Nel's New Day

November 5, 2014

Election Day 2014: The Bad, the Good, the Funny

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 10:50 PM
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A 34-year-old woman dropped her severely autistic six-year-old son over 100 feet off an historic bridge on the Oregon Coast on Election  Day eve. The mother, whose husband has MS and a brain tumor, lost her ability to cope. The boy’s body was found four hours later a mile east of the bridge. The entire community is devastated by this act by a woman who could no longer cope and fastened balloons and stuffed animals on the railing of the mile-long span. A volunteer with a crisis line said that there are few resources for a family in this situation.

Many people who live in the richest country of the world cannot fathom this kind of desperation; they believe that people in need can always find resources. They’re wrong. The political party that spent $3 trillion on a war to keep control of oil leaves little assistance for people like this woman. Yesterday these selfish people, who give all the nation’s resources to the wealthiest people and corporations, increased their control over decisions about how this wealthy country spends its money.

The GOP gained at least seven seats in the senate with Alaska’s Sen. Mark Begich waiting to concede until after the absentee ballots are counted and Sen. Mark Warner hanging on by a hair in Virginia. Louisiana’s Sen. Mary Landrieu goes into a runoff with her GOP opponent on December 6. States with new GOP senators at this time are West Virginia, Arkansas, South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Iowa, and North Carolina. A Democrat may have taken Pennsylvania from GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, but three other states with Democratic governors lost to Republicans.

Oddities:

  • David Perdue, the man who has bragged about sending jobs offshore, will be the Georgia senator. In his acceptance speech, he said that he’ll focus on more jobs. He didn’t say where.
  • Pat Roberts, Virginia resident who lives in a recliner the few times he is in Kansas each year, kept his senate seat in that state.
  • George P. Bush won Texas land commissioner, becoming the first Bush in the dynasty to win his first election. H.W. lost a congressional election in 1964, and W. likewise in 1978. P.’s dad, Jeb, lost a bid for Florida in 1994.
  • Mitch McConnell was declared the winner in Kentucky just one minute after the polls closed. The Associated Press didn’t wait until any results came out. Did it know something about the election that the rest of us don’t?
  • Rep. Michael Grimm was reelected for his Staten Island congressional seat, despite his indictments on 20 counts for skimming $1 million from his former restaurant, mail and wire fraud, health care fraud, hiring undocumented workers, perjury and obstruction. He had also threatened a reporter by saying that he would “break you in half like a boy.”
  • Gov. Scott Walker is so pleased about his win that he’s already preening himself for a presidential run in two years.

Comments when Scott Brown lost his try to be senator of New Hampshire:

“The Constitution provides that every state has two Senators, but not every Senator has two states.”—Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

“[Scott Brown is the] first person in American history to have lost a Senate race to two different women.”—Rachel Maddow

And I’ll add “to two different women in two different states.” Jon Stewart joked on last night’s The Daily Show that Vermont is building a wall to keep Brown from moving over there.

The GOP spent today trying to convince people that this election proves the death of liberalism. Conservative columnist and Fox pundit Charles Krauthammer has a habit of minimizing Democratic ascendancy and exaggerating the party’s losses. When the Dems won in 2008, he wrote, “If you want to generalize off of this week’s election, it’s a mistake.” We can say the same thing about the GOP wins yesterday.

Positive pieces of the election:

Despite tempting offers from the GOP, Sen. Angus King (I-ME) plans to continue working with Democrats. He said, “My independence has always been respected” in the Democratic caucus, and “it’s in Maine’s interest” to have a senator represented in both parties.

Kentucky’s legislature has remained blue—as they have since 1921–creating a problem for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). His term is up in 2016, and he can’t run simultaneously for senator and president unless the state’s legislature changes the law stopping him from doing this. They refused before the election; the question is whether they’ll change his mind now.

The election of Democrat Alma Adams from North Carolina to the U.S. House makes her the 100th woman in Congress, the largest number in history. Currently, the Senate has 20 women, and the House has 79 women.

In my bright blue state of Oregon, the numbers are up for both the state House (17 – Dem, 12 – GOP, 1 undecided) and state Senate (35 – Dem, 25 – GOP). The governor is a Democrat as are four of the five U.S. House Representatives and both U.S. Senators. The state added an Equal Rights Amendment to its constitution, and a law mandating the labeling of GMO food is only 10,000 down, waiting for more results, despite being outspent by corporate naysayers by $12 million.

A nearby town just elected an all women city council and mayor, the latter being very progressive. The woman mayor of our town who has done amazing things to attract educational institutions during the past two years was re-elected.

In neighboring Washington state, people passed a gun safety law for extended background checks by 60 percent although five percent voted both for this and stopping any more background checks throughout the state. The Northwest is as positive in politics as it is in safety from dire consequences of climate change.

The awkward position for the GOP now is how they will resolve the problem between the ultra-conservative people elected and the progressive issues that they passed. Colorado and North Dakota both defeated personhood initiatives by two to one. Of the five states that passed increases in minimum wages, four are red states and at least two of them by two-to-1 votes: Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Carolina.

By a large margin, Missouri voters rejected a constitutional amendment to evaluate teachers based on test results and fire or demote them at will. People who vote in a progressive way won’t be pleased when their elected legislators ignore their wishes. Both Missouri and Montana defeated voter suppression measures.

The GOP might want to note the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” The GOP has had only one goal since Barack Obama was elected president—to take the Congress and wipe him out. They’re part of the way there. What now?  The party’s defacto leader, Rush Limbaugh, told listeners that Republicans “were not elected to govern” because their only purpose is to “stop Obama.” The conservative National Review agrees, warning Republicans about “the governing trap.”

The newest GOP members of Congress are not all Tea Partiers, but most of them lean that way. They’ve talked a good middle-of-the-road position but only to get elected. Now they can follow Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as he tries to push his party toward impeaching the president. The end result of that will be tea-party-vs.-establishment lines. If the GOP proves that members can work with Democrats, it will hurt them in 2016. Thus their reasoning:

  1. Governing would require some compromise.
  2. Compromising makes you a “hostage,” which is unacceptable.
  3. Ergo, don’t try to govern.

