Nel's New Day

April 14, 2013

GOP Wants Theocracy in the U.S.

Once again, the U.S. voters have shown their ignorance. According to an Omnibus Poll, sponsored by YouGov.com and the Huffington Post, 11 percent of adults in this country think that the Constitution permits the establishment of a state national religion, and another 31 percent don’t know. The same study shows that 32 percent of the people actually want a Constitutional amendment to make Christianity the official religion of the United States. Only 52 percent oppose this idea.

Those people supporting a theocracy based on the “Founding Fathers” don’t know that James Madison, “father of the U.S. Constitution,” wrote about the need for the separation of church and state in an 1822 letter to Edward Livingston:

“Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.”  He continued, “We are teaching the world the great truth, that Governments do better without kings and nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson: the Religion flourishes in greater purity without, than with the aid of Government.”

Ironically, the same percentage of people who want Christianity as a national religion are also the only supporters of the GOP approach to social and cultural issues. That leaves the other two-thirds of the people opposing the policies that failed to get a GOP president and Senate in the latest election. So what’s the GOP to do?

Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus led the charge in rebranding Republicans, trying to move away from the Old Testament and toward greater success in next year’s election. The far-right groups are upset with the possibility that the GOP might change their position on social issues, especially marriage equality, and have threatened the GOP.

Thirteen high-profile conservatives representing influential groups wrote Priebus to rebuke him for his conclusions of the “autopsy” to determine the failure of the election. The letter concluded: “We respectfully warn GOP Leadership that an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support.”

Within the letter, the writers demanded a resolution to re-affirm the party’s 2012 national platform passed in Tampa (FL) and called for renewed bans on abortion and same-sex marriage. Nine of the 13 groups are 501(c)3 tax-exempt organizations, legally prohibited from supporting political parties. The IRS might want to look into these groups

Tony Perkins, president of the right-wing Family Research Council, has called on his people to stop contributions to the GOP until it starts “defending core principles.”

At the meeting this last week, the RNC faithfully toed the Christian line, confirming its opposition to marriage equality and its support of “core values” adopted last summer, including the statement that the country’s “rights come from God.” They rejected the recommendations from the “autopsy” that Priebus announced last month.

A committee vote changed the policy that the winner of a state caucus or primary automatically gets to control its delegates, but a later vote of all 168 delegates to the meeting didn’t pass the change. The purpose of this policy, adopted last summer in Tampa (FL) before the GOP presidential convention, was to keep candidate Ron Paul from getting votes. Without a change, the policy will have the same effect on his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) if he makes a try for presidential candidate, keeping him from getting delegates.

The new GOP policy permits more states to award delegates on a winner-take-all basis instead of proportionally, decreasing the possibility of grassroots candidates to get any support at the convention. The “autopsy” recommended regional primaries, giving the advantage to more moderate candidates who can raise a great deal of money.

It’s hard to see what “core principles” that Republicans aren’t defending. States are working even harder to ban abortions and eliminate reproductive rights. In just the first quarter of 2013, states proposed 694 bills relating to women’s bodies—all of them punitive.

Arkansas alone wants to defund Planned Parenthood and any organization that has contracts with abortion providers or referrers, including power and water companies, health insurers, and medical suppliers. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants the United States to be a place where no one even thinks about abortion.

State legislators are also proposing a plethora of bills to establish official state religions, eliminate sex education, and make sodomy illegal for everyone.

Perkins also wants the religious to keep their guns because the government may come after all those God-fearing, Bible-thumping evangelists. About the new gun legislation, which has almost no chance of passing, he wrote:

“I’m very concerned about this measure; I am concerned about where it may go once it gets to the Senate floor and what might happen in the House. This idea of background checks is very concerning given the fact that the United States military has been increasingly showing hostility toward evangelicals and Catholics as being somehow threats to national security and people that need to be watched.

“Well, what does that have to do with gun control? Well, what happens if all the sudden you are identified as an evangelical, bible-believing fundamentalist and the government decides you’ve got to be put on a watch list? Part of the provisions of this background check is kind of a system where if a caution comes up when they put your name in, you don’t get a chance to buy a gun.”

Meanwhile televangelist Pat Robertson is going after the country’s foreign policy. He thinks that Secretary of State John Kerry’s work on a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians violates Christianity,  warning that Kerry is “asking for the wrath of Almighty God to fall on this nation.”

Robertson also claimed that any deal including territorial concessions to the Palestinians, including Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, will lead to divine retribution and “catastrophic” consequences. “We should do everything we can to restrain our leaders from this course of folly and it is a course of folly and it will result in terrible suffering for people in the United States,” he said.

Every time that government entities meet, they should read the the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

August 25, 2012

Romney Takes Over the GOP

In the Mormon religion, worthy men can become gods after they die where they rule worlds where they are worshipped. It appears that Mitt Romney doesn’t have to wait to die; the Republicans have made him god of the Republican National Committee (RNC). A 63-38 vote by the RNC Rules Committee has given Romney and the RNC sweeping new powers. Romney’s top lawyer Ben Ginsberg promised that it would give them “flexibility” to adapt to new political parties.

