Nel's New Day

January 2, 2014

Right-Wing Heroes of 2013

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

Sunday Show Guests

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

Who are other potential far-right heroes?

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

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

 

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

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

Liberal tears guns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mcdonalds_food

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

November 19, 2013

Crazy News from Ideologues from the Cheneys to Alabama Judges

Even with the GOP home for one of its frequent long recesses, far-right insanity swirls through the news. Anyone following the media, for example, could hardly have missed the actions of the dysfunctional Cheney family. In brief: Liz Cheney moved to Wyoming to run against incumbent GOP Sen. Mike Enzi. She came out in opposition to marriage equality. Sister Mary is legally married to Heather Poe. Mary’s and Liz’s father Dick, who supported marriage equality in the 2004 election for vice-president, defended Liz and called for “compassion.” Mary and Heather posted on their Facebook page that Liz’s lack of support for their marriage is “offensive to say the least,” suggesting that Liz changed her position to campaign against Enzi.

The sisters’ mother, Lynne Cheney, interfered in the campaign in September when she told former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) at a charity event that he should endorse Liz Cheney. He told her he chose Enzi and accused Cheney’s candidacy as dividing state GOP members. Mother Cheney yelled “just shut up” at him three times but later denied saying it. Simpson called her denial “a damn baldfaced lie.”

Simpson also said, “It isn’t as if Mike Enzi were a left wing commie. … He has the backing of [Texas Sen. Ted] Cruz and [Kentucky Sen. Rand] Paul.” It doesn’t go farther right than that—at least at the present time.

Dick Cheney entered the fray after Ezni told website The Daily Beast that he felt “blindsided” by the primary challenge from his old fishing-buddy’s daughter. His “buddy” answered by saying that he and Enzi had not been friends and were certainly not fishing buddies.

Cheney’s four-month campaign has had other problems. She had to pay a $220 fee for falsifying the length of time she had lived in Wyoming while applying for a fishing license. She said a decade; the state said 72 days. Cheney then attacked the Wyoming Star-Tribune for reporting the incident and its editor by name, declaring, “Newspapers are dying, and that’s not a bad thing.”

Another messy GOP situation comes from the University of Texas where the Young Conservatives of Texas planned a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game” on campus. Organizer Lorenzo V. Garcia was an intern for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and reportedly works for Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. The “game”:

“There will be several people walking around the UT campus with the label ‘illegal immigrant’ on their clothing. Any UT student who catches one of these ‘illegal immigrants’ and brings them back to our table will receive a $25 gift card.”

This is the same group that hosted a “bake sale” in September that included “special pricing” for customers based on their race and ethnicity. Photos showed the brownie prices:  whites, $2; Asians, $1.50; Latinos, $1; blacks, $.75 and Native Americans $.25. There was even a $.25 discount for all women. Again, Garcia was a leader in the activity. He explained that it was a protest against affirmative action.

bake sale

Another protest fell flat. Last month, Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch and Judicial Watch, asked millions of Americans to march on Washington, D.C. today with the intent to remove President Obama from office. Right-wing site BizPac reported that 40 groups showed up. The total number of people was approximately 100. At least, the weather was good.

Klayman6

With Thanksgiving nearing, a Walmart in Ohio set up a donation box in the employees’ workroom asking for donations to give “associates” a Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, Walmart made a profit of $15.7 billion, but its employees may not have enough food for Thanksgiving. The huge company has had shrinking profits for the past three quarters, however. Could it be because its employees can’t even afford to shop there because of their low wages?

Walmart

McDonalds has a solution for hunger on its “McResource” website for its workers: break food “into pieces” will keep them full. Other tips include “sing away stress” because it “can lower your blood pressure.” Those who are still stressed should take two vacations a year. Earlier McDonalds told workers to apply for food stamps. Federal minimum wage rate for their workers is $7.25 an hour; McDonalds makes billons annually.

Both Walmart and fast-food workers have been protesting their low pay, with thousands of people coming out in support. A bill, to be introduced in the House this week, would charge for protesting, at least against oil and gas companies. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) has proposed a bill that would mandate a $5,000 fee for protesting oil and gas drilling on public lands. Other provisions of the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act:

  • Automatically approve onshore drilling permits if the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) failed to act on them in 60 days;
  • Direct the DOI to begin commercial leasing for the development of oil shale, prohibited for over 80 years. Oil shale—unlike shale oil—has to be heated to almost 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to produce crude oil before it is refined. Each barrel of oil requires three to five barrels of water, and the Natural Resources Defense Council calls it “the dirtiest fuel on the planet.”
  • Require the government to offer 10 leases on federal lands in 2014 for oil shale research and demonstration projects.
  • Mandate the government to hold at least 5 commercial lease sales of federal lands for oil shale development, each no less than 25,000 acres, before 2016.

According to the NRDC, oil shale production would emit four times more carbon pollution than producing conventional gasoline.

George Zimmerman, well-known for killing Trayvon Martin almost two years and then being acquitted, is on bail after allegedly attacking his girlfriend twice within the past week. Yesterday, she said he pointed a shotgun at her face, pushed her out of the house, and then barricaded the door. The Florida judicial system likes Zimmerman a lot: his bail is $9,000. 

In Montana a judge gave a rapist only 30 days in prison. Austin Smith Clem of Limestone County (AL) did better than that: the convicted man gets no prison time at all. He only needs to complete a two-year community corrections program designed for nonviolent offenders and serve an additional three years of probation. At least the county district attorney has filed a motion asking for prison time.

Alabama law also allows judges override juries and impose the death penalty instead of life in prison. This week the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to this law. Alabama judges have imposed the death penalty 95 times, and 43 of the defendants are still on death row in Alabama. 