The GOP has no interest whatsoever in helping the country. Its leaders just want the power to do whatever they want. With this massive intransigence, legislation can pass only when one party controls both the White House and the two chambers of Congress while maintaining over 60 members in the Senate to avoid filibusters. Without these advantages, the GOP moves to Plan B—play politics until you achieve total control.

My Portland has emailed me a note of “comfort”:

“I am glad Oregon passed the pot law so that now we can just smoke it for the next few years and forget about the f**king election results everywhere else in the country!!!  This country so sucks–once again the forces of evil (and utter stupidity) have prevailed.  Thank goodness for the northwest!!!! Please let Texas secede!!!!”

I’m going to watch the GOP avoid governing and see what they do about the internecine war within their troops.

October 15, 2014

How Outrageous Can GOP Politicians Get? Part I

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 10:04 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The GOP has been able to naysay much of President Obama’s agenda during his past six years, but it has accomplished one major achievement other than the massive gridlock disgusting all facets of the U.S. population. Through the GOP’s constant negativity, it has convinced many people that they would do better if people under them in the income food change made even less money. Instead of looking up at the people who get richer and richer because of their abusive behavior toward the middle class, they look down with contempt on the poor to justify denying them anything. People who work hard but can’t even make a living are blamed for their poverty. Thanks to conservatives, hard work no longer has any dignity. They believe that if people want more money, they should just work harder to better themselves.

Through massive donations to elect conservatives and wide-spread gerrymandering after the 2010 election, congressional GOP candidates are making big plans about what they will do after they take over the Senate and House in less than three weeks. No matter what they are saying on the campaign trail, they intend to carry out the following if they get into control:

Slash Spending: No money to protect the country except for defense and draconian cuts everywhere including health care and Social Security.

Roll Back Financial Reform: No Wall Street regulation despite the popularity of that move and loss of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created to protect customers.

Repeal Obamacare: Eradication of such benefits as no pre-existing conditions, children remaining on parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, no caps, no subsidies for the poor—on and on.

Shut Down the Country: Another debacle like the last one that cost the economy $700 billion in economic activity and two million jobs.

Around the country, GOP candidates are spewing their hatred for a large segment of the U.S. population, beginning with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who hopes to be Majority Leader in a few short weeks.

His state was one of the most successful in obtaining health care for people. Kentucky is one of the poorest states in the nation, 39th in the nation followed by ten other Southern states, and a massive education campaign allowed hundreds of thousands of people to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act. In just that state, 531,000 people signed up for health care through the Affordable Care Act, 75 percent of them previously uninsured. That’s almost ten percent of the state’s population with health insurance who did not have it before “Obamacare.”

McConnell wants to destroy this although he said, “It’s fine to have a website, yeah.” Evidently, he wants to do away with the federal subsidy that makes insurance more affordable for most of his constituents but keep the website. McConnell also said that “Obamacare” would cost the nation 2.5 million jobs. What the nonpartisan CBO said, however, is that the law allows 2.5 million people to leave the workforce because they don’t have to be afraid of health costs.

Another big issue in Kentucky is the minimum wage: Mitch McConnell is opposed to even a modest $10.10 per hour. Opponent Alison Grimes accused him of getting “rich while consistently voting to keep Kentucky poor and we can’t have a senator like that any longer.” McConnell justified his wealth by saying that he inherited it with no mention of his $193,400 annual salary. With a net wealth of $22.8 million, he’s also in the top 10 percent of wealthiest senators. His wife’s inheritance came from her father who imported Chinese goods into the United States. Identifying himself as a member of the “party of the private sector,” McConnell has never had a private sector job.

Among all the offensive actions of GOP candidates, my vote for the worst goes to former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, now running for the same position in New Hampshire after he lost to Elizabeth Warren two years ago. His opponent is again a woman, this time incumbent Jeanne Shaheen. This video at the University of New Hampshire shows how he smiled while his audience shouted such epithets as “F**k Jeanne Shaheen,” “F**k Elizabeth Warren,” and “F**k her right in the p**y.” There were also references to one of the two women as a “c**t.” Tweets indicated that Brown also gave beer to undergrads at the event. Brown also displayed sexism toward earlier opponents, Warren and Martha Coakley.

AP A NH USA Democrats BucklyAnother New Hampshire misogynist, state Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, wrote that U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.) will likely lose her House seat because she’s “ugly as sin” and “looks matter in politics.” His diatribe continued by saying, “I hope I haven’t offended sin.” Vaillancourt finds Kuster’s GOP opponent, Marilinda Garcia (left), the right level of attractiveness—not too much and not too little. Even Garcia was appalled at these statements.

marilinda-garciaann-mclane-kuster

Some religious people claim that the new rulings in favor of marriage equality are responsible for Ebola, but Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) has another reason: President Obama has brought the virus to the United States to take control of the country through emergency powers. The legislator has made up “Executive order 1332 or 33” and claims that the information is in Forbes. Last week, conservative columnist Morgan Brittany may have planted the seed for Stockman’s conspiracy theory by writing, “My fear is that this has all been orchestrated from the very beginning.” Only one person in the country has died from Ebola. That case was in Stockman’s state of Texas where bad health protocol sent away a man with a temperature of 103 degrees who said that he had come from a country where Ebola is killing people.

Adding to the “I’m not a scientist” response to avoid answers about human-caused climate change, denier Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) says, “I am a scientist.” After a BS in biology 40 years ago, he went on to graduate from medical school and now works as general surgeon. Denying pays well: the oil and gas industry was his third biggest donor for the past election. He claims he hasn’t found any scientific evidence about human-created climate change although peer-reviewed science literature has a 97-percent agreement that carbon emissions—caused by people—are a major cause of climate change.

Jim Bob Duggar isn’t running for anything except maybe greatest procreator (19 children with wife Michelle and counting), but he has been an Arkansas state representative. He explains that “the pill can allow women to get pregnant, but then it can be aborted.” He learned that from a “Christian doctor.” As some doctors in Congress prove, they can be very ignorant.