Technically, the 168 members of the RNC elect the Chair, but with the new rules if Romney became president, he would appoint the Chair and other RNC leaders. They would simply be an extension of the White House political operation that can use its influence to change almost any rule at the twice-yearly RNC meetings.

What it really means is that Romney can now control anyone who disagrees with him such as Ron Paul, the Tea Party, and any stray Libertarians who might infiltrate the GOP. Because Team Romney can amend the party’s rules without a vote by the full RNC, they can do pretty much anything they want to do.

The entire process is in contradiction to Rule No. 38, Unit Rule of the current Republican Party Rules, which states “No delegate or alternate delegate shall be bound by any attempt of any state or Congressional district to impose the unit rule.” The unit rule is intended to prevent states from binding all delegates to a particular candidate, forcing them to vote as a unit. While many states do this, there is historical precedence that the RNC does not recognize such binding at the Convention.

The second part of the change would require all future delegates to be approved by presidential candidates, lessening the chances of technically pledged delegates voting for a different candidate.

Another rule change increases the nomination threshold from five to eight. A candidate must have control of eight state delegations to have the name placed in nomination at the convention. None of that pesky minority candidates like Paul, who came very close to getting five states.

Morton Blackwell, Virginia delegate, was one person with enough sense to see what Romney had done. He called it “the most awful proposed amendments I’ve seen presented to this committee” referred to it as “a power grab.” South Carolina delegate, Drew McKissick echoed Blackwell’s objection, warning that nearly any rule could now be amended by three-fourths of the RNC. “Once you let the genie out of the bottle they can do anything.”

Minnesota RNC Rules Committee member Marianne Stebbins, a Ron Paul supporter, also took umbrage, saying that new delegation selection rules “strip state parties’ authority to choose convention delegates.” The rule giving the RNC the right to use primary and caucuses straw-poll results to bind state party delegates to a candidate is a reaction to Paul’s ability to secure national delegates at district and state conventions. “Gov. Romney’s campaign counsel Ben Ginsberg in today’s [Friday] Rules Committee meeting adopted an attitude toward Liberty Republicans that if you can’t beat them, then beat them with a stick,” Stebbins said. “Mr. Ginsberg and the interests he represents made it clear today that Liberty Republicans and Tea Party Republicans are unwelcome guests at this party.”

According to existing rules, a minority report must have the support of at least 25 percent of the RNC rules committee and be filed within one hour after the close of the meeting. Maine delegate Ashley Ryan said that they had finished the report within 15 minutes but couldn’t find Committee Chair John Sununu. He had disappeared at the end of the meeting. Under Ginsberg’s leadership, the Romney camp had also tried unsuccessfully to raise the bar to 40 percent objecting. Ryan said, “If the national party can just change the rules, what’s the point of having a Rules Committee at all?

Meanwhile, the time of Romney’s anointing has been tentatively moved to Tuesday. The convention leaders had decided to do the roll call and elevate Romney on Monday before Paul can cause any trouble and while they had no television coverage—so nobody would see any objections on the main channels. The timing of Hurricane Isaac is still up in the air so those events have been postponed.

Considering how unliked Romney is among his own ranks, he might have been more careful before he broke open the bee hive. On the other hand, I’ve missed the good old days when nobody was sure who the nominee would be until the end of the convention. It became theater, not drama. If some of the disgruntled delegates have their way, however, the drama may return.

Kissack declared, “The bottom line is that the change adopted today essentially allows the Presidential campaigns to pick their own delegates, which makes it a complete insider’s ballgame and allows a bunch of Washington D.C. consultants to decide who does and doesn’t get to be a delegate.” Therefore he is leading an effort to bring a “minority report” to the convention floor, offering an amendment stripping the Ginsberg-backed changes from the Party rules and giving candidates no rights with respect to their delegates. The provision would also reinstate language requiring that all primaries and caucuses held before April 1 bind delegates proportionally, rather than winner-take-all, a measure to elongate the primary process.

According to McKissick, he has the votes to bring the minority report to the floor, setting the stage for debate and a vote on the rules changes.The coalition opposing the amendment includes Ron Paul supporters and state party officials who see the effort as overreach by national campaigns into the workings of their state. One delegate raised the possibility of calling for a time-consuming roll call vote on the issue, which would require a majority of the delegations of six states.

In his humor column today, Andy Borowitz adds a bit of black humor to the Tampa events this coming week:

With Hurricane Isaac heading towards the site of the 2012 RNC, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney today called for the government to respond with a round of “emergency tax cuts.”

“If this hurricane is as powerful as predicted, it could destroy many people’s second and third homes,” Mr. Romney said. “In that worst-case scenario, it would be inhumane to ask them to pay more than thirteen percent.”

Vice presidential pick Paul Ryan echoed Mr. Romney’s sentiments, adding that he was glad he voted to cut emergency relief earlier this year because “big government needs to stay out of hurricanes.”

“If the Federal government got involved with this hurricane, they’d make the usual mistake of sending food, water, and medical supplies,” he said. “Clearly, what this situation calls for is vouchers.”

The Republican party is welcome to screw  over each other any way that they wish, but this action is a predictor of what would happen if Romney is elected president. If people supposedly on the same side are willing to destroy each other, I don’t want to imagine what would happen if they get control of the country.

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