Nel's New Day

May 8, 2013

On the Appalachian Trail

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:31 PM
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Yes, conservatives can be unreasonable, irrational, and ignorant. But Mark Sanford’s success yesterday still shocked me. Call me naïve. My first impulse was to just publish Andy Borowitz’s satire today. But the news surrounding the election  piqued my interest.

One encouragement is that even Republicans are not happy with the results of the election. John McCain’s daughter Meaghan McCain tweeted, “Really republicans? We’re gonna get behind Mark Sanford and claim gay couples will ruin marriage. This is why young people don’t vote GOP!!!” That didn’t come as a big surprise because she’s always evidenced moderate tendencies.

Another tweet reported that Gabriel Gomez distanced from Sanford, saying he “seems pathetic,” calls him “career politician,” should “get a real job.” Of course, this is the Massachusetts candidate who is trying to replace former Democratic Sen. John Kerry so he would work on the moderate side.

But Erick Erickson wrote, “Sanford was no fan of the House GOP leadership before the NRCC pulled the plug. This is about to get even more fun.” Author of Red State blog, Erickson is also a recent Fox News addition.

USA Today wrote:

“Republican Mark Sanford won South Carolina’s congressional special election Tuesday, but the results may not conclude the drama of a disgraced former governor on the outs with his own party.

“Sanford’s quest for public and political redemption after an extramarital affair succeeded with voters Tuesday, who returned him to a congressional seat he left in 2001. Sanford will fill the seat vacated when Rep. Tim Scott was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January.

“On Thursday, however, Sanford will appear in a televised court hearing to answer a charge of trespassing from his former wife. Then he’ll head to Washington, where he made few friends during his previous three terms in office bucking the Republican leadership.”

[Note: Sanford has escaped the court appearance.]

Conservative Washington, D.C. publication The Hill wrote:

“Boehner on Tuesday morning suggested that he was less than thrilled about Sanford’s potential return to the House. And while the Speaker tweeted out a quick “congrats” to Sanford with the hash-tag #jobs, a comment from his spokesman following the results was less than a bear-hug.”

Showing the antagonism to come, Sanford’s close friend, South Carolina state Sen. Tom Davis (R), tweeted, “Sorry, NRCC. We won anyway.” Not exactly the way to show consensus on GOP ideals even if the party did abandon Sanford before the election. Even two of his new colleagues, Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan endorsed one of Sanford’s primary opponents. Both the representatives are South Carolina Republicans.

In his column entitled “Sanford’s Comeback Gives Hope to Liars,” Borowitz wrote:

“Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s stunning upset in a special congressional election on Tuesday served as an inspiration to liars across the state and beyond, prominent members of the lying community said tonight.

“’In America, liars are always made to feel bad about ourselves, as if what we’re doing is wrong,’ said Harland Dorrinson, fifty-seven, a liar from suburban Charleston. ‘Mark Sanford’s victory tonight is a victory for the lying lifestyle.’

“Carol Foyler, thirty-six, a liar from Myrtle Beach, echoed those sentiments: ‘For the millions of dishonest children across America, tonight Mark Sanford has given them hope that someday, they can be somebody.’

“At his victory rally in Charleston, the former governor acknowledged the liars in the audience and said that his victory sent an important message: ‘Every lie, no matter how big or small, has value.’

“’As your Governor, I abused your trust. And as God is my witness, as your congressman, I will abuse it again,’ he said, to thunderous applause.

“Mr. Sanford, who had been behind in the polls in the waning weeks of the race, owed much of his last-minute surge to the support of the lying community, exit polls showed.

“According to those exit polls, Mr. Sanford held a three-to-one lead among voters who described themselves as liars, cheaters, or sleazebags.

“Furthermore, the polls showed, those same voters felt that Mr. Sanford’s opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, did not have the lying experience necessary to serve in Congress.”

There we have the GOP legacy for generations to come.

Politico wrote that Sanford’s win is an inspiration to Anthony Weiner, who resigned his position as U.S. representative after a scandal and is now considering a run for the position of New York mayor.