Georgia GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, David Perdue, felt that the North Carolina-based textile maker Pillowtex and its largest financial backer, Oaktree Capital Management, had no understanding of “the vulnerability that I was in.” The former Pillowtex CEO squeezed at least $1.2 million upon his leaving when the company went bankrupt and 7,600 people lost their jobs. Of that sum, $700,000 went to pay taxes because his Reebok stock did so well.

Running as a “job creator,” Perdue wants to create jobs in other countries instead of the United States. When asked about his career of outsourcing, he said, “I’m proud of it. This is a part of American business, part of any business. Outsourcing is the procurement of products and services to help your business run. People do that all day.”

GOP Jeff Bell is 20 points behind his opponent, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, among women voters. This statement might explain why:

“I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and looked at a lot of different polls, I think it has more to do with the rise in single women. Single mothers particularly are automatically Democratic because of the benefits. They need benefits to survive, and so that kind of weds them to the Democratic Party.”

Some GOP legislators are so far over the edge that the Republicans don’t know what to do. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has consistently been on TV to tell people that ISIS militants are coming to the U.S. across the Mexican border. Both the U.S. and Mexico have claimed that he’s 100 percent wrong, but Hunter claims he has a “secret source.” When asked about it, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), 2016 presidential possible, answered, “It could happen.” Not a very useful answer. Then he said that they should get answers from the administration. But they already have: DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson called the allegations “categorically false.”

There’s more about outrageous GOP candidates tomorrow in Part II.

August 9, 2014

Townhalls Gone But Craziness Worse

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:34 PM
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Summer in the past always meant townhall meetings as members of Congress took advantage of their long vacation to talk to constituents. The sometimes-violent interactions of 2009 during the heat of Affordable Care Act controversy slowed them down, and people now have to pay to see their representatives and senators most of the time. And pay, some people do—for example Dreamers, young people allowed to stay in the United States by executive order–so that they could confront Rep. Steve King (R-IA) at the Okoboji Barefoot Bar.

Collateral damage for the encounter was Sen. Rand Paul who took a last bit of his hamburger, grabbed his beer, and took off for parts unknown. Soundly ridiculed for his cowardice, Paul said that he had already scheduled another interview—probably why he needed his beer. Paul’s veracity, however, is frequently called into question as videos show him lying about not wanting to do away with the Civil Rights Act and not wanting to send aid to Israel. He also claims to be a “board-accredited” ophthalmologist although the American Board of Ophthalmologists have not certified him. There’s also the record of all the plagiarism in his writings, including published books.

At least, Paul got away before King embarrassed himself—again. Perhaps trying to be placating, King said to one of the Dreamers, “You’re very good at English.” She answered, “I was raised in the United States.”

According to Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), the U.S. is in a new war, and he doesn’t mean Iraq. During an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, he accused the Democratic Party of a “war on whites.” He was responding to National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who told Fox News host Chris Wallace that “the fastest growing voting bloc in this country thinks the Republican Party hates them. This party, your party, cannot be the party of the future beyond November if you’re seen as the party of white people.” Even Ingraham thought the comment was a bit far-fetched, telling him it was “a little out there.” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Brooks’ comment a “pretty idiotic thing to say.”

Columnist Eugene Robinson responded by saying that any “war on whites” was certainly failing. He begins with the huge gap in median household income between whites and minorities: Hispanics made 40 percent less than whites, and blacks are almost 30 percent below incomes of whites. The average white family has almost six times as much wealth as the average black or Hispanic family. Robinson also describes the horrific treatment of black people in Alabama, 60-year-old Brooks’ home state, because they wanted to integrate and vote while the Congressman was growing up there.

With a lead of less than 0.4 percent, Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, seems to be desperate in his campaign ads against opponent Mary Burke. His unfavorable rating is up to 47 percent and approval down to 45 percent. The man whose recall campaign benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Koch brothers is now condemning Burke for being a “one-percenter” and sneering at her business success. The man who promised to bring business and jobs to the state by breaking the unions took the state to 13th from the bottom in job creation in 2013.

Scott Brown continues to fumble in his candidacy for New Hampshire senator. Earlier this summer, he blasted his opponent, incumbent Jeanne Shaheen, for not appearing with President Obama while he was “in town.” The “town” was Worcester (MA), south of the New Hampshire border.

Brown’s lack of memory also continues to haunt him. When he tried to nail Shaheen for raising the debt ceiling (to prevent U.S. default), he forgot he had voted the same way as Shaheen. That criticism was last May, but he didn’t learn his lesson. This week, he attacked Shaheen on border security in an op-ed, condemning “pro-amnesty policies that have encouraged people to come here illegally,” specifically “in-state tuition for illegals.”

Aside from the fact that “illegal” is not a noun, Brown forgot that he had voted in favor of state legislation to make undocumented immigrants “eligible for in-state tuition rates and fees at the University of Massachusetts, or any commonwealth state or community college.”

The man who would be senator again suffers from other problems. Last month he hid in a bathroom to avoid talking about the Hobby Lobby case. The month before, he resigned from the board of a Florida firearm manufacturer that didn’t manufacture firearms after a reporter confronted him about his participation.

Brown also called former colleagues “urging” them to a bipartisan energy-efficiency bill last spring but denied that he was actually “lobbying.” The bill included such provisions as making it easier for consumers to buy “smart metered” water heaters that had already passed the Republican-led House. One of the co-sponsors was Brown’s opponent, Jeanne Shaheen; it might have looked bad for him if she were a success.

Another senate candidate, Oregon’s Monica Wehby, has had to dump one of her committee leaders after Buzzfeed pointed out that he had been convicted of domestic violence and sentenced to 17 months in prison. After only two weeks as co-chair of a business coalition, Tim Moles, CEO of Joules Power, resigned. Charges against Moles included beating his wife unconscious at a New Year’s Eve party, assaulting her two other times, and threatening to kill her. A fellow inmate at the jail where Moles was held claimed Moles offered him a share of his wife’s life insurance policy for killing her. Wehby might want to consider vetting her campaign leaders.

