Nel's New Day

December 4, 2012

GOP’s Dilemmas–Money, Public Response

Great news from today. Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will be sitting on the chamber’s banking committee. This action can provide fireworks for the next six years! After preventing her from from running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, she still has regulatory control over the industry.

If you eat at Olive Garden or Red Lobster, you might want to contact owners Darden Restaurants about their plans to cut workers’ hours to avoid providing health insurance. Although they previously announced that they would do this if President Obama were re-elected, they now worry about negative publicity and loss of business. Papa John’s Pizza and Applebee’s have already decided that public opposition to cutting workers’ hours will hurt them and changed their position.

About 25 percent of the people in the country want to secede from the United States, about the same as last year. I would be one of the people who would vote to let them.

The House will lose 5 percent of GOP women, giving women a total percentage of about 8 percent, when Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (MO) leaves in February to head up the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a lobbying organization for rural utility companies and her biggest all-time campaign contributor. There is no primary for her replacement, and state party leaders—Republicans—control the election. Emerson follows Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) with her proposed resignation. She didn’t declare herself job-looking or declare a conflict of interest, in opposition to House rules, but she’ll be gone in a couple of months and won’t care.

House Speaker John Boeher (R-OH) has tried to send a message to his members who fail to vote in lockstep. Reps. David Schweikert (AZ-06) and Walter Jones (NC-03) are gone from the Financial Services Committee, and Reps. Justin Amash (MI-03) and Tim Huelskamp (KS-01) disappeared from the Budget Committee. Only one of the four was too left, mostly on foreign policy; the others are the ultra-conservatives who oppose Boehner’s agenda. Amash considers the GOP budget measures too liberal, and Schweikert defeated Ben Quayle, a Boehner favorite. There’s a thorn in paradise!

Boehner doesn’t seem to be in control, however. His ridiculous fiscal proposal, recommending $150 billion less in revenue than the one from before the election, has been rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. That may be why he didn’t speak to the president at the White House holiday party last night. No photos this year as in the past. And the GOP is now going to lobbyists for advice.

Hoping to get traction from the name of Democrat Erskine Bowles who joined with Alan Simpson to lead the failed fiscal discussions almost two years ago, Boehner calls his plan after him. Bowles, however, opposes the “Bowles plan,” or at least John Boehner’s manipulation of it, saying that it has nothing to do with the plan from the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction commission.

Republicans are fond of saying that Democrats refuse to compromise in fiscal matters. The following chart shows the extent to which Republicans plan to compromise:

fiscal compromise

If Republicans look unhappy these days, it might be because they have noted the polling about who is to blame for the fiscal stalemate. It would be nice if they would start paying attention to polling after their disastrous conclusions before Election Day.


Another poll shows that only 10 percent of the people in the U.S. view the honesty and ethical standards of House of Representative members as very high or high. In an examination of 22 different professions, only car salespeople did worse, at 8 percent. Senate members faired slightly higher at 14 percent.

The Senate’s standing may go down after they voted down the U.N. treaty ban on discrimination against people with disabilities, 61-38. Treaties require a two-thirds vote; Rick Santorum had promised 36 no votes, and he got two extra. GOP senators voting in favor of the treaty were Kelly Ayotte (NH), John Barrasso (WY), Scott Brown (MA), Susan Collins (ME), Dick Lugar (IN), John McCain (AZ) and Lisa Murkowski (AK). Three of these “moderates” fought the nomination of Susan Rice for Secretary of State although President Obama has not appointed anyone for the position. Even Bob Dole, 1996 Republican presidential candidate, came in a wheelchair to support the passage of the treaty and got nowhere.

Supporters of the treaty argued that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would merely require the rest of the world to meet the standards that Americans already enjoy under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

The treaty was negotiated and first signed under President George W. Bush and signed again by Obama in 2009. At least 153 other countries have signed it; 126 have ratified it. Democrats and advocates for people with disabilities argued that recommendations from a panel created by the treaty would be advisory only, not binding, and that the treaty did not create any new legal rights in state or federal courts. John Kerry countered that the treaty would allow the United States to serve on the committee to advocate for the rights of U.S. veterans and citizens living or traveling abroad.

Newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) can drive the Senate into a crazier position on the U.N. Last summer he wrote a blog vowing to fight “a dangerous United Nations plan” on environmental sustainability that, according to Cruz, would abolish “golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads.” He lays the fault on the Democratic financier-philanthropist George Soros. Cruz also agrees with Glenn Beck that the supposed ban on light bulbs was intended to shut down manufacturing in the United States.

Forty-nine percent of people in the United States join Ted Cruz in his conspiracy theories: they think that the supposedly-illegal work of ACORN, the organization to help poor people that went bankrupt two years ago, is responsible for the re-election of President Obama. If the organization was so powerful, why did it let so many Tea Party members go to Congress in 2010?!

The Finale: Disturbed by Fox’s failures regarding Election Day 2012, Roger Ailes has send out orders that producers must get permission from higher up before booking people connected with the election—including Karl Rove and Dick Morris. The comedy shows will be poorer because of Ailes’ mandate.

November 11, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:11 PM
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It’s Sunday, and the evangelicals are preaching their venom to whomever will listen—much of it against women. American Family Association president Tim Wildmon and research director Ed Vitagliano told  WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah why President Obama was re-elected. “Researching” the opposition’s campaign strategies, Vitagliano determined “they hooked women to Obama through these Hollywood stars” like George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker. Vitagliano figured out that women voters simply think, “‘I love George Clooney, George Clooney loves President Obama, therefore I love President Obama.’” Tim Wildmon added, “This was history made Tuesday night in this respect: a fellow won re-election for president who was by all measurements a failure, an utter and complete failure.”

I know that many of the Evangelicals refuse to believe facts about climate change and evolution, but they are going over the edge in their inability to understand that women really can think for themselves. Is it possibly that men think women evaluate situations this way because that’s the way they themselves figure out the best candidates? Bill Maher frequently states that conservatives live in a bubble; this is the Evangelical bubble about women.

Even farther out on the edge is the column from Christian Men’s Defense Network. It seems that even some of them felt a little embarrassed, or at least uncomfortable that everyone was reading their rants, because they made the site “private.” Even the copy of it that I found has disappeared. I did, however, capture the following quotes before the group went underground.

 “The ‘gender gap’ should more accurately be called the slut vote… The Democrats have won the black vote by first “empowering” single black mothers. This is now beginning to happen in white suburbia, except unlike women in the urban black community, white suburban sluts start from a place of relative wealth and privilege (daddy’s little princess).  So instead Obama appealed to rich white sluts by forcing someone else (the Catholic church, in this case) to pay for their birth control, and by scaring them about alleged threats to their ability to take advantage of Planned Parenthood’s services (Planned Parenthood being conveniently located in the minority part of town, of course, so as to provide anonymity to visiting white girls whose white girl friends never go over there–except to visit Planned Parenthood themselves).

“One thing one has to remember about women, especially slutty ones:  They usually don’t make decisions based on reason. ..  Admittedly, the desire to slut it up isn’t the only factor in the gender gap.  America has a fiscal problem primarily because women want free stuff without ever having to work.  America is over-regulated because women don’t want to have to compete in the free market.”

Leah Taylor – photo

The Evangelicals are also determined to promote their propaganda in public schools. In one case, now wandering the courts for the past five years, concerned a teacher, John Freshwater, who went far past hanging religious posters in his room, asking students about their religious beliefs, and distributing worksheets to students opposing evolution while refusing to let the students take these materials home. It was the burn marks in the shape of a cross on a 13-year-old boy’s arm that led his parents to go to the school and complain.

When Freshwater was fired, he demanded a hearing before the school board and then an administrative hearing. After both went against him, Freshwater filed a lawsuit charging that his right to free speech and academic freedom had been violated. After failing in lower courts, the Ohio Supreme Court announced in July that it will hear Freshwater’s appeal. His case is being handled by the Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based legal group that asserts in court papers that the teacher’s academic freedom rights have been violated.