Comedian and political commentator John Fugelsang noted Sanford’s vote to impeach Bill Clinton because of his extramarital affair. “But [Sanford] did the right thing. He told us that Jesus forgave him, and said mean things about Nancy Pelosi and Obamacare, proving that it’s OK to be a horrible Christian, as long as you’re a good Christian,” Fugelsang said. “Our politicians believe Darwin was wrong, and we here in South Carolina are here to prove it,” Fugelsang concluded.

T. Steelman wrote:

“[Republicans] elect adulterers, criminals, liars and morons to a government they claim to despise. They blatantly fight anything the president proposes, even if it was their own idea. They refuse to do anything to help the U.S. economy recover. They act like they won in 2012 even though the numbers tell a different story. They have shown, time and again, that they have no concept of things like integrity, compassion, honesty or intelligence. They elect people who trample those ideals underfoot as easily as they breathe.”

Immorality aside, Sanford was named one of the worst governors in the country by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics while the Cato Institute named him the best. He bragged about refusing stimulus funding—free money—despite the extreme poverty of South Carolina. He flew first and business class at taxpayer expense as governor, a violation of state law. He claimed to get his hair cut at Supercuts, but he flew on a state plane to get that haircut. He also used taxpayer money to sneak off to Argentina to visit his mistress while he left his state without any legal leadership.

The winners in the Sanford debacle are the comedians: they’ll have fodder for years. And his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, who gets $5,000 for court costs and fees with the promise that he won’t trespass in her house any more. We’ll see if he lives up to this agreement.

May 7, 2013

GOP, the Party of Ignorance

Mark Sanford lied to the people of South Carolina when he was governor by leaving the state ungoverned for five days while he visited his mistress, spent taxpayer funds to go there, broke the law by trespassing in the home of his ex-wife, published the telephone numbers of people who called him, and showed other instances of unethical behavior. This is the candidate who has just been elected to the District #1 of South Carolina, defeating Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler, called Sanford “America’s great sex pioneer,” and said in his endorsement of the candidate, “Mark Sanford has demonstrated by his words and deeds that traditional values are shameful and that he will not live by such rules.” And now the conservatives of South Carolina have chosen a “sex pioneer,” who demonstrates “that traditional values are shameful” to represent them.

Joining a group of hypocrites and downright ignorant GOP lawmakers in Congress, Mark Sanford was able to run for his new position after Gov. Nikki Haley (R) appointed Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) to senator after Jim DeMint (R) left to head up the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation. Arriving in Washington on the Tea Party wave of 2010, Scott’s actions demonstrate what we have come to expect from conservatives:

  • Impeach President Obama because the conservatives claimed that the debt ceiling is an unconstitutional infringement on the 14th Amendment.
  • Cut off food stamps for a family if one member goes on strike—no exceptions for children or other dependents.
  • Spend an unlimited amount of taxpayer money to display the Ten Commandments outside a county building in Charleston to “remind council members and speakers the moral absolutes they should follow.”
  • Protect over $50 billion in oil subsidies at the same time that oil companies are raking in tens of billions in profit every quarter.

Although South Carolina has only six Congressional districts, one-sixth of those in Texas, the state seems to be cornering part of the market on crazy. Last week, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) introduced a bill to bar the U.S. Census Bureau from conducting almost all surveys except for its decennial population count. If this were to pass, President Obama couldn’t be criticized for the unemployment rate: the bill removes statistics for that. Businesses, researchers, academics, and government agencies would lose information about commuting, income, family structure, education, housing, and finance. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) proposed making part of the this survey optional. Actually, they already are.

Duncan’s proposal, with 10 co-sponsors, would also eliminate the agricultural census, economic census, government census, and mid-decade census. Also lost would be the measurement of the nation’s GDP. Duncan has other bizarre positions, some of them about the Boston bombing, which led the patient Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to say that his ignorant inquiries were “full of misstatements and misapprehensions,” and “not worthy of an answer.”

In an attempt to keep up with South Carolina, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced a bill, ironically called the “High Quality Research Act,” to mandate that any research using federal funds—and there’s lots of that in the United States—must have its results and findings approved by the House Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. If those House representatives don’t agree to the findings, then the research is removed from those who performed the studies and then disposed of. Smith claims that “the intent of the draft legislation is to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent on the highest-quality research possible.” With a couple of college science courses, he also sees himself as a “peer” to the researchers.