Sixty-three Republican party members in Texas have signed a legal brief stating that same-sex marriage opens the door to things like pedophilia and incest being legalized. This hasn’t happened anywhere in the state and countries legalizing marriage equality, but that doesn’t stop the crazies. Signers include the nominee for lieutenant governor, House Speaker, and incoming attorney general.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has started his 14-state bus tour with a new reason for his party’s lack of productivity: it’s the Senate’s fault. Gone is all the talk about judging the House on how many laws they repealed—because they haven’t repealed any. The only reference about the health care law is that it needs “tweaking.”

Boehner’s new message is a non-combative approach. “We’ve got solutions,” he said. Asked what the Republicans would do if they took over the senate, Boehner said he hadn’t given it much thought. He is taking credit for VA Department reform, however, which took six months and a public outcry against the GOP.

The latest member of House leadership, Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), did raise a few eyebrows around the country. He needs a bigger staff so a federal lobbyist is advising him on who to hire. Ethics lawyers and leadership aides say it’s never been done before. His advisor, John Feehery, is registered to lobby for major corporations such as AT&T, Sony Corp., Qualcomm, 21st Century Fox and others with interests before Congress and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Scalise is a member of that committee.

As Tea Partiers try to move back to their 2010 success when they forced the House to move even farther right, Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) is an icon for their hypocrisy. The antichoice, “pro-family” medical doctor, who came into Congress with the 2010 class, is currently only 35 votes ahead of his opponent in last week’s primary. DesJarlais has some baggage: spousal abuse, serial adultery of at least eight affairs, sexual relationships with patients resulting in fines and reprimands, and at least three occasions of encouraging a woman to have an abortion (twice his soon-to-be-former wife, once a patient). Then there was the time that he used a gun to intimidate his first wife during an argument. Most of these issues were revealed in his divorce papers from his first wife immediately after his 2012 re-election.

Thus far, DesJarlais has 34,787 votes. Both he and his opponent, Jim Tracy, have declared victory, but the battle could drag on for weeks before provisional ballots are counted. Two of DesJarlais’ donors are Speaker Boehner and Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Candidates do get worse than DesJarlais. Tye “Glenn” Champ, fifth in a field of 15 GOP gubernatorial candidates in California, has been arrested for shooting a man and horse, killing the horse, before he fled. Champ is a registered sex offender who told voters he’s doing things “God’s way.” He got 58,747 votes. His criminal record goes back almost 30 years. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter after he ran over a competitor trash collector. Other charges have included attempted murder and animal cruelty.

Also following “God’s way,” Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Assistant Majority Whip, sent Christian Bibles to each congressional member of Congress with notes explaining that the Bibles are “to help guide you in your decision-making.” The notes also state, “Our staffs provide us with policy memos, statistics, and recommendations that help us make informed decisions. However, I find that the best advice comes through meditating on God’s Word.”

Palazzo was also first elected in 2010. We can only meditate on what the Bible communications about lying, sexual assault, killing, and other peccadilloes that our politicians, many of them Tea Partiers, exhibit.

 

February 2, 2013

Senate Engages in Rude Discourse

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:36 PM
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paul Mccain Yesterday I wrote about Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) rudeness to a past GOP senator when he raked Chuck Hagel over the coals during the Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense. It appears that Republican senators have declared open season on each other. On the Senate floor, an hour after the hearing, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) derided Mr. McCain’s opposition to his measure that would punish Egypt as “spurious and really, frankly, absurd.”

Other GOP senators adamantly refuse to support Hagel for the position, and yesterday Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both from Texas, said that they weren’t ruling out a Texas procedural roadblocks to stop Mr. Hagel’s nomination. If they used a filibuster, it would be the first time in history that this “roadblock” would be used to block a cabinet appointee. I’m not fond of Hagel because of his past anti-LGBT and anti-abortion positions, but that should make him more desirable to Republicans. Even a Republican decorated Vietnam veteran isn’t far enough right for some of those in his party.

The virulent GOP opposition to one of their own follows a recent history of growing disregard for each other. In December, Bob Dole, the former majority leader, appeared on the Senate floor in a wheelchair to advocate for a disability treaty. After he was wheeled away, many of his GOP colleagues, including those who had previously praised the measure, voted against the measure. When Dole was in the Senate, he was to the right of the party; now he is considered far left.

Earlier this week, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) referred on talk radio to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as “amazingly naïve” for his proposals to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Somehow Vitter managed to get re-elected to Congress the last time after his phone number appeared in a client list of a Washington madam and he publicly apologized.

In The New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer writes about the history of Senate relations. In the 1790s, Thomas Jefferson wrote the first rules manual for the Senate. Members were told not to refer to each other by name but instead say the “distinguished senator from state of X or Y” and address each another through the chairman rather than directly. Members are not supposed to question one another’s motives or criticize individual states. Before the advent of television, cutting words, such as one member calling another a “rancid tub of ignorance,” were removed from the Congressional Record.

Many newly-elected conservative senators have less regard for the old rules of jurisdictional courtesy and respect. Fear runs among the less radically conservative because of Tea Party opposition, especially those who are up for re-election in 2014 such as Cornyn. In the past, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had a cordial relationship with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), but McConnell, with his own re-election looming, cannot any longer afford this friendship.

In the last election, Olympia Snowe (R-MA) did not run for a third term, citing hyper-partisanship leading to a dysfunctional Congress. She and her former fellow Senator from Maine, Susan Collins, are regarded as leading moderates within their party. In 2006, Snowe was named one of America’s Best Senators by Time. Her voting record consistently showed her as a centrist.

Even GOP Senators who have been part of the Congressional problems are quitting. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) announced a week ago that he will not seek a third term in 2014. “The debt ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal cliff vote showed Congress at its worse. And sadly, I don’t see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon,” he said. Chambliss won his first term, using images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein next to photographs of his Democratic opponent, Sen. Max Cleland. Sen. Cleland lost three of his limbs and received the Silver and Bronze Stars during his service in Vietnam. Chambliss used two deferments from bad knees after a football injury to stay out of service.