One judge, who sentenced to death a defendant with an IQ of 65, said “the sociological literature suggests Gypsies intentionally test low on standard IQ tests.” Another said, “If I had not imposed the death sentence, I would have sentenced three black people to death and no white people.”

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer disagreed with the Court’s decision. One study found that overrides significantly increased in election years. Of the 31 states that allow capital punishment, only three permit a judge to override a jury’s sentencing decision—Alabama, Delaware and Florida.

Thus we see the actions of elected legislators and judges who fail to protect the people of the United States out of personal ideology.

July 20, 2013

Arrival of ‘1984’ & More

As a news junkie, I love the odd pieces from around the country. The most amazing story of the week is that new technology permits cable companies to install cameras and microphones in their cable boxes that allow companies to watch people while they watch television. For a long time, comedians have joked about looking at their television audience; now it’s possible. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) has introduced a bill, the We Are Watching You Act, to prohibit this technology on boxes without consumer permission. George Orwell’s 1984 has arrived. People afraid of airport scanners might want to take notice.

Although many people think that the media surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman exaggerated the importance of this tragedy, the conservative Internet source The Daily Caller carried its aftermath to a new dimension. The oddity began when the website sent 16-year-old Gabe Finger as its correspondent at the White House press conference.  When Jay Carney, WH press secretary, called on Finger, he asked this question:

“Because of the death threats being received by George Zimmerman and his parents, is the president going to take any action for their security or are they on their own?”

Carney respectfully answered Finger:

“Well, I think I would refer you to Florida authorities.  I’m not aware of that story.  But the President has called for echoing the statements of Trayvon Martin’s family for a calm reflection in the wake of the verdict.  And that continues to be his position.  He certainly would oppose any violence of any kind.”

Finger didn’t quit. “So they’re on their own?” he asked. Finger is sure to be preening about the attention that he received, not knowing that he has reduced any respect that this conservative site might have.

Last week Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade matched Finger’s stupidity with what he said after he hit a two-year-old boy in the face with a basketball. After a YouTube video showed Titus’s prowess with the hoop, he was invited on the program to demonstrate his ability. Kilmeade made a bad pass and caused Titus to cry and responded to the toddler’s distress by asking a co-host, “Do you really feel that I was at fault there or should have Titus had his hands up?”

Fox needs to stick with two-year-olds, though, because they fail with politics. Carl Cameron told Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday that Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) Oversight Committee hearing was going to result in important news tying the IRS scandals to the White House. The primary news from the hearing was J. Russell George’s admission that the IRS had also targeted “progressive” and “Occupy” groups for audits–no political motivation in also using “Tea Party,” “9/11,” and “Patriot.” Back-to-back hearings with five IRS officials proved no IRS auditing connection with President Obama. Issa’s investigation shows that George omitted critical information in his initial report about the so-called targeting. We’ll wait for Issa’s next manufactured scandal; the last three have failed miserably.

Columnist George Will is another person who should hang up his hat and quit. In a column earlier this month about the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg during the first three days of July 150 years ago, he talked about how “choices matter.” His reasoning led nowhere, but his descriptions were terrible. For example, he refers to Pickett’s Charge as “mostly a brisk 19-minute walk”—without explaining that this “walk” killed almost two-thirds of the Confederate soldiers at a rate of 2.33 per second.

From McDonalds and Visa come a ridiculous website to show low-wage workers making an average of $8.25 an hour or less how they can comfortably live in poverty. It even shows that they can save $100 a month. The process, however, has a few holes. First, their survival requires a second job of about 38 hours a week, making a 78-hour work week. Then the budget had no money for heating, food, or clothing. The monthly amount budgeted for health care was $20. McDonalds provides some full-time employees a $14 per week health plan, but the cap is for $10,000 a year. The budget for rent is $600 which doesn’t provide any place in New York which now has an average rent of $3,000 per month.

The website concludes, “You can have almost anything you want as long as you plan ahead and save for it.” Bloomberg News reported that the average McDonalds worker would have to work 1 million hours to match what the company’s CEO makes in one year. In the United States, the wealthiest 400 people have the same assets and income as the bottom 50 percent of those in the country. Worldwide, the assets and income of the wealthiest 300 is equal to the lowest 3 billion people. That’s the state of the country and the world.

Even if you can afford Internet access in Florida, it may be illegal. In an attempt to declare a ban on gaming in Internet cafes, the law defined these illegal slot machines as any “system or network of devices” that may be used in a game of chance. A lawsuit from a business owner shut down by the ban claims that it covers every smartphone and computer. The legislature may need to drag its focus away from “stand your ground” and voting restriction laws to allow the use of Internet in the state.

butter cowPeople who attend the Iowa State Fair on August 8-18 are in for quite a treat—even better than deep-fat fried butter on a stick. This year the butter cow sculpture has company: a depiction of Abraham Lincoln and the cross-country Lincoln Highway in Tama.

250px-Lincoln_Highway_Bridge,_Tama,_IAIt’s a 150-year celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address with the 100th anniversary of the opening the road from New York to San Francisco, one of the first transcontinental roads in the United States. The sculptures will require over 1,000 pounds of butter. I wonder how many people that would feed.

Even with their fixation on butter, white people in Iowa live healthier into old age than those in the South. Most maps show a dramatic difference between southern states and those in the rest of the country. This map shows how many years people can expect to be healthy after age 65. The extremes go from over 16 in Hawaii to fewer than 11 in Mississippi. Black Iowans have only seven years, one fewer year than blacks in Mississippi.

healthmap-e1374240125936

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