Smith voted to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, voted no several times on tax credits for renewable energy and incentives for energy production and conservation, voted against raising fuel efficiency standards, and rejected implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. In addition, he denies that climate change has been caused by humans. Chair of the science committee, he is its most moderate GOP member.

Several senators joined in the conspiracy theory that Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) announced on MSNBC about the Obama administration deliberately orchestrating airline delays. “The administration is clearly manufacturing a crisis for political gain,” Toomey said. The short term fix for air-traffic controller furloughs comes out of airport repair and improvement, a move which will start long-term delays in a few years.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has brought back the disgusting term “anchor babies.” While discussing immigration reform at a town hall meeting last week, he insisted on border control before allowing undocumented immigrants a “probationary” status. Ryan wants to change the constitution so that people don’t come into the United States and have children. “That’s what they call it, anchor babies.”

During the same town hall meetings, Ryan suffered serious memory lapses. When an EPA worker talked about losing thousands in his income because of the sequester, the House Budget Committee Chairman blamed the president for the sequester, failing to remember that he bragged about the GOP getting legal caps on spending with the sequester. His excuse now is that the president won’t promote Ryan’s budget plan. Ryan, however, failed to tell the EPA employee that the Ryan budget plan guts the EPA.

Governors aren’t exempt from ignorant prejudice. In Pennsylvania where Tom Corbett (R) has low job approval ratings and economic recovery, he tried to explain why his state is 49th in the nation for job creation last March. “There are many employers that say we’re looking for people but we can’t find anybody that has passed a drug test, a lot of them.” His state has a pilot program that requires drug testing for those convicted of felony drug offenses who apply for welfare. In the past 15 months, only two people have failed these tests.

Also on the state level, California GOP Assembly President Celeste Greig voiced agreement with Todd Akin’s infamous “legitimate rape” comment:

“Granted, the percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it’s an act of violence, because the body is traumatized. I don’t know what percentage of pregnancies are due to the violence of rape. Because of the trauma the body goes through, I don’t know what percentage of pregnancy results from the act.”

California is not as understanding as other states: the Assembly voted her out, but only by six votes.

North Carolina State Senator Tommy Tucker summarized how the GOP feels about the people in the United States. A recent bills that he pushed through committee is to not inform people with important government decisions through omitting the requirement that the government publish legal notices about these decisions—such as a sewage plant in the neighborhood. Questioned by the Charlotte Observer about his bill, Tucker said:

“I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.”

This is where the United States is going these days—everyone should just be quiet.

[Note: The Republican Party has removed the word “Republican” from its website: now it’s just NRCC. Currently in their attempt to attract minorities, it has an article called “The History about Cinco de Mayo That You Might Not Know.”  The article headlined “Nancy Pelosi: The Least Liked Person in Congress” is actually about only the four Congressional leaders. Rep. Pelosi (D-CA) is actually tied with House Speaker John Boehner at 31 percent favorability. Always interesting to see how the GOP—excuse me, the NRCC—twists and tortures the facts.]

May 1, 2013

ALEC, GOP Want Bangladeshi Model

It’s International Workers’ Day, the commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago when people protested for the eight-hour workday. When someone threw a bomb at the police trying to disperse the assembly, they fired into the crowd and killed four of the demonstrators.

Also this week, ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is having its “Spring Task Force Summit” to organize legislatures against not only workers but everyone else except the wealthy. Corporations give so-called lawmakers already-prepared legislation to take back to their states with the purpose of eliminating workers’ rights, public education, and environmental and consumer protections. Other ALEC laws suppress voter rights, lower corporate tax rates, and undermine food safety through “ag gag” laws. Of course, the elected officials present this legislation as their own, hiding the fact that corporations drafted the bills.

Sitting on all nine ALEC task forces, corporations such as Koch industries fund ALEC and are equal members to the legislators who take away 1,000 bills each year. Twenty percent of these make it into law for unsuspecting state residents. Spinning itself as “transparent,” ALEC keeps its organization invisible, refusing to release its agendas.

Wisconsin state Sen. Leah Vukmir, an ALEC Board Member, is on the ALEC National Board of Directors, until recently chaired the ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force, and was the ALEC State Chair for Wisconsin. Last October she wrote an op-ed, “In Defense of ALEC,” that was published in Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel.