For the upcoming Massachusetts election, former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has decided not to run for the position vacated by John Kerry, now Secretary of State. Now Scott is scrambling for a job, and the state GOP is scrambling for a candidate. The primary is April 30 and the general election is June 25. In one of his more controversial statements while running against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who won the 2012 election, he commented that he was glad she had not posed nude the way that he did for Cosmopolitan 30 years ago.

scott-brown-nude-cosmo

As Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said: “It’s leadership. It’s pure leadership. When the goal is always to win the next election, rather than to put the country on the right course, whether it’s a Republican leading it or the– a Democrat leading it, the Senate is not going to work.”

With no real resolution to the filibuster problem, the next two years are guaranteed to be even less civil.

September 26, 2012

Last Two Weeks – Part Two

Republican desperation is getting more and more obvious as Election Day gets ever closer–41 days now.  Mitt Romney is back on the campaign trail blaming the president for the loss of over 500,000 manufacturing jobs during the last four years while his company, Bain Capital, has been sending them out of the country for years.

Missing in his talking points were the facts that George W. Bush lost 4.5 million manufacturing jobs in eight years and President Obama has picked up over 300,000 in the last two years. The most recent loss of manufacturing jobs are the 170 workers in Freeport (IL) who will be laid off in November when Bain sends Sensata Technologies to China. As usual, Romney tries to hide behind a “blind trust” that he said in the past that he controlled.

During Romney’s campaigning he has also accused President Obama of raising taxes during his tenure. The new Romney, however, has different information. Yesterday he told a reporter,  “[Obama’s] idea, now, he’s got one new, he’s got one new idea. I admit this, he has one thing he did not do in his first four years, he’s said he’s going to do in his next four years, which is to raise taxes.” As usual, his campaigners have tried to show that Romney really didn’t mean what he said.

The most desperate campaign tack, however, comes from a sitting senator, Scott Brown (R-MA). Throughout the summer he has attacked his opponent, Elizabeth Warren, because she has described herself as having Native American background. There’s no proof that she has this background, but that’s true of many people with the same background. My partner’s family, for example, has always told her that she is part Choctaw. No proof, but it’s part of her family legend.

In the lead-up to their debate last week, Brown declared that he knew Warren couldn’t have any Native American background because she didn’t look like one. It appears that Brown can identify ethnic background based on appearance. The situation got even uglier when his staffers, financed by tax payers, ridiculed Native Americans by fake war whoops and tomahawk chops at a Republican fundraiser.

Bill John Baker, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation denounced Brown’s campaign staffers for their actions against Native Americans and asked Brown to apologize: “The conduct of these individuals goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse. The use of stereotypical ‘war whoop chants’ and ‘tomahawk chops’ are offensive and downright racist. It is those types of actions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native peoples.”

After a long day of criticism, Brown decided to say that he could not condone such behavior. For the record, Brown has no proof that Warren does not have Native American heritage.

Evidently Rep. Todd Akin (R-MI), authority of how women cannot get pregnant from “legitimate rape,” is not the only family member who is knowledgeable about rape. In raging against the Republican party for abandoning her husband after his ill-conceived statement, Lulli Akin, the U.S. Senate candidate’s wife, described the attempt get Akin to drop out of the race as “tyranny, a top-down approach.” In an interview with The National Journal, she also said, “Party bosses dictating who is allowed to advance through the party and make all the decisions–it’s just like 1776 in that way.” According to Lulli Akin, that was when colonists “rose up and said, ‘Not in my home, you don’t come and rape my daughters and my … wife. But that is where we are again.”

Yesterday I wrote that Congress had left town to campaign while blaming Democrats for stalling and inaction. Here are a few things that they left undone, proving that Romney is not the only politician who doesn’t care about 47 percent of the country’s population:

  • The re-authorization of the Violence against Women Act
  • The American Jobs Act [although they blame the president for not enough jobs]
  • Sequestration [that started when the Republicans played games with raising the debt ceiling]
  • Tax Cuts for Working Families
  • The Farm Bill [with the current bill expiring in four days]
  • Veterans Job Corps. Act [passed by the Senate with a 95-1 vote, Rand Paul (R-KY) the only  opposition, and the Air Force Times reporting that the Republican-controlled House has shown “no interest in passing an Obama-initiated measure before the November elections”]
  • Wind Tax Credit [originally authored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and providing jobs]

Many of us in this country assume that all young people are required to have an education. Not in four states, including Virginia. The state’s religious exemption from mandatory school attendance means there are no educational requirements. There may be 7,000 young people who fit into this category.

Good News:

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas (WI) has ruled that the state law ending collective bargaining rights for most public workers violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. The ruling comes after a lawsuit brought by the Madison teachers union and a union for Milwaukee city employees. The law was one of the first that Gov. Scott Walker brought to the state. 

Odd News:

The Mormon religion has a bad habit of posthumously baptizing people, sometimes causing great anguish to their families. Ann Romney’s father, an atheist, was baptized after his death. Many Jewish Holocaust victims have also been supposedly converted to Mormonism through this practice. Recently it was discovered that President Obama’s mother was posthumously baptized by the Mormon Church on June 4, 2008. The Mormon Church has claimed that it asked congregations to stop doing this, but it’s still occurring. [It’s old news, but I hadn’t heard this before.]

With Republican actions so misinformed and ignorant during this election round, identifying satire has become increasingly more difficult. Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa, told the New York Times, “I hate to say this, but if [Paul] Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him.” The question of satire comes from Politico’s columnist, Roger Simon, when he described how Paul Ryan doesn’t like the directions “dictated by his Romney handlers.”

According to Simon, Ryan has “been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, ‘If Stench calls, take a message’ and ‘Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.'” According to Rachel Maddow, “the piece isn’t identified as satire, Simon is a chief political correspondent and not a satirist, and the column is filled with details and anecdotes that are, in fact, accurate. If it is satire, it’s awfully tough to tell.”

