Nel's New Day

April 8, 2015

Rand Paul Has Rough First Day

paul shushRand Paul’s prickly condescending manner may not be successful for him as a presidential candidate. Less than 24 hours after yesterday’s desire to take up residency in the White House, he attacked NBC Today’s host, Savannah Guthrie. She asked him about his changes about Israel, Iran, and the defense budget, but he interrupted her and said, “Why don’t you let me explain instead of talking over me, OK?” He then told her that she should ask him, “Have I changed my opinion? That would sort of be a better way to approach an interview.” She politely asked him, “Is Iran still a threat?” Paul responded, “No, no, no, no, no, listen, you’re editorializing.” Paul saves “editorializing” for himself—as in yesterday’s announcement speech.

Joan Walsh described Paul’s “mansplaining”:

“What a steaming load of entitlement. Paul interrupts an interviewer, then blames her for talking over him and lectures her on “a better way to approach an interview.” When she accepts his premise, and asks the question the way he suggests she should ask it, he won’t accept it, and berates her yet again.”

The conservative Washington Post gave an extensive fact-check for Paul’s claims in yesterday’s announcement speech:

Paul: “Big government and debt doubled under a Republican administration. And it’s now tripling under Barack Obama’s watch. President Obama is on course to add more debt than all of the previous presidents combined.”

Fact: Every president inherits debt from the previous president, guaranteeing that the debt will grow. Raw numbers aren’t useful; percentage changes must be used to evaluate differences. The debt under Ronald Reagan (who Paul cited in his speech) increased 190 percent, compared to President Obama’s 108 percent—and Reagan was allowed to raise taxes 11 times. As for big government under President Obama, the federal government under the current president employs the fewest people since 1966. George W. Bush added 800,000 federal employees; President Obama reduced the number of federal employees by 700,000.

Paul: “We borrow a million dollars a minute. This vast accumulation of debt threatens not just our economy, but our security.”

Fact: This figure is more than half the size of the deficit in the Great Recession when the country was borrowing more than $2 million a minute.

Paul: “Congress will never balance the budget unless you force them to do so. Congress has an abysmal record with balancing anything. Our only recourse is to force Congress to balance the budget with a constitutional amendment.”

Fact: The budget was balanced and ran a surplus during four fiscal years in the Bill Clinton administration and the first year of the George W. Bush administration.

Paul: “Warrantless searches of Americans’ phones and computer records are un-American and a threat to our civil liberties. I say that your phone records are yours. I say the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business. … The president created this vast dragnet by executive order. And as president on day one, I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance.”

Fact: “The president” in Paul’s speech is George W. Bush, who launched the program in secrecy after 9/11 with an “executive order.” The Obama administration increased internal oversight to Bush’s program.

Paul: “We must realize, though, that we do not project strength by borrowing money from China to send it to Pakistan.”

Fact: China is a biggest single holder of Treasury debt, owning $1.252 trillion as of October 2014, but that amounts to less than 10 percent of all U.S. debt held by the public.

Paul: “Let’s quit building bridges in foreign countries and use that money to build some bridges here at home. It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting ‘Death to America’ in countries that receive millions of dollars in our foreign aid.”

Fact: Foreign aid composes about one percent of the federal budget, and almost none of it goes for bridges. Much of it is military, especially our greatest recipient, Israel, and all countries receiving foreign aid, except Israel, must buy U.S. products, making U.S. workers the winners and helping U.S. taxpayers.

Paul needs to lie about President Obama because the president is having a great year. Here are some numbers—already Fact-Checked—that show this:

  • The economy has added 7.2 million jobs, and the unemployment rate, 5.5 percent, is lower than the historical median of 5.6 percent in 1948.
  • The number of job openings is up to its highest point in 14 years, and the number of long-term jobless has now dropped below where it was when President Obama took office.
  • The number of businesses opening, 220,000 for the third quarter of 2014, grew at 18 percent, and the number of businesses shutting down has decreased 18 percent.
  • Real weekly earnings are up 3 percent although the number of people on food stamps stays high.
  • Sixteen million people have gained health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act, shrinking the percentage of uninsured from 14.4 percent in 2013 to 11.9 percent.
  • The U.S. increased its domestic crude oil production last year by more than it has in over 100 years and cut its reliance on imported by more than half during President Obama’s administration. The country now relies less on imported oil than it has since the Nixon administration.
  • The U.S. generated nearly 22 times more electricity from solar power in the most recent 12 months than it did in the year before Obama took office; the price of an installed photovoltaic panel has dropped by 63 percent since the end of 2010.
  • U.S. exports went up 39 percent in 5 years.
  • Corporate profits are up 174 percent since President Obama took office in 2009; the highest profits ever recorded for big corporations were in the third quarter of 2014.