“Academic freedom was once the bedrock of American education,” Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead said in a media statement.  “What we need today are more teachers and school administrators who understand that young people don’t need to be indoctrinated. Rather, they need to be taught how to think for themselves.” Two federal appeals courts and one state supreme court have ruled against teachers making this claim. In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District a federal judge declared the teaching of intelligent design to be a violation of the First Amendment.

Catholics and Fundamentalist Christian got a great deal of attention during  the last election—only five days ago—with their rationales of why abortion should be illegal under any circumstances, including rape. According to these religions, women are property. In their reading of the  Bible, a man can give his daughters in marriage, keep concubines, have sex with his wife’s servants, or claim a desirable war captive as his own sexual property after a series of rituals to purify her. But in no case, including in the New Testament, is the woman’s consent required for sexual contact.

Punishment for rape relates only to male honor, tribal purity, and the belief that a non-virgin woman is damaged goods. According to the Bible, men can kill a woman for voluntarily giving up her purity. A rapist can be forced, essentially, to buy her.

The Biblical tradition of male supremacy begins with Eve: “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). The only purpose for sex is to produce male offspring. Abraham’s wife Sarah sends the slave girl Hagar to “lie with” her husband when she herself cannot conceive. In the only Biblical story about declining to produce a child, Onan refuses to father a son for his deceased brother and is killed when he spills his seed on the ground instead.

The children then become property, to be sacrificed if necessary, with God in control. God killed the first-born sons of the Egyptians in the Bible’s tale of Moses. Even in the New Testament, God gives his only son as a sacrifice.

The Catholic bishops and the Fundamentalists didn’t win this time; let’s keep it that way.

Aside (something to pray for): Florida has lost its claim as being the craziest vote-suppression state in the nation to Arizona. Because of the huge number of provisional ballots (think Hispanic vote) and non-count of early ballots uncounted, the state still has over 500,000 votes to count. In a state like Ohio or Florida, that’s not sizable; in Arizona it’s almost one-third of the vote. And the counts are close.

At 6:00 pm yesterday, Democrat Ron Barber was 289 votes ahead of his opponent for the House seat vacated when Gabby Giffords was seriously wounded by a shot in the head at a Tucson rally. In part of that district, Cochise County, 2,328 of the early ballots haven’t been counted yet. There’s also another oddness in Cochise County: 433 votes disappeared between the second and third count reports.

In Maricopa County, 322,000 ballots haven’t been counted for several House seats; in one district Democrat Kyrsten Sinema leads Vernon Parker by 4,710 votes, roughly 2.5 percent of votes counted. Richard Carmona, Democratic senate candidate, trails Jeff Flake by 75,000 votes, but Arizona has yet to tabulate over 500,000 ballots for the election.

In Arizona, Maricopa County gave out incorrect voting information to Latinos before the election, Jeff Flake’s senatorial campaign spread misinformation about polling places in robocalls, and, in 2008, the ACLU called Pima County (Tucson metropolitan area) tops in the country for voter suppression because officials threw out 18% of the provisional ballots cast.

And the Supreme Court is thinking about throwing out the Voting Rights Act. Yeah.

BTW: Louisiana is the first state to file a petition to secede from the Union.

August 13, 2012

Let the South Secede

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:56 PM
Tags: , , , ,

One and a half centuries ago, the United States wasn’t really united because 11 states declared war on the other 23 states in the Union. Despite the  loss of the Confederacy, Southern states are still playing out the Civil War. Even Gov. Rick Perry threatened to have Texas secede from the Union until he figured out that the state is getting more federal tax money back than it pays in. This morning at breakfast my partner said we would be better off if the South did secede. She’s got a good point.

Chuck Thompson, a veteran travel writer who toured the American South, thinks so too. In his book Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto For Southern Secession, Thompson suggests that it might be time to have a separation between the warring factors.