Romney got a little specific about taxes in a speech in Ohio: “We have got to reform our tax system. Small businesses most typically pay taxes at the individual tax rate. And so our individual income taxes are the ones I want to reform. Make them simpler. I want to bring the rates down. By the way, don’t be expecting a huge cut in taxes because I’m also going to lower deductions and exemptions. But by bringing rates down we will be able to let small businesses keep more of their money so they can hire more people.”

Huh?

August 22, 2012

Did You Lose Your Right to Vote?

Over 180 bills that restrict voting have been introduced in 41 states since the beginning of 2011; 34 states successfully passed such restrictions as mandating photo ID and limiting times when people can vote. Nowhere are these new laws more important than in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Although voting should be a constitutional right, the controls in different states limit the abilities of people to vote differently. People have different voting rights depending on where they live.

Initially conservatives tried to justify voter restriction by claiming massive voter fraud. Now, many admit that there’s no problem. An investigation of 2,068 purported cases of fraud during the last decade found only 10 cases of fraud among 146 million voters—one per 15 million voters. James O’Keefe, notorious for video stings, showed two supposed non-citizens voting. Both are actually U.S. citizens. Despite the falsehoods of his video, O’Keefe will be a Republican conference speaker at an exclusive luncheon where he will talk about “the role of the citizen journalist.”

Florida started purging their voting roles weeks ago with no apparent reason other than trying to hoping to keep more liberal voters from participating in the process. This was after Florida passed draconian laws preventing people from registering new voters. Then they moved forward in their attempts to limit students, seniors, and the poor from voting by curtailing the times that people could vote in the last election. A federal appeals court stopped the state from limiting early voting because it was determined racially discriminatory under the federal Voting Rights Act.

Because this act covers only five of Florida’s 67 counties, Tampa plus four other small counties, there is a question about what the state will do now. If the state fails to file an amended plan for Justice Department approval, the entire election reform bill will be struck down. Gov. Rick Scott persuaded four of the five states that voters would be fine with polls open for 12 hours during eight days of early voting. The fifth election supervisor, a Republican in the Florida Keys, is sticking to his guns, and Scott is threatening to fire him.

The state of Ohio isn’t covered by the Voting Rights Act so the Republicans in charge of county voting and the Republican secretary of state John Husted have limited early voting to 8:00 am-5:pm on weekdays. Doug Preisse, chair of the Franklin County Republican party, said, “We shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban, read African-American, voter-turnout machine.” Because many people who want to vote earlier also work during the day, 82 percent of those who cast their votes in the last election went to the polls during the now-banned times.

Politics got even nastier in Ohio when Husted, who had established the restrictive voting times, removed the two Democrats on the Montgomery County Board of Elections. Because Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie, Sr., did not see any written prevention of weekend voting, they brought up the issue at the board meeting. A 2-2 tie along party lines sent the issue to Husted to settle where all the problems with voting times began. Because all county election boards are split 50-50 between Democrats and two Republicans, Republican Husted makes the final decision.

Husted’s letter to the country election board demanded that it rescind Lieberman’s motion and threatened them with being fired if they didn’t. Lieberman, an attorney and former county Democratic Party chair, refused to withdraw his motion, arguing both that his motion did not violate the directive and that it was best for local voters. Both Democrats were suspended; the two Republicans remained on the board.

In Pennsylvania, a Republican state court judge ruled that the new voter ID law is constitutional.  One of the lead plaintiffs, a 93-year-old woman, doesn’t have her birth certificate or any photo ID because her purse was stolen while she was shopping, but the Republican judge didn’t see this as a problem. Also the name on her birth certificate was different from that on other documents, a not unusual situation for any woman who changed her name after she married, but a situation that can keep her from voting. Since the lawsuit, election officials gave her an ID card, an illegal action for them, but she is just one of possibly 600,000 people who would have to go to extremes to gain the ability to vote for the first time in their lives.

Watching the Pennsylvania photo ID court case unfold was black comedy. Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai (R-PA) was very open about his opinion that photo ID would guarantee Mitt Romney’s election:  “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.” The commonwealth’s Republican governor, Tom Corbett—the same guy who signed the measure into law—couldn’t remember what IDs he is making his constituents have to vote. During her testimony, Carole Aichele, secretary of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth, didn’t know what the law said but was positive that 99 percent of voters had valid identification. She just couldn’t provide an evidence for her claim.

The pre-hearing filing made all this very clear:

– There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania

– The state is not aware of any in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania

– The state will not offer any evidence that in-person voter fraud has occurred

– The state will not offer any evidence or argument that in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in the absence of the photo ID law

According to the Supreme Court ruling in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood, plaintiffs have to show that a law is unconstitutional—extremely difficult until it goes into effect. Gonzales v. Carhart requires the court to make the assumption that legislators make laws in good faith—frequently no longer true and certainly not true with the photo ID laws. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced the day after the ruling to keep photo IDs that he was dumping plans to let voters apply online for absentee ballots and register online to vote. During testimony in the case, the governor’s administration had promised to take these two actions, but, heck, they won. They don’t need to help people register to vote.

Fortunately, the Department of Justice is investigating the effects of the Pennsylvania law.

In Massachusetts, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) protested a federal voter registration law. The 1993 National Voter Registration Act, sometimes called the Motor Voter bill, mandates that citizens be offered the opportunity to register to vote when they get a driver’s license or apply for social services. Sued for lack of compliance, the Commonwealth settled the case out of court and agreed to contact by mail 477,944 welfare recipients who might have been denied their right to be offered a chance to register to vote. Because the daughter of Elizabeth Warren, Scott’s opponent, is chair of one of the boards that sued, Brown made this statement:

“I want every legal vote to count, but it’s outrageous to use taxpayer dollars to register welfare recipients as part of a special effort to boost one political party over another. This effort to sign up welfare recipients is being aided by Elizabeth Warren’s daughter and it’s clearly designed to benefit her mother’s political campaign. It means that I’m going to have to work that much harder to get out my pro-jobs, pro-free enterprise message.”