The Washington Post listed other problems that Rand Paul had during his first 24 hours following his announcement speech:

After attacking Today’s Guthrie, he admitted to the New York Times that he should show reporters that they upset him.

He refused to give any exceptions such as rape, incest, and the life of the mother in making abortions illegal. Asked again about his position, he said he would answer the question when the Democratic National Committee gave its position. Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said:

“Here’s an answer. I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story. Now your turn, Senator Paul.  … And I’d appreciate it if you could respond without ’shushing’ me [referring to Paul’s attempt to shut up CNBC anchor Kelly Evans].”

No answer from Paul other than he criticized people for getting “tied-up in details” and said he would “keep an open mind” about Iran. In short, no comment.

A case from Ron Paul’s campaign in Iowa may come back to bite his son’s presidential run. One week before the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, Dimitri Kesari, Ron Paul’s deputy campaign manager, gave a check for $25,000 to Kent Sorenson, an influential state senator. Two days later Sorenson defected from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul. A Mother Jones article gives the details of this event and its aftermath. State and federal investigations led to information about the central figures in the Paul family’s political machine, many of them from the leading anti-union group, National Right to Work Committee. The problem may seem to belong to Ron Paul, but his son may suffer from his involvement with the situation and the people. Early in his senate career, Rand Paul cosponsored the National Right-to-Work Act, removing union rights from the entire United States, paying back John Tate, a former NRTWC vice president, who played a “crucial role” in Paul’s 2010 Senate campaign.

By now Sorenson is singing like a canary, including his getting $73,000 from the Ron Paul campaign and more money from Bachmann’s campaign before he defected. Less than two months ago, a Justice Department lawyer asked for a delay in sentencing Sorenson because of their progress on a “larger investigation” into the scandal. Rand Paul defended Jesse Benton, implicated in the Sorenson affair, after his resignation as Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) 2014 campaign manager as an “honest” political operative who would be “welcome” on his 2016 team.

As a senator, Rand Paul might rise above all the problems that he has created. As a presidential candidate, not so much.

February 20, 2013

Who Elected These People!?

The U.S. Representatives and Senators have gone home to tell their constituents what a great job they’re going while state legislators continue to spread their craziness in their capitols–all from the party that claimed they wanted to increase jobs and help the economy.

Former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), who served six terms and left in 2009, has admitted that he fathered an illegitimate child with Michelle Laxalt, the daughter of former Nevada Gov. and Sen. Paul Laxalt (R) and a top Washington lobbyist.  She raised Adam, their son, as a single parent and continually praised Domenici for his character and “integrity.” This story might not be important if Dominici had not supported Bill Clinton’s impeachment for covering up his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky. According to Dominici, “I have concluded that President Clinton’s actions do, indeed, rise to the level of impeachable offenses that the Founding Fathers envisioned.” Domenici also voted for the sanctity of the Defense of Marriage Act.

In his appearance on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) came out with the real reason that he wants to destroy the economy by continuing the sequester. After Chris Wallace asked him if Graham really wanted to slash Head Start programs for 70,000 children, cut 2,100 food inspectors, and eliminate $900 million in loan guarantees for small businesses, Graham said that he would do it to get rid of Obamacare.

The supposedly kinder, gentler House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) struggled to explain the reason behind removing health care from people who need it on Meet the Press a week ago. Immediately after he talked with great sympathy about a 12-year-old child who has had cancer for 11 years, he moved, without segue, to how the child will benefit from lowering the deficit. Somewhere he missed the point that without health care, the child will die.

Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell, once a possibility for vice-president until his proposed title meant “vaginal probe,” is following private industry to cheat employees. He’s limiting the number of hours for state employees to 29 per week to avoid paying for Obamacare, assuming that he can save $110 million a year in health care benefits. McDonnell failed to take into consideration the money that these people without insurance will cost in emergency care. Adjunct faculty in higher education may lose a third of their current wages. Teaching an almost full course load,  they are paid a one-time fee, but considered hourly wage employees. My question for VP McDonnell: will you also limit your weekly work load to 29 hours?

Virginia is known for other mind-boggling activities. Not only did Del. Robert G. Marshall (R) propose the idea of the commonwealth making its own money—because, of course, the United States is going to collapse, but the plan passed by a two-thirds majority earlier this month. Saner minds prevailed in the Senate that voted it down, perhaps in part because the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to have individual currency. Yet there are enough people in one of the original 13 states that believed this could be workable.

The Thirteenth Amendment, adopted in 1865, abolished slavery. This year, 148 years later, Mississippi made the vote unanimous. Although the state’s legislature voted in 1995, 120 years later, to do so, they failed to notify the Office of the Federal Register of that legislative action. This month they did so.