In response to an open records request for all ALEC-related records relating to the Oklahoma meeting, however, Vukmir’s office replied that they do “not have any documents that are responsive to your request.” Yet a Texas legislator released an ALEC email with a link to its Health and Human Services Task Force agenda that Vukmir had led in the past.

ALEC avoids direct email in communicating model bills and meeting agendas. Instead, it provides a link to an Internet drop box for access to documents. The link expires in 72 hours. Thus the Texas legislator provided the email but not the contents of the ALEC’s folder, despite the fact that the request for information specifically asked for that information.

Last year, the Center for Media and Democracy filed a lawsuit against five Wisconsin legislators for hiding from the open records law by using a personal email account, such as gmail or yahoo, for ALEC correspondence. As part of the settlement, legislators, who agreed that they had failed to release ALEC-related emails, promised that they would in the future.

Missouri is another state sympathetic to ALEC and its corporations. At least 60 legislators belong to ALEC, and over 40 bills have come from ALEC model bills. These include so-called right to work laws which remove union rights, support for the Keystone XL pipeline, acceleration for the privatization of public schools, and others that create legal and financial shields for corporations whose products injure or kill people.

Legislators financially benefit from ALEC “scholarships:” corporate-funded gifts of flights, meals, and hotel rooms for those who attend ALEC meetings.  ALEC provided South Dakota legislators over $4 million in scholarships, while state taxpayers were charged hundreds of thousands of dollars for legislators’ ALEC memberships and trips to ALEC meetings. In turn, ALEC gave state residents the “Stand Your Ground” law that increased homicides in states by 8 percent and climate change denier education in the schools.

ALEC benefits in North Carolina from millionaire Art Pope, the state’s budget director, who also funds state campaigns for legislators who will provide giveaways to corporations. His latest project is “tax reform” giving cuts to the wealthiest 20 percent and increasing taxes for the bottom 60 percent. Thus a person making $24,000 would pay an additional $500 whereas a $1-million earner could get a $41,000 decrease.

By supporting what they call “free enterprise” or the “free market,” ALEC supports what I could call the “Bangladesh model.” Hundreds of Banglideshi workers die because of burning or falling to their death in substandard buildings. Through the destruction of regulations, worker safety, living wages, and human rights, ALEC will bring these same disasters to the United States.

GOP lawmakers want “labor reforms” to support “free trade,” increasing exports. Nations can use one of two ways to be competitive in exporting: either develop a more skilled workforce or slash working class wages. In their anti-education approach, the GOP has decided that the latter is far more effective. The result is worsening recessions, which makes the GOP try to further slash wages in a frantic “race to the bottom.” Out of this race, the laws create crime as corporations refuse to pay not only overtime but also the wages that they have already promised.

ALEC claims to “foster the discussion and debate of policy differences in an open, transparent way” and boasts of being an “open exchange of ideas.” Both the press and average citizens, however, are barred from ALEC meetings. A petition is circulating to disseminate information about ALEC.

While ALEC provides regressive bills to GOP legislators, conservatives in  South Carolina are having trouble replacing former Republican Tim Scott with another conservative. Mark Sanford, infamous for exposed trip to Argentina to visit his mistress and the ensuing divorce mess, continues to look like a fool.

AshleyMadison.com, a website that connects users looking to have casual affairs, spent only $6,000 for this billboard featuring Sanford’s photograph on I-26 that gets almost 60,000 cars daily.

sanford_billboard_ashleymadisoncom_605

The major GOP organizations may have abandoned Sanford, but Freedomworks, the conservative PAC that its founder Dick Armey left in disgust, gave $7,000 for yard signs and door hangers. The anti-abortion group National Right to Life added a bit more money for mailers and fundraising calls. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is having a fundraiser tonight. And both Pauls, Sen. Rand (R-KY) and former Rep. Ron (R-TX) have endorsed Sanford.

The elder Paul also endorsed Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) for senate. Last year Broun declared that “evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory” are all “lies straight from the pit of hell.” Broun is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He has compared President Obama to Hitler and said that the president was interested only in upholding the “Soviet constitution.”

My favorite endorsement of Sanford, however, comes from Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, who praised him as “the sex pioneer of our time.”