One conservative governor deserves praise. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, known for appointing removing democracy from towns and schools in his state by appointing emergency managers, vetoed voter suppression laws. In his veto statement, he wrote that “voting rights are precious.”

Conservatives that lose the voter restrictions might be able to rig the election through computers. The swing states of Pennsylvania and Virginia use paperless systems that cannot do recounts and have no way to recover lost votes. Two large suburban counties around Denver (CO) also have no audit trail. Much of Ohio and Nevada use touchscreen electronic machines that print a cash register-like record of votes; Ohio does require polls to have backup paper ballots. Printouts from these computers, however, may not be the legal equivalent of a paper ballot marked by a voter if a recount is necessary.

Other swing states, such as Florida, North Carolina, and much of New Hampshire, scan paper ballots that may miss votes. Earlier this year, Palm Beach County (FL) scanners identified the wrong winner in two local contests, an error not discovered until a routine audit the next week. In 2010, Humboldt County (CA) officials finally figured out that when they re-scanned batches of mail-in ballots that the previous batch count was erased. The manufacturer knew about that problem but hadn’t told a new local election official. In the recent New York City congressional primary involving Rep. Charlie Rangel, officials failed to record all of the results from optical scan tabulators causing some precincts to report zero votes.

Computers also allow gatekeepers to magically “discover” more votes after an election.. Such was the case with Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus who personally got David Prosser his place on the Wisconsin Supreme Court because she was the only person in charge of the computers that “found” 7,582 votes for him, two days after the election, just enough for Prosser to win the election without a recount. Wisconsin’s state’s attorney general announced yesterday that he is filing a petition to the Supreme Court to place a harsh state photo identification law—already ruled unconstitutional by two Wisconsin judges—into effect before the November election.

When he signed the Voting Rights Act 47 years ago, President Johnson called the right to vote “the basic right without which all others are meaningless.” It seems that Republicans beg to differ.

June 8, 2012

Whither the Affordable Care Act?

It’s June, the month when the U.S. Supreme Court promised to hand down its decision regarding the Affordable Care Act. As Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) wrote in The Hill, “The court could choose to uphold the entire law, strike down the entire law or strike part of the law–the individual mandate and the expansion of Medicaid. If any part stays in place, Republicans are committed to repealing the president’s failed healthcare law.”

Yes, the faithful Republicans are just salivating to get started on this project.  In fact they already took a vote yesterday in the House on a piece of it. Forget that it has nothing to do with jobs or the economy, that the ACA may just stop some of the bankruptcies and home foreclosures because of the crushing debt from health issues.

Barrasso continued to explain how the Republicans will “fix” the problems of ACA: lower the costs of healthcare; keep people healthy by making better choices in their care; reduce the number of uninsured Americans; and end the practice of ordering expensive and unnecessary tests. Republicans tend to ignore the fact that the current ACA does much of what he wants. Some of his goals are made more difficult by keeping health care insurance in the private sector without necessary regulations to keep the costs down. Competition in this arena has meant that insurance companies can jack up their prices far beyond inflation each year, giving more and more money to the shareholders and CEOs.

Some Republicans don’t follow Barrasso’s plan of getting rid of the entire ACA. House GOP Policy Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) grudgingly acknowledged that “there are some things that have been instituted that folks have begun to rely on and make their family plans on.” Some conservatives and lots of other people actually like the provisions that are already going into effect, such as parents being able to insure their children until they reach the age of 26. At this time 6.6 million young people have been added to their parents’ insurance since the ACA went into effect. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) wants this provision despite his voting to repeal the entire ACA last year.

Even when lawmakers oppose the ACA, they use it. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), who has voted three times to repeal the law, insures his 23-year-old daughter, Ayla.  Brown sees nothing hypocritical in his stand: he claims that the federal government doesn’t need the law because individual states could require this coverage. Notice that Brown is from Massachusetts, the only state that does have similar health care to the ACA.

Even Tea Party member Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who is so far right that he accused 80 Democrats in Congress of being card-carrying Communists, has praised some key ACA provisions after voting to repeal the act. In addition to support parents’ insurance of children, West wants to close Medicare’s prescription drug “donut hole” that currently prevents insurance for part of the prescription coverage and ban insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

West fails to understand that keeping the popular pre-existing condition ban won’t work without the individual mandate or a similar method of getting healthy people to buy insurance. If only sick people buy insurance, it becomes unaffordable for all.  The Government Accountability Office reported that insurance companies may determine that as many as one-third of the people in the United States have preexisting conditions such as hypertension or diabetes. With the ACA, these people either pay higher premiums or be denied coverage unless they are covered by an employer.

Republicans try to make people afraid by claiming that the costs of health care would skyrocket under ACA. Instead, the law requires insurers to justify premium increases of more than 10 percent; last year one California insurance company tried to raise its premiums by 41 percent. The ACA also mandates that insurers spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care, not advertising or generous administrative bonuses. Insurers that don’t meet this mandate will bge required to rebate any expenditures under 80 percent to the clients. Both these requirements cut into the greedy profits that insurance companies make, causing them to lobby against ACA.

The Affordable Care Act also creates a marketplace of state-based insurance exchanges to make health plans more affordable for small businesses and individuals. The law also saves money because it requires insurers to pay for prevention. People are opposed to the ACA because Republicans lie about its benefits and work to convince everyone that affordable health care is a bad thing. If they had supported the act as they did before President Obama proposed it, the majority of the  people in this country would view affordable health care as a positive and perhaps even want single-payer health care.

Although ACA has not completely gone into effect, the Center for American Progress has reported on the gains for women:

“[M]ore than 45 million women have already taken advantage of recommended preventive services, including mammograms, pap smears, prenatal care, well-baby care, and well-child care with no cost sharing such as co-pays and deductibles. Starting this August, millions more will be able to obtain contraception, annual well-woman care (a visit with a gynecologist), screening for gestational diabetes, breastfeeding counseling and supplies, and screening for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and the Human papillomavirus—again at no extra cost. In addition, women will no longer encounter discrimination in the health insurance market in the form of lost maternity coverage, higher premiums due to their gender, and denials of coverage for gender-related pre-existing conditions. Indeed, close to 9 million women will gain coverage for maternity care in the individual market starting in 2014. And provisions in the new health law that protect everyone will especially benefit women, who utilize the health care system the most.”