Republicans want freedom—or so they say. Missouri state Rep. Mike Leara (R) has proposed legislation making it a felony for lawmakers to so much as propose bills regulating guns. It provides that “[a]ny member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.” Like many other anti-gun law people, Leara, in ignoring the constitutional Speech and Debate clause, thinks that the U.S. Constitution is composed of only the Second Amendment.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (Indiana) is introducing a measure calling for a convention where states could propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. His goal is to keep Congress from taxing and regulating interstate commerce. Article V of the U.S. Constitution permits this but only if two-thirds of all state legislatures demand the convention. Indiana conservatives criticize Long because he is preventing votes on measures he calls “blatantly unconstitutional.” The state’s house speaker Brian Bosma said he will carry Long’s measure if it reaches his chamber.

You can’t make up this stuff. Montana State Rep. Jerry O’Neil (R) is sponsoring a bill to allow defendants to “bargain with the court” to receive “corporal punishment in lieu of incarceration.” The bill would apply to not just misdemeanor crimes, but also felonies, though the bill requires that the “exact nature of the corporal punishment to be imposed” be “commensurate with the severity, nature, and degree of the harm caused by the offender.” John S. Adams, who covers the Montana legislature for the Great Falls Tribune, wrote, “Republican leadership has been doing its best to tamp down any potential bills the other side might use to embarrass the GOP as they work to craft a budget. This one apparently didn’t get tamped.” We can guess that Karl Rove’s new group won’t be funding O’Neil.

Another politician who probably won’t get Rove’s support is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who told 18-year-old undocumented student Jessica Bravo, “I hate illegals.”  She made an appointment to talk with him because she “wanted to explain that I have no other home than Costa Mesa, I wanted to speak for all those in my community who are too afraid to talk about their status.” When she told Rohrabacker her status, he became angry and shook his finger at her. As she left his office, Bravo told reporters that he asked if she had registered for the meeting. “Well, now I know where you live,” he had told her threateningly.

And scratch Rep. John “Jimmy” Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) off Rove’s list. Yesterday, in talking about the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) which the House has yet to act on, Duncan said, “Like most men, I’m more opposed to violence against women than even violence against men, because most men can handle it a little better than a lot of women can.” Despite his offensively ignorant sexist statement, he isn’t sure whether he will support VAWA.

Top on my list of stupid statements, however, comes from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in her outrage against raising the minimum wage to $9.00, as President Obama suggested in his State of the Union address. She began with the argument that young workers couldn’t learn responsibility as she did as a teenage retail employee in Mississippi:

“I remember my first job, when I was working in a retail store, down there, growing up in Laurel, Mississippi. I was making like $2.15 an hour. And I was taught how to responsibly handle those customer interactions. And I appreciated that opportunity.”

To those who think that $2.15 an hour isn’t much, like Blackburn does, consider that the $2.15 an hour she made between 1968 and 1970 is now worth between $12.72 and $14.18. Forty-five years ago, the minimum wage was $1.60, equivalent to $10.56 in today’s terms. Today’s minimum wage of $7.25 is equivalent to just $1.10 an hour in 1968 dollars, meaning the teenage Blackburn managed to enter the workforce making almost double the wage she now says is keeping teenagers out of the workforce.

Blackburn’s statement may be matched only by former Rep. Ron Paul’s appeal to the United Nations. The father of Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul is known for his anti-UN position: “American national sovereignty cannot survive if we allow our domestic laws to be crafted by an international body.” The owners of the domain name, his own followers, have offered him the domain free along with their mailing list of 170,000 email address.  He turned them down and filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a global governing body that is an agency of the United Nations. Maybe they’ve settled: the link for the PDF of the complaint doesn’t work.

Right now, polling puts approval of Congress at 15 percent, four percent lower than a month ago. At that time, Congress was lower than used car salesmen, root canals, colonscopies, and cockroaches. It probably still it. Have a nice time talking to your constituents, Congresspeople!

August 29, 2012

GOP Convention 2012 – Day One, Meaningless

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The GOP convention survived its first day yesterday with a few glitches along the way. Monday was pretty much canceled because of Tropical Storm Isaac. The good news: leaders were successful in mostly controlling the Ron Paul supporters who felt that they didn’t have a vote and the other delegates who objected to Mitt Romney’s takeover of the party that all but prevented any dissenting candidates in the future. Although delegate Morton Blackwell had intended to protest the new rules, his bus was “detained”—where or how no one is saying.

The GOP leadership had also tried to avoid any problem from Ron Paul delegates by telling them to not appear at the convention hall until Tuesday. If Paul delegates had followed the GOP directions, they would have lost their status, and their votes would have been given to party-approved alternates. It’s sort of like the Republican robocalls telling registered Democrats that Democrats vote on Wednesday or, in the case of Wisconsin, people who signed recall petitions didn’t need to vote. Gov. Paul LePage of Maine, a state that had given its delegates to Paul until the Romney leadership took them, boycotted the convention. Ron Paul left the convention also.