Flynt added:

“Sanford’s open embrace of his mistress in the name of love, breaking his sacred marriage vows, was an act of bravery that has drawn my support. His attack on sexual hypocrisy is the only issue in this campaign. It is what defines Mark Sanford. Placing sex at the top of the agenda, he continues his courageous fight, demanding forgiveness while brazenly hugging his mistress at campaign parties.”

Of Sanford’s supporters, Flynt said,

“They have the courage to toss aside lifelong convictions to embrace the sex pioneer of our time. They have rejected the religious teachings of their Bible-thumping preachers and tossed the false sanctity of marriage into the trashcan. Sanford’s fellow pioneers are teaching their children the invaluable lesson that traditional values are nothing more than a scam.”

I love the dilemma in South Carolina this coming Tuesday. Do conservatives vote for a symbol of  free sex or—horrors—a Democrat.

[Update: In a final act of desperation, conservatives have started a smear campaign against Sanford’s opponent with not one shred of truth to it. People claiming to be from SSI polling are calling homes with bogus questions such as “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she had had an abortion?”; “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if she had done jail time?”; and “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you a judge held her in contempt of court at her divorce proceedings?” There’s no validity to any of these veiled accusations, but that doesn’t stop conservatives.]

April 27, 2013

What’s Missing from Main-Stream Media, April 2013

While the main-stream media concentrates on the Boston bombing, here are a few items that they missed or slighted:

Mark Sanford: The former governor from South Carolina running for representative who said that he was hiking the Appalachian trail for five days while he visited his mistress in Argentina and trespassed in his ex-wife’s home after he was ordered not to do so had arrived at a new low. After the trespass was made public, he ran a full-page ad in the Charleston Post & Currier with his personal cell phone number, asking people to call him “if you have further questions.” A Democratic-aligned super PAC, House Majority PAC, included the number in a fundraising email. In retribution, Sanford published an unredacted list of all his callers’ phone numbers.

The candidate has become increasingly peculiar in his actions. Although he’s running against Elizabeth Colbert Busch, he had a debate with a full-size cardboard poster of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in Charleston. The image brings back the memories of Clint Eastwood and an empty chair at the GOP convention last summer.

Sanford debates poster

Colorado Voting Bill Mailer: Images caused problems for other conservatives, this time a group connected to Colorado’s Secretary of of State. The House has passed a voting bill to improve the state’s laws. It would allow people to register on Election Day, automatically send mail ballots to all voters, and stop fraud through a real-time voter database. Republican county clerks and Secretary of State Scott Gessler oppose the bill. Using the address of Gessler’s former firm, the “Citizens for Free and Fair Elections” have sent out political mailers using a purchased image.

Colorado mailer light skin

There is a change in the image, however, from the original. The dark-skinned face of a woman in the original photo by Mark Wilson (Getty Images) to show long voting lines in Montgomery County (VA) were in 2012 has been digitally replaced in the mailer with the photo of another woman who is much lighter skinned.

Getty dark skinn

Fox Latino friendlyFox News: In an attempt to appear “Latino friendly,” Fox News used a positive photograph featuring a Latina to illustrate its article headlined “‘Illegal Immigrant’ Dropped from Associated Press Stylebook.” Including quotes from racial justice organization The Applied Research Center, which publishes Colorlines.org, the article discussed the controversy referred to the term “illegal immigrant” as “controversial.”

But that was in Fox News Latino; FoxNews.com highlighted the story on its front page with a different photo and headline. The headline was switched to “AP Rules: Don’t Call Him an… ‘ILLEGAL?'”

fox Latino unfriendly

Later the headline was changed to “What’s in a Name? AP under Criticism for Nixing ‘Illegal Immigrant,'” but the photo stayed—just a bit smaller.

Mark Zuckerberg: Worth $13.1 billion following his creation of Facebook, Zuckerberg has agreed with the importance of changing from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. Now his new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, is spending big bucks on ads advocating anti-environmental causes including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It’s all in the name of business.

John-Mica_2-e1366991056439Washington, D.C.: The best piece of authoritarian patriarchy came last week from Rep. John Mica (R-FL). The topic was Washington, D.C., always at the mercy of Congressional whim, and its budget autonomy. Recently the city voted in favor of this by 85 percent. Unless both chambers of Congress pass a disapproval resolution which would then have to be signed by the president, the over 600,000 people in this city can decide how they spend the money that they pay into the city’s coffers.