Republicans who want to repeal ACA prefer that women pay a higher cost for insurance, be denied affordable maternity coverage, and lose preventive services. If ACA is struck down, the conservatives certainly won’t provide any of the above advantages for half the population. They don’t want to make women healthier; they just want to stop women’s birth control to force women into pregnancy.

A friend, recently returned home from England, wrote this the letter to the editor about her experience with their so-called “socialist” single-payer health care:

I recently returned from a month traveling in England.  While traveling, I had to go to the emergency room (ER), not once but twice.  It was unfortunate to experience two mishaps, but extremely fortunate that this occurred in the UK.  I received courteous, efficient, kind, and excellent medical care – and it was FREE.   It is a truly amazing experience to receive excellent medical care at no cost and to be treated so well in the process.  And the 2nd time I went to the ER, it was packed with 40-50 people waiting to be treated.  I broke my wrist so there was no way I could be processed quickly – and I was still in and out within 3 hours.

The one question we encountered throughout our trip was why Americans are so opposed to having universal health care.  The Brits are totally baffled by this and cannot understand why we are so opposed to something so beneficial.   It baffles me as well.  After my wonderful experience with the National Health Service in the UK, I am even more baffled than before I took this trip.  This accident prone Yank is very grateful for the health care system that the Brits have – and only wishes we had the same.

Two religions dominate the Supreme Court: six of the justices, including the five conservative ones, are Catholic; the remaining three are Jewish. Theoretically, Catholic leadership believes in providing health care for all—as long as it doesn’t provide for women’s reproductive care other than their being forced to have an unlimited number of babies. Despite the requirement that the Supreme Court determine their rulings based on legality, three-fourths of the people in the United States believe that the justices use personal and political beliefs to make their decisions.

If the justices decide that the ACA doesn’t fit into their constitutional beliefs, are Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security next?

December 19, 2011

House Republicans Drop the Ball on Middle America

The payroll tax cut looked like a done deal last Saturday after the Senate passed a two-month extension with a 89-10 vote. All 39 Republicans voted in favor, and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said that the House would also vote in favor.

The good news about the Senate bill:

An extension of the payroll tax cut for 160 million working Americans

An extension of federally-funded, long-term unemployment benefits for 1.8 million Americans in just January

Prevention of a 27 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements for doctors

The bad news about the Senate bill: Republicans forced a provision to make the president to make a decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline within 60 days. (More about that later.)

Because Republicans insisted that the continuation of the tax cut be paid for from other funds while refusing to accept a 1.9 percent surtax on millionaires, the bill included an increase in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fees which would cover just two months. For the other ten months the Republicans wanted to take money from the middle class to pay the middle tax so the Senate delayed this discussion. The bill passed, both sides in the Senate agreed to hammer out a solution in another two months, and the Senate adjourned for the year.

After Boehner said yes, he said no. Although a minority of House Republicans was willing to support the bill, Boehner didn’t want to make the others look bad by voting against the bill. He also wants to kill the economy so that President Obama will look bad. After saying that the House would vote down the Senate bill—which Minority Leader Mitch McConnell loved—he even refused to put the bill up to the House for a vote

Without the payroll tax extension, here’s what happens to the economy:

Reduce GDP growth by 0.5 percent and cost the economy 400,000 jobs (Macroeconomic Advisers)

Knock off 1.5 percent off of first quarter growth next year (Barclay)

Extending the payroll tax extension the economy would continue to improve:

Add between 750,000 to 1 million jobs (Ameriprise Financial Services)

Add 1 percent to economic growth and create 1 million jobs next year (Susan Wachter, finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School)

Put $120 billion into U.S. households in 2012 (Regional Economic Models)

Many of the Republicans realize how disastrous it is to not renew the payroll tax cut. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), facing a bruising campaign with popular Elizabeth Warren, said, “The House Republicans’ plan to scuttle the deal to help middle-class families is irresponsible and wrong.”

Back to the Keystone XL pipeline proposal that could ship oil tar sands crude, the dirtiest oil on the planet with mixed oil and sand, from Canada to the Gulf of  Mexico. To get a usable form of crude, the  industrial processes use massive amounts of water and energy with a total greenhouse gas footprint some 5% to 30% greater than processing conventional oil. The oil sands are often mined in huge pits requiring huge swaths of forest to be cut down and nearby waterways to be polluted. All thanks to Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, and BP.

Approval at this time, as the bill demands, would pre-approve the safety of an unknown route with the known quantity that Nebraska will avoid the precious Ogallala Aquifer. The 1,700-mile pipeline will threaten more than 1,500 waterway crossings with the type of accident that dumped 42,000 gallons of oil in the Yellowstone River last summer and put 20 times that much tar sands in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010. That spill hasn’t been cleaned up yet.

With the Keystone XL pipeline, Congressional Republicans have promised hundreds of thousands of jobs and oil that will make the United States more independent of the Middle East. Independent studies show a maximum of 6,500 temporary construction jobs, few of which would be local hires. Cornell University concludes that the pipeline would kill more jobs than it would create by reducing investment in the clean energy economy. The pipeline would lead to higher fuel prices in the Midwest, the study said, and that would slow consumer spending and cost jobs. It also said jobs could be lost due to crop failures or other events associated with higher pollution levels the oil sands would bring.

With the majority of the contracts for the processed oil already cut, most of it will probably be exported to foreign countries.

Both Republicans and Democrats want to know why Boehner called the compromise a “good deal” and a “victory” on Saturday, only to say he opposed the deal on Sunday? As recently as Friday, the Speaker said he’d demand an expedited decision on the Keystone XL pipeline as a condition for the payroll break. Democrats agreed to meet the demand, and Boehner still won’t take the Senate bill to the House. And my last question. Are the 160 million Americans who are losing money watching the Republicans?

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