The actual Day One did a brief roll call and anointed Romney before they rolled out women and minority speakers. Some of the delegates, however, demonstrated the racist attitude of many in the GOP party. For example, two delegates threw peanuts at a black CNN camerawoman, shouting, “This is how we feed the animals.” The black community has shown a 0.0 percent support of Romney.

In another racially-motivated event, delegates, primarily those from Texas, shouted down Puerto Rican Republican party functionary Zoraida Fonalledas when they chanted “USA, USA!” and “Get them out!” RNC Chair Reince Preibus stopped them after about a minute. At this time only 28 percent of Latinos/as are polling in favor of Romney. Ted Cruz, another Tea Partier, tried to win them back at the convention by saying that President Obama, the man who rescued young people who were brought here illegally by their parents, was “going to try to divide America” by “tell[ing] Hispanics that we’re not welcome here…”

The theme of Day One was “We built that,” an attempt to prove that government provides no support for businesses. Small business owner Phil Archuletta of P&M Signs, was asked to speak to this message. During his speech, he complained about the government not giving him enough contracts.

The goal of the convention is to make Romney likable; his wife Ann set out to do this in a speech written for her that she read off the teleprompter, which she said she hated. Also complaining about getting advice on what to wear from Stuart Stevens “who wears his shirts inside out,” she was miffed by being told not to stray from the text. Nobly, however, she pulled out her cancer-card and trumped it with her MS card as she described the trials her family had suffered–like having five boys in the house in bad weather. Then she explained to the audience that women have to work harder as they support their men and that everyone can trust her husband, Mitt, because he is a funny man. In a parody of Donna Reed’s old television show, “Mitt Knows Best,” Romney assured everyone that we can all trust her husband the way she does. [Alec MacGillis has provided a detailed view of Ann Romney’s speeches.]

Although Ann Romney’s speech was about the importance of love, NJ Gov. Chris Christie took the opposite tack when he used his keynote speech to explain that the desire to be loved has paralyzed the GOP party. After listing his personal accomplishments for about three-fourths of his speech, he gave  a nod to Romney. As Chris Wallace said, “It was one of the most off-key keynote speeches I ever heard” and noted that Christie mentioned “I” 37 times and “Romney” just seven times. And that assessment was on Fox!

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) said that his bar would throw out the president. Gov. John Kasich (OH) and Gov. Nikki Haley (SC) talked about how well their states’ economies are doing—points for President Obama. Rick Santorum’s speech asked for freedom rather than a safety net, repeating the GOP lie that President Obama has done away with the work requirement in the welfare act. Even the far far-right Republican governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, knows it’s a lie “as far as I have seen.”

The James Madison luncheon won’t enjoy James O’Keefe’s speech in person because the federal government has refused him permission to travel to Tampa. After he fraudulently edited video tapes to bring down ACORN and malign Planned Parenthood, he was convicted for entering the offices of a United States senator (Republican Mary Landrieu of Louisiana) with the intent to illegally record telephone conversations.

Ezra Klein’s summary of Day One of the 2012 GOP convention:

1) It’s genuinely weird for a whole day to be based around “You didn’t build that.” But more than it’s weird, it’s small. It would be like Democrats dedicating a whole day of their convention to “I like to fire people” or “I don’t care about the very poor.”

2) It’s also dishonest. My colleague Glenn Kessler handed the Republican convention’s use of the line four pinocchios. One disturbing hallmark of the previous Republican presidential administration was the willingness of the president and his allies to rely utterly on the version of truth that circulated within the closed confines of the right-wing subculture. The meta-message of the Bush administration for its critics was: We don’t care what you think.

3) There was a lot of political talent on display. Scott Walker, Kelly Ayotte, Chris Christie, and a number of other relative newcomers to the national stage performed admirably under the klieg lights.

4) But there wasn’t a lot of planning on display. There was no coherent argument for Mitt Romney.

5) All that said, day one is meaningless. A strong day two will completely erase any memory of a weak day one. But, in the end, the only day that will really matter for this election is day three. Mitt Romney is going to have to make the case for Mitt Romney.

While Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is criticizing President Obama for not giving the state enough money for the effects of Hurricane Isaac, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) is demanding dollar-for-dollar cuts to pay for any relief for victims of any emergencies.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush gave Republicans the best advice: “stop acting stupid.” Although he was talking about the GOP immigration policies, his advice covers everything they do these days. Tonight is Paul Ryan’s speech. I’m guessing that he won’t pay attention to Jeb Bush; he’ll just keep telling the same lies about dependence on government that he worked to create in his own district when businesses benefited from tax-payer money.