Mica, a committee member who oversees the city’s budget, laughed at the vote and said:

“Well, when my kids were young teenagers, they always wanted budget autonomy too. But we always, you know, you allow them to go their own way, and if they get out of line, according to the Constitution, the Congress has the right to step in…As long as they are minding their P’s and Q’s, so to say, I think the government can back off. But we must remain vigilant.”

Pedro Ribeiro, Mayor Vincent Gray’s spokesman, responded to Mica, “Last time I checked, children don’t have a $6 billion local budget.”

Before he made this comment, Mica admitted the city’s finance management has vastly improved since the dissolution of a Congressional control board. After they took control of the House in 2010, the GOP tried to force the progressive district to outlaw abortion, reduce contraception access, sell more guns, block union membership, cut public transportation funds, and pay for private schools.

Washington, D.C., with almost the same population as North Dakota, has no representation in the Senate. Their one delegate in the House cannot vote on the floor. Its economy is larger than those of 14 states, and its residents pay $1.6 billion a year in federal taxes, more per capita than any state. Washington, D.C. is a prime example of taxation without representation that people fought to overturn almost 250 years ago.

Bangladesh Factory:  The most disastrous event of last week was the crumbling of the Rana Plaza building, housing a major Bangladeshi garment factory. Over 350 people have died, hundreds more are injured, and as many as 900 are still missing. This tragedy, the third in five months, is even worse than the fire at the Tazreen Fashion Factory last November that killed 112 garment workers.

The second-largest exporter of garments in the world, this country relies on garments for 80 percent of its exports. Duty free access offered by Western countries and low wages turned Bangladesh’s garment exports into a $19 billion a year industry. Sixty percent of the clothes go to Europe, 23 percent to the United States takes 23 percent, and another 5 percent to Canada. Gap, Walmart, and other retailers of cheap clothing have fought any reforms that could stop such disasters.

Bank employees in the building escaped the danger after a crack developed in the building because they were told to stay home the next day, but garment workers were ordered to return.

Two years ago, labor groups tried to get the factories and buyers to sign onto a plan that would establish independent inspections to replace the infrequent and often corrupt government inspections. Unsafe facilities could be shut down as part of legally binding contract signed by suppliers, customers, and unions. Companies would provide up to $500,000 per year to pay for the inspections.  All the companies—including Walmart, Gap, and Swedish clothing giant H&M—turned it down.

Walmart’s representative said it was “not financially feasible … to make such investments. Gap, which owns the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, said the company refused because it did not want to be vulnerable to lawsuits and did not want to pay factories more money to help with safety upgrades. H&M wants factories and local government to take on the responsibility.

After last year’s Tazreen blaze, the labor group tried again to get the independent inspector plan adopted, but the factories and the big brands would not agree. Siddiqur Rahman, former vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, denied the factories are responsible for killing the plan and blamed the buyers.

Companies claim that they do private audits. Those don’t work, according to a lobbyist for garment workers, because of their confidentiality. If a company pulls its business after safety problems, it won’t tell competitors who will continue to place orders which keeps the unsafe factory open.  Thus we continue to buy cheap and be complicit in killing hundreds of garment workers, almost all of them women.

April 20, 2013

GOP Politicians ‘Insensitivity’

A few days ago, my partner and I talked about how to describe Mark Sanford, candidate for the House of Representatives. She said “stupid,” and I thought perhaps “arrogant.” His words and actions are just another in the long line of  ignorant, clueless, naïve, self-serving, oblivious, dumb—the list goes on and on—statements from these people. For the sake of politeness, I’ll use the term “insensitive” to cover all these adjectives.

Back to Sanford. Most people in the country know him as the past governor of South Carolina who told people four years ago that he was hiking in the Appalachians to cover the fact that he had flown to Argentina for five days to visit his mistress. Public knowledge of his lies led to a rapid disintegration of his marriage and then a divorce. Nikki Haley became governor, and Sanford disappeared—for a while. This year, however, he is running for a House seat vacated by Tim Scott after Haley appointed him to Jim DeMint’s vacant seat.

