew the mission was a success.

Situation-Room

It takes a lot of creativity to make this stuff up! The people who fabricate supporting statements for their falsehoods could probably make a fortune in advertising—unless they’re already paid well by the churches’ money from taxpayers.

May 23, 2013

Virginia Sets Tone for GOP Crisis

The Virginia election for governor is over five months away on November 5, and the Democratic primary for their candidate is set for June 11. Yet the race is worth watching not only because of GOP stupidity but also because of the dissention between the conservatives who don’t  hide their anger and bigotry and the ones who know that showing this behavior might lose them elections.

In the case of the Virginia GOP selection for governor and lieutenant governor 2013 candidates, the stupidity comes from the Republicans decision to select these candidates through a convention of GOP activists, sure to pick an extreme-right winter, rather than letting people select candidates in a primary.

And what picks they are. People  shook their heads about Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli with his  extreme record for anti women’s and LGBT rights. He even challenged a court decision that ruled Virginia’s anti-sodomy law unconstitutional. Until last weekend, he represented the extreme right wing of the party. The selection of E.W. Jackson for  lieutenant governor, however, moves Cuccinelli toward the center.

Scott Keyes wrote:

“If you were to put the dregs of conservative Internet comment sections into a pot, boil them down to their essence, then run the resulting product through a sieve to get it to its rawest, most pure form of vitriol, it would probably look something like E.W. Jackson’s Twitter feed.”

Keyes also picked 20 of Jackson’s 662 tweets to show the man’s nature. One of them said that LGBT people make him feel “ikky.”

Jackson

Jackson is notorious for his off-the-wall—one might say unhinged–statements:

Gays and lesbians: Jackson said that they have “perverted” minds, are “very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally,” and are bigoted against African Americans and Christians. […]”

Homosexuality: “It attempts to poison our children, divide them from their parents and the teaching of the church and basically turn them into pawns for that movement so that they can sexualize them at the earliest possible age.”

Gays and lesbians in the military: The “repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ law is a disaster of historic proportions and it must be reinstated.”

President Obama: He has “Muslim sensibilities” and sees the world “from a Muslim perspective.” Also he “seems to have a lot of sympathy for even radical Islam” and “certainly does have a lot of affection and favor for Islam, that seems to be his priority…Christianity, I don’t really think about that with him, I really don’t, that’s a joke.”

President and Michelle Obama: President Obama and the First Lady “don’t understand our country, I don’t think they even like it,” warning that the Obamas are “the intellectual cousins and heirs of a Communist, collectivist way of thinking which is anathema to what this country is all about.”

Democrats: The party embraces a policy agenda “worthy of the Antichrist.” He’s argued that the “repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ law is a disaster of historic proportions and it must be reinstated.”

Democratic leaders: They are like “slave masters” who make sure that black people who disagree with them are “punished.”

Liberals: Those who support gay rights “have done more to kill black folks” than the “Ku Klux Klan.”

Planned Parenthood: “The Democrat Party has created an unholy alliance between certain so-called civil rights leaders and Planned Parenthood, which has killed unborn black babies by the tens of millions. Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.”

While he was running for Senate in 2011, Jackson called the Constitution’s original clause to count blacks as three-fifths of a person an “anti-slavery amendment.” The purpose of the clause was to increase voting and political power in the South while not giving slaves any rights. Jackson’s statement was directed against President Obama because of a sermon in the church that he attended. Arguing that it was inappropriate for the president to remain in a church where the pastor would bring up slavery, Jackson said, “This is 2011. The issue of slavery was settled 146 years ago.”

During his campaign last year, he said that God would turn the blacks “overwhelmingly” against the president. That’s the election in which President Obama received 95 percent of the black vote.

While a minister and attorney in Boston 25 years ago, he opposed desegregating public housing developments, calling it “social engineering.” After the federal government discovered that the city had prevented blacks from moving into this low-income housing, it ordered Boston to have a plan that would allow them into these developments. In a speech, Jackson said that he believed people should be allowed to live apart from other races and that he, too, didn’t like being told what to do.

When the interviewer asked Jackson if he felt he was being “used” by white politicians, Jackson said, “Well, the scripture says it’s a good thing to be used in a good cause.” With the GOP desperately searching for minorities, Jackson is again useful.

Jackson didn’t get the nod from the GOP conference until the fourth ballot. Last year, he came in fourth in his U.S. Senate campaign and received about 5 percent of the vote.

How do the less extreme Republicans feel about Jackson’s pick? Virginia Lt. Gov Bill Bolling said that the surprise GOP pick to succeed him had made “simply indefensible” comments in the past that would only serve to reinforce negative perceptions about the party.

Asked if Jackson was trouble, another senior Virginia Republican responded, “Oh. My. God. Yes.” The danger, the Republican said, is that Jackson will bring Democrats to the polls who might otherwise stay home. “You just don’t want one candidate to rile up the base of the other side. That’s what you’re trying to avoid.”

Cuccinelli can’t afford to alienate the people who put Jackson into his running-mate position, but he also can’t afford to be so extreme that he loses the more moderate vote. To effectively separate himself from Jackson, Cuccinelli issued this statement:

“We are not going to be defending our running mates’ statements, now or in the future. The people of Virginia need to get comfortable with each candidate individually, and that’s what this process is all about.”

Cuccinelli can afford to separate himself: in Virginia, the two top positions are decided separately so he still has a chance even if Jackson loses. Twenty years ago, Republican George Allen kept his distance from conservative homeschooling Mike Farris and won the governor’s position while Farris lost to a Democrat for lieutenant governor. The same kind of ticket splitting happened in 2005.

When questioned about his extreme views, Jackson said, “I say the things that I say because I’m a Christian, not because I hate anybody, but because I have religious values that matter to me.” He also calls himself “Virginia’s Hermann Cain.”

The Virginia election this fall is the symbol of the GOP crisis—the more common-sense Republicans working toward rebranding while the extremist Tea Partiers just let it all hang out. Virginia GOP spokesman Garren Shipley said, “The race for lieutenant governor will be fought on economic ground as opposed to social policy.” Time will tell.

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