February 28, 2012

Santorum Goes over the Edge, Loses Two States

If it’s Tuesday, there must be an election somewhere. And there is—Arizona and Michigan. Newt Gingrich have been uncharacteristically quiet, which may change now that he just got another $5 million for his sugar daddy billionaire. He does have a 28-minute political ad that claims he can bring gas down to $2.50 and no longer be reliant on oil from “Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran.” These, of course, are lies because the president doesn’t control the gas prices and the U.S. doesn’t import oil fromIran. Despite his accusations of a massive reduction in U.S. development of oil, production surged during the first two years of President Obama’s administration after its downward trend in the previous five (Bush) years.

Ron Paul just indicates “anything that Mitt wants.” The rumor is that Paul wants Romney to pick his son, Rand, as vice-president. Both Gingrich and Paul know that both the states voting today were lost causes for them, and they moved ahead to Super Tuesday in another week.

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent the past few weeks smearing each other, trying to win Michigan. Republican Gov. Paul LePage (Maine) said, “If they continue to beat each other up, then maybe we should get somebody unknown to go against Obama. They’re damaging themselves. It’s like a marital battle. Somebody’s got to apologize.” Chances are very good that these two are way beyond that. Even if they did apologize, no one would believe them.

Romney continues to make bizarre comments, for example when he offers people the chance to visit his parents at the cemetery where they are buried and loving the height of the trees in Michigan—sort of like Rick Perry hugging his bottle of maple syrup in Vermont. Then there was the shirt that a fan gave him that said “Mitt Happens.” But he’s largely kept to the script of criticizing Santorum.

Santorum, on the other hand, keeps going farther and farther over the edge, either from arrogance or desperation. Last Sunday morning he told George Stephanopoulos: “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.  The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country. This is the First Amendment.  The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion.  That means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square.” He said more, but I can see your eyes glazing over.

Santorum was so hysterical that he said he wanted to “throw up” when hearing John F. Kennedy’s statement that he would not allow his Catholic beliefs to rule the country. Kennedy actually said, “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.” Santorum missed the fact that Kennedy paved the way for Santorum, a Catholic, to be as successful as he is.

The question is whether Santorum would want to “throw up” at this president’s statement: “Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.” He might, until someone told him that the president who said this was the revered Ronald Reagan.

After declaring that Obama has a “war on for-profit colleges” (Obama must be busy with all these “wars”), Santorum said, “President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob!” He continued by claiming that Obama wants people to go to college because he wants them to be liberal. “That’s why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image.

Santorum’s hatred of college is a 180-degree turn since 2006 when his Senate campaign website stated, “In addition to Rick’s support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring the every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education. Rick Santorum has supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants, and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable.”

As in other situations, Santorum twisted what President Obama has said, including in his state of the union speech. Obama doesn’t use the term college; he says “higher education.” As Obama has pointed out, he wants every young person to have the benefit of an apprenticeship or education in a technical school, community college, or college/university. It’s exactly what Santorum wants, but he continues to denigrate the same vision from Obama.

With three university degrees, Santorum is so obsessed by his personal religion that he fails to remember his history. While campaigning in South Carolina, he said, “The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom… What I’m talking about is onward American soldiers. What we’re talking about are core American values.” Santorum overlooks the Crusades as the bloody medieval campaigns to take theHoly Landfrom the “infidels” (aka Moslems and Jews).

“I’m not a Washington insider,” Santorum claimed. Yet his $3.6 million income within the last few years came largely from “consulting” (aka lobbying) activities, and he was enough of an insider while he was in Congress to get millions of dollars in earmarks for his state. His ultra-partisan approach also gives him an insider aura.

Former Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-WY) called Santorum a “very rigid man … a lot tougher than [former House Speaker Newt] Gingrich to deal with. And former Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) said of Santorum: “I’m not opposed to bucking the establishment, but I always felt he was using the establishment for his own aggrandizement. I remember him saying, ‘You’ve got to give me a little slack. I need to vote for this for my state.’”

Santorum rejects prenatal testing, but, as one woman pointed out, this can kill the fetus. She reported on how her amniocentesis showed that medication was not helping her fetus’s Rh negative disease, caused by the pregnant woman’s negative blood type fighting with the fetus’s positive blood type. Because of the doctor’s awareness of the problem, the fetus could be delivered at the optimum time, saving its life.

Also on record as not wanting women to be in combat, he tried to clarify that gaffe by stating that he was worried about the men’s emotions, not the women’s. But his backup statement voided that justification, when he explained that women are “fully capable of flying small planes.”

Known for his refusal to believe in man-made climate change, Santorum referred to anti-fracking activists, the people who don’t want methane gas to explode from the faucet whenever it’s turned on, as a “reign of environmental terror.” He forgot to explain that he is a top recipient of money from drilling companies, and his campaign gets big oil bucks.