In an interview on last week’s AlterNet Radio Hour, Thompson talked about the problems of the far right overtly religious political culture of the South and its opposition to organized labor. Without these states led by ultra conservatives, people in the North and West could take the country in the direction that suits the core of the country’s values. With a separation, the South do the same thing.

Thompson said, “What really led to this call for secession was understanding that a lot of people from the South are just as sick and tired of people like Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid having an impact on their country as I am sick of people like Newt Gingrich and Jeff Sessions, Eric Cantor, Haley Barbour having an impact on my country.”

He pointed out that the two societies are diametrically opposed in education, religion, commerce, and politics—the foundation of society. If people in the South want a theocracy, they should be allowed to form their own country and have this type of government.

When asked for his definition of the South, Thompson included North Carolina but not Texas. According to Thompson, the Texas flag looks just like the American flag without all the other states; that’s where it gets the nickname “The Lone Star State.” The author said, “In my breakdown of the South I did not include Texas as a Southern state. I completely acknowledge there’s a lot of room for argument there, and that’s probably the easiest point in my book to argue against…. In the end I decided that Texas would stay with the North in large part for economic reason.”

Interviewer Joshua Holland asked, “What about the people who live in those states? It’s easy to say they vote for the crappy government they deserve, but consider that in Utah–the reddest state in the country–30 percent of the population vote Democratic. I’m not saying that voting Democratic is a perfect proxy for one’s ideology, but there’s a good chunk of people down there who we would be consigning to basically English-speaking Mexico. In Alabama, it’s 40 percent. Do you just say, ‘here you go you have to live in a third-world country with crappy education systems, no healthcare, and a government of snake handlers?’”

Thompson answered, “You’re tougher on the South than I am!” He said that people could have a citizenship of 10-20 years in which they could move to the country that fits them. Fifty-seven percent of blacks live in the South as do Hispanics and liberals.

One question might be whether secession goes too far, whether the problems could be solved by taking money out of elections and reforming the Senate filibuster. Thompson said that all 50 states have “evangelicals and religious lunatics,” but they lack a voting quorum any place other than the South. Appealing to voters in overtly religious ways and expecting consistent success has its power base in the South. He explained that the foundation of Southern social framework, and thus its politics, is evangelical Christianity–“Bible literalism,” intolerant of “any sort of diversity or diversity of opinion.” He summarized his concept, “So we get that same sort of blinkered view of humanity of politicians in the South who come up to the North–we get this absolute, no compromise stance between these hardcore conservatives and other politicians.”

Thompson concluded, “In the South, … there is no such thing as compromise. If it’s God’s law that is driving you, if God says gay marriage is an abomination, if God says abortion is an abomination, then you simply can’t compromise. That’s not in your DNA if you really believe that. That’s where I think a lot of the dysfunction of our political process comes into play.”

What Mitt Romney is currently fighting is the difference in philosophies between the North and the South. Education is an excellent example. Southern states provide public schools with much less funding because there’s less commitment to education there. It comes from the settling of the country: the intellectuals primarily settled in New England. Statistics show that the South has the the greatest illiteracy, the lowest graduation rates, and the lowest SAT scores. Romney is an educated man and understands that education is important. There’s the feeling that he would like to be more liberal than he dare display in order to the votes from the South.

One map vividly showing the conservatism of the South indicates that this area of the country has a the greatest concentration of states trying to keep anyone except Republicans from voting. As such, it is a visual representation of ideological differences. The South is also where the state governments are purging voter lists with no basis.

Thompson did find good qualities in the South: “You deal with Southerners on an individual basis and they’re great. They’re friendly, hospitable, gregarious, and they like to party. They like to drink, to give you their food, they like to play music. It’s a lot of fun.” As he said, however, “These are two very different societies that have been economic and social frenemies from the day they were founded. The dysfunction has got to stop at some point.”

Personally, I’m tired of fighting. I want a divorce from the South.


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