Things looked pretty good for Sanford in his run against Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Until last week. The news that he had trespassed in his ex-wife’s house sent shock waves through his major donors from the NRCC to the Club for Growth, most of which dropped him like a hot potato. Yet the NRCC had no criticism for his illegal activities in entering a house without permission. They just said, “Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time the NRCC will not be engaged in the special election.”

What was Sanford’s excuse?

“I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14-year-old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened.”

So Sanford was worried about just the second half the game, he referred to his ex-wife’s place as “the” beach house, and she was in town because she caught him sneaking out the back door.

Even conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has thrown Sanford under the bus, attributing Sanford’s behavior to “hubris.” Skipping the fact that she blamed his problems on the fact that his wife didn’t stand by him, Parker’s conclusion is right on target:

“Sanford’s lack of empathy for his family, not to mention his impeachable judgment, should disqualify him from further public service, an opinion apparently shared by the Republican National Committee, which recently withdrew support for his candidacy.”

On May 7, the nation will find out if the voters of South Carolina prefer a stalking, law-breaking candidate rather to a Democrat

Sanford isn’t alone, however, in his “insensitivity.” The bombing in Boston brought out the worst in several high-profile lawmakers.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is a lawyer, Air Force Reserve colonel, and member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps who led the impeachment of President Clinton because he believes in the “rule of the law.” Now he wants the perpetrator of the Boston bombing to be “held as an enemy combatant.” Graham wants a U.S. citizen captured in the U.S. to be deprived of his basic constitutional rights. This is the same man who considers those who massacre large numbers of people with high-powered weapons to have mental issues.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) took Sean Hannity’s Fox show as fact when Steve Emerson reported that unnamed “sources” told him that the U.S. government was secretly deporting the Saudi national suspect in the bombing. Presenting this conspiracy theory as fact, he criticized Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a House hearing for doing this. When Napolitano said this wasn’t true, Duncan said, “He is being deported.” Duncan follows the conservatives of the United States when he gets all his information from the least reliable news network.

Even Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), usually a reasonable person, joined the insanity. She said, “Whenever we have an attack like this it’s difficult not to think that it’s somehow involved in Islamic extremism. I don’t have evidence to back that up. That’s just based on previous attacks.” Although it turned out that the two young men who allegedly set off the bombs are Muslims, there has been no “evidence” to show that it was connected to “Islamic extremism” any more than the mass murders by “Christians” were connected to “Christian extremism.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) argued, “We have people that are trained to act Hispanic when they are radical Islamists.” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) followed that up with trying the persuade people to drop the immigration bill that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented people. For him, one act of violence eliminates the possibility for anyone to again become a citizen in the United States except by birth.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told a national television audience on Tuesday that a “person of interest” in the Boston bombings “is in custody.” Law enforcement officials spent time explaining that he was wrong. McCaul also announced at a press conference that “we’ve been quite fortunate that this type of attack has not happened before in the U.S.” At the age of 51, McCaul could possibly be forgiven about the anarchist bombings in 1919 and 1920, including the wagon bomb that killed 38 people on Wall Street.

But where was he during the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the Unabomber in 1994, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the 1996 pipe bombs at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, the 1998 bomb at an Alabama abortion clinic in 1998, the 2000 arson attack at a Syracuse temple in 2000, the 18 pipe bombs planted in mailboxes in five states in 2002, the 2008 bomb at a military recruiting center in Times Square, the 2008 bomb at a San Diego courthouse, the 2008 fire bombs targeting researchers at UC Santa Cruz, and the 2011 attempted bombing of an MLK parade in Spokane. The last four happened since he became representative in 2005.

This last week was tragic in many ways, one of them the rejection by a minority of senators who managed to quell an amendment to require background checks for some people before purchasing weapons. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who voted against requiring background checks has a solution “to do more to curb the senseless acts of violence that continue to occur in this country.” His answer:

“One of the things we need are parents, parents to be more careful and more repetitive at telling their kids that it is not right to kill people. It’s not even right to bully them. And it’s definitely not right for them to kill themselves. Until we can get that message across to our kids, I hope that we don’t rely on a few votes by this body to make everybody feel comfortable that all the problem is taken care of.”

If Enzi is right, we don’t need him or any other lawmakers; we just teach kids to do the right thing. Wouldn’t that be grand!

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