At least during the past month, Santorum has dropped his “income equality is good” and stop giving out food stamps campaign. Late night talk and comedy shows made mincemeat out him after this statement: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

Santorum is campaigning to end the secular state, science-based information, education, and women’s health care with the return of patriarchy and the demonization of everybody but white, heterosexual, right-wing Christian males. Most conservative pundits recognize that he would be a lost cause as a nominee; even Santorum-supporter Rush Limbaugh said he “cringed” when he heard Santorum’s comment that he voted against his principles because politics is a “team sport.”

In her poem at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, Maya Angelou showed the way thatClinton’s administration wanted to be inclusive:

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew

The African and Native American, the Sioux,

The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek

The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,

The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,

The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.

Reading these lines makes me think about the people who Santorum would exclude from having rights, despite the U.S. Constitution: all women who want reproductive rights including birth control, all men who want their sexual partners to use birth control, all unmarried adults who wish to have consensual sex, all people who are not members of the Catholic or evangelical churches, all LGBT people, all people of color, all college-educated people, and all people who want a public education. His exclusionary believes leave about 5 percent of the people under the great tent of this nation—as far as Santorum is concerned.

There is hope, however, because Santorum lost both Arizona and Michigan. We’ll see what outrageous things he says within the next week to struggle for delegates in the next ten states.

January 28, 2012

Buchanan, Other Republicans Exhibit Racism

Sixteen years ago, Pat Buchanan won the New Hampshire primary for presidential candidate; now he may be fired from MSNBC. Three months ago, the activist group Color of Change started a petition against his employment at the television network after a number of racist insults, including calling President Obama “your boy” on Al Sharpton’s show.

Buchanan hasn’t appeared on the network since he headed out on his book tour. Suicide of a Superpower includes chapters  with titles such as “The End of  White America” and “The Death of Christian America” for chapters, and he stated that the country is in the “Indian summer of our civilization.” An MSNBC’s top executive has said that Buchanan will be allowed back on the network.

Buchanan gave two scenarios for what happened. On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, he said that he had medical issues, that there was nothing permanent about the separation. Two days later he told Sean Hannity that the problem came from the gays and the people of color. He also blamed the Jews because of his position that the United States shouldn’t go to war with Iran to protect Israel.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin hasn’t come right out and stated that Buchanan is suspended, but thus far he hasn’t appeared on the network.

The Republicans have had a history of racial prejudice in the past decades, and people like Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman tried in the past to overcome this image. Almost seven years ago, he apologized to the NAACP, saying that Republicans had pushed racial strife to get white voters, especially in the South. Since then the racial divide has only worsened.

In Tennessee Tea Party groups are demanding that the state legislature remove references to slavery in school textbooks. Their goal is to erase any negative portrayals of the rich white men who wrote the Constitution: “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.” Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.”

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the 800-square-mile Wake County School District in Raleigh wants to segregate its schools, stating that concentrating poor children—usually minorities—in a few schools has merit. John Tedesco, one of the new Republican-majority board, said, “This is Raleigh in 2010, not Selma,Alabama, in the 1960s–my life is integrated.” The NAACP has filed a civil rights complaint arguing that 700 initial student transfers the new board approved have already increased racial segregation, violating laws that prohibit the use of federal funding for discriminatory purposes.

Concern about the Republican presidential candidates’ racist pandering to the white base has also been growing throughout the past few months. Rick Santorum said, “I don’t want to make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.” Criticized for this statement, he tried excuse himself by saying that he listened to the tape and must have same something like “bla…” Doesn’t work.

Ron Paul wants to overturn the Civil Rights Act because he thinks white private business owners should have the “freedom” not to serve minorities. His virulently racist newsletters from the 1990s have also found more and more publicity. Despite Paul’s denials stating that he knew nothing about the newsletters’ content, associates declare differently, saying that they watched him proof and sign off on what was said.

Newt Gingrich criticized Paul for the newsletters and accused him of knowing about the content. That was right after Gingrich offered to talk to the NAACP to urge African-Americans to “demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.” When Juan Williams, a moderator for the South Carolinadebate from Fox News, asked Gingrich if his use of such language was “intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities,” the white audience booed Williams. Gingrich evidently doesn’t know that fewer than one quarter of food stamp recipients are African-American.

Mitt Romney wants to “keep America America.” Whatever he means by this statement, it’s far too close to the Ku Klux Clan motto, “keep America American.”

Fortunately Michelle Bachmann is gone, but many of her statements remain embedded in our memory. One of these is that the black family was stronger during slavery than in freedom. She probably read the proposed Tennessee textbooks because of her belief that the white men who wrote the Constitution in the 1700s were abolitionists who “fought tirelessly to eliminate slavery” and that the slaveholding Christian whites “loved their slaves.”

The candidates were asked in one debate to address the grossly disparate impact of the Great Recession on black and brown communities. The unemployment rate for African-Americans is two to three times higher than the 9 percent for whites; the middle-class minorities have had their income, assets, and wealth gutted so thoroughly that whites have almost 20 times the average net worth of African-Americans. The candidates had no response other than people should work harder because the opportunities to succeed are all through the country.

It appears that the Republicans think that they can be elected with just the white vote. From what minorities are saying, they’ve lost anyone else’s vote, At a Martin Luther King Day concert in South Carolina just five days before the Republican primary, Kathy Edwards said, “It’s all about this with the Republicans,” she says pinching her own black skin. “I’m 58 now. It’s better than it was, but with the Republicans it’s all about race even if they don’t say it.”

Four years ago, less than 2% of those voting in the South Carolina Republican primary were from racial minority groups whereas more than half of those who participated in the Democratic primary were black.

“White folks around here talk about taking the country back when it hasn’t been anywhere,” Edwards said. “The fact is they don’t like a black man as president. They think he has taken something that belongs to them.”

Lottie Gibson, one of only two African American members of the Greenville county council and a former teacher with a long history of working with the poor, said that the Republican message has been racially divisive by persuading poor white people, who overwhelmingly vote Republican in South Carolina, that a large part of the cause of their economic problems is poor black people.

Edward echoed Gibson’s position. “To me the Republicans just don’t include African Americans. They don’t connect to us. They seem mean spirited people,” she said. “This election is not about black and white, it’s about rich and poor. But whenever the Republicans talk about poor, then they start talking about welfare and single mothers. They always associate single mothers with black women and welfare. I was a single mother for a long time before I married. I never took welfare in my life.”

Shelly Roehrs, chair of the Spartanburg County Democratic Party, said, “The Republicans are blind. They don’t see any disparity between rich and poor. White voters vote based on their religion and out of fear. They can barely afford the rent, but they vote Republican because whenever poverty is mentioned, the very first thing that comes up is that black people are milking the welfare system.”

Many African Americans in South Carolina voted Republican until the 1960s because the Democratic party held power and strongly supported segregation.  In the early 1960s, leading segregationists such as Senator Strom Thurmond, protested civil rights legislation by changing to the Republican party in protest at national civil rights legislation. The Republicans have kept the anti-civil rights policy for the past half century.

The civil war memorial in Greenville, next to the sprawling cemetery with a separate section for black people, is marked with an inscription observing that history will prove the Confederate slave states to have been “in the right.” The statehouse still flies the Confederate flag.

The more the Republicans talk, the more minority votes they lose—perhaps enough to guarantee their losing the election in 2012 if the country doesn’t lose 5 million voters because of Republican laws restricting voting.

November 20, 2011

GOP Presidential Candidates Gobble Social Justice

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and turkey is on the minds of a lot of people. Turkey  may not bring to mind just the food served on Thursday.  One definition of a turkey is a loser; another, in the case of a jive turkey, a double-crosser. The current crop of Republican presidential candidates reminds me of real turkeys, flocking and gobble-gobbling and strutting as they fan their tail feathers to conservative media and organizations. (Clue: Texas has lots of wild turkeys.)

The more overtly religious five candidates seem to consistently make the dumbest moves. Herman Cain can’t open his mouth—or just sit in a chair—without creating fodder for late-night comedians. Libya? Now what did the U.S. do in Libya? And who didn’t we like there? Newt Gingrich lost when he thought he could claim his high salary from Bush’s government was for being an “historian” for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, not an unlicensed lobbyist.

Rick Perry wanted to debate Rep. Nancy Pelosi about his new idea for “a part-time Congress where their pay is cut in half, their office budgets are cut in half, and their time in Washington is cut in half.” Even the most conservative Congressional members are nervous about his brainstorm. Either Perry forgot that Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) is currently Speaker of the House, or he believes that the Democrats will take the majority in the next election. Caught up in criticism, he cited recent reports of insider trading by Congressional members. “When you have routine insider corruption on Capitol Hill, when you have liberal opposition for freeing the economy of this country, when you have just total disrespect for family values, I would suggest to you that’s the reason Nancy Pelosi is running away from having a debate with me.” Perry forgot two other important pieces of information: Pelosi and her husband made less than a dollar on each of the 5,000 shares that they bought, and the rest of the insider traders outed were Republicans.

Cain remembered that God asked him to run for president, bringing the count up to three with Michele Bachmann and Perry the other two. Evidently God told Mike Huckabee that it was okay for him not to run this time. In Cain’s speech about God, he also blamed President Obama for canceling the space shuttle program; George W. Bush had done that in 2004. Considering his penchant for a bad memory, could he have the same health issues as Ronald Reagan without a wife to cover for him?

The first formal vote of 2012, Iowa, is less than six weeks away, and candidates have flowed into the state. (Don’t worry, Iowa. They’ll be leaving immediately afterward to head to New Hampshire.) Only Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman were absent from yesterday’s Thanksgiving Family Forum, sponsored by the James Dobson-founded Focus on the Family, a religious right powerhouse known for its bizarre cultural agenda; the National Organization for Marriage, perhaps best known for its unintentionally hilarious anti-gay commercials; and The FAMiLY Leader, an Iowa-based group of extremists that put together “The Marriage Vow” for GOP candidates, which argued, among other things, that slavery wasn’t that bad for African-American families.

The forum was about “social issues”—nothing hard like foreign policy. Held in the sanctuary of the First Federated Church of Des Moines, a church that has fought LGBT people for at least 15 years, it featured right-wing pollster Frank Luntz as a talk-show host. Gingrich received the loudest applause for his promise to restore the role of faith in American life. Either Iowans have the same short memories as Perry, or they chose to ignore Gingrich’s infidelity and three marriages.

Evangelical theology purports that until one’s heart has been broken, usually by one’s own sin, one will not be truly ready to receive Jesus as one’s personal Lord and Savior. Evangelical services often feature the tearful testimonials of those whose hearts are so broken; thus Luntz asked them to reveal the moments when their faith was most tested.

Ron Paul appeared the most uncomfortable, talking about an injury cutting short his high school track career, and Gringrich had to borrow a friend’s injured child. I’m guessing he didn’t want to talk about his first wife’s cancer because that was when he served her with divorce papers in the hospital after her surgery

Cain got to talk about when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, Rick Santorum berated himself for being emotionally distant from his youngest daughter who had almost died twice, and Bachmann revealed how her mother had to sell wedding gifts after the candidate’s father deserted the family.

Although Perry’s biggest problem was feeling “lost” when he left the Air Force at the age of 27, he was in his element with fundamental rites, something that doesn’t happen with any of the debates. Discussing the success of The Response, an event that brought 33,000 people together in Texas to pray for the country, he urged pastors to preach about values. “Somebody’s values are going to decide what the Congress votes on or what the president of the United States is going to deal with. And the question is: Whose values? And let me tell ya, it needs to be our values–values and virtues that this country was based upon by the Judeo-Christian Founding Fathers.” (Another part of conservatives’ revisionist history.)

Speaking of God in his life, Perry said, “I’ve been driven to my knees multiple times as the governor of the State of Texas, making decisions that are life or death–have huge impacts on people’s lives. The idea that I would walk into that without God Almighty holding me up would scare me to death.” Evidently God told him to kill those people whether they were innocent or not, including at least one person executed in violation of an international treaty.

In a preface to one question, Luntz explained that church-goers are happier than people who don’t go to church or pray, implying that liberals do neither. Gingrich agreed, saying that conservatives are “happy” while liberals are “angry” and “miserable.” Then his historian persona rolled in as he said that liberals were all products of the French Revolution.

“The French Revolution was an anti-clerical, anti-God rejection of the larger world in favor of secularism. It has dominated our academic world; our academic world supplies our news media, our courts and Hollywood. And so you have a faction in America today which believes things which are profoundly wrong. Now that is a fight; that’s not a passivity. And in a culture in which they know what they’re doing, and they are determined to destroy our value system, and we are passive and confused is a world in whichAmerica’s going to stay in deep trouble.” (More revisionist history.)

Bachmann accused the new health care law of forcing taxpayers to fund “chemical abortion” that she claimed was being “pushed” by Planned Parenthood. Many conservatives  don’t believe this, but the claim brings in votes and money. Private coverage for abortions may be almost nonexistent when the new health care law goes into effect which would make these candidates very happy.

Referring to the Occupy Movement, Gingrich quoted John Smith (of Pocahontas fame): “In 1607 in the first English speaking permanent colony, [Smith said] to the aristocrats who had paid their way and didn’t want to work: ‘If you don’t work, you won’t eat.’” He may have been confused about the “class” status of the current protesters. His vitriolic statement concluded with “Go get a job. Right after you take a bath.” I wonder if there are more openings at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for “historians.”

The candidates had an easy time in Des Moines last night. No questions about taking money from the government to advise its mortgage agencies, no questions about sexual assault or campaign fraud, no questions at all about embarrassing gaffes or long pauses. They all pretty much agreed to define “personhood” at conception, stop gay couples from adopting children, reverse restrictions of churches’ involvement in politics, and prevent same-sex marriage. People who think that the conservative movement is all about economics need to pay close attention to this showing of Christians demonstrating how they would turn the United States into a theocracy.

Sorry you missed the event? Check it out here. Otherwise wait until day after tomorrow when the full complement  of Republican candidates gathers at the DAR Constitution Hall (Washington, DC), 8pm ET, with sponsors CNN, The Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute. Wolf Blitzer moderates; the topic focuses foreign policy and national defense.

Happy turkey!


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